nice homage to a beautiful animal
The post Lewis Parsons – Tech And Innovation Visionary appeared first on SWAGGER Magazine.Lewis Parsons – Tech And Innovation Visionary — Gym & Tonic
“I can’t believe someone would be so stupid to pay $280 thousand for a freakin NFT,” said Matt. “It’s a measly pdf.”
“Who paid that much?” said Hector.
“Eminem,” said Matt.
“He’s got too much money,” said Hector.
“They aren’t just payin for a pdf,” said Andy.
“Well that’s what they get,” said Matt.
“They are backed up by the blockchain,” said Andy.
“That does Jack shit,” said Matt.
“You don’t know what you are talking about,” bluffed Andy.
“What the fuck is a NFT?” said Hector squeezed between the other two on the work truck seat.
“It means a non refundable ticket,” said Matt as if that closed the conversation on the topic.
“No it doesn’t,” laughed Andy. Even though Matt could hear everything Andy spoke in a hushed voice to Hector on his right, “Don’t listen to that kindergarten drop out. He was so in love with Kristen what’s-her-name from the Twilight movie he quotes the movie whenever he can. But then she came out as a lesbeen and now numb nuts over there has PTSD.”
“Good morning can I take your order?” came a cute voice over the drive-thru speaker.
“Ya, can I get 3 large double doubles. Do you guys want a breakfast sandwich?” Then Andy turned back to the outdoor speaker, “I’m gonna get a bacon egger – no cheese.”
“Did you want a hash brown with that?” said the nice voice.
“What the hell,” said Andy.
“So then that makes it a combo,” said the bored voice.
“Hector, you want some chow?” said Andy.
“Ya gemme a bacon eager too,” said Hector.
“Another eager bacon,” said Andy, playing around with Hector’s accent.
“Was that a second bacon egger?” said the tired voice.
“Yes please,” said Andy then turned back towards Matt. “Yo, numb nuts, quit holdin up the line.”
“Ya make it a combo for me too. I need the grease to take my morning dump,” said Matt.
“So it’s you stinkin up my truck with beer farts,” said Andy.
“Sorry chump, that’s just your bad breath,” said Matt.
Hector laughed hard at everything.
Hating to be laughed at, Matt elbowed Hector in the ribs.
“Watch what you say, pipsqueak,” said Matt.
“I didn’t say anything. I only laughed”
Andy saw that Hector didn’t grasp the meaning of ‘pipsqueak’.”
“Pipsqueak comes from the old Ojibwa phrase meaning ‘ye of large penis’. Did you know Matt here is part native?” said Andy.
“Hector, did you know that gorgeous Andy over there is 100% dumbass?”
Being the first day of spring work the guys hadn’t been together as a group since early December so their banter was especially vigorous as a way to say ‘I missed you’. Instead of doing snow removal, for the past three winters Matt surfs in Mexico. Andy and Hector would bump into each other at the yard when they drove snow plow. As the winter wound down Andy took March off this year and Hector hung drywall with his cousin.
They couldn’t slide out the plastic cup holder because Hector’s knees were in the way so the tray with coffees and the bag of food were on his lap. Over the winter Hector had pretty much cut out coffee but didn’t want to open himself to the circus of ridicule from Andy and Matt if he ordered a green tea so this morning he just let it ride.
“Rub-a-dub-dub, where’s the grub?” said Andy rubbing his hands together as he drove. The paper bag warmed Hector’s thighs as he listened to the song on the radio. He had no idea the band was Lowest of The Low and the song was called Salesman, Cheats and Liars but he liked the tune. He had no idea Andy was asking for his breakfast sandwich.
“Oye guey, reparta la comida,” Matt translated. As he worked over the years Hector had learned English yet many sayings escaped him. On purpose Andy would use colloquial sayings in a passive/aggressive way that helped Hector broaden his vocabulary while portraying himself as cultured and wise.
“How was Parco el Escondera bro? Some big surf and a bevy of hotties?” said Andy through a mouthful of artificially round sausage.
“Que vergüenza ese pinche guey,” said Matt making Hector laugh.
“It’s Puerto Escondido. And I’m not telling you anything because then you will want to come down there one winter and you will ruin the vibe and scare off all the bikinis,” said Matt.
Hector took a bite of his breakfast sandwich, then looked to his left in expectation of Andy’s response.
“Las nenas guey, una chulada, te digo,” said Matt.
“Orale,” said Hector. Hector likes working with Andy. But Andy has this way of joking with Hector’s English that Hector can’t figure out. So he likes it when Matt speaks his Spanish to kind of even things out.
Out of nowhere Andy slammed on the horn because some idiot didn’t put on their left turn signal. He squeezed his coffee so tight with his right hand that the brown plastic top popped off and hot coffee soaked his leg and crotch.
“Asshole! Learn to drive! Even better, don’t drive at all,” yelled Andy.
“You really told him. I don’t think he is ever going to drive again,” said Matt.
“Gimme your coffee,” said Hector so Andy could dry his pants.
“Great, now it looks like I pissed myself,” said Andy, steaming.
“So what does Eminem get for $280k?” asked Hector.
“A bored monkey,” said Matt.
“Exactly. That’s what Matt sees when he wakes up in the morning,” said Andy.
“No Seriously,” said Hector.
“Google it,” said Andy. Hector pulled his phone from his inside pocket.
“Not board you Mexican midget. Bored,” said Matt watching Hector type.
