High on the Hog

The following excerpt is taken from the forthcoming book Spoilt By Bikers: A Year in Provence with the Hell’s Angels by J. D. Salamander.

Since I had first watched the movie The Wild One at the tender age of 40, I had always wanted to be a biker. So it was like a dream come true when I finally got accepted into the chapter of my choosing.

It was not an easy road, though. Many a night I had wept, my teddy clutched in my arms, my alma mater’s song spilling from my cracked lips.

But I had lots of determination and a trust fund.

And this was no ordinary bikers’ gang. These were the cream of the crop, an elite group of Harley riders. I had already read accounts of them turning down applications from doctors, physicists, moguls of business, and expensive French presses. One surgeon had been refused after it was discovered he’d once ridden his mistresses’ scooter. Another doctor, a plastic surgeon, had been turned away after it was found out that he did breast implants. The doctor even castrated himself and sewed on two saddlebags to impress the gang. Nothing. The bikers said they were morally against any kind of self-mutilation unless it was an art form. They even turned away a millionaire. Found out he was embezzling from his multi-million dollar company and had made a deal to sell South Dakota to the Saudis.

So it was with some trepidation that I sent them my resume, worried about how it would be judged. In high school I had had an honorable mention in the yearbook for keeping a tally of all the Red Sox’s games on my gym shorts. I had attended Princeton and graduated with an above average height class, majored in animal husbandry, and then gone on to work as an editor for a few progressive magazines. After much deliberation and a call to my mother, I decided to include the scuffle I’d had with another birdwatcher over the sighting of a blue-footed booby. I had snapped his pencil. (Incidentally, we had both been wrong. It had turned out to be a man in blue Wellingtons.) My wife also advised me to include the incident with the 10-pound bass I single-handedly wrestled ashore and held down until it expired. I even mentioned my bout with Soubrette’s syndrome.

I prayed my credentials would be enough.

After waiting a few weeks in sunny Barbados, I heard back from the gang. They were willing to meet me. A place was decided on that turned out to be a Ritz-Carlton in New York. I had to beg my dad for the airfare, accommodations, and a black leather jacket.

The bikers had rented the Honeymoon Suite and Cat Stevens — although the singer had been denied entry into the US because he hadn’t had a hit since 1978.

It was an uncomfortable introduction, since I forgot what my middle initial stood for and was taken back when each of the bikers told me their names: Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Nice Guy, Grindhouse, Pulp Fiction, Planet Terror, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, and Grease.

I had no idea they would be Tarantino fans. Turns out they weren’t. They hated his movies, found them too egregious and another big word I didn’t know. But they loved the self-referential treatment in all his flicks. And I could see why. Nearly every other word they said was a reference to Joyce’s Ulysses or Betty Crocker’s Cooking For Two.

They had e-mailed me that it was a BYOB meeting and so I had. And then wished I hadn’t when I pulled out my pack of Bud and beef jerky and the bikers plastered the table with vintage wines, expensive fromage, and baguettes.

On top of that, I was beginning to feel under-qualified and pathetically uneducated as they reeled off their degrees. Mr. Pink, the leader, had an MD, a PhD, MFA, BA, COD, ASAP, OK, and a full year’s subscription to the Nation. The one woman in the gang, Nice Guy, had three doctorates, two college kids, and a hysterectomy. Grindhouse was the president of an international corporation and held a UFO pilot’s license. Kill Bill worked for the CIA, FBI, KGB, SAS, IRA, BBC, NBC, and Time, Inc. and also in his spare time was a swabby on the USS Enterprise. Even the newest member, Grease, was a lawyer, pro tennis player, chain smoker, and American Idol star.

I felt a bit like that bug who finds out he’s a writer named Kafka.

In general, though, the interview went well. I made a few blunders that afterwards, with a ham sandwich I’d scrounged from a bin, didn’t seem that significant.

There was one mistake I’d made that I wished I hadn’t, though. It was when they asked me if I was a religious man and had replied yes, especially on Sundays and when the Red Sox play the Yankees. They had had to rephrase the question to “Did I believe in a God?” I replied I wasn’t sure ever since my home economics class had discussed the properties of canning. But I had read Stephen Hawking’s book about selfish black holes and was sorry to hear that he suffered from Cary Grant Disease, the one in which everyone mistakes you for Rock Hudson.

