After watching Frozen on television, David Emami felt inspired to build his own snowman. He hadn’t built a snowman since he was a young boy, but the newly fallen snow beckoned him and he knew he couldn’t resist the opportunity. He put on his winter clothes and proudly announced to his cats, Fred and Barbra Streisand, “I’ll be outside building us a new friend. If you need me, just holler at the window!” After that, he left the apartment and departed into the frigid parking lot.
Pablo, the apartment maintenance man, was quickly shoveling the lot.
“Good morning, Pablo,” said David.
“Good morning. You not have work today?”
“No school today. I’m going to build a snowman. Care to join me?”
“I have to work,” said Pablo with sadness in his voice.
“Well, aren’t you just a party pooper?!” said David.
David began rolling the balls of the snow and forming them into a snowman. People watched him as if he was crazy, but he rarely cared what people thought about him. Once the structure was complete, he grabbed some rocks to form a smile, a nose, and some eyes, then placed his scarf on it.
“Well, nice to meet you!” said David. “I’ll call you Pat.”
David admired his creation for a bit, then went inside. He put on some Christmas music and relaxed with his cats. Suddenly, he heard a crash outside. He jumped to the window and saw an old man parked directly on top of his beloved Pat. David’s heart sank and he ran outside.
“You killed him!” he screamed.
The old man looked at David, alarmed and frightened. “Killed who?”
David ran down the stairs and sprinted to the car and looked underneath. “Pat! My snowman! You’ve murdered him!”
“A snowman? That’s what you’re screamin’ about?”
David looked up, “He was more than a snowman! He was my friend!”
“Give it a break,” said the man as the walked to his apartment door.
David struggled to reach his favorite scarf and finally reached it and pulled it out. “What an awful end to a beautiful snowman.” David walked into his apartment, holding the scarf as he wept.
David rarely had any contact with any of his family members, but when Buster Emami, David’s cousin, sent him a letter, David figured he should probably go visit him. Buster had spent the last 10 years of his life in jail for selling counterfeit collectable items on eBay. He was particularly proud of the ruby slippers he had sold for $400,000, which he claimed were real and came directly from the set of The Wizard of Oz, but in reality they were just slippers he had purchased from Payless Shoes and had glued red sequins to them.
David felt he owed Buster a visit, since the last time he had seen him was when David had divorced his wife 30 year prior. David got dressed and headed to the jail, though he truly didn’t want to go.
When he arrived, he was patted down and signed papers. He waited in the lobby until he was called back and instructed what he could and could not do. Finally, he was escorted into a room to see Buster.
“So happy you came, cousin!” said Buster, who pounced on David and gave him a big hug. Buster looked much like David, except he had a full head of black and gray hair.
“Nice to see you too, Buster,” replied David. They sat down. “Why did you want me to visit?”
“Do I need a reason to see my cousin?”
“Well, the timing just seems odd. Why now?”
“Well, here’s the thing.” Buster leaned in close over the table. “I have a business idea for us. I’m getting out of here in a month and I wanted to have some money to come back to.”
“I’m not doing anything illegal,” said David.
“It’s not illegal. I thought you could get yourself a computer and a nice printer.”
“Why would you need that?”
“I’m going to start printing counterfeit tickets and selling them online. I won’t be out any money and the people won’t know they’re bad until the day of the show. By then, I’ll be long gone with their money!”
David pulled back, horrified. “That’s still illegal! Have you learned nothing while you’ve been here?”
“Okay, fine. We can also sell drugs.”
“Sell poached elephant tusks from East Africa?”
“Sell organs on the black market?”
David stood up. “Clearly, you haven’t changed! Good luck with your illegal activities!”
“Wait! Don’t leave!” But it was too late. David left the room and was done with his cousin. He didn’t care to see him ever again.
David Emami had been looking forward to participating in the May Day Parade for quite some time. He loved flowers and was thrilled when someone noticed his flowered sweater while taking a walk around town. David was invited to participate in the parade and to toss flowers at the spectators. David had never been in a parade before, but he was sure it would be the highlight of his entire life.
When David arrived in Portland for the parade, he proudly wore the same flowered sweater that had originally been worn by his ex wife 30 years ago. He didn’t wear it because it reminded him of her; he wore it because it was beautiful. David was given a basket of flowers, much like a flower girl walking down the aisle of a wedding, and was instructed to toss them about casually as he walked with the massive floral float.
The parade began, and David smiled brightly and waved at the spectators. He tossed flowers here and there and was having the time of his life. As he threw them, he was delighted when people grabbed them and thanked him. He was certain he had found a new calling in life until he accidentally tossed a flower that landed like a missile directly in a large man’s eye. He was a beast with a crew cut and didn’t seem much too pleased.
“You hit me in the eye!” he screamed over the festive music and cheers.
David jumped out of his skin as he looked over and saw the enormous man walking toward him while rubbing his eye.
“I’m gonna break yer neck!” screamed the man.
“I didn’t mean to!” whimpered David, still walking in time with the parade.
“I don’t care if you meant to or not, I’m still gonna kill ya!” The man grabbed David’s basket and tossed it sky high. It dropped on the roof of the second story shop nearby. David looked around and noticed that no one else was even paying attention to the situation, so David did what he had to do: he ran.
“Get back here, you flower throwin’ sissy man!” screamed the angry brute.
David cried and screamed for help, but no one seemed to notice. He jumped into the crowd and slipped into a bakery shop, then hid in the back.
“Can I help you?” asked the baker.
“There’s a man that’s trying to kill me!” screamed David.
David’s pursuer ran past the shop, unaware that he had just passed him.
David stood up and straightened his shirt. “I suppose I outsmarted the beast.”
“What are you talking about?” asked the baker.
“Nevermind. Get me a bagel so I can forget this day ever happened.”
David Emami hadn’t ever run a marathon, but after watching a special on PBS about them, he decided it was something he had to try. He knew he first had to get in shape, so the day before the marathon, David pulled out some feminine looking 2 pound dumbbells and began lifting them enthusiastically. He did 10 on each arm and after feeling a very slight tingle, he said, “That should do it.” He then rested for 3 hours on the couch while watching The Golden Girls because, as he figured, a runner should be well rested before a race. He went to bed after that and was ready for the big day.
When he awoke, David quickly downed a bottle of red Gatorade and then proceeded to do 30 seconds of stretching. He slipped on his obscenely short running shorts that left very little to the imagination and a tank top with kittens on it. He was ready for the race and figured that his grueling preparations would ensure a first place win.
When he arrived in Downtown Portland, thousands of people watched as the racers lined up with their numbers across their shirts. David felt a little intimidated when he realized that everyone around him seemed very in shape and prepared. David, however, felt tired and had to pee very badly, but there was no time to waste; he had a race to win.
The gunshot signalled the start of the race, and David began sprinting with all his might. He ran for about 2 blocks, then slowed down to a slow jog, then after another block, he started to walk, then after 1 more block, he threw his hands up in the air, barely able to breathe, and said faintly, “Oh, forget it!”
People whizzed by David, but he worked his way back to the sidewalk to groups of onlookers cheering him on. “Save your cheers for someone else,” he said defeated, “I’m going home to watch The Lawrence Welk Show with Fred and Barbra Streisand.”
People looked at him, confused, then quickly forgot about him and continued cheering on the others.
David went home, certain he was going to die of a heart attack, then treated himself to a Hungry Man frozen turkey dinner and spent the evening with his cats.
After watching a late-night infomercial about a charitable organization that donates money to enrich the lives of the elderly, David Emami felt a strong urge to go out and lend some service to those that needed it most. He called up a nearby retirement home the next day and asked if he could come by and chat with the folks and cheer them up. They gladly agreed, since no one ever came to that place.
