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 “Fear”

Fear Not!

I GET A LOT OF EMAIL EVERYDAY. Very little of it is worth the electrons it’s written with. A good portion of it all comes from people trying to sell me something; Sunglasses, Art of questionable quality, Books (lots of books), and classes and seminars. I guess that means that they feel I am in desperate need of education – a point hard to dispute.

I also receive a bunch of things about writing; classes, communities, and handy dandy tools to transform me into the next big whatever.  I already have the tools – a pen, paper, and coffee that have catapulted me to the bottom rung of the ladder of commercial success.

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

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Six

 

warehouses“It’s at number 162, Tomás. Drive past it and let us out down the block,” said Laura, scanning the fronts of the small warehouses and workshops.

The cab slowed while Tomás craned his neck out the window looking for the address.

“There it is, Señorita. That’s it, with all the doors.”

The structure at 162 Avenida de Negocios was unlike anything Laura or Davis had ever seen before. It was built entirely out of garage doors.

“What the hell is that?” she asked.

Tomás smiled. “We Mexicans can be very resourceful. There are a quite a few buildings like this in Tijuana. They are made out of recycled garage doors from LA and San Diego. A few Mexican entrepreneurs have been importing them by the truckload. Actually, there is a whole neighborhood near here made of doors. Very clever, no?” He steered the cab over to the curb about fifty yards past the all-door structure.

“Well, Tomás,” said Laura. “Thank you for your tour of Tijuana and for your help. Bless you.”

“My pleasure, my friends. I wish you both good luck.”

Davis patted Tomás’ shoulder.

“Bless you twice, Tomás.”

Laura and Davis stepped out of the taxi onto the empty sidewalk. The cab turned at the next corner and was gone.

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Dear Me !

I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN A LETTER TO DEAR ABBY or to whoever it is who is actually doing the column now that the original Abby is among the Dearly Departed.

Just like everyone else, I’ve had personal problems to deal with, but when I have a question 90% of the people I know are lined up to give me “The Answer.” The other 10 % are usually the cause of my problem.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 34

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Four

 

pull-molinas-bldgIn the darkroom at Ernesto Molina’s photography studio a new person was being born. Years of experience in creating false documents for many of the Earth’s most dangerous people had made Molina a very wealthy man. His home was an opulent, yet tastefully decorated, house by the ocean, near Rosarita Beach. This cheap-looking studio was a place to do his work undisturbed. He owned the building.

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It’s Not About Cats

MEMORIES? WHERE DO THEY GO TO HIDE? Why do they pop back into your conscious mind after a lifetime stored in the folds and wrinkles of your brain?

I had such a memory bob back to the surface the other day and, when it did, all of the details were as fresh as if it had just happened yesterday.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 32- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Two

 

pull-taxiThe cab was festooned with bobble-head dolls of Elvis, The Beatles, and Ricky Martin.  The Virgin Mary held the place of honor in the center of the dashboard.  Red and gold dingleballs circled every window and lying on the rear window deck was a three-foot-long crucifix.

The cab driver, dressed in a crisp yellow shirt, was doing his standard sales pitch to yet another pair of Yanqui tourists.

“Buenas dias.  Let Tomás be your guide for the day.  Only two hundred dollars—well  worth the price.  Tomás knows all the best restaurants and shops.  And I can get you the best seats for the bullfights.  My cousin is a matador.  Deal, okay?  Best price in Tijuana.” His accent made him sound like a parody of Cheech and Chong.

Davis looked at Laura, who was still holding the brochure outlining the benefits of membership in the San Diego Skyscrapers.  She shook her head.  This was a business trip.

“No, not today,” said Laura.  “Just drop us up on the main drag.  Maybe next time we’ll get the tour.  Okay?”

“Okay, you the boss, but, I can show you where to get genuine Armani suits for three hundred dollars, with free alterations.  Best price in Tijuana.”

“Another time, my friend,” said Davis.

Laura pulled a piece of paper from her pocket.

“Say, do you know any good photographers?” asked Laura.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 31

Fiction Saturday 

 

Chapter 31

pull-traffic-borderThe traffic heading south on Interstate 5 was heavy, as usual.  Every day of the week thousands of cars and trucks drive from the United States into Mexico through the crossing at San Ysidro, the last little community before the border.

