How to Take Care of a Drifter

This is an essay I wrote in 2005 about the drifter who lived with my family for a year…and how we finally “took care” of him.
-Pete

“Just dig!” I say to my mom. “It’s going to get too cold soon, and then we won’t be able to shovel anymore.” I swing the pick ax several more times at the frozen dirt, trying to loosen up the rocks and frozen chunks of soil so that she can shovel them out.

“It looks like this is gonna a pretty shallow grave,” says my mother, huffing as she scoops out another shovelful of stones and dirt.

“Whatever…As long as he fits. Dad says the soil is acidic here, so the body will decompose pretty quickly.”

“Oh! His body is already stiff!” says my younger sister, fighting back tears.

“Don’t worry, just a few more inches,” I reassure her.

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Sigma Derby: Vintage Horse Racing Ambrosia

There it sits, in a forgotten corner of the MGM Grand Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It’s surrounded by a hallucinogenic collection of modern slot machines — Deal or No Deal, Wheel of Fortune and Alien Vs. Predator, exploding in trippy displays of lights and music. And amidst it all, is this humble orange and chrome 1970s-era table, lit from the inside with a few incandescents and the dim digital read-outs of a bygone era. Inside the table, stand five plastic horses, lined up at the starting line of a miniature track decorated with little trees and bushes like a middle school diorama project. And gathered around the table is a collection of rough, tired, hard-on-their-luck gamblers, who are so down and out that all they’ve got left is a plastic cup full of quarters, which they dutifully pump into the table.

But then, something magical happens: the bell rings, the crowd leans in, the gate lifts up — the horses are off!

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Grandpa Catches a Possum

It was the night after Thanksgiving, and my entire family was at my aunt’s house in the Catskills. There was a big snowstorm, so rather than drive home, we decided we had better spend the night. Everyone got their room / bed assignments, one by one, until there were no more beds. Who got the short end of the stick? Me and grandpa. We had to sleep in the living room. Together.

For my grandpa, this was not a big deal. Ever since he got Parkinson’s disease, he quit sleeping in beds and started sleeping hunched over in chairs, because

  1. it too hard to move to a bed, lay down and go to sleep,
  2. it was too hard to get out of a bed in the morning
  3. and

  4. he drove grandma crazy.

That night, I found out why.

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Anonymous Pwns Scientology in Hollywood

“I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is!” – L. Ron Hubbard

I just got back from the Anonymous protest of Scientology in Hollywood, and it could be summed up in two words: EPIC WIN.

People showed up in droves — all wearing masks, and all referring to themselves as “Anon.” We picketed in groups of up to 200 people, and I saw more than 500 different protesters over the course of the day. The turnout was truly amazing, and there was so much energy and excitement. If anything, we certainly sent a message to the public, and to the Scientologists themselves that their corporation is corrupt and unethical.

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