S T R E A M # 2 7

Rufus ate potato chips all of his life. He ate all kinds of potato chips, but only potato chips. He did not eat hotdogs or hamburgers or French Fries. He ate BBQ flavored potato chips, cheddar cheese flavored potato chips, sour cream & onion flavored potato chips, you name it. He ate all brands and all varieties. He ate potato chips. And milk. Chocolate milk. Made with chocolate syrup. And so he’d munch all varieties of potato chips and he’d wash them down with chocolate milk made from chocolate syrup. And the milk was always 2% milk from the fast food place down the street. The fast food place down the street only sold milk in the half-pint size. Rufus only drank milk and bought potato chips from that fast food place, so he gave it a lot of business. He gave them so much business they started stocking bags of potato chips just for Rufus. (Or so he believed.) They weren’t the big bags, they were the little bags. But Rufus didn’t care. Rufus went on like that for many years. His lips were always smeared with the flavoring dust from all the various potato chips he’d crammed into his mouth. His breath always smelled of artificially flavored potato chips. As did his hair, which he never shampooed. No, he bathed; but, yes, he never shampooed. As you might expect, his clothes reeked of potato chips. Rufus was happy nonetheless. He was cheerful. Content. A few of his online buddies urged him to clean himself up and get out more. Most, however, championed his unorthodox lifestyle and dietary habits. After all, he was contributing to the economy; and, save for potato chips and chocolate milk, he had no attachments and he carried no debts. Whenever the urge for intimacy reared its pang-full head, Rufus stepped into the shower and lathered up. This chore usually took under ten minutes. After that, he was fine. Chemically re-balanced. Often, once a day was enough. Occasionally, the urge reared itself twice a day. And that was Rufus. In his own way, a nice enough sort of fellow. Minded his own. Nobody had a beef with him and Rufus had no axes to grind. He didn’t ask for this life – or, rather, he doesn’t recall asking for it. If he asked for anything, he asked only to get through it. Before a sinkhole swallowed his mother up, she drove Rufus to church every Sunday, where he’d pray only one prayer to the Lord: “Dude, just get me through it.” His mother would surely slap him if she knew that he was addressing the Almighty as “Dude.” But Rufus was bright enough to never utter his prayers aloud. Perhaps she knows it now – assuming she’s watching over him from Heaven. If so, then, evidently, she’s forgiven him. Rufus sits in the rocker on the front porch and watches the sun rise whilst munching his morning potato chips. When the sun’s straight above, he’ll go inside and proceed to nurse a glass of chocolate milk. He’ll sip it through a plastic straw. After that, he’ll relocate to the back porch rocker, munch his afternoon potato chips, and watch the sun set. In the Spring and in the Summer, he’ll often fall asleep on the rocker and spend all night out there with the crickets and the bats. Of course, this was all before the bear attack. “Just getting through it,” now, means feeding tubes, catheters, and a cocktail of powerful painkillers. Perhaps the Lord didn’t like being called, “Dude,” after all. Bottom (and then some) reached. 
23 June 2008

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