Monday, January 31, 2011

...and Innocent Men

My first experience with a male who seemed to be totally oblivious as to what truly pissed his mate off was when I was living with one of my sisters’ husband to be.  He was well meaning, but did not understand why being friends with a woman he had slept with might bother my sister. It wasn’t that he was romantically involved with the woman in question they were just friends-with-benefits and for reasons that escaped him entirely, he couldn’t see why anyone would think they might still be doing such things just because they went out drinking together. Personally, I liked the idea of the woman hanging around for perfectly legitimate reasons, and that was she mixed a great Long Island Iced Tea, but I also knew if my sister discovered I was sleeping with the enemy, so to speak, there would be blood. Blood is thicker than alcohol, so I fell in behind the safest position I could, even though I kinda missed the poor woman.
            Sometimes, when things get all weird and wooly, it is simply a matter of miscommunication that is the problem. A friend of mine came over one night and we were just sitting around drinking and he left at the appointed hour of his return to his wife. That was about eleven so I was quite surprised she called me at midnight to complain she had not seen him yet. Now, as all good men know, the last thing you do in a situation like this is tell the truth. The Code Of Men-Kin demands that in this case the formula be used, and the formula states that you give your friend the maximum amount of time you could when he goes missing. I told her he had just walked out of the apartment and was most surely on his way. In women-speak, a long and deafening silence right after Men-Kin formula has just be used is a very polite way of suggesting the truth is a stranger. She called an hour later and demanded to know the truth. Again, the formula kicked in again, and I told her I had just arrived back home, and had helped her husband change a flat tire, for a little old lady, who was broke down on the side of the road,
and …

            She hung up on me.

            I conferred with the voices…
            Voice One: Dude! What if he’s been in a wreck? Damn, man, go look for him!
            Voice Two: Call her back and tell the truth. Let her go looking for him.
            Voice Three: You’ve had one too many, turn the phone off and go to bed.
            Voice Four: Man, if you go over there she might be wearing something thin, and it’s cold too…

            I turned the phone off, and it was a good thing, too. The man in question had gone straight home, but instead of going to bed, he crashed on the sofa, as men are wont to do. His wife never knew he was home, and because I had invoked Men-Kin formula, when she found him there the next morning, he was in trouble deep.

            Oh, and you’d think he was rightfully pissed at me, but I deftly defused that, but quick! He called to complain that I should have not been so quick to use The Code Of Men-Kin, but I said, “Dude! For all I knew you picked up some chick in the parking lot! How was I to know?” And once you suggest to a man that there was some possibility that he might have had some chance to so much as speak to a strange woman, much less sleep with her, he has to, has to according to Men-Kin Law, accept there was such a possibility.

            Not all Man Trouble is related to sex, and indeed, not nearly as much as we would have the rest of the world to believe. Sports is the single leading cause of trouble in most of the world of Men-Kin. A man is totally capable of lying on a sofa, drinking one beer after another, until there is no more football on television. A woman lives in constant fear there might be a man out there somewhere, doing nothing, or worse, actually enjoying doing nothing. I hid out two of my friends from their wives so they could watch a terribly important match-up between, damn, two teams, football, yes, and I think there might have been a bowl game but it escapes me right now.
They told their wives they had to help me with a plumbing problem, and that too, is Men-Kin, the helping with house and truck problems, to hide the fact the Ace Hardware Armadillo Texas Bowl is playing on a Friday Night on ESPN 17. The wives showed up with food about half way through the fixing, er, game, and noticed there were no tools lying around, except for us. It was not pretty. They took the food with them.
            By now most of you are keying on the fact that The Code Of Men-Kin is a euphemism for practiced lying. I have to allow there is more than a little truth to that, yes. But let’s face it, women of the world, if you ask a man if he rather spend time with you or go watch the game with his friends, you’d blow a fuse if he told you he has fifty on the Steelers and seven points. We men have seen this before, the man who really wants to get away from the house for a few hours only to be tracked down by a woman who is truly pissed that he escaped her gravitational pull for more than a few moments.
            The sad truth is most men are just older boys. We know only seven colors, we have no idea if the seat goes up or down, we don’t care which fork we’re suppose to use, we think your brother is a moron and  a loser, and deep down inside, despite the fact we get it wrong more often than right, we truly just want women to be happy. We want to you believe we’re a little more perfect and less flawed than we are. Face it, that isn’t the most implausible thing we would like for you to believe.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Police Station Shooting

The Old Gods

Malc was the God of Water and Sand, of Islands and Beaches. His reign was long, and his occupation was to take the crushed rock, coral, and bones of the earth to make new places for creatures to live. He answered to no one because he was not of one domain or another, and neither water nor earth held sway over him. Yet he held power over only the space between land and water, and this made him both very powerful and exceptionally powerless, for a God.
            Human beings were among those creatures who worshipped Malc, and he blessed them with wonderful places to live and to play. Malc was a god, this is certain, but he was a lonely god. One night as he watched the moon’s reflection playing on the beach he espied a young woman, walking lonely too, and he sought her company. Luna, who is the goddess of the lights of the night, was more than a little dismayed, and so she would hide her face from Malc, on occasions, and then reappear once he had forgotten his current love. Sol, whose light was borrowed by Luna, and whose warmth attracted the humans to Malc’s work, was angered by all of this drama, and to punish Luna, he bid that she must forever change her face each night until it is hidden, and then only by degree reveal it again. Malc, Sol did decree, could no longer dally with human women again.
Luna was forced to accept Sol’s decision but Malc was unbowed. He declared that he would not accept any judgment from Sol, and from that point, there was enmity between the two. Other gods were drug into the conflict, and Nemus, the God of Water, was bid by Sol to still himself, and create no more sand from the rocks. Blu, the Goddess of the air, despaired at the stillness of the waters, and raged at Sol for his presumption, and she attacked Nemus, forcing him to create more sand. Sol decided that he would withdraw all his heat from the waters, stilling them forever, but a hue and cry went up among the other gods. Gaia declared Sol to be a renegade, and dictator for removing his warmth from those creatures who needed it for life, and Luna joined her, saying that her punishment ought to have been enough, and Sol’s hegemony over the others was wrong. Summer, the Goddess of Rivers, declared Sol’s position over the others to be void, and threatened to flood the whole of earth and wipe out life indiscriminately, as Sol had done. Sol had to back down, but admonished Malc that his fascination with humans would lead to no good end.
            Centuries passed, and even though Sol did not release Luna from her punishment, the rest of the gods and goddesses went their way. Malc continued to befriend the humans, but he restrained his love for any one of them. This went on until one night, when Luna’s face was full and beautiful, Malc saw a woman so striking the reflection of her face in the water stilled even Nemus. The water beneath her stood nearly motionless as a mirror would be, and Malc could do very little but watch her. Finally, he snuck away, hidden from the other gods and goddesses, and took human form, so that he might love her, and she might love him back.
            Malc used the other god’s and goddess’ anger over Sol’s attempted ascendancy over them to woo the woman. He bid Luna to shine ever brightly, and to align the stars for the waman and himself. He bid Blu to create a warm breeze and for Summer to send fish with lighted scales to swim down the steams into the sea, and Nemus still the waters until the entire sky was reflected at the woman’s feet as she walked on the shore with Malc. The woman agree to Malc’s advances and under the stars and full moon, on the sand lit by light sponged from Sol himself, the woman allowed herself to be taken as if Malc were her mate.
            Now, as much as Sol slept at night, he could not help but notice there was some strangeness going on when he awoke. Malc, who he saw often, was suddenly absent. The others did not speak of Malc at all when these days and Sol wondered what could be happening, but he knew he could find out. He bid Luna to come dance with him, and as they drew near to each other, Sol’s light was blocked, and the woman came out to the beach and called for Malc. Sol was enraged. He vowed to leave the earth frozen and cold and dared the others to oppose him. A war was raged, and thick ice covered the earth for a year. Finally, Sol relented, and he allowed some warmth to return, but not for the full time of each year. Malc was allowed to keep his woman, ad his pwer increased for having defeated Sol. Everyone was happy again, except Sol, of course, who for three or four months of each year, punished everyone with cold.
            Yet the human woman did not like the cold, and suddenly Malc saw Sol’s plan to keep them apart, and what would happen. The woman found a man in the cold, a Poet, and she drew him close. Malc pleaded with the others to help him, but they saw this as a private matter. To make matter worse, the Poet had challenged the authority of Malc over the woman.
            “What would you do to keep this woman?’ Malc asked of the Poet.
            “She is more beautiful than anything on earth,” the man replied, “and I would do anything!”
            “If you wish to keep her you may,” said Malc, “but first you must write a poem, exclaiming all her virtues.” Malc smiled, and said, “How long might that take?”
            “It would take an entire day and an entire might!”the poet exclaimed, “But I can do this!”
            “If you write a poem that trumpets her virtues I will release all my claims on her, if…” Malc said slyly, “you complete it, and you must be my guest until you finish!”
            The man agreed and suddenly found himself on a tiny island, without anything to write with at all. Not to be outwitted, he quickly grabbed apiece of driftwood and began writing in the sand. Malc, seeing what the man was doing was enraged, but he could see no way to stop the Poet from finishing. Then Malc had an idea.
            Malc went to Luna and told her the man was writing a poem for her, in her honor, so she might spy on him, and read it before he finished. As she drew near to the island, the sea rose to meet her, and washed away the poem. Seeing nothing there, she began to back away, but then she noticed he was writing again, and so he drew near once more.
            Luna watched over the Poet, and Malc dallied with the woman, and the other Gods had pity on the man, after several years. They made him a god, named Fundy, to watch over the tides.

