Monday, August 29, 2016

Zombie buttons

A woman in the park was wearing this button. I think she said she got it from Starved To Death. 

Wait - is the food truck starting to serve live people, too? No good can come from this.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Seal the Deal

Fucking boaters.

One of the nice little harbor seals, lying on the beach by the mouth of the Clallam River, face chopped off by a propeller. Probably asleep nose at the surface, when some fool came screaming over the surface on the way to the dock after dark, stayed out too late trying to get a bragging halibut or a salmon to leave rot in the boat. 

I'm practically friends with the seals, who watch when I have a fire on the beach, so they can get the warm spot after I bury the embers. This just makes me sick.

But no use leaving a friend to rot, or the other animals hungry. it's a fresh kill, so I peel the hide off. I can get local salt to cure it, and I can trade it to people who make drums or floats.

I always have a little crooked ulu knife, so old it's got a rough-cut cedar handle, so I cut open the carcass, off some of the meat, and carefully lay out what's left, guts for the seagulls, fresh cedar bed for what's left of the carcass, chopped up into manageable pieces. I've done it before with a big octopus that washed up, some for me, some for them. Everybody needs to eat, and if you feed birds, they tell you where there's more food.

Nobody human here will eat seal, at least not in this town. But Starve To Death, that zombie food truck, might want it. It's not human meat, but it's meat. I clean it in sea water and pack it into a plastic bag.

No zombies around the truck right now, but the light is on, the shutters partly open and it looks like that skinny girl is inside. Did the zombie cook hire her? I hope she knows what's she's doing. The girl, not the cook.

Knock on the shutter. She jumps.

"Hi! Sorry! I'm not a zombie. Want some seal meat?"

About a half-dozen emotions are wandering around her face, fear, confusion, interest, and even recognition.

"Um - you're the boy from the bug. In the rain that night." She seems cautious. I hope I didn't scare her.

"Yeah. I'm glad you got a safe place, now." I look around, carefully, listening. Nobody there. "Are you working here?"

"Yeah, I got hired. The owner needed me for legal reasons."

Now I look confused. She explains.

"Couldn't get a license without a live person on board."

"A cooking license? Can you cook?"

She almost nods, then slowly shakes her head. "Not this kind of food. These - people - don't eat like usual."

"Do you want some seal meat?" I repeat.

She doesn't answer. She's looking at the piece of meat I've pulled out of the plastic bag.

"It's good meat. They'll probably like it."

She looks horrified. "Did you kill a seal?" 

"No. Propeller strike. Zombie boater."

"Zombies have boats!?" I seem to be blowing her mind every time I open my mouth. I don't mean to.

"No, messed-up people up here, we call them zombies, too. A messed-up truck is a zombie truck."

But if a dead cook can get a food license, maybe a zombie can get a boat license? I've seen a boater on Lake Crescent run a power boat right through a bunch of swimmers, just so he could tie up to the Lodge dock where there was a bunch of young teenage girls. I just thought he was a creep, endangering all the kids so he could perv on the girls, and leaving an oil slick behind him when he left. But - him being a zombie would explain a lot. He didn't look like he smelled too good. Why else would a sports fisherman leave a good salmon in a boat to rot? Maybe he liked it that way.

The girl in the food truck is staring at the meat. Finally, she clears her throat and says, "Um - what do you want for it?"

"Nothing. I just thought it would help. It's clean meat, and pretty fresh. Real fresh, enough for them."

She doesn't look very sure. "I dunno...."

"You need meat, right? It costs money. This is good meat. Look, you can put it in the freezer, and if the cook doesn't want it, you can always give it to the dogs. What can it hurt? If she wants it, she wants it. If she doesn't, she doesn't."

She's off the hook, so she takes it, and puts it into the freezer. It's a good chunk of meat, but not so much it doesn't fit. She doesn't turn her back on me while she's doing it. In this town, I don't blame her.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Spice it up

Well the city is allowing me to have my food truck but the distributors won’t deliver to the undead. They say I need a “breather” on my staff so they can communicate with. The morons! I think some of the local zombies are smarter than these truckers. But I got to follow the rules.

