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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dauntless Shenanigans and Courting the Tomfoolery that is Life

Cut off from the earth like a hapless vagabond full of sky and good-timin' sunshine, I lead a life first met with inconsistency, next matched with spontaniety, and finally dabbling in strange distortions of societal values. -A Bohemian existence, shall I say.

My old boss of shady proportions, who lives mysteriously in Las Vegas fedexed me a large sum of cash to go build merchandiser racks in the state of Mississippi. I went shoestringing my route, rushing through my work. So that I could keep the remaining dollars. It is here, that the thrilling imagination mounts into solitude and one finds oneself in a hotel room, thinking of all the fun that could be had with $900cash. Not with the spending of it. I am a great-grandson of the Great Depression, after all. But of the sight of it. The psychology that is wrapped up in seeing one hundred dollar bills.

I drove back to Birmingham intent on an idea. There is this church in Birmingham where all types of rooms are left to be filled. Filled with all types of mayhem and chaos that is life. Some people use it as their work space. Some people use it as their meeting space. And some people, use it as their sleeping space, as I have from time to time. The doors are open to be flooded with life in its many degrees. And not to push any agendas on people. It is an attempt at real community. Now, there is this fellow staying in the building right now, named Lee Free. (That's his actual name not an allegorical one, believe it or not.) He is this large mountain of a man. However, a bit skittish. And doesn't like to stay up at the building by himself at night. I have this ongoing relationship where whenever I happen to be staying in the building, as well, to creep up on him and scare the mewling inner child out of him. Much like Tigger springs out at Winnie the Pooh. Then, I laugh hysterically. Just like Tigger does as well. It's all so much fun. And Lee will always try to get me back. But I have ears like a rabbit, and can hear his heavy footsteps coming a mile off.

This time, on this night, Lee didn't know that I would be up at the building. So I had a plan for him as well. (Place the idea with the Ben Franklins out of your head; I'll get back to that one.) So I arrive and I wait for one of the many groups to leave. When the group had left and the silence had wrapped itself around the building. Now was the time to act. I went into the nursery and gathered up a baby seat. A stuffed animal frog. A little squeaky toy truck that made sounds. I placed the baby seat a few feet from his door, with the stuffed animal frog in it. (Of course.) and then I went and gathered up various clothing from another room. And sitting in the other hallway, I constructed this scarecrow of a man. Sat him down facing Lee's door as well. He had dark jeans, a dark hoodie, and the final touch, a Mardi Gras mask wrapped around his hood. I stuffed a pillow into his stomach. Made him look like this little goblin of a thing sitting in the hallway.

Then, I used the toy truck and would place it right beside his door, and press it, and it would make this very subtle noise, followed by me scatting down the hall and hide in one of the other rooms. But Lee was so immersed in his online game...that he didn't hear the sounds of the truck. So, I must've pressed the truck 4 times, before finally the toddler truck began to honk its horn. At this, Lee arose from his internet stupor, and opened the door. I wish I could've seen his face when he saw the baby seat and the goblin man. I was crouched in a dark, neighboring room, biting my hand to keep from guffawing. But I quickly saw him walk briskly by the room where I was hiding towards the door. He was getting out of there. Then I could peek and see Lee smoking a cigarette and watching through the large glass window at the hallway. My car, I had taken the precaution of hiding it. In his mind, he was all alone in that building. Oh...what fun. Eventually, I revealed myself, and Lee, in turn, revealed his mind with words that aren't supposed to darken the insides of where a church meets. But it was a good laugh and that was fine and fun and all...

...But it was all merely prologue and preface to the bigger prank that I planned the very next morning. I arose bright and early at 5:30 am. And began my preparations.
My intended target was the man, Bobby Jackson, who had an office or studio in the building. There he, the artist, would sculpt these little orc and elf figurines for World of Warcraft geeks. He is an interesting character. (As everyone who goes to our church). And I knew that it would be a feather in my cap if I could pull one over on him. For this Pygmalion of Fantasy-Net Dorks...had also been an Army Ranger. And now, he prays with Monks. I knew that whatever I had planned, I had to make it good and believable.

My first advantage was the idea that I was not around. For I have gotten a reputation for myself, wherever I am, that just my very presence when anything off-the-wall happens, is an explanation in itself. If they knew I was present, it was almost a dead-give away. I've excelled in the art of puckishness so much that I must be absent in people's minds before I can really concoct anything.

