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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thank You

 I am sorry for my not knowing enough aboit blogging to keep things consistent. I want to thank my readers, from the bottom of my heart. Thank You. You should know that this title was kept as a temporary one. I wanted the real title not to be stolen- "Escaping The Despondent Sea" I have been publishing blog style under the real name since a year ago April. I have no intention of quieting the comments regardless of opposition. Thank You So Much For Reading. please visit despondentsea.blogspot.com to read further.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Part 30 "The Snow of Yesterday" unedited

It was a nasty winter that year, with ice taking over the Grand River. The level of water and ice flow was so high that it came right up over the back of the property, over the decks, and up to the back door. It was a difference of about twelve feet, which really put Danny’s construction skills to the test, since it was him that helped Bruce build the deck. It was an impressive show of force from Mother Nature but not one board was disturbed. The river was a sight to see, especially downtown Grand Rapids where Julie worked as an accountant for Hunt Construction.

The project was tearing down the old police station and replacing it with an Expo Center. This was located right across the street from the U.S. Post Office, which is next door to the Seniors Housing building. The seniors had all been forced out onto the street. No one seems to care about family like on The Walton’s anymore, so they knew there would be little to no backlash to fear. There was a short-lived stink, and life went on. Just like the scandal over the VanAndel Arena- a short-lives stink, mostly due to the fact that the guy who had balls enough to make an argument about it in the Grand Rapids Press, vanished. When local taxes are being used, you have to hold a public bid for the work to be done but the deals were all done behind closed doors. No public bids were held. It was all left to cronyism and nepotism. What an outrage, a shameful travesty. It was my boycott references about that situation that coincided with my grief at the time of my seeming demise on September 3rd, 1996. Coincidence, I wonder…?

Anyway, right in front of the Hunt/Expo project, a remarkable display of nature could be seen as the ice floes moved unhindered, like Glaciers. Bridge pillars stoutly cut through the massive floes of ice, leaving a spectacular sight. Long, deep gouges and lengthening trenches in the frozen mass like nothing I had ever seen. Come spring, when the ice melted and the water levels went down, a landmark boulder would be gone- removed by the glacial-like force, never to be found that I am aware of. Certainly, it was a terrible winter to be on the streets.

One morning, it was snowing pretty hard, and having a vehicle once again volunteered me to pick up the slack of negligence by taking Casey to school. I didn’t mind. I felt like I was there to help. Having a few minutes to work with, which meant no hurry, I decided to take the scenic route along the Rogue River, instead of getting on the North bound portion of Highway131. The route along the Rogue River was a winding road through the hills and valleys, east of US131highway. At one point, where I would get on, and at that time of morning, traffic was the last minute rush. The winds had picked up and a whiteout blizzard with heavy wind gusts struck. In a flash, it was impossible to see, causing a pile up of many, many vehicles- around sixty. It was the worst pile-up in the area, ever. I would have been right there in it. I was so thankful for my choice to not get on the highway that morning, for having not been involved, especially with someone else’s child. The guilt of that would surely have been too much for me but it’s possible my being there interrupted a more serious supernatural force. Maybe they were supposed to be in that accident. Julie would have been in a rush. Had I not been there, I would never have been there to be used for the option of driving her to school, and someone else would have been in charge of Jeans estate and the trust fund from Julies father. But then again, it’s possible that I was supposed to be there. A Guardian Angel- one of their deceased fathers maybe?     
  
As for Danny, the Gezon building had been put up for sale some time ago, which meant that the days of the loft were numbered. Our hopes were that whomever took it over would keep the studio occupancies but we knew that was an improbability. It seemed that no one was really interested in purchasing the place or at least not the building. The property was the only thing anyone wanted. Dan had made a For Sale sign for the owner to hang on the side of the building only he was going to put “Fer” Sale instead. We’d laugh and laugh about that. 

He was dividing his time between his friends and his mother, whom now resided in a condominium type apartment community of elderly people. Since she was not driving much, he had use of her Saab and taking her to Marz Hill Church for services every week. “Love Wins”, was the mantra. It was on the bumper sticker in the window.

Bruce let him stay in the guest house that he called the “Sugar Shack”, located behind the house but there was also a tree house across the river that he would go and stay in, built by Rick Todd, a friend who often hung out at Bruce’s.

And then there was Julie Wickman’s place, he stayed there too, walking her dogs while she was busy with working from her home office. Danny was all over town, and now with me living where I was at, he could stay there too.

My own time was being divvied up between my mother’s, Julie’s, and Danny’s, while working on the various projects, that were going on with all involved. Julie’s project was trying to take care of her adoptive mother, Jean.

Jean, having developed Alzheimer’s, had been declining in health and left widowed by her husband, Dick, whom died from A.L.S. a few years back. The local news featured him and his disorder that, once recognized, crippled him very swiftly and severely. A.L.S. had taken away his motor skills and ability to speak. This disease took his life by storm. It was a very sad situation to witness, which I did by way of the VHS tape copy of the news program, and through the various notepads that he had used to communicate with.

Julie would check on her mother once a week, in her home of forty plus years. It was off of Plainfield and Jupiter- back behind the old Witmark's store. This was only a token visit to say she did. She needed to be more attentive because the wolves lurked everywhere around Jean since Dick died. One sold her a brand new Saturn Ion even though she couldn’t remember what she was doing at the dealership. Another sought out more frequent tithe requests. And then there was Julie, waiting to sink her claws into the substance with all the guise of a faithful daughter, following the requests of her adoptive father, to take care of Jean. He was a rare man, loving his wife as if she was the only woman on Earth. Not able to have a child of their own, they finally adopted. Thank God, only once.

Of all the Evil, maybe I was there to buffer the Demonic forces, to add a bit of supernatural guilt that would deflect some of the negative somehow, somewhat. But I was no angel, not by any means. My motives were of the flesh and convenience, and of resentment. My rationalizations justified my actions, the good with the bad until the bad could be stamped out. My awareness of what was going on was becoming more and more, and it had a very negative impact on how I felt about the living situation and what I had become involved in. My drinking became more constant. Although I tried to curtail it, my sadness over the truth, and the reality that I kept finding in life, only seemed to give life right back to the beast that I fought to take life from. Everything was messed up but I continued to deny it by leaning on my Faith and Hope that there was Goodness to be found somewhere amid all of the chaos.

