My Cousin Elmo says, “My know-it-all neighbor claimed that only onions can make you cry, so I tossed a watermelon at him. Turns out he’s right, but his nose sure did bleed.”
Acrylic and ink, 11 x 14 inches, canvas
found this tiny handprint in bedroom carpet…there are no small children in house.
“What in the hell blew through here?” he asked, though he was alone.
Manny looked at the damaged fence and shook his head. He did so in confusion as he had no more dogs, and the splintered pieces of redwood slats were shattered and strewn on both sides of the property line.
He remembered back when the new neighbors had decided to dig a new well in the corner of their property less than ten feet from the fence. They worked for two months boring into the hardpan with heavy equipment and never once touched it.
As he studied the damage, he noticed what looked to be claw marks in the remaining redwood slats. Upon closer examination, Manny realized they were tooth marks — as if something had bit into the wood.
While kneeling to get a better look at the odd damage, Manny didn’t see the long tendril-like creature slip from the rocky lip of the well. By the time he did, it was too late, and it took him without a sound.
Hours later, and after his wife had called the sheriff, two deputies and an investigator were searching around the still busted-up fence. They would solve Manny’s disappearance, but first, one of them kneeled for a better look at the marks on the remaining redwood slats.
They chased after him. The three men had seen him snatch the purse from the older woman as she finished her business at the ATM.
He had made the first corner with no problem but had tripped over the curb as he round the second corning. Now limping, the three men were quickly gaining on him.
As he came around the third, he looked back over his shoulder. He never saw the large mirror being moved by the two workmen as they crossed the sidewalk.
He hit it at full force. He heard the sound of shattering glass and then darkness.
The purse snatcher was never seen again, and the fragments of the mirror were swept up and thrown away.
Ink, 9 x 12 inches
While visiting Wokatopia, former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro takes time out to Congress what actual infrastructure work looks like.
Rusty believed himself to be a ladies-man. All the women in the office thought he was an ass.
His latest conquest, Ciana, had enough of his sexual innuendos and unwanted passes and had decided to put an end to his harassment. With that, she brought in 24 raw crystals and laid them end-to-end in a circle.
She was busy when Rusty entered and leaned on her desk.
“How you doing gorgeous?” Rusty asked. “Miss me?”
Ciana looked at him with a smile and cooed, “Sure, Sugar-shorts, all weekend long”
Surprised, Rusty asked, “R-R-Really?”
“Yes,” Ciana answered. “In fact, I’ve been thinking that with my help, you’ll be going places soon, and you’ll be on top in no time.”
“I love how you think,” he said.
“The only thing I ask is that you don’t do stand or even jump in that circle of cystals,” she said, pointing to the formation on the floor. “I’m experimenting.”
“Sure, Babe, whatever you say,” he responded.
“Now, excuse me, my little Pumpkin-butt, I have a load of filing to get done,” she said.
He watched her swish as she walked away. Once out of sight, Rusty went over to the rocks and studied them.
He looked to see if anyone was watching him before hopping into the center of the circle. No one was, so no one saw it when he disappeared.
Ciana returned to her desk, picked up the crystals, placed them in the plastic bag she’d used to bring them into the office, then tucked them in her desk drawer. Without a word, she returned to work.
Rusty was unsure what had happened. One moment he was at the office, and the next, he was sprawled on his back, stuck atop a 600-foot tall chimney rock formation in the middle of a desert.
She no longer had to wear a mask, and that made Cheryl happy. She did not have a hard time wearing a mask but seeing others did make life difficult.
Cheryl suffered from childhood with ommetaphobia, a fear of eyes. Even the act of looking in a mirror with a mask on caused nausea, tremors, and sweat.
Someone discovered this fear and decided to torture her. Cheryl found a pair of eyes drawn in chalk on her front porch.
Not only did they trigger the usual symptoms in her, but the idea of the act also brought on severe anger. Cheryl even set up a security camera, but somehow whoever was responsible had evaded being seen.
Then last night, she heard a noise at her front door. Cheryl quickly opened it and found another pair of eyes drawn on her porch.
This time, and because the chalk used was still rolling across the cement, she rushed outside, hoping to catch the person. In her haste, she stepped on one of the eyes.
Without warning, she was dragged from her where she stood. Seconds before she slammed into the planet’s surface, Cheryl recognized her greatest fear in the Eye of Jupiter.
To call it anything other than horrifying would be an understatement. I tried calling it cruelty, even neglect, but neither word seems to fit the situation.
It is where nightmares come alive, adding to those that already haunt the short hours of unrestful sleep.
As I walked into the woman’s yard, I saw the live capture cage in the grass near the sprinkler head. The water was on, spraying directly into the metal enclosure.
Unfortunately, the cage had a squirrel trapped inside it. The poor animal was dead, drown.
It had put up a violent struggle to save its life. Its claws were still gripping tight to the grating of the cage, its lips a pallid waxy gray, eyelids tightly closed but puffy, body stiff.
I can’t imagine dying in such a manner, but my night terrors will resolve this.
As she struggled, her yellow dress, already short, was now over her hips. She was not wearing underwear.
Still haunted by the memory of what had happened in Iraq, he smiled at the thing in his bed, “I’m gonna fuck you till you scream with pleasure.”
Already naked himself, Nick stuffed his erectness into the woman, and she screamed so forcefully that the bedroom windows rattled. Within a couple of minutes, he released into her, and again she reacted with the same effect.
But Nick wasn’t done. He remained stiff and continued to pound away at her.
Fifteen minutes later, Nick felt her stiffen up. Then she bucked at him, bending in an arch that lifted him from the bed.
Still in her and balancing on her hips, he continued to thrust and thrust. Together, they came in a violent spasm that went finished she collapsed and he on her.
“I must have been dreaming,” Nick said as he climbed from the tangle of sheets.
Weak in the knees and his thighs sore, he walked into the bathroom. As he stood to pee in the toilet, Nick knew he had not been dreaming after all.
A panic set in, and he raced to the full-length mirrors of his closet only to see a woman standing in his place. His fear ebbed as his eyes began to glow red, and the smiling woman in him grew hungry for her next victim.
My Cousin Elmo says, “I’m on the tequila diet, and so far I’ve lost three days.”
Once inside and with the door securely locked behind him, Nick relaxed a little. As he prepared for bed, he looked out his window at the street and where the woman had been.
He felt himself jump as he looked down on her, and she stood still, staring up at his window. Nick picked up his cellphone and prepared to call the police, but when he looked back, she was gone.
With his 9mm Berreta and phone on his nightstand, Nick turned out the light and settled in to get some sleep. Suddenly, his phone rang, and he picked it up.
“Hi,” was all the text read.
“Who is this?” he texted back.
“The woman under your covers.”
Nick reached over and turned on the lamp. Then he tossed back the blanket and sheet that covered him.
There was the woman in the yellow dress, eye aglow with red and growling. She sprang at him, and he twisted out from under her.
Now on top, Nick held her down at her biceps and refused to release her. Though possessed like a demon, she was no match for the Marine, who had maintained his physical strength since his days in the Corps.
The odd walk, the goofy grin, and the overpowering sense of danger were nothing new to him. He had seen it once before while on duty at a checkpoint outside Baghdad nearly 16 years before.
Back then, he was in the Marine Corps.
The night of the incident at the checkpoint remained burned in his memory. A woman, covered head-to-toe in a yellow burka, came out of the darkness and refused to halt before fired upon and killed.
Now he was watching a Black woman dance and pirouette along the sidewalk across the street. She also had the strange smile that the long-dead Iraqi woman had when her veil was finally removed.
Strangely, they had spent most of the last year and a half wearing face masks because of COVID-19. Nick wondered if the woman across the street was suffering some odd effect of wearing a mask for too long.
Still, he kept walking, his mental alertness at its peak and his folding lock-blade knife in his right hand. As he made the corner, he realized the woman was now behind him on the same sidewalk about 75 yards away.
He picked up his pace. Home and a sense of security were only a couple of hundred feet away.
While visiting Wokatopia, Elvis Presley received his first of two COVID-19 shots.
A gunman held up a U.S. postal carrier in the early evening hours of June 7, along Kipling Drive in Dayton, Nevada.
Investigators with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) describe the suspect as a Black male, about 20 years old, five feet, seven or eight inches tall, last seen wearing a red hoodie, black shorts, and gold-colored shoes. The USPIS is offering $20,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robber.
While there were no injuries during the robbery, the irony is that the U.S. Postal Service is advertising to hire another Dayton-area mail carrier.
Part of Center Street in Reno, between UNR and the railroad tracks at Commercial Row, was renamed University Avenue in 1920. Then in 1957, Reno renamed Center Street from Virginia Street north to the University as University Avenue.
Both times, Reno changed the name back to Center Street.
Now, in time for its 2024 sesquicentennial, UNR wants Reno to rename nine blocks between the Truckee River Bridge and the University gates along Center Street to University Way.
“The potential renaming provides a powerful testament to how important the University’s position as the doorstep to downtown Reno truly is,” said UNR President Brian Sandoval.
My Cousin Elmo says, “Dogs may drool, but people suck.”
Perhaps I’ve been slow in recognizing that people love to argue, win at all costs, and for no reason at all. Worse yet, we battle over unimportant stuff.
For example, I like to post historic photographs. I don’t post them without first vetting their background.
In the recent past, I’ve posted stuff without checking first, and some of my posts have come back to bite me in the ass. So I am careful.
