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 – 2017

Archive for the category “Danger”

Fiction Saturday Encore – The Henway Chronicles – Part One

Fiction Saturday Encore

The Henway Chronicles

 

The fog was rolling in like a slinky coming down an escalator. I didn’t think it would ever stop. I was just a knife’s throw from the Embarcadero on my way to Wilma’s All-Nite Café for a cup of coffee and maybe a piece of cake.

My name is Henway, I’m a dick, head of the best P.I. outfit in town,

“Henway and ____.”

I’ve been thinking about getting a partner.

I’ve been in this racket for more years than I can count. I’m not much at math. I’m more of a people person and tonight I was hoping to meet up with some people.

When I came through the door at the café I could see the owner, Wilma Van der Sluice, behind W2the counter. Wilma ran her café like a maximum security diner. She made the rules and if you didn’t like it the service could really stink.

When she saw me come in she trotted my way, her two too massive braids bouncing up and down by her ears. She smiled and then suddenly disappeared from view. She bounced back into sight almost immediately, still smiling, but with an “It’s Better With Butter” wax paper square stuck to her forehead. Wilma was tough and she was used to these late night slip-ups.

“Hi, Lover Boy. What can I get you?”

“Hi, back at ya, Sugar Lump. I think I’ll check in with my friend there at the counter first.”

Sitting on one of the red vinyl stools was my mentor, the mug that got me into this business, Henry “Hank” O’ Hair. I dropped down onto the stool next to him.

“Hi, Hank, what’s shakin’?”

“Just my gun hand. Oh, it’s you. Hi, Kid.” He always called me “Kid.” He called everybody “Kid.” His memory isn’t what it used to be. It used to be bad, now it was worse.W4

Hank was wearing his trench coat and his aging Fedora, the one with the bullet hole in the brim, but that’s another, much longer, story. He was sitting there, staring at an empty cup. I gave a short whistle and Wilma came running our way, being more careful this time.

“What’ll it be you two hunks of handsome?”

“I’ll have a cuppa, Gorgeous,” I told her.W6

“Me too,” echoed Hank.

“Yeah, a coffee for me and another for my old friend.” Wilma jotted it all  down on her pad, smiled that smile that lit up many a late night like a welcoming sign reading, “Vacancy,” and headed back to her station by the cake dish.

Hank looked a bit down like something or someone had him by the short hairs – and he didn’t have many left.

“You look down, Hank, like something or someone has you by –“

“Yeah, yeah, I know the rest of it, Kid. What’s bothering me? I’ll tell you. I’ve got a case and it’s got me. I’ve been looking for a guy and it’s like he’s dropped off the face of the earth and I’ve come up dry. He’s on the lam and I feel  like I’m the goat here. I’ve looked high and low, near and far, and even sooner or later – nothing, nada, ne, yaga, yimba, a ole, nyet, nahin, and squat.”

“No luck, huh?” He shot me look that said things – I’m not sure what though.

W6

W6Wilma came back over to us and set down four cups of coffee. She smiled and winked at me. It was either a wink or a return of an old problem she had with a tic.

“Talk to me, Henway,” she said, leaning over the counter, her nose just inches from the brim of my imported Fedora. “Tell me something that will give me chills.” I knew where this was heading. I played along.

“Sure, Lambs Lettuce, Do you have any German Chocolate Cake left?”

“One slice and it’s all for you, Puppy Eyes, if you say the magic word.”

“Houdini!,” shouted out Hank. “The guy must be a Houdini to have me not find him.”

Wilma sighed. “Close enough. I’ll get the cake,” and off she went, her braids bouncing like her  head was on a tiny trampoline.

I didn’t like seeing Hank down in the dumps. I had to do something.

“What’s this Houdini’s name,? I asked Hank. He took a long and loud slurp of coffee, then spoke. “This ghost goes by the name of Lech Ontario. I’ve looked everywhere and Nem, nei, nahin, ne, ….”

