This is the story of a Vallejo born man who lived in many, many places. Favorite places: North Africa, Central Italy and much of this our California. He had three wives and has ten children. But now lives alone, travels only twenty miles to see his doctor and it is a long walk with a walker, four or five blocks to the liquor store for a jug of gin. It’s a long walk from his bed to the couch where he sits all day, drinks when he has it, reads the books his oldest son sends him, writes (less and less), has no TV, wants none, sometimes watches the clock on the wall next to the door and window. Out the window he sees a blustery dark morning—rain? Chico weather, but warm, he thinks as he waits for his caretaker, she’ll make him his beloved coffee. He has no teeth. His enormous appetite long ago left him, left him for yet a bigger thirst. “What a beautiful morning,” he thinks looking out his window at the storm. People have put bird feeders around and a hummingbird flies by at a standstill to look at him. It is still too dark to see the hummingbird clearly. It is warm. He has a wall furnace but never touches the thermostat, someone always does that. And it is still dark so he had turned on the lamp his son sent him (so he could read the books his son also sent him.) One of his daughters who also lives in this town (now a city) installed the lamp. His other daughter (here) takes care of his money (bills and all). He seldom sees either of them. In about two hours his housekeeper will be here and he’ll have his first cup of coffee. His first words with another human animal. It’s his caretaker who takes him that twenty miles to see his doctor. She buys him food. She fixes it in a microwave or an electric frying pan she brought from her own home. His stove was long ago unplugged because he burnt everything he cooked and smoke always rolled out the door. The son that gives him books writes letters and postcards to him four or five times a week. It is not possible for him to answer them all. The beat of the raindrops in the drainpipe just outside the door is the rhythm for his wake-up song. Usually long ago songs.
No teeth. No sex life. No work for wages. Two government checks pay his way. He paints abstract nonobjectives (much like his life) but he also paints less and less. “What a life,” he often hears himself saying. He has a telephone but he never calls anyone. “Much lighter now,” he thinks, “and in another hour Rita will be here.” What that mainly means to him—coffee. “Two or three days till payday”—then his housekeeper will buy things for housekeeping and food. He’ll buy drink. Looks like a long storm. He smells toast from some nearby apartment. “What I want in this world is a story that is true,” he says. “Of course,” answers Rita.