Yesterday, a friend forwarded me a picture of a 16-mule team pulling two empty wagons up Geiger Grade in the 1870s. After researching it, I posted the photograph.
Within 24 hours, someone claimed that the photo was of “a 20-mule team returning empty from Daggett up the grade 1895.” Daggett is in the Death Valley area of California.
After following the link they provided, it was the same picture I’d posted. But once again, it is a 16-mule team and not a 20-mule team.
The person also claimed to know that the grade up the hill was “never that steep.” I wasn’t alive to know how steep Geiger Grade was in the mid-to-late 1800s, so I cannot argue that point.
But the clincher for me: They ended their argument with, “I got my information from an official government website.”
“There’s your problem, never trust the federal governement,” I wanted to argue but didn’t, and that makes them the winner.
She awoke lying in the tall grass of the prairie. Despite being wrapped in a quilt tightly from head to toe and in the sun, Sarah still felt chilled.
It was much better than what she had been going through. The night before, she was deathly ill with a fever so high it was believed she would not make it till daylight.
Slowly Sarah pushed apart the blanket and sat up. She looked around but saw nothing save the high waving grasses.
The only sound was that of the unceasing wind that blew day and night, playing tricks on the mind. It was a maddening tumult that made a life among the Conestoga wagons nearly unbearable.
Though unnaturally quiet, Sarah did feel better and was soon on her feet. As Sarah pressed through the grass, she found no sign of the thirty wagons she had been a part of since St. Louis.
She called out to her husband. He did not answer.
Finally, she found deep wagon ruts gouged into the thick sod. She followed it for as far as she could before finally sitting down and crying in utter despair.
How long she sat there and cried and screamed and wailed, Sarah did not know. What she did know was that she knew the sound of a wagon train, with the plodding of the oxen hooves, the crack of the whip, the sound of the wheels creaking and cast iron pans clanking beneath the heavy wooden wagon frames.
Then she saw the first Connie of the westward-bound wagon train. Sarah scrambled to her feet, racing towards it.
The startled oxen tried to move off the trail. They were beaten back onto the path by a man walking on the left side of the team.
“Help me,” Sarah said. “They left me behind.”
The man failed to acknowledge her. He didn’t even look her way.
Sarah ran down the line screaming for help.
The fifth wagon back, where a woman walked beside a man, she wailed, “Please help me.”
“Did you hear that?” she asked her husband, her face a mask of fright. “It sounds like a woman crying.”
“It’s only the wind,” he said.
Wally Barrieau, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, returned from his third tour in Afghanistan a different man. He knew it, and so did everyone else, and that is why he felt it necessary to exit the service.
His sudden personality change happened after he became separated from his squad and ended up wandering around the desert, lost. During this time, April five through July 15, 2006, something so incredible happened to the Sergeant that he could not bring himself to speak of it.
It began with a massive dust-devil in the early morning hours. Once cleared, Barrieau found himself surrounded by wood-framed buildings, the kind he had only seen in old Western movies.
As he was assessing his situation, he heard a woman scream. Before he could react, he watched a man race from the nearby building.
Then he heard a door at the back of the building open and close.
“Where in the hell did you come from?” a voice asked from deep in a shadow of the building.
Barrieau paused, “You American?”
“Yeah?” the voice returned. “What else would I be.”
Barrieau had no time to answer as a man stepped out of the shadow and struck the confused Marine on the side of the head. Barieau dropped to his knees as a second blow fell.
Without thinking, Barrieau drew his service pistol and fired four times point-blank into the man’s body. The gunshots fell him instantly.
Bloodied and bruised, he was arrested while lying in the street outside the building with the man he’d shot on top of him. He was taken to jail to escape a quickly forming lynch mob.
That morning, Barrieau was presented before a judge, and a jury was hastily gathered.
“Why are you dressed so oddly?” the Judge asked.
“I’m a Marine and we’re at war,” Barrieau answered.
“What war is that?” the Judge asked, adding, “Not the Phillipines again?”
“Shut your mouth,” said Patrick McCarran, his defense attorney.
“Where am I?” Barrieau asked.
“Tonopah, Nevada,” McCarran responded. “Now shut up.”
The young man argued that his client had acted in self-defense against an attacker trying to avenge his mistress and not a lawman who was working in the line of duty.
Questions arose after Nye County Sheriff Tom Logan, a family man with eight children, was found dead clad only in a blue nightshirt. Logan had been spending the night with his mistress and brothel madam, May Biggs, not the heroic fight to stop a “pistol duel” between two “gamblers.”
Biggs claimed that Barrieau had been asleep in her parlor when she tried to rouse him and send him on his way.
“He elbowed me, and I yelled for him to ‘get out,'” she added.
“I was never inside any house,” Barrieau shouted before being ordered to remain quiet or be removed from the courtroom.
“At my scream, Tom burst from our bedroom and began beating him,” she said.
Seeing Logan had a gun and not knowing he was the county sheriff, Barrieau fired four shots, each striking Logan. The jury found Walter Barrieau innocent on July 13, 1906, and he became mostly lost to history.
Afghan sheepherders found Barrieau half-dead and informed a nearby Army patrol of his location. Barrieau laid in his hospital bed in Germany, not only suffering from a severe concussion and dehydration but unable to get the hallucination off his mind.
Eleven years later, Walter Barrieau saw the historical article in a newspaper column. And while his name was misspelled and the facts incorrect, he realized why he had disappeared from the pages of history.
“It’s one hell of a story and no one to tell,” he chuckled as he folded the paper up. “Besides who would believe me.”
As he left the casino’s restaurant, he walked to a corner store to buy a bottle of whiskey. Barieau would treat himself to a solid drunk because not only had he experienced a one-hundred-year-old time slip, he had also slipped the noose.
My Cousin Elmo says, “The only reason I speed is to get there before I forget where I’m going. Yeah, the cop didn’t buy it either.”
As I sat down to begin the job of researching news articles and seeing whom I might be able to call or visit to get a quote or statement, my wife came into the room, looked around, and sighed heavily.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“This mess,” she answered. “What am I going to do with it if you die before me?”
“Honestly,” I returned, a bit surprised, “I haven’t a clue.”
“Then we should get rid of it,” she said.
“That is easier said than done,” I protested.
“Why, if you don’t have any plans for all this crap?” she added.
It was my turn to sigh.
“All I want when I die is to be remembered for more than taking up space,” I said. “I don’t want to be famous, and I don’t need butt-loads of money, I jus’ wanna be remembered as someone who wore his heart on his sleeve and worked hard to make that happen by writing, painting, taking pictures and collecting stuff that people tend to no longer value.”
“So, in other words I’m stuck with all this shit until after your dead,” she replied.
“Pretty much,” I smiled. “Unless you kick the bucket first.”
Instead of writing as I would have liked to have been doing, my day has been a myriad of chores. That is how Wednesday’s go as it is the only day I have off from my usual duties — in other words, I do not chase news stories on this day.
No. Wednesdays are filled with stripping the beds, washing and drying the sheets, and then remaking the beds. I also do all of the towels in the house, from both bathrooms to the kitchen.
I also wash all of the white cloths, fold and put them away.
Between washing, drying, folding, making, and hanging, I listen to music or do some reading. This morning I picked up my old copy of Gray’s Anatomy for no particular reason.
The book is a bunch of line drawings of the human body and labels. I used to use it for my emergency medical studies.
As I was looking at an illustration of the foot, I saw the name of the small strap of muscle that controls the outward flexion of the little toe. It is called the “abductor minimi digiti.”
Our hands have the same muscle, which also controls the outward flexion of the little finger. While I was quick to realize I could flex my little fingers outward from the accompanying four, I cannot move my little toes in the same manner.
Because I became obsessed with making my little toes do my bidding, I ended up behind in my chores. And this is why I am so late in writing this evening.
I have concluded that my little toes are not actually attached to my nervous system, and therefore the little band of muscle is as beneficial as a ruptured appendix.
It’s been a long-held belief of mine that the politics between plants and drought are a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. Case in point…
A new Nevada law outlaws about 31 percent of the grass in the Las Vegas area to conserve water.
The ban targets what the Southern Nevada Water Authority calls “non-functional turf.” It applies to grass that virtually no one uses at office parks, in street medians, and at entrances to housing developments, but excludes single-family homes, parks, and golf courses.
The measure requires the replacement of about six square miles of grass in the metro Las Vegas area. By ripping it out, water officials estimate the region can conserve 10 percent of the water supply and save about 11 gallons per person per day in an area with about 2.3 million people.
When the ban takes effect in 2027, it will apply only to Southern Nevada Water Authority jurisdiction, including Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Tiehm’s buckwheat, which grows only in Nevada’s high desert, should be protected according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The six-inch tall wildflower with yellow blooms is fewer than 30,000 individual plants and hasn’t been found growing anywhere else in the world. It can only be found along Rhyolite Ridge, west of the Town of Tonopah, in the Silver Peak Range.
This is “another man-made problem” problem.
My Cousin Elmo says, “According to Facebook, I have a very anti-social life.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “I’m in Home Depot and some little shit called me an old fart. So, if you are missing your kid, they’re on aisle 17, red dryer.”
It was jus’ before midnight as I left my friend’s home in Virginia City. Once out the front door, there is a set of well-lit stairs to the right of the porch.
