Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bon Voyage, Motherfuckers!

                    Last Friday I stopped at the Billy Goat for a couple of beers. I sat in the Wise Guys Corner. When the original Wise Guys frequented the bar in greater numbers I always avoided their corner because for the most part they were insufferable gas-bags. A nice middle-aged  couple visiting from New Zealand was sitting next to me. They said they were enjoying their visit and we were having a nice chat when a Wise Guy type sat down next to me. He was a former (or current, I'm not sure) city employee. Not only was he boring, but he considered himself an authentic Chicago character. The only thing authentic about him was his grating South Side accent. He soon drove the New Zealand couple out of the bar. After they left Bill Granger's son joined the boring guy. Grangers son is a dead ringer for his father except he doesn't have red hair. When I mentioned that I told his father not to write about him when he was a kid, young Granger's became petulant and said, "I don't want to talk about it." I don't blame the kid because it clearly fucked up his life.
            Granger was a peculiar guy. A well known journalist, he was riding high for a while and then without warning he became one of the first casualties of the decline and fall of Chicago journalism. I was never a big fan of Granger. He tried to come on like a tough South Side guy, but after wimpy Tom Fitzpatrick had him cowering in terror behind the waiters at Ricardo's one Friday night, his tough guy persona became a joke. I was very impressed with Granger after he was let go by the paper he worked for. He immediately wrote a debut novel called November Man.  The first half of the spy thriller was not bad. He went on to write some more November Man thrillers and apparently made some decent money off them. Unfortunately Granger cracked up along the way and spent the last fifteen years of his life in a mental institution. A movie was recently made out of one of his books starring one of the James Bond actors.
            When his kid was in school Granger got into a public beef with the school. It had something to do with special ed classes. I argued with Granger one night many years ago in the Billy Goat about the wisdom of putting his kid under a microscope. From what I heard over the years I was right and Granger was wrong.
           The son of another legendary Chicago journalist also walked over to talk to the boring city worker. Dave Condon's son has a remarkably large head. He seemed like an affable chap. 
           Jeff the bartender has been at the Billy Goat for 34 years. I can see he gets a kick out of all the second generation customers that seem drawn to the Billy Goat like moths to a flame. One of Royko's sons  comes in from time to time.  My attempts at sarcasm seemed to annoy the boring city worker; of course this only increased my sarcasm.

           *

           Street Jimmy continues to be insufferable. His voice has deteriorated to the point that it is little more than a hoarse whisper.
          When I said, "Jimmy, you really should go to the doctor and have your throat checked," he paused and looked meditative. "Your voice has developed a dull tone, it's as if you're talking from underneath a blanket inside a fucking tent." I didn't tell him that sucking on a scorching hot crack pipe all day was probably not conducive to maintaining a healthy throat, because he's made it clear he doesn't like negative comments about crack smoking. Jimmy was noncommittal about seeking medical advice about his inability to articulate his words.

            *

           Irish Chris and his lady love, Kate got back from their trip to Ireland and Italy. Kate was beaming, "guess who popped the question while we were in Capri?" While displaying a lovely ring she described their trip to me. I told her what a lucky girl she was, "had he dumped you you'd have immediately put on a hundred-pounds and you're much too small to carry that much weight." The reason I mentioned this to her was because every time Irish Chris breaks up with a chick they go on eating binges. She blushed with pleasure when I told her how hot she was. 

        *

         Ranalli and Lindy came in Friday night. To say Ranalli is the luckiest guy in Chicago is to put it mildly. I adore Lindy. I told her that even though Ranalli is still a sometimes out of control, unabashed pleasure seeker, for the most part she has straightened him out and made him fly right. Had he not met her I doubt if he'd still be with us. As Ranalli described a fight he had years earlier when he cut a guys face up badly with a V shaped pinky ring (the pinky ring caused him to break his hand) Lindy leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, "I don't like it when he talks about all his fighting."
            "Lindy, it's his nature. He's a West Side Italian. It's who he is. It's why we love him."
             When Lindy went outside to smoke Ranalli and I had a fascinating conversation about geriatric sex. Ranalli, who is three years older than me said, "Bruce, it's all about intimacy when you get to be our age. I wish to fuck I would've understood that when I was younger." I told Ranalli I knew what he meant.
           When she came back in the bar Lindy invited me to join Ranalli and her in Cabo San Lucas in February, "I rented a five-bedroom house with a pool for the whole month, you can come for as long as you want."
            "Lindy, what a lovely offer. By the time February rolls around I'll want to see the sun so bad I'd swim there."

