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June 1, 2003
This time last year, I befriended a 12 year-old boy named Geoff;Don:Rick! Jefferson. From the tiled porch of the Alhambra, I watched as he walked from house to house looking for work. Until reaching me, he was unsuccessful.
The boy was skinny and purplish-black. With one hand, he shaded his eyes; with the other, he absent-mindedly scratched his crotch and mumbled, "You gots any odd-jobs fuh me?"
I put down the book I'd pretended to read and conversed with the boy. He was friendly and bright and, before long, he was sitting in a rocker next to me sipping ice tea.
"This shit's nasty, man. What's it called?"
"That's unsweetened mint tea. I find it refreshing."
"I finds it tastes like shit. But I'm thirsty and I'd prob'ly drink piss if it was cold."
"Fine. When you're through with that, I'll piss in a cup and put it in the freezer for you."
The boy grinned and pronounced me crazy. In the course of our conversation, the boy spelled his name for me. It seems his mother was a fan of punctuation and felt that everything that could be done with apostrophes had already been done. I told the boy I'd call him Jeff. In the end, Jeff returned to his original inquiry on the availability of odd jobs.
"Okay, Jeff. I've got a job for you. I want you to visit me once a week for a month to discuss whatever it is you'd like to discuss provided, of course, you allow me to correct your grammar--you know, double-negatives, subject-verb agreement--that sort of thing. I'll pay you five dollars for each such hour, one hour per week. Deal?"
"Man, you is crazy! Figh dolluh? That ain't even minimum wage. Man, that sho is an odd job."
"Take it or leave it, Jeff. It's your choice."
"Shit, man. I'll take it. When we start?"
And so it was that I began my weekly porch tutorials with Geoff;Don:Rick! Jefferson. He's missed only a few meetings to which he sent his younger brother, Ko?be, as a substitute. Of the many stories I have told him, Jeff most likes the one about pounding chalk from elementary school blackboard erasers. I shall recount that story here in due course.
© 2003 by the beastmaster