Rooster Today, Feather-duster Tomorrow

A concise read providing a useful perspective on challenges you may encounter. Read on. Take a sip of rooster coffee.

strategic teams

I thought I would share a saying with you from my time as a CEO in local government.

“Rooster today, feather-duster tomorrow” recognises how your effectiveness is seen in different places. You are you, but somehow, as you move from job to job, or situation to situation, it either goes well or it goes horribly wrong. Sometimes too, you are indifferent and become just one of the crowd.

We all know about roosters: they generally stand out because of their plumage, are different from the crowd and strut their stuff (whatever that really means). A rooster’s tail feathers can make a wonderful looking feather-duster, though. This scenario applies regardless of your gender.

So, as the CEO at one local government, you are the rooster that can do no wrong. The Council think you are great, staff admire your leadership and the community can’t get enough of you.

Then, when you…

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Burn after seeding and other Black Spruce stuff — bridgesburning

I spent a couple of delicious hours yesterday at my library, soaking up the ambiance as well as a cranberry scone and black coffee, perusing the newspaper and a copy of Canadian Geographic, and came across this article:From Canadian Geographic I did not succeed in taking a ‘readable photo, but the article says that the […]

Burn after seeding and other Black Spruce stuff — bridgesburning

Manuel Labour: Short Story from the Series : Tool

photo on pexels by Tiracahuad K




“Where’s that illegitimate son of yours?”  Gerry asked Oddie proving that even though he was the site supervisor – no one at head office even thought of sending Gerry an email.

“Ricky’s time in the trenches of physical labour came to an end on Friday,” said Oddie. “It was stupid that he couldn’t wait until we at least finished the project.”  

“Fuck.  Where we gonna get another guy to replace Ricky?  Not that he was any good,” said Gerry.  Oddie ignored the fact that Gerry was ignorant of the skill level of his own team. 

“What he tell you, eh?” Gerry fished for intel.

“Never said nothing about his next job,” Oddie lied in Gerry’s dialect.  “Thought maybe you would know.  He go to head office?”  

No one was surprised Ricky sped off in his shiny blue Rubicon Jeep to see if his genes resonated with being the heir apparent to Sandoval Developments.  Oddie would stay in his little framing world and go back to taking the bus home after work.

“Who the fuck hires these people? Why can’t HR just bring em onsite for an hour and I can see what they can do.  No resume, no cover letter no fake interview with some fuckin HR pencil pusher who can’t hammer of fuckin nail.  Just skills on display,” said Gerry.  The angry version of Gerry was preferable to the non angry one.  In his non angry mode he would walk around looking for something to be wrong.  It was annoying and got in the way of getting work done.  Angry Gerry would stomp over, yell, lose his train of thought which flustered him so he would kick or throw something and then sign of with his signature insult,

“Quit playin with yourselves and get to work.”

Gerry had trouble distinguishing between getting to work and delivering results.  As long as he heard hammering hammers, sawing saws and guys swearing at each other he felt his job site was a well oiled machine.  

Gerry’s therapy was driving to the lake as it woke to the grind of the city. His coffee would sit slightly tilted on the hood of his pick up and his purple e-cigarette in his hand.  This morning Gerry saw a dead raccoon washing up on the beach this morning – half out of the water on its back.  Probably been rolling in the wee waves dead 2 days.  Gerry thought raccoons had a bad reputation.  Though their urban interface (shitting on people’s roofs, raiding their garbage) made them deserve it.  

But they were fabulous animals he would tell anyone if they would listen.    He heard some people had them as pets.  He admired the dexterity of their nimble black paws. He thinks they would be great on the job site.  If you could train a raccoon, or a pair of them, to bring you materials and tools and hardware they could scale the skeleton of the house so quickly and not drop anything from those clawed mitts.  The crew would laugh at him if he mentioned it.  If Tim would say it, it would be a hilarious lunch time idea. But if Gerry said it, it would be sick, cruel and pathetic.  

Gerry didn’t like the version of Gerry they associated him with.  He wanted a different Gerry.  His wife wanted a different Gerry too.  And that is why she up-and-left-him.  He knew her affair started before the divorce.  But their marriage was dead way before that.  Good thing they didn’t have kids forcing the kid to bounce between parents on weekends.  But Gerry would have loved taking a son or a daughter to Manitoba in the summer to visit grandma and grandpa and to fish.