           *

           Phil the Mogul came up with a pair of tickets for the big soccer game at Soldier Field this Wednesday night. I magnanimously gave the tickets to Hawkeye and Butcovich who I knew would appreciate them more than I would. Hawkeye seemed grateful.
            "Hawkeye, that's the kind of person I am. Making you and Butcovich happy gives me great joy…"

             *

            Buzz Kill is pissed off at Gracie. He wimped out of their swimming race. He said he doesn't want to go into the "dirty" lake and get sick. Gracie laughed and called him a pussy. When he took offense at being called a pussy, Gracie wrote that he was a  pussy on the blackboard. This angered him even more. When he wrote on his Facebook wall that he was offended I pointed out that name calling in the Ale House is a blood sport, and the last thing you want to do is let your tormenters know they've drawn blood.

          *

         D-Trains been making himself scarce. Fuck him.

        *

          Gracie's going to visit Ruben Four Toes on Tuesday.

         *

           My cousin Nancy picked the date of this years family reunion in Michigan. Normally we find a convenient time for the Gregg's to come, which is usually in June or July. Nancy picked a time when not only I'll be out of town, but a number of other relatives will be unable to attend. I doubt if Gracie or Tobin will be able to make it because they'll have to cover for me. Hopefully Nancy will not be allowed to make arbitrary decisions about family reunions in the future.

         *

         Ruben called me Wednesday morning. He sounded much better. He hopes to be out of the hospital in a couple of days. "They finally found out where the blood was coming from and they cauterized it. "My main problem now are the open sores on my ass…"
            "Can't they figure out some kind of cream or lotion?"
           "Bruce, they're dumb fucks. They keep wanting to bandage the sores but it hurts worse than if they leave them alone."
              Ruben wants me to go to Walgreens to pick up his prescriptions for when he gets out. I think he is being prematurely optimistic.

             *

           I'm going to Scotland Friday, Gracie will take over my blogs on Mondays and Fridays. Peace and love.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ruben Four Toes Quarrels With His Sisters.

