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Bucket Hat and Dreadlocks
Warding off a Wretched Set of Groes in a Baltimore Alley: 8/22/2023
It was nearly 3 PM on Monday morning. The Brickmouse would be home soon. Before our after work conversation about refrigeration, rather than begin another article or site feature, a cup of coffee while musing upon the first chapter of the novel SPQR, would be a fine way to end the writing day. I now enjoy being able to stand long enough to fill the pot and heat water for coffee. For the last two months I have been downing a slurry of instant coffee mixed in room temperature water.
A knock came on the front door. A package of fresh from the farm food no doubt.
I shuffle to the door, taking a half step with the left and dragging the dead right leg up to the left heel until I reach the door. It was Preston from across the alley. He and his sister of about 14 walk their mother’s poodle up alley and street. He seems to be growing, about 5’ 5’ and 120 pounds.
“Hey, what can I do for you?”
“A man was on your truck and he run up the alley. I went around, didn’t let him see me.”
“Thanks for lookin’ out, man.”
I shut and locked the door, got my crutches and headed out back, up across the big grassy yard, around the spring house and into the alley where the small pickup truck is parked. The windows were intact and the tool box was locked.
I crutched around in the alley by the truck and Preston, across the alley concealing himself behind his mother’s shed, pointed up the alley, “That’s the man.”
Three houses up I saw a light heavyweight Groe buck who was looking at garage backs, vehicles and back fences.
Ed, three doors up, pulled into his garage and looked at us concerned. The Brickmouse Bride had joined me and was acting appropriately, observing and communicating with her husband by phone. I know many women who would have called the cops in a show of fear and weakness or have went of after the Groe in a fit of vaginal authority.
Boomer Ed didn’t get it but did talk to us later and asked if we called the cops and we explained the following in brief. Ed seemed troubled that we took care of it, but relieved as well.
This alley is a main travel route for a set of Groes based 4 blocks to the west, uphill, next to a notoriously crime-infested sprawl of low rent town homes on the City-County Line, called Dutch Village. I have narrated numerous Dutch Village adventures from 2016 and 2017. It is a case where the adjoining Baltimore County sector is worse than the immediate section of Baltimore City. But, the territory to the east, where I catch the bus, is where the turf of two other sets meat at the intersection of Harford Road and Northern Parkway. I have been on the bus with the shot caller for this set when he offloaded in the morning and took directly to the alley, the bus to his back, covering him from the rivals across Northern Parkway. [1]
The Brickmouse rolls down the alley past the Groe in his work truck, is briefed by myself and Preston who says, “He the man with the bucket hat.”
Our hero jogs after the Groe, [who is not dressed heavily enough to be armed with anything but a razor or folder] who is now clearing out at a springy walk. I am worried, hanging between the crutches, until he comes back five minutes later and relates to us:
“I just jogged until I got close, so I didn’t run up on him. I engaged him in conversation right where the alley met the street, asked what he needed in the alley and he says, ‘Look you can see I ain’ dressed fo no burglary, so no need ta call the poleese.’ [Meaning he wore no hoody!]
“I said,” pointing to my phone, “Oh, I’m not calling the police. This is a medical billing call. I was simply concerned for your welfare. You know, people look at that nice clean alley and think its safe. But it can get dangerous back there. You know, just a few months ago I fine young man, an upstanding citizen, was gunned own not three alleys over. We wouldn’t want a concerned visitor such as yourself to suffer any mishap—I mean, there are very few witnesses back there. Now you have a nice day!”
We laughed and I said, “That is some Big Ron levels of diplomacy.”
We decided that this was the perfect time for him to drive me to the bank. Securing the house we pulled out and there, at the base of the alley, was a bicycle Groe of the same age, about 19-21, patiently waiting on the side to let us pass. This guy is not bull parading, nor even surly swaggering or carelessly spit walking. This was odd. This fellow has an open button shirt and long dreads. The attire says knife to me, possibly gun. When we both try and make eye contact to thank him for his courtesy, he avoids our gaze, not by looking submissively down, but disdainfully away.
We pass him and the Brickmouse looks at me with a question in his eyes and I note he has had no adrenaline dump, [2] “The posture and expression do not match his unusually polite action and his appearance is suspiciously timed. He’s the same age; local sets are all same age groups until they expand. Buckethat is a low ranker. This guy is probably Number 2, maybe the hitter.”
“Circle around?” he asks.
“Absolutely,” and we unhook our seat belts.
We come back down the alley and run into Dreadlocks who is now peddling and not showing as much courtesy, because he does not want to stop and become the filling in a peanut butter and cracker sandwich. He does not like using the bike and is tired, suggesting he was hastily dispatched.
“This set uses the basketball court behind the high school for a rally point and their supply center and mass transit hub is Harford and Northern, closer than the shopping center at Perring Parkway and Oakliegh.”
The Brickmouse says, “He mentioned that he went to the school up the street but was too old and headed the wrong way to be getting out of school.”
I continue, “Buckethat should not have put hands on anything and should have waited to give a report to the set about easily jacked valuables. He’s probably being dressed down by his supervisor now.”
“Should we drive by the Basketball Court?”
“No, that would be a threat. Thus far both parties have acted defensively. Your parley was literally on neutral ground. If you had crossed Old Harford it might have been perceived as a threat. Escalation or retaliation are the only answers they have in their territory. This was perfect.”
“How about if my next door neighbor drives by?”
“Sure.”
The neighbor, who is a studly light heavyweight, confirmed that the court was their rally point and that Dreadlocks was a terrible bicyclist. His wife wanted him to take a picture and I said not to, that this would be a threat. We now had numerous visual impressions of the duo. Preston had been afraid of Buckethat, which told me a lot. He was careful to stay hidden. We gave him $50 and the description of Dreadlocks to be wary of.
I suggested keeping a good old fashioned square brick next to the driver’s seat in the small pick up. A brick in hand and an undeployed knife at close range, beats the knife or gun that Dreadlocks had in his waistband under that open button shirt.
This was a good off the cuff operation employing sub threatening but warding actions and words, and expanding the resolution with the calling in of our own scout in the form of the next door neighbor.
Notes
This is a subset of a larger Dutch Village association, which should not be antagonized as they are capable of ruthless nocturnal activity [I have been hunted by them twice at night] and have very good preteen scouting patrols and commit regular daylight attacks in their territory, where we shop. This is a key organization for cross County/City operations. They feud with the Oaks Crew where I used to live. In 2018 I cleaned up .45 APC brass leftover from one clash.
The grid to the Southeast of the main intersection in the city has been run by a serious crew since at least 2015, led by men who use cars. It seems Harford Road itself is something of a free-for-all.
-1. Just south across Northern Parkway is a poorly organized foot set of older teens and younger men.
-2. I think this is because he was still in work clothes and mode and jogged to the parlay.
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posted: April 15, 2024   reads: 137   © 2023 James LaFond
House of the Brickmouse
Motherboard #2
The awning of painted metal green was held up together and aloft by vines with leaves of a deeper green, as if the earth were announcing the overtaking of Mans’ ambition, and that some of her viney children took pity upon this place and were holding aloft this one handmade refuge.
‘Why is it called the Brickmouse House?’
‘It is brick and a house? Perhaps it is home to a talking mouse?’
How he loved this awning, this porch below, of thicker metal coated in rubber, upon which his steely canes had such good purchase. This was a magical place of healing and he naturally, wounded as he was, wanted in, wanted to whine.
‘Yes, an open sesame, a code,’ he thought as he saw the speaker and screen on the brick face next to the door, “Buzzard to Nest.”
‘That was witty.’
The screen on the brick face lit up with a vision of that pretty Asian girl, smiling as she worked at a work bench with a power drill, dressed all in black, “Poppy, welcome back, come on in.”
With that the door, actually a door that should be on a gun safe, opened outward. Then another door, a refrigerator door, opened inward. He walked into a bedroom, a place he now of sudden recalled sleeping often. As the twin doors closed behind him he noticed that there was a bricked in window to his right. Ahead, over a dresser that should have been a sink, was a window that was blocked in with plywood. Screens showing what one would see outside with the naked eye before the kitchen turned to bedroom was fortified reflected a vantage that was once provided directly by each window.
‘They will come in through the plywood,’ came his inner voice.
Behind him was his cot, a bed that looked so cozy, over which hung a weapon rack from the wall with shotgun and swords, and an I.V. drip system, a medicine go-round thingy with bottles of pills. Next to that was a basement door, another gun safe door.
Do north, opposite the bricked in window, was a bullet proof glass panel. Behind that panel was a workshop built around a stainless steel table. Here that pretty Asian girl with red hair, a surprisingly big butt and bodacious rack, tinkered with what appeared to be a model of a little Willy Jeep from WWII.
‘Wow, she’s pretty. No wonder he has me guard this place...who is he? Who am I?’
She beamed up at him, clicked her wrist pad and said, “Come on in, Poppy!”
With that a portal in the panel of triple thick plexi glass bolted to steel beams top, bottom and sides like a great window, opened. She looked at the thing she was working on and said, “We’re done. Clear the workspace, Willy.”
With those words, the jeep seemed to sprout little mechanical monkey arms and dragged itself down off the table, retracted them, engaged its wheels and whirred into the front room, which was dominated by a stainless steel commercial elevator shaft—so strange for such a nice little brick house. He noticed that the insides of the house were reinforced with steel beams, and plates, like the steel plates that used to be placed over gaping holes in city street repairs way back...when?
She was stronger than him, really strong and was moving him around, unstrapping the stuff on his back and shoulders and cooing, “Poppy, you are the best, amazing! We are so proud of you, all the progress you made since you came to us. Tinman and Cline are going to be over the moon about this juice. They have a big contract and the Forty Feet have cut off supply on the low line—its all by zip line now.”
She sat him down at the head of the table.
He burned, she was dabbing him with alcohol. When he winced, she chirped, “So sorry, Poppy,” reached under the table and placed a great big bottle of Jim Beam upon it. Next to that she placed a bottle of Fireball and a bottle of Don Krew 151 rum. “Start out light, Poppy. I have a lot of work to do here. Your friends were playing rough today.”
Something behind him began to squeak and he felt a deep pain. A shot glass was placed in front of him. He went right for the Jim Beam, understanding by long experience that the Fireball cinnamon whiskey was just a pallet cleanser. Extending his left arm and grabbing the neck of the bottle—the caps had all been thankfully removed—he lifted the heavy bottle and something popped in his shoulder, sending a terrible pain down his spine.
“Sorry Poppy—on it. Pour with the right hand.”
He tilted the bottle and lifted with the right hand. But that hand shook like a plump Dominican ass and he could not get the mouth over the glass.
“I’m so sorry, Poppy,” she said, and reached forward with a blue rubber gloved hand covered in blood, deftly poured that first shot and then helped steady his arm as he tilted glass to mouth and drank.
‘Yes,’ and he shook a little less.
“Good, Poppy…”
He seemed to have leapt forward in time and noticed a wider glass, like a fancy iced whiskey glass, before him, into which he was dumping Fireball with a steady hand, then 151 in the small dram, a touch of Tabasco for kick.
“Take a big drink, Poppy,” and he knocked them both back.
As he poured a straight shot of Jim Beam he heard a loud ping behind his right ear and a terrible pain shot right up into his brain. The table began to spin. He reached for the 151 and his left hand could not make it, the right one seemingly out of command.
The table rushed up to meet his one working eye.
He was jerked upright, was blind in both eyes, had hot rum poured into his mouth as two caring man hands held his head and asked, in a gentle voice, “The gasket behind the ear? Are you sure?”
Something was yanking on his hip with a whir of wire as pain coursed through his spine and legs, “Motherfucker,” cursed the sweet Asian voice, “I installed it—you bet I’m sure!”
A TV screen appeared before his right eye—actually in it—in horizontal lines of static, and there, before him, as his left eye began to clear with a kind hand wiping it free of blood and Bucket Head juice, pulling back the eye lid, he heard the kind man voice say, “Should I reattach—I have…”
“You have shit, this isn’t the roof top. It’s not a fucking shingle. Here, slap this on, its better, just refurbished it.”
“Sorry, Buddy,” came the kind voice with a pat on the chin.
Then the TV screen was filled with a vision of a Dominican dancer, so well proportioned that the waistband of her G-string was lost in her tiny obscured waist, an expanse of stupendous hips and enormous breasts swaying before his questing vision.
“Oh, my, should I drape a towel over his lap?” sounded the man.
She giggled, “Poppy’s not dead yet!”
“What is he seeing in the ocular unit?”
“I think her name is Ruby—don’t worry Poppy—reconstructed from an interview with the casualty. That’s right Poppy, Ruby is coming to town, she’s going to be down at Jaseman’s Cafe tomorrow night!”
“What the fuck?” came the kind, soft voice.
She then snarled, as Ruby so lusciously danced, “Motherfucker, I’ve got the tweezers—more rum.”
“You bitch!” he said as more hot rum coursed down Poppy’s throat. The woman was yanking on his hip with pliers while using a ratchet wench in his back, and purred in seductive agreement, “Don’t you forget it, Tinman.”
“I love You!” he exclaimed to her as Poppy’s vision began to blur; in his left eye looking at the liquor bottles growing fuzzy and in his right that vision of cushy grace pixelated into black static.
He heard, but did not feel his forehead hitting the steel table…
He woke upright, seated before a washbasin and faucet that had popped up from this end of the steel table, the cute Asian babe stitching his head. He was sober, so this must have taken some time.
‘Wow, she’s pretty.’
“Okay, Poppy, wash your hands off, I cleaned up the rest.”
Something creaked and a pain shot up his back as he leaned forward. Seeing the oil and grime and blood on his hands he was self conscious, reached for the soap pump, filled his right palm and turned on the hot water.
‘Damn that’s hot,’ he winced inside as he pulled his left hand back, as she giggled.
He soaped both hands and plunged them back under the running water, which should have surely calmed down—
‘Who even had hot water anymore?’
“Awe,” he gasped as he pulled his scalding hands back and she giggled.
‘Sissy,’ he indicted himself within, rubbed the soap together and put them under the water, holding them there and scrubbing away the dirt as he grimaced and hissed.
She giggled again as he jerked his hands back in pain. A few breaths and he rubbed more soap and went to challenge the scalding torrent again and her pink nailed little hand stopped his blotched, scarred and hairy arm, “No! You can’t adapt that quickly. You will hurt yourself—please, let me add some cold water so that it’s just warm.” [1]
“You’re a doll,” he confessed as he became suddenly tired and the syringe she was draining into his hip with her free hand emptied.
He looked down at his hip, which seemed to have a gear box attached to it, “I’m wearin’ my old fight shorts—thanks…”
She hauled him in a fireman’s carry through the plexi glass door to the dream cot where she lay him down. The room spun and his head swam in the spinning whirl as she plugged the IV into the port she must have just installed in his left hand.
She said, “Dim, ambient two,” and the lights softened as if spake to by the very Queen of Night.