Chapter
Julie had gotten into a lot of trouble as a teen, finding her way into the carnival circuit where she learned to refine her skills at deception and manipulation, becoming a con artist. She played me out well too, speaking with an air of sophistication in the English persuasion with Casey feeding into the charade as best supporting actress. It seemed like it was all in playfulness but it was just part of a larger deception. Sometimes she would mention researching to find her lineage before being put up for adoption but even she speculated that she was descended from criminals. She had suspected gypsies because of her black hair.

She had an injury to her throat, sustained in a car wreck when she was seventeen, that required the routine use of a Teflon tune-up in the form of an injection from time to time. This was to help her speaking, since she had a hoarse ugliness that rattled the glass panes, chasing even the most incapacitated man away. I felt sorry for her. Her boyfriend and a couple of their friends were heading toward the west coast to do some “work” in the adult movie industry. She slept in the backseat while they were coked up and speeding down a dark stretch of highway. Somewhere, between wrong and right, they were in an accident. Who was to blame wasn’t going to change the fact that people were killed, including her unborn child. She was the only one to survive, and wouldn’t learn of her pregnancy until many days later. Her body was nearly severed in two, receiving massive amounts of care and hundreds of sutures and staples, leaving her badly scarred around her abdomen. Her throat was deeply lacerated, damaging her vocal cords. Teflon could only take the scratch off of the surface. Secretly, I felt a joy of sorts over the loss of that child, an uncontrolled voice of the ego, maybe, or was it that someone had escaped an undeserving hell of this family’s reality? This partly explained how she ended up in the carnival, maimed and disfigured, damaged goods and starved for attention…. Even if it was from a man who’s interests were purely superficial.

Jean went downhill fast, requiring someone to be appointed responsible for the finances. Julie was made executor of the estate, which was made into a trust fund, all the while letting her own home go into a state of delinquency as an effort to get out from under the debt. On the surface it appeared as though she was preparing to consolidate households due to her mothers caretaking needs but in reality she was just moving back in with mom. She put her moms house on the market and searched for a house that was big enough for the four of us. It had to be on a bus route. And it had to be in Rockford School district. Casey insisted on staying in that school but I had reasons to believe that the school could have done without her.

An impending sense of urgency created a hostile environment to which Kenny did not help. While I am at work, Kenny is sneaking underage girls over to have sex with. He knew his mother was at work, and that I was working. It was impossible to take them to his father’s house, and the cost of gas limited his driving, so it only made sense to take them to his mother’s.

Casey had tried telling her mother about Kenny’s perversions- that he had been trying to fondle her, and molested her in the past. Whether true or not, I cannot ascertain. There was so much untruth and manipulation that I could only observe and wonder. My concerns blew up when it was ME that was in the house, and in a position to be the responsible party in the home. I feared being the one implicated with accusations that any man fears. Thank God I didn’t get caught up in a bad scenario involving a statutory rape case with an irate father of a teenage girl who needed a good excuse why the school had called saying she wasn’t there. What a nightmare.

Part 28

Dan Doyle started picking me up again once he got to the point where he could bring me in on the log home project. We would start the day off by going to a place called, New Beginnings, on Alpine Avenue for breakfast. Eggs over-hard with garlic, fried potatoes with cheddar and onions, whole-wheat toast, ham and coffee was always my order. Dan would keep lamenting his Harley Fatboy that he ordered from a dealership on Twenty-eighth Street, anticipating the call when it was finally delivered, which would be any day now.

The engineered log home was owned by Mark and Connie Minster, and was located on the property that the Adrian’s Romano Terrace occupies. The terrace is a banquet hall used for wedding receptions and business gatherings, and is located off of West River drive on the westward hilltop. It was overlooking the river, on the east side of West River drive, in Comstock Park. The house sits behind it, and is way back in the woods, accessed from a different road off of Pine Island Drive. Connie’s family has owned the property for a long time.

Mark was a nice enough guy, balding and recently receiving hair transplants from who knows what part of his body. His head looked like a grid pattern of planted follicles, where the bald part was used to being. His wife’s family made jokes about him being that his wallet was fat but he never paid for much. The wallet was fat all right, fat with receipts. This was his defense, and his insecurity, over her family being rich, it seems. They had money, and he HAD money, adding it up once in a while to say, “look how much I have spent.” Actually, I can’t say I blame him for it; I would have probably done the same thing.

Sooner than later, I would find out that Dan Doyle was not a skilled carpenter. Working at an hourly rate, he mocked the trade, climbing up and down the ladder for hours, virtually doing nothing but time, and the Minster’s could feel it. When I started on the project a huge contrast began to appear. My intentions were to show my gratitude through my performance, not to make them look like bumblers.

One day, the Minster’s came up to me and put a couple one hundred dollar bills in my shirt pocket and thanked me for being there. That day I told Dan and Bill about it, offering to pay for lunch. The guilt that I felt for being associated with the mess that was being made of the project was too much for me to handle quietly. That was a peculiar lunch.

Chili cheese fries sounded like a calorie packed greasy-ass meal, so I ordered a full order of that. The waitress was having some kind of issue but I really was more concerned with going outside to smoke than to recognize anything more than the time it might take to get our food, hoping it would be a while.

We always went to Brann’s on Alpine for lunch, and my group didn’t smoke. When I got back in to my table, the food was coming. The waitress brought it out and came right over to me. She was so nervous that she almost fell from her legs buckling, dumping the plate on the table at my right. Cheese, chili and French fries went slopping all over my area of the table. A bit traumatized, surprised to say the least, I kept it together, acting natural and offering comfort to her by telling her that it was okay. She was pretty messed up over it, saying that she would get me another order. After repeating that it was okay, I scraped it off of the table and back onto the plate, and proceeded to eat it. The embarrassment I felt for her was so much that I couldn’t go on to humiliate her any more than she already must have felt, by complaining. And I know they get charged for mistakes like that, depending on who’s the shift supervisor. After all, I was partly to blame. If I had not caught her senses, causing her to be light-headed due to my body’s desperate production of pheromones, it wouldn’t have happened- maybe.

The guys told me that she was awe-struck with me but I failed to see that then. It is understandable now but that’s the first time I actually saw someone fall head-over-heels, let alone over me. Dan’s daughter, Mandy, explained it all to me during the time we would work together, thinking that they were all messing with me until it actually happened to me later in life.

