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”

I Can’t Believe That I Can’t Believe.

 

I AM A BIG FAN OF LAUGHTER. It is much better than crying and Giggling is superior to Growling. Even the occasional Snort is acceptable although having coffee shoot out of my nose is not pleasant.

When I feel the need for a good sustained laugh I go to YouTube and pull up a few episodes of “The Vicar of Dibley.”

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I Don’t Claim To Be An Expert

 

YOU SEE SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY. AT LEAST I DO. It may be something that millions of other people see each and every day, but it’s new to me. It is kind of like the first person who was hungry enough to eat a clam. They looked at that clam, heard their stomach growl, and decided that for the first time in human history that a clam could be food. OK, maybe it’s not exactly like that, but it is close enough for my purposes.

Last week I was, where else, slurping up my morning coffee at St. Arbucks when I saw something I had never seen before. I found it appropriate that it took place in the religious environment of St. Arbucks.

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Doin’ That Crazy Hand Jive

UH, OH! I SEE A CHALLENGE AHEAD. At least it is not directly involving me.

I learned the other day that one of the Usual Suspects is going under the knife in a few days. It’s nothing life threatening, but according to him it’s worse – he is going to have his golf game taken away for a year.

Why not just cut out his heart?

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This Is Not Fiction Saturday…For Now

Change is inevitable.

For those of you who are Writers it is no surprise when you feel overwhelmed and behind schedule on assignments.

That is where I am right now.

Due to circumstances completely within my control I will not be posting any fiction on Saturdays for a few weeks. I have too many things that are calling for my attention and time.

I will resume posting Fiction as soon as I can so don’t give up on me and run away.

I Am “Snoozing Man!”

HE LEAPS TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND!

HE SLINGS WEBS AROUND THE CITY!

HE CAN FALL ASLEEP ALMOST ANYWHERE!

SuperPowers! Every Super Hero has them.

Superman – Spiderman – Me!

I know that my SuperPower is not as spectacular as some of the others, but my Fortress of Solitude can be just about anywhere.

It was my wife, the lovely and powerfully perceptive, Dawn, who first pointed out my SuperPower.

“Y’know, My Love, you can fall asleep almost anywhere can’t you? No matter how noisy or chaotic you can close your eyes and take a nap. John…John? Wake up!”

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Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “Three Little Words”

Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “Three Little Words”

 

Three Little Words

dnraI KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.

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I’ve known a number of people who have signed “DNR” forms. They all had their reasons, but most of them were terminally ill and a “DNR” is a legal document. I do not have a “DNR” form. I also have my reasons.

There are any number of reasons to not sign such a form. One of them is specific to Indiana. Here in the Hoosier State the Abbreviation “DNR” also stands for the “Department of Natural Resources.” Such a redundancy could cause some really confusing situations.

For example – You might wish to sign a “DNR” so that, when the time comes, you could go quietly into that good night. – And accidentally find yourself being sworn in as an Indiana Park Ranger. Or it could go the other direction which could be even more upsetting, depending on your long range plans.

dnr3My own personal reason for not signing a “DNR” – the hospital one – is that I’m not knowingly ready to shuffle off my mortal coil. There are things I still want to do, places to visit, and books to read and write. It’s not so much a “Bucket List” like in the movie as it is a shopping list of things I want to pick up and carry with me. And I have no desire to become a Park Ranger. So me signing anything with the initials DNR on it is not likely for any time in the foreseeable future.dnr5

I’m not concerned about any sudden reversal of fortune when it comes to my health. Every morning when my eyelids open up like a pair of electric garage doors I say a short prayer. I’m not asking God for anything. It’s just a simple, “Thank You.” That’s all I need to say. He can fill in the unspoken blanks. Just “Thank you.” So I don’t feel the need for anything as final as a “DNR.”

