Monday, August 31, 2015


They taped the three little glass slats in the louvered window with duct tape. They carefully broke them with a rubber mallet. Cousin Mike carefully shattered the thin, solid glass panel behind the louvers. He draped a blanket over the bottom of the opening so they could squeeze through the twenty by sixteen inch space... but when it came time to go in, he said - You first..... Ca-Ca blinked. She whispered - What? You said you could do this?.. I can - he said, but they got my DNA. It's on file..... From when? - she said..... From when we stole Jimmy Magliani's dad's car.... You were thirteen and a half years old. Does it count?.... Yeah, it counts. What do you think?... How'd they get it?... Ryan's sister, the one who laughs like a goof all the time, smashed my thumb in the door when we came back from goofy golf. Look, they got it! they got it!... Shhh - she said... And they laid there on the cold, drizzly pavement in their black 'mission impossible' get ups for like thirteen heartbeats in the almost icy, two AM air. Ca-Ca said - But, Mike, (pause) I killed someone. (first time she said it).... So? - he said. They don't know and you want to run away, don't you? How much you think hiring some whore to be your fake mom costs? Plenty, if you want a good one. Now go in.... What if there's bugs or mice?.... They'll run away. Don't worry. You got your little nine volt flashlight?... Yeah..... Then go in, or I'm getting up and walking home. You know any other money stuffed safes 'round here? ..... She sighed and slipped in. It was easy for her. She was ten years old. Ca-Ca slid down the blanket onto the old, linoleum floor. A quick click on her light gave her an instant image. Not much clutter. shelves on one side held boxes of Christmas stuff. Halloween, Easter and Fourth of July stuff too. Then she crept up the cellar stairs. The door into the kitchen was broke. It was broke when 'Pony' used to babysit for her. They leaned an old leaf from a long gone kitchen table against it. Ca-Ca knew that. Mike taught her how to ease the heavy board-like thing out of place with a yard stick (the only tool she had with her). She slowly pushed it through the space at the bottom of the door, til she felt it hit the bottom of the rectangular barrier. If she did it slow enough, the leaf would slid out and ease down toward the floor. Still be a bang when it came down, but not as loud as if she just pushed it. the noise was meant to alert Pony and her grandmom, but no one was home. The house was empty. Immigrants rented on both sides, Brazilian and some Belarus people. Who knew if they were even 'legal?' They wouldn't say nothin', even if they heard. Some people are experts at not getting involved. So she scampered through the kitchen (after a quick click of the light and unlocked the back door. It was cold. She was afraid. Then she ran out into the tiny, fenced in yard (like all the yards) and unlatched the wooden door leading out to the alley. No pit bulls in the neighboring yards... too cold... That's why winter break-ins (provided no snow) are safer. Thirty pounding heartbeats later, Mike slipped through. They went inside and carefully closed the door. Then Mike ran back out to close and latch the yard door, just incase some cops went down the alley. Sometimes they do. But just sometimes. And you can see 'em 'cause they got a big flashlight to flush people out the other end... Mostly bums and kids 'playin'' with each other. After that, they tip-toed upstairs. No use wakin' up them Brazilians and Belarus people if you don't have to. 'Pony's' room was a mess. Not like the ones they used to show on 'Oprah,' but like she was studying the technique and just didn't have it down pat yet. The old lady's room was neat. Smelled from 'old lady,' but neat. Mike opened the closet door.. It squeaked. A toilet flushed next door. Mike whispered - Now we gotta wait ten minutes for them to fall back asleep.... Ca-Ca said - What if somebody goes by and sees the broken cellar window?.... Mike goes - Not much mess. I brushed it all inside. A little, pitch black 'square.' What are they gonna notice? 'Sides, the shadow from the steps hides it. Then they just sat. A small cuckoo clock made noise. Ca-Ca peed a little.

Then they momentarily clicked a bit of light into the closet...

There, on the floor, behind some shoes and a colorful, shiny 'shopping bag' lazy people use to wrap presents in was the safe... a seventy nine dollar special from Sears...

And Mike knew all the tricks....