All manner of merchandise goes over into Mexico by truck.  A much narrower range of cargo comes back the other way.

The United States Border Patrol has the unpleasant and futile duty of trying to stop the flow of illicit drugs and other contraband that spews across the border by the truckload every day.  Their best tools in this struggle are highly trained dogs and years of experience in spotting drug mules—the the people who attempt to cross into the U.S. with bundles of narcotics strapped onto, or ingested into, their bodies.  They get caught at the border with stunning regularity.  The drug wholesalers who send them don’t seem to care, because they know that even the small number who do squeak past the dogs and the eagle eyes of the Border Patrol make it an incredibly profitable method of transport.

As a result, the crossing at Tijuana is one of the most heavily-monitored international borders between two countries that aren’t actually shooting at each other, although that is starting to happen as well.

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Don’t Panic

 

“I REFUSE TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION ON THE GROUNDS THAT I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER.”

— Douglas Adams

I wish that more people would adopt that practice. As each day slops over into the next I become more and more exhausted by people who think that they have THE answer to, not only every question that people ask, but also to the questions that nobody bothers asking.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 30

Fiction Saturday

 

Chapter Thirty

 

pull-motel“Kids, I’m sorry.  I’m really sorry.”

Vivian was near tears.  Davis was numb.  Laura was torn between comforting Vivian, trying to keep Davis from going into shock, and keeping watch on her own boiling pot of anger and fear.

“Vivian, I don’t blame you,” she said.  “It was just bad luck.  We’re all safe.”

But she did blame Vivian in a way.  She blamed herself as well, for accepting Vivian’s dangerous invitation in the first place.  She thought that, maybe, they weren’t all that safe, not any longer.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 29- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

escherHorton Plaza looked like the love child of Rube Goldberg and M.C. Escher.  Seven levels high with a hundred and forty shops, restaurants and touristy boutiques, all connected by stairs, escalators, ramps, and glass elevators.  The entire structure was painted in a full palette of pastels, with multicolored banners, flags, and flowers fluttering in the soft ocean breezes.

High up on Level Seven, in a choice corner location, was The Captain’s Table restaurant.  It had everything that a family on vacation from Nebraska could ever want—a  six page menu offering seafood delicacies named for every exotic locale on the globe, several tons of nautical-looking adornments made in China, and decals on the front door promising the acceptance of all major credit cards.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 27- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Seven

pull-mexican-borderBoth Laura and Davis slept late the next morning. Laura had planned on a day or two of rest before crossing into Mexico.  She knew that they might need all of their strength and all of their wits.  She hadn’t come this far just to get caught or killed due to some bonehead mistake brought on by exhaustion.

She also wanted to lay low for a while to—hopefully—confuse their pursuers.  If there was no scent to follow for a couple of days they might think that Laura and Davis had already crossed into Mexico and that was that.  Or they might think that the couple had pulled a fast one on them and was heading off in another direction altogether.  Laura knew that at least for now, time was their ally.

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Something To Watch Out For

tv1FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS (AT LEAST) WE’VE HAD A MAJOR CHANGE take place in our television viewing habits. I think that this change has come about because of two things; Online services such as Netflix and Hulu among a number of others have begun to air some new and very creative programming. Just about everyone else has been wallowing in a Political Stew that has been tasteless, without any real meat, and triggering my gag reflex.

So, we were faced with a choice: Enjoy some new and excellent programs or endure sphincter clenching broadcast venom.

Not a difficult decision – let someone else watch all the stuff with zombies.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 25 – And Pull The Hole… Continued

Fiction Saturday 

Chapter Twenty-Five

 

pull-airplane“I hate this.  I can’t hear a damn thing.”

Inside the crowded cabin, the roar of the jet engines was only a constant vibration to him.  No sound was getting through.  He always flew stone deaf.  It would take two days for his full hearing to return.

“I know, Dominic,” said Peeto.  “Happens every time you fly.”

“Happens every time I fly.”  Dominic pinched his nose and blew, trying to open his blocked ears.

“I tell you, Peeto, I hate to fly.  I really hate it.” The blowing did no good.

“Yeah, it always messes up your hearing,” nodded Peeto.

“It always messes up my hearing, y’know?”  He stuffed five sticks of gum into his mouth.

It was a little more than an hour into the flight from Newark to LAX and the flight attendants had already started dealing out the prepackaged, precooked, and pre-ruined meals to the passengers.  It was a ritual known to the attendants as “slopping the hogs.” Somehow, that part never got into their ads.

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We’re Doomed! What’s For Lunch?

happy-danceICE? WHAT ICE? I DON’T SEE NO ICE.

I take that back – I see ice in my coffee, but there is no ice on the roads or on my windshield. I’m not complaining mind you. In fact, I am doing my Happy Dance – big time.

For the last week the Weather Bunny on Channel Two has been predicting that Terre Haute (That’s French for “What’s that floating in the Wabash?”) was going to be hit with several days worth of ice storms, Sleet, Freezing Rain and NCAA Athletes. I don’t mind the athletes, but the ice, sleet and freezing rain I can do without.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 22 – And Pull The Hole… continued

Fiction Saturday – Continued…

Chapter Twenty-Two

pull-donut-shop 

“Oh, for crying out loud.”

“This is not good, Dominic.”

“Really?  You think so, Peeto?  Jeez, I never would’ve figured that out all by myself. Thank you ever so much, you moron.”

“Well, Dominic, Don Giani ain’t going to like seeing his daughter’s picture all over the newspaper like this.”

“No, he won’t,” said Dominic.  This was serious.

Peeto was scrutinizing the newspaper, looking at the picture and slowly reading the story about it.

“Y’know, it’s not even a very good picture of her, Dominic.  She’s much prettier in person,” said Peeto.

Dominic grabbed the paper from Peeto’s hands.

“That’s my wife you’re drooling over there.”

“Sorry, Dom, but you know what I mean.  She is a fine looking…”

Dominic cut him off with a look and threw the paper to the floor.

That was the second time this morning he had thrown it down.  The first time was when he checked the baseball scores and saw that the Mets had blown a four-run lead to lose to the Washington Nationals.  He was wearing out his welcome.  The owner of the donut shop, standing behind the crullers, muttered something in Chinese.  Peeto picked up the paper again.  It was part of his job.

Dominic was back at his booth in the donut shop.  He still felt uncomfortable going back to his old hangouts.  The jokes were getting to him and he knew that some of the guys were not happy with Dominic’s inability to control his wife.  It was making things a little uneasy for them at home.  Their wives were talking about more than clothes and kids. Several were making secret plans of their own, just in case.

The table was filled with empty paper coffee cups and the remnants of maple bar pastries and crumpled napkins.

“Y’know, Peeto,” said Dominic, a small, lopsided, grin on his face, “There’s a good side to her picture being in the paper.”  He wiped his chin with a napkin, cleaning away the last few shards of sugar glaze.

“There is?  How you figure that?” asked Peeto.  “Don Giani is going to be even more pissed off with you than he already is.  He don’t like publicity.”

“Thanks for that news flash, Peeto.  Just listen.”  Dominic was trying to analyze a complicated situation—not something he did all that often.

“The paper said that they want Beverly about some hit or something.  I don’t know what that’s all about.  I think they must have made that part up.”

Peeto couldn’t keep quiet.

“That part’s going to piss off the Don even more.”

“Oh, well, so much the better,” said Dominic, holding up a finger as if he had just made a big discovery, or was ordering a beer.  “They’ll work really hard to find her, and when they find her, I find her.  And when I find her I get my money back, I get the Monsignor off my back, and I put several holes into Beverly’s forehead.  It’s like three birds with one stone.”

“But, Dominic, I haven’t heard about nobody getting whacked.  Have you?  I dunno, but it smells funny.  Beverly always seemed like such a sweet and gentle soul.  Almost like a nun, but without no penguin suit.”

“Peeto!  Will you stay focused on the problem at hand here?  Quit talking like that about Beverly.  She’s still my wife.  Until I find her anyway.”

 Peeto was on a stumble down memory lane.

“You remember old Sister Modesta, Dominic?  Man, she used to beat the stuffing out of both of us.  Remember when she locked me in the closet all day for calling her a penguin?”