“You see that guy over there in the orange hard hat – that’s the new guy,” said Oddie.  “He has three years experience in wood and metal framing, he’s done roofing.”  Oddie knew he would have to sell Gerry the idea of Octavo so he just kept talking.  “Just fuckin look at his pouch.  He showed up on time.  It’s all good.”

“Did HR send him over?  Why didn’t I hear about this?” asked Gerry. “What’s his name?  Where’s he from?  Does he speak fuckin English?”  

”He comes recommended,” said Oddie, deflecting Gerry’s undercurrents of racism and pettiness.  

Oddie didn’t tell Gerry that Ricky had told him last Monday that it was his last week.  In case Oddie had a friend he wanted to give a job.  So Oddie asked Manuel if he knew anyone looking for work.  Oddie, Manuel and his buddy Octavo met for beers last Friday.

“I was eight of eight chilren,” said Otcavo. “My mama tol me something was differen when I was born.  The worl after I was 7 years old se transformo,” Octavo looked to Manuel for translation.

“Transformed, I get it” Oddie translated.

“I was a really organize chil, really really. I organize my toys. Then. I don’t play … ya no.

“Anymore,” said Manuel.

 I no play, only organize. Then all eyes turn to grandmama. Grandmama is huesera.”

“What’s a wasibera?” asked Oddie.

“Huesera menso. It’s a healer; of bones.” 

“She tell my mom I need to wash my brain so I drink garlic crudo and fuckin rábano.’

“It’s a small red raice,” said Manuel 

“Radish?” says Oddie.

“Horible, they mix with olive oil. Sometime with miel, honey. “

“Did it help?” asked Oddie.

“HA. I try.  I hide my simptomas so they think it improve so I drink less garlic and rabano,” said Octavo.  “My grandmama say I have sindroma de Tourette.  Everyone now more raro than me.”
“Weirder than me,” clarified Manuel.

”Shit,” said Oddie leaning back, nodding his head.  They all take a drink from their pint of beer.  Manuel’s anxious brown eyes meet Oddie’s pensive brown eyes.

“So what was your thing?” Oddie asks, then simplifies his question. “Your routine?” 

Octavo nodded at the table and gestured like a flight attendant to give Oddie an example.  Octavo’s beer was exactly in the centre of the coaster, the coaster was exactly in the middle of the plank of wood on the picnic table and the coaster was exactly halfway between the umbrella post in the middle and the edge of the picnic table.

“It feel good, you know, to get tal cual.”

“Just right,” said Manuel.

“But then it molest me that your beer,”  Octavo points to Oddie. “And his beer not in the place correct,” Octavo smiles and drinks.

“Physical labour lets him express all the things it makes him need,” said Manuel.  “You know what I mean?”  

“He needs to keep his hands moving so he can hide the … ,” Oddie said, beginning to grasp Octavo’s struggle.

“Tourettes,” helped Manuel.

“Tourettes,” repeated Oddie.

“Quieres más?” asked Octavo, finding Oddie’s comprehension therapeutic. 

“Mas,” said Oddie.

“Como nino I organize todo. Cars, size y color y funcion and speed. My cloth always fold tal cual por color según el arco iris – rainbow. Cantuerraba sin parar.

“He hummed all the time,” said Manuel.

“I had 10 years ol, in school they knew I was differen. Teachers protec me from los matones.”

“From the bullies,” said Manuel.

“Rechine los dientes, apreté los dientes” said Octavo.

“I don’t know.  He grabbed his teeth really hard,” said Manuel. 

“Headache.  I stop school for work,” said Octavo.

“Shit,” Oddie’s admiration of Octavo suspended the moment. “Bro you are brave.”

Octavo froze till Manuel translated.

“Eres valiente.”

“Valiente,” repeated Oddie.

Gerry was happy with what he saw so far from whatshisface.  The crew received Octavo without missing a step. Within 30 minutes they nicknamed him Doc Oc – Spiderman’s arch villain.  Octavo loved it.  It highlighted him and not Tourettes.  Octavo worked constantly to impress his new boss and hide the Tourettes.  He wasn’t quite sure who his actual boss was: Oddie or Gerry.  

