Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Mistakes”

I Don’t Want To Know The Score

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

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

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

Read more…

Advertisements

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

What Are You Gonna Do? 

DURING OUR STAY IN DEMOREST, GEORGIA, on the campus of Piedmont College I must laud high praise on the facilities and the very helpful staff – but I do have one minor, teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy complaint. I say this knowing that I may be the only person here who cares about it. Excuse my reiteration.

In all of the literature from the college, bent on luring us all to come here, they gleefully state that there is a “Starbucks right on the campus,” in the “Commons” building by the bookstore.

Technically they have told the truth.

Read more…

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.

Thank God Texas Has A Lot Of Room

TAKE ME TO THE BUTTER CHURN is a cry I hear on a regular basis when we go south to visit family. “The Butter Churn” is a restaurant/feeding station aka buffet just a waddle or two away from the family home in Sinton, Texas. And every time we visit, along with an assortment of several generations of nieces and nephews, we go to The Butter Churn.

Read more…

What, And Give Up Show Business?

WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS FOR A SHORT VISIT. Not only is that a good thing in and of itself, but the weather is certainly better than up north – no snow and I’m actually going around clad in the season’s first outings for my Hawaiian shirts. I look like a tourist.

Another difference, whether we travel to Texas, Ireland, or wherever is local television. Local television outside of your major markets is where you can see careers beginning, careers flourishing, and careers ending – sometimes all within the span of a few days.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

What’s Done Is Done

feb1TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY – at least I think it is – let me check.

(Brief Pause)

Right! Today is definitely the last day of February which means very little unless you were born on February 29th. But it is still winter.

I know. I know, but you’re wrong. This is not going to be another of my diatribes against snow and cold. No. This is going to be a scholarly discourse on why the Calendar needs adjustment and realignment.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Hush, Hush, Dead Charlotte

530b2939-a8a8-4693-85da-0b525f516003A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO IN NEW YORK CITY the Mayor decided that he needed some positive coverage in the media. His idea was to stage his very own Groundhog Day Festival. Whatever Punxsutawney, PA can do, the Big Apple can do better – or so he thought.

At the Staten Island Zoo, not exactly the best known zoo in America – or even in New York City for that matter, Mayor Bill de Blasio (The name he is currently using), with much fanfare and with cameras rolling, was handed “Charlotte the Groundhog.”

18b691f0-ba81-49dd-b733-1506fda57f00

Charlotte —  (An artist’s rendition.)

groundhog day gifThe Mayor was obviously not an experienced Groundhog Wrangler and Charlotte may have taken his fumbling and groping as an improper advance. Charlotte squirmed, the Mayor went sissy, and dropped Charlotte. It is unknown if Charlotte ever saw her shadow on the way down, but it is for sure that she hasn’t seen much of anything after she hit the pavement.

Last year (2015 for the chronologically challenged) the Mayor agreed to try the event again, but he refused to touch the replacement Groundhog – “Chuck.” It is quoted that the Mayor greeted the suspicious Groundhog by saying, “What’s up, Chuck?” Now that Charlotte has gone to that Great Groundhog Lair in the Sky I doubt that Chuck took much consolation from, “What’s up, Chuck?”

groundhog day 3

Chuck

What’s up?

Certainly not Charlotte.

The New York Times noted the occasion of the Mayor’s return to the zoo with the headline, “Mayor Bill de Blasio Did Not Kill the Groundhog This Year.”

There was so much sarcasm dripping off of that headline the paper should have come with a roll of paper towels.

There was another Mayor vs. Groundhog encounter last year in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. The Groundhog picked for their show was in no mood to fool around with some strange humans. When the Mayor picked up “Jimmy the Groundhog”
the unhappy rodent took a chunk out of the Mayor’s ear.groundhog wisc gif

This year the Mayor has already announced that he is not going to have anything to do with actually touching the Groundhog. I bet that “Jimmy” is cool with that.

He probably heard about what happened in New York.

3c2f20eb-9fca-4657-bf98-13c5413a01d6

The Word spreads about Charlotte

I imagine that both of these Mayors are now Groundhogaphobic after their bad experiences. Imagine how the Groundhogs feel. Every February 2nd their sleep is disturbed, they are grabbed and shoved in front of crowds of humans. There are bright lights, yelling media types, and all without so much as a “Please” or “Thank you.” In the human society that kind of stuff is called either a “Home Invasion” or the arrival of the SWAT Team – and often gets people shot or arrested.

