Donna

A girl by the name of, Donna, stopped over last night. She came to check out my flavored pasta sauce because she’d heard (info gets spread quickly here in Clever.) about the delicious aroma wafting through the air, emanating from this place.

She came to the front door even though the garage door was opened wide, being polite I guess. The young lady (well young to me) in her late thirties – early forties introduced herself and pointed to where she lived. Just two doors up and on the other side of the street.

“It’s good to see you guys are doing great! Hi,” she said to Steph through the screen. Stephanie feigned interest as she replied with a “Hello” and headed to her room and more drawing.

Donna continued, “Wow you are such a great cook! Neighbors talk about the wonderful scent, maybe you can teach me? Last night i cooked sauce with diced chicken. Also, I included onions and peppers with some really twirly pasta.”

“Probably Rotini Pasta” I replied. “Sounds great! Maybe you better give me lessons.”

“Tomorrow morning,” she said, “I’m cooking Quiche, bacon Quiche, with a Raspberry Truffle for dessert. I enjoy cooking and have a passion for cooking so I experiment at times.”

“That is the best thing to do,” I said, “I would be glad to be your taste-tester and especially tomorrow because I love Quiche and all kinds. I’ve never had a bad one!”

“l have to leave for work now. They’ve got me on the graveyard shift over at the recycling place in Republic. I just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood. Please give my regards to Stephanie.”

“Well it’s sure been nice talking to you. Let’s get together soon…maybe for that Quiche, give me a call. And it was sure nice meeting you also. Don’t work too hard, bye.

 

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Rudolf’s Revenge

After years of teasing and name calling, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had finally had enough. He wrote the following letter to the other Reindeer who wouldn’t allow him to play in their reindeer games. For years he had put-up with insults, and sarcastic remarks. All was not beautiful. And then, it got bad, so he magically put pen to paper:

Dear Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (I know some pronounce your name – Donner), and Blixem (and I realize your name is sometimes spelled Blixen and Blitzen),

I know many things and one is that I seem to have disrupted your happy friendships. However, I’ve only been around since early-on in the 20th-century. If it hadn’t been for my bright nose…why – Christmas would have been missed all those Christmases ago.

Not even you Dunder with your tremendously loud snorts like thunder, nor you Blixem with your lightning fast – light up the sky speed – could get Santa Clause through that ice fog of the day. It was, Rudolf, to the rescue.

And you others, don’t think I forgot about you! Dasher – you are quick. So what? I mean does that really matter when you don’t know where you’re going?

Dancer – What would there be to celebrate and dance about if not for my beautiful, red beaming nose to light the way?

Prancer – Don’t you know the other reindeer think you’re so vain? You always prance about as if you were better than us and almost too good for even yourself!

Vixen – Ahh Vixen. The tricky one. There is something magical about you, but even your sleight of hoof could not rescue that long-ago Christmas. Though you could have entertained us.

Comet – Even your good looks could not have rescued that day so many snowflakes ago. And neither, could your manners and ease with the children.

Cupid – Your affectionate ways couldn’t rescue us that day or others since. You have the ability to bring people together, but so what, if their hands are empty…no Christmas presents. What kind of holiday would that be?

Rudolf – I’m the ninth reindeer, but as I am writing to all of the other reindeer I don’t wish for any of you slower ones to think something is amiss. I haven’t forgotten anybody. And as everybody is familiar with my traits I don’t need to tell all of you what they are, but just so there are no mistakes made, I will jot them down:
humble
a little shy
a leader when need be
loves reindeer games
very playful around friends I know well
love helping others
love seeing new places
steady worker, help the elves get all their Christmas tasks done

And to make our sleigh team number equal, number ten, the newest addition is:

Olive – the tenth reindeer to join Santa’s herd. She had an unpredictable beginning because well, do you remember that line from my song?

“All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names…”

Well many people heard, “Olive, the other reindeer…” It’s true. Olive is the other reindeer. But alas, Olive is nice and a good helper.

She did laugh at me with my big red nose, but it was only because she thought I was an amazing asset to Santa’s team, and she really wanted to be a part of it. So, she started out by teasing but after a short while she stopped. She feared sending the wrong message to one she liked a great deal…me. Besides, everyone knows that when you tease your friends it’s because you really like them, right?