I finished my first cup while he finished his sentence and then I told him that…”I gotta go see a man about a horse. I’ll be right back.”

W7The Euphemisms, both Guys and Dolls, were at the far end of the café. As I headed that way I passed by the aging Wurlitzer juke box. There were no songs on there newer than the theme from “The Love Boat.” 

It was a slow night at Wilma’s. There was just Hank and me and one booth near the back that had two people – A blonde whose face could start any clock, and a guy who looked like his face could stop your clock – permanently.

Just past the juke box was one of the few payphones left in the city. On a hunch, I started leafing through the pages of the phone book that was bolted to the phone. It was then that I recalled that Hank had taught me everything I know – well, not everything. I learned how to finger paint years before I ever met him, but you get the idea.

There it was – on page 437, halfway down the page –

“Ontario, Lech – 1313 Blueview Terrace 552-3918”

After I finished washing my hands like the sign on the Guys Room door insisted I went back to my spot next to Hank.

“Hank, have you checked the phone book for this Ontario guy?”

“Huh?”

“The phone book – did you look there?”

Without an intelligible word, Hank got up and slowly walked back toward the payphone. When he headed back my way he muttered, “Thanks, Kid,” and kept on walking. He vanished into the fog like a black cat in a coal mine.

to be continued 1

W5

Let’s Hear It For Gluttony

THERE AIN’T NUTHIN’ LIKE A GOOD BURGER. It doesn’t have to be fancy (and probably shouldn’t be). It doesn’t have to be expensive. It sure doesn’t have to be in some high class restaurant. But it has to be prepared with gluttony in mind.

About a five minute drive or twenty minute crawl from home is a small neighborhood joint (that’s the only appropriate word) that does a burger right.

This particular watering hole has been around for about two million years. It is on its third or fourth owners now and doing well. It is probably also on the Hit List of the American Heart Association.

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The Sounds Of Silence

LAST NIGHT I WAS SITTING AND READING when out of nowhere nothing happened. It startled me. Everything was quiet. For the first time this month I didn’t hear anybody shooting off fireworks in the neighborhood. I got up and stepped outside. Nothing. No fireworks, no dogs, no traffic. I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming.

I am so used to the noise of life in the city that the quiet is a bit unnerving. I snapped my fingers just to make sure that I hadn’t suddenly gone deaf.

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I – 24 Bingo!

IT’S RATHER COMMON TO HAVE UNUSUAL THINGS HAPPEN while driving. The world seems to push things to the edge of the road all the time. I’ve been on the road a lot lately. I-24 in Tennessee has risen to the top of my list of fun roads to drive.

I-24 goes through Nashville which may, or may not be relevant. But one thing for sure – Nashville is a city that has outgrown its roads.

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We’re Having Such Funnel

WE HAVE ARRIVED. We are now in the Megalopolis of Demorest, Georgia. It is a town that is bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than Tokyo.

Our accommodations are in the dorms of Piedmont College and I’ll tell you – these dorms are nicer than some apartments I’ve had. The furnishings are a bit “IKEA,” but better than stuff rescued from a curbside or dumpster that I have had in my younger days. This dorm has a recreation room with a big screen TV and a Pool Table/Ping Pong Table. There are laundry facilities that are FREE! And each dorm room has a private bath. None of this trotting down the hall to take a shower business. And, may I add, a very nice kitchen. If it had a stove I would consider moving in.

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A Walk On The Wild Side

I DID SOMETHING TODAY THAT I HAVE NEVER DONE BEFORE in all my 120 years. It was risky some people told me. A close friend pleaded with me not to even try to do it.

“You may not get out alive.”

Don’t you just love a little Hyperbole? At least I was hoping it was Hyperbole.

I decided to not take any unnecessary chances – so I took my wife, the lovely and ever so courageous, Dawn, with me.

On our first travel day, as we headed off to Georgia, we threw all caution to the wind and – brace yourself – had dinner at “The Waffle House.”

