Gardening For The Disabled

February 4, 2009

    Even if you are, like, totally fucked up and in a wheelchair, you can still garden, okay?  Millions of disabled people assume they can’t, but that’s only because nobody told them how, which is what I intend to do.

    Now, the first thing is to plant seeds.  Wait until after it rains and the ground is soft.  Take a long stick (like a broomstick) and your seeds, and wheel yourself out to the backyard.  Just sort of poke the ground a lot with the stick to break up the dirt, and then throw the seeds.  Then move the dirt around with the stick and try to cover the seeds so the birds don’t eat them.  Another way of planting the seeds is to pour them all over your clothing, then fall off the wheelchair and roll around on the ground.  The seeds should stick to the wet dirt.  Then you can sort of cover them up with dirt and somehow crawl back into your wheelchair.  I don’t know if this actually works, but you can try it.

    The second thing is to tend the garden now and then, like watering it and squashing bugs and stuff.  Of course, the more times you go out, the more chances there are for you to get stuck, and if you live in a neighborhood like mine, nobody pays attention to somebody screaming.  So maybe you should just stay inside and hope for the best.

    The third and last thing is to harvest your vegetables.  (If you planted flowers, that was stupid, because you could have grown them indoors in pots and left them on the window sill.)  Now you have to go out and dig up those vegetables, because you can’t expect other people to feed you forever, right?  Okay, so go out and just try to dig them up.  I don’t know how you’re going to manage a shovel.  Probably you could take one of those claw-like tools (I don’t know what they’re called) and tape it to the end of your long stick and try to yank the vegetables out of the ground. 

    Lincoln’s first Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, was the first notable American to garden from a wheelchair.  Lincoln was not interested in that, so instead he went to a theater and got shot, which was bad.

    Another point to mention, while I think of it, is never wheel yourself near where a movie is being made, because if you have an accident and can’t get up, everyone will think it’s part of the movie, and they’ll just leave you there.

    Being in a wheelchair heightens your other senses, so you have no excuse not to garden.  If you are allegedly disabled but not in a wheelchair, you don’t need this article and should not be begging for sympathy.  You are a social parasite pretending you can’t garden when you can.  You don’t deserve that disability pension, but your crooked doctor wrote a letter for you, and now Joe Taxpayer is stuck.

    For those others to whom the above criticism does not pertain, I hope I have helped you improve your life as a disabled person in some small way.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

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Cow Five

August 6, 2008

    When you work at Snuj, there’s no fixed timetable for anything.  There are no clocks or calendars.  If you want something, you have to do something to get it.  This kind of purity doesn’t exist anywhere else.

    I made up my mind to go see Ludwig.  Ludwig was black and didn’t speak with any identifiable accent.  It was an unwritten rule at Snuj that you never asked Ludwig about his background.

    “I want Cow Five,” I said to Ludwig.

    He gave me an over-long stare before reaching for the lower drawer of his old wooden desk.  He took out a magazine and handed it to me.  “Now you go to the men’s room and do what you have to do, understand?”

    “Yes.”

    “You just bring back the cover.  The rest can go in the waste basket, understand?”

    “Yes.”

    I took the magazine to the men’s room and…I did what I had to do. I brought back the cover.  “The cover is still clean,” I said.

    “We don’t care about that,” he replied, taking it from me.  He opened another drawer and took out a brown envelope, which was sealed.  “Now you go to Zeugma and ask for Nine Special Ray.”

    “Nine Special Ray,” I repeated.

    “Yes.  Now go.”

    I went downstairs, pausing at the window in the stairwell to look at the Unerectable Dome across the street, a structure that was perpetually collapsing and being rebuilt.

    I walked into Zeugma, where Carney, the albino, sat in a cubicle very much like a subway toll booth, with the added feature of a bell on the counter.  I held out the brown envelope to him.

    “Ring the bell if you want service,” he said condescendingly.  I rang the bell.  “What do you want?” he asked.

    “I want Nine Special Ray.”

    He snatched the brown envelope out of my hand, opened it neatly with a letter opener, and peered inside briefly, frowning.  Then he took a small ledger from a cubbyhole, opened it, and flipped a few pages.  He was still frowning as he scanned a page.  The frown was Carney’s only facial expression.  I wondered if it was a medical condition.  “You do…Solar AB….The string, that is.”

    “Where?”

    “In the Fish Tank, of course.  That way.”  He pointed.

    I went down the hall to a wooden door with faded letters: FISH TANK.  It was unlocked.  It was like a janitor’s closet with a chair.  I sat down.  A tangled mass of strings hung down from a high shelf.  Each one had a tag.  The rectangular tags were Neon, the round ones were Fruit, the triangles were Solar, and so on.  There was another closet called Beggar’s Dream with other tags, but don’t ask me about that.  So I had to look for a Solar AB.  I found one.  I yanked the string, and a key fell down from the shelf.  A gold key.  Irish Knights.  But we had other names for them.

    I went to the other side of the building to what was called the Insensorium, or “Sorry.”  I knocked at the open door.  There were a half dozen guys dressed as leprechauns, all with their feet up on this big table, smoking clay pipes.  “Whut-choo got?” said one, talking like a ghetto black, although he was very pale.

    “I have a Solar AB.”

    “You going for Cow Five?” asked another.

    “Yes, that’s right,” I said firmly.

    The leprechauns chuckled and made some remarks in a dialect only they understood.  Bunch of assholes.  Older guys with no degrees, no technology, just years of seniority.  Not one of them ever saw Cow Two, I’m sure.  The oldest one got up, picked up a large wooden mallet, and stood in front of this large copper plate on the wall.  He struck the plate with much force.  The others went Ooh! and Ahh! with fake reverence.   Then the one who had struck the plate said in a loud ceremonial voice, “Voola One-Two-Three!”

    “On the roof,” someone else explained, although I already knew that.

    The elevator only went to Six.  After that you had to climb this long ladder, which was always greasy and slippery, and the handrail was loose besides.  I came up onto the roof.  It was an asphalt roof that was always too hot in the summer, so the company wisely sprinkled dirt on it, which was guaranteed to make a mess of your shoes.

    There was this large pigeon coop set close to a wall, and set into the wall was a bank of boxes like safe deposit boxes.  There was very little clearance between the coop and the boxes, so you had to squeeze in to get to your box, and it was hard to read the numbers as well.  I managed to find Voola 123 and put my key in, hoping it would work, because very often the leprechauns would give you the wrong box number, and you’d have to go back down, and they would claim it was an honest mistake or you heard them wrong.  Ha, ha.  Very funny.  But fortunately my key fit.  I opened the box and pulled out a small gold brick.  Pretty damned good.  You got a gold brick, that was good.

    I had to take the brick down to Ludwig.  Before I could say a word, he said, “Carmody,” and pointed toward the end of the hall.

    Carmody was dressed in a blue uniform like a bellhop.  He guarded the Gasworks.  There was actually no gas in the Gasworks.  It was just an old traditional name that went back to the time when Snuj was called something else.  Carmody unlocked a metal door and led me down a long gangway to a basement that was poorly-lit and smelled like oil.  There was a lot of low, throbbing machine noise that came from these chambers behind the walls, but you couldn’t actually see the machines. 

    Royster was in charge down there.  I think he lived there because I never actually saw him come to work or leave.  He was supposedly a mechanic, and he was dressed like one.  But rumor had it that he was the one who actually controlled Snuj.  He was said to have the entire 800-page Code Book memorized.

    Carmody said to Royster, “He’s all yours, Sir.”

    “Yes.  Fine,” said Royster.  Carmody went back up the gangway.  Royster said to me, “Come this way, please,” and he led me through a maze of passages.  “Watch your head.  Low ceiling,” he warned me.  We reached an area referred to humorously as the Un-Stable, which smelled like animals.  There was a row of stalls screened individually by canvasses, which were rigged like shower curtains.  He led me to the one at the end.  “This is it.  Congratulations,” he said, shaking hands with me.  Then he left.

    I took a deep breath.  Was this for real, or was it just a dream?  Would this be the happiest moment of my life, or would I be cruelly disappointed?  I pulled the canvas aside, and there it was…Cow Five….It was tied to the wall with a rope and was chewing contentedly on something.  There was a decal on its side like that of a racehorse — a white 5 on a background of green and gold.  I almost couldn’t believe it.

    “Four years of college just so I could stand here now,” I said out loud.  “But it was worth it.”

    “Moooo…” said the cow.

    Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

Ghost Crad

July 30, 2008

    My soul left my body at the time of my choosing — a privilege accorded to some of us reincarnates.  There was a light above me that I was supposed to walk into.  However, I chose not to go.  No one is forced to cross over, you see.  We have free will on all planes.  If a soul chooses to remain on the earth plane, it can.  It becomes a ghost. 

