Sold a Goshkin to John, a recently retired radiologist. (A San Franciscan, he is from Chicago and would have preferred a Lollipop, but I had none with me.) John writes short-short stories, three of which he gave me. My favorite was about encounters his first-person narrator, a fellow not unlike himself, has with people in a café.
He may, at this very moment, be writing about me writing about him.
Swapped a café journal to Ed, a retired tech writer, for his most recent self-published novel, which I will read as soon as I am done with Kenzaburo Oe’s A Personal Matter. Ed was in town for an overnight from Antioch with his wife, a poet who had read at the series I ran at the café, pre-Covid. I invited them to join me for a writer-to-writer-to-writer chat.
The next day I swapped another journal to Berne in exchange for an artistically enhanced, postcard-sized reproduction of a photograph he had taken of the inside of an acoustic guitar. Berne has been in the area as long as I have been coming to the café and used to be a regular; but, in recent years, he has been spending more time sitting on he steps of a nearby Quaker meeting house. This was the first time we had talked.
He is in his 60s, my height or taller and 20 or 30 pounds heavier. He wore a motorcycle jacket and was without his upper, left-side molars. I learned he had been a professional photographer and, when he couldn’t make a living at that, had started a tree-trimming company, which, any workers’ compensation attorney can tell you, is as dangerous a profession as you can choose. I heard about the time a worker had pulled a knife on him and, just last week, when, having been jumped in North Oakland and on the ground, was about to stab his assailant in the neck, a 300-pound Black woman stepped on his wrist and said, “Fight’s over.”
It had been a while since I’d run into two knife fights in the same conversation.
III. Balance Sheet
The Ethiopian engineer paid for the journal I’d given him a few weeks ago. (His favorite story was David’s “A Place of Refuge,” because the experience of the immigrants to this country paralleled his own.) And my friend Budd – not to be confused with my friend Bud – gave me cash for the gift IWKYAs I’d sent at his request.
The only deadbeat remains my niece. Boy, is her place in my will skating on thin ice.
In other news…
Had a nice conversation with the fellow who’s writing the Intro to my new book. He wanted background on me, and, as I told him, “I’ve been sitting around for 30 years, thinking somebody ought to want to write about this workers’ comp lawyer who writes about these weird cartoonists.” So I had my stories ready.