I passed through Brownsville, Texas on a Greyhound bus in the early eighties and wound up in Houston a few hours later; staying at a downtown hotel that seemed to be populated with the poorest of poor, drug addicts, hookers and pimps and me and my buddy who had traveled from New York for the promise of work.
It was crazy there. If you left that room and walked the halls to get out of the hotel you had to avoid eye contact because every eye contact held a question about whether you might buy. You also had better take everything with you because it might not be there when you got back. I found that out as we were entering our room and a scuffle was going on in the hall over a room break in.
I hit the streets and began looking for the place I had come to work. I found it, but the jobs were already filled and so I hit the street again looking everywhere for work.
I walked for hours and hours and never left the presence of downtown, tall buildings, concrete and asphalt. It was a hard place and a hard place to be: But what I was reminded of today as I saw images of Houston flooded completely was that there are hard places in every major city. I have been to Manhattan and found them there. Rochester New York, Mobile Alabama, Washington D.C.. Unfortunately hard places are a side effect of the way this world runs.
What struck me today was the walking I had done. I was there for several days before I found work and I walked the heels off my boots, but I never ran out of city. That has only ever happened to me in Manhattan. Seeing the flooding, seeing the destruction it was impossible to believe knowing I had walked many of those areas. Just impossible…
My sister, my baby brother and I were partially raised on Galveston Island. My youngest sister was born there. And as I noted above I have tried to go back there more than once in my life because it has felt like home. My prayers are with Texas…
mentioned Fred the cat the last time I wrote. Here is the story of
Fred the Cat.
rehabbed the entire house my mother, aunt and uncle live in about
twelve years ago, but over the years things have slid. Three people
in their seventies can not keep up the maintenance that needs to be
performed on a house as it ages.
here I am trying to fix up the house again after years of being away.
One of the thing s that had happened was that raccoons had found
their way into an old chimney, broken through that into a utility
area, found their way into a dropped ceiling in my Mothers living
room, and dropped down into her lap (Practically) while she was
watching T.V. With her Cats, and all Hell broke loose. Well, maybe
not all of Hell actually broke loose but I would say a good deal of
Cats were upset, or as we say here in the north country, Pissed off.
The raccoons believed, like Christopher Columbus maybe, that they had
discovered this new place, therefor it was theirs. They did not try
to make peace, however, with the natives like good old Chris did with
my people (Before he stuck it to us, that is…. Just want to keep
the record straight). No. The raccoons believed that both the Cats
and my Mother should move.
raccoons do not always have good access to legal representation, and
these were no exception. So as a result my Brother-In-Law Harry came
and sent them on their way and closed up the area they had been
coming in through. No problem. My Mother lived happily ever after.
The Cats basked in the Sunshine, and I came home to a secure well
maintained home. No.
are curious about everything. They are probably even curious about
other animals or people, besides themselves, but they would probably
never admit that though. So, instead of leaving well enough alone,
the Cats decided to find out why the raccoons had gotten in, and how,
and if a Cat could do it to, and then of course one cat probably
dared the other, and so while one held the flashlight the other pried
off the fix and got into the chimney. Oh what wonder! What absolute
Joy! A way to get in and out of the house without having to use the
door (Cats love things like this). And so the cats had their way in
and out. Up the roof, into the old chimney, down the chimney, out the
broken block that used to vent the furnace, drop right down on the
furnace and then spring out of the utility room as soon as the door
opened. My mother, who loves Cats, decided in her wisdom that since
the cats had worked this out she should help them along by leaving
the utility room door open. Oh those were happy cats (I assume).
I came along and the first thing I did was shut up the hole. That was
how I met Fred. Fred was the only cat still able to find a way in and
out, and Fred did not believe I had a say in it, and, well, as it
turned out Fred was right. I blocked every hole I could find and Fred
found some new way in. Finally, one late afternoon, I came into the
Kitchen after working all day on closing the roof line up and any
other spot I could find, and announced to Mom that the house was a
cat free zone now. The utility door bumped open and Fred sauntered by
me to the food bowl Mom had put down for him. She had more faith in
the cat than me, well placed too.
is how I met Fred. I just declared a truce.I
this rough and tumble cat beat me fair and square, he can stay.
seemed like a Male cat. He acted like a male cat. He chased the
female cats around, corralled them (Cats do that, perfectly fine
behaviors for them. I would not recommend you try that at home) So, I
assumed Fred was a male cat.
is not a boy cat at all. Not only is Fred not a boy cat. Yes, this
means I had to give him a quick exam, have you ever had a cat jump up
on your lap and turn around and stick their butt in your face? Sure
you have. Cat’s do that all the time. They think you Want to
see their butt. Okay, it was at one of these times that I noticed
Fred was not Anatomically equipped to be a boy cat. Right Fred was
missing a few things and had a few things he shouldn’t have had.
Ma!” I yelled. “Fred’s not a boy cat!”
a quick thinker,” Mom said. “I told you he might not be.”
not be,” I said defensively.
I guess I can change that to definitely isn’t,” Mom said
and went back to watching General Hospital.
could I say. Fred cocked her head back to me as if to ask if I got a
good enough look. Cat’s are such smart asses, then jumped down and
of story, except, Fred is looking distinctly fat… Fatter. Mom and I
have come to a consensus, Fred the cat is probably pregnant. I said,
“Well I thought Fred was just hanging out with those male cats
’cause they were his buddies!”
they were her buddies alright,” Mom said wisely.
have a little kitten who likes to climb my leg while I’m typing. The
she looks at me like, Oh … Were you typing? It’s me! The kitty!
Let’s play! I’m cute! I’m also persistent. I’ll keep stepping on your
keyboard and attacking you thumbs (Which hang off the edge of the key
board as I type) Until you pay attention to me! Gotta go before she
actually manages to chew a hole through my thumb… Dell…
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents
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Additional Copyrights 2009 – 2018 Wendell Sweet all rights
Six months before:
Tommy Murphy and Jefferson Prescott
Jefferson Prescott stood quietly and sipped at his coffee.
The house in Esmeraldas was his private escape. He could sit and watch the
ocean or travel into the mountains in just a few hours time and Ecuador was
such an easy country to live in: The people so happy with so little.
He owned a building in Manhattan, he owned a house in the
hills outside of L.A., but this was his favorite place. This was where he did
his real business, entertained and spent time with the women in his life,
besides his wife and daughters back in Manhattan. This was the place where he
bought his associates. Those that another man might call friends: In
Jefferson’s world there was no place for friends. The luxury the concept didn’t exist.
Tommy Murphy stood at the rail a few feet away and smoked a
cigar, looking out over the ocean. He was probably the closest person he had to
a friend. The two of them had a lucrative relationship. Jefferson’s drugs and
drug connections, Tommy’s organized crime connections. Between the two of them,
they controlled almost everything that moved on the East Coast. They had
tentacles that stretched all the way to the west coast and inroads into the
south that we’re starting to look like highways.
They both dealt in millions daily. Privately, they were
probably two of the richest men in the world, but they were on no one’s list of
who’s who, except a few specialized task forces within the world’s governments:
Even they couldn’t touch them. They owned too many of their officials, too many
of their agents were on their payrolls. They didn’t fight the task forces or
special government branches the way the old syndicates had, they simply bought
them. Every man really did have his price. And if that was too high you simply
bought the man beside him or above him, it was just as effective.
With all the deals they had made and the millions they had
amassed, nothing came close to what they had on the burner right now. Tommy had
fallen into a deal on a tip, a way to collect on a sizable gambling debt and
the two of them had decided to take the risk.
Tommy sipped at his drink and then raised his eyes to
Prescott. “Concerned?” Tommy asked.
“Unconcerned… It’s only money,” Jefferson assured him.
“Good,” Tommy said quietly. He reached into his pocket and
retrieved a slim silver cylinder. A small red button, with a protective cap in
the same cheap looking, red plastic covered the button.
Jefferson pulled a deep breath, audible in the sudden
silence. From somewhere deep in the jungle of a forest that surrounded them a
big cat screamed.
“Looks like nothing,” Jefferson said.
“I told the kid it reminded me of these little refill
cylinders I used to have for my BB gun when I was a kid,” Tommy said.
“Jefferson laughed. “I can’t imagine that you played with
anything that didn’t have a silencer and at least a ten round clip.”
Tommy laughed and then fell silent. “This is it, Jeff.
Strip off the protective cap, push the button… The kid said it doesn’t matter
after that… How close, how far, it will protect us.”
Jefferson corrected. “There is a difference.”
“Infect us,” Tommy agreed. “I figure, why not… We paid
the big bucks for the rest of it, but this will start us down that path… Why
not do it.”
“Why not,” Prescott agreed. “A sample? Just enough for
Tommy shrugged. “He didn’t say… I depended upon the
reports he smuggled out more than the first hand knowledge he has. He knows
what he has seen, but he has not witnessed anyone come back… The reports
detail exactly that.”
Jefferson laughed and shook his head. “Immortality.”
“Immortality,” Tommy agreed. He paused, stripped the small
red cover from the slim, silver tube and pressed the button before he could
change his mind. Nothing: He turned the silver tube back and forth.
“Maybe there should be no sound,” Jefferson said. He had
braced for what he expected: A small cloud of vapor, a hiss, something to
impart that magic the tube was supposed to contain.
