I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3


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a heartless gas

goodwill storeSomeday I might need gas money to get to Texas , too . You never know .  I’m too old to pretend to have a baby with my wife waiting  in the car . Why Texas ?  I think it was a sick , or dying ? , father down there . And no gas to get there . And , of course , no money .

I should give you a few dollars because you asked ?   I guess  if you don’t ask ,  you probably won’t get anything .

Decades ago , when the Hari Krishnas , and the Moonies , and the Born Agains , and others , infested the L.A. airport , I was there with my old friend Fred Kail .  Why we were there I don’t remember . Neither of us had any money in those days  to fly anywhere . We must have been there to pick someone up . Doesn’t matter .

All of these  askers-of-money seemed to be dressed  well , in crisp white suits and polished shoes ,  and they carried clip boards  ; even the Krishnas ; even the Moonies . Well , at first the Krishnas wore their orange robes , enraptured smiles , and , maybe , occasionally , hopped a little . But , I suppose , that wasn’t working for them  . Some head  Hari in charge maybe talked to a marketing guy . Get a crisp white suit , he must have said ; maybe a fedora hat to cover the shaved head ? ; and don’t hop ……    and  don’t mention Rama or white rice .   The Moonies got on board , too  :  white suits  ; clipboards .

They all looked like they may work for the airport . What is it , a survey ? An airport promotion of some kind , or a security check ?  They would approach just-arrivers  , especially foreign people arriving with confused expressions , and begin their hurried spiel  , holding the clipboard as if it should be respected , as if the confused traveler were being spoken to in some official capacity . Was it Customs ? The airport broadcast continuous announcements : These solicitors don’t work for the airport . You don’t have to give them anything .

Fred and I were walking into one of the terminals when we were approached by one of these anonymous beggars shrouded in white . This one was a cute girl . Maybe in light of that Fred reached for a bill to give her . I tried in that brief moment to dissuade him . He had a fiver in his hand . What , are you crazy , Fred ? A weak moment ?  She’s a Moonie , man !  He held the five dollar bill  out to her .

” Most people give ten dollars , ” she said .

Wow ! Yeah . Pushing her luck just a little bit . Fred instantly flicked the fiver back into his pocket . ” I’m not most people , young lady , ” he said . And we were off . I was reassured . At least old Fred hadn’t completely lost his mind .okies

So , I’m pumping  twenty dollars worth of gas yesterday  into my car in the mid-day heat  , minding my own business , when a young guy , maybe twenty-two , twenty-three , walks over . I’ve seen  him approach a couple of other gas pumping people on his way across the lot . ” Meaning no disrespect …..” he says to me . His opening gambit .

I’m not in a good mood that day , you should understand . Too hot . I’m looking at his tatoos . He’s evidently covered with tattoos . How much do those cost , buddy ? , I’m thinking .  Maybe you could have saved the tattoo money for your needed gas  . He looks healthy , strong ,  despite the hang-dog expression , the ” Meaning no disrespect , sir … ”  ploy .  What , are we in the Army ? Sir ?  That’s supposed to sound respectful , to impress me ?  Melt my stone-cold heart ?  I’m supposed to be awed by this guy’s pathetic circumstances . Now , it’s my responsibility to buy his gas ? Why would that be ?

I’d rather have the fruit seller on the freeway off ramp ,  or the beggars with the cardboard signs : ”  Veteran God Bless You anything helps homeless ”  Once in a long while I hand them a dollar , although I’m not under an illusion that the dollar helps . I think the homeless veteran god blesser should go to a social agency or an established charity or a church and get the help that will keep him/her off the roadways with the scribbled bullshit  cardboard signs .

So I told the gas station beggar  , a little too firmly , that I wasn’t going to give him any money .  He walked away . He’ll find some sucker soon enough . I stepped around the other side of the pump and asked some man with a Volvo , ” Will you pay for my gas ? ”  He didn’t laugh . I could see his little ‘crazy person’ antenna immediately go up . He shook his head solemnly  and looked away . I could see that he didn’t know if I was joking or not . Can’t be too careful these days.