                  I visited Ruben Four Toes in the hospital Sunday afternoon. Even though I gave her Ruben's exact room number the bumbling receptionist had a hard time finding him on her computer. I really think basic literacy should be a requirement for the receptionist job at a major US hospital, but I digress. As I entered Ruben's hospital room I heard voices. Two of Ruben's sisters were seated by the window, and a girl around sixteen or seventeen was sitting in a  chair. The sisters looked at me with serious, unsmiling faces. They didn't introduce me to the cute young girl who was definitely not Hispanic. Ruben stared up at me over his protrusive belly and a smile slithered over his unshaven face. 
            "How are you feeling amigo?"
            "I'm hungry, and I wanna get out of here." Being a man of primitive simplicity, it is not hard to gauge Ruben's moods.
             "You are obviously feeling better, did they find out where the blood is leaking out of you?"
            "No they have not, the dumb fucks are going to make me swallow the camera thing again tomorrow or Tuesday. " Ruben rubbed his broad, blunt nose thoughtfully, "I gotta get outa her soon, or I'm gonna kill someone."
            Ruben's two sisters stared at him with pitiless eyes as he described the horrors being inflicted upon him by the incompetent doctors and nurses at Northwestern Hospital. The young girl had a bemused smile on her cute face as Ruben continued his diatribe.
          When Ruben finally lapsed into silence one of his sisters asked the young girl to go find a specific nurse. The nurse, a middle-aged Asian women stood in the doorway and put a protective gown on before entering the room. One of Ruben's sisters, holding a notebook in her hands asked the nurse if she'd answer some questions. The nurse looked at Ruben and said, "if I can answer them I will…"
              Ruben, making no attempt to hide his irritation at his sisters intrusion said, "the nurse is gonna tell you one thing and the doctors gonna tell you another, let me handle this…"
            The nurse was clearly used to Ruben's gruff behavior and gave me a good humored smile. His sisters, however, were not the least bit amused by their brothers behavior. Holding up the notebook the sister started asking technical medical questions about the size of the lesions on Ruben's buttocks. The young girl snickered while the nurse gave the degrees and locations of the lesions, "I told him to turn over every half hour but he doesn't…"
           Ruben was vexed, "you're not in here all the time, I turn over plenty of times…"
            His other sister said, "Ruben, I never see you turn over, you aren't going to get better unless you give the sores a chance to heal."
          Ruben launched into another attack, this time his anger was directed at his sisters, "don't think, let me do the thinking around here…"
            The nurse had a tight-laced smile on her face as Ruben and his sisters got into a heated argument about whether he was able to take care of himself if they allowed him to go home. I've been present previously for arguments between Ruben and his sisters, and they always seemed amused by the sarcasm directed against them, no matter how caustic, but not now. When one of his sisters said, "Ruben, I brought you your wheel chair, I'm taking care of your cat, before I leave is there anything else you want because I've had it with you…"
            "Yeah, I want a deep dish pizza from Uno's…"
            When his sister replied that she was not going to get him a deep dish pizza from Uno's Ruben attacked her for leaving town while he was sick.
              "Yes, I left town, I went to Vegas, because I want to have a life, I'm sorry that's not okay with you…"
              I was somewhat surprised when the sister with the notebook asked Ruben to confirm that my daughter Gracie had power of attorney over his living will. 
              When his other sister completed asking her list of questions the two sisters got up, and left. The cute young girl followed them out the door still smiling.
              "Well, Ruben, that was pleasant." 
               "Fuck them, " he said with an air of resignation.
                "Who's the young chick?"
               "My nephews girlfriend, she's living with my sister."
                "She's just a kid."
                 "Hillbilly's… I guess her  parents didn't want her fucking a Mexican and tossed her out, who the fuck knows what goes on with those people."
                "Well," I said staring out the window at the cerulean blue lake, "you're hungry and you're nasty, so you must be feeling better."
              " I gotta get out of here soon, I've been bouncing around between the hospital and the nursing home for 35 days and I'm going nuts…"
              I took the long way along the lake on my way back to the Ale House. When I walked in the door I asked Gracie if it was true that she had power of attorney for Ruben. Gracie had a look of puzzlement of her face, "what?"
             "He told his sisters you had power of attorney which seemed to displease them greatly."
            "I better go see him tomorrow. I have no idea about what he's talking about."
              

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Menopause Man Takes His Final Curtain Call

                  I visited Ruben Four Toes Friday afternoon. With a sigh of discontent he told me that they still didn't know why or where he was losing all his blood. "They made me swallow a pill and put a forty pound camera next to me. I guess the pill has a camera in it and they can see inside me…"
           "What did they say it showed?"
           "They won't know until tomorrow."
            As Ruben and I chatted it was soon apparent that he was in a great deal of pain and discomfort. He grimaced often; Ruben is greatly perplexed by the medical ambiguities of his situation, and his perplexity is increasing daily. When I told him that I'd stop by Saturday he said not to bother, "my sisters are coming."

