Tuesday, August 31, 2010

American Dreamless

I once worked on a project where we replaced the joints on a large bridge over the Flint River in Albany Georgia. There was a community of homeless people who lived under the bridge. Some of the thing we found under the bridge surprised me; books and books and books, a library of books of all sorts. But then there was the stuff that surprised no one; bottles and cans and drug paraphernalia. There was a woman who lived there, and we would catch sight over her and the others as they ran into the woods near the bridge when we arrived and I often wondered what would make anyone, particularly a woman, live like this.  I never offered her or any of the others a solution to the problem, which answers the question, really.

Years ago I started writing down my dreams when I woke up which helped me remember them. I think everyone dreams but most people don’t know what to make of the dreams so they ignore them, and their minds simply push the dreams back into the other disinteresting details of the day, like background imagery and homeless people.
The Big Den house is one that has a large central room with waiting room furniture and a sunken floor that is as dangerous design as any I have ever seen, in life or dreamscapes. The sliding glass door opens up into the kitchen, also bad design, but this is not a great house to live. It’s more of a beach house stuck on a side street in South Georgia. There are children here, like a day care center or something like that, and the sunken central room is like a drain clogged with board games, plastic toys, stuffed animals, and hell, who knows what else? There’s a television that is always off and there are satellite rooms that lead to more conventional looking parts of the house.  The doors to the Central room are sliding glass, another bad design but the satellite rooms have old fashion wooden doors with iron knobs.  But like you’d find in a day care center, one of the doors is painted red, another yellow, but I kinda like that idea of different colored doors, really.
I could build this house, design it exactly the way I’ve seen it, but there is a serious flaw here, and that would be the inside of the house is much larger than the outside. From the road it looks like a house that might have a thousand square feet in it but the Central room has half that much, and there are three satellite bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Sometimes there is an angled porch on the back that is made of  old television antenna supports, or something cobbled together by someone with some skill but no materials to match it. It’s not an easy house to visit, to get used to where everything is, and sitting in the waiting room furniture doesn’t help. It’s like the bottom of the sunken floor will collapse and suck us all into some hidden abyss. Going from one side of the house to another means walking around the sunken floor, or wading through the toys, either of which gives you the feeling of some long journey to get nowhere.

I’ve been here three or four times, but last night was the first night I was there alone. Without the kids there, without other people there, it’s like being in a house where everyone else is at a funeral, which I’ve done once. It’s an odd feeling, even as an adult, you get the feeling maybe you should be there too, which is the very essence of humanity; the need to be with other people. The community under the bridge is there because it is a roof, and there are people who need that, and there they find one another and a roof, and sometimes that seems to be enough, or all.

The house doesn’t exist, and I know this, of course, and you know it. But what if someone were to come to your house, an explain to you that you were insane, and they were going to take you away from where you lived, and the people you loved, and the things you owned, and give you medication to make you better. You would protest  your world is real, but have taking a couple of pills, you discover you’re a homeless person living under a bridge in South Georgia, and your entire life is a product of insanity.

As impossible as it sounds, this is how I feel sometimes, when I wake up, and could draw the floor plans of a house I’ve dreamed of, or a town I feel like I’ve lived that exists only when I’m asleep, or when I think about the old man in the white house with the nice yard that appears once in a while in my sleep. All of these things are familiar to me, when you see someone walking along side of the Interstate with a sign that reads, “Will keep moving along in search of the reality” maybe that is exactly what they are doing. That familiar place, that home you feel now, is a place that either eludes them, or they find where ever it is they are. It may be fleeting, it may be disjointed, it may be insane, but what is the alternative to how they think their lives are being lived? Do we know? Can we know? Do we care?

When I leave my house and go north on a highway made of asphalt, there is a road that doesn’t exist off to the west of where I live, and I know the houses there well. As a writer, I have to be a little insane; my belief in a reality that does not exist has to be real because I have to make it real for you to buy into it. The people under the bridge have already bought into it, and perhaps, because there was nothing else for sale.
Take Care,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Skink in repose


Olay, let’s separate the sheep from the goats here, damn, I just realized what a poor metaphor that would be for this, but anyway, I don’t understand porn, even though I like nudity. Now, some will argue photographs of naked women is still porn, but I’ll argue it’s a matter of context. If the naked women is sunning herself on the beach, it’s hard to argue it’s porn, but if the woman sunning herself on the beach is shown masturbating with a three foot long sex toy, the argument for porn might pop up.
What is and what isn’t might be too long of a debate, and ultimately a futile one but the point here is I don’t understand it. The human female body, unclothed, is erotic, there is no question about that. Some people might think the same of naked men, but that’s not my problem. Actually, naked photos of adults ought not be anyone’s problem, but that isn’t the issue here either. The issue here is my simple inability to understand why porn is popular.

I’ve written enough erotica in my life to understand how sex between humans work. That isn’t the issue. Because I’ve written erotica, I understand how the presentation of sex within a medium for example, writing or film could be, if the artist is good, erotic. That would be, I suppose, the reason it’s called erotica. Yeah, yeah, I get that, no problem.
Take the book, “Jaws” which was turned into a movie that scared the hell out of a lot of people who knew nothing about sharks and when the teachers at my middle school discovered there was a sex scene in the book it scared them for the same reasons. Get a bunch of fourteen year old males together passing a book around that is supposed to be about a shark and those ten pages leading up to and containing the sex are those that look the most worn.
But mainly I’m talking about the film stuff and if you’ve seen one porn video you’ve seen just about all of them. I’m not sure why there is more than one porn video. It’s the same thing. It’s people have sex with other people. The directing isn’t great, the writing is predictable, and all the films have the same climatic scenes. But man, there is some money to be made in porn.

I dated a woman who liked porn and that was her favorite form of foreplay. I didn’t mind at all, as long as it got her motor running, but what I do not understand are the people who are watching porn and not having sex. Let me see if I understand this correctly; you can’t find a date so you’ll watch other people having mass sex and this helps you…? I am almost certain porn isn’t going to help your social skills. Walking up to a woman and using a line from a porn film might actually work if you have glued several hundred dollar bills to your forehead. If you can’t get sex and you’re watching sex that means you are not out there trying to find sex to get.
Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life but I’ve never seen real sex look like sex in a porn film. Real sex is more fun, and I promise you from actual experience, you do not want to be filmed having sex. There is a lot of editing done in the porn industry and the transition between scenes is never as seamless as you remember. Sex is like dancing; it feels good when you do, and you and your partner might love it, but very few people look good doing it.
My only real issue with porn are those people who stray. A friend of mine sent me photos of the actress Emma Watson that had obviously been photoshopped, but having photoshopped pictures of a nude fifteen year old and have photos of a nude fifteen year old, will get you the same amount of jail time. When the seventeen year old son of a friend of mine sent me a few photos of his female classmates I damn near went into cardiac arrest. Apparently things have evolved somewhat from those ten pages of “JAWS” to what kids are doing today.

There is a difference between someone pushing fifty looking at photos of a naked fifteen year old, and someone seventeen looking at the same photo. There is some predatory behavior with a man my age being attracted to someone that young, while someone that young, hopefully, is just cranking up the experimentations with others that age. Clearly, things are different now, but one thing has stayed the same; sex is still sex.
When the Pamela Anderson sex tape hit the net there were some guys at work who went off the deep end. They couldn’t stop watching it. One guy brought a laptop to the office and knowing they would all be fired if they got caught, they watched it in his truck. I saw about a minute of it and realized I knew how it was going to end.
Famous people having sex looks the same as unfamous people having sex except you’ve seen them before. Trust me, your first or last sexual partner did not have any more, or any fewer working parts than Paris Hilton. I haven’t seen the Paris Hilton thing though I was invited to a party one night where it was going to be shown on a widescreen. Yeah, eight guys getting together and watching Paris Hilton on a fifty-two inch screen, that’s going to help.
I have friends with vast porn collections.  Maybe it’s just like watching sports nonstop, like Nascar, or watching football all season, except asking who’s ahead means something totally different. It just doesn’t do anything for me at all, unless I’m with a woman who likes it, and there aren’t that many women I’ve met who are impressed with porn.

Uh, guys, that might be why you’re watching porn and not actually having sex.

