Arcade Bars

arcadebar

It’s been a few months since I’ve had anything published. I’ve been overworked with other things, but fortunately, that’s about to change and I’ll be working a lot more on writing.

I was able to write up a lead A & E piece for the Shepherd Express recently that explores a trend of arcade themed bars here in Milwaukee. You can read it here: https://shepherdexpress.com/arts-and-entertainment/ae-feature/back-to-the-future-80s-arcade-bars-are-a-new-favorite/

I also finished a draft of a chapter for an anthology book about Milwaukee that will be out next year on 4/14 Milwaukee Day.

It’s good to be back.

 

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Recent Writing

I just wanted to mention a couple published pieces I’ve had this month.

First, I’m sad to report that my friend Damien Jones passed away. He was a great guy that participated in a couple of my projects over the years. I wrote about him as a Neighbor Spotlight for the Riverwest Currents. Here’s a link:  https://riverwestcurrents.org/2018/03/neighbor-spotlight-damien-jones.html

I’m thrilled that I have an article in this month’s Doctor Who Magazine (#523). I’ve been a fan of the show since I was kid, eagerly tuning into PBS each week to watch. I wrote an article on a local group called Dalek Asylum Milwaukee, who made an attempt to assemble the most Daleks (the cyborg enemies of the Doctor) in one place.

My nerd cred is way up.

WHO1WHO3

RIP JC Johnson

JCfield

The trouble with all the books I’ve written so far is that there is never enough time and budget to do everything I’d like to. A great case in point is not getting to the four corners region of New Mexico-Arizona-Utah-Colorado to meet a man named JC Johnson and his cryptid research team Crypto 4 Corners in person.

I had a chance to talk to JC by phone and e-mail several times and he shared with me his videos and writings about his investigation in the field, looking into reports of Sasquatch, Dogmen, Skinwalkers, Thunderbirds, living dinosaurs, and something he dubbed “the Night Stalker.” It all sounded real creepy (especially the stories about Skinwalkers) and of course I was way into it. I enjoyed talking to JC and we went so far as to pick some dates I might join him and C4C on a field expedition.

C4C was a colorful looking group that looked like a cryptid hunting militia. What I found interesting was that they were one a very few cryptid groups that were ethnically diverse. I described their look in my book Monster Hunters:

“With their camo fatigues, generous supply of firearms, and a few heavily tattooed members, C4C looks like a zombie apocalypse survival team straight out of The Walking Dead.”
Krulos_Monster_7(1)
I was really excited to meet the team, but I simply ran out of time before my deadline, and couldn’t make it. I did write a couple of pages (pages 222-224) about the team in my Monster Hunters chapter “The Accidental Werewolf Chronicler,” which originally had the working title “Werewolves and Skinwalkers.”

The thing I liked most about JC was that he was a true adventurer. What a great thing to be!

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JC with Crypto 4 Corners teammate Leonard Dan.

The Time is now to 2 Minutes to Midnight

Clockscience

Well, here we are. I watched the Doomsday Clock announcement from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists live this morning. The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock the Bulletin uses to illustrate if we’re moving closer or further from global annihilation (aka Midnight). Not surprisingly, it moved forward this year from 2.5 to 2 minutes to Midnight.

Among reasons cited were nuclear escalations in North Korea, Russia, and Iran as well as Trump’s loose rhetoric in talking about nukes (such as bragging about the size of his nuclear button), and a step backward in addressing climate change. You can read the Bulletin’s 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement here: https://thebulletin.org/2018-doomsday-clock-statement

Here’s some key milestones in the Doomsday Clock’s history:

1945: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists formed.
1947: Bulletin debutes the Doomsday Clock
1953: 2 minutes to Midnight: The invention of the H-bomb brought the clock the closest it’s ever been to Midnight…until we returned to that time today.
1984: 3 minutes to Midnight. The clock hovered close to Midnight throughout the “mutually assured destruction” days of the Cold War.
1991: With the Cold War over, the clock reached it’s furthest position away from 12 in 1991 at 17 minutes to Midnight.