(God, did I curse Princeton for not educating me enough in movie trivia.)

But I left feeling like I still had a good chance with the bikers. They even discussed with me financial aid packages and the few scholarships available that were set up by old biker alums who were scamming the welfare system.

They said they’d get back to me in a few days.

Those couple of days were a living hell for me. But I kept the American Dream alive by wrapping myself up in the flag with a copy of Fudgy Tiddles’ All Men Are Equal — Except Those Who Go To Prestigious Schools.

A month later I finally heard back from the bikers at 3 in the morning. At first I thought it was my mother calling to tell me that dad’s venereal disease had cleared up. But was delighted when I heard Mr. Pink’s Brahmin voice telling me that I had been accepted in to the bikers’ gang on probation.

It was the best news I’d heard since the time my wife cried out in our lovemaking, “Hit a home run for me Babe!”

I was packed and ready to meet the bikers the next day on my ten-speed.

Of Human Bondage

I came across the following news story in the Moosehead Muckle.

A Dale and Dale Backsmear of Bingham, Maine, have been held hostage for the last hour of prime-time TV by an individual the National Weather Service has described as cloudy to partly sunny.

The authorities have refused to name the kidnapper at this time since his mother had just hours before baked blueberry muffins for the local sheriff. His height was released, though: 3 foot and a couple of two by fours.

The man in question has declared his ransom for the release of the Backsmears. The authorities have learnt that he wants the Backsmears’ son’s, Snuffalufagus Backsmear XVI, draft of his first book Apocalypse Whenever: Some Bastard has to Pay for the State of my Bottom Drawer.

He has also made it clear that he wants the ransom, and we quote — from a reliable source, a Mr. Buzzy Prude, proprietor of the mom and pop establishment Pap & Suckle — “ As soon as you possibly can. These two old gray hairs are driving me crazy!”

It appears that the hostages have been giving the kidnapper, who is an aspiring young writer, a hard time. An informer, whose name we cannot release until after his dry cleaning’s done, has been quoted as saying, “The poor hack’s down to two note pads.”

Information is sketchy at present as to the actual demands the hostages are making on the kidnapper, but we can report the following. (Although none of it has been checked for accuracy since our copy editor has been missing for the last 2 days and we presume him to be freelancing without permission.)

It appears that the Backsmears are still in a state of shock since “Snuff” moved from Bingham to New Hampshire so that he could be closer to Maine. They are fretting over the brain drain problem — which might explain why their sink is always clogged. And they’re very anxious that the Pentagon tries out its new secret weapon on their neighbors from New Jersey. And then there’s the lupine lady — why didn’t she plant a few horseradish. The development in the North Woods of a wooded enclosure for gambling environmentalists. And Hollywood Slots being built next to Sydney and Sydney Harem’s Hardcore Gardening Tools and Soft Porn Outdoor Furniture.

Police have also collaborated that the Backsmears were seen to be beating the young man and shouting at him in some kind of spud argot.

It was later confirmed that he had mentioned the war and the old couple had gone berserk. They wouldn’t believe him when he told them that some of the French collaborated with the Third Reich. They claimed they’d never even heard of the French or the British or the Poles or Canadians or any of the other Allies. They thought America, Custer, and Rockefeller won the war.

The police have informed the paper that they plan to use a copy of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry to assuage the kidnapper and tear gas to disperse the huge crowd of onlookers.

At one point, the kidnapper shouted from the ice-cream van, “Does anyone have change for a twenty?”

A sharpshooter got a sighting, but couldn’t remember if it was Lincoln or Jackson on the greenback and so stayed his trigger finger.

The young man’s father had this to say about his son: “Useless waster. I’ve told him, go into journalism if you must write, none of this namby-pamby fiction stuff. Who reads anymore? Nobody’s got the time now, not since additives and fructose corn syrup have been added. I told the loser, son, I said, get a cant hook and haul some logs like your Uncle Phyllis did. Jackass had the audacity to tell me to my face that Uncle Phyllis died from poison ivy and that the man was a cross-dresser. So what? I said. He couldn’t spell to save his life and that’s what caused the transgender thing.”

There has been no word yet from the ice-cream van driver as to whether the vehicle will be making its usual rounds today. (So Mrs. Basil Knickerbocker, could you please stop pestering this office with calls about whether you’re going to be able to get your Flayed Native on a Stick.)