Another time we were there, the waitress watched me eat a large wet burrito from an inconspicuous corner, while I was left confused over what they were interested in. Was it that impossible to eat or was my eating it a seductive art? Was it the way I licked my lips? Did someone recognize me from playing music somewhere with Danimal? Maybe I wasn’t ready or healthy enough to understand.

Bill got really bad with his drinking issue. Everything went from bad to worse. He would show up at the job, when we would always pick him up since he had no car or license. He would come in so drunk that he didn’t realize he was at the house that was in front of the job. How he got there or where he’d come from, we never did learn. Dan just hung his head in sorrow for Bill’s struggle with addiction. It was never clear, how often this happened. Coincidentally, I had known Bill and Dan for about the same length of time. Dan would come over to Bill’s and drink with us during the time that I was with Dan’s sister, Mary Beth Doyle.

My mom had introduced me to the Bolthouse family by way of Bill’s dad, Bob. It was a bankrupt plumbing outfit that maintained a customer base from the past, mostly bars, with just enough money coming in to keep everyone high. Bob was always recruiting new apprentices for Bill and Bill hated it. Bill lived in the front portion of the building that the plumbing business occupied, while Bob had a small building out in the back that he used as an office and sleeping quarters. Since the building was paid for, no one had to worry about rent. Bills brother Mike ended up creating a bit of quarters for him self to use when he wasn’t lost in the crack cocaine reality that he had become known to steep himself in. His throat was roached because of it, as if he had chronic bronchitis or strep throat.
Bill and I became very close friends, like brothers we never had but then again it was like me to become close to those around me very quickly, which is strange because I have always had trust issues.

Bill had been in and out of rehabilitation and jail for alcohol and cocaine numerous times, and had been released from prison more recently for drunk driving and battery on a L.E.O. He did three years and was released- with herpes, of all things. Poor Billy. I loved him so much. It tore me apart to see him in the condition I had witnessed at that time working with him and Dan.

Dan Doyle also had a drinking problem. He and I became acquainted because his sister, Mary, worked at Florentines in Grandville, where I met her at the same time my mom introduced me to Bob Bolthouse. Dan had an incident involving his stepdaughters, where he did a year for a CSC charge. He was now a twelve-stepper, sober and married to a school marm. What I would find out is that he wasn’t totally reformed. Suddenly, he couldn’t pay us for our work efforts. He claimed the Minster’s were to blame, and not his purchase of the Harley Davidson Fatboy. He gave me a phone to use that had been his son, Josh’s. It was one of many phones he had as part of his cellular package. It ended up being kicked it into the Grand River, accidentally, while I was fishing on a boat dock about a year later (alcohol related).

Somewhere along the line he had told my daughter, Sarah, who happens to be his niece, that he paid me six hundred dollars a week, and that they should have money from me by way of child support because he paid me that much. This wasn’t true but I would soon hear of it from Sarah, in a short while.

Why don’t adults think about what they say to kids and how, and what, it will affect before they say it? Is ego and pride more important than how a child views their parents? What a selfish, selfish man. Little did he realize, he would pay for the wrong doings he did to those that trusted him so much- causing him a grief that he would have to have in his mind for the rest of his life…

In the meantime, the job was grinding to a halt. Dan had been telling us that he had a draw coming up- only paying us change to keep us hanging on. After all, Bill was satisfied as long as he had money to support his habits. As for me, it was easy to get by since I had no real demands of myself, financially, getting by on the change he gave me. It was going to work out better for me, since I had addictions I was battling that would steal away the money just as fast as I could get it. More money later was better that no money tomorrow because it got spent on booze or dope. And it was typical to get paid out when the draw came sometimes.

Before this all came to a head, my job had grown to working with Mandy, training her how to work with the power tools and offering her the guidance and patience that her own father seemed incapable of. He would soon stop her from coming to the project because of our becoming close. His story was that she had school, college but the truth was that her image of me became much different than the one created for her by him, causing fear and jealousy to interfere with something that was platonic and beautiful. Her and I wouldn’t see each other for about nine months, after she had fallen off of the wagon.

Mandy was the first one to get pregnant at too early of an age, and the first one to get mixed up with drugs and, eventually, prostitution. She had recently been released from the Kent County Jail after serving a year. Mandy had recently gotten her kids back and had a house that she shared with another young woman. The status of that relationship I do not know. My every prayer was that Sarah didn’t take after the misfortune of her cousins on her mother’s side of the family. Fortunately, she did not get pregnant, and graduated from high school. Sarah was the only one to do that on the Doyle side of her family. 

It wouldn’t be long before Michele went to jail for a DUI charge, having been out on bond and awaiting a trial.

Sandy and I met at the College Inn shortly afterward.

The Minster’s turned out to be a bickering couple of drunks as well, the catalyst for the blowout with our crew, ending Dan’s mining operation. Bill let me stay at his place for the time being, since eviction papers were served at Michele’s place- so much for me sitting her house until she got back home.

Kalamazoo and Burton became my new locale for a bit, moving what was left of my belongings to a closet in Bill’s upstairs apartment. He was doing his best to live, seeking safety by reading books in his bedroom- a routine he had picked up while in prison, no doubt. Yet, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get out of the grip of addiction. For a reality check, he’d save the liquor bottles in a recycling container by the sink but all that did was provide a few drops from each one to make a pretty good-sized drink when he couldn’t muster the few precious dollars it took for a bottle of rot-gut. Having done that a time or two, while living with Danimal, I was all too familiar with the reality.

Bill was totally broke but every time he put his card into the ATM it would miraculously spit out a twenty-dollar bill- like magic. That went on for two months that I know of. Work ran out for Bill within a day or two of my last day, which left me to call Salih, to beg for work once again.

In addition to Bill, I also had a friend named Ralph, who had a house near Bono’s Pizza, where I crashed when I was in the area and in need of being off of the street. One night, when I didn’t have anywhere else to go, I went to Jimmy and Terry’s. I slept in a recliner in the living room. At one point, maybe around five a.m., I opened my eyes to see Jimmy and a couple other fools smoking crack.

Earlier I had heavy thoughts about what I was doing, and where I wanted to go in life. It had been my attempt to find my safe haven within the local meeting with the ministry group. They had offered me a healing attempt after my confessions, where they gathered around me to put their hands on me in prayer.  This was after telling them the intimate details regarding my life, the heavy drinking, and my struggle to get away from drugs that I tried to poison myself with. My body trembled hard during that prayer- bone rattling hard. Having recognized that I was in a bad situation in life, and knowing that I needed to take the first step in the right direction, was what motivated me to reach out to them despite their imperfections. It had been read somewhere by me, that I should not ignore the messenger- though the messenger is imperfect. The decision to get away from the dope, and away from those that made up the environment that I was surrounded by was the most important decision I could have made at that time.

