Boogaloo Couch Slug

Charlie is useless Boogaloo Couch Slug. He howls like a wounded toddler at the suggestion that the empty bag of Cheetos belongs in the trash. Then he’ll petulantly ask you to do that for him. The empty Chinese Takeout containers? Ain’t there people for that?

Charlie the Boogaloo Couch Slug occupies space in this blog because he befriended Inger’s parents. The boy inveigled his way into house sitting and being a roommate to Inger. Mom thought he was a perfect ten. This meant that for Inger, Charlie was a perfect zero. I get it that Inger would rather have this couch slug disappear into some forgotten depth of my imagination.

The World Ended, Not

Charlie is forgettable. He’s one of many business school graduates who completed the punch list of items one does as a desirable future husband and career functionary in some cubicle at KPMG. Charlie comes to this blog as a couch slug who slimed Inger’s basement. He was invited in by Inger’s parents because they thought she’d like him, maybe marry him and settle into hausfrau bliss. They thought wrong.

In front of Mom and Dad he’s the perfect boy. Pleated khakis, Florsheim Oxfords, Phi Beta socks, Land’s End Oxford shirt, boxers, not briefs, and wife beaters. Axe body spray because his Mom likes it. Natural orange hair, blue eyes, freckles, chubby, and wreaking of Old Virginia money. It’s a beard he wears to keep Mom & Dad at bay.

The rest of the time he’s in an electric boogaloo t-shirt, pajama pants, and dear foam slippers. His living space is a shrine to empty Chinese takeout containers. Front and center is a wet dream gaming setup consisting of 9 32″ monitors hung from an Ergotron stand, an Alienware Aurora PC worth three months pay for me, Razor keyboard and mouse and Logitech G560 speakers. It’s good to be rich.

Chicken Fried Steak

Here is my beef with Charlie. He has no opinion. Actually, he has your opinion until your opinion is something he disagrees with. Then he gets this face like he’s shit his pants. And his normal baritone shifts up to right where the vocal break is. So he sounds like a prepubescent tweenie struggling to sound grown. Suddenly he is full of opinions on what you need to do so that he can be happy.

Also, Charlie snores–Boogaloo Couch Slug snores. I made the mistake of letting him crash on my couch this summer. Great bellowing, sleep apnea snores filled my night. I spent too many homeless nights sharing a church social hall with 39 other guys in an unconscious chorus of elephant seal snores to be OK with this.

Eeyore Boogaloo Couch Slug

Stop Smiling

Next, Charlie is melancholy. He’s an Eeyore. Everything is OK until it isn’t. And it mostly isn’t OK. The sun is out and it’s too hot. It’s cloudy and he’s worried about the rain. It’s raining and I have to listen to him talk about a tropical storm somewhere in the Atlantic that is going to wipe out D.C. and cause Mama Pelosi to be queen—the worst dystopian nightmare ever.

I can’t do Charlie. Charlie the Boogaloo Couch Slug is like having whiskey in the house for a recovering drunk. His social chameleon thing scratches an itch to be contrary just to get a rise out of him. I have to fight urges to slap him silly so he’ll have an opinion of his own.

You can disagree with me. I like it when someone believes in their opinion enough to argue with me. Charlie weasels about until he figures out if you are red or blue and then changes his skin to match. He does this with stupid stuff like picking from a bbq menu. On politics, he has the opinion of whatever headline is on breitbart.com. Or whatever he thinks will ingratiate himself to you. Religion? He was raised Synanon, so there is that.

Free Will is Scary

IMHO, Charlie has a few major malfunctions. The first is his presumption that he does not have free will. He has no agency, no ability to act in his own self-interest. So he molders on a couch of his choosing and binge watches YouTube videos of other guys winning at some random VRPG/D&D thing. Next, he is a victim of the evil Maoists who won’t let him shine. Yeah, let that rattle around your stomach for a bit. Last is his morose character. One more, he’s more choleric than melancholy. Oh, and the Walking Dead was a documentary, fact.

I’ve started to describe Charlie’s safe space. He built the first one in the basement of Inger’s Stuart Street house. If you are a gamer you would kill to own his setup. The equipment was kept pristine. The rest of the living space was a shit-hole.

He dug his current safe space into the yard of his farm in Goochland. The bunker is 1600 sq ft. The house has gone to seed. The only evidence of the bunker is a sunken storm door near the house. OTA TV, shortwave radio, satellite Internet, and so on are on antennas on the roof of the barn and cabled to the bunker by underground lines. Electricity is solar backed by a Tesla PowerWall and underground lines to Dominion Power. There is a well and a creek on the property. Sewer is done with a septic system.

He bought the property with the contents, including a tractor and equipment for growing and harvesting hay. Locals have tried to contact him about selling the tractor and equipment. Or farming with it. Charlie is nonplussed. He’s too busy with Rift.

Understand that Boogaloo Couch Slug Charlie is Right

One more thing about Charlie the Boogaloo Couch Slug. Actually, it’s the same thing mentioned above. Charlie has your opinion until you stumble across something he disagrees with. Then, it’s not that you are entitled to his opinion. I have a lot of family members who believe they are correct and you need to get used to that. Charlie goes further. Now the fangs come out and you discover that not only is he correct but his approval depends on your compliance with his advice. You have to do as he says or there will be trouble. There is trouble. I don’t take kindly to being ordered around and Inger doesn’t either.

Charlie failed a shit test when BLM was in Richmond this summer. He was at the Lee Monument standing at the fringe of the crowd. A girl dressed in some sort of goth/black block/club hot outfit walked up to him holding a rattle can of fluorescent pink paint, “Hey! Want to do something real? Go up there and spray ‘F12’ on the Lee Monument.

Charlie got a look on his face as if someone had just shoved a chickenshit covered glass dildo up his ass, “Uhm, yeah, so . . . I dunno . . .

Wrong answer, “are you for real or not?” He is not, “Hey, so, uhm, sorry but I have this thing I have to go to,” and he headed east on North Lombardy.

A Black Man’s M3 Wish Matters

You SUCK! BLACK LIVES MATTER!” shouted the fashy goth girl as she melded into a gaggle of black block protesters. Charlie’s thing was his M3 parked in the Kroger parking lot. Shit test fail.

