Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Twenty Four

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

April 13 Saturday Day 213

Seven months! I woke to Humphrey Bogart removing his head bandages in Lauren Bacall's bedroom, in "Dark Passage."
Before breakfast I wrote in the canteen while sipping (administering) coffee (caffeine) with Ron Collins. Later in the day Jeff Pursell would dye Ron's hair dark brown from his natural gray, to help give him a more youthful appearance.
He's still got a great big bald spot though.
I returned to bed after eating. It doesn't pay to stay up around here in Saturday mornings. I reawoke at 11:15 and since it was such a nice and sunny southern California day I decided it would be a good thing to go lie out in the park.
There was another Arts and Crafts show there this weekend. It was hard finding a semi-secluded spot to lie down at. I finally settled for one between two groups of meandering derelicts who were busy boozing it up and checking out all of the pretty ladies.
I listened to my radio (classic rock) while laying on my back for thirty minutes, turned over, then read "Mystery," by Peter Straub while laying on my stomach for an additional thirty.
When I returned I worked out for a little while, then showered. I played with my new computer, but couldn't get it to do anything worth while.
I wrote a lot at work. Our basketball team (comprised of Harold Eversley, Anthony Bullock, Curtis Carter, Ron Patrick, and Carlos Noble, second stringers, Dennis and Reuben Smith (no relation), mascot and spiritual advisor, Russell Burke), won the league championship this evening. They brought back a nice big trophy, which we proudly displayed at the desk.
And I made my first bust using the ADx machine. One of our clients, still on their initial thirty day restriction, disappeared from the residence for at least an hour. When we eventually spotted him walking by the desk we asked where he had been.
"I was bowling, or outside."
That's why he could not hear our insistent paging, he explained to us.
We tested him. His urine told us that if he had been bowling he had been smoking a lot of grass and cocaine while doing it. I let Mr. Vasquez give him the old boot the next morning. I didn't want to be bothered with it.
Just before we locked the place up for the night, I stepped outside a happened to catch sight of a long lasting shooting star in th eastern sky. I wondered briefly about where it had come from, how many millions of years it had been tooling around the solar system only to burn to dust in our atmosphere.
A noble death at least.

