Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Lilith and the hoarder


The Hoarder keeps the patch between curb and sidewalk neat as a pin. Some days, he sits on the ground trimming the already short grass. His mailbox is freshly painted. He props trees up with posts and cord. Behind the iron fence, chaos. In the garage, chaos: old pants hanging from a line (like a Charles Addams cartoon), heaps of wood, metal, tools, no room for car. A large Buddha sits in the yard, sometimes an orange in his lap. Close by, a stone toad of similar size grins toward the street through the significant underbrush. 
For years, I thought the Hoarder lived in the large moldering house by himself. Today, as Lilith and I walked by, we heard a woman's voice falling through louvers on the second floor. "You get four doors!" she yelled. "Three doors don't open. The front door stuck. I call the locksmith." Lilith and I lingered; I turned to take a photograph of an old plastic jug hanging from a tree; much of the plastic had worn away. The white haired man's face showed through a gap; he was coming out of his garage. "Good morning," I said. "Good morning," he responded.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Lilith hears a chicken tale

The woman who, in Lilith Walks, hunted snails in Kahalu`u, was seated on the curb beneath the shower tree gleaming in the morning light, playing a casino game on her phone, smoking a cigarette. Lilith was interested, walked over, accepted the woman's kind attention. I said Lilith almost killed a chicken the other day. 
--You know, I have a job at Ross now, nights, to go with the other job I do at home. The other night a woman was in the dressing room. She wanted to get clothes for her son, but he's bigger than he used to be and fussy. She had something wiggling in her bag. Not a dog, maybe a cat? No, a chicken! A black chicken with feathers that went in reverse direction from usual. It's her pet! Found it, feral, raised it; now it eats with the dogs, follows everybody around. Was difficult when the grandmother came to live with them. She's Filipino. You know what they think chickens are for. And the dogs black. Took a while to persuade her that the chicken was supposed to be running around the living room. Even had its own diaper, hand-made.
She's taken in renters. Once Macy's closed, it was too hard. So she's got a couple of former Macy's employees living with her now. Another dog walker came by, we chatted some more. She got up in her long pajamas from the curb brightly strewn with shower tree petals (yellow, salmon colored), having finished her cigarette.
Yestaday, at Broke da Mouth, Lee Tonouchi tell, Susan you write poems when you walk your dog. Are you always writing in your head? Do you ever have fun? And I tink now, ho, Lee, dis was da firs walk, not da long one. Still time foa find da nex` Lilit` story today lidat.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Lilith and my mother's ashes


I'd thought maybe they'd moved the short guy with long salt and pepper (more pepper than salt) hair and Hawaiian flag board shorts to another location, but he said he'd been on vacation. I hoped it had been good. "Ho, last night in Vegas I get $3200," he said, eyes gleaming. He'd won $2000 another night, but that just covered expenses. I advised him not to spend it all in one place, and he said no, he gave it to his "old lady," the boss. She had bills to pay; then again, so did he. 
He'd gestured toward the main office building, so I asked if she also worked at the cemetery. "Oh yes, she one of the big bosses," he said. Come to think of it, I have a question for the big bosses, I said. My mother's ashes have been in my closet for 10 years. They need to be in Arlington National Cemetery, with my father's. My own daughter keeps pestering me about them. I wonder if the big bosses could help me get them there. "Oh, I'll ask her," he said. He said he understood.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Lilith and the fake indictments

I asked how the Big Bosses visit had gone at the cemetery. S at the front shack said they hadn't even talked to him before leaving; he muttered something about middle management causing all the problems. Then he started talking about "fake indictments," and how did I enjoy them. I said there are 91 of them, but he was talking about how the proud boys' indictments didn't even show up in the system; one of the proud boys was supposed to have been in solitary for months, but somehow he'd gained weight and looked super fit. S pointed to the side muscle that he said he didn't have, but that guy sure did. And Joe Biden's mask! I noted that Biden had worn a mask when his wife had covid, but S meant the mask you can see if you look at the back of his neck, the one that covers his face. From there he started talking about how Alex Jones (Alex Jones!) supposedly flew from Texas to Connecticut every day for the fake Sandy Hook stuff. "You think Sandy Hook was fake?" I ask, grasping and gasping at straws. "Oh yes!" S started to laugh. I said, you don't laugh at that. "Oh no, I'm laughing at you," he said. I walked away, said I was disgusted. "Of course you are," he yelled.
Two Black men got out of a black mustang, wearing black tourist clothes. One man wore a big straw hat on, was up the hill, and his friend was taking his photo. I asked if they wanted me to take a photo of both of them, and the one guy said yes, handing me his phone. I took their photo, with the mountains behind them, telling them how to get closer to the mountains by turning left at the temple parking lot. "Those guys were just telling me that Sandy Hook was fake," I said, and the two men looked at me, astonished. "How did that conversation even happen?" one asked. Oh we've been talking for years; I even wrote a book about it. "You'd better write another, I guess." Oh, it's coming.
On my way out of the cemetery, S zoomed up in a green cart full of torch ginger. He looked at me gingerly, waving. I walked up to him and said I know someone whose wife taught at Sandy Hook and their lives were completely changed . . . he nodded.
I had lunch with a dear friend in Waikiki earlier this week; he was the colleague whose sense of humor had saved many a department meeting, before he moved up to interim deanly status. His husband came home from the gym. I told them about the guys I know at the cemetery, the ones I talk to all the time, and my friend's husband exploded. "I don't talk to those f-ers any more! They're coming after us now. They're stupid f-ers."

Friday, September 8, 2023

Lilith and the big bosses

The cemetery is usually a laid back place, even among the living. Today, a back hoe wheeled by, as Lilith and I hugged the curb. Workers zoomed by in their green carts. "Everyone's driving fast," I said to the guy at the gate. "The big bosses are coming today," he replied. The mythical ones, from Houston. "They want to change everything," the white guy had said to me the other day, after I'd once again noted the new white paint on the guard shack. For as long as I remember, the shack had been painted a burnished red to match the Buddhist temple in the back, itself a miniature of a famous temple in Kyoto. The mismatch promises further upheaval. "The other guys make minimum wage," said the guy, "I'm afraid they'll get laid off, and I'll lose my job, too," he said. "But don't tell them." I wouldn't think of it, but I note the irony that they all support the guy with 91 counts to his name. "Just tell them you like the Astros," I said today, as Lilith and I walked away.