Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bugtussle's Bike Bags (Part 12.5)

Intermission II (Poetic Interlude the Sequel)

My Dear, Sweet Da-duh, Da-da-duh… Margaret,

(A week or two from now)
We opened at five as usual today -
Young Jimmy, here first, had unlocked the door.
Carl staggering in, unkempt, par for course,
Over two hours late - seven-o-four.

Of course Uptown Max, was eager to start,
With pastries stacked neatly in the display
In the nick of time as in through the door,
Morning’s first customers, the Rook and Jay.

Then Two Fish accompanied by Miss D;
Some long lost leftover child of the flower;
Young couple whose eyes kept each other’s gaze;
Place was a-hoppin' within the first hour.

Coroner popped in for his usual brew;
Uptown Max looked up, said, “Hey mornin’ Mel!”
Then from the deli, the delivery boy;
An Asian lady with nothing to tell.

Olra rambled on in singing a tune;
A guy from the train went into the Men’s.
But atmospheres changed one-eighty degrees
The very instant the Young Man walked in.

Your best friend forever and ever and ever,
Ma-muh, Ma-ma-muh…. Donald


On the southeast side of town, the sagging, wooden leaves of the double-wide garage door started creakily moving in the upward direction with the aid of the automatic opener. The door, as well as the unbearable noise, came to a stop – exposing the gorgeous tail end of a white on white 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible – suicide doors and all. Within seconds of the garage door halting its motion, the white cloth top of the Lincoln started its routine of lifting loose from the windshield, whirring, folding, grinding, and tucking until it was completely hidden from view beneath the beautiful expanses of meticulously polished and shined sheet metal. Behind the wheel sat Emma. Emma took a scarf out of her purse and wrapped it around her hair – tied it in a knot beneath her chin and backed out of the garage.

As Emma backed the half-a-century old mechanical marvel and stylish masterpiece down the driveway, she stopped when she reached the sidewalk and pushed the button on the remote control to close the garage door. She then tapped lightly on the horn three times. Before the sound of the third tap had even subsided, the Dwarf emerged from the house next door and, at dwarf-speed, ran across the lawn and jumped in on the passenger side. Emma let her foot off the brake and backed on out into the street. Putting it drive, she drove one block west to the corner and then turned north onto Forest Hill Drive.

Shortly before reaching I-20, Emma pulled into the convenience store parking lot where a woman dressed in a cow suit and a man wearing a big diaper and a Nixon mask were waiting. Emma stopped long enough for them to climb in the back seat of the convertible then she pulled back out onto the street and headed in the direction of the Interstate.

(Back: Part 12  -  Scribbles on the Desk Blotter)

(Next: Part 13  -  Thirteen)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bugtussle’s Bike Bags (part 12)

-    Scribbles on the Desk Blotter    -

Dolores entered the gate to the Riverside Cemetery and took the first foot path to the right – through the original section of the cemetery opened in 1907 according to the weathered plaque on the stone wall encompassing it. In this section, the monuments were tall and majestic – much like the rows of oak trees that formed an umbrella over them. Beyond the original section were several other areas opened in subsequent decades. Their ages measured primarily by the heights of the stone markers on the grave-sites. As the cemetery grew, the markers seemed to shrink in size until, as in the newest sections, the markers were flush with the tips of the surrounding lawn. It was so much easier for the yard crew to merely ride their massive  mowers over them without the need for a helper to follow along behind with a weed eater.

Dolores walked over to Section 8A. Most of the markers there were one foot or less in height. She walked along the second row and then stopped at the fifth marker from the pathway. It was definitely the tallest marker in this section and exceeded the regulation height of one foot by half again that amount – not even counting the two metal flower vases built in to the top edge. Dolores stopped and knelt down at the marker’s edge.  As she had done so many times during the last twenty-six years, she closed her eyes and ran her hands across the face of the stone – her mind’s eye reading the lettering sent from the tips of her fingers: ALPHONSE BAROOVRA  1938 - 1986.

As she spruced up the flowers in the two vases, she whispered, “Hey, it’s me again Alfie— I mean, Dr B. How’s everything going with you? Me? I’m not doing too well right now.”

Meanwhile, back over at the police station:

Detective Salamander, carrying a police regulation cardboard evidence box, walked into office he shared with Detective Bass and two other detectives.  He sat the box down on the table in the center of the room and opened the top. He started removing the clear plastic zip-locked bags of personal belongings that they had gathered from JP Bugtussle’s bike bags – the items that were in the panniers on the bike itself as well as the items that were in the bag that Jimmy had discovered under the coffee shop hedges. Just as Detective Bass entered the office with a couple of cups of black coffee, Sal pulled out the bag with the ballpoint pen.

