Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Possession of Jan Handel (Two)

“You once asked me if I could help you.” Stevie was there, barely, as if she were standing outside the door, and down the hallway a bit, and whispering. “You once asked me if I could do more than helping you find a way to hold the pain, to keep it from being too much for you to bear, and I told you I couldn’t. I can’t, and I am not supposed to tell you this, but there is a way.”
“Tell me.” Jan managed to croak out loud. Her mouth was dry again but she hated the tube.
“I need for you to let go for a while.” Stevie said. “Let me inside of you, and let me do some things for you. When everything is better, you have to let me stay, and let me do what I need to do, and if you will do this for me, I can help you, but you have to let me in.”
“Let you in?”
“When you feel your mind resisting me, you have to stop, and relax, and you have to willingly let go of that, and you have to allow me to do what I want to do.” Stevie said soothingly. “It will be better for you if you do this.”
Jan could not tell if time was passing, or if it was standing still, but she heard a voice.
“Jan?” It was Barbara.
“Baby, listen to me, “ Stevie said, “you have to do this for me now. What I can give you is something you need, but you have to let me in.”
“Jan, it’s Barbara.”
Jan relaxed and in an instant she was in lotus position, near the water, and Stevie was there. There were no more voices and no sound but the gentle surf. Jan felt the pain recede, but she felt her mind resist Stevie’s presence she relaxed, and allowed Stevie inside of her, like a lover, like someone she had always known and wanted. Jan felt doors close behind her, felt the locks click into place, and knew she would not be allowed to turn around and leave, ever, but this was good. Jan felt Stevie envelop her like water, and when she breathed Jan could feel the air entering Stevie’s lungs, and she could feel Stevie’s heart beat. Jan felt as if she were watching now, sitting in lotus, sitting on the beach, and she saw Stevie lying in the hospital bed, with the tube, that damn tube, inserted in her mouth, and Jan exalted she would never feel that tube again, ever, and it was good.
“Jan?”
“Yeah, Barb, I hear ya.” Stevie said.
“I have some news…”
“He’s dead.”
“How?” Barbara asked.
“It’s been three days since you’ve seen him. Bastard never went three days without looking for me.” Stevie said. “You think the doc can fix my nose, it was always a wreck, even before.”
“I’ve never heard your curse before, Jan.” Barbara asked then paused. “Do you want to know how he died?”
“I do not care.”
*************************************************************************


“This is different.” Colleen said. “You’ve always told me your kind can take advantage of people under the influence.”
“I like the way you put that, ‘your kind’ when it is very clear it is your own kind that revolts you at this very moment.” Regal lay on the cot in the interrogation room with his hands folded on this stomach. “You already know as well as I why she kept going back, and you know it has nothing to do with my kind.”
“How did Stevie do it then?” Colleen asked suddenly. “How could she maintain Jan and still go out and kill Jan’s husband?”
“It would be very easy for a powerful demon to do just that.” Regal sighed. “That sort of thing… and perhaps I have mentioned this to you before, at some time?”
“Don’t be sarcastic with me.” Colleen said. “So with that last bit you’re telling me she was powerful but she didn’t kill him.”
“I knew this sort of thing would render you incapacitated that is why I chose the subject matter as I did. What does that suggest to you, that I can shut your mind off with a well placed tale and make you unable to see the obvious?” Regal laughed and stole a glance at Colleen. “You aren’t going to shoot me again, are you, Colleen?”
“No.” Colleen stood up and paced to the corner of the room. “You’re playing with  me, now. You’ve told me something and now you’re trying to make me think of what it was you did not say, or you’re….” Colleen froze.
“I like it when you stop talking, human.” Regal said and there was nothing but disdain in his voice now. “It means you finally started to think.”
“Stevie wasn’t very powerful at all.” Colleen said slowly. “That is the point of all of this. She didn’t kill anyone at all, it was…”
“It was suicide by cop.” Regal sat up and his eyes gleamed. “You can look this story up, too, it happened during this time. “
Colleen waited to see if Regal would say more but he lay back down and was silent. Please, Toby, please be running this story down right now and do not miss getting that woman’s address, Colleen willed herself not to say this out loud, or to look back at the mirrored glass of the control booth. She knew better than to ask what city or any details. She knew better than to ask another question that might not be the right one. She had one question left and she had to make it count, she could feel it. Anything but the right question and Regal would not say another word about this, and Colleen knew it.
“Stevie had nothing to do with it.” Colleen said slowly. “She was about to abandon Jan, and look for another host. But with him dead, she didn’t have to, all she had to do was count on Jan being willing to give up. That was what Stevie was doing.”
Colleen took a step back as Regal nearly leapt from the bed. She held her right hand up and Regal froze, and Colleen knew the security people would not enter unless Regal moved on her. If she dropped her hand quickly they would come in, and no matter what she said they would “cocoon” him.
“That, Colleen,” Regal grinned at her, “is exactly right. Exactly right! That is the very most of everything that our kind, “ and he hissed those two words at her, “does”

Take Care,
Mike

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Possession of Jan Handel

Jan took a deep breath and levitated in lotus position, just the barest amount, and in her joy in success sank down again. She sighed. Thus it always was. She had to get past the idea that she was doing this and things were what they were, and that was all that was.
“Ma’am?”

She ignored the voice, barely heard it, and concentrated on nothing again. She felt lighter. There was a tiny sensation, a pinprick, and the tropical island began to fade.
“Can you hear me, ma’am? Jesus Christ we’re losing her, dammit! Her blood pressure is bottoming out.”
“Jan, you checking out?” Jan opened her eyes and saw Stevie standing there, floating just an inch or so above the water. “It’s okay, I just need to know.”
Jan turned her head and spat out blood. Damn, another tooth. She felt her body becoming heavy; ribs again, and maybe a fractured wrist, too. “Is there any reason for me to stay, Stevie?”
“You know I love you, if that isn’t enough, then find something else.” Stevie said. “But you need to decide soon.”
“This one is going to hurt bad, isn’t it?”
“Yes.”
“We gotta pulse!”
“Get a trach, she can’t breathe!”
“Holy shit what a mess.”
“She’s going to lose that eye.”
“Get her in, move it!”
“It’s bad this time, Stevie.” Jan said. “Can’t I stay here with you?”
“You can’t if you’re dead, Jan.” Stevie said. “If you die then I die too.”
“What happens if we die?” Jan asked, and she nothingness several times before she felt Stevie again. “Stevie?”
“I do not know.”
“Clear!”
“Stevie, I can’t do this again.”
“Okay.”
“Clear!”
“It’s okay?”
“Hit her again, dammit! Charging! Move it! Dammit! Clear!”
“Yeah, it’s okay, I hope, somehow, we will meet again.”
“I don’t want to lose you, Stevie.”
“I got a pulse!”
“Stevie?”
“Stay with me, woman, stay with me, don’t you leave me, dammit!” it was a woman’s voice, but it wasn’t Stevie. Pain flooded into Jan’s body and as she heard those words she began to cry.

“Guess it’s a bad thing I’m on a first name basis with an Assistant District Attorney. “ Jan tried to smile but her face hurt. She looked out of her one eye and picked up her right arm and its cast. They might be able to save her eye, but they wouldn’t let her have a mirror yet. Stevie hadn’t returned since she woke up. She tried to meditate but the pain meds blocked the sensations she needed to follow. She felt weighed down on the hospital bed, strapped down, even though she wasn’t. “I should have left when I had the chance.”
“You can still leave.”
“That wasn’t what I meant.”
“Jan, your husband is going to kill you.” Assistant DA Barbara Prickle said. “This is the third time he’s beaten you like this and he’s hit you a dozen or so more times. This is by far the worst. Do you realize your neighbors called only because of the noise he was making slamming your head against the wall? He is going to kill you, Jan. There is no other way to say this.”
“Can you keep him away from me?” Jan wished for the chance again, just one more chance, either to live, or to die, she didn’t care.
“We sure as hell can.”
“You never have before.” Jan said, but she knew she was the one who kept going back.