    Some ghosts stay on earth because they are confused and don’t understand that they are dead.  Others have a strong attachment to a particular place.  In my case, I was simply in no hurry to cross over. 

    As I expected, no one came to check on me until my rent was overdue.  (I had always been prompt with the rent.)  My Chinese landlord found my body.  He was upset.  He called his wife and spoke to her in Chinese.  Then he called the police.  My body would eventually be cremated, there being no one to claim it.

    The next day the landlord and his wife came in with a lot of boxes to pack up my belongings.  On my bookshelf, in plain sight, was a large black folder labeled “WILL.”  Impossible to miss.  In it were a copy of my will and instructions to call my lawyer.  The landlord’s wife put it into a box without even noticing what was on it.  Nice lady, but stupid.

    The landlord tried calling a few phone numbers in my telephone-address books, which were a jumble of old and new information, but he could not find any friends or relatives, which I don’t blame him for. 

    My landlords never knew I was a writer, so every form of printed matter was put out with the garbage, including some valuable books and some papers of archival value.  Fortunately, I had long ago transferred almost everything pertaining to my literary career to the university library for safekeeping, but there were nevertheless some items that were thrown out that the library would have wanted.

    My lawyer, Peterson, did not learn of my death for almost a year and then quite by accident.  My will finally got executed, but only after much delay and confusion concerning the transfer of money.

    Once my apartment was emptied, some Chinese workmen came in and replaced the 120-year-old window (something I had asked for and never gotten), laid new carpet, and repainted the walls. 

    I spent my first few days as a ghost wandering up and down Sherbourne St. trying to choke people I didn’t like (mainly white trash druggies and hookers), but it takes a long time to learn how to focus one’s energy to do this. 

    My apartment was rented to a Korean student.  He spoke loudly on the phone and had a high-pitched laugh that I didn’t like, and he cooked smelly food. So I decided to get rid of him.  I was able to do simple things like tipping over small objects in the bathroom.  After a while, he moved out.  I’m not sure whether he was afraid or just annoyed. 

    The next tenant was a black guy I totally disliked at once. I just hated his looks.  I would rap on the walls, which disturbed his sleep several nights in a row.  He was going crazy trying to figure out where the raps were coming from.  Then one night when he was asleep, I managed to open the fridge door.  When he woke up and found it open, he freaked out and moved out right away.

    After him, a plain young girl from the Philippines moved in, and I liked her well enough to leave her alone.  She’s still there.

    Although I lived 22 years in that apartment on Isabella St., I don’t feel bound to it.  So I just wander around, passing invisibly among physical people and not having any meaningful interaction, just as I did when I was alive.  What I would like most is to find some people playing with a Ouija board so I could communicate with them, but Ouija boards are not very popular any more.  Nevertheless, I have a long-term project to go into every dwelling in Toronto, street by street, building by building, until I find someone with a Ouija board.  I have no idea how long that will take.  If I come into your place, don’t worry.  You won’t even know I’m there.  I’ll be in and out in a few seconds. 

    I see other ghosts from time to time, but usually we just pass each other without speaking, which may seem rather odd.  Maybe it’s me.  I was never very social. 

    Overall, ghosthood is an improvement.  I’m not as angry as I used to be.  I don’t have to take pills for my back.  I have no sexual feelings.  I don’t have to eat, drink, or sleep.  I look pretty good, like in my thirties.  And I never get bored.  I can get into any movie for free.

    I think the biggest reason why I’m hanging around on the earth plane is that I want to see my posthumous fame unfold.  And it will.  Believe me.  The university librarians are slowly sifting through all those packages I gave them that were not to be opened until my death.  The university inherited a lot more money than they ever dreamed they’d get from a poor sod who used to stand on the street peddling his own books.  There’s nothing like a six-figure legacy to create some buzz in literary and academic circles.  And my will stipulated that all my copyrights would be automatically relinquished to the public domain.  Some Chinaman will decide to make some money by pirating all my old books — except that it’ll be legal — and there’ll be all these bad translations of Crad Kilodney selling like chop suey all over China.  (Then the Canadian publishers will want to publish me!)

    This is what is commonly referred to as “Immortality.”  For a writer, it’s the only thing worth living for.  But you have to be dead to enjoy it.

    Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.   E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com