Sunday, April 29, 2012


Quentin lay on his stomach and waited until the screaming had stopped.  He counted his breaths, tried to slow his heartbeat, but merciless hell, that had been close. He had been within ten meters, maybe less, of a Crack. The woman who had been sucked in had screamed and screamed, but Quentin had never known screaming to have worked, ever, but most people screamed when they were taken. He knew better to move now, and he hoped like hell his cell phone didn’t decide to start working.  The concrete driveway wasn’t the most comfortable place to wait, but at least there were no ants, and it seemed like the ants were catching on, too.  The screaming seemed to attract those creatures that fed on blood and pieces of people and even the smaller creatures seem to sense it. The feral dogs and raccoons were the worse when someone was trying to be still, but the ants…
Quentin snuck a peek at his watch to time the wait. They usually would wait no more than ten minutes but he always stayed down for at least thirty.  A man right in front of him, no more than arm’s length had been Cracked eight minutes deep into waiting, and Quentin knew better than to try to pull the man out. He had seen far too many scenes of people sucked into Cracks if anyone came to help. The first victim would be pulled in instantly and the next would be held there, slowly compressed into the crack, screaming, and then just as suddenly sucked away into thin air, with this very brief and nearly imperceptible upwards flash. There were many religious people who thought this meant those getting Cracked were going to heaven and they lined up for it, in the beginning. But some of those who were caught would scream about the pain, the pain, the burning and terrible pain, and there were fewer and fewer fanatics rushing towards the screams now. But then again, there were fewer people now anyway.

He lay his head down on the concrete and closed his eyes. He had been there in the beginning. He had finally gotten some decent seats at a concert, and there it had begun…

Quentin finally got Deb to go out with him, and he was certain it was only because he scored some great tickets but at the same time, they had to travel there and Deb coyly agreed to making the trip there on the Friday before concert so they could spend the night. But once they were together it had seemed so perfect. She was beautiful but as they sat on the balcony at sunset Quentin realized she had always wanted him to ask her out but she had been scared too.  This was the beginning of something greater than he had imagined, and he no longer was blinded by his lust for her. The night had been incredible, something out of a dream, and the concert had been wildly spectacular, and there they were, Deb sitting on his shoulders in the middle of the crowd, up front, just feet from the stage, and there Deb was, on the big screen, laughing and screaming, and looking like an angel, and they froze her image there, for the world to see in 3D, and at that moment, Quentin felt as if the Universe had smiled upon him.  How long had he been happy? Five? Ten? Maybe fifteen seconds?

The screaming began. At first he thought it was the fans getting more excited over the next act, but the band was leaving the stage, Deb leaned down and said, “Quint, something is happening!” and it was the last thing he would ever hear her say.  He put Deb down and grabbed her hand. Whatever else was going on, he knew better than to wait for the crowd to make decisions for him. But being up front meant being far away from the exits, and that was where everything was happening. People were screaming. People were running. People were knocking each other down and that was what Quentin wanted to keep away from if at all possible.

He was holding onto Deb’s hand when it got her. He felt the force of the pull and it reminded him of diving headfirst into an ocean wave. There was that feel of power, of strength, of unimaginable force, and suddenly Deb was sucked into thin air, her head and one arm caught in an invisible trap. Deb couldn’t scream, and Quentin was still grateful for that, but whatever it was pulled her it slow, peeling the skin off her bones, and forcing the blood from her body. Then there was this tiny flash of light that went upwards, and Deb was gone. Suddenly a dozen more people were caught in a dozen different places near him, and Quentin jumped the fence near the stage, and was knocked down. A man stepped on his gut and his head slammed into a metal rail, and Quentin was nearly knocked out.  But Quentin realized the people who were moving the fastest were the people getting caught the quickest.

The big screen was still on, and whoever was operating the cameras was trying to help people get out or at least stay away from the blocked exits. The main entrance looked like a meat grinder; there were hundreds of people trapped, many more trying to help, and no one was getting past the gates. The side entrances led through the tunnels were jammed with people, none of the caught, but all of them stampeding and they were killing themselves.  Quentin watched in horror as it began there too, with people trapped under bodies being sucked into thin air, squeezed, and then with a slight flash of light, being zipped upwards.  People running were caught and as they tried to escape they screamed. Everyone not caught in a way that covered their mouths screamed and screamed and screamed.