Jan went through surgery to repair her shattered jaw. The wrist needed some more work, and they wanted to put a pin in. Jan’s vision was still blurry from the concussion and her right eardrum had been punctured. Worst, the meds kept Stevie away. She wasn’t there at all, not even the slightest trace of her presence.  The meds blocked her meditation, blocked Stevie, and gave the day a flat hum where one television show blended into the next seamlessly. Jan hoped he would come and kill her. Barbara had come to see her and all the paperwork had been filed, but it had been before. The cops tended to give up on a woman who went back and so many women did. She did. Jan knew the first time she went back it was wrong but she did. She knew it was wrong the second time, and the third time, but each time it seemed like it was just a matter of time. Only Stevie did not judge her. Only Stevie did not tell her she was wrong. Stevie simply was, and now she was gone too. Jan wished he would come, and kill her, as he had promised. The irony of that last promise being broke made her want to laugh, but that hurt, too.
“Jan?” Jan was dreaming, and in the dream she was running down a hallway that was impossibly long and he was right behind her and she would not make it to the door and he would have her before she could reach the door and as soon as she reached for the knob he would have her and it would begin and nothing she said or did would do anything but make it worse and saying nothing made it worse and screaming made it worse and she would not make it to the door…
“Jan?” She woke up and Barbara was there. “Jan?”
“Yeth.” Jan couldn’t speak. The tube was back in her mouth again. Yes, the tube. Her mouth kept drying out. They had stabilized her head and she couldn’t move it. She felt the straps and realized she would be easy prey if he came now. He would come now, and he would kill Barbara in front of her, and she would die this day and…
“Baby?” It was Stevie’s voice. “Baby it will be okay.”
“Jan?” Barbara said. “Are you able to understand me? I want you to nod your head twice if you understand what I am saying.”
Jan nodded twice.
“Jan, we lost him.” Barbara’s voice cracked and Jan could tell the woman was terrified. “He got away from us. He injured a cop and now he’s on the run. We’ve got people at the door, twenty-four seven, I swear to you, he cannot reach you, Jan, I swear it.” But the meds had already pulled Jan under. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Fire At Arabi Bay

The fire bit deep, tunneled into the peat moss at Arabi Bay, and it hid there, and it hibernated. In November it sprang up, created by an arsonist, and it devoured vegetation and it blenched out a thick fog of smoke, like a dragon from a cave. But it was cool weather, and it rain and rain and rained and no one thought the fire still lived, except those of us who never think fire is dead, even when we see the ashes. Those Old Timers who swear they have seen smoke boiling out from under the water, they are fools, most say, but I listen to them, and I take note of their words, for they have not lived long by being stupid.
            Last week the fire rose again, from the depth of the peat moss in front of the eyes of those who did not believe and in vengeance it destroyed homes and ate trees and it raced across over twelve thousand acres of land in a heartbeat. It was dead, they said, and it could not come back, they said, and they said this was a different fire but those who know said this was that fire we thought was dead and it is not. Now we know it is that fire, lying in wait for a winter, frozen, wet, cold, and dying underground, kept alive by the coals and the pressure of the ground that locks the water out.
            I have seen this, you know. I have seen a machine dig out a ditch full of water, full of green living vegetation, and life, and then six or seven feet down is powder dry dirt. They say now the fire ate its way under ditches full of water and those who have not seen do not believe but I have seen. I believe. This is that fire. The Old Timers tell me it is, and it is. What most cannot trust unless it is on a screen I will listen to the voices of those who have seen life through eyes, not code.
            Those who fight fires are a curious breed. Dew know how deadly fire is, but none surrender their careers in a job where in a day they will inhale what is like three packs of cigarettes. They will put themselves in the path of something that is burning, alive, and moving as fast as the wind, or faster, and these men and women seek to kill this thing, like they are out fighting a dragon or dozen each time they put on their armor. My job is to close roads and watch for people trying to get through and to help the lost. My job in this is much like the page boy who hands the fighters a spear, or a sword, or a mace, and to stay out of the way. I got there late, after the first rains had fallen Saturday, and it looked for all the world as if the fire had gone out. It had looked like this before.
            Saturday was uneventful, boring, and Sunday didn’t look bad either. Rain fell, and even if it was not enough to kill the fire it was enough to put out what was on the surface. Sunday night came and a church opened its doors and let cots be set up for those fighting the fires and manning the barricades. I found a cot and lay down, but could not sleep. Sleep was had by a man who had slept three hours in four days, and his body drank deeply of the rest. He snored, not like a man exhausted, but like a man who fought fires for a living, and whose body was nearly dead. The rest of the men were likewise tired but they had to stand and watch this. The snoring man’s entire body shook with a noise we could not believe, and a thick river of drool ran down his mouth like a waterfall. “Gotta get some pictures of this for his wife!” and I eased out of the door, and back into the rainy night.
            One of those who cannot sleep tells me of the house they went to where a man and woman complained about the smell of gas in their home. The firemen went there and one of them, the man who was telling me the story, discovered they had quite a large pilot light on a heater. He then discovered they had been using it to light their crack pipe. They didn’t have a lighter so they would lie down on the floor and light the pipe from the pilot light of the heater and that was where they were smelling gas. The man telling this story spun a great tale, all of it true, because such things do not have to be invented by fire fighters. They have many stories, all true, and they will tell them, betimes.
            One spoke with me about the Flood Of 1994, and we shared some common stories of that flood. Fireants will crawl all over one another under they form calls, and some of these ball of ants can be as big as basketballs, really. This man told of masses of ants as he tried to rescue people from house that were underwater, and the people inside perched on high things, above the water line, and below the windows. They cut holes in the roofs with chainsaws to get people out, and I saw that being done a time or two.
            But one by one, the exhausted men fell asleep. I wish I had taken notes, wish I had spoken with more of them, and I was glad we have such men, and women, who will go to places that burn, and out the fires out, or get the people out, or just go and wait for something to happen, and react when it does. For my part I could not sleep, and I lat awake and listen to the rain fall, and I knew the fire would wake up soon.

Take Care,
Mike

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Veiled World

Meanwhile, back in suburbia where mean fought heated wars over whose lawn looked the greenest and whose garden was the best, the real battles were fought on the lines, where each day was another day when the clothes were hung from the lines, everyone could see what was going on in everyone else’s hone. There was a truce for many years and the pure white sheets waved in the air as everyone had already surrendered, like France on a nice warm day. But eventually someone bought colored sheets and the world was never the same again; the war begun to escalate out of control.
            Okay, it wasn’t nearly that bad, but it was weird to the point even kids thought it was weird. Kids flat do not care what anyone is wearing or how fat anyone’s butt is. Well, okay, very small children don’t. Back in my neighborhood in Blakely Georgia the women did all the housework while the men went to work, and Leave it to Beaver was considered fact, not fiction. But the women kept up with whose what was hanging where, and if someone had to go out and buy new undies because the old ones where getting smaller with each wash, uh huh, then the lines would be bare of undies and everyone would know, truly know, that weight had been gained.
            This was all, of course, far out of the realm of mu concern, because I was before the age where such things made sense.  How large or how small a woman was did not matter to me then, and I wonder at what point in my life size did start to matter. Regardless of how exciting suburbia might be made to look on television in years to come, the secrete on Westveiw Drive were hidden safely away between the sheets, oh no, not that you of the dirty mind, I mean between the sheets drying on the line. Women would usually have three parallel lines, and the undies were hung on the middle, on sheet day, so as not to be discovered as easily. It was to be years before I understood this, and look back on it now, it is very funny to me that I was so oblivious.
            Both children and dogs were banned from being in the same time zone as hanging laundry lest the temptation to pull something down might overcome the fear of pain. The fear of pain is always overcome, however, and either evolution takes its toll, parents are dismayed, or, in my case, curiosity is sated, even if not in any way they would understand. I knew my mother would watch me play in the backyard, and I knew if I strayed too close to one part of the yard or another out of sight, she would call me back in. The trick was to disappear in plain sight, and get away with it. At four I was already a veteran escape artist. The latch on the door to keep me and my older sister from straying could be subverted. After lunch one day when my mother put be down for a nap, I waited until I heard her in the bathroom, and I made my escape.
            I was a veteran escape artist, having already survived the Great Fence Escape where I fled the house one day as my mother was pulling out of the driveway to make a quick run to the Little Green Store. I ran to the tennis courts a half a mile away, and against all reason, I scaled the fifteen foot high chain link fence, and I was there atop of it when she rode by on her way back home. She totally missed seeing me. I ran back, snuck to the car and grabbed a bag and acted like I had just come out to help. I think she always wondered what I had just done, but never thought I had done something that weird. But that was how I was. I liked to climb fences, and get into small spaces, and go where no one else was going. I slipped out of the house again, and slipped into the back yard, where the sheets were hung like the condemned, innocent and clean, but the sentence aquatic driven to dry. I stood there, in defiance of my mother, who I knew could, and would look out of the window, but chances were as long as I was still she would not see me. I could smell the bleach and the detergent, and feel the thinness of the sheets as the wind pushed them like sails in some ancient ship. The sheets were from the beds of us three kids, and my parent’s bed, so the entire line was filled. It was a corridor of whiteness, and it seemed to close in on me, envelope me, and surround me with  in an alien world. I thought that when I walked out from the sheets I would be somewhere else, another time, and there the world would be vastly different, and there would be dinosaurs and kites that spoke the language of strings as they flew. I closed my eyes and felt my world slip away, and felt the world of the billowing corridor began to fill in around me. It was a world where dogs could tell you how they felt and trees could move to allow you to jump from their limbs into the city pool. It was a world where snakes would be safe and the stars at night would move and rearrange to make much more clear outlines of things that people knew. When I walked out from between those sheets the world would be new, and it would be wonderful, and it would be unlike anything I knew. I closed my eyes, and let my fingertips barely touch the sheet on either side of me, and I walked forward, willing the new world to appear when I opened my eyes. But as I stepped out into the open, my mother spotted me, and the new world and I, were both banished by her wrath.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I love Dominoes!

