Monthly Archives: April 2017
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 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 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.
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.
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.”
9. The Cherry Harvest, by Lucy Sanna (2015, William Morrow)
Another book I picked up at Madtown Author Daze (see last entry). I was walking and I recognized Lucy Sanna’s name and stopped and had a chat with her. She’s a Madison author and was absolutely radiant and delightful to talk to. I could tell she was a sharp writer then and there and that I wanted to read her book without even knowing what it was about. Some authors have that charismatic presence. I sure don’t! I just sit at my table and when someone asks me what’s up with my books I say “oh, you know, like, I hung out with like, these superhero people and also uhhh these paranormal people. Not interested? Ok…” Get it together, man! Well, I’m embellishing a little here for effect.
Anyway, I’m glad to say The Cherry Harvest did not disappoint. It’s not the type of book I read often, but that’s a good thing– I’m trying a few different things out this month. This book was great! The book follows a family farm in Door County struggling during WWII. Short workers, they decide to take on German POWs to help with their cherry harvest. It has drama, romance, suspense, and well developed characters. Beautifully written. I’m a Lucy Sanna fan.
8. First Contact, by Kat Green (2016, The Wild Rose Press)
I’ve wanted to read this for a long time! I think this is the first book I’ve read this year that wasn’t A.) research for my own upcoming book or B.) a pick of the Apocalypse Blog Book Club, which does tie-in to point A. I first became aware of First Contact because Kat Green (an alias of authors Kat De Falla and Rachel Green) were guests at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. I found the hook interesting– a paranormal real estate agent. Love it! I finally got a copy at the Madison Author Daze event last weekend, which was expertly organized by the previously mentioned Mrs. De Falla and her husband Lee. Fun event, met some interesting people and sat at my table eating delicious sandwiches, drinking coffee. Really nice day.
Anyway, the book. I loved it, a quick read at 170 pages, full of supernatural spookiness, suspense, creepy characters, and a scene with some steamy hot ethereal sex. That’s what I like to read about! There is a strong paranormal tie-in as main character Sloane Osborne uses paranormal investigation equipment to try to capture evidence, but don’t worry, if you don’t know what a K2 meter is, they explain it pretty well.
The book takes place in good old Waukesha, which is a good setting for a horror story these days. The book made me very thirsty (you’ll understand if you read it) and Sloane kicks ass!
The book has a website here: www.hauntsforsale.com
Recommended? Yes, and I can’t wait to read the next adventure starring Sloane Osborne.
7. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (c.1986, Anchor Books edition, 1998)
This was the March selection for the Apocalypse Blog Book Club. It was my first time reading something by Margaret Atwood and I found her prose to be quite gripping.
As the book unfolded for us over March, The Handmaid’s Tale made the news several times during the lead-in to a development of the book into a Hulu series, which premieres on the 26th of this month. Our book club notifications lit up as members posted some of these related stories. I’m pleased to say we are now doing monthly book reports for a site called Pop Mythology and club member and author Ryder Collins wrote our first one on The Handmaid’s Tale, and linked to several related stories. You can read it here: www.popmythology.com/apocalypse-blog-book-club-march-handmaids-tale
Recommended? YES. MANDATORY.
The Apocalypse Blog Book Club voted to read The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick as our April selection. The book, written in 1962, has had a renewed interest from an Amazon show series based on the book.
More on the book from Wikipedia:
The Man in the High Castle (1962) is an alternative history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, fifteen years after an alternative ending to World War II, the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—primarily, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule. The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. The book would later receive a 2015 TV adaptation also under the name, The Man in the High Castle.
Reported inspirations include Ward Moore’s alternative Civil War history, Bring the Jubilee (1953), various classic World War II histories, and the I Ching (referred to in the novel). The novel features a “novel within the novel” comprising an alternate history within this alternate history wherein the Allies defeat the Axis (though in a manner distinct from the actual historical outcome).
The Man in the High Castle is widely available online, at bookstores, and in library systems. We will have an in-person meeting to discuss the book the last day of the month, Sunday, April 30, 4pm at the Riverwest Public House. Takeaways from the meetings and online discussion will follow on our Facebook group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/
We also have a Goodreads page here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/213307-apocalypse-blog-book-club
There is no fee to be part of the Apocalypse Blog Book Club, just a desire to read a dystopian themed book every month and discuss the story and parallels we see to our current world.