I know my mind is made up, so put away your make up

Today’s going rate for orgasm: $70.

So the scuttlebutt was that Eldon had a little side business providing outcall sexual services. Someone had even seen an ad in the back of Bay Area Reporter with a grainy picture that looked a little like Eldon, but nobody had the guts to ask him directly whether he was a prostitute. So last night Bill forwards me the following explanation:

ok…after our little conversation last night (i’ll always cherish that…burp…tequila….) i decided to do a little investigating on my own concerning eldon. so in my drunken stupor when i arrive home, i aquired a new e-mail address and sent him an e-mail asking for info on his services. so below is the response he sent back to me.


From: Eldon [[email protected]]

I charge 70-  a session for sensual erotic touch to orgasm
massage   I can get relatively sexual within reason.. ( It
all depends)  I live alone on Mission Dolores district of
Sf..  I can be reached at   415-xxx-xxxx or cell is xxx
xxxx  Eldon here. 

No word yet on whether Bill actually purchased the it-all-depends massage.

We’ll move out of the shelter, buy a big house and live in the suburbs

The Pacific shimmers a radiant electric blue and the wind rustles our hair. Crystal has put the top down on the red Nissan 350Z roadster. The engine sings a sweet harmonic note as we trace the tight curves of the Pacific Coast Highway.

“Speed under control,” she says to me, her dark sunglasses reflecting the horizon. The bare skin on her shoulders is the color of vanilla ice cream. “You learn how fast you can push it. I had this Yamaha R6 for a time; I took it to Laguna Seca. There’s nothing like hitting a curve at seventy and feeling the bike respond underneath you.”

In the meadow to our right, stud horses stand in uffish thought, meditating upon the silver-white waters below them. We fly past them like wind.

“I did love Anthony at one time,” she said. “I was in Reykjavik, he was in Boston. We kept in touch with e-mails and Internet chat messages. I didn’t speak the language. And through the ones and zeros I found a sympathetic voice. We wrote to one another. First it was once a day… ‘how’s your day been’ and that sort of trivia. Then we started to discuss our favorite books, our philosophies, our childhood memories, and ultimately, our darkest sexual fantasies.”

“Hey, watch –” I said. A rental truck whooshed by, swerving a little. Crystal had veered into the left lane. Crystal gave me a look of subtle reproach, then continued.

“Three years after I was married to him, I met Blaine. He worked in the cubicle next to mine. With him, in person I felt something I never felt with Anthony. I knew we were going quickly, but it was my choice to do so.”

Coyote brush, sage scrub, strawberries, roses; a thousand scents pass us in a microsecond. Crystal checks her rear view mirror and gently touches the accelerator. The tachometer tweaks and the engine changes key.

“I broke up with Blaine in April. He had already decided to divorce his wife. Monday mornings, I see him at the coffee maker and nod politely. We’re civil to one another. I don’t regret anything and neither does he. The break was a clean one.”

I decided to change the subject. “Do you still ride your bike?” I asked.

“I crashed my bike a few months ago. Took a turn at Thunderhill a little too fast. A fracture in my ankle. It swelled up larger than my kneecap. I couldn’t walk for a few weeks after that. But you know something, John?”

Crystal kicked the accelerator and the little car howled like a nest of bees: ninety, one hundred. An indicator on the tachometer flashed.

Crystal dropped her sunglasses and showed me her dark eyes. “You have to push it,” she said, smiling gently at me. “You have to learn what’s possible and what’s not.”

Fate should have made you a gentleman’s wife

Amanda has a supersweet languorous smile, and conversations always stall when she enters a room. She has laser-beam hazel-green eyes, full of attention and sense; whatever they focus on warms perceptibly. Her hair, long and soft, is a living part of her body, and she flicks and flows it like a filly flirts with her mane. At night, when my renegade brain ticks away, unsolving and unresolving dilemmas of money and unwork, there’s always the warm flesh of Amanda, spooning against my back and touching me, holding me. She calms me, addresses me, makes me sane.

Amanda, Mandy to friends, is far smarter than you or I. If I’ve lost something about the house, my wallet or my guitar capo or my open can of soda, I’ll ask her, and her terabit brain ticks for a picosecond and she says, “Why, on top of the mantle, sweetie,” and there my wallet or my guitar capo or my open can of soda will be. Her ability to do this, repeatedly and perfectly, gives me no end of cheap entertainment. It’s the perfect parlor trick.

Mandy sings, only for me, in a copper-plated alto. Unlike me, she remembers all the words to any song, and we’ll sometimes spend Saturday nights on the couch, with my guitar eviscerating random rock songs, and Mandy will plug into her vast mental library of throwaway-music lyrics, and we’ll joyously and raucously sing for an hour or two. Our great friendship smoothes the rumpled folds of our bed sheets, and so I consider our California king-size a place of refuge, or a nest. With a glass or two of cheap Merlot in her, she’ll forget to forget, and she can see her own sultriness reflected in my shining eyes.

She tells gentle blue jokes, twisting her tongue to the side of her ample lips in a punctuation mark of irony. I have never, in my fourteen years of association with her, known her to be spiteful or cruel to any living thing. She is a fine wife, a gentle and sweet and intelligent wife. I love my wife; more than that, I like her.

