Monday, April 30, 2007

The odd couple

I'd heard that Dennis Kucinich had gotten married, what I didn't know was she is a bit... and 27... and tall.
Kinda cool... kinda odd. Very Kucinich.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Short Story Sunday: The Men that Don’t Fit In

Otto and June had never had any trouble at OJ’s café. Sure the occasional outcast high schooler who smoked in the back would dine and dash, but that’s party of owning a business, right?
The regulars at OJ’s were a vertiable rogue gallery. Beth, Sue, and Ziek were three sculpors that lived together and had come to Wyoming looking for inspiration, and had found it. Then there was Tracy and Dan, an Alaskan couple, who showed up every day midway through their morning run. Dan always had a large Mocha Latte, Tracy a Macchiato. She was half-Eskimo (Inuit she would constantly remind Otto, who’s hearing, and cultural sensitivity were not the best) and often made jokes about being what you drank. Bob and Wayne Wislawski were brothers, third generation locals who both worked their father’s ranch.
There was also a man named Greg. He was big, but as shy as a rabbit or a feral cat. He wore flannel and a brown and gold University of Wyoming baseball cap, bucking horse and all. June got out of him that he was a trucker. He would show up every month or so for a couple of days. He’d park his rig at the Motel 6 over by the car lots. He would eat breakfast and an early lunch at OJ’s. He would always drink, “a regular tea, please.” That was all June saw of him.
Sometimes, after he’d leave, the regulars, to get out of their normal conversational patterns- about the price of beef, the aesthetics of mountains, where abouts the Bram boy was, that kind of thing- would speculate about Greg.
Wayne said he’s went to school with him, Bob denied it. He said it was a different Greg, this one’s hair was brown, the one back in school had blond hair. Anyway he would have recognized Wayne and Bob and said hello if they had went to school together.
Ziek had saw him go to St. Mary’s once. Not that he was religious mind you. But he’d seen him there none the less. Sue thought Greg was cute. Beth was indifferent and wanted to get back to talking about aesthetics.
Dan and Tracy were fairly agnostic about Greg.
Then one night, in mid September, the OJ was having a poetry reading. It was for the high schoolers mainly. Keep them off the street. Something to do on a Friday night in a small town.
The teens read their poems, lonely, about enveloping darkness, unrequited love, the kind of thing that seems to affect only you-and everyone else- at that age. The regulars were there too, because, well, they were regulars.
Otto had just turned the lights back down after the first break when the bullet casings tied to the door rattled, indicating someone had entered the café. There was Greg. He wore his flannels and brown hat as always. He walked widely around the microphone and ordered Earl Grey from June.
While the kettle boiled and the tea brewed Dan stood up, and ambled to the microphone. He said, “I’m an Alaskan originally, and one of the things we Alaskans learn, throughout our education, is poetry by Robert Service. There is one particular poem I had to memorize. I think was forced to memorize it in 6th grade, then again when I was a freshman, Junior, and Senior. Its titled “The Men Who Don’t Fit In.”
And he started, “There’s a race of men that don’t fit in/ A race that can’t stay still.” Greg sat down at a table. He absently plucked at his tea bag with his fingers.
“And each forgets, as he strips and runs/With a brilliant fitful pace,” Dan continued on. Greg was mesmerized by his voice, as it became gravelly and worn- strung out by the cold Alaskan air. His voice howled like a husky and sang like the edge of sled skis on ice.
Sue watched a tear form in Greg’s eye. He looked down at his Earl Grey and plucked the bag out, squeezing it. He then wiped the tear with his finger, still wet with tea. He grabbed for his cup and drank a sip. His mouth cringed at its bitterness, it had brewed too long and stewed.
As the poem neared its close, “He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance/ He’s just done things by half,” Greg took a long ugly draught of the tea, and chucked the cup at a window. Both the cup and window shattered.
June said, “Oh!” in surprise. Sue watched Greg storm out, the door slammed behind him. The shell cartridges smacked hard against the door. Dan, so caught up in the past, conitnued the poem, oblivious to what had happened. Otto fetched a broom.
No one saw Greg at OJ’s again, though Ziek thought he saw him around maybe once or twice. Bob reversed his position. He was now sure he did remember him from High School. Wayne was no longer so sure.