“Good, you’ve got it,” exclaimed Arnold when he saw Sal with the ballpoint pen. He sat the cups of coffee on the table as Sal took the pen out of the bag and handed it to him. Arnold clicked the button exposing the pen tip and said, “Now, let’s see what we’ve got here…” He walked to his desk, leaned over and he started drawing circular scribbles on the blotter pad – continuous circular scribbles – blue continuous circular scribbles.

After making about twenty loops of scribbles on the blotter, Arnold put the pen down and walked over to the table to get his cup of coffee. Returning to his desk, he sat down, put his feet up and started sipping on his coffee – all the while keeping his eyes glued to the blue scribbles on his desk blotter.

Sal grabbed the other cup of coffee and walked over to his desk and leaned against it, halfway sitting on the desk top. He blew on his coffee, took a couple of sips and said, “How long do you plan on staring at that desk blotter?”

Arnold just sat there, feet on his desk, coffee cup cradled in both hands and pressed against his lips - slowly shaking his head – staring. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. Fifteen. And at the exact moment that Sal was about to tell Arnold how stupid this whole thing was, Arnold sat up straight in his chair, sloshing a little coffee onto his pants before he could get the cup set down on his desk. He promptly pointed at the newly drawn blue scribbles and shouted to Sal, “Look at this!”

Sal took the couple of steps over to Arnold’s desk and looked at the blotter. The blue scribbles, drawn right next to the black scribbles from his pen just the day before, were starting to fade in sections. As both detectives watched, eyes steadily trained on the desk blotter, the sides of the scribbles started disappearing.  In a matter of moments, only the heavier thickness of the lines forming the top and bottom loops of the scribbles were still visible.  Within a minute after that – the blue scribbles were nowhere to be seen.

Arnold looked at Sal, “Get on the internet. Look up disappearing.” He then went to the evidence box and started digging for JP Bugtussle’s blank notebooks. 

-( 1997 )----------

“Louise, please – just let me explain,” pleaded Sherry. “I knew you wouldn’t want to talk to me but I—“

“Darn right I don’t want to talk to you. In fact, I’m ready to hang up right now.”

“Wait – Louise! Don’t hang up! I’ve got this good friend that needs some help and I think we can help him.”

“How can we help him? I don’t even know you any more – I don’t want to know you!”

“Please! Just listen to me Louise. Do you know about the power of the blood of the Madagascar Panther Chameleon?” asked Sherry - speaking as quickly as she could to try and pique Louise's curiosity.

The only reply that Sherry got to her question was the sound of the dial tone.

(Back: Part 11  -  Fortune Cookies)

(Next: Part 12.5  -  Intermission II - Poetic Interlude the Sequel)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bugtussle’s Bike Bags (part 11)

-    Fortune Cookies    -

Dolores hadn’t had a cigarette since right before she walked into the hospital to identify her son’s body. She hadn’t really even thought about it. That had been three days ago – almost to the hour. She thought to herself how odd that was. She probably could have convinced herself she had more reasons to smoke a cigarette now than she had ever had before – the stress of the last three days; the loss of a son; having to identify the body; the search for the killer – with pretty much no clues as to who he or she or they were. Any truly dedicated smoker would have worked their way through the better part of a carton in thirty-six hours under those kinds of circumstances.

Once again, Dolores found herself walking towards the Riverside Cemetery – a journey she makes any time she needs the comfort of an old friend. The same journey she made a little more than thirty-six hours ago when she got the phone call from the police that her son had been killed and they needed her to come to identify the body. Riverside Cemetery is located on the bank of the West Fork Trinity River – just shy of two miles from Dolores’ house. But whenever she found herself in one of these moods, she didn’t mind the walk. It was comforting.

At about the half-way point, rows of family residences make way for about eight blocks of commercial establishments along each side of the road – mostly little Mom and Pop stores, the bulk of which are antique shops; a Laundromat; a donut shop; two nail salons; a barber shop; Jackson’s Pawn and Jewelry; half-a-dozen empty spaces for rent; and Qingzhao the Fortune Teller – Palms, Cards and Tea Leaves.

As Dolores crossed the intersection and was headed in the direction of the fortune teller’s shop, she could see the owner taking her signs and displays, which usually line the sidewalk outside her shop, inside for the evening. Qingzhao, a little Chinese woman barely four foot eight if she could stand up straight, was on the plus side of eighty and still operated her shop by herself five days a week. She was lucky to see two or three customers a day. She always had a smile for Dolores when she saw her walk by – as she did for everyone. And, as she also did for everyone that passed by, she would cheerfully chant, “Fortune for you. Fortune for you.  Good fortune for you today.”  And Dolores would always return her smile and reply, “No thank you. Not today.”

