She would wait until she had enough extra cash to pay for a rental car for one day. She put it on her credit card then paid cash when she returned so there wouldn't be any damning paperwork later. She told me she went fishing. Her husband wouldn't let her go fishing and he checked the odometer on their car when he came home from work. So she got out the phone book and found out we pick people up and drop them off when they rent cars. She saved her money and when she had enough she called us and brought her stuff and fished and got back home before her husband did. We only saw her a few times a year. I would guess she was in her sixties and she was plump and used a cane and was soft-spoken. She told me her story without anger. We rented to liars and criminals and worse every day and I got pretty good at spotting the best liars but a couple of the truly exceptional ones still did us harm from time to time. The impenetrable liars catch you flat-footed and you don't know you have been had until the chatty guy who rented from you three times before and always showed up with a baby and wife turns out to be a monster who rented them, too, and now they're all at the bottom of a ravine in Ensenada. So she could have been lying about the fishing and I hoped she was. Whether she was really rolling under a cowboy in a room on Ash street while her cane and gear were propped up in the corner or casting into the surf off the Ocean Beach pier, the kick had to be the same.
"Fire In The Hole"
The last Saturday ever was under way with a pretty good beerjoint band leaning into a grinder and the couples were grinding and one of the bartenders was hauling away on the ropes of a dumbwaiter over in the corner and instead of a keg up through the floor came Howlin' Wolf covered in stars and he was huge, even bigger than when he lived and he strode to the stage and it was blinding and stars fell off him and sizzled and snapped on the floor and he bellowed and the roof flew off and he moaned and the earth cracked in the center and the walls fell away and outside the bombs lit up everything and they were killing us and we were killing them and it all went up in stars and flash and heat and he sang and sang and took us to the place where the soul of man never dies and it all turned into stars again.
"Peace & Love, Eddie Gaedel"
Everything in the book store was a little skewed, probably owing to the fact that it was the only one of its kind in town and nobody had anything else to compare it to. So book club editions became rare and out-of-print editions and remainders weren't remainders and what was a dime anywhere else was a dollar and what was a dollar was ten dollars and special orders had the predictability of hurricanes with only a greedy eye at the center spinning ruin for the unsuspecting victims.
Then one day a stranger came to town and saw all this and also the rare first editions and other delights on the shelves in the corner in the back up high in the open and he came back a few days later on a busy day armed with a Sharpie. He did a first edition of V.: "How's the old hammer hangin?! Love, Tom." He found a nice hardcover of Dog Soldiers after that: "Let's cop a pound and see what happens-- Robert Stone." He wrote "Jayne Mansfield" in a copy of Hollywood Babylon. He wrote "Hank Aaron" on Hank's entry in a copy of The Baseball Encyclopedia. He signed the Holy Bible and Hamlet and for lagniappe he wrote a dirty limerick on the title page of Ulysses before signing it. Then he got change for the bus and he wasn't mad any more.
He had been divorced for two years and was losing the farm when he burned the mule. Meanness ran in his veins by then and he could hear it pulse through his eardrums like a war cry. The mule would not behave and everything it did seemed to mirror the relentless lack of co-operation that had become his daily burden. The lawyers were inept and lost things and blamed him. The bank would not speak to him when he called then left threatening messages when he was in the field. The mule bit him while he was feeding it and before the pain subsided he had tipped it over and hog-tied it and stacked railroad ties around it like a tiny corral and piled scrub brush on top and soaked it all down good with way too much gasoline and tied a rag around a rock and soaked it and stood back and lit it and slung it on.
After he got out from under the farm a relative got him a union job with a tire company sixty miles away and he moved into an apartment in town. He met a girl at work and married her a year later. When they had sex she was loud and her orgasms reminded him of the burning mule and he was pierced with guilt and self-hatred and couldn't make himself talk to her about it. One day she went out the kitchen door and left the raw chicken on the cutting board next to the bread crumbs and walked three miles to the bus station and got on a bus and started talking to a man from Crete, Nebraska who was going to Fontana, California and started something with him.
"Full-Contact Haiku Night"
"What about the motherfucking rain, goofnuts?"
"You let me up, I'm gonna kill you."
"Too many syllables. I'm gettin' the pliers."
"You crazy fuck."
"Fuck you and the rain."
"There's your first line. What about me AND the rain, queerbait?"
"Put the pliers away."
"That ain't gettin' it. I'll heat these fuckers."
"I don't wanna play anymore."
"I got your name right here on the list, karaoke boy. Wednesday you can have some fuckin' REO Speedwagon. Right now your ass belongs to me. I can't hear you."
"The rain means nothing to me."
"There you go. Now take it home, Li Po. Gimmie five more. Sound off."
"My brother's a cop."
"That don't make no sense. This here's Full-Contact Haiku night, and if your brother is a cop, he better like you enough to have taught you something besides Ômy brother's a cop.' My brother cleans out septic tanks, and I don't expect him to come in here and suck shit. Not while you're doin' such a good job of it. I need five more syllables before I twist your ear off with these vintage Sears Craftsman widowmakers. Where's my Zippo? Tell me about the rain. Pray to fate and the gods you can think of something."
