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, 2017”

Memories

I HAVE A FRIEND IN CALIFORNIA. Actually I have more than one, but the one I’m thinking of lives and works north of San Francisco smack in the middle of the area recently hit with terrible wildfires. He and his family were evacuated as the flames moved close to their home.

I cannot imagine how that must feel – to walk out of your home, leaving everything behind. It must be humbling at the very least.

Read more…

Lost And Found

I LIKE TO CONSIDER MYSELF A PRETTY “WITH IT” KID OF GUY. I may not know where I am all of the time, but I’m never lost. I have my act together. Some people think I’ve lost my mind, but I think they are the crazy ones or they are family.

One thing that I don’t do very often is lose stuff. I try to not have too much stuff to begin with so there is less to keep track of. It’s a simple formula. There are people, however, who go around losing stuff all of the time.

Read more…

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Five

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Five

 

A Safe Place

lasagna On my way through the lobby I peeked into their mailbox – nothing – and a chill ran down my spine. By now that box should have been stuffed with junk mail if nothing else.

The yellow “Crime Scene” tape was still stretched across their door. I could taste my lunch again.

I was hoping that I was wrong, but when I grabbed the knob and it turned, I knew that I wasn’t. I took my weapon out of my pocket. My palm was sweating, along with everything else.

Considering what Cumberland had already done, I was scared about what I’d be up against when I opened the door. I’m no superhero. I’m just a guy with limited corporate world job skills trying to keep myself fed.

I turned the doorknob as slowly as I could, hoping it wouldn’t squeak. When I pushed the door open a crack I could see that a light was on somewhere in the apartment. I could smell something too – something familiar – Lasagna? It smelled like one of those frozen lasagna dinners I buy myself. And garlic bread. I could hear someone singing.

When I stepped inside the front room I could tell that the smells and the singing were coming from the kitchen near the rear of the apartment. I headed that way moving from area rug to area rug to cover my footsteps. The dining room table was set for one. A bottle of Chianti was open next to a single wine glass.

I stepped into the kitchen doorway. The floor creaked and Cumberland turned around. He was holding the lasagna with both hands. He had on two red oven mitts and an apron asking me to kiss the chef. I passed.

 I thought he would look surprised, at least, or maybe throw the steaming lasagna at me – but he didn’t. He didn’t move. He smiled. That I didn’t see coming.

“I heard you come in. I’ve been expecting you, sooner or later. Would you like some lasagna? There’s plenty.”

I’m standing in this guy’s kitchen with my gun aimed at his guts and he asked me to join him for supper.

“I’m not hungry.” That was a lie. “I have to take you in. You know that.”

“Yeah, I know. But, like I said before, I didn’t do it. How could I kill her? I loved her. Can you believe that?”

“Even after I showed you those pictures of her and…?”

“I know. That really hurt me. I guess I knew it already that she was playing around, but your pictures – that hurt.”

He had tears in his eyes. He wiped them away with the oven mitt.

“And I’m sorry about your office. I just went nuts. But I didn’t kill her. I couldn’t have killed her – even though…. I can prove I didn’t kill her.  I have an alibi.”

“What kind of alibi?”

“I was already in jail.”

“What are you talking about – in jail?”

He smiled again and started moving toward me. I lifted my revolver and aimed it between his eyes.

“Stop right there, Cumberland. Don’t get any closer or I will shoot you dead.”

He stopped. “Can I just set this down? It’s getting heavy and it is hot. These are cheap oven mitts. I’ll put it down on the table and I’ll back up. OK?”

It seemed like a reasonable thing to ask. “OK, but no funny business. I’m a good shot.” That was lie too. I’d be lucky to hit him at all even though he was only five feet away. I hoped that my shaking knees weren’t obvious.

He did like he said. He put the lasagna down on a straw trivet, then went back to where he started. He closed the oven door and threw his mitts on the range top. I didn’t like his additions to our agreement. I told him so.

When he crossed his arms and leaned against the stove I asked him, “You were already in jail? What kind of line are you trying to hand me?”

“I’m trying to hand you the killer – if you’re interested. Are you interested or are you just going to shoot me and close the case?

My knees stopped shaking and my heart started pounding.