By sure providence, the new girl in town stopped by the other day. She’s got a working little Subaru now. I had seen her wandering around but it was none of my business until she actually came up to the truck window. We chatted a little about the menu and I gave her a sample of the fish stew, she seemed to like it plenty, then she asked me if I needed any help.

 I don’t think she’s realized yet, that I am newly turned. It’s not obvious yet if you’re not used to the smell of dying flesh. I take showers every day and use a lot of natural oils to cover up the rot. I wear long sleeves and pants and gloves, so no skin is showing. Last thing I need is for me to lose a proverbial Shylock ‘pound of flesh’ into one of my pots. I think I would shut my own self down at that point. No human meat in my kitchen.

I invite her into the truck and I show her around, she tells me how she has cafeteria experience. I ask her if she can follow recipes and instructions. If this works out, I can pass along my knowledge before my brain goes completely mush and I end up out on the beach with the rest of my kind. She seems eager enough and the extra money will definitely come in handy for her if she decides to stay out here on the Peninsula.

We talk about the menu and where I get my ingredients from and then I mention to her that the majority of my customer base are the very same zombies she’s been trying to avoid. She seems a little taken aback by that but then I explain my plan to feed the zombies instead of letting them run off in the wilds picking people off. I have managed to get an agreement from the beachcombers for trading their fresh catch for meals. I don’t want to make her too nervous so I tell her that I will handle the window, if she can handle dishing out the food – that way she can stay hidden. She’s a skinny little thing as is, well, compared to me, everyone is tiny.

They’re outside the truck already, banging on the door. I don’t know where they get their money, and honestly I don’t want to know. As long as I keep them fed and off the streets. I start going through my setup and my little helper is stacking the containers and condiments. She notices that I have quite a large collection of hot sauces and I remind her that the undead can’t really taste anything but the little extra heat gives them a little jolt, a little reminder of when they were alive. Probably why I am always having to replace the bottles, they have been drinking it straight again. I’m going to have to go to the Co-op for more before I open up for the day.

I leave her in the truck and slip out the front door and walk over the parking lot, across from the bar and up to the totem in front of the Co-op. There are some high school kids out with their phones, playing Pok√©mon Go, this is the local gym after all, and everyone wants to be the boss. I enter and nod my head to the lady behind the counter. She’s always been kind to me even before I changed and as long as I keep my wits to myself, I’m sure nothing will change. She’s got other customers filtering around, plus some city visitors puttering about looking at the local products. Speaking of which, I’m going to need more of that Clallam Bay sea salt soon. But I remember that I left my new helper in the truck with a gaggle of hungry zombies sniffing around outside, so I go to the shelf with all the hot sauce and grab a few bottles of the real Mexican one – the American one is too vinegary and not enough heat. I feel eyes on me but I don’t look up to see who.

All I care about is my truck and my food. I go pay for my bottles and tip toe back into the truck, like I was never gone. It’s almost eleven o’clock, time for Starve to Death to start selling.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Food For thought

Clallam Bay, Slip Point
Nice weather out, finally. It's dryer in my hollow sleeping tree. It's about as warm as it gets around here, in the '70's, and I still need lotsa blankets at night, but I'm out of the damp. 

The dew falls so heavy that it feeds mountain streams, and keeps the salmon eggs damp in the gravel that only looks like it's dried out. Salmon are made that way; it's why the Neah Bay hatchery can keep the eggs in misted drawers. 

I thought my leg was getting pulled by a live person until I was over there the other day, to be there for the 4th of July, and actually got to see the photos on the wall about how they do it. Salmon are coming back, thanks, hatchery. Sea otters and even right whales and a fin whale. Saw one in the Strait the other day, on its way to Port Angeles. Feels better, seeing them. Although there are a lot of posters in the Post Office, for missing pets. People WILL let their smaller pets outside at night, and act like they're confused when they get eaten. It's like zombies all the time for pets.
Spinning fireworks, Neah Bay

The better weather will help that girl, too. I'm so glad she seems to have her stuff together. And has resources. She's even got a car, now, a pretty nice one, with room to sleep. The nicer weather will make it possible to sleep in it without damp. 

I was wondering if her Subaru locks, but that would be the first thing somebody - especially a girl - would think of if they had to sleep in a car. She seemed nice, and sober, so the zombies aren't just going to drag her out and have dinner while she's unconscious. So she's one less person I have to worry about, in any way. Or I can try not to worry about.