2016: the Bulletin revealed that things didn’t look so great. The minutehand had crept forward to 3 to Midnight, the first time since the 1984 Cold War days. It was, as the Bulletin noted, “not good news.”

2017: With President Trump in office a mere few days, the Bulleting moved the clock forward to 2.5 minutes to Midnight, the first time in history the Bulletin utilized a half second. Among other reasons, the decision was based on fiery rhetoric from Trump and other politicians and world leaders.

2018: 2 minutes to Midnight. “You need to demand action,” the Bulletin stated today. “It is not yet midnight, and we have moved back from the brink in the past.”

My new book has a working title of The End and is out early next year from Chicago Review Press.

The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History

supernatural

I’m glad to say I am a contributing author to a new sociological study of paranormal topics titled The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History. It’s a book “demonstrating the value of serious academic inquiry into supernatural beliefs and practices—from ghosts, vampirism, cryptozoology, and dark tourism to tarot cards, fortunetelling, voodoo, and alien abduction.” Sounds pretty groovy to me. It will be out in July from Temple University Press. The anthology is edited by professor Dennis Waskul of Minnesota State University and professor Marc Eaton of Ripon College. I’d like to thank them for their infinite patience in helping edit my contribution (Chapter 10: Cryptozoology: The Hunt for Hidden Animals and Monsters) into a coherent, well sourced study. This is my first bit of writing that’s less man-on-the-street and more man-in-a-tweed-coat-with-elbow-patches-smoking-a-pipe-in-a-library. I’m excited to see the published book this summer!

More book info from the publisher:

In the twenty-first century, as in centuries past, stories of the supernatural thrill and terrify us. But despite their popularity, scholars often dismiss such beliefs in the uncanny as inconsequential, or even embarrassing. The editors and contributors to The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History have made a concerted effort to understand encounters with ghosts and the supernatural that have remain present and flourished. Featuring folkloric researchers examining the cultural value of such beliefs and practices, sociologists who acknowledge the social and historical value of the supernatural, and enthusiasts of the mystical and uncanny, this volume includes a variety of experts and interested observers using first-hand ethnographic experiences and historical records.

The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History seeks to understand the socio-cultural and socio-historical contexts of the supernatural. This volume takes the supernatural as real because belief in it has fundamentally shaped human history. It continues to inform people’s interpretations, actions, and identities on a daily basis. The supernatural is an indelible part of our social world that deserves sincere scholarly attention.

Contributors include: Janet Baldwin, I’Nasah Crockett, William Ryan Force, Rachael Ironside, Tea Krulos, Joseph Laycock, Stephen L. MuzzattiScott Scribner, Emma Smith, Jeannie Banks Thomas, and the editors.

Tea’s 2017

2017 was overall a good year for me. Sure there were some rough spots, but here at Krulos Command Center we don’t dwell on missed shots or miserable wretches you sometimes cross paths with. We focus on the WINNING.

The End: I’m wrapping up my third book for Chicago Review Press, which has the working title The End: A Journey Through America’s Apocalypse Culture. The deadline was pushed back a bit cause I just needed more time. The fun part of 2017 was finishing necessary travel for the book, that’s always a fun part. I went to Zombie Con in Missouri with Zombie Squad in June, an Escape the Woods survival camp in Ohio in July with my friend Alex, took a road trip to Kansas to tour the Survival Condos with my friend Paul, then journeyed alone to the Mojave Desert to check out the greatest party at the end of the world, Wasteland Weekend. I’m now working hard to wrap the book up.

escape 009doomsdaycondoWweekend

Another great thing to come out of this project is The Apocalypse Blog Book Club. When I noticed that the current political climate led to a jump in sales for George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, I thought I should read up on dystopian novels. I try to immerse myself in whatever subject I’m writing on– I read a lot of superhero comics while working on Heroes in the Night and ghost stories when I was in the Monster Hunters zone. Then I decided instead of reading these titles alone, I should start a book club. We now have 173 members from around the world in our Facebook group, we host in-person discussion on titles at the Riverwest Public House and Boswell Book Company carries our selections. You can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/