Matt knew Hector was from El Salvador. Matt was born in Poland and came to Canada when he was one year old so he had no accent but spoke decent Polish.
Hector’s belief in himself as a man was in flux but his spine was strong. He loved Canada. He loved that his daughter could walk to school. He loved Matt and Andy because they looked at him with eyes that demanded results from a peer. Hector was having trouble with his wife because he was having trouble ridding himself of a third world mentality.
“How do you spell NFT,” joked Hector.
“I’ll let Andy tackle that one,” said Matt.
“Bro, it’s a cartoon!” said Hector looking at the picture of the NFT on his phone.
“Hector hermano, but actually you should see some of these NFT’s; they are like a psychedelic trip. But without the drugs. They are really cool. It’s a whole experience. Not just a static image.
“What’s the point?” says Hector.
“Money,” said Andy.
“Yes, money. But the tech behind it can root out forgeries because if you cannot connect your pdf to the blockchain it is a fake,” said Matt.
“Fake what? It’s right here in front of me,” said Hector.
“That’s what I’m sayin,” said Matt.
Andy had reached his limit of his Google search sound bites and succumbed to the most comfortable defence; “Fake news,” he said.
“Blockheads like him,” Matt motioned towards Andy, “Don’t have the mental bandwidth to grasp blockchain implications. De hecho hay un guey que me está ayudando con todo eso. Se puede ganar un chingo de dinero,” Matt confided in Hector about his investment.
Hector’s wife would pummell him and then divorce him if he were to risk their savings on a bored monkey.
He was impressed with how much Matt’s Spanish had improved. Matt just got back last week and was all tanned. He could tell Matt loved tossing around slang and swear words but it resonated as an empty cool. Plus his gringo accent made him sound like a congested substitute teacher.
“What the hell, why is Fields calling me?” said Andy looking at his phone and putting it on speaker.
“Ron, what’s up?”
“Kurdak is calling me wondering if you guys are coming today. What’s going on?” said the boss.
“Nothin. We’ll be there in like 20 minutes,” said Andy.
“Hey Ron this is Matt. First day of the season ya know. We had to find where everything was in the sea can,” said Matt.
“Where the fuck is Hector?” asked Fields.
“Right here boss,” said Hector.
“Ok good. Well, welcome back boys. And let’s get this Kurdak thing done and get outta there. He’s drivin me crazy,” said Fields.
“You got it,” said Andy.
“Should be maximum five days work,” Matt said smiling at the other guys as he leaned towards the phone on the dash.
“Five days!?” said Fields.
“Ya the ground is probably still frozen in parts at the side of the house. If we can wait a few weeks then it will probably only take three days,” said Matt trying to muscle Andy out of being team leader.
“I can’t wait any longer. I need this done. Go rent a jackhammer to break up the frozen shit,” said the boss.
“Ok,” said Andy, knowing that he would drop the guys and the tools at Kurdak’s place and spend half the morning going to get the jackhammer.
“Update me at the end of the day,” said Fields.
“Roger that,” said Andy feeling good about his position in the tug of war with Matt for the team lead.
“Hector bro, sounds like Fields is grooming you for upper management,” said Matt.
“Fields wouldn’t even recognize me if I ran him over with my car,” said Hector.
“You have a car?” said Andy looking across at Hector.
“Ya bro. Didn’t you see me all winter pull up in that blue Nissan?”
“What year is it?”
“2015. Runs pretty good. Got it off my cousin so I can pay it off by hangin drywall for him on weekends he said,” said Hector.
“Nice,” said Matt.
“Last week Fields told me Kurdak had called him like 5 times to confirm we were going to be there today because he wanted to ‘monitor our work’ is what Kurdak said,” said Andy.
“Kurdak. That’s the spooky guy that stands behind the curtains all day to watch us work?” said Hector.
“No. That’s Mrs Moosavi. She’s a whole nother kettle a fish,” said Andy.
“Do we have to go back there?” asked Hector.
“Nope. We finished her driveway in October I think,” said Andy.
“Don’t these people ever work!?” said Matt.
“Who knows,” said Hector.
“Man they come here with wads a dough and buy a passport,” said Andy, throwing around his sayings again.
“Not like Hector the Erector here who works for his money and pays his taxes,” said Matt.
“Hector the erector, is that your porn star name?” said Andy.
“Hey, there goes a Pyramid Landscaping truck. Those guys man, they work fast and dirty. They have the worst Yelp reviews,” said Matt.
“Those guys offered me a job in January,” said Andy.
“As what?” asked Matt, both jealous and curious.
“Territory Manager,” said Andy.
“Obviously you turned it down because here you are. What kind of money did they offer you?” asked Matt.
“More than what Fields pays,” said Andy
“So why didn’t you take it?” asked Hector.
“My wife sat me down and showed me the on-line reviews and she told me there must be a reason they are looking outside the company when they need a territory Manager,” said Andy.
“It must be a real shit show,” said Matt, convincing himself where he worked was alright and his feelings weren’t hurt that he didn’t get a job offer over the winter.
Shit show; Hector liked that saying. He was going to use that.
“Basically it’s sales and customer service,” said Andy. “Putting out fires and dealing with Kurdaks. I wanted the money, of course. To buy a house and stupidly chain myself to a mortgage for 30 years. But my wife told me I would have become exactly like my father. And we don’t want that for her or for me. So now I am stuck with looking at your sad faces everyday.”
