Here Kitty, Kitty

I was minding my own business leaning against the van door, window open, making some notes in a notebook. A squirrel was in a nearby tree chirping up a storm and being more annoying than squirrels usually are. I’d even yelled at it at one point when I was walking the property as I was doing my estimate, but that was to little avail. It satisfied me to yell at the yapping furball, though. I looked up once more to see if I could see it looking down and mocking me.

Then, I saw something out of my peripheral vision.

Looking up, I saw it was a cat. I looked back down to what I was writing … then immediately did a double take.

The cat was sauntering across the street some 50′ feet distant. And, damn … was it ever a big cat! It looked in my direction with a sort of casual piss offedness and continued on its way.

Mentally, I shook cobwebs out of my head at the sight. I don’t think I’d ever seen a cat quite that big. And I’ve seen some big-ass cats in my day: Over-fed, lazy beasts that can barely move across the floor, ones that were walking mats of hair teetering toward food dishes. This one? Was easily making its way to the other side of the street despite its hugeness and headed to a corner that occupied bushes and palm trees.

Interestingly, it was mottled in black and tan and white with stripes here and there, a rather interesting pattern. It had a unique face with pointed-looking jowls aimed at the ground, the defining thing that gave it the “don’t mess with me” look. Then I noticed it had a short, clipped tail as if it had been run over or someone had cut its tail off.

Reaching the opposite side of the street, I saw the cat leap onto one of the palms and begin to sharpen its claws. I swear I saw the palm sway when it leapt atop it. It looked over in my direction once more with that “What the hell are YOU looking at?” glare.

Suddenly it hit me: “Holy crap! That’s not a cat: It’s a bobcat!

I jumped off the van door and dove inside to grab my camera. Coming up with it, I unzipped the case while simultaneously slamming the door shut. I quickly took a few steps toward the middle of the street. The bobcat looked my way a third time, hopped off the tree and ducked into nearby bushes to hide.

That’s when I stopped myself cold.

What the hell was I doing?!? That’s a bobcat for Pete’s sake! I don’t know if they’re dangerous (I’d never heard of any attacks on humans by the animals) but my senses got the better of me and decided it was better not to find out. I turned tail and got back in the van.

But I was determined to get a closer look. I keyed the starter, rolled up my window and drove across the street directly at the bushes where the animal was no doubt hiding. It was becoming quite dusky outside and it was getting more and more difficult to see. I turned on the headlights and maneuvered so the lights busted through the bushes.

Nothing. The thing could have taken off behind my field of vision for all I knew.

That’s when I got hit with another realization. Walking around that house, while I was sizing it up and taking measurements? It came back to me that damned squirrel was raising a ruckus the entire time. No wonder! It had obviously seen the bobcat lurking about and was chittering at it in warning.

Involuntarily, I shivered with the thrill of it all.

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Pulling Teeth

Shoes with zippers

These shoes have zippers in the back.
They don’t work, have no discernible purpose.
One reason men are glad they are not women.

In the shoe store some 3 dozen women were busily looking at and trying on shoes. In tow with about a handful of them were their pained-looking husbands and boyfriends.

I walked down an aisle and came to an end divider that housed a bench. Sitting on the bench was a bulky dude in a silk-screened T-shirt, babying several shoe boxes in one arm while in the act of pulling out his cell phone to check sport scores or access something on-line with the other. He looked tired, bored, restless … and sad.

I came nearer, bent over him and addressed him in a low voice: “It’s like pulling teeth … isn’t it?”

“Dude, you have NO clue. I’m dying here …” he confessed

I dropped my eyes in understanding, patted him on the shoulder and encouraged him. “Hang in there. It will be over soon. I promise.”

He sighed and nodded. I saluted him by touching my Kindle to my forehead, walked to a bench myself, sat down and began reading.

Tuber Of Terror

The following tale is true …

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Did you eat that potato? The one left over from the other night?”

“No.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few nights ago, I baked a couple potatoes — one for that evening’s repast, another to be used later.

Usually I BBQ my baked potatoes. Not only do they cook thoroughly, they do so more quickly as well. But it was cold out the evening I had a hankering for one and I didn’t feel like going through the motions of taking the cover off the BBQ, firing it up and shuffling back and forth from the house to flip potatoes while they cooked. So baking was the order of the evening. (No … I do not microwave potatoes. That’s a crime and a disservice.)

