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mcgrew's Journal: Life, the universe, and everything

Journal by mcgrew

Today's print edition of the Illinois Times has the number 42 at the top right hand corner (you won't see it on the online edition). It's a fat one, fittingly with a summer guide to things to do around town. OK; life, Springfield, and everything.

I have to apologize to you folks. I promised a new SF story, but can't seem to get it from my brain to my fingers. I'm reminded of the Little Feat song Old Folk's Boogie: "You know that you're over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill." So I'll re-run an old story some of you might not have seen from the Paxil Diaries

Saturday, written as Science Fiction from the early 1960s
(but it's still not not fiction, nor very scientific).

Daughter Patty's friend lost her grandmother, and she was staying the night Friday with her friend to keep her company. Patty's friend's grandmother had raised her friend.

Patty's a good kid. She promised to be home by 9:00 AM so I could go visit friends in St. Louis.

I woke up about nine, and wanted to sleep some more. I didn't want to waste a perfectly good Saturday that I had planned travel on, so I got up.

I stuck some science fiction 21st century optical devices on my eyeballs and drank some coffee. The devices are great, they're nothing at all like sticking pieces of glass in your eyes, as you had to do back in the 1970s. This new, science fiction technology is (usually) completely invisible to the user.

Patty wasn't answering the voice communicator.

About quarter to ten she transmitted her coordinates via the aforementioned device, and said she overslept. Was it aliens? No, I believe her friend was born in the US. In fact, she doesn't have a foregn name. Now, if she had been named Gordo Burro, that would have perhaps been an interesting alien.

But this was just a blonde American kid.

I flipped a switch, and the computing device stirred to life, causing a pot of coffee to appear in the coffeepot. I removed an antiseptic wrapping from a pastry and installed it in the radiation chamber for fifteen seconds. With butter.

I removed it from the chamber, and ate it. Not the chamber, I mean. I ate the pastry. I turned on my personal computer, and moved a cursor manipulator to the proper coordinates and clicked its button. After some whirring noises and blinking lights, my mail appeared on the computer's screen.

Damn, mostly junk mail. All but one or two went instantly into the trash, as junk electronic mail does here in the 21st century.

I love technology. Back in the past we had to talk to someone on the phone, tied down with a cord as if you were some trained, captive animal. Now we have these wireless science fiction communicators. ...

I backed the ancient machine down the driveway. The passenger compartment, as usual, reeked of exhaust fumes. The clear plastic window over the instruments in this old vehicle had a jagged hole in it, there were a few dents and rust.

Bits of the antique foam rubber rained down on my head as I looked out the back window.

I filled up the ultra clean 21st century gasoline on the way, and got a carbonated beverage and a six pack. The old radio unprogrammed itself every time the car was shut off, obviously miswired. I tuned the old radio again, and made sure the 21st century communication device was handy. I called Mike's house on it before leaving. Somebody named "Ed," who wanted to know which Mike, answered. I told him "Old Mike," as this kid was obviously one of Mike Jr.'s friends.

Jeff has no outgoing communications, and limited broadcast receiving capabilities. His was an older model computer. So I decided to just drive over there.

By the time I got to the end of the 100 mile trip I was staggering from the carbon monoxide and other inhalants belching from the exhaust pipe. Mike was at Jeff's, as was Chris and his 25 year old son, Josh. I was starting to get a monoxide headache.

Josh had a little pot. His dad was drunk, as usual. But only a little drunk.

Chris hasn't had a driver's license for some time now.

Josh rolled a big joint and filled Jeff's pipe as we watched... uh, some movie. I remember seeing monkeys and a space ship or something.

When the movie was finished, they left. We followed them out.

The last time I saw Josh he had a new Kia. Now he was driving an old piece of shit with mud dauber nests under the hood. I asked him what happened.

"Had to let them repo it."

They drove off, and I remembered one of the excuses reasons for coming down- to find out what kind of engine was in the Malibu. Mike had told me that Jeff had changed the engine with something else. Knowing what kind of engine was in it would certainly simplify buying the parts I needed for it.

Jeff told me the particulars, and said "that motor was in a high speed police chase."

