September 22, 2003

September 2003 (Vol 2., Issue 9)

Welcome to my monthly blog-zine and the September edition of Truckin'! This month's issue includes four stories. I am happy to introduce Tom Love to the Truckin' staff with his first story Geppetto. I penned three stroies for this issue... Halibut is back with another adventure! The Subway Story series is back in full swing along with a rather dark story about a poodle. Sit back, enjoy, and please spread the good word about this site. Be sweet, McG.

1. Subway Story: The Kids with the Carrots by Tenzin McGrupp
Three small skinny children sat across from me on the downtown No. 1 subway. They looked immaculate... More

2. Burnt Rubber, Rotten Bananas, and Dead Poodles by Tenzin McGrupp
The musty mid morning air smelled like burning rubber, rotten bananas, and the bathroom at an old folks home... More

3. Geppetto and Me by Tom Love
Sometimes I see an old man in my mind's eye. It's Geppetto from the Pinocchio story. He's the puppet master... More

4. Dogshit Mountain by Tenzin McGrupp
A small crowd gathered around tiny Halibut, as he slowly made the decision to eat the canine feces... More

Subway Story: The Kids with the Carrots

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

Three small skinny children sat across from me on the downtown No. 1 subway. They looked immaculate. Their WASPy ensemble was neatly pressed and the aroma of freshly washed clothes greeted me on a not-so-friendly Thursday. They sat in silence and behaved like monks in a monastery. An unusual glow hovered around them on a gloomy, humid, and wet late summer morning. Their mother handed them a clear plastic Ziplock baggie with carrot sticks. Each child took one and politely passed it to their sibling, who waited patiently. A homeless man got on the subway at 110th Street. He instantaneously launched into his sales pitch to the rest of the oblivious commuters.

“My named is Benny and I’m a Vietnam veteran. I am unable to work because of the injuries suffered from a bad accident at my job. I sued my employer and won, but all of my money went to pay for my medical bills, legal bills, and court fees. Of course my company fired me, my wife took my kids and left. Then I lost my apartment. The bastards in Washington cut my disability check in half and now I’m forced to ask for your help. Anything you can spare today will be greatly appreciated. Thank you and God bless.”

He made his way through the crowded subway and mostly everyone ignored him. Some refused to look him in the eye and stared off into nothing in particular or up at the Zima ad above their heads. A gaggle of Upper West Side yuppies buried their faces into their New York Times and Wall Street Journals or planned their busy day on their Palm Pilots. Still others pretended that they were asleep. A couple of people slipped meaningless change into a Starbuck’s coffee cup that he jingled and jangled while he trudged through the subway car. A black woman in her sixties who was reading a bible, pulled out a dollar and handed it to the man. He got down on his knees and thanked her. He rose up and looked right at me with his weathered eyes and unshaven face. I made eye contact and sternly told him, “Nope.”

He turned around and one of the pristine girls offered him the plastic baggie of carrot sticks. He politely accepted, shoved two in his mouth and continued his way onto the next subway car.

“Do you think that could have been Jesus, Momma?” one of the girls screamed over the muffled sounds of the rumbling subway as the brakes screeched to a halt when the train reached the 96th Street platform.

“You’ll never know. It very well could have been. He’ll remember what you did.”

Her angelic faced beamed with zealous pride. The doors opened and I was compelled to say something to the Jesus Freaks on my way out.

“Jesus ain’t panhandling on the subways, kid. He lives in Reno, Nevada. He deals blackjack at the Flamingo Casino. I saw him a couple of months ago. He told me to tell you to stop eating healthy. The Good Lord wants you to eat McDonald’s Happy Meals and buy cargo pants at Old Navy.”

The young thin girl turned to her mother and whispered, “Do you think that could have been Jesus?”

With a look of condemnation she rudely answered, “No. That is someone who is going straight to hell.”

