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The Day I Met Mike on the Street

I'd just encountered Glenda Anderson, journalist and prisoner of love when, only minutes later, just around the corner on West Church, Ukiah, there was the dungeon master himself — Mike Sweeney, Mendocino County's trash czar, a wholly reinvented person of the uniquely Mendo type from his days as a Maoist hit man and, presumably, recycler of his former wife via a car bomb. This encounter is worth mentioning, I think, although I'll concede that I'm probably one of maybe five people who do. I had just turned the corner on foot onto Church when, looking up the street, nearly two blocks away, I saw someone heading my way who looked, from a distance, very much like the demolition man himself, Mr. Mendocino County Solid Waste Management Authority! I'd been about to cross the street when it occurred me to get a close-up look at the guy, maybe reach out and grab a handful of DNA off his comb-across. As Sweeney drew closer, I saw that he carried a sandwich bag and a take out drink. I wondered if the latest DNA science had destroyed his ability to enjoy sit-down restaurant meal for fear someone might buy his DNA-laden dinner plate. And just then my sidewalk meeting with Sweeney went weird, so weird that a young woman on the other side of the street stopped and stared. As Sweeney had drawn closer, the more robotic his gait became, his legs stiff and kicking straight out in a kind of modified goose step. He stared straight ahead, and his face — usually an unhealthy-looking, grayish white —  became as blood dark as a Kansas summer storm cloud. If this man, looking like he looked, had been walking towards a bus in Jerusalem, security forces would have opened fire on him! Suicide bombers don't look this nuts! As he drew close, I'd put on my most welcoming smile and sang out, "Mike, so nice to see you!" But Robot Man quick-timed right past me, so near I could have reached out and grabbed two whole handfuls of DNA! Sweeney's dead eyes stared straight ahead, his robot legs kicking out in a Kim Il Sung, his arms swinging in cadence with the rest of his out-of-sync moving parts. No exaggeration, and I don't have a mystic bone in my body, and I've known lots of tough guys, guys who have killed people, but this Sweeney person was death itself. I mentally kicked myself for messing with him without a plan, and had to restrain myself from calling out after him, "Mister! I think you need an anger management class!" As I watched Mendocino County's recycler march rigidly the rest of the way down West Church, not once looking anywhere but straight ahead, he never did resume a normal gait. The young woman across the street stopped in anticipation of whatever peculiar was up between us, gave me the que pasa gesture, then a smile and a shrug, and walked on west. Of course the sight of my plump jolly face understandably upsets certain people, and of course I understand Mike and Glenda's hostility for me, but it's not as if I'm the only person who thinks Mike's a killer, that Glenda's a love dupe, that Cherney's a crook, that Redwood Summer Justice Project is a rolling fraud, that the federal lawsuit is a front-to-back scam. But if I hated someone so bad that the sight of him turned my face stroke-black, and I was instantly transformed into a drill team zombo, I think I'd make a bee-line for Camille Shrader and her stable of helping pros.


  1. William Ray October 10, 2018

    Recommend “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” by Stephen Sondheim.

    Tod is death in German.

  2. Jim Gibbons October 18, 2018

    I think you should have called out for him to take an anger management class, just to see if it altered his modified goose step.
    The many times he came to pick up their two girls, when I worked on Judi’s cabin out String Creek Road, I don’t recall him ever looking me in the eyes…maybe that was a good thing.

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