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 category “Writing”

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Fourteen

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Fourteen

 

“You what?”

Detective Martindale must love to shout. He does it almost every time I talk to him.

“I said that I have Leslie Ann Wolas at my place. You might want to come out here.”

“Have you got her tied up? I’ll send out a couple Black & Whites to pick her up.”

I could almost hear a little admonition in his voice, “You better not be wasting my time.” It must have been killing him that I called him like this.

“No, Martindale, I think you’d better come out here yourself.”

“Why, did she ask for me?” he asked.

“No, she’s dead.”

“What?” Yelling again. “If you shot her I will hang you myself!”

He was not going to like this.

“Suicide…On my kitchen floor. We had a long talk before she decided to eat her pistol. So…like I said, you might…”

“I’m on my way. Don’t touch anything. Don’t touch her!”

I’d hate to live with him, yelling all the time. He must be like living with a Jack Russell Terrier.

“Don’t touch her?”  No problem there. I wasn’t being paid to clean up a mess like that, but I probably will end up scrubbing the floor – and maybe the ceiling too.

Suicides. They all think that their problems end once they pull the trigger or take the pills. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All they’ve done is shift those problems onto everybody they left behind.

It doesn’t take courage to kill yourself. It’s the exact opposite. If they really had courage they would face and attack what or who – ever was tormenting them. Instead they turn on the gas jet or drive the car into the bridge abutment. They leave behind a gory mess for someone else to clean up. That’s not an example of courage in my book.

When she fell back from sitting upright her head went past the edge of the linoleum in the kitchen area and landed on my living room carpeting. The linoleum I might just tear up and replace. No big deal, but the carpeting would never clean up right. There will always be a shadow of her blood and every time I see it I’ll think about…about everything.

The Forensics people showed up first. Martindale probably had to stop and pick up his blood pressure meds.

The neighbors were going to be getting quite a show with the lab boys traipsing back and forth. They are so jaded. They have seen things done to the human body that would make a statue vomit, buy it’s just evidence and samples to them. I wonder what they dream of at night.

By their standards what Leslie Ann did to herself was downright neat as a pin. No muss. No fuss. They chatted among themselves as they took swabs and samples. Just another day at the office

“My wife’s been taking a cooking class at the Community Center. We have been eating nothing but Italian food for two weeks now. I’m getting sick of all the different tomato sauces.”

“Me and my girl are getting into sushi. It took me a while to get past that gag reflex.”

I had to step outside. I lit up a cigarette and took a long pull. I must be getting old or my gore immunity is finally wearing off after these years away from The Job.

The Forensic Techies moved quickly but they never got sloppy or took shortcuts. They worked by the book. After a few initial questions to get my take on what happened they went to work and pretty much ignored me – except when I opened the front door.

“Don’t wander too far, Mr. Ellis. I’m sure the Detective will want to speak with you.”

“I’m just going to step outside for a breath of fresh air.”

“Cool.”

The human body, when opened up, smells. Muscles and sphincters also relax and what is in the bowels and bladder is often set free. On my floor. On my carpet. I might move.

I sat down on the front steps. Three steps from my front door down to the sidewalk. A few of my neighbors across the way, newbies, were peeking out their windows at the to do going on – people going in and out of my front door, some of them in uniform with sidearms. Seeing me sitting on my steps with a cigarette in my lips assured them that I wasn’t either a victim or a suspect. I waved to them and their drapes dropped back into place.

Yeah, maybe I should move. Get a place out in the country where all of my close neighbors would have four legs and fur. Who am I kidding? I’m a city boy, born and raised. When I see too many trees in one place I get nervous. I need to hear the sound of sirens racing through the night. I don’t need owls hooting at me. What would I do in the country? Probably go nuts and end up like Leslie Ann, the poor kid.

 I was halfway through my second cigarette when I saw Martindale coming down the street. Why did he park his car half a block away? Probably a Fitness Freak with one of those fancy wristwatches that count your steps or something. Even from a distance I didn’t like him.

“Good Afternoon, Detective. Welcome to my humble, if somewhat crowded at the moment, abode.”

“Where is she?”

“Mainly in my kitchen the last time I looked.”

You Don’t Have To Be A Druid To Have Rituals

 

WE’RE INTO A TIME OF SEASONAL CHANGE so I have begun to undertake the sacred seasonal rituals. Not wishing to offend the minor gods of calendar page turning I started getting into these rituals today.

