Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the month “October, 2016”

I Think I’m Going To Be Stuffed

christmas-1TODAY IS THE LAST WORKING DAY IN OCTOBER. November starts tomorrow and that means it is Unofficially the Official start of the Holiday Season.

It always seemed to me that Thanksgiving used to be the kickoff for all of the holiday madness, but over time, and with aggressive retail marketing, everything has pushed up so far that ads for Christmas toys and such are now rubbing shoulders with the Fourth of July.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirteen

 

pull-fogShe had run back to her apartment after the confrontation on the street with the drunken old man.  He knew her despite the changes in her appearance.  It sent her into a deep, dark fear that choked her.  Was there no way for her to survive?  She’d never heard of anyone outrunning the Family.  Whatever made her think that she could be the one to do it?

At first, she couldn’t sleep at all.  For three days she jumped at every sound and paced the floor for hours at a time.  Then, exhausted, she slept almost around the clock.  She hoped that it would be an escape from the fear.  It wasn’t.

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A Loss

 

SOMEONE I KNOW WAS MURDERED.

I can’t say that we had been close friends, but I knew him well enough to say that he was a good man who would go out of his way to help others – and he was murdered.

There aren’t a lot of details available yet, but four people have been arrested. They had his car and were caught after trying to use his I.D. and bank card at a local Wal-Mart. Their combination of cruelty and stupidity led to their speedy arrest. They were caught within an hour of being turned away at the store.

Good

These people decided that a car and a bank card were worth a man’s life. And now they will have to further decide if those things were worth their own lives as well.

The man they killed was well known in this area for his work with several local radio stations and the Chamber of Commerce. He and I had first interacted about 7 – 8 years ago when I was still working. I had several young clients who had expressed an interest in possibly pursuing a career in broadcasting. I contacted one of the local radio stations and they were very receptive to allowing me to bring one of the teens to the station. That was when this gentleman entered the picture.

He greeted us and took us into the studio where he was “On The Air,” Between songs and other announcements, he talked with and listened to my client. For at least an hour we all talked about the business and what it took to be a success. He was a Radio DJ, but he was also a teacher.

Several other times he allowed me to come back to the station with other kids where he lifted their eyes to goals higher than what they had thought possible.

He made a difference.

And now these stupid and heartless people have ended that – all for a trip to Wal-Mart.

Right now I don’t have anything more to say.

Throwback Thursday from October 2015

Throwback Thursday 3

From October 2015

Leaves of…uh…Leaves

covered_bridgeIT IS THE LATTER PART OF OCTOBER IN INDIANA. The trees are at their peak of Autumnal color. The leaves I saw this morning were red, yellow, gold, and blue. Blue? That turned out to be a plastic bag stuck on a branch.

People come from all over to look at the trees and go “Ooh” and “Ahhh.” After that they eat lunch and drive away. They never stay to help clean up the leaves as they fall to earth.

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Hey, Gomer!

tdn1“I’VE NEVER BEEN TO SPAIN, BUT I HAVE BEEN TO GOMER.”

OK, so that is a paraphrase of the old Three Dog Night song and I have to agree that the Gomer part doesn’t work. But I have been to Gomer.

Recently my wife, the lovely and true to her calling, Dawn, and I made a short visit to the town of Gomer, Ohio. We had to drive there (260 miles) because the Gomer International Airport was fogged in.

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Things That Go Boom In The Night

boom1IN THE MIDST OF ALL THE OTHER THINGS IN THE NEWS there has been word of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 cell phones. It seems that they have developed a nasty habit of exploding and bursting into flames. I always thought that dropping a call was as upsetting as a phone could get. I didn’t think that my phone could ever go Super Nova on me.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twelve

 

pull-fed-office“Nothing.  Not a peep.”

“She has really gone to ground.”

“Well, she has to come up for air sometime, and when she does we’ll grab her.  They always do and we always do.”

Special Agent Paxton sat behind his desk in New York.  He toyed with his pen as he looked at the ever-growing file on Beverly Deltino.

Agent Thomas Markosi was sitting at another desk, going through the daily field reports, hoping for something that they might be able to use, some little gem of information.  There were no gems today.

Reports from offices around the country all said much the same thing: Nobody has seen her.  Nobody has heard anything.  Not even a whisper.  The lady was gone.

Markosi looked down at her photo, but it was Paxton who spoke to her.

“Beverly, where in the hell are you?  We get more tips on sightings of Elvis.”

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I Decline To Recline

retired1EVEN THOUGH I’M TECHNICALLY RETIRED I still find my days filled. I’m not “busy,” but “occupied.” And I don’t mind that at all. I think it helps to keep my mind and body just clicking along.

