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Category: "k stories"

01/06/12 12:52 - ID#55855

K Story: Jersey

I mentioned my long-held theorem that you cannot make fun of New Jersey if you’ve never lived there.

“Oh,” K said, “I’ve lived there.” (We were on the phone. I’d just figured out how to use the Bluetooth thing in the new car.)

“You have to live there a little while to understand the aesthetic,” I said.

“I was there ten months,” he said. “Granted, I was only six at the time. Hackensack. But I remember it really well.”

“Do you,” I said. “Really? Six?”

“It’s pretty goddamn vivid,” he said. “My dad shot an intruder in our house. Twice, in the face. Bam-bam. Killed him instantly.”

“Oh,” I said. A lot of K stories leave you not quite knowing what to say.

“They arrested my dad,” he said. “Because of a lot of things, some of which I only found out a lot later. But partly because most scared homeowners don’t shoot people like that. A neat double-tap, precision-aimed? The cops figured he hadda be Somebody. And then, we were straight from Georgia, and the intruder was black. A Southern guy shoots a black dude? Like that?”

“Hm,” I said, still trying to figure out what one says.

“What it really came down to, though, I only found out way later, was that the guy downstairs was a soldier for the Gotti family, and they figured my dad was probably involved too. They had to let him go, as of course there wasn’t any proof of anything. But I only found out really recently… he was.”

K laughs. “So yeah, I remember Jersey really well.”
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Permalink: K_Story_Jersey.html
Words: 272
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/06/12 12:52

01/06/12 12:50 - ID#55854

it's almost Christmas!

So in case I haven't mentioned, I work retail. (Yep, still at Delaware Camera.) This means that Christmas is, for me, a stressful, overworked time of unmitigated hell. On Christmas Day I staggered over to (e:zobar)'s mom's house with a bag of hastily-wrapped gifts and sat in total exhaustion staring blankly on the couch. I didn't even get around to opening my presents (I had two) until 9pm.
My family celebrated Christmas without me, on Thanksgiving, in Georgia, where my sister and her children live. I Skyped with them, briefly. That was toward the beginning of my Unmitigated Hell season, and I knew from the moment my sister announced it that I would be unable to attend. So I didn't stress, but I did cry a little, alone in bed late at night, knowing that my entire family was together without me. (And we had just lost my uncle to unexpected, fast-progressing cancer, so it was kind of hard to be on my own then while they were all having so much togetherness etc.)

But this weekend my parents are visiting me, and I'm going to have a proper-ish Christmas of my own, with my mother's special cooking and so on. I've saved all the presents my sisters sent me to open when my parents are here, and I sent all my presents out to my sisters late and am going to try to Skype with them that day. We're going to celebrate on Sunday, after the upcoming roller derby bout.
Oh yeah, there's one of those coming up. I'm playing. It'll be fun. Come see. Front row is sold out but the rest of the place isn't.

So yeah. I'm excited about Christmas. I haven't seen my folks since October.
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Permalink: it_s_almost_Christmas_.html
Words: 292
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/06/12 12:50

Category: "k stories"

01/04/12 05:18 - ID#55849

K Story: Left to the Face, Right to the Body

“I heard he hit you first,” I say into the phone.

K’s voice is indistinct, but his diction is clear; it’s the phone reception, and the fact that he’s probably holding it between his face and shoulder as he’s cooking. “Damn right,” he says. “Well, to be fair, he hit her first, and that’s what started it.”

“Wait, whoa, he hit the girl? I’m amazed you let him live.” I’d had a few scanty details secondhand via text and his slurred voice in the background the night before, but nothing detailed.

“There were probably four people in the place,” he says. “Me, the barmaid, the guy, and one other customer. Damn it this spatula isn’t big enough.” He trails off into muttering, then comes back clearer as he evidently shifts the phone closer to his mouth. “I was just there to… I wasn’t really there to get drunk, I just wanted to get out… get out of the house, really. I just needed a little space. So I had just got my drink. And the bartender was arguing with this guy, her ex-boyfriend. She was telling him he had to get out. So he backhands her, right across the face. Hang on.” He fades out, and something scuffles, and thumps.

“There.” He’s much clearer now.

“He really hit her,” I say.

“Yeah.” His voice rises, in remembered incredulity. “So I stood up and went over and said You’re gonna have to leave now, and he got up in my face and said It’s none of yours, and I said, again, clearer, You’re going to have to leave. So he says, You wanna fight about it? And calm as anything, I looked him up and down and said, Actually? Yeah.”

“Oh, perfect,” I say.

“So he hauls off and hits me. It was kind of a nothin’ hit, a drunk swing, though actually my jaw hurt pretty bad after. And I woke up this morning with a bloody nose but I think that was just the dry air, I don’t think he got me that good. So everything went into slow motion, like it does— he hits me, and then I see him looking at my right hand, ready for me to swing back. So I hit him with my left. Left to the face, then a right to the body. And he just dropped into a little heap. I kicked him, pretty hard, in the gut, cuz you know, I had kind of a lot of anger to work through. It’s been a while. Then I scooped him up and put him out the door.”

“Nice,” I say, and he laughs.

“I know I didn’t break his jaw because he mumbled something about calling the police. I said Sure, go ahead. He hit me first, and there were witnesses that saw it, so I wasn’t worried. I shut the door, came back inside, went back to my chair, sat down, took a breath, and time went back from slow motion to normal. And the bartender comes over, and says, calm and quiet, just like that, Thanks. Want a drink?”

“And you did,” I say.

“Fuck yes,” he said. “I’d already started in on a triple of Jameson— one of those rocks glasses, about three quarters full— and a tall Guinness, and she brought me another of each, and then I had another Jameson after that, and then we went down the street and I had another triple Jameson and a tall Guinness. And I felt better.”

“You sounded pretty damn cheerful on the phone last night,” I point out.

“Oh hell yes,” he says. “There’s nothing as satisfying as a good bar fight, you know?”

“I’m kind of surprised you’re this OK this morning,” I say. “Last night you took S’s phone and were telling me something involved about finishing your drink because of St. Patrick and your ancestors, but you pronounced it ansheshtors.”

“I don’t remember that,” he said. “But I’m guessing the giant glass of water I had, and then the tactical decision to go make myself throw up, between the last Jameson and the last Guinness, are probably why I woke up bright-eyed and ready to go, if a little bloody, at 7 am. I’ve been cookin’ ever since. Hey I gotta go, I’ll call you once the food’s been served.”
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Permalink: K_Story_Left_to_the_Face_Right_to_the_Body.html
Words: 750
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/04/12 05:18

Category: "k stories"

01/03/12 11:13 - ID#55845

K Story: Knees

He calls just as I’m getting ready for practice. He is in a terrible mood, just devastated by a recent fight with a friend, and I’m doing my best to be distracting. So I’m complaining about my knees.

“I bruised the hell out of the good one,” I moan, “and the scar tissue in the tendon on the other one is just aching like crazy.”

“Mine’s bad too, lately,” he says. “Just the bad one, though.”

“You have a bad knee?” In my (derby-heavy) social group I’m used to always knowing who has chronic injuries where, out of courtesy and habit. So I’m shocked not to already know.

“The right one,” he says. “It dislocates. Ever since the thing with the helicopter. Did— Wait, have you not heard this story? With the dead Rangers?”

“What? No!” I would remember that, my dad was almost a Ranger.

He laughs. “I guess I gotta save at least one story for when we’re old and gray.”

I snort. I’d been less-than-gently needling him that his current woes were his mid-life crisis. “Shut up,” he says, but he’s laughing.

“When was this?” I ask, more politely.

“About 1995?” he says. I decide not to mention that I was in high school then. “It was one of those war games exercises. And the thing we had to do, for my team anyway, was that we had to jump out of a helicopter into this river. And the fucking pilot didn’t slow down like he was supposed to. My team chief was so mad it’s lucky he didn’t shoot the guy. I wasn’t the only one who got hurt.”

“What, just jump out? No parachute?”

“Pah, of course,” he says. “We just jumped out with about 100 pounds of gear on. He was supposed to slow down, see? I hit that water so hard— and now I know, it is possible to scream underwater. I would’ve drowned if my friend hadn’t hauled me up— big Samoan guy, he saved me a couple times.”

I remember Big Samoan Guy from the story about the scars on K’s shoulder, the scars his tattoos cover, the one he won’t let me tell yet. Saved his life then too. “Yeah,” I say, wishing I remembered the man’s name but not wanting to interrupt.

“It was kinda fucked-up,” he says. “The corpsman we had, he wasn’t very good. Guys would come to me instead. So they hauled me out and half-carried me back to the beachhead, and this useless fucker has no idea what to do with a dislocated knee. He won’t give me anything but ibuprofen. And I’m lying in this, basically a foxhole, and you know how I am, I’m pretty fuckin’ grouchy. And they say they can’t medevac me to a real doctor for another two days. And I’m just watching this thing swell up and it hurts bad and I’m so mad at the stupid chopper pilot.”

“I don’t blame you,” I comment.

“But then they say oh, there’s an Army helicopter coming in. They’ll drop their guys and come by for you.”

“Oh,” I say, “there you go.”

“Yeah,” he says dryly. “So this Blackhawk helicopter comes in. I don’t know Blackhawks. It comes in over the beach, then suddenly the pitch of the engine changes. Like I said, I don’t know Blackhawks. But this thing suddenly went careening past the next line of trees, disappeared behind it, and then there was just this huge fireball.”

“Fuck!” It’s an awful image. “Did anyone get out?”

“Of course not,” he answers. “Killed the whole crew, plus the entire team of Army Rangers waiting to jump out.”

“Fuck,” I say again.

“Yeah,” he says. “So like, after that nobody cared about my knee. I couldn’t blame them. But I lay in that hole for three days with my knee dislocated.”

“Shitty,” I say.

“Shittier for those Rangers,” he says. We’re both silent, thinking on that. Finally he says, “It’s not a very good story. I think that’s why I never told it to you before.”

“Not a good story?!”

“No,” he says. “All I do is lie in a hole and feel sorry for myself.”
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Permalink: K_Story_Knees.html
Words: 730
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/03/12 11:13

Category: "k stories"

01/03/12 08:29 - ID#55844

K Story: Microdot

He pauses, looking down at a plate sitting atop my toaster oven. It has Christmas leftovers, cookies, on it. He pokes one. “What the heck?”

“Marshmallows,” I say cheerfully. “I made homemade marshmallows! They’re stale now but they were really good.”

“Brr,” he says, recoiling slightly. “Ugh.”

“What’s not to like about marshmallows?” I demand, astonished.

“Ugh,” he says. “I can’t handle marshmallows. I had a bad experience with a dose of acid on a marshmallow once.”

“Acid?” I’m utterly taken aback. “You did acid?”

He laughs. “Yeah,” he says. “I used to. I probably shouldn’t tell this story but one of my favorite times was during a hurricane, onboard ship.”

I stare at him. “Isn’t that a terrible idea?”

“We ran to sea to ride out the storm,” he said. “Standard kind of procedure. It’s unpleasant, but you have a better chance out there than near the shore. So during a storm like that, almost no one is allowed to be up and about. The guy steering the ship is strapped into his chair, the guy watching the instruments is strapped in, and just about everyone else is belowdecks, literally strapped into their bunks.”

“What if you have to get up to pee?” I ask.

“You don’t,” he says. “You can’t get out, the bunks are four deep. There’s a big webbing thing that comes across to hold you in. Some guys would try to bring in a bottle or a can or something so if— not if, when— you had to pee it didn’t get everywhere— I usually did— but there wasn’t really much you could do. After a long storm the whole place just stank of piss and shit and sweat. It wasn’t fun.”

“And you decided to do acid to get through this,” I say, thinking perhaps I understand.

“Oh no,” he says. “Because my damage control team wasn’t in our bunks. We were supposed to go around and make sure the ship wasn’t sinking. We were emergency response.”

“… And you did this on acid,” I say.

“Only a half-dose,” he said. “And I should mention, there wouldn’t’ve been much we could really do, even if it were. We were wearing enormous Mae West life vests, huge oversize coveralls, old-school combat helmets, and we had all our limbs wrapped in towels under the coveralls. Because the ship is making forty-degree drops at random intervals; you just get beat to hell if you’re not strapped down. It sucks, and it’s boring, and dangerous, and hard. So we just all got high and ran around like idiots. Hell, there was no one to see us.”

“I suppose that’s opportune,” I say, still skeptical.

“The best part was when we all decided to go rolling,” he said. “There’s just this one huge space, a corridor, belowdecks, that goes almost the whole length of the ship. It ends at the mess hall on one end. It’s huge; we were a repair ship so we’d use it to put big ship engines we were working on, and stuff. But at that point it was empty. So we made ourselves into human cannonballs and just rolled down it while the ship tossed and heeled.”

I consider that a moment. “Is this the same team that had the kite incident?”

He laughs. “Yup.”
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Permalink: K_Story_Microdot.html
Words: 573
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/03/12 08:29

Category: k stories

01/02/12 08:43 - ID#55841

K Story: Go Fly A Kite

He takes a drag off his cigarette, and it glows in the dark. “I got a lot of stories about Boomer*,” he says. “Guy was dumb as a box of rocks. Had a gorgeous wife, I mean drop-dead gorgeous, people stopped and literally stared when she came into rooms. She dressed the part too, always, dressed to kill.” He shakes his head, thinking about it, and takes another drag. “And she was absolutely faithful to him. We all figured, oh man, she’s gotta be messing around on him, girl like that. But she never did.” He goes quiet a moment.

“He got hurt, actually— ended up, well, maimed.” He rolls the cigarette between his fingers, field-stripping it, then folds the butt up and puts it into the chair’s cup holder. “Pretty bad. And she stuck with him…” He examines his fingers.

“But Boomer. He was dumb, so dumb. He was on my damage control team. One thing about him, kind of weird, he loved to build kites. Big ones, box kites. And he’d spend like a week making these things, these elaborate kites, and then he’d go to fly them and the string would break. Cuz the thing is, we’re on a warship. It’s kind of windy, out there at sea. Regular string isn’t gonna cut it. So he’d spend all these hours on these kites, then lose ‘em right away.”

“Bummer,” I comment. He pokes around and finds his mug in the dark, and drinks.

“So we found this cable. See, some liferafts, they attach ‘em to the ship by these long spools of cabling. If the ship sinks too deep, it snaps off, but otherwise, it keeps the life rafts from drifting too far away. Much easier for rescuers to find all the survivors that way. This cable is really, really thin, but it’s also incredibly strong.”

“You probably weren’t really supposed to appropriate that,” I point out, sensing where this story’s going.

“Wellll,” he drawls, “we didn’t swipe it off a liferaft or anything. There were spare reels of the stuff, stored in our locker room. So we just… borrowed one. We wun’t doin’ anybody any harm, right?”

I laugh. “I’m sure the Navy always has a sense of humor about that kind of stuff. They’re known for that.”

“Oh yeah,” he says, “they’re known for that. So we borrowed this reel of cable, and went up to the stern of the ship, and tied this kite to it, and don’t you know, it worked a treat. I mean, we got that thing to fly really good. It was up a couple hundred feet, easy. Beautiful.”

He makes a swooping gesture with the hand that doesn’t have a drink in it. I laugh, thinking of the image of a warship with a box kite flying gaily from the stern.

“Then all of a sudden the klaxons start going off, and the ship goes to general quarters. General quarters, general quarters, and everybody’s running around. So we’re all, shit, what do we do?” He makes a face, wide-eyed. “So we tie the kite off, real quick, and go running off to our stations.”

“General quarters is bad, right?” I’m not real up on the terminology.

“I mean, it’s not bad, but it means shit is potentially gettin’ real,” he says. “So we’re scurrying off, and this announcement comes on, DC5, come to the bridge. That’s us, we’re Damage Control 5. That can’t be good. So we haul ass to the bridge, and there’s the captain. And he’s got his fancy hat on. The real fancy one. He’s got a few different hats, see, and mostly he just wears one of the regular ones. But if you’re about to get your ass chewed out real bad, you know it because the captain has the really fancy hat on.”

“For serious?” I am enchanted by the idea of hats in varying degrees of severity by fanciness.

“For serious,” he says. “This is the Navy, we do shit like that. So anyway. We’re all like, shit, what’d we do?”

“What’s wrong with a kite?” I ask.

“We don’t even think about that,” he says. “We’re all thinking, well, we’re a bunch of trouble, mostly, so there’s probably a hundred things it could be, but we’d all been on our best behavior. Or so we thought. So the captain says, gentlemen, why are my automated defense systems telling me there is a missile incoming aft?”

“Oh God,” I say.

“Every time the radar sweeps aft, the captain says, the automated defense systems are freaking out. Might you have any idea what is hanging off the back of my warship?” He gestures, mimicking the way a radar antenna spins. “And I gotta point out, the automated defense systems are just that. They’re these things that look like R2-D2 on the deck of the ship that automatically fire on incoming missiles. So they’ve had to disable these things; they were gonna go off by themselves, at whatever the radar was picking up.”

“Oh shit,” I say.

“So they’ve had to disarm them. And we’re all standing there, like, why is he asking us this? What could we possibly have to do with this? And then, as we’re standing there, you can see the little lightbulbs going on above our heads. And over Boomer’s head, there’s this little half-watt candle flickering. And he says, ‘Well… there’s… my kite?’”

“Ohh, shit,” I say. I’m really laughing now.

“The radar was picking up on the kite, and identifying it as an incoming missile,” he says, shaking his head. “Oh man, we got in so much trouble.”

“I bet you did!” I stand up to get the whiskey bottle. If he’s telling stories like this already, the night’s only going to get better.

“So,” he concludes, lighting another cigarette, “it turns out, you can clean a warship with a toothbrush. And I’ve done it.”

  • Not his real name. Duh. Not even his real nickname.
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Permalink: K_Story_Go_Fly_A_Kite.html
Words: 1046
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/02/12 08:43

Category: "k stories"

01/02/12 08:36 - ID#55840


I think I might repost some of my Tumblr content here. Tumblr doesn't archive things well enough for my preference. Especially not when I'm trying to make a collection of things. So what follows will be a couple of reposts of a series I was working on there, called "K Stories", which are the stories my friend K (who was at the New Year's party, the big blondish dude with the pinstriped vest) tells me. He's a consummate storyteller and has a wildly varied resume beginning with a childhood on a horse farm, going through being a carnie, a cook, a Navy firefighter and Special Forces member, a geologist, and assorted other things. He tells the stories well, so I've been trying to write them down in a slightly edited, conversational style as if I were putting them into some sort of collection. We'll see how that goes. Apologies if anyone has seen them before, I'm not all about duplicate content, but I don't like the way Tumblr just sort of has things disappear into the ether.
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Permalink: Catchup.html
Words: 177
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/02/12 08:36

01/01/12 11:28 - ID#55830

Happy New Year

Hey it was good to see (e:peeps) again last night!!! It's been a while!
My friends from out of town had a great time too. Maybe too great; Sue left her iPhone somewhere in the 24. Uh... we gotta come by and get that before they leave for Ohio this afternoon...
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Permalink: Happy_New_Year.html
Words: 51
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/01/12 11:28



New Site Wide Comments

joe said to flyingdinosaur
Welcome to (e:strip)!...

paul said to joe
oh Jan Magnussen ;)...

paul said to tinypliny
I miss you too!...

tinypliny said to paul
Oh I see the sheep are there too. Is this the entirety of your flock? :D...