Take Care,
Mike

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mad Women

A woman I was having a relationship with called me one day and told me she wasn’t sure if she was mad at me or not. Tap dancing in mine fields or me trying to talk a woman out of being mad has similar results, so I knew from the opening salvo I had already angered the woman, or in an effort to defuse the situation, I would anger the woman, and the end result would be the same. Had I been a little quicker on my feet I would have hung up the phone, ordered flowers, drove to her house, and apologized profusely, even though I had no damn clue as to what was wrong, or why. Furthermore, I should have promised never to do it again, and even if I had no idea what it might have been, maybe I could have vamped my way through it.

I thought that last bit was funny myself.
           

            As I tried desperately to bail out the Titanic, and put the fire in Hell out, she explained to me that I had done something that might, maybe, not certainly, possibly, could have upset her, and did I realize why this action might, maybe, not certainly, possibly, could have upset her? I heard the Final Jeopardy Theme in my head, and sought inner counsel from the voices.

            Voice One: You must not admit you knew you could have made her angry because it would make you seem callous.
            Voice Two: Admit you are clueless and seek to placate her by asking her what you could have done to make things better.
            Voice Three: Just say the word “yes” and see if she might interpret it as the answer she is looking for.
            Voice Four: Dude, that chick on television right now, man, is she smoking hot or what? Those can’t be real. Wow, you think she’s posed for Playboy or….”

            I thought it might be safe to tell her that I had no idea something that I had done might make her mad at me.  That makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, if you tell someone, “I didn’t know I had done something that was wrong”, isn’t that better than saying that you knew what you were doing was wrong? I mean, if you don’t know it was wrong how can you be blamed for the results of your actions, right? HA! What really set this woman off was I had no idea what really set her off and worse yet, did not realize that was all so totally wrong. Later that night when we sat down and talked about it, I did finally realize that arguing my position was paramount to talking her into breaking up with me. I retreated, recanted, and reformed, but still never truly understood her point.

            I have the odd feeling I will regret that admission.

            Honestly, the last time I truly understood what a woman was mad about was in September of 1977, when I dropped a Hog Nosed Snake down the front of Deanna Mathers’ blouse. Deanna, all eighty pounds of her, and at least a significant proportion of that mass was contained in the front of her blouse, was perfectly clear as to what had made her mad, and my interaction with her in the following very long moments were decisively instructive. That was also the last time I put a snake on a human being. Ever. The snake, alas! It was a victim of circumstance, but like those times when I have felt as if I were caught up in a whirlwind of emotion, hormones, and anger, it was executed without a trial, and honestly, had it not involved a dead snake, my favorite Grateful Dead tee-shirt being clawed off of my body, the loss of a pint of blood, and the embarrassment of being nearly killed by a girl in front of the entire High School, I would have reminded Deanna that I helped her get over her fear of snakes. Yeah, I know, that last sentence went on for a while, but it did say what I wanted it to say, I think.
            My inability to discern the mood of a woman has worked hard against me, even in the very best of times. I once spent a large amount of money on a living breathing very pretty plant, and had it delivered to the woman of my affection, who I had been dating for a few months. I then arrived at her apartment, and offered to take her to her favorite Chinese restaurant. While we were there I noticed she was not in the great mood I had thought she would be in. She kept staring at me, and tapping her index finger on the table, much like the tail of a cat when the cat has been vexed to the point that it is about to release the blood pressure in someone’s hand. I conferred with the voices…

Voice one: Dude! It was the wrong kind of plant!
Voice two: You took a shower didn’t you?
Voice three: Just smile and nod until she gets over it.
Voice four: Damn, that waitress had to be poured into those black pants! Man, those can’t be real…stop looking at the waitress dude, your girlfriend is already pissed.

Okay, I decided to approach the subject head on. I asked her what was wrong, and of course, without batting an eye, or me on my head, she said, “Nothing”. Nothing is that thing that is wrong when something is wrong but you, as a man, are supposed to guess. The reason you are supposed to guess is you’re supposed to care enough about why she is mad to pursue a real answer. I discovered this at the very moment I decided to accept the answer of “nothing” as the truth, and went blissfully on my way trying not to stare at the waitress. What I got in return is my girlfriend walking out of the restaurant, in a huff.

The docket of crimes read as such, once she was speaking to me again; if I bought a plant for her it was a sure sign I had done something wrong, and was going to break it to her during dinner, which was wrong. Even had I not done anything wrong, I had used delivered flowers as a means to beg forgiveness as to taint the very existence of such with the cloud of wrongdoing so it was my fault anyway, even if I had not done anything at all wrong. Worse, by taking her out to her favorite restaurant, I was more or less setting the stage for some confession I ought to have done in private. This ruined both flowers and dinner.  Then I had the temerity to accept the answer of “nothing” when clearly I had caused some misunderstanding.
            I have come to the conclusion, as far as women are concerned, I am reincarnated from a Black Lab Puppy, who thinks all the guests at the wedding, who are all dressed in white, would love paw prints all over their clothes. I do very little right, do much out of sheer ignorance, ought to be batted with a rolled up newspaper, and as soon as I grow up, most of this will pass.

