Friday, August 31, 2007

Eliza Responds

"Softy, you must understand that I'm madly in love with you. Perhaps love is blind, but to me you are the savior of humanity.

And to save all those chickens by reusing the feathers . . . what a wonderful idea.

As you were talking, I started wondering if the deception is really necessary, or could we turn your recycling of the feathers into a talking point. Imagine if we said that our pillows use renewable resources. In addition, we call them "peace pillows" because everyone would be sleeping with the energies of others. Feathers are so light that I believe they have a lot of room to soak up energies."

"Eliza, those are interesting ideas. I can see that you'll be a good partner. But perhaps you'll want nothing to do with me when I tell you the rest of my story."

"How could I have nothing to do with you. I love you. And I learned from the Bible that we should not criticize the splinter in your brother's eye until we see the log in our own eye."

"Wait until you hear my story. I've been living alone with this burden for five years now, and I need to tell it to you."

"What could be so terrible, Softy. Did you murder someone?"

"Well, I murdered myself. But let me start from the beginning."

"If you murdered yourself, then you must be dead."

"Not quite. Now be quiet and I'll start from the beginning."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Augusta Arrested by a Dog Door

"Augusta, you silly thing, you are stuck in the dog door. Shhh Dirty, stop that barking."

"Why didn't you answer my knocks."

"I discovered that one of my bunnies has been murdered. I've had that bunny since Softy left."

"Will you p l e a s e get me out of this door. I think you need to pull me back out from the outside."

Dusty carefully opened the front door (so as to not cause a breeze that would disrupt her bunnies) and went toward the dog door. She grabbed Augusta by the boots and started to pull. It became immediately obvious that he was stuck. She put on her thinking cap and decided to brainstorm: leave him captive stuck in the door, tie a rope to him and to his car and back him out, cut him in half, cover him with lard and slip him out. The last idea seemed the best, as it usually does.

"Augusta, just hold on, I'm going to get some lard and slip you out."

"I'm not going anywhere, Dusty. That is the problem."

"Augusta, please have a sense of humor. It isn't every day that a cop is arrested by a dog door."

"Well, hurry up, will you?"

Dusty went back into the house and got the lard. "This will be very messy," she said to herself with a grin on her face. She went outside, but then decided that it was the part of him on the inside that needed the lard to slip back out. She went back inside and said,"now hold still while I take your shirt off. We don't want to rip the shirt when you come tumbling through the hole."

"Anything. Just do anything to get me out of here. What would the other cops say if they saw me like this?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Story, Part 1

"Eliza, before you get too involved with me, you'll need to know a few things about the pillows that I sell and about my past. Having been raised a good Catholic, I was taught to believe that confession will help the salvation of my soul. I can't really talk to a priest because he might think that what I have done is so bad that he'd turn me over to the authorities.

First, let me tell you about the pillows I sell. I used to buy fairly good pillows from wholesalers. But my credit got worse and worse, and so I had to improvise. If you notice, I always ask the customer for their old pillows. The truth be told, the problem with most pillows is that they haven't been adequately fluffed. I take the old pillows, rid them of their casings, dump the feathers into a heavy duty garbage bag, and viola, I have the makings of a new pillow. Pre-owned, as the car salesmen like to say.

I take the feathers and fill them into a pillow bag, as the industry calls them. Then I whip out that little sewing machine I have in my trunk and sew the seams together. I attach a look-alike label to the brand the Neiman-Marcus sells, and my total cost is never more than a couple of bucks a pillow.

You might think I'm sleazy doing this. I would understand that, but before you jump to any conclusions, please listen to why I believe that I make the world a much better place for all my customers.

As the Buddha discovered, people suffer. He was off-base thinking that the source of suffering was that they did not know their essential self. They suffer because they don't get any comfort at night. And I can alleviate that suffering by selling them a comfortable fluffed pillow.

Now you might wonder why I don't sell the pillows for ten dollars rather than one hundred and forty-nine dollars. We tend to enjoy quality things. And to the novice, there is little difference between quality and expensive. So I make it expensive and they love it.

Eliza, before I go on with the second story, I want to be sure that you are still with me, and that you want to join my missionary, so to speak, and give comfort to the multitudes that suffer so severely."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Augusta Decides

Augusta cooled down from the criticisms and decided to go back to Dusty's house with Dirty Hairy. He was a forgiving soul and knew that she only meant good with her criticisms.

When he returned to the house he knocked repeatedly on the door. No one answered. Dirty became quite agitated and started barking as they both wondered what happened to Dusty.

He tried the doorknob, but it was locked. He knocked again to no avail. Did she leave the house? Was she alright? Augusta did not know.

Dirty Hairy was not going to stand by. He leaped up on Augusta and knocked him down, and then ran off into the house through the dog door.

As Augusta watched Dirty Hairy from the ground, through the corner of his eye, he remembered how he learned to crawl through small holes in basic training in the marines and felt that he could make it through the dog door, or at least give it a "college" try.

So he got up, brushed off some of the mud on his pants, and walked over to the door. He then looked at the door, looked at his waist, and looked again at the door. "It is going to be close," he said to himself, "but I think I can make it."

Augusta sucked in his breath and started through the door. But Dirty Hairy wanted no part of letting Augusta use his door. The dog alternately barked and growled ferociously, making a big raucous. But Augusta was a brave marine and continued through the dog door, only to get stuck half way through. "Should have taken off my pants," he thought.

Then Augusta saw Dusty on the floor apparently staring at a dust bunny with tears rolling down her eyes. She was weeping hysterically.

"Dusty, Dusty," Augusta called out.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Eliza Steps up to the Plate

Eliza was desperate. She didn't want her opportunity to escape her torturous life to vanish. She decided to use the direct approach since the indirect approach was failing.

"Softy, I would like to go off with you and sell pillows on the road."

"Eliza, why would you ever want to do that? You'd have to leave your husband."

"I'm not sure that I could take another day with him. He treats me so badly, and this town has nothing to offer me."

"But the pillow business is very difficult. Selling to people you know is one thing, but cold calls are another. You have to be on your toes all the time, and you have to be able to stand the abuse."

"Oh, Softy, I would so much like to go under your wings and to learn the ropes."

"But would your husband let you go?"

"Of course not. I'm his virtual slave."

"Then what will you do?"

"I'll pack a suit case, and we'll just go before he comes home."

"Do you have any money? We could use a few bucks to get to the next town."

"I have $500 or so in my bank account. Since it is getting late we'd have to wait until tomorrow to withdraw the money."

"That would be good. We could travel pretty quickly then and he couldn't find us.

"Great. I could have the money and be ready at 10 tomorrow morning."

"Here, give your mother-in-law this pillow. Take her $150. The other pillow we can use in the next town to get orders. Do you think we ought to start selling kid pillows? We could tell people how a good pillow can raise a kid's IQ by 10 points. But we can talk more about that tomorrow."

"Okay, Softy, but before you go, may I kiss you."

"Eliza, of course. But before you do, I need to tell you a story."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Augusta's Dog Walk

Augusta had never walked a dog before. And this dog hadn't been walked in a long time. When these conditions occur, the dog usually walks the man. If it is a big dog, the dog runs the man. If it is icy or muddy, the man falls down. And if it is a really large dog, the man falls down and is dragged.