Photobucket

The Possession Of Jon March

Susan knew she had to keep moving or the depression would set in again.  More than anything else, she hated the pity, the overwhelming sense of pity that everyone felt for her and she knew she could not let this become a habit. She knew she was not the first pregnant woman to lose a husband before the baby was born, and she knew that she would have to be a single mother before she had become a mother, but most of all, she knew she was going to have to start putting some distance between her, and Betty,  Jon’s mother. The woman had not left their house since Jon died, and Susan was beginning to wonder how she was going to ask her to leave, and when. The funeral would be tomorrow, and the police had finally released the body.
            Susan hefted her body up and decided as soon as the funeral was over and done with she was going on a road trip, alone, just her and The Lump, and if Betty didn’t like it that was going to be too bad. Jon had put a lot of effort into being independent from his folks, and Susan had never been close to her family, at least not to the point of moving in with anyone, and she would be fine, really. Barbara, her friend from college was doing well in Nashville, and Susan knew she could not afford to immerse herself in grief. The baby could not afford to swim in that stuff for another five months. She had to get out of this house, and she had to get away from Betty, and she was going to get away, just as soon as she got her husband’s ashes safely committed to the winds.
            Some of Jon’s old friends had already started to filter in, and she had already met most of them, but she really wanted to meet Riley Starr. He was a legend in Jon’s family and everyone had their favorite Riley story to tell. Jon had actually brought up naming the child Riley but Susan and Betty both had been against it. Riley’s antic may have made him popular with those who liked to relive the past, but Susan was dead set against someone who drank for a living being an influence in her child’s life. Riley was fun, but she wasn’t going to have him hanging around once he came back from Paris, or Egypt or wherever he was at the time. Riley had been jailed in Thailand for a year or so, and no one had heard from him since then, but … Susan was shaken out of her thought by the sound of the doorbell.
            “Hi! Susan?” A man at the door asked. “I’m Minford Mullis, I was a friend of Jon’s. We were in the Army together for a while, I was the one who…”
            “…sold him that damn Ford truck, yes, I remember the story, please come in.” Susan was surprised that she almost laughed. The truck story, so many stories, and all of them ended now.
            Susan made coffee and listened to what now seemed to be an almost rehearsed script of grief and sorrow. Good, she thought to herself, you’re getting sick of it, you’re getting mad about it, you’re moving on and that’s good because you have a baby to think of now.
            “Have you met Riley?” Mullis asked.
            “Not yet’ Susan said and Mullis said it with her. Susan stared at the man. Minfod Mullis accepted the coffee and sat down. He looked a little older than Jon, a little more worn than he should have been by age, and he looked very tired.
            “Riley Starr doesn’t exist, Susan, and he never did.” Mullis said.
            “What?” Susan had an odd feeling, as if she had misunderstood something important along the way. “But everyone knows him.”
            “No,”  Mullis said, “not everyone knows him. Jon knew him, Betty March and her husband knew him, Jon’s older brother Willis…”
            “I never got a chance to meet Willis” Susan interrupted. “But if all of these people knew Riley then how can you say he never existed.”
            “Riley was Jon’s invisible friend when Jon was a kid.” Mullis said. “Jon told me that when he was a four or five he met Riley and they became inseparable. Willis seemed to like him, and eventually the whole family got on board that Riley was real. They started making up stories about this person named Riley, but no one actually existed.”
            “That’s just plain weird.” Susan managed to say. “I’ve heard too many stories about Riley…”
            “But never first hand stories from anyone other than Jon and Betty.” Mullis said. “Everything you’ve heard has been something Jon or Betty told someone, or something Willis said, or something Jon’s father said, but never anyone outside the family.
            “How can this be?” Susan asked. “Why would they do this?”
            “I don’t know.” Mullis said. “But I do know that Betty Winters isn’t going to allow you to cremate Jon’s body. These people are as weird as it comes when death is concerned. Ask Betty what you think you ought to do instead of cremation, and mark the level of detail she has already planned out.”
            “That’s insane.”
            “Come with me, Susan.” Mullis stood up. “Skip out on the funeral and get the hell away from these people while you can. I’ve known them for years and I can tell you there isn’t anything you can do to change whatever they think should happen.”
            “Go with you where?”
            “My wife and I live three hours from here. Come back in a few weeks, a month, but let everything that is happening now, happen, and deal with the aftermath in time.”
            “No, I’ll stay, thank you.”  Susan stood up. “I would thank you to leave, Mr. Mullis, you are scaring me.”

**********************************************************************

            Susan held little Jon in her arms and smiled as the photographer took their picture. In the other room she could hear Betty telling someone the story of how Riley had pushed Jon off the barn roof and Jon fell on top of a cow, which then had proceeded to run away as fast as possible with Jon on top, screaming.  Everyone in the room laughed, and the photographer smiled.
            “Funny story?” he asked.
            “Oh, they’re talking about Riley,” Susan said, “it’s a shame you’re not staying for a couple of days, he should show up soon.”



            “So you’re telling me the whole family was possessed by one demon, or were they all possessed by different demons?” she asked. “Is it possible for a demon to control more than one person at a time? Is that what this is about?”
            “You asked about a specific person and I told you about that person.” He replied.
            “Anytime you aren’t clear about what you mean you’re trying to tell me something.” She stormed out of the room and locked the door behind her.
            “Any time you are afraid to learn more you run.” He replied, knowing every word was recorded.