The kidnapper’s threat to kill the cooling on the freezer was met with a hail of ribaldry. One of the police officers had to be physically restrained after he swore he’d charge the van single-handedly and save the soft scoop.

No further demands are being asked beside that the kidnapper be allowed to return his overdue book, Hostage Taking: The Postmodern Dos, Don’ts, and Deconstruction for the Modern Kidnapper, before the library closes.

Reported by Jackal Maughamy, graduate of Bedlam’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Cosmology. His latest book is Darwin and God: The Two Heavyweights in the Universe.

A Work of Staggering Unoriginality

At the time the Titanic hit the iceberg, Adam and Eve were sailing Penobscot Bay. Since they had been kicked out of the Garden of Eden, they’d decided on boating as a way to keep out of trouble. Had it only been that easy. Now, on top of original sin, they were arguing up a storm and Adam was in jeopardy of losing his fig leaf — again. The trouble all started when Eve accidentally dropped the apple core overboard.

“Why must you be so clumsy, Eve?”

“I couldn’t help it. The serpent….”

“Don’t start that one again, for God’s sake. Now what do we do? That’s the core of all human wisdom gone. Not too mention our keepsake for the first time we did it.”

“Listen Adam, I plucked it, but it was you who wolfed it down.”

“I was hungry.”

“Yes, in more ways than one. And look how that fruit repaid you. I’ve always said it looks like a stem.”

“Ok, leave it be. What are we going to do about the core, though?”

“Fish it out?”

“With what?”

“A pole?”

“Give it a rest woman! It wasn’t the only thing I got, there’s all this human knowledge, too.”

“My, you are sensitive about it. I was referring to a long, slender, rounded piece of wood.”

“Oh.”

“Why don’t you dive in and get it?”

“No way, this is my last fig leaf until I can get my hands on some fruit of the loom.”

“Well, I’m not going in. Everyone will start thinking the fecundity of the waves is my fault now, too.’

“What’s to be done? We can’t let the core just float away.”

“Why not, the whole fruit thing has brought us nothing but unhappiness.”

“No it hasn’t, that’s mankind. If God didn’t want us to have the apple then why did he create it?”

“A test?”

“What, so that we could tell apples from oranges.”

“Oh, that’s so unorthodox of you!”

“Are you going to get it or not?”

“Why don’t we call the Coast Guard?”

“Why?”

“Because I’m sick of carrying this guilt around.”

“That’s all well and good, but what do you think the Coast Guard’s going to say when he sees us dressed like this?”

“I know, some kind of biblical joke about snakes and willing wenches. You’re right, I just can’t take another joke at our expense. So what do you suggest?”

“Oh, I don’t know… a little diversion, maybe. Hell, let’s just go below decks and forget we even had the core.”

“That’s your answer for everything, isn’t it? A bit of horsing around. It’s that kind of behavior that’s given man a need to invent God.”

“Holy shit, you are tempting fate now, lovey. Inventing God. Phew, I’m glad I’m not in your fig leaf. I’m glad I only ate the apple.”

“Adam, how many times must I tell you, God really doesn’t care about us any more, not since the devil took up flying.”

“He did?”

“Yes. Didn’t you read about it? He’s got a plane. He was reported as saying it makes it much easier to corrupt people with wings.”

“Why didn’t we get a plane?”

“Because God thought we’d be better suited as boaters. If you remember, he said that because we would no doubt go on sinning, it was better than we did it at sea and out of sight of anything bigger than a sperm whale.”

“Is that what he said?”

“Yes. I told you at the time that your thinghy would be the undoing of us. If you’d stopped playing with it so much, you might have heard God’s words a bit better and we might be flying a plane now and not mucking about in a boat!”

“But what about that apple core?”

“I swear, if you mention that core one more time, then I promise you, you won’t ever have me again. Not until the Titanic sinks!”

The Muse

The following argument was heard in a Portland diner that was just about to shut down its breakfast menu. The verbal scuffle took place between a famous photographer and his new model. It was all recorded on CCTV and jotted down on the back of a napkin by gonzo journalist Bill Warren. Warren’s only venture into the literary world before this had been his novel Fully Clothed Dinner, which was later discovered to be a comedy of error since he was under the impression that Truman Capote had been his inspiration only to discover in a live interview that it had been William S. Burroughs. He was later recorded as saying it was Breakfast at Tiffany’s that had confused him and made him fail P.E.

