Tuesday, March 17, 2015


The funeral started at the Portland Chapel at 11a.m. Monday. I arrived twenty minutes early. The only people there were the pastor, organist, and Mrs. Emily Powell. Mrs. Powell was the rich, white liberal who was paying for the funeral. She was a tiny woman, in a dress-up dress, understated, black.

The deceased was a black baby girl found dead in a dumpster in Northeast Portland. It was determined the baby died after being put in the dumpster.

I wore my only dressy outfit: gray slacks, blue dress shirt, black shoes. I was a sixty-year-old man, retired, so had no trouble attending.

At eleven only ten more people had arrived, five white, five black. The woman in the same pew with me moved down next to me. She was white like me. All in black.

"There should be more people," she said.

I nodded as the organist began playing the Old Rugged Cross. The music went on for awhile then the pastor stepped up to the podium. The pastor was a black woman, tall, late fifties.

"I'm not going to do a formula eulogy, this baby deserves better. We can all make assumptions about the parents of this child, but the tragedy is they didn't turn the baby over to authorities. This child might have grown up to do wonderful things. This baby was cheated. And so was society. I hope all of you here will do what you can to prevent things like this happening. I want to thank Mrs. Powell for providing for this funeral. I'm not going to say a prayer. I want you all to sit in silence and say your own prayer."

We sat for awhile. I said a silent prayer. The music began again and soon it was over.

That's it? I thought it wasn't right. Then I thought it was. Anything else the pastor would've said would've been bullshit.

The pastor went over and shook Mrs. Powell's hand. We all got up and shook hands with each other and thanked Mrs. Powell.

We walked out into the bitter winter wind. As people drifted off I said to the woman who sat next to me: "There's a nice coffeehouse two blocks down from here, I'd like to buy you a cup."

"Why?" she said

"Because you give a fuck."

Copyright 2015 David Elsey

Friday, November 21, 2014


I sit in my studio apartment on my sixtieth birthday thinking about how a guy winds up in a studio at sixty. It's because I stayed at entry level my thirty years at the library. The other jobs seemed worse than the job I had. Money wasn't an issue. Then I had to retire at age fifty-five due to severe depression. And starting around the mid-nineties Portland, Oregon began to gentrify and rent went way up.

The town I once loved has been spoiled. Portland was thought of as a good place to move to. Sadly, most the people who moved here were upscale bastards and hipsters. Hipsters are the worst, posing as artists and bohemians. I respect the upscale bastards because they're honestly bastards and don't want to be an artist or a bohemian. Now, the town is crowded, spendy, and arrogant.

I haven't had a girlfriend in twenty-five years. My mom abandoned me when I was five. I'm afraid of being hurt by a woman. I did manage to have one girlfriend for four and a half years. The worst part is that I knew why I was missing out and didn't do anything about it.

I struggle daily to be rational and motivated. My thoughts are often negative to the point of delusion. It's hard for me to do things, even hygiene and laundry. My therapist has advised anti-depressants. I have refused because those drugs scare me.

I'm proud of keeping a good job for thirty years and getting to retirement with a good pension. I have several good friends. In two years I'll get Social Security. Then things will be better.

Copyright 2014 David Elsey

Friday, March 7, 2014


Sarah sat on the couch and lit a Camel straight. She took a deep drag and smelled the good coffee brewing. She was hungover. It was 1:03 p.m. She had just got out of bed and was trying to focus on the night before.

She lived in a studio apartment. The place had empty beer bottles and dirty clothes strewn through the rooms. The place was filthy. Sarah had been a hooker for 4 years and 3 months. She was 26. Sarah was short, fleshy, had red hair.

She remembered the night before. She gave this guy a blow job. He was around 50, fat, white. Something went wrong. When she finished swallowing a wave of nausea ran through her. She puked up his sperm. She felt like she was puking up everything good in her, puking up her soul. But there was very little good, very little of her soul, left.

The guy panicked. He jerked up his pants and ran clumsily out of the room. He threw some bills at her as he ran.

Sarah filled a big mug of coffee. She had a date at the hotel at 3:00. She sipped the good coffee and lit another Camel.

Sarah thought back to her first sexual encounter. She was 12 and swimming at her friend Mona's house. Mona's dad was hanging around. He sent his daughter into the house to make them sandwiches. When she was gone Mona's dad talked to Sarah while he looked her up and down. She was wearing a bikini. Then he pawed his crotch, outside his pants. Mona came back with sandwiches and grape Kool-Aid. Mona took a pass on the food and drink. The dad went into the house. Sarah never told anyone, and never went back to Mona's house.

Then Sarah remembered her first job. She was a waitress at Griffo's restaurant. One night she was serving a couple dinner. The guy ogled Sarah. Right in front his date. His date was angry but said nothing. The guy kept staring at Sarah's cleavage. His date said nothing. Sarah poured hot coffee onto his crotch on purpose. The guy leaped up and shouted that she had done it on purpose. Sarah denied everything. The manager came over. He heard their stories. The manager suspended her in front of everyone. She quit on the spot. She went into the back room, got her coat and backpack, and walked out.

It was getting late. Sarah had to shower, put on make-up, get dressed. She drained her mug of coffee, then walked into the bathroom.

copyright 2014 David Elsey

Friday, February 28, 2014


Today is the ninth day of my new living arrangement. I sleep during the day in my storage unit and stay up all night at various all-night cafes in Portland.

This all started when I was forced to quit my job at the downtown library. The boss told me there would be a meeting with her that day at 2:30. At the meeting was my boss, my union steward, and the head of HR. My boss accused me of slacking, cheating on my sick leave, and cussing out my co-workers. The slacking and cheating were true. The cussing was a lie that my enemies piled on when they heard I was in trouble.