Inger, for her part, has been at her home (sort of) on East 16th Street from her bar-tending job. There is a door to Paradise in her 16th Street house. So, yeah, she’s home but not really. She watched the riots through local TV news. Black Lives to Matter to her but not at the cost of her city on fire.

When it comes to social justice or the fight against Communism Charlie ain’t shit. Fashy girl discovered he’s a titan on reddit and a total loser IRL. He’s good as long as he looks awesome in his selfies while he cheers on the Boogaloos.

Zero Sum

I’m not done ranting about Charlie. He’s transactional. You’ll have to forgive a bit of mansplaining. If you know, you know. If you don’t, well . . . nothing is free with these people. Nothing is free with Charlie. He has a memorized ledger for everyone he believes owes him or worse, he owes. It’s a loss of face for him if he owes someone.

So I can’t do any favors for Charlie because kindness creates a debt. The stint on my couch meant that I started getting hentai manga. Hot? No. I like my women warm-blooded.

He found some beef jerky coated in dried red pepper branded Ming-Ha. My ex, the Empress, has a similar first name. Big yucks for Charlie, big zero for me.

No Hope of Return

Why do I care about transactional people? First, the Empress is a brilliant and talented trader. She tends to win against white monkeys like Charlie. I could never win with her because I grew up with pink panty parents who felt entitled to their upper-middle-class lifestyle. They were not transactional so I never learned how to fight like that.

Second, the way I practice my faith is self-sacrificing. I do stuff for people with no hope of return. This is offensive to the Empress and to Charlie. Good. Moving on.

Last, this post is one of 16 that lay out the story I’m building related to Inger’s finger. In previous posts, I wrote about Paradise and the doors you use to get there. Charlie owes Saito-san some huge gambling debts. So his key is shut off. Which would deter most reasonable folk. Charlie isn’t reasonable. What he’s been doing is sweet-talking other key holders into letting him use their key. Trouble? Do you think?

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Inger’s Finger

You know how if you feed a stray cat it won’t go away.  I let Inger stay in my living room and obsess over the finger she found in the whip for all of Saturday. It ought to be a good thing that a SHYT is stretched out on my couch under my comforter, the extra pillows propping her up and the TV remote somewhere under all that hair and blanket. It’s not. Inger’s finger is a problem. I want this kittie to go home. I want my house back.

And now for one of my usual tangents.  There are things about Inger I have not figured out yet. Then I ran across Katie Was Here. Exactly. What was Inger doing between her freakout at the social media company and her discovery of a finger in a whip? Whelp, not what Katie was doing because Katie is IRL and Inger isn’t. But now I can steal bits of IRL from Katie’s story to fill in some gaps about Inger. Katie, if you read this, sorry. You’ll figure out soon enough that I earn my nom de plume of Chief Liar at the Liars Club. I take things IRL and twist them to suit my purpose in telling a story.

So, the answer? Inger hitched her way around the country ticking off places on her bucket list. She chose not to use a car. So, Inger was living outside for a while. Oh, and for the SEO bots, Inger’s finger is in evidence with the RPD. Yes, I know that one also, that if there is a gun in the first act, well . . . B.A. in English, Literature, ok.

Ginger Hairy Blanket

Movement in the area of the couch. A hairy blanket just traversed from living room to bathroom. It’s only eight feet or so. Bathroom door closed and then reopens to toss my red towel and washcloth from homeless shelter days to the hallway. To get to the kitchen I’ll have to either step on it or pick it up, “Your shit stinks,” said the hairy blanket. So sue me. That towel and washcloth get laundered infrequently. The bathroom door closed again.

I know better than to be second behind an SHYT hairy blanket for the bathroom. I’m good. I hear personal hygiene noises. Remote repossessed. Lance Watson’s Positive Power is better.

I move my towel to the hamper. The laundromat run will happen later. Time for omelets and home fries, coffee and for the hairy blanket, hand squeezed blood orange juice. Also bagels with lox schmear.

Coffee Is Never “Just Coffee

Freshly showered girl arms just embraced me from behind. No more hairy blanket. Instead, Inger/Kittie now in a camisole and fleece pajama pants, rummaging for coffee mugs and soy milk. Before setting the table Inger sees my FB post about the binary divide between parents and not parents. A flash of annoyance crosses her face before she moves the tablet to my ottoman in the living room and resumes setting the dining table with a tablecloth, utensils, plates and so on. I tend to eat and wash one bowel. I’ll drink out of a 32oz. cup from Wawa. This is way more effort into breakfast than my usual. Kittie, though, seems to enjoy this domestic moment.

Tangent 2: Guys and gals, if you menstruate and don’t have a partner there is a running annoyance you can’t avoid. Guys circle around you like dogs sniffing for a bitch in heat.  They all want to know if they have a shot at you. All the “gender is a social construct, gender is fluid, you can identify as any gender you choose” doesn’t change any of this. Maybe this explains women who dress like guys to fend off the pack and guys who dress in a way that signals they are not wondering about every woman they encounter.

B) Nearly sixty years of socialist/feminist indoctrination has not changed the nature of men. Guys still stare, look for a ring, and maybe try to hit on her. Call it what you will, name it whatever evil root cause you choose, in spite of decades of indoctrination in proper etiquette, some men are still dogs.

Nurture isn’t Always Enough

This annoyance explains for me why “going for coffee” with a woman is never as simple as that. And why there is safety in a relationship for a woman. “Keep Away” rings are a thing, just saying.

Inger just hit me. On the shoulder. Don’t go getting all cops and abuse on me. It’s not like that. We are not a thing, first of all. Second, slow down. Not every touch, every punch on the shoulder is a reason to go down the road of “she put her hands on me, officer.” Inger is a bit feral. She’s proof that being kept in a bubble and prevented from experiencing suffering to the extent that her parents could accomplish ends up being exactly opposite what was intended. Inger has no resiliency.  Duress sends her into orbit.

What Inger wants me to write is that I should not be so stiff. Gender is a social construct. Her Swarthmore professors said so. You can choose to identify yourself however you want. Wear whatever costume you choose. Yeah. So . . . girl, is pregnancy a social construct? Can you be a little pregnant? Tell me those words in hour ten of labor when you are 8cm for the last two hours.