“I dare you to over-expose me!”

“Jesus, I just might if you go on like this.”

“And why do you always want to do neurotic photos?

“God, it’s erotic, how many times do I have to tell you that?”

“Why the beard then?”

“It adds contrast.”

“Are you going to eat that phallus of sausages?”

“Jesus, it’s a phalanx of sausages. How many times do I have to correct your collective nouns.”

“Don’t you ever talk about Kant’s noumenon like that.”

“What the fuck, are you seeing Kant now?”

“Sometimes. But only at the library.”

“Jesus, don’t tell me you’re fucking Kant at the library.”

“No, we do it on a bed of fig Newtons.”

“God, I’ll kill him.”

“I really don’t know why we’re fighting. It was you who suggested I model for his Categorical Imperative.”

“No I did not! I told you to model for his deontological normative theory.”

“Fuck you! You are such a brut. You know I don’t wear deodorant! It’s got all those animal hairs in it.”

“Look, just finish your rabbit stew and let’s get out of here. I want to snap you with a bowl of fruit — they’re already ripe. I don’t want them getting any more tender especially since I’ve got something exotic planned for you.”

“Don’t even think about it. Not now. And anyway, I’ve got a class on deconstructing Harry Wilmot at 3.”

“Who the fuck is Harry Wilmot?”

“ I don’t know, that’s why the class needs to reconstruct him to figure out who the hell he is.”

“Fine, fine. It was only going to be a quick shoot. Nothing too prolonged. I just wanted to juxtapose spherical fruit, your breasts, and my first childhood banana peel, circa 1925.”

“God, that’s so boring. Why can’t you do something daring like what Maplesugar does?’

“I give up, I really do give up.”

“What?”

“The fucking waiter’s charged us for an OJ I never had.”

A Work of Staggering Originality

“Hello?”

“Hello.”

“Yes, is this Mr. P. Drub?”

“Who wants to know?

“His wife.”

“Oh, hi honey.”

“Hi. I was just calling to see if the phone still worked if I was on another end.”

Silence.

“Do you still love me Mr. Drubby?”

“Of course I do sweetie.”

“Are you sure? I just need to know because I’ve never spoken to another man from a foreign phone. Please, tell me you love me.”

Deep silence.

“Please Puddly, please tell me you love me. It would be the first time since we got married. And it’s kinda kinky, you know, saying it over the phone.”

Hesitation. Then in a hoarse whisper, “I… love…. you.”

“Sorry, puff pastry, but the line’s breaking up, can you say that again?”

Heavy breathing.

“Puddin’ of lard, are you still there? All I hear is heavy breathing.”

“Yes.”

“Tell me you love me Puds. Just tell me. You’ve never told it to me over the phone.”

“Yes I did, way back in 45, when my mother got a rotary.”

“But that was when you were dating Mary Lou Bantock.”

“So.”

“Well, I don’t think you meant it, and, anyway, I was on a friend’s phone.”

Heavy breathing.

“Are you still there floppy plob?”

“Look honey, the game’s on in a bit, why don’t I just e-mail you, okay?”

The above on-man play was performed by an assemble cast of text messengers from an unknown venue. No phones were hurt in the production, but a innocent bystander lost his job when his personal cell call to a sex hot line interrupted the play right before the heavy breathing scene — which was later edited in because it sounded so real compared to the actor’s bad imitation.

If you’d like a transcript of this play, please send a carrier pigeon to the following address: Dave, 22 Eggers Rd., McSweeney, The Republic of Tea.

The Curious Incident

I knew the svelte blonde was going to be trouble. I’d just shelved my copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray when she entered the office.

She would have made a Pre-Raphaelite beauty have a hissing fit with Rossetti until he set his pet wombats on her. Although at the time, I didn’t think she’d know the difference between a marsupial and William Morris.

Was I wrong.

The first thing she said was, “Shouldn’t you be playing Artie Shaw?”

“No,” I replied, “I’m a contemporary private investigator. It’s Tom Waits or you can create your own blog and bitch about it, lady.”