I got a haircut.

As I have begun aging from being a responsible adult down the slippery slope into Geezerhood I have noticed that my hair does not grow as quickly as it used to. I also noticed that there are fewer hairs to cut than there were back when. At least the thinning of my cranial forest is evenly distributed. I’m not waking up, looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a clear cut landing site on my skull. Thank heaven for small favors.

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “Do I Have A Roman Nose?”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “Do I Have A Roman Nose?”

Do I Have A Roman Nose?

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THEY SAY THAT CAESAR’S IMPERIAL ROME had the best system of water delivery in the Ancient World. There was a series of aqueducts, canals, pipes, and fountains that covered hundreds of miles and kept the city of Rome clean and quenched.

I think they could have learned a thing or two if they’d been able to study my sinuses in the morning.

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When I wake up every morning the entire function of my body seems devoted to the movement of fluids. It’s a good thing that I can blow my nose with my left hand clutching a Kleenex while my right hand is assisting me in doing an impression of the Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Is Paris Burning?”) Fire Department.

By the time my initial purge is done I feel five pounds lighter and the Wabash River is three inches closer to Flood Stage. I don’t know where it all comes from. During the night am I transformed into a sponge? Is my body taking moisture from the air like a fern? Am I the “Quicker Picker-Upper?”

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If my first geyser activity was it I could just dismiss it all as, perhaps, Tidal Action – like the Bay of Fundy approaching low tide. The trouble is that this can go on for two or three hours where the only thing missing is a fish ladder. I go through a box of tissues like…like…like a box of tissues.

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When my nose sends the signal to my brain that, “The dam has broken!” I grab the nearest tissue, handkerchief, or (embarrassingly) pancake and brace myself for the flood.

It ain’t Mrs. Butterworth, I’ll tell you that.

Having to deal with this for a couple of hours can be exhausting. I just got up two hours ago and I already feel the need for a nap. My nose is turning red from all of that tissue business, my skull is feeling like a used piñata, and I’m going to have to go buy some more tissues.

First, it’s one nostril. Then, when that one raises the flag of surrender, the valves open on the other. I didn’t know that noses could do that.

I’m impressed as well as depressed. My sinuses can operate as smooth as the locks on the Panama Canal. I guess that makes my upper lip the north coast of Colombia.

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Once I get through this morning ritual the rest of my day can proceed as it will, but until then I can understand how the Egyptian Pharaoh and his Chariots must have felt when he decided to chase Moses and the Israelites into the Red Sea – five minutes too late.

Things could be worse. Despite all of this every morning nonsense when things eventually dry out I still have a nose. I still have sinuses, and my stock in the tissue company continues to go up.

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Merge, Merge, Merge

 

“LANE ENDS ONE MILE. GOOD LUCK.”

I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately on our illustrious Interstate Highway System. It’ll really be nice once they are finished with it. It seems that no matter where I go or in which direction I am faced with long slow moving lines of cars all wedged into one lane.

The System was started back in the 1950s. President Eisenhower, a career military man, saw the maze of roads as a way to quickly transport troops across the country in case of an emergency. It’s a good thing that there was no call to do that because, if today’s roadways are any indication, we would be in deep doo-doo (Technical term meaning ‘Uh Oh’).

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Let’s Take Another Look At That

OH, I GET IT! You’re doing your Stevie Wonder impression. No? What happened? Tell me…if it doesn’t involve the Police.

Thus began my morning last Monday as I walked into the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

“Oh, you broke your glasses? That’s why you are wearing sunglasses at 6 AM.”

At least it wasn’t me who had the broken glasses.

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Ch – Ch – Ch – Ch – Changes

 

BRACE YOURSELF – A CHANGE IS ON THE WAY! It is a temporary change to be sure, but a change nonetheless.

Starting in about a week or two…or three you will notice that the Monday through Friday (Excluding Thursday) postings will be coming from Ireland. We are heading off for another excursion to the Land with Forty Shades of Green.

This will be our fifth trip to Ireland since 2006. We will be there for five weeks returning to the States in early November. By that time I will be completely exhausted, chilled to the bone, and not at all in any kind of “Holiday Mood.”

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Thirteen

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Thirteen

Part Thirteen

“Timmy? He was such a sweet boy.”
“That ‘Sweet Boy’ killed eight people.”