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Throwback Thursday -from 2015 “When Furniture Attacks!”

Throwback Thursday – from 2015 

When Furniture Attacks!

Chair 2SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ANYWHERE NEAR A MANUFACTURING PLANT. They have an idea and they find some stooge to put up some cash, backing their endeavor. The end result is a product that, in a civilized society, would be outlawed immediately.

Case in Point –

Recently, my wife, the lovely and temporarily monoplaned, Dawn, and I stayed in someone’s Chair3home for a few days and they insisted on showing us their latest purchase – a “Massage Chair” that was guaranteed to relieve all your aches and pains leaving you refreshed, invigorated, and halfway on the road to being the next Dalai Lama.

Our hosts raved about the chair to the point that I thought they were going to consider adoption.

They finally talked me into giving a try.

Big mistake, bordering on criminal. I should have followed my instincts and not gotten within ten feet of The Chair, let alone into it.

First of all it looked like a Modern, Hipster, Steampunk version of something left over from the Spanish Inquisition. One should never trust a chair that has control buttons, dials and flashing lights. The only thing missing was a telephone on a nearby wall in case the Governor called with a last minute reprieve.

chairASitting on a chair should be a relatively easy thing to do, since our knees control which direction our legs fold, chairs should be an object where form follows function. You stand up. You sit down. Easy. Not with this “Massage Chair.” It took me three minutes to be “properly seated” according to the instruction book.

A chair with an instruction book.

Once in the chair “properly” and with all of the buttons and dials set, we plugged it in and hit the Launch button. It took me about three seconds to realize that I had just made a major life error.

The first thing it did was deliver a punch to the back of my head. That hurts. I don’t know why the chairchair4attacked, but after a nasty kidney punch it started pummeling my spine from top to bottom. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that I was being mugged.

“Isn’t that great? Can’t you just feel the tension slipping away?” asked the owner/keeper of The Chair.

The only thing I could feel slipping away were a couple of my lumbar vertebrae. I was beginning to know what it must be like to take part in a British soccer riot.chair1

 Eventually my screaming and cursing convinced somebody to; literally, pull the plug on this adventure. They had to help me out of The Chair. I sank to the floor and kissed the ground. If they hadn’t rescued me when they did I would have followed through with my thought to file Assault and Battery charges against that piece of the Devil’s Furniture.

Our host swears by that thing – that it makes him feel like a million bucks. At that moment I felt like about $3.25 in coins. I checked my wallet just to make sure everything was still there. I was pretty sure that, at one point, I felt The Chair trying to pick my pocket.

After a mouthful of Excedrin and some time in an overstuffed chair I was able to calmly express myself about The Chair.

“I don’t like it. I don’t want one. I think it is a tool of Satan.”

I offered to get rid of it for them – if they didn’t mind their house being destroyed in the process. They declined my offer.

I don’t think I’ll be buying a Massage Chair any time soon.

I think that I would prefer a cushy recliner that comes with a cup holder, remote control rack, and a built-in refrigerator (with freezer). That kind of a chair makes me feel better just thinking about it. 
chair6

She Was Here Somewhere

I JUST LOVE IT WHEN TRULY SILLY THINGS HAPPEN. I recently saw a story, datelined Iceland, which had me laughing out loud sitting there at St. Arbucks. I’m sure that most of the people who saw me laughing just thought that I had skipped my meds.

Nope, not this time.

What made me hit my Giggle Switch was a news item about a group of Japanese tourists in Iceland.

According to the news item the group was touring some of Iceland’s volcanoes and hot springs. Sounds like fun.

But wait! There’s more!

The fun really began when the group was ready to get back on the bus and leave. That was when someone noticed that one of their group, a woman, seemed to be missing.

Uh, oh – it’s bad form to lose the tourists.

A search party was formed and everyone started desperately looking for the missing lady. Everyone was given a description of the lady and what she was wearing. Hours went by with no success. There was fear that she may have fallen and was injured.