Maybe I wasn’t joking . Maybe I should start asking . Ask and you shall receive . If you don’t ask you won’t get . It’d be easier for me just to canvass the people at the gas station when I go for gas . Won’t someone pay for my gas ? I have to get home . My cat’s sick and I need to replace the front garden hose .  I’m trying to upgrade the modem for my DSL . Anything helps .  I want to get to Oregon next fall .  Need gas desperately . Sir . How about a few dollars  ? Meaning no disrespect .

I was walking , once , with my Danish friend , Ivan , when someone asked for money . ” You’ve chosen your lifestyle , ”  Ivan told him ,          “not me . I’ve chosen my own lifestyle . ”  The poor guy was listening . Ivan speaks authoritatively .  ” I don’t ask you to finance my lifestyle , ” Ivan said . ” You shouldn’t ask me to finance your lifestyle . ”  And we walked away . At least the  guy didn’t call us ‘sir’ and make something up about needing to get to Texas .  Or dress up in a crisp white suit and carry a clipboard .


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1 balloon to lighten your day

balloon 1


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Years ago I was in my bank signing travellers checks. Remember those ? The teller joked after he had watched me sign all of them that my signature on the first one didn’t match to the last one . True enough .

Today in the newspaper there is a story about voters’ votes being eliminated when local officials decide the signature on the ballot doesn’t match the signature on the registration- to- vote paper . More and more votes are sent by mail these days so this little detail becomes more critical in the voting process. Many  people registered to vote at age eighteen and they are now decades away from that signature . Guess what ? Maybe when their mail-in ballot arrives , the signature on it won’t match the registered-to-vote signature . You think ?

Nowadays , retail stores inevitably require a credit card-using customer to  “sign” on the little glass surface of the card-reading device . I used to try to write an accurate signature , but I quickly realized that such a goal is quite impossible . At best , the signature on those things appears to be done by a toddler . Now I just quickly scribble something  . If even one letter of my name could ever be recognized I’d be surprised . So , what’s the point , I wonder ?

Heaven forbid if some executive in some business ever wanted to match a signature on one of my receipts to my signature . Couldn’t be done , of course .

Maybe the whole thing is a government trap . Some fine day the FBI will show up at my door and arrest me for fraud or some obscure federal felony . Up in the Federal Building they’ll spread out a bunch of those receipts that I  “signed”  onto a steel table that’s bolted to the floor . The agent in charge will give me an officious interrogator’s grin  and lift both of his hands in a  ” Well , explain that ” gesture .bonnie parket 1932.jpg

I’d be caught dead-to-rights if that happens . You got me , officer . Guilty as charged . I knew those signatures that I’ve been scribbling all of these last few years were not mine . Phonies ; fakes . I knew better , too , but I kept doing it , getting away with it , year after year , so I kept scribbling them  . Maybe I thought that I’d never get caught .

But you know , deep down I knew it was wrong and I always had a nagging feeling  that some day it would all catch up with me .

Thank you ! Thank you for stopping me before it was too late , before I sank deeper into the deception abyss ! I did my crime  , I’ll do my time .

But , what about this problem with my election ballot ? Can we talk about that ? That’s a horse of a different color .


Filed under humor


man in snow 1917 haircut

Some of my friends are checking their DNA through Ancestry. com . One guy discovered a son that he didn’t know he had . Yeah , really . I better not say too much about that yet , though . It’s kind of a secret , I guess . I got the news from a mutual friend with the usual attached caveat : Don’t tell anyone !  No , of course not , I said .  He only told me with the promise that I wouldn’t tell anyone else . Of course ,  I understand , I said .

Another guy with a Swedish name who always considered himself , of course , of Swedish ancestry found out that he’s only 40% Swedish . His wife is more Swedish than he is , it turns out . His wife the Anglo-file . I think he’s secretly devastated about that , but he tries to laugh it off . She rubs it in , of course , which only exacerbates the situation .

Another guy says he’s English and Irish  . Ancestry told him what part of Ireland his ancestors are from. Galway area . I did have a grandmother from Galway , he said . And about 12% of his DNA originates in Iberia , he told me . Spain and Portugal , he said , assuming that I am too uneducated to know what Iberia means . Oh , well !  I had to one-up him then , so I explained the Black Irish to him , how the Spanish Armada way back when was wrecked off of the Irish coast and some of the Spanish sailors survived and intermingled with the paler Irish . Some Irish people , as a result  , have dark hair and dark eyes , ie. the Black Irish .