Old Poppy, secure at last in his identity, but a bit hazy as to the name of the Tinman’s mechanically inclined bride, drifted off upon the waves of a dark and turbulent sleep.
Notes
-1. This happened in September 2023, when I was washing dishes next to my Hostess as she cooked, just as I was recovering strength enough to help about the wonderful brick house, after living in stages as a shrimp, crab, monkey and then man, at first on her living room floor and later in the loft.
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posted: April 14, 2024   reads: 181   © 2023 James LaFond
Ambuscade
Act 6, Concluded: Tyke of the Orphan Pipes
Dusk, Caesarsday, Second Day of Sepulcher
They ran hard like lads. Then it occurred to Tyke that they were rightful Mobhounds, bold Bigs and Spry Twigs—and he hissed, just like that, as if he were the boss, “Psst, sell it, mates. Sell it.”
He then turned and hurled one of his darts, fine iron darts, good and oiled and, rather than feathered with feathers, fitted with clamped tin feathers that glimmered in the vary-lit murk of the alley depths. That dart sailed right for that open visor. As if trusting Tyke’s aim more than he did, the gladiator shut his visor, worked in steely tartan pattern. That dart sparked upon it and then stuck, canted cross-corner [1] and decorating that steely mask.
The pack had slowed, getting his drift that the intruder was moving too slow to plunge headlong into the ambuscade. They now walked backwards, picking up the bricks intelligently spaced for such a defense and began hurling them.
A brick bounced off of the armored head of that limping Sandman and its thrower, Joey Pipes barked, “Take that, Gimp of a sand turd!”
They laughed.
The Sandman limped, pulling out the dart as Tyke let fly another right at his cods!
That dart hit the big bulging spot and stuck as if in a Sergeant of Lictor’s saddle.
“What, even an armored prick!” observed Brash Pipe, their most limber Big.
They yet walked back, two more bricks lifted and hefted on big shoulders by Wire Pipe and Grog Pipe, both good and true Bigs.
Sandman stopped, an easy mark, pulling the prick dart out with his manica hand what had the walking stick in it.
They heaved those bricks and the Sandman surprised them with a one handed cast of the pipe, not like a spear, but tumble-wise like an ax, cross-corner, whirling like brains ready to hit the drain.
The bricks hit one in his vest-covered gut, having no effect and the other on his armored left shoulder, having less.
Tyke ducked, above and behind Grog’s face smashed in like bread pudding, the rest breaking at a run.
The Sandman broke into a run as well as Brash Pipe looked down at that great steel pipe and—ate a dart through his face that sent an eye to dangle as he mewed and mumbled listing off drunkenly.
Tyke threw wildly and ducked low at a dodge as another dart, thrown with mechanical like force like from a crossbow, sunk between Wire Pipe’s shoulder blades and sent him to the floor with a godawful wheeze.
Like that, their three sharpest Bigs, other then Check, were down with the Devil.
They dodged around the corner into Horseshoe Alley and set-to. Here, at the head of this short alley was a steam pipe vent lever that a boilermaker had installed for them, taping into the main line far above off the roof, in return for a go at all 12 of the whores at the Well. Joey Pipe and Check manned that on their knees.
Behind them stood Able Twig and Bony Twig, each with a braining pipe and a brick.
Tyke was behind them both.
Right before the turn they heard Sandman pick up that pipe with a long meaningful drag.
They then heard the riot stick knock the alley floor with that ironwood on concrete knock that had once echoed through New York as through the alleys of Ireland when the Scots came to put down the ready mobs.
“Dastard-ass Scott, Sandman!” sounded the angry voice of Tyke, who fancied himself Irish, though none could know for certain among his discarded kind.
Just around the corner, barely a step before his face was scorched by steam, the Sandman stopped and spoke, “Drop ye bricks en pipes en duck walk out all nice like en yer littles ‘ill have some mobhounds what to thieve their vittles.”
Check snarled, “Awe fawk off S—”
The steel pipe, winged around the corner with a flash of that brassy manica, thrown from the left hand side arm, taking out Check’s teeth and knocking Joey piss for broke. The big mug was crafty, having sounded out their level before throwing blind around that corner.
The man walked around the corner bold as can be, knobby headed hawthorn riot stick on his right shoulder. Two bricks let loose, one clanging off that off-dented war hat and one breaking on that linen vest of spiked stars on a field of black. The stick came down off that shoulder so wide that it and its opposite almost touched each side of this more narrow alley.
Able went down with a broke shoulder in a wan heap.
Stunned and presenting his pipe like a gift, Bony was simply grabbed by the brassy hand and tossed behind the intruder, an arm breaking against the wall as he whined and crumbled utterly forlorn.
Tyke had been forgetful of his darts holding the packet with the two remaining in his left hand and his pointy steel pipe drawn in his right. There was naught to do but break and run for the Well of Bawdy Sprites ahead of this shambling Sandman.
As he did so he heard the pipe slide up, knowing he had ten spaces to get to the left turn into Bell Alley. Stopping and looking over his shoulder, he saw that the Sandman was not fixing to cut him down with a throw that could not have missed. Instead he shouldered that great pipe and switched the hawthorn rod to his left hand, leaned upon it and offered, “I’ll not back strike ye, Tyke.”
He walked backwards, a snarl of disdain coming to his lips, “Ye mighty fine should ye shamblin’ oaf o’ da sands.”
The man kept pace, leisurely limping, “Now, now, tyke, I left ye a few friends, indeed moved yer sassy soul up the very stairs o’ glory to boss of yer ken. Let’s call a truce?”
Tyke backed around the corner and then lit out like a dead Irishman sure as muck from Mohamed’s infernal stables that the Devil knew him to be dead. [2]
“Catch me if ye can, Sandman!”
Tyke ran, not wanting to taste that pipe, down the long, high alley between the cooler parts of the Iron Foundry and the Steam Works. Here the long pipes vented far above and the Mob of Pipes had never dared build their rickety world so near the Gate of Lictors, with whom they had no real truce and could be spied upon by all those who found the favor of the worldly dames above the Well of Whores.
Notes
-1. Cross-corner is mob slang for a shady play in the boxing ring or a slick shot in billiards, meaning diagonal.
-2. Britannic lore has it that Mohamed, close henchman of Satan, Prophet of their greatest enemy, The House of Islam, that rules most of the souls of the Non-Christian world, maintains a hideous dirty stable in Hell to be mucked for eternity by Irish rebels and mobsters, who, according to most civic and ecclesiastic authorities, good and well deserve the chore.
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posted: April 13, 2024   reads: 207   © 2023 James LaFond
Returning to Baltimore City
Against Crackpot Defense: Baltimore, City, 8/22/23
In the weekly editorial call, Lynn informed me that a twitter person noted that masculinity was in such a state of crisis that people like [James LaFond “You know who I’m talking about, Lynn”] move to places like Baltimore to play at dangerous living. She defended me as simply getting busy as a working man in my ancestral home town.
Thanks, Lynn, but I was less successful than that.
I was born in Baltimore, from whence my family escaped to Pennsylvania where I lived as a teen. Upon the commission of an extremely violent crime, I moved back to Maryland, in Baltimore County, outside the terrible City that had belched forth nearly all of my extended family.
I needed a job so I could leave the apartment of my mother and sister where I slept on the couch. My Grandfather picked me up in his car and drove me to a point on U.S. Route #1, 8 miles from Baltimore City. He said, “When I was a painter, I walked 17 miles to work every day, and then back. You can do at least 10 miles in and back. You have no skill and no high school diploma. Simply put in an application at every place of business for entry level work. Do not turn back until you see black.”
“Yes, Sir,” I answered and began down the road in my father’s ill-fitting dress boots that I bought from him for $70. Doing as he said, having to admit to a businessman, a receptionist and doctor who interviewed me that I had tried to pass 9th grade twice, and failed, and despairing of making a third attempt, quit school on my 16th birthday so I could learn how to do some kind of work “on the job.” They all wished me well, gave me some tips on being interviewed by others, and sent me on my way.
Ironically, eventually, 4 miles from where I now sit in Northeast Baltimore, blisters forming on my ankles from the loose zip-up boots, at White Avenue and Belair Road, I saw a black man, getting on a bus and heading downtown, a janitor who worked at Miller Motors that had a showroom on that street corner. Not knowing that I would spend 4 years managing the local supermarket 3 blocks back on the west side of the street, in the 2000s, and 8 years renting a room on White Avenue as an e-pulp writer in the 20teens, I crossed the street, headed back north and walked into Bel Garden Bi-Rite and filled out a job application at the courtesy booth. Little did I know that a future roommate of mine, known by one and all as “Bonehead,” had just lost a finger on the forklift and that a replacement was needed.
My only work experience had been landscaping, collating [1] in a print shop, and sanding dry wall. The old lady who brought my application out from behind the low white counter, looked up at me with promise in her one good eye, and in disappointment at the white sheet of paper, and said, “We are looking for an experienced clerk who knows how to handle freight… I see here that you have no driver’s license and you live in Perry Hall. How did you get here?”
“Walked, Ma’am.”
“Nobody walks that far anymore. You are hired. You will start at $3.50 an hour and you will be here at 7:00 AM. Do you need bus money?”
“No Ma’am, I have three dollars, that will get me down and back.”
“Then I will give you an advance on your pay after work tomorrow,” informed the matron.
That was in September of 1981. Miss Betty cosigned on a house note for me in 1983, even though I only made $7 an hour. Her status as a business leader and pledge that she would continue working me like a dog for 75 hours a week, impressed the bank adjuster and I became the last person of my race to buy a house 2 miles down the road in Gardenville, 2 miles into “the black” as my step father noted critically. But I could not qualify for a loan outside of the city. This was the house I could buy, the closest one to work that I could afford. I walked 2 miles to and from work for the next ten years as the corridor for the #15 bus was invaded and conquered by my dark hunters.
By November of 1992, I was up to making $10.25 an hour and getting buy making house and car [2] payments on working 75 hours per week. Promises of higher wages and better benefits at union stores beckoned and I resigned in Mid Month, stayed to train my replacement until Thanksgiving, and then began taking 2 to 3 hour bus trips through Baltimore City at night to work at distant union supermarkets for a staggering $11.40 per an hour!
In 1994, working 6 jobs at 118 hours per week, I was injured, lost the car my wife used for grocery shopping and visiting her parents in Pennsylvania and had to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by 1996. The neighborhood had been overrun, my oldest son sent out of town to save his life and my youngest son and wife confined to the house as I ventured out by foot and bus among the savage conquerors.
By February 1999, my wife and I were attacked by gunmen as I escorted her on her first venture outside the small brick house and she demanded we move.
In September 1999, having saved up 3 unpaid house payments, I, my wife and youngest son escaped to the low rent Baltimore County waterfront of Dundalk. I still worked deep in the City and my commute involved two miles of walking from the County into the City, the taking of two busses, which required waiting on two City bus stops, which were also open air drug markets, and then walking for a mile through the other side of the City.
By August 2000 the small brick house was auctioned off and my credit score plummeted further.
From 2000 through 2017, I lived and worked in Baltimore City and County, never able to afford paying rent with work in the same area where I lived. My wife kicked me out in 2002. For a brief 4 years, from 2006 thru 2010, I worked as the lowest paid store Director in Maryland to help my youngest son through college.
Finally, on December 11th, 2017, the back injury returned and limping to work on a cane, I was attacked by two pairs of muggers. The second pair had me defenseless and dead to rights—two giant Nigerian bruisers of some 6’ 6” inches and 300 pounds—and they found me too pathetic in my commitment to fight in my shredded clothes and let me off the mugging hook, like a fish that was molting and no longer good to eat.
In humiliation I quit work, was unable to sustain rent payments from writing and coaching money, and took to the railroads to visit readers, living in their garages, mudrooms and basements and on their couches.
I have not lived in Baltimore since 2018.
I am homeless.
I return to Baltimore to visit friends and family and reside for a few summer months in the winter of a failed life with a fighter I coach. The least I can do is try and defend his property like a lame old dog, and to document in brief his plight. For the Brickmouse, though born and raised in White Suburbia, and his bride could not afford to buy a house in habitable white flight migration zones. They could only afford a house in the outer margins of the terrible city that spat me out. Being the bard of the Brickmouse might not rank with those who sang the songs of Achilles, Odysseus, Beowulf and Roland—but this kid once dropped a heavyweight with a sneaky left straight and yesterday he ran down a light heavyweight Bantu buck and got his way in the back alley parlay.
There are worse fates for the least-famed chronicler of his age.
My answer in brief, to those kind souls who would defend me on social media, is don’t do it. Double down for them, “LaFond is homeless because he was unable to make enough money to pay room rent anywhere, even in Baltimore! He should be living in a cardboard box but for the kindness of others. He does not have the luxury for urban slumming or homesteading—he’s just a lingering ghost still haunting the house where his identity was murdered by the better members of his dying race.
-James, Tuesday, August 22nd in the 4th Year of Our Lord Floyd
Notes
-1. Putting page 1 on top of page 3, on top of page 4...until all 435 pages of the 390some Fox grocery catalogs were ready to be bound with spiral binding. 3 years later, in another state, I would be ordering from these very product lists as a rookie grocery clerk.
-2. A powder blue 82 Ford Escort. This car was driven 1500 miles per year, including the 500 mile annual round trip to Pittsburgh. My wife picked up and signed for my paycheck for 10 years, to the point where she was forging my signature on lease documents 15 years after she fired me. The car had to have 3 new exhaust systems installed.
04.14.24   Maud'Dib — Quote from above

"-James, Tuesday, August 22nd in the 4th Year of Our Lord Floyd"

I've really enjoyed you stories over the years discovering you on the Mot20C.

You are the traveling sage, putting forth truth and wisdom. Men/Women are drawn to you because of your hard truths. Sure, you embellish from time to time, but any sage worth his wisdom uses that for teaching.
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posted: April 12, 2024   reads: 459   © 2023 Maud'Dib
Out of the Cookie
From Baltimore to the Pacific Northwest by Crutch, Train and Cane: 8/22 to 12/31/2023
Copyright James LaFond 2023
A Crackpot Book
Lynn Lockhart: Publisher
Dust Cover
After 11 weeks confined to a walker, wheel chair, crutches, crawling up and down stairs and shrimping around on the floor of a Baltimore safe house, the author found himself able to stand long enough to make coffee. At 3 PM, on Monday, August 21st, the most prolific writer of his age, success seemingly as far away as the rise of New Atlantis, pondered the possibility of his greatest work of fiction: focused now away from life’s belittling din.
A knock came on the door. It was Preston, the brown fellow of 14 years from across the alley, whose mother sets him to watching out for neighbors in this idyllic city block where rabbits graze not a ¼ mile from a bus stop where the author has survived some half dozen attacks by Groe thugs. The young man sounded the alarm, that a full-grown Groe buck was “on your truck.”