When David arrived, the place was gloomy and depressing. Bing Crosby music played in the distance, and a woman was slouched over in her wheelchair screaming, “Help me! Help me! Please, won’t you help?” David felt very saddened by the state of the facility and was determined to help out in the hour he had scheduled to be there.
He went straight to the helpless woman, held her hand and said, “What can I help you with?”
She looked up at him with unkempt hair and lipstick across her face and screamed, “Get me out of here! It’s a prison! It’s a terrible, awful place! They feed me raisins! I hate raisins! And…. AND… they have a Hispanic gentleman that bathes me and can’t even speak English. Please, get me out of here! I beg of you!” She tightened her grip on David’s hand. “Don’t you dare leave me!”
David was frightened by the desperate woman, but felt saddened at the thought of leaving her in such a dreadful place. He looked at the others in the facility, who simply stared at him with dull glances. He then looked back down at her and said, “Okay, let’s go.”
David began wheeling her out of the building as quickly as he could, but an attendant yelled, “Hey, where are you taking her?”
David froze. “Just for a walk.”
“Did she ask you help her escape again?”
She turned around and answered for him. “No, he’s my son and we want a little privacy.”
“Okay, well just remember, Dianne, that you are not allowed to leave.”
“Of course,” she replied obediently. She then looked up at David and whispered, “Run! Now is your chance!”
David wheeled her down the hall as the attendant chased them from behind. He took a sharp corner and accidentally crashed the old lady into a bookshelf, which landed on top of her.
“Aw! Help me! You worthless fool! Help me! You were supposed to save me, not kill me!” She was on the ground covered in books as the attendant caught up with them.
“What was that all about?” asked the attendant.
David looked down at the injured woman and back at the attendant, then bolted for the door. He ran as fast as he could to his car and peeled out of the driveway. His days of breaking the elderly out of retirement homes were over.
David Emami finished some delicious canned beef stew and felt warm and fuzzy inside. He hated cooking, so he often lived off of canned or frozen food and that was just fine with him. As he sat inside his warm apartment, he cozied up on the couch and looked outside. It was pouring down freezing rain and the wind was blowing wildly.
He noticed Lonnie, the homeless man that lived in the empty lot next to his complex, sitting in the mud, shivering and miserable. David usually didn’t think much about Lonnie or the homeless in general, but something stirred inside him, so he opened his door and shouted, “Lonnie, why don’t you come inside so you can stay dry and get cleaned up?”
Lonnie didn’t hesitate and quickly ran up the stairs. He was drenched and muddy. “Thanks for letting me come up. I was almost dead!”
“Oh, heavens. Just take off your boots. Why don’t you go get a warm shower? I’ll throw your clothes in the wash.”
“You mean that?”
David was feeling unusually charitable. “Of course.”
Lonnie hopped in David’s immaculately clean shower and David tossed his disgusting, tattered clothes in the wash. He gave Lonnie an old robe that had once belonged to David’s ex wife nearly 30 years ago. He didn’t even remember why he still had it, but it came in handy.
Lonnie exited the bathroom looking refreshed and wore the feminine robe like a champ.
“Thanks, that felt great.”
“Not a problem. I’ll throw your clothing in the dryer now. Why don’t you have some beef stew? I just made it.”
“Wow, homemade beef stew?”
“No, canned,” replied David.
“Still sounds amazing!” Lonnie walked to the table and accidentally bumped into a priceless lamp, which crashed onto the floor and broke into pieces.
“My lamp!” David darted to his prize and wept. “My favorite lamp!”
“Bro, I’m sorry, man.”
“Get out!” screamed David. “Now!”
“But, my clothes!”
David ran to the washing machine and tossed the wet clothes at Lonnie. “No wetter than they were before! Now leave!”
“What about that beef stew?”
“Not tonight, you home wrecker!”
