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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.

Monday, June 27, 2016


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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stranded near the Safe Zone

Joe farmer was one of the many Homosexuals in my dorm. He, like a lot of gay men, took an interest in me.  Laughing it off, I developed a report with him, even hung out a couple of times when we were released. He was another crack addict. When he worked at a gas station that they trusted him with closing, he stole fifteen hundred dollars from the deposit bag for his habit, eventually fleeing to another state. He said all the right things and sounded sincere in his rehabilitation. After going back to the shelter to find that my belongings had been given or thrown away, and that I was not welcome to stay there, I had no place to go but the Safe Zone. I asked if I could entrust him with some writings that I had accumulated while serving the one year long sentence for the solicitation to sell cocaine charge- whatever that means.
Joe Farmer had an apartment that he was sharing with a family he became acquainted with. It seemed like I could count on him to keep my papers safe for the time being, so I left them with him, along with my food stamp card to let him get a few things he needed. He ended up getting thrown out for drugs a short time afterwards, taking my card and causing for my papers to be thrown out with the trash.
The time of day became late in my worry, and I found myself the farthest I could be from the Safe Zone. You have to check in by a certain time and the gate closes a little while after that, putting me on the streets for the night once again. Left to wander, I headed for Duval Street to find an opportunity.
What I found were these people who were palm weavers. They made hats, baskets and bowls. They fashioned roses and crucifixes also. All while sitting at the foot of the carnival style buildings that lined the street and sidewalks. It was a routine sight in the shopping and drinking streets, which was pretty much all of them.
The city has street vendor permits, of a certain number, that people can purchase for things particular to their “trade”. My questions began, asking each one of them if they needed help with anything, finally finding a couple guys who said I could help them sell their goods- roses made from Palm fronds. Soon, I discovered that this was a big joke because they would sell a couple roses and just go to the store for beers with what money they received. Then they would leave me to watch their spot and handle sales, barking at tourists as they walked by- same as the Carnival or County Fair.
Feeling and looking like a clown, I tried to play the part. It became obvious that these guys were addicts when they came back, talking strangely about where they stuck “the pipe” in the bushes and asking me if I “smoked”. The night proceeded while they squandered the money as it came in, spending it on drinking and drugs. I had accumulated only eight dollars because for every item I could sell they gave me a dollar bill.
It was turning into a far desperate situation than I could have imagined myself being a part of... I lost hope and turned to trying my hand at prostitution when three old ladies came along. What made it easy to think of was that I had been drinking and became hypnotized by the strong sexual overtone of the adult environment, like the festival that they call Fantasy Fest. The three of them were here on vacation though, and had just got off of a cruise ship to stay for a while and fly back home. One in particular was perky and upbeat, looking around sixty-five year old. Though a difficult decision to make, I put the bait out there and began flirting to let them know it could be had. All I could think was it could be worth a couple hundred bucks, and how I could be gone in the next day or two- finally escaping from the Keys. Things developed between us and it was a go, they were interested. Now all I had to do was stay drunk enough to actually go through with it. OH GOD! What have I done? Bring on the beer quick, before I change my mind!
Now, it’s been over a year since I arrived in the Keys. Fantasy Fest is in full swing and the crowd is freaking crazy. Everyone is doing private things in Public places. Many are naked but for body paint that looks like clothing. There are people having sex in many places out in the open. There are people everywhere drinking alcohol and smoking dope. There are people who have brought their children.
Amazed at what I am witnessing, I fight my way through the crowd to find a place to clean up. My eyes meet with the eyes with a man who has a jar in his hand. He quickly waves me closer and dumps some marijuana in my hand from the jar, telling me to enjoy it. The smell of blueberries perfumes the air from it. This pleases me because I needed to be intoxicated for what I was about to do, bumming a rolling paper along the way.
The little old ladies are meeting me at The Bull and Whistle Bar in a short while. The Garden of Eden is upstairs- a clothing optional place. When I get to the bar, I notice that the side entrance is dimly lit with a lot of shadows between it and the store next door. The bar bathroom made it easy to roll the joint and get cleaned up in because everyone was too interested in what was going on around them to take time to use it until they had to. Exiting the bathroom, I went to the shadows to smoke my weed.
As I finished smoking and pitched the roach, a cop car stopped at a gob of people about forty yards away. The officer got out of the car and looked around. He was looking for something, turning his head my way as I exhaled the last puff of smoke I held in my lungs. Then I turned to go back into The Bull and Whistle but he yelled for me to come his way. In the end he arrested me for possession of Marijuana, saying that he saw me blow out marijuana smoke from where he stood, and that he could smell it in the air. I had to laugh, like I was the one person who had smoked weed that night and he was out trying to sniff me out. There are sixty thousand people in Key West during this festival, very many smoking pot but I am the one he comes looking for.
Well, luckily for him, he had a roach he kept in his pocket for just such an occasion- evidence for whomever they want to take in. Moments later I found myself right back in the very same jail cell for the third time. It was just like everyone else that I saw get out and come right back within days. Catch and release, catch and release, catch… big money. It was purely madness.
Even my P.D. laughed when I explained the situation of the charge but it didn’t change the fact that I would be sitting in jail for another length of time. By now I am emotionally numb. Life has pretty much ended for me. I was happy if I woke up the next morning but for what, I don’t really know. Prosecuted on another charge got me forty-five more days, much to my dismay. But what I got out of that was more information.
Turns out that the girl that robbed me was busted in Marathon at a motel within a half day of the incident. The cops had kicked the door in on the motel, finding her and a drug dealer with guns and drugs, landing her a prison sentence. My bunkmate, Moses Torres, was at the location that night when I was robbed and arrested. He was smoking cocaine. He told me how he was there, saw my things in the mud, and was also arrested that night.  
My spades partner, Oneilio Garcia, was in for cocaine as well. He was actually a friend of Andy’s- more or less, supplying him with his cocaine. Oneilio explained how he had routinely delivered whores and rocks to Andy. It all became quite clear that I was set up from the beginning as I had suspected but now I had proof and witnesses.
Andy had planned on working at getting Julie to bend his way, painting me in a bad light, in order to get his equipment back, and suckering Julie out of all the money he could get, while knowing she was in control of her mother’s estate. That is, if she wasn’t conspiring with him all along. Knowing that didn’t do a whole lot for my situation except to reaffirm my awareness related to what my drinking had done in conjunction with my needs, like the need to be wanted or be part of something.
It was overwhelming, my wanting to file charges against him but I was not with any way to do it, so I thought about it all the time, remembering how Andy’s mother had told Julie about Andy doing a year or so in Florida Prison for being involved with a situation where they cut a guys stomach open to get the Heroine out that he was trafficking. It was odd that she would tell Julie this. Maybe she was involved in the scam too. Was that why she bought Andy the Jolly Roger flag for the boat? The whole thing was making me crazy.
Once again, I was released from jail. It was around noon when I left. It is easy to remember, only because I wanted to eat first and they wouldn’t serve me. My feet quickly took me to the area of activity where I thought I could find some assistance at. Lots of people had told me of a church that would give you a bus ticket to get home if you were stranded but this proved to be untrue.
At one point, during my hike, I met a group of hippie kids from upstate that were hanging out for whatever festival was going on at the time. They were down here selling pot and mushrooms, planning to leave in the morning. I was given a pair of shoes and some mushrooms. Seeing no point in not eating them, I did. We wandered around as a group and I felt safe. They took me to where they had been staying, which happened to be the rooftop of an abandoned building. There was a ladder to get up with that they pulled up onto the roof to conceal their whereabouts.
We hung out and talked about our travels that day and into the evening. We drank a little bit and smoked a lot. They invited me to leave with them in the morning and I gladly accepted. Then they gave me more mushrooms. As we wandered around, finding cell phones and money that had been lost by people, the drugs took affect and it became very difficult to manage. Feeling out of sorts, I had to get somewhere to rest out of sight. We headed back to their camp on the rooftop. Somewhere along the way I became separated from them.
When I was able to think, I found myself being walked back to the room where I had spent the majority of my time, in the Monroe County Jail. It had been all of fourteen hours.
When I woke up from my coma, I found myself in the same bunk I had been in for the past three arrests. Toilet paper was wrapped all around me like I had been mummified. Moses and the guys were laughing at me when I broke out of the bunk. It was funny to them, that I was wasted when I came back, and that I had been so adamant about leaving but repeatedly failed after they had told me it was near impossible to leave this place.
The officer’s had given me the charge sheet when I came in but I wasn’t able to read it. Now, I see that it says I have been charged with trespassing. When I finally speak with my Public Defender, I explain to him that I want a trial.
My chance to go back was gone, just like Gilligan’s Island. The kids, I would learn, had made their way up to Miami. They were staying in a hotel when they met up with a grave situation. The girl that was traveling with them, “Rose”, had been killed by the slitting of her throat, one of the guys was dead of an overdose of Heroine, and another guy was beaten badly and left for dead. Prison sentences were handed out but probably not for the people who did the killing. Had I not become separated from them, I would have been right there with them- dead or going to prison that time. That’s where the kid they found in the room went.
Was it that I was guided from that or was it just a coincidence? It sure wasn’t feeling like I was being guided.
People I had known on the streets were being found dead in many strange places. One man, who claimed to be a Veteran of the Marines named, Sonny, was found dead near mile marker fifteen. His throat was slashed. He was lying in the ditch on the side of the road when a motorist found him. Another man was killed while he slept on the beach by a hammer blow to the head. People were being killed by methadone overdoses. All of these people were homeless people. Of course, no charges were ever filed.
Within a week or two they sent a Psychiatrist in to evaluate me because no one goes to trial with a trespassing charge. He interviews me, tells me to “Keep fighting champ”, and then leaves. Several continuances later, they tell me that because I am unfit and incompetent, that there would be no trial. Forty-five days after they brought me in I am sent to court where they give me time served. I was released on Valentines Day.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The land here seems to be cursed. zroutine destruction palgues us. The dogs have destroyed everything. Everyone just does what they want. No chores get handled properly and everything is in a state of chaos. Jen has pulled away from me and placed her attention into her phone and computer when she isn't complaining of great discomfort from her back etc... zShe won't get outside with me. Hse won't get active she just holes up in the house or goes driving around spending money we don't have.