Walk with Me

PostModernEpilogue: Willkie Coop Reunion:Tina

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on October 7th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

The Long & WindingRoad Tonight the light of love is in your eyes, But will you love me tomorrow? She snapped off the CD player.  Daydreaming out  the window,  she saw the little girl go down on the rough concrete of the Playground and now blood was trickling down from her knee.  Another girl had pushed her; it didn’t look deliberate just a friendly push, you can’t keep them from playing rough at  times.  Maybe they had taken this anti-bullying thing too far.  They liked to play rough at times and you couldn’t stop it.   Katie, the teacher with playground duty today,  took some wipes out her purse and staunched the  blood on her knee and pointed toward the Nurse’s office on the second floor of the school.

She took out the supplies from the medical cabinet: rolled gauze, medical scissors, antiseptic, and tape.  She laid it out on the table.  The teacher probably didn’t need to send the little girl upstairs to the nurse for this kind of scrape, but they were using any kind of excuse to send her to the Nurse’s office these days.  It had all started about six weeks ago.

The Principal had asked Tina, the little girl’s teacher, and the School Counselor together for a meeting.   The Principal said, ” I thought that we would evaluate the facts on the ground.”    Tina had heard him use that phrase before, “facts on the ground”.  Had he been in the military?  The Principal also liked to say,”I know my people.”   And he did, he had been born here, and except for college, had lived and taught in the county his whole life.   Longer than Tina, she had only lived here for fifteen years.

The principal asked the teacher to start.   The teacher said that she had noticed some ugly purple bruises on the little girl’s upper arms.  When the teacher  asked her what had  happened.  She had told her that some rough kids in the mobile home park had thrown her around in a touch football game.  That didn’t sound plausible to the teacher so she sent her to Nurse K to have her look over the bruising.

Tina thought about the first time the little girl had come though her office door.  The little girl had long dark brown hair, and Tina had noticed immediately how  it was cut, the layering was so skillful, it lay so beautifully.  She had a small nose and a gap toothed smile.   Tina asked, “Tooth fairy been visiting.”   The little girl smiled.   Tina examined her arms and asked her how it had happened.  “We started playing touch football, but it turned into tackle.   When I had the ball, those rough boys started to swing me around by my arms,it went a litltle crazy” the little girl said.   Tina, “Was your Mom upset?”      “A little , but she says you have to fight back, don’t be a wimp.”

When Tina drifted  back into the meeting the school counselor, a smug women who had married into a prosperous farm family, was speaking.   The counselor said the little girl’s mother was a  hair stylist over in town.  She was a very popular stylist.  The counselor knew this because she had been trying to get an appointment with her .   She said that she was popular with the cowboy hat set over at the country western bar, AfterHours. The Counselor said that she had seen her riding on the back of a Harley with   long dark haired guy.

Tina wondered what that meant. She didn’t like where this was going.  She had ridden on the back of some Harleys in her time.  She was a young women looking to have some fun while she still could.  Still you couldn’t overlook those bruises.  You had to take that serious.

The Principal asked Tina for her evaluation.   Tina,” Their were serious bruises on her arm.  The kind of bruises that  are compatible with abuse,  hard shaking, but there were no bruises around her neck, or anywhere else.   The football story was believable.   I don’t think that we have enough to make a referral to Child Protective Services.”   The Principal, who had been born in the county, and had a lot of experience, said, “Because you have a Harley doesn’t make you an outlaw, and some bruises don’t necessarily mean child abuse.  Let’s keep a good close watch on the situation.  The teacher from the prior year said that he had never seen any problem.”      Tina thought for a second second that he was going to say “Let’s keep a good eye…”      The Principal, “Meeting adjourned,”

Now here she, the little girl, was standing in her doorway with blood trickling down her knee.   The little girl, “Nurse K, I…”        Tina , “I know,I saw it.”   “Katie Jacobs pushed me when I wasn’t looking,” the little girl said.      “I’m sure she didn’t mean it.”

Tina, “Come over here and let’s bandage that knee. “   She sat on the stool as Tina applied a wet wipe and cleaned up the wound and applied the antiseptic.  She pressed the gauze on to the scrape and laid the first strip of tape over the knee.   “Bend your leg a little.”   Tina made a small crease in the tape so the bandage would adjust to the movement of the knee  joint.  Her bandages never sagged. It was a good job.  She was proud of her bandaging skills.   That came from experience.

To Be Continued

“Looks like your Mother cut your air,” Tina said.  Tina swung the stool around to look at the back of her head.  “wow, that’s some great cut.”    Tina ran her fingers through her hair as she looked at her neck for any bruises.  Thanks God, none there.   She twirled back around and checked her upper arms.  “Looks like all those bruises are all healed up,” Tina.    The Little Girl, “I love your blonde hair, it’s the color of corn on the cob.”   Tina laughed, “Thanks, I think, but that there  is too much gray in it.”     The Little Girl, “Mommy can cure that.”    Tina, “I bet she can, I hear that she is a very good stylist.”   Tina thought, I may have some gray, but I still have my figure, more than could be said for many a gal in this county.

As Tina was finishing off the bandaging, the Little girl asked, “How do you become a nurse?’    Tina, “You have to go to college.”      The Little Girl, “They talked to us about thinking about going to college?  What’s college, do you have to go away, what’s it like?”

“You can, but you can live at the University too.  I went twice.  The first time, I wasn’t serious,  it was in Bloomington,,”   Tina.     “That’s far away, isn’t it ? Where’d  you live?” The Little Girl.

“I lived at Willkie Co-op.  It was a cooperative residential dormitory.   The guys lived in one building and the girls in the other.  We shared meals and took care of all our own housekeeping chores: serving and dish cleaning and vacuuming.   It was wonderful fun.  The people I knew were close to each other. They were the best kind of people.”    This was bringing back some memories, she steered the conversation back on to going to college.   “The second time, I went in California, that was different , I had kids then , but I knew I wanted to be a nurse, I got through it, I stuck with it.”   This brought back some memories too.   There had been some rough time in California, she had got real low out there.   “Then I moved back to Indiana, and I’ve been here ever since.”    Tina dropped the stool down and patted the little girl on the shoulder, “OK, you’re all fixed up.  Off you go.”        The Little Girl, “Nurse K., did you ever see those people again, you know the people from the first time?”

“No, I never have.  I left Indiana after college.  Some people, you only know once, and that  is all.  Now off you go and remember, no getting even with Katie Jacobs,” Tina.      “Okaaay,” the Little Girl said as she skipped out the door.

Tina went back to the cabinet and switched on the CD player, she went back to the  window where she saw the Little Girl run out on to the playground.   The Little Girl ran up to the girl that pushed her, she pointed at her bandaged knee,  they talked for a minute, and then ran off together, holding hands.   Tina grinned.    The song came back on.

So tell me now and I won’t ask again/  Will you still love me tomorrow.

Then she thought about the Co-op again.  She thought about those people, and on that place, and in that time, and she was lost to it.  She was far away in the past now.

This Is The End

Chapter 9:Wendell Willkie Coop Reunion:Sunday Morning

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on September 9th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

By necessity, it’s Sunday morning  and Joe and Diane are having their second cup of coffee at the Farm Restaurant and wondering where everyone is when Diane’s cell phone ringsand she answers.   Cathy, “Where are you?  We are waiting for you here at the Uptown.  You’re at the Farm Restaurant .  What are you doing there?”     Diane, “I don’t know.”

She hangs up.  Joe and Diane pay for their coffee and quietly slide out of the restaurant and walk one building west on Kirkwood and enter the Uptown.They see:  Chet and Ruth, Dave, Kevin Sears, and Cathy sitting at a table upfront. This results in more hugs and loud greetings.   Bruce is back in Monrovia and Mark is back in Unionville.   Kevin asks Diane and Joe, “Did you see the Hair Swinger down there at the Farm Restaurant.  Whenever you mention on FB that you are at some restaurant in Bloomington , she claims to be in a restaurant across the street from you, its Erie.”   Joe, “Who is the Hair Swinger?”   He tells him.   “Hey,that makes sense, she did like to swing her hair around.” Joe.