“That’s not cool, man,” said Lonnie.
“Neither is destruction of property!”
Lonnie walked out of the apartment still wearing the robe while carrying his wet clothes. “You’re a real piece of…”
David slammed the door and locked it. He decided he would never help a homeless person ever again.
David Emami nearly jumped out of his skin when he found out that the Broadway musical Cats was coming to Portland on their tour. He was, however, disappointed when he inquired at the box office about the show and was told that they had been sold out for months. David had dreamed of seeing the show and was certain he could just walk up to the box office hours before the show and get in without any effort. Apparently, buying theater tickets in 2017 was different than buying tickets in 1967.
“You can always wait in front of the theater and buy a ticket from a scalper. They usually lower their prices considerably before the show starts. Good luck,” said the employee at the theater.
David had no choice but to wait for the people to show up and for the scalpers to set up shop. After walking around the block bored out of his mind and eager with anticipation, a scalper showed up.
“How much are they going for?”
“How many tickets you want?” asked the scalper.
“Just 1,” replied David.
“I only sell in multiples of 2.”
“That’s odd. How much are you asking?”
“$500 per ticket.”
“That’s plain old robbery! Good day to you, sir!”
David leaned up against the theater as he watched the theater goers enter. They all seemed so happy and excited, which made David sick to his stomach.
“I still got those tickets,” said the scalper, just 10 minutes before the show.
“I’ll just die if I can’t see this show, but I can’t justify that price. Can you please sell them for less?”
“I tell you what,” he said, “I won’t charge you $500 per ticket.”
“Oh, you’re a saint.”
“I’ll charge you $499 per ticket.”
“You bully! You terrible human!” David grabbed a thousand dollars out of his wallet, fresh from his last paycheck and said, “I believe you owe me $2.”
The man gladly gave him the change and said, “Enjoy the show!” and quickly left the scene.
David couldn’t let the price get him down. He had tickets now. He went up to the window, they scanned the tickets and proclaimed, “These are counterfeit tickets. I’m sorry.”
David’s heart sank. “But I just paid $998 for them!”
“Well, they’re not real, so I’m afraid I can’t let you in.”
David threw the tickets onto the ground and let out a scream. He made his way home defeated and angry.
David Emami had heard of wine and painting classes in Portland, Oregon, and he was curious about trying it out. He wasn’t terribly fond of wine (he preferred diet orange soda), but figured his tiny, yet crowded, apartment could use some beautiful artwork. He hadn’t painted since he was in elementary school, but he had seen the successes of others and figured he could easily do the same.
When he arrived at the class, he was the only male in attendance. That didn’t bother him; he preferred being around women because they usually were nicer to him. He paid his entrance fee, and they handed him a glass. “Do you have diet orange soda?” he asked.
“Um, no… just wine,” replied the robust lady in charge of the event.
“Fine, I suppose that will do.” He sat down in the front row next to an old Indian lady. He looked at her and smiled. “You have a lovely dot on your forehead.”
She shook her head and said, “Thank you” quietly. David wasn’t sure why she was so short with him. Maybe, he thought, it was the garlic he had eaten earlier.
The class began and soon his canvas began taking shape. Unfortunately, despite trying his best to follow each step from the instructor, his painting looked nothing like the others in the class.
“You use too much paint,” said the Indian woman. “And you not listen to teacher. You are bad painter.” Talk about blunt.
“Well, that’s not very kind.”
“Sir, can you please keep your voice down?” asked the instructor.
“The Indian lady was talking to me first,” said David childishly.
The class continued and David was not having fun. He picked up his canvas in the middle of the class and the instructor asked, “Sir, what are you doing?” David put the entire canvas in the trash can and walked to the door.
“I’m leaving this intolerant, inhospitable environment. Good evening to you!” David left the room feeling angry and a little upset that nothing had turned out how he had expected. He went home empty handed and figured he would just have to find art at an antique store to replace what he had just thrown away.