Ok, the core truth to this story is that there was a Cadillac Escalade abandoned in front of my house last summer. It’s the first week of school as I type this. The weather in my zip code still thinks it is summer. I don’t have air-con in my house so I feel every drop of sweat, every degree of heat. Inger hasn’t said anything. Her Stewart Street house is an easy drive out of the heat. But both of us tuck into breakfast while box fans blow hot air around the house.

Loose Whips

What happened to the Escalade is simple: I called the cops, they came, red-tagged the whip, and a couple days later it was gone. That’s not enough for Inger.  There was a suitcase in the back seat. Strewn across the passenger side were the remains of a few meals from Burger King. Inger said she found a finger. I didn’t look.

This is where it gets story worthy. The cops closed the street. A CSI van showed up. Unmarked Chevy Impalas and Crown Victorias filled the available parking in front of my house.

Inger shows me a bloody gauze. Crap. She says it’s from the finger and she knows somebody in the crime lab who owes her a favor. Just what I need. My house as the command center for a civilian investigation into a whip that I just want to go away.

Dirty Dishes

Inger finishes her lox bagel and orange juice. No coffee for her. She takes a Ziploc bag from the bottom drawer and puts the bloody gauze in it. A quick peck from her and a “we are not a thing” hug before she’s out the back door waving, “byeee!” Peace and quiet. Kinda. She cleaned my bathroom. My medicine cabinet got re-organized to make room for cosmetics. This kittie doesn’t seem to want to remain a stray. Woo.

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No Pulse, Just a Finger

Charlie Boy Inside

Inger got him arrested. Her time in the Bay Area included a year at Sennin Kai. When she got back to Richmond she started over with Eric at Richmond Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Inger trains because it keeps her sane. All that boomer childhood whim indulgence and self-empowerment was worthless. It filled her with anxiety. On her first night at Sennin Kai a Tai Kwan Do blackbelt questioned one of the instructors whether Aiki Jiu-Jitsu was effective. She didn’t see what happened. She only heard the groans of the Tai Kwan Do dude as he lay on the floor trying to recover. He signed up. Shameless Yoast SEO pander: No pulse, just a finger

So, Charles (Boy) of my previous post about Inger, went to jail. Inger had a quiet year. She rented a place a couple doors down from me. The Stuart Street house? It’s still there. She still has it. It’s too bougie for her, she says. So she splits her time between East 15th Street and Stewart Street. If you ask me, Stuart Street has too many bad memories of Charley Boy.

Escalade, No Pulse, Just a Finger

All’s been well until recently. Inger knocked on my door last Saturday. She’d seen the Cadillac Escalade parked in front of my house for a couple weeks. She thought maybe it was mine. Curiosity drove her to peek inside.

That’s Not Happening

What she saw pushed her that last little bit to my door and an insistent knock, “ALAN! FUCK! ANSWER THE DOOR! There is a finger, a human finger on the back seat of that whip!” I hate answering the door in my PJ’s. She kept pounding and shouting about a finger on the back seat of the Cadillac Escalade in front of my house, “Give me a minute!” I put on some jeans and my old Eagles t-shirt.

Inger was at the front door. Two locks, open it, she blows by me and takes a horse stance next to my couch, “A fucking finger on the back seat of that whip. Oh my fucking God!

Oh yay! My Saturday routine just got disrupted. Never mind couch slugging with PBS on until mid-afternoon. Now I had Inger going on about a finger she saw on the seat of a sketchy looking Cadillac Escalade. Life in the ghetto for a WASP. Woo.

No Pulse, Just a Finger

So . . . it’s Saturday. Priorities. I made coffee, a French omelete and home fries. Inger wasn’t hungry or happy. She couldn’t stop worrying about the finger on the back seat of the Cadillac Escalade. Was it a guy’s finger, girls? How did it get there? Now with breakfast made I called the cops. They got to us in about a half-hour. And . . . closed the street.

Cops leaving East 15th Street, No Pulse, Just a FingerAwesome. My car was parked behind the Subaru. Forget going anywhere for a while. The one time I park in front of my house Inger finds no pulse, just a finger.

Inger doesn’t drink coffee. She found the loose tea I had and made herself a cup of Oolong. Wait?! What?! You pig. Taiwanese tea, asshole. OMG! Racist even.

Talk about awkward. I’ve got a SHYT in my kitchen amped up about some suitcases she found in the Escalade. Inside was powder cocaine, cash, and clothes. The front seat was strewn with bags and wrappers from a late-night drunk food binge. A couple Four Loko empties were on the floor, shotgun spot.

Party Remains

The powder cocaine was in bricks. A couple kilos. By now the cops had tape closing the street at both the Edwards and Gordon ends of the block. A CSI unit showed up. It’s not like TV. They are very methodical and slow. The clothes were early gone-to-the-club casual. Thongs, bras, jeans and oversized t-shirts. Inger didn’t see anything that looked like guy stuff. Except maybe the glimpse of surplus army boots in the way-back.

Inger knew too much. She denied going through the Escalade. She said she only stood outside and took pictures with her phone. Uh huh. In my cab-driving years, I gave rides to thousands of drunks and addicts. Many of them were  Cartel members. It was my job to make snap decisions about the likelihood of a given fare ending with payment and polite goodbyes. By dint of repetition, I got pretty good at it. Inger’s version of the events leading to her hugging a cup of Oolong tea in my kitchen did not add up.

I asked her how much cash she saw, “Not that much. Some benjamins.” Her purse was on the floor next to her. I could see at least one bundle peaking out. Inger’s family has money so it’s possible she’s walking around with 25% of my annual salary in cash. It’s possible. There is an abandoned Escalade in front of my house being scrutinized by criminologists. I’d bet there are more possibilities Inger isn’t ready to confess.

Charlie Boy

I wondered why she would risk pissing off drug dealers by helping herself to a couple bundles of Benjamins. Inger was a Daddy’s girl and her family had money. All she had to do is ask. Yet she’s in my kitchen wearing designer clothes that have the scent of a thrift store. She looks like she hasn’t slept in ages. She smelled of stale beer and sticky sex.