One more thing I think I have to worry about is the new food truck, the one with the weird name - Starve To Death - which doesn't sound very appetizing. I don't HAVE to worry about it, maybe more just keep an eye on it, but it seems to have a lot of the dead congregating around it. They seem really quiet, and sniffing like they think it smells good. They even shamble after it when it moves, and at first they were sniffing the ground like dogs. I found out what they were doing the first time I found the greasy trail with a couple clotted knee-caps in it. They stay upright and sniff the air, now, mostly, if they can, even getting a support bone from some of the more together bodies.

It was closed the other day, and most of the local dead were around it, a couple of them weakly slapping their arms against the locked door. The name of the truck and the way the zombies seem to like how it smells - are we looking at a ZOMBIE food truck?

Talk about Bang Bang Love Shack. Speaking of, I heard that song on my car radio the other day, from that Twilight station. Which sounds pretty good, some good modern music, I guess, and some nice '80's oldies, and gets some good reception. 

This is the first time I've been able to get a decent radio station up here without a lot of buzzing and crackling like we used to. I get Canadian radio, but it's not always clear except on the coast roads, like Highway 112. I nearly drove off the road laughing once, when a Canadian comedy show's MC said to a guy in the audience, "You don't have to wear a mullet, you know - you're not in Nanaimo ALL THE TIME."

I wish the Canadian radio still ran Dead Dog In The City. It was funny. I miss Jasper Friendly Bear and Gracie Heavy Hand. And Rosemarie Clever Tuna. That's an in-joke, for anybody who ever listened to it.

Look at me, media geek. I might as well be sorting my albums.

I'm hungry. Last night I had a couple trout in a green-stick roaster rack I made up in about ten minutes. it's easy, if you know how; green sticks let you peel some of the bark to act like strings to tie it all together. You roast it over coals and the sticks don't burn because they're green. And they shrink a little and you can pull the sticks out of the fish without a lot of trouble, because the meat doesn't rust into the rack like a metal rack.

Anyway, I want some bread. People can't go without some kind of bread or rice. It's why Indian women traded Lewis and Clark a basket of biscuit-root for a horse, they were so tired of just meat and fish. The Sunset West Co-op lets me trade some mushrooms for some food that doesn't grow wild. The chicken of the woods is in, and that usually gets me a nice pack of tortillas and sometimes some cheese. Sometimes I have some enough berries and stuff to get some gas or some bus fare. The bus is really cheap up here, and takes me anyplace I need to walk from.

I'm not that far from town, so I didn't need to take it. Nothing much going on, not even at the Starve to Death. I wonder where they all are? I hope they're not hungry.

Wait - is that the girl's car parked next to the food truck? That's not good. I wonder where she is? No, I told myself not to worry about her - she seems to know what she's doing.

Here's the co-op. Oh, they got the nice cheap cheese in. I could use that. Might as well browse the condiments while I'm here; that's just fun, seeing all the strange stuff they bring in, from all over the world. They must have some new strange spices, too, because there's an odd smell. Is that in the aisle or on the spice wall? Oh, here --

Oh. It's the cook from Starve to Death, looking at the bottles of hot sauce. What's wrong with me? I know that smell. And she's just starting to have it. 

Smile and be nice. No use setting her off.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

On the Road to Find Out

I should have done this long ago. Why would the Universe give me the money if I am not supposed to spend it, be the flow, let it blossom, let it grow. Make the road so much easier for me. So I got this car in Port Angeles from some kindly old guy, saw his ad on the board in Safeway while I was stocking up on chow, and my bank was just a few blocks away. Perfect. The car belonged to his wife who died a while ago, he practically gave it away. Reminded him too much of her. Not a lot to look at, but it is one of those 1993 white Subie wagons that you used to see everywhere around Seattle because they never die. Seriously, you can not kill those things. Dent in the door, a lot of scrapes, way past 200k but built solid, low center of gravity, great for these roads and plenty of space with the back seat down. But it runs fine, brakes a little squeaky. Just needs a bit of cleaning up and cleaning out. The radio even works. I got a station with all that great music from the 70s I wish I would have been able to grow up with hearing for the first time along with everyone I knew. What a way to begin this journey of life. But I have what I have, music that those old people never knew was going to happen, so that is something to be so thankful for. I am going to spend the next few days being thankful. I spent the first night on a quiet street, had a smoke and went to sleep listening to tunes from long ago. Even the back seat is fine to curl up in. Nothing like the sound of all four doors locking at once.