The spuds were pierced and poked after being washed, they were loosely wrapped in aluminum foil and then tossed into the oven.

45 minutes later they were about done. Well … one of them was at any rate. The other, a larger specimen, wasn’t quite there. It was in need of some extra cooking time. I made a request after extracting the cooked one and while closing the oven:

“I’m turning the oven off. Will you please remind me there’s one potato still in there baking?”

I unwrapped the completed tuber and prepped it for my dinner.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Huh … guess I didn’t look well enough …”

I headed back to the fridge to poke around some more to see where it was hiding. I trolled around and moved everything inside the fridge. I check every corner, every hiding place. No potato.

Suddenly, I got a chill. I felt the hair on the nape of my neck begin to stand on end.

I closed the fridge and moved toward the oven. Slowly I opened it.

There, inside, was the potato from a couple days ago … lying there on the top rack, waiting.

I could fill the chill spread from my neck down my back as I reached in and pulled it out. I put it on the counter. It was a somewhat cold, below room temperature.

Carefully, I began to unwrap it from its steely aluminum covering, all the while knowing I should simply toss it in the waste basket and forget about it. My curiosity wasn’t so easily swayed, however — it overrode my common sense and got the better of me.

Slowly, I peeled back a section of the foil. I decided to close my eyes. I couldn’t look. Instead, I felt my way around the covering and, by sense of touch alone, I exposed what was beneath it.

I took a deep breath, looked down to the counter and slowly opened my eyes.

There, oozing within inches of me with thick, languid bubbles that seemed to move on their own, was a mucousy film which had formed on the skin of the potato. It appeared alive. A bubble popped at me as if it were winking and I detected a sickly sweet smell exuding from from the thing. I swear I saw a mouth begin to form — it was about to say something evil to me.

With as much speed as I could muster, I rewrapped the offensive horror and flung it into the garbage. I walked away with the chill still riding atop the surface of my skin.

Eventually, I knew I was going to have to take the garbage out of doors before the smell of it began to issue from between the cracks around the lid of the trash can. But … that meant I would need to take the lid off the trash and pull the liner out of the receptacle.

And I just knew that potato would be covered in an all-encompassing gunk, complete with expressionless eyes and a filmy, fine-haired moldy coat just waiting to whisper something horrifying at me …

Better

superman_logo_royal_shirt

I was walking toward the exit when I saw him.

He was seated in a waiting area. He wore cargo shorts and flip flops and his legs were crossed. His hair was verging on an afro and his black beard was bushy and unkempt.

Immediately, I knew I could take him.

I stopped with about 10 feet between us. I squared up directly in front him and waited for him to look up at me. Finally, he noticed me.

That’s all I did for a second or two — I looked right at him. And he looked back at me. I pointed my finger and jabbed it directly at him. With authority.

He was with a girl. I don’t know if it was a friend of his, a girlfriend, his wife or an acquaintance. But she chuckled knowingly. She got it … he didn’t. You could tell. Nothing registered on his face, despite the giggles coming from the girl.

I walked out the door after out “meeting” … my head raised a little higher. I knew. I was still confident I could take him.

He had on a Batman T-shirt.

Mine was emblazoned with the Kryptonian symbol for “hope” …

Dave’s Not Here

“… and I’m going to need you to take your license out completely, if you don’t mind. I have to scan the barcode on the back.”

“Of course,” I told the pharmacist. I removed my driver’s license from my wallet and handed it to her.

She held it beneath a scanner and looked at her screen. “Hmmmmmmm … it’s coming up with a different address than the ondmv-helle printed on the front. Is the one here your current address?” she asked as she showed me the card.

“Yes, it is. Different how? What do you mean exactly?” I asked her.

“The two addresses are completely different, from different cities.” She verified what the cities were. “It happens all the time. That’s why I check with the customer, just to make sure …” she said.

“Well, that’s dumb,” I told her. “You’d think with all the features the DMV includes on the card, all the trouble they go through to make certain information is on there completely, the paperwork, the effort to have them sent out, etc. that they’d get their stuff together and make certain all their ducks are in a row.”