          *

           Thursday my lawyer friends came in around six. Jim V. told me that our old pal Guy Van Dyke died (those of you who are in the know understand who I'm talking about.) Jim's brother is a former Chicago school teacher and he heard from another teacher that Guy had died about two weeks ago. He was about ten years older than I am and had been in bad health for a number of years. The final years of his life could not have been pleasant. The last time I spoke with him, which had to be at least five years ago, he was in a state of mental depression.  He had called me for money. I sent him some but not nearly as much as he wanted. Guy and I go back to 1961. He was one of the first friends I made in Old Town. He was witty, well read and a dedicated libertine. Tall, around six-three, he had dark wavy hair and horned rimmed glasses. He taught  high school English and drama. At first I didn't believe all the stories he told about seducing his precocious female students, but after a while I started meeting them. Around 1980 I wrote a play called Menopause Man. It was based on Guy Van Dyke, which was the name I used in the play. 
          Like all of my plays it had a brilliant plot. Guy and his lawyer pal, Jim V. have just arrived at his new bachelor pad after finalizing his divorce. His now ex-wife was also a school teacher. During the course of the play we are introduced to a couple of middle-aged women he picks up at the pool in his new condo. Later one of his students, Tina, shows up. And then finally his enraged ex-wife. Ebert gave the play four-stars and Rick Kogan gave me a plug in the Tribune. I received a lot of criticism from women who felt the play was too chauvinistic. Yes it was chauvinistic, and it was quite intentional on my part that it be chauvinistic. 
            Because no local theater would produce Menopause Man due to its content, with the aid of my brother who was involved with Noyes Cultural Center in Evanston, I was able to perform the play there on a series of weekends. At the time Byrne Piven was the head honcho at Noyes and he was not pleased with some upstart taking over his theater, even for a couple of weekends. During the course of the play Piven's teenage brat, Jeremey, and his friends the Cusak's, allegedly sabotaged our light board. These future Hollywood stars denied being the culprits, however, the evidence was overwhelming. Fortunately Tobin was cooking at a Northwestern sorority at the time and one of her girls was a drama major and was able to restore the lights for each performance.
           Pauly Ansell played Guy Van Dyke, and other than forgetting some of the best lines, did a boffo job of capturing Guy's madcap, licentious  persona. The actress who was supposed to play Guys wife, who was famous as the voice on the "Culligan Man" commercials, became so frightened of going on stage as opening night neared that she got so fat that she incurred stress fractures on both of her feet; Tobin had to replace her at the last minute. (Tobin, according to many in the audience, stole the show.) There were many other cast problems along the way. Pat Colander, who was the shows producer, got pregnant and couldn't play the nymphet, Tina. I forget the name of her replacement, but she was excellent. Larry Rand's friend Rich Marco played Jim V. He was okay. When Lois Berger proved to be unreliable I replaced her with Touhy's niece, Mary Jo. She was very good as was the other women picked up at the swimming pool, Blue Hog Siedler. I had not originally planned on using really fat girls for these parts, but they worked out brilliantly.
           There was a rain storm opening night and a lot of the audience was late in arriving. Pauly was in full panic mode as he paced nervously back stage. Before everyone was seated I told them to start the play (I was afraid Pauly was going to have a nervous breakdown.) Even with the rainstorm we had a packed house. Of course the real Guy Van Dyke was present. Not only was he present, but he had two of his real life high school nymphets with him. 
           TV reporter Mary Laney hosted the after theater party at her Evanston mansion and political pundit and activist Don Rose scarfed up all the caviar my brother brought. Liz Crown, who had been at the show with her friend, Roxy, asked me if I was going to re-write it. 
           Although we sold out the next couple of weekends, old man Piven wanted us out and wouldn't extend our run. No other theater company in Chicago wanted to give us a production because of "the offensive content" of my play. Guy Van Dyke, who had directed a number of high school plays, couldn't compliment me enough on my writing and directing skills.
            Unfortunately for Guy, his shrew wife talked him into moving out of the city near her dysfunctional family to aptly named Loon Lake. To make matter worse soon after moving she insisted on adopting a kid. If ever a women should not have had the responsibility of raising a kid, it was Carla Van Dyke. As if adopting a kid wasn't bad enough, she quit her teaching job a year before her twenty-year pension would have kicked in. So now she was going to law school and raising a kid. The kid was predictably a disaster and when Guy called me five years ago for money, (they'd moved to Florida) it was because the kid had fallen off his jail bunk and badly broken his leg. The first story Guy laid on me was that the kid was some kind of frogman and was cleaning the bottoms of boats when he broke his leg.
             Guy Van Dyke was one of the most entertaining men I've ever known. In retrospect I think the reason we were friends for such a long period of time is because I never had much money (hence, he couldn't borrow from me) nor did I ever get into one of his myriad goofy business schemes. All of his friendships over the years seemed to end due to disagreements over money. Not only did I write a play about Guy Van Dyke, but he's also featured in both my prequels to Last Night At The Old Town Ale House,  so there will be a lot more Guy Van Dyke to come in Portrait of the Genius as A Young Man and California Jail Break.
             Guy Van Dyke was a complex man. Although extremely bright, he was deeply flawed: the attributes as well as the character of a man lay not only in his achievements, but his failures. A self-proclaimed libertine, he flaunted his many dalliances with his students. Even when his old-hag principal witnessed him making-out with a student before school in his car, the student refused to testify against him - He was eventually moved to another North Side high school. The fact that none of his students ever ratted him out speaks volumes. 
           Both Jim V. and I were estranged from him for the last five-years because we refused to send him more money. I think in retrospect it is just as well. I will always cherish the great memories and adventures we had together. To see him in his dotage would have been extremely unpleasant.

