MR. HOWITZER, MR. CRIBBAGE AND THE WEE MAN
So anyway, although Eugene suffered a terrible fright, Mr. Howitzer did not die when his face met the grill of Eugene's truck. He did go to the hospital where he spent some time in a room shared with Mr. Cribbage, who had dislocated a disk while trying to clean the gutters in the middle of a howling rainstorm.
Both of them had the pleasure of looking out the windows of the seismically unsound ICU to see the weather finally turn Californian Gold with sunshine. Their dayshift nurses were named Betty and Gardenia and they were as chipper as chipmunks.
"Hi, I am Nurse Betty," the one said. "And I am going to give you a shot. Although I am your nurse this shift, I really am an aspiring Kansas waitress in disguise. My real name is actually Renée Zellweger and my pal here is named Tia Texada. O, guess you don't think that is funny."
"Roll over buddy," Gardenia said to Mr. Howitzer. "You aint gettin' a cath' this time."
"Owwww!" said Mr. Howitzer.
"It may sting a bit, but trust me, you don't want no pipe stuck up your dingus."
"Do you think we'll meet Morgan Freeman in Kansas?", Nurse Betty said, taking care of the metal pans under the bed and checking the IV drips.
"How come you can't put some of that stuff in that shot in that bag," Mr. Howitzer complained.
"O that man is a doll. I'd do him in a New York minute if he weren't so old." Nurse Gardenia said.
"How about Chris Rock?"
"Well personally I think these liberal actors are all . . .", Mr. Cribbage began.
"You hush now. Chris Rock?! He aint nothing like Morgan Freeman. All you Filipinas think we all look alike. Now Jaime Foxx, he's a hottie."
The two of them walked out together. "I like a man with a sense of humor," Nurse Betty said. "I miss the old nurse's cap they used to give at graduation. I think I'd look cute in one of those."
"You gonna wear green tomorra for St. Patrick's Day?"
"Sure thing. I am gonna wear green inside and out. And you?"
"You won't see me wearing no orange, that's for sure."
"Funny, you don't look Irish," Mr. Cribbage said.
"Honey, I am Black Irish," Nurse Gardenia said. "If it weren't for me, them Irish would have no soul at all. I'll be back for your enema at five, so don't go away now."
It was a week of many celebrations as the Island slowly dried out from the monsoons. It being Purim, and Marvin being of the persuasion, offered a 50% discount to anyone name Esther who should come into his merkin shop (Marvin's Merkins - Put a merkin in your firkin!). He put a sign out on Webster so everyone could see his promotion, but Mr. Mianfen, the owner of the Tchotchkes R Us complained about it. The sign read, "Two for One in the Bush - All Esthers Welcome!" Bettina and Brunhilde at the Touch of Wonder Massage thought it was funny.
Along the Strand at Marlene and Andre's Household Marlene put out a basket of hamentaschen which provided great sport for Jose and Javier as they tossed them back and forth to tease both Bonkers and Wickiwup, the dogs. The sport had to shift to the out of doors when the floor lamp became a sudden casualty. Later they had a little costume party and Martini put on Suan's stripper outfit which amused some people and not others.
"Man you gotta lose some weight if you gonna dress up like that," Pahrump said.
Some people have this idea that all the high holy days are terribly serious with lots of wailing an gnashing of teeth and putting on the sackcloth and ashes. Purim is not like that. With some special Deity selecting all your people for Special Treatment and Final Solutions every few years, it helps to cultivate a good sense of humor. So they all sat down that night to a fine faux lamb dinner that consisted of a shank of TVP broiled in special sauce by Marlene.
Over at the Old Same Place Bar, things were gearing up for St. Paddy's Day, a peculiar event that is celebrated substantially outside of Ireland by the Irish Diaspora and even more so by people who have not a particle of the Old Sod anywhere in their bodies. Irish realities being what they are, far more Irish dwell outside of the Emerald Isle than in it, so it is very likely someone of Irish extraction may be standing right next to you without you ever knowing it. Still, America is what it is, and every Cinco de Mayo, flocks of gabachos stumble over their gleanings of high school Spanish, nosh on fake comida with asada, frijoles y tortillas, and swill cervezas like they were all raised by una abuelta out of Sonora. So you cannot fault people for wanting to feel a little special for a day.