She shrugged and then sashayed closer to my desk, cluttered with Post It notes of favorite aphorisms, axioms, and the occasional Web site for lonely investigators: “Thrills In the Skin Trade.”

“And you’re English,” she mocked.

“The old tropes are being cleaned out. Haven’t you read any Ian Rankin?”

She was obviously unimpressed as she fingered the spines of my contemporary book collection and plucked free a dog-eared copy of Farewell My Lovely.

“Why are you here?” I asked.

She stared at me as if I’d asked her to, like Wittgenstein, answer metaphysical riddles that had bedeviled philosophers for centuries.

How the mind boggles when it turns to moral or ethical considerations. I tried another approach: “What brings you here?”

“Oh,” she said with her sensuous lips, “it’s business, not pleasure.”

“Funny, I thought it was a mix of the two.” Had it been any more pleasurable, I thought, I’d have had to get an espresso maker.

“Touché!” she replied.

I was almost sure she was about to show me her fencing scar when she said, “We need your help.” She didn’t plead, but asked it like a couple of Stasi who discovered the downstairs tenant had been hiding an American coonhound.

“We?”

She smiled and opened the office door. I wish she hadn’t.

What shambled in was not my idea of a private client unless I was a fille de joie into the Mensa crowd.

“Meet the other editors.”

Now I wished I had a gun hidden under the copy of the New York Times instead of Sebastian Horsley’s Dandy in the Underworld. And I wished I’d read the book’s cover. It had nothing at all to do with a rake sleuth in the world of organized crime, as I had led myself to believe. But it was a damn good read for a self-professed man about town.

It turned out the editors had misplaced a feature article and wanted me to root it out. They’d pay freelance wages but any other expenses had to pass the straight-face test. They seemed earnest in the way that my old Oxford mate named Ernest was not.

I took notes in the manner of Dostoevsky and poured myself a gin and tonic.

The deputy editor had been the last person to see the article. He’d edited it, written a hed, and then realized the text was in German and his grandfather had shot people for less. By the time he’d returned from the library with all of Wagner’s operas, the manuscript had gone and in its place was a signed copy of Doris Fleming’s memoir, My Torrid Affair with a Lighthouse: And the Bastard Children Who Wouldn’t Understand.

I asked the copy editor what he knew. He replied that the word “zeitgeist” had been crossed out in red.

I questioned the senior editor. He thought he once dated a Bavarian but she had turned out to be a Bolshevik and since his dog was Pekinese he thought it best to cancel his library card.

The assistant editor was sketchy on the facts. He thought the article was scheduled for next month and had already booked a holiday to the Wilhem Reich Museum in Maine to align his orgone.

Which brought me to the chief editor. All he could add was that he’d written a coverline for it: “Vas Deferens’ Final Thrust.”

I questioned the svelte blonde, who I learnt was an intern, and she told me the feature had gone into design and then all the editors’ doors had closed and she’d been e-mailed a highly litigious suggestion to photocopy a certain part of her anatomy. She defiantly refused to name the culprit because had it come from someone else, she might have considered, but since it came from a creep she was being tight lipped.

They were all being a bit tight lipped for my liking. Id told them I’d check into it, but that I wanted an advance, dinner for two at the Clandestine Onion, and a signed copy of Donleavy’s Ginger Man.

The chief editor said he’d see what he could do and the blonde mouthed to me “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

The copy editor turned at the door. I thought he meant to tell me something he’d failed to mention, maybe tell me something in confidence.

“I’m in love with a misplaced modifier.”

He said it like it was some private joke. I didn’t know what the hell it meant. And anyway, I felt like “A love-machine/With clockwork joints of supple gold.”

I couldn’t get the blonde out of my head — or Swinburne, it seemed.

I decided to run a quick background check on the editors. Nothing serious, just a bit of digging around.

None of them showed up on a Google search. Which meant I was probably dealing with small fries. (Had the editors been French, I wondered if in light of the present administration I’d have had to refer to them as steak fries or home fries? But then what have the French given America beside obesity? Just that draped female with a book of law in her left hand and a torch in her right. Doesn’t anyone read Rimbaud anymore? Let’s make her modern! She should at least be showing her tattooed naval and have a cell phone in one hand and a flashlight in the other.)

I tried another well-documented gumshoe trick for discovering facts. I questioned the janitor. He was a wonderful fellow, full of trivia and wearing a watch that would have made the Swiss cuckoo.

I came away with absolutely no dirt on the editors but now knew who had designed the first toilet bowl brush. A Stanley Crud from the Borough of Backwater who had had to share a privy and after a few failed attempts with a stray cat’s tail, the steel-wired hair of a local urchin, and his wife’s collection of antique scrubbing brushes, had finally latched on to the idea of attaching the collected shavings from men’s beards to a stick. It worked wonders and he was never seen with facial hair again.

Having failed with the janitor, I tried the next best thing. The editor’s wives.

Unfortunately the copy editor’s was in a rented motel room in New Jersey with a scuba diver from Brussels. She wouldn’t return my calls. Nor the copy editor’s.

I caught up with the deputy editor’s shopping and ended up with their dinner, rum balls, milk of magnesium, a copy of Vogue, and a herbal love cream that worked wonders on my dry skin.

The senior editor’s slammed the door in my face and called her uncle who had died two years ago. He answered the phone, but had difficulty communicating. And then their call got crossed with a credit card operator from India and the senior editor had a fit when he saw next month’s credit charges. He went on a chip binge and locked himself away in the attic with a book on unknown facts of janitors and other caretakers of the soul.

The assistant editor wasn’t married. But I located his girlfriend on “Meet A Mate: Get A lifelong Friend.” Turned out to be a goldendoodle with a talent for romance. She’d have been my new best friend had I not made it clear that the only dog I needed was the black dog of melancholy. She wasn’t offended since she told me her dog star was rising and signed her final iChat “Man’s best friend, Lady Chatterley.”

I was left with only the chief editor’s wife.

I knew things were going to go badly as soon as she opened the door and a line from the Immortal Bard of Stratfordshire popped into my head: “A horse, my kingdom for a horse.”

She was an anglophile she told me. Loved everything about Britain up to Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke. Couldn’t stand the Irish on account of them joining the EU and producing a monster like Beckett who ruined theatre with his declaring how hideous a semi-colon!

I feigned indifference and admitted to a minimalist amount of interest in the theatre after Mother Goose had stolen my box of Black Magic.

It was then that she opened her Pandora’s Box. A curse on the house of editors, I wanted to shout, and you’re all a bunch of avuncular brutes — but the last was plagiarism and wives tell their husbands everything.

I couldn’t stop her from telling me about her husband. It was a logorrhea’s nightmare come true. She started with his birth and explained that even then he was marked as being a special boy, a success, because he had been breached and was able to spin around and shove his head out and mewl, “Get me outta here….” Words in one so young were unheard of, she told me, except in the criminally insane.

Then it was toddler baths in which he ran his own water and bathed his parents while reciting Newton’s laundry list. Tales about his preschool years making coffins for dead languages. His pubescent days drawing and labeling downy birds. His adolescent forays into forensic science and recycled lollipop-stick birdhouses. And then it was to an Ivy League school and planting deciduous trees for every time he heard the word “pompadoured asshole.”

I couldn’t escape the harpy. She had me cornered in her husband’s recliner and was now bringing me his childhood drawings; explicit accounts of the sex lives of all of creation. Next came his diplomas. My eyes rested just long enough on one for Grub Street Guide. I made a mental note of that as another was whisked before my eyes, this one for writing an entire screenplay in two lines, which were:

“Help!’

“Okay.”

Talk about faits divers. I wondered what Félix Fénéon would make of such a miniature dispatch?

But I had more important matters to attend to than the dolly don dithers. I had to take onions to my heart.

And I did. I began to sob. (A great trick recommended by The Cuff & The Blow: Ten Years in the Private Investigators Racket by one Edward Clamant.)

Then I laid it on strong. My mother was dying from a rare disease known as Instress, first recognized by the poet Hopkins, which he described as a “stem of stress between us and things that bears us out and carries the mind over.”

This broad was having none of it. She kept bombarding me with dross — which struck me as odd since some editors refer to corrected hard copy as dross!

It was time to play dirty with the dame. “Is that a photo of your husband there?”

It wasn’t. It was a framed picture of Ernest Hemingway with a wounded ambulance. But it worked.

I was out the door in a heartbeat and scampering down the street.

But it was going to take more than Hitchcock’s McGuffin to ditch this dame.

One look behind me and I could see her shadowing me.

What’s with this woman? I thought, as I hailed a cab. Even as we shot toward the busy intersection, I could see she had reams of papers clenched in her fist.

I ordered the cabby to step on it. He shrugged. Foot to the gas, I reiterated. He looked at me blankly. Floor it buddy! He furrowed his brow.

“What, no speak English?” I asked

“No, listen, I was brought up by respectable folks, none of Larkins’ your parents fuck you up kind of thing. I took elocution lessons at 12 and was educated at the School for Public Speaking in the Lower East Side. So I wouldn’t mind it if you referred to it as, ‘please give the engine a bit of gas, there’s a good fellow.’”

Now it was my turn to shrug my shoulders and look put out. Because I saw the broad was tailing us on the back of a currier’s bike.

“I want to loose the lady on the bike, okay,” I asked in my best diction.

But we couldn’t give her the slip.

So I decided to loose her in the Subway. I needed to get free of the woman and get back to my office. I’d had an epiphany in the back of the cab and wanted to look up some Joyce.

Was this broad persistent. I couldn’t shake her. It was time to get rough with her.

I stopped at one of the grubby cafe joints along the way and bought her a coffee. No man in the right mind would drink one of these brackish concoctions, but I needed to get rid of the woman, and quick.

She took the offered libation and I felt liked I’d handed Socrates the poisoned cup. I always get to feel like this around noontime.

I knew I was playing a dirty trick, but there was no point in engaging in dialogue with this editor’s wife in an attempt to reach an understanding or an ethical concept by exposing and dispelling error if I knew she was in the wrong.

Then I pulled my ace. I stood abruptly, pointed to editor’s wife, and shouted, “My God, it’s Jessica Parker from Sex in the City!” She didn’t look anything like her, but it was better than saying she was Minni Driver, people might think she merely drove a Cooper.

Hoards flocked. As I guessed they would.

I wore a huge smug smile on my face as I sat in the train, which afforded me enough privacy to plan my next move.

I needed to get back to the office. The epiphany I’d had in the back of the cab had been about the svelte intern. There was something not right about her. She reminded me a lot of the bird woman in Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

To Be Continued……..

All Creatures Great & Small

Recently, I’ve been privy to a lot of peoples’, some known, others imagined, life-changing experiences. I don’t know how I happen to find myself in these situations, since the most deliberation I ever do is wonder how long I should steep my tea bag.

Here, for example, is what I have to look forward to today:

At 9 there’s a Mr. Dowbrook who has decided to sew on his missing button.
At 10 a Miss DeFlower has decided to let her bottom lip tremble.
At 11 I’m meeting a young man who is putting on his first pair of Speedos.
At noon I’m having a pre-lunch with a peeper to hear about his journey to a new pond.
At 1 I’m having lunch with a loser.
At 2 a Mrs. P. D. Crunch is going to tell me about shaving her armpits.
At 3, it’s Donald Swump’s decision to do the Times crossword puzzle in a zebra outfit.
At 4, there’s a beaver who’s decided to become a stump.
At 5, a Mr. Prong is going to tell me about canceling his subscription to the dirty magazine Soiled Greenthumb.
At 6, a young writer’s swapping places with a character he’s created who is a failed writer.
At 7, a couple from Blue Hill who have lice.

So, it appears I have a busy day.

And what a day it is here in Maine! I would call it perfect. Like a well-written sentence, the day has just the right amount of vowels; it has a rhythm that is palpable; it has warmth, light, shade, and sense in order; it has the imagery of something other; its has a tone that is not capable of being reproduced; it has artifice and honesty and possibility.

Did someone just mention Don McLean? That old wheeze bag with a face like a beaver and a backside like a platypus. I’ve seen more talent from a worm cut in half. Vanilla Ice was pure flop, but at least he fucked Madonna. What’s Don’s claw to fame? “American Pie.”

Which reminds me, I once had a pair of cords made by American Pie. They got me into trouble with a girl. She gave birth to two hot tarts. Had to take the cords down the back of the garden and plant them next to my Shangri-La jeans that got me only as far as Newport, Wales.

It’s funny how I can remember the lyrics to songs much more than I do algebra or engineering or nuclear physics or how to construct an English poesy.

And I can still dance to Hot Chocolate.