Brunch At The Constellation Hotel

 

by Solomon Tate

The old man loved the brunch at The Constellation Hotel although I really don’t know why. It was over priced and only moderately edible, but every Sunday morning, for almost a year, he could be found in the dining room eating waffles. I had recently returned from another year of Bohemian adventures in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Paris, wasted on mind altering drugs, while hanging out in cafes drinking incredibly strong coffee, smoking French cigarettes, and talking philosophy and literature, while waiting for night fall to dive balls deep into divas and debutantes. I had returned with my hair longer than it had ever been, and a full beard. It was a far cry from sitting at a table in The Constellation Hotel dining room high as fuck, waiting for waffles with my family. My mother upon seeing me for the first time in twelve months proclaimed “Oh, look. Jesus has come back from the dead.” My brother had a very different perception.

“You just can’t spend all of your time getting high and getting laid.”,  he informed me.

“Ah, Hell”, I replied. “I’m pretty sure I can.”

“What about the future?”, he pressed.

“Well”, I said, “there will probably be different drugs and different women”, but I suppose it will pretty much deliver the same result.”

The young, blonde server with a wonderful pair of tits arrived at the table and was busily pouring coffee as she looked over and smiled at me. I smiled back, She left the table and returned a few moments later and placed a large glass of orange juice and placing it in front of me, brushed her boobs across my upper arm. “I thought you might like some juice. Its on the house.”, she informed me as she smiled. “If there’s anything else you want, just let me know,”, she said.

“How about your phone number.”, I replied.

“I was hoping you’d ask.”, she said as she wrote something on a piece of paper, folded it, and after handing it to me walked off.

“What the hell was that?”, my sister-in-law asked. “That girl is all over him.”

The conversation at the table, as it always did, turned to politics. The old man believed he was a liberal but there was a significant conservative bent. He supported social services, but only for those who didn’t really seem to need them. We argued about this regularly, and it drove him close to madness that I was a such a social democrat. He had, in the past, referred to me as a Socialist, a Communist and a Marxist. I did not however prescribe to any political ideology. My beliefs were simply that people, regardless of their beliefs, should take care of each other. I had toyed with the idea of having a tattoo of Harpo Marx etched into my left butt cheek and as I sat silently listening to the banter around the table, with all of them spewing out obtuse factoids that they believed would illustrate their points of view which, not surprisingly, were identical to the old man’s, I decided to go through with it. Just because.  It was a wonderfully bizarre and surreal trip down the road to insanity as they affirmed an uncanny fascist belief system coupled with the need for socialized health care, and I suppose being so messed up on peyote made it seemed like I was watching one of those  propaganda films made by the government that were so poular in the public school system in the 1950s and 1960s.

The note the young blonde server with the wonderful tits had given me contained her phone number and an invitation to join her in the coat room on the mezzanine level.  “Well”, I thought, “The coat room it is.” There was a door that led into the room, which she advised was never used in the summer. She took my hand and led me in and, as we sat down on some folding chairs, she put her tongue down my throat. I caressed her cheek and her hair, while she took off her shirt and fell in front of me on her knees.

The old man was furious when I returned to the table. “Where’s that waitress?”, he asked. “Is she working here or not?” She reappeared just as he finished talking with waffles for everyone, incessantly smiling at me. “There’s something wrong with that girl.”, the old man stated. “What the hell is she always smiling about?”

“She’s smiling at your son.”, my sister-in-law informed him. “She’s got the hots for our Jesus.”

“Well perhaps he should give her the tip.”, the old man said.

“I’m sure he’s already given her more than just the tip”, my brother answered.

“Indeed.”, I replied. “And judging by the smile on her face, I’m pretty sure I’ll be giving it to her again.”

“You’re such a pig.”, my sister-in-law declared.

“I know.”, I told her.

When they were ready to leave, I said my goodbyes to the family, and set off to play another round of carnal coat room with the young, blonde waitress with the wonderful tits. I saw her a few more times after that day, but once she wanted to meet me outside of the coat room at The Constellation Hotel, I lost interest. I continued to see my family off and on for the next 40 years or so and I occasionally cut my hair and shaved, if only to appease my mother. Once my parents had passed, everything sort of went to shit. I don’t really know who’s to blame, but I don’t think it makes any difference anyway. Shit just happens. The Constellation Hotel which saw its heyday come and go, was closed and demolished in 2012 and on the site sits an empty lot. In a way its really quite sad, I mean, the old man loved the brunches there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

What About The Kids?