Tommy raised the tube to his nose, but there was no
detectable odor. “But did it do its job,” Tommy said so low it might almost
have been to himself if he had not raised his eyes and asked of Prescott.
“The million dollar question,” Prescott said quietly.
“Multi–million dollar question,” Tommy
corrected. He stared at the container a few seconds longer and then slipped it
into his pocket. “In for a penny,” he said.
“In for a pound,” Prescott agreed.
“You know Ben Neo?” Tommy asked after a few
moments of silence, changing the subject to private business.
“Your best,” Jefferson said.
Tommy nodded and turned back to the rail. “When you
find out who it is, tell me. I’ll have him take care of it for you. He’s good.
Discreet. Fast.” He turned and looked at Jefferson. “Yeah?” he
Jefferson nodded. “Yeah, I appreciate it. I’ve got
Carlos on it. I’ll know soon. When I know, you will know. From my lips to
yours,” he said.
Tommy nodded. He sipped at his drink again.
“I have that young woman you like so much coming over
in just a little while,” Jefferson said.
Tommy turned away from the rail and smiled. “I could
use the diversion,” he said.
Jefferson shrugged. “It’s what we do for each other,”
he said as he got to his feet. “Enjoy yourself, Tommy. I am about to head
back… Take care of a few things. I will see you at your place up in the
Catskills next week?” he asked.
“Absolutely, Jeff, absolutely,” Tommy said. The
two men embraced and Jefferson left the warm night air of the deck and followed
his driver who was waiting to take him to the helicopter pad. Tommy watched him
go and then turned back to the rail, watching the waves out in the sea, rolling
under the moonlight.
“Sir?” a voice said from the doorway.
Tommy turned from the rail to look at Andrea Ivanna Zurita,
the beautiful young woman who stood in the doorway smiling.
The Lita Situation
“Lita… Lita, stop, Lita: What are you doing?”
“I want you… I want you… I know what I’m
doing,” Lita said. Her lips fell on his, her body pressed up against
his own. He had been okay until he felt the softness of her breasts pressing
against him: The firmness of her thighs as they moved against his own thigh.
Whatever he had held back: Whatever resolve he had, had, he lost. He felt it
fall away as he pulled her to him: Tasting her; feeling her hands on his body.
tried again, but without much resolve. He breathed it against her cheek as she
kissed his neck, ran her hands over his chest, squatted and came level with his
belt line. Her fingernails pressed against the fabric of his shirt, ticking
downward and she ran her hands across to stomach and found the catch to his
pants and then worked the zipper down.
“Lita… Think, Lita,”
She took him in her mouth and everything flew away.
Everything he had fought to say. Everything he had been afraid of. All of it
gone. There was only the warm night, the girl and the darkness.
She stood and lifted her dress, she was bare beneath: He
picked her up and her thighs parted, coming around his hips and locking
together as he slid into her. Her lips fell on his neck once more; his hands
pulled her closer, drove deeper into her. He stumbled forward until the wall
was at her back. She thrust her hips harder and the last vestige of doubt, the
last small piece of resolve, melted away: She came alive under his hands.
Two Days Later
Watertown, New York
Carlos and Gabe
The man moved more fully into the shadows. “You Gabe?” he
asked in a near whisper.
The darker shadow nodded. “You…?” He started.
“Now who in fuck else would I be?” He asked.
The darker shadow said nothing. The other man passed him a
small paper bag. “Count it,” he told him.
Gabe Kohlson moved out of the shadow, more fully into the
light. “It’s a lot; I can’t stand here, out
here counting it.”
The man laughed. “You asked for this place. It’s the middle
of nowhere. I Googled it, it comes up
marked as the middle of nowhere. Who in fuck will see you?” He laughed and then
choked it off with a harsh cough. “Count it. No mistakes… You got the shit?”
Kohlson’s head popped up fast from counting. “Of course I
don’t… That wasn’t the deal.”
“Easy… Easy… Keep your panties on… I’m saying you got the shit... You got access
to the shit?”
“That I got… I can get it out this Thursday at shift
end…” He held up the paper bag. “A lot of this goes to greasing the skids…
You know, to get it out,” Gabe told him. “This stuff.”
“Whoa right there,” the man told him. “Don’t say shit about
it. I don’t know what it is and I don’t want to know, see? I do a job. Take
this thing there, that thing here. That’s all I know. Keeps my head on my
shoulders when all about are losing theirs.”
“Uh… Lost me,” Gabe Kohlson told him.
“Just shut up about the shit, man. I don’t want to know
anything past what I know, okay?”
“Okay,” Kohlson agreed.
“I do know you got to get it out and I will be here to get
it… Hey,” he waited until the kid looked up. “You know who I work for, right?
You fuck this up you’ll wind up out at the county landfill… Gulls pecking out
your fucking eyes let me tell you. I will meet you here next Thursday night…
Seven… Don’t be late… Don’t fuck this up… Don’t make me come looking for
you…” He faded back into the shadows more fully, turned and walked down the
shadowed front of the building. A few minutes later he found his car in the
darkness: He waited.
He heard the kid’s shit-box beater when it started. A few
moments later he watched as it swept past him, heading out of the small park
area toward the river road. He levered the handle on his own car, slipped
inside, started it and drove slowly away.
Happy Friday evening. I thought I would share a short story with you from one of the True Collections. The Short Story Is in the story collect Mister Bob along with sixteen other stories, both fiction and non-fiction.
This is a true story. It happened the way I wrote it one night back in the early nineteen eighties when I was driving cab. Both true editions are like that, and there are dozens of other true stories I will publish possibly this coming winter. I hope this story speaks to you as it did to me later in life when I wrote it out and was able to look at it with a different set of eyes. I could not see my own arrogance and blindness back then. But none of us do very often when we are in the circumstance.
Copyright Wendell Sweet 2013 all rights reserved
PUBLISHED BY: independAntwriters
This free preview is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you wish to share this work, please point those you wish to share with to this blog address. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
It was early in my shift. I owned my own taxi so I could pretty much pick which 12 hour shift I wanted to drive. I drove nights so that I could be home with my son during the day while my wife worked. I’d told myself for most of the last year that I should stop driving taxi, settle down to a real job and be more responsible. And then a Conrail contract came along and then the opportunity to work with another driver who handled the Airport contract, and suddenly I was making more money than I could have reasonably expected from what I would have considered a straight job.
The hours were long, but there was something that attracted me to the night work: Always had been. Like my internal clock was Set to PM. It just seemed to work, and after a few failed attempts to work day shift work, I gave it up and went to work full time nights.
I was never bored. The nights kept me awake and interested. They supplied their own entertainment. Conrail crews, regulars that called only for me, the assorted funny drunks late at night when the bars were closing. Soldiers on their way back to the nearby base, and a dancer at a small club just off downtown that had been calling for me personally for the last few weeks. Using my cab as a dressing room on the way back to her hotel. It was always something different.
Days, the few times I’d driven days, couldn’t compare. Sure, there was violence at night too but it rarely came my way and never turned into a big deal when it did.
It was Friday night, one of my big money nights, about 7:00 P.M. and my favorite dispatcher; Smitty had just come on. He sent me on a call out State Street that would terminate downtown. Once I was downtown I could easily pick up a GI heading back to the base for a nice fat fare and usually a pretty good tip. My mind was on that. My mind was also on that dancer who would be calling sometime after two AM and who had made it clear that I was more than welcome to come up to her room. It was tempting, I’ll admit it, and each time she called she tempted me more. I figured it was just a matter of time before I went with her.
I really didn’t see the lady when she got into my car, but when it took her three times to get out the name of the bar downtown that she wanted to go to I paid attention. Drunk. It was early too. Sometimes drunks were OK, but most times they weren’t. This one kept slumping over, slurring her words, nearly dropping her cigarette. I owed the bank a pile of money on the car and didn’t need burn holes in my back seat.
I dropped the flag on the meter, pulled away from the curbing and eased into traffic. Traffic was heavy at that time and I pissed off more than a few other drivers as I forced my way into the traffic flow. I had just settled into the traffic flow when a glance into the rear view mirror told me my passenger had fallen over. I couldn’t see the cigarette but I could still smell it. I made the same drivers even angrier as I swept out of the traffic flow and angled up onto the sidewalk at the edge of the street. I got as far out of the traffic flow as I could so that I could get out to see what was up with the woman in the backseat.
I was thinking drunk at the time, but the thought that it could be something more serious crept into my head as I made the curb, bumped over it, set my four way flashers and climbed out and went around to the back door.
She was slumped over into the wheel well, the cigarette smoldering next to her pooled, black hair: In her hair, I realized as the smell of burning hair came to me. I snatched the cigarette and threw it out then shook her shoulder to try and bring her around. But it was obvious to me, just that fast, that the whole situation had changed. She wasn’t breathing.
I reached in, caught her under the arms, and then suddenly someone else was there with me.
He was a short, thin man wearing a worried look up on his face. Dark eyes sat deeply in their sockets. His hair hung limply across his forehead. He squeezed past me and looked down at the woman. He pushed her eyelids up quickly, one by one, and then held his fingers to her lips. He frowned deeply and flipped the hair away from his forehead.
“Paramedic,” he told me as he took her other arm and helped me pull her from the back seat.