His last site supervisor had a roommate in college who had Tourettes.  The roommate took 5 times as long to enter and leave their apartment with all his idiosyncrasies and routines that he had to complete before the door was sufficiently closed, locked, double checked and the key in its proper place.  It was the tidiest and most organized apartment you’d ever seen.  They discovered that chicks loved it so Octavo and his roommate worked it in their favour to invite women over for a few drinks and any extracurriculars they could agree upon.  

These good memories meant the supervisor sponsored Octavo’s presence on the job site.  The crew hammering in studs and installing headers didn’t have the same breadth of humanity.  According to them, a man in their world didn’t suddenly yell for no reason or constantly ‘correct’ the arrangement of their tools.  These were issues the foreman took up with the site supervisor.  The foreman got Octavo booted off.  

Octavo didn’t know or care what the real excuse was, as if excuses were real.  Usually they complain about speaking English or certifications in case the inspector shows up. 

Octavo wasn’t about to justify his chemical torment. It painfully didn’t matter, people’s overbearing ignorance relegated his life to the bargain bin of souls with the schizoids and the otherly afflicted.  For whatever reason the genetic gods graced him with Tourettes.  He was Tourettes and Tourettes was him. No small minded pendejos could corrode his dignity.  

Manuel Labour is a Short Story in the Series: Tool from Kevin McNamara

Guy Wire – A Short Story from the Series: Tool.

Photo by William Wendling on Unsplash

Mondays and Fridays Tim drops the refilled ziplock bag of pistachios onto the lunch table in the jobsite trailer.  Manuel picks at them during their 30 minute lunch.  Oddie prefers them like dessert.  Those hard shells, the dry mauve-coloured skin and the light green flesh: only an idiot would say he couldn’t feel the resonance they shared from the simplest plastic bag. It is the kind of love that is shown not spoken.  It is a need and not passion.  It is reliability.  It is salty healing and $2.75/pound of brotherhood. 

“I was the guy who wore his pyjama bottoms to school with a wad of gum stuck in his pocket,” said Tim.

So..? said Manuel.

“Two weeks in a row,” said Tim.

“That’s commendable and disgusting at the same time,” said Oddie.

“Yo bro just by looking at your low budget face I can tell you were the guy who punctured the principals tires on the last day of school,” said Tim.

“No, that wasn’t me.  I was the guy in high school that put my shoulder pads on backwards at the first football practice.  They fuckin had a fuckin field day with that all season,” said Oddie.

“Bro – how did you not notice your shoulder pads are on backwards?” said Manuel.

“I know.  But I am glad they did because it made me see wanting to be part of the football crowd was fuckin futile.  Once I started making money in the summers driving dump truck and showin up to school in my fuckin steel blue camaro those fuckers could fuck off and die.  Chicks just opened that passenger door and slid in oozing sex and sexy,” said Oddie rekindling his high school status.

“Whoa, big man on campus,” says Manuel. 

“What’s the fuckin difference between sex and sexy?” asked Tim.

“Dude.  That is the whole fuckin point.  It’s like what ice cream is to gelato,” said Oddie, liking how that sounded but not even sure what it meant.

“What the fuck does that mean?” said Manuel.

“Bro.  Despite the fact that Oddie has the poetic tact of a parking ticket he is right,” said Tim

“I am lost,” said Manuel.

“If you don’t know what it means, start asking around for a good divorce lawyer,” said Tim.  

“I’m not even married yet.”

“Not on paper.”

“Everyone shut up. Shut up.  Ok.  Sex. and Sexy.  This is how it works.  XY is a boy and XX Chromosome is a girl. We all know that one right?  Or were you too high in biology class?”

Tim shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows to enter a guilty plea.

“So when a guy, hopped up on hormones, looks at a woman he sees XX – he sees sexx.  With two xx’s.   But she feels what she is offering is sexy.  Ya see what I’m saying? When she goes out lookin for love,  she has on her XY glasses.  She has to inhale bad cologne and swat aside the sleazy pick up lines in the search of the right pickle for her grilled cheese.”

“Even coming from you bro that made no sense,” said Tim.

“Oddie don’t worry, you have a future writing romance novelas,” said Manuel.

“But did you know the whole genetic code is being uncovered so you can live like 150 years.”