ReadyPlayerOne

Art Curator: I kind of unexpectedly fell into the role of curating the Riverwest Public House’s gallery wall. It’s been a lot of fun. We opened with a group show in April called “SAD! 100 Days of Trump,” and since then I’ve tried to reflect the diversity of art and artists in the neighborhood with solo and group shows– comic strip art, tattoo flash art, abstract paintings, photographs, prints, paintings, and installations. You can currently check an awesome installation/ display of photographs from Joe Brusky and the Overpass Light Brigade (through Jan.25).

OLBshow

Events: The third annual Milwaukee Paranormal Conference took place this year, along with related events the weekend of Oct.13-15. I have mixed feelings on how the event went, but I think I learned a lot on what worked and what didn’t. Milwaukee Krampusnacht was a huge hit for year one and we’ll be back with a great event in 2018.

krampkrew

Freelancing: I didn’t do as much freelancing as I have in years past as I was too busy with everything else. But I did contribute articles to the Shepherd Express, Milwaukee Record, M magazine, Rust magazine, and Riverwest Currents. I also contributed to and helped develop a column series for Alcoholmanac called “The New Brew City,” co-authored by Heidi Erickson, which explored some of the new breweries in town.

Personal: My family is doing well and I was glad to see an appearance of a new family member– my adorable niece Baby Gemma. I enjoyed the holidays with my family and my roommate, Lee.

The best thing that happened to me in 2017 was meeting a wonderful person, my girlfriend Kate. We were introduced by our mutual mystical friend, Skully. We developed a beautiful friendship and talking to Kate became my favorite pastime. She’s extremely smart and has been very helpful in helping me visualize potential and how to reorganize to get there. We’ve had some great adventures together already– we investigated the haunted Old Baraboo Inn, did a 30-day hot yoga challenge, started boxing/kickboxing class, rocked Milwaukee Krampusnacht, and created our own crafting company, Fox & Bear. And we got plenty of big ideas for 2018!

I hope you have a good year, my friends, and remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Be excellent to each other and…PARTY ON, DUDES!”

My Escape the Woods Weekend

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I attended a camping, training, and competition called Escape the Woods July 21-23 at Camp Lazarus in Delaware, Ohio. The weekend was led by Creek Stewart, survival instructor, author of survival guides, and star of the Weather Channel’s Fat Guys in the Woods and a new show called SOS: How to Survive. He’s the owner and lead instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor Survival School in Indiana and curates the Apocabox, a subscription service of survival supplies.

Friday

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After a long ride from Milwaukee, me and my colleague Alex arrived at the Escape the Woods campsite just after noon. We registered with Todd, Escape the Woods COO (Chief Outdoors Officer) and set up camp. We had an orientation meeting and met the instructors. There were about 15 participants and around a dozen instructors. We were told this was a low number compared to past events, but it was good for us as we got plenty of one-on-one training. After orientation, we went to our first “pod” which was a firemaking one. Creek led this one and showed a variety of ways to start fires with tinder and igniters like a solar lens, steel and flint, and a ferro stick, which is this steel rod you scrape to get sparks. He even showed us how to scrape a guitar pick for tinder to ignite.

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Our next pod was on water filtration and purification and was led by Jim Conley (and family) of Conley Backwoods Skills & Adventures. He showed various ways to build water filters from nature and different ways to boil water and purify.  We also carved a hook to hang containers from a tripod above a fire.

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This was our camp. We shared our circle with an Escape the Woods enthusiast from Michigan and a nice couple from Texas.

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Alex chilling with his rocket stove that cooked things in like, one minute.

Saturday

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Saturday was a pretty intense training day. It started off with a knot tying pod, led by this gentleman (I forgot his name) and a guy named Jim Moore. I discovered I am pretty bad at tying knots.