We laid her out on the sloping front lawn of the insurance company I had stopped in front of and he put his head to her chest.
He lifted his head, shaking it as he did. “Call an ambulance,” he said tersely.
I could feel the shift in his demeanor. He wasn’t letting me know he could handle the situation, like when he told me he was a paramedic, he was handling it. I got on the radio and made the call.
The ambulance got there pretty fast. I stood back out of the way and let them work on her, raising my eyes to the backed up traffic on occasion. The paramedic had torn open her shirt. Her nudity seemed so out of place on the city sidewalk. Watching the traffic took the unreal quality of it way from me. I watched the ambulance pull away, eased my car down off the curb and back into the sluggish traffic and went back to work.
I got the story on her about midnight once things slowed down and I stopped into the cabstand to talk to the dispatcher for a short while. His daughter knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone at the hospital. The woman had taken an overdose. Some kind of pills. It was going to be touch and go. He also had a friend in the police department too. She did it because of a boyfriend who had cheated on her. It seemed so out of proportion to me. I went back to work but I asked him to let me know when he heard more.
The night had passed me by. The business of the evening hours catching me up for a time and taking me away from the earlier events. I was sitting downtown in my cab watching the traffic roll by me. It was a beautifully warm early morning for Northern New York. I had my window down letting the smell of the city soak into me, when I got the call to pick up my dancer with the club gig.
“And, Joe,” Smitty told me over the stat-icky radio, ” your lady friend didn’t make it.”
It was just a few blocks to the club. I left the window down enjoying the feeling of the air flowing past my face. The radio played Steely Dan’s Do It Again and I kind of half heard it as I checked out the back seat to see if the ghost from the woman earlier might suddenly pop up there.
The dancer got in and smiled at me. I smiled back but I was thinking about the other woman, the woman who was now dead, sitting in that same place a few hours before. The dancer began to change clothes as I drove to her hotel.
“You know,” she said, catching my eyes in the mirror. “I should charge you a cover. You’re seeing more than those GI’S in the club.” She shifted slightly, her breasts rising and falling in the rear view mirror. We both laughed. It was a game that was not a game. She said it to me every time. But, my laugh was hollow. Despite her beauty I was still hung up on someone being alive in my back seat just a few hours before and dead now. Probably being wheeled down to the morgue were my friend Pete worked. I made myself look away and concentrate on the driving. She finished dressing as I stopped at her hotel’s front entrance.
“You could come up… If you wanted to,” she said. She said it lightly, but her eyes held serious promise.
“I’d like to… But I better not,” I said.
She smiled but I could tell I had hurt her feelings. It was a real offer, but I couldn’t really explain how I felt. Why I couldn’t. Not just because I was married, that was already troubled, but because of something that happened earlier.
I drove slowly away after she got out of the cab and wound up back downtown for the next few hours sitting in an abandoned buildings parking lot thinking… “I was only concerned about her cigarette burning the seats.”
I smoked while I sat, dropping my own cigarettes out the window and onto the pavement. A short while later Smitty called me with a Conrail trip. I started the cab and drove out to Massey yard to pick up my crew. The dancer never called me again…
I hope you enjoyed the free story. You can get Mister Bob at this link
you that don’t know, I live in the north, close to Canada, and this
year we have seemed to get a lot more snow and cold than usual. Last
week I went out to get the truck ready for a run into town. Normally
not a big deal, but I had not started it in awhile, a big mistake,
yes, and I had not driven it in the snow. My ten minuet (My estimate)
warm up the truck and get-it-ready-to-go trip turned into a few hours
of jumping it, letting it warm up (It was like 2000 degrees below
zero) and then getting in the thing to go. Since I don’t drive at
all, except around the yard, you know, getting things ready to go,
that meant my long suffering Mother had to drive the truck into town.
And, she hates the truck.
don’t mean to imply she doesn’t like the truck, I mean to imply she
hates the truck. HATES the truck. So getting her in it to drive it is
a big deal. But, I did all I could. Jumped it, warmed it up, opened
the door so she wouldn’t have to, after I pulled it right up to the
door. The only thing I could’ve done better is park it on the porch.
slightly over four feet tall, and the truck is four wheel drive, not
huge, but is is a step up into the cab. Her last truck was a two
wheel drive and didn’t sit much further of the ground than a car.
That, that sitting-off-the-ground-further thing , is strike one
against the truck as far as Mom is concerned. She wanted to take the
tires off her old truck and put them on the new one so it would sit
lower. When I explained she couldn’t do that she began to hate the
new truck even more. Strike two. The truck was almost out before she
ever drove it. And since I steered her towards the new truck I will
probably never hear the end of it.
pulled the truck up, all warmed up, opened the door for her and
offered to help her in. Bad move. Mom does not acknowledge age or
shortness. Nevertheless age and shortness do acknowledge her. She
doesn’t give in, just ignores it. So she climbed up into the cab, on
her own, and off we went… Off we went not too far.
forgot to mention that while I was moving the truck to bring it up to
the door I decided, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to test out the Four
Wheel Drive?” … and … “Maybe we will need the Four Wheel
Drive on the way into town so I should make sure it works!” I’m
pretty sure I used an exclamation mark just like that too. I was that
enthusiastic about it. So, I turned the little knob on the dash from
Two Wheel to Four Wheel Low. Nothing seemed to change. A little light
did come on on the dash informing me that Yes, I was now in
Four Wheel Low. So I dropped the truck in first and plowed through
the two inches of loose powder on the driveway and fought my way out
into the wilds of the out back (End of the driveway). I will say
this, I never spun a wheel. That Four Wheel Low is phenomenal. So,
after my off-road adventure, I turned the little knob back to Two
off we went… In Four Wheel Low. Which meant that the transmission
was whining. The Motor racing, and we were doing all of twenty miles
an hour. Creeping down the road. So, idiot that I am, I said to Mom,
“What are you doing?”
not doing anything,” Mom says. “It’s your stupid
truck!” To illustrate this more clearly, in case I had missed
something, she goosed the gas to try to make it go faster.
other thing I forgot to mention is that I like to take a cup of
coffee with me. I have a travel cup of course but I don’t like it. If
you close the top on the travel cup the coffee is too hot when it
hits your lip. At least it is for me. So, I don’t use it. No. I like
a regular ceramic coffee cup filled right to the brim with hot, black
coffee. This time was no exception, but, thank God, since it was
about 2000 degrees below zero outside it had cooled off pretty quick.
goosed the gas, the truck jumped forward, I ended up wearing the
coffee. All over me and the floorboards, a little on the dashboard
too if I’m honest. That is when I realized, One: It’s not good to be
a Wise Guy with your Mom. Two: Hot coffee will go right through
waterproof jackets. I guess waterproof does not mean hot coffee
proof. And Jeans? Ouch.
I said. “Better take it home. Something’s wrong with it.”
Mom says. “The gas station is just down here. I’ll stop there.
Maybe we can fix it.”
explain a little more. Mom grew up on a farm. The phrase ‘Right
down there’ could mean ten miles down the road, or, the next
county over. I was calculating walk back distance to get the car
should I have to. But, the other thing about Mom is that she raised
us alone. She’s pretty used to making command decisions, and she
doesn’t require a whole lot of input from her idiot son who picked
the truck that she hates and is now screwing up her day. I think
that’s a fair description, or assessment of the situation.
I said, while I tried to figure out where to put the now empty coffee
cup, “I think we should go back.” Down the road she went.
she reached the gas station she pulled in and right up to the pumps.
“May as well get gas while we’re here,” she proclaimed. She shut
of the truck, jumped down to the ground (Nearly) and called back,
“Twenty” as she went inside.
my coffee soaked self out of the cab, pumped in the gas, I’m pretty
sure that Twenty Bucks, which got me around Five Gallons, is what my
first Muscle car (A 72 Plymouth Duster) I owned growing up used to
burn to start it. She came out, apparently having considered my
request to turn around, and said, “I guess we should probably take
the truck home… Something seems to be wrong with it.”
than say anything else dumb, I just nodded and got back in the truck.
She climbed in, turned the switch and all it did was click twice and
then nothing. The guy behind me tapped the horn on his truck.
‘#@$%^#,’ I thought. I climbed out of the truck and walked back to
dead,” I said. “Sorry.”
The guy said.
huh,” I agreed. “But at least you’re not the one who has to walk
three miles to get the car.”
the guy said
have a nice day too,” I told him.
after the three mile walk back to the house to get the car, I arrived
back at the gas station with my Aunt as a driver now, jumped the
truck and got it back home.
hate this truck,” Mom said as she climbed out of the truck once it
missed General Hospital,” My aunt told me.
write this today because I went to my Tuesday night Group meeting
last week, after that happened, and asked a few of the guys there who
are mechanically inclined what I did wrong. And, lo and behold, it’s
Tuesday again. So, it was on my mind.
it’s the @#$#@@ sensor,” one guy said. “Those #@$%$%$# sensors
always do that.”
you,” I said. I told myself to call a mechanic I knew and have him
fix the sensor.
no, no,” another guy said. “Those $#@#$@! sensors are pain in the
##@@#, but it was probably a fuse. Those #@@#$$@# fuses are almost as
bad as those %$#@#$ sensors.”
huh,” I said. “The #@$$@ Fuses or the @##$$@# Sensors. Okay.” I
made another mental note. ‘Note To Self: Check #$$#@ Fuses too.’
another guy said, “But the last time that happened to me it turned
out to be the #$$#@ motor on the (I have no idea what he called it).”
yeah,” The first guy said. “I forgot all about the #$@#@#$ motor
on the (Apparently he knew what the thing was called and how to
yeah… Forgot all about that,” The second guy said.