Trust Me, I’m A Doctor

SOME MORNINGS WHEN I CAN’T GET my regular seat in the corner at St. Arbucks (Cursed interlopers!) I am forced by circumstances to plop down next to a group of early morning Geezers and Geezerettes. They are nice enough folks but I’m not isolated enough to do my writing uninterrupted.

A couple of that group are in the medical field and work at a nearby hospital. When they start chatting about things medical I can’t help but eavesdrop, big time. As a result I have picked up little bits and pieces of information about obscure medical conditions – and you know what they say about little bits of knowledge. I am now, officially, a dangerous man. I now feel qualified to make snap diagnoses on everyone who walks through the door.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 – I Told You This Was A Bad Idea

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 

I Told You This Was A Bad Idea

20151028_135610WELL, I NEVER THOUGHT THEY COULD PULL IT OFF. I was right. Today was the day at St. Arbucks when the baristas were planning to dress up as the customers. It was supposed to be a real laugh riot. It wasn’t.

First of all, I never expected The Boss to give her imprimature on the whole idea. “Dress up like the customers? I don’t think that is a good idea.” But she did give it her OK. Something I’ll bet she now regrets.

I thought that it would be a bad idea because there are some customers around here who are just a tiny step away from an extended visit to the Thorazine Hotel, and seeing someone looking like them staring back at them from across the counter might be enough to push them over the edge.

I now know that I shouldn’t have worried about that because, as they say in the closing credits of most movies, – “Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.”

When I walked into the Chapel earlier this morning I was met by one of the crew wearing a tee-shirt and blue jeans and sporting what was planned to look like a white moustache. The moustache was painted on. I didn’t say anything because, at first look, I was concerned that the white stuff on her upper lip was some kind of medication.

Did she burn her upper lip? If so, how? Perhaps I shouldn’t ask. She might be sensitive about it, being so obvious.

It never occurred to me that it was part of a costume meant to look like one of the Drive-Thru customers. My bad. When I asked The Boss about it she told me that she thought it looked like an application of “Nair” –  there in an effort to get rid of the gal’s real moustache. Ouch.

It was several minutes later when one of the other members of the crew began to berate me.

“You’re not wearing a Hawaiian shirt!” she snarled at me.

“It’s 50 degrees out there and raining – of course I’m not wearing a Hawaiian shirt.”

That was when I was finally informed that today was “Customer Costume Day” at St. Arbucks. You could have fooled me, and they did, I guess.

As far as I am concerned it all looked more like, “We All Dressed in the Dark Day” at St. Arbucks. Is how they have dressed today what they think we, the customers, really look like?  I’ve always felt that I have a bit of dash and flair in my wardrobe, and not like I’ve been Dumpster Diving after a nice three-week camping trip in the City Park fighting with the squirrels over loose chestnuts.

So far today the barista who is allegedly dressing like me has not shown up for work. At least I don’t think so. I see no Hawaiian shirts, no baseball caps, no remarkably outstanding example of Machismo and Adonis-like good looks.

I won’t be surprised if the “other me” doesn’t show up. After all, who wants to go out in a cold, rainy, blustery day while trying to maintain a persona like mine? I have enough trouble keeping the Original together. I just can’t envision some amateur trying to do it.

Uh-Oh, she just showed up. This is one brave girl. She dresses impeccably, as you can tell. The only problem is – she is so slim that she makes me look like The Hindenburg. For those of you under fifty – look it up.

Next year I will suggest that the crew at St. Arbucks all dress up like The Boss. I think that would be fun – if The Boss doesn’t fire them all, that is. If she does fire them all, then it was a bad idea and I will disclaim any knowledge of it.

I’m Planting Seeds

IT IS BARELY 6:30 AM AND PEOPLE ARE ALREADY ARGUING WITH EACH OTHER. I’m not sure what they are arguing about but they sure have their BP numbers going north. At this time of day I cannot imagine what could be so important to warrant turning purple over.

Maybe it’s me. I find that there are very few things worth arguing about at any time of day. Most arguments don’t accomplish anything positive – unless you are a Paramedic or an Undertaker.

I’m sitting across the room from the verbal combatants and I can’t hear them well enough to determine the topic.