Take Care,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fear in a Can

Since I have been writing more lately that means there has been less mutt petting, which means there have been various forms of protest, pack hierarchy discussion, and cold nose interruptions. This usually means I stop what I am doing, put down the insurrections, pet the mutt’s ears, or just toss them all out of the house. A Coalition of the Wagging has developed between Sam and Lucas, where they both arrive at the same time and demand that I either stop what I am doing, or put up with wearing the better part of two hundred pounds of canine, one of which is growling at the other.
Bert isn’t interested. He’s seen what bringing power to the throne will do for the dogs who dare, and he just soon not relive that part of his past. At an early age Bert was certain he was going to overthrow the monkey slave and reign over the household, but he discovered that monkeys have opposable thumbs which open cans of dog food, and can body slam dogs who really want to find out who is running the show. Bert and I used to play hard, and I mean really hard. I went to work once with a gash on my face from where Bert pawed the hell out of me, and honestly, it was one of my fondest mutt memories. Roughhousing with Bert was great exercise and it taught me a lot about how canines think when they play, and when they are not playing. There are some very good reasons we did not leave the trees until we tamed fire, discovered projectile weapons and invented can openers.
But Bert has retired from that sort of thing, and now when he wants to be petted he comes and tells me he wants to be petted, and I stop whatever I am doing and we sit for a while and commune. Bert is low maintenance. Once or twice a week of one on one time is all he asks, and I make sure I stop and seek him out, to spend some time with him unasked, and undivided. Bert has better judgment than the other two dogs, and he knows it. When Bert barks at something, I reach for a gun. When Bert barks, when he really lays it down, whatever is happening is serious, and I would rather put my faith in Bert’s bark than any security alarm on the market.
Sam and Lucas? Eh, not so much.

Sam is needy. One day I plan to watch all three of the director cuts versions of Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and pet Sam. I suspect he will nudge me with his nose when the credits roll after The Return Of The King. Sam craves pettings like tweens crave homosexual vampires. Sam craves pettings like BP craves lies. Sam craves pettings like Face Book craves to release your most personal information to the highest bidder, or a third rate hacker. Sam has found an ally in Lucas. The theory is this; if they both show up at the same time wanting the same thing then by virtue of  Doggie Democracy, and the fact I have two hands, then two dogs ought to be petted.
Ever notice in dogs or people, those who benefit most from a certain form of government are those who advocate it most strenuously and those who would suffer from its effects are those most philosophically opposed to its sanction?
Compressed air, sold by the cans, is my brown shirted shock troops.

Bert won’t flee from me. Ever may come, he’ll stay. Once Sam knocked over a chair and it make one hell of a noise, and Sam ran like hell, and hid. Bert came straight to me, as if no matter what happened, he would rather face it with me than without me. If I scold Bert, and he will sit there and take it. Sam will cower down, and Lucas runs under the table. He hides there when I’m mad at him. Bert is the only one who comes out to face what might happen, because he is the only one who truly trusts me. Sam is damaged. He never will be whole. Lucas is getting there, but this isn’t an overnight process. Being abandoned, being turned out, being left to die on the road, being labeled ”stray”, isn’t overcome with a kind word and some food.
The next time you raise your voice or hand to a dog, or a child, or another person, you think about this. I can not fix what you screw up.

Both Sam and Lucas fear the can of compressed air. All I have to do is press a button and both will flee my office. The first time I used it Bert came to investigate the new form of punishment, ignored it because he got petted, and the other two assumed it to be Demonic. Just reaching for the can will clear a room of excess mutts.

I’m on the 1-800 line with the people who sold me the lawnmower, last week, and suddenly it hits me. I hang up, pick up the can of compressed air and head towards the shed. It might be wasted time, I have no idea, but I do have an idea, and Bert pads beside me, just a little distant that usual because the can. All of the dogs know what a gun is, and what it can do, and what it sounds like, and only Sam is truly gun shy. Bert doesn’t like the noise but the gun only comes out when it has to come out, and Lucas sees Bert being brave so he’ll stay close.

I blow the carburetor out with the can of air, and the mower cranks on the first pull, and I’m suddenly back in the lawn less- than- indifference business. Bert likes this, Sam is terrified by the sound of the mower, and the puppy Lucas, torments Sam because he can and get away with it right now.

Take Care,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And those people who can't park worth a damn, too.

It has occurred to me there has to be some Universal Force keeping people alive because really, when t gets right down to it, there should be more people killed in car accidents. Forty thousand people a year die in car wrecks each year in the United States alone, and quite frankly, considering I see at least one moron a day when I’m going to the store for food, it just seems to me there has to be something keeping these people from ramming into themselves at a high rate of speed and ending the genetic peril to the rest of us.
Thirty thousand people a year die from gunshot wounds, and interestingly enough, most of those are non accidental according to the CDC.
One hundred thousand people a year die from accidents in hospital involving accidental overdose, infections they got there, and by sheet incompetence. Sometimes they cut off the wrong head, and that sort of thing.

You are more likely to be killed by someone with a stethoscope than someone with a gun.

It occurs to me that you are also much more likely to be drive into bankruptcy by medical bills than a mugging.

Yet the idea there is some Universal Mind out there watching over us leaks me to believe people are as bad as I fear, because bad things keep happening to people,  just not on the order of magnitude I would think, giving the level of intelligence indicated by popular culture. Surely there has to be some sort of immediate visible punishment for thinking Michael Jackson held some sort of value for the world, yet I haven’t seen anyone get turned into a pillar of fake nose jobs over it yet.
You know what bothers me about evolution? Zombie ants, honey bees, and spitting cobras. Spitting cobra force venom out of their fangs in an outward direction in an effort to blind predators who threaten them, and they are damn good at it. Do how did this particular skill come about? How would it? But that’s minor compared to the way honey bees tell one another where pollen is located. A scout returns, does a dance that indicates where the pollen is, and the other bees take off and find it. Bees do not have brains. How did this happen? The zombie ants get attacked by a fungus that directs the ants to attach themselves to leaves in the shade so the fungus can grow better while devouring the ants from the inside out.
Neither science or religion impress me very much as far as explaining the universe. Nut most people see the whole debate as an either/pr type discussion and neither side is willing to admit they might be wrong, nut no one can explain why people will not use a turn signal or how a zombie ant knows where to die.

There was a nutcase out west who was keeping over one hundred dogs in and around his house, and the law went to fetch him on some unrelated charges. The sheriff decided there was no way they county could keep so many dogs so he and a few of his posse just started blasting away at the dogs.  I understand the concept that human beings are being punished because we are inherently screwed up, but I cannot buy into a system that allows for dogs to be treated the way some people treat them, and reconcile that with a good and just god.
I have a real hard time thinking people who would treat dogs like this have evolved from anything at all, or for that matter, at all.

In my nearly fifty years on this earth I have been around long enough to hear almost every argument from every angle from the evolution camp and the gods camps. I think you’re both wrong. I think you both misinterpret the universe much in the manner misinterprets what four way stops are for, and how quantum mechanics work. I think faith can be an admission you’ve stopped looking for answers, and knowledge can be an admission you’ve stopped asking questions. Neither feels right anymore, and that may just be because there is a real and serious lack of civility these days in any discussion. There cannot be a viable third party. It’s us or them, good or evil, left or right, liberal or conservative, up or down, dancing with the idle or America Island.
And none of it is making us better people. Or happier people, either.

People from both sides of the argument have asked me how life began, how the universe got here, how everything that is anything suddenly became into being, and I tell them all, “How in the hell would I know?”  I mean really, how many of us have done the math to explain the Big Bang? How many of us can explain it, or understand it, when about 90% of can’t explain why the television remote works. And those who believe so firmly in the bible? Can you read Greek, the language it was written in when it was written? How do you really know what it says? How do you know what it means? How do we really know anything other than the fact there is no way to pass a tractor on a two lane road when you’re late for work?

Doubt, on the other hand, seems to be a fairly decent philosophy. I’m not sure where anything came from, how anything happened, and unless the standards for getting into MIT or Harvard drop, I’m not likely to start rubbing elbows with anyone who knows anything about real universal math, if such a thing actually exists.  At the same time, I don’t care about religion at all. I’d like to be a better person, and I would like to treat other people better than I do, unless they are child molesters or talk in the theater. If there is a Universal Mind, it knows where to find me, I assume, and it has my cell number.
This doesn’t mean you’re wrong, no matter what you believe. All this really means is I’ve got a hell of a lot of questions, few answers, three dogs to look after, and a keyboard with letters on it.
Read more than that into it, and you’re just be chasing your tail….again.