 

“What about the kids?”, my wife asked.

“What kids?”, I replied.

“Your kids.”, she told me. “Our kids. Remember them?”

“Uh huh.”, I answered. “What about them?”

“I’m not sure we can go away and leave them here alone?”

“Well, there’s no way I’m taking them with.”, I informed her.

“What if they burn the house down?”, she asked. And there it was, her obsessive fear of the house burning down. It was almost impossible to overcome. It was her belief that a fire would start in the kitchen as a result of the misuse of the kitchen appliances. Therefore, it stood to reason that if we were home, or if at least one of us was at home, the house would be saved from destruction. She had established very strict rules regarding the use of the kitchen appliances, which she routinely enforced by patrolling the kitchen like a a game warden, keeping a watchful eye for perpetrators and those she suspected were about to violate her rules.

She regularly ventures into the kitchen just to check what temperature the oven is set on, and if it is higher than three hundred and fifty degrees, she turns it down. It means nothing to her that the directions clearly stated to cook at four hundred and twenty five. It is not permitted. The choices are to cook it thirty to forty minutes longer, or eat it under cooked. And every fifteen minutes, like clockwork, she makes the obligatory trip back to the kitchen, opens the oven door and checks on the status of the food inside, lest it be burning, and in the process aggravates and agitates anyone who is cooking at the time.

The broiler is completely off limits. It has been deemed too dangerous for us to use as she fears the five hundred degree temperature it cooks at the most. Stove top cooking is only permissible if the burner is set at no more than a number six. Frying is permitted depending on her level of paranoia, and had been very close to being outlawed altogether. There was an incident. Nothing significant, but for my wife it was confirmation of the impending doom that can result from unauthorized cooking.

“Is somebody cooking something?”, she asked late one evening.

“I don’t know.”, I answered.

“Well”, she continued, “I smell something burning.”

“You always smell something’s burning.” It was uncanny really. She could smell something burning before it actually started burning. It was one of her many gifts, a sort of ‘something’s burning’ savant. “Nothing’s burning.”, I told her. “No one’s home except the two of us.”

“I have to go check.”, she stated as she got up out of bed.

“Well?”, I asked as she returned from her trip to the kitchen.

“You have to check that you turn the burner off!”, she exclaimed. “You dropped something in the bottom and left it on. At number eight! Its never to go above six. We’ve been over this. Five would be better, but I’m trying to be reasonable. The entire kitchen is filled with smoke. Next time you might just burn the whole place down.”

“I hope not.”, I replied. “I don’t think I’ll live long enough to hear all of the lectures.”

“This is why we can’t go away.”, she continued. “None of you pay attention to what you’re doing. The kids are too lazy to check and you, well, you just can’t remember what you’re doing anymore.”

“Well then”, I suggested. “We’ll just have to order in.” I went into the kitchen to check the extensive smoke damaged created by a crumb sitting under a hot burner. It was not filled with smoke. I was hard pressed to find any smoke at all. There was however, to my wife’s credit, the faint odor of something having been burnt, and in the bottom of the burner, there was, oh hell no, a solitary penne noodle. It was burnt. It was badly burnt. I gave it last rites, the best funeral I could, with full military honors and a burial at sea.

We can still fry, despite her misgivings, however she did implement a buddy system. There must be two people in the kitchen at all times, with one of them assigned to ensuring the temperature settings are within limits, and that everything is turned off when completed.

“I think she needs help.”, one of my daughters disclosed as she stood there as my cooking buddy while I made chicken parmigiana.

“She’ll be alright.”, I told her. “She just worries about safety.”

“She’s out of her mind.”, she explained. “Its an electric oven. There’s no flame or fire. Does she think that the food is going to spontaneously combust?” It was hard to argue with that, and I agreed to speak with my wife.

“I need to talk to you about something.”, I said as I entered the bedroom.

“Are you done in the kitchen?”, she asked anxiously.

“It will take thirty minutes to cook, and the oven is set at three hundred.”, I said. “Its under control. Are you alright with that?”

“For the time being.”, she replied.

“Good. I think you need to relax the cooking rules a little.”, I advised. “Its making everyone a nervous wreck.”

“I can’t help it.”, she said.

“I know.”, I reminded her. “But we really are pretty careful. I just don’t think we can ever meet the expectations you’v e set for us. We’re going to make mistakes, but in all of the years we’ve been cooking, there has never been a fire.”