Take Care,
Mike

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bonnie in the Moonlight

I knew Bonnie was mad, and I knew why she was mad, but Bonnie is either dead or she doesn’t exist. She’s been gone long enough for me to lean out towards “doesn’t exist” and then there she is on the edge of the bed, stroking Sam on the head and keeping one hand on her Browning Automatic Rifle. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her, and I thought she was gone for good, but there she is, and even in my sleep it doesn’t seem real, and even in my sleep, it seems more than real. I look out of the window and see moonlight, the clock read three something, and Sam is the only dog awake. Some part of me knows, truly knows, this isn’t happening, but it is undeniably a reality that I cannot ignore or disallow.
“Welcome back.” I say aloud, and my own voice seems strange, as if somehow I had not spoken at all, but merely thought I had. Sam doesn’t look at me, and Bonnie hesitates a fraction of a second, as if she was so engrossed in petting Sam she hadn’t thought about me being in the room.
“Hello Mike” Bonnie says. She looks over her shoulder at me but doesn’t stop petting Sam at all. Her voice is different now. She doesn’t sound like she’s from Texas anymore. The voice is richer, deeper, and less stressed. But Bonnie looks exactly the same; she’s a short, small woman with red hair and pale skin. She’s wearing a simple dress, and I can see her face for just a second. It’s Bonnie, but she sounds different.
“Are you still mad at me?” I ask. I shift out of the bed slowly, like she taught me to do, without waking either of the other dogs, and she smiles at this.
“I wasn’t mad, Michael, just disappointed.” Bonnie sighs. “You are careless with other people’s feelings and you aren’t aware of it sometimes. It hurts that you do it, but it’s worse that you don’t realize it.”
“Who are you?” I can hear the sound of nothing now. It’s an odd sensation. I’m deaf. There isn’t any sound except a slight ringing in my ears, as if that part of my brain, deprived of audio stimulation, is creating a sound, just as a baseline.
“A ghost, a dream, a memory, a vision, a hallucination, excess brain activity, a lesson from your subconscious…” Bonnie leans back on one elbow and smiles at me. “…a demon, Michael.”
“You’ve never called me Michael before.” I still can’t hear anything.
“No one has, not ever consistently, but I know that isn’t your real name, and how would I know that?” Bonnie laughs but there isn’t any humor in the sound. “You won’t accept any explanation for this no matter what happens, and you know it. Why bother asking? I can frighten you, or give you a wet dream, but as soon as I’m gone you’ll run the same loop over and over again, and you never change a thing. No one can explain this to you, I certainly can’t, and yet you spend a lot of time worrying on it, like you’re looking for something, but you’re not.”
“No?”
“No.” Bonnie lay back and began to undress, slipping her dress over her head. “Worrying and asking keeps you from having to think about the experience itself. You have to wonder why so you don’t have to survive feeling alive. Ghost, demon, bad dream, bad girl, no matter who I really might be, you’ll never know because you’re trying to find out. You never tried to find me, but you sure as hell have been trying to explain me away. You’ve talked yourself in to believing a half a dozen things but you’ve never once come out and just asked me until now, and you’re still trying figure a way to wake up. You go through life trying to anchor yourself in some reality that you’re sure exists, but you’ve never found it anywhere you’ve gone, and no one you know lives there. It’s a wasteland, Michael, like those places in Texas where nothing will grow and nothing can survive. You try to create these places inside yourself and explain away anything that isn’t there so you’ll never have to face the idea that life is there just to be lived. Everything I’ve ever tried to tell you you’ve tried to figure out what it meant and how it fit in, and hell, most of the things you say you can’t explain where they come from. You write about things that just appear out of nowhere at all and you’re happy with that but you can’t accept the idea that people themselves are like that. You can’t be happy with me until you find out what I am, and you have no idea what you are, do you? You’re a person but what does that mean? You’ll never know the answer of life by looking for questions you have to live it first, and no matter what you think of me, I’ve done that, even if it’s through you.” Bonnie got up and left her clothes and the rifle on the bed.
“They know enough about me to make me real, but you?” Bonnie laughed as she faded into the blackness of the living room. “I have never met anyone more intent in describing to other people what it’s like to be alive and yet try so damn hard not to live. You are a slave to your own mind, your own way of thinking, and you might as well be a monk, or a priest, or some damn eunuch locked up in a damn tower. Who knows, Michael, I sure as hell don’t and I’m not going to waste anymore of your time trying to explain yourself to you.
I woke up standing in the living room with the dogs still asleep. I think I have about half of what she said right.

Take Care,
Mike

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Evil Tony

Evil Tony was one of those people who you could dress up nice, bath, shave, and sit him in the far corner of the room and as soon as someone walked in the door they would look at him and think, “Cheap White Trash”. They would be right, of course, because there was nothing anyone could do to change Evil Tony, and from his point of view there was nothing about him that needed changing at all. Evil Tony got his nickname from the fact there was another Tony who drank with us and he was “Good Tony”. The two could not have been more different, and both of them knew it, too.
            Evil Tony had one social skill, and the only one he ever really needed, and that was he knew someone who had pot. When no one else on earth could find smoke, Evil Tony could. Of course, this meant you had to go over to his trailer, or worse, he would deliver, and either way you were trapped with him for a while. The worst has already occurred before we met him, and he had procreated with a woman who seemed to realize she had made a colossal error as far as the gene pool went, and was looking to get out of the relationship any way she could, short of killing Evil Tony. She tried to seduce a friend of mine by following him into the bathroom while Tony tried to talk me into buying a genuine replica of a Revolutionary War flintlock pistol. It looked very much like something bought in a souvenir shop and I argued with Tony that it looked a lot more like a toy than a pistol so he decided to prove to me it would work. He managed to mange two shotgun shells open and got the black powder out of them, and without any knowledge or forethought loaded the pistol with the powered, plugged it with a glass marble, and then stuck a lighter to the little hole where the power was leaking from. The barrel of the pistol ripped open with a bang and sprayed Evil Tony with tiny pieces of hot metal. I was standing half a football field away and could still hear him scream. His wife and my friend emerged from the bathroom with red faces and she was wearing her shirt inside out. Thankfully, Evil Tony didn’t notice, but he had destroyed his pistol and mauled the last two shotgun shells.

            His wife left him one day, and took the kid with her, and everyone wonder why it took so long, but for reasons that escape everyone, he soon found another love. He picked up a woman at a rest stop, and convinced her he could fix her car for free, and what he managed to do was talk me and a friend of mine in helping him fix the car because he could go get pot if he had a ride. That was one of the reasons I stopped smoking is the caliber of character I had to deal with to make deals, and it seemed to get worse before it got better.
            The most famous interaction of the Two Tonys was when Good Tony’s car caught on fire and burned to the ground. He bitched about it, and everyone was sympatric, but he did have insurance so he wasn’t totally bummed. He was going to get a new car out of the deal. Evil Tony took notice of this, and the next thing we know he’s telling the story of how his car caught on fire and burned to the ground. He had a 1821 Ford Escort that ran great as long as it was downhill. He exclaimed he was sorry to lose the car, and we all looked at him weird for that, and then he said he had insurance so he was going to get a new car. Good Tony asked him if he had full coverage or just liability, and Evil Tony was momentarily confused. Did that matter? Worse, even had he had full coverage insurance, the 1821 Ford escort has only cost him two hundred bucks and his deductable was five hundred. We laughed until we cried at that one.
            Meanwhile, to make some quick cash, Evil Tony was going to get his new girlfriend to pretend to breakdown on the Interstate, hitch a ride with a guy, take him to a hotel, and then Tony would pretend to be her husband and they would scare the man into giving them all his money. This is actually an old scam that works on a regular basis near Army bases where they have boot camp. I know someone who fell for it. The problem with this is once Tony’s woman actually got a ride, Evil Tony rushed out of the woods to then follow them in her car, but she had stuck the keys in her pocket. He was stranded. He tried to hotwire the car but he hadn’t a clue as to how to do it, and while he was trying, a trooper pulled over and there was Evil Tony trying to hotwire a car that was not his. Evil Tony was in a world of trouble.
            The woman in question had befriended the man who gave her a ride, and he took her to a truck stop for some fried chicken and sweet tea. Totally wowed by a man who could afford such a nice meal, she quickly suggested they stop by where she was staying with a friend and get her stuff, and he agreed. Tony finally made it home to discover the man he had intended to rob had instead stolen his woman, and his television set, all fifteen inches of it.
            The last time I saw Evil Tony he was getting involved in one of those work at home stuffing envelop jobs and was trying to find investors for the project. You can talk stoned people into a lot of weird things, but work is rarely one of those things.