         *

         Street Jimmy has become increasingly unhinged of late. More details will follow.

         

Friday, July 24, 2015

Chaos

                 Saturday night a goofy looking kid walked right by Lemar, who was checking ID's and sat down on a bar stool. He was covered in piercings. After Lemar checked his ID he asked Johnny Ale for 5 Jack Daniels. This is unusual. When Johnny said he'd only serve him one at a time the kid gave him a nasty look, and said, "I can handle it, I do it all the time. " Johnny was adamant. After the kid gulped down his shot he turned his glass over with a bang and stormed out of the bar. A half hour later he was spotted staggering down the street.          

      *

          Monday morning Elizabeth Greve came to the Ale House to take some additional photos of my paintings. Now that I'm self-publishing I want to put more of my highly acclaimed paintings in the book. She is a real pro. When it came time to take some pictures of Fancypants, Street Jimmy and I, the boys became strangely uncooperative. After a great deal of coaxing they finally started smiling and hamming it up for the camera. 

      *

         On my way to the bar this morning I met Street Jimmy just as he was about to turn the corner of Hudson Street where his crack dealer is headquartered. "Jimmy, I don't want you sucking on your crack pipe before you sweep!"Jimmy looked at me and shrugged. "Jimmy, difficult choices are sometimes unavoidable, I know that only too well, so either you come with me, or you don't work for the rest of the week."
                "Damn."
                 His nobler impulses having won out, Jimmy followed me down Sedgwick. As we turned the corner Jimmy pointed at Stop and Rob, "I hate Indians. They cheap muthafucka's."
                The other night in the Ale House Jimmy said something similar about Indians. After some questioning he confessed that he could no longer go into either Dunkin' Donuts or Stop and Rob, which are both run by East Indians.  
                "You mean they barred you?"
                Jimmy shook his head, "uh, uh, I jus' can't go in there nomore…"
                We were somewhat surprised to discover that Jimmy didn't know the difference between Native Americans and East Indians. When I tried to explain how Christopher Columbus had chanced upon America on his way to India Jimmy stared off vacantly into space. When I said, "Jimmy, I thought you liked Chief," he answered, "Chief okay." 
              "Well, he's an Indian."
               "He ain't like the ones down the street."
                "That's because they're from India…"
                 Jimmy's eyes were flat and unreflecting. Sensing his  intellectual limitations, Jimmy dropped his anti-Indian rant and asked for a beer.
                Jimmy is fascinated by Tobin's Belgian attack dog. When I told him they can be mean he said, "I don' want no sissy-assed dog…"