I couldn’t let that pass.

“He would have killed me, Leslie Ann, if I hadn’t shot first. ‘Sweet Boy?’ What was his motive – He didn’t like his snack at the Food Court?”

She looked at me and I could see her underlying rage bubbling up to the surface. Her eyes flicked down to the Walther pistol on the table between us.

“Why did he really do what he did?” she said, her eyes back locked onto mine. “Because I asked him to. He did it because he loved me.”

How much horror has been set loose upon the world in the name of Love? Almost as much as devils have used Religion as their excuse to commit every atrocity imaginable.

“So how in the world is that a motive for mass murder? The idea was yours instead of his? So that makes him ‘Sweet?’”

“Shut up, Ellis! I came here to talk about me, not Timmy or Nate or certainly not you. Forget Timmy. Didn’t your mother ever tell you to not speak ill of the dead?”

“Which dead? The ones at the Mall or at the gas station or the pile of corpses at the ER?”

I was pushing my luck, but I needed to see how she would react to having her nose rubbed in it. She spat in my face and picked up the gun. I guess I found out.

“Ellis…if you say one more word about that boy and I will …”

“I apologize.” I decided to shut up.

“I came here for a reason, Ellis. Let me get to it and I’ll leave you to sit here in your pathetic little life.”

Rather than risk saying anything that might set her off I…picked up my sandwich and took a bite. No sense wasting what might end up as my last meal.

Leslie Ann Wolas, dangerous, and probably as crazy as they come, got up and began to pace back and forth trying to find her words.

“I came here to tell you that this whole thing is a scam. Nate has been running this whole show. I went along for my own reason. I told you…and Timmy, well…. Go ahead and eat your sandwich like a good boy.

“Nate is basically a thief and this whole thing is just a major distraction. While every cop in the city is all hot and bothered by the gunplay Nate will be knocking off everything in sight. Everything but banks thanks to you. Me and Timmy were going to cut out and go to Mexico. You took care of that too.”

She stopped pacing and stood looming over me.

“There’s no reason for me to go now – not since you murdered him” She stood there looking down at me. Me with a sandwich in my hand and a six round pistol in hers and I could see that she was weighing on whether or not to waste a couple of them on my head.

“No reason at all, so here I am. Nate wants me to go along with his crazy scheme, do some more shooting just to stir the pot. I don’t buy it. I told him that if he wants to then go ahead, but I’m done.

I raised my hand like a third grader with a question.

“What?” she said. “What?” She didn’t like interruptions.

“Where is Nate going to hole up? He won’t go back to that attic on Wilson.”

“Why do you care? You going to go after him? He’ll cut you to pieces, old man.”

I put down my sandwich. I’d had enough. Now it was my turn to talk.

“I don’t recall the last time I heard more absolute bull at one time. All of you actually feel justified with what you’ve done, don’t you? You slaughtered I don’t know how many people there at the hospital. The people you shot weren’t The Hospital. They were not the people who committed the sin of saving your life all those years ago. They were people already in pain like you. If you want to get back at The Hospital go in and clog up all their toilets. You don’t murder people who had nothing to do with your own personal troubles.

“And Sweet little Timmy? You two were going to run off to Mexico as if everything was peachy keen after the two of you decided to help Nate Williams, perhaps the biggest lying piece of trash going, with his plan to rob a bunch of Mini-Marts and Mom and Pop Bodegas. Jesus H. Christ! You’re all nuts. None of you should ever have been allowed to be on the streets alone.”

I was on a roll.

“And somehow you tried to tie me into your twisted reasoning making me the reason you’re doing all of this idiocy. You should just put down that gun and go turn yourself into the police. Go talk to them. Tell them your cock and bull story and you just might avoid a ride on the Lethal Injection Gurney to Hell. If you don’t and the cops out there see you first they’ll show you what it’s like to take a round to the head.

“Now, tell me where I can find Nate Williams, because I want that piece of trash for myself. I brought down his father and I’ll do the same for him.”

I looked at her. She was looking right through me as if I wasn’t there.

“Hello. Leslie Ann? Did any of what I just said get through to you? Did you even hear me? Turn yourself in. Forget Nate Williams and save yourself. He’s dead meat and forget about Timmy too. ‘He was Sweet.’ That’s just nuts. I’m done with you. You’re crazy. Either get help or get out.”