Take Care,
Mike

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dueling Cellos


Holding Children

She was a greying yellow lab, someone that someone loved, and loved a lot. Dogs aren’t usually allowed in stores, but they had made a bed for her, given her some toys, and there she lay behind the counter, happily waiting for her family member to get off work and they would return home. 
“Umutibeast” I whisper to her, and she looks up at me, and her tail thumps. She picks up a stuffed animal and walks over to where I’m kneeling and offers it to me.
“Here, it’s something I like to chew on, and I bring this to you, and you can pet me on a dog’s head, if you really want to.” I pet the aging yellow on a greying muzzle and her family member admonishes her not to put a wet paw on me, but she ignores the warning. She kisses me, and I pet her, and we bond, hard and true, from this point on, and ten seconds ago we were total strangers. Her family member and a friend of mine do business while I look into an old dog’s eyes and see heaven. 
It’s no secret at all I prefer the company of canines to the company of humans, and I have been this way since I was a child. Yet when I was a child the world was a much different place than it is today, and even the differences in one generation to the next are a fairly large. My older sister and I were raised by the same parents, at least until we were nearly teenagers, yet the way she raised her two kids could not have been more different than how we were raised. Children were just a step above good hunting dogs when I was a child, and any adult, and every adult, could, and would, have some say as to what a child could or could not do. My parent’s friends were treated as auxiliary parents and they acted that way, some of them to the point of the extreme. One of my father’s friends was downright abusive but that sort of thing was viewed as humorous back then. My sister would decapitate anyone who treated her kids like that. Seriously. 
Yet for all the weirdness that came from having friends of the family acting as parents there was also a lot more physical contact, more horseplay, than I see with kids these days. Men wrestled with boys, and played rough with them, and it was a nearly a given that someone who came over would play with the kids at some point. Of course it all began and ended when they said so, and we were expected to either play or behave on demand, but it was still a lot of fun, sometimes. I remember two of my father’s friend tossing me into the air between the one day and it was glorious. 
This is all very odd coming from me because I’m not the most touchy- feely person you’ll ever meet. I don’t like for rattlesnakes or human beings to get within striking distance of me, and truth be told, I trust the snakes more than I do the people. Yet I cannot help but believe it’s not a good thing for people in general to be afraid to touch children, even though in this day and age, I can see why they would have that fear. For someone to hurt their child has to be every parent’s worst nightmare. For someone to abuse their child sexually would be even more devastating. But we seem to have lost the ability to have physical contact with kids in a fun way, the way we still can do with puppies and dogs, and this cannot be good. 
Sam has to be held at least once a day or he gets weird. He has to sit partially in my lap, and I have to put my arms around him and hold him until he is mostly mush. He relaxes into it so far as to fall asleep sometimes and nearly fall. The contact between Sam and myself comforts him in a way nothing else can, and we have lost the ability and the desire to hold kids like this, I fear. I don’t see it being done as it was done when I was growing up. There was a time nearly everyone, male or female, would hold kids at some point in time, and kids themselves would sleep in piles, like puppies. Body heat was meant to be shared among the young, and it was never thought of as odd or strange. 
As I said, this is odd coming from me because as a general rule I do not like children. They are just shorter humans, and I find it difficult to relate to them in any sense. But this isn’t about how I am because one person being like this doesn’t really cost us that much. Qhwn everyone is like this however, I fear the children will grow up not needing to be held, and not needing to feel the warmth of other people, and they will become emotionally autistic in a way that is cultural and preventable. I fear we rely on far too many devices to hold kids in place, be in a chair with straps or a DVD player. We will stop and coo over a strange dog and perhaps pick the animal up if its small enough, but we’re developing an reluctance to hold children, and we’re afraid to let others do so. Others see this fear, and it is reasonable to protect children but at the same time, to isolate them from the experience is to teach them coldness. 
I was born the way that I am. I have never yearned for human contact the way others have, and I do not like children as a general rule. But I would rather suffer a society that allowed children to be children, and allowed the rest of the people who wish to do so to hold them, rather than see more people like me. 

Take Care,
Mike

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Poet and I

The drawing power came from the fact she was a great poet, but it didn’t hurt she had great legs, too. It’s a hard thing to find, a great poet with great legs, but she walked the earth with grace and beauty, both physically and metaphysically. I’ve never been much of a poet, at least not since 1981 when a woman broke my heart and I burned every poem I ever wrote to that point. I keep meaning to get back to it one day, and the Poet nearly drew me back into that world without trying to do so. I could have followed any path walked by those legs, really.
The day I burned my poems I burned a lot of other stuff and mostly it was stuff that had sentimental value. I burned all the letters all the girls had ever sent me in High School. I burned the cotton rose a girl had given me the day she told me she was pregnant, and would marry the father of the baby.  I burned the photos, all of them, of the woman who had hurt me, and I burned the memories of a very short lifetime that seemed to reach out into infinity at that point. Pain doesn’t have a past, or a future, only a never ending present. For the young it is worse, much worse, for they do not realize how bad it can be, really. I despise the term “puppy love” to disparage the depth and scope of a young person’s love. I say we give them the benefit of the doubt, and give them the benefit of the love. Toss them in and let them swim, or sink, and if they fail then they fail, as we have, but we never once considered just giving up because it might hurt too badly. A person’s right to love, and be loved, ought not to have an age limit on it. A man that is twenty-one years old might one day regret a fire that consumed his past, such as it were, but if he is honest with himself, he will never regret the fire that consumed him to put him in the path of that pain. I have never regretted loving any woman, even if she tore my heart out and left me to die with it bleeding n my hands, washed only by the tears from my soul. You weren’t really in love if you wouldn’t do it again, knowing you’d get burned. It’s why people keep going back to those who are bad for them.
If you are a guy, and you have nude photos of a woman, and even if that woman doesn’t ask you to delete them, but you do, because you realize you caught her in a moment of heat when she said yes you know you care. I liked them, for the Poet had a nice body for photographing. Not this airbrushed not a blemish anywhere type thing you see displayed in magazines, but the body of a woman who had lived an honest life, and had tried to take care of herself, even after childbirth. The surface of the earth isn’t smooth and perfect, but it is beautiful in each and every hill and valley, every mound and dell. The Poet posed for me, and allowed to take memories of her body, but later, after the fire had died down a bit, I could tell something was bothering her, and I asked her if it was the photos, and she hesitated before she spoke. Before she could say anything I got the camera and we lay there together and deleted them, one by one, and there were a couple that were truly perfect, but only because the Poet was who she was. The one of her in silhouette is one whose destruction I will answer for in the afterlife if Art is valued at all. The shadowing was dreamlike, much as she was to me.
I wake up earlier than anyone else alive, and one morning I awoke with her and realized she didn’t know I was watching her sleep, and I could have lay there forever, and ever. I uncovered her body just enough to see her nudity and I knew if she awoke she would not want to cover up again, but would lie there and allow me to see her. Nudity wasn’t as revealing as her work was, her poems, and when she included the emotion I had formed inside her heart, it flattered me to see it in print. As a surprise, I slipped one of my shirts into her suitcase after we had spent time together, and she called me and cried when she found it.
So there are no more poems left to burn now. I read the poet and I have watched her artistry grow beyond even what I thought it would be one day. We are estranged forever, she and I, as I was with the woman I built the fire for thirty years ago, a decade longer than I had been alive at the time. There was a moment in time, five years after the fire, when someone offered me the phone, the handset anchored by a cord, and that person asked me to talk to the woman, to befriend her again, but I would not, and less than a year later she was dead. The ashes were long gone, cold and black, and bitter, and I taste them still, and will, I think.
There are no photos, no poems, no memories but those that fade over time, and I wished that I had a poet who could speak for me, who could reach inside of me, and bring this forth back into life. I think the Poet, were she still speaking to me, would bid me to write this myself. And for my part, were she to listen to any words I could say, I would simply say the fire we had built endured, and did not destroy, and the pain created, and did not take anything away, and the time has not ended, but like the call of a sea gull, remains. I would say, “Thank you.”