“That’s because I’m always running into the kitchen and checking on everything.”, she informed me.

“No.”, I replied. “Its because we really do know what we’re doing. I just think you can let up a little.”

“How?”, she asked.

“Well, for one, stop running into the kitchen to check on everything all of the time. You can go in the kitchen to make a tea or something and check on stuff, you know, make it less obvious. And stop telling the kids what to do and how to do it. They’re not little kids. They’re all grown up.”

“So, the kids are complaining?”, she inquired.

“Ya, they are.”, I answered.

“And what about you?”, she questioned.

“Well you can check on me as often as you need to, and you can give me shit whenever you feel like it. Just like its been since the day we got married. Can you live with that?”

“I suppose.”, she said. “But the broiler is still off limits.”

“Agreed.”, I replied.

“Don’t you think you should go and check the chicken you left in the oven?”, she asked.

“On my way.”, I told her. She was surprisingly calm, and I hoped that she would be okay. Over dinner I brought up the weekend trip again.

“Alright.”, she said. “We’ll go to Niagara On The Lake for the weekend.” I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised.

“I’m glad.”, I told her. “And I think it will be good for you.”

“Well”, she continued, “It took some work and some planning but, my mother will come and stay with the kids until we get back.”

“Okay.”, I replied. “That’s sounds like a plan.”

“Ya, and they will be ordering in all weekend.”, she advised me.

“Really?”, I inquired.

“Ya.”, she went on to explain. “We will be removing the circuit for the oven when we leave. They won’t be able to cook with it all weekend.”

“Well its nice to see that you have overcome your fear of the house burning down.”, I told her as sarcastically as I could.

“Ya”, she stated, “It wasn’t really as difficult as I thought it would be.”

 

Mr. Lewis & The Garden Gnomes

by Fielding Goodfellow

Mr. Lewis stood on his front lawn looking at the weird gnomes spread out across the front garden . I never really paid much attention to them as a kid, but visiting the neighborhood years later, messed up on peyote, mushrooms, or some other hallucinogenic, I noticed the little bastards standing there, glaring at me with insidious grins, trying to hide behind the plants and flowers. There was something about those little shits that I didn’t like and I suppose they scared the hell out of me. They all had those weird little eyes that seemed to follow me wherever I went.

Mr. Lewis had been the neighborhood Homeland Security expert for years. He had fought off Nazis, fire ants, raccoons and had orchestrated the successful campaign to repel the field mouse invasion of ’65. I was pretty sure that he knew what he was talking about, despite his breakdown in ’68 in which he put his mind aside for just a minute and when he went to retrieve it, it was gone.

“I hate those little shits.”, he said. Since his breakdown Mr. Lewis had become a little histrionic in his paranoia, and as we stood there on his lawn, he shared his theory that the gnomes that had sprouted up in gardens up and down the street were involved in some sort of diabolical plot to takeover the neighborhood for reasons still unknown, with the ultimate goal of conquering the planet. Or alternately, they were used by the government to spy on all of us, a sort of Big Brother is watching scenario. Either way,  Mr. Lewis was deeply concerned. “We have to do something about it now?”, he stated.

“Like what?”, I asked.

“We have to take these fuckers out.”, he explained. “Every single one of them. We must rid ourselves of the disease.”  He was certain that they would soon be everywhere, watching our every move from gardens up and down the painfully dull suburban street, replacing all of the pink flamingos and lawn jockeys that had graced the lawns so proudly when I was growing up. And though I was still under the influence of the drugs I had taken, Mr. Lewis clearly had still not found his missing mind. But he did come up with a plan. “I’m gonna set the little bastards on fire and incinerate them into nothingness.

“Stop filling his head with your crazy ideas.”, the over sexed and under satisfied Becky Lewis shouted at him as she stepped out of the garden wearing nothing but a flimsy nightgown. It had been a while since I had visited her suburban paradise and I had almost forgotten just how hot she really was.

“Go put some clothes on.”, Mr. Lewis shouted back. “Can’t you see there’s someone here?”

“I’m sure there’s nothing I have that he hasn’t seen before.”, she replied. It was true. Over the years I had spent many days and the occasional night parked between those milky white thighs. She was the first of the neighbor mothers I had ventured into. It had always been a simple and amicable arrangement, I mean there was no bullshit, no drama, and no uneasiness. Everything had always been pretty straight forward. I brought the drugs and the wood, and she provided everything else. Despite the years that had passed, she still had the same coy smile and ‘fuck me’ eyes.