“Bro – genes and chromosomes are not the same thing,” said Oddie.

“For our purposes I don’t think it really matters,” said Tim.

“What are you a doctor bro,” said Manuel.

“Actually, I wanted to be a doctor.  But I can’t deal with seeing blood or causing people pain and all that shit ya know,” said Oddie.

“So be a chiropractor or something,” said Manuel.

“Naw.  That is all hourly wage stuff,” said Oddie.

“And framing …?” said Tim.

“Ya but I got plans,” said Oddie lowering his voice even though there was no one else in the trailer.  “I’m not going to stick around with these jokers longer than I have to.”

“But bro – the pay is regular and the work is constant – what’s the issue?” said Manuel.

“Gerry,” said Oddie.

“Forget Gerry,” said Tim. “He’s an idiot whose ambition is to be an assohle.”

“That’s my point.  If Gerry is running one of your job sites, what does that say about your company,” said Oddie.

Out of his peripheral vision Tim saw Manuel look over at him.

“Did you have this conversation with sleek Reek before he left,” asked Manuel. 

“Not in so many words,” said Oddie.

“What does Ricky care – he is set for life,” said Tim tossing a few pistachio shells on the ground.

“Listen,” said Oddie.  “Guys, if we don’t look out for ourselves …” then Gerry opened the door to the trailer and yelled even though the guys were right there,

“We can’t get the skid steer back there behind the house to support those trusses and the neighbour is being a dick.  We are gonna have to do it by hand,” said Gerry, putting an end to their lunch.

“We need to use the guy wire,” said Manuel, trying to offer expertise.

Tim glanced at Oddie.

“Guy wire!  Are you setting up a tent for a wedding reception we don’t know about?” said Oddie.

“Dude – it’s called a come along.  You do know the difference,” said Tim.

“Sure, dude.  It’s a language barrier.  You guys think I understand everything but no,”  said Manuel.

“Let’s get on it.  It’s gonna rain later,” said Gerry holding the door open.

Tim stood up smiling to himself and said to Manuel:

“Yo – wire guy – why don’t ya – come along?”

The World of the Thinking

A little writing that leaves the taste of tequila in your mouth

Brian Cook's Blog

As usual, Carter set a blistering pace. In less than thirty minutes he’d introduced himself to over one hundred patrons of the bar, inviting each one over to the table for a birthday drink. Each bartender got a brief visit and a generous tip. He ascended the bandstand and made the acquaintance of each member of Fleetwood Macaroni. His rapid circumnavigation of the establishment complete, he sat down with a contented sigh. No congressional candidate stumped harder than Carter when a good time was at stake.

The sunburned customers crowding the establishment still irritated Rudy. The tequila trickling through his brain hadn’t done its job yet. He hadn’t stopped thinking. That was what they were all here for. Right? To stop thinking for a while.

So he tried. He tried not to think about the anglers in the photographs on the wall. He tried not to think about the mounted…

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Short Story – Knock It Off

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels


Sandoval, pointing his tanned index finger from atop the conference room table, told his VP of development Andrea to make sure there was a fresh shitter on site for when the engineer visits.  Andrea emailed Andre the project manager to take care of it.  So Andre texted Gerry the site supervisor to take care of it.  Sitting in his pickup truck in the curving line of the Tim Horton’s drive thru waiting for his large double double coffee Gerry got an idea.  He was going to get Ricky to take care of it.  Ricky has this inborn arrogance that makes it seem when he asks you for something it is more like a fact than a favour.  But Gerry was scared of Sandoval’s son Ricky one on one. 

“Hey I need one of you two geniuses to order a new port-a-potty.”

“What the fuck for?” said Oddie.

“Don’t those guys just show up on schedule every like ten days?” 

“Ya, well it’s potty time,” said Gerry, making Oddie smirk.

“Fuck that farmer Joe, that’s your job and you know it.  You’re trying to pawn that off on us because you don’t have the huevos to do it yourself,” said Oddie.  In mid sentence Oddie remembered that it really annoyed Gerry when someone threw in phrases from their mother tongue.  Spanish wasn’t his mother tongue but it still slid the job. 

“You tell Ricky he has to order the new shitter,” said Oddie, imposing on Gerry the 4 inches taller he was to punctuate his point; then walking off.  

