Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FFF #18 – Balamer Ugly

And so here is my FFF post for the week. Most definitely not my best effort, but well, I have had precious little time to even consider a story, nevermind write one. The starting sentence was one by David Barber.

FFF #18 – Balamer Ugly

As the sixth shot of whisky burnt its way down, I suddenly remembered what I left the house for. Said I needed some cigarettes. And now I was halfway to becoming a shit-faced cliché. The plan was to put the truck into gear and drive. Leave her, leave the row house we are most likely going to lose anyway, and leave the job I hated waking up to everyday. Anywhere had to be a better place than here right now in the life I was struggling to maintain.

I am not sure what I was thinking when I stopped here at Jackson’s Hole. A quick goodbye drink and then on my way to greener pastures. Instead, that one final drink turned into an endurance event. A friend I hadn’t seen in awhile insisted on buying me a round. I insisted on buying him one. Three drinks in and I’m crying all over this poor guy. He finally managed to pry himself loose leaving me to wallow in my own misery.

It took six shots to remember why I left the house. It was the seventh shot that reminded me I was a coward. I couldn’t leave. I knew I would be waking up tomorrow with another big head and have to deal with idiots over at the DMV at Mondawmin Mall. But first I had to deal with Ubie. No matter how miserable she makes me, I always come back. Goddamn her and her browbeating ways. Goddamn her and her wonderful thighs.

I signal Jackson for another shot. He comes over with the bottle and another glass. Pouring a shot into each, he hands me one and he takes the other. “On the House. I already called you a cab John. Oh, and Ubie called. I couldn’t lie to her. Be some Hell to pay when you get home. Drink up.”

I looked at Jackson. He returned my gaze. Raising my glass I clinked his.

“Here’s to the Women. Without them Life would be damn boring.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just Stopped in to Say See Ya Soon

Two days into it and I am already out of my mind. Set routines and lists are not, nor have they ever been friends of my loose dog mentality. Seems this breaking the day down into dedicated parts is going to be tough to bend my way. Every fiber of my , hmm, ......I was going to say "character", but well I should not be the one who judges that. Then the word "soul" seemed like it might fit. But no. According to some who thump a particular book with heavy hands absolutely know I have no soul......Ah I know.........Regimen is something I have fought industriously for the better part of my 57 years on this rock. Picking it up now is going to be tough. Maybe impossible. As I said, two days into it and I am already miserable out of my mind.

21 days. That is what I heard it takes to establish new habits. 19 left to go. Not looking good here in Acton.

Beep! I guess my allotted time in front of this computer is up.

Keep it 'tween the ditches........................

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm here this morning for just a second. Got a major project underway in the belly of the beast that is my house. Then I suppose it will hopefully(my wife's hopes) be right onto another project from the endless list of projects that has cursed me since the day chores I did for allowance money turned into projects I do to save money.

I may post tomorrow. I may post next week. Regardless, I'll be around here and there. And if my mood changes, well.....................

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

FFF #17 - Part lll - The Muppet Caper

And here is my third story for the FFF Challenge this week. This time with Lewis J's fine starter sentence. You never know what you can do until you try. Had a blast doing this.

It might be a good idea to place in this Forward a warning of sorts. This is a twisted tale from the dark underbelly of PBS. But isn't most good fun twisted at least a little.

The Muppet Caper

As soon as he heard the cell phone notify receipt of the text message he knew there was no going back. Manta glanced at his Glock. Safety was off, and the silencer wound on tight. He didn’t want the damn thing to fall off like it did that time he was just drawing a bead on Curious George. Manta was ready. Without another thought, Manta kicked in the door of apartment 5G.

Fozzy Bear was seated behind a desk on the left side of the living room. When the door exploded, Fozzy Bear dove for his weapon. Too late. Manta did a tuck n roll perfectly and came up with his laser sight centered on Fozzy’s face. The bear stopped and put out his paws. “Dude, whatever they’re paying you, I’ll double it. The Muppets gig has treated me …………” Fozzy’s head exploded into a cloud of cotton stuffing.


“Ray, Why do they call you Manta?”

Manta looked up from the beer sitting in front of him. “Gee dumass, maybe it’s my head. I mean come on. It’s flat and my eyes are on top…………Oh, I see. You think it’s because of my first name. Well Mom and Dad might have been nothing but a couple of sharks, but they did have a sense of humor.

Manta returned to staring his beer down.

“Well Ray, uh, I mean Manta, you followed through wonderfully. Taking Fozzy out is one more Muppet down. The folks over to Sesame Street will be thrilled.

Manta wasn't interested in having his butt kissed. “Just pay me and I will be on my way. While your stupid internal feud with The Muppets has been good for my bank account, I think I am done now. Blowing away puppets just doesn’t seem right. I think it takes a harder man than me to off children’s toys. Or maybe I’m just locating some ethics. Imagine that?”

“Manta, You can’t mean that? Come on Ray.” Manta turned and stared hard at the puppet speaking to him. “ Oh sorry Manta. I keep forgetting. Manta instead of Ray. There’s a reason they call me Forgetful Jones you know. …… Regardless Manta, I don’t think you understand. You are done when I say so. Maybe you ought to take a peek at the photo again.” Forgetful Jones tossed a tired and bent Polaroid picture on the bar.

Manta did not move. The one eye on the right twitched, turned and gave Forgetful Jones one of his infamous and disconcerting side long glances. “Yeah I know. You have Cabbage Patch. So what? She’s old news and a ho’ anyhow. I have a new squeeze now. One you assholes will never be able to hold over me.”

Forgetful wasn’t that easily fooled. “Oh yeah? Suppose I give Oscar the Grouch a call. He’d like nothing more than for me to flip the green light to de-stuff the bitch. That sick puppet just loves eating button eyes and nibbling on dainty doll shoes……with the feet still attached. Christ, he lives in a garbage can.”