That morning when the young blogger talked about her “DNR” decision we chatted a bit about it all. I told her why I didn’t have one as well. If I had been thinking quicker I would have come up with something witty and ever so clever as a retort. Well, following true to form, I did come up with something. I tried it out on one of The Usual Suspects over coffee.

dnr4I brought up the idea of the “DNR” and he followed my lead. He asked me if I had signed one. I recoiled in mock horror and told him than instead of a “DNR” I had signed a “PFGSRMNYOB” Form.

“A What?” he asked

“A ‘PFGSRMNYOB’ form.”

“What in the world does that mean?”

“Oh, that’s a special form that I designed myself.

“‘PFGSRMNYOB’ – ‘Please, For God’s Sake, Resuscitate Me Now You Overpaid Bastard’.”

Good morning and Thank You again.

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Yes! No! Maybe! No! Yes! I Don’t Know!

 

BY AND LARGE TERRE HAUTE (THAT’S FRENCH FOR, “I CAN’T MAKE UP MY MIND.”) is a quiet town that lives life one day at a time – except when it comes to making decisions. The civic power structure of this town can never make up its mind about anything. I’d hate to go to lunch with Terre Haute; it would never be able to pick what to eat.

Whenever the City and its elected officials, are called upon to make a decision it must first go through a lifetime of hemming and hawing. They will make up their minds and then immediately reverse themselves and go back to square one. It is as if the City is being run by a collection of squirrels who are trying to cross the street.

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I Wouldn’t Put Up With Me.

 

I DO IT BECAUSE I LIKE IT. I do it because most other people like it. I do it because it is fun.

I do it because I can.

I confuse people.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to be part of an Improvisational Comedy group in San Francisco. The eight of us (AKA the “Improv Alternative” and later as “Anchovi Daiquiri”) worked in nightclubs, theaters, street fairs, and any place that would let us through the door. We would do a two hour show made up entirely from audience suggestions.

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To Boldly Go Where No Member Of My Family…

THE OTHER DAY I BUMPED INTO A LITTLE FACTOID. It was about you, me, and everyone else on Earth. Unless you know something I don’t know all of us are natives of this planet. According to that factoid you and I live here on Earth which is one planet in our Solar System, which is part of our Galaxy – The Milky Way – and that our Galaxy is off by itself in the emptiest and most remote part of the visible Universe.

To the rest of the Universe we are off in the desert.

How did that happen? Do we have B.O.?

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This Is Not Fiction Saturday…For Now

Change is inevitable.

For those of you who are Writers it is no surprise when you feel overwhelmed and behind schedule on assignments.

That is where I am right now.

Due to circumstances completely within my control I will not be posting any fiction on Saturdays for a few weeks. I have too many things that are calling for my attention and time.

I will resume posting Fiction as soon as I can so don’t give up on me and run away.

Elementary, My Dear Barista

WHAT POSSESSES PEOPLE TO START A CONVERSATION about one topic over another? I mention this because this morning while I was trying to inhale my coffee one of the Usual Suspects started waxing nostalgic about her years in elementary school. After an unspecified number of decades why did this come to mind? I remember my years in elementary school, but I feel no need to bring it up for discussion.

I do admit that there are worse topics for discussion at that early hour. Honestly I also do not feel like listening to someone give me the details of their latest hospitalization for that nagging parasitic problem…At least not if I am eating at the time.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – Joey Who?

Joey Who?

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IT LOOKS LIKE SPRINGTIME IS FINALLY HERE. I see robins and cardinals and they don’t look worried about frostbite. There are giant Vs overhead going north and there are new baseball stars on the horizon.

Major League Baseball teams have been heavy into Spring Training for over a month and just like the new flowers that pop up in the spring so do new young players.

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Is It Him? No.

TALK ABOUT PAINTING YOURSELF INTO A CORNER…Whew!