Powered by ego, like an ancient flint-napping gimp left to defend the women and children at the mouth of a cave when the real men were out hunting, the already worn crutches were mounted like a clamation horse in some children’s movie—and the storied muses faded away as old Crutch Snow sallied forth against Bucket Hat, a minion of Tyrone Crow.
Soon reinforced by still living men, a good six months from recovery, the ghost of a writer decided that crutches would do. Setting Friday, September 29th as his last day among the Groes, he began disposing of his few remaining possessions and fasting to reduce his travel weight enough so that his arms could drag him to the train station. For this very day announcements and commercials heralding the return of the sacred “Vid” reminded the cripple that Uncle Sham might lock down this feedlot of souls again.
Thence the coward ghost went, drag-footed and bent, to do a poor job chronicling the world he fled through his mean intent.
Dedication
For Preston and the Brickmouse, homesteaders of an inverted world
“Brother, you and I know that the world put the rest of these fuckers here to get us; that’s why we’re the bad guys—even you confined to that chair while you coach me on putting down these two-legged dogs—the world hates us because we are determined to kill the messengers sent to demand we kneel!”
-The Operator, during a knife training digression
To the Reader
As the writing light began to kindle three weeks gone, I swore myself not to commit the crime of journalism, to only write novels and history. Here I am, still broke and unable to walk, breaking an oath took before my many muses. Homer, Aristotle and ever-keening Teraldus be damned; the greatest of you return to the further reaches of his addled ampitheatre, Drunk Peter chained and near, but Tyrone Crow and Convict Snow loom larger in the wretched here, now that their slave scribe can sit and poke at these keys.
I note now, in embarrassment, how much of a degeneration I am from Robert E. Howard, Jack London, H.L. Menckin and Shelby Foot, those writers I hope to emulate in may various works in a greater passion—a smoldering ambition—of aspiring to the ranks of Homer and Herodotus. Shelby Foot wrote in longhand. I cannot sign my name with more than a third of the letters represented by anything but a dying scribble. London, Howard and Menckin typed, the latter two able to produce a din of clicks and clacks sufficient to keep neighbors from their sleep.
I look at these keys, which my forefingers and middle fingers wander across, striking sideways as they fall behind the mind guiding them. Two years old, the black keyboard is weathered: E key is a white blotch, R, T, O, A, S, and N have great white blotches conjoined to the letter, I, D, H and N have suffered less disfiguring insults. Reminded of my dependence on modern technology for my prolific output, the ego must suffer the realization that it is a creature of the modern world he inhabits and incompletely escapes in his doomed struggle not to be eaten by the monster that spawned him.
Preface
This journal is intended to be as minimal as possible. Written with other writers in mind, my attempts at editing for publication the 86 remaining books under which my darling publisher is buried, included in chronological order, integrated into the text alongside travel, opinion and advice articles.
Last winter it took me 8 cycles of antibiotics to defeat chronic lung infections. With only 1 cycle left, and my new doctor telling me that she is very reluctant to prescribe antibiotics, I’m not taking 2024 for granted. So I head west to visit briefly those benevolent souls, all of whom have had a damned rough go at modern life, who have shown charity to a failed member of their own despised working class.
For those kind souls living to the East, Mister Safranno and Baruch, who paid for sedan rides to medical appointments while I was walker bound, thank you so much.
Also, for The Operator, who sent me transportation money over the past year so that I could “get back to Baltimore to spar” only to have my spine and groin, hip and leg fail me, thank you so much for feeding and watering me during my recovery. To drag myself like a crab missing half its legs out onto the mat and have him sit me up in a chair to coach him while he shadow boxes, is more of a service for me than for him—yet he cuts me a check and buys me a bottle of booze to kill the pain on the way home. To boot, he takes me to a diner, buys me a steak, and then cuts me a check for a consulting fee. One night, down to 140 pounds, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t eat, so he bought me 10 shots of Jack so I could eat a prime rib and carried me into the Brickmouse house where they found me at midnight, in a delirious fetal position, yipping like a dog being eaten by hyenas, afraid to wake me.
The very next day my recovery began, the first night to sleep without getting drunk, the first time to stand long enough to brush my teeth, the day that returning to crutches from a walker felt like running that record breaking 220 at age 13. When I apologized for getting so drunk when I was supposed to be serving as a life coach at a focus session he said, “Mister James, I know you’ll only be hitting the bottle like that long enough to get on your feet. You’ll come back—just take it slow. We are what we are, what we were when we jumped out of the cookie. [1] We’re fighters in a seat shining world, My Friend. I have but one request, that if somehow one of these fuckers does me in, that you avenge me.”
“Yes Sir,” I answered, imagining myself hunting some criminal “fucker” while on crutches under a Baltimore streetlight, and subduing a chuckle as he helped me crawl forth from his car, holding my crutches in the other hand.
Sir, I know that “this stays here,” but a thanks is in order.
Notes
-1. 1970s Long Island slang for the mother’s womb and vagina.
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posted: April 10, 2024   reads: 609   © 2023 James LaFond
Pain and Writing
Pondering the Last Sustainable Work of a Slavish Life: 8/20/23
I had two conversations the other day with good friends. Both of these men have been involved in transporting, feeding and providing liquid painkiller for this broken down piece of white trash these past 10 weeks.
One is a writer and artist who sought semi-retirement from economic toil in order to pursue his artistic passions. Recent health issues have prevented this and he is despondent that the muses might not return. This man has hyper-focus, his artistic strength, which has now turned against its master in making his injury the focus rather than his art. I had my two worst writing months back to back, since becoming a full time writer in 2010, unable to focus on writing in the gripes of higher orders of pain. This has reduced both of us in the estimation of our own mind’s eye.
The other is a reader who learned to write in university. He is amazed at how prolific I have been with writing. He engages me in a diner once a week for what he calls “A Focus Session,” thus promoting me from knife coach to life coach in my injured state. I simply pay attention to his statements, digressions, observations, musings and questions. Those in hand, it is simple for one outside of his field of concern to observe that salient point—kind of like writing. He wondered this past Wednesday, “Mister James, how many books have you written?”
“I do not know. A reader volunteered to discover just that in 2015 and instead began editing my books and is now, tragically reduced to being my medical coordinator, since I’m too damned stupid to open medical emails.”
Then, yesterday, noting that I was pushing my physical therapy, most of which I have made up, my host, the Brickmouse said, “James, just for now, could you please pretend that you don’t hate yourself, and maybe treat your body like a broken buddy who you are helping to heal rather than punishing the wimp still hiding in there?”
We laughed and I eased off on the weights and crunches.
My observation over this stretch of time is that all of my early books were written while I was recovering from work injuries and had time off—when I was in considerable chronic pain, rather than the sizzling vomit and delirium inducing pain I experienced for most of June and July last. The writing has picked up these last few weeks. Pain has returned as a muse, subsiding from the roaring sea of diminishment.
In the middle ground, where I reside now, discipline has been able to battle the pain and write. Just now the knee is exploding, at a pain level of 7.5. But, I don’t feel weak, feel like I can deal with it. The pain is now reduced to the constant background noise singing in my head; now like a sea shell, last night like pressure waves, at times like a screaming fire alarm. It has no pain, only the power to threaten focus. Recently I found myself focusing on the roaring in my head and wondering if it would effect my writing. So, I changed the setting to a noisy industrial space.
The key is where you are focusing. When you are a medical patient, your focus is upon yourself. This is the death of a writer, at least of his hope for relevance down throughout the ages. I can’t get on board with Saint Augustine and the Christians who insisted that a good man must love his body like a man loves a wife and Christ loves the Church. I cannot bring myself to love this vehicle of passage. This, that I have not focused on the failed human weakling born James Theodore LaFond in 1963, at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore had been my keystone. For those two months of agony I was reduced to a modern person and did nothing of possible note. Turning the focus away from me the medical patient still unable to walk has permitted a return to writing, which is observation, sympathy, empathy, investigation and evaluation of peoples, places and things.
In my opinion, the reason why most people who want to write a book, this is hundreds who have confided in me now, claim that they “can’t,” has convinced me that the freakish proliferation of books coming from one special education student late in a failed life, has for its wellspring a projection of this mind away from the Seat of Dismay, to focus on the world as it was, is and might be. So long as the spotlight of my major muse—the managerial one who bosses the ghosts of the many others, some of them among those reading this—is projected away from my backpack empire of crippled impoverishment, I remain a writer.
But for those few dozens of days in June in July, when I did abide by Saint Augustine’s dictum from On Christian Doctrine that declared I may not be a Christian unless I learn to love my body, my focus was on me, my injury, my sleeping berth—floor, bed, couch—and nutrition and medication. During those brief Christian weeks, I was not a writer.
But since I have begun to limp rather than crawl, the unrepentant Heathen in my being has risen to take back this riven soul from the sniveling pit of self-care. I cannot attain any higher state imagined by the Heathen, Pagan, Egyptian, Gnostic, Christian or Modern faiths that have at one time or another tugged at my conscience. I can, however, leave a human stain that might well outlast this misguided sack of stringy bone so long as I write.
There is nothing else left.
To focus forward, I wish to finally put written works behind me and count what is there. Works that span less than the 44 page minimum for POD publishing, will not be included. Games like Pizza Wars, Tyrants of Yitar and certain booklets and lone essays will not be counted. Only a work of 44 or more pages makes the grade. Writers communicate in words the size of their work, readers pages. So each entry will contain both, if I have it at hand.
Thank you for your support.
James, Baltimore, MD.
04.11.24   Bones @FiveGunsWest — I just read in Salman Rushdie's 'The Golden House', the protagonist was talking about writing and muses, and he says writers just show up and go to work. I'll be gentle here and just mention the whole thing is in the final chapter of the aforementioned book for all and sundry who are interested. It's probably in your local library of if you used Library To Go or Libby.

That said, Thomas Mann said something like ... A writer is someone for whom it is much more difficult to write than regular people.

You have none of those problems. As I age I certainly am not in live with my body. I've read St. Augustine. One of his lengthier tomes is holding up a piano leg. Prodigious and prolific you are. Your take is sublimely original and as always, quite interesting. Say hi to your publishing house for me. If you're into cats, I'll close with 'May star-clan light your path. The hellishness of living and writing the epic story is always at hand until one my longingly fall into an uncomfortable and fitful sleep. Pardon my typos. I don't know where my glasses are at the moment.
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posted: April 8, 2024   reads: 698   © 2023 Bones @FiveGunsWest
Video Interviews with da Man
Youtube: InTheseGoingsDown
Subscribe to his channel, he's got a lot of cool videos going on. He was reviewing beers for a while, that needs to be regular.
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posted: April 7, 2024   reads: 728   © 2024 Webmaster
A Matter of Fact
Rabbit Jack: Motherboard #1. C
He crutched up the street, a main street, the name of which eluded him. The pavement was free of automobiles until the next intersection ahead, at the top of the hill, to the west, where, once again, power and light poles had been pulled down along with the wires that were their reason for being. The power lines were then woven in a terrible tangle among cars and poles to form a web of ruin. The houses on the corners had been shattered, effecting great piles of ruin, as if someone did not want vehicles driving around through the corner yards.
“Caw, caw, caw,” came the crow sound behind him. He stopped. It was an excuse, pretending to be alert, to rest, and looked down the way he had come. Where Bucket Head had rolled into the gutter, by whatever urge had compelled that man to roll himself there, a roil of rats teamed, still building.
Further down the way, was that odd skull-festooned mailbox, upon which Bucket Head had some how mounted his own head before staggering up hill and rolling into the gutter. There, a single turkey vulture plucked out an eye and flew off as a murder of crows blackened the lowest quarter of the sky and descended upon that oddly bucketed head.
“Life is strange,” he heard some fool mumble out loud.
“The Brickmouse House,” drooled a bigger fool, recalling thru the haze of sheer pain that there were people there who had healed him before.
He looked ahead longingly for a sign of that house, knowing as he did that it was surrounded by a small field of clover where rabbits were protected by the man and woman who lived their… “My, oh me, they had names once when I was young.”
He noted on his right an overgrown lane, what must have once been a little used side street become a tunnel of greenery, oaks hanging over, the tops of which had been splintered by the crashing plane that sank ominously upon the wreckage of the houses behind him to the right. Weeds, bamboo and banana trees grew in an arch over this dandy little lane that he now hustled to:
“Step,
Clack,
Drag.
“Step,
Clack,
Drag…”
So wore the desolate cadence of his progress…
And he drooled, turning right down the eerie lane so faerie fair to his one jaundiced eye. In a world un-kissed by the sun, then secret places of nighted beauty recommended themselves to the dayfarer.
Great houses, overgrown in weedy profusion and home to gangs of raccoons on the upper levels and coyote dens on the lower, reposed back from the tunnel-like canopy of woody greenery and greedy weeds.
To the left a coyote rose, yawned and yipped.
He turned in a start to see that pack of coyotes rising to some grim mission. Then close by he heard a gurgling, snort of a growl, something metallic about it that told of no true beast.
The coyotes all looked at him astart, and, as if with long practice, he rose with a growl on his firm leg and slammed the steely ends of his crutchery down upon the crumbling curb and snarled, an oily snarl, a snarl filled with frothing malice.
The coyotes laid back down reluctantly as the raccoons, thirty of them above nesting in windows, eves, oak limbs that had married and even pierced the shingle shorn roof, observed the neighborly inetraction.
“Step,
Clack,
Double-drag with a snarl…” told of his gruff progress to a lesser tunnel of greenery to the left, a tunnel gated by two great oaks.
This was, he somehow knew, a tunnel that at one time had continued to the right, but where that onetime alley was jammed by the wing of a downed airliner, broken off and tumbled upright between two half shattered trees, vines and their wedge shaped leaves of deep green having made of this wreckage a wall.
He paused. Straight ahead was an intersection he remembered, occupied by a heap of empty automobiles, as if stacked there by some great claw machine fishing from the sky for the vehicle its operator prized, neatly discarding the rest.
To the left, yawned a green tunnel of paradise, a corridor of hope and renewal he knew in his bones he had traversed once and many a time.
‘The Brickmouse House is up there and to the right—yes, seated upon a spring of cool water to drink!’
Clack,
Step,
Clack,
Step… rang his more urgent cadence as the remnants of his mind recalled tea with honey, chocolate with sea salt, whiskey with cinnamon—all of the wonders of the healing world.
Crutching upward within the soft green tunnel, the squirrels scurrying aloft, he saw a rabbit, a big, fat, brown rabbit. This rabbit did not regard him with the fear due his station, did not even seem to worry that he was too near. The rabbit merely nibbled upon some clover, and he knew he was near to the healing place where the nice man grew clover for his little friends.
“Bro, your shit is fucked up,” came the voice of the rabbit, a bit of a plastic voice, but a voice nonetheless.
He stopped, “What?”
“You heard me, Hamslice; you on Death’s very door and just stupit enough to see a ray of hope up the way, makin’ of you a duped dope.”
He stopped, dumbfounded, a poor memory was one thing, but insanity—it might be time to take a header off a roof.