Take Care,
Mike

Monday, January 24, 2011

Interstate Wreck

The Creek Walker's Dog

It weren’t nothing but a mutt, and I knew better than to pick up a stray. But once you pick a dog up you’re making a promise of sorts, and the puppy knew it, too. It couldn’t hurt it no matter what I did cause there wasn’t much left to it. It looked like somebody took a dirty rag and wrapped it round some bones and stuck the head of a puppy on it. Had some pit in it, for sure, and pits are good people when you can get them away from bad people. Some of my best friends when I was a young’un was pits. This one had some lab in him too, and maybe something else as well. I took my pack off and fed it my sandwiches which meant I made more promises and I had to keep them, too.
            Odd, time is, for there I was walking down the creek back home with the whelp trying to keep up with me and then when I turned around a couple of months had passed by and the puppy was bounding up ahead of me, chasing a frog into the deep water, and laying waste to any peace that might be had on the creek. I had been putting my pennies up and knew I had to go see a vet and get the thing some shots, and as we walked the road towards town I knew I would have to break down and get a ride that would take a dog, and I knew I would have to barter out some of the bill.
            Rene Stallings wasn’t a real vet but she worked for one, and I knew she was a witch. Rene had a voice hung on her, and she sang in the woods, but she hid that from people, and people didn’t see it a’tall. I knew what they charged for shots and things was even worse than the tax people comin’ after a man’s home, so when I walked in I knew I was helping pay for that building, the lights, and Rene’s part of it too, but I didn’t suffer her that. Folks sitting there in their work clothes and some with their good clothes, all of us come in cause we had an animal to look after in some way, and in a vet’s office is one of the few places nobody cares who you are, cause you’re there for the same reason they might be. A woman had an old lab with her, it all grey in the face and feeble in back, and she, and by she I mean the lab not the woman, mind you, wanted to speak to me so I bent low to hear her. She and I had met at one point in time, maybe when I was a kid, and Rene’s the one who told me this, that dogs come back, and they always know who loved them, even if we have forgotten them. This one was sorry we didn’t meet in this life sooner, because it was over for her, but she told me she would be back after a while, and I nearly cried. The woman with her was crying, her heart breaking and part of her soul was going with this one. The woman allowed me to hug the old one, and my puppy went and stuck his nose to the woman hard, and made her pet him. They was called in next. I wished for a million hundredth time that I had the money to help my old ones along the way when it was their time, buy mostly all I could do is give the mercy of a bullet. The little one I had with me didn’t know what was said between me… but you know, maybe he did. Maybe his puppy feelings included this, but he looked past it because that is part of life, too, you know, and there is no need in crying over what’s done. I watched the clock on the wall and suddenly I felt her go and so did my puppy, and he licked my face to keep me here.
            “Eli Walker, my gods I didn’t know you were still alive.” Rene said, but she hugged me because I had a puppy with me.
            “Got a stray.” I said.
            “You feed him better than you do yourself, why didn’t you call me, never mind, you don’t keep a phone, let’s see what you found, have you bothered to name him?” Rene was going on, but I did realize I hadn’t bothered to give the thing his name yet.
            “Been callin’ him ‘Dog’” I said, and felt foolish somewhat and I wondered how Rene knew naming wasn’t in me.
            “Well, Eli, you have to do better than that.” Rene told me, and I knew she was gonna stand there til I did.
            “Bo,” I said, and Bo looked up at me, as if he had been waiting all along for me to say his name.
            I picked Bo up and carefully lay him on the table, trying to make sure I didn’t hurt his back legs. Rene’s hair was mostly grey now, and she didn’t color it like most women did. She couldn’t look directly at me, couldn’t talk much, and I couldn’t either. Bo never healed right from when he got loose from me and got truck hit, but mostly it was fifteen years working hard on him. He couldn’t stand on his own now, and I had to carry him in. I couldn’t do it myself this time, I tried, but I just couldn’t. Bo whimpered a bit, and I just wanted the pain to end. I held his head while she put the stuff in his veins and I felt him go, and felt part of my soul go with him.
            The woman in the waiting room had a puppy, and it was the same woman, and it was the same old girl with her, but come back to her on this earth. She allowed me to pick the puppy up and suddenly she grabbed me, and hugged me close, as if we too were kin by time.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Jungle

The moon wasn’t up yet but I knew it soon would be. I could see the glow in the eastern sky, and the moon would begin to cause real havoc with the shadows in the jungle. I had to start moving, get down from this rocky outcropping, and follow the others. Due west, thirty meters off the river bank, and all of this over and over again, for at least three more days, unless we were killed. There was no one following us, I was sure of that, which meant we were in great shape, or it meant that they already knew where to find us, and meant to kill us at their leisure. If it was an ambush they would have sent someone out to follow us, I thought, and push us into the trap. Optimism is not a faithful companion out here.
            The jungle was black, blacker than black, but the path was clear enough. Here a branch had been broken, and over there a fern had been stepped upon, and there was the smell of human lingering in the heavy air like a swarm of hovering insects. I swung my pack down to the forest floor and waited; nothing but the sound of the jungle. I took my index finger and touched a tree that seemed to move and felt something reptilian. Good. If there were animals already moving back into the area that meant the others were far, far ahead of me. It would take eighteen hours for me to catch up, unless they were delayed. I had to move as quickly as I could now, for when the moon rose I would have to be more careful.
            I cannot explain walking in the jungle to you. It’s black, too dark to see anything but more blackness as if no light on earth ever fell here. You cannot see anything but blackness at first but then you see blackness that is a different shade of blackness and you see shadows that have blackness in them, and you realize you are seeing what no one else can but you. The smell of the jungle is different where there is a clearing, even a small one, and anything human glows with scent. The sky above the trail is very so slightly less black, and every once in a while there is a stray star above as if there was some brilliant sun above the black. But it is a timeless, floating feeling to stop and stare into the jungle at night. This is the womb. This is the deepest cave. This is the bottom of the ocean and there is a billion earth masses pushing down on your lungs and you cannot breathe at all and the fear of this flattens you out because this is the jungle and you know, really know, humans do not last long here, but this is where you are.
            Cat. There isn’t anything else like it out here. The people in water fear sharks but here it is the presence of a cat. Ten meters to my left, and a hundred behind me, the cat is shadowing me and it wants to know why I am here, and what I might be doing. Damn, the cat curses to itself, this human isn’t made of panic at all, but is creeping along at a steady pace that suggests reason and purpose. What might that reason be, the cats asks itself as it takes to the trees and cuts the distance down a bit before returning to earth. I can feel its thoughts. I can sense its feelings. It is not hungry but would not turn down a meal because to refuse food in the jungle is not wise. It crowds me a bit, making me slow down, but it wants me to move faster, so I might scare up some game for it. The cat comes in on me now, declaring its size and intent. The dead breeze sifts through the leaves and I catch the faintest cat print in the air. Oh yeah, why the hell not? It is big. This thing is three times my mass, and now I realize I have to provide it with something to chase or it might just take a chance on nailing me. It knows I’m moving quiet for a reason, and is trying to spook me out of it. Here kitty kitty kitty.
            I hate to lose a knife, and it is a good knife, perfectly balanced and sharpened to within a molecule of death. Something simian in the tree falls to the earth screaming, and the troop explodes with fear and anger. The cat is among them and it knows now I am not what it thought, but it will take the gift and leave me be, once it sorts out the territory with the apes. They still do not know I am here, but it will not be long before one of them realizes the knife was not thrown by a cat. They may, or they may not, want satisfaction for the death, but if there is one among them who is a thinker, they will not follow anything that kills in the night that silently. I have three knives left, and they cannot think I used the last one, ever.
            Dawn finds me in a tree with a huge hollow in it. This is a good place to stop for a few hours and rest. The others made camp here, too, so it is not altogether safe, but they have created fear here, so I can sleep in peace from the wild ones. It has been ten hours now. In another ten I’ll be two hours ahead of the next rear guard and within a day of point. I am not followed. There is for the first time a small glowing piece of hope within, and as I let sleep take me in her shallow arms, I cannot help but wonder if I might yet live.

Take Care,
Mike

Saturday, January 22, 2011

One Hundred Days Of Vegetarianism

One hundred days ago I stopped eating beef, pork, chicken, turkey, hotdogs, hamburgers, and pretty much everything else that is considered meat. I had been edging towards it for a while, secretly wanting to go full blown vegetarian for a while, and finally on October the thirteenth, 2010, slipped away from meat, quite possibly forever. I cannot say the trip in has been easy, and I cannot say that I have not been tempted, but I can say for a fact it has been worth it, so far, despite the fact there have been some rough spots in the journey to change fifty years of eating habits.
            This is still The South, and this is still South Georgia. Despite what you may have learned from that trip you made to Atlanta or your perception of Georgia from a Saint Patrick’s Day party in Savannah, most of what Georgians consider to be food is meat, has been cooked in meat, or both. Fish is usually fried, chicken fried in lard isn’t hard to find, and “pork, the one you
love “does not have sexual connotations. Greens of all species are cooked in ham hocks or bacon, or both. Grease used for frying is frequently reused and is bacon fat or the byproduct of renderings. Corn bread has pig grease in it, the pans are “seasoned” with it, and other than sweet tea, nearly everything else that is food and good in The South has meat in it in some form or fashion.
            As a Hermit I do not have many of the social pressures on me that other do. I eat alone more often than not, and I am unaccustomed to anyone having any say in what I eat. I started cooking when I was a young man, which I had to do if I was going to eat anything that didn’t come out of a fast food eating place. I was eating right long before current craze in counting trans-fats and carbohydrates got started. I did have a weakness for certain bad food, and I knew if I was to ever escape their gravitational pull, I would have to do something radical. Still, this is not just radical for a man raised in South Georgia; this is like changing a religion.

But I never really had a religion so…

One thing I can tell you as a fact is this; what you eat isn’t going to improve your health if all you do is sit around all day and never exercise. Exercise also doesn’t work if you only do it on weekends. If you don’t push your body several times a week you’re paying lip service to activity and you’re wasting your time. Having a diet coke with your processed meat and white bread sandwich with a side order of processed potatoes precooked in pig juice is like lighting your cigarette with organic matches. Living well is the product of most of the hours in a month, not just a few moments a day.
            Sooner or later we have to question the way things are if we are to get past where we have always been. Changing my diet questions the way our food is raised and as unlikely as one person changing their lifestyle having an effect on the way things are, each of us as individuals has an obligation to take that step so that the whole might be changed. The ways things have always been is the biggest obstacle to the way things could be. We cannot hope that legislation, divine intervention, or mass epiphany will suddenly occur and life will be better. If you cannot change your own life then you cannot expect change to arise.
            I must admit I miss meat. I must confess to having moments when I tried to bargain with myself as to how much meat I could eat and still claim not to have eaten meat. As a former smoker, I am very accustomed to this sort of intellectual dishonestly from myself. I know the tricks the brain uses when trying to talk itself into doing something. It can be very persuasive. But I have heard this argument, or a similar species of the sort, before, and have rejected it, too. Nor a drumstick or a slice of pepperoni pizza, not a pork chop or a bowl of chicken noodle soup. The path is clear if not easy.
Long ago, when I was discussing being a vegetarian with someone who was a meat lover, they told me it was useless to think of the poor food animals because they were already dead and in the grocery store. One person quitting would not save one life. One person switching over would be like one person leaving a football game because Mike Vick was playing. But what if that one person did leave? And what if another stood up and followed that person, and then three more left? What if they never went to, or never looked at another game? How many people would have to stop before there was a change?

The answer to that is this:  One.

To change the national Football league, or to change the way animal are treated by the food industry, or to change the way our species as a whole lives you only have to change one person, and that one person is you. You have to create the world you want to live in, before other people can live in that world. Will you bring down a giant with a small stone, or is that just a myth? You will never know until you sling it. I thought I would get more resistance from my family when I stopped eating meat but as it turns out, most were already considering it, but has never had the catalyst to try. My mother never knew she could make vegetarian lasagna that rocked. There are a lot of people out there who wonders if there are more people who wonder, and all they are waiting for is someone to step forward, and change the world.

Take Care,
Mike

Friday, January 21, 2011

Driven To Distraction

Fog, in and of itself, is a good thing. I like fog. As long as I’m sitting around drinking coffee, or taking photos of it, or anything else other than driving, I really like fog. But when I have to drive in fog I start trying to remember when the last time I called in sick, or took a mental health day, or bobbed for French Fries. Driving in fog is dangerous but you have to remember the same people who drive like idiots during a clean blue sky as also out there driving in fog. They are stupid, and now they are impaired.
There is a side road closed, and there is a sure way of telling if a side road is closed. There is a sign there that reads, “Road Closed” Yeah, that’s one of those things they call “clues”. If you’re really clueless you can take that one with you. The reason the road is closed is there is a railroad track there that is being replaced. When the track is removed there are several pieces of machinery there, quite a few people, and oh by the way, the road is closed. So I’m coming up on the closed side road, in the fog, when a car pulls out in front of me. From a closed road, mind you, this car appears so I can only assume a few things which are, in the order they appeared in my brain
1.      Moron.
2.      Moron who pulled into a closed side road, where there is a “Road Closed” sign, and asked them if the road was closed.
3.      Moron learned the road was closed, and became angry at the people who could not explain to moron the road was closed without pointing out moron was a moron.
4.      Moron pulls out into traffic, and into fog, without looking because, well, he’s a moron.


This is harsh, I know, but there is not another explanation for this sort of behavior that excludes the word “moron”.


It’s a good idea to pull off the road if you cannot see, and some people do just that. The only problem is they do not pull all the way off the road, so when someone like myself is driving by, suddenly, out of the fog, an iceberg! AAAAIIIIIEEEE!!!  No, it’s a car. AAAAIIIIIEEEE!!! And I flash by a two ton shoulder of the road by an inch obstacle that scares me bad enough for me to curse the names of seven gods.
That’s a bad habit, I know, cursing the names of seven gods, because one of these days I night discover that Elvis is still alive, and all those fried Twinkie and jelly sandwiches transformed him into an Immortal, not a bathroom fixture. Still, I survived just missing a white car parked within a dog’s hair of the highway. I am by nature a profane man when dealing with traffic. I was once written up for profanity when I was in the Army, and if you can get written up in the Army for cussing you’ve got a real knack for it.
I hate school busses. American Public schools are the biggest waste of time, money, resources, and space that has ever been invented. A school bus is nothing short of a vehicle used to transport unwilling children into untenable situations while consuming recourses best used elsewhere. In the fog you cannot pass them, even in the country because you never know when some idiot is driving without lights. But something I cannot abide is someone passing a school bus that is loading the doomed into its seats. Some guy blasts past the school bus as it’s stopped and I wish for a rocket launcher.
You know, were this Afghanistan, I would bet you no one, ever, would pass a school bus while it’s loading, ever.
Okay, they likely have no school busses there, nevermind.

In my life I have known people who have lost children. Nothing is worse. To pass a school bus that is loading kids, in the fog, takes an about of hubris that should not be tolerated, and it cannot be. I will follow you, and get your tag number, and I will call 911 and tell them what I saw. Chances are they cannot arrest you for it, but they can park a car near the scene of the crime, and the next morning, when you drive past that stop, you’re going to talk to the nice officer who is suddenly going to be intensely interested in yesterday about this time.
You will not like the nice officer. But you will remember the conversation.
Fog makes speed faster. It makes dark darker. It makes the inside of your windshield fog up and because it’s foggy you think the fog on the outside is doing it and you can wind up with a compromised field of vision and not understand it’s a foot in front of you. Fog makes stupid stupider. People who speed, do their hair, text, mate, eat breakfast and decode hieroglyphics and nearly kill other people while driving are actually worse in fog.
Turn your lights on, please. I do not give a damn if you can see, or cannot see, but my life is better when I can see you. If you think it’s cool to drive in fog without your lights I can tell you I have seen little cars and small trucks that have been hit by much larger trucks because the smaller objects were not nearly as visible as they appeared from inside the smaller objects. I think every person who is ever issued a Driver’s License ought to view one fatal accident a year, and have to stay there at the scene until the bodies are recovered. This ought to occur in the fog, so you can have that moment of realization about what happens out there in it.
Fog is pretty from my deck, and it is pretty out over the pond, and it is pretty as long as I don’t have to drive in it.