I think that maybe I won’t have my DNA study done . First off , I’m not at all sure that I want to know . You know : Ignorance is Bliss . Second , it costs a chunk of money . Sure , it may not be a tremendous amount of dough , but it’s , what ? , about 80 bucks ? I don’t really know . I think that’s about it . Maybe that money could go to a more worthwhile cause ?  Lots of good beer , for example . Third , there’s a little tiny voice in my head that wonders out loud if this DNA analysis is legit or not . Maybe some nerdy goof-offs in a room somewhere just make the whole analysis up . A request comes in and they say : No , we said 40% Irish on the last one . Let’s make this one 68% Irish . Hey , let’s say 3% Madagasgarian ! That would be cool ! And 2% Russian , someone else suggests . Yeah , mix it up .

I’m not sure how knowing your ancestry changes your life. Well , I suppose in the case of the guy who’s got the son , all of a sudden ………………….Well , that might affect his life . But , were I to discover that I’m actually 8% German ? or Argentinian ? or from Easter Island ?  Depends how far back in time you go , anyway . Right ? Go far enough back in time and I guess we are all related . Adam and Eve , and Cain and Abel , and later on Noah and whoever climbed off of that ark up there on the top of the mountain in Armenia .  Hey , maybe we’re all Armenians . Ench bes es !


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Mr. Brown (3)

As long as I still have Mr. Brown on my mind , I’d like to tell one more story about him before I let him go off again to wherever his ghost  has been all these years . I suspect that old cantankerous Hugh has gone down to the hot place that the nuns used to warn us  about , but who knows ? I think again of that Mark Twain quip :  One goes to Heaven for the climate and to Hell for the company .4th and Main inla 1924

I had a college roommate once upon a time who worked for the Los Angeles Coroner . He had to dress in a black suit with a white shirt and what he did was go around town in a hearse and pick up dead bodies . Many of these people had died alone and were not noticed until the smell of their rotting corpse wafted out into the apartment hallway and became so unbearable that someone eventually reported it to the landlord . My roommate was full of stories like that . I don’t know who discovered old Hugh Brown dead . I don’t know any of the circumstances and I prefer not to speculate on the matter .

Anyway . One day I was over at his place and his phone rang . He answered it and spoke in a deep gravelly baritone to whomever was on the other end .

” Yes . Yes , this is Hugh Brown .” [pause]  ” Yes , I placed the ad . I’m looking for a bright young attorney to take some of the weight off my shoulders . I’m getting older , you know , and I just might want to get out of the game one of these days. ”  [pause]  ” Yes , right downtown . Next to the 110 freeway . ” [pause]  ” Eight o’clock tomorrow morning .”

When he hung up the phone I asked him what that was all about and he told me . It seems he had placed an ad in a local lawyer newsletter . It seems he would be interviewing attorneys to join his ( non-existent ) law firm . ( note: He had once practiced law )  He had made an appointment for the next morning at 8:00 a.m. to interview the first sucker  applicant . He asked me to be there and I agreed .

I pulled up and parked outside of Mr. Brown’s house early enough to be there before  the guy showed up . I sat in my car and waited , maybe had a cup of coffee in hand .  I think it was my old Pontiac Le Mans in those days . I could’ve rented out the trunk of that vehicle to a family of four . It only got ten miles per gallon , but that old car was roomy .

Sure enough , just before 8:00 ,  a car pulled up . A young man in a three – piece suit climbed out . He had a small piece of paper in one hand . A look of consternation spread across his face as he looked up at Hugh Brown’s old decrepit house . He looked at the paper and then again at the number on the mailbox . He looked across the street at the shiny new Phone Company building . He looked over toward the freeway .

I felt a little sorry for the guy at this point and I climbed  out from behind the wheel of my car and I asked him if he was looking for Mr. Brown .