<to be continued>


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Sissel - Going Home<~~~ A FAVORITE AT VAMPIRE FUNERALS ..8/31/15

The vampire, Jonathon ben Macabi, also known as Tomas de Macabea speaks..... I hope they sing this at my funeral, whenever that may be. The song has been a stalwart of 'noble' life-eater passings for approximately a century. Before that, many used a passage from Mozart's Requium. I wish I could spell. But it's hard for me to pin down words, when I have spoken so many languages. And Vahmperigo spelling is so fluid. Some follow Catalan rules, others Portuguese or Spanish, or the Savoyard dialects of Northern Italy. It is all very confusing. But I speak from the heart... a heart that has been nourished with many lives. And if you know me (and a lot of you do know me) I tried always to cull only the bastards and scoundrels of the world. Were there lapses? A few. Though in a thousand years, so very few.

Now I prepare for the coming of The Biblical New Year... A time to 'die' and be 'born again.' In the past, believing Jews wore plain white garments to 'The Feast of Faith,' The Yom Kippur Service. They dressed as if for the grave... even shoes were white canvas or some such fabric. I still slip in for the evening portion of the liturgy whenever I can. There's an old 'Rite of Spain' (Sephardic rite synagogue) in Philadelphia and I love the ancient Castilian prayers. Sometimes the cantor confers with me on minute points of  authenticity. Does he know my true nature? Well, he never says. And I present myself as a student of religion... which in a sense, considering what I do... I am.

Sometimes, when I'm at the seashore, I pray by the moonlit surf. What better choir can there be than the song of the sea?

And in more traditional prayer sites, at the end of the observance comes The Clarion Call... the rams horn, just as it will sound on the Day of Judgment...'Stand and go forth! The Lord has raised you up!'... and the newly 'resurrected' go home for 'First Food' (the breaking of the fast) with family and friends.

Do you think it odd that a vampire relates this? Well, there are many reverent vampires of all communions. God takes all comers... even righteous atheists.

Forgive my ecclesiastical musings. But for one such as I, who in early times heard the blessed Maimonides himself, preach in The Great Synagogue of Cordoba, it comes natural.

I saw dried, fallen leaves under trees all over town this evening. Although summer's after glow lingers for a moon or two, the old year dies. And however you 'pray' may you and yours be inscribed in The Book of Life and called to Godly Service in the coming year.

God needs all of us......

<the Ca-Ca part of our story will post a bit later>


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Couldn't post for a few days. Needed to decompress a bit. Spent time at sea shore with family and friends... I LOVE shore towns... could live there all year round... Like nice little Mayberries but with city amenities.

NEXT TIME ~~~ Ca-Ca and her shady cousin, MIKE, break into 'Pony's' grandmother's house.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused by my few days off.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015


Three nights later, it rained... a cold misty drizzle. The streets were deserted. Everyone cocooned inside the narrow, row houses. Cops will tell you most nighttime break-ins occur in bad weather... icy cold.. rain... Not snow, though. Too many foot prints. Plus, if it's cloudy, the light bounces back and forth creating a false, deep, dusk that never goes away. Kids sled all night. No, snow is bad for burglars. Ca-Ca's cousin, Mike, understood that. He was what you call an instinctive crook. And he had a kit... a few screw drivers... a small hammer... something like an ice pick... rubber gloves... two towels... some other crap. Hey, I don't know. I'm just the narrator. They tell me and I tell you. Ca-Ca saw some old reruns of Honey West on cable and said they should wear black, so they got these sweatshirts, wool caps and jeans at Kmart. they were having a sale on burglar clothes. Mike paid for it.

Ca-Ca's mother said - Where you gone?.... Ca-Ca said - I'm gonna watch scary movies with Mike and Aunt Connie.... And that was no lie. They were gonna watch scary movies. She watched scary movies there all the time 'cause they had cable. Would fall asleep on the sofa... the 'parlor' sofa... not the 'down the basement' one. Aunt Connie went upstairs at one, or one thirty. Ca-Ca and Mike watched til four. Then they fell asleep. She took the big 'man's chair.' He stretched out on the sofa. That's what they did. Liked ghost stories the best... old ones... creepy ones... But this time, when Connie goes to sleep, they're gonna slip out and go get that safe. Mike knew how to break it open and everything. I mean they have sites that tell you how to break open small household safes on You Tube. Not hard to do. The people who manufacture them call them 'fireproof strong boxes,' but they look like safes and everybody calls them 'safes.' Only they're not so safe. If you drop one from a second story window onto a hard surface, like cement or something, the lid'll pop right off. Cub scouts know it... even Brownies. Just gotta be sure you put the safe into a big, tied shut, plastic bag so the money inside don't blow away. Mike broke open safes before, but never one that was supposed to have so much money in it.

Ca-Ca watched as Connie went upstairs. Mike watched too. Figured they'd give her a half hour to fall asleep. She'd close her door. Didn't want to hear the movies. And they'd have three, maybe three and a half hours til she took a pee. Plenty of time.

They heard the bedroom door click shut. Mike looked at his watch and mouthed the words 'a half hour.'... Ca-Ca nodded. Then they watched the movie, The Uninvited, Stella By Starlight and all that. Good theme, actually. Ahead of it's time (1944). Look it up on You Tube. You'll see. Thing is, all these ghost movies made Ca-Ca think about Esther's ghost. Ghosts like to confront their killers. Must think about that a lot. I don't know what they think about after the killer's dead too, but who cares?....

After a bit, Ca-Ca whispered. She said - What do you think hell's like?........ Mike goes - Not my problem. I'll be dead..... She gave him a look and exhaled. Smart he ain't.... Then she said - I read that back in the nineteen fifties, Jews in Israel grabbed some German Nazi guy and buried him underground, like under a hundred feet of cement in metal cube, like a little room. It was dark...pitch black. Food & water came down a tube. There was like a drain, you could take the cover off, for piss and shit to go down. If he missed the hole, he had to push the shit down with his hands. And the water came down like a little shower. He had to stand under and drink it, or else he wouldn't get none til the next time. And if the food bounced onto a piece of shit... ewww, can you imagine what that was like? Ceiling was twelve feet high and German Nazi guy was naked. He lived for eighteen years, sleepin' curled up on a metal floor. They kept it just barely warm enough, so he wouldn't die. And he survived down there almost twenty years. Guy probably thought he was dead and he WAS in hell. God I hope it's not like that.....What do you want? Do you want fire? said Mike..... Don't be a shithead! - goes his cousin.

Then the half hour's up and it's time to go...

Mike gets the sweat shirts... They pull 'em on and slip out. He closes the door real careful. Hardly makes a sound. Almost all of the houses are dark... like a stage set. And from up above, the Eyes Of God, or perhaps one of His lieutenants, watch as two black shapes make their way down the shiny, wet street toward their prize.....

<more next time>


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Sometimes, if they want to, Ca-Ca's cousin Mike shows his clients something else they can do, like if they're jealous of the people they're robbing, or hate them, or something.  He'll show them how to plant bedbugs. Exterminators have 'em. They got every thing and they'll sell you some, if you want them. Mike has a guy on South Broad Street. Three generations in the business he is. That's who he gets them from... the bedbugs, I mean. Puts 'em in little empty pill bottles. Pop the lid and throw it in a corner, or under as bed and it'll be itchy season real fast. And if the student-thief already has bedbugs, all he has to do is rub an old t-shirt all over the effected parts of his bed, tie it up in a small plastic bag and ditch it in a ransacked bedroom. Some thieves shove toothbrushes down their pants and spit in whatever they find in the refrigerator.

Ca-Ca says she don't want to mess with no bugs. Mike shrugs and goes - Your loss... She asks him if he has bedbugs... He laughs and makes like he's gonna tickle her. She gets off the old sofa and sits on the cold linoleum floor.... Then he asks her if she really killed Esther, or is only afraid the cops will think she killed her.... She tells him to drop dead and go to hell..... Mike says - If I drop dead and go to hell, who's gonna go with you?... She sits there... He goes - Yeah, you didn't think of that. Did you, you little shit..... Ca-Ca says - Lemme alone. I don't need you. I can do it by myself..... You shit can do it yourself - goes the cousin. What if there ain't nothing under the window? What if it's a six foot drop to the floor, a hard floor, a cement floor? What if they got rats ? How you gonna open the safe? You sure she has a safe?..... She says - Yeah, I'm sure.... He gives her a look..... I know! I know! I know, you friggin' son of a bitch! Pony talked about it all the time, from when she used to babysit me when my mom was makin' all them pierogis! I know from BEFORE I killed Esther! You SHIT! You SHIT you!..... Mike's mother (Ca-Ca's aunt) yells down - Jesus Christ! What the hell's gone on down there!?....... They get quiet, but Mike gives her a look and it makes her feel funny... He says - I'm gone in with you... and I get half.... She just sniffs and nods her head. Then she starts to tear up. Mike gets down on the floor and hugs her. Not because he feels sorry for her. He doesn't want his mom to hear her crying.