“No, I don’t remember and I don’t care.”  Dominic tried to cut him off.  “‘Cause when she sees her picture and this story she’s going to come popping up out of her hole just like Bugs Bunny and I’m going to be standing there with my shotgun.”

“You’re going to be just like Elmer Fudd, right, Dominic?”

Dominic hit Peeto in the nose with his crumpled napkin.

“Just go get me another maple and bacon bar.”

When Peeto left Dominic alone in the booth he looked again at the newspaper and the first rays of sunlight crept over the horizon of his mind as two and two began to add up and the story started to make sense.

“Oh, my God…the cleaning lady.”

***

Sitting in the study in his barber chair throne, amid the clutter of his life, Giani Montini was reading the same news story and looking at the same blurry picture of his daughter.  His blood pressure medication was getting a test.

He was talking to the Consiglieri, his attorney and adviser, with whom he met twice weekly to keep tabs on the never-ending investigations into the Family businesses.  He also met with him because this highly paid lawyer was the only friend from his early days who was still alive.  They sipped at their coffee and nibbled at some low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sugar and totally tasteless pastries.

“They think my little girl killed somebody.  That’s nonsense.  She wouldn’t hurt a fly.  It’s not in her.  She wasn’t raised that way.  If anybody had been hit I would have heard about it.”  He tossed his pastry back onto his plate.

“Bobby, what is going on here?  Why are they looking for my daughter?  This doesn’t make any sense.  It’s crazy.  Even if she did do something like that, which I’m sure she didn’t, she’d come to me.  She wouldn’t just take off.”

The lawyer took another look at the newspaper then settled back in his chair.  He looked like anpull-dons-library actor from a casting agency hired to play a lawyer on a TV show.  He wore a four-thousand dollar Savile Row suit and had just the proper amount of gray at the temples.  Looking distinguished and intimidating was expensive.

“You’re right, Don Giani.  I agree.  Something is very wrong here.  Have you talked with Dominic about this?”

“Yes.  He says that he doesn’t know anything.  I sent him to Philadelphia and he swears that when he got back, Beverly was gone.  He hasn’t been able to find her and neither have I.”  The Don was feeling powerless.  Things were happening and he had no control.  “She’s hiding somewhere, but where?  And why?  Help me find my girl, Bobby.”

The lawyer, acting as both Consiglieri and as a friend, spoke in soft measured tones designed to impart confidence.

“My Don and my friend, I will find her.  I will bring her to you, personally, and we’ll get this whole thing straightened out.  I give you my word.”

 Giani Montini’s face had turned an unhealthy shade of red from the anguish and frustration he was feeling.  He stopped and took several slow, deep breaths to try to lower his blood pressure.  He was not used to feeling this helpless.  He needed to put his fatherly instincts aside and use his Family powers to find his daughter.

“This mess has Dominic’s fingerprints all over it.  Call Dominic’s captain, the Monsignor.  Tell him I need a meet on this.  Somehow, that smelly animal has put my little girl in danger.  Go and call the Old Man.  I’m going to find her and God help anyone who gets in my way.”

to be continued8

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

Fiction Saturday –  Continued

Chapter Twenty-One

 

pull-apartment-bldgHe stood by the door of his apartment building slowly going through his mail. Everything was addressed to him as either Mr. Davis Lovejoy or, all too often, as “Occupant.”  Mixed in with the junk mail and the bills was a plain white envelope with no return address.  It was postmarked the day before.  He opened it slowly.  It was almost as if he expected it to explode.  Inside was a single sheet of notepaper—the same notepaper he had seen taped to the mirror in Laura’s apartment.

“Meet me in the arboretum in Golden Gate Park, tomorrow at ten a.m. – at the Moon Viewing Platform.”  It was signed with a simple ” L.”

“My God.  What is going on here?  Crazy notes?  Secret meetings?”

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Coffee And Cake At 7 AM

cake1ONE OF THE MORE INTERESTING PARTS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON – maybe the most interesting part – is taking time to observe the children. Take a moment to watch a three year old when they first see all of the colorful and glittering lights.

I never knew eyes could be that big.

The look on the face of a Little One must be similar to when the first self-aware humans looked up at the night sky.

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