It’s the same old theme since 1916

On Thursday night, I was at another wine and shite-talk reception. A bottle and a half into the proceedings and I spot the third-year chick. And she was pretending not to see me.

I ask you.

And may God forgive me, but with every glass of Ernest and Julio Gallo, her tits were getting more imperative.

So I funked over to the student bar with her and her bunch of know-it-all shitbrain friends. And there we are, pint after pint and she’s sitting beside me with her great big legs in knee-high boots.

And I’m getting a dirty mind and I know that if I don’t get it in her in the next few minutes, I’m going to give someone a dig.

So we get to her place, I’m funked. She carries me upstairs into her room. And I remember I was really interested in keeping her boots on.

And I was just pulling off her knickers when the door burst open. And this little fellow with long hair ran in, going berserk. He jumped on me and she was shouting, “Vyvyan, no!” He pushes me out into the landing. I was trying to pull my pants up, and I fell down the stairs onto the hall table. The phone flew off and went through the glass in the front door.

And I needn’t tell you, I was out into the car like a bullet.

I locked the door and your man was banging on the roof. I reversed at about fifty miles an hour. I didn’t even look. I skidded across the street and got it into first. Vyvyan jumps in front of the car. I put the foot down.

The above monologue is from the part of Ray in “This Lime Tree Bower,” which I will be performing with The Mostly Irish Theater Company, in Santa Clara, from November 12 through November 21. Tickets are a dirt cheap $12 and available via e-mail.

When I want something and I don’t wanna pay for it

The movies are wrong. Thieves, in my personal experience, are really, really, really stupid sons of bitches.

Last week I purchased a new GPS (global positioning) system for my car on Ebay. I was excited to play with my new toy, so I tracked it carefully across the country via UPS. The delivery service registered the sealed cardboard box on my doorstep at 2:32 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

My wife arrived home at 6:30 p.m. to find an open box and bubble wrap all over the front porch. The box had been opened and the GPS was gone. It was worth $700.

So the next day I called down to Tony’s Sports Novelties in San Bruno. “Yeah?” said the voice.

“Is this Tony?” I asked.

“Yeah, what’s up,” the voice grunted.

“Yesterday afternoon, someone from your shop was at my house, and around that same time, a GPS was stolen off my front porch. I’d like to talk to the guy who was here.”

Long silence on the other end. “Jeez… I do remember I sent Al to Hazel Avenue yesterday. And yeah. Come to think of it, when he came back he had this box in his hand. Looked like a fish finder or something. Al said he found it in some bushes.”

“That’s my GPS,” I said. “I want it back.”

“Al lives right across the street,” said Tony. “Lemme go talk to him.”

“No, wait!” I yell. “Don’t do anything until I get there.”

I’m weaving through Interstate traffic when the call comes on my cell phone. “This John?” grunts Tony. “Yeah, could you get down here? Something’s happened.”

“What?” I shout, dodging brakelights.

“So I went across the street to the donut shop. Lot of cops always hanging out over there. I explained the story to one of ’em, and whaddya know, Al walks in. I point at ‘im, and say ‘That’s him,’ and the cops are up and Al bolts and the cops are running after ‘im.”

“What happened then?” I ask.

“Whaddya mean, what happened then? The cops are running down the street after ‘im.”

I drive twenty miles over the legal speed limit to San Bruno and pull up in front of Tony’s Sports Novelties. The cop is five-foot-six and balding, and he bears San Bruno Police badge number seven. Tony, bearded and frowning, frets about on the sidewalk.

The cop nods to me. “My name’s Likins,” he says, flipping through a notebook. “With San Bruno P.D.”

“Did you find my GPS?” I ask.

“No,” says the cop.

“Damn, he outran you,” I say.

“Oh, heck no, sir,” says the cop. “Guy jumped on his bike and I ran after him for two blocks. Then I called for radio backup. Guy bolted right, up San Bruno Ave, toward I-380. Two squad cars responded. Guy got about three miles on that bike, but we took him down. He’s in jail now.”

“If I knew you a little better, I’d give you a hug,” I tell the cop.