Take Care

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mulch Piles and Chain Saws

If you ever really need some sort of microcosm for the way life works you should start a mulch pile. All the stuff you throw away every day winds up somewhere. In my home, all the organic matter; paper, veggie scraps, cardboard containers, and the occasional pair of jeans all end up in a pile in woods in my backyard. I also throw leaves in there, pieces of dead trees at times, and anything else the earth may reclaim as Her own. All the stuff that most of you toss into a trash container can be toss onto a mulch pile, and the results are fairly remarkable.
I’ve been doing this for about two years now and the pile has reached a critical mass. It grows no bigger unless I feed it leaves and stuff, but it also grows no smaller. All the stuff I throw with a pitch fork two or three times a week and paper towels turn to mush pretty quickly. Jeans take forever to decompose. Those paper milk cartons from the organic soy milk places? They’re covered with a plastic bag. When the paper is all gone the plastic remains. They are not as nearly as green as they seem.
Cardboard boxes disappear fairly fast as do most containers that food comes in that there not made of plastic. This time of year, in the Summer, with the heat and the everyday rain, the pile has devoured quickly all that I have tossed to it. Honestly, it isn’t the size of a kiddies’ wading pool, and  maybe a couple of feet high. There ought to be a law that everyone who owns a house or has a yard ought to compost their yard debris.  There is no sense in paper making its way to a landfill where it is buried so deep it will never decompose.
That happens here, if I don’t turn the pile two or three times a week. There was a cardboard box at the bottom of the pile that got some odd looking fungus but it didn’t decompose for a very long time. Imagine in those giant landfills how much stuff never rots at all because it’s buried beneath tons and tons and tons of trash.  I put the better part of entire tree in this pile and it’s turned to rich black earth.

I wonder how much yard debris we bury in landfills, and at the same time, how many people spend money trying to fertilize their lawns. It’s like a never ending cycle of waste, with grass being harvested merely to bury in a landfill.

I turned the mulch pile, and then I realized one of the minor Oaks was dead. I have no idea what species of Oak this might be, and honestly it might not be an Oak at all, but it was dead Jim, and the bottom of the trunk was rotting away. It was already late in the morning, about four in the afternoon, and yes, I know how that sounds. Work nightshift long enough and you’ll be weird, too.

Chainsaws are inheritably dangerous. They are the most dangerous object you can buy legally in America that doesn’t involve a bullet or a bra. I’ve known men who grew up using chainsaws but made that one mistake and suddenly one leg is short then the other, or there are horrific scars. My neighbor cut a gash in his leg with a chainsaw just last year, and the wound was so big it couldn’t be sewn shut.
Rotten trees are easy to cut but they are difficult to cut down. The wood is eaten by the saw easily, but at the same time, there is the danger of the tree breaking apart up top and rushing down to where my head is. Worse, because the tree might be hollow, I have no idea where to stop my notch cuts, and have to guess.
You want to make three cuts when bringing a tree down. Decide where want the tree to fall, and where you would rather it not fall. Cut about half way through the tree on the side you want the tree to fall. Cone in on top of that cut at a 46 degree angle, and use and axe if you have to knock the notch out. Then saw on the opposite side of the tree, directly about where the notch is and the tree will fall that way. In theory.
I’ve seen trees break apart while being they will fall all over the damn place. I’ve seen trees drop not sideways, but straight down off the cut, and then they will fall where they want. I’ve seen trees twist out of the notch and fall in a direction the person with the chainsaw really didn’t want the tree to fall. There is a You Tube video of a man putting a very large tree on his house while his wife films the disaster.
I helped a friend bring down a dead tree that had to fall in one direction and that direction only.  There was a barn on one side, a shed on the other, and power lines boxing it in. The only way to be really sure, because of the way the tree was leaning, was me to stand directly in front of where the tree was going to fall, and pull with a rope. The plan was for me to step behind a massive Pecan tree once the tree started falling. It was an odd feeling to be that close to a falling tree that size, but the plan worked.
That’s why I thought this would work. That’s why I thought I didn’t need to call anyone to help me, three cuts, and it would fall. Plenty of mulch pile fodder the wood is so rotten.  If I had laid a string line out the tree could have fallen on top of it, and as I put the saw away I realized how causal I had been about using the saw, because the tree was soft, and the tree was small.

Sometimes even if things go right, you still made a mistake.

Take Care,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Full Moons and Fencelines

It does occur to me that Elbow’s house is the only house on this earth I can walk in and feel at home, even without her being there. There is the better part of three hundred pounds of canine in the house waiting for me; Frank the Frenetic Border Collie, Theo the ancient Lab/Newfoundland Mix, and Lucy, the large Great Pyrenees. Lucy alone tips the scales at one hundred ten pounds but she is a gentle giant, at least to family, and somewhere along the line she took me in, and the others did as well.  It does not occur to me to be afraid of these animals. Almost always, when I go among the human, I plan a way out, an escape route out of the building, away from what may happen, but with dogs I rest easily. Elbow will return shortly, they tell me, because they are relaxed I know she is down at the barn with the horses.

Elbow is singing to the horses when I make my way down to the paddock, and we laugh at this, she and I. There is much for us to discuss this night, because we are both writers, and we’re writing about the same subject, even though we didn’t know it until this very moment. She from a nonfiction approach, and myself from pure fiction but she has the burden of research, and I have the burden of making what I say make more sense than what she is saying, because fiction has to be believable, and the truth rarely is.

Writers deal with multiple personality disorder as a form of vocation. It’s not that you do not have the talent to be a writer, I told someone once, a very long time ago, it’s you aren’t crazy enough. You do not have to be insane to be a writer, but being so does help you get past the point where you believe you can make a living writing, and someone out there gives a damn about what you write.

There are discussions you can have with writers that cannot be had anywhere else on earth at any price. When you sit around for an hour or so and discuss the personality traits of people who do not exist, as if they do exist, and you discuss people who do not exist as if they might be listening, or someone might overhear the conversation, and neither of you are doing heroin or some other drug, not even tequila, then you better be a writer.
The decision to kill someone who doesn’t exist, and who isn’t going to ever exist outside a computer file, when it is taken to the point you have someone telling you it’s not a good idea to kill this person because for the moral implications, but for the greater good, you ought to have them killed, and then, after all of that, the method of murder is discussed as if it were something we’ve all practiced, you better be a writer, or a mobster.

“Why?” he asked.
“Why?” she replied.
“Why must someone die?” He asked. “Is it a stupid question, or do you think me stupid for asking?”
“No, not at all” she said, wondering why he was being so defensive.
“Then why must someone die?”
“For contrast, so that the others might appreciate life” she said.

You likely have not seen “The Hours” so you do not see that scene in your mind as I do, but that isn’t it. Life and death are not always a contrast, as the movie eventually gets around to telling us, much later. Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for her work in that film, as Virginia Woolf, and there were a lot of people who wondered why.

I’ve been trying to explain that to you now for over six hundred words.

When I get home I get snuffled for petting the other dogs, and The Three inspect me with intent. I hold still for it, and let them do what they do, because they are who they are, and after the fact, we go outside to pee on the same tree. We are who we are, after all.
It’s a Full Moon, so the night sky is bright, but because it is also overcast, it’s like someone has a florescent light dying overhead. It doesn’t flicker but it also doesn’t give much light, but enough.  The white sandy soil of this region shows up like Summer snow in the moonlight, and the dogs disappear into the woods. They are no more than one hundred feet away yet they cannot be seen. An average dog can over this space in less than two seconds so did you ever wonder why deer and other prey animals are so damn jumpy? Two, three, or more canines come after you out of the woods and several thoughts are going to go through your head all at once, but you better be putting those thoughts into motion or you are going to discover Darwin is more than a bumper sticker. Pack hunting is the most frightening thing I have ever seen dogs do, and it is also one of the most beautiful. The symmetry, the dance of Death, the pure action with purpose, the act itself, with so many of one mind coming together for a common purpose, you have to admire that, even if it scares the straight fuck out of you to see it twenty feet away from where you’re standing.

Lucas explodes from the woods with Sam behind him, and I let them both into the house. Bert is still out there, still padding the perimeter of the yard, still on patrol, and he will not come in until he makes the circuit of the two acres we call home. I sit in the yard and wait. Bert slowly appears, a shadow among shadows that break away from the others, oh hi thanks for waiting for me, kisses for my dad, Bert gives me. Pettings for a dog I will lose this year, or the next, but far too soon.
Do you understand Bert? Do you understand why he goes into the woods and walks the fenceline past midnight, alone and unseen? Do you understand what drives him? I’m not asking you to explain it, because you cannot, not in words, because there are things words cannot explain, fully.

It’s why I write, and why Elbow writes, and why writers write. Midnight on the fenceline under a full moon and a cloudy sky among those who hunt unseen.

That’s why.