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One interesting guest instructor was Chet Snouffer of Leading Edge Boomerangs, 12 time National boomerang throwing champ, 3 time World Individual Champ, 6 time World Team Champ, former president of the US Boomerang Association. He had us take turns throwing boomerangs and throwing sticks (those are for hunting and aren’t supposed to come back.) He also busted out a jam on the didgeridoo.

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Back to a quick fire pod, Creek demonstrated how to make a fire using a pump drill, which is a great way to make a fire if you want to get really frustrated.

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He also showed how to make cordage using natural fibers. We twisted some rope together and here he is showing the group a useful hemp-like plant called dogbane.

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Mike Jackson led a medic pod, talking about tourniquets and other emergency medical procedures.

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Stephen Kinney and company led the next pod, which was about constructing traps and snares. Here he and Alex are setting a figure 4 trap, which when baited will squish an animal.

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Here he’s demonstrating a simple snare. An animal steps in a loop and is caught hanging from a sapling (we used snow depth measure sticks for the pod).

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Art Dawes of PA Wilderness Skills led the shelter building pod, showing how to make simple structures out of natural materials or with just a tarp.

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I think he’s saying “here’s your new home!”

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Back to fire pod to learn how to make a fire using a bow drill with Creek. It took a lot of elbow grease, but I did it!

Sunday

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Sunday was the competition day! Teams of two got points for completing tasks and extra points for placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd as well as extra points if they chose a challenge, which could be good or bad (60 second head start was a good one, doing a task while wearing gloves was a bad one). The first challenge was bayoneting wood down and starting a fire with a ferro stick, and it needed to be a strong enough fire to burn through the paracord stretched above it. Me and Alex completed, but didn’t place.

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Next challenge– building a tripod, a fire, and hanging a container with our hook about the fire and getting 8 oz of water to a boil within 20 minutes. We were real close, real real close, but the water wasn’t quite at a boil when they called time.

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Our next challenge was building a tarp structure, duplicating a model, down to the knots and all. Alex calmly and confidentially put this together while I assisted. We would have gotten FIRST, but two of the knots were not the same ones on the model so we had to retie them. By the time they were retied, we were third.

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Collection of tarp structures.

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This next challenge was hard and we didn’t complete. You had to tie together a rope and catch an ammo box with a hook, then open it and hit a target with a slingshot.

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Last challenge was setting a figure 4 trap, a snare, making cordage with toliet paper to carry a jug back to the finish line. We completed. After there was an award meeting. Our tent neighbor from Michigan won first place, and got a nice trophy knife and a pack filled with various survival supplies. Me and Alex hit the road to head towards home.

This was a really great experience. All the instructors were knowledgeable and made us feel welcome. I learned some new things and had fun.

You can find more info and upcoming events at: www.escapethewoods.com

Tea Krulos is currently working on a book with the working title The End. Provided, of course, that the world still exists by publication date. 

Roller Derby Skater, Cryptid, or Real Life Superhero?

rlshShevilsmothman

(L-R Tea Krulos with a group of RLSH at Wizard World Chicago, roller derby team Shevil Knevils, an artist depiction of a cryptid known as Mothman)
My first  book was published in 2013. It is titled Heroes in the Night. RLSH are people who adopt their own superhero persona to battle crime or try to make the world a better place.

From 2006-2008 I wrote a “sports column” about local Milwaukee roller derby league, the Brew City Bruisers.

My second book, Monster Hunters, was published in 2015. It deals in part with cryptozoology, the study of unknown animals. These creatures are referred to as “cryptids.”

I’ve encountered a lot of interesting names. Bellow are three sets of names. One is an RLSH, one is a cryptid, on is a roller derby skater (from everywhere, not just the Bruisers). Which one is which? The first to answer all five rounds correctly will win a signed copy of my book Heroes in the Night (shipped for free anywhere in North America.) The answer must appear in the comment section on this post. You can use the abbreviations RLSH, RD, and C, put them in the right order in a sentence up to down.

