Dear Ma and Pa,

So I guess I should tell you how I've been over these past 12 months. Well, I got one word for you, with five letters all lined up like a shiny string of pearls: lousy. If you're wondering why I haven't sent you so much as a cable since Christmas, well, pardon me, your eminence. Seems like ol' Lady Fate up there has decided to make things rough on your bouncing baby boy--and let me tell you, the old nag's working overtime. When it comes to happiness, your little Johnny is about as booming as a one-legged cat trying to dance the jitterbug in a rainstorm: not very. I'll tell you this: I've seen that cat and I envy him. Quite a character. But still, things are rotten.

I know as much about writing letters as a porter does about reading them, so I'm not sure how much I got to tell you at this particular moment. But I've been kicking this around like a moron with a head of lettuce, and I came to the conclusion that, yeah, I got some interesting stuff going on. I also got a lot of bad stuff going on. Life's like a grilled cheese sandwich filled with cigarette butts: sometimes you just got to pick them out and have a strong word with the manager when you're up and fed. Only this manager is a big old fella named God, and I doubt he's scared of much except that Harry Potter.

If every cloud's got a silver lining, then this rusty cloud's lined with that cheap aluminum foil you buy at the dollar store when you make less chicken feed than a graduate student. But hey, even this schmuck's got to have his spot of good luck once in a while. Just once this year, God decided to stop dribbling misery down over the brim of my fedora long enough for this two-bit chump to feel brighter than a lucky penny in the purse of a ten-dollar whore. On that fateful day, it was raining like the Dickens--famous author Charles Dickens; that regular Draculini didn't cotton much to the warmth of the sun. Full of whiskey and looking to collapse like a ton of bricks, I stumbled into a low-key joint known as Mac Donald's--and as much as I hate to support the Micks, by God, I was ragged.

I stumbled to the hostess and her name tag caught my eye like a broken mattress spring. Her name was Crystal and she was out of this world. What her uniform didn't show, brother, the clown tattoo on her neck hinted at. Eve had nothing on this bird. "Give me some diced spuds, sweetheart," I said, tipping the brim of my hat over my eyes and casually spilling water onto the counter. She didn't understand. "French toothpicks? Grandma's starch sticks?" Seems old Crystal didn't speak the language of the streets. She got her manager and this buggy whip twit told me to quit playing games and tell him what I wanted. I said to him, "I'll tell you what I want: to clean your clock better than that clock-cleaning store in town that quickly went out of business! Now get me an order of crisp 'tate logs or there's going to be a bigger mess of trouble than the mess of trouble I left in the John!"

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