Take Care,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I’ve been working out like a fiend these last few days and now I hurt all over for my efforts. I really and truly and honestly need to get back into Yoga. It’s really the best thing you can do for your body short of sex. It can be argued, of course, that Yoga is better for you than sex, but either I haven’t had the right Yoga instructor or you’re doing something wrong.
Be that as it may, I dreamed last night my arm didn’t work. It does work, but it hurts like hell because when I got to the Y I take those exercise classes most guys wouldn’t be caught dead in, and I find up over doing it because the women in there who are half my age are also some of those individuals who do things like marathons and triathlons, and wild boar hunting with Ginzu knives.  Honestly, there was a woman named Kirsten who rolled her ankle in the most gruesome manner while teaching a step class but she stopped long enough to gnaw it off, continue the class, and then she stuck it back on with super glue before the next class started.  They had another instructor that taught a class while six months pregnant and she almost killed some people in the class who were determined to keep up with her or die trying. One of the women who teaches a variety of torture techniques just finished a triathlon and she was back today swearing she was not training for the next one, but she left a trail of bodies in the Spin closet.
There are several subtle signs I need to start working out more. The ten pounds I gained was one of the most subtle. My clothes shrinking was another. I can always tell I’m not working out when I start eating junk food. For some reason I crave junk food when I am not working out but won’t touch it when I’ve got a routine.  I tend to be bitchy when I haven’t been working out on a regular basis. Most men won’t lay claim to being bitchy. Men are irritable, brooding, or edgy. The sad truth is men can be as bitchy as most women and some men are a lot more bitchy than most bitchy women. The second President Bush when he gave his famous “I’m The Decider” reply might as well popped a couple of Midol in front of television camera and got it over with.
I believe Dick Chaney was holding the president’s testicles in an undisclosed location, and it was beginning to get to him.

It’s a sign I’m bitchy when I talk about politics because there really isn’t any resolution in discussion about politics these days. I haven’t liked a president since Jefferson left office yet whenever I say something about one of the Bushes people accuse me of being some left leaning Eurotrash Americam hating gun burning Commie and when I bad mouth Obama people think I’m a right wing nut religious  freak out to burn the constitution, in favor of the Corporate Republic.  Actually, this is a more a function of the bitchiness of others, not mine, so fire up the Midol 20 MM machine gun and let’s see if we can get a decent discourse going. You might want to wait until I’m in a better mood.

The battery died on my MP3 player on the way to the Y and I checked it last night. I lied to me. Two bars means I have at least a few hours left, right? But right in the middle of the best live song ever played it shut off and I almost rammed a semi while I was trying to read the tiny text that said, “He’s dead Jim”.  Do you feel like I do? I sure hope not. But it did irritate me the truck got real close to me just because I wasn’t paying attention and weaved towards his lane. Irritated at me, not him; I’m bitchy not suicidal.
Traffic is the best indication of my mood, unless there is a nude woman within breathing distance of me. When traffic bothers me I know it’s going to be a long day. Ellis Drive is a side street I use to get away from the nightmare that is the intersection of Saint Augustine and Gornto Road in Valdosta.  Gornto Road doesn’t irritate me but the way the powers-that-be have striped the roads make it seem like three days pass before you can turn left onto Gornto, hence the side road.

Can I be bitchy about something that doesn’t matter at all, as a digression?

If you look up Gornto Road in Valdosta, right where it intersects with Jim Jones, er, Jerry Jones Road, at the LSD temple, damn, I mean the LDS temple, Jerry Jones goes one way and turns into, without stopping, Melody Lane. Just poof, and it’s renamed. Worse, Melody Jones Lane then remarries and it’s Melody Jones Lankford Drive before it dead ends into … Saint Augustine.

Talk about an asphalt metaphor for not getting married more than three times…..

But wait! There’s more!

In the worst case of Multiple Personality Disorder a road can have, going the other way Jerry Jones turns into Eager Road. Eager for a name change? Then once again, it changes into Northside Drive before it finally dead ends into Jaycee Shack Road.

One road, seven names.

Anyway, waiting for the three miles long of traffic coming down Saint Augustine, I plan to turn left on Ellis but there’s a car there with pointers driving. Not the dogs, the people who sit and point at places they may, or may not turn into. They’ve turned into a roadblock, so when an opening occurs I go underneath and they freak out when I turn beside them. When I get to the end of Ellis I look back and they’re still stuck.

Two hours working out and now I’m too tired to care.

Take Care,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Woman Trashes Kitten

Insane Cat Lady - Watch more Funny Videos

Full Moon Mutts

Last night I slept, awoke, slept again, and repeated as much more necessary as it was needed. The moon is nearly full which means the mutts wake up a lot, and for reasons inexplicable, they want to look out of the windows  because there is more light. Obviously this means there is more to see. Equally obvious is the logical flaw in seeing more meaning there is more to see. The same trees are there. The same bushes are there. The shadows come once a month, like a woman’s period, and they darken and lighten with the cycle of the moon. Nothing changes but the mood of the dogs who seem to think more light equals more sight.

Most dogs, in comparison with human beings, have poor eyesight. They really do not need it for they have great ears and incredible noses. Sam is a sight hound and he has decent eyesight, but in the light of the full moon, Sam sees things that are not there. Bert reacts to this, and of course, Lucas does as well.

I’ve been writing about Demons far too much lately and they have invaded my dreams which are not a good thing. The Demon Regal and I went into a motel lobby and started gunning down people who we knew to be Demonic.  The bad part about this is I couldn’t tell who was a Demonic and who was not. I had to rely on a Demon to tell me, and that wasn’t good. But rarely does a motel maid keep an AK-47 in her broom closet so I felt comfortable with that one, and the desk clerk pulled some sort of grenade launcher out that spat out fire at us, so yeah, him too, but the rest of the people looked very normal and that bothered me.
I woke up after that and couldn’t get back to sleep for a while, and the dogs wanted out. Oh, you’re awake, well, that would be a good excuse to let us out. I lay in bed and waited until they wanted back in, was almost asleep and then heard the unmistakable noise of mutt reentry signals.

Okay, the first dream was full of terror and excitement and mayhem, so the next dream when into full boredom mode. “Turn left at the next light” and I was in a field. I could see the road I needed to be on but there was a field, and a ditch between the end of my road and the beginning of the other,( cue visual meaning of roads not connecting meaning something unfulfilled) so I drive into the field to try to get around the ditch. There was a horse corral, and there was someone’s SUV in the way, so I had to back up, and the grass in the field was Alice in the Looking Glass tall. It wasn’t dog fennel or some high weed but mere grass that was eight feet tall and I was having problem backing up. The SUV was keeping me from going the way I came, although it hadn’t moved, so I had to back up through the barn, and I knocked the cattle gate down. Clearly on a diet, the cows tried to follow me out, but I shooed them back in, and tried to get the gate back up. (cue meaning for futile repeated action) because I couldn’t get the gate to stand back up. I was trying to wedge it in with tiny pieces of wood that were, incredibly, wedge shaped, but the gate kept falling. I tried to tie it with rope but the rope was never tight enough and it was always sagging enough to make it look like it would fall. An old man pulled up in a truck and I tried to explain what had happened, but Lucas decided to get up on the bed and wake me up.

Until it gets colder, the two Elder Mutts will not get on the bed at all. It’s too damn got. But Lucas likes the heat, and he wants to be near me. I try to shoo him off the bed but there’s a problem; the floor is covered with shadows. He has no idea where Sam is, and if he lands on Sam at this time of the night, Sam will kill him. He solves this problem by turning around 250 degrees and lying down again. Not exactly get off the bed, dude, so get off the bed. I have to turn the light on to get him down off the bed, and the light coming on means it’s time to go out.

Ever see the movie, “Groundhog Day”

As I lay awake I swore I couldn’t have slept at all but then I remembered the dreams and when I looked at the clock it was three something so I got up and drank some water. Three something is that time of day no one anywhere on earth is awake, and none of my online peeps were making a peep so I tried to sleep again after serving as a doggie doorman for the fourth time in as many hours.  I drifted in and out of sleep and creamed I was at work, in my sweats explaining to my boss that I  didn’t call in because it was Sunday and he was saying it was Monday already and I was freaked out that Sunday was gone. An entire day was missing and I couldn’t remember what had happened. It was an odd feeling and I considered I might be dreaming, but it seemed so real, and it does seem like once or twice a week I question dreaming in a dream and cannot wake up from it anyway.
The coyotes cranked up at dawn so it was pretty much over for me at that point. Every dog in the county jams with their wild cousins, and my mutts love it.

At dawn I walked out into the yard, nude but for rubber boots and howled.

Take Care,

Monday, August 23, 2010


Since I’ve settled down in the last few days and done some serious writing it has caused an outbreak of Dog Attention Defect Disorder , also known as DADD. All three of my companion canines have been afflicted, but Lucas seems to have the worst case. He also has developed Excessive Exothermic Examination Knack, or EEEK! In short, the tip of Luke’s nose is colder than an ex-wife working as a waitress when her former arrives with a much younger woman wearing a rock.

So there I am, pounding out the next chapter to the Great American Novel, when Lucas, who hasn’t been petted in minutes walks up behind me and puts the coldest dog nose on earth on my bare skin. Why, yes, this might be solved with clothing, but it’s August in South Georgia and I am not wearing anything that isn’t required by either law or to keep my feet from being chewed off when I go outside to pee.