Indeed it is grand to be Irish from Ireland, although it is hardly notable to be Irish and living in Ireland where everyone there is pretty much unremarkably the same, both Light and Dark versions, and there is no work to be had for anyone and no money at all for all of that.
Padraic and Suzie were slinging the Gaelic Coffees (so called by Padraic who felt no decent man of Erse would ever come up with a concoction that would adulterate the Water of Life in the slightest)
Things were going great guns when the door opened a figure strode across the floor to the bar as all conversation collapse into a quivering heap of whispers. The Man from Minot quickly got off of his stool and stood to the side with his drink in hand to allow the newcomer to climb up on the stool.
"A Guiness." Said the man. "And Power. Arthur Power while I am waiting. Make it a double."
Indeed, the Wee Man had returned. All three foot two inches of him. What did he look like? For a start he wore a twill newsboy cap on a head of bright red hair. Red, too was his full beard and cobalt blue his eyes. He wore a green checked waistcoat which sported a gold chain that went into the side pocket and green checked pants. Some say he came from the Spanish Armada that sank off the coast and others say he was of the legendary Firbolg that harried the ancient Romans loose from the Emerald Isle thousands of years before. Some say despite his stature he was related to the mythic giant Finn ni Cuchulain, Finn McCool, whose body extended the length of Howth and that his apparent manifest physical size was merely a kind of magic trick and that his big toe stood as tall as an house.
One year he visited he did one of his magic spells and as a memorial, lady knickers he had turned into spun gold, even as they wore them there in the bar, now hung all in a row in front of the mirror. At the end of the line hung a large golden pair of boxer shorts that had belonged to Padraic. So it might be said there was something a bit . . . unusual about the Wee Man.
Padraic inquired of this man the reasons for his visit, Padraic being a doughty man of spirit, and some say more of that than sense for all his genial good nature.
The Wee Man downed his uisce-que-bah and set down his cruiskeen luin and smacked his lips and spake as follows unto those who would listen, and indeed, all that sat there in that snug sat rapt as if enchanted.
"I tell you I have been all around the world, seen many lands and danced with the fierce cannibals among the cane, I have searched the planet far and wide, crossed deserts and fields, seen the cities of man as well as fabulous creatures of the forest and the savannah, but nothing amazes a man like a pint of plain. I have studied the philosophers and all the great thinkers. Roved the university halls of lore and consulted wise men sitting amid ashes and clinkers, pestered seers and prophets, gurus and sages, to distribute at least a drop of the wisdom of the ages, yet still for all that all of those wise men said there was little to gain, beyond just knowin' all the universe stands in a pint of plain."
Padraic set the Guinness down before the Wee Man, who paused to take a deep draught and so wet his tonsils to proceed. He licked his lips and gazed up at the ceiling at some particular corner there where inspiration nestled like a spider in its homey web. Then he began again.
"I have wooed and wed, romanced many a lass, been married seven times and more and gone off besides. Over these several hundred years laid many a beauty to rest with a mighty tear and a world of pain, but nothing consoles a man through all of his troubles quite like a pint of plain. I have builded edifices like Ozymandias and watched them each fall, started businesses and gained princely treasures only to lose it all, but I tell you my lads and my lassies here, nothing stands up like a good glass of beer. So I am come from afar and from near, offer succor and pleasure to the profitless man, only to tell you this great and noble truth as best I can, a pint of plain is yer only man."
And all there sat dumbfounded and awed by this tremendous gift of knowledge and it seemed there grew a sort of greenish, golden light about the place and over the heads of each flickered a little green flame. The Wee Man commanded that each go out and tell the world all about it.
And with that, he drained his glass in a good long swallow, and then stood up upon the barstool and clapped his hands three times. There was a bright flash and a bit of smoke and when everyone could see again, the Wee Man had vanished. But on the heads of each person there perched a little cap of green and Nurse Betty, who indeed had entered the bar after work to sit at one of the tables made a loud exclamation.
"Why it's a nurse's cap! An old style nurse's cap! Finally I won my cap!", Betty said. "O dear! I think he's done something to my knickers . . . "!
"He's as randy as an Italian gigolo in a cute gondola, that one," Padraic said.
And wouldn't you know it but from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened like the ban sé through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.
That's the way it was on the Island, St. Patrick's Day, 2014.
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