Forgetful Jones paused. Looking up to the end of the bar, he raised his puppet hand in that universal gesture, “Hey barkeep, need some beer here.”

Leaning in close, Forgetful Jones whispered into what passed for one of Manta’s ears. “Bub, you can be the tough guy out here in the real world, but we both know you have a weak spot for Cabbage Patch.” In his stubby four fingered hand, Forgetful clenched a plain pink envelope. He slid it across the bar in front of Manta.

“Your money is inside. So’s your next hit. Same money. Get it done or Cabbage Patch gets slawed. Beer’s on me.”

Forgetful Jones tossed money on the bar, stood up and left.


“So it is you they sent. I knew it was coming. But why you? We have history Manta. Must be a big paycheck waiting for this hit.”

“No Clarissa, this job pays the same. I hope you know it’s just business. Nothing personal………Aht aht aht…….please don’t move.”

Clarissa stopped as if frozen. She smiled. “You know Manta, you are the only one of my many lovers I allowed to call me by my given name.” Clarissa straightened up and turned to face Manta. Still smiling she continued, “I hate to tell you this, but..........I really will miss you.”

A trap door under Manta opened. On his way down he pondered just how he hadn’t seen the ole hole in the floor trick coming. Damn that Miss Piggy. She was one smart pig.

Monday, January 18, 2010

FFF # 17 - Part ll - Wing Night

This is part two of the FFF challenge from last week. I figured the only fair thing to do was to not show favorites and write something using each sentence. So here is my take on Randal's sentence.

Wing Night

"But Vladimir Putin will always permit break dancing." Big Henry's manic face twisted into a grin as he said this. He leaned in close and whispered, "You know why Jack? Do you want to know why Vlad will always allow Homey Gee dancing in the former USSR?"

I had both elbows propped up on the bar and my hands desperately wrapped around my head which I was sure would explode at any moment. I stared blankly at Big Henry's face and said nothing. I was fascinated by the way his lips grew into huge flapping folds of skin when he talked. That and the way his eyes glowed. But Big Henry was insistent. He slugged me in the shoulder.

"Yo Jackson, wake up man, I'm spilling state secrets here. Do you or do you not want to know why Vlad the Man will always allow his comrades to break dance?"

"Mrmph", with a small amount of spittle as a modifier was all I could muster in the way of a response.

Big Henry seemed satisfied I was indeed interested in why Vladimir Putin would always allow break dancing. "Dude come on. It's obvious Man......Wait for it..... Just waaaaait for it........... Vlad's a Black Russian!" Big Henry roared with laughter and slapped me so hard on the back I almost fell off the bar stool.

I was on drunk time tonight. By the time our encounter had cut through the whiskey fumes in my brain and I pried my head loose from my hands to give his joke the attention it deserved, Big Henry was already at the far end of the bar sharing his joke with another drunk too inebriated to understand. I managed a sour grin and then turned my attention back to the shot glass in front of me.

This was my first and would probably be my last night experiencing the over indulgent chaos of "Wing Night" at Big Henry's Hog Heaven Bar & Grill. For the five years of Thursdays Big Henry has been hosting this event, I have ignored it on my nightly commute home from the bike shop.

Big Henry’s place was just another buried in the sticks road house in my neck of the woods hoping to draw some unruly types out for some good country style Hell Raising. All the chicken wings and beer you can handle for $15. As I pondered the shot glass in front of me, I realized I should have ignored it tonight as well. I was beyond shit-faced. My stomach had an anvil firmly lodged somewhere just North of my colon.

No way I would have spent all night here if Big Henry didn’t have that damn jukebox. But he did. And here I am closing another bar. Blues and Whiskey, well they are my weakness. I had experience with bars and honky tonks that never ran out of likker. But I had never once seen a jukebox with just Blues on it. I bet I dropped 10$ worth of quarters in it while I dropped more than $15 on food and spirits. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, the King brothers, Albert and BB, and Big Mama Thornton all represented in their finest. Even some white boys playing their hearts out. Stevie Ray, Johnny Winter and Canned Heat. That was some jukebox.

I reached for my change piled on some crumpled bills. I picked up the jingle and held it close. Shit. No quarters. Grabbing the folding money, I start waving it obnoxiously. “OH BARKEEP! Hey!....... What’s a guy gotta do, who does he have to blow to get some change?” The bills slip from my clenched hand and fall to the bar. I shove them with a drunken clumsy hand in the general direction of the register. “Hey Goddammit! Some change here! Let’s go, lets go! Gotta play some Blues!”

Unsure of how he did it, Big Henry was suddenly right in front of me. Where the Hell did he come from?

“You know I appreciate your business Jack. But well, it’s time you hit the road. We lock up in 20 minutes.”

I hold up my shot glass and mumble, “Okay Henry. But how about one for the road and one quarter for the jukebox?”

Since my vision was not working beyond a one foot perimeter, it was hard to read the expression on Big Henry’s face. Apparently he was okay with my request. A shot of Rebel Yell magically appeared in front of me and in the background, Mississippi Fred McDowell began wailing “Levee Camp Blues”. For the next two and a half minutes I was in Heaven again.

Out in the cold of the parking lot, I attempted to button up my jacket against the frozen wind blowing in off of the ice on Mountain Lake. My fingers had turned into useless stumps. It dawned on me as I stumbled to the truck, I was in no way sharp enough to drive home. Yeah, it was only 2 miles to the homestead, but well, I couldn’t even tell which key was the one that fired up the truck. Not a good sign I thought. Being the logical guy I was, I figured a short two mile walk would be easy even if I was drunk.