It’s a guy thing, peeing outside, but in my case it’s easier. If I pee inside I have to take the really thick book off the toilet seat, lift it up, pee, flush, put the lid down, and put the really thick book back. You would not believe the trouble caused if the steps in this process go awry. They haven’t yet, and they are not likely to because I don’t drink as much or as often as I once did, but anyway, I wear almost nothing and slip on rubber boots to pee outside. The boots are thick enough to keep a small snake from biting me, because they’re rubber fireants won’t stick to them, and because they are waterproof, if Lucas noses me while I’m peeing I won’t get wet feet.

Lucas no longer collides. This is a great comfort to me, and the Elder Mutts, but my vet no longer plans to send her kids to Harvard. There for a while Lucas was discovering the Universal Constant of Force equals Mutt times Acceleration, and always when it was an object like a tree or a lawnmower, or a wall, Lucas would slam into it then come running to me as if I was to blame or I could fix it. I think Bert nearly chewed one of his ears off and that stopped him from colliding with his brothers, and one night he collided with me while I was peeing and he slept outside for a night then got hosed down the next morning. I got a shower and rubber boots.
And by the way, it is also a dog thing. I’m the only man you’ll ever meet who puts the lid down every time. Every single time and then I put a book on top of it otherwise Bert will open the lid and drink out of the toilet. He also likes to walk around in the shower when I’m done. There are always fresh dog tracks in my shower if I don’t close the door behind me after I leave the shower. One day I let Sam out, and then called and called for Bert, and I found him trapped in the bathroom. I had closed the door behind me, but he had slipped in while I was in the shower, and yes, there were dog tracks in the shower that time too.

Wasn’t thing about writing at one point in time before we went off on some you’re a peeing adventure with colliding canines and shower floor mutts?

Lucas likes to push with his nose, and he has discovered it works. Short of being in mid orgasm I cannot think of a human activity that cannot be stopped by the cold nose of a dog when applied properly. That has never happened by the way, at least not to me. I did date a woman with three dogs who began to howl when she was in mid orgasm, and her neighbors must have wondered what all the fuss was about. I had this odd urge to write a short story about a woman whose dogs howled when she was having sex but they just sat there and howled when someone murdered her because they were used to the screaming.

Coffee, Mike, you know, after midnight, even if you’re on nightshift, you might want to step away from the beans, man, because you know, this is all getting all just a little too much informational.

It’s odd how ordinary body functions become humorous or uncomfortable when we put them in some context other than ordinary. I’ve always wanted to put one hundred nude people in a room with no walls and no place to hide, with the showers and toilets in the open like they are in basic training in the Army, and see how long it would take people to give up on hiding what everyone known we all do. If it never got dark, and these hundred people had to work, sleep, play, and live together with no walls and no darkness, who would be the first couple to just plop down on the floor and start going for it like animals do? Social graces are invented things, and we know this, but how many of you close the door to the bathroom when you’re home alone?  How many of you wear clothes when you would feel better off nude?

Sam likes to put one paw on my leg and stare. Sam’s got this left paw thing going and he’ll put it on Bert’s head or Luke’s head and just sit there with a paw on someone. Sam is a tactile creature and it comforts him to be in contact with anyone else. With me it’s the leg, with the other dogs it’s the head, and I wonder why not their backs or their butts or… I mean, why?

Sam needs more attention than the other two dogs, and Luke needs a more than Bert, but when Bert wants to talk, he comes in and nudges me a bit. Bert doesn’t want random kindness or nonstop attention, he just wants to know I’m still here, and I still love him.  He knows I do, but he needs to be told and he needs to tell me.

People are like dogs, you know. They have different ways of trying to get attention, and different ways of giving it, but they’re all just saying what dogs say with their noses.

Take Care,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sam's Hell

When Bert found the little dying puppy my first impulse was to get my rifle and shoot it. Death hovered over the pitiful creature, and really, how much time, effort, not to mention money, would have to be put into rescuing this thing? This thing? Yes, I will admit it was hard to consider it to be a dog at all. In no sense of the word did the animal resemble a puppy or anything else from this earth. There were open sores on the limp skin that hung on a frame of bones. There was no mass, no meat, nothing at all there but a dull black hide on bones, covered with fleas and wounds. When I picked it up there was no weight there at all. I was stunned that it was alive at all. I expected the animal to die in my hands at the very moment. Hands? More like one hand for the little black dog was a mere rag of a coat and nothing else.
Yet there was life there. Bert was jumping up and down, literally, with joy at the thought of having a puppy. Inside the sunken eyes there was a puppy looking back out at me. No words can articulate that look. We do not have a language for that level of suffering. We, hopefully, lack an understanding of misery that deep. We should always lack that.

Had I offered Sam death at that moment he would have been grateful to accept it. It would have eased his mind to know it could end. It would have given him some form of joy to think his existence could end without another day, or another hour, or another moment of the hell we humans had prepared for him.

The tiny dying dog sucked food up as if there would be none tomorrow and from what he had learned from us humans; he had every reason to doubt there would be anything left once the bowl was empty. He had every reason to fear me. He had every reason to hate me. Sam, were he a reasoning creature, would have taken the food, but never trusted another human as long as he lived.

It took many days before he did truly trust tomorrow. I remember the first time he slept, truly slept, deep sleep true rest, snoring loudly, soundly, and in comfort. In two weeks Sam more than doubled his weight. Sam learned his name, learned to play again, learned to fetch a ball, and he learned that he would be loved.

I was taught hatred.

When Sam would awaken from his sleep yelping, screaming, crying out in the pain heaped upon him in another life, rage built inside of me. I would find the people who did this to Sam. I would find them. I would find them one day, and when I did find them, I would make them pay. I would extract from their very souls a price for Sam’s Hell.

I would sleep with Sam, curled up hidden in the very back of the closet with him, and I would hope there would be some afterlife, some purgatory, and whoever, or whatever ran that place, if they would allow it, if they would hire me on, if they would just give me the keys to the place, if they would just let me, I would take my time, and whoever had done this to Sam, would know Hell. I would explain it to them in terms they would never forget. Please, O’ Gods Of Dogs, hear my plea, and see my service to the pack, and give them over to me, and allow me, to give back to them what they did to Sam. Sam, Sam, The Happy Hound, was almost dead when he was found.

I have spent nine years so far with Sam. He is not whole. He never will be, and I have accepted that love cannot cure all things in all beings. Just a year ago this week, he tried to kill the puppy Lucas, a week after I brought Lucas into the home. Sam’s attack was brutal, vicious, and had my hand not been in the way, it would have been fatal. Two of Sam’s teeth sunk into my thumb. One went straight through and the other to the bone. Sam knows only one answer to his Hell. Sam knows only the edge of life and death deep in his soul, and if there is any action to be taken, it must be swift and it must be final.

The morning Sam attacked Lucas, and mauled my thumb I screamed at him, “What in the fuck is wrong with you?”

We are what is wrong with Sam. It is us. It is me. It is you. It is the way we think, the way we deal with this sort of thing. It is the way we believe we must be.

We cannot wish upon those people who created Sam’s Hell the same Hell. We cannot hope they suffer as Sam has suffered. We cannot imagine one day they will wake up in his skin, in his world, and live in that despair. We cannot. In these thoughts lies the birthplace of Sam’s Hell. We cannot wish evil to undo evil for in doing so, even in thought, we perpetuate evil.
Were someone to deliver the person who harmed Sam to me, and there in front of Sam, were I to torment that person, Sam would suffer horribly. It would harm him to see someone hurt like that. Sam now loves people. He learned that from love. When we see Sam, or animals like him suffer, we have to understand the humans behind the suffering are harmed. They are damaged, and perhaps they are damned. It is not for me to say. It is not for us to say.

With love, and only love, do we save and salvage, and rescue these animals. We cannot, we can not permit ourselves revenge, or hate, or even reclusiveness, Mike, if we are to ever heal ourselves. In this, in hate, do we sentence ourselves to Sam’s Hell. In love, in understanding, in healing, do we heal ourselves, and perhaps the humans that harm.

We can not hate. It is the way of harm. It is the way into Sam’s Hell.

