“Dear Diary (1 Apr. 2014)” by Richard F. Yates
[What I am about to describe may seem implausible to some of you, but I assure you that every word is completely true and that, in fact, events similar to those recounted below occur so frequently in my life that I am rarely shocked by them anymore. However, it has been brought to my attention by several coworkers of mine that some people may find these types of stories remarkable. If this humdrum humbug is your type of thing, enjoy! —Richard F. Yates]
Currently sitting in the parking-lot at Mariah’s work, half-watching a bank heist in progress in the next building over. Tedious, though the noise from the gunfire can be a bit distracting.
Woke up this A.M. at 7:30 (Pacific Time), having slept-in two and a half hours longer than usual.
Though we have two readily available bathrooms (a third is only accessible through the master bedroom where Brother Dave was sleeping) both facilities were occupied. I decided to challenge Mariah for the upstairs bathroom, and after a brutal fist-fight, I sat on the floor outside the bathroom door holding a hand towel to my bloodied nose until Mariah was finished brushing her teeth—then I was allowed to relieve myself. (I am no longer allowed to “do my business” in the backyard, since those photos were published last year in the Midnight Star tabloid paper.)
Next, I checked my phone messages, my Faceboot messages, my email, my blog page stats, and my inter-dimensional telepathic e-message collection crystals to see who’d tried to contact me in the night. (Nobody.) (For a person who claims to hate technology, I have certainly allowed it to creep into my daily routine.)
I was then informed (before I’d had time to eat or shower or brush my teeth or prepare myself for immersion into society) that it was time to transport my family to their daily destinations. Because of a mudslide on Columbia Heights (not as bad as the horrible, fatal landslide in Oso, Washington, which I believe is on the other side of the Cascade Mountains from where we live) the main road that we usually drive to get to and from town has been closed for more than week. Subsequently, we had to take a back-road to get to “Downtown” Longview, and Mariah ended up being a few minutes late to work. (I will be punished for this, later.)
Ellie, who is on Spring Break this week and would normally spend most of the day in bed, is job-shadowing her older sister, Frankie, at the vet clinic today. Frank loves her job, and Ellie is considering going into veterinary medicine as a career field, so we thought it would be good for Elvis to see what it’s REALLY like. (I get sick to my stomach whenever Frankie talks shop, but Ellie thinks she can handle it.) So I dropped her off at the vet clinic for the day, and then needed to kill a little bit of time.
I had some items to take to the post office: a hand-painted postcard and an envelope stuffed full of stories, drawings, and a copy of my new mini-zine, Particle Acceleration (which I still need to scan and post), but the post office wasn’t open yet—so I decided to drive to Grandma Lucy and Uncle Randy’s house to say, “Hi!”
As I parked and stepped out of the car, I was greeted by the smell of putrefaction, and noticed a small animal carcass in the road with a hazy, blue-white squirrel ghost floating above it. Poor thing. Squirrels and roads don’t mix.
I headed toward the house, after giving the ghost a handful of change from the car ashtray, to visit with the fam for a bit. I updated them on Ellie’s recent bowling adventures, talked about all the places we’ll be going in the next few weeks (Seattle; Bend, Oregon; Portland; Tacoma; Yakima, Washington; Lakewood, California…) and then “shot the breeze” for a bit. Grandma said she’s still reading mystery novels, and Randy’s been working on a new story (which I’m excited for! We haven’t had a new Randy Long tale to publish in quite a while—since the ultra-violent, mutant squirrel massacre piece, I think, back in January???)
Anyway, we visited for a bit, until I got a message on my phone from Mariah:
“(9:19 A.M.) Are you still in town? Are you bringing me coffee?”
I have learned not to disobey the Boss, so after calling to confirm her order, I got up to leave, but as I did, the dog, Squeekers, stood up on its back legs and in a whiny voice said, “Oh no! Don’t leave,” then she grabbed one of her doggy-treats with her mouth and threw it at my feet. I suppose this was a sort of bribe to get me to stay. Then Randy, Grandma, and the dog all started to howl. I smiled politely and waved, then stepped to the door and slipped outside.