Charles (Boy) had been stalking her. Inger went so far as to get a restraining order. He ignored it. She was in a manic/paranoid mood of late, texting me incessantly that her laptop would power on and alert her to a tweet from someone who seemed to know exactly what she was doing right then. Inger even started taking the battery out at bed-time. No effect. Still, messages came. She could solve this just by replying to Charlie Boy, maybe joining him in Sid Meier’s Civilization for a while.

Inger bought a gun instead. She was against guns but this asshole was getting scary. Let that fucker violate the restraining order. Then Inger wondered out loud of the finger was Charlie’s. That seemed to make her smile.

Exit Out the Back

Inger and I were getting fidgety. We peaked out my back door and discovered that the cops had not closed off the alley. Good. Processing the crime scene was going to be an all-day thing. Let the cops do their job. She and I closed up the house, headed to the alley and made a right turn toward her house. This wasn’t over.

Some Housekeeping

I’ve given up on the popular conversation about Trump. I voted for him so I guess that makes me a racist, Nazi asshole who hates everybody and especially the golden children of the left–LBGTQ, brown people, and women. I am a born-again Christian, so that adds to the depth of my evil. I’m done trying to engage with those who believe with cult fever that God is on their side in this fight for the soul of our democracy.

I’m resigning my seat at the table where the task is to throw rhetorical bombs at the other side. I don’t want to talk about it. There are plenty who are talking about it. I can opt out.

I’ve said my piece on philosophy and religion. I’ve written a statement of essentials in Nutcracker Ushers. There are 277 published posts on this blog covering current events, religion, politics, and philosophy. At an average of 1500 words each, there are 416,000 ways to be pissed off at me for something I said. I think that’s enough.

I’m more interested in Inger and the other characters I’ve created in this space. So, for now, I’m going to concentrate on a serialized novel telling this story: what happened to that finger, the cocaine and clothes in that Escalade. There was no pulse, just a finger.

 

 

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Out of the Mouth of Boys

All Needs Are Rights

If you are underage and your survival depends on adults, many things feel like God given rights. To be fair, much is a right because two people had sex and here you are. Beyond the age of ?12? or so, beyond puberty when it is possible for you to procreate and fend for yourself, the case that all needs are rights gets weaker. If you are a thirty-something sofa-rodent subsisting on pork rinds and Mountain Dew surrounded by a nest of old tech . . . the case that all needs are rights is very weak. The phrase, “out of the mouths of babes . . .” needs to be “out of the mouth of boys.”

The boy has a name. Inger won’t name him because he is a family friend and her parents like him. They hoped that he would gain some cred house-sitting for her. It is a futile hope. He kept the camera-ready artifice upstairs and junked the 19th century basement kitchen and servant’s quarters. In its place is a shrine to virtual existence. There are 9 32″ 4K monitors on a huge Ergotron stand. The desk where the keyboard and mouse would go is covered in pork rind wrappers.On the chair are a VR headset and hand-controllers. Behind the monitors is a Medusa’s wig of cable traceable to a table-height server box emanating the drone of cooling fans. This is boy’s mecca and home.

Boy’s name is unremarkable: Charles. Some call him Chuck E Cheese just to get under his skin. He is pink the way German/Scots/Irish are. His hair is blond. He is lanky the way some boys are when height came first. UofR graduate in finance, MBA from Virginia Tech and an up and coming career with Wells Fargo Advisors. Devoutly Baptist. A perfect 10 for Inger’s parents.

The Perfect Zero

Which . . . makes him a perfect 0 for Inger. She’d done well enough in drug court that she was out on supervised release. She had weekly appointments at Probation and Parole on Oliver Hill Way. The first thing she did is put boy out. The temple of tech had to come out of the basement. Everything Inger needed to do with tech she did on her phone and her laptop. That shrine to sofa-rodent life he built was an offense on so many levels, all five figures of them.

Charles (Boy) was fine enough as roommate and protector of the house. If he lived upstairs and if he would stop acting like a gen-y techno rodent with a penchant for old Apple computers. He liked her so he moved one of his Powerbooks to a bedroom upstairs. That lasted an hour. Inger heard his speakers thumping in the basement as he shot his way through PlanetSide.

Inger hates a lot of things. High on the list is any roommate that leaves evidence of using the bathroom or the kitchen. She understood that people need to eat and shower. That’s fine. She doesn’t understand sauce spills stretching from stove to floor, old pizza rinds arrayed around the trashcan, or hot-glued beer can towers. These are evils to be battled and destroyed.

Boy’s particular junk food tastes were a bit more white trailer trash. Tall Pabst beer cans piled near the trashcan with the detritus of many Dominoes deliveries. And the Utz pork rind bags and the Mountain Dew and Cheerwine bottles. Gross.

Maslow Level 1

The bathroom. He had a bathroom in the basement that used to be part of the servant’s quarters. It was rather art-deco/shaker in its look & feel. You could imagine Frank Lloyd Wright as the designer. The designer was actually an undergrad Inger knew that needed something for her portfolio. It was ok. If you could get past the green stains from the copper that had leached out of the pipes. Or the manicured path from tech-rodent temple to toilet edged by Little Debbie Snack wrappers.

If he could just use that bathroom she might be ok. The house has 14′ ceilings. It’s 20′ of stairs to the second floor. Twice a day the tech rodent/boy named Charles climbed the stairs to her bathroom. He left the toilet seat up. She could see that he missed the toilet more than he hit it. His dick must look like a pig’s tail.

She had Febreeze prominently displayed on top of the toilet. Civilized people understood why. Her nose screamed that he had no idea.

Maslow Level 1-B

The kitchen. Should look like the picture of it in Richmond Magazine. Inger ate out a lot because of boy’s failure to respect the kitchen. Underneath the pizza boxes, chinese take-out boxes, Little Debbie wrappers, pork rind wrappers, Pabst empties, was an award winning kitchen design. A first semester culinary school student would kill for a kitchen like this, if it was taken care of. And . . . the cleaning service was very patient with boy. They’d put it right only to have the food debris grow back like black mold.