He crutched towards the rabbit and it did wince, then perked up and faced him, rising on its hind legs and putting up it’s little forepaws like dukes. Bamboozled, he said, “Rabbits can’t talk.”
The rabbit did a little boxing step and milled its forepaws, “En neither can vacuum cleaners, you scrap-built piece of junk!”
He crutched forward menacingly and the rabbit beeped, “Come on, bring it, bitch!”
That is when he noticed that the rabbit had a little brown backpack with a radio antenna, and wires going into the rabbit brain.
He backed off and looked around.
The rabbit then stopped menacing and began wiggling its nose on all fours again, “So you ain’t as stupit as all dat, hah, Hamslice.”
“Why do you call me that?” he asked as he looked around for whoever was controlling this rabbit.
“Because your shit is so fucked up you look like a ham done had too many slices carved off, complete with the skewer still stuck in your spiral arm.”
The rabbit began leading him along as the tiny backpack spoke, “You about done, son. You need some healin’ en Rabbit Jack, your meat guide, needz some o’ dat good-ass clover da Tinman do grow.”
The dizziness was pronounced as he crutched along and then turned when the rabbit made a right between two broken down buildings, a big garage and a small brick spring house.
There it was!
“The Brickmouse House!” he drooled.
The rabbit ducked aside as the man spun on his crutches and nearly fell, “Oh, you on yer las’ leg fo sure!”
A force of will rose within him, inflamed by the castigation of this rabbit, and steady he did stand.
“You got it, Hamslice, one step at a time, all downhill from here, right through the back door.”
Below him, between this gravel weed bed and the beautiful brick house, flanked by a ruin on either side, was a field of soft green clover where rabbits grazed.
“Thanks for telling me my name. What’s yours,” asked Hamslice.
“Oh, I’m Preston, across the alley in the bunker house. My avatar here is Rabbit Jack.”
“So, Preston,” he asked as he crutched, “how can all of these rabbits survive here? We have at least a dozen coyotes three houses back.”
The rabbit backpack answered, “Now look left, up the way, under the fallen roof, skulkin’ like a black cat do, come fo some rabbit, new to dis hood.”
Hamslice saw the black cat skulking there.
The backpack then spoke as if to another, “Mama, dis nigga confused…”
Then his right eye, which he could not see with, opened up like an old TV screen, with a pretty Asian girl sitting at a news desk with a phony city skyline behind her.
“Wow, you’re pretty—I’m Hamslice.”
The woman wrinkled her nose and looked off set to some third figure and scolded, “Preston, no wonder he’s confused. Poppy, stick with Poppy.”
She then smiled back into his inner eye and said, “Poppy, repeat after me, ‘Chamber One.’”
Glad to be of use to such a picture of sweet innocence, Hamslice Poppy repeated, “Chamber One,” and a metallic whirl sounded behind his right ear, causing a shoot of pain down into his neck and back and shoulder, then making a steel pin sound.
She then smiled, saluted to him, said, “Clear,” and disappeared, his right eye turning into a magnifying bullseye.
Preston then said, “Poppy, track left until you see the black cat.”
He did so, noting the cat eyeing the rabbits hungrily on the far northwest side of the yard. The inner circle about the cross marks then expanded to encompass the cat and began to pulse and he new what to do, “Fire,” and a steel dart launched from his shoulder with an unerring fishtail precision, skewering the cat and pinning it to an exposed beam of the ruin.
Wonder struck, he stood their among the clover, rabbits grazing all around, two with little backpacks on, “Me, the coyotes keep off ‘cause of me?”
Rabbit Jack then beat a drumbeat on the boot of his dead foot and Preston’s voice came from that backpack, “Poppy, that is a matter of fact.”
“I’m blessed; I have a home,” he drawled, hanging between his steely arms, as he shed a tear, only to be corrected by the toy backpack, “Whateva—yo shit is still all fucked up, get in to Mamma!”
The man named Poppy, no longer derided as Hamslice, was then served the further indignity of being herded into the beautiful brick house he fancied was his home, by a backpack bearing rabbit.
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posted: April 7, 2024   reads: 520   © 2023 James LaFond
The Brawl of Pipes
Act 6, Continued: Tyke of the Orphan Pipes
Dusk, Caesarsday, Second Day of Sepulcher
Knights Alley
The wreckage behind them was so brutish that they slowed, for the giant, who had sensibly if rudely sought to violate the Truce of Pipes in order to gain access to Bell Station on some urgent mission, presumably for the crusading order whose slave he was, was now insensibly squandering whatever time he might have made up with the pointless slaughter of tykes.
They walked now backwards as the rude gladiator become a beast monster transformed their tiny second story nation into a poppet awning of death. Like poppets upon the stage dying before Pompey, or in the London Fire, so fell their little friends. They shivered, and felt not good about going to the place of ambuscade they were bound according to Mob Rule. The Mob Pipes came first, even before wee tykes.
It tasted bad in his mouth, “Dastard Sandman,” he said as he stopped backwalking and stood.
Presses Pipe fell to a leg breaking fall as the Sandman, his feet wide braced, used the pipe to tear down an entire section of scaffold, some higher stairs, and even a pallet from the third story. The Sandman turned to stomp wee Presses Pipe, but five years, and it was obvious would have, but a Jap girl then bent over the tyke to sketch Presses holding his snapped leg.
‘I wonder,’ thought Tyke, ‘was that slavish curiosity or saintly mercy?’
More Gigs fell, one to hit the floor atop a Big body and moan, one to crash on a pallet that listed, and one to be hung up among high wires.
A barrage of bricks and bottles from the agile Twigs above pelted Sandman, one bottle shattering on his helmet and marking the cheek of the Jap girl, it now seemed sketch-nursing, at his feet.
The Sandman reached with his hand for one dangling pallet and a thin voice from above came, the voice of croup-scarred Squeak Gig, “Ahwee, ahwee!”
The rather useless Gig, who none thought would ever amount to but half a Twig, was hung up in the wires, his pale little arm bleeding as he twisted about.
Sandman lost his adore for tyke slaughter with that mournful squeak. He gathered himself, looked with some measure of guilt down at Presses, who was being straight away nursed by the Jap who was being sketched by her fellows, and intoned in an even strident voice, a voice like could be heard through an entire fort or ship, obviously trained up to kiss Caesar’s rare ass in loud tones from the sands, “You lads up there. Cease your fire and attend to your littles.”
Bottles clattered to the floor and broke in his path and various bricks thudded to pallet boards as Squeak cried, Presses whined and some other Gigs began bawling like it was all of a sudden a nursery.
Two things impressed Tyke’s quick mind at this moment: First was the off irony of fact that the construction of their youthful nation hung between fume pipes, smoke stacks and steam pipes, in its deliberate design to foil the progress of heavy-footed Iron Police and whip-wielding Steam Police, with small floors that swing and the hole mess suspended from thin wire, easier for tyke hands to hold then big man paws, had here been turned against its very purpose for an instant. In a momentary flash of spite, Sandman had turned their entire refuge into a swing set of death. Perhaps five of their number were now slain and dead due to the structure of their very refuge being reversed.
Secondly, dastard brute though he was, Sandman never cursed. And, not a Twig above or a Big below doubted his WORD, like the man spoke his very own law, that when a thing was announced he would not do, it was as good as not done.
The Sandman, for that’s all they would call him now after Tyke so blurted it, now drew in a deep breath, calmed himself, shouldered the Great Steel Pipe and set out a blackthorn cudgel as a walking stick. He then regarded them from under the open visor of his steel war hat, set his teeth and limped towards them.
The persistent Japs having now taken over the first floor of scaffolding ahead and sketching all things, particularly the rescue efforts of the Twigs above among the stunned and tangled Gigs, had abandoned the one with the cut cheek, who had put away her sketch pad and pencil and was attending to Presses Pipe.
“To Horseshoe Alley,” came the voice of Check, recapturing leadership. Tyke could not help himself and ran forward slightly and cast a winging dart at that left leg held up by the riot knocker, which he fancied had been an injury had in payment for the rain of Gigs. He had aimed meaningfully for the upper leg, the tender spot between the cods and the hip. But that great brass-gloved hand swept the missile away to clatter in the squared gutter of Knights Alley.
Check hissed as Sandman grimly grinned and Tyke was with them, fast like a sprite for the corner of Horseshoe Alley, their pack of eight harried mobhounds striding out well ahead of the monster who was now their hunted quarry, to meet their fellow conspirators of Pipes for the trophy taking ambuscade that would make the Mob of Pipes the envy of all tykes. [2]
Continued in Ambuscade, Act 6 Concluded
Notes
-1. Sandman is an insulting designation for a gladiator bestowed exclusively by Mobsters, who are free, and who seek to remind with this underhanded appellation, that the designated person is a slave, despite his high social gravity, consigned to its well.
-2. Adult mobsters are generally known as such, with elder mobsters identified by the appellation of “crooks,” a compliment not only for attaining that rare crook cane of criminal old age, but for ever having the angle to frustrate the power of the spikes [lictors] nails [police] and screws [jailers] of civil society.
-3. Police and jailers are private, not public enforcers, employed by industrialists and corporations.
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posted: April 6, 2024   reads: 445   © 2023 James LaFond
‘Good Foot in Heaven, Bad Foot in Hell’
Musings of a Crippled Writer Concerning Post-Modern Mesmerism: 8/10/2023
Lori, a physical therapist of 30 years, choked back tears as she told me, “You are strong, but you have a serious injury. We can’t have you do anymore work then you are doing until the spinal specialist examines you… In the mean time, when taking the stairs, remember this, ‘Good foot in heaven, bad foot in Hell.’ It’s easy to remember that way. Put the weight on the good foot.”
In the week since then, as I have crawled, shrimped, crab walked, crutched, used a walker, wall walked and counter crawled around the Brickmouse House, and out at my mother’s house whom I visited in Whitebreadistan, I had a prawn’s eye view of the world passing bye. The news is all positively delusional and has the same exact messages as the ball games, the TV dramas, the movies and the commercials.
Everything, that is EVERERYTHING, is presented counter to reality.
Worried about crime?
The News profiles dangerous white supremacists being brought to justice on hate crime charges. The news paints a picture of the last likely type of American violence, Ghost on Gawd, as the most likely.
Back to school shopping?
Well, the commercials depict the most common concerned parent, a black man shopping for his son.
Would you like to vacation on a ranch in your four-wheel drive vehicle?
Black cowboys will be there wrangling cattle.
Is there a threat to world peace?
No, it is not the nation that has 931military bases in other countries. It is the nation that is the largest exporter of fuel and grain to less well off nations, ruled by a cartoon dictator, who makes all military decisions based on how mean and cruel the result would be for enemy civilians.
The news broadcast to the people of Goodland, is full of images of tyrannical nations that are utterly evil threatening world peace.
This, the good foot bad foot heaven and hell metaphor, then synced with the image of the idiot American herd, residing in Goodland, a heaven on earth where all people aspire to live, in this sacred ECONOMIC ZONE, looking outward at EVIL and want. As Christianity has devolved into human ethics then the comfort of knowing that we are going to heaven and those others to hell, has shifted to visions of being in the good place and casting judgment upon those in the bad place. I came to appreciate this through media exposure over the week since Lori advised me.
The Postmodern mind has been conditioned to regard itself as occupying a good place or a bad place, never a neutral middle ground, but always either an earthly heaven or hell. Those who discern that they are in the Good place demand that those in bad places be forced to reconfigure their spaces into good places. Those who see themselves in a Bad place either agitate for upheaval and fuel the creation of useful unrest, or commit suicide or delve into drug addiction and lesser distractions.
And all of these people are forever surprised at the next big event, for a moment. Then they get on board with the newly and instantly crafted world view and see the world delusionaly anew. For instance, the tyrant nations that now afflict world peace, were the nations allied in war in my grandparent’s time, against the then evil nations of the world. And those once evil nations, occupied by many Good military bases are now good nations allied against the evil nations who were once good…
In all the world, there is one good place, that has always been good and has fought exclusively against evil places, turning those nations into good places. That is what almost everybody around you, if you are Murican, believes.
That is insane, to think that one place is forever good and unchanging and that all other places that have been bombed and invaded by the good place and its force for good, alternate between evil and good.
How does a population believe such shit?
Looking around in Baltimore, for instance, I have ever only known two people who can see actuality, who can see reality without being hoodwinked by the delusional cacaphony:
Big Ron and The Operator.
Ron sees himself as neutral and The Operator sees himself as bad.
These two men have always been able to see right through the bullshit. I don’t think they are any smarter than most of us. They have three things in common:
-1. Both have had numerous successful violent experiences.
-2. They don’t deal in should, but deal with is.
-3. They are not distracted.
I spent a weekend at my mothers house with four people, three family members and a visiting friend. These people were all confused about various things, agreeing either that Orange Man was Bad or Orange Man Good. They were all confused about their personal plights: how did I get here, why am I so forgetful?
These people who I know very well are perpetually distracted from reality either by problems that are unsolvable and have been implanted in their brain by media lies, or simply because they have been inducted into the cults of popularity and utility, belonging and things, enslaving them to TV commercials, ball teams, political beliefs, etc.
Materialism, or utility, having the best most recent gadget, serves as a great handle for inculcating falsehoods, such as most cowboys, combat soldiers, and truck drivers are black and most violent criminals are white.
However, popularity, seems an even more potent means of getting most of the people most of the time to turn and look at two lies offered up on the world stage and feel that they are the judges that shall decide what is true, having no clue that the only choices are false. I think popularity blinds most of humanity because it takes most people and narrows their collective and individual focus to the point where almost nobody looks away from the lies and asks, “What is no one interested in? What are we being compelled to look away from?”
That person has a chance of finding something that has not been promoted and distorted for profit and advantage by the lie mongers and may find real information pointing towards reality while the general herd gawks at the great delusion trying to divine which thread of that tapestry of lies is true.
Stretching in the dark, I received a phone call from my bright minded editor, who entertained me with some news of the world. We then discussed why it is that nearly all Lefties and Righties believe the same basic lies about the obvious reality we live in, a reality that is not obvious to those who imbibe the grand delusion from either side of the divide.
My short answer was advertising.
Her answer, which gave a context for mine, was that WWII was so expensive, that it cost so much valuable time and material to be spent on wiping out not enough working class Аrуаns to achieve hive stability, that the Plutocrats decided that war on human flesh and artifacts would only be a stage prop in the real war waged to control the human mind.
When I see the rediculous news that Doctor Evil is targeting, not tanks and soldiers with his missiles, but “blood banks” “hospitals” and “civilians,” it is clear that the phony war is the one where Eastern Europeans are actually getting killed, and the real war is on the TV and the Smartphone.
I have written in the past about a house for holding Eastern European slave girls guarded by a BPD cop, from 2017 until 2022. When the one beauty asked me in her thick accent for help escaping I played the coward and picked up my pace. Not being able to tell one Eastern European accent from another, I often wondered, are those Ukrainian girls or Russian?