April 14 Sunday Day 214

Up nice and early after only a few hours of sleep. I stayed in bed though, watching "Gumball Rally," on TV until I was awake enough to crawl out of bed and get ready for church services.
I wrote in the canteen until breakfast time. Breakfast was good. I liked it so much I'm not even going to tell you what it was. Then I wrote some more, but this time I did it in the lobby.
I sat there in that lobby, watching people go in and out the front door until it was time to up to chapel. In chapel, I had tremendous difficulty staying awake through Clarence Orion's message for the week. Mr Vasquez, who was sitting behind the podium facing all of us in the audience, was seen dropping his head several times, chin to chest, then whipping it back up rapidly.
This was his custom.
After chapel I returned to my lonely room to rest up. I read from the "Mystery" book until my eyes could not stay open, at which point I turned over to sleep, but it did not come to me. Then I noticed it was lunchtime.
When I returned to my room after eating I was no longer sleepy, so I played with my new computer, making some progress in learning how to use it. One would think that having instruction books and manuals, and such, would help matters along. It appears though that one actually needs to know how to use a computer before one can make sense of the instructions which explain how to use a computer.
Interesting educational concept.
I read some more "Mystery," then the Bible, and "Beanfield," then went down for dinner (breaded fish).
More writers doing their homework on "Star Trek, the Next Generation." This week the Enterprise was trapped, and slowly being drawn into a string segment, which according to Commander Ryker, is "worse than a black hole." String Theory is a recent attempt attempt at constructing a Grand Unification Theory (GUT), a theory simplifying, or transforming the four forces of nature (electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak atomic forces) into a single equation. This episode managed to weave physics, science fiction, and psychology (issues of emotional alienation) into a somewhat languid cliffhanger. It seemed to me a little odd that throughout the entire episode, Counselor Troy's (who I happen to be in love with... really) main concern centered around her future employability, while the Enterprise, inch by inch, was being drawn closer to the dreaded "string segment," ("worse than a black hole" (although I'm hard pressed to imagine anything which gets much worse than being torn to shreds by the raging tidal forces close to a black hole)), and utter destruction. Her obsession (which was indeed warranted by the story line) just added to the overall sense of non-urgency which pervaded throughout the show, diminishing it's general appeal.
Still a good episode. Better than anything I'd seen on TV all day.
Rerun next week though.
I came down shortly before 6:00 and secured a front row seat for the Sunday Night VCR movie. One of my favorite westerns was on tonight, "Will Penny," starring Charlton Heston, and my favorite character actor in one of his best performances, Donald Pleasence, who you might remember as Dr. Loomis, from the original "Halloween" movies. Joan Hackett's effort was also notable. The story concerns an aging cowboy, whose simple and hard way of life is threatened by both, a helpless and lost woman with her young son, and a family of mad outlaws.
Just as the film reached it's climatic finale, my name was called over the PA system. I was wanted at the desk.
Bill Richardson, the dock foreman, was having some difficulty catching his breath, and Robert wanted to drive him over to USC medical. For some reason he wanted to take Clarence Bliss along with him, which meant he wanted me and Kevin to cover them at the desk.
After the video was over, I returned it, along with the Saturday Night VCR Movie, "Memphis Belle," to Music Plus on Arroyo Parkway. When I got back I made rounds throughout the building, locking it up as I went.
Mr. Vasquez and Clarence returned at 10:30. Bill would be staying at the hospital for a while.
I asked Robert if he had saved any for me and Kevin.
"Saved what?" he innocently inquired.
"Pizza! I know you must have stopped off to get some. I could have walked back from U.S.C., by now."
"We don't like pizza," Robert said, glancing at Clarence. "We did take a little ten forty (radio speak for rest stop) at McDonalds though."
By now I was pretty tired, so I went up to my room and to bed.
I dreamt of dancing Big Macs.

April 15 Monday Day 215

Tax day! For the first time in twenty years I don't owe Uncle Sam a penny in income tax. I didn't make a dime all of last year, so the government can't take the usual 2 cents out of it, and will have to pay for the war, and the failed savings and loans without me.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
I had put in for an early wake up, but I guess Wolf Pandolfi forgot about me. It was 10:30 when I woke up.
After lunch I caught a bus to Pasadena City College, to apply for admission. The college is such a nice place, filled with so many young people so eager to learn things. I know I'll like it there.
I went to the Admissions Office and procured an enrollment form, and immediately noticed that I needed a number 2 pencil in order to fill it out. I had neglected to bring one. No body looked like they were willing to loan me one either. I took the admissions form with me and walked to the college book store. No sharpened number 2 pencils there. I suppose I could have asked someone if I could use their pencil, bit I didn't wish to make a nuisance of myself, and as you all know I'm very shy.
I got back on the bus, west on Colorado to the mall, where I got off and walked north to the library. I did some research on "crack" cocaine and the Salvation Army.
At 3:00 I left the library and walked back to the residence. As I walked through the park I noticed a young man sitting on one of the benches they have there. A park bench. I used to sit at those very same benches. This young man was reading. I noticed several paper bags near his feet, and I saw a beer can poking out of one of them. The young man looked tired and bored. He looked exactly what I must have looked like a little over seven months ago. It was warm out, but the images that came into my mind made me shiver.
When I got back to the residence I found myself a number 2 pencil. I had seen my friend Jasmine with three of her friends outside, so I took my new found pencil to one of the benches in the parking lot and began to fill out the admissions form.
The girls immediately pounced on me, each demanding that I give them three sheets of paper. I had my notebook with me so I gave up the paper readily (I learned a long time ago that there is little future in arguing with women). Jasmine and I talked about her kindergarten school, and the vast differences between pens and pencils. She promised to draw me a picture.
I wrote for a while after dinner, then walked down to Vons to buy a lotto ticket. The current jackpot is the largest it's ever been. $100,000,000 I believe.
I want it.
Every penny.
Not for myself, mind you. I would immediately give the full amount to charity, or some worthy organization.
Like A.A.
I fell asleep while watching the first installment of a six part mini-series on PBS, entitled, "The Astronomers." I'm sure it must have been very good. From what I can recall the episode dealt primarily with dark matter in the universe, a hypothetical form of matter that is undetectable by its emitted electromagnetic radiation, but whose presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter. According to present observations of structures larger than galaxies, as well as Big Bang cosmology, dark matter and dark energy could account for the vast majority of the mass in the observable universe.
Anyway, I fell asleep about half way through the show.
Perchance to dream.