“I know, I am getting these bags under my eyes,” said Matt checking out his tanned face in the mirror in the passenger sun visor.
“You sound like a woman,” said Andy.
“You look like a woman,” said Matt with an instant response.
“No seriously, you remind me of one of those women in her flowing dressing gown,” said Matt as they turned onto Kurdak’s street. “You know the 1960’s kind who sit at their boudoir with a cigarette and their Martini to put on their makeup to go out for dinner with their aloof husband,” Andy continued. “Their young daughter stares as her mother gets ready, ‘you are so pretty mommy,’ and mommy smiles to hide her sadness.”
Hector typed boodwar into google translate.
“It’s tocador guey,” Matt told Hector then to Andy he said,
“That’s a whole lot of Disney princesses you got going on in your head bro”.
“I’m an artist,” said Andy.
“You’re an idiot,” said Matt.
“Now Matthew quit teasing your sister,” said Hector in a scolding voice.
Matt turned toward Hector, “If you were a woman Hector, you would be …,”
“If Andy was a woman …,” interrupted Hector nervously.
“What are you talking about, Andy is a woman! I mean have you ever seen him take a piss? Me neither. You know why, cuz he’s gotta sit down,” said Matt.
“Now who’s got the rabid imagination?” said Andy to Matt as he put the truck in park.
Mr. Kurdak was waiting for them in his garage with the garage door up.
“Good morning Mr. Kurdak. How are we today?”
Also from the Short Story Series: Tool by Kevin McNamara is Jerry Rig
Entering the Mind by C von Hassett PURCHASE . . . Read Chapter 3 Excerpt: The View . . . Back Cover Blurb In these extraordinary teachings that speak to the way one confidently enters the mind and observes it in its natural state, C von Hassett…Entering the Mind — Riot Material
” WITH THE NEW DAY COMES NEW STRENGTH AND NEW THOUGHT”
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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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“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.
“I don’t want them.”
“Who cares?” said Tali.
“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.
“I. Don’t. Know,” said Bruno.
“I do,” said Vanessa.
“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?”
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
Picking out the one or two authors we want to work with among the many submissions we receive grows more and more difficult each year. This year was no exception. But I’m pleased to announce that we have a new addition to the Mirror World family joining us in 2022 and his name is Warren […]Introducing Warren A. Shepherd! — Mirror World Publishing
Back in November, I announced that Experiments In Fiction was going into business, and ever since, I have been working on the business side of my creative venture. If you have not already done so, please sign up for my newsletter to find out more! New publications on the horizon… I will be publishing my […]Publish your book with EIF! — Experiments in Fiction
“Oksana asked me what Haka meant,” said Oddie, “So I gave her my best version of it.”
On his first day Ricky had seen the word in black marker on the back of Oddie’s hard hat but figured it was his last name or something. That was when he hadn’t asked questions because he feared it would only have shown how little he knew.
“What is Haka?” asked Ricky.
“It’s the warrior dance the All Blacks do before each game.”
“Who are the All Blacks?”
“New Zealand’s national rugby team. Watch this,” says Oddie as he stands right in front of Ricky and starts slapping his forearms as he squats and shouts with his tongue out.
“What the fuck … are you two love birds talking about now?” asked Gerry the supervisor out of breath.
“Nothin,” said Ricky.
“What in the world could possibly motivate you to get out of your truck and climb that ladder?” said Oddie.
“Sandoval is coming later today,” said Gerry, feeling awkward talking about the boss to the boss’s son. “He hates a messy job site and he will yell at me saying the minister of labour is just around the corner …”
“The Minister?” said Oddie.
“Yes the fn’ Minister of Labour is comin down here to find us,” said Gerry.
“Fine us,” said Ricky, the boss’s derelict son.
“Fine,” said Gerry.
“Ok we’ll clean up your job site Gerr Bear,” said Oddie.
“Now,” said Gerry.
Sandoval got his start in Quebec 30 years ago renovating apartments when the tenants moved out so the owners could jack up the rent. To avoid the unions in Quebec he brought his guys to Ontario. Two of his best men, Rejean and Frederick, were machines 20 years ago. They had forgotten more about how to build a house than these young guns would ever know. Frederick became a supervisor years ago but Rejean had framed himself into a corner. He told himself he couldn’t do anything else.
“Tabernac, Jerrie. Kick doze feckin punks inta gear.” said Rejean.
“Relax, Jean. I got em cleanin up the job site. Nothin you need to sweat your little French balls about,” said Gerry.
Gerry found himself squeezed between this wrinkled and weary red seal swearing at him in French and these newbie cowboys knocking in nails as they gabbed about energy. Oddie could see Gerry stressing because he didn’t have skills to get the team to work together. Oddie loved sitting back and watching Gerry squirm.
Strapping on their tool belts after tidying up the job site, Oddie wondered,
‘Why is it that some people are just so easy to make fun of?’
“Ok Gerry-atric,’ Oddie yelled down to Gerry, “Looks real cute your job site.”
“If by cute you mean tidy then get back to building my fuckin house,” said Gerry.
“He’s not coming,” said Ricky.
It took Oddie a few seconds to realize that Ricky was referring to his dad; the boss, Sandoval. Ricky obviously had the inside scoop. Oddie inched a 2 by 4 stud until it was on centre with slow taps of the side of his hammer trying to think of something to ask.