The night breeze coming down from Sun Moutain, now known as Mt. Davidson, felt delicious, and so I paused, letting it cool me off. As I stood there, I saw a quick movement from the side of my eye.
Someone had peeked around the corner at the bottom of the stairs. I was sure they were planning to scare the crap out of me.
“Hello?” I called. “I saw you.”
So I raced down the stairs to see if I could catch them. As I did this, I turned my camera on and let the flash engage.
My plan was to ‘blind’ them temporarily. It did not work out that way.
When the flash lit the area beyond the corner, I realized I was not dealing with anything ordinary. Whatever it was, it left my butt puckered as I stumbled up the stairs and ran to my truck.
A tall, beautifully-built blonde with green eyes met him at her apartment door as he was preparing to knock. Vicky had a way of doing that to Tim.
Raised in what some would call a “commune,” but what followers believed was a “community, Vicky intrigued him, and he hoped that he did more for her than that. She was like two different people, one fun-loving and adventurous, the other academic, serious, and he was still learning to distinguish between the two.
She was fun-loving and adventurous today.
“I have a surprise for you,” she said as she pulled the door closed behind her.
Tim followed her out to her Mini Cooper, “But we can’t take my car, so we’ll have to take your truck.”
“No prob,” Tim said.
Forty-five minutes later and several miles of rugged dirt road behind them, they came to a rise that overlooked a ghost town hidden in the folds of the Nevada desert. Vicky smiled as she watched the look of amazement on Tim’s face.
“Wow,” he said.
“I knew you’d love it,” she said.
They slowly drove down the steep embankment and into the wide center strip of land that had served as the main street at one point. The buildings, though old and abandoned, were in good shape.
Tim reached behind the seat of his truck and pulled out his camera. Vicky could see that he was excited about the photographic possibilities of the place.
“How did you find this?” Tim asked.
“I didn’t,” she answered. “It found me.”
He wanted to ask her to explain, but it wasn’t the first time she had said this, so he knew it was useless. Instead, he allowed his mind to wander to a favorite subject, the Spann Ranch.
The ranch, as it was known, had been a one-time movie set. Forgotten since the hay-day of Western films, save for Charlie Manson and his followers, Spann was hardly used, except for a hang-out.
Not counting location, the abandoned town could be the same.
Without thinking, he said, “And to think I’m here with a woman whose family was considered ‘the Manson family of the East Coast.'”
The smile slipped from Vicky Lester’s face as she replied, “I know, why do you think I brought you out here.”
Tim felt a sudden chill of death’s hand surge over his body as he came to realize his mistake.
It was no surprise that my wife knew about the possibility of having to get a booster shot for COVID-19. It was also not surprising that she did not know about the Freedom Of Information Act that netted three thousand emails from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s government account.
While I do not want to go into the email’s contents, I will say that Fauci’s integrity is under fire. They are online and searchable if you are interested in learning more details.
That aside, I have not liked the man since the AIDS ‘epidemic.’ I like him even less since I recognized a pattern.
In many of his emails, he seems to agree COVID-19 may have been a viral bat-to-human transfer. We know that is not untrue.
It is the same direction he took with AIDS. In 1984, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported that HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) might be a monkey-to-human viral transfer.
Though no one knew it at the time, Fauci is the one who developed that theory. So when I heard of the bat-to-human viral transfer premise and that Fauci was involved, I knew it to be bull shit.
My Cousin Elmo says, “I decided to get ahead of the game today, so I woke up pre-pissed off.”
Watercolor and ink, 9 x 11 1/12 inches
My Cousin Elmo says, “I was invited to a ‘Pin the tail on the Donkey’ drink party. Made an ass of myself.”
Try as I might listen to President Biden speechify on the so-called ‘Tulsa Race Riots,’ I simply could not stomach the pandering. Of course, to use ‘riot’ is wrong because it was murder — and there is a difference.
How and why it happened, I will not go into as I cannot and will not attempt to explain or sidestep the morays of a period gone by. I will explain why this was not a “hidden” event as so many, including Biden, would like us to believe.
It was the new school year, 1974, and I was 14 years old Freshman. I had U.S. history, a subject I enjoyed but was not need to taken until I was a Junior.
In this particular class, the Roaring 20s, the Wall Street Crash, and the Great Depression were being taught. Oddly, students were getting extra credit for swallowing live goldfish, a fade from the 1920s.
Deciding I would pass, I skipped class in favor of ‘hiding in the library,’ as I called it. There, I enjoyed reading books on various subjects, including history.
It was also in the library, in 1974, at 14, that I learned of the Tulsa Race Riots. I was appalled by this, and the following day I asked why we were “swallowing fish” instead of learning about things like the wholesale murder of people.
Simply put, I was told to sit down and shut up and to quit skipping class. I failed the subject that year.
Now, why do I call the President’s remarks pandering?
Because this has never been a “hidden” incident. Not only was it reported in every major and minor newspaper across the U.S., but it was widely reported in the foreign press too.
Where it did become “hidden,” was in the classroom. Instead of teaching the stomach-churning truth, we were being fed “live fish,” until our stomachs churned.
This is a lesson in the dangers of selective history.
My Cousin Elmo says, “It would be less confusing if Joe would jus’ turn the teleprompter around and let us read it for ourselves.”
Time is perplexing to me and only good as a writing device and maintaining an interconnective schedule. Anything more and it becomes as illusive as the wind cupped in my hands.
My Cousin Elmo says, “If ‘liar, liar, pants on fire,’ really meant anything, then watching the news would be a hell of a lot more fun.”
Acrylic, 9 x 11 1/2
Knee-deep in the ink
Line to think
The squiggle leads
Count down count down
Blood red shit brown
Hands stained black
Hup two three four
Must even score
Old man rocking chair
Life is not fair
See the Sargent
To hell get bent
Knee-deep in the ink
Quietly, methodically I unfriended some people on Facebook. I did this to remove those who ‘collect’ but never ‘respond’ to anything I may post.
Somehow, I managed to delete my entire friend’s list, save for family. They are listed separately.
FB says I am at fault because rather than ‘unfriending,’ I ‘deleted. Okay, I accept the blame.
Sadly, I have gone to several people’s pages to find that they do not have their ‘friend’ button activated. So, if you want to participate with me via FB, ‘refriend’ me…if not, don’t, and we’ll leave it at that, no hard feelings.
A blogging friend of mine from South Africa, Robbie Eaton Cheadle, recently posted a video of herself reading Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “The Sleeper.” It was the line…”upon the quiet mountain top, ” that triggered a memory in me.
Summer of 1990, and I was a newscaster, announcer, and contract engineer for 780 AM KROW in Reno. Late one afternoon, we had to go up Peavine Mountain, north of Reno, Nev., to check on a piece of remote equipment that was not working right.
As we drove the six miles of rough road to the mountain top, I could see the crumbles of foundations and ruins of stone walls. On our way back down the same road, we stopped to investigate.
Though not macabre as an Edgar Allan story, it was an honest-to-goodness ghost town!
Records show that during the 1860s, prospectors poked around Peavine Mountain. Several mining camps were established on the mountainside.
The largest of these was Poeville. The place was named after John Poe, a cousin of Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe discovered gold and copper veins in the area in 1862, and within two years, a settlement of about 200 people had blossomed. At first, the ore was difficult to process because of a lack of water.
This changed in 1866 when a freight system began transporting the ore to Cisco, Calif., for processing. It was made even easier to get the ore to mill after the transcontinental railroad was completed.
By 1874, the community was large enough to support a post office, which operated for about four years. Poeville had a few saloons, a small hotel, livery stables, a large dry goods store, a Chinese laundry, a stamp mill, and a wagon repair shop.
When first discovered, Poe thought the site was rich with gold, but soon it became clear there was more copper than anything else. In fact, the copper was of sufficient quality that specimens were exhibited in 1864 at the Nevada State Fair, held in Carson City that year.
However, lower copper prices, coupled with more lucrative opportunities in other mining camps, caused residents to begin to drift away. Mining ceased in the late 1870s, and by 1880, only 15 residents still lived in Poeville.
Today, mostly because of wildfires, sadly, nothing remains.
Watercolor and ink, 9 x 11 1/2
Traffic had come to a halt in both directions as a small herd of mustangs crossed the roadway. Rarely are wild horses ever in a hurry to get from one side of a street to the other, and they were no exception.
Three vehicles ahead of me was a sedan, pulling a short-sided trailer and hauling a pair of Llama. One of the pair slipped its tie-down and hopped from the hauler, racing to the herd of Mustang.
Mustangs being mustangs, they wanted nothing to do with the domesticated ‘wild’un’ and quickly shooed it away and back into the road. However, the Llama was not through having some fun while exploiting its newfound freedom.
It refused to be corralled and trailered, dashing back and forth from one side of the road to the other. I watched as it crop-hopped, sunfished, and cycloned to its left.
Quietly, I got out of my truck, my lariat in hand and building a loop. I waited for the thing to begin spinning again.
As it did, I made a couple of overhead twists and dropped the rope neatly over its head and down the long neck. Unlike a real horse bent on freedom, the Llama came to a stop as I gently hand-over-handed my way to it.
In complete surrender mode, it walked passively back to the trailer and got on. While the woman, whose Llama they were, tied the animal to the railing, I took the time to hobble it by tying a piece of heavy bailing string from its on-right foreleg to the off-left hindleg.
The woman shook my hand, said thank you, while the Llama spit in my left ear.