“Yeah … you’d think …” the pharmacist replied.

So …

Dear Department Of Motor Vehicles:

It’s come to my attention the information you have listed for my driver’s license is not the same information printed on the face of the actual license itself. This troubles me.

You see … I made certain to fill out lengthy paperwork – exactingly so – in an effort to provide the DMV with the most up to date information. I took great pains to come into one of your office to make various changes you requested, despite the lengthy wait I endured in order to do so. And that was with a previously arranged appointment.

What I found is that someone (mayhap it was several people) dropped the ball, however. Two different locations conflict with each other due to the DMV’s error(s). This not only confused a pharmacist who assisted me but caused her to do more work than she would have normally done because of your error. Additionally, there was the very real possibility of embarrassment with said pharmacist possibly looking askew at me wondering if I was hiding information from her which could have very well reared uncomfortability’s ugly head on both our parts. (Fortunately, I could give a rat’s ass about such a situation. I’m not such a person of delicate sensibilities nor of fragile constitution so no big deal. But others might not have such a Teflon coating, if you get my meaning.)

Thus, I’m requesting you correct this error post haste so that it doesn’t occur again. And, while you’re at it, I’m requesting a partial refund of the original fees it took to order my updated license being the information is wrong. That only seems fair.

Please contact me at your earliest opportunity and let me know when I will be receiving said refund. If I don’t hear from you in two week’s time (which I believe to be a fair time frame) you can expect a call.

Sincerely,

Michael Noble, Disillusioned California Driver

Of Sweet Kernels And Nosy Old Ladies

Of all the markets I enjoy going to, the Ranch Market — catering mainly to the latino community — is one of my favorites.

Terrific, crisp produce (and often boasting a host of different items you wouldn’t necessarily find in a regular grocery store), a nifty meat department with fresh-made chicharrones, several varieties of ceviche and more, pan dulce of all shapes and sizes, fresh baked pies and cakes, hunks of flan and more.

I was on a mission to get a few things to make corn salad that day, corn being the main order of the day. (It’s rather difficult to make corn salad without corn, y’unnerstan’ …) Tomatoes, cilantro and avocados were on the list as well.

Eying the corn as I made my way into the produce department, I went over and began picking out nice, large ears and shucking a portion of the husk to spy their freshness (of which I had little doubt).

Of a sudden, a hand touched my right shoulder. I looked and saw a diminutive old lady looking up at me.

“You better watch out for that,” she warned me. “They put the old stuff on the top, there … see? I’m not sure it’s really that fresh …”

I smiled at her. “Oh, the stuff I’m picking out is fresh all right. It’s super fresh as a matter of fact.” I reached for another ear and pulled part of the husk back to show her. She watched me as I did so.

“But … how do you know it’s really fresh?” she asked.

I pulled yet another from the bunch and repeated the process. “See? Clean and firm and ready to go. I can do this all day long,” I told her.

“But … how do you know it’s really fresh?” she asked again. She stuck her finger at the kernels to poke them and feel them. “They’re too hard” she tried reasoning.

“No … with white corn, the firmness assures freshness,” I told her. As I waved the ear of corn at the others I stated pointedly “I guarantee you this stuff is rockin’ and top notch …”

“Yes, but … how do you know? How do you really know for sure?” It was evident I held her attention and she was interested in what I had to say but I could tell she was doubtful. You could see in her eyes she wanted to believe me but there was skepticism there.

I squinched down to her level and looked right at her. Then, I looked to her right down the aisle past her. Then I looked left, away from her. I again came back to her questioning eyes and whispered to her “This is how I know … don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our secret” I confided.

I grabbed the ear I was holding with both hands and took a gaping bite out of it with exaggerated florish right in front of her. “Oh, man … THAT’S sweet stuff. Perfect!” I offered joyously. I know I had juice dribbling down my chin. I smiled at her toothily.

The surprise in her eyes made me wish I had had my camera right then and there. She gaped open-mouthed and began smiling at me herself. She raised her hand as if she was going to swat me, began laughing and shooshed me away while she made tracks down the aisle, chuckling all the way.

I’m certain she kept an eye on me while I continued picking out corn. You know … to make sure I didn’t put the one I took a bite out of back in the lot …