I figured wrong. From what the officious asshole here in Limbo told me, it would be Spring before they found my body half way down a thawing snow bank covered in road sand and litter. Said something about me staggering in front of a logging truck heading to the Mill with a load of chips for their boiler. Made quite a mess, but the driver cleaned up the accident and shoved what was left of me hard into the snow bank on the south side of Rte 109. The driver left without calling it in. The officious asshole told me they would take care of that fall from grace when his time came.

Well that made everything okay then. “They” would take care of it when his time came? What about my time when it came? Handing me a one way ticket to Rap Town hardly seemed like I was being taken care of. Punished seemed more like it. The officious asshole wouldn’t even talk to me about Blues City. Said something about how I had lived the somewhat decent stand up life, but at some point I must have pissed the Big Guy off a little. Rap Town it was. “Hey”, the officious asshole said, “At least you aren’t headed South. Damned Hot in the South.”

It’s really not too bad here in Rap Town. The bars never run out of likker and they all have jukeboxes. The problem is nothing but Snoop Dogg, Hammer, Dr Dre and the occasional Eminem comes out of them. But if you want to see the fly-est white guy in the Heavens, you haven’t lived until you watch Nikita Khrushchev, grinning wildly from too much Vodka, do a head spin and then go right into a full split. He must be a Black Russian also.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What, No Check?

sunshine, my favorite lady Canadian, has decided to pay me back for some perceived quality she has managed to find in the mish mash I call my blog. Even though she is from north of the border, it is impossible for me to not like her. For one thing she isn't planning on sneaking down here and taking that job down to McDonalds away from me for a quarter less an hour. Hmm. I wonder maybe what with things all gone to shit here in the US, maybe she should be concerned about me sneaking north.

Blog awards are funny things. I never know just how to handle them. Now if they came with a check for a million bucks, I might be able to figure out a proper response. Yeah, if a fancy chauffeur driven car rolled to a stop out in the dooryard and some fancy panted fellow wearing wing tips and a big city power tie got out with one of those Golf Tournament checks you can read from 100 yards, well, I would probably make sure I had some clothes on when I opened the door.

Out of respect for sunshine and her odd opinion of my blog, I made sure I put some duds on before I sat down to type my thank you.

Unfortunately when I woke up this morning, I woke up goofy. Not even close to alert. Serious intake of caffeine has not remedied my befuddled condition. And since I no longer partake of illegal substances like I used to, I know now I will just have spend this day in a fog.

The World still spins out of control, garbage is still picked up, and the post office is always busy screwing up my mail no matter what frame of mind I find myself in. Duties and obligations are there whether I am bright eyed and bushy tailed or barely alive like I feel this morning. sunshine's kindness deserves timely response and action. So, thanks much sunshine.

Here's the part where I try to meet the requirements of accepting this award. I need to share seven things about myself you might not know.

1 - Contrary to rumor and innuendo, I am indeed a homo sapien. I know sometimes I give the wrong impression, but well hey, I gotta be me.

2 - Under the all the fur, the puffy epidermis and rolls of extraneous lard, I am indeed one handsome devil.

3 - Briefs - Why? Never thought it important enough to wonder why. Now maybe I should. Will my life reach new heights should I switch to boxer mode? Somehow I think that train left the station some time ago.

4 - I have met 2 US Presidents. Kennedy, the last summer before he died up to Mt Desert Isle in Maine. Bush the elder in Kennebunkport, Maine. Gave him a tour of the house next to his.

5 - I gave shit to Reggie Jackson in an elevator in Detroit once. Given how big he was and how small I was and the fact we were in an elevator, not the smartest thing I ever did.

6 - I can't carry a tune in a bucket. Not even close.

7 - My first rock n roll gig as a driver was in Baltimore in 1972. The moving company I worked for that summer received an emergency shout out from the folks who ran Memorial Stadium, then home of the Baltimore Orioles. Seems they had some gala country and western show planned to fill the void between the games of a double header. The morning of the event thinking they had all the details covered, someone pointed out they had no stage. WTF? Anyway, I was tasked with driving a flatbed onto the infield and parking it between home and the pitcher's mound. The Country Singers and Swingers did their thing and I hung out feeling really cool. Little did I know, this would be my life on a daily basis in a few years. I remember the head groundskeeper was not happy. He told me if I left one tire dent in "his" ball field, I would go home nutless. The O's split the double header with the Red Sox.

So there it is. Seven things. And seriously sunshine - Thank You.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Older Maybe, But Not So Much Wiser

After 58 years on this planet and having been raised in the home of a crazed shutterbug, I would have thought there would be more images of myself kicking around in the many piles of family pictures from back in the day. There are not many it turns out. Especially not many from that period of my life when I brushed shoulders with famous people often on a daily basis.

I found this picture of me at age, oh I guess I must be 24 or 25. Holding me up in my "cool dude" pose is the first decent truck I ever had the pleasure of driving. Unit #2875, a new at the time White Freightliner leased to SHOWCO, carried me and a multitude of rock and roll gear all over the US and Canada. I had a lot of fun in and out of that truck. I also survived some very scary times in that truck. 

I often tell who ever might be interested that of all the senses that can bring back memories, my sense of smell takes top billing. Smelling coffee brewing always reminds me of my parents seated across from one another at breakfast, each planning that day's assault on the other's sanity. I will smell bread baking and be reminded of when we lived near a huge bakery in Florida for a time. 

Music is my next favorite reminder of Good Times, Bad Times, I know I have had my share. ........ Oldies always conjured up images from my awkward youth, my dark drug days, and all the moments in between.

Photographs, well, they don't so much bring back memories as they seem to be more like instant replays that often bring with them no feeling good or bad. Maybe it is their blatant objectivity that robs me of my ability to remember the bygone nuances to suit my current mood. But I guess it depends on the picture. When I found this Kodak moment sitting prominent on my wife's dresser (Uh, it's location surprised me, but that is another bowl of shit to stir up). 