We have all known people who have retired only to take up permanent residence in a recliner in front of the TV. That is what they do – and they are dead within a year. These are also the same people who, if you asked them to tell you about themselves, would start off by talking about what they did for a living. I’ve never understood people like that.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015

Throwback Thursday 1From October 2015

Start Planning Your Vacation Now!

Casey windchimeIT IS PART OF HUMAN NATURE to want to excel, to be the best, at whatever one attempts. That is why we keep records of achievement. Sports keep records of just about every facet of a game, important or not. This mania for record keeping is why there is such a thing as the Guinness Book of World Records.

Starting in 1955, the Guinness Book of World Records now keeps track of more than 6,000 records with 50,000 attempts annually to break into The Book.

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The Panic in Plastic Cup Park

newbies“I HOPE YOU CAN GET SOME COFFEE MADE BY SOMEONE YOU KNOW.”

It sounds like I want to be served by a Groupie, doesn’t it? Not so.

That quote came from the lips of my wonderful wife, the lovely and tea sipping, Dawn, as I headed off to St. Arbucks this morning.

Her words came in response to my mild grumbling about having to deal with Baristas-in-training for the last few days.

Now, before you start to jump up and down on my allegedly elitist throat, let me explain the circumstances behind my curmudgeonosity.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole in After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Eleven

 

pull-safewayFeeling more secure and more self-confident, the woman newly reborn as Laura Smith planned another late-night foray out to the supermarket.  Her tiny refrigerator was empty and her cravings for some fresh foods were strong.

She avoided Chestnut after leaving her apartment, staying on the dark and quiet residential side streets as she made her way to the Marina Safeway.

The brightly-lit market was busy, like before, and she was getting used to the come-ons made by perfect strangers, both male and female.  It was no longer terrifying, just annoying.

Her new look worked well to help her blend into California’s cultural mindset.  She was now just one more blonde adrift in a state of thirty million blondes.  Her looks no longer screamed “New York Italian.”

She took her time, dawdling in the deli section and tasting the tiny samples of cheese and salami that were set out on the counter.

 

At a little before 3  a.m., she headed back to her apartment with two plastic shopping bags filled with some necessities and a few small luxuries.  Among these was a pint carton of Ben & Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” ice cream.  She decided to take Chestnut Street back.  It was a shorter, quicker route and the plastic bags were already cutting into her fingers.

The street was still busy with the remnants of the late night partiers reluctantly working their way back home.  The hum of activity never really stopped on Chestnut Street.

She walked slowly.  The bags were heavy and the lack of exercise in the last few weeks had stolen her muscle tone.

She missed going to the gym.  She was used to a three times a week regimen of Tae-Bo, Pilates and Zumba.  Being in your early thirties meant that regular workouts were needed to keep fit.  Of course, the near addiction to Cherry Garcia didn’t help.

As she crossed Fillmore Street, her mind on the melting ice cream, two men stepped through two different doorways on the other side of Chestnut.  She didn’t see either of them.

Carl “Tucky” Santi was seventy-one years old.  He had grown up in New York City and had earned his bones as a soldier for the Roncalli Family.  After his wife died, he retired to California to be near his daughter and the grandkids.  He spent too much time in restaurants and bars for a man his age.  So said both his daughter and his cardiologist.

Tonight was typical.  He was closing the bar at Pasquale’s, half drunk, sleepy and missing the pull-pasquales“Back in the day” of his youth.

Santi stood on the corner waiting for the light to change.  His car was parked illegally up on the sidewalk of a nearby side street.  He adjusted his belt to give his belly a little more breathing space and looked around at the other people still out at this hour.  Across the street, he noticed a good-looking blonde who seemed vaguely familiar.  Tucky Santi may have been retired, but he still kept up to date with the news from back home in New York.  He had to check out this blonde.

He hitched up his trousers and crossed the street against the light.  A taxi had to swerve to miss him.  Not even noticing the cab, he fell in behind the blonde and slowly closed the gap between the two of them.  He wanted to be sure.  It looked like her, but the hair was much shorter and the color was wrong.

The second man stepping onto Chestnut Street was Davis Lovejoy, an accountant.  He was unmarried, a transplant from Cleveland.  He lived in the Marina District and his life was as dull as dirt.

Lovejoy was leaving the donut shop just down the block from Pasquale’s.  He was working late at home and had taken a break to stretch his legs and to get a little something sweet.  His pale blue eyes, streaked with red from too many hours staring at a computer screen, needed the break as well.

pull-chestnut-streetHe was a self-employed accountant.  He did the books for several of the small businesses in the neighborhood, including the donut shop.

Holding his coffee in one hand and the small paper bag with an apple fritter in the other, he yawned and headed home.  Quarterly tax filings were due soon.  It was crunch time for all accountants.

Laura realized that she was still more than a half-pound paranoid.  She felt that everybody on the street was looking at her.  It may have been a lot of paranoia, but that was better than a lot of dead.

