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by David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I’m the guy no one sees. An invisible man in a city of millions. Oh, it’s not hard to be invisible in the city—not like back home in Calumet, Oklahoma where we had a whopping 553 people in the whole town—well, until I left, and then I guess it was 552. Haven’t been back in years, so who knows how many people live there now. Not enough I can tell you that. Or maybe far too many. It’s hard to know sometimes.

Often times I don’t even meet the owners. The maid lets me in, shows me where the piano is, and goes back to watching her soaps. I tune pianos with the soft sound of Spanish soap operas drifting in from the kitchen.

Some guys wouldn’t allow that but I don’t have a problem. I have a good ear, always did, and I can tune out the bullshit.

I learned to tune pianos from an old Jew named Elmer. I always thought that a funny name. I thought of Elmer Fudd, but his name was Rabinowitz. He told me the name meant “son of a rabbi” and sure as shit if he wasn’t the actual son of a goddamn rabbi. He came from a long line of rabbis, but he told me he didn’t want any part of that life. He said he didn’t believe in God, which was strange to me because I’d never met anyone who didn’t believe in God. What was there to believe? Where I grew up, everyone went to Church and everyone believed in God. I wouldn’t say they were all particularly godly men, but no one had the gall to say they didn’t believe in God. Only a communist would say such a thing.

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  • by David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, July 5, 2016

“They go flat,” she said.

“What goes flat?” I asked.

“The cats,” she said and motioned to the old black cat laying on its side on the deck. She sucked on the crab leg she was pointing with and continued, “They go flat in the summer.”

I looked over at the cat and it did kind of look flat. Like someone had a let the air out of it.

“Yup,” she said, “Darndest thing.

We were on the back deck of her house, eating crabs. The table was covered in newspaper. A few dozen blue claw crabs, smothered in old bay and steamed so that now they shone bright red, lay scattered amongst the headlines.

Sea Isle City’s Annual Baby Parade to Be Held July 19

She tossed the remains of crab she’d been working on and picked a fresh one from the pile.

“So, you hear from Sam lately?” I asked.

She pulled one of the claws off the crab and whacked it with a small wooden mallet and pulled out the meat in one piece.

“Looky there, will ya?” she said. She turned her attention back to the crab at hand and said, “Nah. Haven’t talked to Sam in awhile. Last I heard she was bartending down at Jake’s in the Villas.”

“She still with that guy?” I asked.

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by David Todd McCarty | Wednesday, July 13, 2016

“So she looked at it and said, ‘What the fuck is that supposed to be?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, this was your idea,’” said Dave.

The guys laughed.

Dave, Frank and Carl sat together at Fred’s on a Wednesday afternoon. They’d known each other since grade school. Sometimes they met for lunch and even though it was the middle of July, Fred’s was cool and dark. Frank had always complained that it was like a cave but in the summer when you worked outside all day, it could be a welcome relief.

The guys continued to chuckle as the bartender walked up.

“You guys need anything?” she asked.

“I’ll have another,” said Carl.

“Yeah, me too,” said Frank.

“Might as well make it three,” said Dave and he finished the beer he’s holding.

The bartender pulled three beers out of the cooler, knocked the caps off and put them down in the center of the bar. Each guy reached in and grabs their own then sat quietly as she cleaned up the empties and walked away again. Bob and Claudio both watched her walk away.

“Dude, you’re sister is still smokin’,” said Carl.

“Yeah she is,” said Frank.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” said Dave. “She has good genes.”

“We’re not just talking about her jeans,” said Frank.

“No, we are not,” said Carl.

“Mm-mmm,” said Frank.

“I still can’t believe she’s a lesbian,” said Carl.

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by David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Back before the accident we’d always go surfing on Sunday mornings. He called it going to church.

“Come on, let’s go to church,” he’d say. “I’ll call you in the morning. We don’t want to be late.”

Then he’d laugh and slap his knee like he hadn’t said that a thousand times before. He was big knee slapper.

I can still see him, riding along in the passenger seat of my old pickup, drinking a Red Stripe, the wind in his hair, the wrinkles in his face from years in the sun even more pronounced when he smiled and he was usually smiling. He always said Red Stripe was a breakfast beer.

“It’s a little fruity,” he explained. “You know what I mean?“

The thing is, I did know what he meant. It is a good breakfast beer.

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 by David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, July 12, 2016

You see the sign before you see the motel most times. It’s a big neon one of the type of place that still advertises air conditioning and television as if these are recent inventions and worthy of bragging about. The Shady Palms Motel is not the worst place I’ve ever stayed, but I can see it from here.

The carpet has cigarette burns and the hangers don’t come loose; the televisions are bolted to the wall, the Spanish guys blast their music till all hours some nights. People fight and scream. Drunks vomit. Truth be told, the place could use a decent scrubbing and a coat of paint, but it’s cheap and quiet in the offseason, plus the owner lets me live rent free so long as I handle the handyman work. I’m not quite sure who’s getting the better deal, but I suspect it’s not me.

This town used to be quite something back in the day. The boardwalk was the place to see and be seen, with rich folks walking the boards in their finest duds. It was a quaint seaside resort for the rich. I’ve seen pictures over at the Convention Center. A real fancy place it was.

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 by David Todd McCarty | Monday, July 11, 2016

Whistling Gopher: A mark who departs with a whistle of disbelief after he hears the price of your ride or show or product.

I was a showman on the Midway. People said I had sawdust in my blood. An honest to God ass man, yessiree. That’s an A&S Man in the trades. Stands for ‘Age and Scale.’

I could guess the month you were born within two months, or your age within two years. I never cared for guessing people’s weight. Especially with the ladies. No way to win that game, especially if you win.

Started as a backyard boy. This and that. Run errands. Cart boxes. Basically doing whatever they told me to do. Entry level shit.

They never would let me be a talker and I never really had the goods to be a strong agent on the skill games. I kept to the simple games like screw pool, poster joints and wheel of fortune type games.

First real job was in a bendover store, one of those games where you had to bend over a couple of hundred times a night to fetch the balls. Not much skill to that being an agent at a bendover store. But the game pretty much takes care of itself. The guy wins a stuffed animal. No problem. He paid more than it cost for the toy, just to play. But most guys don’t win. Or if they do, they paid for that toy so many times over you don’t care.

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by David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, July 5, 2016

He sits in a booth in Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. The corner one near the window. He gets there early before the crowds and gets the same thing every time. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just that it’s the same and that there aren’t many people. He doesn’t like the people. He doesn’t even really like Uncle Bill’s. It’s overpriced flour and water, he thinks. Still, he doesn’t have the will to make them himself, and the waitresses are cute. Mostly.

He flirts with them sometimes, when he’s feeling full of piss and vinegar as his wife used to say . Mostly, he just orders quietly and minds his own business. Drinks his coffee. Says thank you when they refill his cup.

It’s hot, even for July. Oppressively hot. It was good to get out of the apartment above the sunglass store. There were already a lot of people at the restaurant. Not like it would be later, when they’d line up outside, but for 7am on a Tuesday, it was still pretty crowded. He would have had to wait if he hadn’t been the first one there. If his booth wasn’t available, he’d turn around and walk away. The girls were pretty good about waiting for him. If he didn’t show up by 7:30, then they’d sit anyone there. But when he came first thing, they’d hold it for him.

He reads the paper. He’s not sure why. It’s all bullshit. Cops killing blacks. Blacks killing cops. Heroin overdose. Drug busts. Drunk driver. Hillary is a liar. Trump is a liar.

They’re all liars he thinks. Everyone lies. Everyone is full of shit.

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