Read more…

That Is One Ugly Dog

There are dogs everywhere in Terre Haute (That’s French for “That is one ugly dog.”). I like dogs, but a dog is not always what it seems.

The other day I was about to head off from home to take care of some errands and chores around town. I’d already had my morning coffee and I was ready to face the day.

I got into the Toyota and headed down the driveway. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some motion coming my way. “Oh,” I said to myself. “A dog is coming down the street.” I stopped the car out of sheer courtesy. As the dog approached I again spoke to myself. “Oh, that is one ugly dog.” Then the dog passed right in front of me as I sat in the car. It was then that I spoke to myself yet once more – this time out loud.

Read more…

What Is That Up There?

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE SOMETHING NEW COMES ALONG that makes me sit up and take notice. It is not often mind you, but when that something shows up I will be the first on my block to applaud.

The latest thing that has grabbed my attention is one of those things that can be both amazing and annoying – DRONES – those flying gizmos that seem to be everywhere.

Drones are being used by everyone from the Military, to Sports teams, to every Techno-nerd in town. I don’t have a drone and I don’t want one. It is like tattoos – I can appreciate the skill it takes to make them, but I’m not going to get one just to follow the fad.

Read more…

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Four

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Four

A SAFE PLACE

“…I didn’t do it. I didn’t kill her.”giphy-9

If I’ve heard some guy say that once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. What else is he going to say? “I did it. I’m guilty.” Not in this state.

Cumberland was a small guy, but when his temper gets let loose, like it did in my office, he could play Linebacker for the Rams. He could easily have done to his wife what I saw when I got a look at her on the floor of their apartment.

Now all I wanted to do was nab him. If I could take him in alive, so much the better, then the people would at least get a trial for all of their tax money. I’m not getting paid for this chase, but the cops are getting a lot of overtime on their paychecks. I want him because he used me to give his lawyer a possible defense.

There’s no doubt that he is as insane as they come, but in my book he’s guilty too.

 “…I didn’t do it. I didn’t kill her.”

It always amazes me how someone like Cumberland can hide so that me and the whole police force can’t find him. This isn’t that big of a city and everybody in town has seen his face a thousand times by now. Is he hanging out at the Society for the Blind, or what? Where is he sleeping now that I’ve queered the Mission for him? Is he cooking rabbits in the Park? I need some sleep. I’m going home and get some rest. I’ll take something out of the freezer and…No. That can’t be.

I didn’t have time to call my hired goon to back me up. I was going to go solo on this. If it didn’t pan out, I’d look like a fool all by myself, but if it did – I slipped two extra speed loaders into my coat pocket.

I hadn’t been down there since that first day when they found her body. The forensics people had been in and left with bags of stuff. So did the coroner.

 On my way through the lobby I peeked into their mailbox – nothing – and a chill ran down my spine. By now that box should have been stuffed with junk mail if nothing else.

The yellow “Crime Scene” tape was still stretched across their door. I could taste my lunch again.

 

The Call Of The Wild

SOME MORNINGS IT’S JUST A FESTIVAL OF WILDLIFE in our backyard, not counting me.

Most mornings when I come out to get to the car it is still dark and as I glance around the yard I can see pairs of glowing eyes looking back at me. Yesterday morning, however, it was like  Siegfried and Roy were holding auditions out there. I got into the car and when I turned on the headlights – Ta-Da!

First on the bill was a large raccoon clinging to the side of the tree right in front of me. It had that usual raccoon look on its face – “What? What? You got a problem with me?” I think raccoons are the Joe Pesci of the animal world. We made eye contact and had an interspecies moment there.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 – More Questions Than Answers

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 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.

It seems that motorists hurrying on their way to other parts of Kazakhstan saw a guy driving down the road with a live bear sitting in the backseat of his car. Up at the start of this posting is a picture of the bear in question hanging out of the car window, possibly asking for directions to the nearest asylum for the Seriously Wacky. I have to admit that if I was driving along and saw a bear in the car in front of me I would also try to get a picture – just to give to the driver’s family, in case things didn’t end peacefully, and the bear had lawyered up.

To give due credit to the local Kazakhstanian police, they did pull the guy over. One peek into the backseat and I’m sure those cops were wishing that they were going up against terrorists, drug-crazed bank robbers or even Mary Kay Sales Reps instead.