“Joe did you know that General Mills is coming back out with Count Chocula cereal, might want to contact them for work,  you still have that Count Dracula outfit from Halloween 1976,” Kevin Sears.         “Yeah, and they could use that big head of yours over in the Frankenberry box display ,”Joe.         “Joe, that wounds me.  At least you have a title, Count, what does poor Frankenberry have.  He doesn’t even have a Mr. in front of his name, he’s just Frankenberry,” Kevin Sears.    “Well,it beats  being   Boo Berry.” Joe.     Cathy and Diane get a big laugh out of this.

“Speaking of breakfast cereal, the whole time that I ate in Co-op Cafeteria, I never ate one box of  Tony’s Frosted Flakes, or a box of Frankenberry, or Captain Crunch.  It was always Total or Wheaties,” Kevin Sears.      This seems to awaken old deep seated memories in Chet as he says in an ironic tone.  “That’s right, not one freaking box of good cereal ever available and now who would have Stockpiled in their rooms all those great single portion of cereals, conveniently available for munching on in the wee hours.”   All eyes point towards Cathy and Diane.   Dave, “That right Chet ,They stockpiled all the good cereals, you two, you two were Cereal Outlaws, Cereal Nappers.”   Cathy, “You can’t prove a thing copper, the time statute has passed on those crimes. “  Diane,” Its Chinatown Dave.”  Cathy, “Top of the World Ma, Top of the World.”

“Where’s Pete?” , Joe asks.   “Pete is gone.  He never makes the final day of anything.  This is his calling card: ‘I’ll see you slicks later.’ ” Dave answers.    The Writer, “I wonder if he gave Mr. Clean his phone number since they are good friends now.”    It’s busy, the waiter doesn’t have time for all this fol de rol , everyone orders.    Chet, “I thought that I read that you had an “Occupy Wall Street Camp” here in Bloomington.”       Cathy, “Yeah, it was down in People’s Park on Kirkwood, close to campus.”       The Writer, “Sure it didn’t take much since People’s Park is where the loafers, tramps, hobos, drifters, alcoholics, and addicts hangs out anyway.  They gave them some tents and they were in business, now they could stay around-the-clock.”    Chet, “How long were they there. Other cities broke up the encampment pretty early.  What about the homeless?”      Dave turns his head to favor his one working ear, he knows what’s coming and can’t wait.

Kevin, “They let them go a good long while.  Of course, the businesses around them were complaining about them pissing on their building and the smell got bad, but hey the occupiers were holding the line for the 99%.  They, the city, took the whole mess down over Thanksgiving when everyone was gone, standard procedure around here.   As for the homeless, I don’t see it, I think Homeless is just another title for the same folks I listed above.  This group has been moving around, vagabonding around the country since the Civil War.   They like to drink, they like to do drugs, they like to hang out.  They used to take the temporary  itinerant, jobs (cooks, picking crops, temporary labor jobs) until they got around to their next bender.  But the Mexican took all those jobs.    They would like to draw some benefits, but they’re not going to stop drinking.”     Dave , “Why pay for their bad habits, if that’s their choice, then they have to suffer the results of it.”    And off Dave and Chet on another political argument. Kevin picks up his coffee and leans back contentedly.   The waiter brings out all the trays, the manager has told him  to move these people out of here as quicklime as possible.

They replayed yesterday’s events:  The couple getting married in all those long dresses, the bridesmaids that is, Smokey the Dog licking the Bride’s hand during the ceremony, the little girl getting pitched off the tailgate of the truck, the Intruders, and all the daffodil memories floating by in the warm summer afternoon.  Too many to catalog.   Reliving the past  is stoop labor.  Speaking of attitude , the Pharmacist is telling his Walmart Dope School Story.

Dave, “Walmart sent me to Indoctrinator School for Walmart Employees. Its at HDQ for Walmart in Bentonville, Ark.”    Chet, “I would say that is in your favor, you rejected the “WalmartWay.”     Dave, “Oh no, I was just struggling to get through my last year before I retired, my attitude needed  readjusting.   I only got through it because Cathy provided me with an all purpose reply to any Instructor’s question.”    Everyone, “What this magical phrase?”     Dave, ” I feel that I can learn  or have learned many new things which I can’t wait to share with my fellow employees when I get back to my home store.“     Ruth, “What did the Instructors say to that.”       Dave, “Well , I think their first reaction was ‘ don’t shit me with that boy’  but then you’re giving them exactly what they are feeding you so how can they not like it.  It worked like a charm.”    Cathy blows on her folded fingers like a safe-cracker,  “Works every time, give them what they want, institutional BS.”

Diane, “Since Chet has been banned from Indiana for one year,  has he still  got time to visit Jeffersonville?”     “Well, the documentation and paperwork will take a few days before we submit them  to Governor Daniels and since the Governor has to go through all those applications for  Sagemores of the Wabash first .  I think that Chet has a full week,”  Kevin Sears.   Diane, “What’s a Sagemore?”   “Oh, I think its a type of Native American cigar.”  Cathy,”Chet don’t worry about your ban, Dave was banned for a year and it didn’t hurt him.”       Kevin Sears,”You forget Dave was only banned from Bloomington and that was for trying to put on a reunion in 2006 and then quitting in the middle of that attempt.”    Chet, “Quit worrying about my banishment, Joe did you ever find your rental car?”    Joe, “Yeah I found it, I’m heading back to Whiting, to see my Mom before I fly back to Galveston.”      This phrase in its own way, punctures  the moment.    It’s over.     It had been fun but everyone was ready to let go, time to be goin’.

We pay our bills and step out the door.   Outside, more photos and tableauxs are arranged.  Joe, ” I have an announcement…”    Everyone, “We know, you’ve cancelled your invite to Galveston again.”     Joe,” Why don’t we get together in ten years, we’ll all be seventy then.”    Cathy,”Hold it Mister, I entered the Co-op when I was seventeen, in ten years, I’ll still be a long way from seventy, but not to worry, I’ll make sure that all of you take you medication on time. “   Dave, “You can start on mine right now, I need some assisted living.”  She gracefully straightens the hat on his head and gives him a hug.    “There Mister, you’ve been assisted.”  Everyone gives each other a hug, one more big Wally hug  from Chet and Ruth.  And its over. “Goodbye Shane.”  The Writer and the Pharmacist walk east on Kirkwood toward the Pharmacist’s car.

The Pharmacis asks  as he climbs  into his Conestoga Wagon , “Well what do you think?”    He knows what he wants, a summing up, “They had known each other for a long time,  those had been good times, the best of times.  We took our portion. We had our day in the sun.”  He thought of all the image that flickered forward from that time.  All the things that had happened to them since that place.  He had said everything that he wanted to say.  He turned and walked toward home, nothing held him back now.

This Could be the End

Chapter 8: Willkie Co-op Reunion:Return to Room 104

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on August 26th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

The Pharmacist asked, “This party is out of control.  I’m getting paranoyd.   Am I crazy?   The Writer, “Of course, you know how you like to talk to yourself, you’re crazy, that’s a given.  Now about  this party,it  is out of control but   in  the same way a party for twelve year olds  is out of control.  Remember what the Librarian said, “Mama Told You Not to Come.”

The Writer ambled through the crowd on the way to the bathroom.  The Reactionary Landscaper, “I’m getting pissed off here, Diane is all wrapped up in my bed, and as anyone can see , I need to lay down.”    The Writer, “Well why don’t you snuggle up in there with her in that tortilla comforter that she has wrapped around her.  Put a quarter in the bed and start up the old magic fingers.”     The Landscaper, “You’re not being helpful.”    The Writer, “Ask her to make some more of those straight vodka drinks, that’ll get her out of your bed.”