Lost another classmate over the weekend…
Scott was born in Salinas, Calif., to Betty and Jim Bruhy on June 4, 1960. He passed away on May 23, 2021, at his home in Springfield, Ore.
Scott graduated from Del Norte High on June 9, 1978. He played basketball for both the Klamath Golden Bears and the Del Norte High Warriors, lettering all four years of high school. Scott also played Little League Baseball with the Klamath Cubs and was involved in scouting when he was a youngster.
Scott is preceded in death by his parents Betty and Jim, a daughter, his stepmother Colleen Bruhy, and is survived by his wife Kim, two daughters, and siblings Dean and Kathy.
My Cousin Elmo says, “She might think my tractor’s sexy, but my dog thinks I’m perfect.”
For my wife and me, it started with a light rapping at our front door. It was Chase and Landon, both seven.
One child is small for his age, while the other is rather large for his. They wanted to ask my wife if they each could have one of her painted garden rocks.
“Of course,” Mary said.
They each selected one and quickly raced from our porch.
It was less than half an hour later when we heard two blood-curdling screams, “Wwwaaaaaahhhhh!”
Then we saw Landon, head all the way back, mouth open, screaming in terror and crying as he sprinted across our porch. A couple of seconds later, Chase followed.
“What in the hell was that all about?” I asked.
“I hope they didn’t hit each other with those rocks,” Mary said.
The boys disappeared inside their home next door before I could find out. A while later, my wife saw them standing on the sidewalk.
She asked what had happened. They explained, leaving out one small detail.
“Are you going back over there?” Mary asked.
“Yeah,” Chase laughed.
“Are you kidding,” Landon said, “No way!”
She came in laughing and explained the situation to me. I laughed as well.
Still laughing, I went next door to the neighbor on the other side of our home and asked what happened. Instead of telling me, Mike showed me.
He donned a rubber ‘hobo’ mask. I laughed even harder.
Then he explained that the two boys had been ‘doorbell ditching,’ their home for the past few days.
“I saw them coming around the corner and sneaking up the walkway,” Mike said. “And I decided to scare them.”
Boy, did he. And I’m still chuckling.
My Cousin Elmo says, “With the wind constantly blowing, Nevada will soon be the new Wyoming.”
At five, I was frightened of the school bus. I don’t know why.
My mother even watched me duck down behind a large log in the field we kids would cross, hiding from the yellow thing. Yes, I got a butt-whipping for that, but it didn’t stop me from being afraid or hiding again.
This time, Pa Sanders was working in his field and saw what I’d done. He was digging up the earth for planting.
He dropped the tines or perhaps the discs from the tractor and drove straight for me. I thought I had another licking coming, but instead, he had me get on the green and yellow John Deere and drove me to school.
On the way, he talked about how he never rode a school and how he and his sister walked to school. The two following days, he escorted me to the bus stop and saw that I got on.
The third day, he met me in the field near the log that I had hidden behind and told me that he’d watch me get on the bus. I did.
The following day, I got on the bus without any problem and never hid, needed escorting, or watched again. This doesn’t mean my anxiety about riding the school bus went away.
It means I was taught how to deal with it.
Last Friday, I saw a man with three children on his red Kabota, turning first into the middle school where two of the children got off, and then he crossed the roadway to the high school, where the last child got down. The sight left me beaming with a smile from ear to ear.
A friend recently held an Internet session where she sang an old ballad by Jimmie Rodgers in which he wrote about his losing battle with Tuberculosis. I altered the lyrics to fit today’s ‘ongoing plague.’ Many apologies to Mr. Rodgers…
Ol’ Doc Fauci’s trying
To make a fool out of me
Lord, that doc’s trying
To make a fool out of me
Trying to make me believe
I ain’t got that old COVID.
I’ve got the COVID blues
When it coughed down sorrow
It coughed all over me
When it coughed down sorrow
It coughed all over me
‘Cause my body rattles
Like a train on the V and T
I’ve got the COVID blues
I’ve got that old COVID
I can’t wear a mask
Got that old COVID
I can’t wear a mask
Got me worried so that
I can’t even sleep at night
I’ve got the COVID blues
I’ve been fightin’ like a small dog
Looks like I’m going to lose
I’m fightin’ like an old dog
Looks like I’m going to lose
‘Cause there ain’t no winnin’
Ever with the COVID blues
I’ve got the COVID blues
Gee but the graveyard
Is a lonesome place
Lord that graveyard
Is a lonesome place
Keep me masked when they
Throw that mud down in my face
I’ve got the COVID blues
My Cousin Elmo says, “If you think we got it bad, know that Kim Jong-Un has banned skinny jeans and mullets in North Korea and now they’ll never know the glories of the 90s.”
Acrylic, 11 x 14 inches
“It is at night, especially when the moon is gibbous and waning, that I see the thing.” — ‘Dagon,’ H.P. Lovecraft
Panic overtook the citizens of the tiny village the day following the night that the 14th-century clock tower became exposed. The town was hidden from prying eyes since the villager’s subjection to Nazi experiments before World War II ended.
(Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner) — Lake Resia, named Reschensee in German, borders Austria and Switzerland. The land was annexed to the Italians following the First World War. German remains the first language for many in the region.
For years the village people had worked the region clearing blockages that came from time to time, keeping the hydroelectric plant operating. Soon their secret would be exposed, and the world would learn that the villagers were the living form of a Great Old One and the final failed super-weapon of the Third Reich.
After the village went underwater, the lake engulfed around 160 homes. The residents were displaced, many of whom are living in villages nearby. After leaks were found, the lake was temporarily drained for repair work on the reservoir, exposing what is left of the village in South Tyrol bordering Austria and Switzerland.
And now their home was receding. Could villagers still breathe without water, their leathery wings carry them, and what of that waning gibbous moon?
Once arrested, John Ramsey confessed to participation in the murder of Roan. He said that Hale had promised him five hundred dollars and a new car for the killing.
Ramsey said he met Roan outside of Fairfax, where they drank whiskey together. Then Ramsey shot Roan in the head, though he later claimed that the actual killer was Curly Johnson.
Johnson died before he could testify.
Ernest Burkhart was sentenced to life and sent to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was released in 1959, receiving a pardon in 1966 from Governor Henry Bellmon.
Bryan Burkhart turned state’s evidence in state court and was never convicted.
Oklahoma Governor Jack C. Walton ordered an investigation into the deaths of Bigheart and Vaughan, assigning Herman Fox Davis to head the investigation. After being appointed, Davis was convicted of bribery and later pardoned by Walton.
The investigation was left incomplete.
Osage County officials sought revenge against Pyle for bringing attention to the murders. Fearing for his life, Pyle and his wife fled to Arizona.
In 1925, to prevent further criminal activity and protect the Osage, Congress passed a law prohibiting non-Osage from inheriting rights. The government continued to manage the leases and royalties from assets.
In 1925, Police officer James Pyle asked the Bureau of Investigation (BOI,) the agency preceding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI,) for help. They sent Tom White to lead an investigation.
Because of the perception that the police were corrupt, White decided the agents would work undercover. After two years, agents uncovered Hale’s scheme.
Hale persuaded Ernest to marry Mollie Kyle, a full-blooded Osage. He then arranged for the murders of Mollie’s family for insurance policies and the rights of each family member.
Investigators learned Ernest was poisoning Mollie. She recovered, and after the trial, divorced Ernest, dying on June 16, 1937.
In the case of the Smith murders, Ernest turned state’s evidence, naming Hale as responsible for the murder conspiracy. He said that he had used Henry Grammer as a go-between to hire a professional criminal named Ace Kirby to perform the killings.
Grammer and Kirby were both killed before they could testify.
Hale was convicted in 1929 for the shooting death of Roan and sent to Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. He was sentenced to life but paroled on July 31, 1947.
After being paroled, he spent time in Montana, working as a ranch hand for Benny Binion (of Las Vegas casino fame,) dying in Arizona in 1962.
Two lab rats were conversing with one another by their water bottle.
“So, have you taken the COVID-19 shots yet?” the one asked the other.
“No,” the second one answered. “Have you?”
“Not yet,” the first one stated, “I don’t think the human trials are over.”
“Well, better them than us,” the second one said.
“You got that right,” the first said.
Somewhere deep in their cages another rat squeaked, “Look busy, here come’s a White Coat.”
Rat’s scrambled everywhere.
Charles Whitehorn, Brown’s cousin, was discovered shot to death near Pawhuska the same day. Two months later, Lizzie Q. Kyle, who had rights for herself and had inherited the rights from her late husband and two daughters, was murdered.
On February 6, 1923, Henry Roan, another cousin of Brown, was found in his car on the Osage Reservation, dead from a shot in the head. Hale fraudulently arranged to make himself the beneficiary of Roan’s $25,000 life insurance policy.
On March 10, 1923, a bomb destroyed the Fairfax home of Brown’s sister Rita Smith, killing her and Nettie Brookshire. Smith’s husband, Bill, died four days later from injuries sustained in the blast.
On June 28, 1923, George Bigheart went to an Oklahoma City hospital after drinking poisoned whiskey. He called attorney William “W.W.” Watkins Vaughan of Pawhuska, asking him to come to the hospital as soon as possible for an urgent meeting, which he did.
Bigheart said he knew who was behind the murders and had incriminating documents proving his claim.