This morning (a few days before Valentine’s Day) I was stumbling into St. Arbucks for a transfusion with a little Half-n-Half when I saw a poster advertising a weekend concert. Whoever put it up was careless and posted it sideways on the bulletin board. The concert featured a singer doing a Frank Sinatra Tribute Show.

That singer is a performer whose Show Business career is firmly rooted in “The Law of Diminishing Returns.”

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Aaron’s Lego-cy

 

TODAY I AM GOING TO ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING – to act in the real world in the memory of a young man named Aaron.

Aaron was born with congenital heart disease and spent much of his life in the hospital. He had a heart transplant when he was fifteen. That gave him a few good years, but when he was nineteen his body suddenly rejected his new heart and he passed away.

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The Wrath Of Nebuchadnezzar And Me

 

HABITS – THEY ARE LIKE QUICKSAND. Once you find yourself mired in them it can be difficult to get out. Yeah, quicksand, or contracts with a cell phone company or a relationship with someone who sucks the life out of you and eats crackers in bed.

Not all habits are that dramatic. Most habits just kind of sneak up on you and you are perfectly comfortable with them – until someone or something comes along to break into the usual pattern of everyday life.

I had such an intrusion into my life this morning. Nothing big, mind you, or earthshaking, but, darn it – it made me alter my routine – and I like my routine.

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Ooh, That Feels So Good!

 

THE FIRST OF MARCH. NO MORE FEBRUARY and I am glad about that. March is the month when spring officially starts. It is when Baseball Season begins. All of that nicely wrapped up inside the fact that it is the end of Winter. YAYYYYYYYY!

There is that zoological adage about March, “In like a lion, Out like a lamb.” I think of it more like, “In like an Ice Tray, Out like a Wet Mop.” I agree that the “Lion and Lamb” thing is more poetic, but mine is more realistic and I never claimed to be a poet. I am just a semi-literate Geezer with bad knees.

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Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2017 – It Seems Simple To Me

 

It Seems Simple To Me

giphy-1SOME THINGS JUST DEFY EXPLANATION. Others don’t merit explanation.

“The Brightest Flash of Light Ever Recorded Now Has An Explanation.”

That’s quite a headline. I would have opted for something shorter like, “Say Cheese! Says Heaven.”

When I saw that long headline this morning I had to read what followed.

supermassive-black-hole-jpeg-480x0_q71_crop-scaleIt seems that in June of 2015 a pair of Israeli Observers (Read two guys who stay up all night really looking for UFOs, but won’t admit it.) were gazing into the night skies when they saw a bright flash of light – and lucky for them, they had their GoPro cameras or iPhones turned on to record the event.  Why was I not told about this?

Jumping ahead 18 months or so to this morning the Observers say that they have finally figured out what caused it.

“…the burst was caused by the destruction of a star consumed by a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy,”

Somehow, I have my doubts about their explanation. It all seems too complicated. I think it all might have a much simpler cause.

“What did you do last night?”

“We stayed up all night staring at the sky, like most nights.”

“See anything interesting?”

“No. Just a bright flash of light.”

“Oh, what was that all about?

star3“I dunno. My guess was that the pizza delivery guy coming up the hill had his bright lights on.”

“That sounds reasonable to me. That was it. Mystery solved.”

“I dunno. My boss thinks it was a star being ripped apart by a black hole in a distant galaxy.”

“Hmm? I’d go for the pizza guy thing.”

“Yeah, me too.”

I make no claims to be a scientist of any sort. I was Liberal Arts major. I’m lucky I can read the label on a can of beans, but if this brightest light ever came from a “distant galaxy” – well, I have doubts that anyone can give a surefire explanation any better than, “The pizza guy had his bright lights on.”

“When a star passes within the tidal radius of a supermassive black hole, it will be torn apart. The rapid spin and high black hole mass can explain the high luminosity of this event.”

Loose translation into English: “I admit we were drinking and before I passed out my head was star-2spinning something fierce, and then…I saw this bright light. Funny thing is I could swear I also smelled pepperoni.”