Inger came home after bar-close on Sunday morning. The basement windows glowed blue. She could hear the thump of PlanetSide from the porch. A pig had spilled his kamakazi on her dress and then stared at her as she tried to wipe the bourbon and beer off her silk dress. Asshole. That was his move, it seems. In quick succession she pinched a nerve in his wrist and hit him in the throat. It felt good.

She walked away as he crumpled to the floor crying that he had been stabbed in the throat by a dude trying to kill him. No . . . you are a little bitch who can’t imagine getting whooped by a girl you wanted to get with. So you try to save face and say a guy stabbed you. Sucks to be you. Your blood is from the Bloody Mary Inger threw in your face. And maybe a few superficial cuts from the broken pint glass.

Out of the Mouth of Boys

Boy wasn’t in his tech-rodent cave. He was in the living room with a PS4. The food debris had spawned all over her designer rug. Inger went to the breaker box and turned off the circuit for the living room, “what the fuck?” She killed the basement circuits for good measure, “what the hell did you do that for?”

The house was nicely quiet, “You are in my living room.”

“You have the bigger TV.”

“It is my TV. Your shit is downstairs. What are you doing up here?”

“I have a right to be here just as much as you. Your parent’s said so. Fuck, I was almost through the map.”

“Boy . . . listen. Your right to be here is because I tolerate your stinking ass. If I didn’t need you I’d kick the self-righteous white trash racist out of you from here to McDowell County. You need to understand your place,” words like that are usually shot at people with a deeper skin tone than pink boy.

“Inger, fuck you. You are the one in drug court and on probation. You are one phone call away from going back to jail. Besides, I need to be here and all needs are rights!”

Some Needs Are Not Right

Inger lost it. When the cops came the boy was shocked to find he was the one in cuffs. Inger is average mayhaps a bit thin. Tech rodent boy is a bit bigger than average but he’s awkwardly tall. Whatever. The cops believed her when she cried that he’d beat her. She had bruises. He had some wild story about pressure points and pain and joint locks and he didn’t know his body bent like that. But no marks. The one with marks wins. Inger knew this.

All needs are rights“, my ass. Boy’s tenancy concluded when he sent her a long e-mail from a gmail account claiming that sex is a need for men and thus, should be a right. In the middle of the message was some babble about how hot she was. Inger fought back the urge to get him fixed. He was gone. The cleaning service came out and put the house right. Her friend came back and helped clean out the basement.

All was well for a couple months. Until recently when the TV would come on just after bar-close and PlanetSide video playback thumped through the AV system. An attractive red-head’s stomach blew open in a video loop after being shot by a lanky, pink skinned soldier. Inger hadn’t thought much about a security system until this.

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The Last Hippie

Berkeley thinks too much of itself. Within the small world of the Bay Area the recent riots on Telegraph Avenue are still news. 3,000 miles away in the Capital of the South we are worried about whether it will snow next week. Inger had a room at the Hotel Carlton that weekend. She had one of the better rooms with its own bathroom. It didn’t prevent her from finding a nigh comatose heroin addict collapsed just at the top of the stairs as she headed to her room from Blondie’s Pizza.

Last Hippie, Berkeley 2017 RiotsLong before the protest made the news, Inger was hitching her way to Berkeley because she’d gotten out of rehab, hadn’t really found a place to live or a job, and heard that there was going to be a protest in the Bay Area. When she shipped her purse home with her clothes she kept her id and one of her high limit credit cards. She wanted to be disconnected from her parents and the life set before her. Roughing it is fun for a few days but it doesn’t take Inger long to be a little homesick and wish for hotel towels and a hot shower.

Inger is all about social justice. She very much wants world peas and an end to all the miseries white wealthy are accused of fomenting. All that helicopter parenting did not instill in her a desire for a quiet, Stepford Wife ride to the shores of the Styx. It left her with an appetite for Lucifer’s buffet. She was at core, an obedient daughter. The heat of living on the uglier side of the railroad tracks has been a siren call since middle school. It has felt more authentic to her than the sterile world of Staten Island. Berkeley was her Mecca, her place to pilgrimage where she could find sage hippies and a thrill that ran down her leg.

Eugene Lefkowitz is a fictional Berkeley eccentric often found in People’s Park. He is variously deluded and believes he is the Emperor of the People’s United Democratic Free Republic of Berkeley or in more centered moods, an acolyte of Gurumayi. Gene was off his meds, had left the ashram to find some of his old friends from his Taxi Unlimited days, hoping to quiet some of the voices in his head and find the camaraderie he remembered from the 1980’s squatting under the house behind the cab office. Gene had some money, always did, and was driving an old Dodge Dart still painted with scenes from the Sistine Chapel by another of the Taxi Unlimited collective members. Gene was headed back to Berkeley, stopped at Einstein Brother’s for breakfast in Farmville, VA where Inger had parked herself outside with a sign and a cup.

Rehab didn’t take for Inger. She was supposed to do six months, did three weeks and signed herself out. She had her ID and one of her credit cards so she could have run a tab and gone full first world. First world is what set all this off so like, no fucking way, seriously. No, she was miserable on the sidewalk in front of an Einstein’s Bagels in Farmville, VA determined to beg and hitch her way as far from the old life as she could.

Not everyone comes out of Bishop Eustace ready to major in MRS and settle in to kids and an expensive divorce by age 29. Some, like Inger, just can’t get rid of the feeling that all this privilege and setting up for success is bullshit. There has to be more and it isn’t catechism, Women’s League and all the rest. The Baptists just seemed to want to do friends with benefits with the preacher. She’d seen enough of the Reformed tradition that she thought they were pussies for hiding in the Bible and not taking on all of what it meant to be Catholic.

Inger was on pace until that coworker smiled at her. In the short span of time it took to reach the guard desk she’d decided to opt out. Gene knew none of this. He just wanted a Lox bagel and cream cheese as he stepped past her into the chain store version of Noah’s Bagels.

Most of us see people like Inger with their sign and cup as a sad part of our landscape. We want there to be an answer to this public challenge to our well-intended practice of checkbook missions. There doesn’t seem to be so we walk by and have a quick, conflicted conversation with God about whether to give a quarter or not. Mostly, we don’t.