Take Care,

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Mercer isn’t Yale or MIT or one of the Ivy League schools but it isn’t one of the institutions you can get into simply by coming up with the admission fees either. My niece moved into her dorm room at Mercer today, and she has a scholarship to back up her rock solid academic credentials, too.  She went to one of the better High Schools in South Georgia, but this is the big leagues now, and honestly, I’m not worried in the least about this one’s future. This is the product of hard work, and the work of a young woman who is stubborn about doing things for herself, and doing things right.
My oldest sister did well in this, and so did her husband. I remember the day my sister called me and told me she was pregnant, and I don’t think anyone thought so far into the future that day as to see things coming. Mercer. My niece is going to Mercer. She has a scholarship, and she is going to do well, and one day I’ll watch her graduate from one of the best schools in the nation.  
But she was always a good kid, always good in school, exceptional, really, and please, indulge me in this, I don’t go on and on about my family usually. I called my sister at lunch today to see if she was going to be able to let go in less than half a day, and they were already on the way back. The cord has been cut. No matter what else happens, after today, that young woman will never be able to go home again and it ever be the same. She has stepped away from the nest, and begun to fly.
Today I went out into the yard and tussled with the mutts, and it occurred to me Bert isn’t able to play rough at all anymore. He likes to growl and snap at me, but it’s acting, not real playing and we both do our parts in it to make him feel like he’s young again. I wrestled with Lucas and had to stop him at one point for me to catch my breath. He body blocked me and I fell back hard, and it knocked the breath out of me. Stop means stop, and he stopped, but I also think he realized I was down if he had pressed it. For the first time since I can remember I don’t think I can win an outright fight with a dog I’m sharing space with. I was always able to handle Bert, as wild and cunning as he was. He knew out to flip me over by grabbing my shirt collar and pulling at the right time. Lucas lacks the knowledge Bert has but he has pure energy and he’s ten pounds more massive, at least. Stop means stop, and when I yelled stop Lucas backed away from me and sat, panting and smiling. We played some more, after I caught my breath, but I wonder if he’s pulling his punches now, like I do with Bert.

Be honest, Mike. Was there ever really a time Bert couldn’t have severely injured you if he really wanted to do it? If Bert and Sam ever decided they were going to take me down it would have been a done deal in less time than it took to write this paragraph. But that was a while back. Bert is elderly now, and today, Sam who is eighteen months younger than Bert, lost his first race. Lucas beat Sam to the woods to fetch a ball, and it is the first time Sam has ever been beaten in a flat out run. Lucas got to the ball first, dodged Sam, and then ran it back to me with Sam struggling behind him, left in the wake of a faster dog for the first time ever. Bert stopped chasing the ball years ago, when he discovered that Sam at half speed was still twice as fast as Bert at full on. Sam hasn’t lost a ball to another dog since 2002.

We’re a month away from the Equinox now, and the deadly Summer heat, while still in effect, is losing daylight if nothing else. It seems as if late August is a time of great change even if it is only very small things that show it. The Autumn vines will begin to show, the wild grape leaves are already shading towards golden, just a few, but in more places than last week even.  The heat is still oppressive, the humidity still high, and the Summer rages on unabated but now, right now, is the fulcrum. This is when the balance begins to slowly shift away. The Sumer is half empty. The Solstice further away than the Equinox, the fall is coming, and the season now looks back at itself.
Somewhere here is a picture of a bearded man with thinning hair. He is holding a half naked little girl upside down, and even upside down the little girl is obviously enjoying her uncle’s play. They are both smiling for the camera, and the little girl’s smile is as wide as a smile can be in a happy child. With small effort the man holds the child for she is light and small, and he still has real strength.

When that photo was taken I still had hair on my head, still had brown hair in my beard, and both my grandmothers were still alive. I had a niece but not a nephew yet, had never been married, and none of my dogs had been born yet. I remember that day, I remember the photo being taken, and I remember thinking it was so totally cool, to have a niece, and for her to be this amazing little creature that she was, and that she was going to be to so much fun.

I was right.

Now she’s in a dorm room, at Mercer.

Take Care,

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Nameless Moon's Firesmith

It is not a full moon, or a new moon, nor is it a crescent moon or a half moon. My mind searches for nouns but at two in the morning the thesaurus is empty as the sky is full of stars. The moon, whatever its phase, undercasts clouds, and they have names I have forgotten, too. Some of them are low hanging clouds from the storm that just missed us, and some of higher flying clouds, empty of rain and returning to the heaven of clouds where angels will refill them.

There is real peril in these thoughts on the Interstate but I am tucked safely between two massive pieces of machinery. It’s time for me to go home, to sleep, to rest, to shed the skin I wear in front of construction workers and motorists and chameleon like, return to who I am around writers and dogs. But the moon, She would like a thought with me, now, and I cannot turn away. High above the pine trees she glows with a light from millions of miles away, and fire from such distance, carries me.
I lay claim to fire. Above any other tool man has used, it is fire that elevated man from the rest of the animals. Long ago, how long no one really will ever know, a man, or perhaps a woman, stood and gazed at the moon it this phase, and perhaps it was a generation who never knew a night without fire, or the one after that. But at one point in the history of our species, one of us tamed fire, and was able to breathe life into it at will, and at that point, that very moment, the night retreated from man.
The wild beast who preyed upon early human feared them very little or not at all. Weak, slow, and without any real defenses, the cats and bears and canines, all took what they willed to eat from the troops of early humans. But fire changed that forever. Now there was no approaching the caves at night. Fire lived there, flickering and leaping and smoking at the will of humans, and the animals retreated with the night. Oh no, this did not end the domination of stronger, faster, and more vicious predators, but the top of the food chain ended at the end of a flame. No beast risked getting burned to hunt humans in their caves anymore. Protection was the First Gift of Fire.
With the coming of darkness at night, not even the light of the moon was enough for early man to see what needed to be seen, but the Second Gift was Light. Now, small tasks requiring light could continue after sundown.  The day grew longer because of fire, and the humans could sharpen tools, make weapons, and see one another’s faces after the sun went down. The animals stood just beyond the fire and waited for it to fail, and perhaps at times it did. But not often enough, as long as a Firesmith could make fire.
Warmth was the Third Gift of Fire, and winter no longer hunted us either. There was a Spring, a first Spring with fire, when a human who was the leader of a troop that had become a tribe, stood with another and they spoke of the babies born who had lived through the coldness.  The old ones who might have died had lived, and this was during a time all members of the tribe were valued, and needed, and knowledge that might have been frozen and lowered into the ground stayed for at least one more season. Some small knowledge that one human held could now live another day to be passed on to another human who also might have not lived had it not been for fire.

But it was the Gift of Time that was the greatest gift of Fire. Humans could sit around a fire at night and trade stories and the women could be at ease and suckle the babies who would feel the security of their mothers’ and there would be no rush to find a secure place to hide. There would be no scramble or haste at the setting of the sun for the Firesmith, and perhaps this was a skill all knew, would build a fire, and the night would be a time for leisure and talk. Cooked food would be passed around, and there would be no hurry to protect meals against those animals who might steal it. Vegetables and other cooked plants would be more easily digested and parasites would be killed by fire. The first year of Fire would see more humans survive the night, and survive the winter. Each year would see knowledge passed on, and knowledge increased. It would be Fire that defined us first, as humans.
The nameless moon in the deepening sky, with the unknown clouds scudding below, and the multitude of stars as a backdrop, and were there fewer lights, the Milky Way as a reminder of how small we truly are, freezes me in time. I am the unknown human standing in the dark, unafraid of the wild that has been beaten back over generations that have known fire. No creatures of the night, except those in my own mind, threaten or stalk me. Like that human from long, long ago, I watch other humans at work, and I know that I am safe, in a relative way, from dangers that once were. But it is the moon, hanging in the sky, once at the top of the pines, but now settling into their limbs, and signaling that it is time for me to return home, that captures this moment. I remember the first time I coaxed a fire to life when fifty other men could not. In the frozen rain, in the distant past, was a moment a tiny flame flickered to life, and gave light, warmth, protection, and time.
I lay claim to Fire. It is a part of who we are, and part of what makes us human.

