Camping Stove and Sundry

Wow, I have been really bad about posting everyday, haven’t I? It’s been a pretty exhausting few days. The lack of a warm meal is wearing on me. We used to plug in our hotplate at the gym, but some people complained, so the coach told us we couldn’t do that anymore.

It’s funny how people keep saying they want to help, but they won’t give us the one thing we need. We have sleep accommodations. We have plenty of clothes. We have jobs. We have internet. We have transportation and storage. We just need a place to cook food. Yet the only thing people are ever willing to help with is googling homeless resources and letting us sleep on a couch.

Well, that’ll be solved soon. Friend of ours (Hi, Zob! 😀 ) bought us a power inverter. I’ll have more to say about that when it arrives, but the important thing is we’ll be able to plug our hotplate into the car. At that point, it’ll just be about finding a place to cook where no one will bother us. The church parking lot where we sleep is too exposes, and the gym is too busy. So we’ll probably try the storage facility parking lot for a while. There’s hardly anyone there, and we can hide around the back of the building with no trouble.

On that note, let’s talk about carbecue. Because we tried it this last week. If you google “cooking on a car engine,” you’re going to get a wikihow article that is way too complicated. The pictures make no sense (to me, at least), and it talks about using an ambient temperature thermometer to find the hottest spot on your engine.

If you’re in our position, you probably don’t have an ambient temperature thermometer. You probably can’t afford one. You definitely don’t want to buy one to use once for a couple minutes and then never touch again.

Anyway, here’s my experience. We turned the car on. The engine didn’t get hot enough. We turned the heater off, just in case that was hindering the temperature. The engine still wasn’t hot enough. We left it run for an hour. I could lay my hand on the engine and leave it there with only some mild discomfort. We gave up.

Much better plan is a camping stove. You can even make one yourself. You’re probably eating a lot of canned food, and some cans is all you really need. Just google “DIY camping stove”. Some of these things get really elaborate. I can’t speak to how well any of them work, unfortunately. But if you don’t have a hotplate and power inverter, camping stove is probably the way to go.

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Fiction #1

I wrote this some time ago for r/nosleep. Figured I’d post it here today in lieu of my usual content. Hope you enjoy.

 

You know that scene from Sixth Sense where Haley Joel Osment meets that older boy who offers to show him his dad’s gun, and then he turns around, and the back of his head is gone? It was a little like that.

School was out for the summer. Mom worked a full time job. Dad hasn’t worked in my entire life. Says he hurt his back doing construction. Keeps promising to go fill out applications, but at the end of the day, he’s still sitting in his chair, three sheets to the goddamn wind.

So it’s one of those days. Dad announces that he’s going out and getting a job and that mom better find a babysitter. He waits until she’s walking out the door to tell her. See, we have a regular, but she needs like an hour’s notice. Also, pretty sure that early in the day, she’s at her day job. So dad knows that mom can’t just call her, but if he asks too early, she’ll sit down with a phone book and find someone else. If he waits until breakfast is just nearly done, right before she jumps up to grab her purse, she’ll have no choice but to yell at me to get my shoes. Then dad has the day to himself.

It’s happened often enough this summer that I just put my shoes on when I get out of bed, and I’ve got a backpack packed with coloring books and shit and a little shit radio. I don’t even wait for her anymore. Second dad opens his mouth, I’ve got my backpack over my shoulder and waiting by the door. I like to think the expression she gives me at these moments is gratitude.

Mom’s an actress back then. Not like you’re thinking. We live in Chicago. Dad ran out his unemployment a year back, and mom makes just enough that we’re ineligible for food stamps. So that maybe tells you what kind of actress she is. But she’s as good a mom as she knows how to be, so she sticks me in the closet while she and her costars all get dressed. Everyone knows I’m there, and most of them are fine with it as long as I stay quiet and don’t try to peek. They’re here for the same reason she is, so they get it.

When they all leave, I’m allowed to come out and watch the little black and white TV or color on the floor, but mostly I stay in the closet. I’ve got this rotating star projector nightlight thing to provide light, and it’s harder to hear the all the moaning coming from the set. So that’s where I am, and I’m kind of dozing off when the door opens just a crack, and I can see this eye peer in at me. It’s brown, bloodshot, bit shorter than me. Not exactly worrying. Now, you can probably see where this is going cause you’ve read it like a million times, but back then, the only thing on my mind was I didn’t know any of the other girls had kids.

“Can I come in, too?”

It’s the tiniest goddamn whisper. She sounds scared, so I just scoot over to make some room. I don’t remember her actually coming in, just the door is closed again, and there’s this tiny, emaciated wisp of a girl all curled up next to me, leaning against the closet wall, stars slowly passing across her face and arms. I can’t see her well, but I remember she had this dirty white dress or maybe nightgown, and her face wasn’t quite the right color. People don’t usually come that grey, you know?

Well, I don’t say anything. As a general rule, I don’t say much of anything. I’m sure as fuck not talking to some random girl I never saw before. But I give her some crayons and one of my books, and after a few minutes, she uncurls a little and starts doodling.

“My name’s Tina,” she whispers. She sounds like she’s gargling salt water. I just kind of nod at her and wait to see if she’s going to say anything else. “My mommy hates me.”

I’m six goddamn years old, and I’m already pretty familiar with this story. I just frown and put my hand on her shoulder. She flinches, like she’s startled, but she doesn’t pull away or anything. Her skin is all kinds of fucked up, by the way. Cold, clammy, oddly squishy, but somehow dry, too, like…well, like a desiccated corpse.