“It’s Tuesday. We won’t see him till Thursday. Chill,” said Ricky. Seeing Gerry leaning on his truck, checking his phone and pulling on his e-cigarette he said “It’s like watching a rat in a lab experiment.”
“Bro, who are you tryin to kid. Ya gotta shorten up on the handle so it will be easier to get the nail in the middle of the block. Shorten up,” repeats Oddie. “You never played baseball as a kid?”
Ricky purses his lips.
“Fuck,” said Oddie. “Gimme that thing. With all your money you couldn’t get yourself a real hammer. Who made this thing? Fischer-Price? Watch me; it’s like this.” Oddie shows Ricky and Ricky gets the hang of it.
“That’s better. Now you only look like a spaztic rookie instead of a complete moron,” said Oddie.
Oddie does anything complicated and Ricky works around Oddie. Oddie is the only one who isn’t afraid to whip Ricky into shape:
“Ricky don’t be picky – grab a couple of those lovely 2 by 4’s and let’s frame the shit outta this wall.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph Ricky. That’s not how I taught you to put in the blocking. You’re makin me look bad.”
“Ricky, you don’t have to advertise you’re a rookie. We already know.”
Ricky was still slick; hair coiffed down to the nanometre. But now his boots were nicked and scuffed; the leather on his tool belt was softening up and wrinkling. His posture was strong; his gait potent.
“Who is Oshkania again?” asked Ricky.
“Oksana. She’s Tali’s girlfriend. He says she’s his fiance but I haven’t seen any rings yet. Anyway, Saturday morning she has a Zoom call about intention. with this group of people all over the world who are into well-being. You know, healthy living. What they do is they take turns sending each other good vibes. And apparently it cures people of diseases and other shit,” Oddie loved having an audience.
“Whaddya mean intention?”
“Intention. It’s something you want. Something you want to happen. Something you want to be in the world,” said Oddie.
“What have they cured?”
“I think she said cancer but I find that hard to believe.”
“Cancer?! What… what’s her group called,” asked Ricky. Oddie feigned needing to pick up a block and looked over at Ricky who, for the first time, was radiating confidence. And purpose.
“I don’t know bro. But I’ll get that for ya,” said Oddie.
Oddie can see Ricky is just here till the waters calm between him and his family and he will move on to whatever project his father’s money can finance. In the meantime Oddie is a whole golf bag of services to the little prince; Oddie is the 3 wood of focus; the 7 iron of curiosity; the sand wedge of problem solving; the pitching wedge of nuance; the putter of belief.
“Where’s Reggie?” asked Ricky.
“You know you came along just in the nick of time. Reggie’s knees went a few years ago. Now his wrists are so shot to shit he really shouldn’t even be working. He has to take a couple of days off sometimes. So that would mean I would have to work with Rejean over there. You saved me from a long slow death.”
“What’s wrong with working with him?” asked Ricky reeling with the realization that his privileged upbringing was financed on the backs of these guys.
“I dunno. It’s just that he is so out of touch and out of shape,” said Oddie, hiking up his jeans.
Oddie could feel he was getting soft because everyday after work he would step up into Ricky’s Rubicon after putting his lunch cooler on the back seat. Now Ricky gives him a lift home when at first it used to be just to the subway.
At the traffic light a woman in cat eye sunglasses pulled up beside them in a yellow Jeep Wrangler. Ricky gave a casual three finger Jeep wave; she waved back. Oddie pushed his sunglasses down his nose to get a better look.
“Bro ….” Oddie loved this.
The yellow Jeep sped ahead while Ricky shifted into second on his own time.
“What kind of name is Oddie anyway?”
Shorten Up Ricky is from the Short Story Series – Tool by Kevin McNamara
“What the hell?” said Moe under his breath as the mall bench shook. He was ready to kick into survival gear thinking it might be an earthquake.
The guy on Moe’s left glanced at him; at his phone and back at Moe.
Realizing what happened Alex said, “Bro. Sorry.” Alex showed his cell phone screen to his bench neighbour. “I just couldn’t help it. Robin Williams man. He is crazy funny,” said Alex explaining how when he laughed so much he made their bench shake.
“Comedy. That’s some of the best therapy there is,” said Moe
“Amen to that bro,” agreed Alex.
“Oh, boy! Hnhn,” Moe laughed despite himself.
Alex had asked him why he was sitting on a mall bench waiting for his wife to appear laden with shopping bags.
“When my wife found out I had a second Instagram account she freaked. So here I am paying for it.”
“How’d she find out?” asked Alex.
‘My 6 year old daughter has a friend whose dad followed one of the accounts I followed and somehow the 2 girls outed their dads.”
“What happened to the other guy?”
They both swallowed the loneliness of being in a place with thousands of people yet feeling alone. Seeking community Alex asked;
“What’s all the fuss about shopping anyway?”
“I hate shopping,” said Moe as the elevator music played Dua Lipa.
“What is it about shopping malls; they just suck the energy right out of me?”
Ya, I know what you mean.”
“Usually I can swing it so I only have to drop them off and pick them up,” said Alex.
“I look forward to that day.”
“Hey man, I’m Moe.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Alex.”
After their fist bump it felt weird to meet someone when you are sitting down.
“What do you do for a living Alex?”
“I’m a carpenter. I’m up for my red seal in a few months. How about you?”
“I’m in sales for a loading dock systems company,” said Moe.
“It keeps me outta trouble.”
“So do you do any of those huge Amazon distribution centres?” asked Alex.