Gerry was fuming because he didn’t have what these assholes did. Oddie had an x-factor.  He had a way to receive a problem and without doing anything crazy; without yelling and droppind f- bombs all over the job site, he got stuff done.  50% Mike Holmes + 50% Macgyver but with better hair than both of them.   Ricky had money. 

“We make that dumbass’s life way too easy,” said Oddie, including Ricky.  “Dude I’m getting tired of Gerry not givin me any recognition.  Does the office even know I exist?  What Gerry should do is tell his superiors that Oddie is a man who can think on his feet and is great with managing people on the job site,” said Oddie with Ricky nodding his head and just trying to stay neutral.

~~~

Oddie didn’t like complaining to Trina but he needed to vent.  Trina was more surprised at the level of pettiness than bothered to have to hear about work drama from her boyfriend.  She told him “Just speak your mind on the job site.  But do it in a way that highlights your  ability and your effort. Especially in front of that Ricky in case he can go over Gerry’s head and say something to his dad.”  

“Just look at how I basically transformed Sandoval’s son into a young man who believes in his ability to do shit.  He is outgrowing that insecure spoiled brat his dad dropped into Gerry’s lap and Gerry passed off to me,” said Oddie to Trina as he cooked dinner.  She looked up from building the app on her laptop and saw his afro grazing the bottom of the stove fan and wondered how a hard hat could actually stay on his head all day without falling off all the time.  

“Gerry is such a weasel.  The least he should do is throw a few gift certificates my way:  $200 for a nice steak dinner,” Oddie talked to himself while seasoning the onions.  He liked how the grains of rock salt gave his finger tips a mini massage.  He loved the sweet fragrance of frying onions but today he couldn’t smell anything because he was stewing in his own thoughts. “Ya know, Gerry is like a house cat: he is afraid of the outside world,” said Oddie.  

The outside world for Gerry is anyone under 30 years old, an assertive woman, anyone whose first language isn’t English, doesn’t approve of his e-cigarette or has creativity and leadership.  

~~~

When Ricky ordered the new port-a-potty he got the day wrong.

“Where’s the fuckin port-a-potty Ricky!” said Gerry inviting cardiac arrest.

“What’s that Gerry?” said Oddie.  “You’re not happy with how someone else did your job for you?  Then instead of sucking on your phallic e-cigarette why don’t you dial Justin Time?”

“Ricky!” yelled Gerry.

“Sup Gerry,”  said Ricky, taking off his orange hard hat and wiping his forearm across his forehead.

“Where’s my fuckin port-a-potty?”

Oddie took a step back and watched as this moron turned purple in the face thinking that we waste so much of our emotions on such silly things. 

“I dunno Gerry, I ordered it so it should be here.  Relax, the engineer doesn’t get here till tomorrow, right?” said Ricky with his moneyed coolness.

“Fuck it,” said Gerry as he pulled his cell out of his pocket and called Justin Time for himself.

“What!” Gerry yelled at his cell phone pacing down the suburban street where they were putting up new 5,000 square foot homes in a cul-de-sac.  “I need that port-a-potty here today.  Now.”

Gerry got to the job site at 6:15 the next morning just in case their port-a-potty was the first delivery of the day.  He leaned on his truck, took a pull off his e-cigarette and a sip of his coffee.  The morning in the cul-de-sac was cool and quiet and the sky was clear.  For some reason he looked over his shoulder in time to glimpse two deer bound down into the ravine.  He thought of just quitting and moving back to Manitoba and taking care of his parents.  He felt guilty everytime he e-transfered money but wasn’t there to help out.

“Gerry looks like shit, how do you think he slept?” said Oddie in a mock conversation with Ricky so Gerry could totally overhear it.

“Fuck you.”

“It’s just a toilet,” said Oddie.

“What’s his problem?” said Ricky, putting on his gloves.

“Last year Gerry phoned Justin Time yelling at them, droppin f-bombs that he needed a new port-a-potty right away because Jean was totally hungover and he puked all over the inside of the port-a-potty.  It was a stinkin hot August day and the shitter smelled like shit.”

“What happened?” said Ricky adjusting his safety glasses.

“Their boss called someone at our office who emailed Andre who yelled at Gerry.  So Gerry is ashamed to talk with them.”

“Did they give you a new port-a-potty?”