I asked, “No @#%$@#@?”
sorry,” He said apparently taking me seriously. “The @#$%$@ motor
on the (He knew the word too).”
this time I realized a few things. First: I could ask all I wanted,
it wasn’t going to fix the truck. Everybody had a different idea of
what it was. Two: At least I could check those things they suggested
or mention them to the mechanic. Three: Guys like to swear.. a
home and worried about the truck most of the week. Once it rose to a
balmy 12 below zero I went out and spent about four hours messing
with the truck. The indicator on the dash said ‘Four Wheel Low’ in
tiny red letters. ‘No #@#@#,” I thought. I found the sensor, seemed
to be working. I found the fuse, not blown. Hmm, I thought, It just
might be the Motor on the (Whatever the word was they used). Then I
looked at the switch on the dashboard. Just in passing mind you. I
was on the way out of the truck. I had conceded defeat. I flicked it
back and forth and noticed it didn’t rest completely at Two Wheel
Drive when I flicked it back. Meanwhile I’m running the truck,
letting the battery charge, cleaning the coffee off the dashboard
too, so I decided what the heck, I’ll look at the owners manual.
(That probably gave you pause to laugh. I will only say I am not
alone. Most men refuse directions or manuals. We’re too smart for
that sort of help). I opened the index, found my problem, turned to
the page, and read this,
MUST DEPRESS THE CLUTCH BEFORE SWITCHING OUT OF OR INTO FOUR WHEEL
thought. I did that… Didn’t I? Maybe… Yes… No… I was
conflicted, and, since the truck was running I pushed in the clutch,
flipped the switch back and forth from Four Wheel Low to Two Wheel
drive and … The light blinked out and Two wheel lit up.
I said aloud. “Sorry, God.” I added. “!#@$!,” I said again. I
waited a few minuets to see if the truck would blow up or quit or
something. It didn’t. I shifted into first and ran it up the
driveway. No whining transmission. No Revving motor, it really was
out of Four Wheel Low. I put everything together and went back into
fixed,” I said cheerfully.
She arched her eyebrows. “I hate that truck.”
know, Mom. I know,” I said.
what was it,” She asked?”
Uh, well it was the @#$#@ Flux Capacitor,” I told her as I hunted
around in the fridge for a bottle of juice.
She asked? “I saw ‘Back to the Future’. I like Michael J.
Fox. He probably never made his mother drive a truck she hates. What
was it really?”
I had to press the clutch down to disengage it,” I admitted.
knew it!” Mom said.
tonight is group again. And the guys are gonna ask about the truck. I
guess I’ll just admit I didn’t do it right. Or I could blame it on
the @@##$$# Motor on the thing I can’t pronounce. I’ll play it by ear
I guess. Hey! Have a good week…
the clock ticks down for our planet and her inhabitants, powers that
have lain dormant for centuries are loosed on the Earth. Zero Zero
takes a look at a post apocalypse world in ruins. The governments are
gone. The police, the military. The United States is no more. And
even the simplest things are hard to come by. Some have hidden to
ride out the storm unleashed upon the Earth, others have taken a
stance in the fight. Those that survive the apocalypse are splintered
and isolated. Mistrustful of one another, but beginning to come
together in small groups. They have been told of a place a safety,
but getting there, if it exists, is not a guarantee. The powers that
have been unleashed may not be done with them, and they have to be
wary of everything and everyone in a world where firepower and
fearlessness rule the day… One last time Earth comes to the brink
of destruction. Controlled by powers both on and beyond the earth her
fate is left to a small group of survivors to secure. Zero Zero
begins with a secreted base that holds the keys of destruction: A
madman who holds those keys in his hand, and a small group of men and
women who will challenge him as the clock ticks down to Zero Zero…
I was watching a commercial for a chicken farm, a popular
brand of chicken we have all probably eaten (Unless you do not partake of meat
then please excuse me). They called it a safe
and clean place for the chickens. Yes, the announcer said, ‘We maintain
a safe and clean environment for our birds.’ I thought What! I was amazed
because, after all, the chickens end up being slaughtered. So I wonder if anyone
besides me has thought, how is that safe? Safe up until the time we kill them?
Do they give a warning first?
‘WONK! WONK! WONK! WARNING! WARNING ALL CHICKENS! IT IS TIME
TO GO INSIDE THE PROVIDED HUTCHES FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY! WE CAN NOT GUARANTEE YOUR
SAFETY ANY LONGER IF YOU STAY ON THE MAIN FLOOR AREA! … WONK! WONK! WONK!
WARNING ALL CHICKENS…’
Of course when they go inside the provided hutches as any
good chicken would do they are snatched up and killed. Poor chickens. Anyway,
I’m pretty sure that the chickens are not safe, maybe clean, maybe they have
public showers for the chickens, but safe? I guarantee the chickens don’t think
Reduced prices in the grocery store. I realized the other day
that I have a severe thinking disorder. I was at the store and I saw a box of
doughnuts marked REDUCED. Probably day old or something, or even week old for
all I know. But I realized as I looked at the box that somehow in my brain I
translated REDUCED as REDUCED FAT. So I grabbed it and threw it in the
cart, all the while my brain is saying Yippee! (Or something like that,
maybe a little more appropriately manly) Fat free! or Fat Reduced!
Arrg. It goes past that too. Later when the box was sitting on the counter, I
stopped and snagged a doughnut… Then another, because, after all, they
Random things from today: I put in a new mailbox today. The
old one got taken out by the plow the year before last. So Mom went out there,
took some clothesline and tied it all back together. So for the last two years
it has worked that way, the box itself suspended from the post by a cradle of
clothesline. I was not here of course or I would have fixed it with drywall
screws. I fix everything with drywall screws. Well, nearly. If you haven’t
discovered drywall screws and screw-guns (The two go together) you should get
in your truck (Or sedan or minivan or whatever) and motor on down to the local
building material store.
Drywall screws come in many lengths. My personal favorite is
1 5/8″. Yes. That is because you can fix so many things that are broken.
Just long enough to get in there and hold, but not so long that they poke out
the other side. Now, granted, you may find that you have your own favorite.
Some folks like
1 1/4″ or even 2″ which are right on the edge of
So what’s so great about them? They hold well. They are
Phillips head and they grip well. They come in packs of 250 to 500 (Contractors
can purchase boxes of 2500!) for God’s sake! What’s not to like? They have only
one drawback that I know of, when you hold them as you are screwing them in
they sometimes have small thin pieces of black (The screws are black) metal
that ends up embedded in your finger/thumb. But, it’s not really a big deal,
and, besides, you can probably get some sympathy for it later. Show it to your
wife-girlfriend/significant other and she/he might say, Awww poor baby.
Anyway, that’s my plug for drywall screws. With duct tape and drywall screws we
could probably fix the entire world. I mean look at those NASCAR guys and what
they do with duct tape. Now ask a carpenter about drywall screws (I used to be
a carpenter, union even) and they will tell you they are gold.
Anyway, I have said enough about drywall screws and I only
said it to let you know that I installed a brand new mailbox and only used four
drywall screws to do it. Yes, that is because it was new and all I really had
to do was secure it to the post. But what I really wanted to talk about was the
waste. That old box? It so could have been saved. I mean it only needed maybe a
half dozen drywall screws and we could have kissed the clothesline goodbye.
Good as new. Well, sort of, after all it was hit by a plow. But, the amazing
thing about plastic is that it bounces right back.
To prove I was right I actually screwed the whole thing back
together, removed the clothesline and it only sagged a little and leaned to the
right a few degrees. But I could have fixed that with some 2″ drywall
screws and some black duct tape (The box is black) and a little black spray paint
and maybe some ¾ inch pine. But no. I dragged it out. Cut a new post. Sharpened
the bottom. Pounded that into the ground with a 5 lb sledge hammer. Put the new
one together, slipped it over the new post and then used my magic drywall
screws to screw it on, well, and the two lag bolts that came with the kit and
were totally unnecessary if you have drywall screws, not to mention the lag
bolts are silver and stick out like a sore thumb and the drywall screws are
black and blend right in… Sort of.
Let me say also, while I’m not on the subject, that
maintenance men that come and do work for little old ladies (My mother in this
case) and tell her they are putting in a four by four pressure treated post
should actually put in a four by four pressure treated post and not a scrap
piece of two by four they called a post. Just saying. I pulled the old post
free and found that it was a two by four and then had to get back in the truck
and go buy a four by four. So ten years ago when this guy originally put the post
in he lied and charged for the more expensive piece of lumber.
Okay, I did yard work the rest of the day. It finally warmed
up here. Past the middle of May, about time. I swore I saw a woolly Mammoth
stroll past the house the other day, but it could have been my bearded friend
from down-street. He does have a big head and he sort of looks a little Woolly
Mamothish on occasion. I got the yard work done and then watched the cats run
around in the yard. They are brave right now, but, the Turkeys are up and about
and they are particularly fond of cat. If you look back to my blog from last
year you will see we have turkeys that fly up into our pines and wait for the
cats to come out, then dive bomb them and try to get them. I don’t know if this
is because they were sparrows in another life and harassed or possibly killed
by cats and now it is payback time, or if these are just a mean species of
Turkey. All I know is it is very disconcerting to watch 25 or 30 pounds of
turkey drop from the sky and go after the cats.