I spent another day in Port Angeles, washed clothes, used the Wi-Fi at MickyD's while splurging on a McChicken and ice cream parfait (yeah, I know, but bread and cheese and fruit and carrots gets old), hit the Dollar Store, and then after all this mundanity insanity, finding quiet streets and hearing whatever the radio told me to listen to and writing some poetry and thoughts in the blank book I got at the Goodwill. If any of it is any good or lasting I will put it in here. I also got one of those hiking backrest seats for the beach, and an ice chest and a folding pad thing to sleep on in the car. Besides, I really didn't want to drive those winding, wet roads after eating that loaded chocolate I picked up earlier at the cannabis store down by the waterfront. That stuff lasts forever.

When I got back to Clallam the next day I knew that for whatever reason, this was going to be my home for a while. The first thing I heard when I stepped out of the car was the song of the  Swainson's Thrush telling me not to worry. The quarter store was open, so I got a better coat, some jeans and socks, another pair of shoes and a flannel shirt that's like new, since I don't have to keep everything in a backpack now. That place is better than Goodwill, whatever I might need, they seem to have, just as if something Larger is looking out for me. Besides running into that weird kid, and my beach house getting wrecked, it's all been on goal. And maybe that nudged me to go to town and get this perfect car for really cheap. It's all part of the road to find out and now I have a set of wheels. Sweet.

Between rain squalls I sat on the beach up by the point and then found a quiet place to park for the night. Saw that kid's VDub a couple times but I don't think he recognized me in this car. Not sure how friendly I want to get with some of the people in this town after that incident, at least until I know more about them and decide if I am going to stay here or not. Being a small town, I know they've already noticed me and are talking. On the other hand I have had some good chats, keeping it casual, with people I meet in Port Angeles, but I haven't met any angels there yet. Have to look up how it got that name.

The past couple days were just some driving and thinking and opening up again. Having a safe space on wheels helps a lot. People in Forks, the ones I felt moved, somehow, to talk to, were really pretty decent, the coffee shop, those running the shops still selling Twilight stuff, the guys in the hardware store, and they have a pretty good library too. When I was there with Mom and Trashley, what seems like a lifetime ago now, I remember being all snarky and kind of obnoxious about the stupid logger-heads but it feels like it's a different me now.

After a day there I went down to La Push, which is another Indian reservation, and it was even more beautiful than Neah Bay.

They have a beautiful world out there, but somehow it doesn't feel like my home, like I am only passing through. I guess I don't have so much Indian in me after all, and maybe some way they can tell. Had a little chat with the girls in the cafe, and a better conversation with the tourists from Germany on the beach, talking about the wildlife and logging. The one girl said she couldn't understand why Americans didn't do more to save the forests and the really old trees. Talked to some folks from the midwest who were just in awe of the scenery. I told them a little about leaving home. A month ago I don't think I would have been this open with people. Being out here has been so good. The only odd thing was this guy walking on the shore who kept looking at me. Kind of a shabby older guy, maybe 40, longish light colored hair, dirty backpack. When I looked back he went away. Didn't seem dangerous, exactly but I'm glad I didn't smoke anything that day. I think I need to keep to myself for now when I'm soaring. The little bird has wings to test. I was going to find a place to park my car and spend the night but that didn't seem like a good idea now. I'm sure the Indians native people here keep track of who's where, and this place is run as a business. I know there is a lot that they know that I never will.