When I saw the demons alive around me, in the living room that early morning, it was in-my-face confirmation. It was easy to just closed my eyes and think to myself, “You’re right, Zach. It is definitely time to move on in life- away from these people and their poisons. It’s the right thing to do. Do not let the streets steal away your days any longer!”

After sleeping another couple of hours, I got up and left, and never went back or thought much about them again. The most logical thing I could think to do was to cling to the friendship that Sandy and I had developed.

Salih kept a steady stream of home and roofing repairs that enabled me to feel normal. My only slip-up with cocaine happened after I finished working for her son, Richard, on a remodel that he needed done after a serious water damage situation caused by an upstairs snafu. It was suspected by Sandy, to be a supernatural situation caused by an eerie ghostly presence in the upstairs of the home. Sometimes you could see a person in the upstairs window when you walked by the house. This I saw myself, on more than one occasion.

On the day I finished the job, I took the money and went to visit my old friend Jimmy Zemiatis, while Sandy was at work at Vitale’s. Jimmy and I met at Tommy Brann’s Steakhouse, on South Division and Thirty-sixth Street when he got off of work at Erb Lumber. After a bunch of beers, he started mentioning coke. Since I was fool enough to buy the beers, he figured he’d dig a little deeper. Eventually, he managed to coax me into getting a “teenther”, meaning a sixteenth of an ounce of cocaine powder.

After throwing down the money for the coke, we went to his house, where we sniffed powder and drank, and ate the last jar of venison stew that his dad canned before he died of cancer. There were mushrooms in it, Stumpers that he had picked that summer. Since I hated mushrooms but I hating being destroyed too, I ate the stew anyways. 

At some point I tried to rock up some of the coke. Shortly after that, his unfaithful beast of a wife, Glenda, finally dragged herself home- only to demand that I leave. She hated me with a passion, which was probably because I provided Jimmy with a bit of insight that he was not capable of having on his own- complications caused by his emasculation. She had no secrets with me, since I knew things that people wished I did not due to my ability to see inside people. Eventually, she trumped my hand by actually bringing the guy home to meet Jimmy.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

'Fresh Air' unleashed

"......My mind finally snapped, crumbling the walls I had built of patience, understanding, and forgiveness- releasing an enormous amount of negative energy and fury towards, Bob.

I wanted him dead. He had beat me up with his attitude and hatred and nasty statements about me and my ex-wife, my kids, and my friend Danny, to the point where I wanted to see him dead. “Be careful what you wish for”, echoed in my mind, so I didn’t wish it but when Lisa’s neighbor said that he was flying to California to take a job and to live- needing to sell his car and his handgun; the answer to my riddle was revealed. For just one hundred dollars I could wipe him and his negative force clean from the face of the earth, and end my own pain as well.
It would be a murder/extermination and a suicide. How could I stand to live with the pain and guilt of killing even a so-called man, on top of all of the grief he had forced back to the surface? The decision was made while Bob was preparing for his annual NASCAR event that he went to in Florida every year. When he got back he would pay me. The money would go to buying the gun, and it would be over.

The clock was ticking, the guy had a departure time that he couldn’t miss, and Bob had to be back so I could get the gun. But God had other plans or had better plans. Bob wouldn’t make it back in time to pay me, and the job offer in California wouldn’t wait. That was because the Hero in Bob’s world, “the Intimidator”, would die on the racetrack in a, not so nasty, crash.
That, to me, was a fair consolation prize since lots of people would now be less impacted with the over-emasculating effects of impressionable men trying on his ego. He reminded me of my stepfather, very much. The man was no Hero and he was no role model.
Secretly, I was satisfied with that small amount of pain that Bob was given, and thankful for the psychological and emotional relief that spared both of our lives. Hopefully he learns what’s important in life and discovers how to free himself from his own prison before it’s too late. Knowing and sharing real love, in all its truth and beauty, is priceless. So, myself, I am very thankful to think that I finally have that in my life.
So, instead of inflicting my own brand of pain onto Bob, I wrote him a letter of several pages, which I handed him to read when I met him at our rendezvous for work one morning. It started with, “From the mind of Zachery Polk.”  He voiced his opposition from the start but read it, asking if he could keep it to study. I wish I had made a copy of it.

Anyway, he stated that maybe we should part ways for a while- mumbling something about just wanting to help. Him and I knew he just wanted someone to fight with. What made him the most irate of it all was that I could not be provoked to give him the response he sought for. With me, I’m more of an all or nothing type, I guess, or at least I was then. Maybe it’s my own personal growth. Who really knows if I've grown?

My happiness can hardly be measured today, and I am so thankful for all of the experiences I have had. The gratitude I have is unexplainable. The peace I am feeling is precious. My intent that I may share my story with someone to impact positively on their existence is a cornucopia of hopes. I am a Father, a Husband, and a Teacher again, and I am truly happy and content.

Anyhow, now I am looking for work again, which is really nothing unusual for any independent labor provider. It’s a good thing, looking for work. The constant change is why I like being a carpenter instead of working in a factory- always having to deal with the same people, places, poisons and perspectives or lack of them.

Danny and I had a few projects here and there but things seemed to be drying up completely. All over the Grand Rapids area that he had been mining, perspective clients would become more and more aware of his drinking and unreliability, and the fact that he was just too laid back for people to appreciate. So, Danny would go back to the places where he had known people, to try to eke out his daily existence. He was, pretty much, just waiting to die. His secret hope had always been to meet a woman who’d impact his world and essentially “save” him from his despair- his plight. Until then, he would bury himself in a multifarious reality as an artist. (that's spooky)

In all of this, we were alike, for the most part.
An ad in the classifieds of the Grand Rapids Press, for a Trim carpenter, caught my eye one day. The next day the city bus system would take me out to Meijer’s, on Knapp Street and East Beltline, where I met the builder who placed the ad.

Shawn seemed pretty even keeled. And between his ego and his character, he was pretty entertaining. The Three Stooges come to mind when I think about him. That was, at first but after I got to know him better he was no different than any other person I had met and became acquainted with.
The house he was building was located east of the East Beltline, north off of Three-mile road.