Dirty Hairy was bred to be a hunter. A soft mouthed dust bunny hunter, that is. Though no dust bunny would be worth her weight once mixed with canine saliva, training is training, and dirty hairy knew his role in life.

You might be thinking that Dirty, as Dusty called him, would snatch up domesticated bunnies that lived and romped in the house. But no, he knew the difference, and only went after the undomesticated bunnies that lived outside.

Dirty Hairy, like other hunters, had a great sense of smell and could track a bunny for miles. His concentration was perfect, which is why he graduated from his class with honors.

Augusta, on the other hand, had been cut down to nothing with the criticisms. He had great affection for Dusty, which made them sting even deeper. He knew that it would be far easier to simply walk up the road, turn around, take back Dirty to Dusty, and then leave forever.

It initially made no sense to him that this woman who professed to care so deeply for him wanted him to change every bone in his body. "What kind of love is that," he wondered.

Augusta, being a cop, was in pretty good shape. To remain a cop, he had to work out two times a week and to keep his weight and body fat under control. But still, it was quite a challenge to keep two feet on the muddy ground with Dirty tracking ever bunny that was within his sniff.

So Augusta's focus went back and forth between attempting to figure out the "dilemma," as he decided it was, and trying to stay on his feet. He had read an article on "mindfulness," and was somewhat confused about how he was supposed to concentrate on his dilemma, and at the same time stay upright. "We always need to be multitasking or our system will break down," he said to himself.

He remembered some of what he learned in his economic class from college and decided that he'd do a cost benefit analysis of becoming Dusty's soul mate vs. running off with his tail between his legs.

If he ran off, he thought, his life would continue to be relatively devoid of intimacy. But he could enjoy his cigars, his stomping like a bull in a china shop, and his ugly clothes. On the other hand, if we went with Dusty, he could enjoy a new and exciting intimate relationship, but he'd have to tolerate a slightly (to be generous) kookie woman.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Door

Eliza's sweaty palms could hardly grip the door. She tried to turn the door knob, but her hand just slid around, never quite being able to turn it. Then her Catholic upbringing started talking to her, "what am I doing? I'm married to a good man." Next the survivor/romantic stepped in, her hand firmly connected with the door knob, and she swung open the door.

There was Softy with two pillows, one under each arm. Softy was about 5'6" and had a beer belly. To see him with a pillow under both arms was a little bit comical, though Eliza only saw the prince on the white horse who had come to save her.

"Softy, Softy," she said, "it is lucky that you've brought me some more pillows. Madonna wants to buy one."

"Hi Eliza. I thought that you might sell one. You were so enthusiastic about the pillows. You know that is the secret of good salesmanship. To truly love your product." Eliza thought that the second secret was to truly love Softy. Her heart was racing so much she realized that she needed to sit down.

"Come on in and get out of the muggy summer heat Softy."

"Don't mind if I do. Do you have a glass of water?"

"Sure. Would you like it with ice cubes? Maybe a slice of lemon?"

"How about with both? That will be great!"

Softy sat down on the plaid couch, with a king size white pillow on either side of him. Eliza went to the kitchen to get him his water. When she returned, she realized that it would be difficult to sit next to him because of the pillows, so she took one of the pillows and put it on the easy chair, and then plopped herself next to Softy, but because of the softness of the couch she probably ended up closer that she intended. She figured that if God had wanted things to be different he wouldn't have had her own such a soft couch.

Softy was a little uncomfortable being so close to Eliza. He started sweating a little. Eliza noticed the beads rolling down his brow and went to the bathroom to get a washcloth with cold water.

She brought it back to him and lovingly wiped his brow. The wind from the ceiling fan blew against his face and gave him a slight but pleasurable chill.

"Tell me, Eliza, did you have to sell the pillow to your mother-in-law, or did the pillow sell itself."

"Well, the difficult part was to get her to try it out. When she heard the price she wanted nothing to do with either me or the pillow. Finally I made a deal with her and she tried it, and then the pillow itself went into action. Her drunk son-of-a-bitch husband loved the way she looked when she awoke, her bags having disappeared from under her eyes and all, and so he told her to buy it, no matter what the cost."

"That is called a turn-a-round," Softy said. "I love that kind of sale. One minute you wonder why you knocked on the door, and a moment later you want this person to sell pillows for you. How about if we see if Madonna wants to sell pillows as well. You'll get a commission, since you found her, and the two of you could transform your town to becoming a haven for happy bagless under their eyes people.

Eliza was a bit dumbfounded about what to do next. Sure, it was great that Madonna sell pillows, especially if she would get a commission. She felt that she was missing a good opportunity to make the move on Softy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Augusta Ponders

"Dusty, you have said some very hurtful things to me. I think I'll take a walk down the road and take in what you said. I learned in a workshop not to react instantly to such criticism."

"Augusta, please remember that it is only because I care for you and that I desire to pursue a relationship with you that I would say such things."

"I know that Dusty. What I'll have to think about is what will be left of me if I become who'd you like me to be. Let me take a walk."

"Would you like to take Dirty Hairy on a walk with you. He'd love that. He hasn't been on a walk with a man since Softy died."

"Sure. I can do that. But remember, I'm not making any response to your criticisms until I have a chance to process what you have said."

In the workshop Augusta learned a good process for taking criticism. Listen, then breathe deeply, then tell the person what you heard, then go away and consider what they have said, and then respond to the criticism (in person, if possible).

"Before I go on a walk, Dusty, I'd like to be sure that I'm hearing your criticism correctly. You want me to change three things: that I dress differently, that I give up cigars, that I give up beer, and that I walk gentler around your bunnies. Is that correct?"

"No, not exactly. I don't mind if you drink beer when you are not around me. And the cigars are fine as long as I don't have to smell them on your breathe. Maybe when you go hunting with the guys. Though I'd like you to be sure not to take any bullets when you go hunting so you are sure not to kill anything."

"Dusty, now you are going too far. Way too far."

Then Augusta remembered that he needed to process her criticisms so he took the leash that Dusty was holding in her hand and hooked it on to Dirty Hairy and they left in a flash, with Dirty Hairy leading the way down the road.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Softy Returns?

Eliza slept much later than usual. Having spent much of the night thinking about Softy cut in on her sleep, so that when she finally did fell asleep it was hard to wake up.

As well, she didn't want to face Alfred that morning, who'd be groaning about his hangover and about how we should just kill all the people in the world who weren't white and Christians. He wasn't a very nice man.

When she did awake, she listened carefully to see if Alfred had left the house before she opened her eyes. One advantage of living with a loud husband is that you always know when he's around, she thought.

She did not hear him, so she took a quick shower and put on some slightly enticing clothes for Softy. She contemplated packing but then decided that would be a little premature. And if Alfred should find the suitcase she'd be raked over the coals, or at least locked in a closet again.

After the shower and getting dressed she had a little breakfast. She didn't want to eat too much because her jeans were already so tight, and besides, this was as good of a time as any to start getting ready for a swimsuit.

Then she turned on the television to pass the time until Softy came. The first program was about people who loved animals more than humans, and the next was about women who left their abusive husbands. This was "close to home," she thought.

As she became more and more immersed in the stories of what these women endured, she momentarily forgot about Softy, only to be jolted out of TV land by a couple of sweet and non-threatening knocks on her door. Eliza quickly made sure her hair looked good and that her almost see through blouse was tucked in to her jeans. Then she ran to door following her racing heart. Was this Softy at the door? Was this her opportunity to have the kind of life she had dreamed of?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dusty Reforms

Dusty is totally disgusted with Augusta. She is so put out by his rough manner, slovenly dress, smelly cigars, and awful beer. She realizes that she has three choices: tolerate him, throw him out, or change him.

She decides that toleration will not add to the quality of her life. And neither will throwing him out. So she decides to change him. He already has shown that he can change, as he moved from wanting to clean her dust bunnies up to recognizing that they are decent beings.

"Augusta, I am very disappointed in you. The other day you were a perfect gentleman. You were wearing that beautiful uniform with the six pointed star. You didn't smoke a god awful cigar, and you didn't have a six pack of beer. In addition, you walked gently around the house, careful not to squish any of my fair hairy friends.

If you'd like to be here with me, which I would love, you'll have to clean up your act. What will it be?"

No one had ever spoken to Augusta like this. Dusty certainly was going out on a limb giving Augusta this ultimatum. Had she made a terrific mistake? Would Augusta leave with his tail between his legs, never to return?

Hairy is quite agitated by Augusta as well. He joins in with Dusty's tirade by barking and growling. Augusta is red-faced, somewhere between being embarrassed and angry. No one had ever spoken to him this way, though he remembered as a kid that his mom had talked to his dad like this every day when he came home drunk. Finally his dad had enough and left for good. Augusta wondered if he should leave and put an end to this insane abuse.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eliza Looks for Softy

Eliza didn't have a good way to contact Softy. She just had to wait and endure Alfred's foul breath and torrential wrath.

As she went to bed that night, with her head on her new pillow, she positioned her body as far as she could from Alfred. She turned her head toward the door and thought about how her life with Softy might be. They could be a real team since she had such a flair for selling and Softy knew his way around the country.

Eliza had no idea that Softy was married, and that he had abandoned his wife, Dusty. And she did not know that he was supposed to not only be dead but disintegrated as well.

As she laid on the pillow, she decided to run through a day with Softy, starting with how she'd wake up early one morning while Alfred was still asleep and get her packed lavender bag that was hidden behind the bushes on the side of her house and then she'd meet Softy down at the corner and they leave her little hick town behind in the fog.

They stop at roadside truckstops and eat apple pie and chocolate ice cream for breakfast, and work out the details for scoring a few pillow sales to get her through the day. Each day, except Sunday, she'd work hard with Softy. On Sunday she and Softy would sleep in until noon, and then after a leisurely lunch, would take a walk and look at store windows discussing what they'd buy with all their pillow money. Maybe some day they could buy a house and a swimming pool. Of course, she'd have to start doing something about the way she looked so that Softy would like to see her in a bathing suit.

After their daily strategy sessions, they'd separate and she'd focus on selling and he'd focus on leads for the following day. As well, it would be Softy's job to buy pillows from the pillow companies, which he'd be able to do because he knew them all and was able to get the pillows on consignment.

As she daydreamed on, only to be interrupted by Alfred's repeated nudges for sexual favors, she imagined how at the end of each day they'd have dinner at some expensive hotel, and she'd tell Softy about all the pillows she had sold, and also how she was going to clinch some sales tomorrow where she had left pillows today.

Each evening they would watch television in their hotel room and zone out from a hectic but fun day. As the late movie ended, they'd go to bed and hold each other tightly as they slept. It would be a much better life that her existence with Smelly Alfred, she thought.

Before long Eliza dropped off to sleep, only to be awakened periodically by Alfred's awful snoring. She'd repeatedly give him a sharp elbow in the ribs, and he'd shut up for a few minutes giving her a short and punctuated respice.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Augusta Returns

Though Dusty vowed not to fall asleep until Augusta came, she was wiped out from her long day and fell into a deep sleep.

She had an amazing dream about her dust bunnies having a meeting and deciding that they would come to her as a group and insist that she go out and look for Augusta. As the dream continued, she did find him, but he was in trouble, hanging on for his life on a root at the edge of a cliff. She pulled him to safety and he kissed her with a kiss that seemed to go on forever.

She was awakened with a knock on the door. She ran frantically to the door and said that she'd be there in a minute, then ran to the kitchen, stubbed her toe on some debris, splashed some water on her face, and went back to open the door.

Augusta was at the door so she opened it very carefully as to not to disturb any of her bunnies. What she saw was not quite the same man about which she had been fantasizing.

She remembered Augusta in his uniform with the six pointed star. He was wearing cargo shorts and a blue flowered Hawaiian shirt. He had a cigar hanging out of his mouth and a six pack in his hand. It looked like he hadn't shaved for a few days.

"Let me come in," he said.

"Well. Ok."

Dusty followed Augusta who clumsly trod across the floor, dropped his seat into the couch dislodging a large cloud of dust, and then opened a beer. Remembering his manners, he said, "Dusty, wanna a beer?"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Madonna Tries

Madonna had a long day, and the instant that her head hit the pillow she fell sound asleep. Eliza had quite a long day as well, so she decided to take a nap and let Madonna enjoy the benefits of a truly soft pillow.

Hours later they were both awakened by Madonna's husband, Alfred. He came in like a tornado, red in the face from too much sun and too much drinking. He started yelling at Madonna and Eliza, "what are you girls doing here . . . sleeping on the job?"

Both Madonna and Eliza were started by Alfred's rough demeanor. Madonna started to meekly answer Alfred, but before a word came out of her mouth, Alfred took one look at her and said, "is that the same woman who is my wife?" He wasn't one for a lot of complements.

"What do you mean, Alfred?"

"Mean. I mean, you look so refreshed. And those god-awful rings are gone from under your eyes. Did you get one of those operations? That will set us back."

"Alfred, Eliza is selling these wonderful pillows and I just had the sleep of my life."

"And you look great. I don't care about the price. Just give Eliza her due and I'll take you out to dinner."

Madonna slipped Eliza $149 and Eliza promised to bring Madonna a new pillow within a couple of days. Eliza couldn't wait to tell Softy of her success. Perhaps she could make enough money to run off with someone like Softy and leave her little hick town and drunk husband behind.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Slipping on a Ice Cube

Dear Dusty,

No sooner had I dropped the last letter to you in the mail box had I received a call from my boss on my cell phone. The current head of our homeland terrorism unit slipped on an ice cube and broke his hip. To make a long story short, I have been given the job until he recovers, with the added bonus that I'll be his assistant when he is able to come back.

The good news is that I'll be remaining in town. The bad news is that I'll be out of the unit of conforming those like my lovely Dusty who harbor undomesticated animals, so I won't be able to assist your friends.

I would like to see you again and I will call on you soon.