Gene stopped, “Hi. Are you hungry?” The implicit social contract in this is that beggar gets money from beggee. It’s way off script to greet the beggar and offer a meal. Gene does very little on script.

What Inger should do is refuse and counter with an ask for money, reinforcing the implied social contract, “yeah, kind of.”

“Come on inside. Order what you want. I got you.”

Inger looked him over. He was a big dude, kind of hill billy looking, with a chrome dome then a salt & pepper ponytail half down his back and an unkempt beard. But his boots were not cheap and his leather jacket was at least designer if not tailored, “why should I trust you?”

“Because you are way out of your comfort zone in a place that arrests people like you just because you look like you do. I give you an hour before the cops show up and encourage you to leave.”

Inger had picked out her idea of grunge fashion while shopping in Richmond’s Fan district. Hello Kitty t-shirt, jeans, Doc Martin’s, Real Tree camo jacket, “Like I care. I been to jail. I just got out of rehab. Whatever. You got a dollar?”

“Come on. Eat. After that? Up to you.”

“Where are you from?” She thought upstate New York, maybe Finger Lakes. There was a bit of biker to him.

“Born in Syracuse. But I travel a fair bit.”

Inger stood up, gathered her things, dumped the cardboard sign and empty plastic cup in the trash, and walked inside Einstein’s. Gene followed.

She ordered an Americano with soy and a chicken cuban. It’d been a couple days since she’d been able to order anything not on the dollar menu. Gene added a Chipotle Turkey wrap to his bagel order so she would have a late lunch, “why are you doing that?”

“Doing what”

“Being generous. Old guy dropping cash on young girl. Makes a girl wonder.”

“First, I am gender fluid. Lately I’ve been celibate. You are attractive but I’m not into sex these days.”

“Weirdo.”

“Yep. Still want the turkey wrap?”

Inger just stared back, “Wait, what? You in a dress?”

They went through the line after placing their orders. Gene paid cash, “Sometimes.”

“Eew. Don’t.” Inger picked up her Chicken Cuban and soy Americano, “so, are you like, a biker?”

“No. Never really kept a job. Didn’t want one. The universe provides for me.”

“So, are you rich?”

“I have enough.”

“What are you?”

” A citizen of the universe and Emperor of the People’s Free Democratic Republic of Berkeley.”

“You are scary.”

“I’m safe, you needn’t fear me.”

“I don’t know. Wears a dress, thinks he’s an emperor of some Berkeley thing, sounds sort of scary. You are a scary hippy?”

“Was a hippie. Not scary. All the real hippies either died or got married, had kids and settled down.”

“What about you?”

“I travel. I never liked being in one place long enough to keep a woman or a job. Both are needed to have kids.”

I interrupt the start of this narrative, sorry, right about when these two are going to talk about something other than trifles and food. As I write I realize this is probably 13,000 words rather than 1300. It’ll have to be serialized, sorry. I never got to the reason I started talking about Gene and Inger. You’ll have to follow the blog to find out.

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Secrets

Let me explain the title of this piece. This aphorism, “secrets have a way of getting out,” was in my head as I watched our local TV station report the march on Broad Street because Dumpf was inaugurated. Dumpf’s opposition is desperate for a secret that will kill his ability to be President. The secret that keeps revealing itself is our national general anxiety now that Pimp Daddy US has flown to Palm Springs to devote himself to golf.


NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA!

I said in an earlier post that anxiety never speaks of life or victory. It speaks of death and injury and misery and trouble and toil. It is what God gave us so we don’t get eaten by a sabertooth tiger. I’m making this edit three weeks after I first posted this piece. Our current national mood feels like an anxiety fueled tantrum where we don’t want to understand that this was inevitable. The secret is that Dumpf is destiny.

It’s a lot easier to be against something than it is to be handed the royal scepter. I can happily write a million words of snark, never advocating for an answer and it is of little consequence. We have had a professional class of agitprops for as long as I remember. These folk make it their career to be agin it. It doesn’t matter what the thing to be agin is. They are just agin it. It has happened in history that the agitprops win and have the scepter because they killed the king. For the bulk of human history the way the regime changes is through war. Equally constant is the use of genocide to control a king’s enemies. One reason we are exceptional because we have been able to change kings without bloodshed for over two centuries. Trump is finding out that being mouthy and agin it is very different from being king.

I used to try to engage with them, to ask what they wanted. The answers were usually some foolish platitude like giving the people a fair deal. Anarchists would say they wanted to just wreck everything and replace it with governance by community boards. The Communists have tried in numerous places to enact their utopia only to find that the wealth moves into the black market and ignores them. Socialists are just communists that are willing to allow some private ownership of capital and tangible assets. Same deal, the core belief is that the community in the form of government is the better operator of the enterprises of an empire. It fails.

Now I leave them alone. I am a follower of the Way. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth died and was raised again on the third day. Read Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας for the rest of it. I don’t need to hate or fear or bother myself all that much with what happens in Washington D.C. The change I seek comes from being it. I’ve written extensively here about what that looks like. I’ll not repeat it here. The PUDFRB agitprops throw bricks through store windows with the same religious passion that I sing Amazing Grace. It’s a waste of time to deal with them. They are walking dead incapable of being light and salt.

We were headed, may still be headed for a Nazi America. We are almost there. We just need a leader who leads by either overarching patriotism or by a constant drumbeat of reasons to fear everything except the dear leader. Trump marks a delay in this, maybe. His opposition seems intent on furthering their goal of revolution to be replaced by some childish fantasy of what would make America great for them.

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It is a tactic. Find some juicy rumor about somebody and beat it to death on social media. Muster up a ton of righteous indignation. Keep at it because if you repeat an accusation enough times it gains the heft of truth. Lately, it is a finger pointed at the left, who have become obsessed with the idea that our president hired Russian prostitutes to piss on the bed that Obama once slept it. This is added to the steady drumbeat that Putin personally hacked the election and caused Cheeto Satan to be the most powerful man in the world.

