Woke up today to a second straight morning of head full of thump and clenched teeth. This time the thump is closer to the last time the thump completely waylaid me, which means the thump is getting too comfortable. This time the clenched jaw is a leftover from bad and restless sleep and a day of clench and a week of grit. Coffee helps a little but not enough and I don’t want to take a pill and waste an entire day.
Who am I kidding? I waste entire days every goddamn day.
Snowbound claustrophobia is a thing. Looking out the window to see the glare off roofs and the wind pushing free flakes into the air is suffocating. Taking the dog out to romp is great until she hits a patch of salt and then I have to get down on my knees in the ice and muck and free the lazy from between her pads. Salt is what it is—a quick fix for the lazy and the people among us who hate dogs having fun in the snow.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Stop writing about your dog, you fucking amateur.]
I just looked at the tip of my finger that I lost when Freaky Frank slapped my ass as I was using a mandolin slicer to cut jicama. Slapped it right now on the edge of the desk and I still cannot feel that portion of my fingertip, all these years on. I wonder what ever became of Freaky Frank? I wonder if he still does drag shows and loves fat white boys? I wonder if his man-tits are still freakish-looking like cow teats with gigantic and brown silver dollar pancakes for nipples?
Freaky Frank worked with me at this Euro-style Deli. All of the sandwiches were made to order and went into brown paper bags marked NOONER on them. I got him high one night after work and he started hitting on me, telling me no woman would ever be able to suck me off the way he would be able to. I had stolen a bottle of red wine from the deli and we were sitting in a park and he was telling me all of this nonsense while I was trying to get a good and warm buzz going. I let him ramble and touch my leg as he flirted. Freaky Frank was fun and he made working there easier to take—I, along with Chongo, a weird alcoholic diesel mechanic named Dave, and another cat named Dale, were the only straight dudes working there—because he was always talking trash in a sneering and bratty way. When cute female customers would flirt with me he would walk behind me and mumble nasty things about them, and what he would pay me to let him watch us do.
I wasn’t even mad at Freaky Frank when I lost the tip of my finger. If anything, I thought it was hilarious that he walked behind me and slapped my ass that hard. Took balls. I was hurrying to make a big catering order and was slicing a bunch of jicama to put on these boring turkey sandwiches. Right before he slapped me I was singing a stupid song as I worked, making up lines like “Jicama can cure a hickey, ma” and “Jicama, jicama, suck up my motherfucking dick-a-ma.” Everyone was laughing and then Freaky Frank rolled right behind me and muttered “I’ll suck your fat white dick-a-ma, boy” and then slapped my ass with his giant paw and my hand jumped and I heard the strange sound my fingertip made as it dragged through the blade and I immediately yelled “FUCK” and clenched my fist and ran to the back prep room and started hopping up and down in place.
The family that owned the place all worked there. The dude who ran it for his parents, Randy, was a total burn-out hippie who wore Grateful Dead shirts and would hit me up for joints. He came back to where I was hopping up and down and pulled up a pickle bucket, sat down, and then asked me to unclench my fist to show him what had happened. I opened my fist and my blood sprayed Randy right in the face. He was totally calm about it and everyone else shrieked and he said “Looks like we need to get Dale to take you to the emergency room to get this fixed.” I clenched my fist again and apologized to Randy for spraying his face with blood.
Everyone had rushed to the back to see what was going on, but not Dale. Dale went over to my sandwich station to try and find my fingertip, but he said it wasn’t there. Dale and I shared a joint on the way to the emergency room and he kept on laughing about me spraying Randy with blood. I was laughing too, but was starting to get nervous about my finger and not being able to play guitar again. When we got there the doctor took a look at my finger after washing it all out, shot it up with lidocaine, and then stitched the tip closed under the nail bed. I asked him if I would be able to play guitar and he told me to stop “being a baby about a tiny little wound.” He immediately became my favorite doctor.
They gave me a script for painkillers and Dale and I went to fill it and then I sold all of them to him for $100. For some reason, Randy wanted Dale to bring me back to the deli instead of taking me home, so we went back. When we walked in Freaky Frank came over to me with sad eyes and tried to hug on me and say he was sorry. I let him, and then he put his hand in my back pocket, slipping me a bag of weed and an apology note that I found later on when I was at home.
They ended up finding the tip of my finger in one of the sandwiches.
Before I worked at that gig with Freaky Frank, I worked for another Frank, this one I called First Day Frank, at another deli. FDF owned this tiny little place next to a bookstore in a mall and he had no idea how to run a business. I cannot remember what he told me he did before he opened up the joint, but it sure wasn’t anything involving food or the service industry, because he was bad at it. That’s why he hired me, to run the place for him. He paid me shit money and was only around for two hours a day—the lunch rush—and he’d call me at night as we were closing to ask about the money.