Where was I? Oh yeah. 

When I found this picture, immediately memories of that time came flooding back. Not so much memories of what I did, who I did them with, or the Bands I hauled, but rather memories of who I was at the time filled my brain and offered a stark contrast to who I have become. I am sure I am experiencing nothing unique here. It seems logical to think many if not most of us will make comparisons of the then to the now. But for each of us, it seems unique and special I guess. 

No one can know who I was then and who I am now better than I can. At age 24 I was cocky and sure of myself. At age 58 I am no longer sure enough to be cocky every day like I was back then. At age 24 I had no reason to be cocky, I had not done much yet. At age 58 I am wise enough to know I have nothing to be cocky about. I look at the young man leaning confident with a deadpan expression on his face and I know what was really going on under that wonderful head of hair that exists now as nothing more than a ghostly reminder of it's thick past. I was the same person I am now. I am just a little wiser now and somewhat clued in about where I will end up in all this. 

 As the years gather and weigh me down, friends and relatives pass at an ever rising rate. Physical gifts I once took for granted are now appreciated, but only because they are missing in action now. At age 24, I knew all this was coming. I had any number of older role models to pay attention to. But I never once gave the aging gig one moment of my time. At age 24 I was sure I would live forever. At age 58 I am starting to have some doubts. 

 Keep it 'tween the ditches...................................

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time to Ante Up

Just one thing tonight. The earthquake in Haiti. What a flipping shame. This is so sad. The poorest folks on this side of the planet and they get hammered down a little further. Hell, quite a bit further I guess. Life is certainly not fair.

Below find some links to relief agencies who could probably use some jingle about now.

~Google's Link

~American Red Cross

I have barely a pot to piss in but my wife and I are chipping in. So should you. So what if the next credit card bill is late or a little light this month.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hate is a Two Way Street

I said many years ago to one of my distant bible thumping family members that I thought religion was probably responsible for as much hate as it was for any content we had on this planet. Okay, so they discounted my sacrilegious statement as nothing more than the thoughtless words of youth. They told me one day I would understand that religion was about love, caring, and forgiveness.

Forty years later I am still waiting. Forty years later I am still convinced I was correct when I first came up with the notion that religion is often the root of our troubles not the solution.

In that most of the big religions are monotheistic, it would follow that they feel their way is the only true way. And this is fine when the disagreements between ideological takes remain verbal and somewhat civilized. But often, or maybe it is on a semi-regular basis, they don't. Zealots from one religion will get their particular faith by the short hairs. They then take that religion and infuse it into their various culture through the means of government dictate. Thus is born a theocracy. If there is one form of government that fills me with dread more than any other, it is a theocracy.

Islam is going through just such a predictable phase now. In my mind I would have no problem with them doing whatever they want in their own countries. But unfortunately, because the West has historically acted like bad children when dealing with them, Islamic fundies have put us in their cross hairs as well. This has resulted in well, we all know what hate and discontent has resulted.

What strikes me though is the current resurgence of extremism among many Christians over this. Many feel the only way to do battle is with a Bible in hand. As indicated by the image above that I found on a Mormon's site, he is positive this war is sanctioned by his God. This is exactly what their enemies want. To do battle based on the notion that God somehow will pick a winner. Whomever is still standing means that their God was the "right God". In the meantime, those of us who could not care less about which God is the right God but may believe in one or the other, well, we get dragged down into the fight pit with the rest of the looney tunes. And it pisses me off.

All of this mutual animosity flies in the face of the words found in their holiest of scriptures. Yet both somehow have managed to find justification for the excesses they carry out in their God's name. And even though this time around it is Islam instigating, they have been successful in pushing the right buttons and are now being rewarded with similar responses from the fundies on our side of the fence. Frankly, I find myself more disgusted with religion than at any other time in my life.

Note - I won't apologize for the hateful image I posted. I did however agonize some before I did. I feel it is necessary to expose over the top hatred no matter the source. That image came from this site.


Monday, January 11, 2010

FFF #16 - Filling In Blanks

FFF #16 - The starter sentence this week was provided for us by Cormac on his Friday Flash Fiction site.

"It was an honest mistake...or it was honestly stupid. Either way, I didn't mean anything by it."

Filling In Blanks

“It was an honest mistake….or it was honestly stupid. Either way, I didn’t mean anything by it. So I forgot to reset the alarm. I forget all the time. Dad was always giving me Hell for it.” Welky buried his face in his hands. “Aw jeez man, I can’t believe they’re dead. Mom and Pop …….Aw shit, who would do this? ”

Detective French studied the seated teen facing him. The double homicide was only a couple of early morning hours old. At this point everyone was suspect. He looked for any sign of deception by this young man. So far no flags raised. The kid seemed truly heart stricken over the loss of his parents. But Detective French had a job to do. He was not through with this young man. Not yet.

“So, you came home around 1:00 AM Welky?”

Welky dropped his hands from his face. With red eyes not seeming to focus, he looked up at the ceiling. “Uh…..What did you ask detective? 1:00 AM?.............” Welky looked confused. His face rearranged itself as the question registered. “ Didn’t I say 12 midnight? Shit I dunno. Maybe I did. But I was home by Midnight. It’s my curfew. Pop was a hard ass about………”

Welky stopped talking and stared straight ahead.

French was watching Welky’s face hard. When the despondent teen broke from his trance and looked at Detective French, French softened his stare and said, “Uh let’s see. What did you tell me?...... I wrote it down.” French began thumbing through the small spiral notepad he had in his hand. Flipping one page at a time, he finally paused and pointed with his pen. “Right you are Welky, you did tell me Midnight. Sorry for the mix up.”