“No.  Gerry made Jean clean it up.  After telling me to do it of course. I told him to go to hell.”

The engineer is scheduled to arrive at 9:30 a.m. and the architect should arrive around then too.  Andre the PM was already on site and looking pleased with the progress.  

No one thought to reschedule the lumber delivery so Peter from Access Lumber was walking on site with a purchase order in his hand and trivia in his head. 

“Where do you want me to put it down?  Same place as last time,” said Peter.  His last delivery to this site was about two months ago.

“Who are you?” said Andre.

“Access Lumber bro,” said Peter.  

Oddie started to hum a song that made Ricky giggle but a glare from Gerry shut them down. 

“Why is he here?” asked Andre.

“I need the lumber or my guys are gonna be just sittin around all day playin with themselves,” said Gerry in an attempt to sound like a decision maker.

“What’s your name?” said Andre.

“Pete,” said Peter quickly while taking a step forward.

“Ok Pete,how fast can you get that lumber unloaded?” Andre asked Peter.

“I can be pullin outta here in 90 minutes if nobody gets in my way,” said Peter.

“It’s 8 am.  I need you outta here in 60 minutes.  These guys can help you,” said Andre motioning to Oddie and Ricky.

“That’s right Peter of Access Lumber.  We are at your service.  We got 60 minutes together,” said Oddie with a wry smile.  Andre could tell there was something going on between these guys but he didn’t care.  He wanted the lumber offloaded and this guy off his job site before the engineer arrived. 

“Get it done Oddie,” said Andre.  With that comment Oddie felt that the people in the office might know that he wasn’t a bobblehead like Gerry. 

“Why the fuck is everyone so tense becaue of one fucking engineer?” Ricky whispered to Oddie.  Oddie was directing Peter to back up the truck onto the front lawn, chewing it up a bit more. 

“Ya I know.  It’s complicated,” said Oddie.  Ricky had learned the vocabulary of evasion on site when the guys didn’t want to talk with him about shit the company did or rumours about his dad.  Ricky stood between Oddie and the space to get out from the back of the truck with a stance that declared that he was not his dad.  “Dude.  Now’s not the time,” said Oddie.

“Is this guy a real fuckin hard ass or what,” said Ricky walking with Oddie.

“No.  Not really.  She’s pretty fair from what I understand.  Not being an engineer myself.  She just doesn’t take bullshit – and therein lies the issue,” said Oddie.

“Right,” said Ricky as they walked around the truck.

“Now level out that area where the plywood goes.  And I want the 2 by 4’s over there,” Gerry gave redundant instructions to Oddie and Ricky who already knew what the drill was.

They got the lumber offloaded and Peter pulled onto the street at 9:15 and he sat in his truck doing paperwork or on his phone.

“I just got a message from the engineer.  She can’t make it today” said Andre.

“Fuck me,” said Gerry.

“Not today,” said Oddie.

“So when?” asked Gerry.

“We’ll let you know.  Just keep on schedule and don’t fuck up or we’ll have to tear everything down,” said Andre. 

Gerry was exhausted.  “I’m goin for coffee,” but then he saw he was already holding a large coffee in his hand.

Peter jumped down from the cab of his truck and walked across the street to the job site.  

“Hey guys,” Peter said.

“Is that you Peter?” said Oddie.

Peter loved his job because he would visit different job sites all the time and could use the same trivia on all of them but get a new reaction each time. He ached to overcome his sense of lack of accomplishment as a man by bringing his own Jeopardy show where he is the host and the contestant.  He just kept talking when the guys rolled their eyes or he heard others laugh at him.  He was like a comedian who came to practise his routine on the guys before going on stage. 

“Brother, I think you’ll like this one,” started Peter. “The original Zeppelin, the LZ 127 Graf…” 

Oddie got a kick out of giving Peter a hard time but also admired his spirit to do his thing regardless of what others think.  And he occasionally had a good story to tell.  He  was pretty sure the trivia Peter came up with was determined by his children’s homework assignments.  Ricky now used wrist braces because his wrists weren’t used to the framing.  He pretended he was adjusting his braces so he could listen to Peter.

“Knock it off guys.  Get to work?” said Gerry, breaking up Peter’s seminar on airships.