After the meeting, Vaughan boarded a train that night to return to Pawhuska and vanished. Found with his skull crushed, he lay beside the railroad tracks south of Pawhuska.
Bigheart died that same morning.
My Cousin Elmo says, “The CDC has announced you can stop wearing your socks with sandals.”
Some background before going any further…
On the first page of Chapter 1, “The Vanishing,” in Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, author David Gann explains the story behind the title of the book:
“In April, millions of tiny flowers spread over the blackjack hills and vast prairies in the Osage territory of Oklahoma. There are Johnny-jump-ups and spring beauties and little bluets.”
“The Osage writer John Joseph Mathews observed that the galaxy of petals makes it look as if the “gods had left confetti.” In May, when coyotes howl beneath an unnervingly large moon, taller plants, such as spiderworts and black-eyed Susans, begin to creep over the tinier blooms, stealing their light and water.”
“The necks of the smaller flowers break and their petals flutter away, and before long they are buried underground. This is why the Osage Indians refer to May as the time of the flower-killing moon.”
As for Pawhuska, it is the county seat of Osage County, Oklahoma. It was named after the 19th-century Osage chief, Paw-Hiu-Skah, which means “White Hair” in English.
The town, originally known as Deep Ford, was established in 1872. The Osage Indian Agency was located along Bird Creek.
Traders followed, building stores during 1872 and 1873. The Midland Valley Railroad reached the town in September 1905.
I began my newspaper article with, “It was midmorning, Wednesday, May 5, when Virginia & Truckee Engine 29, better known as the “Robt. C. Gray” pulled out of Virginia City with four 1920-era Pullman cars in tow.”
“The train, the cars, and her crew headed for Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and the movie set of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Robert De Niro. The movie is about the murders of Osage Indians following the discovery of oil on their reservation.”
The story was supposed to be about a local steam train film appearance, I fell down the rabbit hole, saving what I’d written before rewriting the newspaper article…
On May 27, 1921, local hunters discovered the decomposing body of 36-year-old Anna Brown in a remote ravine of Osage County. Brown was divorced, so probate awarded her estate to her mother, Lizzie Q. Kyle.
Kelsie Morrison, a petty criminal, later admitted to murdering Brown and testified that William Hale, a prominent local cattleman, had asked him to do so. He also implicated Bryan Burkhart in her murder, testifying that they had taken Brown to Three Mile Creek, where Morrison shot her.
Burkhart was Hale’s nephew and Brown’s former boyfriend.
Sometime one’s timing is jus’ right. One of the neighbors’ boys out in a storm floating a paper boat in the gutter.
To top it off, I jus’ learned that my cellphone will allow me to video-tape in black and white, or edit color shots into monochrome. Makes me think of my childhood memories.
Watercolor and ink, 8 1/2 x 11 inches
My Cousin Elmo says, “What with the price of ammo, lumber and gas, being a Redneck is getting to be expensive.”
The evening Bill learned his wife Jana had cancer, he dropped to his knees and begged God, knowing it was wrong. God heard his cries, and Jana was cured.
Satan complained, “That is not how it works.”
“I saw into his heart, his motives were pure,” God countered. “You can see only his mind.”
“Well, he broke the rules,” Satan continued. “Now, he’s mine.”
“Don’t you touch him,” God commanded.
In a huff, Satan answered, “Fine.”
A month later, as Bill lay sleeping in bed next to Jana, Satan slipped into their room and whispered in Bill’s ear. That morning Bill did not awaken, having died of a heart attack.
Bill didn’t mind because he went to Heaven believing that God had answered his prayer.
God and Satan attended Bill’s funeral, where God whispered in Satan’s ear, “You lose again.”
The inflation rate in the U.S. between 1956 and today is 872.36 percent meaning that 100 dollars in 1956 are equivalent to $972.36 in 2021.
We’ve been taught wrongly into believing that inflation is part of a natural cycle in a healthy economy. The keywording is ‘healthy,’ and we haven’t had a healthy economy in decades.
What we have had since 1956 is over-inflation, an economic killer.
Think of it this way: you are at your favorite beach when the tide suddenly drains, rushing out to sea, you can expect a Tsunami. When the ocean floor settles, that tide will become a wall of water, drowning everything from the shoreline to the deeper inland.
Within this last year, we’ve seen a 1.41 percent increase in the inflation rate. Soon, we’ll reach three percent or more, especially if the latest rounds of Congressional money talk, which includes a $220 billion stimulus package, become a reality.
Remember all those stimulus dollars the Fed pumped into the banking system? Those dollars aren’t being used for loans but invested in the stock market.
Once the stimulus monies run dry, we’ll see a financial crash and the U.S. dollar disappear. No country, not even Allied nations, will be willing to trade on our currency.
My Cousin Elmo says, “Someone should start a rumor about a shortage of jobs, that way everyone will rush out to get one.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “I never half-ass anything. I either go full-ass or nothing.”
He sat at the table, holding his coffee cup and watching his wife as she ate her breakfast and scrolled through her device. Something was slightly off this morning, but Hank could not put his finger on what it might be.
Instead, he watched, and he thought.
As he finally took a gulp of coffee, it occurred to him that the answer might be within himself. He had awakened a little past three that morning, extremely dizzy.
“Could that be when it happened?” he questioned.
Hank quickly finished his coffee, kissed his wife on the forehead, and went out the door. He knew he’d have time to think as much as he wanted, but the corn would not harvest itself.
My Cousin Elmo says, “Even my latest fortune cookie is offering to renew my trucks extended warranty now.”
I got to thinking about everything I miss in my life and the number of times I’ve reinvented my work self.
I miss being in the Air Force, the Marine Corps, a reserve sheriff deputy, a stuntman, stand-in, paramedic, firefighter, teacher, instructor, cowboy, security officer, radio announcer, disc jockey, presenter, host, and photo lab manager.
These are things I have enjoyed doing to earn a living.
I have been a road manager, auto detailer, nurse tech, gyppo-logger, fisherman, keno writer, house painter, window washer, car salesman, cashier, car wash jockey, and photo lab manager.
Not all jobs are fun, but they do get the bills paid.
All have provided me with experience and experiences.
They are in my past to make room for my future.
The adventure continues…
My Cousin Elmo says, ” I haven’t spoken to my wife in three days. I don’t like to interrupt her.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “I goofed and let go of my wife’s hand and now we own the women’s shoe section at Walmart.”
As I rush to write this narrative, I am also busy researching. The man mentioned a “madman named Mel,” “1978,” and “Venus.”
These three clues lead to a person who was a writer, a musician, and what many people consider a cult leader who developed a following in New England. In 1974, he had predicted that he would “ascend to Venus,” which did not happen.
Four years later, he reportedly died, though no one has ever produced a death certificate or a place of burial discovered.
Even odder, I know a person with the same last name and who hails from the same place as Mad Mel. To further the strangeness, Mad Mel was born in the same hospital as my mother and not far from where I was raise.
Such knowledge leaves me paranoid. Buddy continues to growl and stare off into the distance when we are outside as if he can hear or see something I cannot.
As this happens, I continue searching the Internet, looking for the names “Johanna” and “John.” I worry that I will find their obituaries.
On edge, I feel as if that I am being watched. It is why I wrote this story so quickly and published it in the most public way possible.
It has been nearly 84-hours since my visitation. My sleep, which has never been great, has been further disrupted with dreams bordering on nightmares of his coming and going.
Did I meet a man, a demon, an angel? I don’t know because of my confusion in this matter.
After analyzing and reanalyzing much of what he told me, I have drawn a startling conclusion that I find hard to wrap my head around. This man, if that is what he was, was also his own mother, father, and sibling.
Crazy. I know, but let me explain.
As a time traveler, he somehow manifested a loop in which he somehow created two other and separate self-entities. These entities found each other, procreated, and had a child that carried both male and female reproductive capabilities.
Doctors decided that this child would be a girl. She was named Johanna.
Here is where it grows increasingly confusing.
John appeared in a separate timeline and came into Johanna’s timeline when the two lines crossed. Since John and Johanna shared the same lineage, it stands to reason he to had both reproductive organs of the two sexes.
Since the mystery man could do nothing about Johanna, who was pregnant at the time, he was assigned to alter John’s timeline. Thinking a jump would end John’s heartache and fulfill his duties, he discovered the opposite, accidentally bringing the pair together.
My Cousin Elmo says, “Alcohol doesn’t make you fat, it makes you lean…lean against walls, tables, counters and ugly people.”
He grew more and more agitated as he talked. His pacing back-and-forth heightened my nervousness beyond what it had first been when he suddenly showed up.
His increased distress also caused Buddy to grow restless. The dog’s low growls had become louder, and I found it impossible to keep him quiet by then.
“So, what now?” I asked.
“First, I destroy Johanna and John,” he answered.
“Don’t you mean murder?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “You cannot murder what is replicated, only destroy.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“You will,” he said. “Right now, I must go. They are tracking me.”
“Where will you go?” I asked.
“A mad man named Mel, who disappeared in 1978 your time, went to Venus,” he said. “I shall join him.”
Suddenly, he began to vibrate and glow before evaporating into nothingness.
Buddy sprang to his paws, his white and brown hair hackled from neck to tail, and barking in confused terror. His fading from sight left me disoriented and with a deep sense of nausea, leaving me wanting to vomit.
I found it hard to keep my balance as I tried standing, and in the end, I sat, remaining there until I came back to my senses.