           *

           Tuesday night Hawkeye was once again not attentive to his doorman duties. Why he insists on keeping his back to the door when he wanders from his post is inexplicable. We had a heated argument on a number of important topics. When he proclaimed plaid was different from tartan I said, "nonsense, a tartan is the type of plaid worn by a particular clan."
             A beatific smile came over his rapidly aging face, "look it up in the dictionary, dummy."
             I did look it up in the dictionary and I was correct. When I said, "now let me  look up dumb fuck in the dictionary…Yes, right here there's a picture of Hawkeye under the word Dumb fuck."
             When I described how my book cover was  going to be designed he made an inane suggestion. "Hawkeye, your giving me advice about my book cover would be like the guy who came to Picasso's studio to fix the toilet giving him suggestions on how to paint."

           Wednesday I walked over to the hospital to check on Ruben. He was sleeping so I walked down to the Billy Goat and visited Jeff. We had a discussion about the British Open golf tournament. (I know you are supposed to refer to it as "The Open," but when I was a kid it was always referred to as the British Open so I say - fuck you, you limey fuck-wads, I'm not going to be politically correct because you Queen-licking shit-balls want me to. Tally ho, assholes. ) After I had a beer and a double cheeseburger I walked back to the Ale House. I had a five o' clock appointment with Melissa Mamroth. Hawkeye discovered her one night in the bar. This was fortuitous because it turned out she is a brilliant graphic designer. She has a full time teaching job, does photography on weekends and is  currently taking a class at Second City. I knew just how I wanted Sarah Palin portrayed, and where I wanted the title and the plugs from Ebert. (Hopefully I'll get my plug from Anthony soon.) It was fascinating watching Melissa pull  up different fonts and color combinations. I couldn't have  been more pleased with the cover we came up with. I know you can't tell a book by its cover, but this one comes pretty close. I particularly enjoyed watching her remove Sarah Palin's pubic hair. Bruce Cameron Elliott goes over Palin's nipples and snatch. Maybe after Palin see's my book cover she'll be inspired to jump into the already crowded Republican piggie presidential race.

          *

          Thursday: I went to visit Ruben Four Toes in the hospital. The lady at the desk was not a women of fashion, nor was she adept at spelling. It took twenty minutes to locate Ruben's room. They had changed his room from the ER to the sixth floor. In desperation I called him on his cell phone from the lobby, "amigo, where the fuck are you?"
           "I'm in my room."
           "What number?"
            "How the fuck should I know."
            Turning back to bumbling black lady receptionist I said, "he's here somewhere."
             Ruben's skin was no longer a lustrous bronze color, but instead was suffused in a series of gray half-tones. He hadn't shaved in a couple of weeks and the scraggily bristles were less than becoming. He was watching Jeopardy on the TV which I interpreted as a good sign. "Amigo, your brian seems to be working again."
             Ruben sighed, "yeah, but the rest of me is a fucking disaster, they went up my ass and down my throat looking from where the blood was coming from yesterday. They couldn't find anything so now they're going to make me swallow a camera tomorrow. Bruce, I can't take much more of this. I've been being jerked around for the last month from the hospital to the nursing home and back to the hospital and I'm only getting worse…"

          *

           After I said goodbye to Ruben I walked over to Devon's on Chicago Avenue. It's a huge fish joint. Had there not been an outside table I would never have eaten there. It was cold inside and they were playing horrible music. I chose to sit in the bright sun practically on Chicago Avenue. The people-watching was superb. The entire gamut of society walks down Chicago Avenue, -- the uptight business men, the gold coast shoppers, gawking tourists, junkies, vagabonds and ghetto boys with there asses hanging out of their pants. While I drinking a beer waiting for my halibut a guy ran a red light on his bike and was hit by a car. It took the ambulance awhile to arrive. I'm surprised there aren't more bike accidents in Chicago.
             The halibut was excellent. So was sitting in the hot sun. I've developed a real aversion to women with tattoos. I'm not saying I wouldn't do a chick with a tattoo, but under certain circumstances it could be a deal breaker. 