April 16 Tuesday Day 216

Back to work.
Work. Work. Work. Work!
I woke to Montgomery Clift, a priest, being suspected of murder by Karl Malden, who played a police inspector of all things.
I got to the desk by 5:30, and wrote a little. After the troops went off to work I took the paperwork across the street, made a brief dorm inspection, ran a photo check on the ADx machine, then ran some samples.
Matthew Moreth stopped by to say hello to Maggie Harbottle, after which he began to pick fights with various members of the kitchen crew, Harold Eversley in particular. He would hold up his fists while saying things like, "Come on, put'em up."
He flipped me the bird while scratching his forehead.
After Mat left the tutor came, and I let Kevin go to his class. For some reason Clarence Bliss approached me at the desk and said, "Rick, you're a good person." I thanked him for saying that. It's not often I receive unsolicited encouragement.
Richard Bennet came in early to begin his counseling duties. He told me that he had just seen Eddie Gillespie walking up Fair Oaks, all drunk, dirty, and disheveled.
I was sorry to hear that, but I guess that's what Eddie wanted. No one forced him out there.
After work I read in my room for a while, then tried to sleep.
I did not go to Jill's group tonight. I feel my presence there may inhibit others who may otherwise benefit from the experience.
Besides, my one true love can hardly remember my name.
Instead of going to group I choose to put myself through a high degree of frustration by trying to get me computer to do something. Anything.
I have the feeling it's laughing at me.
I read until midnight, then went to sleep. I dreamt of iridescent daffodils blowing in the wind.