Welky shook his head. “I was supposed to meet up with some friends for an early mountain bike ride.” Welky looked haggard and worn out. “I guess the ride’s off now.” He looked down at his feet. “I came home and found them. I called you guys. That’s all I know.”

Detective French was not about to let Welky off just yet no matter how torn up he looked. “You notice anything odd before you left for the evening? Something out of place inside or outside……A car on the street that didn’t belong? Anything at all out of place?”

Without looking up, Welky again shook his head. “Can we do this later? I need some time here.”

French straightened his shoulders and tucked the notebook in his breast pocket. “Okay Welky…..sure, later. I’ve asked enough questions for now. I‘ll get one of the uniforms to stay here until your Uncle shows up. Shouldn’t be too much longer. ”

French needed more information about the parents. While this murder looked like a cut n dried case of home invasion or a break in gone bad, he needed background if for no other reason than there were blanks which needed filling. Maybe the late Mr or Mrs Reynard had enemies. Always the sex angle to pursue.

French loved what he did for a living. Especially this part. The fresh crime scene full of answers just waiting to be discovered. The crime was a puzzle created just for him. His mind soared as he pondered all the possibilities that might come together to explain why one human would kill another. Each new homicide brought with it the potential to be that “big case”. The murder that drew in attention from all over. Better than sex most days.

Detective French left Welky sitting on his bed. As he passed the master bedroom, he looked in. Mr and Mrs Reynard lay dead in their bed. Mrs. Reynard must have been cut first, then Mr Reynard. She lay as if still asleep. Arterial spray covered the wall behind the bed and a huge pool had settled under the draping head of Mr Reynard.

“Damn. Why do these lowlifes have to make such a mess?”

A crime scene tech looked up from his sniffing around. “What’s that Lieutentant?”

“Uh, nothing…. Nevermind.”

French walked out of the patio doors and stepped into an immaculate Better Homes and Gardens backyard. It was perfect. Each bush, each blade of grass carefully sculpted or trained. The early morning Sun reflected perfect sparkles off each perfect dew laden branch and leaf. There were serious control issues in this household. French wondered which parent was the anal retentive as he turned around in this immaculate landscape. French immediately suffered serious yard envy. His own yard, his personal life was unruly and uncared for.

Other than his job, Detective French had little to live for. He would often wonder why. He never connected the dots that work was the only thing he kept organized and well defined. He had to be detail intensive to do his job correctly. The rest of his life, well, he took a broader view. A much broader view. Three marriages, a couple of bankruptcies, and a car with no corner undented filled in the blanks about the rest of his life. When called on this obvious contrast of personalities, he would just laugh it off to him being a kind of Jekyll and Hyde kind of slob.

“Excuse me …..Officer?”

Detective French turned around. On the other side of the perfect shrubbery separating this perfect yard from the next perfect yard, a young girl wearing a pork pie hat was looking at him. French smiled. She smiled. The damndest things became fashionable. These trimmed down and gusseyed up versions of old school hats from the 1940s and 50s were the perfect example. That they looked stupid was probably the point, but they still made him smile.

“Yes miss?” French did not correct her. He had been a detective for ages now. He was immune to any perceived slight to his status in the hierarchy of the police force. Position and power meant squat to him. Solving crimes was all he cared about. He did not even care if Justice prevailed and perps ended up behind bars. He just wanted to know who, how and why. Let the next bonehead deal with what came after.

“What happened? Are the Reynards okay?”

French looked at her. “There’s been an incident. An apparent break in. We are investigating.”

“But someone died right? I see the coroner van in the drive. What happened?”

“Who are you miss?” French already knew the answer from the canvas done by the two uniforms earlier. He just could not help himself. Never give out information when seeking it in the first place.

“Nancy. Nancy Drew.”

Lt French smiled. “ No it’s not. Your name is not Nancy Drew.”

The girl grinned sheepishly. “Okay, so it’s not Nancy Drew. You’re the detective. Who am I Sherlock?”

Detective French stepped closer to hedge separating them. Pulling out his notepad, he once again thumbed through it. “Uh, if I had to guess, your name is Mary. You live next door. Since you are here would you mind if I asked some questions?

“Well I didn’t see anything if that’s what you want to know?”

French was not interested in knowing what she did or did not see. The uniform had already asked those questions. His inquiries now were the questions intended to pry loose guilt, innocence, or dirt that might lead him in either direction.

Mary stood up higher as if on her tip toes. Turning sideways, she stepped through the hedge. Taking two more steps placed her not two feet from him. Close enough French could smell her youth and vitality. Her eyes focused on French. All of him. Immediately he felt ill at ease. Middle aged men were not accustomed to this kind of stare without paying for it. Ignoring his own discomfort, he asked her, “What I really need is some background, you know some blanks filled in.”

Mary was grinning. “Do I make you nervous Officer?”

“Yes…..Yes you do.”

Why is that?

“The look on your face. But let’s keep to the subject okay? Have you known the Reynards long?” French was working overtime to keep this as professional as possible.

Still smiling, Mary took off that awful hat and began to flip the red feather stuck in the band. Her long nails were immaculate. “Well yeah, I’ve known the Reynards all my life. Old man Reynard had a stick up his ass and his wife well, she dropped in a bottle and never came out. She was always shitfaced.”

It was then Detective French noticed the red feather Mary was flipping. It did not look right. More like strands of hair than the wafting barbs of a feather. And they were blood red. He continued his questions.

“So, sounds like you didn’t have much use for the Reynards. Did you and your family get along with them?”

Mary placed her hat back on. “Oh we got along okay I guess. Never really thought about it much. I just never liked the way the ole man treated Welky.”

French perked up. “What do you mean about Welky? Did he get along with his parents?”

“Oh sure. He idolized the ole man. Catered to every one of his tight ass rules. Sometimes he didn’t like his mom much, but then you know, it’s hard to like a drunk all the time.”