The Pharmacist grabs his arm as he continues towards the bathroom,  and he asks, “Do you think this party is out of control?  Someone  might call the police.”   The Writer, “This is Bloomington on Saturday night, the streets and bars downtown are packed.  Some aggrieved hotel guest calls 911 and says, “I want to report a loud party at the Hotel Knoll.’  The Dispatcher, “Is anyone Brandishing a gun?’  ‘No.’   “Have you heard any gunshots?’   ‘No.’  “Is anyone fighting?’   ‘Thank you Mam, we’ll send a patrol car out.’  As the Dispatcher disconnects, she says to herself, ‘Yeah, we’ll send a patrol car in a couple of days.’      The Pharmacist, “How do you dream stories like that up?”  The Writer, “just remember Shiloh.”     The Writer continues on to the bathroom.  In the corner, the Librarian and the Rock Hound have given up on glasses and are sharing a half pint of Old No. 7.

As he closes the bathroom door, Ms. Montego Bay is back at the bar making up some drinks   The Landscaper has seen his opening and is stretched out on the bed.   Mr. Jet and the Pharmacist are locked in an intense discussion, the Beachcomber is stretched out on the bed sipping on Makers Mark.   The Writer comments to Ms. Montego Bay, “Hey cool it on the drinks, I think that everyone has had enough.”     She gives him a dark eye and says, “What are you the night watchman?”    “Hey Diane, thanks, I dig the illusion.”    The Beachcomber stands up and says,  “I want to invite everyone down to Galveston?”   The Librarian, “Yeah, and you’ll cancel out just like the Phoenix Kid.”    The Beachcomber,” OK, let’s save time, I’ll cancel the invite right now.”     The Writer, “Damn that a faster withdrawal than Al’s withdrawal.” Mr Jet says, “You may not even get out of Indiana, DUDE, where’s your car, you ever find it?”     The Beachcomber says after  he drains his glass, “Let me rephrase,  You’re all invited to Galveston.  Whenever I’m out of Texas.”  It’s corny, but everyone laughs.  The Party has started to rock, but it’s only a moment, and the moment can’t last.  The party is so much like the parties that we had at the Willkie Co-op and it’s sad to think that this is probably the last time

The words and the laughter are a ocean  of sounds.  He’s noticed this the last couple of years.  When he is in a roomful of people all talking, the words and sounds blend together in the fashion of an orchestral arrangement, he can’t make out individual words anymore, most times it is  a pleasant experience.  He wanders if the old auditory mechanism is starting to sputter.  Anyway, he’s had enough of the Old Co-op experience and is thinking of sliding out quietly.  He opens the door and steps out.  He light a petite Upman.   Parked in the back of the hotel lot is a Carver Montego Cruiser on its trailer.   It’s a nice boat, sturdy and sleek, all at once.  The owners are sitting in the  aft compartment passing around around what looks like a marijuana cigarette.  It’s Bloomington and its a clear warm night in June.  Even better, the lyrics from the song are floating out out of the trailered boat.

“And as you’re about to leave, She jumps up and says, hey love, you forgot your gloves, To say goodbye to madame george, Dry your eyes for madame george, Say goodbye to Madame Joy,”

Ruth steps out and the moment floats off in the fashion of  The light dove, cleaving the air.    We chat for awhile and I compliment her on her ability to blend in with this group.  It can’t be easy, they have so much shared experience, they seem to be talking in code, and the code is old by now.   He asks, “How’s you daughter, last time I saw her, she was starting to develop as as athlete.”    Ruth replies,”She’s on the track team at Cornell, and she makes me look like I am moving in slow motion.”    He says, “I’m sure that she has had a lot of coaching and training that you never had at her age.”     Ruth adds, “That’s the truth, no comparison to when I was in school.”     He likes being around her.  She is easy to be around.    He steps back into Room 104 to say goodbye to the Librarian.

The room is noisy but the energy has started to slide.  The Writer gives the Librarian a hug, and she says,  “We’ll see you in the morning at the Uptown.”   The Writer, “Don’t know, I will try to get out of bed.  Haven’t had too much sleep in the last twenty-four.”     The Pharmacist seizes the moment to make an unnecessary speech, “I know we’re all having a good time, but I’m exhausted and I want to sleep.  The Party is over. “    Gosh what a bummer way to end the party.  He could have done the same by walking around for five minutes, shaking hands, and telling everyone he and Pete need to get some sack time.   Can’t put one over on the Maestro.   Someone says, ” He’s tossing up out.”    It still takes a while for the party to end.  There’s a feeling in the air that this is to be the last time.   The  Writer walks outside and steps up to the  Grassy Knoll which overlooks Room 104.    When everyone is outside,  He waves to the crowd and says loudly,  “Shane come back, Shane stay.”     No one catches the alluvial allusion, but he’s happy as he walks off towards home singing      “down into the street below, And you know you gotta go, Say goodbye to Madame George, Dry your eye for Madame George.”

Chapter 7: Willkie Co-op Reunion:Return to Room 104

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on August 11th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

One More

Wendell Willkie Co-op  won’t do

Well I did not think the girls could be so cruel

I’m never going back to my old School

Something like My Old School by Steely Dan

Room 104 is full of combustible noise and words.  After pouring copious glasses full of straight vodka and ice and passing them around , Ms. Montego Bay  is now (shades of twenty-four hours ago) wrapped up tight in the hotel bed blanket, as tight as a Polish pinata.   She looks like the English patient with people milling around the bed. “Nurse, we need a Doctor here, maybe a psychiatric psychiatrist, it is an emergency.”   The Beachcomber and the Pharmacist are lounging on the other bed sipping in order on a Makers Mark and Jim Beam.   The Reactionary Landscaper is standing or listing in front of the extinguished television.  In fact, the whole weekend has lacked any electronic enhancement at all: no laptops, no noise makers, no video, or DVDs, well that is except for data phones.  Ms. Montego Bay and the Beachcomber are furiously texting each other from the two beds.  This is funny, hilariously funny, because they believe that no is noticing, but one will text for a minute, look at the other smiling or laughing, and then return the text.

In the corner next to the hotel door, the Rock Hound and the Librarian are toasting each other by passing the Old No. 7 back and forth to each other.  The Librarian asks, “Don’t you have to pick up your daughter?”        The Rock Hound, “Oh, not for a while, the girl that she is with is cutting off all of her hair.”     The Librarian, “All of it! Going bald.”    The Pharmacist jumps in, “I’ll take some of that hair, I could use it.” Stroking his ever increasing bald head.      The Librarian, “What do you think of that craziness.”        The Rock Hound, “I’ve become accustomed to craziness,”  as he passes the Old No. 7  back to the Librarian.

“Hey, I thought you said you were going home at the Park.  What are you doin here?”  The Writer.      The Librarian, “Well, my mother always told  me  I shouldn’t come to a party like this.”          The Writer, “Oh so your “Mama, Told You not to Come
Want some whiskey in your water?
Sugar in your tea?
What’s all these crazy questions they’re askin’ me?
This is the craziest party that could ever be, Mama Told Me not to Come.

Everyone joins in with whatever lyrics they can remember. The Landcaper is gyrating to the song.   The Writer tips his glass to the Liberian, “Thanks for the Title to this series, Mama Told Me not to Come.”

Swing back in later for more:  Mama Told Me not to Come, Ump Uh….

Willkie Coop Reunion 2012: Chapter 6:The Intruders:ShowMeYourID:

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on July 16th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

“An all time show-stopper,” Maxwell said.

North Dallas Forty, The Novel by  Peter Gent.

As the Intruders start to unload their goods, it is clear that they have come to stay.  Some of us   aren’t ready to go, not just yet, and not this way.   It’s the border Scots in me, I’ll leave when I am ready.  It is a Mexican standoff, no one is leaving, well except for the Librarian, she doesn’t care for confrontation, and to be fair, she was already packing before they, the Intruders dropped in.

As the man with the grey-blonde hair with the straw hat stacked on top unloads  his box of goodies, he pulls out a fifth of Jack Daniels, Old No. 7.  The Beachcomber immediately yells, “You can stay if you sell me that bottle of Old No. 7.”      The man asks,”How Much?”    The Beachcomber, “How about forty dollars.”        The man, “It Yours.”    Now the party is back on as  the Beachcomber shells out forty bucks and everyone starts moving around in the shelter acting like  old friends.   The Co-oper immediately pour drinks for themselves and the Landscaper is first in line, “Just three fingers please” , he says to the Beachcomber.  Now we start to pack up and leave.  It seems right now.  Why do we need to hog this shelter?   We’re all good friends here.  This leaving will take awhile.

