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 – 2018

Archive for the month “November, 2017”

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2014 – The Morning After The Day Before

Throwback Thursday 

The Morning After The Day Before

A lot of people are calling today “Black Friday,” a piece of accounting slang indicating cornish hen dinnerthat today is the day when their sales ledgers go from Red Ink to Black Ink. Many retail concerns realize the majority of their sales for the year in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What a way to live.

For me today is “The Morning After the Day Before.” It really doesn’t have a color. Everything is shrouded in an L-Tryptophan cloud. Rather than go battle the hordes of shoppers at The Mall I am spending this day fighting the urge to go back to bed or to catch a nap standing up as I wait for my coffee.

If I were to go shopping I’m sure that I would come home with – stuff. I don’t need any more stuff. My wife doesn’t need any more stuff. We really don’t need half of the stuff we have right now.

I’m just glad that I don’t have a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” store nearby. Whenever I go into that store I become enraptured by all of the “Beyond” stuff. It is like finding myself trapped inside every Infomercial extant on TV. I see piles of microwave cooking gizmos and various adhesives (in a selection of colors) that would enable me to drill holes in my boat without fear. But I don’t have a boat.

In a way it all takes me back and makes me feel young again. Strolling through a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” is like preparing to furnish a college dorm room with a wide range of stuff prohibited by the school in addition to things your mother insists that you actually need.

No, today is the day when I sit quietly in a stupor and let other people move the economy forward. I’m just not capable of being a cog in the commercial engine – tomorrow maybe, but not today. Today I am content to be little more than organic matter in size 10 shoes. I can and will respond to basic stimuli, but little more. Cogent thought and critical thinking will have to wait until the fog lifts. My wife has confirmed that I am quasi-capable of forming simple sentences aloud, but she doesn’t think I’ll be going much beyond that until Sunday. It sounds like today may be the perfect day for me to ensconce myself in ‘The Rip Van Winkle Memorial Chair’ and stumble through Netflix. Oh, look! Six thousand movies I’ve never heard of.

I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

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Blowing In The Wind

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT DINNERTIME CONVERSATIONS can sure get weird. The other night as the family was scarfing down some basic Comfort Food the flow of the conversation took a definite turn to the unusual.

“If you get cremated what do you want done with your ashes?

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Can Anyone Loan Me $450 Million?

WHERE DOES ONE GET THEIR FISTS ON HUGE SUMS OF MONEY? When I mean “huge” I’m talking about enough money to become “An avid Art collector.”

I bring this up because of a news item from a couple of weeks ago where a painting assumed to be by Leonardo Da Vinci was sold at auction for a whopping $450.3 million dollars. THAT is what I mean by “huge sums of money.” I can’t imagine how many lunches I would have to skip to get into that game. 

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Now He Belongs To The Ages

Pizza! Food of the gods! A seven course meal all on one slice! The Ultimate Survival food for when the Zombies attack!

But who can eat just one slice? Nobody I know.

Last night the whole Texas clan gathered around the dining room table and ate like there was no tomorrow. There was Meat Lovers Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza with extra cheese, Pepperoni Lovers, and Chicken with Bacon and Buffalo Sauce Pizza.  That was good for starters. Along with the big square boxes there were other boxes filled with Garlic Breadsticks, Cinnamon Breadsticks, some rather odd Potato thingies, and some little apple pie-like pastries. Oh, yeah, and two gallons of iced tea.  Gotta love those “Meal-Deals.”

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Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Two

 

Boxer  —  Part Two

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

 

“You’re either at the table or on the menu.”  —  Al Capone

 

And that was where Mike Walker came in. He was a fan of The Sweet Science.  He’d liked watching Terry fight because he knew it wasn’t just “entertainment.” He respected Terry’s work as a boxer and rewarded him by throwing some jobs his way. Mike Walker had a “Private Security” business. He was an ex-cop, a bad one, who did background checks, provided an extra pair of eyes for shopkeepers when inventories grew legs, and he collected overdue debts. Terry Jarosz entered the picture when payments got slippery.

 With ninety-five out of a hundred people who missed a payment or two it was just one look at Terry and wallets opened up. With the other five per cent – they got stupid before their money finally came across the desk. Stupid is what sent Terry to see Doc. Doc never charged Terry for helping him. He knew that The Rules were never fair for either of them.

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Apple Valley, We have A Problem

IF ANY OF YOU KNOW A GUY NAMED MIKE HUGHES please do your best to convince him to either see a Doctor or buy a lot of insurance. If you don’t know a guy named Mike Hughes just consider yourself lucky.

A limousine driver by day the Mike Hughes I’m talking about lives in the idyllic sounding town of Apple Valley, California, but he has his head in the clouds – rather low clouds. If he is not really lucky he might be leaving it there even if his feet are on the solid ground.