Shawn was recently divorced and had his daughter in his custody. She was a nine-year-old, and was very articulate. It soon became clear that he was an alcoholic when he revealed his ability to suck down a thirty pack by dinner. He would send me to the Marathon gas station, to get the Coors and Copenhagen, in his Ford King-Cab Power stroke diesel.

On one of the first trips in his truck to get beer, I got the crap scared out of me when a young guy came tearing into the parking lot, losing control of his vehicle and running into the light pole on the south side of the station- right by where I parked Shawn’s truck, which I happened to be driving with NO driver’s license! The light pole appeared as though it was going to fall on me but resounded only to lean.
The car got a pretty good amount of damage, busting up the grill, wrinkling the hood a bit and deforming the bumper. I wouldn’t doubt the light pole to still lean to this day but maybe not.

Yeah, I broke a sweat over that but it was nothing compared to the sweat Shawn broke… that is if he ever stopped sweating. Wow. It had to be alcohol related, and boy, did it smell bad- just like an old dishtowel that was always left in the sink in a crumpled wad.
It would eventually come out that he was going to declare Bankruptcy.
Thanks to alcohol and Ego, he ran off at the mouth a lot about himself.  The part he didn’t actually tell me with words was that he was a desperate man. He was as desperate as a man can get, which was why he was building the house. The drinking was so bad that, between the smell of stale beer, alcohol, and profuse sweating- you couldn’t smell anything but that. The smells of fresh oak and paint were completely drowned out.
Shawn’s daughter would be around the jobsite, now and again, since there were issues with the sitter quite often. He claimed his wife cheated on him. My guess is that she cheated on his Ego and that the acquisition of the kid was only due to his own selfishness and legal counsel that he only afforded himself out of spite.

There were women he met on the computer- FTF they called themselves, which he’d bring around after hours for show and tell. The scraps he threw to me, I never helped myself to- out of respect for myself. My interest in women wasn’t a casual one. My hope was to find a person worth sharing with- someone to build a home, a life, and a family with. Chasing after a mate had caused me plenty of grief already, and I knew that looking is the best way not to find one.

One day Shawn came to work bragging about a woman he met online- a widow. She was driving up from Tennessee in a Corvette- a red one, no less. Why? It was probably because her husband was dead. Anyone I know who is loaded would fly up and rent a sweet ride but whatever. They jumped right into bed, of course.

The next day was filled with stories of their escapades and how she insisted on sleeping with his ‘one thing’ in her mouth- like a pacifier. I wondered how she could stand the smell of him but he must have painted a sweet enough image of his affluence, a circumstance sure enough that would seem to drown out the smell. In reality, she was just another desperate soul, grabbing at the straws in life.

Building an image, being cast of having money, was exactly what the house he was building was supposed to do. He went out of his way to find things that would exact him as my superior- or exact me as inferior, always calling me nigger. Between his condescension and the constant drinking, he was becoming a problem to me but I needed the income and thoroughly enjoyed performing my trade.

The act of my performance intended to speak the things to him that I needed to be understood. Whether he understood or not didn’t matter so much. What did matter was that I recognized the possibility that maybe I needed the elements exposed to me as an open lesson for something greater.

It was getting time for the hardware and paint finishes. This was when I got a chance to hook up Joe with some work- painting and helping to build the deck on the backside of the house.
It was refreshing for me, having Joe on the job. That took the most part of the aggravation out of my day at work with Shawn.

My job, historically, has often been to do the impossible- the stuff no one can figure out, which I can almost always do. The intent of the people I worked for was often to put me on a task that they were sure I would be unable to complete on my own. It did not gain me their respect in most cases. Out of their own insecurity, it ending up that they would despise me even more.

One day, while Shawn was entertaining more of his Internet conquests and other outsiders, he took the belt sander from my hands as I was carefully shaping in a complicated transition in some stairwell capping where there was a step and compound miter detail- only to grind a big gouge in the center of something that I had taken a ton of care to fabricate. It was quite beautiful until he had to “show me” how to do it.
This particular spot was right in a high traffic area, where your eye is drawn to the intricacy of the woodwork. It’s a wonder if he looks at that spot today, and remembers how foolish it was to emphasize that he was the King? It’s doubtful since he was a hack when it came down to it. Like, maybe he was really a prop builder for television, not a homebuilder.

He cobbled a bar and entertainment center together as if it was a stage prop, ruining my tools and cords in the process by dragging the sheets of plywood across the floor, cutting the casings and wires of my cords badly. The copper was hanging out on several of them. It was the fine I had been imposed with for having experience enough to see his mistakes- typical male Ego.

A few days later, the winds would pay him back for me, when he instructed me to pick up the yard and burn the trash. The wind kicked up the flames, turning a small fire into a scorcher, which blasted his tool trailer, melting the rubber molding that covered the seams on the side. It was funny watching him try to move the trailer in a hurry.

Maybe it was partly Mother Nature- paying him back for swerving to hit the Mother Goose as she stuck her neck out from the weeds, at the edge of the road, to look before taking her babies back across to their home at the farm.

They had been enjoying the pond, learning what to eat, while playing in the water. It was pretty sad to see her lying there, dead, on the side of the road. When I mentioned it, he admitted to killing her with his truck- saying how she shouldn’t have stuck her neck out there to be hit.

He tried playing the religion card, mentioning how his Rabbi had told him about me. Whether or not it was true isn’t the point. The point is being careful with people who want you to believe they are religious, believing in God, implying that they have good, sound, principles and ethics. These are the people that are manipulating you for their own agendas.

Anyway, in a while, things would shift and we would be working on an apartment complex consisting of four-plexes, located across the street from the River Town Crossings Mall.
Myself, and one other carpenter, would work on that project for less than two months before Shawn would lose the contract for various reasons. One reason was that he, personally, never showed up. The other reason was due to being caught over-billing for the work done- submitting the bill in twice. It was a blessing in disguise, I’m sure."

Monday, September 5, 2016

Crozier Country

Water made its signature sound as it splattered unseen beneath the house. Siena was showering in the master bathroom since her bathtub had a crack in it. The garden needed tending, which placed me close in proximity of the shower. The sound was recognized but disbelieving, I told myself it was a loud drainpipe. 