Finally, at 3 AM a member of the search party noticed that one of the other searchers bore a strong resemblance to the missing woman.

The kernel of this story is that the missing lady had, during the tour, gone back to their tour bus to “Freshen up,” and change clothes. When the tour group was ready to leave somebody spoke up, saying, “Where is the lady in the red jacket?” she was there, but now wearing a blue jacket.

And so the fun began.

For hours and hours the apparently “missing” woman took part in the search party’s efforts that were methodically looking for her. The description that was handed out didn’t ring a bell with her, she said. She had no idea that she was the “missing lady.”

I love stories like that. Nobody was hurt – inconvenienced to be sure, and maybe P.O’d to the max, but unhurt. If some scriptwriter had come up with that as an idea for a TV Sit-Com it would have been rejected. Fortunately, I don’t have standards that high.

While I would rather not spend a long time in a search party looking for myself I do think that it could be a chance to learn what people really think of me.

How many people are willing to look for me? How hard are they trying? Are they muttering about possibly missing lunch or are they singing my praises? When I am “found” are they saying “Thank Heaven we have found him,” or are they making threats?

It would almost be like being able to attend your own funeral, without the flowers and that slow drive through town.

Throwback Thursday -June 2015 “Bagpipes And Fractions”

Throwback Thursday -June 2015 

Bagpipes And Fractions

Hole1SATURDAY MORNING. THE SUN IS SHINING. The sky is blue and my butt is dragging like a line of tin cans behind the newlywed’s car.

Why? Was I out partying all night? Have I been on a three-day bender and just woke up slumped over my keyboard? Have I just finished my fourth Iron Man Triathlon this week?

No. No. And No in a million years.

No party. No booze. No, because my idea of a Triathlon is Chips, Salsa, and a Burrito. All of that might make me run a bit, but not 26 miles worth.

No, my friends – my rear end is dragging because I am about to hit my biblically allotted three score and ten years and I find the world getting more and more stupid as I get older.

Half the world wants to kill the other Half because they are the other Half and they want thahole3t other Half to be like their Half. They want it both ways. If the other Half won’t be like their Half they figure it is best to kill them so their Half can become the Whole.

Of course, if their Half becomes the Whole it then wouldn’t be long before they would feel it necessary to have another Half to be upset with and they would be off and running again trying to kill “them.’

Got it? Me neither, but it’s a fact – of a sort.

Let’s see.

Two Halves. One Half wants the other Half in a Hole so they can be the Whole until they decide which Half of the remaining Whole needs to be in the Hole with the original other Half.

Using that illogical equation – eventually the Whole would end up in the Hole with all of the other Halves and then they would, no doubt, start Halving again – all in a most Unholy way.

hole2aI think I’ve just given myself a headache.

As for you, the observers, are concerned, it is your chore to determine which Halves are which and which Halves are most likely to end up in a Hole and which will become the Whole – until the next Halving.

Personally, I don’t think either Half is operating with a Whole deck. Each Half has Quarters within it that are pulling them in many different directions. It seems to me that before the main Halves are able to put any other Half into a Hole they face the possibility of being Halved from within themselves.

I see these internal Quarters rendering the Halves less able to dispaHole5tch the other Halves into a Hole. The Quartering of the Halves, and likely Eighths and Sixteenths in time, will lessen the possibilities of any Holing of any Halves. What we will end up with is a collection of highly insane fractions that will have to be content with being nonlethal pains in the butt to everyone in their neighborhood – something similar to living next door to a guy who collects bagpipes.  

Getting to this stasis with bagpipes might take a while and things will be very unpleasant until then, but I don’t see any other way of surviving that is Wholly acceptable.

I say, let the Whole thing commence by all of us sitting down to lunch. I’ll have Half a tuna sandwich and a glass of Whole milk. And an Aspirin.

Throwback Thursday June 2015 – “What Did You Just Say To Me?”

Throwback Thursday  – June 2015

What Did You Just Say To Me?

pills1 I REALLY CAN’T HELP IT. I’m a bit of a Smart Aleck, Wiseacre, and (Fill in the euphemism of your choice). I know it.

Most days I have it under tight control. Other days – not so tight.

A lifetime of experience and a number of years when I got paid to be a (Fill in the blank) has taught me that if I’m not fully awake, not feeling well, or someone goes “Boo!” and surprises me, my brain and mouth tend to go off on their own to play. When that happens all bets are off and I’m as upset as anybody else at what happens next.

This morning is a perfect example. I apologize in advance and in retrospect.

It was early, I was still a bit groggy, and my back hurt. This is a dangerous combination. It is pills2comparable to taking part in a Pogo Stick Race while carrying a Thermos filled with Nitroglycerine. Cover your ears and keep your head low.

I had just stumbled into St. Arbucks in desperate need of coffee. I was seated in the corner, minding my own business. I had my Morning Blood Pressure Meds spread out on a Kleenex. My iced coffee was at the ready. It was an idyllic scene at 7:30 AM.

A sip of coffee and my Fish Oil was down my gullet. Another sip – another pill.

While I’m focusing on the task at hand an imperfect adult stranger walks up to my table and pills4says, “That’s a lot of pills. Cancer?”

I ask you – is that any way to start a conversation? With me? At 7:30 in the morning? Before I’ve had all of my coffee?

 

Without missing a beat the few brain cells that were awake kicked into Defensive/Offensive Mode. I looked up at her. I smiled. I spoke.

“No, they’re not for cancer. They’re to try to control my unpredictable and violent outbursts that happen when strangers walk up to me in public and ask questions. Do I know you?”

Even her spray-on tan faded.pills5

She backed up and exited the store.

I consider my reply to fall into the category of a “Public Service Announcement.” I hope she heard it clearly and will think twice in the future before acting like such a dummy.

What if I had been taking a buffet of meds for cancer? Is that her business – or anybody’s business for that matter?

What a yutz.

Most people who know me find me to be a gentle, even kittycat-like, with my playful and loving demeanor. I may jump around and make noise on occasion, but I don’t claw at the sofa and I am housebroken. All I ask is – please don’t sneak up on me with dumb questions at 7:30 in the morning. Later in the day I can deal with stuff like that in a more civil manner, but anyone who does it before I’ve had my coffee is pushing their luck.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program – in progress.

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Today Is For Remembering

TODAY IS JUNE THE 6TH, A TUESDAY. It may be just one more day out of the 365 we will experience this year, but it also has some significance for me.

Being of a certain age this date is a reminder of a major event during WW II.

June, 6, 1944 was also known as “D – Day.” It marked the Allied invasion of the European continent leading to the defeat and destruction of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe. That all came to a conclusion a little more than one year prior to my birth in July 1946.

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We Was Ambushed

I NEVER THOUGHT THAT I’D BE ABLE TO SAY THIS, BUT – Fabio, the Italian, hyper-virile Supermodel and I have something in common – aside from being tall, handsome, sexy and posing for the covers of those bodice-ripping Romance novels.

We have both had run-ins with large birds.

Fabio had his up close and personal encounter while riding on a roller coaster during a publicity photo shoot. It was a head-on collision with a duck that left him dazed and bloodied. Fabio survived. The duck did not.

Last Sunday I had a collision with a full-grown Canada Goose. I survived. The goose – I’m not so sure. I fared better than Fabio. He was in an open roller coaster car. I was in the conveniently four-door Toyota.

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A Bag Of Cheetos And The Yakuza

AS IF THE INTERNET WASN’T SILLY ENOUGH with Facebook, Kitten pictures by the ton, people posting snapshots of whatever they’re eating, and Down the Hall …Scratch that last one.

With all of that other stuff we now have to deal with something called “Ransomware.”

Ransomware is described in the Media as a virus that can infect your computer, locking up access to your files. The solution is to pay a “Ransom” to the perpetrators who will then unlock your computer. Nice, huh?