Take Care,
Mike Firesmith

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Possession (Rated NC-17)

“So why didn’t you possess me?” Colleen asked.
“The day you shot me in the leg?” Regal sneered. “If you remember correctly I was Tasered just a split second before they drug you out of the room. “
“So why not now?” Colleen asked. “I’m stoned. That makes it easier, right? I’m not putting up a fight. I’m actually inviting you in. If there really is a demon in there, why not make the jump? I have a much better chance of getting you out of this box than that farmer you’re holding hostage.”  Colleen felt her breath quicken. Did she really believe this was a demon? What would it feel like? Could she become Ben Johnson, the next subject inside of a glass cage, being poked and prodded and examined? What if it was real? What if this was a form of suicide she had not considered? She felt the pot in her mind and wonder if the possession would feel like a shock or would it be like easing into warm water? How much of who she was would be gone?
“If I possessed you they would kill you ten minutes after they discovered it.” Regal told her.
“Probability of truth extremely low.”  Colleen mocked. “You aren’t afraid they’ll kill me, and I’m not sure they can kill you, at least not in the form humans fear. All this talk about your fear of losing your host is just that; talk. You, Regal, are here for a reason. “
Regal didn’t speak and Colleen waited. She had noticed Regal became silent when he didn’t want to answer a question, or if he thought the lie detector might catch an evasion. She wondered if Toby’s blackout code worked or if this was all part of the plan. If she thought they were speaking off the video feed then her body language would reflect it. If she were being lied to and didn’t know it then Regal wouldn’t know it either. Would Roger sacrifice her in the name of…? Why was she here? What purpose did he have for her now? Was all of this, the alcohol, the drugs, the pot smoking with Ellijay, the whiteness of the walls, the monotony of the schedule, the isolation, and the sameness of life here designed to drive her to this?
And the guilt of murder? Let’s not forget that, Colleen, she thought. She had been tailor made, designed, to become the next demonic. She was being guided very carefully, crafted with the very end of her existence here to be a Guinea Pig, a lab rat, and the sacrificial lamb for possession. That thought flung Colleen to her feet and she nearly fell.
“You destroyed their protocol with a single shot, Colleen.” Regal said. He remained seated and unmoving. “Does it surprise you they’ve decided to give your plan a try? The real problem they’re having is getting me to cooperate in their scheme. “
“You are more afraid of leaving here than you are being killed?” Colleen panted for breath. Every time she spoke with Johnson he more and more became Regal.
“Yes.” Regal replied.
“Probability of truth extremely low” the machine said.
“Colleen, Roger would like to speak with you” the voice was filtered but Colleen knew it had to be Toby.
Colleen was kept waiting in her room for hours. As she had entered her room the door slid shut behind her and no one would answer any of her calls from the speaker beside the door. The television still worked so she spent four hours watching old cop shows. Screw it, she thought. She rolled a joint from the pot Ellijay had given her and got stoned, again. It was becoming a habit, like drinking, but she wasn’t smoking cigarettes yet. Colleen laughed. Tobacco was her last bastion of free will from habit. As long as she wasn’t smoking that…
“Mr. Loggins will see you now.” The door slid open.
“You’re fired.” Roger said. “Please escort Ms Visclosky to the exit.” He said to the orderly.

Colleen sat in her own living room watching old cop shows on her television. She had gotten used to a wider screen and the quality of sound wasn’t nearly as good as in the lab. She had checked her bank account and discovered Roger had made good on his offer for a generous separation fee. So it was over. She would join  a gym in the morning, after a good drunk tonight, give her system a month or so to clean out the drugs before putting out applications, and life would be normal again by the time the Fourth Of July arrived. Summer was always a busy season for law enforcement, and Roger would make good for his promise to give her a good reference. It already felt like a dream. Demons and possession! How stoned had she been? Colleen tried to think clearly about what she really knew about what had happened in the last three months and discovered there was nothing, really, nothing at all, that would lead her to believe she had seen a human being who was possessed by a demon.
She could cook with garlic again, enough garlic to make it count, and no one could stop her. The lab’s food was good but they knew nothing about garlic. She could call for takeout without having the food screened and who know what else done by those white suited orderlies that looked like boy scouts. Colleen vowed to stop smoking pot and would never again, ever, speak to anyone who thought they were possesses by a demon. Man, she thought, of all the freaky and weird stuff that had to be the worst. Never again. Colleen took a drink straight from the bottle and decided to quit drinking as much too, tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow she would start over again, and get back to solving murders and collecting evidence and rubbing elbows with people who thought human beings were generally just fucked up people and there were no demons. Colleen went to sleep in her own bed, and when she woke up, she called Roger and asked him if she could come back to work in the lab.

Take Care,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today is June 20th, 2002.

I cranked up an Excel program to keep up with how long I had gone with smoking, and quite honestly, I thought my original goal of forty-two days might as well have been four thousand two hundred days. Failing miserably at quitting smoking was something that was becoming as big a habit as smoking itself. Worse, I found myself hanging out with smokers and the nonsmokers were beginning to irritate the hell out of me. Former smokers were just plain unendurable. I hid how much I smoked from my friends and family. I did things that I thought were truly disgusting like tossing cigarette butts out of the windows of cars. I found myself asking friends to pause movies so I could take a smoke break. But on January the eighth, 2005, a Saturday afternoon, I threw it down, and walked away.

Most people who quit fail in the first year. Your odds of staying quit after the first year rise dramatically, and the third and fourth years are like icing on the cake. Oddly, your odds of surviving the fifth year are less than the odds of surviving the third or fourth. The fifth year drags people down because they believe they’ve beat it, and because they beat it, they can go back to smoking every once in a while, and everything will be okay. That is the quickest way to lose.

So I modified the Excel program to keep up with possible retirement dates. That was depressing. The Aztecs tell me it will be all over long before I can start to think about retiring. Social Security, my retirement fund, America, and Starbucks will all be broke before I kick back in a rocking chair. So I modified the program again, to keep up with events that will occur soon, and some that were not going to occur soon, but the program has aged, so some of the things I tossed in as a lark are now reality.

I hit the five year mark for not smoking in January. I worked my 6000th day two years ago. I had just 4000 days left to retire eighteen months ago. Nine months ago I had spent most of my career in the office I am in now. I have a year and a half to go before I’ve been at this job for twenty years. Lucas has been here for over a year now. I keep up with some personal stuff too, how long someone has been out of my life, or how long it’s been since I spoke with someone I am still in live with, kinda, and that sort of thing. But my backwards calendar, yeah, I like that thing. I took the date I am suppose to retire, 11/9/2020 and  extracted the number of days I am from that point, and then added those days to the starting date of when I began working at this job, which was 3/16/1992.  Then I took the days I had left, and figured out where I would be going forward that number of days, and then started living backwards as each day went by. Confused?

Think about it in simple terms. If you took this month, August, and figured there was thirteen more days left in it, and then worked backwards from that, you’d be on August the 13th. Tomorrow would be August 19th forward, but August the 12th backwards.

Why yes, I am strange, thanks for finally noticing.

On the backwards calendar, in which the Universe will end on Monday, March the sixteenth, 1992, it is Thursday, June 20th, 2002. I am working on a bridge project on US84 on the Lowndes/Lanier county line, and I am in the death throes of a failed marriage. I am broke. It was about this time I was writing letters to an old friend of mine, and describing my thoughts and the days. I wish I still had those letters but that was two computers ago. It was about this time in my life I went back and read everything I had ever written. I was not nearly the writer then I am not, and I had not started blogging. I hadn’t met most of you it stands to reason, and there was no Gather or Facebook, but I do think Live Journal was alive then.

I had stopped drinking totally but I was still smoking. There did not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel at all, and each day seemed to be some sort of purgatory. A woman I knew from work and I was flirting but I knew it would end poorly. I knew by the end of the Summer of 2002 my marriage would be a thing of the past, but the future was not showing any signs of life.

It was a conscious decision on my part. It was an act of will. I was something I told a friend of mine I was going to do, and then I sat down to do it. Remember, at that time, there were very few people who knew I wrote. Most of my stories were horror stories filled with human beings making silly mistakes and some hyper Darwinian Universe making them pay dearly for it. The first short story I finished was about a hick who discovers a plane full of money and he accidently sets off a homing beacon so the drug lords come after him. That was a fun story to write and I was happy with it, but a friend of mine pointed out that almost everything I had written was devoid of hope, or happiness in the end.
So I sat down to write a story with happiness and hope and bluebirds and rainbows. I must admit it was not easy. It most of what I had written there were great supernatural forces that devoured people like lemon drops and unspeakable horror was actually spoken. But the story, once I sent off for it in my mind, decided to flit around for a while, and then landed.
I didn’t quit writing horror stories but I did start developing stories that had real humanity in them, and endings that didn’t involve some small town getting wiped out by an outer space virus that turned everyone into mutants whose only means of survival was eating rocks and belt buckles. Okay, I didn’t actually write that one out, but when I started drinking again, that one did pop up in the to-do list.

So today is the twentieth of June, 2002, again. As time moves slowly backwards, there will be days I remember, and I wonder if I will remember enough about those days to write about them and try to make sense of them…again.

Take Care,

The following is an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry mid term, and an actual answer turned in by a student.

The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:r
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.
 One student, however, wrote the following:  

 First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely.. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. 
  Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:  

  1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose. 
  2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? 
If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct..........leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Possession Of Greg Stone. (part two)

There was a tiny spot of light on the left hand corner of the wide screen television and Greg watched it without emotion. It was small and silver, the light reflected off of the window as the sun set and it glowed, faded, and then glowed again. His cell phone rang once, and then again, and then again, its different tones for various people announcing their interest, but that too faded. The tiny spot of light grew smaller and smaller, and the room was flooded with darkness.  Greg watched the screen and waited, and waited. He took a drink out of the bottle and it was empty.
“Where are you?” Greg asked, but there was no one there. Greg picked up his cell but the battery was dead. The remote was stuck under the cushion of the chair, so he dug it out and hit the power button. The explosion of light hurt his eyes. He flipped through the channels until he found the weather. It was Wednesday. Wednesday? What happened to the weekend? What happened to Monday and Tuesday? He found the charger and pulled the cell in and went into the bathroom.  The light hurt his eyes but he could tell something was wrong. The cut over his eye was flushed with a nasty red color and the cut itself was puffy and white.
“Shit! It’s infected.” Greg said aloud. Greg looked at his face. How long had it been since he shaved? The beard was two or three days old at least. He pulled his short off over his head and it stuck to his body. Greg could smell his own body and the scent was almost a chemical smell. A four day drunk would do that to you, Greg thought. Four days? Let’s see, Friday, no Thursday night, then the weekend, and now it was Wednesday night, oh shit, a week? A week? Losing Kim wasn’t worth a week. Certainly not now since he had…
Greg let the hot water broil his skin and he picked at the wound above his eye until it bled. That would help, he reasoned. But the washcloth had green-white looking pus on it, and that could not be good. A week? His muscles ached. He couldn’t get his vision to focus fully. How much had he drank in a week? He needed more hot water. He upped the pressure and heat in the shower until it hurt. Memories seeped through. Trips to the liquor store, pizza delivery, and…? A week? Had he spent a week drinking and eating pizza?

Greg got out of the shower and nearly fell. He felt oddly cold. The back deck could be seen by the neighbors if they were looking, but it was still dark. He turned the hot tub on and got in. Okay, okay, think, Greg, Friday, you called in and that was okay, but the weekend…? Drinking, the dancing woman on the widescreen, what was her name, Greg couldn’t remember.
“You can call me Anna.”
Greg remembered now. Anna had danced for him, yes, and the weekend was filled with dancing, dancing, and suddenly, it had ended, and Monday. Yes, now he remembered Monday. He was too drunk to drive. The argument with that moron, Darryl and... “Shit, I got fired.” Greg said. Dancing. More drinking Monday, and more dancing, is that why his muscles hurt? The cut was bleeding again, and it blurred his vision. Tuesday, Anna was dancing, no, she was gone, he had to find her, and he went… Where would he look for her? Now he remembered driving, swerving, hitting a car, almost, and there was, The Corral, that bar where he and Kim used to go before the break-up.
Greg got out of the hot tub now, and memory was something he had to fight with and he was losing. What had he done? Kim? He remembered Kim. She was there, with her friends, and they had danced. He had danced with Kim.
“You cheated on me.” Anna said softly.

Detective Visclosky walked through the apartment and made mental notes as to what was where. The photographer was there already, but Visclosky liked to rebuild crime scenes in her mind. Three empty bottles of tequila and couple of pizza boxes beside the one chair in the living room. There was a hot tub still running on the deck, blood in the shower, and a dead girlfriend, ex-girlfriend from what her friends where saying now, and a suicide from the same gun used to off the girlfriend.
“What ya got, Colleen?” Captain Collins said from the front door.
“We’ve got most of it, Captain, come on in.” Visclosky replied.
“Homicide and suicide?” Collins asked.
“Yeah, looks like it.” Colleen told him. “Guy quit his job, started drinking, went to a bar and picked his old flame up, came back to the place they once shared, put seven shots in her, and one in his head.”
“Nasty.” Collins remarked.
“Kinda weird.” Colleen told him. “People at the bar said they looked like they were getting back together last night.
“Nasty…is there a word that means more nasty than nasty?” Collins asked. “What’s with the pizza boxes and bottles?”
“Male bonding with himself over the weekend.”  Colleen said. “Showed up drunk for work Monday and started screaming at his boss.”
“You’ve done that.” Collins said.
“Never drunk enough for you to know it.” Colleen smiled grimly. She didn’t like the direction the conversation was taking.
“Girlfriend’s name Anna?” Collins asked as he noticed Colleen’s discomfort.
“That’s one we can’t figure yet. He wrote “Anna” in his girlfriend’s blood on his widescreen but the dead chick’s name is Kimberly. “
“Nasty.” Collins replied. 

Elvis: Over rated, over weight, and Over Dosed

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Possession Of Greg Stone.

Greg took another shot of tequila and was proud that it went down almost smoothly. “Bitch left me.” The words were too loud but he didn’t care. She took the sofa. The television in the bedroom was gone. She left the widescreen, and his chair, and that was a reminder it wasn’t the stuff, it wasn’t the house, it wasn’t the things he could or couldn’t give her, no, it wasn’t that.
“It’s you.”
Greg concentrated hard and the voice was gone. He focused on the bottle and he felt as if his hand was being guided towards it. He put his hand on the bottle, it was square, not round, and he gripped it. Harder, harder, harder, there was no way he could break it with his bare hand, but there was something incredibly satisfying about the feel of the bottle in his hand.

Greg felt detached from the action, as if this were a movie, and in this scene, someone with his arm reached over and held and shot glass up and with this other arm, the bottle, and like someone who had never poured a drink before, this person spilled some of it, but the glass got full.

“And baby that’s what counts!”

Greg down the shot and reached for his cell phone.

He stopped and listened for the voice. How drunk was he? No, not that drunk, really; four, maybe five shots, and…

He held the glass out again, and again tried to pour with both arms extended and this time there was only a tiny bit spilled. A wave of pleasure swept over him and he downed the shot immediately. He tried again and this time he held the lip of the bottle a full six inches above the glass and poured it perfectly. Again there was a wave of pleasure.
Greg sat down in front of the widescreen and before he could reach for the remote he saw the screen flicker. “It’s a sign, you know, of who you are to be able to afford these things.” Greg couldn’t see the image clearly, but the voice seemed to be coming from the surround sound speakers.  Was he dreaming?
“Yes,” the voice whispered, “it is all just a dream.”
Greg watched as the image danced and twirled on the screen and it was if it was a movie, and the lighting was down to keep the rating from being “R”. It was a woman, dancing, she was a stripper without clothes, and the lighting faded and brightened as he watched. Greg forgot about the remote. He wanted to see her body. He had to see her body. There was enough light for the curves of her breast to show, slightly, and there was just enough light for her face to been seen, maybe, and her legs were twins shadows themselves, with a darker shadow between, hiding from the light. The woman was as dark as a shadow, within shadows, and Greg wanted to see more, wanted to know who the woman was, wanted to know the name of the movie, but all the lights on the screen were black. The sensors for the remote were black. The peripheral constellations of tiny lights indicating the widescreen was working were all black. But the woman danced as if she was a part of screen, or part of a dream.
“Yes”, she whispered to him, “this is a dream.”
Greg felt his arm move up and put the bottle to his lips. He drank from it, one, two, three swallows, and he felt his body revolt against the liquid but just as quickly the revolt was put down.
“Greg, I love you” she whispered to him, and Greg closed his eyes and sank back into the chair. Her voice. She had come back to him. Greg smiled and felt her hands on him, but something was different, it didn’t feel quite right. “I love you,” she said and it was all right, all perfect, and she was with him, and it had never been so right. That night on the cruise, that night they had slipped away from Mark and Sandy’s wedding party, that night she had come home after being in Michigan for a week, none of that was as good as it was as good as it was good as it was as good now it was as good.
Greg woke up. His jeans were pulled down to his knees and he was alone, and fouled. The morning sun had already crept into the windows. The bottle sat beside him half empty and he considered a shot, even that this hour.
“Call in sick.”
Greg looked around. There was no one else here but him. The widescreen was off. But why not? Hell, he had some time coming and he never called in sick, well, almost never. It was Friday, wasn’t it? Greg stumbled as he tried to walk, but managed to make it to his cell phone. He flipped it open, and the picture of her was still there, smiling back at him. How did that happen? Didn’t he change that? But the time and date told him it was Friday, and if he showed up this late he might as well call in. He made the call, and picked the bottle up again.

In the shower he felt the warm water cascading over him like a dream. Two shots before breakfast? Ha! It was like being in college again. There were younger women out there, more beautiful women out there, more willing women out there, and she was a whore. They all were whores. They were all out there waiting to prey upon him, if he didn’t prey upon them first. They were all….
Greg slipped as he rocked back and forth and then fell backwards out of the shower hitting his head hard. Pain ricocheted around his skull and his vision blurred. What in the hell are you thinking, man? Why aren’t you at work? Greg stood up and was horrified at how he looked in the mirror. Blood poured down from a cut above his eye, and maybe he needed stitches.
“It will be okay, Greg, calm down, calm down…” she said and as Greg listened to her the pain receded. He felt her pushing the pain back, comforting him.  He would go get something to eat, that would help, and he would go to the gym for a few laps, then… a strong, nearly physical image played in his mind, of a blacked out screen and a dancer.
“We need a drink” she said, and Greg smiled.