First things first, I got myself some caffiene. Then, I hid my car from the parking lot again. I went into the front lobby and painted this seedy scene. I turned over a table. And two large 4 ft tall candlesticks. Placed the candles on the floor to make it look like they had rolled a bit. I found a wooden stick with a nail in it. Then a gargantuan pair of jeans. Threw them on the floor. I borrowed a pair of tennis shoes, from Bill, (another so-called tenant who was not around.) Placed one shoe inside and the other outside the building near the door. I unlocked this front door. Then placed this large kitchen knife and placed it also outside. Next, the money. I laid down 9 Ben Franklins scattered on the floor. I used powdered coffee creamer dabbed it here and there. To make it look like cocaine. Then I had let thaw in one of the bathroom sinks the night before, a thing of frozen meat. It was dripping and I thought to make it look like a few drops of blood. But it was more broth than blood. So I used it very sparingly. I could've used Taco sauce. But I knew that Bobby, an Army Ranger, would knew what real blood looked like. And fake blood would be the one thing that would reveal it to be a practical joke.

The randomness, with the clothes and the shoes was a vital part of it. No one, when planting a scene makes detours in thoughts to confuse it all the more. No..an obvious sign that something is fake is that it speaks its purpose directly. That there is too much evidence leaning one way or the other...is the mark of a fraud. No, real life is messy and confusing. If you want to really duplicate a real-life scenario you have to emulate this question mark with all its variable postulates and rabbit trails as well.

But of course, the hinge was the money. Had i planted only $20 bills out there, it would be too little. In truth, I was banking on the idea that no one, Bobby Jackson, especially, would believe that someone would go so far as to use real $100 bills for a prank. What idiot in his right mind would? Right, Brian Harrison would. And the sheer audacity of it would be the selling point.

I had everthing ready and then I hid in the sanctuary. I opened the large doors so that i could see everything. I lay down in the back chairs in the shadows. The view gave me what would be a fine cinematic experience. Where all I did was lay the props out there and then the actor would enter the set and merely react from the cues in improvisation. I waited awhile, fighting off drowsiness and making sure that I kept my eyes on that doorway. Because, what if someone else entered the building? That was no small sum, at least for me, laying strewn about the floor. And there was the factor of the ants outside being attracted to the coffee creamer? Would it be believable that ants are into cocaine? Such thoughts...

But not too long of a wait, and the suckerfish arrived to take the bait. But it was even better for he was not alone. Steve Duncan was with him. Another man who sometimes uses the building for his work as well. He was a fun, outgoing man that I am forever in this ping pong match with. He usually spanks me. This will be my revenge.

This was even better. For as I was only expecting Bobby, and a very quiet scene, a silent movie, where I would have to guess from his facial expressions at what he was thinking. Now I heard both their deliberations. Bobby's voice pitched into high surprise. I could already detect their exclamations from the parking lot with the discovery of the knife and the first shoe. "Don't touch the knife". Bobby called out.
And then I heard Bobby counting astoundingly the 9 Franklins scattered on the floor. I think Steve was stooping to pick one up. "Are they real?"
"Don't touch anything!" exclaimed Bobby. Then, as they observed the other props around the lobby. I could sense their flabbergasted mental wheels churning. "This is so strange." They both kept saying. Steve's powerful observation, "These pair of pants are huge! I don't think I know anybody that wears this size."
"And look there's blood!"
"Nope, I don't think that's blood." Bobby observed.
"We gotta wake up, Lee. Maybe, he'll know what happened."

At this, I knew the gig was up. For I didn't really tell Lee the night before to play along with this prank. I only mentioned briefly that I was going to get Bobby real good. I had to sneak closer to the door, to hear their interaction with Lee. Lee had just woken up and was still muddled minded. They were questioning him. Telling him that there was a bunch of money in the front hallway and what looked like a struggle. Did he know anything about it. At this, Lee, mentioned with quick reponse that the money was his.
"Then how did it get there and what happened?"
"Brian was here last night."
And with that you could hear the light dawn. "Oh.." they both breathed normally for in that one sentence everything was explained.

"That idiot Harrison! well...I'm gonna take the money." Bobby deliberated. But, of course, I took that as a cue for me to come out of hiding. And claim the ownership to my expensive prop. Which I was sure to deposit as soon as I could. For it was all a part of me saving up for a trip I want to take a trip to Africa hopefully soon.

But the whole antic worked. And now I'd imagine. That I won't be able to pull off another good one for awhile. And who knows all three of these guys may be planning a pay back.

The Archetypal Trickster,

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Player Among the Old Ladies

I knew that working the Census I would be rapping my knuckles against the door of many a person with a tale. Sitting myself down, I would be given much more than the customary information of the number of individuals that park their heads down at night.

Little did I know, the rapt attention that the Golden Girls would be paying me, or more like it, I would be paying them.
I find in more and more people a delightful story, of which I can't help but share with other people. While the clerical information that I gather may be confidential, the fireside chat, the entire charm of this job, is not...and I wish to share them with you.

I have here the story of three older ladies. All of them widows. So, let my wandering pen manage to steal your attention away from the glamour-obsessed, plastic-indulged magazine racks (double meaning in that last word) and hearken you back to a time when beauty just simply was. It was rarely photoshopped, starved nor glitzy.
But I should critique myself here, for does real beauty ever really fade. That is the question. The feverish man inside me, says "yes". The quiet-willed poet inside me says, "no".
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever", the wonder boy Keats wrote. Maybe real beauty is permanence.