David awoke one bright and chilly morning and felt unusually energetic and full of life. Since it was a Sunday morning, David Emami had the whole day to himself and decided to go for a nice stroll to work off some of his mysterious newfound energy. He got dressed and bundled up tightly due to the frigid Northwest winter temperatures in Portland, Oregon, and headed outside to start exploring.
He walked and walked and walked until he encountered a neighborhood he had never before visited. He felt nervous like a lost child in his new surroundings. Suddenly, a woman with greased back hair and scabs on her face jumped out from behind a bush and screamed, “Heathen! Heathen! Sinner!” She pointed at David and licked her chapped lips, exposing her single, yellow tooth.
“Good heavens! You gave me a fright!” David turned back and started to walk quickly down the sidewalk in this strange new land. He regretted ever leaving the comforts of his normal routine.
“I’m gonna catch ya!” she said as she grabbed David from behind and gave him a tight bear hug. “And I’m gonna eat ya!” She then bit David’s clothed arm while cackling and drooling.
“You must be rabid!” David pulled away and started running at full sprint. He didn’t even stop for the crosswalk. He looked back and watched the woman as she ran toward him at a much slower pace, but quickly faded into the distance. David looked at the gooey slobber on his favorite coat. Even though it was freezing outside, David felt as if the drool could very well be diseased and possibly even acidic, so he took his coat off and tossed it in a trashcan outside of a Safeway.
David shivered all the way home, half angry and half terrified. He wasn’t sure why that experience had happened, but he knew that he would never wander off into unfamiliar neighborhoods again. At last he made it home to his familiar apartment. He warmed up inside and snuggled up to his cats on the ground. There truly is no place like home.
David Emami loved the Christmas season. When he found out that the Oregon Zoo’s annual Zoo Lights was set to start up shortly after Thanksgiving, he knew he had to try it out. He had always wanted to try it out, but hadn’t ever gotten around to it. He knew that he had to give it a shot.
David got in his Toyota Previa minivan and cranked up the heat. It was a frigid night, so David had to be covered in heavy layers from head to toe. He was ready for his adventure.
Before he even got off of the freeway on Highway 26, the traffic was stop and go. He slowly worked his way onto the off-ramp which led directly into the zoo’s parking lot. People were honking and it seemed like he would never get to the zoo.
“Oh, this isn’t magical at all!” said David despondently.
When David finally arrived in the parking lot, he saw a sign that said, “Lot full. Proceed to overflow parking.”
“Overflow parking! It’s like we’re being herded around like common cattle!” David had no choice because the traffic wouldn’t let him move in any other direction than forward. He inched closer and closer.
Then he saw the sign. “Overflow 1 is full. Please proceed to Overflow 2.” David’s heart sank. He got farther and farther away from the glimmering Christmas lights and trees all aglow. He wanted holiday cheer, but instead, he was only feeling holiday gloom.
David slowly inched forward again until he saw the dreaded sign. “Overflow 2 full. Sorry for the inconvenience.” From there, the traffic emptied back onto the freeway without ever giving anyone a chance to go through the mess and try again.
“It was all for nothing! Darn those Zoo Lights anyway! I’m sure they’re tacky and ugly anyways!” David shook his fist at the zoo sign as he went over the overpass and merged back onto the freeway. He decided that he would simply go home, turn on his own Christmas lights, and march his cats around dressed in the various animal costumes he had purchased for them over the years. He would have his own fun and make his own memories.
David Emami is Alone in Portland is a collection of stories that peer into the life of a middle-aged curmudgeon with a fondness for cats and antiques.
Playfully illustrated with Bitmoji characters, his story comes to life as each day brings a new adventure.
He was obsessive compulsive and mad about antiques. The apartment was covered, top to bottom, in decor that would be more aligned with that of an old woman that peaked in the 1960s. david-emami-takes-on-portland.html
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