You take Jack, I’ll  take Jim,

Ain’t no Difference between the twins,

Whis-Key,  Been all round my Brain.

Jackson Browne Song.

“All one happy family,”  Ms. Montego Bay says in her overstated laconic manner.  “Yeah, the Manson Family,”  the Writer responds.   Over in the corner, Mrs. Tenn. is offering some serious advice to one of the the teenage girl in the red bikini top.  The girl writes something on a card and hands it to her.   The Beachcomber is talking to the Intruder in the straw hat.  The Rock Hound is gathering up all the plastic bottles in a large white garbage bag for recycling.   Mr. Jet offers our ample leftovers of chips, cookies, and drinks to the Intruders.   They magnanimously accept.

The Landscaper has wandered off.  The Pharmacist has been making repeated trips back to the Toyota SUV.  The Writer starts packing up their goods into boxes.  The sun is starting to set.  He walks over to the bridge.  The Landscaper is talking loudly with Mr. Clean.   He asks,  “Now what are you two guys doing with those two Young girls?”   The Landscaper has now got all his sheets out, he is on a full bow reach with this one.      Mr. Clean answers,  “One is my cousin, the other is my date.”      The Landscaper, “Most likely kissing cousins.  You said you were thirty four, I don’t believe that.  You don’t look that old.  I’m an old man, every one looks young to me.  Let’s see some proof.”     And Here is the all time showstopper. Rather than taking offense and pushing the Landscaper into the creek,    Mr. Clean gets out his wallet and hands his ID over to the Landscaper.  The Landscaper say  to me, “Hondo come over and look at this, I don’t have my glasses.”   I walk over to them and the Landscaper hands me Mr. Clean’s ID.    I look at the License.  In this picture, Mr. Clean has a head of dark hair and he has a scowl on his face, he seems  inebriately  happy right now,  I would like to see his rap sheet.   The Writer says , “Well, Pete, it shows his birth date as 1978 so that would make him thirty four. “    I hand the ID back to Mr Clean, and he looks like a dog waiting for his bone, and Mr. Clean says to Pete, “See, I told you.”      This is the Landscaper’s masterpiece.  He seemingly appears to be able to enter into anyone’s world and gain their trust.  He’s a working man , hick, hip  cosmopolitan, southerner, veteran hitchhiker, and  a friendly well meaning  eccentric.   The Writer shakes his head and moves on to the SUV.

When he gets to the SUV, the Landscaper and the Pharmacist have thrown every thing in helter skelter, there is a water hose uncoiled and looped around various boxes and the fire pit.  The Writer says to the Pharmacist,  “Let get that stuff out of there and repack it.”    The Pharmacist,  “What fo?”    The Writer, “I can’t ride around in that kind of chaos, no matter how much Jack, I have drank.  We look like the Joads on the Way to California, ‘Ma, have we crossed over yet?’ “.      The Landscaper has wandered over,  “Who are the Joads ?”       The Pharmacist,  “They were the Beverly Hillbillies of the “1930s.  He is right this is a mess.  Remember Shiloh.”

The Writer walks back to the Shelter.  The Man from Monrovia has disappeared.  Must have left slid out during the ruckus with the Intruders.  We’re all carrying out goods and other such truck as Huckleberry would say.    The Intruders are all spread out on the shelter tables and we wave goodbye.

As we shuttle back and forth between the Parking Lot and the Shelter.  Remember that family that has been picnicking and grilling in the small gravel parking lot with the two little girls, possibly four and six who have been playing in the creek spillway all day, well Mom and Dad have the Ford pickup all packed and are preparing to swing out.

A group of loud Harley drivers ride by and Mr. Jet makes a crack,  “How  dumb can Indiana get,  sanctioning no helmets for Motorcyclists.”   This is Mr. Jet’s fourth derogatory comment on the Hoosier state counting Friday and Saturday.   It’s only a matter of time before this bill comes due.  It’s all mounting up.

We are all gathered in the parking lot chatting away, no one wants it to end.   The Spillway family is backing up around us.  It’s a mellow sunset.  The two little girls are sitting on the tailgate swing their legs back and forth.   The Dad snakes the truck down the steep spillway and across the stream and up the rise on the other side.  He guns the motor a little to get up.   There is a rough concrete lip at the top and as he revs the motor to get over.  The Pickup bounces over the lip and on the rebound–the oldest little girl is pitched up in the air like a rag doll and she lands on the gravel, and Dad takes off, oblivious to the fall.    Instantly, Mrs Tennessee yells, “HEY”.  It stops Pickup Dad in his tracks.    What Mrs. Tenn. really wants to say is , “Hey Jackass, why don’t you put your two little girls on the front bumper while you are at it.”

Amazingly, wanderously, the little girls picks herself up, runs down the lane and hops on the tailgate again and off  they go.  The resilience of children.   The Pharmacist,”You think they’re going a couple of blocks. for Pete’s sake, he  wouldn’t go out on the highway, would he?”        Mr. Jet, “Now there’s another  Hoosier moron.”

‘That’s it Chet,  You are banned from entering the Hoosier State for twelve month, and that includes Sundays.  That’s five derogatory remarks against Hoosiers and that just a little bit more than the Law can allow,”  The Writer.    Everyone Laughs.

The Writer, “Hey Ruth that was one great, ‘HEY’,   I haven’t heard one that good since since my grandmother caught by brother and I jumping from the hayloft on to bales of hay in her barn.”     Mr. Tennessee, “Well how stupid could he be, driving down the road with your kids sitting on the tailgate.”           The Writer, “Careful Ruth, you don’t want to end up banned from Indiana like Chet  What was that card that girl gave you in the Shelter”   Mrs. Tenn.,” It has her address on one side and the other side is the business card for a planned parenthood clinic.”     The Writer, “Good to know that she has protection, going to need it if she continues to hang around with those two.”

The day is over.  Everyone has their designated driver.  No one wants to leave.   The Pharmacist says, “Come over to our room .  It’s Room 104.  It’s on the Bypass and Walnut St.    Help Joe find his car.”  Everyone readily agrees.    The Beachcomber, Ms. Montego Bay, Rockhound, The librarian, The Writer, Pharmacist,  Reactionary Landscaper, and Mr. Jet and Mrs. Tennessee.  That’s it.   The last call for the last people at the last Wendell Willkie Co-op Party.

Come around again for  The Return to Room 104.

Willkie Coop Reunion 2012: Chapter 6:The Intruders

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on June 27th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – 1 Comment

We have been on something of an interlude here with the Mike Smith Wake Story.  We return to the Wendell Willkie Coop Reunion of 2012.  As we walk back into the Shelter House, the Librarian is talking.  “I don’t know how I know this, but something tells me that in the next few months Rock is  going to cut off his link to the Willkie Coop Reunion Facebook page.”   The Writer, “You’re really seeing into the future.”   The Landscaper,  “I never could get on that site anyway, Rock wouldn’t let me on.”    Ms. Montego Bay, “What does he do down there in Florida anyway.”    The Beachcomber starts to answer, but the Writer cuts in, “He works for a top secret hush hush consortium of large insurance company who are trying to come up with policy language that blames every loss in the future on global warming and that GW  is an act of God so the insurance companies will be able to wiggle out of paying claims in the future.”   The Pharmacist, “I just read a book on Global Warming, and it says that the rise in temperature is part of a never ending cycle in the earth’s climate.”   Mr. Jet jumps in, “What have you been reading Genesis, Dave, that’s crazy.”   The Landscaper, “Here we go again.  One argument goest  and another cometh”

The Man from Monrovia has finished off the Applejack that he brought.  He is passing around a tab of paper getting everyone’s identification vitals, kind of a drinking list, a drunk list.  He ismaking movements to go.  It will be dark in about an hour. Time to be going.  The Rock Hound hands the Writer a sheaf of photos from the reunion in 2008.    It’s a picture of someone with a couple days of beard growth standing next to a shelter picnic table.   The man in the picture resembles some local tramp, drifter, hobo, of which we have a wheelbarrow full in downtown Bloomington.  “Who’s that?”, the Writer asks.   The Rockhound, “You know, that’s Joe.”      The Writer, “Yes, when I look at it again, I can see that.  It’s such an odd angle.  Nice guy, but I never understood him. T00 laid back.”    The Rockhound, “You like people that are edgy?”    The Writer, “Yeah, someone just like you.”  We both laugh.  The Rockhound is coolly ironic.