She stopped at the corner of Mallorca Street to let a minivan turn the corner in front of her.  She looked at the driver–always checking.

“Hello, Beverly.”

Tucky Santi was right behind her.

In one fluid motion she stepped to the side, dropped one of the plastic bags, and threw an elbow at the voice behind her.  Too old a cat to be fooled by the kittens, Santi had already stepped back out of range.

“Now, Beverly, stop that,” he said, gently scolding her.  His speech was slurred from too much wine.

She turned to look at whoever this was.

“Who are you?  Leave me alone.”  She didn’t recognize him.  It had been too many years.

“Beverly, it’s me, Carl Santi, Tucky.  I was at your wedding, remember?  My Rosa and me, we gave you the pasta machine.  Remember?”

This wasn’t paranoia anymore.  She slowly set the other bag on the sidewalk, not taking her eyes off of the fat old man.

“So, Beverly, how are you?  How’s your father?”

“Leave me alone,” she pleaded.  “You have me mixed up with somebody else.”

She ran through her short list of options: He was old.  He was obviously drunk.  She thought that, maybe, she could just “BS” her way out of this.

“Maybe he doesn’t know I left Dominic,” she prayed.

“Dominic wants you and his money back in New York,” Tucky slurred.

He knew.  She looked at him.  He was weaving slowly, but he had his eyes locked on hers.  The blood ran from her face.  She never thought that it would be a drunken old man who would catch her.

“C’mon, Beverly.  You can stay with me and my daughter tonight.”  He reached out and grabbed her tightly by the arm.

It was time for her to save herself, again.

“Help!  Rape!  Rape!  Help!”

Her cries caught the attention of everyone on the street.  They all looked toward the corner and saw a woman struggling with a larger, older man.  He was grabbing at her as she screamed and fought to get away.

On the opposite corner, the overworked accountant saw the scuffle.  His parents had raised him to be a responsible citizen and to help people in need, especially women.

He dropped his coffee and pastry and ran into the intersection, dodging traffic.  No second thoughts were necessary.

Santi moved in close and took her by both wrists and was trying to drag her down the street toward his car.  She managed to get one arm free and was about to deliver a punch to his solar plexus when Davis Lovejoy, accountant and would-be hero, arrived on the scene.

“Let her go, Mister,” he yelled.

“Stay out of this kid,” Santi bellowed.  Lovejoy could smell the wine on his breath.

Santi was losing his grip on the much younger and sober woman as she twisted and began to go on the offensive.  She glanced at the man who had come to her aid.  The situation was getting more complicated by the moment.

Lovejoy moved to flank the attacker.  He reached out.  He wanted to get the old man down on the ground.  The retired mob soldier lashed out and delivered a beefy backhand across the younger man’s face.  The accountant reeled and fell to the sidewalk, stunned by the power of the blow.

Tucky Santi’s alcohol-fueled adrenaline was kicking in.  He threw a wild punch.  It missed her by a foot.  They all stopped and stared at each other.  This was not working for anybody.

Santi realized, through his wine induced haze, that he wasn’t capable of dragging the younger woman away.  He had to get help.  He reached into his coat pocket for the cell phone that his daughter had insisted he carry “just for emergencies, Papa.”  If he could call someone to come help him he would score some big points with the people in New York.  He could be involved again, a Player.

Laura realized that if this old New York soldier called for reinforcements that she would have, maybe, ten minutes before the streets would be permanently unavailable to her.

Davis Lovejoy, still down on the sidewalk, could see that the old man was fumbling with his phone and walking away.  The woman seemed to be in no immediate danger.  But he wanted to hold the drunk for the police.

Trying to push the tiny buttons on his phone, Santi moved toward the street for better lighting.  He pointed a shaking finger at Laura and hissed, “You don’t belong here.”

Stumbling on the uneven curb, he lurched out into the street and into traffic, just in time to get up close and personal with a large orange San Francisco Municipal Railway trolley bus, its power poles sparking on the overhead wires as it crossed the intersection.

The bus driver never saw the man until he reeled out in front of the accelerating coach.  From the way that the old man hit the pavement, the twenty-three-year veteran driver knew that the poor guy was dead.  So did everyone else who witnessed the accident.  Carl Santi’s body had crumbled like a stale Saltine when it slammed onto the concrete pavement.

He looked much smaller dead.muni-fatal

People from both sides of the street ran over to get a closer look.  Traffic came to a complete halt.  It was just shy of 3:30 a.m.

Davis Lovejoy stared at the old man’s dead body.  He wondered out loud about what had just happened here.  Who was this guy…and the woman?  The woman…?

He turned back to the sidewalk.  She was gone.  In all the hubbub, she had just walked away into the late night fog.  Her groceries were scattered all over the sidewalk.