Look, let’s just get this out of the way. Kid drowned in a bathtub. Left there for a couple hours while her mom got high. Probably drowned cause she was high, too, from all the hotboxing in that apartment. Then her mom sells her body to some whackjob for crack money. He’s another story.

I don’t find any of this out until later, but this is the moment where I realize I’m touching a corpse. She grabs my hand, you know like a sick person would, looking for reassurance, and goes, “You don’t hate me, right? I’m not a mistake, right?”

I shake my head, and she starts to laugh this gurgling laugh. After a second or two, it sounds more like she’s choking. Water’s pouring out her mouth. Floor is covered in it. I’m sitting in it. I yank my hand away and go for the doorknob, and she just starts sobbing.

In retrospect, I wish I’d stayed to comfort her. Maybe she’d have moved on. But right then, all I wanted was to get the fuck away.

My hands are wet, and the temperature is going down rapidly. My breath is fogging. Ice crystals on my fingers. Can’t get a grip on the doorknob, so I start screaming. Ghost kid is drowning and crying and begging the universe or something to tell her she’s not a mistake, and I’m freaking out that she’s going to drag me down with her when the door opens from the other side, and I go flailing into my mom. She’s barely dressed cause she came running out from the big climax scene, and pissed as hell with me cause she doesn’t see anything wrong. Girl is gone. Water is gone. Stiffs are gone, too, so the director’s pissed as hell at me and my mom both and docks her pay, so now she’s even more pissed at me. And thereafter, I’m the kid who had a bad dream and pissed himself and do I have any plans on doing it again this time so they can just work it into the movie.

I never told anyone after that, but I had proof. Proof to myself, at least. My books were all crinkled like they’d been soaking, and her doodles were still in the corner of one page. Picture of a stick figure with a big rectangle around it and a frowny face. You know, like a five year old trying to draw herself drowned in a bathtub.

And We’re Back

More or less. And not a moment too soon. And of course, now that we’re back, there’s no work to be had. So today, I’m attempting to find other routes. Like promoting this blog so I can maybe start a Patreon.

It’s a weird day. I wish I had a house, but only so I could start streaming on Twitch. That’s been a dream of mine for like a year now, but I never could in that hell house.

I don’t have a whole lot to say. Let’s see…

I tried out a website called sliceofpie.com today. I listened to a three-minute song, typed out what I thought of it, and made one whole penny for my time. >< OK, but that’s OK. You make more as you get better, so I figure I’ll keep going. I listen to another three-minute song, type out what I thought of it, and get an error message that my review doesn’t appear to be in English.

sliceofpiereviewhelp.png

So I guess I subconsciously began writing in Japanese or something there.

Kate and I are looking into alternative parking locations. She read that churches are a good place to park, so we’re planning to check around and make some calls. The parking lot at the gym just…it’s no less safe or anything like that. It’s just…people staring. Every single time they walk by the car. You’d think we haven’t been doing it for weeks already or something.

Also, I started a Twitter, as you can see by the widget in my sidebar there. Thinking of starting a tumblr or instagram as well, but I spend most of my time either driving or sitting in a library. Not many options for a good photo shoot.

I’d like to start fiction writing again. I haven’t written much since about 2004. I was working on this huge fanfiction series and having just a ton of fun. It was my little escape from Wal-Mart, and I wrote between 1500-2000 words almost every day for like a year, year and a half.

But then I left Wal-Mart. They’d been ignoring my stated availability since day one, and when I started going back to school, they decided to start making it ridiculously hard. I had to submit a form to change my available hours. They continued to ignore it, so every class day, I had to call management about an hour before it was time to leave and ask to take the rest of the day off. I did this two or three times a week for six months, and they never just worked it into the schedule. They made it as difficult as possible for me to get a higher education. So one day, I lined up another job and left. And then my other job informed me they had never heard of me, and I ended up working at Domino’s.

Well, Domino’s didn’t last long. The economy was rapidly going to shit and gas prices had just started climbing. Pretty soon, I wasn’t making enough money to continue making deliveries. I was practically paying them to let me work there. So I quit and went to work for my grandpa.

Some years earlier, my grandpa had wiped out my college fund to start his own business. It was a sure thing, he said. He already had customers. He did good work. It would be easy. As you can probably guess, it went to crap. Specifically, it struggled along and barely broke even for about five years, after which it started losing money.

I became my grandpa’s secretary a few months before the end. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, he was cheating me of wages. I wasn’t even making minimum wage there. Honestly, that’s fine because I also wasn’t doing any work. He didn’t train me at all. He just said here’s the accounts, here’s the checkbook, have fun. I figured out most of the computer stuff, and I answered the phone and took messages. But that was barely a third of what I should have been doing, and he’d get pissy with me for screwing up. It’s like he thought women just instinctually know how to be good secretaries.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what he thought. It’s just the latest in a long list of things he never thought he needed to teach me.

Anyway, that harrowing, soul crushing experience went on for a couple months before he hired my mother to replace me. He didn’t actually let me leave, though. Mom actually does know how to be a good secretary, so she took over pretty much my whole job, leaving me sitting in front of a computer browsing the internet for eight hours a day. Periodically, they’d try to give me make-work. They got pissy if I took a day off, but didn’t have anything for me to do. I tried to spend my time writing, but it just got harder and harder and harder. I finally quit in the middle of a story and didn’t finish it for about five years.

I try to write on occasion. 1000 words here. 2000 there. Then I delete it and give up for another year. My family broke me.

Huh. Guess I found something to blog about after all.