Quentin froze. Partly out of fear, but partly because he was not caught, and didn’t want to be Quentin didn’t move. He waited, and as he waited the screaming grew louder and louder. People were shrieking and even some of those who were not caught just fell down on their knees keening in horror.  But the people who were still were not getting caught. The camera men who were still filming seemed safe. Those groups of people huddled together and frozen in fear were safe. Those running back and forth were picked off, one by one, and they were squeezed. The screaming went on for hours and hours and hours and finally it stopped.  Terrified people ran out of the stadium, and the police and firemen came in. Someone put a blanket on him, and led him away. Quentin walked very slowly towards the exit.

All new news programs were showing it and every television and internet site was showing videos of it. They began to call it “Cracks” and people were “Cracked” and people were caught in Cracks, but it looked the same everywhere. There was a pattern, and it was as old as time itself, with the Cracks appearing in the middle of a crowd then more showing up at the bottlenecks, the exits, the tight places. People running were caught, and this made others try to move more slowly, and the crowd dispersed less quickly. Computer programs surprised that this wasn’t a random or mindless attack that something out there was herding humans into the Cracks, and they were doing it quite well. But no one knew who or why.

The stars were visible tonight, Quentin thought as he slowly rolled over on his back, and he glanced over at his watch. It had been twenty minutes. It had been a year ago today, and the last time he had seen a working computer the internet site had said sixty percent of the world’s human population was already gone. India and China had been hit the hardest, but there were places on earth the Cracks had shown no mercy. Sub-Sahara Africa had seen terrible events take place were the Cracks simply operated around the clock, sucking up people day and night. For reasons no one could explain, the Cracks seemed to like political figures. Presidents, heads of state, military leaders, no one was safe no matter how deep their bunkers might be. Three American presidents had been killed in one year and now no one wanted the office not that it existed without the people to begin with.

The military might of the world had failed against the Cracks. Bullets and bombs disappeared into thin air. A one hundred megaton missile was launched against the Cracks in the Congo and the blast had leveled an area the size of a small state.  Those who were sent in to measure the radiation levels were taken as quickly as they arrived. Cracks appeared in submarines and in airplanes. Pilots arrived at airports with empty planes and their eyes wide and wild. Entire classrooms were devoured. Shopping Malls were emptied. Any building with less than a dozen exits was a deathtrap for all inside. People began to sleep outside in tents, and alone, and that seemed to be the best strategy, but the factories and stores of the world began to close. Yet for every stratagem employed to escape the Cracks a new one appeared to counter it. The Cracks were simply eating people sometimes and not holding them. People had learned not to run towards the screams but there was no way to avoid silence.

Quentin stood up and took a deep breath.  The woman who had just been taken had been carrying a bag, and he picked it up and looked inside. There were some canned beans, a bag of rice, and a bottle of water. He would live for another couple of days, at least.  He heard someone screaming in the dark and suddenly, Quentin ran, and he ran towards the sound of the screams.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Hollow Luck

The uppermost photo was taken before the fall, the other two, after.