“Ya,” paused Moe, breathing life into the doubt that blocked the sun out of his life. “I put in a bid a few months ago and they should be deciding. Any day now.”
In life there are beautiful pauses. Like, just before he says, ‘Will you marry me?’ as he is on one knee outside the restaurant. This pause wasn’t beautiful; it felt like it was filled with itchy scratchy fibreglass insulation.
“How did you get into dock systems?” asked Alex.
“I hurt my back framing and couldn’t do physical work anymore.”
“You didn’t want to continue in construction?”
“You know I did but my wife kiboshed that,” said Moe.
“Hmm,” Alex looked at the shiny floor between his boots.
“Ya, I know. Sounds pathetic,” said Moe.
“I didn’t say …”
“She was right.”
“Carrie, my wife, said, I can remember it vividly. She was standing sideways at the stove. She moved the chicken in the frying pan with the wooden spoon and said,” remembered Moe. “You have two tasks: the first is to get off the painkillers. The second is to get a job that pays.”
“Shit,” said Alex looking at the floor and then at Moe who was looking up at the ceiling.
“She was right. Again. I had been shafted too many times by general contractors. And I was hooked on codeine”
“So, whadya do?” said Alex.
“I got the pills from my truck, under my shirts in the bottom dresser drawer and the bathroom and poured them all down the kitchen sink as Carrie watched me. Then, I turned on the fan over the stove as she cooked the chicken and gave her a kiss.”
“Sorry man. I shouldn’t have vomited my crazy life story. You’re gonna think I’m a…,”
“I can think for myself,’ said Alex. “So you stayed off the painkillers?”
“Ya know I did. I have.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Like 5 years. Hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Moe. “But ya know what I miss the most? Talking smack on the job site. And the smells, believe it or not.”
You mean the sweet smell when you saw a piece a lumber. Or the porta potty?” asked Alex.
“Ya right! Nothing like the fragrance of a portapotty that has been on the site for a week baking in the August heat,” joked Moe. “But with two young children ya gotta do what ya gotta do.”
“I hear ya bro,” said Alex.
“So how long till you get your Red Seal?”
“By the end of the year I’d say.”
“Cool. What keeps you motivated to keep going?” asked Moe.
Alex was getting a little weirded out by how quickly Moe could get so personal.
“Same as you. Family,” said Alex.
“But what’s in it for you?”
“I love my family bro. It gives me satisfaction to provide for them” said Alex
“I believe you 100 percent. The thing is your life can pass you by and you didn’t live it.”
Moe had touched a nerve in Alex.
“Ya know who you remind me of bro?” said Alex detouring the conversation.
“Who?” said Moe.
The sailor in that poem Ancient Mariner.”
“I thought you were gonna say someone like Mike Holmes. Who the fuck is the ancient mariner?”
“He’s the wrinkled old man who stops the young people arriving at a wedding. He needs to tell them his story. Check it out,” said Alex.
“I’ll Google it,” said Moe. “But that’s a bit of a weird reference,” he said as he was used to a different reaction to his desire to help.
“Hey man, it was grade 11 English class. Mrs. Downs. Great teacher,” said Alex.
“Nice to meet bro, take care,’ said Alex as Moe saw his wife come out of the store with children and shopping bags. ‘You’re a bit of a weird random guy I talked to in the mall’ thought Alex as he watched Moe walk away.
Alex had related the conversation with Moe to Rebecca, his wife, as they were on the drive home from the mall. As he was merging onto the highway Rebecca asked him,
“So. Is your life passing you by?”
“Ok guys, another session of Hot or Trot. You first Andy,” said Matt.
“OK, give me a second …Gigi Hadid or Scarlet Johansen?”
“All blondes! I like it bro. Gigi obviously. She’s a sultry minx,” said Matt.
“I agree,” said Hector. Matt didn’t trust Hector. Matt didn’t know why yet. Hector knew why he didn’t like Matt.
“Ok Sally,” said Matt using the nickname for Hector he takes from the fact he Hector was born in El Salvador. Nobody else uses it. “Your turn.”
“Selma Hayek or Eiza Gonzalez?”
“Hector and his smokin hot Latinas. Cheers,” said Andy.
“Who the hell is Aisha Gonzalvez?” asked Matt.
“It’s Eiza Gonzalez, you uncultured hack.”
Without hesitating Matt launches an immature missile back at Hector, “You know what the problem with …”
“Hey, Isn’t that the new guy right there,” squints Andy.
“Across the street. The guy who just came out of the fast cash place.”
The three of them look across the street and drink from their pint glass.
“Yup,” said Matt. “That’s him. He’s the guy prancing around in those Carhart overalls he doesn’t need. There he goes into that coin laundry place. Bubbles.”
“Cute name,” says Hector.
“Hector. Since when the fuck did you say something was cute?” asked Andy.
Matt, Andy and Hector were enjoying Friday afternoon beers on a patio picnic table. Monday to Thursday they worked hardscaping projects 12-14 hour days so Friday Fields, the boss, could leave the city early to beat traffic getting to his cottage north of the city.
Though they make decent coin, they do not have cottage bound incomes so they find a friendly patio and flirt like idiots with the waitress: Andy loves her perfume, Hector her eyes and Matt her boobs; all of them mentally promising a huge tip so they earn her wink as they leave. Today they were happy bread to the toaster of 4:30 pm June sun. That Tom Cochrane tune was finishing.
