for all things Theft Able: http://www.kraag.org
A seagull emerged from a trash can I happened to be staring at, its
beak entirely ketchup red.
At a party in another state, far, far away from home, a woman I’ve
never seen before approaches me and wordlessly hands me a smartphone.
On the screen is a picture of me and my ex-girlfriend from a couple of
years ago. It’s clear that neither of us were aware that the picture
was being taken.
I hastily pulled over and made my way into a Dunkin’ Donuts parking
lot. I needed the bathroom badly. An old man approached me as I was
opening the door. He said something to me that I couldn’t understand.
Despite my urgency I stopped and asked what he’d said to which he
responded by raising and lowering his eyebrows a bunch of times and
then asking “do you know what USA stands for?” I told him I didn’t and
he did several more eyebrow raisings and lowerings before finally
telling me “United…….Stupid……..
smiled for a moment but then his face grew dark and he took a couple
of steps toward me and said, in a completely different voice “Google
‘FEMA death camps’…..those trucks you see with soldiers in them? You
know…….Obama!” I assured him I would Google this and then left
without having ever gone into the Dunkin Donuts, as I and my body had
apparently completely forgotten that I needed to go the bathroom.
About a minute later I was walking along on the sidewalk when a car
full of teenage girls slowed down, rolled down their windows and
yelled “HEY SEXY!!!” at me in unison. I turned to them, filled my
cheeks with air and opened my eyes as side as possible. They laughed,
one of them yelled “Oh my God!!!” and they drove away. A ways down the
street I saw them slow down and faintly heard them yell “HEY SEXY!!!”
to someone else.
Two kids chasing each other with fly swatters, slapping one another
and both going “ZZZZZZZZZZ!”
Driving at 2AM on a misty night, at the bottom of a hill I came to a
stop light. Another car pulled up to the stop light in the lane next
to me. As I looked over, a tinted window had just finished getting
rolled up. Then the car starting going in reverse rather quickly. I
watched it in the rear view mirror as it rolled all the way back up
the hill, over the crest and out of sight. I could see its headlights
illuminating the mist just above the crest of the hill for a time, and
then that too receded.
An old woman working the register at a rural Maine convenience store
in the middle of the night was listening to two Country radio stations
coming out of two sets of speakers simultaneously. I asked her why,
and with palpable resignation she said “they leave it like that.”
Two young girls, one maybe 7ish one maybe 9ish, both dressed in neon
pink summer attire, pushing an old man in a wheelchair down a dirt
road, kicking up a trail of dust behind them. The old man’s left foot
was wrapped in a trash bag. Above the trash bag you could see some
kind of home made splint all wrapped up in gauze and tape. The
wheelchair hit a large bump at some point and the old man, nearly
shaken out of his seat, let out a huge laugh.
Just after my set a woman came up to me, said “Maine.” and then
stepped backwards a couple of steps and threw a paperback copy of
Stephen King’s “It” at me.
While on tour I got sick. Very sick. I had a fever, I was dizzy,
sore all over, and loopy from whatever medicines I’d bought out of
desperation at the Dollar General. I had conjunctivitis, pink eye,
and while I was driving I’d routinely have to pull over because my
vision had grown cloudy from the puss oozing out of my top eyelids.
It was also incredibly hot, 90 plus for 5 or 6 straight days, and my
car had no air conditioner, so I was completely soaked in sweat day
after day. I probably should have just taken a few days off gotten a
hotel room and tried to sleep the sick off but I was stubborn (when
will I get to play in this part of the country again?) and persisted
behaving as I would on any tour, stopping at junk shops, taking tons
of photos, going on long walks, trying to soak in the environment.
On my way north through the Ozarks in northern Arkansas, I was
enjoying the beautiful drive despite feeling loopy and the
conjunctivitis clouds in my eyes making everything look like a hazy
dream. At one point I saw something I wanted to take a photo of,
pulled over in an abandoned convenience store parking lot turned
around and drove back down the road a piece to the thing I wanted to
photograph. As I pulled over and got out of the car I realized I had
to pee. Badly. Because I’d been sick and I’d been trying to stay
hydrated, I’d been downing one bottle of water after another after
another after another. The passenger seat was covered in empty
I looked around and there wasn’t a stand of trees in sight, it was all
open fields with the occasional house off in the distance. I could
see mountains on either side of me, but they were a ways off. There
was nowhere to pee in privacy. I tried to persist with taking my
photo but after a few attempts the urgency grew and I realized I’d
better get some place private fast.
I got back in the car, turned around, and sped back up the hill toward
the abandoned convenience store, reasoning that I could find some
relatively private corner to piss there, perhaps behind the store.
Once in the parking lot, I threw the car door open, not bothering to
close it behind me, and started jogging toward the old convenience
store. By this time I was moaning in pain. Once I got close enough
to the store I saw that there was a road behind it with a couple of
trucks parked out back with people in them. I realized there would be
no private corner.
At first, I resisted, the piss initially only coming out in little
spurts, but I knew there was no hope and my body just stopped letting
me resist. I looked up at the now illegible, broken sign at the peak
of the roof of the old convenience store with my hazy conjunctivitis
eyes and just let go. I felt it warming my crotch, then felt it
rolling down my legs, then heard it hitting the ground. It was a lot.