The Water Oak is noticeable because it has a hollow in it and Sam like to hunt in the hollow parts of trees. He’ll stand on his hind legs and stick his head and neck deep into a tree looking for something to chase, something worth snuffling, and something to communicate a sense of territory to in all. Sam is more serious about hunting than any dog I’ve ever shared time with. Sam views all small mammals at the same threat level but this is a hollow that is deep and dark. Anything living in this hollow will be safe from Sam, and Sam knows this, but this is his way of letting everyone know, including myself, that Sam is still hunting.
Trees with hollows like this eventually die and this one has been creaking and grinding for about a year now. Sam once found some stray scent at the base of the hollow and he pawed and clawed a large chunk out of place. He came back into the house with sawdust all over his head, but no prey to show for his work, this time. I thought about putting a time capsule into a hollow once, but this is an unsure way of tracking time. The tree may fall and the hollow exposed, in a year instead of twenty.
Lucas isn’t the hunter Sam is or even the hunter that Bert was. He nailed a squirrel once, and he’s blundered upon an armadillo or two, but Lucas just isn’t into chasing and killing thing like Sam is. So I was surprised when Lucas even took notice of the two skinks mating near the hollow Monday. Skinks are largish lizards and I’ve never seen two of them mating in the open like that. Lucas bonded over to the hollow and woofed at them, as if he were berating them about public sex, or perhaps because I had just gotten home and he felt playful. Lucas rears up on his hind legs, stiffening his front legs and he’ll bounce on his front legs like this once or twice. I call it “The Loki Leap”  Lucas is still full of energy even though this is his third year.
I’ve dropped more than a few trees in my life, and had two or three here fall, including a large Oak that put a hole the size of a car in my roof. It was hard to lose a tree like that, and the contractor that pulled the tree out of the house did a damn fine job of it, and all the neighbors came to watch. I was more saddened by the loss of the tree than the hole in my house, because the hole is gone now and the roof is whole again. The Oak is gone also, but there is nothing to replace it in my lifetime, and I can only hope the young Oaks I have let live in the yard will one day get that size.
Water Oaks are not a long lived species, and the one with the hollow was lying on the ground when I got home Thursday. It lay rotted and shattered on the ground and as many times as I have seen it, this still shocks me, and saddens me, when a tree falls. This was a tree a mere thirty feet tall, but it likely had stood much longer than I have lived, and certainly longer than I have lived in this house. The hollow didn’t go as far up into the tree as I suspected, and it’s strange to see the hollow dissected like this. The skinks are still in the shattered truck, and they watch me and the mutts now with renewed curiosity. Their home is not as secure as it was just yesterday.
Life is pure luck and nothing more sometimes. Had the tree fell on Sam or Lucas, or both, a death would have occurred, and it would have killed me had I been hit.  I once had a small tree fall right where I had been working, and that would have been painful at the least. Yet no one was hurt or killed, and as I have said, it is luck and no more. I’ve never lost a dog to something like that and I hope I do not, but nature is fickle and unfair, betimes. I worry about leaving the dogs alone while I am at work but have for over a decade now. Tree and limbs fall, gravity operates blindly, and the dogs seem to be able to get out of the way.  The tree that hit the house must have scared the hell out of them but it could have been a hell of a lot worse.
I once worked loading Avon boxes onto vans and it was a physically demanding job. The semi trucks would come in at night, we would unload them, load the vans, and then fall to the floor and sleep there, curled up like dogs on pieces of cardboard. On the bulletin board was a newspaper clipping where one of the vans had been crushed by the falling limb of a massive Oak. The limb was eight feet in circumference. The man driving the van had been killed and it was one of those wrong place wrong times moments for the driver.  Life is pure luck and nothing more sometimes.
The Water Oak was noticeable because it had a hollow in it. Over one hundred years of growth fell over in the wind and it was just pure luck a dog wasn’t hit, or something I owned wasn’t crushed. The corpse of the tree lies in a straight line because it didn’t crash into anything on the way down, but over fifty feet to the east stands a piece of the hollow, sticking up as if mocking gravity, flung there by some unseen binding, or bounced there after the impact. Lucas picks the piece of the hollow up and chews on it a bit, then lets it fall again. Pure luck kept the two, dog and dead tree, apart, and then pure luck brought them together. I can’t help but wonder how much that blind and random force in the Universe plays in everyone’s lives, and how many people will read this, and smile.

Take Care,

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Tango Scene

Frida Kahlo “The broken column”

Chess Boxing. Yes, it is real.

A Walk In The Wind

Rarely do animals move around when the wind blows hard, and the reasons for this are legion. It’s warmer if an animal is still in the wind, if that animal can get out of the wind, and stay low. Trees and limbs fall in the wind, and one place of comfort may also be safer than moving around in the woods waiting for something to drop or fall. Scent is carried away in the wind. Most animals are scent based creatures and the strong wind is like blackness or a light too strong.  Hearing is muted for what sound is there but the wind and the falling of limbs? No, it is best to stay put. Most do. There is a truce in the wind for it gives a disadvantage to all. Nothing on wing can fly anyway. The skies are left to the clouds and the wind, the wind, and the wind.