I shouldn’t laugh, but cats are always so haughty that it’s
good to see them rattled for a change. That got me thinking about Jamestown and
the early settlers that disappeared one fall/winter. I’m telling you, Turkeys
dropping from the trees could have been the deal there. Turkey plummets, hits
the settler, knocks them cold, the other Turkeys come up and drag him or her
off into the woods where bad things happen and the next thing you know they
have all disappeared. Yes, I know, hard to prove, but every time I walk out by
the pines I wonder. And sometimes it looks like those Turkeys are grinning…
Okay. What’s up this week. Dell worked on the SE books. This
has been a long term project. First released in paperback only, but with a
different editor than the main books. Finally, re-edited by the same editor
that revised and re-edited all the books and now released in eBook format, as
well as updated in paperback too.
spent today updating websites and working on interior files and
covers for the ES series, so you are going to end up with a partially
recycled blog from a few million years ago when Jesus and I were in
grade school together. I mean, of course, Jesus, Wanda and Pedro’s
son. So don’t write me and tell me I picked on religion, I picked on
Spanish friends instead.
snow here in New York is relentless. A foot a day lately. And that
just drops out of the sky as though it has always done so. Sheesh.
the topic is Cell Phones…
Tin cans and string: This Cell phone thing is my generations fault.
I’ll fess up right here. We tied string to tin cans, pretended they
were loud and clear radios, and dreamed of networks of tin cans and
of networks of tin cans and string. I think a few of my friends did
too, but I won’t put them on the spot. But, someone must have besides
me, because we grew up looking for that tin can.
spawned children with that tin can thing embedded in their DNA. That
and the Communicator from Star Trek. If that wasn’t a glimpse into
the future and cell phones, I don’t know what it was. It was
inevitable, and we should have known it as soon as some fool back in
the fifties gave us Walki Talkies.
was almost a reality right there. Probably good enough for some of
us, but no, not for all of us. Some said…
Bob. What if I could talk to Tim, Ellie and even my sister Sherry
with these things?”
Bob says. “Why would you want to talk to your sister Sherry?
She’s a girl.”
Right… Never mind.”
then some other guy went… “Hey, Bob. What if I could talk to
anyone I wanted to with this thing? I mean like anywhere?”
Bob said. “We’d have to make them affordable… Put them in the
hands of people everywhere.. We’d have to build relay stations…
We’d… We could do it! We
so Marketing and the Cell Phone industry was born right there. And
Bob probably headed it. Now we all have Cell Phones and we might as
well be welded to them, or they to us.
week I remembered I had a cell phone for a reason. To make calls to
people, or so that people could reach me. I was watching a really
stupid movie at the time. Four young people stranded in the desert.
The moron dude (There is always a moron dude who does the dumb thing
that puts them all in the bad situation), so, the Moron Dude wrecks
the truck and they’re stranded in the desert. So what does he do
first? Tries his cell phone. And does it work? Of course not. And, I
thought, hmm, I have a cell phone, what if I paid all this money for
minutes, and, and
(I tend to get excited when I think of stupid things that just might
be possible) I
get stranded in the desert, and I flip open my Cell phone, and I
have, like, 300 minutes, so I sigh, relieved, I will not die in the
desert and the young woman med student won’t have to pound a hole in
my head to relieve the fluid buildup so I will live!
That was what she (The
had just finished doing to one of the people in the movie, pounding a
hole in her head to relieve the pressure buildup. Hmm. It didn’t work
too well. The person still died. Now, my characters do things too.
But I have yet to write a scene where one actually pounds a hole into
another characters head with a frickin’ rock.
tell you, I was relieved. I have enough holes in my head (Some say).
Then I remembered the scenario. Minutes
don’t matter. Reception
matters. So, in my head, in my little world in the desert with the
Moron Guy, and the Med Student woman, I look down at my phone again.
Damn. 300 minutes and no bars. But, like the Moron Dude I try it
anyway. Doesn’t work. The young Med Student woman is looking at me
funny. Like she can’t wait to pound that hole in my head. Son of a
bitch, I think. This really sucks. Then I remember, it’s
I am relieved again, except I am still watching this pathetic movie,
and I am looking at my cell phone and wondering why I welded myself
dumb movies aside, it really did get me thinking about my cell phone.
I have this many friends. (I’m holding up fingers on one
of my hands). Let’s just say it’s a small amount, I have fingers left
over. Now, all of those friends never call me on my cell phone. If
they need to reach me they send an email or call me on my land line.
Yes, I have a land line. I know how pathetic that sounds. And I
rarely ever use it either. But that’s another blog. So, my friends
know my email address, and my home phone and my cell phone number,
and they never call me on the cell phone. Yet every month I buy
minutes and put them on the damn phone. So I must have thousands of
minutes on the phone. Just then the phone rang.
I’m cautious. No one calls me here. “No one calls me here,”
out it is a new-old friend. IE: One I knew years before who just
reconnected and does not realize no one calls me on my Cell Phone.
I say. What else can I say? “No, you’re not bothering me,”
I lie. Then, the phone goes dead.
take the phone away from my ear and stare at it as though that can
fix it or at least tell me what is wrong. Nope. five bars. Hey, wait
a minute, no minutes! How can that be? I just ran out of minutes on
my cell phone. But I just put minutes on it. Hmm, a conundrum.
lead right into the stupid movie, and I realized, if it was me, my
luck would be that I would
find I had a signal, and then discover that I had no minutes. And so,
I asked myself, why is that? And that is the crux of the problem.
Because, as I mentioned, no one calls me on my cell phone. So, where
do all the minutes go to? They go to all the other calls. The ones I
didn’t ask for. The Cell Phone Spammers. Yes. Those
guys/gals/machines. They call all of the time.
did you know that for just three hundred dollars a month you can get
an unlimited number of minutes,”
the voice asks?
voice just keeps yacking. It’s not a real voice. It’s a machine. But
I’m lonely, they know it, and they know I am stupid enough to listen
to a machine… At least for a little while.
One now for the Budget Plan. Press Two for the Super Business
Package. Press three for the…”
hang up. Cell
I think. I think some other unkind things too, even though I know it
is a machine. An hour later the phone rings. I think, ‘I
shouldn’t answer that. They probably just want to sell me something.’
But I am stupid, or I have a defective gene, or both.
Is this a machine,”I
ask right off the bat.
female voice. Heavy accent. “I
am calling regarding your account.”
Oh, sorry… I get these machine generated phone calls you see…”
I shut up, because of course it’s the Cell Phone. Yakking is money.
sir… My records show that you have the Thrifty Budget plan. And I
wanted to make you aware of the Super Business Travelers plan..”
Cell phone plan,”
don’t have the Thrifty Budget plan,” I
She sounds upset, leaves the line, and like the idiot I am, I wait
for her to come back. Ten minutes later she does.
she is checking only to see if I was stupid enough to hang on. But,
no, I answer. “Yes…
I’m even polite. What an idiot.
records show that you do not have the Thrifty Budget plan. Please
I am ready and willing to forgive her. It’s hot over there in New
Delhi, I watch Big Bang Theory. I saw Slum Dog Millionaire. I know
it’s got to be a hard job working half way around the worl… She
waits until I answer. The minute monster is eating my phone alive.
wouldn’t this be a great time to get the Super Business plan?”
it dawns on me. “Hey,
are you from **** & ****?”(My
no. I’m from **** *****.”
hang up. I feel used. Dirty. ‘Damn,’
I think. I am even cussing. ‘Damn
Dirty Ape. Frig!’
It is the most severe cussing I can come up with on short notice.
so I’m sitting there, and slow as I am, it finally dawns on me where
all of my minutes go, they go to answering the phone so these guys
can sell me more minutes so I can answer the phone, so they can sell
me more minutes, so I can answer the phone IF one of my friends ever
call, and, as evidenced, if one of my friends do call, I’ll have no
minutes to talk to them. Boy am I dumb. Hmm… Then I think, well, I
could just let the medical student woman in the movie pound the hole
in my head. Might be quicker, smarter too.
blog stems from a conversation I had the other day with friends concerning
control, our situations, and how were see ourselves and the things in our lives
that we feel are out of or in our control either one. Dieting, relationships,
all of it. We were mainly discussing dieting and it just branched out into
other areas of our lives. As writers we tend to spend a great deal of time
sitting on our duffs… Well, Writing. It’s kind of hard to put exercise
in there throughout the day. Write a chapter, exercise, write a chapter, exercise.
It just doesn’t work that way. It is more like: Write like a crazy man (or
woman) while the material is there. Sit there all day and eat there too
if you can get away with it. My top three friends are full time writers as I am
and so they can and do get away with that the same as I do.
The bad part
of that is obvious. No exercise, bad eating habits. Too much other stuff to
even list. It’s just plain unhealthy. So we discussed what we do to make sure
we stay healthy. To change things up so that exercise has a place in our daily
schedules. I will keep this blog on my own life, solutions, things I have done
to make me healthier.