The early morning calm was shattered by an explosion so loud that it echoed through the usually amiable neighborhood driving the locals out of their homes and into the street. Becky Lewis was standing on her driveway with her hands covering her mouth. “Look.”, she shouted. “Look.” A cloud of smoke billowed up from the ground at the end of the street, as the sound of the sirens in the distance grew louder. And every single gnome had been removed from the lawns and gardens.

“The crazy bastard did it.”, I thought.  “Where’s Mr. Lewis?”, I asked Becky.

“I don’t know.”, she replied. “He went out last night, and I don’t think he came home.”

“Well this is getting way too weird to handle straight.”, I said.

“Ya, I wouldn’t mind getting wasted.”, she agreed.

I have no idea just how much peyote we did, but the evolving nightmare of the garden gnomes no longer seemed to be as interesting as Mrs. Edberg’s cat who, although I had never noticed before, had a head on each end of his body or the coyote who seemed to be suffering from ADHD and bore a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia, that was busy trying to paint a false tunnel on the Malkin’s garage door.

The Police had roped off the street making it impossible for any of us to wander down to the fire scene and were now on the street talking to everyone in an attempt to uncover what the hell went on here. I was a little concerned that I may be hauled away based on what I was holding, but thanks to Becky’s semi covered tits and ass, they didn’t even know I was there. “My husband is missing.”, Becky informed the police. “And so is his car. Did they find anything at the fire?” The police were unable to answer any of her questions, and merely reported that the fire department had the fire under control and an investigation was under way.

I was sitting on the sidewalk in front of Becky’s house when the police returned to speak with her. Mr. Lewis’ car had indeed been found at the scene, and was most likely the source of the explosion we had heard earlier in the day. It was destroyed. There were human remains found inside the car, which they would be unable to identify without an autopsy and forensics. “This is all that survived the fire.”, an officer stated as he pulled a partially singed gnome out of a bag. “Have you seen this before?”, he asked us.

“It looks just like Richard!”, she exclaimed. “My husband.” It really did resemble Mr. Lewis, albeit without a left arm and one partially melted foot.

The investigation revealed that fire was intentionally set. Gasoline was used to ignite the fire inside the vehicle, which set off the ensuing explosion. The body found inside was identified as Richard Lewis through dental records. His death was ruled a suicide, although they were unable to explain all of the melted gnomes in the car.

Becky was allowed to keep the sole remaining gnome, that looked so much like her husband, and shortly after the funeral she put the house up for sale. When she moved, she left the gnome in the front garden, buried up to its knees, hiding behind the plants and flowers, in an attempt to ward off any other extraterrestrial garden decorations. It was probably a good idea to leave Richard there, I mean, all he ever wanted to do was to do was to protect the neighborhood. I never saw Becky Lewis again, but several years later when I returned to the neighborhood to settle my parents’ estate, I found the garden gnome that looked like Mr. Lewis still standing at attention, watching over the street that he loved. I still have no idea if he was right or not, but he was willing to give his life for a cause he believed in. Crazy or not, a man just can’t be any better than that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoko’s Gone…

The past month or so has been hell. One of my dogs has been quite sick. Not just one of my dogs, but the best dog ever. My dog. Two years ago my son took the family dogs as I was no longer able to care for them the way they deserved to be cared for. I missed the little one so much. I missed her running down the hallway at full speed and leaping onto the couch to sit on my lap. I missed the way she rolled over and gave me that “rub my tummy” look. I missed the way she took food out of my hand if she thought I wasn’t looking.She was lazy as hell, but she followed me around the house day and night. She was my dog, and she was my friend. We talked for hours, about anything and everything. She was a wonderful listener. And she never complained. About anything. Today I had to put her down. She was that sick. I held her for the last time, told her what a good girl she was and how much I loved her. I looked in her eyes as I patted her for the last time and she let me know that she understood. I stayed with her as they administered the sedative, and rubbed her tummy. She loved having her tummy rubbed. After the fatal injection, she just stopped breathing. There is very little comfort I can get right now from knowing that she is no longer suffering, but as I think about the ten years of fun we shared, and all of the joy she brought to my life, I know just how fortunate I was to have had the best little dog ever. She made my world a much better place. If indeed there is a dog heaven, I hope there is someone there to rub her tummy. She deserves it.