I admit that this is a very loose translation from the original “Astronomerese.”

Explaining what happens out there in the permanent night is, quite literally, a shot in the dark. The “Black Hole” idea about the bright light is as good as any I suppose, and just as valid as anything I could come up with. I like mine better. My explanation allows the guys who spend their nights gazing skyward to have a little fun – and some pizza. If we blindly accept the more scientific sounding explanation it makes me sad. Can life be any duller than spending each night sitting in the dark waiting for something, anything, to happen? It must be like being the Understudy to Life.

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Windows? We Don’t Need No Stinking Windows!

 

HERE WE ARE NEAR THE STUBBY END OF FEBRUARY and signs of life are returning to this frozen slice of the world. One of those indicators is the return of the Four-Legged Restaurant Critic to Terre Haute (That’s French for “Are you going to eat that?”). This town has more dining options than any town this side of West Terre Haute (That’s Portuguese for “Does anybody here speak French?”).

I like Mexican food. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find. There is a Taco Bell within hurling distance of where I am seated – no Mexican food there. Taco Bell has twice tried to open stores inside the nation of Mexico and twice they have failed to find an audience. ‘Nuff said.

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No, No, No and No.

Artist’s Rendition

OK…I’M AS FREE THINKING AS THE NEXT GUY and even more so than the guy next to him, but even I have to draw the line somewhere.

Not everyone in the world has good luck in dating and looking for true love.

The perfect, or rather highly imperfect, example of this comes in the person of Mr. Christian Nichols, 21, of Oldsmar, Florida. Mr. Nichols is currently incarcerated for “Looking for Love in all the wrong places.”

Extremely Wrong.

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Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – The Conclusion

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – The Conclusion

“Where is everybody?”

That was a good question. Ten minutes ago it looked like “Pops” Mulroy held all the cards, but now…? Now it looked like he was “all-in” and holding a dead hand. His two gigantic thugs certainly were. His eyes darted around looking for help. There wasn’t any. It was time for me to show him what I had in my pocket. Now Charlie and I were holding all the Aces.

When “Pops” saw the pistol in my hand it was if all the air went out of him.

“Timmy, is that necessary?”

“I hope not, but I don’t know what’s going on here either and you might be our ticket out of here.” The man I had trusted slowly shook his head.

“That gun won’t get you – or me – out of here if things have fallen apart. We are all expendable.”

“Then let’s keep walking and find out,” I told him.

I looked over at Charlie who had put away his knife and was holding two Russian semi-automatic pistols, one in each hand. He had a deadly serious look on his face.

“Those big boys don’t need these pieces anymore and they might come in handy if things get nasty.”

I was coming to really like and trust that boy.

It was me, “Pops,” and Charlie standing there all alone. No one else was visible and the plant was dead silent, but that sure didn’t mean that everyone was gone. You can’t hide that many Russians quickly – and what about my men, my Security Team? I knew from the FBI that at least two of them were moles.

And where was Van Swearingin?

If I was going to get any answers we had to get moving to Van Swearingin’s office.

“Ok, let’s keep moving…and one more thing. “Pops,” if you try to call out to your Comrades or get stupid on me – I. Will. Shoot. You.

We moved on through the plant. I was hoping that the Boss would be there in his office – in handcuffs, but I was also hoping that he and everybody else was gone. I didn’t care where. I was one man with a snub-nosed five shot .38 caliber handgun. That’s not much. Not much at all.

There were only two places in the plant where you get everybody together at one time: the Loading Docks or outside. The Loading Dock area would be crowded unless they opened the large bay doors – and then you were outdoors. I wanted to avoid either place until I knew more.

When we got close to Van Swearingin’s office I could see that the door was wide open. I’d never seen it like that before. I had Charlie and “Pops” stay out of the office while I slipped through the door. The Receptionist’s area was empty. The door to Van Swearingin’s private office was ajar. I looked into his office. Van Swearingin was sitting at his desk, his back to me, looking out of his window, the only window in the entire building, onto the desolate landscape of the Salt Flats. I walked in.