She shyly apologized to me and we’ve been best friends ever since. She loves to play hide and seek, too, but I am still the champion because there is no hiding from me, in the dark.

I am quitting the sleigh team to pursue other delivery options with DHL. They pay something and the hours are shorter. I want to save up for an igloo of our own.

Actually the job has, “Payday every day and no work on payday. Sounds like a terrific job but will let you know if there are any pitfalls. We will rejoin Santa’s team if something goes awry.

Sincerely,

Rudolf

The Gun

A poor white boy – a cracka’ – as most in this area are called (the slums and tenement halls of Chicago) seventeen years old, awakens to the pop and rat-a-tat-tat of gunfire in a unit below his.  A new day begins here in Paris on the Prairie (a nickname used by some) whose gun laws are some of the strictest in the country.  And the cracka’ wonders how to get a gun for protection? One that he does not have to register.

“The thought of owning a gun scares me,” Cracka’ Levon said to me. “I fear the gun bein’ stolen, used in a robbery or burglary or even as a weapon killin’ someone. I’d be the registered owner, so who d’ya you think they’d go after? I don’t want any jail time especially for a crime I din’t commit.”

I live across the hall from Levon and my name is “Shaker” ok that’s my nickname, but it will suffice.  I have a pistol from my dead father’s belongings when he died. I knew of the pistol when he was alive…he kept it under his seat, in a holster, and inside of his van.  It was special in that the gun had no registered owner so it could never be traced.  He told me it was won in a craps game.

The beneficiaries of his property, my sister and I divvied everything up evenly – tables, chairs, appliances et cetera everything except for…that gun; that was mine alone with nobody else knowing about it.  I felt justified taking it because of our disparate living conditions. She lived in a mansion, to me, on Chicago’s North Side. Sophia, knew nothing about it, and for sure I didn’t mention it.

I was with Dad when he passed; we were watching his favorite T.V. show, “Judge Judy” and it was about a man suing his male neighbor for causing a divorce between his wife and himself when the men were caught having sex with one another.  That sounds like something that would go on here in these homes and for sure not in the green grassed suburbs where Dad lived.

I called to the nurse and she came running but when she got to his bed (seconds later) there was nothing to be done. I cried because Dad was my hero and my hero died on my birthday, he will forever be missed.

The Robert Taylor Homes from 1973 to 1979 when Levon and I lived there were some of the worst years that project ever had. Terrible things happened including: The Mickey Cobras (MC’s) and Gangster Diciple’s (GD’s) those gangs dominated the housing project. Police intelligence sources say that the elevated number of murders was the result of gang “turf wars”, as gang members and drug dealers fought over control of given neighborhoods.

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) estimated that $45,000 in drug deals took place daily. Former residents of the Robert Taylor Homes have said that the drug dealers fought for control of the buildings. In one weekend, more than 300 separate shooting incidents were reported in the vicinity of the Robert Taylor Homes.Twenty-eight people were killed during the same weekend, with 26 of the 28 incidents believed to be gang-related.

Many crimes occurred in the R T Homes, reaching an all–time high in the mid–1970’s. Most crimes committed at the housing project were drug and street gang violence related. In October 1976, 22–year-old Denise Dozier was thrown from a 15th floor apartment window at the project; she survived the incident.  On June 25, 1983, an infant, Vinyette Teague, was abducted from the project after her grandmother left her alone in the hallway for a few minutes to answer a phone call. An estimated 50 people were in the hallway at the time of the abduction, but police were unable to gather enough evidence to make any arrests. She has never been seen or heard from since.On August 15, 1991, shortly before midnight, CHA police officer Jimmie Haynes was fatally wounded by sniper fire from a high powered rifle at the project. He died two days later.  Three suspects were charged with his murder. A maintenance worker at the project was beaten to death by gang members after he allowed police officers access to a building where a gang meeting was taking place in February 1993.  It was a diff’rent time and an obscene, nauseating, and repugnant place. Thank, God, those terrible homes no longer exist. The last of the disgusting places were demolished in 2005.