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This Has Not Been A Good Week

I HAB A CODE IN MY NODE.

About three days ago I sneezed and I said to myself, “Uh, oh. That was no ordinary sneeze. That felt like a head cold type of sneeze. I was right. The next morning I woke up with my first real nasty head cold in a couple of years.

It has been at least two years, maybe more, since I’ve had to deal with the aches and pains, sneezes, and all of the other fun symptoms of your garden variety head cold. I guess my lucky streak was over.

I knew it wasn’t the Flu or Ebola or anything serious. There isn’t any major coughing, or tummy trouble or bleeding from all body orifices – just the usual yucky stuff.

I’m telling you now – buy stock in the folks who make Kleenex because I am going through it as a vicious clip. I am burning through those tissues faster than Rosie O’Donnell at the Caesar’s Palace Buffet line.

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Do You Believe In Miracles?

A SATURDAY MORNING IN THE RAIN. While you are reading this on a Tuesday I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. And it’s raining again. We could seriously use a miracle.

The past two weeks have been very wet here along the Banks of the Wabash – and those banks are a lot closer than they were before all of this rain. We have had over 7” of rain in the last week or so. Everyone and everything are waterlogged. All I can say in a positive sense is – At least it’s not snow.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter38

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 38

 

A fresh batch of tourists were getting off the train and heading for the border. A few walked toward the McDonalds, but saw the yellow crime scene tape and turned back to join the flow to the crossing gate.

Laura flipped off the light switch and closed the Cambio door behind her. They looked up and down the street. Nobody was paying them any attention. Laura took Davis’s arm as they casually crossed the plaza. She idly swung the plastic shopping bag holding $180,000 worth of forged documents and the file folder from Molina’s office. They looked just like a couple of tourists heading home after a day of shopping in Tijuana. They made a beeline for the nearest open door on the waiting red train.

They started to step up into the car when a uniformed San Diego police sergeant started coming down and blocked their way. Laura and the officer made eye contact. After what felt like an hour, the officer stepped back up into the car.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 37 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 37 Continued

As they passed it, they both looked over into the alcove. The dead man seemed so very small. Davis walked over and pulled the pistol from Lizard Boy’s waistband and started to stick it in his belt. Laura stopped him and held out her hand. He passed it to her. They left the bundle of cash locked in the dead man’s hand.

It was only another fifty feet before they saw a set of steps rising toward a carpet-covered door.

They slowly climbed the steps and listened. They couldn’t hear anything coming from the other side.

“Well, if nothing else, we have the element of surprise,” whispered Davis. He reached for the knob.

“We hope,” said Laura and pulled his hand back from the door. She would go first. The Mexican’s pistol pointed up. 

“Let’s go, my dear,” she said. They both took a deep breath of the warm and stale air.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 37

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Seven

 

       Lizard Boy smiled as Laura and Davis walked over to the metal storage shed.

“Things are better at the border. They’re opening up again,” he said to them in his usual staccato style.

A small, stocky man with strong Mayan facial features, held open the door to the shed and motioned them all inside. His face exhibited several prison tattoos. He was bare-chested and wearing a leather vest. His coppery skin showed a number of scars. He had a large knife sheathed on his belt and over his shoulder was slung an AK-47, the Third World’s weapon of choice. In his left hand, he held a fresh caramel Frappuccino.

“I’m glad you liked my coffees,” he said. “Just like I used to make at Starbucks. Good, huh? Well, bien viaje, amigos.”

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Rooty, Tooty, Point And Shooty

NAME THREE ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS:

1) Sky Diving

2) Space Travel

3) Breakfast

The first two are pretty obvious, but the third can be downright deadly.

About a month ago in the town of Decatur, Illinois the pancakes went flat at the local IHOP when some customers became a bit unruly and the Manager stepped in to make everything Fresh and Fruity once more.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 36 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 36 Continued

pull-tijuanaOutside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.  

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