I looked down and saw my blue shorts were now a much darker blue, and
the darkness was spreading fast. I heard a car pass and closed my
legs in embarrassment, not wanting anyone to notice that I’d left the
spigot turned on. I turned my eyes toward the mountains in the
distance. It was a beautiful view. This must have been quite high
up. I let it go until the pain abated then at some point my inner
voice said “you know, you don’t have to let it all out now, Skot”. At
this point I started laughing, and managed to turn off the spigot.
I wrapped myself in a towel got back in the car, and the only time I
stopped laughing for the next half an hour or so was to sporadically
declare to the pile of empty water bottles riding shotgun “So what?
Who cares? That was hilarious!”
At a thrift store, every employee I saw, at least 5 of them, had some
sort of band-aid on their person, save for my cashier. He had a black
eye. When I went out to my car there was an old woman in a neck brace
leaning against it, smokin’ a cigarette.
A little girl wordlessly presented her mom with an empty plastic
container. Her mother asked pointedly “for what?! for what?!” The kids
mental wheels turned for a minute then she cheerfully replied
“bathtub!”. Mom sternly said that they already had a bathtub and that
that was too small anyway. With this the little girl started crying,
ran over to the stuffed animals, grabbed, one, put it in the tote and
said “for this!” Mom said no. The kid grabbed another stuffed animal,
put it in the tote next to another one and said even more forcefully
“for this!!”, Mom said no again and started to walk away, then the kid
wailed, screamed “FOR THIS!!” and added a third stuffed animal to the
tote. At this, mom’s body language changed from tense to resigned, she
seemed to know what was coming. The kid kept adding stuffed animals
one by one, each time shouting “FOR THIS!!!!” with a different shade
of intensity. Mom just watched as the kid filled the bin full of
stuffed animals, and then, once it was filled, kept adding them
anyway, they’d fall over the side while she again shouted “FOR
THIS!!!!” This went on for maybe 3 or 4 minutes.
On tour, having slept in a parking lot somewhere in the south, I woke
up in my car (with its Maine license plates) to the sound of someone
asking with seemingly genuine concern in a deeply southern accent
“that Yankee dead?”
Middle aged man with a freshly cropped silver goatee loudly rifling
through a tote full of old silverware. Over the metallic din he
earnestly and ably whistles along to Roxette’s late 80’s hit “It Must
Have Been Love”, (which was playing through the tiny, tinny sounding
speakers above) adding touching flourishes here and there.
At the same time, an old woman yells across the store “EVERY TIME I GO
OVER THIS RUG I RIPPLE THE RUG!” to someone who apparently didn’t hear
it because she repeats “THIS RUG! IRIPPLE THE RUG! EVERY TIME! I
I look up to find a third person scowling at me.
A man came up to the counter of the record store I work at in
Portland, Maine, asked in an Eastern European accent “how long to
walk?” and then handed me his phone which showed the address of a
Guitar Center over 3,000 miles away in Portland, Oregon.
Having a Facebook chat with a female friend, we were sending our
childhood photos back and forth to one another. I keep all old photos
of myself in one folder. While scrolling through them looking for
another one to send, I came upon some that I’d forgotten about. There
was a period many years ago when I was trying to get in shape that I
started taking nude selfies to document my weight loss. I was amused
to find these and wanted to get a closer look, so I double clicked on
the thumbnail of one of them, forgetting that doing so wouldn’t open
the file, but would, rather, send it to the friend I’d been chatting
with. Once I realized what I’d done and saw that the file was
starting to upload I yelled “no!” and hastily closed the browser then
irrationally unplugged the computer. I stepped outside and stared up
at the stars, convinced that I’d just accidentally sent a nude to my
friend and that my social world was about to collapse in on itself. I
imagined my awkward, unconvincing, apology, the gossip, the public
call outs, deactivating my Facebook account, never setting foot in her
town again, the cancelled shows, people distancing themselves from me.
It was all over.
After my I worked up the nerve and readied my apology, I plugged the
computer back in, turned it on, signed in to Facebook, opened the chat
and saw that I’d sent a different picture than the one I thought I’d
sent, one in which I was fully clothed and to which she had responded
Watching someone trying to crush a beer can on well packed down
sidewalk snow, it kept squirting out from under their sneaker.
1,2,3,4,5,6 times it slipped out from under them. Undeterred, there
was a 7th attempt and the can was crushed. They reached down, put the
can in their pocket, and proceed to walk right into the sparse but
still nearly lethal 3am traffic.
I got home, opened the door, turned on the light (with the light came
the humming and whirring of the ceiling fan coming to life) and
immediately a small white moth flew right onto my face and crawled
around frantically. I momentarily and irrationally felt loved, as
though this moth had been waited all day to see me and was overcome. I
let this go on for a time but the feeling soon faded, and I gently
cupped the moth in my hands and decided I’d try to bring it outside.
As I took one of my hands away briefly to reach for the door knob, the
moth climbed up on the side of my hand, seemed to take a look at me
and then flew away, at first straight up, then right along the ceiling
in the direction of the ceiling fan. I uselessly tried to call out
“Don’t…” but at that it hit one of the fan blades, knocking it back
in my direction, right into my beard. There it hung where it’d just
been crawling, now dead.