Take Care,
Mike

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Creek Walker: Those Called

If’n afalling tree hits you in the head you might think that would be a bad thing, and it would be for you, but that doesn’t make the tree bad a’tall, it just means you was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You could walked by that tree all your life and never really knew it was there until it did fall, but if that tree has been there for two hundred years you walking by it means nothing to the tree, dead or alive, and it has nothing to do with you, dead or alive, so there is no need in trying to blame the tree. Doesn’t make sense to lay blame on yourself either. Some things are just the way they are and no matter what we think of ourselves, the trees don’t.
I found that out the hard way, about falling trees and all, when I was out walking Factory Creek north of the falls, and a stopped to rest a spell. It’s like walking through New York, not that I ever would, and there are so many trees around you would never noticed one in particular, unless it was super big, or twisty funny. Out past the graveyard on River Road there is a Magnolia that has an odd pattern to its bark that makes me think of a woman’s face, but I think I’m the only person who has ever seen that tree. I get to thinkin’ like that at times when I’m walking down the creek and maybe I’m right but that doesn’t mean I get a free pass, and just as sure as my mind wandered off I did something ill advised and ducked under a dead tree rather than go around or over it. It slid down on top of me right neatly and quick, and I found myself pinned. It had be down at the back, face first in the water, and if I arched my back I could keep my face above the surface but I knew that couldn’t last. I ducked down and pushed forward and it was like pushing against hard rock so I ducked down and pushed back and felt the same thing. It wasn’t a bad way to die, I thought at the time, but just not when I wanted to go, even if where felt okay at the time, too. I ducked down and tried to turn or twist but realized that wasn’t smart. It was odd, but I could feel my body being pushed down into the sand, and as it was pushed down, I was going to drown slow, but at the same time, the tree was coming down, too. I took my last deep breath, and as I felt like it was over the tree shifted off of me, and I was able to squeeze out from under it
It lay in the sand on the bank and cried for a while, and me a man and all, cause I felt so glad to be alive, and felt like the day was brand new, and everything seemed to real again. My back was sore for a couple of weeks, and I didn’t heed the creek a’tall for another month after that, too. But it taught me not to ignore the trees, not even the dead ones, and I thought t meant something I had been left alive, but over time I lost that. Pure blind luck was all it was, and what all is, sometimes.
Called, I done said, is what happens, and no reasoning for it, unless you got more of an insight than me. Wouldn’t rightly know where to go to talk it over with a body, least not around here and all. I do know I’m not the only one, and I do know there are those who are called by something different, and I do know they know ‘bout me, too. Dennis Easterly is one of them, and not one like me, and I found that out, and he found me out, the same night. Two, three months after the creek tried to kill me I was walkin’ again, and this time the moon led me back t the pool where the Sanders kids were pulled out. It wasn’t them there, I knew that, but they were around these parts still, and maybe they called Dennis, but he was there in the house. I knew he was there, and I could tell he knew something else was around, but Dennis was drunk, and fightin’ it. I could feel him in the house, and knew what he was going to do before he did, but he did it anyway. I smelled the smoke and knew Dennis had been called to burn, and maybe it wasn’t the first time, but it sure felt like it. I slipped back under some willows and waited to see what would happen, and Dennis waited too long, and the South County Volunteer Fire Department showed up, and Dennis had to hide. He crashed into the creek and started to run but he felt me there, knew I was watching, and instead of freaking out, Dennis calmed a bit, and sat down in the water like a child playing, and we waited it out. Neither of us spoke or got near to one another but I could feel him borrowing from me, and using what I had to help himself to hide. The fire was killed off, but it had done what Dennis was sent to do, and Dennis felt that too. Wouldn’t nobody live there now, if’n they ever was going to anyway.
Week or two later I found a quart of good shine near my doorstep, and a pack of matches on top of it, too. It was a guilt gift from Dennis, and I knew he knew I was there, and had seen him. But he also knew whatever called him was kin in some way to what called me. Seen Dennis a dozen time since then, but we don’t speak.

Take Care,
Mike

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Creek Walker

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
Flannery O'Connor

I’ve always been against calling a young’un “Bubba” because you’ve never heard of anybody with that name that ever came to be anything at all. When they make movies and they want to have somebody on screen that is a total moron they’ll call him Bubba and give him a hick accent. It doesn’t matter if he’s a rocket scientist that can do brain surgery on a roller coaster, if his name is Bubba people are going to see him as dumber than a box of corn cobs in an outhouse. But there is something about people in The South. If you tell them is going to turn out wrong some of them will do it just to prove they can’t be told what to do.
There was a time maybe a girl name like Ethyl wasn’t so bad, but nowadays it’s a name that sounds like gasoline or somebody that was born in the 1800’s. So you couldn’t blame Ethyl for keeping her childhood nickname “Sissy”.  Sissy and Bubba. I swear to god I have no idea what Robert and Samantha were thinking when they labeled those kids. I went to school with both of them, and they were an unlikely pairing. Robert wasn’t very much to look at, and neither was Sam, so maybe that was it. They both saw in one another what other people saw, and realized they were two of a kind. There was a lot of jokes about how their kids would look but nobody said that around Robert or Sam. With all the kidding they took when they were kids you had to wonder why on earth they would brand their son, the firstborn, as “Bubba” and then stick Ethyl on anything larger than a hamster. Still, they were good to those kids, as much as what they had would let them, and that was all anyone could ask of any parents, if’n they knew anything at all about such.
This part of the world has had white folks working the lands and hunting the woods for over four hundred years. I’m not saying that to exclude anybody, but before white folks nobody was building anything that left a scar you could find, much. If you’re looking for a place to put a house of any sort, just look for where the old timers were putting their houses and you’d do well to think they knew what they were doing. You’d never find an old homestead down low unless it was in flat woods, and you’d never find them in places that were bad to begin with. I can’t explain that last one, and if I had to you’d not be the type to believe it anyway, but there are places we’ve got no business being, much less living. Those what was here before us paid mind to such, and we don’t, and that’s clear. My mama did, and her mama did, too, and I do, even if I am a man.  What once belonged only to women some of us menfolk have had to pick up, if it is to survive at all here. Maybe you know what I’m talking about, and maybe you don’t yet. Maybe this will help somewhat, and maybe it won’t. This is what all of this is, you know, me trying to explain it.
You can make matters better, or you can make them worse, but once a thing is done you got to decide what you do is which. What’s done is what’s done. You can’t change that. You can make a difference is how it all ends, but don’t try to change what is done and gone, even if you saw it go.
Jessie Creek is one of those places where there was never a house built, and shouldn’t be either. What made Robert Sanders do it, and what kept Samantha Sanders from keeping him from it loses me a bit. I seen it as a drawn of sorts. Bad things draw bad things to’em. It was five miles downstream from my place to theirs, but I was on the Factory Branch end of things, and high ground to boot. I was a creek walker, and had been since I was a kid. The creek spoke to me then, and still does. I would go through places most people won’t and ought not to, but I’m carrying something most men wouldn’t and most people can’t see. You got it too, if’n you’re reading this and nodding, or maybe you’ve stopped breathing and everything is still right now. If that’s so you got to start looking while you can. Walk a creek by moonlight and if you can put your bare foot down without fear then you’ll know for certain. If you can’t, there’s still hope, but you have to walk past fear, one night, and late.
I didn’t ask for it, and you can’t either. I go when I am called, and I don’t wonder who does the callin’ or why. I had planted damn near an acre of truck near the house, ate supper early and went to bed tired. The moon crept through the window late, or real early, depends on if’n you coming or going, and I followed it down the creek a bit. I knew they were there before I was within earshot. I knew who it was and where they was before I knew anything at all. I knew I was called there, and I didn’t know why.
People know what’s being said sometimes when nobody is talkin’ and even more if they can’t hear what’s been said. I couldn’t hear the words but I knew Sissy was in some trouble, and Bubba was the cause of it. They were just upstream from the pool of water just before the culvert bridge on twenty-three, and I knew what they were doing before they did. I got close enough to smell her breath, and to taste his fear. Witness, I thought to myself, is why they have called you, and it had nothing to do with those teenagers in the water.

I was there in the crowd when they pulled the bodies out, and I read in the paper where it was drowning by accident. Robert and Sam was tore up by it but had they been listening they would have never tried to put roots down in that water. They did pick up and leave, as they ought’ve but it was too late. It followed them up north and it is not my place to say what happened there. I am a creek walker. My place is here, and here is where I will stay, until I am called away, by whoever does the callin’.