           *

           Friday: Liz Crown sent me the clean copy of my manuscript. Unfortunately I couldn't keep the edits when I hit file-save. Tobin was in no mood to help me this morning with my computer problems. To make matters worse there were no parking spaces available at the condo because of street cleaning. I told her I'd park her car while she tried to help me with my editing problems. Although she was able to send Melissa Mamroth the picture of Fancypants, Jimmy and me that I want on the back cover, she couldn't find the clean manuscript Liz sent. I'm so close and yet so far. Hopefully before Hawkeye and I leave for Scotland next week I'll be ready to publish. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ruben Four Toes Rapidly Shifting Temper

                         Wednesday -- I visited Ruben Four Toes at Northwestern Hospital. He's in intensive care. His sister and cousin were in the room when I arrived. They were cloaked in masks and gowns while a no nonsense nurse, who was so shrouded in protective gear I could barely tell she was woman. When the nurse suggested I get into a gown and don a mask I said, "Thank you, but I have absolutely no intention of touching my fat friend, nor am I going to touch anything in this room. I will stand right where I am."
                 Ruben smiled. His voice pitched in a higher key, he said, "they're fucking me over good this time, Bruce."
               The nurse looked up at Ruben. She had brilliant blue eyes. There was more than a slight tinge of bitterness in Ruben's voice as he described his travails. "I've lost three and a half units of blood," he said pointing at the tube of half-filled blood strapped to a bar above his left shoulder, "they're going into my throat tomorrow to look in my stomach again to see where the fuck I'm losing all the blood from." 
                Ruben's sister and cousin listened to Ruben's latest tale of woe submissively. They've become inured to his uncharitable remarks over the years. I told them that as bad as he looked now, he was at deaths door a week ago. "He could barely open his eyes and couldn't put a sentence together. I thought he was a goner. At least he's got his meanness back."
               During his latest series of illnesses Ruben has gone out of his way to avoid any self-questioning thoughts. There is a disturbing sense of impotence in his demeanor that I haven't seen before. In a scratchy, hoarse voice Ruben described the nursing home he'd just left, "I think my roommate died last night."
            "No, he was still breathing when I went to see you."
             Cupping his hands behind his massive head , he stretched himself uncomfortably on the hospital bed and stared at his sisters phone. She was showing him his cat Gracie. Ruben was intrigued, "Gracie looks fat."
              "I put her on a diet, say something, she can hear you."
              Ruben said in a softer voice, "hi Gracie, I love you. Hope to see you soon."
               When Ruben asked me to fill him in on what was happening at the Ale House I gave him the sanitized version. I didn't tell him that D-Train has  gone off on one of his all to common rants and has attacked me viciously for no discernible reason. D-Train is subject to fits of glibness and oversimplification. At such times he has no regard for the consequences of his behavior.
               Before I said goodbye I told him to call me if he needed anything.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ruben Four Toes Rushed To Northwestern Hospital

                   Tuesday, two-thirty. I just got back from Ruben Four Toes nursing home on Kenmore. The receptionist sent me to room 213. When I walked into the room an old white man hooked up to a machine was struggling to breathe. I then went to the nurses station and asked for Ruben. The Asian lady seemed flustered, "oh dear, they just rushed him to Northwestern Hospital two hours ago…"
           "What happened?"
           "He was bleeding rectally. He's in ICU…"
            As I walked through the hallway and observed the patients on my way out of the nursing home, only a complete idiot could fail to grasp that in the richest country in the history of the world, the way we treat the aged and the poor is not a disgrace, but a crime. An old lady sitting on the front porch in a wheel chair was staring absently at her fingernails. When I walked by her she looked up at me and smiled. "Good afternoon, it's a lovely day."
            "Yes indeed," I smiled back.
             I'll attempt to see Ruben tomorrow at Northwestern.