I shouldn’t be out in the wind and I know this.  I saw a rattlesnake at Elbow’s place earlier in the day. A strong three foot section of a dangerous animal when provoked, this one glided into the woods where there was bad light and vines and fallen trees.  I had to reload batteries into the camera and when I tracked it into the thick it rattled at me. It’s an unmistakable buzzing sound that strikes real fear into the hearts of most humans.  The tail of the rattlesnake is a marvel in engineering. The buzz is a noise that scatters and falls upon the ground, ricocheting off everything on the ground, and the tail flails the sound everywhere at once. The sound comes from all directions, no direction, even as I know almost where the snake has to be, I must reasonably assume she is not alone, and perhaps there might be another nearby. The sound is a warning, camouflage, a smoke screen, and a psychological attack. In this perfect thick of vines and low light and fallen logs and rattlesnake sound I dare not advance.  I scan the area with my modern and digitally advanced zoom lens but the snake has chosen perfectly a place to hide. The diamond shaped pattern mimics shadow and the snake though making noise is invisible. I retreat but the encounter stays with me. At three in the morning I get out of bed and in the wind, I walk the woods.

There is no moon, no stars, and nothing that would lend itself to sight. There is only the wind and the sound she makes through the trees, not unlike the song of the snake. I move slowly, far too slowly for comfort, but this is the woods, and mistakes are paid for in blood. The dogs stay close, and Lucas leads with his innocent brawn. There is enough light from above for me to see the crowns of the trees, and where there is space there is a path underneath, mostly, but this is an experiment with knowing rather than feeling. It has turned much cooler. There will be no buzz of the rattlesnake and if there was, I am certain Sam will kill her. Most humans tend to think of an encounter between a rattlesnake and a dog as one sided and it most definitely is, but in favor or the dog in most cases. Dogs are faster, they are more mobile, and they have more energy and lasting power. Snakes rely on their sense of smell and their infrared targeting. A dog darting back and forth creates a cloud of information much like the wind creates for those who rely on their hearing. Sam is deadly to small prey and snakes are small animals, even when they are armed. I have a seasoned veteran at my side and the bold youngster holding point.  Only the wind may harm me.

To human speech and to many other forms of human sound, I am growing steadily more deaf. I have learned to watch the lips of human beings to discern their language but my hearing fails me as I grow older. Yet here in the dark, in the woods, there is a sound of song I have heard all my life, but few others have shared with me. The wind sings through the limbs and boughs, coaxing the older and weaker limbs to tempt flight, yet the Siren’s call leads them but down, to crash on the detritus of a thousand generation of trees on the forest floor. The tiny leaves share the same fate as the mightiest Oak, who will one day, despite the wisdom of age, heed that cry, and fall. In the woods I can hear that song, and as I move slowly through the trees and the darkness, the song changes, as if I was moving from seat to seat in a concert hall for a symphony.  Here near the giant Oak the wind is less, broken by the mass of the titan, yet the leaves rustle like the applause of some crowd enjoying the conflict. To the South it is more open, fewer large trees grow here, and I can feel the wind pushing me forward, and I can feel small leaves showering me like confetti. To the east there is the pond, and the wind rushes into it as if to fill it with the sky instead of a liquid, and I can hear the pond grasses song. They are not as strong as the trees, not nearly used to such music, but they too must cry aloud when stirred by the wind. The frogs are muted, the voice of the owl silence this night, so all must make their own voice, to make up for the loss.

Back in the house the two dogs make their comfort on the bed as I stare out into the might. They are glad the walk is over, and already their breath grows deeper. An hour, maybe more, this journey lasted when in haste it could have taken less than a quarter than long. Yet there was music to be heard, voices in the dark I needed to listen to this night. Let the day begin without me for I have walked with the night and I have the memory of the song to sail today.