And d’ya’ wanna talk ‘bout bein’ a minority? There were ninety six percent blacks there. Levon and I were part of the remaining four percent and we are white. That four percent includes a multitude o’ races. Except for each other, our acquaintances were black.  One became a celebrity…Kirby Puckett of the Minnesota Twins baseball team. So many more wound up in prisons across the land.

I sold Dad’s unregistered pistol to Levon when I finally made it outta’ there in 1993. Six months after I moved out, Levon was caught in the middle of a gang shoot out – he was unarmed and heading back to his apartment. Maybe the gun won in a crap game was only imagined…no it wasn’t because I still have the $50 bill marked with Levon’s phone number in red ink.

 

You Never Know

There is an elderly man whose name is, Peter, and he lives down the street from me. Society pays him no mind. His home is nice enough and even better than many. He is quiet and keeps to himself.

His three car garage is overflowing with empty cans retrieved from the streets. The cans would be pouring out the windows if those windows opened. Instead the garage doors are pulled to the sides and the mountains of cans spill onto the gravel and grass. He has got a couple of older cars that probably haven’t seen a road in ten years…his laying hen uses them for a roost.

The pastor and his helpers – me George – and the other more integral one…the driver and the muscle of our trio, Richard, all possess the same beliefs of helping. We are non-judgemental. All we need to know is whether a person is in need, and when we find out, we deliver. Pastor prays with each one but there are no conditions. Recipients may attend whatever church they wish to; it does not stop our giving. We freely give to atheists for Jesus said something about, ye will know us (Christians) by our works. God is love.

The grass in Peter’s yard is always about a foot high and in need of mowing, It is never any longer nor any shorter. Many times I drive past his place going to my friend’s house and I think of the old guy…wonder if I should stop in to say hi? But I never do.

He is but one that we deliver food to on a monthly basis. And some at church did not want food delivered to this person because they’d heard that he is a wealthy man and in fact owns most of the county, Christians should know better than to gossip.

I did a little investigating on this person but not because of a need to know whether he could afford groceries or not, that is none of my business.

It turns out that Peter’s dad had many political connections and yes Peter was born into high society. His dad was a railroad tycoon from the early 1900’s https://upload.wikimedia.org/…/1024px-Missouri_Pacific_Numb… and was friends with James J. Hill a bigger tycoon than his father. But these men foraged for land together and sometimes at odds of one another yet despite their wealth they too, returned to dust.

Though most of Peter’s wealth was squandered he took a gamble when Vegas was new but Peter was muscled out by the organization. He tried once again with the casinos in Cuba at the time of the revolution, but lost out when Castro’s troops claimed everything for their own.

He now leads a quiet existence, but still has his yacht docked at a marina down at the Gulf Shores. I know not its condition. He owns properties, several houses, and according to county records they would fetch a pretty penny. Peter has chosen his own way of living. Right or wrong, that isn’t anybody’s call but his.

Peter, a quiet, miserly man is content with life and hearing about God on delivery day. Maybe one fine day he will be delivered.

Would You Like To…

Argentine Tango

https://open.spotify.com/track/0bLRXQaWzmSXRXPmP6JnEF

“A dance of passion and drama, will you – Tango – with me?  Out of the many loves and lusts of my life it is only you who offers inspiration and desire and it is you I want to do this with.  Fly with me to Buenos Aires and let’s be sensuous together in the land that bred intimacy.

Vickie, have you ever seen, Al Pacino, in – Scent of a Woman – do the tango? Wow! What a scene – what a dance!

That’s the way I tango.  I do it once all eyes are upon me or after my emotions erupt. The Argentine Tango especially when done in Buenos Aires, commands the respect of those watching and those with peaking emotions. 

“The tango is one of the most sensuous dances of them all. It first started appearing in brothels and massage parlors as a way to entertain the men while they were waiting their turn.”

Vickie replied, “I agree it’s very romantic and graceful and I’ve danced the Tango with gentlemen who knew what they were doing.  I need to follow their lead. To answer your question, I have seen the movie; it is a classic.”

“In my travels I have been to many South American countries and even to Argentina once. The Tango in that place is intimate, passionate, a mind and soul moving experience.