You see… I don’t know quite how to phrase this without sounding like I’m… like I’m Mike Hughes. Mike has a plan to launch himself in a steam powered “rocket” up into the sky in order to prove, once and for all, that the Earth is flat. I think you can see now why I am skeptical about standing too close to Mr. Hughes.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – A Day For Thanksgiving

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015

A Day For Thanksgiving

Today is a day set aside for the giving of thanks. Thanks for all sorts of things.

For some of us those thanks are mighty and great, but for others they are small and personal. Both are equally valid.

Take this day to be with your friends and family.


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“Picture If You Will…”

THE EARTH IS A BUSY and often confusing planet and sometimes things just look out of place to me. It’s kind of like when you rearrange your furniture. Until you get used to the new configuration you’re likely to stub your toe on that chair that wasn’t sitting there last week. A few of these oddities came to mind recently.

We attended a funeral recently and as we were at the cemetery for the graveside service I looked down. There in the grass by several headstones was a golf ball. A golf ball? That just seemed to be terribly out of place. True, there was a hole nearby, but…

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I May Just Skip Lunch

THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I WONDER why I get on to the internet at all. I am eternally hopeful that I will find something interesting and/or enlightening. I know that out there in the cyberworld there is something that will make me want to jump for joy and break into my happy dance. I want to be educated, inspired, entertained and feel that I am connecting with the finest fibers of the universe singing of the wisdom of humanity – and then, before I have even had my first sip of coffee, I run into this.

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You Are Getting Sleepy

I CAN AND WILL CONTINUE TO SLEEP just about anywhere. I can sleep on airplanes. I can sleep on a crowded bus. I even fell asleep on stage one time. I’m good at sleeping.

As I write this we are down in Texas once again. Family business brings us to the Corpus Christi area for the fifth month in a row and Christmas will send us south once again. This means a lot of sleeping in strange beds and some strange sleeping.

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Fiction Saturday – “Boxer”  – Part One 

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

“Our words and deeds, Good or Evil, are the dishes we put before the Lord.” 

—  Pope Severinus – 640 AD

The light shining in Doc’s kitchen was the only light on in the neighborhood. It would do. It always has before. In a couple of hours things on the street will begin to percolate, but now? Nothing good happens at three in the morning.

“I think your hand is broken, Terry.”

“No, it’s not, Doc. It’s just scraped up a little. I’ve broken it before. I know what that feels like.”

“Uh huh.”

Every knuckle on Terry’s right hand looked like he’d tried to knock down a brick wall.

“I just need you to clean it up, Doc, and tape it to keep the swelling down.” He held out his hand like it was a sledgehammer that needed repair.

 “Uh huh. What was it this time, a bar fight or what?”

“Business. Just business, Doc.”

“I swear, Terry, you get busted up more now than you ever did in The Ring.”

“Yeah, well, I gotta earn a living, right? In The Ring there were rules. Now, not so much. Different rules. I tell you, it gets hard for me sometimes to understand what the rules are.”

The peroxide washed over the scraped and bloody knuckles, stinging like hell. Nobody winced.

“What you need is a tetanus shot. You should go to the clinic for that.”

“They ask too many questions. This’ll do, Doc. This’ll do fine.”

He wiggled his fingers, testing for flexibility, and could he make a fist?

“You know, Terry, that I’m not a real doctor.”

“Yeah, I know. You went to medical school for a year or two. I heard you tell it all to Dutch, my old corner man. I remember.”

“Two years. I had two years of medical school, Terry. That’s all.”

Doc was a tall and sickly looking thin man. Skinny was more like it. His kitchen was his office and, on occasion, his surgery. This morning it was a little of both. He didn’t have a license to practice medicine. That dream died after two years and a weakness for gin. He drained away until all that was left was enough knowledge to pretend. Knowing enough to earn the nickname “Doc” that stung every time he heard it.

The gin introduced him to a different level of the culture and he got himself hired on as a “cut man’ for prize fighters. His job was to stop the bleeding and make things look not so bad when the referee came to their corner to assess the damage.

Doc knows only to blame himself. One night when he can’t hide in a haze he will open a vein and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

“I can patch you up, Terry, but Jesus, I can’t keep putting you back together forever.”

“I don’t need forever, Doc. I just need tonight. Now tape me up and I’ll go.”

“Boxing is real easy, Life is much harder.” —  Floyd Mayweather Jr.

 

Terry Jarosz, 36 years old and at one time a boxer. Middle-Weight Champion for about five minutes, a punching bag the rest of the time. A guy who struggled with the world of rules and laws.

After too many fights the damage to his body didn’t want to heal up fast enough and he couldn’t get any more matches. Permits were denied and that was that.

A guy who played by the rules in The Ring was thrown out of work by the rules from outside The Ring. He had to make a living.

Terry had to work, but it’s hard for an ex-fighter to find any work that doesn’t call on his only skills – hitting and hurting other people. At that he proved to be better than most.

He took work where he could find it. “Lift this.” “Carry that,” and more and more frequently, “Hit him. Break that.”

When he was in The Ring it was nothing personal. It was two men beating each other for the purse, or a part of the purse, after “expenses” were taken out by half a dozen men who called the shots.

Whatever else he was, Terry Jarosz was known as a hard guy who never took a dive when maybe he should have to save himself. He learned too late that in his world being an honest man paid a lot less than the other kind.

People who knew his name assumed, that because he had been a “Champ,” that he was set financially. But people who knew Boxing knew that money had a way of walking out of the door faster than a Ten Count from a crooked Referee. When Terry “retired” he had less than eight hundred dollars to his name. At least he had his name.

That got him some free meals and a few jobs, but after a year or two he became “Terry who?” Fans moved on and real friends, like always, were few and far between.

Now, working as muscle, collecting debts, it always ended up being personal. Sometimes he knew the men that he was leaning on – again for just a cut of the money. He got 5% of whatever he brought in.

It didn’t take long for word to get around that Terry Jarosz would get rough if you tried to snow him. When he first started working as a collector he was easy to fool. A good sob story and he’d end up buying you a drink or slipping you a few bucks. A couple of weeks having to sleep on a sidewalk heating vent fixed that. He learned that in his new world there was no “Loser’s Purse.” He changed. He didn’t listen to the sob stories any more. He didn’t care if your mother was in the hospital. It was either pay up or tell Momma to move over.

“A man’s gotta eat.” That became his motto.

We’re Goin’ To The HEB

WE CONTINUE TO BE DEEP IN THE…no, it’s not the heart. We’re down further than that. …Deep in the Pancreas of Texas. The weather is pleasantly warm once again and, Thank God, pretty much mosquito free.

We are staying in the old family home which is right across the street from the “Bonecrusher Arena” – the football field of Sinton High School. There was a game there last Friday night. The hometown boys lost 54 – 0. “Bonecrusher Arena,” indeed. At least they are showing improvement. The week before they lost 60 – 0.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – There Is Music In The Air

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

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The Choices Are Almost Endless, Unfortunately

WHENEVER I AM DRIVING AROUND TOWN lately I’m seeing something that makes me wonder a bit. Not a lot, just a bit. What I’m seeing are those stick figure decals on the rear windows of cars. In the beginning these decals or stickers were showing just your basic nuclear family: Mommy, Daddy, and a couple of kids.

It didn’t take long before someone added the family dog to the lineup. After that the floodgates were opened. More kids, Granny and Grandpa. If there had been a divorce the decal would show a space with a Vacancy sign.

I spent most of a quarter hour doing extensive research into this and about all I learned was that some people have incredibly bad taste.

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They Look Familiar. We Must Be Related

THERE ARE ONLY TWO TIMES when families get together en masse – weddings and funerals. Nobody got married this week. After the departed is laid to rest everyone gathers together and tells stories. They also try to figure out who are those little ones who have grown so tall since the last gathering.

There are always new babies to look at and questions asked about anyone who isn’t there. There is also someone trying to explain how and who is related to whom.

“Hiram over there is your third Cousin, twice removed, and married to Lulubelle who is actually the sister in-law to your Aunt Fedora Mae. Got it?”

“But who is that man sitting over there by the potato chips?”

“I don’t know. I thought he came with you.”

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I Didn’t Pack For This

GREETINGS, YET AGAIN, FROM TEXAS. South Texas where for the last two days it has been colder than it has been back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Ay, Caramba, hace mucho frio!”) I did not plan on this. I did not pack for this. I do not like this. The solution is: Go to Wally World and buy a sweatshirt or twelve.

I also did not pack so as to be properly dressed for a funeral. An uncle passed away suddenly a couple of days ago so we have extended our stay. Considering that my suitcase has nothing but Levis and Hawaiian shirts a more extensive shopping foray is in order. Wally World just ain’t gonna cut it.

All I really need are a pair of decent slacks and a shirt that doesn’t have palm trees on it. That and doesn’t cost too much.

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Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Conclusion

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Conclusion

A Safe Place 

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“Show me. If you didn’t kill her, who did?”

He pulled out one of the photos and held it up facing me.

“He did,” he said, pointing to the dark haired man who was younger than either of us and in a lot better shape.

“Him,” I said? “What makes you think it was him? Just because he was…” He interrupted me before I could finish my sentence.

“He told me he did it.”

Off in the distance we both heard sirens. He looked at me, an anger beginning to build in his eyes.

“Did you tip off the cops that I was here?”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t tell anybody, but you better talk fast. They’re getting closer. He told you that he’d killed your wife? When” Why?”

“I told you. While I was in jail.”

I nodded, not knowing what else to do to get him to keep talking.

“After you showed me these pictures in your office. Again, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, yeah – go on.” The sirens were getting louder. “I think your neighbors are nosier than you thought.”

“Well, after I left your office, I went down to the bar down the block. A guy accidentally bumped into me and I hit him, hard. The barkeep called the cops and I spent the next 72 hours in lockup.”

“But what about him,” I said, pointing to the naked guy in the picture? “Talk faster.”

“Him? He was one of the cops who pulled me off of the guy in the bar. He knew who I was and the next day, with me in restraints, he told me that he’d killed her a few hours after they’d hauled me in. He said that he went to see her, told her about the pictures and me being arrested. They argued, she pulled a knife on him, and it went to hell from there.

“He said that it was fun, what he did to her. Then he beat me up while I was tied to a chair.”

He teared up.

“I was released when this filthy animal did my bail. He wanted me out. If I was out when she was discovered they’d come looking for me first thing. You know that. It’s always the jealous husband. He needed me out on the streets. I was his alibi.”

The sirens had stopped and I could hear them coming up the stairs like a herd of elephants. I looked at Cumberland. He was rocking back and forth on his toes, not knowing what to do next.

Four cops came through the open door, guns drawn. I recognized one of them, even though he had his clothes on. He was smiling.

“Nobody move. You – drop the pistol if you want to live.”

I did, so I did.

“How did you know he was here,” I asked? 

“We didn’t, but we knew you were. Cumberland, you are under arrest for the murder of your wife.”

“I didn’t do it.” He was getting really agitated. I hoped he wouldn’t snap.

While the smiling cop started to read Cumberland his rights, one of the other cops took out his cuffs and moved toward the much smaller man, still in his apron.

“Stay away from me. That one,” he said, pointing at the now outright grinning cop by the door. “He’s the one who killed her, not me.” He moved around to the other side of the table. “No, stay away from me.” Cumberland looked at me for help. I was no good.

It was like watching at a cat play with a cornered, terrified, mouse. Looking at the two of them I finally believed Cumberland’s story.

“Stay away from me,” he said. Crazy and desperate, Cumberland grabbed the still hot dish of lasagna and threw it at the cop.

When the steaming mess hit the cop square in the face, he screamed in pain, and the no longer smiling cop, who I now finally believed was the killer, opened fire, hitting Cumberland square in the chest.

The shooting inquiry report read “Justified.”

———

I hate jobs like this. Snooping into bedroom windows; taking grainy photographs that are going to make somebody cry and somebody else walk out the door. Only this time two somebodies got carried out.

The End

toe tag

I’m Sure About The Letter “E.”

WELL, THIS CERTAINLY WAS A BUSY MORNING. Coffee and conversation at 6:30 AM, and a Doctor’s appointment at 9:00 AM. My dance card was filled.

Most of the conversation segment of my morning was about my impending Doctor’s appointment. How exciting.

The appointment was with an “Ophthalmologist.” That is a word meaning: “Not a guy working at the Mall.” I was going to see him for a very good reason – my vision is starting to suck. Not all of it, just the part from about 2 ft. out to about 15 ft. Closer in and farther away I am seeing as well as a 71 year old Geezer with Astigmatism can be expected to see. I can find my way around town without a dog.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – 

Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Angry gifMY OFFICE IS CROWDED TODAY. Of course, “my office,” also doubles as a corner table in the Starbucks a few blocks from home. I can usually shut out the hubbub and foot traffic around me, but today, for some reason, it is all getting on my nerves.

Most of the people in here at this time of day are college students. This location sits almost exactly halfway between two schools. On most days they have their noses deeply buried in either textbooks or computers, but not today. Today must be a day after they have gotten their grades or test scores back. It sounds like they all did well.

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A Rose By Any Other Nickname

I DROVE PAST MY NEIGHBORHOOD TACO BELL yesterday. I was glad to see that they are continuing to value their staff by naming another “Employee of the Month.” This month’s winner of the coveted “Golden Taco” is named “Ant.” That’s it. Just “Ant.” I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that “Ant” is a nickname.

“Ant,” Not “An Ant.” Thank Heavens; I’d hate to think that one of the ways to work there and be named “Employee of the Month” would be to have six legs. Although during a busy time at the restaurant that could be an asset.

Our Congratulations go out to Ant.

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