Cut to several steps closer to the chase – the Kazakhstanian CHiPs sent the guy on his way, along with his bear, but without any kind of traffic citation ticket.

It seems, that according to Kazakhstanian Law it is perfectly legal to drive around with a live bear in your car – provided that the bear is wearing a seatbelt – and the bear in the backseat was, indeed, wearing his seatbelt.

This whole thing brings several questions to mind.

How in the heck did the guy get the bear buckled up without being mauled into an early grave?

 Since the bear allowed itself to be put in the backseat and properly belted in – I’m guessing that this was not the bear’s maiden voyage in a car. Just by the fact that the bear was in the backseat tells me that the guy wasn’t driving a Mini Cooper.

Was driver training next on the agenda?

Does this sort of thing go on in Kazakhstan often enough to warrant such safety conscious legislation?

Nowhere in the news item did it ever mention if anyone bothered to find out why the guy had the bear in the first place and where were they headed. I can’t imagine that there are too many spots one can go with your bear tagging along. I know that such places would be limited here, so I can imagine there would be fewer in, say, Yekaterinburg, Kazakhstan. At least I hope so.

In more local Terre Haute news (That’s French for “Bears under 100# must be in an approved car seat.”) bears have recently been spotted in northern Indiana. There is no word on whether or not these bears are émigrés from Kazakhstan or simply bears from the Detroit area looking for work.giphy

Bagels And Lisinopril

AS I FIND IT NECESSARY to do every so often I had to arrange for refills on my 8, 237 different meds that I take to control my Blood Pressure, my Spontaneous Human Combustion, and to keep my eyes from migrating so that they are both on the same side of my face (like a flounder). I don’t really care about the second and third conditions, but the BP thing is kind of important.

Let’s all repeat: “Blood Pressure is good.”

Read more…

I, The Jury

EARLY THIS MORNING I WAS QUIETLY SLUMPED OVER MY COFFEE when I overheard a conversation from the next table. It seems that one of the men sitting there had been called for Jury Duty. My ears began to twitch and I inched a little closer.

The gentleman said that he reported to the County Courthouse the day before anxious and willing to do his civic duty. Apparently that was when things began to fall apart.

Read more…

There Are Questions That I Cannot Answer

ONE OF MY MORNING RITUALS, AFTER SAYING “THANK YOU,” putting on my socks, etc. is to check my email. Most mornings I get about 20 new messages from around the globe. Some are trying to sell me something, some are unleashing thunderbolts of wisdom that have been common knowledge since the 14th century, and some are asking me questions. Some of the questions are philosophical, some are more “religious,” and the rest are in reference to the blog and are your basic “What in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks are you talking about?”

Read more…

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Three

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Three

 

A Safe Place – Continued

Jesus_saves

I was going to bring him in. I know that he says that he didn’t do it – that he didn’t kill her – they all do, but after that business in my office, I found it hard to believe.

I outweigh him by a good sixty pounds, but he tossed my desk around like it was made of cardboard and the look in his eyes made me think of King Kong swatting at those airplanes on the top of the Empire State Building.

I went into the Mission through the loading dock. I sent my guy in the front door. If he spotted Cumberland he was to start whistling so I could come in from behind. It’s not much of a plan, but when there’s just two of you, you go with it and hope you get lucky.

A couple of men in the dock area told me to go around to the front door, but once I flashed my badge (which I bought at Woolworth’s for seventy-nine cents, including plastic handcuffs and magnifying glass) they backed off. Most of these guys in the Mission have been rousted by goons with even cheaper looking badges than mine, so they didn’t push it.

I snaked my way through the ground floor and headed up the back stairs to the dining room. That’s where I figured we’d find him. Even a scrawny King Kong has to eat. When I opened the door from the kitchen I heard my guy whistling loud and clear. I might not have chosen, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was whistling for all he was worth. Cumberland was in the room – but where? There were at least a hundred and fifty guys in there. The stock market must have dived.

With that many men waiting in line, and all of them dressed pretty much the same – Skid Row Chic – it wasn’t going to be easy. And Cumberland didn’t stand more than five foot-seven. He could hide behind somebody’s wide lapels.

