Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Fifty

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

August 27 Tuesday Day 350

Robert had taken his car in to have it fixed. The mechanics over at the Mobil station (the same station where I purchased my morning coffee, and later in the evening my dinner, when I lived in the Park) are "Saddam Hussein's cousins." according to him. They replaced his thermostat. Then everything was "A okay," and in tip top condition, they assured.
As soon as Robert returned with the car it began to leak water.
"What causes that?" he asked. "Is that normal?"
"My car did that once," I answered. "Just before it blew up."
So this morning he took it back to Mobile station again, and was told he may need a new water pump.
"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," he says.
I returned to work. I had a wonderful day until 1:30, when I thought I'd be very efficient and get some urine samples analyzed before my shift ended in an hour.
The ADx machine gave me a lot of false results, wouldn't read the bar code instructions correctly, and was generally mind fucking me. I over reacted by getting intensely angry at the rest of the world, and was in a rather gruff mood for the remainder of the afternoon.
After work I exercised, then napped, after which I felt much better.
Jill came in at 6:05 for her 5:45 group counseling session. I made sure I was down in the lobby when she arrived to see what she was wearing.
Her blue dress. My favorite.
I spent a good deal of the evening playing with my word processor and discovering the various printing styles available to me through the printer. I composed another short letter to my mom, and printed it six times, each using a different format, and mailing them all for her inspection.
After I finished I printed the first page of this book. It looked very nice. Clean and clear.
As I read it I remembered all too well what it felt like on that morning a hundred years ago. I didn't care for that feeling.
Writing this is going to be harder than I thought.

August 28 Wednesday Day 351

Wolf Pandolfi knocked on my door at 3:30, waking me up. After fumbling my way to the door and opening, he told me that someone had broken into the thrift store, and one of us had to go over there and watch the place until reinforcements arrived in the morning.
This is how I started what turned out to be a very long and miserable day.
I really don't want to talk about it. One reason why I don't want to talk about it is because I don't understand women. Not one little part of them (except that their air breathing mammals, similar to me, but only in a physical sense). And because of that I find myself left angry and confused.
The reason of course is Cathy. She came tonight, and hardly said a word to me. After she had finished for the evening, I gave her back her copy of "Under the Influence," and thanked her for it, and offered her a copy of one of my favorite works of non-fiction, "The Dragons of Eden," by good old Carl Sagan. She almost bit my head off in her refusal, stating something about how I didn't understand how little time she had to read with her busy schedule and all.
I was shocked by her vehemence, and angered, and decided to distance myself from her by making my usual ten o'clock rounds early. While I was gone she completed her paperwork, got in her car and drove away.
Very strange.
All I ever gotten from this girl are mixed signals. One moment she wants me to call her, and when I do she doesn't answer her phone or return my messages.
I swear I will NEVER, EVER, go out, or try to get close to another FEMALE again.


I hope I've made myself sufficiently clear on this matter.

August 29 Thursday Day 352

Well, well, well.
Today was probably the worst day I've had since I've been here.
I woke in a foul mood, still trying to figure out what I had done to Cathy to offend her.
Not being able to remember anything specifically I attempted to figure out women in general.
Hopeless task.
Even when one knows the secret of feminine allure and love, one still does not know all the answers.
Far from it.
I had a nice long work day to look forward to, which cheered me immeasurably. Seventeen hours of fun and joy.
The thought of work... or even working, does not usually bother me, but today I did not feel like doing a damn thing. And when you don't feel like doing anything and you've got seventeen hours not to do it in- - it gets pretty depressing.
Even so I forced myself to write for a little while in the morning. I got that done at least. Then I resumed The Whitney Strieber novel, "Majestic," but couldn't keep from thinking about Cathy.
I was occupied by those thoughts all morning, and I couldn't concentrate on any other subject for very long, and I had no real interest in running the Pasadena Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center.
But I didn't drink and I didn't commit suicide or anything, which is a very big step for me (I usually drink and commit suicide during abandonment episodes). I thought about drinking, I'll admit that. I thought about walking away, chucking the whole place, going over to Vons and getting a bottle, going straight to the Park (because if I drank, I'd wind up there anyway), and try and forget all of my horrendous problems.
I considered it for about thirty seconds and discovered that I just didn't have any problems except for this one, none that I didn't have to drink over anyway. If I did want a bunch of problems, BIG PROBLEMS, the fastest way for me to get them would be by taking a drink.
I was tired from lack of sleep and in a confused mental state, so I napped after lunch. When I woke a couple of hours later I felt much better, but still had Cathy on my mind. I decided to do something about it. I'm an adult after all. I should be able to verbally communicate to this lady how I felt. The thought of continuing throughout the day, through next week, without getting this straightened out was intolerable.
So I called her and left a message on her answering machine. I was honest, telling her that if she didn't wish to see me she didn't have to. I just did not want any bad feeling between us, any animosity. I told her I would tear up her telephone number and never call her again (ah, the drama!). Then I told her I hoped her cats were okay, and that I thought they were good cats. I hung up then.
A message designed to administer guilt and demand sympathy if I ever heard one.
Of course her damned answering machine cut me off about half way through my plaintive plea for attention.
Things continued to go bad for me. Roger Collins had gone to his weekly doctor's appointment at U.S.C. County Hospital, to have his leg scraped (pretty sickening image, I agree). Ed Reitz had taken him there. When Roger called to be picked up shortly after lunch, Ed had gone to a Lion's Club meeting, making him unavailable, and there were no other vehicles around. The problem of getting Roger back from the hospital was put off and eventually forgotten, all of us kind of hoping Roger would fend for himself.
Later, at around 4:30 or so, I noticed that the canteen had not opened, which meant that Roger had not returned. Roger later claimed that it was impossible for him to walk the relatively short distance to the nearest bus stop, so he just sat there, waiting for someone to come and pick him up. Left to his own devices he would gladly sit there all night just for the change in routine, allowing him to miss working in the canteen as well.
Ed and I decided to go and get him. We drove to the entrance of the outpatient clinic where Ed had left him. He was no where to be found. We assumed he had tired of waiting and hobbled to the bus stop.
We were wrong.
As if timed, upon returning to the residence Roger called and said he was waiting at the emergency room exit. I told him to get on a bus and get back here or I would kill him. Ed said, why not let Curtis Carter, who had just been hired as a driver the day before, drive over to get Roger. Curtis said, sure, he'd go, but he wasn't sure how to get there. I got volunteered to show him, and once again found myself at the imposing and bleak medical facility.
The ride there was very interesting. I actually feared for my life. Curtis could not seem to keep the large van in any one particular lane while on the freeway. Other cars nearby, fearful that the lumbering van might careen into them, busily honked at us. I thought that if I wound up dying during this trip, Cathy would feel bad about spurning me.
We made it though. Roger was there, insipid as usual. We returned to the residence, and Roger took his sweet time opening the canteen.
Jack Crossley, who had been left in charge of everything while I was away, looked dazed, shocked, and confused after trying to get three different 12 Step meetings started at the same time (AA, CA, and Overcomers Outreach (a Christian AA program)). I gave him a hand when I got back, and together we managed to salvage the evening.
After the meetings and the canteen closed, and things in general had died down a little, I went to the sample room to run some tests. Actually I wanted to use the phone in there, as Cathy had called earlier and I wanted to call her back.
She explained why she had appeared angry the night before. She said she had wanted to explain yesterday, but she couldn't find me.
It had something to do with some kind of medical condition she experiences at times. About 12 times a year. I didn't really understand.
For getting so excited about the whole situation I felt like a stupid, insecure, little turd (women will do that to you).
But Cathy is a wonderful girl and made me feel a lot better by explaining to me some things about lack of communication and misconstrued signals. She said she would never intentionally do anything to hurt me, and her reasonableness was at once uplifting and captivating. She had been having a very hectic week herself, and had been dealing with a lot of issues. I listened quietly to what she had to say.
Things were back to normal between us... she wouldn't let me get a word in.
So we're friends again and I feel a hundred per cent better. She's a genuinely decent lady.
And so cute!
I reached my bed a half hour after midnight with the knowledge I would now sleep well.

August 30 Friday Day 353

For about thirty minutes at least. Eddie Gillespie, Bard of the Streets, knocked on my door at 1:10 in the morning. He told me the thrift store had been broken into again.
Some silly man had been observed by a passing motorist throwing a rock through the store's glass door. The motorist subsequently called the police.
I nice thing for the motorist to do.
Meanwhile the burglar helped himself to a portable television set, which he took across Del Mar Blvd., and hid in some bushes. He then returned to the store and began to browse through the men's clothing section. That was what he was doing when the police arrived (who had been at the park harassing homeless people) and arrested him.
Just as the police escorted this individual to jail, Eddie appeared from around the corner and was informed of what happened. Then Eddie came and told me.
I in turn got dressed and informed Mr. Vasquez.
"Aawh shit!" he exposed.
I told him I'd stay up and keep an eye on the residence while Gillespie stayed at the store. Robert said I didn't have to stay up, but didn't put up much of an argument when I reminded him that someone had to stay awake in the building as a fire watch and to wake the cooks for breakfast.
He told me he'd relieve me at 4:00.
I walked over to the store to survey the damage. The police had returned the stolen T.V. I plugged it in and began watching Steve McQueen in Henrik Ibsen's "Enemy of the People," a play I had once acted in back in high school.
Eddie went back to the residence to eat his dinner.
As I ate a Three Musketeers Bar, the picture on the television screen snapped into another dimension, making the actor's faces look like pastel dummies.
The hapless burglar would not have gotten much for the set I'm afraid.
When Eddie returned we rigged a large table to the hole in the thrift store's front door and tied it in place. I then went back to the residence.
I went to the canteen and turned on the T.V. they have in there, to catch the last of "Enemy of the People," and made myself some scrambled eggs and a hamburger in the microwave.
After eating, and the movie ended, I sat behind the desk and read until it was time to wake the cooks, drivers,and desk people.
They didn't want to get up.
At 6:15 (my 4:00 relief person did not materialize) I went back to bed and slept until noon.
I woke tired and hungry. I showered, dressed, and walked to Laos Tacos to dine on some tequitos and enchiladas.
Upon returning to the residence I wrote until it was time to work yet again.
Nothing much to do on my shift. Robert had gotten the gratuity early and had paid the men at lunchtime, so I fiddled around, reading and writing for most of the night. At about this time, half way around the world, communism was drawing a last breath in Russia.
I spent a lot of time trying to get the ADx machine to work properly, but it wouldn't cooperate. It kept trying to pretend there were no samples inside when there were.
It was in denial.
After my shift, after midnight, I read for awhile about aliens, then slept.
I had strange dreams of wild rides at Disneyland.

August 31 Saturday Day 354

Nobody broke into the store last night so I had a fairly normal night's sleep. Besides, I told Eddie to wake Robert up if anything happened.
I slept late, until 10:00AM. Then I smoked an unauthorized cigarette in the bathroom, then read in my room until lunchtime (chicken fried steaks).
Robert requested that I go get the weekend's V.C.R. movies, so I dutifully walked over to the Music Plus and picked out "King Ralph," because Ed Reitz told me it would be a good movie to get, it being a nice comedy and all, starring John Goodman and Peter O'Toole. For myself, and anybody who cared to watch with me, I got David Lynch's "Wild at Heart," with Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern. Ever since "Easerhead," I've been a Lynch fan.
Robert looked at the "Heart" tape upon my return, and said, "Don't get anymore porno, Joyce."
I went to the park for an hour, listening to the radio, and reading about co-dependency.
Back at the residence, after a shower, I wrote until my shift began.
Then wrote some more. Then I did all of the paperwork that needed to be done., then finished the "Majestic" novel. Whitney Strieber certainly seems to be sure this planet is being visited by an intelligent something. Maybe he's right, who knows?"
But probably not.
I allowed Curtis Cater, the week's duty driver, to go out with his girlfriend, so I drove six of the guys to an outside A.A. meeting. This was the first time I had done this. I think I'll do it more often as it was fun driving around Pasadena on a Saturday night. Lots of people walking around Colorado Blvd.
After picking up these same guys after the meeting, I made my rounds, locked everything up, then wrote in the office. In fact, that's what I'm doing right now. In real time it's now 10:49PM and 33 seconds, by my watch, which for this book is the only time that matters. As soon as I finish writing this I will go outside to have a cigarette and shorten my life about a month. After that I will come back inside and read some more about co-dependency. Near midnight, when Wolf Pandolfi comes, I may have to throw some people out of the program. I don't know yet, I hope not. It all depends on everyone getting back in time and if they're sober when they get here. At midnight, Wolf and I will lock the doors and turn off the lights, and shoo everyone upstairs. Then I will watch "King Ralph," in the small T.V. room. I will invite Columbus Davis to watch it with me, but he will refuse, saying he has to get up early. That's true, he does have to get up early. He has tomorrow's morning shift to contend with. So I will end up watching the video alone. After one hour and thirty six minutes, plus five minutes or so for another cigarette, I will close up the T.V. room and return the tape to the office. Then I will say goodnight to Wolf who will be dozing behind the desk. I will then go upstairs to my lonely room, undress, set my alarm clock for 8:00, get into bed and go to sleep.
My first dream will be of Cathy. Later I'll dream about Cal Tiki, the giant, immortal blob monster.
Such is life.

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