Oddie laughed to himself and started singing so Peter could hear as he walked to his truck:  

“There’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off.  There’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off – there’s a dozen on my cousin I can hear the fuckers buzzin, there’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off.”

~~~

From the Short Story Series: Tool by Kevin McNamara

IG: kevin_mcnamaraca

“With the new day comes new strength and new thought”

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©Mizou. 2022.

” WITH THE NEW DAY COMES NEW STRENGTH AND NEW THOUGHT”

Eleanor Roosevelt.

More posts on Pe blog :

Nature is “beautiful”!

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a longtime.”

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American political figure, diplomat, and activist. She served as the first lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office, making her the longest-serving first lady of the United States.Wikipedia

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Short Story – The Honest Cold

Photo by Rick J. Brown on Unsplash

“So you’re telling me you’re angry at your wife because she bought you a pair of work pants,” said Tali.

“That’s right,” said Bruno.

“No, that’s wrong.”

“They’re not the right kind,” whined Bruno.

“So what.”

“I don’t want them.”

“Who cares?” said Tali.

“I do.”

“No you don’t.”

“Fuck you.  You can’t tell me I don’t care,” said Bruno.

“Sorry.  You’re right.  You do care.  You care what the fuckin hammer heads on the job site might think of you if you aren’t wearin Carharts.  Instead of caring that your wife loves you. And wants to buy shit for you.”

Tali put on his hard hat and got up to take a leak then turned back to say,

“Bro, didn’t your dad teach you that whenever you can say yes to your wife just say yes.”

“That makes no sense.  And my dad never taught me anything about women,” said Bruno, screwing the cup back on the red thermos his wife bought him.  

“When?”

“I. Don’t. Know,” said Bruno.

“I do,” said Vanessa.

“When?”

“Never.”

“It’s not never.  It’s just not now,” said Bruno.

“I’m not waiting till I’m forty to have children.”

“Who’s saying you have to wait till you are freakin forty.”

“You’re a fuckin broken record,” said Vanessa.

“I need to feel more stable in my work.”

“Then stop getting fired,” said Vanessa as she turned and walked to the cramped kitchen.

Let go is the proper term.  And it isn’t my fault.” 

I don’t care if it’s your fault or your boss is an asshole.  Deal with it.  Your buddy Tim does.  And Manuel does.  Why can’t you?”

“I don’t work with them anymore.”

“My point exactly,” said Vanessa.

“Why can’t you stop hounding me?”  Bruno’s posture slid from tired to defeated. 

“Hounding you?!  I’m …,” said Vanessa, shocked that Bruno couldn’t see what she wanted.

“Ya.  Where are the children?” said Bruno in a falsetto voice imitating Vanessa.  “Don’t get fired,” he continued, karate chopping his right hand into his left palm.  “Tim is better than you.”  Another karate chop.  “Just say nothing to your stupid supervisor when he wants to cut corners all over the place,” said Bruno out of breath.

“You seriously think I am criticising you?” said Vanessa. 

“All I can hear is how I am not good enough for you,” said Bruno glaring into Vanessa’s back.  Vanessa spins around,

“I am supporting the man I think you are!” 

Bruno grabbed his coat and his phone and slammed the door.

‘I am not going to chase that loser’ thought Vanessa.  As she banged utensils around the kitchen Vanessa heard the pitter patter of little feet from the ceiling above her. 

Bruno and Vanessa were living in the house where he grew up.  They occupied the basement apartment and rented out the bungalow above them.  

“And if that baby isn’t crying all night, it’s running around all day – pumpum pumpum,” said Bruno about the same little footsteps that make Vanessa edgy.  But for a different reason. 

“It’s like the only thing Vanessa and I agree on these days,” he said.

“You know I know the total layout of the upstairs so in my mind when they are walking around I picture it.  I can’t turn it off.  I can’t focus on anything because as soon as they move it’s like I become their tour guide or something.  But only in my mind.”

“Take it easy bro,” said Massimo Bruno’s older brother.

“That’s the point, I wish ….  I take the wrong things easy and make easy things difficult or whatever.  Anyway that’s what Vanessa says.”  

“Ok.  Breathe Bruno.  If I had a beer I would offer you one but I don’t keep any in the house anymore,” said Massimo.