She was still staring off into space. As long as she wasn’t pointing her gun at me I figured I was, not safe exactly, but with a better chance of making it through the day.

All I wanted now was for her to flip on Nate Williams and then to leave, go somewhere, anywhere that wasn’t in my house. I was sure that she wouldn’t turn herself in. she’d spent most of her life avoiding them. I wanted her out, but there was nowhere else she could go where she might get some head help. She was going full speed down a dead end street. Her faraway look snapped back and she was in my kitchen again.

“You’re right, Ellis. I am guilty. I accept that. I was too weak. I let Nate talk me and Timmy into doing these things. Guilty and weak – a bad combination.

“I don’t want to do it again – I don’t, but if I go back to Nate I know he’ll talk me into it again.”

“Where is Nate’s place? Where is he?”

“Oh, you don’t want to go there. Nate is evil. He’ll talk you into doing evil things. Where can I go though? There’s no place for me.”

“I don’t know, girl. I wish I could tell you, but…’

She sat down on the kitchen floor and looked up at me. For the first time I could see tears in her eyes.

“I have no place to go where I can be safe and happy. No place. I was happy with Timmy…but you took him away. Now there is no one. Because of you. You ended it all. Nowhere and no one.”

She closed her eyes, but firmed up her grip on the pistol.

“All I can do now is try to find my Timmy.”

She opened her eyes and looked me square in mine. She took that ugly black gun, put it in her mouth and pulled the trigger.

In my small kitchen the noise her gunshot made startled me. The top of her scalp splattered onto my ceiling in the split second before she fell over backwards with her own startled look.

The tears that had been in her eyes ran down her cheeks and fell onto the bloody floor.

I hoped she’d find her Timmy. He was so sweet.

Drinking And Driving Can Go Together

 

I HAVE SEEN IT ALL NOW! Just when I think I have it all figured out and understand what is what and who is who, and what I can expect in my daily experience – Life throws me a curve.

My wife, the lovely and equally amazed, Dawn, were in Cincinnati last week. That, in and of itself, is nothing worthy of amazement. Cincinnati is, after all,…Cincinnati. If you’ve seen one fast food chili shop, you’ve seen ‘em all. But then we saw something that stopped us in our comfortably shod tracks.

We had stopped into a Kroger Supermarket to replenish our “Goodies” supply. Our shopping cart wobbled up and down each aisle ending up over near the Deli department and the in-store mini-St. Arbucks.

That is where we saw it.

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – Whatever Happened To…

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – Whatever Happened To…

 

Whatever Happened To…

Van1I GOT UP THIS MORNING AND TURNED ON THE TV, just like I do on most mornings. I fiddle with the remote until I find TCM – Turner Classic Movies. It is my first mental challenge of the day. Remember the channel number and get my fingers to cooperate enough to hit the right buttons.

Just about every day is some Star’s “day,” either the day they came into the world or the day they left it. Once it has been established who the Star of the Day is the next question in my mind is: Still Alive or Dead?

About a week ago I figured out that the featured Star was Van Johnson. Being sure it was Van van7was not as simple as it sounds. They were showing a movie with both Van Johnson and June Allyson. Those two made about 600 movies together (or so it seems). It took another movie coming on to nail it down as Van’s day in the spotlight. Alive or Dead was not so easy.

At about 8:30 I went to see if my wife, the lovely and cinematically knowledgeable, Dawn, could, hopefully, give me an answer.

“I think that he is still alive,” she said over the edge of her teacup. “I think so too, the last of his era,” I agreed.

Van Johnson died in 2008. I guess I missed that one.

He just disappeared from my consciousness that morning. He disappeared from everything else in 2008.

People come and then they go. Things do that too. One minute they seem to be everywhere and then, Poof! You find out that they disappeared years before.

This morning I mentioned one such thing to Dawn. She looked at me like I was leading up to another Van Johnson question.

“Whatever happened to all those old Fotomat booths that used to be everywhere?” I asked her out of nowhere. She’s used to me doing that.

Van2“I think they went out of business years ago – Digital cameras and all that.” She never lifted her eyes from her Kindle.

“No, I know that, but what in the world did they do with all of those little booths where you dropped off your film? There must have been millions of them.” She did lift her eyes on that one.

“I dunno,” and back to the Kindle.