The Tango started as a cheerful music danced and played in the slums, and could often be heard in the bordellos. The Tango moved slowly from the slums to the Barrios, or working and middle class neighborhoods. It was through the performances of the Organitos (portable organs ) by itinerant Italians that the tango got into homes. By the beginning of the 20th century the Tango was moving from the outskirts to downtown.

I did that dance in sa Pilipinas once. Though the Pilipino had no impact on the tango…I could envision the heated dance getting its start in their amorous land, that then, was ruled by Spain.

A fine young lady that I almost married, Nina, and I dined on the rooftop of the Bayleaf Hotel and while the orchestra played, I got in the mood. Nina knew what was about to happen.  My mind’s eye saw a wonderfully erotic scene coming to life.

The mixture of the heat and wetness of the night, and being surrounded by many beautiful, darling, hot blooded Pilipinas the passion would not let go.  Right there on the rooftop – I exhausted myself in the mood or grasp of love.

Winter Vibes

After School

“I’m home Ma,” I said loudly as I threw my books on the couch.

I walked toward the kitchen where she was stirring the spaghetti sauce that had obviously been simmering all day, I knew because of the wonderful smell. I really love that warm, comfortable aroma.

“Isn’t the snow beautiful, mom? You can’t complain about today’s weather. It’s 27° almost freezing.”

Freshly fallen shroud of snow.....
Freshly fallen shroud of snow…..

“You don’t know me very well, I can complain about it if I want to, remember I’m from Louisiana where it’s always warm or hot!”

“But Ma’…they also have hurricanes.”

“Every spring we get tornadoes, three months of summer, and then it’s freezing again.”

“What about fall Mom? Autumn is my favorite time of year.”

“Too cold! It’s either freezing cold out, or snowing. I don’t know which I hate more – yes I do – I hate the cold more!  These winters are so darn long! Everyday for seven months it’s either freezing cold or snowing and almost freezing. I know why the bears hibernate now. They have some sense about them. We’ve got months of this crap!”

“Ma…the sauce smells great, can I get a piece of “Dago” bread and dunk it in?”

“You just wait for supper it won’t be long. Besides, your dad will be here in about half an hour.”

“Wow, that’s early for him.”

“Yeah well, you’d better get out there with a shovel…you know how crabby he gets if the walks aren’t shoveled.”

“I know. How about a cup of hot chocolate?”

“Oh crap, why don’t you wait until you’re done shoveling?”

“Okay, sheesh, sorry.”  

Winter Vibes

After School

“I’m home Ma,” I said loudly as I threw my books on the couch.

I walked toward the kitchen where she was stirring the spaghetti sauce that had obviously been simmering all day, I knew because of the wonderful smell.  I really love that warm, comfortable aroma.

“Isn’t the snow beautiful, mom?  You can’t complain about today’s weather.  It’s 27° almost freezing.”

Freshly fallen shroud of snow.....
Freshly fallen shroud of snow…..

“You don’t know me very well, I can complain about it if I want to, remember I’m from Louisiana where it’s always warm or hot!”

“But Ma’…they also have hurricanes.”

“Every spring we get tornadoes, three months of summer, and then it’s freezing again.”

“What about fall Mom?  Autumn is my favorite time of year.”

“Too cold! It’s either freezing cold out, or snowing.  I don’t know which I hate more – yes I do – I hate the cold more and these winters are so long!  Everyday for seven months it’s either freezing cold or snowing and almost freezing.  I’m glad we don’t get the freezing rain though because that is the worst. That stuff really causes problems. I know why the bears hibernate now.  They have some sense about them.  We’ve got months of this crap!”

“Ma…the sauce smells great, can I get a piece of “Dago” bread and dunk it in?”

“You just wait for supper it won’t be long.  Besides, your dad will be here in about half an hour.”

“Wow, that’s early for him.”

“Yeah well, you’d better get out there with a shovel…you know how crabby he gets if the walks aren’t shoveled.”

“I know.  How about a cup of hot chocolate?”

“Oh crap, why don’t you wait until you’re done shoveling?”

“Okay, sheesh.  Sorry.”