We stuck as
closely as we could to dieting, because all of us in the discussion, male and
female alike, seem to have reason to struggle with that and believe that the
answers to feeling good about diet and the results we obtain from it are not
totally in our control. It was a good conversation.
I have been
overweight and dealt with the results of that as it acted upon my body. There
were times when I did not believe I had the control to do anything about it at
all, and then a time where I realized I did have control, could direct a path
that would lead me away from that situation. I followed it and it worked. It
also confirmed to me that we have much more control of our lives than we think
we do. We simply allow situations or even people to take that control away from
us, or we give that control to the person or situation without even thinking
about the fact we are doing that.
I have found
that the best way to begin to put control back into the things you do is to
just do it. I know that sounds like I am making a joke of it, making it sound
easy to do, but I am not. What I am saying is that it is often our own fault
that we don’t make changes and allow the circumstances we are in to become our
prison, and to hold and control us.
I think the
first thing to do is determine exactly what the problem is. Sometimes it isn’t
so straight forward as it seems. You might say … “Well, I want to lose weight.”
That’s it. Nothing more, but that is not really the problem itself, it is more
like a solution to some other problem. Some other underlying thing that has you
upset or depressed enough to start looking for solutions that may or may not
solve the problem.
reasons to lose weight. Reasons that are serious and shouldn’t be ignored. As a
nation we are overweight, we all know that, read or hear about it almost daily
in social and news media. Heart Disease, Diabetes and a host of other medical
problems are waiting to kick the crap out of our bodies if we don’t get them
into shape. And if the reason you are going to lose weight is right there then
you need to start reinforcing it in your head. You need to remind yourself
daily that being overweight could kill you. Take you away from those that you
love. That should be a strong motivator, but it isn’t always. And it isn’t
always because very often the reasons behind wanting to lose weight have
nothing at all to do with needing to lose weight.
Where does it
come from: Weight gain is genetic to a degree, and evolutionary and biological
on the other side. Social pressure also comes into play.
Sometimes, for some people, there is a gap between what they eat; someone else
eats, and how that weight ends up on their body and doesn’t seem to on the
other person. But maybe that simply isn’t true. In other words, for men and
women, self worth is tied up in the way we view ourselves. Maybe to you I don’t
look bad at all, but to me I’m a mess. Too heavy. Unattractive, the list begins
and goes from there.
The problem is
that all of those pronouncements we make on ourselves and our bodies gets tied
up in the judgments we are making about ourselves, our self worth. It isn’t
necessarily true at all. It may be you could weigh yourself and that other
person, who seems to be having an easier time than you are, and find there is
no difference, maybe you would find there is. Whatever you do find, there are
ways to deal with it. For some genetics may play a role. For some it is a
simple matter of firing up their metabolism, eating less, being more active,
but the fact that we tie it all up with our self worth makes it nearly
impossible to get to the truth of it.
will say first that I am a christian, I am not knocking God or anything else,
and I realize that evolution doesn’t exist for some people. Something some
scientific types made up. So possibly you may want to take a different view of
it. Let’s call it pre-history. When you read the old testament you read about
people living in caves. Being nomadic. They certainly didn’t have a 7 11 down
the road or a supermarket. We lived a different kind of life. And because of
that our bodies developed the ability to store fat for long periods of time and
then release it when we needed it. That worked pretty well. There were no super
models or social pressures working at us to be skinny. I can not imagine a Cave
Woman getting up and saying … “Damn, Trog! Does my butt look too big?” I’m sure
she could have cared less and I’m sure Trog could have cared less. So we have
this evolutionary thing. We store fat because our bodies think we may need it.
Maybe in a few thousand years, if the human race lasts that long, we will breed
that right out of ourselves. Of course if we did and then some worldwide
catastrophe occurred we would be done for. So maybe we won’t lose that ability.
Either way it is there. It’s a biological fact, and we have to acknowledge it
is where it gets tricky. Are you fat? Or is someone making you feel like you
are fat? Good question. Sometimes people make us feel that way because they
want to put us in a perfect little mold that they created for us. It has
nothing at all to do with us, it has to do with their own unhappiness.
Unfortunately for us that makes little difference. It hurts us and we react by
saying we will get with the program and make ourselves into that person that
this other person wants us to be. Never mind what we think. That isn’t
important. Look at TV, the internet. Look at all the skinny women and muscled
men! That must be the way it is supposed to be.
Bull. It is
something we tell ourselves and we even get to a place where we believe it is
our own idea to look a certain way, and completely forget we are being
manipulated by society or even our own loved ones. You are the only one that
can look at this critically and make a decision about what you are doing or
why. I would just say be honest with yourselves.
with this societal pressure is that it gets completely tied up with our self
worth, and that is also evolutionary. I suppose that the first person with blue
eyes must have been looked at strangely. Or blonde hair. But if you turn on
your television and look at a movie from the seventies, or sixties you will see
women that had little bellies. What? My God! How could they! And the men were
not all cut up and heavily muscled either. That is what society was given as
the model for man and woman. And that was that. Now you have Super Models who have
about a 4 percent body fat content and therefore no belly, no hips, no large
butt, and they look great in those designer jeans, and pretty soon the youth of
society decides that is the look right there.
great when you are 15 or 19 or even into your very early 20’s but there comes a
time where your body changes and in order to keep that look you will either
have to become a gym rat or slip into some bad stuff to maintain that look.
Bulimia, Anorexia, drug use, or maybe you will just sink into a deep depression
and stay there. To Hell with the world I can’t be what they want so I quit.
And of course
that is the problem. The real problem. Are you fat? Or are you trying to be
what you think societies idea of what you should be is?
The fact is that if you eat less calories than what you burn you will
lose weight. If you do some sort of exercise every day that will burn
calories. Those two things are absolutes and do not change or bend to social
pressure. So make sure you are doing this for the right reasons and then go
from there. Set up a daily exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be complicated,
or long, it only needs to be something you do on a daily basis. I would aim for
a half hour at first just to get you started. What that will do is two things.
First it will kick start your metabolism. That is a big deal because that will
determine what your body needs for calories, and you want that number to be
high. The second thing this will do is what all physical exercise does, release
designed to make you feel good. It is your bodies own little reward for doing
well. It can help your mental attitude, change your physiology and help you to
start to look at things differently. I have done this myself and it makes a
huge difference in the first few weeks. It doesn’t immediately kick the weight
loss into gear, but that does come along on its own.
Come back to self worth. How much is for you and how much is for that guy or
girl that is unhappy with the way you are? Or is it just some unreasonable idea
you have built in your mind and come to believe that you must attain? In my
experience it is some of each. There is social pressure and even pressure from
your significant other or even friends that are close to you. Society, or our
own wishes sometime put us in these boxes and it is tough to get out of that.
So be reasonable and have an honest conversation with yourself. Am I doing this
because I want to? Or because I need to? Or am I pretty much happy with myself
and others are making me feel as though I need to do this? Are you beautiful?
When you think of yourself is that what you think or do you think you are ugly?
You might be surprised at the answer, and not just women, but also men. We have
our own warped view of what we are and how we stack up too.
I had a
straight forward conversation with myself many years ago. This is what I
One: I am not the greatest looking man in the
world but I’m not the worse. There is nothing I can do that will be lasting to
attract a woman to me. Sure, I can change the way I dress, adjust my work
schedule, smile more, yes, and even lose weight, become someone I am
uncomfortable with and maybe that will attract more women to me. But I can not
sustain it, so I should not entertain it because it will put too much pressure
on me. Besides, do I really want to be with someone that is strictly interested
in looks? Do I want to play that game? Share my life with someone I am really
not compatible with at all? No.
Two: What do I
really want? What is it that will make me happy in a partner? Should they be
involved in the same social things I am involved in? Church? Bowling? Macrame?
Writing? Yes. Incompatibility is something that I also can not sustain. It
doesn’t mean we have to match in every area, but we should have enough
interests in common so that we can compromise on the things that remain.
Three: Do I
need a partner? Do I need someone that tells me how I should look? Act? What I
should wear? What I should feel? How much I should weigh? And maybe they don’t
say these things with their words, maybe they only say them with their actions.
I decided no. I don’t need that. I need someone that supports and encourages
does this have to do with losing weight? Dieting? … Everything. It comes right
back to self worth. And maybe you are putting these pressures on yourself.
Maybe your partner/friends are happy with you the way you are. Maybe it is you
that has an unhealthy image of what you should be. But I would bet that image
was begun and fostered by the way men and women in your life treated you and
the supposed societal norms you saw on TV.
That brings me
full circle. Self worth. Love yourself and who you are. That isn’t just words.
If you can do that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about
it at all. You can allow that negativity to skip right over your head. It
becomes meaningless. You cause it to lose its power, and that means you have
that power now. So sit down and have that conversation with yourself. Take it
Set aside that time every day that you need for you. Maybe it is first thing in
the morning, maybe last thing at night. I chose first thing in the morning
because as a writer the day may take me anywhere. The first part of the morning
is still somewhat under my control. I get up and I have an hour set aside for
me. Half of that is Oh My God I need some Coffee, and the Other half is Okay,
I’m awake let’s get some exercise in.
to whatever I want it to amount to. There was a time where I did intense
workouts every day, twice a day, and I am heading back toward that. But for the
last few years I have set an easier pace
There is no
one in my life so I do what I do for me, and I would suggest that is the best
approach. I would suggest that because people can let you down. Sometimes
purposely, sometimes not, but a let down is a let down and if you have your
self worth and getting better tied up in another person that is a bad idea. Tie
it up in you, YOU be responsible for you and what you want. Set goals. Be
realistic, but do it for you.
For me I set
that hour aside. Today it might be an hour of cardio, tomorrow it might be a
walk. Both are good, both are beneficial to you and sufficient. A start of
talking a walk every morning until you can do more is fine. It helps to fire up
that metabolism, it burns calories, and it is very beneficial to your health,
both physical and mental.
If you have
children it may be tough to get time, but if you have someone in your life that
is a true partner and helper for you, you should be able to ask for that time
and get it. After all, parenthood is no longer just a woman’s job.
If you can not
get the time that way, take it later at night. That might seem counter
productive, spending even more time running around, but exercise rids your body
of many toxins, releases endorphins as we discussed, so it will have its
benefits for you.
I guess that
is it for my point of view. Start somewhere. Eat right. Take at look at your
reasons and then sit down and have that honest talk with yourself. I think you
can attain your goals if you truly want them. But better yet, I think you can
maintain them if you have put the work into you and know your true
What else is
going on here? As you can see the Zombie Plague books were
moved to Kindle. That was the last holdout on any front. Everything is now
available on Kindle and the writing schedule is narrowing down to the next
projects: That is a good question. Instead of doing things the way they have
been done here at i for the last few years, we have decided to react to sales
and demand rather than go with what has been voted on by staff and is therefore
next in line. Whatever that will be it will not be voted on by staff, but will
be from suggestions from readers and users of i.
turns out to be I will be the writer, Geo will be focusing on his own projects.
It seems like a much more logical approach. What remains on my burner right now
That book is very close to finished now, and will be finished up coming into
fall. The winter schedule is now open for me. The only other thing I see being
published in the interim might be the original Earth’s Survivors book. That is
the first book written thirty years ago that started the series. It bears
little on the series published now, but it is still a good book in its own
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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The Middle of the night: Lisa
She awoke suddenly in the darkness of the bedroom. Panic rode tightly in her throat, but nothing in the silence told her anything she needed to know.
The clock read 2:38 AM, green numerals lighting the bedroom in eerie, fairy half light. Spooky light, she decided. It was adding to her sense of something wrong. Would red be better, she wondered. She would pick up a new clock… Make sure it had red numerals.
Don slept on beside her, apparently undisturbed, but the sense of panic, touch of fear, would not leave her.
“Mommy…!” Alandra, sobbing, calling her name. She threw the covers aside and nearly leapt up, out, and to her feet in one motion: The cotton night shirt fell to her knees as she ran for Alandra’s bedroom. Behind her, Don grunted in surprise, but she barely heard him: Her mind had kicked into a higher gear; suddenly working overtime.
…Nightmare? … Kidnapping? …Killers? … Burglars? … My baby! …
And why is it, she thought, as her mind threw all the worst possibilities at her, that your mind does exactly that? Why?
She pushed it all away as she pushed the bedroom door open to find Alandra sitting up, staring at the closed window that looked out over the back yard.
She reached the bed and gathered Alandra in her arms… “What, baby? … Bad dream?”
“No,” Alandra sobbed. “Not a dream. You have to stop them, Mommy. They were killing Mister Bob… He told me.”
Lisa let her eyes fly quickly to the window, and then flit around the bedroom, alighting here and there, in case there was some wack-job standing in the shadows… Closed window… Tree limbs outlined outside it in moonlight… Closed closet door… She thrust one foot at the darkness under the bed.
“Baby, there’s no one here.” She pulled Alandra’s head away from her breast which was already wet from her tears.
“Honey, Alandra.” She waited until she turned her tear stained face up to her own. “Baby, there’s no one here… See?” She turned her eyes to the empty room.
“Mommy, Mister Bob,” Alandra said. “Look at the window.”
Lisa looked more closely at the window, but saw nothing more. “Honey, are you saying that Mister Bob was at the window?”
Alandra nodded solemnly.
Dan was supposed to take care of getting the tree outside the window trimmed. Lisa had been concerned of just this thing: Someone climbing that tree and having access to Alandra’s bedroom window. A spike of fear lodged directly in Lisa’s heart. “Stay here, baby, okay?”
Alandra nodded once more. Lisa gathered herself, rose from the bed, and went to the window, wishing she had thought to grab her pepper spray. Better yet, her mind supplied, Don’s 9 mm. The window was closed, but the thumb lock was off. She eased up next to the window, holding herself in the shadows, and scanned the back yard. … Nothing … The bedroom door opened suddenly and she turned quickly, her heart hammering hard against her rib-cage.
“Whatzit?” Dan asked.
“Jesus, Dan,” Lisa said. One hand went to her throat.
“Sorry…” He turned to Alandra. “What’s wrong, honey-pie?”
“She said someone was at the window,” Lisa supplied.
“Christ,” Dan muttered. He walked across to the window: A big man who moved fast. His eyes scanned the yard.
“Well… I don’t see anyone now,” he said.
“I don’t either, but I thought…”
He nodded. “Tomorrow morning, noon at the latest. It’s spring… He’s backed up.” Dan shrugged helplessly. “I’ve been on him, Lissy. I have.”
He held up a hand. “Or I’ll take the day off and do it myself… Promise… I’ll call him in the morning before I leave.” He sighed.
“Honey, you want to sleep with Mommy and Daddy,” Dan asked?
“Uh, uh. What if Mister Bob comes back?” Alandra asked.
“Mister Bob?” Dan asked.
“He told her that was his name,” Lisa said.
“Were you dreaming, honey?” Dan asked.
“She wasn’t dreaming, Dan,” Lisa warned.
“Well… Cops… Should we?”
“There’s nobody… What do you say exactly? No… Just make sure it can’t happen again,” Lisa finished.
“Okay… Okay.” He turned back to Alandra. “Come on, honey. Sleep with Mommy and Daddy tonight. Tomorrow we’ll make sure Mister Bob can’t wake you up in the middle of the night again.”
“Mommy will stay in here with you,” Lisa countered.
Dan looked from Alandra to Lisa. Lisa shrugged.
Dan frowned and then turned and left the bedroom. A few minutes later he was back.
“Here,” he said as he handed Lisa her pillow. His own pillow and a wad of blankets were tucked under his other arm
“We’ll have a camp out,” Dan said. He looked at the floor, yawned deeply and then spread out the blankets and tossed the pillow to the floor.
Alandra giggled as Lisa climbed into the narrow bed and pulled her close.
Dan was already softly snoring and Lisa was sure that Alandra was sleeping too. Her own thoughts were getting farther and farther away from her. Her mind free falling into the spiral of sleep when Alandra whispered.
“Mister Bob is my friend, mommy.”
She came up from the edge of sleep just that fast.
“He talks to me every night.”
Lisa pulled her closer. “When, baby?” she whispered back.
“All kinds of times… Sometimes when I’m awake, sometimes he wakes me up. He’s not mean, mommy. He’s my friend.”
“But, baby, a man shouldn’t be climbing a tree to talk to you,” Lisa told her.
“But he doesn’t, mommy. He’s already there. Mister Bob is a tree. My tree.”
“Oh, baby… A tree? The tree in the back yard?”
Alandra yawned. “Uh huh. My friend, Mister Bob.”
“He talks to me… He said… He said, they’re going to kill me, sissy. Don’t let them kill me.”
Lisa’s heart leapt in her chest. Sissy had been Alandra’s nickname until she had discovered that she liked her real name better in Kindergarten and had solemnly told she and Dan not to call her Sissy anymore. Lisa yawned in spite of herself. She pulled Alandra closer. Maybe it had been a dream after all.
“He calls you Sissy?”
“I told him I’m not a baby.” She yawned again and the rest of what she said was lost as she began to drift into sleep.
The fear that had been rising in Lisa’s heart bled out just that quick. Her own lack of sleep caught up to her. She yawned too, and a few seconds later she drifted down into sleep thinking about talking trees that spoke to little girls and called them by their nicknames.
She heard the alarm from her own bedroom. Dan had turned over, pulled the covers over his head and balled the pillow up under his head. He slept on, oblivious. She recalled a dream of her own. Must have been after all that had happened, she thought. She had dreamed that she had awoken briefly to hear Alandra holding a conversation with Mister Bob. Something like, “I told her… She’ll make sure you’re okay.” And the impression of another voice. Deep, resonant. She couldn’t understand it. A weird dream provoked, no doubt, by what had happened earlier and what Alandra had told her. She looked down into Alandra’s sleep eyes.
“Want to sleep a little longer, honey?” Lisa asked her.
Lisa kissed her forehead, got out of bed and then tucked her back in. She turned to Dan.
“Do you want to sleep in a little longer too, honey,” She asked.
The wad of blankets surrounding his head nodded.
“Well, you don’t get to sleep in. Come one. Get up.”
Dan groaned. He struggled briefly with the wad of tangled blankets that surrounded his head. Alandra looked over the edge of the bed and giggled. Lisa looked at her.
“You’re not going back to sleep are you.”
“Nope,” Alandra agreed.
“Well come on then. We’ll get breakfast and coffee going while Daddy gets his shower.”
Lisa shifted through her email: Nothing too pressing. She closed the browser and popped open her scripting editor. She worked for the next three hours straight after she had gotten Alandra off to school. The website she was writing a script for was nearly done. She had written the site, incorporated the graphic elements, and was finishing up the scripting that would load the cart system for the site and control purchases. She had one small script to write yet, and a few graphics to tweak and that would be it. She reached for her coffee cup, found it was empty, and headed for the kitchen.
She had just poured the coffee when she heard the sudden roar of a chainsaw. She knew the sound. She heard it often enough in the spring and fall, but it was close. Much closer than it should be, and that rattled her. She took a deep sip from her coffee, set it down on the counter, and headed for the back door, glancing through the windows as she went: Two men she didn’t know were in her backyard.
At first it alarmed her and then she realized they must be there to trim the tree. She levered open the rear door and popped her head out anyway. They both looked over and nodded.
The bigger one held the chainsaw in his hand. A bigger saw than the models she had seen used for yard work. Somewhere, probably in the garage, they had one of the small ones tucked away for just-in-case themselves.
She smiled. “Here to trim the branch?” It made her blush. She felt a little foolish asking, but the saw was huge. Maybe they were at the wrong house… Wrong job… Something.
“The tree, miss,” the smaller man answered over the roar of the chainsaw.
The smile left her face. The words Alandra had said the night before surfaced on their own but she couldn’t quite get them. Something like, Mister Bob was her friend… A tree… This tree, in fact, and they were going to kill him… Trying to kill him…
“The branch,” she said.
“Uh, uh,” the small one said. He pulled a notebook from his breast pocket, studied it. “Danny said… Danny said take the whole thing.”
“Well that just can’t be right,” Lisa informed him.
“Well, miss. I got it right here in black and white.” The big one was revving up the chainsaw and looking at the big tree with something like desire on his face.
“Well, see, I give Danny a good price, ’cause we’ll just cut this son-of-a-whore-tree…” He seemed to remember that he was talking to Lisa, met her eyes and blushed deep red. He turned away. He continued after a few seconds of silence.
“This ol’ tree, we’ll cut her up for firewood,” the bigger man continued. He had let the chainsaw fall to a rough, popping idle as they talked. From the kitchen came the ringing of the telephone.
“Excuse me,” Lisa said. She turned to go and then turned back just a quickly. “I’ll have to call Dan… Maybe that’s him. It’s only the limb though, not the tree.” She turned and headed for the back door.
The phone stopped ringing just before she reached it. She cursed under her breath, picked up her coffee, sipped at it, then picked up the handset, punched in Dan’s number.
The house phone was something that their friends considered an oddity and she considered a necessity. She liked it. She had a cellphone she rarely ever used. She had no real reason to. Her cell phone dislike wasn’t part of some strange phobia, it was just a habit she had never developed. She was a stay at home mom, what did she need a cellphone for, she asked her friends when the chided her about it. Secretly she hated it. More truthfully, she knew, she loathed it. It was something akin to being tracked everywhere you went. She had tried one for a year and that was how it made you feel. You didn’t have to slip it in your pocket, but you did. You didn’t have to answer it in the super market, but you did. While driving, while gardening, she had even tentatively answered it once when she had been in the bathroom.
That had been it for her. The cell phone had gone in a drawer, and the next time she had been at the big shopping center she had bought a wall phone with a built in answering machine. She had bugged Dan to get the house phone put in and things had been perfect. Calls went to the machine: If she felt like answering she did. But she didn’t rush to answer. She didn’t buy a portable phone to add to the line. She liked it the way it was.
Smooth silence greeted her on the line, then it clicked and a voice was in her ear.
“Hello? … Hello?”
“Hello?” Lisa answered.
“Miss Stevens?” A voice asked.
“That’s so weird… It never rang… Just sounded as though a number was being punched in,” the voice said.
“You must have been there when I picked up to dial,” Lisa said. “Sorry.”
“No… No, it’s okay… Miss Stevens, this is Ms Edwards… Joan Edwards?” Alandra’s teacher.
“Is something wrong?” Lisa heard the panic as it jumped into her voice, but she couldn’t have stopped it if she had wanted to.
“No… No, but, well, Alandra’s upset… Very upset. I’ve honestly never seen her like this… She wants to talk to you… About Mister Bob? I know her father’s name is Daniel, and the explanation about Mister Bob is hard to understand… She”s upset of course, but whoever this Mister Bob is, she believes…”
“Someone is going to hurt him?” Lisa supplied.
“Well, yes… Her words were stronger.”
“Kill?” Lisa asked. Her words seemed forced, her heart hammered right at the back of her throat, fast, hot, her tongue was dry and hard to move.
“That was it… I know it’s unusual, but I’m here in the principle’s office…, She’s quite upset.”
“Put her on? Put her on,” Lisa told her. “Baby? Alandra?” The sound of Alandra’s sobbing came to her. “Baby, what’s wrong…? What about Mister Bob?” She was getting more than a little freaked out. Two men had come to cut down her imaginary friend the tree. But there was no way she could know that, was there?
“Mommy, they came to kill Mister Bob.” Lisa only understood it because she was listening for it. Otherwise, it was just broken sobs and syllables. In the backyard the chainsaw revved up to a high whine.
“Honey, they won’t cut down Mister Bob.”
“Kill, mommy, kill.”
“Kill… They won’t kill Mister Bob. They won’t kill Mister Bob… I promise.”
“Mommy, I want to come home, mommy. I want to. I want to see Mister Bob!” She sobbed even harder. The phone clattered and the teacher was back on the line.
“Miss Steven’s, I don’t know…”
“Ms Edwards… Ms Edwards I’m coming to pick her up. I’ll explain when I get there, but I’ll come to pick her up.”
“Well if you think…”
“I do… Thank you so much, Ms Edwards.” The phone was back on the hook before the teacher answered, and Lisa was palming the back door open. The big guy was getting ready to cut a notch into the tree. She waved her arms and yelled at the smaller guy who tapped the bigger guy on the shoulder. He seemed to hesitate, then he turned to face Lisa. She motioned impatiently at the saw: Reluctantly he shut it off.
“Did I say you’re not cutting down my goddamn tree?”
“Miss… The mister said…”
“I don’t care what the mister said. The tree stays.”
“Miss,” the big one soothed. “It’ll be quick. I’m insured if that’s what you’re worried about. Let me take this ‘ol bitch down and get it over.”
“It’s a he,” Lisa said.
“A… Never mind. You’re not cutting down my tree… Are you really standing here on my property arguing with me about my own goddamn tree?” She took a few steps toward him and he stepped back, flinching as he did, despite the fact that he was easily twice her size.
“Miss,” he started, but the smaller one patted him on the arm. He turned, paused, and finally seemed to realize he would not be cutting down the tree after all. “We’ll be going,” he said after a long period of silence.
Lisa didn’t wait. She walked back into the house and was backing her Honda out of the driveway before the two men had finished loading up their truck.
Lisa popped her head into Alandra’s room, but she was fast asleep. Dan looked over the top of her head.
“Okay?” He asked.
Lisa nodded, closed the door a little farther and then followed Dan down the darkened hallway to their own room.
“A talking tree,” Dan said, not quite laughing as he changed for bed.
“She believed it… Believes it… I can’t cut down her tree.”
Dan shrugged. “Willy and Timmy were pissed off.”
“So was I.” Lisa said.
“I heard.” He held up his hands. “Not that you didn’t have a right to be… I should have told you. I made a deal to just take down the tree. I figured I’d just end up trimming the thing for years… It’s a bad place… But, if it stays, it stays.”
“I didn’t say the tree talked to me,” Lisa said.
“I know,” Dan agreed.
“I feel a little defensive.”
“Don’t… It’s over.”
“Would you have done the same thing?”
“Are you kidding? Nandie crying on the phone? I would have run them both out of the yard.” He sighed.
Lisa smiled. “Okay, that made me feel better.” She reached for the light, casting the bedroom in half light from the glow of the red numerals on the clock. Dan noticed but said nothing.
“I didn’t like the other clock,” Lisa said.
He pulled her close. “Okay,” he agreed. “Red’s good.”
“Baby,” Lisa pulled back and looked up into his eyes. “Do you think, well, do you think trees can …”
“Talk,” Dan supplied.
“No, I was going to say feel pain… Weird, right?”
“Well, they’re alive, aren’t they? But pain? I don’t know… Are you serious?”
“Well, Alandra was so upset… So hurt and…”
“It was a bad dream. You know how a dream can seem at that age. Like everything… Real. Completely real to a kid.”
“I think,” Dan soothed. He pulled her closer.
Lisa snuggled her head into his chest, meaning only to close her eyes for a few moments, but she drifted off into sleep instead.
“Sissy…” Softly on the wind…
Alandra’s eyes opened in the darkness of her bedroom.
“Mister Bob,” she whispered. She sat up and looked to the window, got out of bed and walked over quietly raising the window a little. She sat down on the floor and looked up at the branches that were only a few feet outside the window. The blue-gray moon floated above the limbs far above the tree. The name came again on the wind. Softly… Barely there.
She smiled. “Mister Bob,” she whispered once more…