This sent me off on a fact-finding mission. For an apparently pointless reason I needed to learn more about Fotomat and their ubiquitous booths. I should have spent my time researching Van Johnson.

I did uncover that those booths started popping up in the 1960s in strip malls all over the country and lasted unto 2009 – one year after Van Johnson checked out.van4

I found a lot of information about the company and its ups and downs and eventually it’s over and out as a corporate entity. But not one word about the fate of the (In reality – 4000 of them) booths.

When I finished my research I rushed into the other room to tell Dawn all about what I had lvan5earned. To say she was not impressed would be an understatement – like saying World War Two was just a little dust-up between friends. I can’t blame her, but still…

There is another show on the TV about a trend/fad in housing where people are building incredibly small houses, little more than – Oh, I don’t know – Fotomat booths. Maybe that’s to where they all disappeared: Cable TV – just a few channels down from Van Johnson.

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It Is A Matter Of Time

TODAY IS A DAY THAT HAS BECOME WRAPPED IN SADNESS.

I can understand how that can be, but I choose to not give in to that. There is enough sadness in the other 364 days, more than enough to make anything on this date – excuse the expression – overkill.

Instead of spending today in what has become a sort of morose celebration I have made a personal decision to take the memory of the events and aftermath of 2001 and put them all into a long term perspective. A very long term perspective.

Things happen in Time. Time has been going on for quite awhile now – long before you or I showed up on the scene. God willing and the Creek don’t rise, it will continue on for a few years longer. We may not be around until the bitter end of Time, but Time doesn’t care.

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Such A Question

 

SUCH A QUESTION TO ASK SOMEONE.

“How do you think you will die?”

Unless you make your living as the ever so attractive target in a Las Vegas knife throwing act the answer to that question is strictly speculative.

Who knows?

I don’t know.

There are seven billion people on Earth and there are likely to be seven billion different answers.

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What The Flock Is Going On?

 

Look at them. Chances are they’ll be looking back at you. If, while you are looking for them, you notice that everybody is looking at you…well, there you go. You are the Black Sheep in that family. Congratulations.

How does one become The Black Sheep? It starts early. In those formative years when the other kids in the family are setting up little lemonade stands there is one tyke, boy or girl, who starts their own business selling newspapers. What’s so wrong with that? Nothing except that, our lone wolf entrepreneur is selling yesterday’s newspapers to unsuspecting adults.

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Twelve

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Twelve

Now I know how a mouse feels when it’s trapped inside a house full of cats. When a house cat catches a mouse it doesn’t kill and eat it like a feral cat would. No, they play with it. One cat stands on the mouse’s tail while another cat beats the crap out of it. Then they let it go so they can hunt and catch it again. In this scenario Nate Williams and Leslie Ann Wolas are the cats and I am the mouse, being hunted and toyed with.
I thought it was the other way around when I found Nate Williams had been arrested and I’d be able to find out what this nonsense of hunting for me was all about – but he got cut loose before I could get at him. Now I was back to where I started, worse actually, because now he knew I was on his trail. That jockey would blow the whistle on me.

Lacking anything better to do I went home. I saw no sense trying to guess where Williams and his lawyer had gone for lunch. I was hungry myself.

An afternoon at home isn’t all that relaxing when you know that a man who has said that he wants you dead is loose and in a good mood. I know that I sure wasn’t in a good mood.

I was sitting at my kitchen table. My fancy lunch was a sandwich – Braunschweiger and Onion. Who did I have to impress? Nobody. Nobody who couldn’t take me out from a distance.

Sitting there, wondering what to do next, when the answer came sliding under my door. A single sheet of paper, folded, slid under my front door. It didn’t look like an advertisement. There was a new dry cleaner in the neighborhood, but this wasn’t a sheet full of coupons.

It was there on the floor and I had half a sandwich in my hand. The paper could wait. At this point in my day it was just one more piece of trash that needed picking up. Ever since my last lady friend moved out on me my housekeeping skills have really gotten a bit lax.

A single sheet of paper. I suppose that if I’d gotten up quickly and opened the door I might have seen who left it, but I didn’t. First things first. Finish my sandwich and then open another can of something I really don’t need.

OK…OK. A single sheet of paper and I could see that it had handwriting on it. A love note? Not likely. A “Dear John” letter? Most of the women I know would have tied that paper to a brick and tossed through my front window.

