Breakthroughs

The Ramp
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS My new favorite superheroes are my old pal Mod the Pod and her social-working podner, the Kat Attack. Together they comb the streets and psyches of the Bay Area, looking for people to help, and in many cases that turns out to be me!
If I had a nickel for every time one or the other or both of them together have untied me from figurative railroad tracks or snatched me up in midair as I was falling into snaky pits or the abyss or ... well, in this case, I was bummed about having been Just-Friended, yet again, the night before. Not a lot of sleep, and morning found the chicken farmer kind of crying into her coat collar down at Java Supreme.
My coffee was this close to being cold, literally, when out of nowhere our superheroes swooped down in their superminivan, and Earl Butter helped load me into the back. Wasting no time, Mod the Pod gave me a squirt of our favorite perfume, and the Kat Attack told a great joke in which a bear walks into a bar and says, "Gimme a shot and a ... beer," and the bartender goes, "Why the big pause?"
After about a beat, I laughed real hard and rolled on the floor, mostly because there aren't any seats in the back of this van.
Earl Butter, still choking over my squirt of perfume, was groping around like a mime in a box, trying to open real windows that didn't really open. (Note: this seemingly innocuous detail is what we writers call "foreshadowing," so don't forget to remember it later, OK?)
Well, Jelly's was "closed for the season," whatever that means. As if San Francisco has seasons. So we had to go to the Ramp. And we had to sit outside, even though it was practically raining and cold. All the inside tables were taken.
I was thinking: coffee. Hot coffee. But before I could say so, Mod the Pod ordered us four Bloody Marys, and I went with it, reasoning: she's the social worker.
Sure enough, the sun came out! And food! Huevos rancheros ($10.95), a bacon avocado omelet ($9.75), bacon and eggs ($8.75 times two), and more Bloody Marys (way, way too much money to even think about) ... and I told my sad story, and the Attack was her supersweet self, and Earl Butter made jokes and poked me, and the Pod, you know what Mod the Pod did, being a superhero?
She gave me some of her bacon.
To think, to think that earlier in the week I'd almost killed her! But that's another story.
Did you hear? I shattered glass during my very first session of speech therapy! We were sitting at a long wooden table, Coach Freidenberg and me, and I was saying things into a microphone and she was monitoring my pitch on a computer screen, like the opposite of the limbo: how high can you go? My eyes were mostly closed, not in concentration, but because it was of course excruciating to hear my own voice being played back to me.
"Many men making much money in the month of May," my voice said. "The murmuring of doves in the memorial elms."
It was worse than excruciating. It was traumatic. It was psychologically damaging. Stanley Kubrick could prop toothpicks in my ears and make a movie out of it. I was this close to losing my will to live, and then I opened my eyes to see what time it was — because it seemed like an important moment to mark, the losing of one's will to live.
But instead of seeing clocks I saw, down below on the sidewalk outside, loitering, looking for someone to save, guess who? Mod the Pod! Me, I thought. Save me.
To get her attention, I tried to open the window, which was one of those old out-opening ones with a crank. I wanted to say, "Lunch?" That's all. And I turned the crank ever so slightly, but it broke. At 11:41 in the morning. The window, glass, shattering, crash, bang, boom, and time stood still for idiot chicken farmers and for pedestrians pushing perambulators filled with gurgling children, and for loitering superheroes.
Would she save the day? Could she? How? With bacon?

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