No matter how your eyes may now rock the hearts of men. Winter shall come.

I had the likely fortune to meet an old woman of celebrated repute. For Mrs. Wheeler is now the last surviving widow of a WWI veteran. Times keep passing. The old wars that were once faintly echoed in my childhood, are now relics of a forgotten age. When I first drove up to her drive, I found her unassuming. She was sitting in a chair in the carport, and a brief interaction, spelled out for me someone half-deaf, going bald, and not in her sharpest form. I knew that I had to get my information from her caretaker. Who in my book was another elderly lady, though there was a vast difference in the age of the two. I was invited in and sat down on a couch. The caretaker was intent on getting through the interview, but this ancient woman would approach me, leaning over, and would say in a quiet voice, "What is it that you are doing?" I couldn't tell by the tone if this was an attempt at a guard-dog stance of authority wrought soft by feebleness, or if she was just curious and wanting to make chit-chat. The caretaker had to yell that I was the Census. For anything that I said to her wasn't heard. I have a real fault sometimes of not being able tp speak out loudly. And I proudly admit that it is not in my nature to yell at old people.

This lady was only in her nineties. "Only" is an indication of the theme. For this lady to be able to be a widow to a WWI veteran, if you do the math, then she would have to be much older. She was born in 1915. That would make her a small child at the outbreak of the Great War. But you must understand while she was in diapers or whatever they used back then, her future husband was carrying a bayonet in a trench. For she ended up marrying a man that was 22 years older than her. And this was long after the War, almost into the 2nd horrific war of that century.
So, it was by this age gap that I had the good fortune of meeting this widow of an old Bosch-fighting warrior.
At this I responded in surprise, commenting on the age difference, and then something peculiar happened. This ancient lady, seemed to shake out the dust and the cobwebs from her mind, and a radiant child beamed. Champagne bubbled in her eyes. Somewhere, I am sure, a star sparkled. And she spoke, "Yes, everyone said that it would never work....but we were the happiest couple around!" She said this with such zest and lively joy that I've had half a mind to go about prowling elementary playgrounds intent on finding my soulmate too. (That's a joke. I'm sure you get the point. Don't call the police.)
I left feeling so very fortune to actually meet the last surviving widow of a WWI veteran.

The next lady is my favorite. Since, first visiting her...I've repeated my visits numerous times being fed with Cookies, Klondike Bars, and Coca-Cola, and hearing her stories. She lives off a main road that sees alot of traffic. And refuses to move even if her family urges her to do so. No, for her and her husband lived here since the 50's and this is home. They used to have a little grocery store adjoined to their building where I'd imagined old flatbed trucks would drive up and people would get their produce (the ones that they didn't grow themselves) and Coca-Cola. She said that whenever she goes to town nowadays, black women will come up to her and hug her. For they all remember her. Back before segregation she would give the black children all kinds of little snacks. Color of a person never mattered to her.
And these children would grow up and remember her.
She talked often enough of her husband. Said that he was a quiet man and he ended up falling on one knee within a week of knowing her asking her hand for marriage. At the time, she thought it was a joke. She laughed and told him to get up. I mean, who proposes to someone after only a week of knowing them? This man was so offended at not being taken serious and so he left town without saying a word to this dame he was after. She got curious about his disappearance and wrote a letter to him. He responded that was absolutely serious and not joking that he really wanted her to be his wife. So she said "Yes" and they lived the rest of their lives together. She would comment on their records that she still has, that they would play together on the record player and they would dance on special nights in this same house.
They also, through the years would turn their house/grocery store into a voting booth during election time. They'd be up for hours counting ballots and people coming from all the different meadows and woods to put their vote in. It was exciting.
Lately, this woman though, in her old age, has found her health going bad. Her struggle with cancer has been heroic. The startling thing is that at one time she had cancer all over her, the doctors at UAB in Birmingham were stumped when she showed up without a trace of cancer inside her. Her secret...the prayers of her church. The doctors now refer to her as "The Miracle Lady".

The 3rd lady, I will mention briefly for it was her that seemed a bit more bitter than these other two. She was not that old. Only in her late 60's. Maybe early 70's. And just went on talking about how she didn't care to put up with anybody. And that she had once gone to the fair with this 70 year old man and later she saw him at Walmart being a greeter and when he approached to give her a hug, she wouldn't let him because she was certain that he was going to grab her boob. I laughed at this. And she said that I don't know the half of it. That there is this entire culture of old men that drag old ladies on dates in order to bunk with them the same night. At which, I'm thinking how come no one portrays this side, the aftermath, of the Sexual Revolution?

Well, that's that.