The people in Punxsutawney have been doing their thing for over a hundred years and they have it down pat. The rest of these clowns are the worst kind of amateurs – they think they are cooler, smarter and more capable than the experts. And what happens? Groundhogs die and Mayors qualify for Vincent Van Gogh Look-Alike contests.

0ad12880-a2dd-4d9b-ac92-3d2d732c2dd5

Charlotte  — taken by the Paparazzi

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.

Read more…

Catching The Wave

facebook_1446833147103I’M A SOCIABLE PERSON. I’VE MET A LOT OF PEOPLE OVER THE YEARS. I just can’t remember who they are sometimes. A lot of times. OK, my own mother wore a name tag until I was 12.

Satisfied?

Last week I was in my usual spot at St. Arbucks having my morning coffee and being sociable with The Usual Suspects, whatever their names are. I had just picked up my free refill and returned to my chair. It was then that everything began to come apart at the seams.

Read more…

What’s The Good Word?

word1WORDS. I’M A BIG FAN OF WORDS. I USE THEM EVERY DAY. Without words I would be speechless. The only people I know who don’t like words are Mimes – and we all know how loved they are.

(Advice: Never stand next to a Mime. You might end up as collateral damage or, even worse, you might get stuck inside that invisible box that all Mimes seem to have.)

Read more…

Flarp

28ea868f-2859-4737-add3-12fa449ec6f9_1-edfc2e689dc9ad33570c7bbd1526ec65IF I SAY THE WORD “FLARP” TO YOU WHAT COMES TO MIND? If you are over the age of 12 probably nothing – I hope. Unfortunately, it does carry a very specific meaning to me and I can blame several children and one adult for that.

“Flarp” is a product that is gloriously described as “Noise Putty.”

Indeed.

Read more…

Things That Go Boom In The Night

boom1IN THE MIDST OF ALL THE OTHER THINGS IN THE NEWS there has been word of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 cell phones. It seems that they have developed a nasty habit of exploding and bursting into flames. I always thought that dropping a call was as upsetting as a phone could get. I didn’t think that my phone could ever go Super Nova on me.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday – I Meant To Do That – Really

Throwback Thursday 2

From September 2015

I Meant To Do That – Really

frankenstein monsterIMAGINE WHAT A DULL AND BORING WORLD it would be if there were never any accidents. I don’t mean those accidents like plane crashes or ships sinking – no, those kind of accidents we could do without. I’m thinking more in the line of “I’ll be darned. How did that happen?”

Some of those small, seemingly innocuous, accidents can bring about world shaking changes. Others just elicit a giggle, a snigger, and a chilled bottle of wine – things important in their own way.

Read more…

“You’re Killing Me, Smalls”

killingAS HAS BEEN STATED HERE MANY TIMES BEFORE – I AM A SERIOUS BASEBALL FAN. To my fevered brain it is not just a game – it is THE GAME. And I’m not alone in that feeling.

I know a man whose love of the game makes me look like a casual observer. Let’s call him “Ron,” mainly because that’s his name.

Read more…

To Each His Own

tat5ONE OF HUMANITY’S OLDEST RITUALS, aside from putting their names on the hedge clippers and putting the trash out to the curb, has been tattooing. Anthropologists have uncovered mummified remains around the world bearing crude tattoos.

How this practice began is a mystery, but I think the reasons then are the same as the reasons today – to frag off your old man and to be different just like all of your friends.

Read more…

That Time Is Gone Forever

wowDON’T WORRY. WE’RE BOTH OK. My brain is bruised and Dawn’s eyes are a bit iffy, but we are recovering.

We recently spent an hour and a half watching “Sharknado.”

Read more…

A Lesson In Living

week1SOME WEEKS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS. This is not a week I could classify as one of the “better” weeks.

We have had some nasty weather lately that has brought down some tree limbs. I still have volumes to learn about how to properly do a Ponytail. My wife, the lovely and seriously Southpaw, Dawn, is still dealing with the discomfort and frustration of a broken left arm – and we’ve had two members of the church pass away.

This week is one we would just as soon forget, but life won’t let us do that.

You have to stand up and deal with it as it comes. You can deal with it well, or you can deal with it poorly, but you can’t pretend it isn’t there. It is what it is.

Read more…

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: