Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Thirty Six

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

June 12 Wednesday Day 274

Oh boy!
Nine months tomorrow! Nine months ago today I quit drinking, and nine months ago tomorrow I somewhat reluctantly walked into the office of the Pasadena Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center looking like a turd.
I'll tell you this, I feel a lot better now than I did then! Smell a lot better too!
This will be a chip taking affair. But I shall have to work all day, so Rockoff and I decided to take our chips on Monday night. Kevin has over eleven months, but never picked up his nine month chip. He's lazier than I am.
Speaking of Rockoff, I keep finding him sitting on my office chair, leaning back, hands clasped behind his head, singing, "Lord It's Hard to be Humble... When Your Perfect in Every Way."
He's also trying to date my sister.
Rockoff is trying to date anything that moves.
I made the mistake of mentioning that my sister had just broken up with her boyfriend, and Kevin asked for her address so he could write to her. I gave it to him. She'll probably kill me or something for doing this, but Rockoff's a good guy, and maybe this will be the start of something big. Although the idea of Kevin as my borther-in-law is somewhat frightening, he's a hell of a lot better than any of the gentlemen (jerks) she's picked.
Women just don't know what's good for them.
Kevin is one of those rare, genuinely nice guys.
Not like me.
The Lakers, having won the first game of the playoffs, proceeded to lose the next four straight, tonight's game being the last of those four. Chicago thus won the NBA Championship for the first time in the franchise's history.
Dennis Smith came over to watch the game. We talked for a while in my office, where I found out he was now in Union Station, so at least he has a roof over his head, and is getting three meals a day. Union Station's only requirement of him is that he attend their three A.A. meetings a day. Other than that he's free to do whatever he wishes, so he came over to watch the game. Others who have left here do that occasionally. Curtis Carter, Ruben Perez (who's living on the streets now, in the Park). Robert, or the Major were not around to object to his presence, so I let him stay. We didn't talk all that much. He said he would be back tomorrow to go through his things, maybe I can get the full story of what happened then.
I think I'm falling in love with Kathy, the new counselor. She's so cute! I must remember to actually talk to this one.
I must have Ron Collins find out if she's married though. It doesn't pay to fall in love with married women.
After work I went to bed and slept.

June 13 Thursday Day 275

Mr. Vasquez took off yesterday morning and hasn't been back since. This morning I found out that 20 or more Salvation Army command officers, the administrators of all of the Southern California A.R.C.s, are coming to visit us at 2:00, for an informal get together.
Now maybe Robert knew about this, and maybe he didn't. All I'm saying is that a lot of major social functions occur around here on his days off, and I get left holding the bag, having to make sure that the residence is neat and tidy, up to specifications, or the wrath of Johnson falls upon my sorry head.
No biggie though. The residence is almost in good shape, and ready for inspection everyday. All that it usually needs is a bit of polishing up.
Despite the fact that it was Schimmele's day off, and the rest of the janitor's were out sick, we did all right.
The officers began to drift in between 1:00 and 2:00. Major Engel (from Van Nuys) was the first to arrive. I recalled my last ("man to man") conversation I had with him, with me pleading my case, denying the two empty whiskey bottles found in my locker were mine, him not believing me, and him telling me I was terminated from the center. I thought about the relapse that transpired directly after that conversation, the month and a half in the Park, and jail, then my coming here.
He looked at me and I stared into his eyes. He turned away and went about his business.
Good old Capt. Strickland and his lovely wife were here as well. Her name is Pamala, and she is very nice. While at the Canoga Park A.R.C. I often wondered what kind of person she was really like, beyond the Salvation Army officer (and administrator's wife) facade. I wondered if she was happy, because she didn't seem that way at times. She appears to be the kind of woman I am often attracted to (possessing a quiet intelligence and grace, and very pretty). I hope one day I have the chance to find out more about her.
I'm not in love with Mrs. Strickland however. It doesn't pay to fall in love with married women. He's okay too, I guess. An idealist who refuses to let reality get in his way.
I'm not in love with him either.
After the last of the officers arrived coffee and donuts were served in the small dinning room, after which they migrated across the street to the warehouse. I thought that would be the last I would see of them, and I took off my dress shoes and put on my sneakers. However, they came bouncing back at 4:00, just as the men got off work. I made sure to stay behind the desk so my shoes would not be noticed.
Then they all went out to dinner, leaving me here. And Ron Collins. He had the privilege (got stuck) of babysitting two young boys, children of one of the visiting Captains. That kept him suitably busy.
I was kept suitably busy with Dennis Smith coming over to look at his stuff. We didn't have the time to sit and chat.
Kathy Simonson, the vocational counselor, came to talk to Rockoff. She's very sexy, and has great legs, but I believe she's married.
She kept giving me the eye anyway.
Richard Bennett, for reasons only known to him, could not be here for the Substance Abuse, so I canceled it.
I also canceled the A.A. panel, as they didn't show up either.
The only ones who did show up tonight were our trustworthy and reliable friends from Cocaine Anonymous. Four of our residents did not show for that meeting, however, so I wrote them up.
Business as usual on a Thursday night here at the Pasadena A.R.C.

June 14 Friday Day 276

I moseyed on down to the lobby by 1:35PM. I had indulged in sleep up until that point.
Robert Vasquez called me into his office to inform me that do to a cancellation my name had been drawn at random as a winner of a Dodger game ticket to be played this Sunday. Presumably this game would be played in Los Angeles. Kevin Rockoff and Ron Collins are also going. Russell Burke as well. It should be fun, but I must remember not to be tempted by baseball beer.
Robert and I also discussed the mysterious disappearance of two six packs of diet Shasta cola from the canteen during the chapel service last Wednesday.
Very Mysterious.
At work I handed out gratuity when the boys came home, did a lot of paperwork, issued six canteen cards to myself (part of my extra hours pay), which I would sell pocketing the proceeds (almost legal), gave new client orientation, argued with Raushemplat, and put up the damn bar in the thrift store parking lot.
Robert was checking the back of the building and caught a whiff of what smelled like marijuana. He espied two probable culprits who were sitting at the side of the residence near one of the standing ashtrays. Robert ordered me to collect urine samples from all of the occupants of dorm 43, where these two guys lived, which I did.
One of them had a cannabinoid level of 28.7, risen from 7.5 taken the last day of May. I had him come to the office to discuss this. He denied everything, but didn't make much of a fuss when I let him know he would have to leave, which indicated to me that he knew damn well he was guilty.
This was a guy we tested every week for opiates, who knew we would continue to do so, but smoked a joint anyway. Perhaps he thought we couldn't test him for cannabinoids as well.
We can.
I wish him well.

June 15 Saturday Day 277

I got up for breakfast this morning so I could talk to Robert about last night's urine tests and expulsions. After we finished eating I helped him take down the stupid bar in the thrift store parking lot. We saw the guy I had thrown out last night while doing it. He had spent the night sleeping on the sidewalk across the street, near the entrance to the warehouse. He used most of the morning telling his buddies who came out to smoke, how unfair it was, he being thrown out and all. He went away eventually, after he discovered no one really sympathized with him, or was going to give him any money.
I walked to the gas station to buy some cigarettes for myself (having forgotten all about quitting on the 7th) and Schimmele. Upon returning I went to my lonely room and took a nap.
Up in time for lunch of course (beef ribs). Clarence (The Flash) Bliss was chowing down, honoring us with his presence.
Just as the discussion concerning the formation of a new Salvation Army Bomb Squad was getting heated, I was called to the telephone.
My dear sweet sister was calling from Bullhead City to say hello. We had exchanged letters within the last week, and she had written that she wished to hear my voice. Wasn't that nice of her? These days I'm beginning to feel I can really become friends with her. I never was before. While drinking and drugging I was too preoccupied to be a friend to her. Too preoccupied to be a friend to my girlfriend, or my friends, or even my cat.
I was a preoccupied guy.
Even though I'm still pretty busy these days I feel I'm more mentally and emotionally available to others now. I hope so.
Cheryl told me our Uncle Lester is very, very sick, and in the hospital. Cancer. Leukemia. It's not expected that he'll last much longer. It's so sad.
On a brighter note, I got to talk to my beautiful and precocious little niece, Keri Lynn. She assured me that she was being a good girl and not causing her mother any problems. She told me she was now in the second grade. How sweet.
"She told me she was a good girl," I told my sister when she came back on the line.
"Well, what did you expect her to say? Of Course she's going to tell you she's a good girl! But she's a brat."
"I can't imagine her lying to me." That's not entirely true. Actually, I can imagine it quite easily. My love for my darling niece is all encompassing, but fraught with little illusion. My niece is a blonde, blue-eyed, seven year old tiny devil person.
"Oh brother!" my sister replied.
My sister related to me a recent event involving Keri and the television program "911," hosted by Captain Kirk's alter ego, William Shatner. It seems that this is Keri's favorite program. She doesn't move a muscle while watching it. One morning, Keri (an early riser) took it upon herself to dial 911 on her mom's phone. My sister, who had been sleeping peacefully, was woke by several burly policemen wanting to know what the trouble was.
Isn't Keri adorable?! She's going to go a long way when she grows up. She's got spunk! I never would have done anything like that when I was her age. My mother would have knocked me into the next state.

June 16 Sunday Day 278

I woke at 6:30 to the soft, sweet melodies of early Jethro Tull wafting through my radio alarm clock.
After the song was over I got up and turned the radio off. I got up again at 8:00, showered and dressed for chapel.
Mr. Vasquez was seated on the front stage during the service. I had to nudge him awake as I passed by with the collection plate. He looked at me, reached into one jacket pocket, then another, to find a small manilla envelope which he dropped into my plate, muttering, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
All the men who were going to the Dodger game ate lunch at 11:00. Then we took off. Half of us went in Red Shield 4, and half in Ed Reitz's van.
By 1:00 we were seated high up along the first base line. Today was Old Timers Day, which meant that former Dodger players would come out and play a few innings against each other. Don Drysdale threw two pitches, Tommy Lasorda pitched an entire inning. Good fun.
I had myself a Dodger Dog and large coke. Very expensive.
As I later exclaimed to my fellow passengers on the way home, "We opened up a can of whoop ass on St. Louis!" The Cardinals lost 7 to 2.
Tom Rotsch was driving Red Shield 4, which I was in. As we passed Ed's van while exiting the parking lot, he called to us, "Well Tom, do you want to follow me back or take your chances on your own?"
"I think I'll be alright," Tom replied.
We made it back to the residence in twenty minutes. I waited around the parking lot for about an hour waiting for Ed to get back, smoking cigarettes, then went in for dinner.
While I was eating my late dinner in the canteen area the Sunday night bingo game commenced. I took this as a sign from God that it was meant for me to play. Lucky me, I won the final blackout game between mouthfuls. 5 big canteen cards! These I will later sell for enormous profit.
I kicked back in my room for the rest of the evening. I was a little tired and all from the game. I read from 3 different books while watching Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn in the Norman Jewsion film, "Best Friends." A very well written and realized work. Sad and funny all at the same time.
Just like real life.