Several days passed until I got up the nerve to do what my conscience said, and that was “get under the house and inspect it.” The year started off quick for me since I was released from prison one week into April 2012, beginning with our new Akita having gotten into it with a Porcupine.  One hundred and thirty quills later and six hundred dollars for the poorer, I found myself behind the eight ball of life. Now, six and a half months later, I am climbing down under the house. This was not something I looked forward to doing. I had already avoided going down for the two years we have lived here, especially after discovering this year that we were infested with Black Widow spiders. The first one I found was in the woodpile. 
There was a tree on the edge of the driveway that needed some trimming up, dead trunks etc… I cut it up with my chainsaw and had it in a pile with all the other tree messes from a recent storm. It was a good sized pile of wood, about two face cords. Jenny wanted to chop wood while I was entering a recent hand written manuscript into the computer. After about a half hour I began to feel guilty because I had just “sat around” for a year in the joint while Jen was left to fend for herself out in the forest; recently transplanted from Lansing with no prior life outside of the city.  
I went out and started throwing the cut wood closer to where it was to be stacked while explaining that I couldn’t let her work so hard by herself. I had her move to stacking, and started chopping. Placing a second piece on the chopping block, I noticed a glossy black spider. On it’s back were two red dots. 
“Jen, I said. “You know, I have never seen one before but I am willing to bet that this is a Black widow. My father always told us about them being in the log piles and dead limbs.” She ran into the house and jumped on the internet. She hollers back a few seconds later and say’s, “That’s what it is.” I told her to get Siena’s bug box to put it in. 
Days went by as I studied its habits and traits. My computer took me to files about them from many different sources. I learned to recognize their web and where to concentrate my search in the yard. Twenty-two Female Black Widows, and two males later I am even more afraid of going under the house. These spiders were all found within twenty yards of the front door. 
Finally one day I just say “fuck it” and slide the couch away from the trapdoor. I open the door see the ladder and climb down. Everything is nice and dry like it’s supposed to be. The concrete block foundation wall and footings look great. The framing looks nice and cleanly put together. It’s a nice addition job to a trailer. One problem is I can’t access the other side because there is no entry made to be able to. There is a spot where the blocks are stepped down in one place, a couple missing blocks, allowing me to be able to see a little bit. The other side is a concrete slab with a about a foot and an half to two feet of space between it and the underside of the trailer. It just depends if you are between the main beams or if there is blanket insulation hanging. The trap door side is more of a full basement depth, earth exposed, and a dirt floor. It is suprising how free it is of cobwebs and insects. 
Now I go around the house to the crawl space access under the back door. Removing the steel door panel, the first thing I see is a spider web and a spider. It is a male Black widow. “Dammit,” I yell. Shining the flashlight back toward the shower, I see water puddeling, trailing from the shower drain. There is a piece if grey sheet metal hanging from one side where it is nailed to a joist. There is black woven fiber fastened to the underneath, covering the insulation. It is sagging in the middle as if being weighted down with something heavy. The water main coming into the house is sticking up through the cement floor within reach of the access panel. It has insulation taped around and a blue electric heat-tape to keep it from freezing. I wonder if it works. The water heater is above it, sealed in the walls of the laundry room. This place was just remodeled while I was in prison after a pipe had broke and sprayed water for weeks unnoticed by Jenny, causing the subflooring to lose integrity.
 The people who remodeled it were hacks, low-balling the bid and then going back and raising the price as they went along on the job. I went inside the house to look down the drain to see if I could see anything, and there it was… the cement floor. “Unbelievable!” I yell. There is a small piece of the joist that falls in-line with the drainpipe, making for it to need to be carved back to fit. They never hooked the drain up to the shower when they installed it. 
A few more days go by while I stew over the situation, me, having a habit of blasting away at people, and not wanting to mishandle the opportunity of working the contractor over because of it and everything else he did fraudulently on this house. 
Finally I decide to go in. The thought of sliding underneath the house with the spiders and sewage does not settle well in my stomach so I put together a suit consisting of an expensive pair of fishing waders, a hooded rain/windbreaker, and a pair of safety glasses. Checking to see if my flashlight is good, I head for the panel. The spider at the door is nowhere to be seen. Diving in through the opening, I keep making the phone in my pocket come on, so I lay it underneath the deck between the rain lines from the planks above. Walking with my elbows and forearms, I drag myself under the house. There is even more standing gray water than ever before. I grit my teeth in spite. The dangling sheet metal becomes reachable and I turn to look up. The wood joist is about three inches wide and the drain rests a quarter of an inch over onto it, keeping it wet. I roll and maneuver my body to get a different perspective.  The black belly liner is all ripped up around the drain area and the insulation is all removed under the shower. My hand does not reach onto any pipe that it could have been hooked to, thinking maybe they just forgot to glue the pvc together but then again there are no parts lying on the floor either. I conclude that it was never hooked up. Looking around I see the best place for me to tie a drain in is about ten feet away. This is going to make for two cuts in the main line, a cut on the pipe to tie it in, one cut on a drain stub, and a trap. Plus a street Y: six inch with a 2 and one quarter fitting. Already sliding in sludge, I inspect the rest of the area while rolling and crawling/crawling and rolling. The heat is leaking out in several places. They never put the material back as it should be when they did the work. So, now I have two bathrooms and three bathing units. The bathtub/shower in the main bathroom has a hole in the bottom. The shower in the master bath is draining under the house, which now is linked to Jenny’s mysterious coughing when she lays down in our room. And then there is a garden style tub in the master but you have to use all the hot water to fill it AND be careful not to let it get up on the tub face because they never finished it off with a backsplash or caulked it in any way. They never caulked the kitchen countertops in either. There is a big gap all around the top of the splash and the seams are delaminating on the surface. 
A couple days later my computer kicks out a bunch of information on the contractor. I see a bunch of places where I can rate his business. Having a plan of tricking him into coming out for an estimate on the siding, I call and leave a message at his office. He calls me back a day later but I let it go to voicemail.  I let him run with the line a couple more times. Still, have yet to call him back. The plan is to draw him in closer and then lift the sheet off of the project. Then I’ll give him an option of doing the work himself or paying me to do it. Either way I plan to execute a smear campaign to slow him down on the internet.  
A plumber called me back and I described in detail, what the job incurred for a price accordingly. Mike said it would be three hundred and fifty dollars just to plumb in the shower drain. That’s about what I figured it would cost. I had already rehabbed the front entrance floor, 125.00, and painted the garage doors- 250. Yesterday I finished applying asphalt roof patch over everything that looked like it leaks- 250. This alone was a day and a half. The subfloor in the main bath has to be removed and replaced due to the decay around the toilet and tub. That is going to require taking the shower/tub enclosure out along with the sink base and toilet, which pretty much guts the room completely. I already have the carpet and pad pulled out but stopped when I realized I would need a saw-zall. 

Actually, I needed the saw-zall for the front porch too but when I realized I could use the chainsaw I got it finished. The chainsaw isn’t a good option for the bathroom due to it being so far inside the house. The front entrance was practically outside. Two-stroke oil smell would hang in the house forever if I use that. SO, here I sit at a halt. 
In the meantime my gal, Jenny, is driving one hundred and eighty miles a day to work and back, which is roughly four hours, which means we have to find something closer. My stomach aches when I think of what it would cost to have the tranny rebuilt or something. Subaru Outbacks are great cars but I get nervous when it’s being ran so hard. Winter encroaches and we have no back up vehicle but for my motorcycle.  Between rent and fuel expenses we have fifteen hundred dollars off of the top of our budget. She is required to take call on the weekends requiring her to be within twenty minutes of McLaren Hospital. It’s aggravating because we have to incur the added expense of driving round on her days off, looking at houses. 
Especially aggravating is that I am on parole, so if she gets pulled over for a taillight I go to jail on a parole violation. It makes me uneasy anytime we drive anywhere.  The top of the heap is that it takes away from our time alone together. The last house we looked at had a deed holder that would have really cut in on our time. Thankfully we didn’t do business with him. The last absurd requirement is that he wanted us to have the septic tank drained if we moved out. I have heard a lot of shit in my day but that was a first. 
It wasn’t so bad that he insisted on plowing the driveway at my expense for fear that anyone else will knock the posts down for the upper deck. I could deal with that. Then he said we could use the barn but only in pictures. There was an animal pen and a fenced in area. When I mentioned how we had been thinking about a couple pigs or a couple calves. He immediately jumped in saying he would go in half with me. 
The roof is a really low-pitched thing with many flat spots and transition lines. The snow has to be removed routinely but it’s a trick to use a shovel on the shingles, so he had to do that at our expense as well. 
The house has a wood furnace and there is a large stone chimney and hearth area that extends out into the room eight feet, beautiful to look at but there was no woodstove because he had taken it out… okay, we’ll get a stove for it. 
He would sell us our wood. There were two big bedrooms that each had a nice closet and great windows. There was no flooring installed yet and it wasn’t quite ready for paint. If I wanted to cut the hole in for the door etc… I could use those too. They were only part of the house. 
This guy, Crozier, went on and on rambling like a madman on speed. I could feel he was greasy but I just let him run with his sales pitch while he groped our arms and flirted with my gal. Oh, he was the nicest guy. 
I didn’t like him. He was a tyrant. Hundreds of acres of forested land on a hillside overlooking Deer Lake, and he wouldn’t get off an inch of it; just enough to hold the house … and a strip along the driveway twelve feet wide to the road one hundred fifty yards. Lake access came with the house if we decided we wanted to purchase it, access that’s deeded to three people. 
Come to find out this guy is in hot water with property taxes. He owns so much land and has so many homes. The one he is showing us needs to be his primary residence. His problem (out of the very many) is that he doesn’t want to rent the other house out to anyone because of the maple floors. So he has to sell it. 
He lead us to the bank where we withdrew one thousand dollars. Jen and I were discussing it the entire time. We both felt really weird about it and drove out of there to home immediately. 
He was so pissed off, having us so close to putting the cash in his mitts but we backed away. “I just want a little honesty,” he said a few times. Well, honestly, he was out of his mind. He told Jenny that if he saw our dog in the woods he would shoot it.
 While at the house with the maple floors he showed us his mounts. Big Whitetail Deer, some Boone and Crockett’s. One had a dropped tine, he pointed out to us. There were ten or twelve of them, all taken from these woods. I couldn’t find a place to shoot that he’d have allowed. Or I could shoot along the driveway or, to a spot up on the deck, down to a low area. Either way it would be a lot of running around. 
 As for the interior of the house, it was finished of in almost all areas, with a stained wood paneling. It was done board and batten style. He wanted 165,000 for the place. It looked like it was a bear to heat up, quite large with high ceilings in areas. “Seventy a cord,” he told me, “You find some place else to get wood, good luck.” I couldn’t cut any trees up around the area. This was all his, right down to the dead rabbit he threw in the weeds near the house. His “dog had killed it the day before”, he told us as I find it with my foot in the weeds. Sure enough, a rabbit. I picked it up and show it to him, asking “this rabbit?” He took it from me and threw it a little farther into the trees. 
“There’s a pen, I think they had goat’s, or, no. It was a pig, they had a pig. They had goats too but the pig stayed there."
Truth was that he was a pig entirely, robbing his "wife", a mail order bride, of her children that he had with her. I knew there was a problem when he explained having a mail order bride from Honduras. The fact that he could not find a wife in his own area was very telling. But then again, I can't find one either, so... yeah.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Filthy Rats

The real estate thing proved to be another scam, preying on people with the lure of seemingly easy money:
“Come get a real estate license. You can make big commissions. Our courses are only 2500 dollars!” That amount of money is pennies when you think of the promise one single sale brings. Even the smallest property can yield enough to live on for three months.
Arrgh! I suppose that’s what you get when you take the way out that seems easiest- and that’s closer to broke. Just hope that this decision comes before you liquidate every single possession you have that is worth any amount of money at all. Which we are programmed to see a monetary value in every single thing... except in ourselves.
Nobody seems to have a sense of pride or respect for honest work anymore. My hard work was really getting me nowhere but my foolish pride, and my resentment towards my ex-wife, were killing me slowly but surely. Not to mention the slow and methodical suicide of the seemingly routine normalcy- an unrecognized battle with drug and alcohol consumption. It really was no conscious secret to me that I was no better than those I criticized. I could not break myself free from the spell of consumerism that told me that it was normal and all okay.
"Don't look back, your day's behind you. Have a glass of Windsor Whiskey!" Or, "Head for the mountains, Busch Beer."
Consumerism, Capitalism, and the consistent erosion of Individualism all keep us in an economic slavery that has made us all equal. Equal yet divided in so very many ways. When will the constant societal pummeling cease for a moment long enough for us to take a breath with which to admirably fight with?
Our captors know that they cannot let up on their oppression that keeps us held down in a dismal state with which we are unable to construct our own thoughts enough  for a fair chance to fight back.