Detective French said nothing. He was studying her hat. He finally spoke up. “So why did you kill them Mary? The ole man come onto to you? Or maybe he didn’t come onto you and that pissed you off. Regardless, I have a job to do and now it is time to apprise you of your rights. Turn around please.”

Mary stopped smiling. Now she looked her age.

Later that evening as French sat in his apartment nursing his third vodka and Collins, he contemplated the bad day he just had. Yeah, he had solved the case before breakfast, but that was not what put jazz in his jockies. There were blanks still sitting empty. He drank himself to sleep that night feeling somehow cheated. (1680)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Flash - Bush Was Not President When 9/11 Happened

So just what the Hell have I been doing these past couple of days? Not that you should be interested. I certainly seem to be having trouble finding interest myself. But upon reflection and because I feel this urge to touch base, I flipped back through my most recent memories and looked for something of interest to relay about me, the World, and if all else fails some dumb thing one of my furry roommates has pulled.

Nada. Zilch. The funny box is empty. The box with all the deep emotional Bullshit has withdrawn again and refuses to share. And the pets? Well, they are on cruise mode. Doing their best to irritate and aggravate.

So where does this leave me?

Yeah, that's right..........Politics. That go to when everything else fails subject sure to kindle some righteous indignation I can pour onto the screen and then feel better for a moment or two when I shove back in my chair to find that rag for the spittle I left on the 'puter screen.

And unfortunately because they seem to insist on leading with their chins, the Right is once again in my cross hairs. This time it is their absolutely over the top focus on how long it took Obama Man to call what the undie bomber did "terrorism". Whining and complaining like bad children again about semantics. What a bunch of morons. And to reinforce and cement their status as morons, more than a few have taken to lies to bolster their useless claims. The first salvo of stupidity came last November when Perino on Hannity stated there were no terrorist attacks during Bush's term. Now it seems Rudy "9/11" Giuliani went on a tear and well, you need to listen or read his remarks. Just incredible. I think a doctor should give him some kind of test for sanity.

It pains me to see my former party turning into the group of losers they have turned into. It would seem that the sane ones, the intelligent ones are satisfied to allow the stupid and deranged from their side set the message and the tone for their efforts to win back our hearts and minds. And they seem to have been happy to do this for the last 29 years.

I do not hide the fact that I am an independent who leans more left than right. But my feet very seldom leave the center. And based on what I have learned through much interaction these past 57 years, the middle is the most crowded political population there is. Both sides know this. And yet both sides take turns giving us the high hat.

I don't expect one side or the other to magically move to the center. But I do expect better behaviour from the leadership of both. Especially from the Right. What a bunch of........Oh yeah, I already called them morons. How about.........What a bunch of liars?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

No Longer Me First

I tossed some fiction into a new ring, "The Clarity of Night" today. And now I wonder why. I have always deluded myself that I do this blog thing for me first and whoever stops by, well, it is appreciated, but I do not need to have my ego stroked. Hmm.


Yeah, on the heels of Ubermilf's establishing a blurt out day for her blog, I feel the need to blurt out also. We all need some ego stroking from time to time. Those of us who deserve it, often have it freely offered. But for those of us who are sure we don't rate, we feel the need to somehow offer payment of some kind for the strokes. We do something, we fix something, we make some kind of noble gesture that brings with it an expectation of recognition. And we may act all humble, shuffle our feet and our faces will go red, but down deep we love the attention.

So I guess what I am trying to say is thanks to any and all who have stopped by and allowed me some of your precious time. I appreciate it and yes, I look forward to it.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Post to Nowhere

Yesterday I posted some flash fiction. Since I was running late with finishing it, I had no chance to really consider why it ended up the way it did. It had sat dormant for 3 days before I decided to button it up. What a difference 3 days makes. My original idea was for a thriller of sorts with death, blood and destruction. Millie would be the "bad seed" infiltrator who worms her way into victims homes for her parents. Boss John and Martha ending up skewered and hanging from different beams in the barn. Their house plundered before it was torched. The story would end with Millie being "discovered" wandering forlorn and lost in a city park in Baltimore. If you have read it, then you know this is hardly how it turned out.

I only make note of this because again I am struck by how odd writing fiction has been for me. I'll start something with specific plot goals and character descriptions in mind and often it works out close to how I envisioned it. In other pieces it all goes to Hell in a hand basket and what I start with is nothing close to what I finish with. I had evil in mind when I started this one and out of the blue, the boy scout in me took over and well, I am pretty surprised with how schmaltzy it turned out. Which is fine. It is what it is.

I did have a point before I was rudely torn away by some stupid cat nonsense. The sounds of a cat winding up their puking machine just outside my door. And oh look. A nice warm sloppy stinky present right there waiting for me to step in it. You little bastards...........

Anyway, so I had a point, but am now struggling to retrieve it from the short term memory file. Dealing with cat barf always throws me off my game. At least this time I remembered the trick my daughter taught me. It is physically impossible to barf if you hum. So there I was happily humming away as I cleaned up still warm and freshly stinking cat puke. Stomach didn't sympathetically convulse once. Humming does indeed work.

Yes. I finally remembered or at least think I did, the point. My from the hip style of writing is fine for farting around. But I can tell now that I need more control and discipline when I write. All too often my stories go off topic and head south. No more perfect example exists than my offering here.

The image comes from Jeremy Mayer - a gifted sculptor whose work you should check out.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

FFF #15 - Millie

The starting sentence for FFF # 15 was suggested by the Frumpy Professor. FFF is organized by Cormac. I have enjoyed this series very much. Anyway my entry this week is late. So without any further comment........................

"He/she saw the orange Necco wafer on the counter top and started to cry."

She saw the orange Necco wafer on the counter top and started to cry.