Enough speculation. I got up off my ass and crossed over to the door and picked it up off the floor.

“We need to talk. Open the door.”

“What the…” I said to myself. That note could be a come-on from an insurance agent, a Jehovah’s Witness trying a new approach, or maybe Nate Williams. Unless it was Williams I guessed that they’d be long gone by now.

Here we go with “The Lady or the Tiger” again. Against my better judgment and the feeling in my braunschweigered stomach, I turned the knob and opened the door. It was the Lady – Leslie Ann Wolas and she had small Walther pointed at my chest.

At least it wasn’t the Jehovah’s Witness.

“We need to talk,” she said, but she kept the pistol aimed at me. I was in no position to argue.

“C’mon in, “I said.

I turned around and walked back into my kitchen. I was trusting that she wouldn’t plug me between the shoulder blades. She followed me. I sat down and picked up the rest of my sandwich. It might be my last meal, so what the heck.

I didn’t say anything as she sat down across the table from me staring at me like I was a two-headed chicken. I didn’t say anything and neither did she. It was making me nervous because I didn’t really know if she was stoned, drunk, or just crazy. At any moment she might start seeing things and open fire. I couldn’t take it. I broke the ice.

“You’re the one who wanted to talk, so if you want to start now I’d appreciate it. I had planned on going to the two o’clock matinee at the Cineplex. …Or, if you’re going to shoot me with that thing get on with it and I’ll forget the movie.”

Saying this while gnawing on my sandwich didn’t make me look like too much of a threat. She laid the gun down on the table.

“I need to explain something to you, Mr. Ellis.”

“OK.”

What else could I say to that?

She hemmed and hawed for a minute or so like she was trying to find the right words. Not too hot. Not too cold, but just right. How Goldilocks of her except for that black, ugly Walther PPK on the table – still pointed in my direction.

“First off, Mr. Ellis…I have no desire to kill you for shooting my father or for anything else before or…” I interrupted her.

“I’m glad to hear that, but why that calls to that TV station saying the opposite?”

“Oh, that was Nate’s idea. Motives for our actions and that. A distraction really.”

“But what was your motive? All those people? Why?”

“We‘ve each got our own motives and you were just a convenient coincidence. We are all from here so the odds of our fathers mixing it up with you at some point seemed pretty high.”

“You all had reasons, what you think were good reasons, to shoot up the Mall, that Mini-Mart, and you – the ER at the hospital? I don’t get it at all. I also don’t get why you’re here. Why you want to talk to me?”

She held up her hand to stop my talking. She was getting upset.

“I wanted to talk with you to explain… to explain and to ask for your help.”

“My help?”

“Yes, you see, we had our reasons…”

“You’ve said that before, but I haven’t heard anything coming from you that is even close to an explanation for mass murder. Why don’t you start over and quit dancing all around it?”

She lowered her head and closed her eyes. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to pull herself together or getting ready to lose it and pick up the gun again.

“I…it was that Emergency Room that kept me alive after I was…I should have died. I wanted to die. I deserved to die. It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”

Bull.

“No! No it’s not complicated. I do understand. Your Old Man put two shots into my back. It was a long time before I felt half human again, before I wasn’t in constant pain with every breath. They put me on a ‘Recovery Leave’ for the better part of a year. That just about did me in. It cost me my marriage and I thought of eating my service revolver a thousand times. So, don’t tell me that ‘It’s complicated’ stuff.

She looked at me with the saddest eyes I’d seen since my mother buried my baby sister when I was ten. I might have gotten too hard on her.

“I’m sorry, Leslie Ann. I shouldn’t have jumped on you like that.”

“No. No, you have every right. I haven’t got the courage to take this gun here and finish what was started when I was twelve.”

“Stop that talk. What about the others?” I asked her. “What about Timothy Collins…the one in the Mall?”

“The one you killed?

“Yes. The one I killed.”

“Timmy. He was a sweet boy.”

I Am Not Spartacus!

 

I SAW A LOVELY FAMILY PORTRAIT the other day. It was quite a crowd spanning several generations. At the crux of the gathering was the Patriarch of the Family – Kirk Douglas. THE Kirk Douglas, the world famous actor, who starred in countless movies spanning decades.

He is 102 years old now and still ticking. His wife is 100 years old and still tocking. Together they are defying time.