Two months ago, when I walked by that house into town from the train and bus stations, with the ruck sack that unknown to me at the time had wrecked my lower back, I got my answer. The old lady was outside on the porch, having overseen the removal of the copious security signs, wire and fencing, with blinds actually open. The man cutting the grass next door under a white cowboy hat waved to me.
Those were obviously Russian bitches. If they had been Ukrainian, the house would still be in business.
There, I finally agree, Doctor Evil is a menace, his evil regime depriving Baltimore of our best looking whores.
04.07.24   Maud'Dib — Quote from above

"That person has a chance of finding something that has not been promoted and distorted for profit and advantage by the lie mongers and may find real information pointing towards reality while the general herd gawks at the great delusion trying to divine which thread of that tapestry of lies is true."
04.07.24   Bones @FiveGunsWest — Fucking great stuff, James. I hope something good happens for you and the portal to another level opens up.
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posted: April 5, 2024   reads: 929   © 2023 Bones @FiveGunsWest
Cracker to Crumb
Hubris and the Dissident Writer: 7/13/2023
“James, there is a special pleasure to be had in taking care of someone as stubborn and self-relliant as you.”
-Brickmouse, June 25, 2023
Before leaving Jersey I watched a movie titled Cobra Verde which ended with an insane criminal trying to shove off of an African shore as a bent and crippled four-legged African observed him. Upon coming to Baltimore, the day before I realized that I had seriously injured my back on the train and bus trip and hike, I saw, at Harford and Hamilton, a crippled midget black man perhaps 50 pounds in weight and 3 feet tall, as well bent into a three-legged posture selling bottled water. I bought a bottle and gave him money for two and shook hands as he said, “thank you, sir.”
In 36 hours I would be crippled like he. I have not walked since, cannot stand long enough to brush my teeth, and have slept a mere four nights in forty.
A fellow writer has suggested I am subject to a hoodoo curse. Ironically, I bought that bottle of water at the exact spot where the very first scene of The Last Whiteman was set.
The old back injury that lost my little house and smaller hopes and set me forth in stages across a nation I had never even considered traversing, has called me home and broken me here, on these asphalt, concrete and brick shoals of urban disrepair. Yet, seemingly cursed, I remain oddly blessed by chance met souls.
The help given by a dozen young men and their women is humbling. My goal is to return to writing, then walking, and then light travel—the vigorous life of ring, gym, ditch, woodpile and garden behind me. I do expect to once again be a model house guest who does the dishes and squares away his living area.
Living upon crutches, when I could—now reduced to a walker—made for interesting times: dancing with a negro at a Pittsburgh, PA Dollar Tree, three stepping around him as he asked me, “Would you dance wit me brother,” and then we bumped fists.
A pair of negroes tried to pick a fight with Rick and I—my old friend going through chemo—and backed off as we old crippled and sick stood up to them.
Two negores in MacKees Rocks trying to mug me twice, first failing their gut check and moving on as I stood ground, and second sneaking up behind me only to run into my body guard Mescaline Franklin.
Two more negroes that night hunted me on my way home from the bar in Bellavue, having their way barred by my friend.
Then there were the numerous Good Samaritans, black and guilt-bright who assisted me in small and kindly ways.
These were to be articles. But my mental life has been submerged in a painful haze these past ten days, writing haven fallen away. Back at this keyboard, I need to scrap journalism for the year with this fragmentary wrap up and a concept epilogue titled Foreground Noise. Below are the fragments not to be written.
I am looking at a long haul to recover: wrecked knee, ruptured disc and hernia [1] and do have the main site scheduled out until January 7 2024. After writing Foreground Noise I will engage only in fiction and history this year. Beginning in February 2024 posts will not be scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday.
Fiction will run on weekends as it does now.
History and Journalism will post Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
It has long been an honor to have many young writers among this readership. I no longer conduct reader dialogues. If you have composed something you would like posted at jameslafond.com, send it as a Libra Open Office document, with whatever links to your site and books you wish to appear already embedded, and I will schedule it for the next open Tuesday or Thursday.
Below are the fragmentary outlines:
Hoofing It
Notes in urban hiking
I would also point out that in every mass migration or escape from war/natural disaster, many people end up walking.  The ability to hoof it with a light backpack or shoulder bag is a fundamental survival skill. 
Don Quotays, June 7 2023
An Аrуаn from Conduction
Gimp Graphomania #2: Pittsburgh, PA, 6/28/2023
Three Simps of Conduction
Gimp Graphomania #3: Pittsburgh, PA, 6/29/2023
Arts of Conduction
Gimp Graphomania #4: Pittsburgh, PA, 6/30/2023
Notes
-1. I have since discovered that I have no hernia—it was all the old injured back collapsing all along and here I was lifting with my back again to keep from busting a hernia I did not have, getting back to this shit stain city just in time to fail in her darkened precincts once again.
Post Script
I make this note on 8/5/23, having come out of 7 weeks of extreme agony less a man. I lost part of myself moaning in the dark and crawling for 5 weeks, unable to loose consciousness unless drunk, only to wake when I sobered up. Two days ago Lori, my physical therapist, was in tears unable to cope with my condition, suggested I cancel the next appointment. I now have permanent shakes [I have a hard time pouring the first 4 shots], a mostly dead right leg, and elevated blood pressure, just not the same cracker, but a crumb. I’m calling this semi-retirement as a writer, hoping to do two history books, 2 journals and 6 novels a year. Now that the pain is back down to 7 and 8, I can sleep and am drying out from the booze and fasting. When you have to walk with your arms, every pound is a liability, so I’m headed down to lightweight. I wake every 2 hours when the pain crests, do an hour of exercise and nod off again. I can handle 2 hours of screen time and hope to walk in September. The exercises consist of doing every movement and pose I can imagine that does not increase nerve pain. The last time I was hurt this bad took me from age 31 to 36 to get back to sparring, fighting and working—so that stuff is all gone.
Hopefully the writing does not suffer as much in quality is it has in quantity. Thank you all for your support, especially the Brickmouse and Bride, who put up with a human inch worm slithering about their bridal space, Baruch and Mister Safranno who paid for my medical transport, and Yeti Waters who sent me a text reminding me that I’m nothing but a white trash piece of shit. That latter helped me reorient myself from where I did crawl to where I did finally fall, back into the rancid craw of the horrid city that spawned a dreamy little sissy once named Jimmy.
This is the last Tuesday post and there will be no more Thursday posts. Weekends are fiction, which makes the future ratio of nonfiction to fiction 3 to 2.
04.07.24   Maud'dib — Man your posts are 8 months behind. 8/23, now 4/24
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posted: April 3, 2024   reads: 1026   © 2023 Maud'dib
4 Keys to Groe Mastery
In Post Paleface America: 7/31/2023, Baltimore
The Brickmouse was helping me with my therapy when he asked, “James, what exactly are the keys to your apparent mastery of these people? Is it something that can be learned?”
This reminded me of a recent conversation with another host who described how invincible he felt walking with a group of ten or more of his fellows to a social event, that so many palefaces together caused normally aggressive Groes to step away rather than to affect their normal tropical bray.
He asked me if I had that same feeling and I said, “No, absolutely not. When I’m in a grope I’m nervous because I don’t know how many of my companions will start trouble that might involve me in an altercation.” I was once attacked by two men while my back was turned and my coworker simply ran, did not even say, “Hey, six o’clock!”
The crux is here, that all of us Guilt Americans are atomized, going to work alone, usually working alone, often living alone, which makes us vulnerable to our unemployed and entitled foes. That is why my second host here felt so good about being with like-minded men of prenatal macro-ethnic guilt.
I stumbled upon the key to enslaving Groes with a mere look, a pure thought, a hidden hand, an unspoken commitment to go to Hell. This was mostly because that I never was part of group of friends—ever. I was a loner as a child and teen. As an adult I was hated by coworkers for my high productivity. As a fighter, I journeyed alone, always to and from the gym, that fraternity location specific, even cryptic. Additionally, where the normal Guilt American drives, I always walked, mostly at night, putting me in a rare high frequency prey category.
From that place, I stumbled upon the key to Groe mastery: SILENCE. Of the four keys, this is not the most important, but amplifies the three others, so is also a bonus factor, the second most important of the 4. These minds are shallow, internally fragile, verbally actuated and possessed of feral instincts unknown to the denatured Whiteman. [1]
Two nights ago I had to turn off a Myth 20 episode as the host waxed on and on about the combat superiority of the invincible West African warrior, another example of why any philosopher must be a fighter or remain doomed to being forever surprised by human nature and chained to Platonic forms.
Below are the 4 keys to walking as the Groe Mazing Master through their jabbering ranks without being molested.
In 1981 I was small, pale and alone, walking to work through a white neighborhood along the main street, which was colonized and patrolled, like a demographic shit stain, by Groe warriors, specifically there to hunt palefaces. The first thing that kept me from being the only lifelong Baltimore pedestrian of my race to never be defeated by Groe Huntsmen in combat was this, which accounts for I believe 40% of my success:
-1. Combatant status. I, even while crippled and dragging myself around on crutches, Identify as only one social thing: A FIGHTING MAN. I faced down two groups of Groes on crutches earlier this month in Pittsburgh. I always new that I would fight, even before my first fight, had forged my world-hating mind into a central premise of going out fighting, not begging.
#1: 40%. So, you must be a fighter and identify yourself as a combatant. This is not to say a self defense practitioner, but a fighter. You need to fight in competition to forge the spirit that will not be broken when faced with defeat. Because if it comes to you throwing hands with a pack of Groes, you are getting hurt and possibly killed. What keeps them off is their instinctive sense that, “Oh, dis Cracka Jack ready ta throw down—lets jack some udda nigga.”
-2. SILENCE. I first refused to answer the threats of Groes because I was afraid my voice would crack, or that I would say the wrong thing. Then I noticed, that I was the only one of my kind not attacked by these critters. My Roommate Ronbone, 6’ 6” 320 pounds made the mistake of talking to Groes and got knifed.
#2: 20% Silence is key of Groe wrangling, as it amplifies #1, #3 and #4. It communicates these facts to the ape brain of the chimpspastic aggressor.
-3. ARMED. Being armed and dressed in a way that any thug will instinctively suspect that your loose clothing conceals a weapon, is about 20% of the game. This is why the most civil fashions of postmodern Cuckery for men features tight clothing.
#3 20% ARMED, including concealed carry. This works mostly according to the intelligence of a Groe leader and their overall feral instincts for who is not prey. This will make you a mark for the PIGZ as well.
-4. Being THAT GUY. That final 20% is experience based instinct for sensing intent, essentially cultivating a nasty little Groe in your soul. Just over the past decade I have had numerous Groes call me “Nigger,” just about when they decide I’m THAT GUY.
#4: 20%, that final edge is being THAT GUY, who will stab you until his knife snaps, beat you until his hands break, and then bite your nose off and spit it down your pie hole...and then start jump stomping you into curb custard.
Summary
The Brickmouse is a fighter, tested and true, and is not THAT GUY. He’s a nice guy. So he’s got his 40%, and when he is packing a weapon and keeping his mouth shut, he’s in the top 80% cut of crackers Groes would rather not tangle with.
The big thing is to frame yourself as a combatant and mental inventory every person you meet as combatant or non combatant. This habit alone is a Groe Ward of great power and raises the value of your other qualities. Among the Groes of Jabberdom, those martyr gawds of the fantastical realm of should, silence pays huge dividends, especially when you are outnumbered and they are up for a fight. That silence is an indication that you are armed.
Enjoy the Groepocalypse.
Notes
-1. Up until 2015, Whiteman was still a word in the computer dictionary. I am now getting a red line.
04.02.24   Maud'Dib — I've always found sending out do not touch/bother mental signals when in a dangerous area prevents hostile encounters 75% of the time.
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posted: April 1, 2024   reads: 1233   © 2023 Maud'Dib
Bucket Head
Rabbit Jack: Motherboard #1. B
Lonely was he. There was a woman once, a woman that cried, a woman with a face he could not forget, but a name that he could not remember no matter how he tried.
Dazedly he crutched around a mail box post—it had once been such a post. But the elbow-high post with the birdhouse box upon the top was tastelessly decorated with skulls, cleaned, human skulls, wired to the post or so hung from the bird house. Only the peaked roof of the tiny house was not so violated.
‘Oh, what the hell. This is not the place. I never passed such a horrid sight coming home from her house—I had a home?’
Staring, slack-jawed and drooling through his one eye, he crutched around the post, looking at the six skulls there, not wanting to turn his back on such a sad sight, for fear that the wights down below lost to these skulls might take affront and haunt him.
A chill touched him as he circled around, then turned and crutched upward, ever upward on a low grade, along the shattered concrete, wrecked and abandoned and gutted vehicles, their tires all gone, the innards turned into great rat nests, the ravenous rodents having risen from the sewers of their yesteryore to nest upon the very concourses where men had once so haughty drove—where a broken thing, more haunted by the world in its previous form than worldly informed, crookedly strove.
The houses looming above the piled wreckage to his left—south he knew in his gyroscopic soul—had their roofs all removed as if by a tornado that liked brick not but loved roof shingles. There many a murder of crows roosted, hungrily regarding him, he knew, upon the jagged broken walls of those once grand houses.
To his right, he knew was the way. The beautiful brick and stone houses with great swept foyers, before and beneath the sweep of roof loomed on the hill above the northward alley...that alley was blocked with a great steel trash truck flipped on its back, the only dead vehicle to retain its tires.
The houses themselves, that smiled so vividly in his memory soul, grimaced now under the weight of a plane that had crash-landed among them to clothe its burned frame in brick and stone. Small maple trees were sprouting from the ruin, trees that must be about ten years old. Upon the wreckage roosted turkey vultures, no longer enjoying the majesty of their power poles, all felled by some heavenly force.
‘How do I know about trees?’ mused he as he crutched along woodenly.
“Nest to Buzzard, Nest to Buzzard,” sounded a wondrous cute girl of voice from his arm, no, the back of his right wrist, where the watch was. Below the hour, minute and second hands, that told the time as 8:43, which he knew to be in the morning, smiled the face of a pretty girl. He looked longingly down into that face, “A Buzzard I am, I suppose. My, you’re a pretty thing.”
The small face smiled, “Well thank you, Poppy. You like the new eye lids?” and her pretty eyes fluttered under the pile of red hair.
“Nice,” he observed.
Knowing that he knew this woman, and that she seemed a daughter or niece or some such, and embarrassed that he could not recall who she was or her name, he stalled, and self consciously touched the bleed above and behind his left eye.
“Awe!” she cooed, lovingly, “Guiallo Girl will patch you up, Poppy. At your current rate, you will be in the nest at 9:10. Did you get the juice?”
He felt stupid, and recalling the woman who cried when he left liking lemon juice, but knowing most preferred orange, he asked, “Lemon or orange?”
She smiled widely and giggled, though her eyes sparkled darkly. Your rucksack, hold your wrist up over your head, pointed down and back, so I can see it.”