Well , you have to picture the scene . It would in no way match the image of a downtown law office that this young hopeful attorney must have visualized while talking to Brown over the phone . Here was Hugh Brown’s house , a dilapidated 1920s two-story house that hadn’t been painted since the Korean War , perhaps . Weeds had long since taken control of the surrounding vacant lots . Across the street was a fairly new Phone Company building , nicely landscaped and maintained . Nearby was the 110 Freeway , with its rushing traffic . [The guy might have noticed Mr. Browns’ homemade billboard facing the freeway traffic onto which the old geezer spray -painted caustic messages . I don’t know what that day’s message might have been . Maybe  : ” Get the Commies out of City Hall ” or perhaps : ” Kill the Hippies “. ]

Brown’s house sat on a little cul-de-sac that had to be created when the freeway was built . His house and the phone company building were the only options . There wasn’t anything else there .

Oh , the other side of the freeway is where the business of the city exists . ” Right next to the freeway” must have sounded unbelievably promising to that young attorney  when he heard Hugh Brown say that over the phone . The guy  didn’t know , of course , that Hugh Brown was a half-senile old miser /hermit codger who lived on the quiet side of the freeway where nothing was happening in those days except for t ever-present  gang rivalry not far away between the Diamond Street gang and the Rockwoods .  MS 13 seeping into the area  was still a few years into the future .

” That’s Mr. Brown’s house ” , I said . I pointed to the wooden stairs . ” Up there .”

The poor guy climbed step by step , deliberative ,  probably hoping not to fall through the old wood planks , until he reached the door . He knocked. He knocked again . Nothing ; no answer . He climbed back down the staircase , clearly discouraged . Any dreams of his corner office and quick promotion to partner in the downtown law firm of Hugh Brown vaporized  .think before you talk

When the disappointed young lawyer left I went up and knocked on the door . Called out to the old hermit inside . He opened the door furtively . Looked over my shoulder ; down the stairs to the street .

” Why didn’t you let the guy in ? ” I asked.

” I didn’t know who he was , ” Hugh Brown said .

” You made an appointment with  him yesterday . You told him to be here at 8:00 . ”

” I forgot “, he said .   And so it goes .

Old Hugh Brown is long gone now ,  of course . His house was torn down within hours of that inevitable event , I think . He was almost 100 , after all .  His home-made billboard is gone too .

The Los Angeles School Board built a big new school not far from that cul-de-sac . The Diamond Street gang  moved  on because Diamond Street itself was obliterated by massive city re-development of the area  . The Phone Company building is still there, though  ; still shiny white and well landscaped .

The 110 Freeway through downtown  is  there , too , clogged with more and more cars and trucks . There must be at least one of those thousands of anonymous drivers who has seen Hugh Brown’s spray-painted scrawls on that old billboard so many decades ago and who wonders once in awhile even today what the heck that was all about .


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hugh brown (2)

Well , I feel like writing a bit more about old Mr. Brown , the old codger who lived downtown LA , next to the 110 freeway . His old house , which he had designed himself , by the way , was torn down soon after he died . I don’t know if the State of California got all of his stuff or not . Maybe .

By the time I knew him the old place was shabby and worn. There were unpainted wooden steps up to the second floor where his living room and kitchen were .  The house was a simple design . Maybe it could be classified as in the streamline moderne style . Maybe. I’m not an architecture expert , however . Maybe it was a bit pre-moderne .  Now , of course , at any rate,  in the end , it’s post whatever it was . It’s gone and forgotten .

I know that old Mr. Brown had at least $80,000 in various banks , in T-bills . Those were the only statements I saw during a day that week that  I was over at his place . There may well have been several more that had come or were coming to the house . And he owned at least a few houses around  downtown LA . A couple of his properties were in south LA . Property tax bills began coming in . What else did he own ? He was clearly , as they used to say , loaded .

As they say in Poland , however  ,  coffins have no pockets .

He lived as a miser, that crochety old man  . I thought he was a poor old guy , barely scraping by , just eeking out a living on a quiet but questionable  edge of the city ; but I was wrong . He was an honest -to-god , dyed in the wool miser . A good one , too , I think . Api and LACMA Oct. 2015 076

He sold me a table once . It was covered by a half-inch of dust and had been lying in a quiet corner of his basement . I had spotted it and was interested . We bargained . I was cool ; disinterested .