“Jerry,” blurts Andy.
“Jerry? Quien chingados es Jerry?” asked Hector.
“That’s the name of the new guy.”
“My man Jerry. He’s alright,” says Matt, wanting to be drunk.
“Listen guys …” Andy grabs his phone and puts a twenty on the table.
“No bro, not again.”
“Gotta go guys,” said Andy.
“But we just ordered our second pitcher.”
“I’d love to, but duty calls”
“Ya I know. I get that call all the time and I just send it to voicemail. Deal with it when I get home.”
“Not this time …,” hesitates Andy in a way that disarms all their ridicule.
“Whatever bro,” said Matt. “See ya Monday.”
Fridays are for grabbing a beer on a patio so, instead of driving to work, Andy rides the bus in the morning. Post patio Andy loves looking out the window at the scenery from the back of the Uber and disconnecting.
As the Uber waits at the light, Andy sees Jerry, the new guy coming out of the coin laundry, walking past the fast Cash place and going into the 2 for 1 pizza place. It’s pretty good pizza. But all they do is cut a regular piece into two pieces. Voilà: 2 for the price of 1!
Monday morning they couldn’t find the key to the Bobcat.
“Who the fuck has the key to the fuckin Bobcat?”
“Try Fab fuckin Fields.”
“He probably took the key Friday because he feared in a neighbourhood of homes averaging $4 million someone would steal his heavy machinery over the weekend just for kicks.”
“If he arrives and we haven’t done jack shit he’s gonna fuckin lose it.”
“Mother fucker. Start offloading the interlock up to the top of the driveway.” Fields was on his way. Driving south from cottage country he saw the calls on his Bluetooth but didn’t answer on purpose.
Using the wheelbarrow they were getting it done as if they had all just converted to being Amish. Having pulled back a bit the chiffon floor to ceiling curtains in the living room, Mrs Moosavi was observing the chaos outside her home.
“Mother fucker! Start offloading the interlock up to the top of the driveway.”
“Fuckin fields does this on purpose to reduce us to fuckin manual labour so he can justify not paying us more. He is the master of ‘an accident – on purpose’.”
“It’s brilliant and sociopathic.”
“You think that is an exaggeration but you have to see that he sets himself up to be the hero.”
“Relax. All I know is my paycheck arrives on time every two weeks. Baboom.”
Seeing that the two summer hires were setting the lines and had a handle on the task at hand Hector leaned on his rake.
“Andy, hermano, how’s your wife?” Hector loves strategically dropping Spanish into his conversation.
“What? Oh Ya she’s doin alright. Thanks for asking.”
Hector was fishing for gossip because Andy didn’t usually offer up to much info about his family like the other guys did.
Andy hesitated “My wife has serious menstrual cramps. They just knock her right out. So I can’t just sit there Friday afternoon at a bar drinkin beer while she has to get up and feed the kids dinner and keep them from destroying the place.”
“Wow. That’s brutal.”
“For her, ya. But Xochi must have to deal with that too,” said Andy.
“Ya. She and her sister, apparently their cycles are synched or something so they just talk on the phone. I bring home chocolate and ice cream and she seems to get through it.”
“Hey guys, did you need anything?” asked Jerry encroaching on the supervisor bubble.
“Ya. A medium double double and a French cruller,” said Hector.
“Ignore that ridiculous, brown gnome,” said Andy.
“Thank you brother Andy. Now. Jerry, when the Guiness Book of World Records comes searching for the smallest Canadian penis in the history of Canadian penises – you just point them in Andy’s direction, will ya?” said Hector.
“Jerry-rig it for the moment brother.”
Not a chance! Get the fuckin come-along,” said Matt.
They needed to hold the 40 foot white pine back at the side of the house to get the Bobcat into the backyard so they could resurface the pool area. Since the client couldn’t peek out from the window to see what they were doing two of the crew said fuck it just yank on the tree and if it returns to its original position great; if not then Fields and his insurance can deal with it and yell at him later.
The three including Matt said no. Either they said no because it was a lazy solution to a small problem. Or they simply feared Fields’ rath once the customer complains.
“What he meant was to get Jerry to hold it. He’s standing right behind you.”
“Ok Jerry. If you’re the arborist in the family, what do you think?”
“I can make it happen. We just need a couple boards and the hand saw and we will wedge the space open. Also the ten foot ladder,” said Jerry.
“Ok, Jerry. Make it happen. We’re gonna take lunch and need this ready when we come back. Capiche?” said Matt who today was driving the Bobcat.
Driving to Tim Horton’s with nouveau riche mansions on either side there was a Filipino nanny wheeling a stroller and walking a schnauzer. In this neighbourhood because nobody who actually owned a house walked on the street there were no sidewalks. So the babies and their nanny’s walk in traffic.
“You know my neighbour got a ticket for not pickin up his dog’s shit”
“My neighbour was telling me he got a fine for not putting his dog on a leash. Then he went on this rant saying that he was going to submit a proposal to Elon Musk.” Matt told the story:
“You know what Elon Musk should do. He should program his Nueralink chip to…
What is the fuck is a Neurolink chip my other neighboour asks.
Neuralink. I corrected the guy. You haven’t heard of this? It’s another one of his big ideas to insert silicon chips into people’s heads to monitor their thoughts and help people with diseases like MS to be able to move because they think it, the first neighbours says.