The evening is starting to nod when in the back of the Shelter a loud KABOOM cracks and every head snaps either  to the left or to the right.

A large rough looking  white man with a faded cabana shirt has slammed an overloaded Styrofoam  cooler on the ledge of the window opening of the shelter.  He has a large straw hat on, and it sits on top of a small hay bale of gray-blonde hair.  He has made a statement, “Scram.”  With him is a brown tanned guy with no shirt and oversized swim trunks who must work outside, if he works.   In fact, the guys resembles Mr. Clean, the manly symbol of America’s most famous household cleaner, solid tan with bulgy muscles and a big shaved head:”Let’s get in there boys and get this place all cleaned up.”   Of course, he’s not Mr. Clean, afterwords, the Pharmacist will say, “That guy looked dangerous.”   You can’t put one over on the Maestro.  And behind the two intruders are two girls in shorts and bikini tops.  Are the two girls young?  Well they might have had their 18th birthday party last year, or on second thought,  yesterday.

The Willkie Co-opers are stunned.  The Librarian says,”Come on.  Let’s pack up, its time to leave.”   The Writer says, I’ll walk away when I want.”   This is the kind of declaration that has gotten him in trouble before.   To be continued.

The Mike Smith Wake: The End

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on June 9th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

Out here in the fields
I farm for my meals
I get my back into my living.
I don’t need to fight
To prove I’m right
I don’t need to be forgiven.

Don’t cry
Don’t raise your eye
It’s only teenage wasteland

Who’s Next, the song , Baba O’Riley, The Who.

The Writer takes the drinks over to the Librarian sitting comfortably at the table next to the rack of pool cues.   The Writer sits down and watches the band turning up.  The stage is only twelve inches high so many people are walking onto the stage and talking to the late Mike’s band.  I never catch the name of the band.  There’s a drummer, a rhythm guitar, a horn player, and a woman who plays various percussion instruments, (the Librarian, “You think she plays the cow bell?”) and two or three other members of the band.  It’s hard to say with all the people on the stage.  It is a long  pre-tuneup process.  A blonde women in a long black tunic and leather pants is standing and smoking a long thin cigarette (Do they still make Virgina Slims?) and swaying to music that isn’t being played.   Over at the entrance to the large room, a man dressed in a crumpled camouflage outfit stumbles into the room.  The Camouflage man is drunk,  and the Writer imagines that this Wake crowd is playing havoc with his regular Saturday night drunk, or maybe he is one of the town’s drunk who started drinking in the afternoon.  Some angel  grabs his arm before he  goes mobile over one of the table and keeps him moving towards a seat at a table.  Next a plate of food and a glass of beer appear and he digs in like an otter.  He looks as happy as if he found a one hundred dollar bill.  This crowd is all white-white people as a black woman he knew wood say:  Scots-Irish, English, Irish, and German Palatine.  When Mike grew up here, Morgan Co. was rural.  Now it is a suburb of Indianapolis.

Before the band starts, a guitarist steps to the microphone and says a few words,in fact, very few words “this is for Mike, thanks for coming everyone.” Even this nearly chokes up the poor guy. He’s just one note from crying.   That is it.  I thought someone would host the event,  say something about Mike Smith, ask people if they wanted to come forward and tell a funny story.  No sir.  The caravan rolls on.  Later on the Libarian says, ” They probably did it later after we were gone.”     You have to love the Librarian.  She gives everyone the benefit of a doubt.    I stand up and wander over to the large black  board at the back of the room  with pictures of Mike.   There are photos of the bank playing at different venue, one has a big banner over a stage,”Budweiser Indy 500 Welcome,”  and another picture of Mike playing guitar outside shirtless, and this could be from the Co-op era.   Mike is sporting a huge Scots-Irish Afro, certainly  one of the best Afro’s the writer had ever seen.    The Writer looks at the bottom pictures and these are Mark and Mike when they were kids.  The one with Mark and Mike at Christmas wanging  away at two plastic electric guitars with outrageously long guitar necks.  It’s Christmas morning and they are in pajamas and they look as happy as two kids on a roller coaster.  The writer laughs.  Another one is Mike on a bike waving, “time to be going.”   I wander back to the table where the Librarian is working her drink.  The band has played five songs by now.

The Writer, “Do you know what they are playing?  I can’t make out a word of what the singer has sung.”  The vocals are being traded around amongst the band member and the percussion woman is singing and she is out of sight behind a large speaker.  The Librarian, ” I recognized a Bonnie Raitt song earlier. what do you think of the band?”     The Writer,”  Oh, they’re like a hundred other bands around Central Indiana but that is besides the point, they long ago gave up the idea of “making it,”  they just enjoy playing rock music, playing their instruments, and playing with each other.  It’s their hobby.”   The Librarian,” Looks like a hard hobby.”           The Writer,  “Sure, practice time, no roadies, setting up and breaking down your equipment.  You have to half way admire Mike, playing a guitar in a rock band rang Mike’s Bell.  He didn’t quit after he didn’t make it, he got a day job and kept on playing.”       “What’s it take to make it?” The Libarian.     The Writer thinks, rock bands aren’t in his area of expertise, that was obvious from the Alvin Lee episode, but when did that ever stop him,”  I don’t believe it  all talent.  Job 1.  Luck on to or find someone who is a great vocalist and the chicks love, say like Axl Rose or  Eric Burdon and the Animals(There is a House in New Orleans),  be ruthless and fire Pete Best and hire Ringo, and have someone in the band who writes rock standards like Pete Townshend, get out of your local area and go where people are doing what you want to do.  I guess you find people who are better than your are.  Not everyone in these famous bands is a great musician, they got in with the right group of guys. “    The Librarian, “Wow, maybe you should run career seminars for rock musicians.”     The Band has taken a break  and Bruce pulls up a chair looking a little worn. He has greeted a good many of the people who came in, he must know most of these people.   He sits down and I have to ask him, “How did it happen?  How did Mike go?”  The Librarian gives me a look, but it’s a look that says, “I’m glad you asked that because I wouldn’t have done it.”

Bruce,”I hadn’t seen Mike for a while.  Mike worked at Conseco, a large insurance company in downtown Indy, he worked in something to do with computers.  He had a good friend who worked in the same area with him.  It was Friday;  (the Writer writes in his notebook, “and this was to be the last Friday)   Mike was at work, and he told his friend that he felt a little dizzy, out of sorts.  The friend called 911 and the paramedic showed up five minutes later.   They checked Mike out but couldn’t find anything.  They asked if he wanted to go to the E. Room, but he said he felt better and didn’t see any need to go.   They advised him to see his Doctor immediately.  And this was to be the last Friday.”

The Writer, “Did his Band play that weekend?”      Bruce, “I don’t know.  Mike left work and was home all weekend.  He goes to work at Conseco on Monday and everything is OK.   Later on in the day, he tells his friend, “I don’t feel so well, I’m hurting.”   His friend calls  the Paramedics and they are there in no time at all.  Mike has collaspsed now and is starting to foam at the mouth, and the Paramedics have him on the stretcher and they are gone.  Mike’s friend turns off the computers and closes the office, and he calls the hospital and gets the Emergency Room.  “Can you tell me how he’s doing?  Where is he?”     The E. Room Rep says, “He didn’t make it.”      The Writer, “They said he didn’t make it.   That sounds like a phrase out of Good Fellas: ‘ He’s gone, and there’s nuthin’ we could do about it’.”          Bruce, “That’s what I was told.  He died in the EM Vehicle of a  massive heart attack.”

The Writer writes, “This much is true. This is to be the last Friday, the last Saturday night.  Now he has lived his life. .  No time to linger.  Time to go.  No time to say goodbye.  Now it is over.

They are silent for a moment.  The Librarian says, “Bruce you’re all recovered from your fall.”     Bruce, ” I guess I am.  Still got some things to work on, but I was determined to get back to work.  I was pretty lucky my wife got me to the hospital when she did.”  I want to give him a hug, he’s a really good guy.

We wander  back over to the pictures when Bruce sees Mark Smith and waves him over.  Mark is stouter now but otherwise looks the same as thirty five years ago.   He looks a bit dazed but then who wouldn’t in these circumstances.  He comes over and Bruce says, “It’s Hondo.”   Mark has a blank look on his face, he probably hasn’t thought of the Co-op for decades or even been in Indiana for a good many years.     I give him the obligatory hug as demanded by the Librarian.   I can’t let this moment pass, “Mark you lived for awhile on the third floor with Mike Johnson. “    Mark,”Yeah I sure did, he had that python,”      The Writer, “Now that was Mike’s python, not yours,”       Mark Smith,”Hell yes, the thing got  loose one time, scared the shit out of me.”     The Writer, “Now Mike Johnson  dated Bonnie, did you ever see her in a state of …”       With this phrase, the Librarian grabs Mike and asks him to explain where one of the pictures on the board of Mike was taken.     The Writer is never going to get that question about Bonnie answered.  Bruce and Mark see someone else and walk away.

The Writer and the Librarian make their way back  to their table.   They sit for  awhile.  The band plays on.  They really don’t know anyone-body here.   The Librarian, “You ready to go?  I’ll go say goodbye to Mark and Bruce and then we can get up and walk out the exit behind us…we’ll slide out quietly.”       The Writer,  ” That a good plan except  the door has a sign that says, NO EXIT NO.”    So we slide out the front door.

“Well, Chet never showed up,”  the Librarian says on the way back to the car.   The Writer, “That is an awful long way, and seriously how good of friends were they.  You always want everything  to turn out lovely, satisfying, complete, pleasant, peaceful, cordial, a summing up.”      The Librarian, “Is there anything wrong with that.”       The Writer,”No, nothing at all.   It’s why we love you.”

The car turns out into the street.  “Can you find your way back out to the Highway?”      The Writer, “Sure, no problem.”     Five minutes later, “I think I’m lost.”       The Librarian pulls her GPS out and she holds on to the glowing aqua blue screen all the way home.


The Mike Smith Wake: Chapter Five

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on June 2nd, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

So I’ll have another drink and a cigarette
Buy me a ticket homeward bound (homeward bound)
Buy me a ticket homeward bound (oh homeward bound)

Album:BareTrees:FleetwoodMac, 1972

The Librarian, “Turn here, it’s four lights and then turn left, it on the east side of the street. “   We drive through a mile long strip of McDonalds, Burger King, a Honda dealer, the Donut House, Pizza Hut, “WE BUY GOLD”,  the Wind Ding Chicken House, and real Mexican Tacos.  Where are the Indians when you need them.     The Librarian shuts the GPS off, we’re on our own now, Obi Wan, “trust in the force, Luke.”  We are in the downtown now, and turn left at the fourth light, “it should be on the left”, and there it is,  Pat’s Tavern, a sign,pointing towards the street,  hangs over the front  of what looks like a shotgun building,  narrow in width, long in length.

The Writer asks, “Do you think there will be a lot of hugging?”     The Libarian, “What are you anti-hugging, who are  we going to know here anyway.”     The Writer,” No, I’ll stand in line to hug women. Other than my father, I didn’t grow up in this guy hugging era. so if you see someone who needs a hug, jump in front of me.”     The Librarian, “Let’s go.”

As we approach the front door, the Libarian says, “You go first, you like a big entrance.”    The writer swings the front door wide, walks in, and says, “Anybody home?”    Several smoking  heads at the bar turn our way.  “Who are they?”  There’s a blonde bartender pouring drinks and she looks and smiles and thinks, “Maybe this won’t be another dull night in Mayberry.”    For a second, Pat’s bar does look like a shotgun building bar, narrow and long, but there is a large rectangular room with an arched entryway to the right in the center of the bar.   The Librarian says, “Shit, they allow smoking in this bar.”    “Try bar, city, county, it’s Chinatown,Jake ,” The Writer.

We’ve made enough noise in our entrance, that Bruce has found us.  The place is about half full, looks like it might hold 150 people, but it’s filling up.   Bruce comes up quickly from the big room where the band plays, and I quickly stand behind the Librarian who get the big hug, and I give Bruce a hearty-WC Field’s handshake.      Bruce, “Glad, you both came, it took us awhile but I think that we have everything set up, Mark is here, he’s had a rough couple of days, there’s food in the back.”     I guess that he is one of the hosts, probably with substantial help from his wife. Bruce looks good, particularly since he has had his own brush with mortality from the bathtub fall.   He chats for another minute, and then moves on to other people arriving.   The librarian, “Try to find a table, some spot not too smoky.”    “How about the parking lot?” The Writer.   The Writer finds a round table in back next to the pool table (No pool playing tonight)  where there is a cloudbreak in the tobacco haze.   All the rest of the table are long cafeteria  tables with  an assortment of molded plastic and folding chairs.   The Librarian sits down, “Can you get me a gin and tonic?”

The writer walks to the bar and ask the blonde bartender, “I need a gin and tonic, and do you have any Old No. 7″, He say with a grin.  “Sorry, we don’t have JD,” the bartender says.  And points to a sorry collection of , Old Fitzgerald and Old Tennessee (aka as Old Tennis Shoes).    The Writer, “That’s OK, just give me two gin and tonics.”    The bartender names off some gin brands.  “That’s OK, any of them are fine.  I can’t tell the difference between one gin and the next.  I can only tell the difference in whiskey,” The Writer.   The Bartender, “I feel the same way.”     I could marry this woman.  I love when women agree with me.   I give her a ten dollar tip.

I take the two drinks and walk to the back of the bar where two long tables are covered with various food dishes: baked beans with real bacon strips, homemade cole  slaws,  Pizza Hut pizzas, chicken wings, salads, vegetable tray and dip.  It’s a real feast, too bad the Pharmacist isn’t here, he’s loves a good spread.   The only odd thing is no one is eating.  The woman hosting the food table is busy putting things out, “I hope we didn’t bring too much, no one seems hungry.”    I reassure her, “Don’t worry, once they get their drunk on, there won’t be a Cheeto left.”   She laughs.  The Writer takes the drinks over to the Librarian sitting comfortably at the table next to the rack of pool cues.    Tomorrow.

The Mike Smith Wake: Chapter 4

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on May 22nd, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

This is the night
Of the expanding  man
I take one last drag
As I approach the stand
Sue me if I play too long
This brother is free
I’ll be what I want to be

Steely Dan, Aja 1977, Deacon Blues

We’re still driving, up the country to Mooresville.  The Librarian says, “I bet Chet shows up.  Bruce and him are pretty close.  He’ll probably be there when we get there.”    The Writer,  “I don’t want you to be disappointing, but that’s just as likely as Fleetwood Mac or even better, a reconstituted Bad Company flying into to do a set.   That’s at least ten hour from “Callina” and wasn’t Chet wandering around the Southwest on some extended vacation just a week ago.”     The Librarian, “What’s Callina?”      The Writer,”That what a character, Ike McCasslin, in the novel, Go Down Moses, by Faulkner, calls either N. or S. Carolina in the novel, ‘Callina’.  It drives Chet crazy when I call it that.  Anyway, he’s not coming.  You are a Sentimentalizer.”    The Librarian, “You’ll see.”