He did so and her voice peeped, “Cool beans! You did it. This is such a big day!”
Wanting to see her smile of approval he pulled his right hand down, his crutch dangling from it as he leaned on the left, it seeming that his right leg was entirely lame and looked into that tiny screen to see her pretty smile of approval turn into a frown of concern. She chirped, “Danger, danger Will Robinson—big fooker at nine o’clock!”
He put down his right crutch and turned, just in time to see a very large black man with an afro popping out from under the orange 5-gallon bucket he wore for a hat. This man was sneak-limping towards him, intent it seemed on steeling his crutches.
Their eyes locked, him being as tall as the other, for the big man was down in the gutter, creeping between a Nissan rat nest and a flipped Mustang. His back leg was so broken and twisted that the man, near 7 feet tall if he were upright, stood no taller than the bent remnant of a man whose name was apparently Poppy. Poppy felt a sorrow in his heart and blurted, “You need help, Sir?”
The man snarled and lurched closer, great big hands incased in gauntlets made of bailing wire and tire treads clutching for Poppy’s crutches. Poppy crutched back around in a triangle pattern and weaved, a bit dizzy from what felt like a really slick move, like he had done it before. He then felt a sizzling in his right eye, at least where his eye would be if he had it, and he was now looking at two sights: his left eye saw Bucket Head dragging himself up over the weed-grown curb with murderous, or at least larcenous, intent. In his right eye, he saw what looked like Guiallo Girl in an old TV screen, complete with a fake city skyline backdrop from the 1970s NEWS at 11.
“Poppy,” she said, “your blood pressure is only 80 over 50. No more evasive action or you could end up under him.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he slurred drunkenly.
Bucket Head, hearing those words, seemed to think he was insulting his masculinity, rose up like a great bear, exposing that each finger on his right hand under the tire tread gauntlet, had razor blades taped to them and that the fingers on the left hand bent nails and screws taped to them. He froze in wonder as the man dragged closer, looming over him, imbued with a sudden, nearly upright vitality.
To his rescue came who he could only consider his handler, sitting there all pretty and smiling, “I got this Poppy. Left jab!”
With that, Poppy put most of his weight on his right claw crutch, then made to push off that and lunge onto his left foot, jabbing the malefactor in the chest with that drill bit crutch—and to his amazement and the horror of his attacker, the re-bar that mounted the drill bit to the steel pipe screamed into rotational fury as Guiallo Girl sang, “Screw him!”
‘What a mess this is,’ he wondered as the 6 inch drill bit excavated the breast bone of the giant who sank nails into Poppy’s shoulder and slashed his jabbing arm and good leg with that razor hand.
Dizziness over came him as he drilled the giant with whom he was embraced in a crooked dance of the lame. Eventually the clawing and ripping stopped even as the drill ran out of juice and the darling in his right eye, cursed, “Stale crackers and cold soup!”
The weight of the man was great and Poppy was not well, feeling far and away south of strong. But his savior angel’s voice sounded in his right ear and pleaded with praying hands in his right eye, “Poppy, you can do this! The rats are coming, crows too—do it for Zipline Cline and the Tinman. They, need, us!”
“I juz wanna die, girl…” he moaned as the old, cold quit rose in him.
Her voice then soothed, “Fireball cut with Mount Gay 151, on ice—move your ass and I’m pouring the shots!”
With a grunting heave, Poppy realized that he possessed a gnome like beard, and could not tolerate the idea of it padding some rat’s nest. As the rats scurried forth from the nearest wrecked cars, he turned Bucket Hat into the gutter. Then, as the rats gathered in a semi-circle, as if according to some ancient truce, Poppy pulled out a meat cleaver from a sheathe on his left leg, hooked the bucket head with his right crutch, and hacked that head off.
As soon as he stood, and looked down as if by instinct to the mail box festooned with some number of skulls, he looked to the rats and nodded, and they ushered Bucket Head’s torso off to perpetual gloom one tiny bite at a time. Poppy, according to some instinct, limped back down to the mailbox, which he sensed was important to Guiallo Girl, and crowned that post with a magnificent head, wondering how many rats would take up residence in the bucket—a king and his harem perhaps?
The small screen in his right eye lit up with fireworks and gave way to a Dominican dancing girl of outrageous proportions wiggling about a pole, the voice of Guiallo Girl in the background cheering:
“Poppy does best,
Laying crimps to rest!”
He weaved, “Poppy don’t feel too good.”
The screen was now inhabited by his handler, even prettier and more Asiatic than usual in a white nursing outfit, as she raised a syringe and said, with a wry grin, “Adrenal 3—grind it out Poppy.”
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posted: March 31, 2024   reads: 979   © 2023 James LaFond
Under Hellsong Pipes
Act 6: Tyke of the Orphan Pipes
Dusk, Caesarsday, Second Day of Sepulcher
“What in ‘ell, a giant at the gate lettin’ in an art school o’ Japs?” mumbled Tyke, eight years old now and a full lad. Intent on carrying his weight in this battle—and battle it was as Crimp Pipe could be heard gurgling out his life below while Tim Pipe, their herald, did not disappoint and insulted the foe up and down the bawdish list of insultry until he groaned low as something crunched, them moaned far and away as something smashed and finally cursed, “Fuggin’ Scot Mop!”
Then something snapped and the two ready gatemen had been silenced.
Check bawled: “Bigs at ‘im! Twigs o’er ‘im!! Gigs away!!!” [1]
Check raced down the make shift wire and slat stairs, from pallet to pallet. A pot crashed on a grunting thing beneath them and it roared, a brick heaving up past Tyke as he looked down, crashing through a slat, and mashing in the face of Plug Twig, who had dropped the heavy pot of nails and now pitched down after it, crashing through the slat rail across from Tyke, getting hung up by the arm, dangling, then the hand coming off, falling to a crippling landing, a landing which crushed a little Jap sketch artist below.
A flame lit in Tyke, “I’ll butcher that bull o’ bully men!”
“No you won’t,” snarled Check, who reached into an emergency slot box in the brick work and handed Tyke an oiled leather pouch. Tyke took the pouch and looked at Check who answered, “Darts—Big Gig ‘ill hold ‘im en we race ahead to Horseshoe Alley.”
They did so, traveling across the second floor, that first level of pallets which had drop wire ladders between every second and third wire suspended pallet.
Gigs were scrambling for the roof.
Twigs were dodging above and behind the intruder, hurling stuff down on him, slowing his progress.
Bigs were racing ahead gathering at the end of the alley.
Only one Big dropped down, ten pallets in: Big Gig. Big was bigger than a man but had the mind of a Gig, or rather a slow boy of 7 to Tyke’s fast mind of 8. Gig was called “retarded” by those uppity ups of the boss-minding kind who thought a person was born to the world to learn from it rather than to be taken from it. Even bigger than a man, Gig was the Thunder of Pipes, wielded a four foot long steel, not mere iron, pipe of two inches width, what the foundry bosses kept their steel doors barred with. [2]
They had raced out ahead of Big Gig, where he roared down below, and they had to stop and watch their hero trade blow for deadly blow. This was done by lying down on the chest and hanging head so that they saw the combat upside down.
As Big as Gig was, he was a head shorter than the gladiator and half his girth. Lit by shadow, lantern, greasy cresset and sparks, the battle was brief and surreal. Followed by a half dozen knobs of nosy Japan, scribbling away in their white jackets, and pants or skirts depending on whether they were boy or girl, the gladiator limped furiously at Big Gig who let loose his best screaming swing. That pipe was caught in the brass manicad hand of the gladiator, wrenched free and the mallet like right fist of the gladiator smashed into Gig’s Big soft head and ended that idiot life forever, dropping Big Gig straight away dead.
There was awed silence among the jabbering Twigs and the bantering Bigs. Only the sound of the Japs sketching and scribbling could be heard above the hissed inhalation of the giant who seemed to look with sadness upon the stilled form in on the alley floor before him.
The man looked up at their hanging heads, their dropped jaws, their wide eyes and cursed, “Ye retard ausin’ brats! Ye cruds set ME! To fence a dimwit...I’ll skin ye all fo da Devil collect yer souls.” So he roared, sizzle-like, stalking forward one mad step, then stopping, as if some higher-minded, more cold, calculating soul had taken back possession of his progress.
With those words, seeming to conjure a hatred in molten ore for their entire tiny race, only to have it chilled to cold steel, the man leaped upward with the steel pipe in both hands, caught it between two pallets and yanked, and yanked!
Slats cracked.
Wires whined, snapped and whipper-wawled.
He leaped from the hanging mess of wire and board, leaped higher and back and yanked and tore, his arms seeming to propel him like Twig legs did lesser beings of the upper stories.
Slats cracked and boards popped.
Wires snapped and pallets tilted—and he yanked, returning to his molten fury, howling like a king of apes.
Twigs began to fall, to grasp slat, wire and board, and be turned side-loose and whipped against the wall.
Pallets tipped and fell and more Twigs and even whimpering wee Gigs fell from higher yet, some being hung up in the wires by arms, legs and a one by his wee neck!
This was a one man slaughter of lads and tykes.
Those that fell to the hard concrete gutter were stomped by those huge boots.
Some few of the stoic Japs were slain or maimed in this mess. Yet, some of them mounted the remains of the hanging pallet floor and moved forward, sketching from there.
Check looked at Tyke and said, “We need some Japs! If we get out of this, get we some Japs, wee ones, like these, you being the Marshall of Tykes!”
“Yes, Boss,” said he, as he swung down, and his boss following his lead and signing the rest to do likewise, the entire strength of them, Tyke and about eight Bigs, ran for the corner of Horseshoe Alley while the enraged retard-killing gladiator slaughtered Twigs, pallets, Gigs and wee Japs too.
Continued in: The Brawl of Pipes
Notes
-1. Bigs were man size or near so, generally youths of 13 and older. Twigs were lads between 8 and 12. Gigs were younger lads. Lads younger than 8 were directed to seek hidey holes at such dire times. These were called by outsiders “brats,” their presence obscured to prevent bratnabbers hunting them.
-2. Two men tried to waylay the author with such a pipe in about 1983. But thankfully the drunk one tackled me between his boss and that ready pipe. We used it for a pallet pry bar when a pallet taken crookedly on the forks was setting down on the legs of the stand behind lift, getting hung up before resting on the floor. Knight Alley is heavily inspired by my time in stockrooms using pallets, pipes and bailing wire, as well as hunting for night clerks hiding and sleeping among the racks and stacks. -JL, 11/8/23
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posted: March 30, 2024   reads: 1024   © 2023 James LaFond
Foreground Noise
Some Thoughts on the Soundtrack of Our Lives: 7/14/2023
Many times people, writers have asked me, how I can write so much and have never experienced “writer’s block.”
Others, writers as well, have marveled that I must be a genius, for I have predicted things no one else saw and made historical deductions beyond the grasp of top academics, that I must have dropped out of high school due to boredom.
How can I be right about Xerxes’ million man army and the U.S. Army War College be wrong, if not for they being a well of mediocrity and me being some enlightened singularity?
The answer is, because I am a retard. I was unable to read until age 11, never passed or even completed a math quiz in my life. I dropped out of high school to get to work for the simple reason that I was failing, for the third year in a row to pass 9th grade. I tried. I cried. I quit.
Fast forward to my gimpy crutch trip to see ailing Rick. Some Deep State Bullshit headline about a Russian criminal toppling the Putin Regime was commented on by Rick, who felt compelled to take one of the two sides offered as an explanation. I told him that it was simple, bad theater. He said, “I don’t see it, but every time you see it and make a prediction, a week or a month or a year later I end up saying, ‘You’re right, you called it.’”
I said, “I’m always right about these things, because I am uninformed. You watch TV, the news, listen to podcasts and radio. The main thing is that the music embedded in TV, movies, News, youtube documentaries, plays, podcasts, radio, commercials, these are all mesmerism devices used to yoke the individual thinker to the emotive tides of the collective feeling, preventing, negating or erasing reason.”
I have noted that few people think or reason beyond using those capacities to justify their feelings. The entire fantastical multiverse of SHOULD stands upon the use of keen, fierce and even genius levels of human reason devoted to no other cause than justifying the emotional state of that “reasoning” being.
Freshly injured and even crippled, the first response of some few souls was to convince me finally that I must start seeking enlightened Nirvana through weed, magic mushrooms or some other drug. I use alcohol to pass out for a couple hours when in too much pain to sleep, or to reboot the brain from fixating on a just finished project and focusing on the next. It’s a flat commodity without interesting or insightful effects, a simple deadening of thought to ease a brain that winds 20 hours a day through curious corridors.
After not sleeping a month I started using a weak opiate for bedtime and really dislike the muddy lack of clarity that clouded the writing brain more so than did the raging pain.
As I gimped around and Rick worked on his motorcycle between smoking the weed that enabled him to eat, I noted, like at Megan’s and Mom’s places, that there was a comprehensive lack of peace: lights and TV, or music, or radio on in every room, no place to go without the mass mind spilling its tidal sludge into the audio field.
In great pain, in need of exercise and unable to take a seated position to write, I hobbled after Rick to the garage where “WDVE Pittsburgh, the radio station you grew up with” blared from the I-Heart network. 75% of the programming was commercials, not music. Rick even argued with some commercials, just as my friend Mister Gray does argue with you tube commercials.
Rick was using the music he grew up with to permit him to drown out all but the focus he needed for his wrenches and parts. He said, “Remember this song, Jim,” we used to listen to this in my basement?”
“No.”
He would then reel off the name, the band, the writer, the band history and I thought, “Wow, this is a pain killer for him, a teleportation back to a time in our youth when, though we did not trust the world, we would have never believed that America was 99% a lie.”
More loud, stupid commercials, then a song. I recalled how I had as a teen used music as a sound track to hitting the heavy bag, then in my 20s to keep my heart rate and rhythm up while I stocked groceries, and finally, from 2010 through 2017, how I listen to Nordic ambient music and some Audio Slave and Sound Garden over and over again to drown out the noise of my land lord in his office beneath me making deals over the phone.
Since 2018, I do writing and thinking in silence as much as possible, in the dark or dim light whenever I can. Beginning in 2011 I began making predictions and historical observations beyond the common ken, having escaped the blinding sound track of our contrived lives.
In much pain I sat in the garage as the heavy metal music rocked and used that noise to get into a rhythm of rolling the 2 inch PVC pipe over the knots in my thigh, to grind them out. Music, like drugs is a reliever of the soul-deep pain inflicted by hellish modernity. Look at a concert and see mass hypnosis, a state of sedate to irate hysteria that any ancient person would have equated with religious ecstacy and fervor. These temporary states of collective euphoria, banned during Covid, have returned in great demand, harnessing the damned up waters of the mass mind to extract cash in exchange for a brief tonic of belonging.
I live across the nation with many people. I do not live with anyone who does not, in short order, after the business of the day is done, exchange their own inner thoughts, for the noise of the world. When my best friends get drunk, they always go looking for the music they heard as a youth and replay that happy hopeful cadence.
People who have great difficulty writing and making art, despite this being their stated goal, often say to me, “This back ground music really helps. You should try it. It’s just background.”
Yet I do not partake but write in silence as their efforts are forever blocked.
Music was used in battle, war, parade and ritual, for the very reason that it establishes the emotional, tidal, social collective as the foreground and places the reasoning individual in the tiny background. For a poet, writer, sketch artist or novelist, to put on music or a podcast or the TV or a movie and declare that it is mere “background” music to ease him along his creative way, is identical to the soldier at Waterloo marching to his death to the cadence of fife and drum, declaring that the martial music, crackle of musketry and the roar of the cannonade are mere background noise to his heroic one-man effort, when in fact he himself is a mere note in that terrible song.
Listening to audio books, I have found, is quite difficult for many people. This is because, as I have used crutches to drag my body about these past 6 weeks, most of us have had music embedded into our every thought process through TV programming, movie sound tracks and even video game. The lone words of the audiobook require an exercise of the mind that the same words accompanied with images and music will not induce, causing an atrophy of the mind.
A man once said to me that we could not have civilization without music, and I agree. Music, like drugs, seems to be a coping mechanism for the alienation of civilization.
The background music brings us to the collective foreground. As I have discovered while being sorely hurt, being in the foreground, being the subject of inquiry and observation, does much to clutter, muddle and stifle thought.
I so welcome back the pondering silence, the painful clarity that permits this great puzzle of Dys to be plumbed far beneath the collective surface.
03.31.24   Barry Bliss — Good one, James.
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posted: March 29, 2024   reads: 2138   © 2023 Barry Bliss
At the Well of Conduction
Gimp Graphomania #1: Pittsburgh, PA, 6/27/2023
Datz rite Groe, you drunk, back dat shid up!
Yes sir, baked up.
Punky was somewhat flumuxxed moments ago when I asked her to mix 2 shots of rum into each of my three morning coffees…
It has been 7 days since Doc Dread informed me that my knee was “structurally sound” and then showed me by way of x-ray cartoon shadow that “your spine is compressed.” He then shot me in the lumbar with magic juice and Young Brett ushered me fourth into the world, five minutes with THE MAN having tought me more about by structural dysintegrity than 3 hours at urgent care.
“James,” says the strapping stud, “Doc looks tired. Back in the day he was never tired.”
What a fine young man—took me to pharmacy, bank, pharmacy, diner, back to the Brickmouse House, where he handed me off to the stud who retired me from stick in May and said, “We ought to spar some time,” and as Brick Mouse shook hands and swallowed hard, edited, “easy like, no ego, just technique.”
After he left and Brickmouse, more of an over-built creature like me than the apex HE, while helping me through spinal decompression evolutions counseled, “James, it would be an honor to help Brett prepare to Smack down other cavemen. However, for me, that is a hurdle too far—let me see if I can decompress this for you.”
And we fall together as a team: the Titan, the Artificer and the Empathetic Genius: one boldly, decently striding, one sympathetically conniving and one actively caring. We are the three Monkeys of Could: beast, brain and heart.
Brett took my scripst in. But I would have to pick them up, because one was an opiate pain killer. I wanted to cry when I asked Doc for that and he shook his head and gave me another chance to pussy out and I did… this man, 2 years ago got crushed by a tree and took not an asprin and I, shaken and craven had asked for the mercy of the Poppy.
I was experiencing the myopic selfishness of the critically spent, unsure of those around me. Brett, patiently stalking me as I hobbled a-crutch back to the pharmacy, took control as old ladies looking at me with fear, like I would would die and them be unable to aid though near, would ask if I was in line, and Brett’s strong, clear, commanding voice would say, with a note of kindness, “Ma’am, our script is not filled yet—you go ahead,” and I would nod thankfully, as if it was something gracious I had said.
What a man.
28, I think.
I was stocking shelves and sneaking by hoodrats on my way to work.
He is training with British SAS troopers, a Gurkha, even, at Fort Dicks, and returning to thank me for, “Being there for me when I was young.” [2]
I try not to cry.
He tries not to notice.
“James,” he says, before we pull off into the gathering rain, which I did not realize until then always gathered anew about a hopeful mane, “I knew, when you told me that you were too bad off to lay it down [1] that you were bad off. So I’m here, whatever you need, James.”
I felt like Nestor being put to tender bed by Achilles.
The next morning, after Brickmouse had tended me and I took 5 hours making my guest bed and clearing the visitor deck, he came home from a hard day at work and drove me to Megan, the loyal cook and wife of the wandering creep who she knows, damn well stops off first to see Miss Ezz, and says, “So nice to meet you, Megan. I believe I will see you tomorrow. Please take came of him—he’s not very good at it.”
She sucks off her cigg and blurts, as the Mexicans marvel at a white guy double parked, “He’s a dumbass and a half, Baby,” thanks for bringing Poppy home.”
As he leaves and I practice traction on the crutches she wonders at his departure, “Fuckin’ Keeanu Reeves with Patrick Swazzy’s ass—and God let you hit that with a stick—no wonder your buggered up! Well, here’s to the view!”
“Fawk, babe!, I’m dyin’ here.”
The second brother of the two next door, the brawny Mexican who told me once upon a Negro Shewing time, “Don’t worry Poppy, we got this!” came home and looked at me, hobbling on the porch, “Poppy, what happened?”
I could tell by the look in his eyes he hoped dearly that I had not fallen prey to Negroes.
What a man, like Brett and Brickmouse, about 5’ 11” and all muscle. I immediately save the next feral Negroe to skulk through the hood and say, “Oh, my rucksack was too heavy—should not have tried to make off with all of Cibolla’s gold!”
He pats me on the shoulder and reminds, “Poppy” if you need anything, I am here!”
I get it, the strong, the striving and the raw young, they crave that example of the Fallen that snarls, “Never done,” and it helps in there quest to become.
The next day, a Friday I think, five days past, I spend 2 hours relearning how to walk and stand. I check my phone and Megan has texted me at 7:27 A.M.: “Saw Keeanu first thing, what a beautiful man!”
“Yes, babe. I hit him with a stick once and then he put me down… and yes, his wife is a beautiful as you imagine and I never look twice…”
“Fawkig lyin’ dawg!” she texts back and all is rite in the world.
At 10:45 I head out a-crutch to Eastern Avenue to get the Essex, Whispering Woods or Franklin Square bus to Stemmers Run, were I will board the Towson bus and meet The Man in the Hat, Father of Brett, at Towson Town Center. Our land Lady, Georgia, widow of such a better man than me, Bruce, Megan’s oldest brother, say, “You be careful now, come back to us.”
I had been supposed to sand and paint that porch of hers that I now limped off of into the gathering rain.
It takes a half hour for me to get 5 blocks!
I get soaked in the rain and two tractor trailers stop and wave me across Rolling Mill Road. I must look near death for these Jippos to shed a care.
I am covering old ground. In 1993, I came here by night to work at the supermarket—now I pass it by by the morning light. The original back injury put me out of work here, exactly 30 years ago setting me on this course.
I board the bus and the driver says, “Money man, it but $2 dollars to take this shuttle can, Big Money—Big Money!” and I fed those two ones into the meter, confident that the next bus would have a broken meter and that there was no need to buy a $4.80 ticket.
Aboard the bus, I receive 2 pics of me crutching along Rolling Mill from Brickmouse, who had been working on the rack system above Megan’s job site, accompanied by a text, “You are moving better today!”
Afoot for four minutes, I boarded the bus for Towson and the meter was jammed—go figure, and arrives in Towson at 12:30, 30 minutes ahead of The Man In the Hat.
He is stuck in traffic and I turn and see The Brass Tap, “I’ll be in the Brass Tap, bro,” text I, and by the time I get into the place, past the other, fatter, blacker negro on crutches outside, I recall that The Operator had paid me $300 for “talking to me about stuff that would melt a psychiatric brain” and decide I’m buying.
Confidence thus extruded, I get up on a stool and see Kelly Blake form Portland’s favorite drink, Apple Crown, and order, a double shot, a Bud Light, and salt shaker.
By the time The Man in the Hat entered, and I introduced him as “My brother,” the decks were cleared for his trademark deprecation, “Miss, you are beautiful and the bar is well appointed… But how can I sit down and enjoy myself in a place where you admit a one-eyed pirate—with one leg no less?”
“Oh, because he’s a perfect gentlemen sir!”
“Oh,” says he, “Only because he hasn’t been able to lurch off that bar stool and haul you off—I will remove the reprobate from your midst, miss!”
I smile at her and turn to him, “Like that, Bro? She thought I had money—now I’m your red-headed step brother?”
“Pretty much.”
My scrap-made brothers and fate-made caretakers—I thank you.
Notes
-1. I had a Wednesday morning date with Miss Ezz, my darling top girl, a shorty who could raise the dead, even drunk and morning fled, a loyal, lusty girl of some 30 years, which I canceled, for fear that she would look at me and cry rather than…
-2. I discover while talking with his father 2 days later that he had written the Dog Brothers and they never got back to him, even though he had bought there products. He is probably the third best stick fighter in the world, and they snubbed him. He would never tell me such a thing, pitting he mentor [me] against his hero [Top Dog] for he is us come together, and senses it as a her should. As the ladies at the diner gawked at him and I eyes his shoulder I said, “What is your nickname in the army?” he grinned, “Shoulders, as soon as they saw me they said I was hauling the SAW.”
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posted: March 27, 2024   reads: 2301   © 2023 James LaFond
‘When the Wheels Fall Off’
Ambulatory and Ocular Notes: Baltimore, 6/22/2023
Two years ago a friend chewed me out for being a hobo, told me that I was not “the Mister Jim you used to be” [meaning I was not looking so rugged] and that I ought to consider closing down “the minstrel road show,” and renting a room from him. He continued, “What happens when the wheels fall off?” I have not spoken with him since, and no regard him as a sending, for events have conspired to fulfill hi prophecy.
Heading east I had many plans for the 3 scheduled months:
-Visit a sick friend monthly
-Get the guts checked for hernias
-Do podcasts with Don Jefferies, The Myth of the 20th Century Crew, The White Monkey and Lynn Lockhart
-Fight at Man Weekend
-Complete 3 novels
I did fight at Man Weekend, the only two days in the East that I have not been afflicted with the return of the screaming eye seizures. For the entire winter and early spring the eye had been behaving. The eye abated for training day and fight day and as soon as the Appalachian highlands were behind us, the pain returned. Maybe it has to do with being between Tranhattan and Brainwashing City. As I lay abed in Jersey, making a piss poor house guest, hiding from the light, I even wandered if the goboment were beaming microwaves at me. On the precipice of Tin Foil Hat Pychosis I took the train to Baltimore to get my hernia checked. In so doing, an hour and a half standing at bus stops and then rocking on a city bus where there was standing room only for an hour, trashed my right side. Every time that bus stopped my weight and all of the weight of my every possession shifted to my right leg as I stood on the spinning disk at the center point of the over-long accordion bus.
It is June 22, cool and wet, as I right, exactly two weeks to the day since I could walk. I now hobble on crutches. Tomorrow I begin a crutch mobile odyssey by bus, multiple cars and train, to visit a sick friend. I have written perhaps 3 chapters since the onset of this, with the pain preventing me from sleeping or sitting or standing. Tying as a post anthropod shrimp squirming on the floor and crawling to various softer places is tougher than I thought.
Also, my once high pain tolerance has become crushingly bitch-like—quite the blow to the geriatric hobo ego. Hernia surgery is out until next year, ironically put off by a mishap had while making my way into health care range. Yesterday morning I was beginning to feel like a fish caught in a net and hauled ashore. Then three fellow fighters, my head coach Doctor Dread, Brett and Brickmouse, turned my condition aroudn just as I was thinking of quitting and renting a room in their terrible town.
One day I did spend 6 hours on crutches, using busses and accessing a distant Urgent Care. The staff were pretty much horrified by my condition. But, as Brickmouse told me yesterday, I am only that lonely hobo in spots, for most of my times getting by in this negation matrix, I am lucky in my friends:
“James, it is an honor and a pleasure to help you. You are stubborn and self sufficient. So, and I think I can speak for the rest, its nice to help someone who avoids help and then hits bump in the road.”
He said this after he bought me a lighter backpack and a plug in heating pad, performed traction on my spine and filled up bottles of water to place by the guest bed I inhabit.
This was a mere 3 hours after Doc Dread made room I his busy day to x-ray me and hit me with a needle that delivered me suddenly from shaking agony to just plain old hurts like hell pain. That was made possible by young Bret driving into town, taking me to Doc, and holding those many doors that you never really consider until you have to open them on crutches.
Brett then took me to the bank to cash the disability checks written for me by The Operator. Finding out that we couldn’t spar that man took me to a diner, said it was a consultation, and paid me for drinking on his dime as he had his pancakes and spoke of violent things. Bret then dropped off my scripts and took me to lunch. He wanted to talk about, history, power and the Bible and we did, making me feel like old Nestor advising Achilles.
I said, “In the Army, what is your nickname?”
“Shoulders, they took one look at me and said you’re the SAW gunner!”
I then discovered the irony of pharmacy placement in supermarkets as Brett patiently shadowed me while I hobbled back to pick up the subscriptions. He even directed traffic by the window, making sure the old ladies got in front of us.
That was yesterday. The people that have helped me move about and acquire the things a gimp needs over this past two weeks are:
-Brickmouse
-Brickmouse Bride
-Uber Joe
-My Sister & Mother, two church ladies who put up with the Devil on their couch for three days.
-Incognegro, who drove 50 miles with a pair of crutches
-Doctor Dread [three times]
-Lynn, who mailed me knee braces and scheduled my Kaiser appointments
-Nero the Pict
-Georgia and Megan who provided a bed on he same level as the bathroom and cooked for me
-Tami and Heather who called me an Uber
-Dereka, the hot Uberess who was kind enough to take me to the liquor store on the way to Georgia and Megan’s place in the Barrior
-Manuel, the Barrio Boss, who offered his assistance.
-Brett
And the people who have offered to drive me by stages to and from the train.
-The Man in the Hat
-Erique
-Mescaline Franklin
-Jennie
Brett spoke in kind tones, in his deep voice: “James, we will meet up again and train. I’m so glad that this didn’t happen to you in a fight. Because if anybody is going to medically retire you I want it to be me. I’m hoping one day, that between Sean and me, we’ll talk you into Christianity—or beat it into you.”
And he grinned, holding the door.
Despite the various misfortunes I have brought down on my own busted head, I look around and find that I am blessed.
Thank you.
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posted: March 27, 2024   reads: 2297   © 2023 James LaFond
Beast versus Crumb #2
Results of A Submission Boxing Bout Fought: 3/22/24
The Beast O’Neal
Birmingham, England
-6 feet
-192 pounds
-58 years
Crumb the Crackpot Cracker
-5’ 7”
-168 pounds
-61 years
We were supposed to have video, but that did not work out.