So it can listen to your thoughts and do what you want. That sounds cool I said
Ya but the government is gonna want to listen to those thoughts too. You know it’s only a matter of time said another neighbour as we stood there watching our dogs play in the dog park. Anyway, back to my idea. Have the chip geo identify with your home and then have posts, kinda like charging stations, at various points, like in parks around your municipality that you have to get within say 3 metres of every so many days. Basically making you exercise – he says.” said Matt.
What if you have a broken leg – does the chip know that? And you can’t make it.
“No you have to go,” Matt whips out his sarcasm.
“Ya, even when the snow is 2 feet deep.”
“What’s the point?”
“He is saying, my neighbour, that why penalise the people who actually are out there with their dogs getting fresh air and exercise. Make the lazy twinkies get off their couches and take their beer belly for a walk to the park at least once a week.”
“And if they don’t?”
“And if they don’t then he says there is an automatic fine of like $15- 20 bucks,” said Matt.
“Holy shit!” and they all laugh like the time Hector told them he was thinking of importing exotic birds from El Salvador.
“Big Brother doesn’t need our help.”
“We need to shut your neighbour up!” said Hector.
“Shut im up or shut im down!”
“Ya he is a bit of a nut job,” said Matt
Jerry Rig is from the Short Story Series Tool by Kevin Mcnamara
Being blinded by out dated/inherited beliefs is not uniquely American.
really useful insights.
Something in me loves a TV show about cults.
You name the group, I’ve watched the documentary — Scientology, NXIVM, The Family, Heaven’s Gate, the Rajneeshees, Branch Davidians, the Moonies, The People’s Temple.
Why am I interested?
On the one hand, I guess it’s like any genre; it’s fun to look at similarities and differences within a category. And it’s interesting to learn the various archetypes — the charismatic leader; the scary lieutenant; the miserable, brainwashed member; the courageous, but persecuted apostate.
I also like to imagine myself in the position of those who got sucked in. Would the same have happened to me?
When watching these shows, I’m often struck by how intelligent, spiritually-oriented, and impressive some of these former cult members are. I’m sure there are dumb, obnoxious ones, too. I guess they don’t make it into the documentary.
I won’t bother listing my favorite TV shows, podcasts…
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8 legged friends are good friends …:)
I always feel pretty good about myself when I relocate a spider from the house to the garden. But the experience probably feels different for the spider.
If the two of us could talk, the conversation might go like this:
“What the hell? What’s happening?”
“I’m taking you outside.”
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m taking you to the garden.”
“No! Please! No, no, no –“
“Listen, if my wife sees you in the house, she’ll kill you. The garden will be much safer.”
“No, no, no, please –“
“You’ll be fine.”
“Oh god, it feels like I’m going to pass out.”
“I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. Can you try sitting with the discomfort for a second?”
“In the human world, we sometimes say that if you — “
“NOT OUTSIDE, I’M BEGGING YOU –“
“Oh Jesus Christ, all right.”
“What just happened? You stopped walking.”
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Prompt: Picking up a hitchhiker
Include: hospital, defer, interface, experiment, beaker, visualize, mattress, skyline, interpret, zap
Through the Glass Windshield
Alice can’t remember being this bored in her life. She flops down on her bed, disturbing a pile of textbooks and papers. Her tutors seem intent on overworking her since her sister left for college as if an increased workload could keep her from her feelings. Alice wishes it could.
Bianca, the fluffy white cat her sister left behind, jumps onto Alice’s stomach and begins kneading her belly with its paws. She should shove the cat off because she’ll get white hair all over her nice blue cardigan and white dress but she doesn’t think it’s fair. Bianca is sad too.
Alice reaches her fingers out in front of her toward the peaked ceiling of her attic bedroom. Her nanny Margaret used to say “adventure lies…
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“I’m gonna start my own home services company,” declares Oddie as he and Reggie load the morning batch of 2×4’s onto the forks of the loader to lift them up to the second floor to start framing up there.
8 am on a chilly September morning, the summer heat has peaked and subsided.
Oddie imagines he is an angelic combination between Chris Rock and Lenny Kravtiz; funny and suave. If you saw him you would probably think he looked more like a cross of Kevin Hart and Danny Devito; short and obtuse.
Reggie, the ragged yet loyal employee, smirks out loud and pauses to straighten his back for a moment,
“Right you are.” The clean Spruce fragrance was a weird source of Reggie’s optimism over the years.
Oddie stands for Odd Man Out which is the lengthy nickname the forming crew gave him in his first week. They just had to look at him: his boots were too skinny, his hard hat was on crooked, his face was puzzled. He just looked odd. But he was quick on the job site.
“What’s your company called?
“I don’t know yet. It’s a service that connects the trusty handyman with homeowners needing odd jobs.” said Oddie as if it already existed.
“Right,” repeats a smug Reggie and turns to grab an armful of lumber.
Reggie loved yankin this guy’s chain. He gets so hot under the collar at the blink of an eye. With his grey gloves he touched his left index finger to his right baby finger and started counting,
“First of all, you do know there are like at least 5 of those apps out there that provide those services and seconofall they have like, just a little bit of a head start on you. Third they have millions in financial backing and…”
And .. they aren’t you.”
Reggie straightens up again and looks Oddie directly in the eyes and says nothing.
“Fuck you!” says Oddie.
“I don’t care what you think.” Declares Oddie.
“You don’t want to care but you do,” Reggie exhibits his clarity of mind as he straps on his tool belt..
