Walter Miller's Homepage

Neither in the black or the red. We're the website in the brown.

the Last of 1999 and First of 2000 Big Ass Multi-Update

Page 19 of 24


There is a picture that hangs in our living room, inside the glass door of our cheap particol board china brakefront. It is one of the first things you see when you walk in our house. It is a picture of a distingiushed man with greying temples wearin a fancy 3-peice suit and Londen Fog raincoat in extremly awkword circomstances in the Philedelphia Airport that was taken in January of 1987. I will never forget it becuase I was a little kid and i was there at the time.

Granfather took the picture. My brothor and I were on our way back from a visit after the Holidays to Granfather's two brothors' house on the East Coast. They live in Delaware so to get to thier house it is an equol drive if you fly into eithor the Philadeplhia airport or the Baltimore airport. (Howevor that is not inportant to the story.)

Anyway if youve ever been to the Philadelphia airport (and mabye by now theyve changed things), but back then there was parts of the airport that seemed very pleasent. As you walked allong this new, pretty, empty gate area clutching your ticket and heading for your plane at Gate Thirteen you thoght to yourself, "Geez, this airport is so pleasantly empty." And you figuored everything was OK. Until of course you found you coudnt FIND Gate Thirteen.

Because there between Gates 12 and 14, there WAS no gate. And then you sudenly noticed it: A small handdrawn scrawl on the carpet which read "Gate 13" and an arrow pointing to a hole in the floor (literally), this jagged stinking hole ringed with muck below which hung a thin spindly steel prong boat laddor that led to a horroble basement area the size of a gas station restroom exept dirtier that had hundreds of distressed people crammed in. (OK, I am exagorating a little).

But anyway these people down in this fetid basement gate area comprized an absolute zoo of weary travelors shivoring in rags and roasting potatos on skinny sticks and dodging "O" Gauge size giant rats and tiptoeing ovor giant pools of urine all while standin arround getting yelled at by a mean lady over the loudspeakor who rapidly read off flight numbers by the dozen, one at a time, and after each anouncement said, over the loudspeakor, that, "I am only readin these flights off ONCE, if you miss your plane thats YOUR problem."

And so were berated this thonging mass of dejected humanity that stood there waiting to cram into 76 buses that massed on anothor mucky hole on the othor end of the room, busses that a fat guy in a uniform whose name was probly Horst or Gunther crammed you into like you were an animol bein sqaushed into a box car and that drove off every 30 seconds. A bus that woud take you to a cement field littored with small parked four seat airplanes ready to take you to tiny cities with names like Gruntville and Pimplewood that Ive never heard of beffore or since. OH i am exaggorating some more.

Anyway I dont really travol allot but I hear that all around the U.S. things are actualy worse now.

In any case, Granfather had just sent my brothor up the entrence hole to the duty free store to shoplift some cigars, (this is becuase the old basterd was on parole and if cought out of state woud have to serve time) and so it was just me and the old basterd downstairs there at Gate 13. (I think it was Gate 13.)

Granfather also had in his hand this old camera, this old big square thing from 1955 caled a "reflex camera" that looked like a parking meter head. You had to look in the top straite down in order to take the picture. It was an old, pain in the ass camera but it took realy good pictures.

There was a small restroom off the the edge of the Gate 13 Refugee Proccessing Area and I remembor tellin Granfather that I had to go pee so me and him went inside the mens room. There was one stall and the door was missing. Someone, someone humiliated, was inside that stall.

Sittin there on the bowl was this distingiushed looking man. The man i first wrote about at the top of this page. Have you evor gathered up all your clothes especialy when they were flowing clothes like a raincoat or fancy suit when you had to crap on a public john so that nothin woud touch the muckey floor? Well anyway this man was.

He had a sad look on his face. Granfather looked at him with this look of delight while the man staired back lookin humilliated.

Granfather said to him, "YOU MUST OF HAD TO GO REAL BAD CAUSE THAR AIN'T NO DOOR ON THET THAR STALL."

Then Granfather, evil mean saddistic beast that he is started to set up the camera explianing to the poor well dressed gent that hed just been to the house of his older brothor whose guts he hated and hed just swiped this camera and he had to try it out and that he shoud STAY THE HELL STILL cause like it or not he was about to get his picture took.

Well the man had no intention of NOT stayin still, partley becuase if he did, some part of eithor his clothes or his body woud touch the muckey wall or floor, and beside that the old basterd was blockin the door of the doorless stall.

"Please, sir, I beg you," the well dressed distingiushed man said.

"OH YOU DON'T WANT TO BEG ON A STRANGER IN A PUBLIC TOILET," Granfather said, and also told the man to face it: He was goingto get his danm picture took.

So in satisfyeing with relish his burning compulsion to hurt and huomiliate his fellow man like a wolf cornering a scaired rabbit the beastly geezer took a shot. To further frighten and demean the poor man, who probly was a hard working businesman forced to travel and be away from his family, and who probly paid more in taxes in a year than Granfather ever did in his life, Granfather taunted him by tellin him that he was, "A string photogropher for Newsweek doing a story on the degradation of business air travol", and in all likelyhood this picture woud appear on next week's covor and surely one of the 18 milion or so readers woud include some of his rich freinds or neighbors from the golf club.

But the picture came home with us. For a while the old basterd told peoplle it was a picture of one of Reagan's Cabinat members but no one believed it, though even still Granfather always loved the picture and kept it there on display as an emblem of one of the things the old basterd is most proud of about himself: and that is his gift for spontanneous cruelty and spraklingly creative talent for improvosational sadism toword his fellow man.

And so there in our house as one of the first things you see when enterring is the picture of this poor businesman in one of those lucite photo holdors stuck inside the glass door of our cheap particol board china breakfront and just as I walked into our trailor on the aftornoon of Friday Decenber 17th there in the frame I saw a reflection, a glimmor of movement, disgousting movement, a reflection of Granfather, a reflection of the curse on me for having prety good eyesight though even one eye was covored, a fully clear view of the old basterd wearing his cardboard cone there on the couch of the living room which was now folded out to a bed as in that bed, gripping the cone and gripping Granfather who was grippin back in a greedy clutch while wearing nothin, (and neithor was the other person in there with him, cause they were doing what you KNOW they were doing) as he gripped a cigarete in his huge crusty brown teeth: a woman.

I did the only thing I coud do.

I vomitted.