Take Care,
Mike

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The High Chair Dream

There are dreamscapes that are their own entities. They exist on their own, free and clear, and there is no other place I can remember that is like those dreamscapes. One is a city that has a large central area of buildings and has a large green area for a park. There are neighborhoods and a city maintenance building at the end of a dirt road where signs and things like that are stored. From the downtown section of this city to the dirt road where the maintenance area lies, it is as familiar to me as my own hometown.
On occasion, however, my dreams become jumbled up landscapes cobbled together by a mind that seems too tired to dream up something new, no pun intended. A scene from the past in one location will bleed into some other scene from another place in time, and all of this without some sort of frequent fliers club. From one town to another, and from one time to another, people and places switch more quickly than costumes at a Britney Spears concert on meth.
Last night I had a dream that I was going over to Elbow’s house to visit and there were to be a lot of other people there. Now, remember in dreams you almost never ask why something is totally weird, you just kinda accept as normal there is a herd of giraffes in the kitchen, or there are salmon flopping around on the ground like so many leaves. No, none of this was going on at Elbow’s but she was serving lunch at a table that was four hundred feet tall. Why four hundred feet? Who knows? All I know is I asked Elbow how far up we were and she said four hundred feet. The table swayed in the breeze, and it was all sort of nice and airy. We could look down and the dogs were tiny specks moving around under the pecan trees, and Elbow’s house seemed tiny, too.  There were wooden poles, like those once found in a fire station, to slide down to get down from the table, and I have no idea how we got up there, so don’t ask. The poles were ingenious because there looked like the legs of tables or chair where there are places that are wide then skinny then wide, so sliders could control their speed going down.
Like so many anxiety dreams, you are just chugging along then suddenly you do something that ruins it for everyone, and this was no different. I was going to leap from my chair to one of the sliding poles, when I accidently pushed one of the other chairs that contained one of Elbow’s other guests. Sure enough, with a scream of panic, the man in chair began to topple over. Elbow and the other guests started screaming, also, and there I was sliding down the pole as I watched this man crash to his death, like a very tall tree with an Asian man with good lungs in it.
When I got to the bottom of the slide pole I could seen the wreck of the chair smoldering on the ground. Yes, I know a chair wreck should not burst into flames, but this is a dream, remember? The long and shattered legs of the chair stretched out before me, and I could see an elderly couple over at Elbow’s guest cottage looking at the remains of the erstwhile guest who had made quite an impression. What was worse, if accidently killing a man was not quite bad enough, I had to move some of the wreckage to drive away from the scene of the crime. I certainly was not going to stand there and wait for the rest of the party to arrive and so away I went, frantically, and far too fast.
Okay, away from the wreckage of the chair, and suddenly I’m in Dothan Alabama and it looks a lot like the late seventies. My guess is whatever time you spent in a place, your mind will redirect itself to be in the same time as the place in your memories. It had started raining, and the rain was so heavy I could hardly see out of the windshield, and I had to rely on sticking my head out of the window to see.
Dream; It’s a dream. Do not try to make it make sense, okay?
While I had my head hanging out of the window driving in the rain there was someone speaking to me over the phone, even though I didn’t have one, and they were telling me that Elbow had called and was looking for me to help fix the chair. I am assuming the former guest wasn’t mentioned because there are some things that cannot be fixed, not even with duct tape and super glue.
Dothan turned into this steamy looking place that was very warm and humid and the rain gave way to sticky fog that moved like traffic in the Summer. It was very thick and would move quickly, stop, move again, stop, then there would be an opening where I could drive but it never lasted. This went on for what seemed to be forever and then I felt something hit my face.

Dad, wake up, I wanna go out.

Lucas must have heard me in my sleep, or I was moving, because all three dogs were up and staring at me. Bert will not move unless I do, so I’m betting I was talking in my sleep during the dream. Sam, who will bolt at the slightest sound or movement, was already near the door.

After the dogs came back in I stayed up a while, and wrote the dream down before I forgot it. The sick feeling way up in the air was still with me, as was the feel of the warm fog. I had to wait until I felt the cool chill of the winter cold, and the solid feel of earth under me, so I could go to sleep again.

Take Care,
Mike

How do you know when it's time to move?

Monday, January 17, 2011

"There's only three things I'm afraid of: electricity, heights, and women.

Be Human


History, and more importantly recent history has shown humankind to be incapable of putting the present day in context with history itself. We tend to see ourselves as Modern Humans, a species above the follies and foibles of those dusty ancient with their weird haircuts and odd clothing. Yet we can look back at out High School yearbooks and see those very same traits in ourselves; funny clothing and weird haircuts are part of our personal pasts. Yet we fail to make the connection to those who lived ten years ago, twenty years ago, o fifty years ago. A century ago is so far removed as to be totally irrelevant to where we are eating lunch today with the other people in the office.
We humans tend to be ill at ease when at rest. We’re seventy percent water, and like water, we tend to stagnant when we sit still for too long. We can see this in America right now. We are a nation of stagnation who has forsaken space exploration for rocking chairs. We have traded pioneering for gaming. We cannot take children anywhere without a large amount of toys, DVD players, and climate control. We have traded the rush and roil of the current for the frantic activity of running in place. We are a nation of mice on tiny steel wheels, forever spinning in circles when we bother to move at all.
Like water, we tend not to move until there is something that sets us in motion, and when we do begin to move we tend to destroy whatever is in our path. You can see the build- up of pressure in each country as people subliminally begin to realize we, not as countries, or nations, or races, but as human, cannot continue on this path of nothingness forever. It is not enough, and it never was enough, to have more. We have to ask ourselves not what we want but what it is we need. If we do not do this, then we will rush headlong into a destructive path, and what we will need then will revert back to the basics; food, clean water, and shelter. We see this already in many places, where water, earthquakes, and war have torn the fabric of society asunder. The recoveries from such events will continue to lag as we continue to place value on things not associated with survival. We pay homage to rules, regulations, taxes, governments, order of precedent, and packaging, and helping other people almost is a byproduct of the efforts we make.  
I want you to forget your nationality for a moment. In fact, forget you are human. I want you to look at yourself as an alien being who has been assigned to study humans, and your lifespan is measured in centuries, not years. You arrive near earth to study humans in the human year 1900. In the space of one hundredth of your life, one hundred years, less than a year in human time, you see all that has happened from 1900 to 2000.  Do you think you would see one person as the cause of much misery, or one group of people, or one philosophy as the cause of the human condition? Or would you, having access to the observations of others, see each century of human existence the product of humans as a whole?
Look at the human conflicts that have occurred in the last one hundred years or so, and see how we Modern Humans tend to look at the conflicts. It’s the Nazis, the Japs, the Communists, the Jihadists, the Soviets, the Iraqis, the Koreans, the Axis of Evil, the Evil Empire, the blacks, the whites, the Others from the other side of the island, but conflict is never looked upon as the product of humanity as a condition. It’s Us Versus Them. It’s good versus evil.

Look at the shape we’re in, here in Georgia. Consistently, we rank near or at the bottom in education. This has happened year after year, for decades. We’ve thrown money at the problem, rearranged the rules and regulations, and then thrown money at the problem.  But somehow, those people living within the imaginary lines that define the state we have all agreed to call Georgia, are undereducated.  Georgia doesn’t really exist. We could change the name tomorrow, we could make the borders different, we could decide to split it into three different countries and outlaw the color purple, but the problem itself isn’t caused by any of this, and therefore, the solution will not be derived by this either.
Our politics solve very few problems and cause greater ones still.

Which drop of rain causes the flood? Which drop of water is the tsunami? Which gallon of water puts out the fire? Which glass of water has kept you alive? At some point, we have to realize we humans, as individuals are no more important than raindrops, but at the same time, we have to also realize our inertia, be in as a body at rest or a body in motion, has some effect on the whole, however small it may be. If we seek to make the world a better place, if we seek to change the way we live, if we seek to further justice, or peace, or to speed the recovery of those who need help, we cannot allow ourselves as individuals to become so important we fear losing what we have. We also cannot allow the fear that we are helpless to stop us from taking that first step, to becoming that first drop of rain in the desert, even if it does mean that nothing good will come of it, at least in this generation.
Martin Luther King, Junior was a remarkable human being who helped set forth in motion great change that bettered lives everywhere. He helped free a people from a system of injustice, and by this I mean those on both sides of that system. If you cannot see how it diminishes those who mete out injustice, then remember that those who use inhumanity to live lose that humanity themselves.
See both sides of conflict as human. See yourself as part of a greater whole. See yourself as an individual who can, if you choose to do so, move forward, to change, to create, to free yourself and others from the chains of the present and the past. Be a pioneer. Be yourself. Be human.

Take Care,
Mike