Once out on the patio, I instantly realized I was surrounded by dozens of scuttling squirrels—in the trees, in the rafters of the porch covering, a pair out on the carport stealing tools from a big red set of drawers, several crawling up and down the walls of the house like spiders, and one big squirrel, with a milky-white left eye, in the middle of the lawn picking his fingernails with a pocket-knife. (This was probably Dilly the Evil Squirrel. If the squirrel squished in the road was Billy the Good Squirrel, then Dilly probably took the opportunity to seize control of the neighborhood. Maybe Billy’s “accident” wasn’t quite so accidental after all!)
I looked back at Grandma and Randy’s house and saw them, and the dog, starring wide-eyed out the window, although they all quickly turned away and pretended to be watching a t.v. game show when they saw me turn around. I looked back at the squirrel in the lawn and found that he had finished cleaning his nails and was now holding the knife in a less-than-pleasant manner and advancing, slowly and menacingly, toward me.
Being well schooled in squirrel psychology, I played my trump card: I pointed at a spot a ways behind the squirrel’s head and yelled in a terrified voice, “What’s that!?” As the squirrel whirled around to look, I bolted for my car and drove off.
I drove down Louisiana Street and saw swarms of little men parachuting from the branches of all the cherry trees, with little black eyes and snarling teeth. (I’ve never seen cherry trees that look like this outside of Longview.)
At Nichols Blvd., I turned left and drove alongside Lake Sacajawea towards Ocean Beach Highway. In the last year, there have been two dead bodies found in the lake (which is in no sense a laughing matter. These men had lives and families who are now suffering extreme loss.) Mariah and I suspect, although nobody else seems to be talking about this, that there is a Lake Monster in Lake Sacajawea that is luring people to the edge of the water at night and dragging them under. There is also a strong possibility that the monster is, in fact, a Lake God, who controls the city and demands the occasional sacrifice. This would explain why the Lake Monster Theory is being hushed up—it goes all the way to the top! (If I’m never heard from again after this is published, you’ll all know why!) Of course, it’s possible that it is just a normal lake monster, not a deity, and that the city just isn’t spreading it around because the local economy relies so much on the lake for tourist dollars. (They hold several festivals, concerts, parades, art walks, and such at the lake, and they’ll be DAMNED if they’re going to let a little thing like a killer lake monster get in the way of that cash!) As I turned onto Ocean Beach Highway and headed towards the Triangle Mall, I thought I saw in my rear-view mirror a green skinned humanoid, with huge, black eyes and rows of sharp, yellow teeth, poke its head up out of the waters of the lake, wink at me, and then dive back under.
As I neared the mall, I saw a dog, possibly an Australian shepherd mix, walking across the highway in the crosswalk. It stopped on the corner, and as I slowed to turn, it raised a thumb, giving the classic “hitch-hiker” signal (I don’t know where it got the thumb), but I ignored it and kept driving. (I never pick up stray dogs.)
I continued on to Star-Bops Coffee Shop, purchased Mariah’s drink (and one for me) then drove to her work. When I arrived, Mariah was in a wrestling match with a nine-foot-tall man with a bull’s head and gold-plated horns, so I left her drink at the desk. One of the girls said she would make sure Mariah got the coffee when she was finished dealing with that particular client, so I left without saying anything. (Her eye clinic is always busy like that.)
Then I went to the bank to take out our rent money. The last time I checked, we had $160 million in checking, but after I took out the rent there was only about $300 bucks left. We must have had some checks out that I didn’t know about.
After that, I went to the post office, which is on top of a 68 thousand foot tall tree-house. And the elevator was broken. Up I went, paid for two stamps, then down I went.
About then, I decided (because it was more than an hour until Mariah’s lunch time) that I would go get a coffee for Grandma Lucy and take it to her—which I did. (A white chocolate mocha.) As I neared her house again, I spotted a police car parked a few doors down with its lights on. A man in a pink and white mu-mu and curlers in his hair was talking to a policeman while a female officer was stuffing a handcuffed squirrel with one white eye into the back of a patrol car. I smiled quietly to myself as I parked and delivered Grandma her coffee, then I headed back towards the mall (avoiding the lake this time.)
And now I’m sitting at Mariah’s work, listening to a CD I made—songs by The Cure, The Clash, Sugar Boom, Pixies, Depeche Mode…a bunch of great stuff… Ohp! Here comes the Boss! Now we’re off to reserve a rental car for our impending trip to the bowling tournament in California this June! Tre exciting! Jah!!!
—Richard F. Yates
[Originally published April Fool’s Day, 2014, at The Primitive Entertainment Workshop.]
#humor #absurdism #autobiography