Take Care,
Mike

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Homeless Stage

My work on the Interstate last Summer and previous night work projects have led me to some interesting if not scientific observations in as far as human behavior goes, along with individuals, cultures, and the human species as a whole. Anyone who is suddenly tossed into night work, and there truly isn’t any other way to do it other than to get tossed in suddenly, is going to have one point of view from the perspective of a day creature and quite another as a day creature working nights. I never did fully adjust to night work, even though I did enjoy some of it. But overall I was someone who was always chasing sleep and never quite catching enough of it to feel rested. Once off night shift it took another two months to stop waking up at two in the morning and feeling like I should be out working.
            The Mutts liked me working night because that meant they could come in during the heat of the day and sleep. It was hard for them to adjust to the idea I would kill them for waking me up when the sun was shining but they learned fast. I need to be in the company of dogs. I feel safer. I feel more alive. I feel at home with dogs and quite frankly as happy as I am Lucas has passed through that stage of his life, I miss having a puppy around. Puppies will teach you a few things about what you think you care about and what you really care about. You can have a good puppy or you can have a good lawn, but you cannot have both, I so postulate. You can have a happy puppy or you can have everything you own in one piece, but you will not have both, unless your house is full of high shelves.
            That is, by the way, what all of this is about, if you think the first two paragraphs aren’t related. I was able to survive night work because I had an anchor in the form of a home to go home to, and Mutts to go home to, and home to go to and write, and a home to retreat to from everything that was going on, my home in the woods away from everyone else. My job allows me to have this home, and to have mutts, too, and I know that as weird as the job may be at times, the idea of there being dog food in the bowls is important to Sam, vitally important, and so therefore it’s important to me, because Sam is important. I met a lot of people out there in the night who didn’t have a job, didn’t have a home to go to, and didn’t have food in their bowl, and they didn’t have Sam. There wasn’t any speaking to some of them, because they were aliens, and I could not understand what they were saying. I could not speak to some of them because they saw me as some sort of audio controlled beer puzzle, and if they told the right story then I would pay them and they could buy beer. This is important, mind you, not the beer part, let’s forget all about that for a certain while, and concentrate of what they do to do what they do.
            I am not thrilled to get up and go to work every day, or nearly every day, but I do want a house and three dogs, and oh, yeah, a computer so I can write. This requires that I produce X amount of money and my job provides me that, even if I have to give them Y amount of my life to get it. To me it’s worth the trade. Now, to the homeless, they are giving up none of the time in their lives and getting nothing, or damn little, but get this, they are still able to write fiction, even if it is in their own heads. But has there ever been a more pure theater than that of the homeless? Each script passes muster if it can convince someone to pass the mustard. Each show is to a sell crowd who will pay as they leave, not as they enter. Each meal depends on the story being good, the acting perfect, and the audience being sized up and hit with exactly the right scene. Will this person believe the stranded and need gas story? Will this man give me money if I tell him my mother died last year? Perhaps the ex-wife story will work on this one. Will being aggressive or persistent work this time or will it be counterproductive?  Alas! I fear those most able, those most creative, those mostly likely to give a good performance, will be like the homed breather who also creative, but socially crippled. No matter how good the story, the author has to be well liked or…
            So why are these people homeless? Clearly some are charming enough, or creative enough, or wily enough, to get by. Why are they unable to function in what we call the real world? I cannot say for I know nothing of any individual but it does seem likely that some prefer life in the open, and free, rather than spend a life chasing bills and hoping things will get better via hard work that never seems to pay off. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not painting homelessness as some sort of lifestyle choice made by noble people who are looking for a life beyond the rat race. There are desperate people out there who need help in the worst sort of way. Yet with some of the people I met out on the road, I cannot help but think some of them, at least are, if not living how they have so chosen to do so, have chosen to live the only way they can.

Take Care,
Mike

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Monsters

You could ask how I know, how I remember something that far back, and my answer is I do not know. There isn’t any way for me to prove to you, or to me, or to anyone, that day in time existed, but I do know the town, Blakely, did and does exist. I can tell you there was once a convenience store called “Suwanee Swifty “ and I can tell you there was a coin laundry right next to the store.  We, my mother and two sisters and I, would got there when it rained because no one owned a dryer back then. Those were the days before time began to be important to us. I had not started school, was only four or so, and everything was still very new. It was raining. I loved the rain. We were always told if we got in the rain we would get sick but we already knew that wasn’t true. To keep us quiet, and to give herself some peace, my mother bought each of us one toy from the Suwanee Swifty.
            You might think the toy selection from a convenience store might be the very pits but this was in a world of scarcity. A toy just because it was raining and we were there and life was suddenly so totally good it seemed to drown out the rain, oh the rain. I wonder how parents view the selection process, and I wonder if they watch and have already guessed what their children will pick out. I have no idea what my older sister wanted, and my younger sister was still an infant, but by fate or by chance, I went with a plastic sealed packaged that had a rubber alligator in it, along with some other creature.
            Because he was black I named him Blackie. Blackie had three body segment, a pair of legs for each segment, a pair of stabbing forelegs, and along with the legs on his last segment, he had a pair if giant pinchers. Blackie was also covered with tiny spines which were, of course, filled with venom.  Al the Alligator may have had a wicked smile but Blackie was lethal to a degree no earthly creature could have been. The Army men back at home had no idea what was about to befall them, and quite frankly, neither did anyone in my family.
            The number of creatures grew, and each one was more disturbing than the next. My parents were appalled at my very vivid description was to which appendage what to unsuspecting human victims and it was a very bizarre collection to say the least. Some were lost to time, or made poorly, and fell apart, but each one that survived was kept close to me, and what friend I did have wondered why I was so attached to these things. But attached to them I was, and it made my parents very nervous.
            They tried to buy me normal toys, and in particular my father always knew what I wanted, even when what he wanted me to want wasn’t what I wanted. In his mind, it was a perfect thing to want, so who wouldn’t want it, so I should have wanted it, and there was no reason for me not to want it, so I wanted it, right? Most of the toys he bought me were for kids either five years older than I or five sizes larger. To this day I like baggy clothes because that was what I was used to wearing. But for one birthday my father scored the perfect gift for me, even if he never realized it. It was a two story parking lot/garage replete with an elevator that was hand cranked, and a grease pit. The gas pumps were hard plastic and I broke one of them trying to get Tab A into Slot B, but I was used to that by now, also. But this was great. All my creatures now had a place to ambush unsuspecting motorists, and Calvin-Like with a pack of rubberized Hobbes, I played with that thing for hours.
            Okay, it was morbid, I admit that that, setting up some sort of Bates Motel full of creatures that attacked human beings, but let’s look at what was on television at that time, even the cartoons for kids, and lots of violence was to be had. Yet in this, each creature has some unique talent in the strategy up to and including a giant lizard that would change colors and blend into the scenery as a spy, and a giant fly that acted as a spy satellite, and a creature with a suction cup on his bottom so he hung upside down over doorways.  There were creature who could get smashed flat and life, others that were fireproof, some that bullets would not hurt, and others that ate metal to survive. Each and every one had their own ability and in some way, made the plan come together. Is it any surprise I would go one to reach myself chess, and come in second at the post tournament at Fort Stewart in 1984?
            Because I was a poor student I was frequently on “restriction” or “grounded” and spent many hours in my bedroom which became my world. My books were there, my creatures were there, and the outside world slowly but surely became more and more alien to me. In monster movies I always hoped in some way the monster would win, escape, and find a world where the monster were not a monster at all, but a creature whose abilities would be welcomed as part of a plan, something needed, and valued. I never saw that movie, but in the end, I did help write it. I must at this point, thank you for being in that movie. For you see, I did escape, and I found that world. It is here, and it is now, and you are the ones who have made me feel as if I am needed and valued.

Thank you for this world,
Mike

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Difficulty Hearing

I am slightly hard of hearing, partially deaf, especially when it comes to the voices of some people.  Soft voiced people I have to do the best I can with and when they are in movies it is hopeless. I play subtitles when I watch movies alone, and when there are others watching I try to talk them into turning the subtitles on, too. Theaters are sometimes loud enough but I miss enough to get aggravated sometimes, too. A lot of my hearing loss comes from far too much rock and roll up far too loud for far too long.  Some of it comes from working around heavy machinery before hearing protection was required. Some of it stems from the fact that I’m pretty much disconnected from the same reality as everyone else, and some of it comes from me simply not giving a damn what other people are saying. I waited for a while, to hear if they did, but they didn’t have anything to say for so long.
            I hear things that are not there. I know they are not there because the mutts do not react to the sounds I think I hear. Trust me, dogs don’t have off days or days off when it comes to audio. I could pretend they are just ignoring the sound because it isn’t important but I’ve lived with two of these dogs for a decade now, and I know when they’ve heard something. Having three dogs acting as listening posts isn’t a bad way to go at all. I mean, who gives a damn what it is exactly until you check it out, right? Lucas still hasn’t learned what’s important and what isn’t but he is getting there. Sam likes to bark at things he can see, but when Bert lays it down there is a human being close to the house. I’ll pick up a gun in the dark before I can see if Bert tells me to. If that animal hammers down on his most impressive bark, and it is impressive, I better be armed, and whoever he’s barking at, who no longer believes that stealth exists, better have good intentions.
            Mostly I hear things in the wind. I tell people this and they nod as if I interpret the sound differently in some way, or perhaps I’m insane, but I can hear things in the wind I do not think others hear. There is a low volume song, with voices and instruments that plays when the wind blows hard, particularly when it blows through something, like wires or branches, or the screens of the windows when the wind really picks up. This didn’t happen before I was a writer. I never heard the song before I started writing. If you think you can spend three or four hours a day inventing worlds that have to make sense, then return to your own intact, you are delusional. You have to leave part of who you are in there and you have to bring some of it back with you. It’s like going to visit a friend. When you get home your dogs will snuffle you because they can tell where you’ve been by scent. In your mind, the incense that is writing will still waft through your consciousness, even if you cannot tell it is there.
            Of course, I was a very odd child. I had a collection of plastic and rubber creatures, monsters all, or at least fearsome animals, and they were by circle of friends, my playmates, and there were all sorts of things that happened, which usually involved some poor group of humans being served for lunch. Alas! My mother did not like any of this for some odd reason, and both my parents tried giving me more grown up activities to occupy my mind, and even as a small child I realized the days I would have to spend by my monster friends would be numbered. I would promise them over and over that I would not forget them when I grew up, and that I would hide them somewhere, and no one would know they had followed me around my travels as I was an astronaut, or the first man to walk on the sun, or president, but it did happen, and their voices did fall silent, and I did not hear them anymore at all. All my plastic dinosaurs, monsters, army men, and rubber horrors became mute, and still. Hidden away in some dark corner for decades now, perhaps it is their voices I hear in the wind.
            I’m postulating the ghost of toys, you do realize that don’t you? I’m telling you that the inanimate objects I kept when I was a child instead of making friends with humans haunt me now, and perhaps it is they who are calling to me in the wind, and yes, that is what I am saying in a way. The same imagination is alive. The same sense of the creative still lives and that which gave names and personality traits to a bug eyed monster with tentacles and an insect type larvae body with odd seaweed looking seaweed type growths on his body might still be lurking somewhere. Oh, and this creature’s seaweed type stuff gave up an electrical charge that glowed red, like the setting or rising sun. He was forever tricking ships into the reefs by screwing around with where they thought they were.
            Ah, the old monsters calling me back, the new ones yet discovered, and me in between the two, or three worlds, wondering what that sound might be. I’ve left that part of my past which invents stories for creatures made of plastic and wood and rubber for those made of text, and electronic signals, and words and paragraphs. I’ve forsaken those creatures who life in a toy box for those who live in a box made of chips and wires and lights. I hear the voices in the wind and now I have no idea if they are old ghosts or the new ones.

Take Care,
Mike

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Language While Walking

Elbow, despite being a highly educated person knows quite a lot. She knows language, and she tells me the first written texts were likely poems, but I haven’t decided it I agree with that. Elbow hypothesizes that common knowledge for a culture was once held in human memory, much like those tribal folk who can recite the Koran from beginning to end. To make remembering easier information was set in poetry and when writing came along it was natural to write what was known in this way. That makes sense to me and I suspect she’s done enough research on the subject to know more about it than I do.
            We were discussing language the other day while on a walk and she tells me I’m right when I assumed that accounting led to writing. I theorized that writing was the logical offshoot of people trying to keep up with how much of what to market. If you know how much that’s okay but then you have to know who, and suddenly you need a symbol for someone rather than something and that is a world of difference. For that matter, needing a symbol for numbers which had to come first was likely easier than symbols for things, like grain or sheep or clay containers of wine. If you can master the art of accounting using symbols writing is just a noun and verb away.
            Of course, things didn’t happen overnight, or over a weekend, but evolved slowly as humans’ memory became less accurate or reliable than writing. I have known people in my life who could do real math in their head. I knew a man who on a bet could multiply a pair of three digit numbers in his head faster than anyone could with a pocket calculator. He had a friend feeding him the numbers so one day I jumped in and gave him two numbers and he barked out the answer as quickly as I had pushed in one number. I suspect that rudimentary language took a backseat to the way things had always been for quite some time just like it took a while before the abacus was invented. The need simply did not exist to replace a system that was working very damn well. Don’t underestimate your mind. It has gotten us here.
            If you had some ancient accounting and language guru, let’s call this person Elbowi wan Kenobi, who took care of all this stuff and suddenly she retired to the woods to raise dogs, geese, horses, and books, then you’d be back at square one unless there was some sort of agreement as to what this all meant to begin with and more people knew about it. Many of the languages of the natives of the Americas have disappeared over time simply because no one spoke them anymore and no one ever wrote them down. Even if the symbols could be deciphered by code breakers, and many of them have, this gives us no clue as to what the language sounded like. Until there was a uniform system for explaining what words sounded like as well as what they meant, language never really took off in the way that it has. Before the sounds matched up with the meaning a language teaching the language would be much harder, and the brain would not meld as much with the meaning until it understood the sound of a person or object or event.
I’ve been told by more than one Yankee I have an accent and I tell the person who accuses me of this as long as I am in The South it is they who have the accent but the people down here swear I am from somewhere else. The Yankees hear my accent as a function of a the language spoken from a very distinct region. I’m not really certain how this works, except that regionally speaking, there will very likely be customs in speech as well as dress and food. The people here think I’m a transplant because they hear me speak in the same manner as they do, but my enunciation is much more clear, my vocabulary somewhat more expanded, and my usage more clean than the average Southerner. I started learning English in my thirties, and I’m just now beginning to understand why people here sound the way they do.
The internet is going to evolve language is ways no one can yet consider. Young people already type in code words like “OMG” for Oh my God and WIT for what in tarnation, at least they do if they are from The South, but I also suspect that the Internet will also one day eliminate accents and dialect as anyone from anywhere can speak to anyone else. States like Florida and California, who have a large population of people migrating in have residents with little or no accents. People who have spent time in the military begin to lose their accents as they are exposed to more and more variations of their language. Internet speakers will one day become the new experts in language if they continue to surf the net and speak with more people who speak more languages and speak them differently. We do not know at this point what personal electronic devices might do with or for language. It would seem now we can if we choose to do so, be wired in at all times to w worldwide system of communication where there is nothing to stop someone from South Georgia from speaking to someone in New Zealand.
This is all coming at us a lot faster than the first symbolic language hit out ancestors. There is scarcely anyway at all to control what is happening, even if someone knew what was happening. Our language, human language, is evolving in ways no one could have predicted and it has only just begun. How we communicate tomorrow and beyond is something no one can imagine until they have already begun to change things.
This is an exciting time to be alive!

Take Care,
Mike

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Jury In A Box. A Snake In A Box.

I was hoping for a drug case, or maybe some interesting murder case where there was a dozen pieces of evidence point in one direction and twelve pointing in the other. If there was someone out there busted with an ounce of pot or something like that I would be more than willing to just let them go, really, because why bother? If it was a murder case then there would some sort of thought to as to why someone would kill someone else, and that might be enough to sway it. Or maybe it was a local politician with his hand caught in the jar. “Aggravated sexual assault and child molestation”  please god make me a stone, to quote “Serenity”.

Your Honor I would like to be excused from this jury pool because this isn’t fun anymore.

            One of two things is going to happen here, and only one of these two things are going to happen. You will either ruin this man’s life forever and ever, or you will possibly release a predator back into the wild. Think ever you will, I don’t see it any other way, and I was one of the lucky people to be left when the polling began, not that it wasn’t interesting to sit there and watch that play out, mind you. One guy, when the judge asked, “Is there anyone here who is not a resident of Brooks County” replied “I’m not”. Gee, Mike, how interesting can that be? The man claimed he “domiciled” in Brook County, that his address was here, that he lived here, but he was not a resident.

WIT?  (What in tarnation, Southern for WTF)

            The Judge, knowing that the insane will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience, asked both interested parties if anyone had any objections to striking this juror, no Your Honor, please more to the exit sign, you damn lunatic. Okay, anyone else here have any other pressing business with the Mother Ship, I did not think so, no.