Take Care,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dog to Dog, Life to Life, End to Beginning.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do it, that I wouldn’t write about Bert’s death anymore. A friend of mine had a dog that died and he wrote about it every other day and even though I felt his pain, or I thought I did, I also thought mourning publically for so long created a lingering effect. There is something about writing something that makes anything  more real, more permanent, and I understand the more I relive any part of my past, distant or recent, the fresher the pain will feel, and eventually it will become something it was never meant to be. We cannot become slaves to the past or to the pain, and we were never meant to live in the past or the pain. Yet two dogs link my present and my past together with death and with pain, and I cannot seem to shake it. The death of one occurred during the very darkest times of my life.
In 1971 divorce in small town South Georgia was unheard of.  I didn’t know anyone whose parents were divorced. Step children were the end result of a death of a spouse, not the function of a lawyer. There were some people who had been married before they had kids, and even that was treated as some sort of dark secret. But our parents, the mother and father to my two sisters and myself, did not have a happy marriage. They argued behind closed doors and told us everything was perfectly fine. This was at the point in South Georgia history of Adult Infallibility, where everything was true if an adult told you it was. Santa Claus existed because they said so. God existed because they said do. Everything we believed was because they said so. Things were because they said so. There was an aura of divine power behind the voice of an adult, and even more so behind that of a parent. We were told everything was okay. But then again, we remembered them telling us our grandfather would be better, that he was in the hospital to get better, but he had died there instead. Death is one of the Great Truths. Death cannot be lied about or denied but for only so long. Dying can be dressed in a fine suit but Death is naked. Death leaves a grave in the soul that never gets filled. Our parents lied to us. They told us all was well: All was well. All was well. All was well. Then Death. This “everything is okay” felt to me very much the same species of lie but we were not allowed to question the wisdom or the truth of adults.
Just like my grandfather going to the hospital to get better, one day my mother packed her things to go. She was “going on vacation” and we three kids were all happy and excited about our mother going somewhere on vacation because that seemed fun. The stress level in that house was so thick we could have cut it into chunks and sold it for igloo siding, but remember… we had always been told that our parents never lied to us. Things happened very fast and suddenly we were moving across town, and we were told that our mother would move back in with us when we were settled into our new house which was a larger but much older house.
I knew Spike was going to be killed when I saw the house. There was a busy highway near the front yard and Spike had never been near a busy road. His life was of the tilled fields of our semi rural neighborhood not of an old established part of town with small side streets everywhere. My father build a pen for Spike but I knew it wouldn’t hold him. I knew if he ran free he would eventually get hit by a car, but I didn’t have a say in the matter. Spike refused to be caged, and eventually my father gave up trying to keep him in. In the meantime, my mother had not returned, and one day my father announced that my grandmother, his mother, would be coming to live with us. Already in her seventies, she was in no real shape to help raise three children, but there was no other answer. My father still maintained the lie of the return of my mother and she supported it. A month went by, and then another. Slowly but surely word was getting out that my mother wasn’t living with us, and the longer time went on the worse things seem to get.

At that time, my sisters and I had an unspoken agreement not to say the word. Others might bring it up, but there in the new house with our grandmother there and us still trying to get used to the creaks and crackings of the house, we never spoke the word aloud. The house was, and still is, a cold house to me. It was older than our old house and it was drafty. My father embarked upon a series of nighttime drives with one of us kids in the car with him each night. He would drive around Blakely Georgia asking questions, giving lectures on adulthood, and all the while we would be just driving around the little town of Blakely aimlessly. For hours and hours he would just drive and talk and it seemed like there was no end to either. My father was the master of asking a question and if he didn’t get the answer he wanted he would rephrase it, or he would couch the question within some other context like, “Your mother wouldn’t be happy if she moved in with us and you want your mother to be happy don’t you?” Of course, no kid is going to sit there and tell his father on a torturous ride any such thing and the night was filled with such questions. By the end of the ride he had gotten all the answers he wanted to all the questions he asked. No amount of pleading or begging would reduce the ride by one minute or one mile. If he thought I was getting antsy about going back to that house he would head in that direction only to ride by slowly.
            He asked me about the divorce one night as the ride was about to begin. I demanded that he tell me what he wanted to talk to be about before the ride and he refused, of course, and became angry that I had demanded anything at all. One of the high points of the ride was the tour of the poorer sections of town where he would slowly down nearly to a stop in front of some run down shack. “You think the little boys and little girls in that house wouldn’t trade places with you?” he would say, “you think they wouldn’t like to live in the house I just bought for you?” “You think they wouldn’t like to ride around in a car? There isn’t a car in that driveway and here you are complaining about having to ride around.” And there was always the offer to trade with those people, to let me live in their place, and them in mine, and I never said what I wanted to say, that they might be happier than I was, that they might be move loved than I, and they might actually have a family. But I knew my role and I knew the answers. I had been well trained to say either “yes sir” or “no sir” and I knew when he asked a question what the answer was supposed to be. But that night, before we left, when I demanded he tell me what he wanted to talk about before we left, he came right out and asked me, “What do you think of your mother and I getting a divorce?” In an odd moment of truth, I blurted out, “You two won’t ever be happy together so it doesn’t matter” and it didn’t. Later I found out he and my older sister had already talked about it. He took my younger sister on the ride instead of me that night and I have never been so happy to see a car pull out of sight in my life.
When I was a little kid my father’s return from work was a joyous occasion. I counted the minutes until he got home. I fretted when he was late. He was happy to see me as well, and I remember when he was the one person on earth I wanted to see and be with. We went hunting and fishing and we played in the yard with the dogs and we walked in the woods. But my grades in school changed all that. They were not good enough for his son, and so I was no longer his son. Bu the time we moved into the new house I had already lost him. There was never a time in that house I was happy to hear him pull up and there was never a time I was not happy when he left. He adopted my younger sister as his new sidekick and from that point on the pictures of he and I ceased to exist, and the photos of my sister increased.
Spike learned to dodge traffic for three years, but it caught up with him in 1975. I was outside and Spike ran up to me crying, blood pouring from his nose and mouth. I tried to comfort him, tried to think of what to do but Spike died with me holding him, his blood slowing then stopping. My grandmother had called the vet but it was far too late. Like Bert, I put Spike in a wheelbarrow, and carried him away. I dug a hole in the cold earth and put my brother, my best friend, my companion, in a grave. I was just fourteen and I cried like a child for the last time. I promised myself I would never cry again, that I would not give my father an excuse to criticize me for not being a man, for not being strong, for not being good enough, ever again. But for the moment, I let my emotions run while, and I cried like a child with a broken heart.
I am not a person who visits graves, or believes in monuments, and I would not go back to Bert’s grave except to assure it remains undisturbed. I never went back to Spike’s grave. I do not know what it means that Bert’s death allowed me to cry again. But in this time of my life is a time of loss, and Bert dying as I held him reminded me of Spike’s head in my lap as his life seeped away on me. Spike’s death sealed my life in darkness. Bert’s death, however, just might mean something else. I know now the honesty of Death, of the lightness of shedding Life. Bert lived a good life, and he was loved, and loved fiercely. The path my life takes is now in my hands, as his life was and Bert trusted me. I should too. I cannot help but feeling Bert left not only because it was his time to end, but it was also time for something else to begin.

Take Care,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

And In Silence and in Darkness

“How do you know, Mike?” It was a question of how I knew something, not someone, and I wasn’t sure at all what she was asking, but it was one of those moments between friends. I wasn’t supposed to ask what she meant. If I asked what she meant the conversation would be over at that point, more or less, and I would miss the meaning, perhaps forever.  She sat at the edge of the bed, nude, staring out into the darkness, and she waited for me to understand. I sat up and followed her gaze into the inky night and I wondered what she meant. This was the first time she had sat on that side of the bed, facing that direction, and I knew it wasn’t an accident.
“Are you okay?” No one who asks this question believes you are in some way and I can’t believe how many times in the last two weeks that question has been asked. But that isn’t the question, really. That question is a statement that says, “I know you well enough to know things are not okay but I want to ask you so if you feel like talking you can say “no, I am not” but if you don’t feel like talking you can say ‘yes’ and I’ll understand” But I wasn’t quite sure who she was speaking to either. Her voice is very soft and very female in the dark. A woman’s voice is different when you can’t see her in of the dark of the night, and a man could forget more than a few things if that voice speaks to him. It’s easier for a man to think sometimes when he hears that voice, at least about the things that are important, but it can make him forget about those things that aren’t. Women are like that, like day and night sometimes, they get wound up over small things in the daylight but then at night they have a clarity about them. The day has ended and night never does, really, but each night is very much like another minute of the same hour. Days can be different in their own way but the night is only silvered by the moon, and often not much then.

There isn’t a moon and only a tiny piece of light shines down from the neighbor’s place.  I can’t see her, really, only the outline of more darkness in the darkness. I feel the weight of her body on the bed, and the dogs sleep through it. There is an owl out there somewhere, speaking to us, talking to the woods, telling the small ones that Death is still here, still waiting for everyone, and I can feel her lean forward on the bed, as if she can see into the nothingness.  Sam stirs at the sound of the owl, stops sleeping and I can hear his breathing change. Sam is more connected to her than Lucas is and she knows it. She leans back, inviting Sam silently, but he rests his head down and she and I both listen for the sound of sleep from him. A minute passes silently and Sam’s breath is deep again. The owl is far away. The night is total. The air is cool. Sam’s world is the sum total of the moment and he sleeps.

She waits for me to speak, and I wait for the words to come. I know what she is asking but I can’t put it into words yet. I cannot tell you where my feet are in the dark but I can still walk. I can navigate my world without light. I can sense what she is asking but I lack the skill of human speech to put words together to say what I feel. I know her well enough by now not to try to vamp my way through this. I pull a pillow over behind me and wait for words to come, or not to come. The silence is very much like the dark. There is so very little light yet I can sense so very much around me without my eyes. There is so much I want to say but my voice is midnight with no moon. There are only tiny stars to navigate by so I must move slowly…or not at all. The iron headboard of the bed isn’t comfortable even with the pillow but the coolness of the metal sinks past my skin and into my body. It makes me feel more alive and I wonder how it would feel were it cold as well as dark. Lucas stirs but he’s deep into sleep now, and I could slip away from the room before he knew I was gone. Sam dreams, his feet tapping the wall as if gravity had deserted us in the dark, and he was a wall walker. She waits for me to speak and I close my eyes in the darkness and breathe.

She’s getting ready to leave, and I know it, but it hasn’t anything to do with me speaking or not speaking. There is some inner calling she answers when she leaves me, and I don’t have to words to ask her where she goes or why she goes. I think to ask these questions sometimes but I know better. I know there are questions she will not answer, and maybe she can’t.  The owl is still there, still waiting for the small ones to move, perhaps in fright, perhaps in over thinking about what to do about the owl, but the owl just waits for the small ones to move in the dark, nothing but pure silence will mean life.

“I don’t know” I speak and somehow the words seem overloud as if I had spoken them in a library, the kind with just books not computers. The words do not seem harsh or impolite, but they do sound loud. It’s the answer to both questions and when I open my eyes it is dawn with faint light flooding into the room. She is gone again.

Take Care,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jonathan Frid, original 'Dark Shadows' star, dies at 87

Image Credit: Getty Images
UPDATED: Johnny Depp comments below …
Just a few weeks before his most famous character was to be reborn, the original Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows has died.
Jonathan Frid, the Canadian actor who brought the suave bloodsucker to life on the 1966-71 gothic soap opera, passed away from natural causes on April 13 in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, according to MPI Home Video, which releases the Dark Shadows DVDs.
Dark Shadows inspired a generation of boys — Tim Burton and Johnny Depp among them — to become obsessed with a show originally aimed at their mothers. On May 11, Burton and Depp will debut their passion project: a big-screen version of the tale, with Depp taking on the role Frid originated.

The Dream Of The Escher Convenience Store

The dream began with someone from work wanting me to help move some insulation from the attic of a building. It was a perfectly cubic building, made of cinder blocks and it was painted white, but faded. The tin roof was slightly rusted and we were debating on whether or not to try to remove the insulation by taking the roof off or if it would be easier to handle it down the stairs. It was very hot and I didn’t want to handle it at all, but I felt obligated to do it. The building was new to me, I had never been there, but it seemed as if I was supposed to know it.
I woke up to the sound of rain. I at first thought it was a broken pipe and that dismayed me but I soon realized it was rain, and let the sound ease me back into sleep. Lucas got up, snuffled my face, and then turned a circle or two before plopping down. Sam joined us and I was surrounded by dogs as I faded back into the dream world. I could feel the two beside me as I slipped into another reality.

I was in a convenience store in a mall, but the store was one I remember working in back in the mid-eighties. The store is still there but I haven’t been in it in ages, yet there I was in the store, but I was away from the counter and I looked at the clock. I had another twenty minutes before I was supposed to start my shift and suddenly my paternal grandmother was there. She worked there too and she asked me about the price of some product and I had no idea what it was. She and I looked for prices and couldn’t find any on any of the products in the store.
A man came in with a stack of yellow coupons for a carton of cigarettes. They were about three inches by four inches in their dimension, and they were very sticky. They stuck to my fingers as I looked at them and I asked the man how long he had been saving them and he told me since the day before. They were for Carlton cigarettes, which is odd because I do not know of anyone who smokes that brand. The man told me he always got his cigarettes with these coupons and he smoked a carton a day. A pack a day, I corrected him, but no, he said a carton a day, which is ten packs. But I couldn’t find any sort of price for the cigarettes. I wasn’t truly upset about the fact I couldn’t find the prices, but I was more than a little concerned about working in the convenience store. I couldn’t figure out how I got there, and my grandmother was then gone, and I remembered her dying, and thought it odd she was working there.
Customers kept coming in to buy things but I couldn’t sell anything because I didn’t know the prices. It was an odd feeling telling people that but I wasn’t worried or upset. The customers didn’t seem to care either. Oh, no coffee because you don’t know the price, okay then.  It was odd because one moment I would be behind the counter and the next I would be in a back store room looking around. There seemed to be some sort of  M.C. Escher type environment where I would walk out of the storeroom and into the storeroom or over to the counter and away from the counter. A very young and very pretty black woman came up to me wearing the same store uniform as I was wearing and she apologized for being late and asked me not to tell anyone. She was not just black as in African American, but black as in black as night. Her skin was that rich black color found in a freshly roasted coffee beans and it made the gold in her earrings stand out. I asked her about her earrings and she had three or four ear piercings and we talked about those while customers were coming in, and the black woman didn’t know the prices either.  She asked me to go outside to see if I could find the manager, but when I went outside the world had changed.
The store wasn’t in the mall anymore, but on the corner of Patterson Street and Force Street in Valdosta where it has always been. There were many people walking around, all of them seemingly headed in different directions but they also seemed as if they were going somewhere in particular. The people were friendly to me, and spoke to me as they passed, and I feel a great deal of kinship with them. A pick-up truck passed going east on Force Street and the men in the back of the truck, there was a half dozen at least, yelled to me, “Hey Mike! Mike! Hey Mike!” and they waved to me. I walked a very short distance to the east, to watch the truck go out of sight, and a man stopped and shook hands with me, and told me it was nice to see me again.

Then a man attacked me. He came at me out of nowhere and he tried to cut my throat with a knife. This didn’t scare me at all. I felt no fear of him, and I pushed him away. The man went flying through the air, and when he landed he dropped the knife which I saw to be one of those tiny knives a person might get out of a gumball machine. It had a silver metal blade but a blue plastic handle. The whole thing wasn’t over two inches long. But the man charged me again, and this time I caught him, and took the knife away from him. He yelled at me for flirting with the black woman, and I had the feeling they were not involved, but he wanted her. He struggled against me but I started to see if I could cut him with the knife but I woke up to the alarm clock’s tone.

Take Care,