“What’s the matter with her?”

Boss John turned and looked at his wife. “Huh?” He was busying sorting through the mail that had finally made it into their mailbox.

His wife repeated, “What the Hell is wrong with her? She’s crying.”

“Jeezum Martha, I dunno. I found her wandering in the storm up on Hurd Hill near pump station #4. Just appeared in front of the plow between white outs. Almost flattened her. Couldn’t leave her out there in the middle of nowhere, so I brought her home. She ain’t said a word since I picked her up and put her in the truck. You know what I know.” Boss John focused on the mail again.

Seated at the kitchen counter on one of those tall kitchen chairs, sat a very young wisp of a girl wrapped in a blanket, shivering with soaked shoes dripping on the cracked linoleum floor. She was sniffling, saying nothing and had her arms wrapped tightly around her sides. Her chest began to heave as she began sobbing. The tears on her frightened face were the first response of any kind Boss John had heard or seen since he almost ran the plow truck over her in the storm. The orange Necco wafer sat uneaten in front of her.

Boss John tossed the mail in the trash. The one piece he kept he handed to Martha. “Phone Bill. Kinda ironic doncha think? Phone’s been out now three days, but they found a way to get the bill to us.”

He looked at the girl. “So, little one, are you going to tell us your name? Maybe give us a hint where you belong? My names John, this here’s Martha, my wife. She’s a tad contrary, but she’ll warm up to ya if ya give her a chance.”

The tiny waif just sat and shivered. She looked up at John with tear filled eyes. She continued to shiver and say nothing.

Martha came over and parked next to the girl. In what appeared to be an act of warmth and nurturing, she wrapped her arm around the child and bent down to whisper in her ear.

“Lookee here little Miss”, Martha hissed. “Answer the damn question. We got no time or energy to be fooling with children. I spit out six ungrateful pups and I have no notion to deal with a seventh. If you won’t tell us your name I’ll kick your scrawny butt right back out into the snow.” And then she smiled.

This got a reaction from their wet guest. The child’s eyes grew wider and her sniffling stopped as if a switch had been thrown. “Millie………..Millie Johnson ma’am.” She turned to search Martha’s face for the truth of her threat.

“Now that wasn’t so hard now was it ….uh Millie?” Martha turned to Boss John and gave him “You are such a loser” look. Boss John shrugged his “Whatever” shrug. Someone had to bust through the child’s shock. Might as well be Martha. She always did have a way to cut through the Bullshit.

Martha focused on Millie again. “So Millie, where are your folks? And why were you out in this godawful storm?”

“I don’t remember Ma’am.” Millie turned to the counter again and stared at the Necco wafer still sitting there. Her crying had stopped. She looked at the wafer, and then glanced up at Martha.

“Go ahead dear, take it.” Millie grabbed the wafer and put it in her mouth. Martha plopped a few more wafers on the counter. Millie scooped them up. Martha placed the open pack of Neccos in front of Millie.

“John, make yourself useful. Heat up some milk. This young lady could use something warm in her belly. And then maybe a bath. What you think Millie? Some hot coco and a warm bath?”

Millie nodded but kept her attention on the remaining Necco wafers on the counter. Martha got up and rummaged around one of the cupboards. Pulling out an old dusty can of Hershey’s Cocoa and a can of Chicken n’ Stars soup.

“Fix her up John. I’m gonna draw up the bath.” Martha left the kitchen. Boss John followed orders and fired up the stove. In quick order Millie had her small hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate and a steaming bowl of Chicken n' Stars waiting to finish what the cocoa didn't. Soon Martha came for her. “Bath’s ready little one.”

Some moments later Martha shouted from the bathroom, “John! Get in here, Boss John dropped the dish rag and hurried to the bathroom. In the mirror facing the door, Millie’s anguished face could be seen. Martha stepped to the side so Boss John could see her back. It was covered in welts, healed scars, and new bruises.

“Jesus Christ Millie……..”, Boss John couldn’t finish.

Martha picked up where he left off. “Please child, who did this to you? Your Daddy? Mommy?” She turned Millie around to face them. With her hands firmly gripped on Millie’s shoulders she asked again, “Who did this to you? And please tell us how you ended up out in the storm. I’m not fooling around now child. Tell us.” And she shook Millie hard.

“Easy there Martha. The child is scared witless.” Boss John bent down to eye level with Millie. “Please Millie tell us. We just want to help.”

Millie looked at the two of them. With tears streaming again she began, ”They put me out on the road. Daddy was in the back sleeping and Mommy put me out. Then I heard them crash.”

“What you say Child? They tossed you out of the car?” Boss John was getting agitated. “Who would do that to a child in this weather? And what about your back? Jesus Christ…………” And John shut his mouth with a snap.

Martha broke the awful silence of the moment. “Well Millie, let’s get you that bath now. We’ll figure out what to do tomorrow.” Boss John was not moving. Martha looked at him and snapped her fingers in front of his face. “Now go on John, get on out of here. The lady needs her privacy.”

In a few minutes Martha joined John in the kitchen. He was just wringing out the dish rag. “John, she said something about a crash. Maybe you ought to head up Hurd Hill to see what’s up. Hate to pull two frozen bodies out of the banking come Spring even if they were lowlifes.”

Boss John considered what she said. He started to speak up but one look from Martha told him she was serious. Without a word, he grabbed his jacket, wool cap and headed out into the blowing snow to the plow truck parked near the barn.

This storm had to be on it’s last legs he thought as he headed up Hurd Road in the town plow. Nor’easters like this one never seem to last longer than 36 hours or so. But Jesus, didn’t it dump some snow on them. Based on the nonstop plowing of the last 24 hours, Boss John figured there had to be a couple of more feet on the ground.

