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PROMISE KEEPER | …stealth…

Jessica Biel in STEALTH Movie

The day after Christmas, Crystal went to work. I don’t work. I don’t go to a job. It never works out.

I lift weights in the garage, but the little binge has left me feeling like shit. I can’t shake it. I lie on the couch and watch TV. There is a documentary on prairie dogs. I think of Iowa and Grampa and the trip I want to take. I need a driver. Crystal needs to keep working. Frankie is dead and all burned up. Paddy has his practice and is probably going to balk at this scheme.

I’m hesitant to start on the cognac yet. I decide on a trip to Starbucks. Transportation is an issue. Big Jim has fifty or so bicycles in his back yard, and his back yard bumps up to the orange groves, just like my back yard. The specter of a caper livens my mood.

The ninja juices enter the bloodstream. I visualize Big Jim’s property, his slobbering black lab and moronic little pit bull. They both know me well. Not a dog problem.

The bicycles, as I remember, were joined in a gimmal cluster. The few that were functional would be at the perimeter, with flat tires no doubt. A pump would be needed in all probability.

Selecting a wardrobe is a huge part of the fun on these occasions. I decided to go with my own version of urban camouflage: grey sweatpants, green t-shirt, black tennies, no hat. The only weapons I would carry would be my finely honed wits. Yes, I was a crack unit.

It was 11:30 in the a.m. I knew big Jim had been awake the day before. Odds are today he would be comatose or catatonic. I went into my back yard and slipped over the fence. The groves were cool and shady. I felt stealthy as hell. I crept carefully over twigs and leaves. My breathing was heavy. I was into this. Little farts started popping out. I would need to shit in short order. I needed to shit now. I dropped my pants to my ankles and shit all over the back of my pants and shoes. My first thought was of the dogs and how they would smell me now. I jettisoned the plan and went back home.

The cleanup took place in the garage for the most part. I left the clothing there and started from scratch. Black sweat pants, grey t-shirt, white tennis shoes. What the hell, it was high noon. I went into the back yard and slipped over the fence.

shoe gazing

The groves behind Big Jim’s place were creepy. It was obvious someone did a little fucking around back there. There was fishing line and fishing hooks strung between trees at eye level – some bush league attempt at security. I crept to the wall and put my hands up top to pull myself up. There was broken glass on top of the wall. I should have figured. I broke a branch off a tree and used it as a broom, sweeping glass away from my point of entry. I hoisted myself up and looked around.

The chaos was astounding. Bikes, lawn mowers, a camper, a stage, I shit-you-not; a little stage with amps and mike stands and a toilet on it. The dogs just laid there looking at me. I slipped over the wall and crouched behind the stage. The dogs came to join me. There was dog shit everywhere. Everywhere there wasn’t a lawnmower or a freezer or a VCR, there was dog shit. I noticed the cacti planted along the wall and wondered how I missed landing in it. The little pit bull sniffed his way over to a spot in the corner of the yard and turned to shit. He looked right at me and started growling as he shit. His teeth were bared and he meant business. ‘Don’t bug me while I shit’. I wondered what strange things Big Jim did to these dogs if he caught them shitting. Perhaps they needed to be liberated. An amplified voice crackled out:

“You’d get more pussy if you didn’t look so stupid.”

This was embarrassing.

“Who is it?” It was all I could think of.

“I can’t hear you. I can only see you. Come to the back door.”

I got up and walked to the sliding glass door, picking my way through the dog shit, not looking up. Big Jim was standing there on the other side in a white bathrobe. He was pink and scrubbed. His hair was wet and sticking up.

“What do you want?” he hollered through the glass.

“Bicycle.”

“Take the blue one by the gate. Don’t let the dogs out.”

Big Jim could be perfectly sane at times, the true embodiment of lunacy. I walked to the side and found the bike. It was dirty, sturdy, with fat, knobby tires. They weren’t flat. I opened the gate and walked it through. Big Jim appeared at the kitchen window.

“Eat a dick.” He remembered.

I rode the bike home. I liked it a lot.

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