Massimo shoves his hands in his jacket pockets and leans against the frame of the open garage door of his home literally 4 blocks from Bruno’s place.  Bruno had walked here in a huff on a crisp November evening.  He loved the clean fresh air but tonight he was too busy running his revenge movie in his head of the stupid things he would do and say.

Instead of selling their parents house they had all agreed that Bruno and Vanessa would live there and pay his parents rent for the whole house while collecting rent themselves from the tenants upstairs.  Bruno would attend to the tenant’s needs or complaints with the enthusiasm and customer service of a teenage tree sloth.  Bruno and Vanessa lived there almost rent free because the rent from upstairs covered the mortgage payment.  They just had to pay utilities.  Still the mortgage was in Vito’s name, Bruno’s dad.  The plan that Vito and Massimo put together was for Bruno to buy the house in 2 years from the date of moving into the basement. Three years later Bruno was still flailing professionally and financially.  

Vanessa didn’t bring much to the table.   She had learned from her vitriolic parents that, upon their immature version of divorce, she was a commodity that had value even if she did nothing but breathe.  Up to this point she had found sufficient success with this model so that it didn’t occur to her to have initiative.  So for her it didn’t make sense to her to invest in a career if they were going to start a family and then move upstairs. 

“Bro, take her some flowers, kiss her like you love her, go for a tumble in the sack.” 

“Ya, you’re right,” said Bruno.  

Bruno let himself get drawn quickly into an abyss of fear you could see in how his eyes went distant in an instant.  The flowers were a great idea, Bruno thought, but having sex would only reinforce his place as the one guy who can’t get it done.  Massimo had seen this look many a time before;

“And find some fuckin sunshine in your day.  If there aint no sunshine in the vicinity – fuckin make your own.  Dude.  It’s life.  You’re young,”  said Massimo punching Bruno in the shoulder.   

“You have a woman who loves you, bro.  Make any mistake you want but don’t make that mistake – of not loving her.   And being loved by her.  I will slap you so hard if …”

“Ok, I get it,” said Bruno.

“We’ll see if that is true, Romeo.”

Massimo was tired of Bruno’s broken record of woe is me. 

“I really appreciate … I know I just dropped by and you’re probably about to have dinner and,”  Bruno went on.

“Dude,” said Massimo.  “This is getting old.  It’s so old it’s stale.  Ya know. Not stepping up to the plate and then complaining you’re not on base.  Bro …”

“Bro, I came here for a little commiseration,” said Bruno.

“What does commiseration mean?”

“It means, like to be, on the same page.”

“No it doesn’t.” 

“Drink wine from the same bottle?” tried Bruno. 

Massimo didn’t want to be the perfect older brother but he couldn’t help shaking his head.  In a flash he had visions of their dad and childhood; and the stupid teeenage things they did together amazingly all fitting into a few seconds in his mind.  

“Ok, so then what does it mean?” 

“Bruno.  There is no perfect time to have children.  Bro.  Make your wife happy.  Make us all happy.  Fuck – make yourself happy.  It doesn’t fuckin matter what you do!   Just get her pregnant as you do it.  That will answer 90% of your imaginary problems.”

“Ok it’s time for ….”

“You don’t have any issues?”

“Issues?”

Can you get it up?”

“Yes, I can get IT up.”

“Then are you shootin blanks?”

“Fuck if I know.”

“Well, If your Vanessa isn’t pregnant in the next 6 months you gotta get your junk analysed.  

In the cool silence of the dusk the honest cold of the night lovingly takes over.  In that bare moment teasing intimate conversations Lisa, Massimo’s wife opened the door at the back of the garage.

“Hi Bruno, good to see you.”

“Hey Lisa, you too,” said Bruno.

“Are you gonna stay for dinner? I am reheating Massimo’s for him now,”  said Lisa looking at her husband.

“Thanks Lisa, I gotta get goin,” said Bruno.

“Thanks Babe.  I’ll be in in a minute,” said Massimo before Lisa could close the door.

”You see what it is?  It’s the whole package.  It’s a marriage.  It’s a family.  It’s a circus.  Everyday there is a ton of bullshit if you are gonna count the cost.  Bro – the point is to make important things important.  If Vanessa is important to you, make her happy, give her a baby.”

—-

From the Collection of Short Stories: Tool by Kevin McNamara