But today, Dolores thought differently, and then said, “Sure. Why not? But aren’t you about to close?”

Qingzhao excitedly replied, “Your special day. I do quickly. You see. Good fortune to you,” as she disappeared inside the front door to her shop – only to quickly reappear with a cookie jar. She opened the top and said to Dolores, “Take one. Quickly.”

Dolores stood there for a second or two and then peered into the cookie jar. A cookie jar full of - Chinese fortune cookies?

“Take one quickly,” repeated Qingzhao while she insistently shook the jar in front of Dolores.

Dolores reached in and selected a fortune cookie. “Open! Open!” instructed Qingzhao.

Dolores peeled the wrapping off of the fortune cookie, cracked it open and pulled out her fortune: EYES ARE THE HEART OF THE SOUL.

“Eyes are the heart of the soul. What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

“You see? Good fortune for you today!” and the fortune teller grabbed the last of her fortune telling stuff and went inside and locked the door.

“Wait!” shouted Dolores, “Don’t you want me to pay you?”

Dolores stood there for a few moments, waiting to see if the fortune teller was going to return. Nope. She looked back down at the piece of paper in her hand, shook her head and silently chuckled to herself, “Crazy lady!” She opened her purse, dropped the fortune inside, pulled out a cigarette and lit it as she continued her walk to the cemetery.

-( 1997 )----------

You’ve got a lot of nerve calling me out of the clear blue after seven years!” shouted Louise into her telephone.  “And, in addition, you want to ask me a favor? Are you for real?”

Sherry could almost feel the heat coming out of the receiver. She had expected no less.

Sherry and Louise had known each other since they were four years old – when Sherry’s family moved in across the street. Sherry was born in March of 1972 and Louise was born in May the same year. Sherry had a brother, Kyle, who was two years older than she. Louise also had a brother, Winston, who was also two years older. Sherry’s father, Don, worked as a custodian for the Hotel Monteleone. Louise’s father, Larry, worked at the Ford dealership on the west side of town – actually in Metairie. Neither Sherry’s mother, Alice, nor Louise’s mother, Marie, had jobs outside of taking care of their respective households. Sherry and Louise became friends almost immediately – the very same day that the moving truck pulled up in front of the house that Don and Alice had just leased (with an option to buy) directly across from Larry and Marie. And almost as quick as immediately, the two girls began sharing every aspect of their lives together – from dolls and crayons in their younger years all the way to hopes and dreams as they neared the end of their teenage years. Along the way there were all the usual girl issues and traumas and heartbreaks and secrets and boys this and boys that and – all the things that “best friends forever and ever and ever” share with each other. Somewhere in the early teens, Louise and Sherry discovered the world of Voodoo. At first glance, it might have appeared as the normal curiosity of two young girls just falling in with the novelty of the idea – like kids bringing out the Ouija board at a party. Just some harmless fun. But for Sherry and Louise, it rapidly rose to a level beyond novelty.  Sherry and Louise were excellent students – both in school and in the world of New Orleans Voodoo. They had the knack. The calling.

Kyle died in a car wreck in 1988 during his senior year in high school. Winston died the day after the girls graduated from high school – freak accident at the furniture warehouse where he worked involving a fork lift and case of beer. Louise’s mom and dad got a divorce within a year after Winston died – Marie ended up moving back to Chicago to live with her parents and was killed when she stepped out in front of a taxi while crossing Michigan Avenue; Larry ended up marrying one of the dancers at a bar in the French Quarter and they had three more kids together within four years but then one evening, as he walked in the door after coming home from work, he slipped on one of the kids’ toys and crashed into the coffee table and broke his neck. Don and Alice went to Nashville and recorded a Country and Western album and were in a bus on their way to the first stop on a fifty-five city tour to promote the new album when the landing gear fell off of a plane flying 35,000 feet overhead and crushed them to death. A month after graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Louise walked across the street to Sherry’s house, went in the front door without knocking, as usual, and headed to Sherry’s bedroom. As Louise opened the door – there was Sherry – and there was Louise’s steady boyfriend (hoping to be fiancĂ© at some point in the very near future) – in bed together!

Forever and ever and ever came to an abrupt end that day.

-( 1986 )----------

The front page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Monday, June 16, 1986


Antananarivo, Madagascar – Longtime Fort Worth resident and well known physician, Dr Alphonse Baroovra has been missing for over four weeks now and is presumed to be dead. While on a cycling tour of Madagascar, Dr Baroovra went missing within the first week of his planned, two-week tour of this island republic off the southeastern coast of Africa…

(Back: Part 10  -  Folklore, Myths and Legends)

(Next: Part 12  -  Scribbles on the Desk Blotter)