I'm a 55-year-old man, and out of work in the worst recession since the Depression. The shock of what happened has made my depression worse.

The boss said they'd fire me if I didn't quit. I had my tiny pension to think about. It would be $201. I would lose it if I was fired. So, I "retired".

The reason why they came after me and not any number of other slackers and cheaters in the department was because I spouted off at work. I criticized management and my fellow line-workers. And I was a gossip.

The  head of the library wanted to make an example out of someone to keep all the other workers in line.

I have $327.23 in the bank. I have no living relatives. I have one friend. No girlfriend.

The rent on my unit is $45 a month. The things from my apartment are in there. I have a mattress flat on the floor. I sleep in a sleeping bag.

The storage place opens at 7:00 a.m. I come in and sleep till around 1:00 p.m. Then I look for work till around 6:00 p.m. I wander around after that, finally moving from all-night cafe to all-night cafe throughout the night.

I have food stamps, a little spending money, and free medical from the Oregon Health Plan. I eat at soup kitchens fairly often. There's a homeless shelter I go to where they have laundry facilities, free clothes,  showers, and a postal address for the homeless.

How long can I keep going like this? Something has to break my way, some job, any job. The Wall Street people and the bankers who caused this recession should be taken out and shot.

Copyright 2014 David Elsey

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Joe Benson sat on the couch in his tiny studio apartment and looked at the pistol. He considered picking it up off the coffee table, putting the barrel in his mouth, and pulling the trigger.

Joe  was forty-seven. Tommorow he had to start a one-year jail sentence. Joe had never been in trouble with the law before. If he chose to live, and go to jail, he would have a record the rest of his life. His court-appointed lawyer said that he was lucky, it could have been much worse. Joe thought it was bad enough. He was a little guy, afraid of being beat up or raped in jail. He had to choose.

Joe had been a cabbie for eleven years. He worked seven a.m. to seven p.m., four days on, three days off. It seemed like nothing at all when a fellow cabbie told him he could pick up easy money connecting businessmen arriving at the airport  with hookers working the downtown hotels. For each John he connected he would get thirty bucks in cash. On a good week he could make maybe one-hundred and fifty. That's how his buddy put it.

Even a year earlier Joe would've passed. But Joe was just hanging on to his apartment. His neighborhood of twenty-two years was being gentrified. He could barely handle the new jacked-up rent. And he was burnt-out, more or less in every way. Plus, the whole thing seemed a little thrilling.

Joe thought back to the day he was arrested. The guy seemed like your average, tired, beaten businessman. Right up until two cop cars boxed him in and the undercover cop flashed his badge. Joe felt like he had been shot in the gut. The cops got him out of the cab, frisked him, slapped on handcuffs. He was booked, and released on his own recognizance. He was fired that day.

The whole ring was busted: one pimp, six hookers, and five cabbies. The DA was running for re-election on a "get tough" platform. He went after them. The local paper played it up. The assistant DA who handled Joe's case told him he could do three years if he didn't plead to a lesser. Joe's lawyer didn't care. Joe took the deal.

Joe sat in his studio and thought about his life. He drank too much coffee during the day, and too much beer at night. He ate too much red meat. He had a big belly. He was balding. He had two friends and no woman. Mostly, he just sat at home watching TV. He looked around his apartment. It was dusty and grimy. He never cleaned. It was enough to shave, shower, and brush his teeth.

In Joe's mind his crime barely mattered. But he had to choose.

I can't go on the run, Joe thought.

He sat there and stared at the pistol a long time.

He picked up the pistol and put it back in his desk drawer.

Hell, he thought, jail won't be that bad, I've been doing time for years.

copyright 2002 David Elsey

Saturday, January 14, 2012


When I found my dad dead from a stroke, sprawled in his living room, I felt relieved. He was 78 when he died, and I was a 58-year-old man. I felt relieved because I would finally get his house and money. And, I wouldn't have to fake love towards him anymore.

When I was growing up as an only child he was an alcoholic. Mom and I suffered his drunken rages regularly.

On my 18th birthday I moved out. Dad still drank and mom suffered even more. I tried to get her to leave him. But, she never had the guts.

When I was in my mid-twenties dad became a better father, helping me out in several ways. It was easier when I was grown. It was too late.

Then mom got cancer. When she was dying dad continued to work the swing shift. Mom was left alone at night. I hired one of mom's friends to stay with her the nights dad worked. It cost me, but it had to be done. And, dad wouldn't do it.

After mom died I only saw dad often enough to stay in his favor to get his house and money.

When I made the arrangements after dad's death I had him cremated in a cardboard casket, and his ashes put in a cardboard box. The was no funeral, memorial service, obit, or death notice. The cheapest method.

After I picked up the ashes and was driving home I knew I couldn't bring that box into my house. It was then that I spotted the huge Burger King sign in the distance. I pulled into Burger King and parked. I went around back to the dumpster. It was unlocked. I scraped off the label on the box that said: Cremated Remains of Derek Foster. I didn't want anyone to find the box and return it to me. I tossed the box into the trash.

Then I went into Burger King and ordered a Whopper and a small coffee.

copyright 2011 David Elsey

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I am a 55-year-old man who spends 40 hours a week at work with alot of people who don't like me, and who I don't like. Quite apart from the daunting tasks at work is the daunting atmosphere. By the end of the day I am drained, by the atmosphere and all the coffee I drink just trying to make it through the day. I go home after work and microwave a TV dinner or get a bowl of cold cereal and eat. Then I listen to talk radio till 9 p.m., and then hit the sack. The first day of my weekend I do nothing, resting up from the 5 workdays. The second day I do all the needed things; laundry, grocery shopping and such. Then I am back at work, looking to the three-day-weekends or vacations when I can live fully.

copyright 2009 David Elsey