Round One
Chicago Man-bat
Bar Harbor Batman
Bat Outta Hell

Round Two
Watchman
Grassman
Super Hera

Round Three
Jersey Devil
Beast Mode
Phantom Zero

Round Four
Battlefrog
Green Scorpion
Bishopville Lizardman

Round Five
Scootaloo
Tatzelwurm
Conundrum

 

The Smell of Fear

mist

I remembered this story last night and decided to write it down before I completely forget it. This was about ten years ago. I had been through some shit and had been feeling weird and lonely and bad. My head was in a purple haze, as a man once said. I was walking along downtown by Renaissance Books with the plan to dig around in their massive piles of random tomes. I heard a voice behind me say, “sir, do you have a minute to help us with some important research?”

I looked and saw a young woman dressed as a sexy scientist. My first impulse was to flee. I stared at her a moment, but figured, what’s there to lose? I walked over.

“C’mon inside, good lookin!” She smiled. We walked into an abandoned storefront. There were some rafters set up with about 8 more young, sexy scientists sitting on them, cross-legged in short shorts, tank tops, and lab coats. When I walked in, they all greeted me. “Hi, we’re so glad you’re here!” “Welcome!” “Hi, handsome!”

Now I thought this was really bad. My first thought was that obviously these sexy scientists were shanghaiing young men and selling their organs. Then I thought perhaps life had gotten the worst of me and I was hallucinating. Then, I thought maybe I had died and this is what happens when you die. I noticed a very intense odor of cologne, and a curtained off area where I heard beep beep boop machine noises and blasts of aerosol. My fear intensified.

The first sexy scientist now had a clipboard and asked me to walk over to a counter.

“We just got a couple questions here to get you started,” she said, reading from the clipboard. “One, are you aware of the field of smellology?”
“Uh…the what now?”
“Smellology is the field that studies the effects that good smelling men have on women.”
“Ummm…” It was then that I noticed a large stash of mini bottles of Axe body spray and other swag, like key-chains. I was a little slow, but I figured it out.

“This is total bullshit,” I said and walked out the door.

Tea Krulos is a writer from Milwaukee. He does not use Axe body spray products.

The Dishwasher Saints of the Brady Street Pharmacy

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Note, this was written about 11 years ago, when I was working as the cashier at a unique cafe/convenience store/ pharmacy/ uh…theater, called the Brady Street Pharmacy.

There were three ex-dishwashers of the café who have died of alcohol related conditions over the last year and a half. They drank themselves to death. All three were somewhere in their fifties. Here they’ll be called “Saint Peter,” “Saint Paul,” and “Saint Joseph.”

Saint JOSEPH

Saint Joseph had thin, greasy hair combed over his scaly, pock marked head. He had a vulgar looking mustache and was missing a tooth, most likely from falling off a barstool. He had the looks of an evil landlord, a Snidley Whiplash character who would twirl his mustache hair with glee as he’d try to goose the rent out of the poor widowed farm wife.

Despite this, I got along with the guy alright. We weren’t BFFs or anything, but we always said ‘hi’ and engaged in some type of small talk every day. You know, sports, weather, how much work sucks, etc, etc, so on and so forth.

He was unpopular with the waitresses, which is a bad bad bad place for a dishwasher to be. Those waitresses will conspire silently, wait patiently, and then sabotage your very soul. They’ll tell you they left a birthday present for you in the garage, and you’ll go out there, touched by their generosity. Then you’ll discover the garage door locks behind you and that the room is filled with rabid mountain lions and the walls are lined with mousetraps.

Such was the case with Saint Joseph. As soon as he slouched through the door, you could see the back hair of the waitresses starting to stand on end, their postures clenched and uncomfortable. He came to work sometimes noticeably drunk. He sometimes snuck off to a side room to catch a few Zs. The waitresses were convinced he had a bottle hidden somewhere on the premises and the flipped the place more thoroughly than the vice squad. No stone was left unturned in the search for the stash in a desperate attempt to find hard alcohol hard evidence. They even had me search the tank of the men’s room toilet on three different occasions. Now that you mention it, that is a pretty good place to hide it.