            The defense lawyer in a molestation case is a man who has little to lose. No one expects him to win. The odds of finding twelve people in South Georgia who are not ready, willing, and nearly able to execute someone accused of hurting a child are exceedingly small. I would be one of guilty until proven innocent people. I could be a gun toting, rope tying, stump burning, kill them all let god sort them out very narrow view on child molestation type person. There are those who consider those traits as relatively impartial.
            The defense lawyer complains about the seating chart, but bravely trudges forward.  Or so he seems to want us to believe. Apparently if we are picked for this jury there will be a child testifying. Do we believe, he asks, children always tell the truth? He mentions witnesses, do we know these people? He mentions two, and after their names he mentions they are African American. I think this odd until the jury is picked. Most of the jury members are African American. This is a play, I suspect, by the defense to bolster the credibility of defense witnesses who may also be African American. Why do I think this? Because what else does the man have to play, when it comes down to it? This man is screwed, and so is his client. If a little girl takes the stand against him all he has is his word to stand against the emotions of a group of people who will watch a child on the stand. Guilt or innocent will be decided by emotion here, regardless of what the law may say. You know this is true. You know this as well as I do, even if you’ve never been there. The defense needs one juror with stronger emotion than this, and he plays every single card he has at every chance. It is a desperate hope, but it is the only one he has. As the names are called out, African Americans dominate the jury chosen. I suspect he will not get the sympathy he wants from them but that is just a guess. I am not among those called. My work here is done. Gratefully, thankfully, and finally, the rest of us are released.
            Is this is what we have fallen to in the name of justice? One side would put a child on the stand, and the other praying for hope in the race card, is this justice? In the very best case we have a child coached into lying, in the worse case she is telling the truth. In the best case we have two people whose lives are totally wrecked and in the worse case none of us, none of us who gets touched by this case, none of us, are ever the same.

            I go home to mutts. Mutts. The Puppy Lucas pushes his brothers around to get pettings on a dog’s head, and Sam wants his ears petted, and Bert, the muttibeasti gives kisses and the phone rings. Elbow has a snake in her mailbox. A snake in her mailbox! Yes, I will come get the snake, yes, I know it likely isn’t there anymore, but I will come rescue you, or rescue the snake, whichever the case may be, and we can go walking later, and we can talk about Frank’s knees, you know the Border Collie, Frank, Elbow’s dog who hobbles around, and yes, there is a snake in the mailbox when I get there but it is a Corn Snake, and it is beautiful, and it is harmless, and even Elbow likes the colors, and yes, some screen in the bottom of the mailbox would keep snakes out but just how often could this happen, really, and no I would not mention it to the person who delivers the mail, really, I would not, and the snake loops around my hand, and then drifts to the ground and it disappears.

Take Care
Mike

Monday, March 21, 2011

Writing Life

Life was once referenced back to a blank sheet of paper, where the person who lived the life wrote a story of the life in minutes, hours, words, deeds, and emotion. There was no guarantee as to how many pages a person got only that they would be the only one who wrote on the pages and no one else. I always wondered how someone illiterate would view that analogy, and how people who rather paint would see it.  The analogy is valid, in my opinion, regardless of the medium. A person who knows no art may indeed live a life that is full and rich but I do not see how.  It may be there are artists with colors and words the rest of us cannot see or feel or touch as of yet, much like the early poet who was one of the few who could read and write. Lonely was the human being who in the midst of a population that did not read, scribbled out poetry late at night, wondering if it meant anything at all, or nothing.
            Of course, it did not mean anything at all, and it did not mean nothing at all, either. The Lonely Poet died and all his, or her, works were forever lost. A friend of mine, who was a terrible poet, a horrible writer, and yet full of passion, wrote poetry on a small tablet, and each poem she would finish she would take outside in the yard and burn. The world in which she lived did not respect poems, or writing, or any pursue of the mind or the heart. Yet each of her burned poems lives somehow in some other poet, in some other heart who knows nothing but it must beat again and again, to write a poem.
            Strip away all culture, all learned behavior, all the trappings of the civilized world as we have described it, and invented it for ourselves and for those to come after we are gone, and you will still find the Lonely Poet. Deep in the caves of our past, are drawings, crude yet elegant, of our world as we once knew it, with horses and bison and lions. On the cracked and broken pottery unearthed from a time before we even knew writing are spirals and waves and designs etched on earthenware, from common people whose lives are all but forgotten except in these shards.  The need for the human mind to express what does not exist anywhere else but within the mind is, and has always been, and will ever be. It is not the domain of the great and famous. It is not the property of those who use their mediums to the fullest but to each and every one of us, the Lonely Poets.
            When I was a child, somewhere between eight and ten likely, I spent the first two weeks of the Summer with my paternal grandmother in Rochelle Georgia. Her sister ran a hardware store and in exchange for me helping clean up after work they allowed me to work off the price of a fishing lure that I wanted to buy my father for Father’s Day.  But I wanted not only to give me the lure, but to also make it fun, and interesting. I was going to take a small cardboard box, recess a piece as to make a platform, and turn that platform into the banks of a pond. I then took a piece of tinfoil to make the surface of the pond, and I decorated the banks of the pond with tiny stones, and pieces of sticks that were supposed to be logs. I made a fisherman out of a tiny wooden tube, and glue a stick to him for a pole, and the fishing line that hung down below the surface of the tinfoil was connected to the lure that my father would pull up as his first catch with it. For all my plans and details and desires, I was likely the very most ambisinister child ever born. It did not help that my father had been quite the craftsman when he was a child, and had carved a herd of deer out of an apple crate with a pocket knife. This was no herd of deer but rather a bungled mess. My father took one look at it and wondered aloud what on earth it might have supposed to have been. It fell apart as it examined it, and even the line broke as he tried to get the lure to come up. It was a mess, and he took me I shouldn’t have brought all those sticks and rocks into my grandmother’s house and cluttered up the place. She took him aside and scolded him for it and when it returned he pretended to be impressed but I got rid of it as quickly as I could. It was a very long two hour ride back home with my father but I was used to that by at that point in my life.
            Remember my friend who burned her poems? I never told her they were wretched. I never said to her they were much like reading long Hallmark cards. I always told her that she had the soul of a great poet, and that was so true, because she did. I tried to get her to read the poetry of a variety of poets, but she always returned to the same pattern, because that was where she felt most comfortable and that was where she liked to write. Who is to say that in the years to come some secret stash of poems she has written might become famous?
            You wouldn’t have come this far if you didn’t understand me. The page is still blank, in front of us, and this is an exciting time to be creative. I cannot speak for anyone but myself in this, but I can tell you nothing stops you from being who you want to be right now. The possibilities endless, the time not, yet ever it may bring, sticks or pebbles, or pottery, or poems, being the Lonely Poet is something you can chose to be, or not.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Puke

The neat thing about being violently ill is writing is something you can still do, and if the computer is close enough to the bathroom all the better. I was supposed to go walk with Elbow first thing this morning, and there is something you have to know about the woman, despite all her saintly virtues, and she has far too many to list here, she does get carried away. She only lives two miles or so from me and on the way there I kept having the thought if I just got out and moved around I would feel better. My seasonal allergies have been a bitch lately and I didn’t feel real good yesterday, but exercise is a good thing nearly always, and it isn’t like this would be the Boston Marathon, right?
            So I get to Elbow’s house and she immediately launches into telling me about something she’s written and she is terribly fired up about it, and happy, and normally I would be so into this, but at that very moment I was thinking, “Holy Mother Of Dog, I am going to puke all over this woman’s floor.”  I didn’t but in the middle of Elbow’s exaltations, she did notice that it was not Saint Patrick’s Day and I was quite green. I kept telling myself I was going to be okay, and we moved the conversation closer to the bathroom, and I tried to choke down some pink stuff, but in the end, what went down came back up, and violently so.
            I haven’t thrown up in ages, and I had forgotten how much fun is isn’t. Yet there isn’t anything at all a person can do about it but make small mental notes about the experience and later, have people be thankful those notes were burned as soon as I was feeling better. After the first bout with my tryout for “The Southern Exorcist: Reintarnation” I felt like I had ejected everything I needed to, and was even pondering the walk. The next wave put a bullet in any doubt I had, and away home I fled.
            Back home, the other end of the digestive system kicked in, and again, you can thank me for the lack of graphical information as to its viscosity or force. Suffice it to say…nevermind, I have said for more than enough. There was one more episode where what when down came back up and one of the dogs, in horror or empathy, puked on the carpet, but that was the end, so far, of the exodus. I suspect deeply that it isn’t over yet, and I also suspect this is not a pathogen.
            One of the tried and true methods of relief of seasonal allergies is garlic. I like garlic a lot and use it often. Yesterday all I had left was two ginormous pieces of a clove so I cooked one with breakfast and knew soon enough it was too much. Wasn’t cooked enough, I theorized, but I did cook the other piece this morning and evidently, that wasn’t enough. Without going into detail, and again, you may thank me for this, there is evidence I ate far too much garlic. I also took one of those twenty-four hour meds, and the combination of the two might have been enough to toss me over the edge. It’s nearly nine in Saturday night right now and so far I have eaten a banana at six, a can of fruit cocktail at seven, and a bagel at eight and everyone is still inside, and there is no rumbling. The herbal tea Elbow suggested was a great idea, and she has called to check on me three times. Despite being highly educated and well read, Elbow knows a lot of common sense things like what to eat when your digestive system is acting as if it is trying out for the US Olympic gymnastics team.  It helps a lot to know someone who knows things. It’s not like I was going to go out and do shots of tequila or anything like that but the tea was very nice.
           