The Writer, ” That picture of you and Cheryl and Nancy sitting on the levee showing off your tanned legs.  Who is the Blonde on the eastside of the picture,  was her name Melody?”    The Librarian,  “No, Melody was that poor girl that died in that car crash, oh, and this is bad, some member of Mike’s band was driving the car back from Florida and fell asleep at the wheel.  She was Chery’s roommate.  Don’t bring that up at this wake.”     The  Writer,”Damn, I forgot all about that, what a tragedy, didn’t the guy that was driving, leave town. I’m going to put the past on hold and talk to Cheryl in the future, since I just saw her on the corner of Kirkwood and Walnut in Bloomington.”

The Future:   The Writer to Cheryl:  “Didn’t you room with Melody, the girl that died in the Florida car wreck. “    Cheryl, “Yes I did, poor thing, that was one sad funeral.  Her mother came and lived with us for a week during the prior semester.  (Writer,”You mean visit don’t you?”)  UntUh, No! I mean she lived in the room with us for what seemed like forever.  She just hungout, ate in the cafeteria slept on the floor , and smoked cigarettes like a mechanical monkey.”    Back to the past:  The Libarian, “Cheryl and I drove up to Gas City for the funeral.  Melody was an only child and her mother was in terrible situation.  It was sad.  We were so blue when we left.”     We’re both quiet for a minute.  The Librarian, “That Bruce, he’s a true friend of Mike’s , for help putting on this wake.”

The Librarian, “Turn here, it’s four lights and then turn left, it on the east side of the street. “   We drive through a mile long strip of McDonalds, Burger King, a Honda dealer, the Donut House, Pizza Hut, “WE BUY GOLD”,  the Wind Ding Chicken House, and real Mexican Tacos.  Where are the Indians when you need them.     The Librarian shuts the GPS off, we’re on our own now, Obi Wan, “trust in the force, Luke.”  We are in the downtown now, and turn left at the fourth light, “it should be on the left”, and there it is,  Pat’s Tavern, a sign,pointing towards the street,  hangs over the front  of what looks like a shotgun building,  narrow in width, long in length.   More on Sunday.

The Mike Smith Wake:Chapter 2

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on May 16th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

And the e-mails keep on clattering in.

Something more from the Man from Alaska:   “It was indeed special. I find it poignant that Mike and Alvin Lee crossed into the great hereafter together. I’m sure they are rocking out as we speak.”

OK, who is Alvin Lee.  That isn’t the guy who created the Singing Chipmunks or was one of the chipmunks named Alvin.   Must have something to do with Rock ‘n Roll.  I missed out on that scene; I was into the Jazz scene, or as the Pharmacist would say, “all that fake high-status malarkey” or “I just finished reading The Great Gatsby, what’s the big deal.” You can’t put one over on the  Maestro.   Pete will call soon, I’ll ask him, he knows everything about Rock’n'Roll.

Oh no, here comes the invitation from the Librarian to the Wake: There will be a Celebration of Mike’s life at:

Pat’s Tavern in Mooresville at 7 p.m.  on Sat. 3/9.  It is a “pitch in”, so if you can make it, please bring a dish to share.  Pat’s is a little bar that Mike’s band used to play in occasionally.
If you can’t make it, and I know most of you won’t be able to come that far, please raise a glass in memory of Mike and to all the wonderful memories that you shared.
The writer gets off a quick reply to the Librarian:

Received your text. No,I didn’t know MS at all. I didn’t
even know that he lived at the co-op. I thought that he was just
another part of the monrovia gang that was always hanging around.

That takes care of that. Oh, here comes the reply:

I really wanted to go for Bruce and
Mark.  I can't imagine how hard it would be to lose a brother, let
alone a twin.  I doubt I will go to the wake alone, not a good idea
for the drive & to a bar.
 >Now the writer feels kind of bad.  Oh what the hell, might as well go.
 Wouldn't be doing anything but drinking
 on Saturday anyway.  What's the Nick Nolte line from North Dallas Forty,
"It's the kind of thing you do when it is important to the person asking."
 And the Libarian is an important person in his life.

E-Mail to Libarian:   Of course, just like always thinking of myself
 so if you would like to go I will drive. Even though, I  didn't know Mike,
 I can always small talk with Bruce and Mark. I have to work till 5:00 on
Saturday, but if you meet me over here at my office on W.6th, I can
drive from there. We can leave whenever you want, coming or going.


Things settle back to abnormality and the writer is getting his paying work done till the cell phone rings and it is the Pharmacist.  Right on time.   The Pharmacist, “Hey, what did you think about the passing of Mike Smith, or you going to his funeral. “  The Writer, “I didn’t even know him.  I thought that he was just hanging out like the rest of that Monrovia crowd.  You knew that 4th floor crowd better than me: I’m sure that you spent a lotta of time up there loafing and drinking Old No. 7.”   The Pharmacist,”Amen, that’s right.  But Mike and Mark weren’t around that much.  They must have been playing some kind of gig.  Mike was quiet and practiced his guitar all the time.  One time, I went by his door and he was playing a Lead Zeppelin song, and I said, ‘I think that you missed a note.’ ” Mike said that he didn’t think so.  He put down his guitar, got out the album, and played the song, and son of a gun , he was right.”   The Writer, “that’s heartwarming.”

The Pharmacist, “You going to the funeral?”    The Writer, “No, to the wake on Saturday, I’m driving the Librarian. It’s in Mooresville.”    The Pharmacist, “You don’t sound too excited.”     The Writer,”I think that no matter how hard I try, I am going to find out about the disease or death of every person that I ever  knew slightly or not at all.  It’s a permanent bad news social  network.  I’m not like you, you like to hear the news no matter what it is.  You want to know more , and I want to know  less.”      The Pharmacist, “That’s insanely right;  I want to know everything that happened at the Wake so call me on Sunday.  It all balances out perfectly, I want  more and you want  less.”

Sooner or later, he knew the Reactionary Landscaper would call:  “What’d you think of that Mike Smith died.”   The Writer, “You didn’t even know him, you’re just like the Pharmacist since you both like bad news.”     The Landscaper, “Yeah, I did.   Mike and Mark were with it, ripped blue jeans and those Bad Company t-shirt.  Bad companyAnd I won’t denyBad, bad companyTill the day I die, o yeah.” “Ok, that’s enough of that singing,” the Writer said, “so you thought that they were with it, they had it going on.”    The Reactionary Landscaper, “Oh hell no, they were hicks, they were into that three chord progressive rock scene.”  That’s the magic of the Landscaper, he ’s like WC Fields driving a car, you never know which way he will turn.

“Who is this Alvin Lee, he died the same day as Mike Smith? The Writer asked.                   The Landscaper,”What are you brain dead?  .  He was the red hot  guitarist in the band,  Ten Years After . They played at the Woodstock in 1969, and  he was in the big climatic song, I’m Going Home , the movie and the Album.   Man, you are so-not-with-it.   Don’t forget to call me after the Wake, I want to hear every detail.”

Sister, tell your brother, brother tell your auntie now
Auntie tell your uncle, uncle tell my cousin now, cousin tell my friend
Goin’ up the country, mama, don’t you want to go?

Blind Willie McTell, Statesboro Blues

Coming Saturday: We’re Going Up the Country to Mooresville :  The Drive to and The Wake

Oh, Black Betty Bambalam:The Mike Smith Wake

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on April 30th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – Be the first to comment

Oh, Black Betty Bambalam!

The Mike Smith Wake

Oh, Lawd, Black Betty,
Oh, Lawd, Black Betty,
Black Betty had a baby,
Black Betty had a baby

James (Iron Head) Baker

Recorded by Alan Lomax ,Alabama State Penitentiary , 1933

We are interrupting the Willkie Co-op 2012 Reunion Series to record the series of events that happened at the time of the untimely death of Mike Smith.

The Pharmacist: “Well it’s about time, you returned and finished this series. Why the start with that strange song from Ram Jam in the ‘70s, and why this wake story on Mike Smith?”

The Writer: “Well you were one of the people that insisted that I should go to his wake, and I am sure that he must have listened to this canonical rock song. Many people consider Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” to be the first rock and roll song, but it has to be “Oh, Black Betty” which has a strong rhythm, nonsense lyrics, a short playing time, and is loud.”   But we need to go back in time and start at the beginning.