I did pick up a couple sweets at a cannabis store in Forks for later. There was a sort of Saturday market going on and I saw that food truck again. Starving to Death, I think it was called. What a name. I guess maybe it has to do with the Twilight thing. The same tired looking lady running it, and she still didn't have anybody else that I could see. Now I wonder if she could use some help. I did work in the school cafeteria last year. It might be a good idea to start figuring out how to get a little money coming in. If I see her again I'll buy something from her and ask if she wants to hire someone. I still have enough money for now and another thing I need to learn is living now and not in my head. Knowing what to learn, when i need to learn it has always been one of my super powers, though sometimes my timing seems to be off. I think my Guardian Spirits have a sense of humor. Or maybe Angel really is watching over me. I thought this was just the sad hope of the desperate, and that people go on when they go from here, and for some reason I don't understand, she wanted to go away from me, but there is always more than we know, something always one step ahead of our mere mortal forms.

Now I am back in Clallam and have spent a couple hours catching up. I feel bad for neglecting writing my chronicles but right now it seems better to experience for a few days and then process. Shit, I'm sounding like my therapist, aren't I? Maybe being alone is a good thing for now.  I found a motel that is even cheaper than the Bay. I hadn't noticed it before. This little place doesn't have a website but I saw the Vacancy sign and they had a room free for a couple nights. So I get a shower and a real bed after having a car for a home for the last week or so and time to be quiet and sit down without being disturbed and learn where the story goes. This salted caramel is calling my name.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Chef

My lifelong dream has always been to own my own food truck business and I had saved every spare penny in order to make it a reality. Funny thing is that not even death could keep me from being the chef I always wanted to be.

Cooking is in my blood, it’s a ‘Ohana’ thing, something I willingly ponied up thousands to go to the best culinary school, just so I could hang that piece of paper on the wall to prove that I was the real deal. The people from my home village didn’t care how educated I was, their only gripe was that I was getting on in age and showed no desire to get married or have children. ‘Something must be wrong with her’, they often gossiped behind my back, ‘Maybe she is one of those people’ was often overheard as well. It made me uncomfortable, but not for myself but my aging mother, who too often had to defend me from the obtrusive comments and questions. The only way I would ever be taken seriously was if I went somewhere new. Hence the move to the mainland. With just my framed diploma, knife bag and some clothes, and boarded a one-way flight with no real destination in mind.
Moving from Hawaii to the Olympic Peninsula was a bit of a culture shock when I first arrived three years ago, but I was determined, had a good work ethic and positive community spirit and it had earned me some brownie points from some of the natives. It took about a year to find the right sized truck to launch my mobile dream, and then another to get it all equipped. Supplies on the peninsula were limited and it got really expensive to have to truck them in from Seattle on a regular basis. I had been working twenty plus hour days to get things ready for the upcoming summer break. A few times, as I was later told, I even passed out from sheer exhaustion and woke up in strange places surrounded by weirder faces. The pressure to finish was draining me; still I forced myself to keep on working –  opening day was just two weeks away. All that remained was the final inspection from the Health Department and to get my permit to sell.

After an especially long night doing truck maintenance, I plopped onto my twin bed, too tired to change my greasy clothes. Scruff, the mechanic helper had been acting a little extra ‘off’ tonight but he was cheap so I didn’t complain. I wasn’t so entrenched into the community that I felt comfortable enough to ask those kinds of personal questions, so I just utilized my island charm by smiling and cooing in low tones. I even went as far to give the odd man a very maternal like hug when he started to leave for the evening. He seemed unfazed but wrapped his clammy arms around me, it was being trapped by an octopus. Eww!

Sleep didn’t come easily for me that night. At times, I thought I was roasting with a fever as hot as Mauna Loa, then it would become so bitterly cold that I forgot it was June and had to reach for my winter covers. That chill set in and remained the rest of the evening, fatigue taking over and sending me into deep slumber. There was no one else in the small home to witness my tossing or hear my fevered moans. There were no dreams that night, just darkness and the cold.

When the morning birds first crowed, dawn found me ensconced in a cocoon of down and covered with a layer of cold sweat. But I felt nothing, just stillness and a void. ‘Must be getting sick’ I pondered to myself. Dragging my body off the bed and into the tiled bathroom, the day’s priorities playing out in my sleep deprived mind. The floor didn’t feel as cold as it normally did this time of day, so I figured I was probably sick, the image looking back at me from the bathroom mirror looked withdrawn and pale. My skin was cold to the touch. I reached for the old thermometer in the drawer and stuck it in my mouth and waited. Fever or no, I had things to do today and nothing was going to change that. A couple long minutes passed and I pulled it out of my mouth - it hadn’t beeped so I my brain wasn’t roasting over 105 degrees. I had to squint really hard to see in the early morning light, it said 65 but that couldn’t be right, according to the fancy wall barometer/temperature that was what it was currently in the house. So I reset it and did it again…and again and again. By the time it had sunk in that the thermometer wasn’t broken, it was already past 8 o’clock. I had been turned. How or why, it didn’t matter. I was still going to march into the County Office and get my license.