            I never nap but here recently I have been dropping off to sleep at odd times and today I slept like the dead. It was not a good type sleep and I did not feel rested at all. I felt very hungry when I woke up and I still do. Even with what little food I have eaten I can still feel that my body is not over this thing yet. I don’t have any energy at all, and other than writing I’m not quite certain what else it is I can do. Still, I am not running a fever, which is great, and the explosions have stopped inside which is also good.
            Epilogue: Sunday morning has arrived in all its glory and all is quiet inside. I have survived the internal explosions and the alien trying to tear its way out of my bowels. The mutts seem to be at peace in their world. Last night I dreamed I was running a fever, and sweating profusely. I got up take some aspirin when I noticed I wasn’t sweating ay all. Everything was cool and dry. This beats the hell out of dreaming I was electrocuted, but at the same time I wonder how much of our sickness is our minds investing in our current state?  But I am also pretty sure my assessment that this was not a pathogen is now correct. Too much garlic, too much coffee, too many meds, and stress took over my body and drained it. No garlic this morning, little coffee so far, and no meds, and I feel nearly normal. There is still this feeling as if my bowels have run a marathon over rough terrain but at the same time it doesn’t feel like Mount Saint Helens is lurking right around the corner, waiting to erupt. I wonder if Elbow is up to a walk?

Take Care,
Mike

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Mouse Trap Apostates


I have never seen any sort of vehicle with the sign “ESTIMATOR” on it but there it was in the dream, passing me and looking all official and governmental. It was a mundane dream, with nothing much happening at all in it. One of my co-workers and I were riding around looking for something, and I have no idea what it was, but we had to stop at several different locations to look for it. We stopped at a convenience store to get a drink and there was a man in the store who was pointing towards whatever he was talking about and he held his hand in front of my face, I told him to stop he took exception to me asking, and in the exchange that followed I got what I get a lot of when speaking to strangers around here, and that is the question as to where I’m from.  To people from other places I sound like I’m from Georgia but I don’t to a lot of natives. Using English with grammar and real words has a tendency to throw people off a bit, and the guy in the dream was one of those “Where are you from, boy?” type people who get insulted at the idea of someone speaking correctly, and yes, it does happen.
            So in the dream, after the confrontation of sorts with the guy in the store, we’re walking along and someone comes up and tells me “Ron is pretty mad at you” and I tell them I don’t know who Ron is, and they tell me it’s the guy in the store and I tell them so what? But all of this seemed very real and you have to admit there isn’t anything at all here that would lead you to believe is was a dream, right? And it gets no scarier at all, with me suddenly on top of a hill explaining to a group of people how a mouse trap works. It was as if I had broken down a nuclear reactor and was trying to get people to buy into radiation containment. Yeah, but what if the mouse isn’t killed outright, then you have to kill it, right? What if my children find the trap and stick their fingers in it? Try it. Get out a mouse trap and explain out loud how it works and see how long it takes. Where are the batteries? How long does the spring last? That last question was one the people really focused on. What do you mean you don’t know how long it lasts? I mean, if it gives out after a few times, I‘m pretty much screwed, right? Now remember, I wasn’t selling mouse traps, or setting mouse traps, but merely explaining them. I had no idea what to tell these Mouse Trap Apostates. It wasn’t important to me, I didn’t feel as if my world was coming to an end if they didn’t like how a mouse trap worked, but it was more than just a little weird. One guy kept asking, would it catch a bird? Would it catch a snake? Would it catch a fish? Would it catch a zebra? No, not a zebra but he did list a lot of common animals that had no chance in hell of ever getting caught in a mouse trap. No sir, your horses are entirely safe from this device, I assure you that your wooly mammoth will not be maimed.
            I walked down the hill and there was a nice little pond with good trees, and moss. There were lily pads and it was very pretty. A woman came up to me and asked me how I had found out about mouse traps and if I had really seen one work, and it was getting to the point of aggravation.  Just try one, you know, they aren’t really that expensive. That seemed to hurt her feelings and she told me she noticed people treated pretty women better than she, and had she been beautiful I would have offered her a mouse trap. I told the woman I had no mouse traps, really, I didn’t and she seemed to take it personally.
            All of the scenes were shifting around and blending into places I’ve been and places I have never seen before. The hill is in Valdosta, the convenience store in Lake Park, the pod doesn’t exist, and some of the places melded into one another seamlessly. The mind uses reality as scaffolding in dreams I suspect, and Lake Park, a little town I have never spent much time in at all, is not somewhere I would have thought would pop up in a dream. The store is there but I don’t remember ever being there but it is possible I have been.
            The scene shifts again and this time I’m in Donalsonville Georgia where I once lived, back in my old neighborhood, where I bought my first house, and it is a very pretty day. I like where I once lived even though it was in a subdivision and the people were far too close together. There was a very large black dog that lived there who had one ear that drooped over a little and the other stood up. He would come visit me, and looking back on it at this very moment, I realize he’s very likely dead now. It’s odd because after ten years he should be because he was already fairly old, but it never occurred to me he would be until right now.
I was standing in my yard and a car came down the road with “ESTIMATOR” on the side and it crashed into a utility truck, and the truck slammed into the pole they were working on. The car burst into flames, someone screamed and the power lines fell from the pole, smoking and crackling. I fell down, and couldn’t run from it, and I saw the electricity, white hot and sparkling like a fuse, running just above the ground. I told myself to try to stay alive as long as I could but when the energy slammed into me it overwhelmed me, and I felt everything stop, and I was dead.

Take Care,
Mike

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Pack Of Lives

            The rules here are quite simple; I begin, end, and win, all fights. If there are two or three mutts who want to slug it out for pack position I am there at the end to remind them the top spot is not only not up for grabs, it will on occasion reach down and create a little more distance between the first and all other places to be had. If you want to get all bloody and bitten fighting for second, third, or last place, far be in onto me to wade in and stop it. I will, at the end of all conflict, reassure everyone, ever else has been established, first place will be where it is until the stores that sell dog food no longer take the card. I am not in the least bit interested in having the better part of three hundred pounds of tame wolf lying around wonder who’s on first.

            I am.

            Any questions?

            Lucas has caught onto this in ways that the first two dogs missed out on for some reason. Lucas has taken up pack position as Enforcer.  Because Dad said so, what part of that did you miss, dammit? Early, and I mean early, this morning, just after four in the morning, all three dogs wanted out, now please. I wasn’t sleeping well anyway, and decided to toss them out until five or so. Two minutes past this point, all hell broke loose, and I can only assume the raccoon in the backyard was the reason. Maybe it wasn’t the raccoon. Maybe it was the recent fall in the stock market, or the fact that after years of telling people nuclear energy was the only way, there might very well appear in the backyard a glowing mass from some other country where this sort of thing was never supposed to happen, but guess what? Maybe it was the fact that if I get more than three or four hours of interrupted sleep I become normal and boring and the dogs all realize this means I’ll never be a writer. Personally, my money is on the raccoon, which failing to understand that the scent of three very large dogs means they live here, decided to raid the backyard where there is no raccoon food, whatever else the signs may say.
            I do not understand this. There is nothing in the backyard that is edible, or at least not so much that any small mammal would be better off inside the fence than outside the fence. The fence has two charged wires, one up and the other down below, so the dogs are not leaving the fenced in area and ha ha, if you’re in there with them, you aren’t either. But really, why sneak into a place where anyone with half a nose has got to know there are three dogs? Were I a small mammal, I would take into account that given three dogs means they could be as big as a Dane or as small as a terrier, the odds are whatever three you get, it isn’t going to be likable. Let’s say you get two tea cup poodles, suitable for a snack, but the third is a Chow. Even if you get two out of three best case, and the third is only partially bad, you are still screwed. No, really, the Chow, one on one with a raccoon, is going to win this one, take the country by storm!
The raccoon, given the better part of a few hundred trees in the back yard to climb, chose a very small one right next to the deck. So short is this tree, that the upper limbs bend. Three large dogs willing to go into the stratosphere after prey, were trying to do just that when I arrived, with a weak flashlight and a twelve gauge, double barrel shotgun, suitable for killing.
            Let’s review the escape strategy, for just a moment, shall we? I mean, you aren’t going anywhere, are you?
            Generally speaking, a human being carrying a gun is bad for raccoons. Four in the morning is not the time for interspecies communing. Almost nearly always, being within a few feet of where the better part of three hundred pounds of tame wolf sleeps is a terrible thing for a small mammal who weighs less than some pillows the dogs sleep on. Being in a tree whose branches are only keeping Death away for a few more moments, isn’t something evolution rewards. So! In review, the escape strategy is made entirely of the fail, epically speaking.  The raccoon made Raccoon War Sounds at me as I discovered it in its made for fail escape niche.
            The dogs know what a gun is. They do not get around the front of a gun for any reason but the War Sounds of the Raccoon were more than enough for them to intervene on my behalf. Except Bert;  Bert has seen the gun in action and he’s getting too old to move quickly. He lets the young dogs hound the Raccoon. Bert sits this one out and heads away from the noise, and the gun.
“No!”
Lucas looks at me. Looks at Sam. Looks at the Raccoon, and gets back into the action.