"Rain is the gods' piss. I --"
"Whoa! I believe you just nailed it, Enishi. Go get your t-shirt before I change my mind. Move! Who's next? Writin' or bitin'? Hittin' or sittin'? Maybe I should let you go tag-team and double up on me-- bring a friend! Who wants to be a Full-Contact Haiku co-millionaire without the money? Get up here and shoot your sensitive mouth off! Don't make me find you. I got the list right here. Pick a topic."
"Let's do it."
"Dang! Another country heard from. Let's go, Yamada."
"Donkey with a mic
silly loser fucks with crowd
fluffer for haiku."
In a couple years they're going to open the first Charles Bukowski theme park in San Pedro. You can sit next to his hologram in a bar and light his virtual cigar. You can ride Jane Cooney. You can brave the Linda King House of Horrors and purchase Buk's clay head in the gift shop. Everybody tools around in little VWs, except for the well-heeled gold-card members who get BMWs and decent wine and their own cat. Everybody goes to the track where a regular staff of assholes provide atmosphere. All the losing tickets are magically signed by Buk, who somehow manages from beyond the grave. You can pose with the legless guy on the board on skates who sells tipsheets and buy "World's Greatest Loser" t-shirts from him. If you're lucky you can wind up in the Hollywood Drunk Tank. You can play Post Office and haul mail in the rain with a hangover. Arcades feature a simulation of every fuck-ass horrible job he ever had, and you can work them just like he did and pretend you're filling in for him on the days he called in sick-- and you can have the same hangover he had on that particular day. The only thing it won't have is Buk. The people in Andernach, Germany can't wait for the EuroBuk.
"Lord Buckley Reads The Names of The Departed"
"Mr. Reebadeedeeb. Mr. Beebadabeeb. Miss Ruby DoBob. Mr. Langlang. Mr. Dangdang. Mr. Bo Doakie. Mr. U. Reeka. Mrs. Boza-beaka. Mr. O. Roni. Mr. B. Loney. Mr. Joe Don Looney. Mr. Buf Fooney. Prince Pops DeClutch. Lord Ralph Hard. Mr. Billy Sol Estes. Miss Mae Westes. Lady Chicken Whopper. Mr. Karazor. Mr. Doo-dad. Mr. Oh Daddy. Mr. Dog Gone. Mr. Lester Lewd. Mr. Nude Dude. Missy Tattooed. Mr. Bill from Billville. Lord Benny Hill. Lady Doe of Dill. Mr. Diamond in the Back. Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick. Mr. Patrick Fitzmichael. Mr. Doctor Gonehead. Mr. Octagon Head. Mr. Slap DeLap. Mrs. Squeeze DeWeeze. Mr. Cy Gone. Mr. Hip Gahn. Mr. Arpie Ehm. Mr. Bag O'Plegm. Princess E. Pock. Mr. Swingin' Doc. Mrs. Bored Walk. Major Darned Sock. Mrs. Croaker Sacks. Miss Foxy Chickenheart. Mr. Duane DeWayne. Mr. Uppity Drain. Miss Sweet Refrain. Mrs. Not-so-sweet Lorraine. Mr. Bruce Wayne. Mr. Bruce Lee. Miss Peggy Lee. Mr. Junior Junior. Miss Olive Oyl. Mr. Peter Boyle. Master Sweetpea Dinger. Miss Annie Rexic. Mr. Brutus D. Fruitus. Mrs. Rose Hose. Mr. Hose Rose. Mrs. Baby Ruth. Lord Most-Unkooth. Mr. Plymouth Rock. Blue Baby Doc. Benjy "The Man" Spock. Coach Maximum Roach. Mr. Clown Loach. Mr. Eggs Unpoached. Mrs. Eggs Untouched. Mr. Wells Fargo. Prince Orson Welles. Princess Single Malt. Major Double Clutch. High Sheriff Dutch Schultz. Mr. Clang-Clang Firehouse. Mrs. Ghost Rider. Mr. Smith Sonian. Mrs. Smooch DePooch. Corporal Blowtorch Whitegas. Mrs. Frankie Guggenheim. General MacArthur G. Rant. Princess Fo Bia Dark-Ness. Mr. Babe Di Blu. Mr. Ox-Whistle True. Prince Whiski-Man-Nu. Princess Jamoka-Gotta-Shake. Lord Justta Brown-Snake. Mahatma Steppin-Onna-Rake. Tarzan Inda-Aire. Mrs. Jane Knott-Kare. Prince Gotta Squeegee. Mr. Speedo-Weegee. Major John Dillinger-Glitch. Dr. Sapphire-Wannahitch. Dr. Roland Brungastritch. Mrs. Hydee Hideeho. Reverend Oly Oleo. Prince Oliver of Twist. Mrs. Milfor DeGrist. Nurse Pyon Neer-Chikkin. Master Bobby Shakin-Bakes. Mrs. Hootie Twin of Twin Lakes. Princess Nessie of The Lock. Stallion Hickory of the Dickery Dock. General Likkin Stick. Princess Rumble Seat. Major Tumbler Neet. Sheik Tent Allkreep. Mrs. Jackie Pynk-Pillbox. Governor Dallas Lincoln-Fogg. Senator Skip DeBridge."
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