” No , I’m not really looking for a table , ” I said .

” Fifteen bucks ,” he said .

It was a solid oak , octagonal dining table with a leaf underneath that swung up . The legs needed to be re-attached and glued , but that was easily done . It had been made in Los Angeles in the 1920’s and it was a wonderful table .  I kept it for several years and then,  because I needed the money , I  sold it for $ 90 to Rock Hudson’s agent , who bought it for Rock , he said . Rock didn’t have much time to enjoy it though , if it indeed ever got to him , because a few months later Rock Hudson was dead .

At the end of our individual sojourns we are all equal , the rich and the poor , the movie stars , the cops and the robbers , the Reagonites and  the Tea-Party folk ,  the Communists and the socialists , the capitalists and the hoboes , the highland Dutch and the lowland Dutch , the middle-of-the-roaders  and , of course , the Irish .girls holland early

st pat 1 sham


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hugh brown

He had been a lawyer and he had owned a mining company. In the old days , when street cars roamed the streets of L.A. When letters were addressed only to the person and the hometown and cost  two or three cents to mail . When mail was delivered in the morning and in the afternoon . When ancient half-blind and half-crazy old men were young , spry , and ambitious . And handsome  too , perhaps . Who knows ?

I read to old half-blind , half-crazy  Mr. Brown . The cantankerous old coot who built his house — right downtown — on what he said was a goldmine of a mineral deposit . Maybe he meant oil . Oil I would believe . Old Mr. Doheny knew it , too , and pumped the oil up like mad from the downtown LA ground in earlier days .  LA unified went to build a new and state-of-the-art high school across the road from Mr. Brown’s in the 1980s but  they hadn’t checked the leftover underground gasses and oil-field leftovers and the whole school project fell apart . Can’t have a school when poisonous gas might erupt from the ground at any time .

Old Mr. Brown lived right next to the 110 Freeway . He had a home-made billboard which faced the freeway and he’d spray-paint political messages for all the downtown commuters to read in an unsteady old-man script . Reagan Is Right . Love It or Leave It .Get the Commies Out . 

Brown was a right winger , but he had a photo of himself sharing a piano stool with Harry S. Truman that stood framed on top of an  old piano .  The S stood for nothing , by the way , but Harry thought it sounded better for an up-and-coming young guy to have a middle initial  . Oh , Hugh Brown also wrote music . I guess I didn’t tell you that yet .  He had a few of his pieces published .two men near train (old)

He dictated a long letter , once , to an old friend of his in Scottsdale , Arizona . How’s business ? How is the wife ? But he gave me no address .

” You need a street , Mr. Brown . What’s the number and the street ? ”

He turned cranky , all of a sudden . One of his cranky moods .

” Just Scottsdale , Arizona , ” he growled . ” Everyone in town knows him ! ”

” When’s the last time you were in Scottsdale , Arizona , Mr; Brown ? ” , I asked. And then it came , of course , the answer that revealed his growing dementia .

” 1914 “.  Sure . 1914.

” It’s changed since then , ” I said , but he insisted we send it  anyway . Everyone in town knows him . I thought the long-ago friend from 1914  had probably been dead for decades , anyway , but I sent the letter . It came back , of course , a few days later , marked  ” no known address ” .

I read to the old coot because he was near-blind . I caught him once with a spray can of insecticide , his face about as close as a person could get to a wall without being part of the paint or the wallpaper . ” I think I see one , ” he said , as if the great hunter had spotted his prey off on the far horizon . The wall was completely covered with black ants . Covered . But , Mr. Brown thought he’d seen one . Maybe he had , after all . Maybe he had .

I felt sorry for the old miser . He was all alone . His friends and relatives had died off , I suppose , if he indeed had any friends . Perhaps not . He was a cantankerous old beast as an old man . Maybe he’d always been an S.O.B. and gone it alone all along .

I used to walk him down to LA’s Central Market and he’d buy a few cheap vegetables . Poor old man , I used to think , until his property tax bills began arriving at the house , and his several T-bill bank statements ;  but  that’s another story .

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