When I first saw that Kirk Douglas had cracked the century mark it made me feel positively young, but then I saw that his oldest son, Michael Douglas is a year older than me. So much for that illusion of youth that I was clinging to.

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

 

I Spy Something…

watching-bush-babyDESPITE THE UPSETS AND WOES OF EVERYDAY LIFE there is one thing that can still be enjoyed no matter where or when you find yourself: People Watching.

Unless you are in the middle of nowhere or alone on a deserted island it is likely that there are people about – and they are free for the watching. Of course, if you don’t do it properly and be discreet, it can get costly in black eyes and those pesky restraining orders.

watching

People Watching can be done almost anywhere. I say “almost,” because there are those places where folks expect to be, and want to be, unobserved. Violating that expectation is often called “Invasion of Privacy,” or “Stalking.” You don’t want that tag following you around.

The beauty of People Watching is that there is an unlimited variety of subjects walking past. On most days it is like watching the better dressed escapees from some Monkey Island. I say that making no pretense of being the best dressed guy in town – on most days I’m dressed like the insides of a Honolulu Goodwill Box.

Just this morning, sitting in my pew at St. Arbucks, I have seen a bunch of High School students stopping off to get a serious sugar high before heading off to class. The boys all tried to look somewhat tough and mildly rebellious. The girls? Well – I saw 17 versions of Marcia Brady (I guess that ironing one’s long hair is back in fashion.) and a few Joan Jett wannabees. Maybe they’ll be able to draft a few of the boys into being their “Blackhearts.”

Don’cha just love Rock ‘n Roll?

Being the first day of school I can understand all of the extra effort to look their best – or at least their best according to their chosen image and budget. Within a week or so the 1470489173223importance of “The Look” will dissipate and the reality of having to get up early to catch the school bus will set in. After a few days standing on the corner waiting for the bus and they will all start looking like their laundry hamper.

People Watching is a two-way street and I know that. I look at them. They look at me. It’s only fair, I suppose – but I have a “Look” that lasts past Opening Day. In Summer I wear Hawaiian shirts (even to church) and the rest of the year I am in sweatshirts.

Either choice is always accented by a San Francisco Giants baseball cap. On occasion I change hats, just to keep things fresh. My alternate might be a cap from a Minor League team, or from the Trinity College of Dublin – a reminder of our Ireland trips.

stalking

NOT People Watching!

My alternate cap that gets the most commentary is my “Thinking Cap” cap. On days I wear that I can count on having at least 2 or 3 people coming up to me wanting to know where I bought it. Truthfully, I don’t know where it came from. It was a gift from Dawn, so it could be from anywhere this side of Neptune. She has her sources.

So, I heartily recommend People Watching as a pastime. It is fun, inexpensive (barring the need for legal defense), no equipment is needed, and a great way to troll for characters if you are a writer. You don’t thing Stephen King comes up with the people in his novels by sitting alone in a room staring at the wall, do you?

Go out, find a seat somewhere, and park your carcass down. Look around and enjoy what will, inevitably, pass by. There will be a parade of humanity to enjoy as it saunters by.

Refreshments are optional.

watching drinking-starbucks

Reblog From The Bluebird of Bitterness – “I Can’t Brain Today”

Another Fabulous Reblog From The Bluebird of Bitterness!

 

I’ll Pretend I Didn’t Hear That.

THE REWARD OF RANDOM ACTION. Let’s just see what happens.
This can result in either something new and lovely… or ramming the ship into an iceberg. I’ve done both.

It’s nice when you have a good idea of what you are trying to do, but not always. There is that old saying about “The best laid plans of mice and men…,” etc. Christopher Columbus had a good plan worked out to take him and his ships to China, but he ended up in the Bahamas. Personally, while he may have been disappointed with the outcome, I think he landed in a much better place to spend a vacation. Have you ever tried to get a decent Piña Colada in Hong Kong?

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Don’t Drop The Soap

 

ONE THING IN THIS WORLD that never ceases to amaze me is the seemingly endless creativity that spills out of the human mind. There is always something new coming from just around the corner. It has never stopped from the Dawn of Time when the first human picked up a stick, hit it against a tree and said, “That sounds good. I’m gonna start a band.”

Back in the late 19th century the Head of the U.S. Patent Office sent his resignation to President McKinley and urged that the Office be closed because, “Everything that could be invented has been invented.”

Could he have been more wrong?

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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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