(3 A.M., 22 August)
Life is full of idiotic vexations that should not be. Silly, inconsequential events that should mean nothing yet are something enough to fret over. A continuing woe of mine involves my part in a neighbor (from here, “Green Thumb”) having her flower pots tipped by Juvenile Delinquent Raccoons.
As I’ve stated in earlier posts, my building features a common yard inhabited mostly by flitting little Birds and Squirrels by day and semi-wild beasts after sundown. The beasts include my feral Cat friends, Alfie and Andy, an occasional Opossum named Olivia (who has a way of popping out from under the bushes and scaring the hell out of people) and a marauding band of four to six Jugglao/J.D. Racoons who drink Faro and smoke discarded cigarette butts. Green Thumb seems nice enough, but she operates under the delusion that she can place potted flowers in the courtyard and expect nothing bad to happen to them overnight.
At a certain hour in the night (usually around three), I meet Andy and Alfie at a certain hedge and feed them. I stand there and wait for them to finish, because the J.D. Raccoons are wise to this arrangement, I can see them gathering on the street near the gate. Raccoons are like people insomuch you can deal with one, for they are fairly friendly and have distinct personalities, which, for the most part, are ingratiating at some level, but the instant more Raccoons are added to the equation they become pushy little Juggalo J.D.s.
Raccoons eat well during the summer. I’ve never seen a skinny one. In winter I’ll give them bread–but the rest of the time there’s so much stuff around that they can pick and choose–yet I will give something to the Lone Gunmen Raccoons I sometimes meet. But en masse they cannot resist any opportunity to be a pain in the ass. Even though I clean up when the boys are finished, I know that the instant I’m gone the little J.D. s will pour into the courtyard, and that’s when all the flower pot tipping and other acts of vandalism begin. Tonight was an especially egregious affair: six pots, a pink watering can and a seed loaf hung for the Chickadees all bit the big one.
It’s pretty easy to see my involvement. I feed the Cats, which causes the Raccoons to swarm in like high pressure into low—subsequently, the little flower pot patch is reduced to shambles. You do not need to go big to put this in context. No need to compare this to how things currently are in the Ukraine to gain a proper perspective. In fact, I judge the seriousness of this event higher on the relevance scale than the slight revulsion experienced upon seeing a pile of dog crap on the walk and lower than not seeing the same pile in time to avoid stepping in it.
Poet Charles Bukowski once opined that it isn’t the big stuff that puts you in the asylum, but the steady accumulation of small shit, culminating with “…a shoelace that snaps with no time left…” It’s true. For I think of little else tonight than the wreckage in the flower patch which looks plenty bad by night and I doubt will improve in the light of day. Weird, hysterical fantasms are shrieking in my mind–they foresee registered letters from the landlord threatening eviction, and subsequent homelessness and pain. Weird, hysterical fantasms have low self esteem. They only accept ridicule and accusation and never question it.
Starting tonight, twelve days before this post finds you, I’m going to record some of the nocturnal activities in the courtyard to use either in my defense or as my lengthy epitaph. For once I will pay attention to my surroundings out in the courtyard at three in the morning and assess the situation, mainly to gather just who is after my serenity. The nightly journal entries for Operation Snapped Shoelace will appear at the close of this post, provided that I survive.
Another Week That Is
Some continuing themes in life are good ones. Again this week, as so often has been the case this year, the five writers presented are four first time contributors and Tom Sheehan, who will make his 200th appearance toward the end of the year.
The wonderfully named Florianne Humphery opened the week with her LS debut, The Hireling. There’s a great weirdness present in this seemingly normal tale of life on a farm. The eerie atmosphere is directly connected to, but not limited by, cause and effect; faith and heresy; sacrifice and cheat, and culminates with waiting for justice (in whatever shape it might take) to come. It is beautifully measured and impressive work.
What more can one say about Tom Sheehan? Well, this one had better think of something fast or there will be an awkward blank space starting about… now… Regardless, Tom’s Smoke From the Chimney is yet another of his expertly worded pieces that surprises the reader with criminal activity. It also stands for being a good neighbor, which, considering I don’t know any of my neighbors by name, stands for something that is rapidly draining from society.
R.B. Miner memorably marked midweek with Follow. The nature of reality bends something wicked in this story. It is driven by guilt and paranoia and has a big ticket finish that satisfies. It proves that you are never really safe, nor beyond the reach of (as it goes in Florianne’s tale) of your comeuppance.
Donna M. Williams made her site debut on Thursday with her beautifully realized, forlorn, yet determined, Just Trying to Make a Living. In just a few words, she is able to richly convey the events and heartaches of one life. It works because it is told clearly and presented without judgment. Tremendous restraint.
As well as the already clinched future for Tom, we hope to see more of Florianne, R.B, Donna and Friday’s author, Emily Khym. Her first piece with us Mung Beans and Happiness is a fine example of the high price of “cred”–that item misguided fools desire for personal relevance, but would scream and hide from if they saw it. The MC tries to go about her business but is ever dogged by the memory of a great irreparable tragedy. And the little light of hope than shines at the end is honestly achieved by honest writing.
There they are, this week’s troupe of performers. If you have yet to read all or one, I entreat you to do so. And when you do, please leave a word of encouragement, or at very least sign the guestbook.
The Operation Snapped Shoelace Diary: 23-26 August 2022
23 August: All pots righted, no black word from Green Thumb or landlord. Seed loaf still a goner. Andy and Alfie were about as always. Saw Alfie taking interest in a pink watering can and wondered if he was the individual responsible for its daily toppling. Olivia the Occasional Opossum sighting. She’s a foot long and yet tried to secret herself behind a five inch wide Japanese Maple trunk. If Olivia is a fair example, then the quality of Opossum intelligence underwhelms–maybe it’s why they don’t have much luck crossing streets. I tossed her a breadstick.
24 August: Nothing new, just a wild night steeped in paranoia and grim portent. Perhaps time to adjust my medication. Alfie and Andy were as regular as Big Ben and Ex-lax. Yet another Olivia sighting–behind a rock a tenth her size. Lone Gunman Raccoon spotted on my way out the door to work. Went back and got him a dinner roll. Drew a judging scowl from an unknown neighbor who saw me do that.
25 August: Green Thumb bought a giant sack of potting soil and left it in the “garden.” Either Alfie or Andy yarked a hairball on the stoop. One of the boys, maybe both, appeared to have attempted to sharpen his/their claws on the thinly bagged soil. Night still steeped in paranoia; even grimmer portent. Should just draw up the blankets and wish on a Near Earth Object or Blackhole Sun to come and wipe the slate clean.
26 August: Startled by the sight of a hunched Winged Swine camped in front of Green Thumb’s door, down the hall. Then I donned my glasses and saw that the object was the pink watering can. As I fed the boys, a commotion broke out in the street at the head of the gate. The J.D. Raccoons had found and ripped open a jumbo bag of that nasty, perpetually stale orange popcorn the budget supermarket sells. The shit was everywhere. Olivia was feasting amongst them, attracting no untoward attention. Dunno if she thinks the Juggalos are Opossums or that they consider her an especially homely Raccoon. Nature is a profound mystery.
There is no conclusion, other than what comes to all. Operation Snapped Shoelace will just keep going on and on and on; for as long as there are nights steeped in paranoia and grim portent.
Update: 2 September: A new month of paranoia and portent has arrived. Saw a small flock of brown bats pass in front of a street lamp. But maybe that is a good omen.