April 17 Wednesday Day 217

I saw Gillespie this morning. Along with Eddie Acuna and Hobart Rodgers. They were all sitting right out front in the parking lot. Eddie was trying to sell some of the bus tokens I had given to him to some of the guys standing around smoking. Liquidating his assets, you might say. He didn't look to bad to me. Acuna looked a lot worse. Unshaven and dirty. He carried a big walking stick. I don't believe I would have recognized him if I hadn't already known that he was hanging around outside trying to scare up some change. After a while the three of them walked over to the As-Is Yard, then soon disappeared.
They made the pretense (perhaps to themselves more than any body else) that they were alright, that they were freely doing what they wanted to do, and are relatively happy and content.
I don't know... maybe they are. However:
Eddie Acuna will say that he's just waiting for his welfare check. Gillespie will say he's waiting for SSI. Everything will get better after they get those things. When, and if, they get those things (and they may never get those things, at least not anytime soon. Well made plans notoriously go awry for us practicing alcoholics and drug addicts) it will only serve as a means of continuing their squalor.
As I've said before, no one forced them out there. They could have stayed here and continued to be part of the cheap (slave) labor pool for the Salvation Army, living under the rules of others until something better came along (is that what I'm doing?). But for these men, all three of them old enough to be my father, the chances of something better coming along are about as great as mine are of winning the $117,000,000 lotto jackpot tonight (I did manage to get two out of the six numbers needed to win last Saturday's contest. That netted me a total of $0). So right now Eddie, Eddie, and Hobart are following the easy path. The path of least resistance. Or so it would appear (there is nothing easy about living out on the streets). They go out, get drunk, and try to forget about they're troubles for a while.
I hope one of them wins the damned lotto.
Lots of urine to keep me busy this morning.
And I wrote a bit.
Right after lunch I did my laundry. The excitement was palpable.
The window washers came, so I gathered Don Robinson and Gerald Schimmele together with a great big watering hose, put them on the second floor and directed them to wash off the atrium walls, clearing away all of those cobwebs that were there, while being careful not to soak our one remaining suspect killer parakeet (Esmerelda). We finished (as planned) just in time for the window washer guy to clean off all of the messy water spots from the atrium windows. All of this in preparation for next weeks big time, massive, annual facility inspection.
I had time to read some of the "Mystery" book. Some of the characters are a tad weird, but it is still very, very, good, and very, very well written.
I inspected the chapel at 3:00, and discovered tons of last Sunday's programs scattered about, along with various other trashious articles. I returned to the desk and called Russell Burke over the PA, the chapel being one of his areas of responsibility (to clean).
When he finally came down I said this to him: "Sorry to wake you Russell, but I noticed some old programs from last Sunday lying around in the chapel, and an empty gallon milk bottle was sitting in the first pew. If you're not too busy, could you take care of those little matters for me?"
"Oh yeah. Suuuuurre Rick. Sure. I must have forgot. I must have missed it. Gimme the key, and I'll go take care of it right now." Bill Rauschemplat gave him the key. "I'll do it right now."
Seven minutes later Russell returned the key to the desk.
"Everything okay up there, Russell?"
"Sure, Rick, sure. I took care of it. Don't worry about a thing. All done." With plastic squeeze bottle in one hand, dirty wipe rag in the other, "Hoops" Burke made a gradual retreat from the vicinity of the desk, wiping every counter, window, or ledge in sight, whether is was dirty or not, needed or not, making sure that I noticed what an efficient and conscientious worker he was. He slowly faded away within the bowels of the building.
A little while later I went to unlock the chapel in preparation for the night's service. The milk bottle was gone, but the programs were still scattered all over the place. I was instantly overcome with a fresh insight of realization. Satori - enlightenment! I marveled at the subtle intricacies of the Master. Russell's statement of non-action revealed to me the ever present truth that if I desired the programs to be picked up, the best and simplest way of achieving that goal would be for me to pick them up myself. Which I did.
Chapel went well. Carlos Noble (who has changed over to the kitchen from the Sorting Room) won the coveted Best Bed and Cleanest Area Award, simply because I thought he had the best bed and cleanest area. He seemed happy about it.
Ed Reitz needed to attend his son's school's open house tonight, so he would not be able to hold his two scheduled group counseling sessions. He gave me a video to play at the two groups instead. It was a 1980 TV program, a "Forty-Eight Hours episode, with good old Dan Rather. The show dealt primarily with cocaine abuse, especially the extremely addictive habit of smoking "crack," a sort of refined form of cocaine, which is itself a refined form of the coca plant. Like distillation of alcohol, for example. The program was very informative, especially for me because by some miracle I had never been introduced to crack cocaine, and had never smoked it, thus escaping that particular tour of hell.
Thank God.
Later I was reading in my office when one of our new counselors came in to talk about a client he had just met for the first time. The client's name was Ben Driscoll. The counselor's name was Romy. Romy is a large, Samoan type individual. We had only talked briefly before this, as I usually don't have a whole lot to say to male counselors, except my own. Romy was very nice though. I could tell he cared a good deal about what he was doing here, and about the men he talked to.
He told me that Ben displayed all of the classic symptoms of schizophrenia. I agreed with him. Indeed, I had discussed the very same issue with Ben's former counselor, Richard Bennett. Romy, Richard, and I all felt that Ben's problems were beyond the scope of the program that we were able to offer here at the A.R.C. (in fact, Ben very likely had never abused substances). By not dealing directly with any of the issues really affecting Ben, we may inadvertently be aggravating them, and doing Ben a serious disservice. Romy suggested having Ben tested, possibly using the MMPI personality test, in an attempt to asses the situation. Hopefully, after some kind of appraisal has been made, we could refer Ben to an appropriate program or institution that would be better equipped to deal effectively with the issues confronting him, and give Ben the best chance of coming to some kind of terms with reality.
As it is, Ben walks in a different world.

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