I started moving up one side of the room and The Whistler did the same. It was like walking through a field of corn, looking down each row. I was still hoping to spot him first and then try to get him down and cuffed before he had time to go ape on us. In that room there would be no telling how many people might be on his side.

About halfway down, nearer the back by the main door, I saw some movement – like a fight was about to break out. That doesn’t happen here, especially at meal time. Nobody wanted to get tossed out before they got fed.

As I moved closer I saw him. He had seen me first and was making a break for the staircase to the main floor and the street. He was moving fast and had a head start. I was on the wrong side of the room.

I yelled at my hired hand to go after him as I pushed my way through the food lines.

“Cumberland! Stop! We’ve got you surrounded!” It couldn’t hurt to try.

He didn’t stop and neither did we. As he reached the door to the street he turned. Everybody froze. I was partway down the stairs.

“I told you before, I didn’t do it. I didn’t kill her. I loved her.”

“I don’t believe you, Cumberland. The police don’t believe you. Nobody believes you.”

I reached for my pistol, but thought better of it. There were too many people still coming into the Mission to make a clean shot and, anyway, I wanted him alive. But it wasn’t going to happen that night. He was gone – again.

Two Worth Watching

LATELY WE – READ MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND SIGNIFICANTLY TALENTED, DAWN, AND I – have been doing a lot of binge watching on those evenings when there are no Giants games on TV.

Our binging has had us plowing through four seasons of American History with “Turn – Washington’s Spies.”

“Turn” follows actual historical characters through the ups and downs of the American Revolution from the American and British viewpoints.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 – “The Oscar Meyer What?

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015

The Oscar Meyer What?

20151009_095409

THERE ARE SOME DAYS WHEN THE WORLD JUST SHORT-SHEETS MY MIND.  I don’t take it personally. I know that the rest of humanity’s billions has it happen to each and every one of them too.

Today’s little, “Say What?” happened when I went to the pharmacy and headed back to the car. When I stepped outside I was greeted by what you see in the picture off to the right.

Now, I have seen the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile  before. This must be the Sports Model. It appears to be built on the frame of a Mini Cooper. Therefore I feel awkward calling it a true Weinermobile – it is more of a Vienna Sausage Mobile. An Hors d’oeuvre. Ram a toothpick through it.

Read more…

Veeck (As In Wreck)

THERE ARE INVENTORS, CREATORS, AND INNOVATORS and then there was Bill Veeck.

If you are a baseball fan, a REAL baseball fan, you already know about Bill Veeck. Even if you are just a casual fan of The Game you are aware of his influence of the game.

The ivy on the walls of Chicago’s Wrigley Field? Thank Bill Veeck. That was his idea. He was always coming up with something. Honestly however, not all of his ideas were successful or appreciated.

Veeck would tell the story that in the early 1940s, when he was part owner of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers; he installed a portable screen that raised the height of the outfield wall. When the opposing team was at bat the screen would go up – and it was lowered when the Brewers were at bat. That lasted all of one day before the league banned it.

Read more…

I Don’t Want To Know The Score

“O, HAIL THE MIGHTY SYCAMORES!” At home along the banks of the Wabash. There, that sounds majestic enough. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense though when you’re talking about a football team.

The Indiana State University football team goes by the fearsome name of “The Fighting Sycamores.” Doesn’t that just put a tremor loose in your heart? No. Me neither.

Their football stadium is about a minute away from our front door. We can hear the bands at halftime and the oohing and ahhhing of the crowds. When the Fighting Sycamores score a touchdown they fire off a cannon in sheer delight. We haven’t heard the cannon much lately.

Read more…

It’s Only Natural

HURRICANES IN TEXAS AND FLORIDA. Earthquakes in Mexico and even in our Midwest. Typhoons in the Pacific. The Earth is busy.

This is just the perfect set of circumstances that spawn the rise of wild-eyed cults. The fact that September was National Mushroom Month didn’t help. Experience has shown that when things get weird, the weird get weirder.

It’s kind of like how in really hot weather there are some people who seem to come out of the woodwork and go seriously strange. And don’t even ask about the effects of a Full Moon.

Read more…

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: