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 “August, 2019”

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Eleven

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Eleven

 

“What do you want to know about Nate anyway? If you already know that he says he wants to kill you – that should be enough.”

It’s hard to argue with basic logic, but I was never good at accepting the obvious. So here I am talking to a jockey with a beer belly who still has a gun in his hand.

“I want to know where he is! I want to find him so I can stop him from killing me.”

“Wait long enough and he’ll find you. Then you two can have a nice chit-chat before he slits your throat.”

“Well, my short not my friend, the trick is that I want to find him before he finds me.”

I didn’t think that was funny, but the little wise guy was giggling.

“So you can slit his throat? I wouldn’t advise trying that. He’s younger than you; in better shape for sure, and he is one sneaky son of a gun.”

This was like talking to a dog. The movement of my lips was keeping his attention, but nothing was getting through to him. Time to start over.

“Let me go back to the beginning. OK? Square one? Are you with me?”

“Shoot, Pal. That’s a figure of speech.”

I really wanted to strangle him by this time.

“OK…’Knock, Knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Me.”

“Me who?”

“Me who wants to know where in the hell is Nate Williams, Jr.? Do you know where he is right now? Today? This very moment?”

“Sure. Why didn’t you ask me that straight out of the gate? Of course I know where he is.”

“Ok then… Where is he?”

The old jockey leaned over and reached down to the floor beside his chair. When he did that he put his pistol in his lap and it slipped off and clattered to the floor. When he straightened up he was holding a newspaper. He folded it in half and tossed it at me.

“Here, read it for yourself, Mr. Sam Spade, Private Detective.”

I grabbed the paper in midair, unfolded it and looked at the front page. The headline was about some senator dropping dead in Washington.

“What am I supposed to be looking at? This story about the dead politician?

“Below the fold! Below the fold! Nate would never merit a spot on top. Are you sure you can read or do you want me to help you sound it out?”

I was being dissed by an ugly gnome who was living in someone else’s attic. Under other circumstances I would have kicked his scrawny butt into next Tuesday, but he was a source.

I turned the paper over and scanned the page below the fold. That was where I saw Nate Williams’’ picture – his mug shot.

“Suspect in Mini-Mart Massacre Captured.”

The story said that he had been nabbed “without incident” while he was sleeping at his home “at 432 Wilson Avenue last night.” I didn’t read any further.

“What the…? Why didn’t you tell me this 20 minutes ago?”

“You didn’t ask – and you weren’t being very polite, lying to me about who you were. Barry Livingston, indeed.”

I’d wasted half a day tracking down this address, getting here through crosstown traffic, and then playing “Twenty Questions” with a smartass munchkin after climbing up that deathtrap set of stairs.

“Why didn’t Martindale call me? I said that out loud.

“That Copper? He’s a dick.” He had the gun in his hand, pointed at my crotch again. “Now, get out of here and don’t come back. I won’t be such a good host next time.”

Nate Williams wanted to kill me and now I wanted to kill Detective Martindale. All he had to do was pick up his phone and call me. I would have slept better last night and I wouldn’t have blown half a day and I think my left knee climbing the stairs at 432 Wilson Avenue.

I didn’t even stop for lunch. I knew that if I did I would end up drunk and try to storm into Martindale’s office. All that would accomplish would be to get myself arrested and tossed into my own cell.

Stone cold sober, but with my stomach grumbling like a St. Bernard, I walked up to the front desk at the Central Station.

“I’d like to see Detective Martindale, please.” I was trying hard to be polite. “If I may.”

The Sergeant looked down at me from his spot at the desk. He knew me, but I didn’t remember him.

“Ellis, he don’t want to see you. Nobody down here wants to see you.”

“Could you tell him that it’s about the Nate Williams Case…Please?”

“There is no ‘Nate Williams Case’, Ellis. Don’t you ever watch the Noon News on the TV? His lawyer walked out of here an hour ago with Williams by his side. It seems that he was able to produce a rock solid alibi. Mistaken Identity or something. Yeah, they were laughing and making lunch plans.

“Now, you…I want you to get out of here before I write you up for being a Common Nuisance.”

***

I don’t know how he did it. “A rock solid alibi” is what the desk Sergeant said.

My aching back.

Williams was all over the CCTV at the Gas Station. Unless he has a twin brother roaming around out there, which I know he doesn’t, Nate Williams, Junior was the shooter and now he is walking the streets again and looking for me…as if I am the cause of all his problems.

If he could have an alibi of any sort in the face of that security camera video what about the others?

Leslie Ann Wolas chopped up the Emergency Room at the hospital and they have cameras up on the wall there too. The other guy, the one I dropped at the Mall, had to be on video too. How could they claim to have been someplace else? Once my bullets put him on the floor his alibi went to hell with him.

I don’t know why it’s been taking Williams so long to find me. It’s not like I’ve been in hiding since I retired. I have moved a couple of times, but that was to save some money on rent. I haven’t even been out of town for more than a day or two in over two years.

If somebody wants to find me I don’t see where all of this showboating has been all that necessary. I’m not in the phone book like Nate Williams, but still…

Some days are not worth getting out of bed for. Some others are not worth getting into bed in the first place. This one was getting to be a day for not worth even owning a bed. I’d be considered a luckier man if I was living in the park and sleeping on a bench.

This morning I didn’t know where Nate Williams was, then I did, and now I don’t again. I’ve had better days hooked up to life support.

I Try To Be Fair

NOW…I’M NOT A FUSSY PERSON who lets every little thing get under my skin and bother me… (Pregnant Pause)…OK, that’s not true. I am a fussy person and I do get all worked up by the little things that most people wouldn’t even think twice about. Truthfully, I’m still growling about not getting to see the “Tall Ships” that toured the Great Lakes during the Bicentennial Celebrations. That was in 1976 and I’m still miffed.

I try to keep that under cover and under control because no one wants to see me grumbling and muttering about something the world regards as trivial, but that I hold to be the key to the survival of Western Civilization.

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Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “The Good, The Bad, And The Crispy”

Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “The Good, The Bad, And The Crispy”

pizza1

I LOVE PIZZA. CORRECTION: I LOVE MOST PIZZAS.

Pizza is a very simple dish (or pan). It is not difficult to make. I suspect that you could make a passable pizza in one of those old “Suzy Homemaker” or “Easy-Bake” ovens.

pizza3

NO! NO! NO!

The only way to screw up a pizza, IMHO, is to use ingredients that just don’t belong. Strawberries? On a pizza? Some chef has posted a recipe for a “Strawberry, Balsamic Pizza with Chicken, Sweet Onion, and Applewood Bacon.” Really? I suppose I could pick off the strawberries if I had to.

“Deep Dish Apple Pizza?” That’s not a pizza – that’s an Apple Pie. Blasphemy! I don’t think that fruit belongs on a pizza. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but – I’m right. Get over it. And there is no such thing as a Breakfast Pizza or a Dessert Pizza. No!

pizza2

Where Anchovies Belong

I also think that one should omit Olives and Anchovies. Olives? That’s like chewing on erasers. Anchovies? I’d bet that Anchovies were first put on a pizza as a prank. The eating of Anchovies should be left to other, larger, fish in their food chain.

The reason I bring this up at all stems from a chance encounter last week involving pizza.

It was a Sunday Evening and both my wife, the lovely and pizza knowledgeable, Dawn, and I were both pooped. It was about 7 PM and neither of us had the energy or desire to go into the kitchen for any reason beyond using it as a shortcut to the Toyota.

“Why don’t we order a pizza?”

More excellent words could not have been spoken. I took my phone and actually used it to place a real phone call for the first time in weeks.

“Yes, a medium, thin crust, Pepperoni with extra cheese.”

Now, THAT is how you order a pizza!

Twenty minutes later I cut a path through the kitchen and drove off to pick up our pizza. I don’t

pizza A

mind taking the effort to pick up a pizza. It makes me feel like I have worked to put the food on the plate. It’s a guy thing – part of that Hunter-Gatherer mystique. Hit the dinosaur on the head and drag it home to feed everyone in the cave.

When I got to the Pizza Joint (All places that sell pizza are, by definition, “Joints.”) I had to wait a few minutes for our pizza to finish baking. It was then that I heard someone calling my name.

“Krafty. Hey, Krafty.”

Sitting at a table were two members of the Usual Suspects away from their pew at St. Arbucks. Being the sociable sort that I am, I toddled over to their table. It was then that I had one of those “Run that past me again” moments. One of the Suspects asked me…

“Are you here to get some Pizza?”

There I was standing in the middle of a Pizza Joint surrounded by about 20 other people munching away on pizza. The air was redolent with the heavenly aromas of the pizza ingredients and I was standing next to two people who had a Pepperoni Pizza on the table just

pizza4

inches away from their mouths – and he asks me, “Are you here to get some Pizza?”

I gathered all of my Grown-Up civility and politeness skills before answering – then I realized who I was talking to.

“No, I came in here hoping to find some new shoes.”

Our Pizza was delicious and there was just enough left over to make a truly classic breakfast. No strawberries. No Olives. No Anchovies. Just some real Pizza.

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Reblog from the Bluebird of Bitterness !!! – Caturday funnies

Another Fabulous Reblog From The Bluebird of Bitterness!

 

Caturday funnies

by bluebird of bitterness

bluebird of bitterness | August 17, 2019

You Can’t Get There From Here

THIS MORNING I FOUND MYSELF TRAPPED in the middle of a conversation that went from confusing all the way to positively incoherent.

The morning started out quietly which is all I ask for until I have evidence of a stable heartbeat and access to coffee.

I got to my usual spot in the corner at the Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) and began my climb to bipedal humanoid status. There was only one lone member of The Usual Suspects present. He was there when I arrived, so I assumed that he had slept there overnight. He was a half step ahead of me toward the ability to speak in a recognizable language.

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This Should Not Be Difficult

WE DID SOMETHING LAST NIGHT that we haven’t done in quite a while and we did it in front of the Smart TV and the Alexa gizmo. We didn’t care if the TV was watching us or if Alexa was listening. We are adults and we are married to each other.

We ate dinner from McDonald’s.

It was the end of a long day. All of our chores, errands, and other tasks had been satisfactorily completed. We were tired. Cooking was not an option. Eating was. Food of some sort was really all we wanted.

Details on that unidentified food were not all that important. They rarely are if you think about it. We really don’t want to know how that piece of fried chicken got to that plate in front of us. What was the chicken thinking when it realized that it wasn’t going to get its feathers back and he was being sprinkled with eleven herbs and spices?

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Ten

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Ten

 

432 Wilson Ave. #6. I’m not saying it was a dump. That would be an insult to dumps. 432 Wilson Ave. was a cliché. It was a three story building that had been converted from an ugly single family home into six “Studio Apartments” that should more properly be called “Cells.” Apartment #6 was in half of what used to be the attic. From the looks of it on the outside it wouldn’t be very comfortable for anyone over 5’8”. My data sheet said that Nate Williams Jr. was 6’1”. So, maybe I should be looking for a hunchback.

The entire street had the look that nobody cared anymore about how it looked. Abandoned cars, a couple of waterlogged and moldy sofas, and a soft drink vending machine were huddled against the curb. Up the block from 432 a neglected looking dog was curled up right in the middle of the street. It wasn’t dead. I took a closer look as I swerved my car around it. The dog lifted its ugly head to look at me as I drove past, but made no effort to move. You could probably say the same thing about the humans who lived here.

A couple of old ladies, rocking on their front porches, watched as I came down the block, but if anybody asked them – they never saw me. Nobody ever sees anything on Wilson Avenue.

If there is one thing that I don’t like more than just about anything else its stairs. Too many years of walking the beat and then having some idiot I was trying to cuff kicks me in the knee and did damage. An X-Ray of my kneecaps looks like a picture of a handful of cracker crumbs. Every morning when I get out of bed and stand my body sounds like a bag filled with castanets. So what do I have to do at 432 Wilson Ave.? Walk up three flights of rickety, homemade stairs that were bolted to the outside of the building.

I was not in a good mood to begin with and now I was going to have two swollen knees before I even got to knock on the door at #6. “Nate Williams better be there” I thought, “Watching TV, in his underwear, eating a bag of Cheetos.”

A doorbell. Somebody put in a doorbell. One of those new ones with a built-in camera so they can see who’s coming even before you push the button. Well, there went the element of surprise. Whoever was on the other side of the door could tell I wasn’t there selling Girl Scout cookies.

Just out of spite I ignored the doorbell and knocked on the door. It rattled and wobbled. One good shoulder hit and it would have fallen apart like it was made out of cardboard.

When I knocked I could hear some scuffling from inside, some mumbling and what sounded like a chair being kicked over. Nothing that sounded like a shotgun shell being racked up or a pistol round being chambered.

I knocked again, but I moved off to the side as far as I could go without falling three floors to the driveway. No sense being an easy target. There was more mumbling, but closer to the door. I looked up at the camera. Somebody had spray painted the lens. Nobody was seeing anything with that piece of useless junk.

“The Lady or the Tiger” was never one of my favorite stories as a kid and right now I feel like that Lady standing in front of a shoddy door. I put my hand on the grip of my weapon tucked in the small of my back. If there was a tiger behind that door I wanted to show it that I wasn’t no Lady.

I gave it one more sharp knock.

“Hold on a minute, will ya? I don’t move all that fast anymore.”

A lame tiger?

I sucked in my gut. I wanted to make myself as small a target as possible. I moved the pistol to alongside my leg with my finger ready to hit the trigger.

There is nothing like the sound of a deadbolt slide being pulled. Whoever was in there was opening more than one lock. I counted three of them before things got quiet again. I was about to see if I was going to face a tiger with bad feet or the wrong end of a .357.

I braced myself for…for whatever as best I could standing on a small wooden platform three storoes above the ground with nowhere to go but either down or through the door.

“Hold your horses, I’m coming. This better be good or I’m gonna be mad. Making me get and all.”

The Voice pulled open the door. I’d expected it to open out but it swung inward. I think that’s illegal, but I’m glad it did. There was barely enough room for me out there.

“Whatcha want, Cowboy?”

I had to look down to see his face. This was definitely not Nate Williams, Jr., Senior, or any other member of the Williams family. I moved on with my pre-planned first question.

“Where the hell is Nate Williams?”

“Well, who the hell wants to know?”

Whoever he was he certainly wasn’t intimidated by my presence.

This guy who wasn’t Nate Williams was no more than 5’4″ tall and skinny as a rail except for the beer belly that jutted out from his open bathrobe. He needed a shave. He’d needed it for at least a week or two and he was wearing fuzzy pink slippers. He was also carrying a five shot black revolver pointed at my crotch.

The little guy had the advantage. I was so surprised that my weapon was still hanging limp by my side. I figured that I’d better answer his question.

“My name is Barry Livingston and I’m looking for Nate Williams. You’re not him.”

“Nate Williams? Yeah, you got that right.I ain’t him, Sherlock. and you’re not Barry Livingston. He was a kid actor on television. so, shall we start over?”

He waved his pistol disturbingly close to my posterity.

“I’m not Nate Williams and who are you? Don’t tell me Ricky Nelson or I’ll clear cut your Family Tree roght here and now.”

I decided that I’d better be square with him since he held all the cards and that five-shot.

“My name is Mack Ellis and I’m looking for Nate Williams because he wants to kill me.” That was it, short and sweet.

The little guy laughed at me.He laughed, but he lowered the gun, turned and walked back into the apartment. I put my pistol back in its holster. If he was really going to shoot me he would have done it by now.

I followed him into the very low ceilinged attic apartment. I had the urge to bend over  rather than hit my head on one of the exposed beams. If Nate Williams ever actually lived here he must have been desperate.

There was only one old overstuffed chair that sat in front of a big screen TV. Off to the side was a single bed. The “kitchen” The walls were bare except for one lone poster thumbtacked to the wall in the kitchen area. It was a large photograph of a horse and jockey taken in the Winner’s Circle at some track. The jockey looked familiar.

The guy who was not Nate Williams saw me staring at the poster. He had plopped himself down in the big chair.

“Yeah, that’s me a few years and a lot of beers ago. That was after The Breeder’s Cup race at Santa Anita. I won by six lengths on a horse that was so juiced I was surprised that he didn’t leak. Drag the kitchen chair over here and we can talk.

“So…Nate Williams wants to kill you? That sounds like Nate alright. He always has somebody he wants to kill.”

 

 

 

It Puts The Remote In Remote Control

I’VE BEEN LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE LATELY: ENGLISH. Considering that English is already my first and primary language you wouldn’t think that I would need lessons – but I do.

My wife, the lovely and Queen of the Remote Control, Dawn, has us watching a number of TV shows from “Across the Pond,” most of which are Police and Cops N’ Robbers shows from England and Scotland. I didn’t know that the Scots were so into crime shows. I didn’t know that the Scots were into much of anything other than not being English.

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Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “O, Canada! Say My Name!”

Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “O, Canada! Say My Name!”


WHEN TODAY STARTED I thought it was going to be a quiet, gentle day in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “They’re at the door, Jade.”).

Down at St. Arbucks the “Usual Suspects” seemed subdued and even quasi-rational. I should have recognized that as an omen of Strange Things to come.

After lunch I accompanied my wife, the lovely and telephonically lethal, Dawn, as she went to buy a new phone. I enjoy being Arm Candy for her. Her first words to the Blue-Shirted guy at Best Buy were, “I murdered my phone.”

The afternoon went from there on a pathway I can only describe as, “This looks familiar, but then again…”

After the phone business we headed to Staples to gorge on 17 cent notebooks and Bic pens. That happens only once a year. It is like a Burmese Python dining on a full grown white-tailed deer. It lasts quite a while before you need to do it again.

I thought that might be the climax of the day, but I was wrong.

We weren’t home more than five minutes when the landline phone began to ring. Nobody ever calls us on that line except wrong numbers and telephone solicitors.

“Hello, John, this is Jade calling from your Canadian pharmacy about refilling your prescription today.”

I was beginning to feel like a hungry Burmese Python and “Jade” sounded like a Doe about to accidentally step on me. I humbly refer you to my blog posting from May 11, 2015 – “Remember, You Called Me.”https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/remember-you-called-me/

Dawn just shook her head when she heard me say, “Canadian pharmacy – you’re in Canada?” She could read my mind.

I started with, “Jade, Jade, listen to me. I’ve been binge-watching “Breaking Bad” for the last few days and I’m thinking maybe you, being in Canada, might be able to get me some of that Dude’s stuff – some really good Blue Meth.”

“What are you talking about, Mr. Kraft?” All of a sudden it’s no longer the friendly, “John.”

“I’m talking about you being in Canada you don’t have to mess with the Feds. Say my name, Jade! Right? Say my name! I need some really good stuff and you can do it for me.

“Jade, you gotta help me. What’s that, Jade? You hear that? They’re at my door, Jade.”

The confused voice from north of the border tried to interrupt. “What are you talking about? I don’t understand you.”

I’m not stopping for anything even though Dawn is leaving the room.

“Jade, the Feds, they’re at my door. You gotta help me. Jade, hold on a minute. Wait! Here, you talk to them. Jade? Jade? Jade?”

I wonder where she went.

Perhaps my friend, Jade will go to her supervisor in the boiler room and relate her chat with me. Maybe then they will take my name off of their sucker list. If they really are in Canada they don’t give a hoot about any American “no-call lists.” I figure that if, each time they call they get me, and are plugged into the world of some idiot Meth-head who wants to buy illicit drugs from them while the Feds are busting down the door. If this happens often enough they might decide on their own to quietly put an asterisk next to my name with a notation saying. “If you ever call this guy we will set you adrift on an ice floe chained to Howie Mandel.”

And I thought that today was going to be a quiet, rather boring, day.

Thank you, Jade from my friendly Canadian pharmacy. I hope you will recover soon.

O, Canada!

I Felt So Used

One of my weekly chores around the house is doing the Laundry. The Laundry must be done and somebody has to do it, and…

I AM SOMEBODY!

Doing the Laundry is not all that difficult. If I was Color Blind, Illiterate, and entirely Anti-Social it would be much harder to do. It would be horribly more taxing if I had to lug everything down to the banks of the Wabash River and beat our clothing on a flat rock. Luckily, I don’t have to that, but I’m still looking for a way out of this weekly chore.

I am trying to train the cat to do the Laundry.

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Did You Watch The Game Last Night?

 

THERE ARE SOME MORNINGS when I really don’t mind that there is no one around to talk with over coffee. The quiet helps me to sneak up on the day without having to think or be “Sociable.” I don’t know if I would like every day to be like that. I don’t think that I would make a good Hermit.

Most mornings when I go out for coffee there is a constant flow, sometimes a deluge, of people who want to talk to me. Some of them are like me at that time and can do little more than grunt. The two of us grunting back and forth must confuse and disturb those people seated nearby.

Others who try to engage me have long orations of opinion that they feel the need to drop on me. I try to ignore them. They don’t notice my lack of focus. They are busy listening to themselves. When they stop to take a breath is when I leap into the breach. I speak up and change the subject on them. I switch it to something, anything, more benign. If their rant is about politics I will start talking about baseball or the need for remedial driver training classes. That early in my day I really don’t care about either subject. I’m just trying to shut them up.

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It Almost Brings Me To Tears

 

WHO SAID THAT TERRE HAUTE (THAT’S FRENCH FOR, “THERE’S ROOM FOR DANCING!”) is just another small town? Well…actually it was me once or twice. Truthfully, compared to some other places where I have hung my hat, it is rather small – about 60,000 humans and 12 million raccoons and squirrels.

It may be a “small” town, but it is crawling into the higher ranks one stumbling step at a time.

The latest positive move that is elevating this Metropolis on the Wabash (Not counting the resumption of lethal injections at the Federal Prison Death Row) is the grand opening of Starbucks Store #5. Five Chapels of St. Arbucks in a town of 60,000 people ain’t bad. That comes to one store for every twelve thousand bipedal Hautians. That is pretty good…except when all 12 thousand show up at the same time when I’m trying to find a parking space.

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Nine

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Nine

 

A memory can be buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa and as obscure as a 1960s One-Hit Wonder – and one tiny thing can make it come roaring back to the front of your conscious mind as fresh as if it all happened this morning. And this morning was not very good. Only one egg in the fridge, bread with a blue tint along the edges, and just enough coffee to get my pulse steady.

I saved O’Shea’s printout on Timothy Collins for last because when Martindale gave me the five cent recap on him the whole story came back to me like midnight after a bad Mexican meal. The details that I thought had faded away re-etched themselves on my brain. It made me feel screwed all over again.

The first time I heard about the Collins family was when somebody broke into a nursing home. Who breaks into a nursing home? Well, this guy did. He figured it was a good place to score a sizeable haul of drugs of all kinds; pain killers, sedatives, and the like. He was right figuring that, but the staff must have been sampling some of their own stash because they decided to fight back. Brave but stupid. Wheelchairs don’t fare well up against a strung out B&E guy with two .45s. Seven of the staffers bought it that night. The one man with the habit and the guns got a boatload of junk the residents hated as much as they hated the Staff. None of them could or would give a decent description of the man.

Collins got picked up in a sweep of the neighborhood. He was two blocks away, stoned out of his mind, and strapped with a .45. He was handed over to me to interrogate. Trying to question a junkie who was starting to come down? I’d have had better luck trying to get a dog to confess to the Kennedy Assassination. Six hours of me doing all of the talking, then screaming while Collins drooled and sang old Irish songs – after vomiting on the table.

I’d always prided myself on keeping my cool with suspects no matter how disgusting they were, but Collins got to me. He was clueless and I was useless. He belched in my face, smelling like puke, and I lost it. I beat the ever loving daylights out of him. By the time the crew watching from the other side of the glass pulled me off of him the damage was done.

There was an investigation and the only thing that kept me from ending up on the wrong side of a courtroom was that Collins didn’t press charges. He was so ripped that he couldn’t remember me kicking the crap out of him. As far as he could testify he thought that maybe he fell down a flight of stairs or maybe he got hit by a bus.

Internally it was a different story. I was “disciplined” for “Improper Action.” That cost me a pay grade and a two month suspension which was waived because they were already short staffed.

The guy who actually shot up the nursing home was caught the day after I’d creamed Collins. He had been thrown out of a hockey bar for being too obnoxious. He shot out their front window before the barkeep pulled his dog-leg from behind a keg and blew away the guy’s knees. There was enough forensic evidence that he’d killed those seven people that even the Pope would have voted to put him on Death Row. I’d kicked Collins and my career for nothing. Everybody lost.

The newspapers reported that I had beaten Collins in front of his kid, cute little Timothy, traumatizing him for life. Not unless the kid was on the Force already at the age of eleven and watching it all through the one-way mirror.

What a joke.

When it came to the kid, Timothy Collins, he went around telling that bullcrap story as if it was Gospel Truth. It made him think he was somebody. He told it so often that I think he began to believe it himself.

Why he hooked up with the other pair of shooters is something nobody will ever know unless he left a diary or something behind. He’s not telling that story anymore. My two hits took care of that. Do I regret that? Hell, No. I may be the thread that connects all three of them to me, but I don’t think the younger Collins recognized me that day in the Mall. He would have cut me to pieces just like he’d done with those other poor whoevers were there in his line of sight.

So there it is. Three people ready and willing to murder. One of them dead by my hand and two on the loose and somehow I am tied to all of them and they call the TV stations to let them know that I am their real target.

Crazy.

Nine pages of data gathered with the help of an old friend who became an enemy, who now is…somewhere in between. I’m not sure if he will move that data upstairs to his superiors. He might. He should, but he might also look upon those nine pages as something just between the two of us and hit the delete button.

I’ll pass on those nine pages to Detective Martindale, but no right away. They have at least fifteen people looking for those two surviving media-loving killers. If I give the guys upstairs this pile of information they’ll be bumping into each other and queering any real sources who might help end this without hailstorm of lead. I’m going to keep this printout to myself for awhile. Close to the vest and very quiet. I’ll plumb my own sources – the ones who are still alive and talking to me. There aren’t that many left, but they can be invaluable. They can dig up information that even O’Shea’s computers can’t. His electric solid-state snitches can tell him how much money they might have, but my people can tell me which pocket it’s in.

Nate Williams Jr.

Leslie Ann Wolas

Timothy Collins

***

Which one first – Williams or Wolas?

Those were the two who were still alive and dangerous. Collins could wait. He wasn’t going anywhere. I’d made sure of that.

My first freelancing source of information was courtesy of the phone company. One of the first things people do when they grow up and move out into the world is to get their own place and the first thing they do after they sign the lease papers is to get a phone…a landline even if they already have a cell phone. It’s the grown-up thing to do. They may never use it, but it’s there, sitting on the table in the corner, reassuring them that they are no longer Mommy’s little baby.

Page 477, halfway down the page: “Nathan Williams, 432 Wilson Ave. #6, 675-1298.” He’d dropped the “Junior.”

For all his genius O’Shea had ignored that bit of information. People move so often that it was almost a 100% sure thing bet that Williams wasn’t living there anymore. A useless bit of history it would seem? True, but what O’Shea couldn’t know was that maybe, just maybe, he had sublet his apartment to a friend who knows where to send his check every month.

It couldn’t hurt to ask, but to make sure that it couldn’t I packed three inconspicuous and easily concealed pistols – one on my hip under my jacket, another tucked in the small of my back, and a third in an ankle holster. Being sure that something is safe and harmless is the quickest way into a casket. If everything at 432 Wilson Ave #6 is harmless as a puppy dog then fine and dandy, but if they are friends of Nate Williams Jr. they might be as nasty as a rattlesnake with a fangache.

OK…I had my information. I had my three steel friends, and I had my first question ready for whoever answered the door.

“Where the hell is Nate Junior?”

Now it was my turn to go hunting.

I’m Putting My Foot Down!

 

SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE! This is just getting out of hand! I’m putting my foot down! Both of them even…otherwise I might fall over and doing that in public makes it hard for me to be taken seriously.

Grrrrr.

What has me worked up into such a lather? It is The Usual Suspects.

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Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking”

Throwback Thursday 3

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

There Is No Time For This

A FEW DAYS AGO I SAW a small news item in the local newspaper about an old building that was being renovated. As they were working on the foundation the workers uncovered a Time Capsule. For those of you with no sense of history let me explain about time capsules.

It used to be the practice when public buildings such as Libraries, Government Buildings, and other large structures were built to place a box into the foundation corner stone. In the box they’d put things about the town, their lives, and times. The box would stay hidden until the building was torn down sometime in the future.

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200…Maybe More

 

I HAVE REALIZED, FINALLY, AT MY ADVANCED AGE that the basis for all life on this planet is not carbon or water or even chocolate. It is coffee. Everything else is window dressing.

I’m sure that the entire universe is put together that way. Not necessarily with coffee as the base, but with the structure of everything resting precariously on a base made of something simple and barely noticeable – until it disappears.

When the Scientists on this planet began to figure out the basic structure of everything they came up with a short list of Electrons, Protons, and Neutrons. As time moved on they started adding things to that short stack of atomic particles. Neutrinos, Quarks, Photons, Bosons, Mesons and Masons…OK that last one isn’t true. I just stuck it in there to see who was paying attention.

So far they have identified over 200 subatomic particles. I think that means that everything – you, me, that raccoon living under your porch – everything is composed of more than 200 different tiny bits stacked up. We are all pieces in a giant game of Jenga. Pull out just one piece and it can all collapse into a pile of junk mail.

The two hundred itty-bitty particles making up your milkshake are the same bits making up that boy or girl you were making time with in high school. Your first car and McDonald’s Special Sauce are the same stuff…except for maybe that secret dye that Mickey D’s uses to make those green milkshakes on St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t know what that stuff is. No one does. Even Albert Einstein would have shaken his head and muttered “Verdammt, wenn ich es verstehe.”

Well, there you are. That’s pretty much the extent of my take on the composition of the universe. I’m not comparing myself to Albert Einstein, but even he knew when it was time to just shrug his shoulders and toss in the 200 plus particles that made up his towel.

As far as earth is concerned I am sticking with my Coffee Theory. I will not delve further into it because I don’t have the Education, Time, or even the Interest to go looking for the Cosmic Glue Stick that holds everything together.

I’m going to go get a refill on my coffee and maybe pick up a bagel – 2 major particles…3 if I get cream cheese.

I’m Not Eating That

I WENT OUT FOR DINNER LAST NIGHT. It was a birthday getogethers for a friend. He was turning 55 or something. It might have been 65, 105, 256…I wasn’t listening all that closely.

I remember my 55th birthday. It was so long ago that I’m a bit hazy on the details, but I know that there were people there. I knew some of them. I’m pretty sure on that, but who they were exactly is a bit fuzzy. Some people took pictures. I’ve seen them so I know that I was there.

The place we gathered the other night was a local spot called “Charlie’s.” Nobody named Charlie has anything to do with the place – at least not for the last fifty years. Back in the day, as they say, Charlie’s was considered a real “Punch Palace” by the local police. It was a kind of “For your fighting and dancing pleasure” kind of joint. Half of the customers had cirrhosis of the liver and the other half had prison records.

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Eight

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Eight

No matter how tragic and screwed up a road Nate Williams, father and son, traveled down theirs was a rose covered pathway compared to the gauntlet that Leslie Ann Wolas had to run.
Greg Wolas was a man totally unfit to be a parent yet there he was a damned fool given total custody of his daughter by the courts. He hadn’t asked for it, but the judge, who wanted to go have an early lunch with some friends, gave it to him so the court could adjourn before his favorite restaurant got filled with the lunch crowd.

There was no doubt that Greg Wolas was the biological father of Leslie Ann Wolas. The DNA test Greg had paid for trying to prove that he wasn’t the father had backfired on him and now, with Mommy on her way to prison for at least a decade or two for stabbing her john, Greg was ordered by the Court to become a loving and responsible parent – a Father, to a five year old girl with strawberry blonde hair and no idea who he was.

“JUSTITIA CONDEMNABITUR”

That was just in the first two paragraphs of Timmy O’Shea’s printout pages on Greg Wolas, the man who, a few years down the road crossed paths with me. He ended up dead and I was given the standard psychiatric evaluation whenever an officer shoots and kills. The verdict was that I was hasty drawing my weapon. The fact that I took two slugs from him wasn’t an obvious enough reason for me to shoot back. I still have those scars on my back.

Spending those hours sitting next to Tim O’Shea as he exhumed both the facts and the memories of how it came to be that now, years after I “retired” from the Thin Blue Line, there are three people I have no recollection of ever having had any direct contact with, stepping into my life over dead and bloodied bodies.

Leslie Ann Wolas grew. You can’t say she was raised. Whatever she learned about the “Three Rs” she picked up pretty much on her own. The printout showed that she had been registered in seven different elementary schools in three states. Stability was just a word on a spelling test.

For some reason, when Leslie Ann was 12 years old Daddy Greg took off for Atlanta leaving her behind to fend for herself. That was like throwing a rack of ribs into a pit full of starving dogs. As smart as she was she was still a kid. Kids alone on the street simply don’t matter. After a week she was tossed from a moving car outside the hospital emergency room. She was alive, but her body, mind and soul had been violated and abused, passed around like a tray of nuts. Greg came back after a few weeks carrying his own collection of scars and injuries. He discharged Leslie from the hospital and they caught a bus to New Orleans. He needed her body to prove to Welfare that he was her father and therefore qualified for a bigger monthly check.

Throughout her teen years she followed the cliché route of rebellion against everything and that included her father. She walked away from him and disappeared for three years. How and why she ended up in this city again is unclear. Maybe she and Greg had some sort of family reconciliation – genetics overcoming brutal reality. Even more obscure is how and why she went back to that same hospital ER that saved her life and shot the hell out it. They saved her life instead of letting her die.

Maybe that’s why.

Maybe that hospital ER was her personal target and she joined up with Nate Williams and Timothy Collins as just a way to exact her own revenge. Maybe it had nothing to do with me. A real coincidence even though I don’t believe in them.

Nah.

I killed her Father.

The stupid SOB.

On page six of the printout was a synopsis of how I ended up swabbing the deck of Greg Wolas. This was after Greg and his daughter had apparently kissed and made up, a loving family portrait once more.

Greg had moved up from running nickel and dime scams to try running a string of girls. He was as big a failure at that as he was at being a Father. His string was very short – one anorexic idiot who was as attractive as an open running sore and Leslie Ann. Why she went along with his idea is beyond me, unless it was a combo of trying to help her Father and another level of self-loathing.

Greg and Leslie had picked out a street corner in what was called a “transitional neighborhood.” That meant it was going from being just a slum sliding down the slime track into downright squalor. It was also a heavy drug market corner. I guess Greg believed in that old marketing slogan, “Location; Location, Location.

I was assigned to a task force that was going after the drug activity in that area, as if that was going to make a real difference. That neighborhood was circling the bowl a year or two away from when gentrification would come in and make it chic.

One Saturday night a raid on a number of corners was scheduled. We were going to go in scooping up a bunch of the small fry on the street. It wouldn’t do much except frustrate the drive by customers and take a tiny bit of profit from the men who never visited their corners.

That was also a night that Greg Wolas decided to loiter on the corner keeping an eye on his “string.” The street drug crew didn’t mind. Greg stayed out of their way and they liked chatting with the girls.

When me and the other members of our squad came swooping down on the corner things got chaotic. One nervous druggie pulled his cheap pistol and put a hole in the hood of a Black and White. I came out with my weapon drawn and ran after the punk who shot at us. That took me right into the path of Greg and Leslie Ann who were running in the same direction. I didn’t care about them. I wanted the other guy.

Witnesses said that as I passed Greg he pulled out his own piece and fired at me a little beyond point blank – twice into my back. The hits spun me around and I saw him with his pistol and I fired once. I went down and so did he. After three weeks and losing my spleen I got back up.

Greg never did.

Just Sign These Papers, Please.

“Holy Broom Closet, Batman!”

I wasted a good portion of yesterday with Doctors, Nurses, and Technicians who spent two hours trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube…and I was the toothpaste.

I am not claustrophobic. I’ve been in some pretty tight spots in my life – literally and in a figurative sense so having a CT Scan is no big deal – except that it is a big deal. They don’t shoot people through that gizmo just for fun.

During my last visit to my Doctor’s office, just before taking off for Texas, his minions took about a quart of blood from my “Good” arm for testing and analysis. They never take blood from my “Bad” arm as if it wasn’t connected to the rest of my body. I think it is, but I can’t prove it.

They took my blood and that was it until later in the day when I got a phone call from “Amy Lou” at the Doctor’s Office.

“The results of your blood tests show an abnormality that concerns the Doctor.”

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