Officer Likins laughs. “You can’t outrun the San Bruno P.D.,” he says.

“I had twenty-five thousand dollars worth of stuff stolen a couple years back,” grunted Tony. “Sucks.”

I shake Tony’s hand. “I owe you a favor,” I said.

I get a call two hours later. It’s Likins. “Unfortunately, your man claims that he sold it to some other slimeball. And the other guy claims he never bought it. I got a court order and searched both guys’ apartments. But I can’t find your GPS. Honestly, sir, it’s probably been laundered to some other third party.”

“Thanks for trying,” I say. “What’s going to happen to Al?”

“Al admitted that he stole it. That’s a theft over four hundred dollars, which makes it a felony offense in California. He’s going to jail.”


So I’m out $700, but thanks to two honest men, there’s a fantastically stupid fucking thief in jail.

Fantastically stupid?

Nobody was there when the GPS was stolen. Nobody saw Al take it.

So how did I know the thief was employed by Tony? And how did I know Tony’s phone number?

When I got home, dangling from the doorknob, there was a clue.

I close my letter but never my love

South of Market. Urine-smelling streets, green rusty overpasses, cardboard boxes stacked into a makeshift hut. As I walk by a chain-link fence topped with razor wire, a loose pile of handwritten papers catches my eye. They flutter randomly in the breeze. I stop and sort the pages.

Page one

Page two

Page three

Page four

Page five

I consider the unanswerables, and I contemplate how terrible we all really are to each other.

I walk back to my ivory-tower office, the October fog threatening to turn to rain.

Heaven knows what you’ve got to prove

Rico’s place, Berkeley, ten p.m. Two dogs prance in, tongues flapping, flanking Steve. Steve carries the bongo drum that he pulled down from the attic. The wine is sugary and bubbly, made only days ago from the fig tree that grows behind the house. Brian and Sean are in the middle of a heated discussion.

“No, you never saw it,” insists Brian. “You never saw a plane anywhere near the Pentagon. You never saw any sort of video or other evidence indicating there was a plane anywhere near the Pentagon at any time. You just saw pictures of the damage to the Pentagon. Didn’t you?”

“I never saw a plane hit the Pentagon,” grunts Sean. “But it happened.”

“But you don’t know it happened. And if you saw the evidence that I’ve seen… Well, you might think differently,” says Brian.

“Are you saying that there was some kind of…” Sean waves his glass in the air. “Conspiracy? Are you saying that they forged the evidence of a plane crashing into the Pentagon?”

“No. No, I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is that if you’ve seen the evidence that I’ve seen, you might think differently about it. Consider that they interviewed the building manager of the Pentagon immediately after the attack. And the building manager said that each level of the Pentagon collapsed, as if it had been dynamited. Purposely wired to explode. How do you explain that?”

“I have no idea,” says Sean. “I have no idea of the physics involved when an airplane hits a building.”

“And if a plane hit the Pentagon,” says Brian, “wouldn’t you expect to see airplane parts everywhere? Engines, seats, that sort of thing? Where were all those things, after the Pentagon blew up?”

“Well, where were they at the World Trade Center?” counters Sean. “The plane was full of fuel. The plane blew up. There were only tiny pieces of anything that didn’t burn left. Now are you saying they faked the Pentagon disaster?”

“I read the 9/11 Commission Report. Total bullshit,” continues Brian. “Complete and total bullshit. And, you know what? In the pictures that they showed of the Pentagon, you could see computer screens, undisturbed and unbroken by the blast. Now! Can you tell me how an entire plane can fly into a building, and a computer screen, right next to the point of impact, will remain unbroken?”

“Honestly, I have no clue,” says Sean. “I haven’t seen the pictures, and quite frankly I don’t think that’s evidence of a conspiracy.”

“Now wait a minute! One damn minute!” sputters Brian. “Are you saying to me… Are you trying to say to me… That you don’t believe that the government lies to you?”

Sean rolls his eyes. “Oh. The government has repressed the truth, like, a million times.”

I remember what city I’m in. I tune out of the conversation, unpack my guitar, and plug it into the amplifier.