“Fuck you, get to work,” Oddie orders Reggie
“Get to work, Fuck you”
“Hey Reggie, Gerry the site supervisor yelled from ground level, “Ya gotta sec?”
Reggie undid his tool belt saying under his breath “What the hell does this dipshit want now?”
Gerry was squinting up at Oddie framing in a door as Reggie got down there. Gerry starts speaking to Reggie while still looking up at the second floor.
“You have to be weird and know it to get a nickname like Odd Man Out and live with it.
And that the shoe fits says everything.”
“He loves it.” said Reggie staring at the side of Gerry’s ugly head. “We gave him a back door to being part of a team of foul mouthed framers and he took it,”
“Are you a fucking psychologist?”
“The guy needs what you need. He is shit at how to get it. About the same as you are at dropping in a plumb door header. That’s why they made you supervisor,” said Reggie.
As soon as Reggie heard Gerry say “Listen Reg.” His bullshit detector went off.
“I gotta bit of a situation. Sandoval’s son needs a job and the office threw it in my lap. You worked with him before, right?”
“That pip squeak would carry the same 2×4 from one end of the job site and hide on his phone for 30 minutes. Then carry the same 2×4 to the other side and do the same thing all over again.”
“Ya well he got in some kind of trouble. It’s either cars or drugs. Maybe both. Anyway the message from Sandoval is to keep him busy so they know someone is keeping an eye on him,” then Gerry laughs as he reads the text message he received from the office this morning. “So he learns the value of work.” Gerry looked to his right for confirmation from Reggie but didn’t get it.
A wave of humility and appreciation ran through Reggie. He realised what he already knew: that Rhonda, his wife, was his hero. She had been super strict with their son and daughter and that is why Cherise their daughter was on academic scholarship at McMaster University and their son Malcolm was in grade 10 following in her footsteps.
“He’s not the only one …”
“What’s that supposed to mean”
“What can that miserable little shit do here without fucking up my job site.”
“Ya I know,” agreed Gerry. “Wait. Let’s put em with good ol Oddie.”
Gerry pulled a purple e-cigarette from his inside jacket pocket and hauled on it.
“Oddie and I have a decent rhythm if you hadn’t noticed.”
“Listen Reg …” Hearing that phrase again Reggie just turned to walk away. “He starts tomorrow,” Gerry yelled at Reggie’s back.
Ricky parked his 2022 metallic blue Jeep Rubicon beside the portapotty at 7:45 because he was afraid that his dad would take away the Jeep if he was late. His dad was the owner of Sandoval Developments. If the forming crew thought that Oddie looked out of place, Ricky looked like he was modelling for the Home Depot website. Everything he wore was functional, just like Oddie and Reggie.
But the function for Ricky was to look good. New construction boots, tight hi-viz black sweatshirt with silver and yellow reflectors, shiny black hard hat with a Sandoval decal on the front, fresh yellow leather gloves and tinted safety glasses. He never took his ear buds out. He was instantly labelled Slick Rick. Reggie loved how this clown brought comic relief to his day.
Oddie hated working for $24 per hour for some rich fuck. He hated that the same rich fuck didn’t give a fuck for his own son. He didn’t hold it against Slick Rick. Oddie adopted him like a younger brother even though they were the exact same age.
“Bro, you’re holdin the hammer all wrong,” said Oddie.
“Ricky. What did I tell you about holding the nail between your fingers?”
“Dude, did you even put your level on this stud. From here I can see that the thing isn’t plumb.”
“Wow. Nice. Look at that. Fits perfect. Reggie did you see? Our man Slick Rick is good on the saw.”
“Dude. Look at me.” Oddie schooled limp Rick on the reality of belief in yourself. “Haven’t you realised that they think I am a freak. They have more in common with you than they do with me,” said Oddie even though it wasn’t true. As a young man lost at sea Ricky instinctively grabbed his phone to ground himself cyberspace.
People didn’t understand Oddie’s sense of tribal inclusion. In truth, neither did he. He simply felt like we are all in this together. Oddie had no reason to question because that was who he was. He also knew he needed to accomplish something everyday so he got some satisfaction. He wanted to share this.
Slick Rick was a textbook spoiled brat. A tragic teenager. His parents weren’t on the same page about children, marriage or money. His mom’s love wasn’t going to magically make him into a man. His absentee dad supplied everything but the intangibles.
Sandoval pulled up in a white Mercedes SUV to see how his son was being made into a man. To get out of the vehicle would have been to break the macho archetype he loved more than his son. The back seat tinted window came halfway down. Ricky looked at Oddie, looked at his phone, undid his toolbelt and climbed down to talk to the tinted window.
Reggie and Oddie unabashedly stood at the edge of the second floor watching the father/son debacle.
“For the last 15 or so years Sandoval has shown he doesn’t give a fuck about the well fare of his own son,” said Reggie.
“Dude, we are providing a babysitting service to Richie Rich,” Oddie said to Reggie. “The fuckin father needs to know that.” Reggie looked sideways at Oddie and said,
“You are not going to pity Richie Rich. That’s not gonna pay your bills much less fulfil your crazy dream of your Odd Man app.”
Oddie nodded at Reggie’s name for his odd jobs by a handyman app.
“Ya bro. Or do you want to be in the business of handy jobs?” Reggie laughed at his own joke.
Odd Man Out is from the short story series Tool by Kevin McNamara