Lost in his thoughts about the storm, Boss John had nearly crested the hill before he began to give any thought about where he had run across Millie. Was it on this side or the other? Half way up or halfway down?

Frustrated, Boss John threw the tranny in low/low and crawled up the hill all the while trying to see through the blowing snow for any sign of an accident. The plow truck crested Hurd Hill and began it’s descent into Lincoln, the next town. About halfway down, he noticed something odd about the guardrail on the left. It was missing or covered with snow. He stopped and ran back. Shining his huge flashlight up the snow bank, he spotted it. The guardrail had a missing space. The parts he could see on either side had raised up higher than the rail before or after. He muscled his way to the top of the banking and shined his light down into the ravine. Down some yards buried hard was the red glimmer of what had to be a tail light. Dimly, it flickered between white outs.

Snow blowing in his face, he stood at the top considering what to do. No way around it, he would have to go down there. Shit. Snow must be 5 foot deep here. With a shrug, Boss john headed down the side of the embankment.

It was a week later the State Police finally located the next of kin. Seems Millie came from Indiana. Leastways, that’s where her closest kin lived. Her parents were on the move more than they were still, what with her father being a proven deadbeat and convicted wife beater. The kin had no interest in Millie, having failed repeated requests over the following months to drive the 950 miles to fetch her. Millie was taken in by the state and fostered out.

Early in the spring, an elderly couple stepped into Ms Jansen’s office over to the Health and Human Resources Building in Lincoln.

Ms Jansen looked over the top of her glasses at the pair standing in front of her desk. “Now you folks understand this is on a trial basis. For both of you. If Millie has any trouble, we’re taking her back. I’ll be by to check on how things are going.” She studied the older couple hard. “If you’ll just sign here. Name and date.” She held a ball point pen up for one of them to take.

Two days later a nondescript black Dodge Caravan showed up in the door yard of Boss John and Martha’s spread at the foot of Hurd Hill. Ms Jansen stepped out of the driver’s side. Millie jumped out of the passenger side. Boss John came out of the barn. Martha opened the front door. Awkward moments passed as everyone stood looking at each other.

Martha headed down the porch steps just as Millie broke from the side of Ms Jansen. Running towards Martha, she hollered, “Ma Martha, they said I could come live with you. Can I? Please? She wrapped her small arms around Martha’s legs.

Martha looked frustrated and flustered. Pushing Millie back and holding her by the shoulders she looked down at this child who had won her heart. She held her finger up across her lips. Bending down, Martha whispered in Millie’s ear, ““Lookee here little Miss”, We got no time or energy to be fooling with children. I spit out six ungrateful pups already and I have no notion to deal with a seventh. If you don’t behave I’ll kick your scrawny butt right back out into the next snow storm come next winter.” 

And then she smiled.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Wingers With Woodies

I wanted to find a flattering picture of Ms Dana Perino, former Press Secretary to the recently evacuated GW Bush. This is what I came up with.

She popped up on my radar this morning courtesy of Foil Hats Unite. North Country Liberal had linked a post to Alter Net which was highlighting the most outrageous Right Wing quotes of 2009. The list seemed endless. Homophobic, racist, politically untenable combinations, and contradictory frothing from the mouths of the far Right.

And though it is old news now, I just discovered the interview she did back in November on the Hannity Show. The discussion focused on why Obama Man was not calling the Ft Hood shootings a "terrorist" act. Mingled into the this conversation Ms Perino claimed there had never been any terrorist act committed on US soil during her former boss' reign.

My question is this. If she refuses to consider the 9/11 attacks and the Anthrax by mail as terrorism, how can she expect Obama to consider the Ft Hood shootings terrorism? Unless of course she conveniently forgot or never got the memo that her previous boss was indeed in charge in September of 2001 and then also in office months later when some bonehead started firing off angry letters filled with Anthrax.

This slight mistake was corrected the next day with a quote she gave over Twitter - "Last night on Hannity, I obviously meant no terror attack on US post 9/11 during Bush 2nd term. We have the tools. Just need to use them."

No Ms Perino, it was not obvious. You said what you said. You did not look distracted, disheveled or stressed. And even if you did indeed mean Dubya's second term, does that somehow negate and thus relegate 9/11 as meaningless for the discussion. You do not get to set your own parameters and then offer them as facts. Uh...wait a minute. Hmm, I guess you folks on the Right do. But every time you do, you reinforce feelings in many of us that any time one of you opens your mouth, most likely lies presented as facts will be the result. While this tactic may indeed be useful in keeping your slack jawed minions in line, it is hardly a tactic that is likely to draw in new recruits.

But forget your obvious lie, what again caught me was that Hannity never called you on it. He acted as if you never said it. Too caught up in the moment I guess. A shapely blond Winger next to him and all he could think of was his Wingin Woody.

And so, down the drain goes my almost resolution to remain politics free in 2010. I hope you are happy now Mr. North Country Liberal.

I have been trying for several years now to establish one Right Wing mouthpiece that personifies the most outrageous collection of Winger mantras out there. Reading this collection of quotes I thought would make the chore easier. But it did not. I was however able to add to the list of nominees. Ms Perino, I now have my eye on you.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Going With the Flow

My daughter left for Richmond, Virginia this morning. She is heading back to her adult life and getting on with whatever comes her way. Every time she comes home, my spirits spike. Every time she leaves, they plummet. This parental reality I will have to get used to. And though I put up the tough guy front, harumph and act cool, I hate seeing my little girl leave her old home to head to her new home.

But she is 26 now. She is done with school. She has the beginnings of a career well started. Safely on the road to mature adult, she shows no fear anymore. As she tightens her grip on the World's short hairs, the more my grip slips.

Certainly this is nothing but the normal and predictable flow of Existence. The standard schedule of Universal events do not waver much in their direction or flow. I am just along for the ride.