“Our jump was perfect,” he said. “But it was only after I saw the woman did I realize the mistake I had made. I suddenly became imperative that I correct the error before the time-lines became irreparably tangled and distorted.”
He paused for some time before continuing.
“As I approached him, he could see the look of fear in my eyes,” he offered. “I grabbed him and tried to drag him away, but she withdrew a can of hair spray from her purse and, with a lighter, turned the spray into a small flame thrower, melting the flesh from my face.”
“Severely injured, panicked, and in pain, I ran away and then transported myself to the agency seeking medical help,” he concluded.
“So you had to have plastic surgery,” I said.
“It was during my recovery that I told a councellor what I had done, what I had discovered and how I needed to correct the mistake,” he said.
“Later, I overheard their plans to erase my memory and retire me from service,” he said. “I escaped before they had the chance to do so.”
“And now, you’re on the run, right?” I asked.
“Correct,” he said.
“So why are you telling me this?” I asked.
“Because I am my only family, and I have no one to share it with or grieve for me when I’m gone, and I want my history to be told,” He said.
As he spoke, I took the time to look at him.
His skin was nearly flawless, with no hair on his head, brows, and eyelids. He wore a black dress suit, black dress shoes, a white button-down shirt, and a narrow black tie.
While talking, he continued to look at a device on his left wrist, tucked under his jacket sleeve, and which seemed to be communicating with him. I wanted to ask if I might look at it, but it did not seem to be the appropriate time at the moment.
He told me that his next assignment, in what he called “your year of 1990,” found him in a jail cell waiting to meet a man that he was to befriend and help guide from a life of violence. This man’s name was John, and he was in jail for being drunk and disorderly in San Francisco.
“I soon learned that his anger and pain had to do with a female he had met, fell in love with, and lost all in a years time,” he said.
“What did you do?” I heard myself ask.
“I broke a founding rule,” he said. “I took him back to the point where he had decided to leave this woman named Johanna behind, and I did it without permission.”
“It has had profound consequences for all three of us,” he added.
So, the guy might be crazy, and I even crazier for sitting and listen to him ramble on. And yes, I did think about what he said happened to Poe and a psychotic break, but what he first said had to be true for the second half to be authentic as well.
He said his name was John and that while there were hundreds of travelers, he was the last traveler. He claimed that the Clinton Administration had disbanded the program and that he was operating without authorization.
I asked, “How do you know me?”
“In another place in time, you are a big deal,” he said, “But you were never my first choice for this period of time. I don’t mean to sound insulting, but Stephen King nearly had me arrested.”
Next, he told me that in 1975, he had left a child he had kidnapped on the steps of an orphanage. That child, a girl, now grown, was living nearby after being raised by a family on the East Coast.
“This girl had a birth defect,” he said. “She was born with female and male reproductive organs. I was sent to steal her back so she could have corrective surgery. But I was too late. She was already pregnant.”
Upon his return to the agency, which he called ‘The Plumbers,” he said he was assigned a new case.
What to do with the strange situation I find myself in this evening.
Earlier today, I took my dog, Buddy, for a walk to a nearby park. And while sitting in the shade, resting, a man suddenly appeared out of nowhere and asked me if I like to write stories.
Alarmed, I wanted to rush home, but there was something about him that made me stop. The way he spoke and was dressed seemed out of place.
He claimed to be a dimensional traveler whose job it had been to fix errors in different timelines after riffs collide, creating out-of-place effects. I know it sounds crazy, but he told me a few things that kind of make sense.
For instance, he explained that Edgar Allen Poe was one of the first dimensional travelers and had suffered a psychotic break after one too many jumps. He also said that Ambrose Bierce didn’t disappear in Mexico but was “sanctioned by the federal government for sharing his experiences through his writings.”
There is so much more, and my head is swimming with everything he told me, and at this moment, I am trying to figure out how to write all that he told me. So please bear with me…
My Cousin Elmo says, “As I watch the price of lumber go up, I’m wondering if I should part out my house for extra cash.”
It is a “rather quirky thing,” as my wife calls it, that I do when I fuel up our vehicles, I write down what the price of a gallon of gas costs that day. I keep these figures in a small notebook on my desk.
Yesterday, May 2, 2021, I fueled up my wife’s car, where I noted the price of a gallon of regular gas as $3.37. The day before, I did the same thing for my truck when gas was three cents less per gallon.
This caused me to go back and look at what the price of gasoline was a year ago. I was not the least bit surprised.
On May 8, 2020, gas was $1.84 a gallon.
“Hey Tom. Are you there?”
“There are a bunch of free pianos on FB. Do you still have your truck and the offer to help me get one?”
“I will inquire and get back to you! You are a lifesaver…for real.”
“I’m curious about how far you’re willing to drive? Like South Lake Tahoe? I’ll pay for the gas. Just think about it. Please!”
“I can do that.”
“There’s one in Fallon also. You’re saving my life, Tom. Thank you. As soon as I hear something I will let ya know. Is there a good time or a bad time to text you?”
“Text me anytime. I might not answer right away, but go ahead anyway.”
“Okay. Thank you so much. I just got a reply from the one in Tahoe. It’s still available. There is one is in Sparks, too.”
“Make the arrangements. Good night.”
“Tom, are you there? Well…let me know if you still want to help. Did you desert me?”
“I went to bed.”
“She said the weekend would be good for her. We need strong young backs to help. I don’t know anyone that can help.”
“I can do it on Sunday. I’ll see if my son is available to help me.”
“I know your back is messed up. I love you, my friend! Again, you’re saving my life. She’s trying to make sure everyone is safe. She will hold the piano no matter what.”
“Jus’ need a time and address.”
“Will Sunday work at around 10 am?”
“She wants you to give her a call.”
“Thank you so so so so much, Tom. Were you able to call her? She just said you haven’t called her. Do you not want to do this or not? Tom, are you there? WTF! Tom, please answer me. OMG! Are you flaking on me?”
“OMG! Okay, you haven’t said a word.”
“I’m still waiting for an address.”
“She’s waiting for you to call her.”
“I already did. She said she’d give you the address.”
“I just got home from getting a new cell phone so I had no idea what had gone down! Sorry if I’m a bitch. Hang on. Here’s the address…”
“It’s okay. Jus’ chill a little it is working out. My son and I will get it tomorrow. Get some rest. It’s all good.”
“One thing, I want you to please use your best judgment on the condition of it. If you think it’s going to be too costly for me to have it tuned and whatnot. I know it has a little damage on the top side and needs to be tuned and tender loving care, which I’m more than willing to do. I just don’t want it to be so far out of tune that there’s no hope for it. An I making any sense? I can’t fucking sleep…lol! Good morning. Okay, maybe not.”
“It a great instrument! Heavier than all hell. We have the music bench with the books.”
“Sorry, I was in the shower. Thanks for dropping that off.”
“You’re welcome. I know it is disappointing not getting the piano today, but my son and are getting a few more bodies to help lift it.”
“Thank you. Any idea when it might happen? I have gas money for you. It’s right here. I didn’t expect to be in the shower when you got here. You can come by and get it whenever.”
“No idea yet. And keep your money.”
“Is there a reason that you’re not talking to me?”
“I’ve been busy trying to meet my deadline for the paper. I’m not ignoring you, jus’ working.”
“Okay, cool. Thanks. I’ll wait to hear from you about the piano. Thanks again for everything.”
“We are working to get a couple, okay four other guys, together to lift the piano. It has wooden casters and we don’t want to roll it over cement or asphalt. It does need cleaning and tuning, but all-in-all it is a fine instrument — jus’ very heavy. The late 40s, early 50s.”
“Wow. I may have a big burly young man that can help. I’ll check. Thanks, Tom. I’m not trying to burden you.”
“All is okay.”
“No news other than the two other people that my son asked to help is suddenly quarantining.”
“Oh, crap. I think I may be able to find two…maybe.”
“Good. Lemme know.”
“I’m sorry this is becoming a pain in the ass. I need to know what day is good for you so I can ask the others? Ok. I have one guy. Anytime after 1 pm is good for him. He works graveyard at Walmart. He will help. Tom?”
“That’s good news about getting help. Sorry about the delay in responding. Internet would not come up. I’ll ask Kyle about what day.”
“Awesome. Thanks, Tom. Please let me know how soon we can do this.”
“Hey Tom, did your son give you any info yet?”
“Have not heard from him. He’s at work right now.”
“Can you contact him after he’s off, please? She says she’s in no hurry, but you know. I don’t want to overstay my welcome. Thank you. sir. Just remember you’re saving my soul…love ya, my friend.”
“Did you speak with your son, Tom? Hello. Is there anybody in there. Okay. Please tell me what’s going on. If you don’t want to do it, it’s okay.”
“Jus’ got home. Been working.”
“So I have a dialog going with a city councilman. Do you think I should ask him for help moving the piano? I’m sure he has some kind of contacts that could help make it easier?”
“That is a good idea. I have to replace a paper box and do an interview today. My son hasn’t been able to get anyone to help either. Gonna be on the road for about an hour. Chat later.”
“Wow, you shot off-line in a fucking hurry. I just asked the councilman. Waiting for response. He is getting a whole crew of guys and a truck to move my piano. So in conclusion, you’re off the hook. It’s obvious you don’t want to do it so I took the burden back and now you are free and clear of me forever. I’m sure that works for you. After all, I was never much to you anyway.”
