Love In The Red Hot Fritos Isle

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It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.—George Eliot

    It was just another day of gasholes and beer humping at the Arco today until I saw her. Six foot five, blond, athletic. She is a classic American beauty. Someone you’d expect to see in a beauty pagent or a rodeo. I wanted her.

    She had driven in to the Arco lot in a large white van. She was wearing bluejeans that made her legs look like they rose up from the ground and went on forever. Statuesque doesn’t even begin to descibe the effect of her. I wanted her.

    She was strolling through the short isles of chips and candy bars until I walked up and stood next to her. I was pretending to be checking the cooler door shelves for bottles missing out of six packs or holes in the rows of single beer cans that needed to be pulled forward.

    We stood side by side for what seemed like a very long time. I was racking my brain trying to come up with a good pick-up line. She seemed to be waiting for it.

    She wasn’t wearing any strong perfume that I could comment on. She just smelled clean, like a bar of Zest. Her white blouse had no commercial message on it like the retards wear and it would sound pretty stupid of me to say what a pretty color her white blouse was.

    No ring on her finger . . . or in her nose or ears. I assumed there wasn’t a metal rod stuck through her tongue.

    She had a big head. Not too big for a woman of her height, but still it was big. I imagined my head nestled on her shoulder and it felt right. I imagined us riding horses in the desert and it felt true. I wanted her.

    What could I say? What could I say? What on God’s green earth could I, the middleaged, overweight smoker with bad teeth and a minimum wage deadend Arco gas station job, possibly have to say to a real woman?

    My mouth opened, because my mouth . . . and the rest of my body . . . was up for this, but alas, my brain balked.

    She eventually moved on.

Mystery of the Vanishing Vasquez

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To forget oneself is to be happy.—Robert Louis Stevenson


Mystery of the Vanishing Vasquez . . .

Icehouse Psycho Implicated

    Part of my stocker duties is to empty out the five trash barrels by the pumps and put new trash bags in them. A few weeks ago, I found a Handicam video camera in one of the barrels. I’m still trying to get it to work.

    Yesterday, I found a large blue canvass purse. In it was some woman’s life; her fake driver’s license, her El Camino student I.D., her address book, her Social Security card, pictures of her wedding and children, traffic tickets, orders from the court for her to do community service time, her food stamp records and I.D., her storage key, several letters from the court concerning domestic violence and victim services, a lot of social services and police cards and on and on.

    The purse’s contents painted a picture of a middle-aged housewife whose life had been changed by some kind of violence to her family. It appears that she was starting over, going back to school, trying to get some mechanically unsound car around town without collecting too many maintenance tickets. So why was her life in a gas station trash barrel?

    I had Arconian cash register clerk Renea call what appeared to be Darlene Vasquez’s daughter in Venice Beach from a number in the woman’s address book. Renea said they seemed uninterested that their mother’s purse turned up in Gardenia. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Today, manager Kimmie got a hold of the woman’s sister. The sister was crying, Kimmie said, because Darlene has been missing four days now.

    There was an eight-cruiser arrest by deputy sheriffs behind the Arco yesterday morning. It appears that The Icehouse Psycho—a nutjob who buys a 24-ounce can of Icehouse beer at the Arco every morning and then acts so bizarre on the side of the store that I have to run him off—was the guy arrested. Rumor has it that the usually penniless Icehouse Psycho was buying rounds for all the other street winos yesterday morning.

    I wonder if he offed poor old Darlene for her purse. I’ll be keeping my nostrils open for the telltale smells of decomposition coming from the Voodoo Lot next door.
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Arconia Summarized

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The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men.—Sir John A. Thomson

    One of my friends wrote about my Arco employment:

    “Better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in the rest of the fucking sane world. You’re king of the hill.  Next week if I’m not working I got to meet your Arconian friends.”

      To which I replied:

    “Well let’s see what we’ve got here for you. We’ve got The Bookend Arabs, Alah and Ben Hur. I call them The Bookend Arabs because they are opposite poles of each other. One never stops giggling (I think I’ve mentioned The Giggler) and the other never stops scowling.

    Then we have The Homeless Peruvian Bigamist, Eddie, a little man with a big appetite for women.

Then there’s Seroj, The Deaf Iranian. He’s a jovial old fart who comes in second next to me for not taking any crap off the gas swine.

Then there’s Renea, The Tattooed Momasita and Kimmie, The Filipino Cutie with a scarfaced boyfriend who keeps a close eye on her.

And me, of course, Iron Weed, the white rhino.
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I Am The Anti-Wino

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If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    I’m having second thoughts about applying for those graphics jobs I’ve seen in the paper. Sure, the money would be much better, but the Arconians don’t require that I bathe or shave every day for work. They seem satisfied with once a week. They don’t mind me showing up an hour or two late for work, as long as I get the back stocking done before nightfall.

    Sometimes I sit on an ash can in front of the gas station watching the gas pigs scurrying in and out. Sometimes, I make pig noises at them. Most assume I am one of the local winos. Some registered true shock when I walked inside to the cash register and took their gas order.

    I was tempted a few times to wear a sign that read "No, I am NOT a wino", but then, why bother? The other winos are keeping their distance from me since I cold cocked those three the other day. Good. This is MY turf.

    For a part-time stock boy, I’m getting a lot of hours lately filling in for this person and that. This two week period I have 95 hours in so far with one more day on the pay period.

    I can smoke, cuss, spit and stink on the job (much like my last job as a gypsy driver). How many employees do you know who can fist fight with the customers and have the cops called on ’em at their place of work and get rewarded with more pay? Ah. If only the pay were better.