Sunday morning is everyday for all I care

I woke up early this morning, made a pot of coffee for myself and the wife, and had an old Southern drama for breakfast. In the intro, Thomas Lanier Williams wrote: “Personal lyricism is the outcry of prisoner to prisoner from the cell in solitary where each is confined for the duration of his life.”

Very rarely, very randomly, like one monkey of the seven hundred kissed by a muse, I can also vomit up the dark truth.

The truth is Coffee. Any of you theater types want to have a go at it?

She take me money and run Venezuela

VCR alert: Word is that the Tilda sketch went over very well. Set your VCR to watch SUTN this Saturday night (June 13 2004) at 1:00 a.m., KBHK, channel UPN 44, Bay area Cable 12.

Also, I wrote the final sketch of the season. Come by the KPIX studio at 855 Battery Street in beautiful foggy San Francisco, this Sunday evening, June 13 2004 at 8:00 p.m., to watch the sketch live, and laugh loudly. Free free free tickets here! Live television audience woo yay!

Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such

Dave Kellum pulls the cigarette from his mouth and squints up at me. “See that hill over there? In this next shot, you slowly trek over that hill. Carrying your backpack.” I survey the dust-covered hill; it’s half a mile away.

Dave squashes the cigarette underfoot. “Charles and Griffin will take you behind the hill in the truck. When you get there, put on the backpack, and when I give the signal, starting walking over the hill toward the camera.”

“Easy enough,” I say.

Charles and I pile in the cab of Charles’s pickup truck. It’s a fat-ass Ford, contractor white, with plenty of trusses and locking toolchests and bungie cords. With effort, Griffin lugs my backpack into the truck’s bed and jumps in the back.

Charles drives the truck very tentatively over the glacially pockmarked terrain. The girder-sized shock absorbers complain and the truck rolls back and forth. Charles drives over two-foot craters of bone-dry earth. Griffin taps on the rear window, and Charles laughs. “I’m trying to drive easy,” Charles shouts out the open window.

Charles abruptly stops, halfway around the hill. Thirty feet from the truck, two thousand pounds of black Angus stares down at us.

“It has horns,” Charles says.

“Mayday,” I shout into the walkie-talkie.

“Oh, relax, it’s just a cow,” says Charles.

“You sure?” I ask.

“Either that, or it has four dicks,” Charles says.

Charles gently drives in a wide berth around the cow. I roll down the window of the Ford and shout, “Moo! Bitch!” The cow swivels its head, tracking us all the way around, staring us down.

We leave the cow and park the truck behind the hill. Griffin straps the backpack to my back and puts the walkie-talkie into my vest pocket. I sway under the heavy load, my gas mask fogging in the ninety-degree heat.

“Action action action!” burbles the walkie-talkie.

I saunter over the hill toward the camera, spouting technobabble. “NorMat control, bearing two zero three six mark three, germ count three point six nine millibars and rising…”

“Cut! That was great,” barks the walkie-talkie. I turn around and slowly trudge back over the hill, toward the truck.

Charles and Griffin are shifting from foot to foot, scanning the horizon. “Great job,” says Griffin, applauding. “But I think we better go.”

“Why, what’s up?” I say.

Charles points. The black cow is back, staring at us intently.

Directly behind the cow are two hundred other cows. They strut and stroll towards us, their huge flanks rippling.

Effortlessly, smoothly, the black cow flips its hind leg up like a pike and knocks a pile of flies off its ear.

I look up. At the top of my ninety-pound costume is a red flag.

“Oh bloody hell,” I say.

“Let’s get this thing off you,” says Griffin.

Charles and Griffin begin yanking at the pack on my back. Calmly, inexorably, the herd marches toward us, watching, walking, waiting. Curved horns, twisted horns, straight horns. One steer points a single cockeyed horn at us and licks its ruddy nose.

“They think it’s feeding time. Or something,” says Griffin.

The black cow is now fifteen feet away from us, flipping its horns. “John, you’ve got to help us here,” says Charles.

“I’ll do anything humanly possible to help out here,” I say.

“Pull,” says Griffin. I give a colossal heave and the pack falls onto the ground with a thud. A steer snorts in surprise.

In one large motion, Griffin throws the pack into the truck and jumps over the tailgate. Charles and I fly into the cab and I yank off my headgear.

The truck is surrounded. Griffin scans the two hundred thousand pounds of incoming brisket and screams, “Drive!”

Charles punches the gas. Dust and gravel zings into the air and Griffin coughs. A dozen cattle scatter, huffing and snorting, their necks craning to get away from the sudden noise. Charles turns the truck in an ungainly circle and bolts around the hill.

The truck ricochets wildly off the uneven earth. The shock absorbers screech and metal slaps metal. We bounce left, right, then hard left.

I lean out the window and scream at the herd scattering before us. “MOOOO, MOTHERFUCKERS! MOOOOO!”

We hit a small wall of gravel and dirt and the engine block crunches against it. The shocks hurl the entire truck into the air.

In that split-second I glance at the mirror on the side of the truck. In that moment, Griffin is airborne, his arms and legs splayed protectively beneath him, a mixture of bewilderment and sadness on his face.