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That’s one. We have Bradley Manning, nee Chelsea Manning, who has garnered enough sympathy by choosing to cross-dress that Obama commuted his sentence. This one goes way back for me. When I was naturalized as a citizen of the Peepul’s United Free Demokratik Republik of Berkeley I had to pass a quiz and sign a loyalty oath. I was given a classification: zzcc, for apprentice cab driver in a collective. It’s not a very high status. I would have scored higher if I had agreed to be classified after getting my first crazy check. High status goes to an African-American lesbian who has six kids by six different fathers and is on TANF, SNAP and so on. Even higher status is awarded to her if she is an addict.

What’s happened since is that guys have heard the unspoken message and decided that gaining status to get the girl means agreeing to be gender fluid. The penultimate is the love-fest for a treasonous spy simply because he decided to wear a training bra. See if this doesn’t sound nuts to you: that one could do anything, any depraved thing, and get a pass because they self-identify as trans-gender.

Young women are my krypton. I am a creepy old guy lurking about the tubes ogling women young enough to be my daughter. But . . . Chelsea Manning is my savior. I can simply declare that I self-identify as a twenty-something lesbian and solve my ethical issue. Since I now am Alice and not Alan, I am 22 and a lesbian, I gain status in my old PUFDRB home. I qualify for attaching Go-Pro’s to my shoes to get video of panties worn by SumYung HotTea and others. When challenged, I get to claim that I was born this way and am fulfilling my destiny.

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We are in trouble if your train of thought is, “sure, if that’s what makes him happy, let’s set up a personal shopping appointment at Nordstrom’s and drop some cash on a new wardrobe.” One of the inanities of some is that their rules are ok but those old rules by people they dislike, those rules are not ok. I’ve been in so many seminars by agitprops where after hours and hours of discussion the core boundaries that emerge have a strong resemblence to either the القرآن الكريم or the Bible. Efforts at wiping the slate clean are amusing to me because very often even though the past is disregarded it has a way of sneaking back into the resulting decisions.

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I am writing this on the Saturday after Trump’s inauguration. I had to turn off my phone because Inger is apoplectic. She started blasting Ray last night, who turns out to be surprisingly empathetic to Inger, and me and Felina. Through the fb meme storm, the story seems to be that she has made a home for herself in a house leased by Felina, who is the one among peers with the most legit presence. Inger is recently out of rehab and at risk of arrest because she’s blown off her drug-court judge and social worker. I don’t think I am giving too much away in saying this. So . . . yeah, Inger has garnered the ire of her housemates because she launched an epic fit. Nothing damaged that threatens the security deposit but also the house has a long weekend cleaning up. Felina doesn’t have a license. It was never necessary. The one vehicle owned by the house has expired tags. This is not a bunch that gives a rip about compliance. Felina is herself capable of epic latina angery storms. Ray and Felina managed to drive Inger to the psych ward without getting arrested. Not bad.

Inger’s tantrum seems to be an attempt at being pissed off enough, ugly enough, that she will be heard in D.C. and they will come correct and make Billary president. Inger is one of those who spent a few hours being booked and released from Richmond City Jail. She was charged with public intoxication and assault on a cop. That went well. Inger is still learning that attempting to motivate and lead by force of negative emotion is a game of diminishing returns. More hate has the opposite effect of what is intended. It’s power over a group diminishes to arrive at indifference. Inger should be out next week. It’s going to be rough because the hospital followed protocol and contacted her probation officer. Her near future will not signal very much virtue.

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There was a picture that raced about social media that claimed to be of a dead woman who had been left out in the cold with her child. So it was said, she and her child died on that bus bench because no one had stepped up to help her. The proffered answer was something program, NGO or government above and beyond what we are already doing. There was very little bandwidth given to the thought that we, without a program, could bring a cup of soup to that woman and sit on the bench with her, talking. No, it had to be Pimp Daddy US who had to do something more.

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Service is ugly. It messes with your orthodoxies. The usual tropes, that the guy asking for help is somehow damaged and undeserving of mercy, get stomped on. The other, that we are not enough, or that sacrificing will put us in jeopardy, are both shown to be false by the many who have sacrificed to give mercy and find that God has blessed them.

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Back to Chelsea. I have no interest in what underwear you choose to wear or whether you decide to be something other than whatever ugly you were born with. Neither is it noteworthy to me if you love a partner who shares your same genitals. There are two things I care about: parenting and dysfunction. For me, there are two genders: parents and non-parents. If you are a parent then I care about how you raise your kids and what that will mean to us as we have to cope with your progeny. Dysfunction should be obvious. If the reason you have decided to be an outlier and choose some gender identity that isn’t cis-male or cis-female is some bitterness or mental health thing–fix that. It’s the bitterness and the cray-cray and the way that makes an impact on us that matters to me. Whether you end up as two sausages or two oysters or whatever but are otherwise mostly healthy it is the healthy that I wish for.

I am struck by my encounters with some within the LGBTQ world. Rather than take what is noble and good about men or women they seem to like being obnoxious. The caricature they present as their true selves isn’t what we would wish from the better parts of what masculinity or femininity means. No, it’s the trashy stuff, the stuff where men or women are being asshats. That’s what seems to define the transgender set. They choose the aspects of men and women that are shameful and shove it in our faces as the real identity. It makes good copy and a terrible lifestyle.

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Things are going to change. It looks like a lot of the bribery of the Demokrats that they were using to stay in office is at risk. I am ok with this. What the Demokrats were offering through Billary was something we couldn’t keep doing. We are broke, America. Pimp Daddy US doesn’t have our money. The only difference between Dumpf and Billary was the severity of the collapse. With Billary the PUDFRB agitprops would get their D.C. in flames and a government that would have to shut down because it could no longer pay its bills. With Dumpf it may still happen but not as soon as it would have with Billary.

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I’m repeating myself  in this next. Empires come and go. Emperor’s rule and die. Dynasties rise and fall. The circle of life continues. Dumpf is done in at most, eight years. In the meantime, if you want to change the world the means to do so hasn’t changed. If you have not befriended your neighbor now would be a good time to do so. If you are renting now would be a good time to look for land to buy. You want something with a lot big enough to support a small garden and maybe a few chickens. If that’s illegal where you are maybe use all that political animus to get the county or city to approve of keeping chickens. Humbly seek to strengthen your relationships to those around you. Trust your instincts. Listen with both ears and be slow to speak. You’ll know what to do.

We change the world by being the change we seek. I know, it’s a cliche. Whatever. Still, do the small acts of kindness, be merciful and gracious first. Remember this? אם אין אני לי, מי הוא בשבילי? אם אני רק לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי? This also: עשו לאחרים את מה שהייתם רוצים שיעשו לכם – זאת תמצית התורה ודברי הנביאים.

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Inger

Inger’s first appearance on the blog was last August when I started a kurfuffle for tossing about the word “rape” too casually for some. I didn’t name her then. I described the incident in a post titled, “It Was Rape“. I never named the girl who threw herself at the mercy of the guards a manic shadow of her Ivy League self. It wasn’t necessary then. It is necessary now. Also, most of my readership know that I am first a fiction writer who also writes prose. Thus, Inger is not a real person. I have to say that because my PUDFARB minders read a draft and accused me of shaming rape victims and giving undue press to rapists.

Inger, I and my peers need to apologize. We failed to raise you right. We were so concerned about your self-esteem we kept a bubble around you such that you were never allowed to fail. We feared the damage done to you by a dangerous world so you lived in a cocoon where you could do anything you wanted and were never held accountable. Now, grown, your world is a cackling nightmare of anxiety triggering aggression and threats. There are boogeymen everywhere who have hurt you. Men are, on their face, muderous assholes intent on killing you. White men are the worst. White women are agents of the white male devil and thus more evil because of their complicity in the violence and oppression.

We succeeded in protecting you from strife. In Little League you always got a trophy regardless of how well you performed. We beamed with pride when you showed up at your ballet recital in a rainbow tutu, a black leotard and Doc Martins saying you were dancing for the rights of black people and the downtrodden LBGTQ community. We taught you that having a tantrum meant getting a better trophy so you learned to be expert at using anger to get what you wanted. We explained away and excused your troubles in school as the fault of a legion of enemies set against you. It was never your fault.

When you saved our dung in mason jars and used it to finger paint on the walls we proudly took our pictures to the local copy store and had large format images of your art framed. Your use of infant poop was inspired.

We catered to your every whim. Switched brands of locovore soy milk because you told us the son of the family owned business was an evil pig exploiting young girls for profit. We never quite understood what made him so evil but since you were our precious snowflake we complied.

We defended you through to College at Stanford when you spent your first semester occupying the central square as a protest of the presence of white students proving endemic racism on campus. We hired lawyers to help you sue your professors who asked you to write essays that you said caused you duress. We lost but never stopped believing that you were right.

Please come home. We don’t know where you are. We are worried about you. We saw that Periscope video of you yelling, “rape” at work and were frightened. We have attorneys on retainer waiting for you. We support your fight for women’s suffrage in the workplace 100%.

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In the weeks following Inger’s spectacular exit from her internship at a Silicon Valley social media company she lost it. After being examined by the Trauma Center and having a rape kit collected she was nearly catatonic. A social worker and a psychiatrist examined her and had her transferred to the Psychiatric Ward. In California you can only be held for 72 hours involuntarily before they have to release you or have a plan for you. Inger got herself released.

She had the usual kit of a first world citizen of these United States. Purse containing necessities including ID, credit & debit cards and some cash. A scarf, ripped but usable. New cotton panties courtesy of the county since her VS Pink thong was ruined and a lacy thong in a psych ward is not a plan. Her phone, which had everything she needed to get an Uber back to her apartment. Her life was waiting for her. She just had to go home.

She did not. She was released at 8:00pm on a weeknight. She made her way to Calero Park, befriended a goth boy who had a tent and a spare sleeping bag. She was there for a couple days, begging for spare change and eating out of dumpsters. Her last stop in the first world was a visit to FedEx Office to mail her purse and clothes to her parents in Ashland, Va.

We failed you as parents and for that we are sorry. Please turn on your phone and let us know you are ok, ok?

Felina was a classmate at Stanford the school year before the internship and the cry of “Rape!” They were friendly but not close. Stanford was a fail for Inger and the softest landing after a fall was Swarthmore. Inger’s internship was on plan, in her senior year at Swarthmore and bode well for her. Inger and Felina mostly stayed in touch through Instagram and a shared love of creating memes. Then after the rape shout Inger went dark. Felina thought maybe she’d been ghosted by Inger.

That’s some of Inger’s back story. I said in a recent post that she was back in rehab. Getting clean and sober for Inger isn’t simply suffering through cold turkey and a bunch of Fellowship Meetings. Inger has come in to adulthood sporting PTSD and Schizophrenia. Inger, angry, doesn’t know how to self-soothe or calm down. Inger can’t cope with duress without a meltdown. She becomes a babbling idiot at the utterance of three words, “you are wrong.” She’s got some life skills to learn while getting clean.

What happened to the guy? When Inger went dark and resurfaced in rehab for the first time in Martinsville at Piedmont Community Services the cops tried to talk to her but she refused. The rape kit showed signs of sexual battery but the evidence pointed to someone else, not the coworker who was gang tackled by the guards. The police were willing to follow up on the case but Inger’s way of coping with them was a screaming fit in which she claimed that the police had invaded her brain with worms who were telling her that she was carrying the alien baby of a drunken party-goer after an all nighter in Calero Park. The staff asked the cops to leave and it was a few days before Inger returned to group.

Without clear evidence to support the screams of “Rape” the cops were left flat. This isn’t Law & Order SVU. This is Santa Clara County’s District Attorney’s office with the usual challenges. Every Assistant District Attorney has to weigh the cost of prosecuting a case against the likelihood of a conviction. Inger’s accusations of “Rape” didn’t have enough meat on them to justify spending the county’s money on prosecution so the charges were dropped.

Though, in the overheated, totalist mood of the country and of California, the scent of an accusation stuck to the coworker like skunk piss. His indifference to her accusations caused a social media storm of bad press, rumors and gossip which left his employer accused of being a fellow traveler of a rapist. Despite the absence of legal interest in his alleged sins the coworker found himself without a job and blacklisted.

So . . . Inger. I am sorry that my generation’s best intentions became your worst nightmare. The great sadness is that as shitty as it is, it’s on you now. I wish you all the best in this stint of rehab. Piedmont County is a good place to be.

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