Dusty was overjoyed to say the least. What had appeared to be a tragedy was now a wish come true. She went back to the house and decided to prepare herself for Augusta's return.

First she decided to iron her clothes. This was a little difficult without electricity, but she built a fire in the fireplace and heated up the iron. It worked fairly well except it left some odd soot shapes on her white blouse.

Next she decide to wash up. She had a pail of rain water that she had collected and a bar of coat saved from when Softy used to do a lot of traveling. She scrubbed her hands and face, but left one finger dirty so that her friends would recognize her.

Then see went back to her waiting routine: pacing, sleeping, dreaming, and then meditating. When would Augusta come? What would it be like to see him now that she had decided to give him her heart?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Try

Eliza has made a resolution not to give up too easily. She recognized immediately a number of problems that would be the result of leaving Madonna's home. For one, it would be harder to face Madonna in the future, and for another, she'd have to explain to her husband where $150 had been spent. He might throw her out as well.

She remembered a movie she had seen about a civil rights march and decided to just simple lay on the ground limp. Madonna would have to figure some new strategy to deal with the woman who stole her only son.

"Eliza, you can't just lay there on my floor. I need to get the house ready for my bridge club."

"Madonna, I'm going lay here on the floor until you try the pillow."

"Eliza, there is no way that I'll put my head on a $149 pillow."

"That is your choice Madonna."

"If I put my head on the pillow I might stain it with my hair spray and then you'll tell me that I have to buy it."

"No. This particular pillow is the one I bought. Should you decide to buy one, it will be a brand spanking new one."

"Ok, then, I'll lay my head on the pillow if you'll promise to leave before my friends come over."

Madonna grabs the pillow and throws in onto the couch. You could almost hear the pillow shreak she threw it so hard. Then she laid her head on the pillow for a millisecond, and then threw the pillow back at Eliza."

"Ok, Eliza, I tried the pillow and it is terrible."

"You didn't close your eyes and relax."

"I don't have time to relax."

"And I don't have time to leave," Eliza said, "put the pillow under your head and close your eyes and count to 100. Then I'll leave."


"Yes, I promise."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reversing Time

Dear Dusty,

I’m sorry that I did not have time to tell you in person, but I’ve been reassigned to Port Herman and will be leaving tomorrow. The evening I spent with you was one of the most special evenings of my life, and I regret not being able to get to know you better.

If you are in the Port Herman area, please look me up. In the meantime, please take care of your dust bunnies. I have left word with my superiors that you no long are harboring non-domesticated animals so your friends should be safe.

Yours truly,

Augusta Hitchcock

Dusty could barely believe her eyes, and thought for a moment that perhaps the tears in her eyes were creating the words. She wiped them away with her soiled shirttail and then read the letter once more. Unfortunately, her first reading was correct.

Here she had made a choice to give her heart to Augusta and now he was gone. This thought brought about another round of tears, and then the rational side of Dusty came out. She remembered how, in the Superman movie, Superman was able to reverse time by flying around the world, faster than the speed of light, in the opposite direction of its orbit. Not being much of a flyer, Dusty had another idea.

What would happen, she questioned (remembering again the Zen riddle of the hand clapping in the forest) if I just put the letter back in the mailbox. If I had never read the letter if wouldn’t be in my mind, would it?

She carefully resealed the letter and placed it into the mailbox. She really wanted to be sure not to see this letter again, so she stuck it toward the back of the box.

But something was in the way. Lo and behold, it was another letter from Dusty. Could it be that something has changed, she thought?

She dried her eyes and sat down to read the new letter. She noticed in this letter the same aftershave lotion that she loved so much on Augusta’s skin.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cranky Mother-in-law

Eliza dropped by her mother-in-law’s house. She was confident and eager that this would be an easy sell. Softy, who was a master salesman, had sold her on the idea of the $149 pillow. She walked in with the pillow under her arm.

“Madonna, I have the most exciting pillow for you. You are going to love it. No more sleepless nights or waking up with bags under her eyes.”

Madonna was quite embarrassed about the bags under her eyes, and talked about them frequently. But if anyone else mentioned them she was ready to chop their head off.

“What do you mean “bags.” Do I look that terrible? What is wrong with your marriage that you always have to come over here and insult me?”

“Madonna, you are very beautiful for your age,” Eliza said, putting her foot deeper in her mouth.

“For my age. And tell me, why are you so cruel?”

“Please, let’s start all over. I have a pillow that will bring peace and contentment to your life.”

“Hey, listen lady. You may be frustrated with that son of mine, but I don’t need no damn pillow to be happy.”

At this point Eliza was getting quite frustrated. She was starting to wonder if she could sell pillows to anyone. Everything she said seemed to unsell this spectacular product that she had.

“Will you please just lay your head down on this pillow and close your eyes.”

“Eliza, that is the oldest trick in the house. Then you’ll steal some of my silverware and . . . “

“Madonna, I’ve made a good faith effort to do something nice for you, and you are full of such evil suspicions.”

“Ok. Ok. I’ll try out your pillow. How much is the pillow, anyway?”

“How much does a sleepless night cost you? How much is spent on sleeping pills in the United States each year?”

“Don’t con me, you daughter of a bitch. Just tell me how much is the pillow and I’ll put my head on it.”

“Madonna, it is $149 and worth every cent of it.”

“No pillow is worth $149.”

“How can you say that? You haven’t even tried it. Suppose you got so much rest that you could see a way to clean up your house a little?”

“And now you are calling me a bad housekeeper. Girl, you better get out of here before I throw you out of the window . . . pillow and all.”

With that, Eliza, in tears running down her cheek and a pillow under her arm, made a beeline to the front door.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Letter from Augusta

Siddhartha learned to wait. Though I question how hard that is once you are mindful of the present and dispense of the past and future.

Waiting for Augusta was another matter. What should you do when you wait? Pace, sleep, dream, or meditate?

Dusty decided that she’d try all four, and then start rotating between then.

Pacing was a little bit precarious, since half of her bunnies were now back on their feet, so to speak. She had to walk very softly so as to not squish any of the bunnies. She remembered the Alexander class she took many years ago with Softy where they learned to be (almost) weightless. The bunnies appreciated how Dusty’s feet would just barely graze their backs.

Sleep has its own problems. We never look very good when we first wake up, so she didn’t want to be asleep when he knocked on the door. And besides, she didn’t like to jump out of bed upon awakening because she might hurt her fair hairy friends.

Dreaming is not a bad strategy for passing the time, especially dreaming while awake. The problem with dreaming is that it can raise one’s anxiety level because our mind races at such a crazy pace with all kinds of thoughts seemingly randomly interjecting themselves into every nook and cranny of our brain.

Meditation is good unless one goes too far and loses any connection with either their self or the world. Then it is like sliding down a muddy hill and having nothing to grab on to.

One by one Dusty cycled through these strategies, perking her ear up with every creak she heard in her house, hoping that it’d be Augusta’s boots walking up her driveway.

Pacing, sleeping, dreaming, and then meditating . . . and then starting all over. Day would turn to night, and night would turn to morning. Before long, days had passed and she wondered if Augusta even got her letter, so she walked down to the mailbox and discovered that not only had the postman picked up her letter to send to Augusta, but that she had received a letter back.

It must have been doused with Augusta’s aftershave lotion because she knew it from him as soon as she opened the mailbox. Her heart started racing. What was in the letter?

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Can of Beans

Softy now had $75 in his pocket, enough for a few nights at the Crazy Eight Motel, and then some left over for some pillows.

As he walked back to the hotel he met a man who was obviously destitute. The man gave Dusty some sad story about he finally had a job he could do, but he needed some “bus money” to get to work. Dusty asked him why the authorities didn’t help him and the man said that he did ask a cop who said that he’d only get a ride if he through a brick through a store window, and that the ride wouldn’t be to any gainful employment.

To make a long story short, Softy wasn’t just called Softy because of the pillows that he sold. He also gave money to anyone with a sad story.

He gave the man enough for bus fare. Then the man said that his wife and kids had the same job and needed bus fare as well. Dusty gave the man another $5. And then the man, seeing that a sucker is born every minute, told Softy that the family hadn’t eaten yet today, and that they all had a bad blood sugar problem, and if they didn’t eat they’d have to go to the hospital and then they couldn’t work.

Nest thing that Softy knew is that he was handing over another $10 to the man, which left Softy a little short. He now had enough for only one night in the hotel.

It was getting late, so he bought a can of beans it the quick shop and went to his room in the motel.

Back at the motel he heated up the beans by putting them in the tub filled with warm water. By the time the evening news was over they were tolerable.

Soon Dusty dozed off and didn’t awaken until the next morning. Not having enough for any breakfast, he went to the pillow warehouse to get some pillows for Eliza. Then he headed back to her house and knocked on the door.

“Hello Eliza. How are you today? I have your pillows.”

“Oh, I decided that I only want one pillow. How much would that be.”

“Eliza, I told you that you and yours will have a tremendous fight with only one pillow. And your mother-in-law will think you are absolutely nutty if she doesn’t get the chance to lay her head on one of my pillows.”

Hearing Softy’s confident voice was enough to put Eliza back into the pyramid scheme. She cheerfully accepted the pillows and paid Softy some more money, telling him to come back tomorrow for the rest after she had let her mother-in-law try it out.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hooking Augusta

(Start 07/18/07)

Dusty decided she would need to decide between Augusta, who might never come to see her, and Softy, who, in her mind, was dead.

Neither of these guys were “a bird in the hand” but Augusta would be more likely to come knowing than Softy (she thought). So that’s one for Augusta.

On the other hand, she had many fine years with Softy, even if they didn’t always see eye to eye. The many fine years constituted one for Softy.

But they didn’t see eye to eye. She remembered that Softy liked things clean, and she liked things dirty. Augusta, on the other hand, was starting to find a place in his heart for the bunnies. Score one for Augusta.

Now that Softy was older, he might change. He might be more tolerant. Score one for Softy.

But, sometimes older people are less likely to change. Score one for Augusta who had already indicated that he is a changer.

Dusty remembered that Softy was dead. That has got to count minus two.

But both snored the same, so they are even on that account.

Looks like Augusta won, she thought. The next challenge was to get Augusta back in the house, without appearing two forward.

She didn’t know quite what to do, though she saw out of the corner of her eye a hat that had fallen off the end table. She over to it and realized it was Augusta’s. “An opportunity,” she thought.

She could take it to him, but she didn’t have a car, and she might have to leave it for him and then she’d never see him, and that would be a lost opportunity.

No, she’d write him a letter. But she didn’t have any stamps. Oh, she had a idea to get it to him.

But first, the letter:
My dear Augusta,

Thank you so much for respecting the wishes of the bunnies and allowing them to continue to exist on this planet. They, and in turn, I, are forever indebted to you.

You left your hat here and I would return it but I don’t have a car and I don’t know where you live and if I went to the station house I might miss you. Please come by the house at your earliest convenience and get your hat.

She put Augusta’s name on the envelope as both the sender and the receiver. That way, if the letter were sent without a stamp it would go to the return address.

Much admiration,

CEO, Dust Bunny World

Saturday, August 11, 2007


(Start 7/18/07)

Softy sat watching while Eliza tried out the pillow. He watched the tension lines leave her face and her smile move into a deep sleep. It had been a long hot day, so he decided to do a little shuteye himself. He was sure that he’d wake before Eliza.

The next thing he knew Eliza was shaking him. “Oh, where am I?” he said, startled.

“You must have dosed off. I’ve been trying your pillow. Here, take this. It is some good green tea. It should give you a little energy to get through the rest of the day.”

“Oh, that is so nice of you, ma’am. I guess I dosed off. No way for a pillow salesman to act.”

“It was so comforting to see someone relaxed in my home. My husband never sits still. He is always either eating or watching the tube. I love quiet.”

“How did you like the pillow? Am I going to have to paint your house?”

“The pillow is wonderful. How much is it? I’ll buy it.” Eliza said, imagining that it would just be $10 dollars or so.”

“Well, this is a very well-made pillow with a lot of bb.”

“Bb,” Eliza said, “what’s that?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. That’s pillow talk. Bb is bounce back. Some pillows are dead. You lay your head down on them and they never recover. Other pillows, like this one, wake up with you and recover their original shape.”

“Ok, I’ll take it. Whatever it costs. I need to sleep like I did on this pillow.”

“Will that be cash or check?”

“Do you take credit cards? And how much is the pillow?”

“I can take your credit card numbers and process it when I get home. But there is a discount for cash.”

“How much is the pillow?”

“Let me tell you a story,” Softy said, getting a little too slimy for my taste. “It is not the price of the pillow that should concern you. It is the price of insomnia. Nothing worst that tossing and turning all night because you can’t lay down your head. This pillow gives much more than it takes, if you know what I mean.”

Eliza is starting to want to throw Softy out and his pillow. She raises her voice and says, “tell me, for the last time, how much is the pillow?

“For you, ma’am, only $149.”

“$149, for a pillow! My mother-in-law would never stop laughing. I can’t spend that for a pillow.”

Softy started toward the door, but then turns around. He’s pulled this move many times.

“Ma’am, I understand your anticipated of ridicule. But actually when your mother-in-law sees the lines disappear from your face she’ll want what you have.”

“But I can’t spend that amount of money on a pillow.”

“I understand that ma’am. You and your husband will fight over who sleeps on the pillow. There are some couples that actually share these pillows, because the pillows are so large. But here’s what I’ll do for you. Remember that I’m here on Earth to give a good night’s sleep. That is why I wake up with a smile on my face each morning.”

“So what’s the deal?” Eliza said.

“I’m not a very good salesman, ma’am. I care too much for my customer. How about you buy one pillow for $149 and I give you another pillow for your husband free?”

“But that still is too much money.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” Softy said, remember a technique from his Verbal Aikido for the Salesman workshop that he took years ago.

“I notice that you are home. Looking at how you are dressed, I suspect you don’t work. Is that correct, or am I getting too personal?

“What are you getting at?”

“Will, I have a proposition for you ma’am. I’ll give you the two pillows for $149. And I’ll give you a third pillow to loan to your mother-in-law. If she wants to buy it, we’ll split the money 50-50. And then I’ll give you another pillow to sell. Some day when your husband is out of town, you could have a slumber pillow party with your friends. You’ll be earning hundred or even thousands dollars a week.”

Eliza’s eyes lit up. A purchase that was going to make a serious dent in your grocery money will now actually give her enough money to get that red stripped dress she eyed at Macy’s.

“Oh, it is a deal.”

“Wonderful. I’ll bring the pillows later this afternoon. Of course, I’ll need $75 as a deposit, though. That is the cash price since you are doing the two-for-one deal.”

“Sure, just hold on a minute.” Eliza goes to her cookie jar and gets the money. She then gives it to Softy, counting it out slowly. 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75.

“We are now partners,” Softy says.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Double Dilemma

(Start with 7/18/07)

Dusty needed to think long and hard now about her bunnies and her life. Her bunnies were safely hidden away. Should she let them out and hope that the cleaning crew doesn’t return, or should she keep them in hiding a bit longer? And maybe Augusta would return, and maybe he wasn’t quite as crazy about her hairy creatures as she was.

And then there is the matter of love. Her heart had been given to Softy. Little did she know that he was still alive. But Augusta had some redeemable qualities. So what should she do?

What she always done when facing a double dilemma. She sat in her dustiest chair and started counting her breathes. She knew that if she could empty her mind and create infinite space then the answers would come upon returning to earthly consciousness.

As she sat in the chair a big cloud of dust appeared. Wow, she thought, how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful dirty home.

Thoughts raced through her head. “Chatter” was the word for this that she had learned in a meditation workshop. She started with a very simple goal: to complete one breath without thinking of anything else. Soon she went to two. Then she started to think of her accomplishment of getting to two breaths and realized that this thought of success was also chatter, so maybe she should go back to one breath at a time.

It wasn’t long that the monthly air raid sirens rang and woke Dusty from her meditative state. She did feel calmer, though, and knew that she could now resolve her double dilemma.

The first issue was whether or not to let the bunnies out. She thought about how the key to Buddhism was to take the middle ground, so she decided to let out half of her bunnies. That way she could put them back in less time, should the need arise.

The second issue was a little more complex. Who should she choose for her next soul mate, Softy or Augusta? She decided to make a list highlighting each of their virtues, thinking that she’d give her heart who ever had the most positive virtues. She knew that both had some negative virtues so she would have to subtract those from the positive ones. Then she started thinking that a negative virtue is at lease two times more significant than a positive virtue, so she’d have to subtract two positives for every negative.

At first she thought she’d analyze one man at a time, but then she thought it would be better to consider issue by issue.

In all fairness to both men, she thought she should first come up with a list of issues, and then she could evaluate each according issue by issue. She’d give the same weight to each issue, knowing that though she’d be underrating some issues and overrating others, in the end things would even out.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Eliza Tries It Out

(Start on 7/18/07)

Softy stood a few feet from the door. He knew that would help to put the housewife at ease. When she opened the door, he gently smiled at her and introduced himself.

“I’m Softy and I’d like to show you a pillow. I’d like to give you the opportunity for a good night’s sleep.”

“Hi, I’m Eliza. But I’m in a hurry and I slept fine. Why should I but a new pillow.”

“Ma’am, I don’t mean to be critical, but you do have some rings under your eyes and you are a bit stressed. May I come in and show you this life saver of a pillow.”

“Alright, if you insist.”

“Insist. No, ma’am. I’m sure your neighbors will welcome the opportunity to be transported to heaven every night. But if you’d like to join them, please let me come in out of this unbearable heat.”

“I must have forgotten my manners. Please come in. May I offer you something to drink.”

“Sure, a little water will be fine. No ice please. It reminds me of my ‘x’”

“Was your wife ‘cold?’”

Softy laughs. “She never had that problem. She used to embed dustbunnies in ice cubes. I never knew what I might be drinking.”

“I bet you are glad to be away from her. Let me get you a glass of water and tell me a little about this woman. She sounds like a real kook.”

“Ma’am. Maybe some other time. Some men sell bibles, engraved and all. Do you know why?”

“To make money?”

“No money in bibles. The gold leaf for the engraving often blows away and so goes the profits. They distribute bibles to save lives.”

“So what is your point?”

“I do need a little money to live on. But my mission is to give everyone a good night’s sleep. As a youngster I had terrible insomnia until I found the secret.”

The mention of “insomnia” brought tears to Eliza’s eyes.

“I don’t sleep so well, to be honest. I can never get my head in the right position.”

“Ma’am, why don’t you lay down on your couch over there and give this pillow a minute. If you aren’t transported to heaven in 30 seconds I’ll paint your house.”

Softy took a lot of chances with his sales pitches. He felt that he had a good product behind him and that it would not fail him.

Eliza felt assured that she just has gotten a free paint job. She went over to the couch and put the pillow under her head.

“Now close your eyes and relax your body a little. Feel how the pillow cushions all eleven pounds of your head.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Augusta Leaves

(Start 7/18/07)

After hiding all the bunnies, Augusta and Dusty went to one of the windows and watched the crew clear the log from the road. The saws had quickly cut it up into pieces that a man (built like Paul Bunyan) could lift. The crew had backed up one of the Hummers to the log and was filling it up with logs.

It wouldn’t be long before the road would be clear and Augusta would be leaving with the other men. The bunnies were safe, and a relationship was brewing between the Dusty and Augusta.

“Oh, Augusta, I so appreciate your help in saving my friends. To what do I owe this change of heart.”

“I saw how much you like them, and you have shown me that, though they are not exactly domesticated, the bunnies are up to no harm.”

“Augusta, I would like you to come back to visit. Will you do that?”

“I would like that, but I have a very important job. I do not know if time will permit.”

“But you must find time. My friends told me, while you were sleeping, that they would very much like see you again.”

By this time, the road was clear and the Hummers started rolling toward the house. Augusta knew if would be better if he went outside and diverted the ambush. He gave Dusty a peck on the cheek, waved goodbye to some of the bunnies that were hiding behind the sofa, and went out to meet the cleaning team.

“Augusta,” one of the men cried out, “we’ve been worried about you with the crazy woman. Are you okay?”

“Yes. I am fine. She’s not so bad. Even made me coffee in the morning.”

“Do we need to come in and clean up?”

“No, I took care of them. I think we can leave Dusty alone.”

“Okay. Let’s get rolling. There is much more work we have to do today. The log really set us back. The boss is fuming he is so mad that what was supposed to be an easy sweep turned out to take so long.”

Augusta and the rest of the cleaning crew took off, as tears once again rolled down Dusty’s eyes. What started as one of the worst days of her life ended as one of the best.

Dusty started to remember how nice it was to hear Augusta snore. And then she remembered Softy and more tears came to her cheeks. She wondered if he was watching her from the other world.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Floating Softy

(Start 7/18/07)

Traveling east across the southwest, Softy had few places to either sell pillows or buy gasoline. So when he did get to a town of any size he would go to work and stay “on the job” until he had enough for a cheap motel, a few meals, and gas to the next town. He had lived this way for some time now and couldn’t imagine any other mode of subsistence.

He had 5 pillows in his trunk, and knew that he could net about $100 for each. It was the same work to sell one of these pillows as one that costs 14.95, so he chose to focus on the more expensive pillows.

Most people suffer in one way or another. They are lamenting about what they might have done in the past, or worrying about what might occur in the future. They wish their lives were different. That is was either warmer or cooler, that their house was either bigger or smaller, that their town was either . . . and so it goes. Everyone wishes that things would be different.

Softy knew this from when he studied Buddhism in college in his comparative religion class. Capitalizing on this suffering was his secret for success.

Ten o’clock in the morning was the best time to sell a pillow. The husband was at work, and the wife had her coffee and a talk on the phone with her girlfriend. She was starting to suffer. She was thinking about some man in her dreams, or 20 pounds that she’d like to remove from her body, or the fact that she’d have to drive her kids around in her rickety car all afternoon.

Softy started a sale before he even left his car. He would sit still in his car for about a minute and clear his mind of everything but the job at hand. Then he’d go to the trunk and get a pillow. He’d walk up the sidewalk to the house. This would not be a normal work, with one’s feet slamming down on the concrete as if the sidewalk had no feeling. He would guide himself along the sidewalk, barely making any contact with his feet to the ground. Most of the time he was being watched by the inhabitants of the house, and if he could demonstrate peace of mind with his behavior he could sell a pillow.

Anyone would give anything to alleviate his or her suffering. It was imperative that Augusta showed that he had something that they needed.

He’d knock on the door. Not with an obnoxious kind of knocking, but rather as a monk might ring a bell. He knew this was another opportunity to put the housewife in the right frame of mind. He used to say that the sale was almost done before he took a step into the house.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Augusta Jumps In

(Start on July 18)

As Dusty was bringing the “coffee” to Augusta, her footsteps were suddenly wiped out by the sound of chainsaws. For Dusty, this suggested the end of her world. For Augusta, it represented the end of a memorable chapter of his life.

Dirty Hairy started barking at the men with the saws. It wouldn’t be long now before they removed the logs and brought the Hummers back to do their job.

Dusty knew that if any measures were to work that they’d need to be drastic. Prayer certainly could not be relied upon. For 365 days Dusty had prayed for the return of Softy, and that had not worked. Since then she had become a doubting Thomas, never wasting any more time communicating with the man in the sky.

Dusty started brainstorming. She knew that it was important to initially entertain all thoughts when brainstorming. Burn the house down, so at least the bunnies would not be entrapped in a powerful vacuum machine. Douse her self with gasoline and threaten to light her self on fire if they come any closer. Quickly pick up all her favorite bunnies and hide them in a dresser drawer. Let them clean her house and start all over populating her sanctuary. The ideas continued to pour out.

She knew from the creative thinking class she had taken that she had to pick one idea and go with it. She decided to pick up the bunnies and put them in her dresser. First she removed all her clothes and put them under her bed covers. Then she got her special cotton dust bunny broom and started collected her fair-weather friends, one by one. She kept yelling at Augusta “if you have a heart, please help me. Not for me, if you don’t care about me, but for the humanity of Dust Bunnies.

Augusta stoically sat sipping the worst cup of coffee in the world, startled to see Dusty in such a frenzy. How could he help after taking his policeman’s oath to uphold the law?

But strange things do sometimes happen. Strange unpredictable things.

Augusta came to bat. He started yelling to Dusty, “quick, what can I do to help?”

Dusty replied, with a tear of joy dropping down her cheek, “Please, carefully move all the furniture. Many of the old timers are in rest homes.”

The two worked together as if they had been partners for umpteen years. As Augusta moved the furniture, Dusty picked up her friends and hid them safely before the cleaner crew came.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Selling Pillows

(Started 7/18/07)

Selling pillows was easy for Softy. He had a line for everyone. “Ma’am, how long has it been since you’ve had a good night’s sleep?” or “when was the last time you gave yourself a real gift . . . and one that didn’t cost you an arm and a leg.”

Without cash, however, it was hard for him to get pillows on credit. Imagine the look on the wholesaler’s face when a stranger comes in and says he’s a great pillow salesman and he’d like fifty pillows on credit.

Sometimes he would start by asking for fifty and then settle for five. He had to usually leave something, and that something would be his gold watch that his grandfather had left him when he died.

The markup on pillows is pretty high, so where he might be able to buy a 650 Fill White Goose Down king size pillow for twenty-five dollars he could sell it for 150 to 200, depending on the neighborhood.

He guaranteed everything. He’d say, as he restrained himself from kicking the beast across the room, “ma’am, I’m going to come back tomorrow. If you didn’t get the best sleep of your life, I’m going to give you your money back. But if you did sleep well, I’m going to try to sell you a few more pillows for those whom you love. You’ll even want one for that poodle of yours that almost bit me on the leg." And he always was good on his word. And he never had a pillow returned.

Sometimes he’d get a complaint about how the new pillow made their neck stiff. He give some song and dance about how important it is to have your head elevated when you sleep, and the fact that the new pillow made their neck stiff was only an indication about how problematic was their old flat pillow. He’d ask them if they sat on the pillow for 5 minutes before sleeping on it the first time. If they answered in the negative, which they’d always do, he’d apologize profusely that he had neglected to tell them to do that, and told them to do so and their neck would be fine the next morning. And he’d come back the next day to see how they had slept.

Sometimes he’d only need to have one pillow. He’d collect deposits equal to his wholesale cost for the pillows, and then deliver them the next day.

His greatest challenge was to sell pillows with only a picture. Softy was so likable that he could do this, when needed. And he’d still get a deposit, using some story like “I just sold my last pillow to one of your neighbors and he suggested that you might want one too. I like to see everyone wake up with a smile on their face so I’m giving you an opportunity to receive, with just a small deposit, the greatest experience of your sleeping life.”

Softy had his customers eating out of his hand before you could say “dust bunny.”

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Snoring with Softy

(Please start reading July 18th)

Augusta quickly fell asleep “watching” TV with Dusty. The excitement of the reflection of the flickering camera died down quickly and it had been a very long day.

Dusty was beside herself with joy. This day started so badly with the officer coming to clean her house, and now was so great with a man in the house, even if he did snore. In fact, the snore was quickly becoming music for her ears.

Dirty Hairy came in and lay by her feet. He circled around three times before he lay down so that he wouldn’t squish any bunnies.

Strangely, Dusty started thinking about Softy. Maybe it was because Augusta reawakened that part of her. She wondered whether some of Softy’s molecules were now in her body, as some maintain. Would she know it, she wondered? How he mercenary side wished that a body had been found so that she would have receive the life insurance and pension. Now the money is in Limbo and available to no one, especially not in her hands to fund her impoverished sanctuary.

Dusty moved over to the couch next to Augusta, put her head on his shoulder, and fell into one of the deepest sleeps that she had ever had. She matched her breaths to Augusta’s snoring and started to imagine that they were one.

Dirty Hairy started to nudge her a few hours later. The sun was starting to rise and it was time for some breakfast. Dusty did have some bunny food for Hairy. He didn’t know the difference, and this way she could claim it as an expense for her non-profit bunny sanctuary. (She didn’t really have non-profit status, but her “slight” quirkiness had created this illusion, among others.

Dusty quietly got off the couch and went to get a blanket to cover Augusta. Maybe he’ll sleep longer if he does start to feel the morning chill, she thought. She went to the kitchen and started to warm some water with her Sterno heater. She didn’t have any coffee, but had various containers of dead bunnies that she would mix with her collected rain water to make a pretty wicked brew.

As the water was heating, she noticed that the snoring had stopped. Augusta was waking up.

“Just a moment, honey,” she called, “I’ll bring you some . . . coffee.”

Friday, August 3, 2007

Softy Returns

(Start with 7/18/07 please!)

Softy, in the meantime, spent his whole life being taken advantage of in one way or another. A beggar came up to him the other day and gave him this long song and dance about how he finally found work, but he needs bus fare for him and his family to get to the job. Softy wiped away his tears and went right for his wallet. He not only gave him sufficient bus fare for a very large family, but gave him enough for some clean clothes as well.

Softy often wondered about Dusty. As much as it was difficult to live with her, he often worried whether she was okay. Sometimes he regretted not trying to get her committed to an institution of some sort. But then he would remember how happy she was in her squalor, as he’d like to call it.

He wondered how she took his death and whether she was getting his life insurance and his pension. He worried whether, without a body, they would formally pronounce him “dead.”

How he wished that he could just visit her once and see how things worked out. And he’d love to see Dirty Hairy, his favorite, if not filthiest, all-time dog.

I don’t know what overcame Softy here, but he decided to go and visit Dusty. But he needs to be sure that she doesn’t know it is he. Softy realizes that he had two choices. Either he can disguise himself or go undercover. He nixes the undercover idea he knows how rarely Dusty goes out. So a disguise it will be.

Not being the most creative soul, he decides to imitate a disguise that Tonto (of Long Ranger and Tonto fame) once used. So he dresses as a poor Mexican peasant and brushes up on his Mexican broken English. Then he starts the long drive to dustland.

His plan is to come to her door and just see how she is doing. He certainly has no intention of getting back into her life.

What if she has found a new man? Should he protest since, unbeknownst to her, he is still the rightful husband. Or should he let it be using the argument that everyone is better off not knowing the truth. Dusty would like this dilemma, he thought.

He figured he could find out if she had received the pension and life insurance to see how she and Dirty Hairy were living. Dirty Hairy’s ribs would be quite prominent if he was not being given enough food.

Softy had his own issues with money. He could not work any regular type of job because he had destroyed all of his identification. And he could do very much except sell pillows. He slept on a pillow. He sat on a pillow. He loved pillows. He knew he’d have to make some money to get across the country to Dustland.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Open your Eyes, my Friend

(Please start story on July 18)

“Let’s watch television,” Dusty said.

“A splendid idea,” responded Augusta, “where is the controller?”

“Over there, on the floor, in the corner,” replied Dusty

Augusta started to get up, until Dusty put her hands on his shoulders and pushed him back down.

“Don’t think for a minute you are going to move that controller. It has been in the corner collecting dirt for a few years now, and I’m sure the batteries are dead as well. As well, the bunnies that surround it would be disturbed if you move it.”

“Hey, wait a minute. How are we going to watch TV if there is no power? Do you have a battery operated TV or something?”

“Augusta, you have so much to learn. You unfortunately understand your responsibility to uphold the law, and that is about it.”

Augusta was thinking that this woman was really far gone, but he decided to keep listening. He learned this strategy in a workshop he took about dealing with the mentally ill.

“What do you see in the picture tube, Augusta?”

“I just see a few reflections,” Augusta replied.

“Ok. Now I’m going to light a candle and I want you to see all the subtle changes. Look at the flickering in the reflection. Oh, I can now see you in the reflection. Let’s just watch it a while and you’ll see the magic of minimalism.”

Dusty felt that her education was not wasted when she used big words. She remembered one thing from each class she had taken. In Art Appreciation she had a quirky teacher who not only spouted “less is more” in every class, but showed the class on the last day a film by the Canadian film maker, Michael Snow, called Wavelength.

The film teaches one to increase the sensitivity of their senses almost as if they were trying to meditate but couldn’t get rid of the “chatter.” It shows a day in a NY city loft, where nothing too much happens for 30 minutes except the light and the street noises change (like a symphony of light and sound), and the camera moves toward the window.

Dusty was smart enough not to tell Augusta about Wavelength, at least for now.

“Augusta, why don’t you sit on the couch and I’ll sit on the chair. Move to the couch in slow motion and we’ll watch it on the television. Then I’ll sit in the chair. See how my refection moves in the glass.”

“This is silly, lady.” Augusta said. “There is a ball game on tonight, and we are watching these dumb reflections on a piece of glass. Do you think you could pull this off in the neighborhood bar? The guys would start chanting ‘turn on the game, turn on the game.’”

“Be still and open your eyes, my friend.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Chair

(Story starts July 18th)

It is quite hard to predict the significance of an event. Take for instance a knock on the door. It could be a delivery truck, though that would be unlikely because it was getting dark and there was the tree laying across the driveway.

It could be the neighbor kid doing “trick or treat” except Halloween won’t occur until about three months from now.

It could be another officer who was brave enough to climb over the tree to offer assistance to Augusta.

Or it could be that there wasn’t really a knock, but rather what they heard was a simultaneous figment of their imaginations, brought about by a combination of Augusta’s guilt from straying from his oath and Dusty’s excitement at having this fine man stuck for the night in her home.

And so it was (or wasn’t). Dusty ran to the door and looked through the glass keyhole. She tilted her head this way and that, but saw no one.

“Oh, they must have left already. Or maybe it wasn’t really a knock,” Dusty said as she remembered something from her college class in philosophy, “what is the difference, Augusta, between what really happened in the past, and what we believe happened in the past?”

If Augusta didn’t have a real migraine before, now it was coming on. Augusta was a steak and potatoes, black and white, tell me the law and I’ll follow it kind of guy. These questions that Dusty was asking were like a bad dream. In fact this whole day has been like a bad dream. How he wished he had been assigned parking meters today. But, on the other hand, he’ll never forget this day . . . if he lives to survive it.

Augusta decided to give Dusty’s question a shot, “You think too much Dusty. It is really quite simple. What happened, happened. What we believe either was and wasn’t.”

“Suppose the hand claps in the forest, but no one hears it. Did it happen?”

“Of course,” said Augusta.

“And suppose the hand doesn’t clap, but through some unique quirk in nature, everyone around the world heard it. Did the hand clap?”

“No,” Augusta responded. “Either the hand clapped or it didn’t, and it doesn’t matter who heard it or didn’t.”

Then it became clear to the two of them that Dusty was still sitting on top of Augusta giving her version of an Oriental massage.

Dirty Hairy, at this point came over to them and started barking incessantly.

“Oh, my,” said Dusty, “you put your brief case in front of his doggie door. Don’t move . . . I’ll be back.”

Dusty went to move the brief case and Augusta got up off the couch figuring that he’d be less likely to be sit upon if he sat in the wood chair.