One day I walked in, and my co-worker Mo was smirking at me through a haze of cigarette smoke.

“Wait’ll you see Joseph today.” She said, exhaling smoke. “He’s turned yellow.”

“Sure, Mo.” I said, dismissing it. I thought she was implying something like “he’s a little green around the gills.” Then he walked in.

He’s….YELLOW!” I shout whispered to Mo.

“I told you.” She said.

No, no…he’s yellllllll-ow!

“I told you.”

I mean, he looks like he walked out of an episode of The Simpsons! Mo, he’s yellow!” I’m still kind of in shock. I’ve never seen anyone Crayola yellow before.

“I told you.” Mo said again.

As you can probably guess, it’s not a good sign when you turn as yellow as yield sign. It means you are dying. And a few months later, Saint Joseph was dead.

Saint PAUL

Saint Paul had a drinking problem, too.

His doctor said “Saint Paul, if you continue to drink, you will drop over dead as a fucking doornail.”

Saint Paul said, “Thanks for the advice, doc.” Then he headed straight for the Roman Coin and bought a pitcher of beer and asked for one glass.

Saint Paul was a nice, jolly guy. He loved to laugh and joke around. Sure, he was in a goddamn grouchy mood sometimes, but who isn’t? I can’t remember now if he quit or was fired for being drunk on the job, which happened on a regular basis. The booze made him happy. The waitresses were split on their decision on Paul. Most agreed he had “gotten worse.”

He started losing weight. Like I said, he was jolly. Jolly to me implies a little fat, which Paul was. He started to lose weight, rapidly, and it wasn’t from dieting or exercise. The weight loss looked unnatural. His skin tone was changing, too, it was yellowish greenish grayish. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was like he was shriveling up and dying. It was depressing to see. I remember seeing him, gray looking, soaking wet, walking in the rain with his XXL t-shirt hanging off his now L body, heading to the Roman Coin. Things got worse and he checked into the hospital. He didn’t check out.

Saint PETER

It was kind of a surprise. I knew Saint Peter drank too much, and popped a lot of pain pills, which is a no no, but I didn’t think much on it. He didn’t look great, but he didn’t look like he was going to drop over.

Peter had a bushy beard and long hair and a wild look in his eyes, like Rasputin. He was always dressed in the same beat up flannel and beat ups jeans, chain smoking Old Golds and looking around him wildly. Initially the dude freaked me out a little bit, with all the staring and teeth grinding and mumbling to himself. Soon I realized that this was the pain pills talking and that he was an ok guy. He had miserable things happen in his life and I felt bad for him. I do remember thinking that he looked a bit worse than usual last week. He wasn’t making sense and seemed angry about it. I swear his beard looked much grayer than it had been days before, but maybe my mind has invented it.

The last time I saw him, he took a drag from his cigarette, squinted and scanned the layout of the Pharmacy. “Fuck this place,” he said, stubbed out his cigarette, left.

He disappeared for a few days, then one evening his mother walked in. His mother is like three hundred years old, slouched over a walker, dressed in an ancient floor length fur coat, a mess of white hair on her head.

The boss and I were at the front counter. Jim had his arms folded in front of him, and was blabbing on and on. He was wearing a humorous tie with King Kong on it. I was drinking weak coffee and staring off into space in front of me, daydreaming, ignoring the stream of consciousness flowing out of my boss.
jimSearles

Saint Peter’s mom walked through the door with much effort, and stared down at us, leaning on her walker.

“Peter is dead.” She said.

My boss stared at her, blinking. He wasn’t any good in situations like this.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. When?”

“Yesterday.” She said, then turned and pushed her way back out the doors.

***

Later I was at the bar having a drink. I stared down into my glass. “Shit, man,” I thought, “this shit will kill you.”