Some big Murkan land whale was shooting dissolute hoops on the court while O’Neal and I shook hands, placed mouth guards and slipped on gloves.
Last year, O’Neal rarely hit me.
February, he caught up to me and I started to cut angles, turn him and get behind him—quite the little bully there.
Since we decided to fight three weeks ago, O’Neal has actually been training his foot work. That made the difference. Last week I schooled him 7 of 8 rounds him shoving me out on the 7th. Comparing notes, I was still sore a week later and he never felt a thing but a sore nose bridge.
We started at 1:20 P.M. just as the rain broke long enough to permit the lesser angels to sneer down.
Round 1
From left lead I tried to deal jabs and move, but his reach got me, so I went to his body and came up to his head. We traded power punches, him thumping my left floating rib. I went up stairs and he returned, so I shelled, looking at his chest, and he used both forearms to shove me out by the shoulders.
30 second break.
Round 2
From southpaw I beat down his jab with stops. He caught up to me and I stalled by stepping on his foot. He then bored in behind a 1-2 and I beat the body, him doing the same, to my left floating rib. The extra weight, and the cause within me that I should be able to trade from the pocket and bang him around, got me hit hard.
He shoved me out again.
30 second break.
Round 3
This one initially went my way, even though he thumped my forehead and, rang my left ear [which is bruised] and thumped the body again. I had him turned and in my wheelhouse but he kept stepping around. I circled out wider to get behind him and he called me out as I hit him with a combo to the body, from clear out of the tip-off circle.
30 second break.
Round 4
We went for each other and as we grunted and traded punches the land whale stopped shooting hoops. O’Neal came up the middle between my gloves and hit my nose. I returned a hook to his head and he banged the body twice in the same spot as before. I was hurt and went for him by shift stepping southpaw behind him and hitting him with a 5 punch combo to the body, three above the kidney and two to the chest, then up to the chin which he deflected by pulling in his shoulder. I was on the hunt. So as he started to step around I checked his shoulder and felt the intercoastal between the floating rib and bottom rib strain. One more power shot there and I might be injured and unable to spar or use crutches, so I called myself out.
4 rounds to 0, for The Beast O’Neal.
Time, 1:30, 5 minutes, minus 90 seconds for 3 minutes 30 seconds of boxing, with few jabs thrown be either man.
Good job—he hit a lot harder than I did. Last week I had him walking into punches. This week he kept the center and waited for me and I ate the power.
We will try and do another bout this summer.
In the meantime, O’Neal will not have a sparring partner. He has good control and would like someone to train with. I left him with the gloves and a spare mouth guard. If you are a Portland area man who would like some boxing fun, contact me at 443-686-0598 and I’ll send O’Neal your phone number.
My conqueror also bought me two 25 ounce Coors lights in frosted mugs at the Timeout Pub.
Thank you.
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posted: March 26, 2024   reads: 2325   © 2024 James LaFond
‘You Okay?’
Going to Urgent Care on Crutches in Baltimore City: 6/14/2023
Written from memory on 6/20/2023.
I have been unable to walk since Friday, June 9. On Wednesday the 14th I stepped outside of Georgia’s house, where Megan rents and cleans and I had lain up for the night.
Lynn scheduled me a 7:30 A.M. LYFT ride with a black guy named Michael in a small sedan. I was headed to Kaiser Urgent Care in southern Baltimore County, a 2 to 3 hour bus haul. Lynn is so nice. Pulling the door shut behind me I felt it lock, turned the knob, and knew it was secure. I have no key and the ladies were at work.
It was 7:27 A.M. I made my way on crutches out to the front walk by 7:29.
7:30 came and went, reminding me that we were on CP time.
7:35 Michael rolls up, looks at me, looks at the Mexican men coming home from their rained out roofing job—yes, it was beginning to rain—and drove off.
My knee and hip were in agony from the bus strip out of Baltimore the Monday before, in which every time the bus stopped, all of my weight and the rucksack’s weight shifted onto my right leg. It had gotten progressively worse until the leg froze around dawn on Friday. I felt like I had been cut down in the ring by a Muay Thai fighter. I needed a doctor to get a look and perhaps order an image.
Was I damaging the knee with all of the mobility work for the hip, thigh and groin, traitor muscle knots pulsated like some mutinous alien crew of the meat ship me?
3 larger than golf ball and 8 smaller knots yet remain.
I crutched for 15 minutes from Eastdale to Eastern along 54th.
Taking the Orange City Link bus down to the courthouse, I asked the driver where the Yellow line picks up and he pointed south across Fayette. Crutching to the curb barely before cars started pulling off I found that this was the stop to Mondawmin, not Kaiser, and began limping around in search of the southbound line.
Next to the Baltimore Police Department Central Precinct parking garage a light skinned man about my size and age, with an eager gleam in his eyes, and looking about for third party observers, said, “You alright?”
He was savoring, I am convinced, his last mugging, I haven fallen past most of the links in our food chain to land at his feet. I glared and he backed off, looking at me narrowly.
Over 4 blocks I crutched, the only paleface out of some hundred souls. Many SUVs and some cars and trucks driven by ghost people and BPD officers cruised about. I crossed 4 streets at rush hour on crutches while the white light walking man blinked on the crossing light, giving way to a red countdown, which I barely beat. I did discover that Baltimore drivers are not completely soulless. While they will normally try to hit you while making a left turn on red as you use the crosswalk, sometimes even speeding up to get you, these drivers simply tried to bump me at about 5 MPH, like sheepdogs nipping at a lamb’s haunches.
I noticed not a single police officer on foot, though numerous squad SUVs. The street was being patrolled by 4 African American armed private security. The detail leader seemed to be the man in unmarked BDUs, who was short, bald, and wore a .44 magnum revolver in a tied down leather holster on his right hip. Every person on foot either ignored me [most] by looking pointedly away, or glared at me with unconcealed hate.
Boarding the Yellow as one of only 2 patrons, the other being a Sikh in turban, I ask the very obese light skinned driver the bus’s destination, and he looked away, clenching his jaw, refusing to answer.
I sit in the first row of forward facing seats and observe.
Two stops out a security guard boards to go home and behind him an extremely muscular man of some 40 years. Even his face had muscles and his jeans and shirt fit like paint. He scanned his ticket and it gave off an invalid beep.
“Hey you, you back there? Yes you, you in red, your ticket is invalid.”
The man returns up there and says, “I just paid two dollas fo dis ticket.”
“Wrong ticket,” chirped the driver, “next time buy an all day pass. That one is retired.”
“Okay, okay, mah bad. Can ya juz’ let a brutha slide.”
“Why should I?” chirped the fat driver.
The man made a fist and to punch the driver and the driver pulled the plexi-glass shield back to cover him and pointed at the camera and then the legal notice about mandatory time for people convicted of attacking transit employees, saying, “Its Fed-eral!”
The man made two meaty fists and posed, “Well I’m gonna best somebody down on dis bus if dis disrespect continue!”
He looks down at me and I wave him to me, then looks back at the driver who says, “I’ll let you slide this time. No go do what you want.”
I waved the thug over again and he sat down across the aisle from me, “Look man, I’m goin’ to the hospital. This is a one way ticket for me en this is my last bus. They are not supposed to be transferable, so don’t scan it for this guy, but it will be good for the rest of the day.”
“Really man, you sure you don’ need dis?”
“I’m good, this is yours.”
He shook hands and bumped fists with me and said, “Mah Man, I will not foget dis. I see you sometime en I’ll do you a fava.”
As the bus made its way past the urban blight around Martin Luther King Boulevard and out through Pig Town on Washington Boulevard, into Baltimore Highlands the muscular thug spoke with the off duty security guard about peace and love and respect. At last, he offloaded at Baltimore Highlands, in the worst stretch and shouted to me, “Thank you again, Mah Man. I won’ foget!”
I waved as he walked towards a huddle of hos and yos before a boarded up wood frame house and the bus made off for its destination.
At I last got off at the Urgent Care door and hobbled in, some dozen of the diverse staff openly horrified at my pain levels as my every muscle was quivering with the effort of using the crutches. The x-ray techs complimented me on not crying or passing out when they forced my knee straight and my legs open, bumping fists and saying, “You were a trooper in there.”
The white queen though, Doctor Karen Manhate, MD. MP, she did a minimal check, threw my ace bandage in the trash and asked me if I wanted pain pills.
“No, I just want to know I’m not tearing the knee apart doing the upper leg and hip rehab.”
Her look of disgust, that had been etched on her face ever since I told her that I did this taking a city bus with a rucksack on, intensified. She dismissed with the news that the knee only had slight arthritis and instructions to rest for two weeks.
The sedan sent to pick me up arrived and I have been trying to evolve back into a biped ever since.
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posted: March 25, 2024   reads: 2472   © 2023 James LaFond
Mop Head
Rabbit Jack: Motherboard #1. A
‘What a headache,’ he inwardly groaned as something less vital, but once more so, drearily moaned, “Bitchmade muvafucka, yee done fo me, do a’leas’ I ain’ owned.”
He could not clearly see. There was no sight on the right and something clacked opaquely before his left eye. His hands were not free to fix this… because he leaned on them. He let go of the thing in his left hand, brought it to the thing that he supposed was his over-sized eye lid, fussed with it, and it did dull-like hurt, found the buckle on the left side of his head— and thought, ‘Really, I’m wearing a belt for ahead band’—and was stricken with a doubt-filled pause, ‘Am I dead? Is this a bad dream?’
The groan below turned into a hissing gurgle, “A course you not dead—I ‘bout to be dead, what dis affray were all ‘bout you stubborn Mamma’s boy!”
A memory of a sweet, angelic voice came to his mind, ‘Lefty loosy, righty tighty,’ and he screwed the shutter on over his eye and could see again clearly.
There, beneath him, in the center aisle of the bus, a stone dead bus, out of gas and empty of people, snarled Mop Head, a man he recalled, but how he knew him he could guess not. Mop Head was on his back holding a hatchet what had some blood and pale, blotched skin on it and was snarling up at him, spitting bright blood from his terrible imposition, for Mop Head, the half-Jamaican parts dealer was impaled, literally stuck to the floor.
“Datz right, motherfucker! Comin’ back to yer bitchmade ass yet! Heh, the injustice o’ dis shit here! I went up side yo head not near good ‘nough!”
“We’re alone, there’s no one else on the bus,” he mumbled bemusedly.
Mop Head cackled in a vomiting way, “Dumbshit, been ten damned years since da gas run out!”
“I used to take this bus home, to the Brickmouse House?” He mumbled and half believed as he turned and looked out of the bus windows. The two four lane streets where this bus was stopped was jammed with cars, trucks and two other busses, some on their sides, some stacked making walls, blocking the northerly way. The corner gas station was an actual heap of scrap, from gutted buildings and vehicles. There was even a backhoe in the intersection, decked out in traffic lights fallen from the poles that mostly leaned over it from where they were broken off. The backhoe looked like a yellow Christmas tree.
“What?” he turned droolingly to see down the way this bus had come and his left hand jerked upon what it was holding as the man he had half-forgotten beneath him moaned, “Motherfucker, ged it ove wit, twistin’ dis shid in my gutz ain’t right!”
He looked down numbly and saw the man trying to pull out a piece of re-bar that had impaled him and noticed that the rusty and bloody iron was attached to the steel pipe in his hand, that was the crossbar of a blued steel pipe crutch, the kind he had never used before, that shackled to the forearms, that polio kids used back in the day.
“I’m sorry,” he, said, and meant it, down into the eyes of the suffering creature beneath him, a man that he, or some part of him, had known well enough to recall his name.
The coppery brown man, his pallor somewhat ashen, looked up at him in horrific dismay, eyes wide and bloodshot, “Finish it man!”
“Finish what?” he asked.
The man whose name he somehow knew looked up to him, “Bitchmade man, you a rancid motherfucker to be sure. But dis no time ta mend yo crooked ways...finish it!” he cried.
He looked around, not feeling whole or even whole awake and said, as if some distant bell tolled within, “I can’t fix it...God knows I was never a mechanic. But, I knew people, people around here, who fix things. I’ll be right back with help, get you fixed right back up.”
“No, motherfucker, God no!” Cried the man as he gently pulled out the crutch from his own lean body, gored between the open curtains of his black flannel shirt.
Blood gushed from the wound, and instead of applying pressure with his ashy hands, the Jamaican, aptly named Mop Head for his dreadlocks, cried, “Retarded motherfucker, you snapped ma spine.”
“Sorry, I’ll be right back,” echoed he in the bell-like precincts of his aching head. The words were received by a creaking of lesser metals and plastics as he pulled open the once automatic doors, barely able to stand between them on his numb legs, his crutches dangling and playing a steel on aluminum song as he did so, and stepped down into the gutter. The gutter by the storm drain and the old bus stop received him with a popping of his knee and the voice above and behind him in the bus gurgled, “No, ho, ho, o!”
His crutches clanged on the crumbling concrete, their bottoms not being cushened with rubber but oddly capped, one on the right with a meathook and the one on the left with a large gauge drill bit, both mounted to the rusty re-bar with hard rubber gaskets, intern mounted in blued steel pipe.
‘What cool crutches,’ he wondered, ‘But I’d like the old kind that I could lean on with my arm pits. This must be tiring.’
As he thought this he heard a trundling, squealing, scurrying of uncountable feet. Down from the dilapidated bus stop eves, up from the choked gutters, out of the various heaped, wrecked, parked, flipped and chopped vehicles choking the street, surged a gathering torrent of rats, at first creeks, then, streams and finally into two mighty rivers, one flooding up into the open front door of the bus and the other around his crookedly booted feet, to fill the bus with squeals of hungry glee and usher off poor Mop Head to wherever those slain according to the unfathomable laws of happenstance by wheezing gimps so went.
A sadness suffused him. His shoulders so sank. His head also hung, dripping somewhat onto his shoulder, hand and crutch.
The rats soon passed him as the bus rocked under their hungry wake. He stood back in numbed awe and sad reverence, braced himself. A reverie of offloading from this bus between a pretty girl and a gnarly drunk while a great big fat man held the doors for them all, upon a sunny day, conjured a sadness in his heart.
As the bus rocked under the dead gray skies, he stood and saluted, and spoke aloud, “Apologies, Mop Head, I meant to get the EMTs.”
As he withdrew his hand he saw there something like a phone, no, like grandpap’s watch, with real hour, minute and second hands, but with a screen.
‘Well, I’ll be,’ mused he, and then woodenly limped on, one boot riding upon another as he crutched up a hill he could have sworn looked mighty different yesterday, a hill he had known, whose sun-kissed asphalt was now heaped with junk, whose clean concrete was half-rendered to a crumblestone by weeds and baby maple.
He limped along like a newlywed who had woken next to his dead bride, too numb and too goddamned dumb to wonder why his dear had departed.
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posted: March 24, 2024   reads: 1469   © 2023 James LaFond
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