“Lucas! Sit!”

Lucas sits. He looks at me. We’ve been training on this for a while now, and he realizes this is why. Sam hasn’t flinched. Sam hasn’t wavered. Sam is still going after the raccoon. Sam is nothing if not good at what Sam does. I cannot approach Sam and the Raccoon while carrying a gun. This has interesting internet story written all over it.
“Sam!”

But Sam doesn’t have a chance to move. Lucas rams him, crashes into him, and pins him against the deck rails, and pushed him away from the raccoon. The two fight it out, but this time, it is Sam, not Lucas who gives ground. “Because dad said so!” Lucas tells Sam, and Sam retreats. Sam is snarling, growling, horripilated, and pissed, but Lucas knows what I want, and he is going to put the rebellious Sam down, by force. Bert comes back onto the deck, and positions himself  behind all the action.
“Inside!” I say and Bert heads for the door. Sam looks at the raccoon, but Lucas is there, pushing him back. Sam tries to fight back but I’m between him and prey, and if he doesn’t do something about the Loki Mutt, he’s going to get pushed over on his back. Sam snarls and tries to push back but Lucas is faster, larger, stronger, and he’s got his orders, from the top. Lucas doesn’t give any ground, but he doesn’t outright attack Sam either. Push! Push! Push! Sam folds.
We all sleep, and I hope by the time the clock goes off the raccoon is gone. It’s too warm for a dog on the bed, but Lucas sleeps at my side while the other two are on the floor. Lucas and Sam are not happy campers with each other, but it is Lucas who holds the high ground.  Today the pack shifted, and the top spot stayed the same.

Take Care,
Mike

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lost In The Desert (Richard V)

“You can’t?” Zoe repeated. “You can’t? I just walked a hundred miles through the desert to find you, saved your life and you’re telling me you can’t?”
“It’s my leg.” Richard said hurriedly. “It’s not strong enough.”
“You problem isn’t in your leg, Richard, “ Zoe sneered, “it’s in your heart”
“My heart?”
“Your problem is fear. You’re on the run now from having to help solve a problem you saw coming but weren’t able to affect a change in. You more or less called it right from beginning to end, and that means something, even if it means you’re good at nothing but seeing than doing, it’s still something. You’re afraid. You’re afraid to go into a situation and fail, totally fail, because then you’ll look just as bad as the system you’ve railed against. You are that system. You are a failed way of life. I could have left you out in the desert to die and took over here and been just as safe as you were before you wandered out there because that is what you did to the rest of the world.  And why were you out there to begin with? Look at what you’re doing here. You’ve dragged out radio parts and Morse code charts and all sorts of things so you can go back to your old life of contacting people from afar. You built an aqueduct leading to nowhere. Oh, but it’s okay for you to fail when you’re the only person around, isn’t it? You are afraid to hurt people by being wrong but you have no idea how much damage you’re doing by being gone. People like Mark believed in you, and maybe you didn’t ask him to, and maybe it isn’t your fault, and maybe you can sit out here and Mark doesn’t mean anything to you, but I loved that man, and he died trying to find you, not because you would, or could help him, but because you might have come back and made a difference in a world he didn’t live to see. You want to sit out here in the sand and play god? You want to come and go as you please, pick and choose your own ways ad times to appear and disappear like some myth? It’s a cop out, pure and simple. You put an inordinate amount of work into running away, and that doesn’t make you less of a coward, it just makes you one with a better chance of being alone longer. Richard Glass you became part of the system when you failed to be part of the change. You saw it coming and you made a buck of those who believed you, and now this…” Zoe waved her arm around the cave.
“…Richard Glass in his hole in the ground, waiting to die all alone.” She laughed. “Wow! That’s going to look great in the history books, if there ever are any more books.”
“Mark is dead?” Richard vamped for time. “How?”
“It matters how?” Zoe replied. “Do you know who Maris Littleton is?”
“Who?”
“She’s a woman who found out she was pregnant six months ago. There’s all sorts of pills to keep it for happening and a few more to put an end to it when it does and out clinic has them all, but when she found out she and Juan decided to keep the baby. Can you imagine trying to give birth in a world like this? Can you imagine what that kid’s life is going to be like?” Zoe asked.
“They’re insane!”
“They’re in love Richard!” Zoe screamed at him. “Love doesn’t fear, it doesn’t shy away from pain, it doesn’t know quit, it doesn’t know stop, it doesn’t know time or distance or any of the millions of reason fear knows.”
“What are you talking about?’

“I’m going back now. You will either make it alone or you’ll die alone, but I’ve got one daughter in New York, and another in Florida. If I can’t get the planes flying, the phones working, or something good happening soon I’ll never know what happened to either of them and I am three thousand miles away. I have to find a way to find my daughters, Richard and I walked a hundred miles into the desert and lost someone I loved trying to do it.” Zoe wiped away the tears. “Do you have anything you would do that for, Richard? Who is out there in the desert for you? Who would you work to change the world as it is just to see that person one more time, or just to know they are okay? Do you have that here? Do you even want it, Richard, or is the fear really that big inside?’
“Zoe…” Richard whispered.
“Goodbye.”
****************************************************************************
“Zoe?” It was Maris’ voice and Zoe was instantly awake. She reached to find the Glock and it was there.
“No, no, it’s okay, it’s okay.” Maris said. “The baby is fine, she’s sleeping. It’s okay.”
“What then?” Zoe stood up and looked around the room. There was a small light coming in from the kitchen, but otherwise it was totally dark. ‘Is it my shift?’
“No, there’s a man at the gate, with some people, he says he’s a friend of yours”
“Who?” Zoe asked.
“Richard Glass, Zoe.”
Zoe walked up the steps to the ledge where the fifty caliber machine gun mount stood. Freddie had it trained on some people down below, but he was smiling. What the hell?
“Good morning, Zoe.” Richard called out when he saw her. “I have some guests for you. I hear you’re reinventing civilization here.”
“Richard?”
“You once asked me what I had.” Richard said. “What I have is an innate ability to survive, no matter what, because I know what people can do, even when they do not. I walked out three days behind you. But I kept walking until I found what I needed to find.”
“Mom?” A woman broke out of the small group of people and  then another.
“I found your daughters, Zoe.”
**********************************************************************
“So just like that, Richard?” Zoe held Maris’ second child and noticed the kid was getting bigger. Damn, already twenty pounds?
“People do what they are good at.” Richard replied. “I walked to Carrey Air Force Base and offered them my services in survival in exchange for some help finding some missing people. They still had long range radios and once we started growing our own food it was just a simple matter of trading food for information and cooperation and more information and pretty soon the planes were flying and the phones were working. Beth, your oldest, had taken refuge in a place out next to West Point.  Allison, who is more like you than either of you like to admit, took charge of a camp in the Everglades and was playing hit and run with some bad guys out there. She made quite a name for herself with C-4.”
“So I keep hearing.” Zoe didn’t like the stories people told about Allison.
“So, now what, Zoe?”
“What do you mean?” Zoe asked.
“Do you have the courage to love again?”