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 – 2021

Archive for the tag “Usual Suspects”

She Just “Sort of” Robbed The Bank

Today’s post is an “Oldie But A Goodie” from September of 2015.  It is one of my personal favorites and, as bizarre as it seems, I assure you that it is completely true.


I WAS CHATTING WITH THE USUAL SUSPECTS the other day when the topic of bank robbery came up. Sometimes they scare me. This bunch of Geezers couldn’t rob the Food Bank, let alone an actual – “Money in the vault, Can I see some ID, please,” type of bank. This group would be called the “Don’t forget to take your meds gang.” Even so, they would be a bigger threat than a person I once knew who really did try to rob a bank.

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There Is Music In The Air

mathis albumSOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

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Fire Up The Searchlights !

searchlightsPEOPLE COME AND PEOPLE GO. That is the nature of life. They are here one minute and then, without warning they are – somewhere else.

I love a mystery – don’t you?

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What Am I Looking At?

eyechartSOME DAYS YOU HAVE TO GO OUT HUNTING for something to write about. Some other days it walks up and sits down in front of you. Today was one of the latter.

Let me preface this by saying that I have the utmost respect for and hold in high esteem the members of our Armed Forces, both present and past.

But this morning I witnessed something that just flat out bothered me.

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A Idea Whose Time May Never Come

giphy-17LIKE IT OR NOT, and I’m not overjoyed about it, but Halloween is coming up fast and spurious. What started out as part of a religious observance has been turned into…I’m not quite sure what. A Candy Corn coated excuse to give children gingivitis? A promo for several TV shows about people in bad makeup stumbling around, snarling like Charlie Sheen on a good day?

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Should We Order A Cake?

Magna CartaTHERE WAS AN ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER the other day stating that it was the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

It wasn’t.

Here we are in Mid-September and the actual date of the signing of the Magna Carta was June 15, 1215. I know I shouldn’t be fussy, but with all of the to-do in England and here in The Colonies, I would expect a bit more care with the details.

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Downwind Of Upstage Is No Place To Be

FB_IMG_1441895951206THERE IS A GOOD REASON my wife, the lovely and unfailingly perceptive, Dawn, calls my trips to St. Arbucks, along with, “The Usual Suspects,” my “Play Group.” I admit that there are some days when the maturity level drops below Pre-School closing in on Pre-Natal.

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I’ll Have An Espionage Latte, Please

droneTHINGS ARE GETTING JUST TOO WEIRD, even for me, and I have a pretty high threshold for weird. After all, I lived in San Francisco for 25 years – the Ground Zero for Weird.

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Dancing At St. Arbucks

healing-parkingLAST SATURDAY’S BLOG about the miracle on Wabash Avenue sparked a very shallow conversation this morning at St. Arbucks.

The Usual Suspects were there when I arrived and, after exhausting the topic of the Chicago Cubs Baseball team, they began to talk about “Tele-Evangelists we have known.” This had nowhere to go but down and it did so very quickly.

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Flintlock Rifles Marinara

flintlockTHIS MORNING I WAS SITTING and sipping my coffee after services at St. Arbucks with a collection of The Usual Suspects. The topics of conversation ranged from old TV shows to local politics, to the condition of the streets in San Francisco.  Why they care, I don’t know and my info on that particular topic is at least 13 years old. But that doesn’t really matter to them I think.

And then I made a mistake.

I asked one of The Suspects, “What’s new in the wide world of firearms?”

Given the fact that this fellow is a retired Marine who has, shall we say, a gun collection. He is the person to ask about things like that. Other people might call his collection “Large enough to tip the balance of power in Central Asia.” I’ll just say it is a large collection – really large

His response to my question surprised me.

“What’s new? I don’t know. I know more about older weapons.”

Then another Suspect jumped in, asking, “What is the oldest gun you have?”

This was not a good thing to do. I had the feeling that I was going to be having lunch there.

“My oldest weapon? Why, I have a flintlock rifle from the 1800s. It was made in Italy.”

Now, I’m certainly no expert on firearms, but I don’t think that flintlocks were in active use by then.  Maybe in Italy. I didn’t know for sure, but I was afraid to ask our expert.

Knowing that there was no way in Heaven that his answer about the Italian rifle was going to settle the issue – I braced myself.

“Let me tell you about that rifle…”

I knew it. I just knew it. This was going to take a while. Call home and tell your loved ones that you’ll be late.

The next five minutes were filled with a detailed account of his trouble changing the flint in this antique rifle. At least that’s what I think he described. It was hard to tell. He was using a jargon that was new to me and my brain was trying to save itself by doing the cerebral equivalent of holding its breath.

When he finished his story about the Italian flintlock rifle I knew nothing more about that weapon than when he’d started. He might as well have been speaking in Lithuanian.

I’m just grateful that things like that don’t happen very often. I don’t want to make Mr. Arsenal feel bad or unappreciated. I like him and, let’s be honest, if things go South and the Society crumbles like a stale cookie, I want to know someone like him. And I want him to like me.