The Writer was working on a case with a short dead line when he checked his e-mails and saw a note from the Libarian.

Dear Friends ,I’m sorry to pass on the sad news that our dear friend, and co-oper Mike Smith has passed away.  Bruce was kind enough to let me know and asked me to let you all know.  It was sudden on yesterday, (3/4 at 1:00).  He recently checked himself into the hospital, in Indy I believe, and they are still checking on what happened.  Bruce told me that Mike had still been enjoying his music and was playing in a band based in Indy. I always remembered Mike as a sweet, upbeat and fun guy!  I think we have a few pictures on the Co-op site too. Let me know if I missed anyone who may want to know, and I will see if I have their e-mails.  We were lucky to have so many wonderful memories!

That’s interesting, an all points bulletin. Who’s Mike Smith? I don’t think that I know him, and before he can ask the Librarian who he is, the e-mail encomiums come pouring in from all points.

The Beachcomber: “So sorry to get this news. Thanks Bruce. Will keep the Smith family in my prayers.”

The Phoenix Kid: shocking news!…we were roommates for a while in indy in 77 or 78…..what great memories of the times we had in our house on college ave near broad ripple in indy..his band playing at The Patio…always “band stuff” going on all around you….his brother mark lived there a while too…haven’t really kept up with him since then but we had some great times..

They must have been close since they hadn’t heard from each other in twenty five years

The Writer starts paging back into time. Mark, Mark Smith, I remember him but not Mike Smith. Mark lived on the third floor with Mike Johnson and that Python Snake and he must have been living there when Mike Johnson and Bonny got together. I knew that Mark was in a band with his brother, they liked to play the song “Bad Company” from the surprisingly named Rock Band, Bad Company. Those e-mail eulogies keep fluttering down from the internet

The Deer Hunter: ” we shared a house in Bloomington and Mike and Mark played at our wedding.  he was a great guy to be around, always upbeat and ready with a joke.  thanks for sending the news,”

I’m pretty sure The Deer Hunter didn’t mean “thanks for the news.” He is starting to think that he remember this Mike Smith, brother of Mark Smith.

The Man from N.Carolina: “ Oh my gosh.  Mike lived with Tom and me in our house on Clark St.  Like all his other roommates, we had an in house band along wit Mark, Sam, and I don’t remember the drummer’s name.  Tom and I visited him during his time in California.   Such a great guy.  This is such sad news.”

Well, we know who was in that band now.

The Guy from Alaska: I saw Joe’s RIP the other day on facebook and was surprised and saddened. Thank you for keeping me in the loop. I remember many many nights on Clark St. with the Waystar boys going wild. Mike was such a good guy as everyone else is reminding us. If anyone sees Mark, please give him my best. Losing a brother is tough. Losing a twin I suspect is enormous. Peace to all my good coop friends. Time and distance does not diminish my fondness for all of you.

Well Mike Smith must have lived on the Fourth Floor of the Willkie Co-op since all the e-mail were from Fourth FloorGuys. And now we know the name of the band. He don’t buy that “time and distance” remark. Time and distance usually means, “see you around”.

And that is it for the remembrances. In the background, Dan Dakich, the old IU basketball player is starting in on his afternoon Indy sports radio show, loud and whining as always. That’s the end of that, the Writer is sure that the Pharmacist will call him later. The Pharmacist is a voyeur for any kind of action or news, good or bad. The Pharmacist will remember who this Mike Smith was. Somehow, the Writer knows that this won’t be the end of it. When it comes to Wendell Willkie Co-op Residential Unit, there is never an end.

To Be Continued:

Willkie Coop Reunion 2012: Chapter 6:Saturday in the Park

Posted in Walk on the Avenue, Walk with Me on February 4th, 2013 by Kevin Sears – 1 Comment

The Pharmacist, “How come you won’t use people’s name.  Are you protecting the                         innoscent?”    The Writer,”God knows they’re not innocent.  They just

haven’t  appeared in front of a jury  yet.”

Bruce was continuing on with his story (after a couple of sips of his apple jack)  about climbing into a limousine with some strange women (strange in the sense of unknown.”  Chet is assisting with the story so he must have been there.

The write has drifted off and is paging through time,  remembering how the guys on the second floor would get together before dinner on Fridays and put twelve bottle of  Miller High Life on ice in a styrofoam cooler that was more duct tape styrofoam.  This would have been Dave, Pete, Pat, Mike, Denny, and Brad the Postman who many many years later was arrested for distributing illegal substances on his route.   We discussed current events, books, movies, and music.    This was the first time that he learned from Salah  about what the West Bank was in relationship to Jordan and Israel.  Relaxing aftet the weeks labor, it put a nice glow on the weekend to come.  When I reminded the Pharmacist of this, he asked, “Did Chet ever sit in on this group, he’s such a left winger?”     The Writer,”Not that I remember, I never heard a word out of him on politics or anything current.  As I recollect, motorcycles, Old No. 7, and girls were more his line of work, politics came later. “   The Pharmacist laughs and the Writer joins in.

When the writer wanders back into the conversation, the Landscaper is describing how he went to work on America’s last working steamboat, The Delta Queen.  “I was at my grandmother’s house and I was out of High School.  It was summer and it was jungle hot and I was sitting in an old overstuffed chair in front of a giant fan with fan blades like propellers on an aircraft.  I was reading the Cincinnati Enquirer and there was a big ad for deckhands and laborers  and I said to Grandma, ‘I’m going down to the dock in Cincinnati and sign on and I did.  Of course, they didn’t believe that I was eighteen.  I had to get a copy of my birth certificate. ‘”      The Libarian, “Well you looked so young in those days. “    “Not innocent though,” the Rock Hound.      The Landscaper picks up his narrative. ” The work was hard.  They put us down below deck and packed us in.   The food was good and when we pulled into port.”     The writer, “Hold it there, isn’t port a little romantic for the dock and a gangway in Evansville, and let me guess, you spent your meager pay on cheap wine and old bust head whiskey while you were in “port”.     “That’s right,” the Landscaper says.

Most of the crowd wanders off into the green yard and the writer and Ms. Montego Bay are left.  The writer has a question for her:  ” I saw your pictures of  your trip to California to visit Bonnie & Mike.”  “Did you remember them?” Ms. M.B.    The Writer,” Well, I was living on the third floor with Matt and Mike lived down the hall with one of the Cough Drop Brothers and I think that one of them has a python that they kept in a glass box.  I could be wrong on that though.  Mike was quiet and seemed to be in that pre-disco J. Geils look.  Wasn’t disco in 1974 a New York thing at that time.  Bonnie had a great figure and a nice smile and they locked onto each other right off and then they were gone in no time at all.  I guess they knew they were meant for each other or they didn’t like the co-op.  Now what is interesting about your visit is, and this is after decades of non contact, you show up for a visit.   Now there are no pictures of Mike, so maybe he is still the same old quiet Mike or he can’t figure out what you are doing here.  Now in Bonnie’s pictures, she looks a little vague, in the fashion of ‘Hey, look who came to dinner, let’s take her to the beach and the zoo and see what turns up.”  The Writer is amused with this line of conversation, but Ms. M.B changes the subject.   “You know that I took a  contract job teaching  in the inner city in S. Bend.   The Writer, “What for, I thought you were retired.”    Ms.M.B.,” The extra money comes in handy.  I like to travel.”    The Writer, “One more question, I didn’t know that S. Bend had an inner city. I thought is was just empty.”

Out in the yard the Mr. Jet and Mrs.Tenn. and the Beachcomber are sitting on the stone wall behind the shelter.  They are framed in the shelter window and the long straight  rays of the early evening sun are illuminating them in a golden halo.  The Beachcomber is telling them a story and they are both laughing.  It’s a pleasant moment, and the Writer pours the last drop of Old No. 7 out of the bottle into his glass.

Stay tuned for the next three chapters and the shocking conclusion!