The Police and paramedics arrived on the scene in minutes.  Witnesses gave fifteen versions of what had gone down.  The majority said that the old man was drunk, violent, and that he had stumbled out in front of the bus on his own.  It was nobody’s fault but his.  The accountant was questioned and released to go back to his tax forms.  He wouldn’t need any coffee or sugary treats to stay awake now.

Laura hurried back to her apartment and cried for the first time since she had arrived in San Francisco.  It was partly from relief and partly from the fear of realizing her vulnerability.  She was safe for the moment, but until she felt up to another shopping trip, it was back to cheese crackers and Diet Pepsi.

to be continued8

I Shouldn’t Have Done It 

crabs1I TRY TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR. I REALLY DO. I don’t complain when their dog howls at every passing siren, or when their son, who will never grow up to be a professional athlete, accidently tosses a ball over the fence into our yard.

The neighbors are younger than us so I try to not be the cliché “Grumpy Next Door Neighbor.” However, yesterday I shook the young father’s world a bit. I’m almost ashamed of myself.

Almost.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015

Throwback Thursday1From October 2015

More Questions Than Answers

bear in carTODAY IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE POSTS about the strange behavior of the human animal. If you have already heard or read about this please feel free to talk amongst yourselves or go get a piece of cake.

The dateline on the news item, and I use the word “News” very loosely, was Yekaterinburg, Kazakhstan. We’re talking Central Asia here, a place where I might think that isolation from – everywhere else – can play practical jokes with your brain. The gist of this story was something that the AAA magazine would never have printed I am sure.

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Don’t Waste Your Time, Or Mine.

dead1WHEN IT COMES TO DEATH I JUST DON’T SEE MUCH OF A FUTURE IN IT. But don’t get me wrong.

While it does have a downside (usually six feet down) it can also have an upside.

Dying, after a reasonable amount of time, would cut into the amount of junk mail one receives. It might also eliminate a lot of those annoying phone calls from India telling you that, “Your computer may have a virus.”

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A Postponement

burns

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.”

— Robert Burns

Translated into modern American English:

“Let’s take a look at Plan B.”

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday – 

Chapter Ten

 

1472855494421“What do you mean, you can’t find her?”

“I mean, Dominic, that so far, we haven’t found her.  I did trace her as far as Boston, but that’s it, as of today.”

Tony Ponti, one of Dominic’s numbers managers and a friend since their childhood on the streets, shrugged his shoulders and sat down.

“‘So far’ is right, you monkey.  I want her back here,” hissed Dominic and he pounded his fist on the table in frustration.  His coffee cup jumped and splashed a few drops onto the tabletop.

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Pass Me A Napkin

sneeze-1IF YOU MET ME FOR THE FIRST TIME at 7:00 in the morning you would think that I was the great-grandson of “Typhoid Mary” (Look it up). For reasons known only to God and the makers of Kleenex I tend to go on a sneezing jag most mornings. It doesn’t matter that I may feel fine and am infectious microbe free. I sneeze.

For a good 45 seconds up to a half hour I look like I am possessed by demons as I lurch and make disgusting noises. Nobody wants to shake my hand in the morning. Hey, I wouldn’t want to shake my own hand.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015

Throwback Thursday 2Throwback Thursday from October 2015

Love Among The Lattes

Barista weddingIT’S NOT OFTEN that you can have an, “Awwwww,” moment at St. Arbucks. Most of the time I have “Oh, for crying out loud,” moments there.

But not yesterday.  It was, “Awwwww,” all around.

Two members of the St. Arbucks Corp of Baristas were on the scene to make an announcement – they were going to be getting married!

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Hurry Up And Wait

ticking-clock-oHERE I AM SITTING AND WAITING. I’m waiting for it to be time to go – and then wait some more. I have a Doctor’s appointment at 9:20 this morning. My eyes popped open at 6:15 AM. So I wait.

After all of my usual morning ablutions and minor chores – make tea, sort out my daily meds, and prop my eyes open with toothpicks so I don’t nod off at the kitchen table. I have nothing left to do but wait.

Rather than wait at home I figured that I might as well loiter at St. Arbucks. There are two advantages to that

  1. I don’t find myself wasting brain cells watching the Today Show
  2. At St. Arbucks I can get a croissant.

The ones we had left at home had a nice blue patina. There are very few blue foods and I won’t eat most of those.

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I Liked Chad the Pilot

IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME since I’ve flown on Southwest Airlines. Their schedules and ours just never seemed to coincide. When we wanted to go to Florida they wanted us to go to Phoenix. When we wanted to go to Phoenix they had a nifty plane ready to whisk us off to sunny Anchorage. I couldn’t tell if they didn’t really want us or if they were just playing hard to get. Those little teasers.

Then, out of the clear blue of the western sky all of the pieces fell into place. We wanted to go to Texas and Southwest said, “OK, just once, but don’t think this means we’re easy. We’re not that kind of airline.”

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