When he walks her home, her mother's already dragged herself up to bed. Ca-Ca double locks the door and turns on a battery powered dollar store phony burglar alarm. Then she sits on the sofa and sees a copy of their neighborhood weekly. It's all about Esther's 'senseless' murder. God, her mother looks so sad.

Ca-Ca doesn't cry. She just sits there... Forty nine minutes later she quietly puts out the light and goes upstairs....

<more next time>


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Now Ca-Ca's cousin Mike was basically a good guy. He did stuff for people. Helps 'em fix their cars... babysits their pit bulls. Stuff like that. But if something wasn't nailed down when he needed money, or you weren't lookin'..oh well. He wrestled in high school. Knew how to get out of tight places. After they let him out of 'Moko' (an old Philadelphia slang term for prison... who knows what it means) he went into business for himself as a consultant... a breaking and entering consultant. Taught 'em how to do the shim-sham-shimmy... how to get into them tiny, cellar windows old Philadelphia row houses have. Back in the nineteenth century they were meant to accommodate coal chutes. But a couple generations later, when people switched to gas, they started putting little windows in 'em. Ditched all the coal bins. Laid down linoleum. Painted over the cement walls. Maybe painted the rafters too. Not exactly the 'family rooms' we have today. More like their great grandparents. But I digress.

The openings were about twelve inches high by sixteen across. Ca-Ca was small. She was ten years old. Once climbed into a dog house... a little dog house, like for a cocker spaniel. This was at a cousin's house in Jersey. Took 'em forty five minutes to find her. Had to lift the roof off to let her out and by then all the chicken and hamburgers were gone. All see got were hotdogs.

And there was more too it than shimmying through a horizontal 'dog door.'  Mike had a whole system. First you criss crossed all the glass with duct tape. Then you break the duct tape coated glass with a rubber mallet. That way it keeps together. Less chance of cuts. You want to avoid anything that might draw blood, 'cause most times the cops don't run the DNA, but sometimes they do and DNA is what gets you locked up. That's why crooks bring a blanket. They drape it through the window frame (once the glass is broken) and let it hang down inside. First thing you do once your in is go up into the kitchen and open the back door. Houses without dogs are best. Cats will just leave you alone. And as for time, one to three o'clock on a drizzly night is best. Streets are real quiet on rainy nights... nobody outside..maybe a cheater comin' home late, but they don't wanna be noticed either.

Mike had a whole mock-up down his cellar. Aunt Connie, his mom, yelled - What are you doin' down there?!..... He said - Nothin.' I'm 'consultin.' Now shut up and suck a butt you old lady you!... Ca-Ca laughed. She liked her cousin, Mike. He was cool. She could smoke around him and everything.

Next night he taught her how to break open a small safe. Didn't charge or nothing. But she was gonna give him a nice kick-back depending on how much Pony's grandmom had... even more if he found a good pretend-mom whore. That must be like bein' an actress, Ca-Ca thought. 

When her mom asked her where she was, she said 'Watchin' zombie crap with my cousin... Ca-Ca's mom never asked which cousin, 'cause some were just pretend cousins, but she did ask for the box of Rosemary and olive oil Triscuits.

Ca-Ca threw 'em at her and ran upstairs.

She prayed for God to send them a nice make-pretend-whore-mom...

Then she went to sleep...

<more next time>


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Sunday, August 23, 2015


They thought about Esther's mother. Ca-Ca and Timothy sat in the tiny backyard and talked. It was easier to talk at Ca-Ca's house because her mother didn't move around much. She sat in the chair, climbed up to the toilet, spent maybe a few minutes in the kitchen making tuna fish for lunch, spaghetti and hamburgers (not meatballs) for dinner (that took a little longer) and that was it. Most days they used paper plates. On Friday afternoon she ran the vacuum. Ca-Ca dusted. Chores got done...sort of. Ca-Ca's father went to the market on Sunday. That was like a big outing. Sometimes she got a coloring book...Ca-Ca, I mean. Actually whole house liked coloring books. She could tell which pages her dad did, by the thick, heavy, dense blocks of color. Her mom was more subtle, shading in the crayons like paint. There was an old round can from Christmas cookies filled with broken crayons. She had it 'out back' now. Timothy liked to color too. But he only did it when he was with Ca-Ca. Then it was all right. They sat on the cheap, dull, white vinyl chairs resting the books on their laps. He had BARBIE ON VACATION!. She had BABIES & PUPPIES! They got them from the sale bin. Who cared? Ten year olds weren't supposed to color anyway.

Ca-Ca said - That detective-cop-guy was lookin' at us... Timothy didn't say anything.... Ca-Ca said - You want them to come get you? I don't want 'em to get me. You know, Jimmy What's-His-Names father is a cop and he curses like a drunken asshole. Once broke his mom's arm too. They said she slipped in the kitchen. Yeah, right. I hate cops. They're like them fat asses at school but with guns. You got a gun at your house?... Timothy went - I don't know.... Ca-Ca said - We do. He has 'em locked up down the cellar. One looks like a cowboy gun but not as long and black. One looks like an army gun. The other gun's a rifle. He goes to a gun place where they let you shot 'em. they got targets and keep score. Like Goofy Golf only with bullets...... Then silence... They color... Eight heartbeats later she says - How do you know it was Esther's ghost? How do you know it was real?..... Timothy shrugged and said - I just do... Your mom smelled her farts? - asked Ca-Ca..... He nodded. She thought for a while, then spoke - I saw a ghost once. Last winter. I went to sleep early on a Friday night, 'cause it was cold and all. Plus they were watchin' crappy shit on TV. So I took one a them High Lights magazines we get from school and got in bed. Goofus and Gallant should drop dead and go to hell....Them or the guy who draws them... Get to the ghost part - said Timothy.... She gave him a look and went on... Must have fallen asleep. Woke up later and turned off the lamp. Then, you know how my bed is right on the wall with the window? I sat up and raised the shade. Sometimes Mitzi from across the alley has guys over. When my light's off I can spy on 'em..... Tim giggles.... She says - So what? She's a tramp. It don't matter. Probably wants people to watch. But that night her house was dark. It was late. They were all dark. And it started to snow. You know that real quiet, light snow? Like that. That's when I seen it, the ghost, I mean. A kid comes walkin' along the top of all the back fences along the alley. Like a tightrope walker he was. Holdin' out his arms, keepin' balance and all. Only his clothes were funny, like what kids wore in an old Shirley Temple movie I once saw. Like from an old black and white movie where everybody's dead. That's why I don't like watchin' black and white movies, you know. Looks like ghosts are in 'em. I see him, the real ghost, I mean. And when he gets to our back fence he looks up like he sees me. Snows coming down. Sky's all nighttime gray, like it gets in the wintertime when it snows. You know what I mean? That's when I see he ain't got no feet. Got legs, but no feet. Walkin' on stumps he was. Then he makes a face like a crazy maniac and goes WHOOSH! right up toward my window. I scream. My father bangs on the door and goes - What happened? You all right?.... I say - I'm OK. Must a had a dream.... He says - All right. Go back to sleep.... I don't want to tell him about the ghost and all, 'cause I don't wanna go back to that mental place. But when I look out the window, the ghost ain't there. Still snowin', but no ghost.... Timothy doesn't say a word. Neither does Ca-Ca... Then she goes - Pony's grandmom had chest pains. Ambulance took her to the hospital. Didn't you see?... He goes - No. We went to see my new baby cousin..... She nods. Then she goes - Pony don't like to be in the house by herself.  Shaky Head said. She was talking to Big Tits. I heard. Gonna stay at her friend's house. Nobody gonna be there, the house, I mean.... Timothy goes - So?... So the money's in there and I know how to get in. Right through the cellar window. You know that. Then we can run away..... You got a whore to pretend she's our mom yet? How we gonna check into motels? We need a whore. You said - he asks.

Ca-Ca finishes coloring in a baby and goes - My cousin, Mike, knows a whore. So mind your business. Shut your face and quit using up all my silver crayon.

The two of them sit there in the late afternoon November gloom, till Ca-Ca's mother drags herself into the kitchen and starts supper. You can hear the whine from the can opener outside....

 Timothy puts back the crayon, closes the Barbie coloring book and leaves by the back fence door. Then he runs down the alley to the street and across to his house.

Ca-Ca just stares at the sky...

<to be continued>


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