The condition didn’t really start taking effect so quickly, aside from being room temperature, I could still think and recall memories. I began reciting recipes in my head to keep from forgetting. I would have to write everything down while I still could, before the hunger took over, before I stopped being me.  I was so deep into my own mind that I didn’t even realize that I had arrived at the office until I heard someone call out “NEXT”.

Things went downhill from there. Apparently the government doesn’t officially recognize ‘my kind’ as legal citizens and the Health Inspector did not want to give me a permit because according to him ‘I was technically dead’. There was much argument between all those involved and someone had eventually called in the Mayor and the Sheriff for their opinions. I just sat there and watched all of them argue the legal rights of the recently deceased versus the chance to make a landmark ruling and be the first to have a food establishment run by a zombie. Finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I jumped up, slamming my hand onto the laminate covered desk and screamed “What is the problem? It’s not like I am going to be cooking humans, that’s disgusting. Would you rather have a proper cook feeding the undead or let them keep sneaking around picking off random tourists or drunks.?” You could see the wheels rolling in their hamster brained heads. It took another hour of deliberation, I had fallen asleep in my chair, but eventually the Inspector declared that I would be the first, the experiment and be allowed to serve cooked food, provided I still followed the Living Health Code and be subject to frequent random inspections.

“Starve to Death” Mobile Company, LLC was born, coincidentally the day I died. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Under The Radar

Feeling a little better. Went to the beach after going to the co-op for some supplies. Found a pretty painted rock with writing on the back. Something about "PA Rocks" and then a white "f" in a blue outline square. Is this something to do with that Pokeyman game the other kids are playing with phones? It said "rehide," so I did.  Don't need to spoil anybody's fun.
Rock game? Or what?

Shoe with a foot on it on the beach, again. Haven't heard any fishing boats have gone down. If their crews get trapped, later on their feet rot loose and end up on the beaches. It's not drug wars or Pakistani gangs, like some people say. It's just what happens underwater.

I got down on hands and knees and sniffed it, and it had that nasty metallic rot smell a zombie has, so that's not so bad, although it's bad enough, because they're people, too, just really messed-up people. 

The younger zombies like that vampire series - they're just kids, too - and a few of them have taken the book at its word and tried to cliff-dive around here, and they just went Splat. Cliff-diving is okay if you're in a place where the cliffs go straight down into deep water, like in warm countries, but up here the sea stacks are really just headlands, and go down to bedrocks and reefs. So far it hasn't killed any live kids, but I wish the writer had done some research. For the kids' safety, anyway. Fewer beach feet, too, to freak out the cops and get them running around where I'm trying to hide.

Speaking of safety - I have got to learn to stay away from people. It's not safe, it's not good for my sleep.

I was trying to stay away from that girl, because it looks like something I said scared her, and she ended up trying to sleep on the beach. Anybody up here would know better than to do that, at least on THAT beach. The zombies try to - well, not live, but at least let live, mostly - but after dark, on a moonless night, if they're having a campfire, they'll be having S'mores and one of the ingredients will not be chocolate. Too much temptation.

So I did the worst thing anybody can do to anybody, especially somebody in my own situation - I kicked her shelter apart. I wrecked her stuff. I even pee'd on her campfire ashes. 

I had to scare her off the beach, and I guess it worked, because she's not on the beach. I don't know what happened to her. I hope they didn't get her before I broke up her camp. I hope she's okay.

Note: there's a new cook in town, a woman. From Hawaii, I hear. There's supposed to be a lot of Hawaiians moving up here. I overheard a woman near the co-op talking about her. But the woman telling got a funny look on her face. I've seen that look before, about people. I hope it doesn't mean what I think it means.

Back to the woods, with tea and cheese and some matches. 

I really hope that girl is safe.