Owners of small businesses love to call about the money.
First Day Frank had all these weird rules about things that made no sense to any of the three of us working for him—myself, this sweet kid from Nebraska named Brennen, and this crazy ex-biker named Terry Large who had a huge tattoo of a black widow on the inside of his forearm that Frist Day Frank would beg him to cover up—so, we basically ignored his rules and did whatever we wanted. We were only busy during lunch, feeding all the girls from the bookstore and random people strolling through the mall, so we spent the rest of our time drinking lime rickeys and bullshitting. Terry Large used to love to talk about women in awful and terrible ways and waggle his tongue out of his mouth while doing so. Terry Large also used to love sleeping at a table and calling out sick. Terry Large once asked me why I was always scribbling into spiral notebooks and I answered him with one word—“poetry”—and then he never asked me about it again.
Terry Large did not like poetry, obviously.
Brennen was sweet, like I said—he was really innocent and kind—and he was going to school to be a mechanic. One night after closing I was having sex with one of the women from the bookstore after locking up and poor Brennen had come in with his keys to make himself a sandwich because he was broke and walked right in on us in the tiny back room. I remember looking over her shoulder as she was straddling me and seeing his face and I felt terrible for him. I stopped feeling terrible for him when he went on ahead and made himself a sandwich anyway. He never brought it up, so we never talked about it.
Some of our customers were guys working at the used car lot across the street. One of them, this weird dude named Mark, decided he wanted to be my pal. He asked me if I wanted to go to a basketball game with him, because he had an extra ticket. I went, which was stupid of me. Mark was in the middle of a divorce and he was a cocaine addict and he never shut the fuck up the entire time and kept on telling me about ADD and how cocaine was good for people with ADD and how he was sure I also had ADD and I ended up doing most of his cocaine that night. I don’t know if First Day Frank, Brennen, or Terry Large gave him my phone number, but Mark started calling me all the time, telling me I should sell used cars with him and telling me he knew a stripper that would love me and asking me if I could get him more cocaine. It was a nightmare. Mark ended up getting arrested for stalking his wife and I never heard from him again.
I used to steal cash money from First Day Frank.
I never stole a lot, but he was asking me to run his place for him and he was barely paying me, so I would steal $40-$60 here and there. I would purposely not ring people up and slip their money underneath the cash drawer and make them change from the drawer anyway. Then, when I would be closing out for the night I would do the math necessary to make sure I wouldn’t get caught. That money kept my lights on. That money kept my cat fed.
Terry Large got caught, though.
He got caught stealing fucking food, of all things. Why would you steal food from a place you could eat at all goddamn day and never get in trouble for it because the owner was never around? Terry Large tried to steal a giant hunk of roast beef and a loaf of bread and First Day Frank fired him, which meant Brennen and I would have to work alongside First Day Frank for a while until he decided to hire someone new. After two weeks, First Day Frank decided he had had more than enough and sold the place to some sandwich chain and me and Brennen lost our jobs.
First Day Frank was a Cubs fan.
I once put Iggy Pop’s “Fall in Love with Me” on a mixtape for a waitress and left it taped to the door of her car.
It was the only song on the tape, both sides full-up.
What I said about Freaky Frank’s man-tits was mean and totally uncalled for.
I’m real sorry, Freaky Frank. I hope your man-tits are magnificent.
Dave the diesel mechanic freaked me out so bad one night when we got high together that I ran all the way home and hid inside of my apartment. He had been drinking heavily and a bunch of us were at this girl’s apartment and I smoked him out and then he started going into great detail about how a diesel engine worked, talking with his hands and ignoring everyone around us, his eyes full of black fuel and orange smoke. I’m not sure if it caused me to have a psychotic break or if I was already going to have one, but it sure did make me run as fast as I could away from him and the party where I was hoping to ball the girl who lived there. She ended up coming over to my place around three in the morning and I let her in and made us eggs and toast and we made out and then I fell asleep with my dick in her hand.
I was good at shit like that.
I never answer my phone.
Everyone is crazy to someone else. Whenever I allow myself to meditate on my first thoughts after meeting someone new, I try to remind myself that no matter how weird that person may or may not appear to me, I am just as weird in their eyes. I mean—let’s get real here—being alive in this world in this period of time with all this technology at our fingertips and all this knowledge available to almost every sentient being, we’re all still weirded out by being here and we’re all still weirded out about interacting with other weirdoes. Instead of worrying about it, we should all just go on ahead and get weird together.