Life ain’t all that bad at the Arco

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The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater their power to harm us.—Voltaire

    Just looked at the work schedule (something I rarely do as I consider the work schedule that the manager makes for me more of a guesstimate than a rigid thing). Turns out I’m scheduled for 15 more hours this pay period. 110 total hours on my next paycheck. Not bad.

    The manager told me that I’m the only stock boy in the history of Arconia (as far as she knows) that was ever paid the same rate as manager’s pay (not that much more than the counter clerks, but noticeably better than the last stock boys). Hee hee. Can’t be my personality. Must be the quality of my work.

    Actually, I think it’s my stability. Kamel got busted for having sex in the bathroom, Serj sold beer to a minor, John showed up for his first day of work high on methamphetamine with beer on his breath, Alah keeps getting his junker cars stolen, Eddie’s wife keeps hounding the manager to ban Eddie’s girlfriend from the store, BenHur stares at the boob tube all night and me? I just make pig noises at the customers. I’m the stable one.

    The Arco manager or one of the other employees usually buy me breakfast every day that I show up before 3 and the manager gives me a new tee-shirt to wear every week. Life ain’t all that bad at the Arco.

Time to work up an interest in avarice and covetousness.

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Be a friend to thyself, and others will be so, too.—Thomas Fuller

    My crack motel room roommate Creepy went to bed with all the lights on in his room. Apparently he’s afraid the wino violence will spill over from the Arco gas station to the Motel Marquis. Silly man. It’s the other way around.

    I went for a midnight stroll in the fog. Cabbage Patch was leaning against her lamp post.

    "Heard you kicked ass tonight," she said, grinning.

    "Where’d ya hear that?"

    "S’out ona street. You do that?"

    "A wayward ho, a wayward le, a pirate I shall always be. Arrrrr arrrrrr arrrrrr."

    "I heard THAT. Good fer you, Popeye."

    Even $10 street walking crack whores don’t like rude winos.

    There’s a new crack ho working the sidewalk in front of the motel: a cute 18/19 year-old Latina. A white Toyota pickup pulled up in front of the motel and dropped her off. I had the $10, but last night I saw the same john drop streetwalker Marie off and the night before Cabbage Patch and the night before that really raggedy blonde and I lost my appetite. The chain chain chain of hoes was just too much reality to get much bang out my ten bucks.

    I saw "Monster’s Ball" down at the promenade in Santa Monica last night. Nice movie. Made me homesick. Also reminded me of an interracial relationship I had 8 or 9 years ago. Uh, two relationships, actually. No, wait. It was three. Must’ve been my black & blue period. One of ’em was REALLY hot. We broke furniture.

    Okay. I think I’ve mastered pride, sex and violence. Time to work up an interest in avarice and covetousness.

Attack of the Loitering Stumblebums

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The confidence which we have in ourselves gives birth to much of that which we have in others.—Francois de La Rochefoucauld

    Three of the Arco winos attacked me behind the Arco today. One of them tried to bust a 32-ounce beer bottle over my head after my first punch knocked him to the ground. I side kicked him in the bladder and knocked THAT idea out of his mushy head.

    I was trying not to hurt the fragile stumblebums, but the instigator, some fat woman alkie pushing an infant in a baby carriage who has been drinking beer on the property so long (while the baby fries in the sun) she thinks she owns the lot behind the store, that bitch wouldn’t let the two men heed my warnings. Noooooooooo. She kept egging them on, egging them on to challenge the fat, bespectacled stock boy. So they nudged me and spat at me and pillow-punched me until I went Popeye on them.

    Then the woman hit me in the back and when I turned on her she said, "HA! You can’t hit a woman!"

    So I punched her in the neck. Like I said, I wasn’t trying to hurt them, just trying to give their clouded minds a wake up call. It was more like a pillow fight, really, but the woman taunted me that she was calling her boyfriend, "Boxer Bob" to come and kick my ass real good.

    "Tell him come get some," I told her. I returned to the back storage bin about a hundred feet from the store to finish my back stocking.

    Ten minutes later, a young man, late twenties, came running angrily up to the back storage bin talking shit as he approached, but I backed him off quick with the padlock wrapped around my middle finger like a brass knuckle.

    Him I woulda hurt. He saw it in my eyes and ran off to call the cops. So much ‘show but no go’ for "Boxer Bob’.

    The cops finally came and after I explained that I had asked them nicely several times to not drink alcohol on the property (they refused) and to leave the property (they refused) and after I read them the riot act (they threatened to kill me) and that yes, I punched the soggy motherfuckers . . . .  after all that explanation, the cops said that they preferred it if I would just call them next time.

    Wasn’t much for them to do, really. It wasn’t a hate crime: three white winos against one old, pissy, white stock boy. Misdemeanor battery, maybe, the cop told me, but it was a case of ‘he said, she said’.

    "We have a camera back there," I said, "You can look at the tape if you don’t believe me," but I could see the cop didn’t want to get bogged down in gas station mini-drama.

    There’s a new sign on the Arco cash register as the result of this incident. Basically it reads that clerks are not to sell beer to homeless or trouble making persons and if they do, they will be held liable for any financial repercussions.

    One of the clerks said he wasn’t sure what that means and I said it meant he would have to come down to the station and bail me out.

    No beer to the homeless or troublemakers, one of the clerks told me later, who’re we gonna sell beer to? And the other clerk, Eddie, is afraid to sell ANYONE beer now. Technically, he can’t even buy some for himself when his shift is over (Eddie’s on his third month of homelessness).

    As an ex and semi-homeless person myself, I can relate to the plight of the homeless. It’s the shitheads that give the rest of us a bad name.