“Repeater Rick” Tanka 2318


(April 20, 2019)

“Mind” does not wander

it flees at every spare chance

the mundane repeat.

Harry kept him a housemate:

never knew who had it worse!*

*(“Repeater Rick” became something of an institution at Uncle Nick’s Oyster and Liquor Bar – I never fully found out why Liquor was not just assumed here in Sanford, Florida, but it mattered little to me: I just as often called it Sinko’s Tavern from my childhood days sipping a suicide and playing at shuffleboard while mom and dad sucked down small Schlitz beers, and I later found out why Dad would urge Mom from her sotto voce chats with Jane Sinko as her husband looked like a dog straining at an invisible leash. Schlitz sucks. Gives The Runs if you must know. I went to Sinko’s after I became legal. Once. Then I found other pursuits. Harry “Ratt” Krohn, I should say The Late Ratt, found room in his Winter Springs abode for odds and sods of his biker world and of them all the parade was led not by Repeater Rick…he was more the guy with the push broom and the trashcan on two wheels following Mister Peabody and the little smart kid at the end of Bullwinkle and Rocky. Had Repeater Rick been able to fly he might have been more tolerable. Had Ratt more sense he would still be holding forth. Rick’s best trick was repeating the same tale each and every time you were captured in a corner and had to listen to the same exact story each and every time as Harry The Ratt grinned malevolently as if he were using a abacus to count up the alleged wrongs the listener must endure before getting Repeater Rick off on a new tale of wonder and woe and Me. Me? I just loved egging Rick on even more than Ratt, but usually I tried it from an escape-worthy angle. Drunk and semi-drunk and/or stoned or fried and trashed or toasted bikers with few verbal skills tend to keep away the riff-raff, of which Uncle Nicks had more than two. A couple of college professors, a nuclear sub chief, a few lawyers and a couple of skip-tracers, a certified public accountant, more teachers from elementary to high school and assorted matronly types who found out they were safe from any intrusions in the small sips of paint remover and the occasion foray into shellfish and wildlife. A nurse or three, a few outright sluts of both genders, one three-dollar bill braggard trailing a winsome Russian princess as bait, and more than enough drunks to fill three tanks. A typical smalltime snitch; someone practicing bravado and downright prevarication of the dangerous sorts, scam artists and scam clowns – and their marks – and a few, like me, who had known Moses when he stepped off Noah’s speedboat on the Saint Johns River last time we had a big rain abnd fell into this formerly beer-n-wine only little bar just up the road from nowhere along the town’s four-lane escape to Orlando or Daytona Beach. You know: neighborhood biker bar. Used to be Cooper’s Pub before Nick bought the place, installed a steamer for rock shrimp, gulf shrimp, snow crab legs and other pieces of the puzzle. Perhaps enough whitish powder not named Equal was rumored to be around; a goodly amount of cannabis sometimes found its way to burnhood, the smarter set using the walk-in cooler instead of going outside just past the big lit billboard into the scrub brush and the tall stately pines and a few stunted oaks and wax myrtles…from which more than one undercover narcotics agent of the failed and fabled collection of good guys, losers and posers called City-County Intelligence Bureau (CCIB) would fall from limbs and collect “collars.” Really. Best way to catch the ground without breaking an ankle: ring of arms around a collar of a criminal doper. And it if was winter and rainy the damfools on the deck puffin’ away and in the trees soaking up that thar liquid sunshine risked punctures – and worse – from broken tree limbs from previous collars or attempts to hide and take a toke or run a bump, busted bottles, bent cans and a collection of poorly hidden empty oyster shells thrown away after being washed of Appalachicola Bay mud to be taken indoors to be sold for Four-fifty a bucket or a buck or so a dozen – prices depending on how much Keith the Red needed to make his nut that night. And in the midst of it all stood Harry The Ratt and Repeater Rick, evil leers on both their shiny too-not-real faces as if they knew secrets – one not sharing and Rick not remembering.)

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