“Hello, Tim.” He didn’t turn around.

“Boss? What’s going on? Where is everybody?”

“You weren’t supposed to be here today.” He turned his chair around. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. He was pale and his eyes were lifeless. His hands were empty, but there was a shiny chromed .45 caliber pistol in his lap. I didn’t like that. “Why don’t you give me that weapon, Boss?”

“No.”

I couldn’t reach it and I didn’t want him to start shooting that cannon. We just looked at each other for a few moments. If he was going to say anything I’d have to start the conversation.

“What’s going on, Mr. Van Swearingin? One minute this place is crawling with…” He cut me off.

“What’s going on, Tim? A lifetime of mistakes coming back at me is what’s going on. I trusted people I shouldn’t have. I let them stay even when I knew I should have gotten rid of them. They took my son as a hostage. I didn’t have the courage to fight them. I let my own personal weakness and greed allow me to betray my country. What’s going on you ask me?”

“Where are the Russians?” I insisted. His self-pity didn’t interest me at this moment.

“The Russians? I think some of them are dead by now. I hope so. The FBI stormed in here twenty minutes ago. They must have taken out the guard post before they could warn them here at the plant. A couple of your Security Detail opened fire when the Russians started to fire at the FBI raiders. You trained them well, Tim.”

“Those men were FBI from the get-go,” I corrected him. “I didn’t even know which of my men they were. I have one more question for you.”

“What’s that, Tim?”

I hollered back out of the office.

“Charlie, bring him in here.”

Charlie came into the office walking behind “Pops” Mulroy. He had one of the Russian’s pistols up against the back of “Pops” head. I had no doubt that he would have pulled the trigger if the old traitor had attempted to run or resist.

“Hi, Dad, What’s new?” His voice was as cold as the desert at night.

Van Swearingin looked up at his youngest son like he had never seen him before. “Charlie? Put down that gun!”

“Sorry, Dad, no can do. I had to kill two of your Russian flunkies to get it and this other big one too. Besides, if I put it down your friend here might do something stupid.” He rapped his prisoner’s head with the gun barrel. “Ain’t that right, Grandpa?”

“Easy, Charlie, the FBI has taken control of the plant and I think they’ll want Mr. Mulroy with his head intact. I’m sure they’ll have a lot of questions for him.” I turned back to Van Swearingin. He couldn’t take his eyes off of his son. “I imagine they will have a few questions for you too. But I have just one.” He looked at me and closed his eyes. He was on the verge of collapse.

“Mr. Van Swearingin, You trusted me with your son, why didn’t you trust me enough to call in the FBI, or the Army or whoever, to end all of this before people had to die?

“I had no Trust left. Everyone I trusted ended up betraying me.” He picked up the pistol from his lap. I reached out hoping he would hand it to me.

“Mr. Van Swearingin – don’t! Give me the gun. Please.”

“No. Hear me out. I’ve made some terrible mistakes, horrible mistakes. I’ve caused a lot of pain to people who didn’t deserve it. It’s too late for me to make amends to some of them. I hope that someday they will be able to forgive me.” He closed his eyes as a tear ran down his cheek.

I thought we were out of the woods, but he opened his eyes before I could reach for his gun. He raised his hand and fired one shot across the room and into the chest of his lifelong friend, employee, and ultimate destroyer “Pops” Mulroy.

XXX

I deposited my last pay envelope and then closed my bank account. I bought a train ticket to Maine. I’d never been there, but it was as far from the west coast as I could go and full of green trees. I’d had enough of the desert Salt Flats.

I read in a newspaper that they put Van Swearingin on trial, but he had caved in on himself and ended up in the crazy house for the criminally insane. I don’t know how long he survived. I never read another word about him.

The End

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