It was the year we left our ranch for the coast, the luggage business, and flat above the shop. I had not seen Godfrey in some time, since a card came, he wrote. “Still en-route to Peru, meandered down a cow path till it zagged with a zig in the middle, and there the cow had paused for a think and a piddle”- From Godfrey.
In the 28 years that I knew Godfrey, only once did I have to ask him- “Where on earth have you been”? I waited until he stopped shivering, ate a box of ginger-snaps, was warm, dry and clean. He had showed up soaking wet, on a winters night late, said “I hitched a boat ride across Georgia Strait. The captain let me steer, then he went below and drank. All went well until the good ship “Dallas Faye” sank. My faithful suitcase floated me clear, the cops dropped me off, I am delighted to be back here.
He was no buffoon,my friend, but a poet and I observed, circumspect as he napped, blanket wrapped, deep in my turquoise chair. I tipped him out, to sleep on the sete’e, told him when ready it was his turn for a story. Well I was headed for Peru, still, again said Godfrey, got a job for travel money at a plumbing supply store..I made the coffee and tea, sang softly in Welsh as I swept and dusted the toilet display on aisle three. The shop secretary I felt did not like me. Her name was Ruth Wanless, but was called “Juan Ruthless” by a fellow long ago whom she’d given the sack. I called her Miss Wanless, as it is rude, to not be nice behind someones back.
Miss Wanless only spoke to others when they made a mistake, her desk very tidy where for thirty years she sat. No family photos, just one framed portrait, of “Mr Oglethorpe” her cat. Thirty years clicking on an adding machine, created “Juan Ruthless” bitter and mean. “She shredded my poem, Juan Ruthless did, confided a young clerk, Alana Kydd- “I wrote it on my break, then had to run off to till two, she called my poem “utter crap my dear” when the shredding was through. As a poet Godfrey, what would you do?
“Give her coconut cookies when nasty to you, they are yummy, and picking her teeth clean of the strings, will give Juan Ruthless other things to think about and do”
Said Godfrey, “on my break I enjoyed the crossword from the paper, this day though Juan Ruthless came, to drape her, arm over my shoulder. Her cat haired cardigan cuff near caressed my coffee cup….are your socks too tight? Miss Wanless? asked Godfrey. Have you ever just sat with Mr Oglethorpe the cat looking out at what only cats can see, or the night sky till dawn? Did you have a parent who yelled when you fell, made you put your own band-aid on? Have you ever roasted weiners on a stick, over a campfire by the sea? She replied- “In thirty years in plumbing I have never had an odder employee than you, gumboot clad Godfrey…
..I challenge you to do the crossword, versus me in twenty minutes or less, “Epees and Iters and old actors with names like “Clark” and” Fess”, are all you need to know to do a crossword, thus proclaimed Miss Wanless. It was tense in the shop next day, Miss Wanless ready to play said, “Godfrey if you win will you shut up and quietly go away? Yes, but if you win promise not to leave open tins of fish set about, not shred Alana’s poems, not stand out side the toilet door and shout ?
.Silence decended on the vile, bile colored lunch room. Six down, Epee, yes a weapon cold, Jack Palance an actor old, Iter the route to Rome, an easy one, and the director of “The Greatest Story ever Told” Juan Ruthless did not flinch or sweat, she beat me at the buzzer with Nepal, neighbor of Tibet. “Yes, everyone there knew, as I know you Worzel do to, indeed yes, I threw it, I did” Will Juan Ruthless keep her promise to be nice twice a day, not shred the poems written by Alana Kydd? “I gave victory in words to the one they called Juan Ruthless, it is how I came to show up, soaking wet at your door.
I do not work at Wanless Brothers Plumbing supply anymore. True to my promise, I shut up and went away, Miss Wanless in the high window,tapping fingers on her pearls, had paid my fare on the leaky, old tub, The “Dallas Faye”…..Did Miss Wanless understand? deep inside I hope that she did, I may learn if it is true, when I get to Peru, she promised to write, the poetic young clerk, Alana Kydd… And the 47th Wisdom Of Godfrey States- A small surf wave may be the one to knock you over. While a larger wave rolls you gently, up the warm safe sand from the sea. May crossword puzzles replace cross- words of anger. May coconut cookies be your only weaponry. Put the kettle on for a soothing cup of tea, poets bold take up pen in hand. Take pen in hand stand up to tyranny. From Godfrey.
As a surprise, I entered Godfrey in The Wergle- Flob Contest for Humor in poetry, did he win? Well that is another story,, From Worzel.