I know that I have a propensity to be a bit of a smartass. I also know that, if I’m not careful, I can be a truly verbally offensive person. I don’t mean to be like that – it just happens. So, I try to watch myself. I don’t want to upset the people around me. Some of them are younger than me. Some of them are bigger than me, and some of them are considerably better armed than me.

Randall The Candle

candleIN 1997 THERE WAS AN EPISODE of “Law And Order” (An American Cops and Robbers TV show set in New York City) that had a character, an arsonist, who went by the moniker of “Randall the Candle.”

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I Don’t Remember It That Way

Alamo Peewee

THIS MORNING WHEN I ARRIVED at St. Arbucks for the 9 AM vespers/brewing I was surprised to see that five of the Usual Suspects were already there and engaged in a serious conversation. I just slipped into a chair at the rear of the classroom and listened.

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The Cake That Wouldn’t Die

Circus cake

IF YOU RECALL, about two weeks ago there was a posting here called

“Now THAT Was A Surprise Party”

It all had to do with an effort to do something nice for someone. We should have known better.

For Newcomers and Amnesiacs I will give a brief reminder of the circumstances.

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Salon de St. Arbucks


OVER THE YEARS  I’ve done a lot of writing while seated in a nearby Starbucks. Tens of thousands of words have been typed while sipping on coffee or tea. But lately I’ve had to change my habits.

Over these same years I have come to know a number of the regulars who show up at the same Starbucks almost every day. I call them “The Usual Suspects.” Now I find that the time spent writing has morphed into time spent chatting. Not chatting about any significant issues or philosophical concepts just, more accurately, shooting the breeze.

In this group of regulars are several ex-military guys (Marines and Navy), a former Big-Ten College Football player who now sells sports memorabilia, a part-time college instructor, and a couple who are retired public school teachers. 

A few of us are dealing with medical issues that seem to crop up as we age. At 68 I am not the youngest, nor am I the oldest. We all, more or less, come from the same generation or are close enough to not be looked upon as ‘kids’ or ‘geezers.’

The tone and topics of our conversations tend to be set by whoever gets there first. It may be Sports in general or fishing in particular. When it is fishing I tend to keep quiet since I know nothing and care even less. Some mornings the topics wander from cars, to grandchildren, to the baristas behind the counter, to travel. This is a group that has seen most of the world – on their own or courtesy of the Military. One topic that doesn’t come up often is Politics. On those rare days when it does surface I stay mute except to remind one gent that he is pushing his pacemaker to the wall. Just before the recent elections one of the guys noticed that I wasn’t joining the conversation and asked me what I thought about the candidate/issue in question. I replied with, “How about those Cubs!” The next day I actually received an email from one of the guys apologizing for allowing tempers to flare over coffee. I told him there was no need to apologize. I don’t set the topic nor would I try to stop anyone else from talking about whatever they chose to bring up.

Because of all this conversation I find that I don’t get any writing done. I’ve even given up on taking my computer with me to Starbucks in the morning. I know that nothing will get written.

So what do I do now? Most afternoons I grab my computer and go just up the street, in the opposite direction from Starbucks, and find a table at Java Haute – a very nice locally owned coffee house. It is quite a bit larger than the Starbucks and seems to draw more from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a mere two minute drive away. At Starbucks the customers tend to be more “in-and-out,” students from Indiana State University, and older folks like “The Usual Suspects.”  The Starbucks also has music playing and is, on the whole, noisier. At Java Haute almost everyone is hunched over a computer or in quiet conversation. Both places are located on the same busy street but Java Haute seems to have less traffic noise. Go figure. And at Java Haute I rarely bump into anyone I know so my conversations are few and I can actually get some writing done.

Another difference is that, in the morning I almost always get the same thing – a “Venti” iced coffee with cream, no sweeteners. Some mornings they see me pulling into the parking lot and have it ready and waiting before I get through the door. In the afternoons I usually get only a bottle of water. I need the caffeine in the AM to start my heart, in the PM that caffeine would give me a case of the ‘yips’ and impact my already questionable typing skills.

I never thought I would have to plan things out like this. Years ago I had the habit of writing every morning, with pen and notebook, in the middle of a donut shop. It worked but I put on weight. Apple fritters and Dramatic Tension don’t mix.

Why don’t I just write at home? It would be cheaper and I could do it in my underwear. True, but I find that I succumb to too many distractions and the lure of the television and the refrigerator. Naps are easier at home. I wouldn’t have to just slump over a table next to my beverage. And, anyway, if you could see how I’m dressed right now sitting in the middle of Java Haute, you’d say that I haven’t compromised very much on writing at home.

Morning chit-chat has altered my entire day. It has spread my commercial largesse to two establishments without improving my choice of wardrobe. I’m actually getting more done this way. Hopefully there is an atom or two of quality in it all.

OK, enough of this. Now I need to go to the restroom after drinking all this water.

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