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Out of the Cookie
From Baltimore to the Pacific Northwest by Crutch, Train and Cane: 8/22 to 12/31/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
APR/10/24
Copyright James LaFond 2023
A Crackpot Book
Lynn Lockhart: Publisher
Dust Cover
After 11 weeks confined to a walker, wheel chair, crutches, crawling up and down stairs and shrimping around on the floor of a Baltimore safe house, the author found himself able to stand long enough to make coffee. At 3 PM, on Monday, August 21st, the most prolific writer of his age, success seemingly as far away as the rise of New Atlantis, pondered the possibility of his greatest work of fiction: focused now away from life’s belittling din.
A knock came on the door. It was Preston, the brown fellow of 14 years from across the alley, whose mother sets him to watching out for neighbors in this idyllic city block where rabbits graze not a ¼ mile from a bus stop where the author has survived some half dozen attacks by Groe thugs. The young man sounded the alarm, that a full-grown Groe buck was “on your truck.”
Powered by ego, like an ancient flint-napping gimp left to defend the women and children at the mouth of a cave when the real men were out hunting, the already worn crutches were mounted like a clamation horse in some children’s movie—and the storied muses faded away as old Crutch Snow sallied forth against Bucket Hat, a minion of Tyrone Crow.
Soon reinforced by still living men, a good six months from recovery, the ghost of a writer decided that crutches would do. Setting Friday, September 29th as his last day among the Groes, he began disposing of his few remaining possessions and fasting to reduce his travel weight enough so that his arms could drag him to the train station. For this very day announcements and commercials heralding the return of the sacred “Vid” reminded the cripple that Uncle Sham might lock down this feedlot of souls again.
Thence the coward ghost went, drag-footed and bent, to do a poor job chronicling the world he fled through his mean intent.
Dedication
For Preston and the Brickmouse, homesteaders of an inverted world
“Brother, you and I know that the world put the rest of these fuckers here to get us; that’s why we’re the bad guys—even you confined to that chair while you coach me on putting down these two-legged dogs—the world hates us because we are determined to kill the messengers sent to demand we kneel!”
-The Operator, during a knife training digression
To the Reader
As the writing light began to kindle three weeks gone, I swore myself not to commit the crime of journalism, to only write novels and history. Here I am, still broke and unable to walk, breaking an oath took before my many muses. Homer, Aristotle and ever-keening Teraldus be damned; the greatest of you return to the further reaches of his addled ampitheatre, Drunk Peter chained and near, but Tyrone Crow and Convict Snow loom larger in the wretched here, now that their slave scribe can sit and poke at these keys.
I note now, in embarrassment, how much of a degeneration I am from Robert E. Howard, Jack London, H.L. Menckin and Shelby Foot, those writers I hope to emulate in may various works in a greater passion—a smoldering ambition—of aspiring to the ranks of Homer and Herodotus. Shelby Foot wrote in longhand. I cannot sign my name with more than a third of the letters represented by anything but a dying scribble. London, Howard and Menckin typed, the latter two able to produce a din of clicks and clacks sufficient to keep neighbors from their sleep.
I look at these keys, which my forefingers and middle fingers wander across, striking sideways as they fall behind the mind guiding them. Two years old, the black keyboard is weathered: E key is a white blotch, R, T, O, A, S, and N have great white blotches conjoined to the letter, I, D, H and N have suffered less disfiguring insults. Reminded of my dependence on modern technology for my prolific output, the ego must suffer the realization that it is a creature of the modern world he inhabits and incompletely escapes in his doomed struggle not to be eaten by the monster that spawned him.
Preface
This journal is intended to be as minimal as possible. Written with other writers in mind, my attempts at editing for publication the 86 remaining books under which my darling publisher is buried, included in chronological order, integrated into the text alongside travel, opinion and advice articles.
Last winter it took me 8 cycles of antibiotics to defeat chronic lung infections. With only 1 cycle left, and my new doctor telling me that she is very reluctant to prescribe antibiotics, I’m not taking 2024 for granted. So I head west to visit briefly those benevolent souls, all of whom have had a damned rough go at modern life, who have shown charity to a failed member of their own despised working class.
For those kind souls living to the East, Mister Safranno and Baruch, who paid for sedan rides to medical appointments while I was walker bound, thank you so much.
Also, for The Operator, who sent me transportation money over the past year so that I could “get back to Baltimore to spar” only to have my spine and groin, hip and leg fail me, thank you so much for feeding and watering me during my recovery. To drag myself like a crab missing half its legs out onto the mat and have him sit me up in a chair to coach him while he shadow boxes, is more of a service for me than for him—yet he cuts me a check and buys me a bottle of booze to kill the pain on the way home. To boot, he takes me to a diner, buys me a steak, and then cuts me a check for a consulting fee. One night, down to 140 pounds, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t eat, so he bought me 10 shots of Jack so I could eat a prime rib and carried me into the Brickmouse house where they found me at midnight, in a delirious fetal position, yipping like a dog being eaten by hyenas, afraid to wake me.
The very next day my recovery began, the first night to sleep without getting drunk, the first time to stand long enough to brush my teeth, the day that returning to crutches from a walker felt like running that record breaking 220 at age 13. When I apologized for getting so drunk when I was supposed to be serving as a life coach at a focus session he said, “Mister James, I know you’ll only be hitting the bottle like that long enough to get on your feet. You’ll come back—just take it slow. We are what we are, what we were when we jumped out of the cookie. [1] We’re fighters in a seat shining world, My Friend. I have but one request, that if somehow one of these fuckers does me in, that you avenge me.”
“Yes Sir,” I answered, imagining myself hunting some criminal “fucker” while on crutches under a Baltimore streetlight, and subduing a chuckle as he helped me crawl forth from his car, holding my crutches in the other hand.
Sir, I know that “this stays here,” but a thanks is in order.
Notes
-1. 1970s Long Island slang for the mother’s womb and vagina.
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