My labors earned me a room of my own in the basement, which I converted into a music studio. In reality, I had been assigned a task to turn a utility area into a usable den but my fantasy of having a career in the media, conveniently replacing Danny’s loft space studio, kept me from seeing that. I think The Fabulous T-Birds were playing in my head while I set to work building a bulkhead around the ductwork of the furnace. The framing needed to be built in order to drywall. It needed plenty of soundproofing and some carpet. Julie had me build a closet that she could grow pot in as well. Danny helped me build some counter space, appropriate for the computer, keyboards, and appliances, which included a Tascam Four Track Analog recording system that he had gifted me.
One day, while Danny was making plans to move out of the building, Andy was making plans to move in. He quickly befriended Sean Adams, and his band mate, Mike. “Ace music Dave” was there bringing orders of guitar strings (marijuana) to musicians that day. Mike’s girlfriend, Laura, was painting a recreation of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, on the walls of their studio space. It wasn’t hard to tell that she was there spending time trying to save their relationship. I think I was the only one that picked up on life budding elsewhere in the room that day.
Taking it upon myself, I tried to warn them about Andy but they were already under his spell. The guys were snowed.
That’s when Dave changed the subject, telling me about a guy interested in selling his DJ business. Little did I realize that it was just a dope fiend trying to gain purchase in the mind of a man with the dope- confidence created to confuse and manipulate him.
Julie agreed that, since it came with a listing in the Yellow Pages, it was a good investment. Danny and I weren’t interested in the DJ business. We only wanted the P.A. system that was for sale. It was a great buy, and we happened to need it for the upcoming Memorial Day show. The guy selling it wanted us to go do a DJ gig for a wedding reception, saying he’d loan us the speakers to do it with, and that we could think about buying the business.  Neither Myself, nor Danny, nor Julie, could see the actual writing on the wall. We were so blinded with a chance at something different than we were accustomed to or understood that we failed all the way around to approach the situation with any kind of LOGIC. We said we would do the gig, and that we would think about the prospect of the DJ business. Julie called him back two hours later, saying we’d take the business off of his hands, and asked where to meet up with him to do the transaction. Now, it appeared as though we were the owners of “AA Bands and DJ’s”.
The wedding gig was on a Saturday, and was being held at a Country Club, in Jenison, which threw up red flags to me but Julie said there was absolutely nothing to worry about. She said it would be an easy two hundred bucks. We finalized doing the gig and set off in our routine.
It seemed like I was the only one around the day Andy actually moved into the building, so it was me that ended up stuck with helping him move his things, which also meant helping him move his things from the woman’s house he was leaving. Judging by the looks on her face, she had been mistreated for the last time. Just the way she looked at me with Andy let me know that I was helping the enemy. Her eyes told me many things- most of all that I was a piece of shit for helping him. She didn't know who I was to Andy. All I could do was offer her my sympathy through my body language, and my eye contact with her that said how sorry I was and how ashamed that I was involved in the least.

There were many pieces of musical merchandise, mainly brand new electric guitars that still were in their boxes. Every bit of it was hot. Chet, his boss, was storing a lot of this loot in the basement of his home. The story was, so Andy wouldn’t sell it all for drugs while he was supposed to be getting clean from Heroine and Crack Cocaine- just another con job on Chet. It worked well for a while but Chet was just as much of a crook, robbing people with a smile and some paint equipment. Andy swore that he was no longer using but everything, other than his words, said something else entirely. One of those things that spoke to me was the motor home he left for abandoned in the lot at the building we moved him into. It was eventually towed to the impound yard and sold for scrap. The other was the crack pipe that I saw laying on the flor under the couch where it had been placed in an attempt to hide it. Litle did they realize that I would just pull up some rug before them to listen while he and a girl with him played and sang. My words that I added were something along the lines of, " crack pipe on the floor..." letting him know that I had seen what was really going on that day.

As people progressed toward leaving the building in the weeks that followed, Andy was liquidating the things he had been accumulating. Story was that he had to move back to Florida to help his mother, meaning  that he wouldn’t be there very long. He had survived shooting a near fatal dose of bleach into his arm almost two years ago, and now was on his way to spend time with his mother while his body was yet to realize he was walking dead.
He offered to sell his P.A. equipment to me for seven hundred bucks. The lighting system, a good size mixer, amplifier, a pair of one thousand watt Yamaha speakers, light cans, miscellaneous lines and patch cords, etc. It was a great deal that I just couldn’t believe- too good. He knew Julie had the money to pay for it, and I was right in the middle of gearing up for the show. It just made sense at the time, so she bought it for me. She liked the music room so much that she bought a mini fridge with a tap handle and a carbonic system for a pony keg to put in there too. Yeah, I really thought I had things made now. Thanks to the spell that alcohol had on me every bit of sense that I had was compromised. 
Julie went with me to do the wedding reception gig in Jenison. The father had called beforehand to explain what music tracks they wanted, and when they wanted them to be played. It was pretty exciting for me even though it was a wedding reception, which almost every band dreads. I had spent days going to thrift stores, buying all the music tapes and CD’s I could find that might be good additions to a DJ library.
I just couldn’t remember, did he say NO Hawaiian shirts or did he say WEAR Hawaiian shirts?
We arrived and set up. I first smelled a rat when, after an hour, we were never offered a drink or any type of hospitality. Having never done a wedding gig before, I was under the impression that it’s a celebration regardless of whether you are “just” the DJ or not. Not even a glass of water was offered to us.
At one point, some of the girls came and gathered around to have their pictures taken with me. Little did I realize, they were sent by the father of the bride. They were gathering pictures to use against me.

The next day I received a phone call from an irate Dutchman who felt like stiffing someone on his wedding expenses. He was yelling, demanding his two hundred dollars back because I showed up wearing long hair and a Hawaiian shirt! It didn’t settle well on me, since I had just been awoken from sleep, so I was irate as well but more so.
Julie took the phone from me, and somewhere along the conversation, agreed to refund him his precious money. This only confirmed my fears, and I was quick to chalk it up to one of the reasons nobody likes doing weddings, and moving on with my renewed opinion about Jenison.
Now my attention was on satisfying myself over the DJ service purchase by calling the guy to discuss the Yellow page listing, which was tied to his phone number. I smelled another rat. The problem I now had was that my life had become so infested and overrun with rats that a simple extermination wouldn’t work well enough. He ended up stiffing me on the whole transaction and walking away with the money we gave him, and the DJ business. This was going to require something more drastic but I didn’t know what.