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Burnt Rubber, Rotten Bananas, and Dead Poodles

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

The musty mid morning air smelled like burning rubber, rotten bananas, and the bathroom at an old folks home. I struggled to keep my eyes open and tried my best efforts not to puke in the bed. I stumbled to the bathroom and fell down. That's when I saw her dead well-groomed black French poodle floating in the dirty bathtub water. I guess that was the rancid smell that greeted me when I awoke.

I could not remember what happened. I know that we had gotten into a fight the night before. There was a lot of shouting and name-calling. She brought up stuff from my past that seemed pointless to argue, but she did it anyway. She slapped me twice and cried most of the night during our altercation. I knew she should not have switched her medication. But her new therapist insisted she reduce her dosage of one happy pill and try a brand new happy pill. Asshole. He was just a front man for the greater conglomeration of pharmaceutical companies that held a tight grip on the American Medical and Psychiatry field. They dictated what drugs would be forced upon the masses of people in dire need of assistance with their heads. A couple of hits of British Columbia nugs would be a better alternative for some of these whackos, but alas, when was the last time your shrink said, "Fire up two fatties a day and you'll feel a lot better..."?

Of course Misha was nowhere to be found. I discovered a message written hastily in lipstick on my bathroom mirror. "Fuck you," was all I could recognize. The rest she wrote in Russian.

I didn't know what to do. My crotch itched like it was being attacked by a colony of fire ants. My wallet was missing, my cable TV was out, and I had a dead poodle floating around in my bathtub. There was only one person I knew that could help me.

I called up Nicky right away. I got his pager. Who still has a fucking beeper these days? Nicky, that's who. He was old school. He even dressed old school like one of those mobsters from the 1970s. I don't think he has officially welcomed the mid 1990s, let alone the twenty first century. Nicky sold me all of my drugs and sometimes he took bets for me (when I got in bad favor with my own bookie Frankie Flotuzio). Most of the time Nicky dropped by to eat calzones and watch the Rangers game when I lived above Vinny's Pies on the Park, a local pizza joint frequented by all the local thugs and gangster wannabes. Those were Russian kids who watched too many BET rap videos and saw every single episode of the Sopranos. They desperately wanted to be part of Tony Soprano's crew but looked like pathetic rejected extras from P Diddy's new hip-hop video.

"We can cut up the poodle in little pieces and flush him down the toilet," suggested Nicky as he shoved a sausage calzone into his mouth and ricotta cheese spilled out onto his bandaged hand.

"How about we put the dog in a plastic bag and throw it in the trash basket on the corner?" I offered.

"I think we should cut up the poodle and send it to my fucking ex-wife," he mumbled with food stuffed in his mouth.

That was a great idea. Nicky put on large yellow dishwashing gloves and took out his knife. He methodically cut off the limbs of the limp, drenched poodle. First his left front leg got severed, then his right, before he finished up with the rest of the hind legs. He cut off the tail and draped it on his nose and made a fake Hitler moustache. Poodle blood dripped off his chubby face and onto his goomba black T-shirt. I laughed hysterically and rolled a blunt.

When Nicky was done chopping up the dead poodle, I carefully gift wrapped each body part. Nicky and I drove out to Long Island in his Volvo station wagon, which had an odd smell of duck sauce, minced garlic, and motor oil lingering inside. We waited until his ex-wife came home from work and picked up the package we left on her front steps. She bent over and I videotaped the entire moment. She took the chopped poodle package inside and three minutes later we heard a shrill scream, similar to when a rat's tail gets caught underneath a subway car's wheel. She ran outside and puked. We laughed like a couple of eight year olds snickering over a loud fart and drove away.

Teznin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Geppetto and Me

By Tom Love © 2003

Sometimes I see an old man in my mind's eye. It's Geppetto from the Pinocchio story. He's the puppet master. At his disposal are all kinds of tools: Tiny, magical screw drivers, springs, hooks, carving things. More than a doll maker, part psychic surgeon, Geppetto works for hours with his screws and lubricants, tightening up the pieces of my soul, trying to make the pain of existence tolerable.