June 17 Monday Day 279

My friend and ex-supervisor, Victor Johnson, did not make it back by curfew last night. This is not the first time that this has happened. Quite often he'll give us a call thirty minutes before curfew to tell us he's in some emergency room, in some hospital, presumably dying or something, and would not be able to make it in. We usually tell him okay, bring the paperwork in the morning and we'll take it from there. And he does. This time he had been on an overnight pass, and called to tell us he might be a few minutes late. A few minutes past curfew. Unfortunately for Victor, Mr. Vasquez was on duty, and when 11:00 came, the doors were closed and locked.
Mr. Vasquez can be very prompt when he wishes to be.
Victor was indeed late.
He was also A.W.O.L./A.C.O.
I wish him well.
Eugene White was A.W.O.L. as well.
I wish him well too.
I spent most of the day writing. I did get away to the park for an hour, to bask in the glorious rays of the noontime sun. Then back to my little desk in the library to write, write, write.
But I did take a break now and then. During one of them I sat outside in the front parking lot, on one of the benches they have out there, when Ed Reitz walked up carrying a small package.
"Hi Ed," I said as way of greeting.
"Hi Rick," he said as way of reply.
"How are you?" I asked.
"Fine, fine," Ed said.
"Good game yesterday," I said.
"Yes it was. Good for the Dodgers at least."
"I heard you had a little problem getting out of the parking lot yesterday," I began to giggle.
"That's one way of describing it," he said. I started to laugh.
"I was finished eating dinner, played a few games of bingo, and had time to read "Moby Dick, before you guys showed up." My laughter continued unabated.
"You think that's funny, do you?"
"Well... ha, ha, especially... he he he... when you consider that part... ha ha ha ha ha ha, about you asking Tom if he wanted to follow you or take a chance on his own... ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!...
He looked down at the package he held. "Some new assays came in from UPS today. The first part of that word comes easily to mind right now."
Robert Vasquez seemed to be suffering from some kind of throat infection. He couldn't talk above a whisper.
I teased him.
"Well," I said, "It's nice and peaceful around here tonight."
"What do you mean?" he croaked.
"Oh nothing... nothing."
Later I began to watch a television movie, "Seeds of Tragedy," concerning a shipment of cocaine. Sort of like the film, "The Yellow Rolls Royce," of the drug industry. The story depicted the lives and deaths of all those who came into contact with one particular shipment of cocaine, starting from the jungles of Peru, and ending, I presume, on the streets of some American city. I turned it off about half way through. Too many people were getting killed. Even women. For some reason I hate to see women getting killed, shot, or beat up. Not that I've ever seen a woman get killed, shot, or beat up. Not in real life anyway. I just don't particularly like to see it in movies, where it seems a disproportionate amount of women get terrorized. I don't even like to think about women in combat position in the military. I'm not saying they shouldn't be there, all I'm saying is that it gives me the creeps to think about it. I don't know why I feel that way. I guess I have some misbegotten beliefs that women are too good to get shot and killed. That they're above all of that nonsense, and when it happens to them it seems so unfair and sad.
Kurt Vonnegut feels the same way I believe.
Women should be excluded and protected from any forms of violence so they may freely continue with their sacred mission in life... befuddling the minds of men.
I don't seem to mind men getting blown away. It almost seems fitting.
I've read that most of, and the best assassins in the world are women. What better time to kill a man than when he's in bed asleep.
Anyway, I turned the movie off. I can't figure out why anyone would wish to get into a business where the chances of either getting killed, ripped off, or arrested, were so high.
The answer of course is money.
I strolled through the residence with Robert, a little after 10:00PM. I asked him if there was anything special I should know about before returning to work in the morning.
There wasn't.
We were in the basement looking at a wall where some unknown person had tried to bore a hole to crawl through into the baggage room, probably in an attempt to steal whatever they could find of value in there. Whoever it was had run into some boards embedded into the drywall thwarting their attempt.
"Have to have Pandolfi keep an eye out down here, "Robert whispered.
As we were walking out I noticed a big brown cockroach positioned near the exit door, sitting still, trying not to be noticed. I pointed it out to Robert, who looked at it a moment, then slowly inched the toe of his shoe toward the insect to see if it was alive. It was. It took off like a shot, scurrying this way and that. It first headed straight back toward Robert, who jumped up and down trying to stomp it, looking like he was dancing a jig. The bug made a right turn in my direction, at which time I started to jump to, although I was trying to get away from it.
Robert shouted, "Get it! Get it!"
So I stomped on the little critter, no doubt ruining any planes it may have had for the rest of the evening.
I don't like to kill things. Even bugs. But this was a case of self defense. It attacked.
As we rode the elevator to the first floor I reminisced about some Philippine cockroaches I have met. "You step on one of those suckers," I said, "and the damn thing is liable to kidnap you."
He said he had met some lizards in Vietnam that made sounds like singing birds.
Back in my room I watched a movie starring Mare Winningham. It was about a homeless mother on the streets with her young daughter.
A very good movie. It made me think about what life is really like for many, many people, right here in our own country. I felt ashamed as I watched it. That we allow homelessness in this, the richest country in the world.
It also reminded me, once again, of how close we all are to being back in the Park.

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