One of his friends in California had owned a Pontiac Sunbird with a V-6, and it was stolen. The thieves used the stolen Sunbird to rob a bank, and a high speed chase ensued. The robbers were caught, after the Sunbird's frame was bent and it was pretty well otherwise trashed.

The car sat in the impound lot for months before Jeff's friend got it back. When his friend came to Illinois, he had the car transported on a flatbed truck. He gave it to Jeff, and Jeff put the motor in his Mom's old Malibu and junked the Sunbird.

We partied a little more, and I set off to make the hundred mile trip back to the 21st century. I wanted to see a local band, The Station, playing at Dempsey's at 10:00.

I got home, reeking of exhaust, and took a shower. Patty wanted money, like teenagers always do. "Can I have five dollars to get in the show?"

"No. All I have is a twenty and a ten."

"Well, give me the ten."

"No."

"I don't have anywhere to cash a check, and they'll charge me three dollars to use my card.

"Your bank sucks."

"Can I..."

"No!"

"How about I give you a ride to Dempsey's and you can give me a five? I'll be right down the street at Bread Stretchers."

"No, I just took a shower and I've had way too much carbon monoxide today. I'm walking!" I was starting to get a headache. I told her to get her friend, who she was giving a ride to, to cash a check for her, and I started to walk to Dempsey's. ...

"Dude, you're late"

Damn. I had to pay the two dollar cover. Mandy was tending bar, and was working hard- the place was pretty crowded. I got a Rolling Rock and a glass of water and sat at the bar and listened to the music.

There were quite a few rock and roll regulars- the Barbie doll, Hippie Chick (who I think is going to become a police woman, if I didn't confuse her with someone else a week earlier). A whole lot of young ladies who I wasn't even going to try to pick up.

A fat woman in her twenties was holding a cigarette as if she was waiting for someone to light it. I reached in my pocket and grabbed my lighter- and saw the wedding ring.

Nope, ain't gonna waste my butane. She kept giving me the sweet eye while her good looking girl friend ignored me.

Here's a hint, ladies- if you want to pick up an asshole, wear a ring on your wedding ring finger. Because those of us with sense wouldn't fuck you with your husband's dick. If you want a decent guy, leave the jewelry off of that finger.

My headache was getting worse. After my second beer I walked back to the restroom. I saw Joe Frewe's girl friend in the back- good, I was looking forward to Joe sitting in with The Station to sing Champaigne and Reefer.

As I walked out of the can I saw Joe behind the back bar. There was Levi in front of the back bar. "Hey, Steve!"

I sauntered over. The band took a break.

After talking with Joe and Levi for a while I decided to go out the back door and get a little fresh air and walk around. I walked out, and there were some guys standing and sitting around in the alley's dark shadows. I smelled tobacco- and reefer.

Joe and Levi followed me out. I was starting to walk down the alley. "Hey, man, where you going?"

I walked back. "I just came out for a little fresh air, I have a headache from all that damned exhaust smoke."

Somebody said "Here, I got some fresh air for you," and handed me a pipe. The fellows standing around the alley were the band.

The pot helped my headache. The guys in The Station were happy for an extended break; there was another band sitting in.

One mentioned they were selling CDs for five bucks. I answered that last time I saw them they were giving them away.

"Yeah, our publicist found out about that and freaked out, man. But these are professionally done."

I mentioned yeah, I had heard the bad spot in the middle of the freebe (but didn't mention it that I'll fix it when I make a copy).

Eventually we all walked back in and the band started playing again. I was talking with Levi (who always complained about not getting any girls) and Betty Boop walked in.

I like beer. Especially with Paxil.

"Hey, Levi!"

"Hey, Leslie!"

Leslie's friend was pretty good looking. Leslie said "Hi" to me and they both proceeded to ignore me and talk to Levi. I wandered back and got another beer from Joe, who was trying vainly to sell beer from the back bar while Mandy was working her ass off at the front bar.

Way too soon the lights came up and the music stopped. I bought a $5 CD and staggered on home.

I hadn't hit on a single woman! Does that mean I'm getting better, or was it just the monoxide?

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