While reviewing a reel of movie film from my past, he noticed a strip where the film had gotten too close to the bulb. It had smoked, bubbled up and melted on to surface of the bulb.

"It's will be tougher than working with the springs and screws," he explained. "These images are actually burned onto the glass bulb so that when a new reel is projected, the old scene is visible in the background. Old and new images become superimposed, some shadowy, some distorted. You would have to look very closely to see if this is a new reality or part of the old one."

I had been compensating for the irregularities all this time, resulting in the buckling of steel plates and seals rupturing, causing great pain.

One solution would be to develop a special cleanser on the lamp. One thing's for sure, we can't exchange it for a new one. They don't make that model anymore and any transplant would be very risky, requiring several attorneys to unscrew the bulb. We asked about this approach at Lowe's Do It Your Warehouse but they warned against it. So far the only thing that has worked is the insertion of a lens in front of the bulb filtering out the old image, allowing the new one to project. This sounds good in theory but in real time testing, the image of the new movie lacks sharpness and focus, and the colors are a bit dull.

Work continues with Geppetto and me. I'll let you know if things improve.

UPDATE: Geppetto has been busy with a compound of optician's rouge imbedded in pitch. He has had great success erasing the burned-on images! However, traces still remain. He warns that further rubbing of the rouge/pitch combination may alter the very surface of the projection lamp, changing the perception of the ongoing reality. He assures me however that the movie will remain unaltered, only that my perception of it may change slightly. He speculates that there are other lamp reconditioning projects ongoing elsewhere but for some reason the technology is a closely guarded secret. I gave him the go-ahead to continue his work with the rubbing tool and have already noticed significant improvement. Observing my self and realizing that what I'm seeing is actually "me" was quite an experience.

Geppetto's task is almost complete. He says that he plans to retire to Genoa soon, relax and maybe write a book on puppet repair.

Tom Love is a writer from Atlanta, GA.

Dogshit Mountain

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

Halibut nervously crouched over a nasty pile of dog shit. Socky Green threatened to tear up his history report on British colonialism unless he took a bite. A small crowd gathered around tiny Halibut, as he slowly made the decision to eat the canine feces. His taunting classmates let out squeals of “ooooohs!’ and “ahhhhhhhhs!” when he sniffed the pile before he did the nasty deed.

“For a smart kid, you’re really a dumb turnip,” Socky Green laughed as he tore up Halibut’s homework.

Little pieces of his report fluttered down like a small snowstorm. Halibut had worked on his paper for two weeks. He spent everyday at the library after school. He even interviewed Freddie Casey Jones, the former BBC news weatherman and one of the most famous residents in his seaside town.

The rambunctious crowd dispersed and continued onto school. Halibut ran home to clean the stale taste of German Shepard dung out of his mouth. When he got there, Cici was in the living room entertaining a client. Reverend Smith sat on the couch with his pants around his ankles. Halibut caught his mother having sex with the locals on several occasions. But this time, mother and son stood awkwardly in sheer embarrassment. He never caught her blowing any of the local religious authorities. Halibut was on the verge of puking with the lingering taste of dog shit in his mouth, while Cici’s breath reeked like a mixture of Labats beer, stale cigarettes, and semen. She led Halibut into the bathroom and gave him a cup of Listerine to gargle with as he sobbed uncontrolably.

“This nonsense has got to end,” Cici insisted as she kissed her son on the forehead, “Unless you stand up to that bully, he’s going to push you around the rest of your life. And if you are not moving anywhere soon and think you’re going to stay here in Nova Scotia until you die, then you might as well accept two possible outcomes. Stand up to the bully. Or get used to eating shit.”

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Another issue is here, and a new one will be around in a month. I hope you enjoyed yourself. Thanks to our new writer Tom Love for sharing his story.

Please feel free to e-mail this link to your friends, families, co-workers, cellmates, lifemates, etc. Help spread the good word about this site and the writers!

Be Sweet,

"Yesterday's just a memory, tomorrow is never what it's supposed to be." - Bob Dylan