Sometimes rough days make the best days.
Up early, I had to take care of a broken newspaper box. While unloading it, the thing, being lighter than I thought, came off the bed of my truck faster than I could move and fell on my left leg, knocking me to the ground.
With no one around to help me get the damn thing off me, I ended up using my right foot and rolling it off me. At that point, the pain was pretty sharp, and I thought I had snapped my ankle.
Turns out that I simply gashed my leg, ripped a sock, and tore my bib overalls. As for the ankle, bruised and swollen but not broken.
I toughed it out by putting the paper box where it was intended to be.
Tomorrow, I plan to sit down and stitch the rip in my pants. The sock is going in the trash as soon as I get ready for bed.
Then I went into Virginia City, taking some copies of a newspaper story to a woman whose father passed away a couple of months ago. She was recuperating from surgery at the time and never got to see the article written about the funeral.
I thought she was going to cry, she said she was so happy.
Next, I attended an intimate concert at a local cafe. The singer, who I got to interview, was great.
I found it hard not to feel a bit of a kinship with her when she sang a song about swimming in the Eel River, which is near where I grew up, and having the “smell of the river in my hair.”
Hours later, I still have that one line hanging around in my head.
Then, of course, I got to see a couple of friends and meet a couple of strangers that I can now call friends. I’m ready now for the next journey in my life of story-telling and photo-taking, which will be about the V&T Railroad.
And to think, it all started with a newspaper box falling on me.
My Cousin Elmo says, “This old age stuff has come at a bad time in my life.”
Some people do not understand that it is not only rude to yell at people you do not know, but it can also be bad for one’s health. And I’m tired of being yelled at and too damned old to put up with it to boot.
Being a sunny and warm morning yesterday, I decided to take Buddy for a walk. We followed the sidewalk to the far east end of our street, where it dead ends.
There are two barriers there to keep motor vehicles from passing. However, it does not stop off-road motorcyclists, bicyclists, or people on foot from going beyond them.
As I stood looking at how the construction of the new homes was progressing, this 30-something man suddenly started yelling at me from his porch for “trespassing.” With my PTSD triggered, I turned on him in the most unchristian way imaginable.
“If you don’t change your tone and stop yelling at me, I’m gonna come over there and cut your effing tongue outta your empty head,” I said. “I’ve lived on this street for 23-years and been in that field more times than the number of days you’ve been living in your house. So shut up and mind your own business.”
He’s only lived in that house for a couple of months. And this isn’t the first I have heard of him yelling a people, especially youngsters.
Without another word, he went back inside and closed his door. Quite possibly the most intelligent thing he could have done.
Best walk ever.
Watercolor and ink, 9 1/2 x 12
Fellow blogger Allen Rizzi posted a few days back about Don Williams. One of the songs he listed was “What Do You Do with a Good Ol’ Boy Like Me.” While it was released in March 1980, I never heard it until about two years later.
What fighting-hole I was in at the time, I cannot recall. What I do remember is that I was in a foreign and hostile land, homesick and that the family of my childhood was gone because of divorce and I plagiarized the lyrics to fit my life at the time.
When I was a kid, Momma would come put us to bed,
With a figure of Jesus on the cross above our head.
Then Daddy came in to kiss his little men,
With beer on his breath, a Louis L’amour in hand,
And he talked about honor and things we should know.
Then he would leave, quietly walking on tip-toe.
I can still see those tall Redwood trees creating awe
And those Darby boys, the ones in my memory raw,
William O. in Arkansas.
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be,
So what do you do with silly little boys like me?
Nothing makes a sound in the night as the rain does,
But you ain’t afraid if you’re washed in the blood like I was.
The smell of the salt air from that green Pacific sea,
K-P-O-D kept me company
By the light of the radio by my bed,
With Jack London whispering in my head.
I can still see those tall Redwood trees creating awe
And those Darby boys, the ones in my memory raw,
William O. in Arkansas.
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be,
So what do you do with ignorant boys like me?
When I was in school, I ran with a kid down the street,
And I watched him burn himself up on emerald weed,
But I was quicker than most, and I could choose.
I learned to talk like the man on the radio news.
When I was eighteen, lord, I hit the road
But it really doesn’t matter how much I know.
I can still see those tall Redwood trees creating awe
And those Darby boys, the ones in my memory raw,
William O. in Arkansas.
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be,
Yeah, what do you do with a U.S. Marine like me?
Yeah, shame on me for stealing the lyrics, but I knew I would never try to make money off of it. Later, I admitted to Mr. Williams in a radio interview what I had done and how his tune and my rework of the moment got me through some rough times.
His response: “Mercy.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “I’ve been banned from social media because I don’t want to worship ‘Saint Floyd of Fentanyl.'”
My Cousin Elmo says, “A big nose is no excuse for not wearing a mask. After all, I still wear underwear every day.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “Jus’ had my first shot. Gonna have a second as soon as the cocktail server comes back.”
Watercolor, 9 x 12 inches
My Cousin Elmo says, “I never realized how long a minute was until I started exercising.”
It has been at least twenty years since I have read “Riders of the Purple Sage,” by Zane Grey. It is a great book, full of adventure, and fills one’s head with all sorts of imaginings and pictures.
One thing the book is not – sexual. I hate seeing reviews where the person pulls a word like ‘undulate,’ and turns it in some creepy term with sex-ridden overtones. My opinion is that the person doing the reviewing ain’t been laid in a while, so everything they see, touch, smell, or hear is all about the sex they ain’t getting.
Opinion aside, purple sage is a real thing. I bring this up because, with the first drizzle of spring rains in the high deserts of Nevada, the sage is blooming.
Usually, a dull brown with very little going for it in color throughout the year, sage is generally only good as shade for the rabbit and the snake. And once lit ablaze, it burns quickly, giving off a thick creosote smoke.
My favorite is the naturally occurring wild variety, with its thicker stock and branches, rather than the domesticated sage, which is whispy and thin. With its blooming comes the annual sneeze-fest with the accompanying runny nose, watering eyes, and scratchy throat.
But if you’re fortunate enough to go where the plant grows free, you’ll see acres, upon miles of purple sage clear to the far horizon. It is akin to an ocean of azure, only this sea is an undulating purple.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
budding aspen tree
is not very interested
in birds in its branches
My Cousin Elmo says, “If I want the opinion of someone who chases a ball for a living like LeBron James, I’ll ask my dog.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “So if I wear two pairs of swim trunks, I can pee in the pool all summer, right?”
My Cousin Elmo says, “They said all I needed was to wear a mask to enter the store. They lied. Everyone else had clothing on.”
The US Postal Service is tracking social media posts as part of a secret program searching for “inflammatory” messages. The program, known as the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) had not been made public and involves analysts combing through social media sites looking for “inflammatory” postings and then sharing those posts with government agencies.
ICOP specifically tracks protests across the country. A March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive,” shows that “analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021.”
“iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates as needed,” the bulletin says.
So much for fiction and freedom.
This world is not my reality. I come from another time, another place, different from this one.
First, let me say that I use the words “man,” “his,” and “he,” because from where I originate, those are proper pronouns for the male of my species. Please feel free to substitute the ‘pronoun’ of your liking while reading this.
Also, where I am from, a man carries a wallet, his keys, sometimes a pocket knife, sometimes a handkerchief, a pocket watch, or wears a wristwatch. In this reality, however, he is almost always forced to have a cellphone on his person.
The cellphone throws everything off balance. It throws me off balance.
Perhaps if I got rid of it, I could return to where I belong.
so invisible am I
that I cannot behold my own
My Cousin Elmo says, “If kingdoms are ruled by kings and empires are ruled by emperors, then countries…”
It doesn’t take very much to leave me feeling accomplished.
It was early still when I began working on the front yard sprinklers, which still need more adjusting before they stop watering the sidewalk and driveway. By the time the sun fully crested the mountains to my east, it was time to head inside and get another cup of coffee.
No longer wet or chilled, I started rewriting and editing all four news stories I had put together from the night before. It’s a great feeling to have my weekly assignments finished and ready for publishing.
Once I finished that task, I grabbed the four weeks’ worth of past newspapers and started cutting them up. Before long, I had all my stories clipped and the ten pages they filled glue into my scrapbook.
At lunchtime, I got caught up in my journal. I had worked on my news stories for so long last night that I went to bed without writing anything about yesterday’s events.
Finally, Buddy (our dog) and I took a walk through the neighborhood. He was so excited, he forgot his leash training.
The walk was good for me too, as I can always use the exercise.
My Cousin Elmo says, “Silly me, I thought changing the picture on a pancake mix’s box was going to bring about World peace.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “My wife asked me to take her someplace expensive. I took her to the lumber yard.”
Though hundreds of miles and four-and-a-half decades from where I am now, this tale of murder and the hunt for justice within one family hits close to my childhood.
Mummified remains, covered in a quicklime mixture, were found along the North Canadian River, near Jones, Oklahoma, on April 18, 1980. Investigators learned that the victim, a female, had been shot three times elsewhere, then discarded by the riverbank.
The medical examiner estimated that she was between 18 and 25, five feet six inches tall, and weighed between 115 and 120 pounds. She had a heart and ribbon tattoo above her left breast and an appendectomy scar and dead about ten days.
One of the wounds contained clothing fiber and a dime, driven into her chest by a .45 caliber bullet. Because quicklime was spread over her in a possible attempt to accelerate decomposition, she became known as the Lime Lady.
Investigators used traditional techniques attempting to identify her, but all efforts failed. Finally, in 2014, viable DNA was extracted and the Doe Project began testing in 2019, generating a usable profile by year’s end.
On January 30, 2020, Tamara Lee Tigard finally got her name back.
Tamara was born in Alameda, California, on April 18, 1959. Incidentally, that is the date on which she was first found dead in 1980.
She joined the U.S. Army following high school, attaining the rank of Specialist E-4. It remains unclear if she had already been mustered from the Army or was still in.
She married Chadwick Ryan Carr, who was last known to be living in Tennessee, on February 24, 1979, in Las Vegas. Accounts vary as to whether they were divorced or not.
She was seen last on March 21, 1980, in Las Vegas, on a walk.
Her immediate family, Patsy and James Tigard, and sister, Cynthia Butts are deceased. Meanwhile, Tamara is interred in an Oklahoma Cemetery under a brass marker that, aside from her name, year of birth and death, and branch of service, “Beloved Daughter and Sister.”
Tamara is a cousin of Patricia Ann Tigard, a woman I grew up with and who was found murdered in October 1976 and left like so much trash near the Smith River along Hwy 199, between Crescent City and Hiouchi, California. Her murder remains unsolved because her killer is widely believed to be already dead.
Today is Tamara’s birthday. She would be 62-years-old.
The investigation into Tamara’s murder is ongoing. If you have any information, call the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office at (405) 713-1017.
My Cousin Elmo says, “The only reason God created the monkey is that He was disappointed in the man.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “I don’t slur my words — I speak in cursive.”
My wife sleeps in the master bedroom, I sleep in the second guest room across the hallway. Before you ask, let me explain – I have night terrors that are often violent, and I have come close to physically injuring her while in this state.
We get up at about the same time each morning and join one another at the kitchen table for breakfast, her cereal, and juice, me a cup of coffee. This is also when we catch up, reminding each other of things needing to be done and where we share our nightly dreams or terrors if either of us can recall them.
Imagine my surprise when my wife starts telling me about a dream that grew into a nightmare, where we were trying to pass an 18-wheeler, and the truck sped up jus’ as we came even with the cab. She said we were on the wrong side of the road, forcing other vehicles into the ditch.
Then I tell her about mine. We were being chased by an 18-wheeler we had passed, and no matter how hard I pushed the car or how well I drove, we could not shake the truck as it tried and tried to run us off the road.
It is the only time we have ever had duel nightmares.
Chalk and ink, 9 x 12 inches
My Cousin Elmo says, “Land O’ Lakes removed the Native American Woman, but kept the land.”
Watercolor, 9 x 12 inches
Sorting out my mind is how I’ve spent this morning. It began when I woke and clawed from between the sheets.
It’s what I call a ‘Fuji Film moment;’ bright, vivid colors that are not there but real nonetheless. I say Fuji Film because before digital, there was only emulsion film, and the one that always stood out for its color was Fuji.
When printing a roll of Fuji Film, one always had to double-check the standards. It wouldn’t do using Kodak standards for Fuji, as the print would come out a blaze of off-key colors.
Anyway, that’s how I awoke. Somewhere in my brain, the same place as my manic-depression resides, I suspect, a chemical misfiring happened, and I had to let it fade away naturally.
When this happens, it also makes it hard to think clearly. I end up with all sorts of words racing through my head that I cannot keep up with them.
Some phrases I can hold onto, like, “We all have a touch of madness in us, that is to say, we’re each are mentally ill in our own way.”
“I don’t want to paint slowly. It feels more real when I move quickly. The faster, the better.”
“The ocean is eternity, and I’m simply going with the flow in the river of life. Some get to float along and never seem to find a snag or white water. Others, like me, have to dog-paddle, haul out, portage from rock bar to rock bar, and struggle to keep our head above the surface.”
“People tell me to share the fact that I have a case mental illness, but when I do, they call me ‘crazy.'”
It’s not all as dismal as it sounds.
It’s taken time, but I’ve learned to embrace my Fuji Film moments. For instance, I find that I do a lot of painting (something that I only really started doing in the early 2000s) when in this frame of mind.
So this is where I am right now, and though disorientating, it is another superpower, and I cannot be otherwise convinced.
Chalk, 9 x 12 inches
My Cousin Elmo says, “The reason Mayberry was so peaceful is that no one was married, and the one guy that was stayed drunk and slept in jail.”
Watercolor and ink, 8 1/2 x 11
“Believe it or not, that’s a Lion’s Mane mushroom,” our guide said, right before it stood fully erect and growled.
My Cousin Elmo says, “While I can’t dance very well, I do the Moon-Walk better than Michael Jackson when I step in dog crap.”
Watercolor and ink, 8 1/2 x 11
She said to me, “I feel dead inside.”
“So do I,” I returned.
We held each other’s hand.
That night she had sex with my best friend.
The farmer looked at his son, knowing the boy had no future. He’d been starved for air at birth, leaving him slow-in-the-head.
It was the year 1892, modern times, with places one could leave an imbecile child. Family, town folk, preachers, and doctors all said to put the child away, but he couldn’t, such was his love for the boy.
“Don’t know what he’s yammering on about now,” he said to his wife.
“You know he has a strong imagination,” she said. “You recall how he spent months talking on and on about the bird that laid an egg on an island and it bloomed like the sunrise.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Guess it ain’t nothing then. Still, I wish I understood what it was about alabaster twins turning to dust. Sounds like a nightmare or something.”
“Go wash up,” she said, “Suppers nearly ready.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said.
The backdoor screen slapped shut as the boy came running in.
“What does certificate of vaccination identification mean, Momma?” he asked.
“It means you best go wash up,” she said. “It’s nearly time to eat.”
“Hope it’s fried chicken,” he said, racing to join his father at the washbasin, “I love fried chicken.”
My Cousin Elmo says, “Does Major League Baseball require a photo ID to pick up game tickets or buy a beer? Asking for a friend.”
You can’t help my isolation
You can’t help the fear that it brings
You can’t help yourself by seeing me
You can’t help my fucking want
You can’t help my wanting to fuck
You can’t help our social distancing
You can’t help the hurt that it brings
You can’t help your helpless can’t
You can’t help touching my human needs
You can’t help not wanting inside me
You can’t help my need to be inside you
You can’t help hurting me deeply
You can’t walk away on your knees
You can’t help my isolation
You can’t help the anger it breeds
You can’t help touching my body
You can’t help washing your hands
You can’t help beating me senseless
You can’t help my need to beat-off
You can’t help my wanting to fuck
You can’t your fucking turning away
You can’t help my breaking heart
You can’t help this romantic disease
You can’t help not wanting to fuck me
You can’t help having not seen the real me
You can’t help feed my isolation
You can’t help fuck my only fear
You can’t help but tease me
You can’t help my need to be teased
You can’t help your helpless can’t
You can’t help watch my death throes
You can’t help to wait and what to see
You can’t help explain your desire to me
You can’t help not acting on your dream
You can’t help believing in romantic death
My Cousin Elmo says, “I’m called an alcoholic because I drink alcohol, but no one ever says I’m fantastic when I drink Fanta.”
As a kid, reading Mark Twain’s, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,” lead to “Treasure Island” and eventually “Lord of the Flies.” But somehow, I always returned to Twain, especially to his shorter tales.
One such short story is “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” In it, the narrator is sent by a friend to interview an old man, Simon Wheeler, who might know the location of an old acquaintance named Leonidas W. Smiley.
Finding Wheeler at Angels Camp, the narrator asks him if he knows anything about Leonidas. Simon appears not to and instead tells a story about Jim Smiley, a man who had visited the camp years earlier.
According to Wheeler, Jim loves to gamble and will bet on anything and everything. He explains that once Jim caught a frog, whom he names Dan’l Webster, and spent three months training it to jump.
When a stranger visits the camp, Jim shows off Dan’l and offers to bet $40 that it can out-jump any other frog in Calaveras County. The stranger, unimpressed, says that he would take the bet if he had a frog, so Jim goes out to catch one, leaving him alone with Dan’l.
While Jim is away, the stranger pours lead shot down Dan’l’s throat. Once Jim returns, he and the stranger set the frogs down and let them loose.
The stranger’s frog jumps away while Dan’l doesn’t budge, and the surprised and disgusted Jim pays the $40 wager. After the stranger leaves, Jim notices Dan’l’s sluggishness and picks the frog up, finding it much heavier than he remembers.
When Dan’l belches out a double handful of lead shot, Jim realizes that he has been had and chases after the stranger but never catches him.
The narrator, understanding that Jim has no connection to Leonidas, gets up to leave. However, Wheeler wants to tell him about a yellow, one-eyed, stubby-tailed cow Jim once owned.
Rather than listening to another pointless tale, the narrator leaves. As he does, he muses that his friend must have fabricated Leonidas Smiley to trick him into listening to Wheeler’s stories.
But how did Twain come up with such a story?
It began in Virginia City, Nevada, with a prospecting pig named John Henry and Towser the Bulldog. Both animals belonged to Twain’s friend, Jim Gillis.
Gillis was not only a teller of tall tales but also a “pocket miner.” He spent his time searching for small hallows in the dirt where he might find ore.
Gillis trained John Henry to dig hardpan. He did this by burying biscuits that the pig could dig up, and in doing so, Gillis would sift through the loose dirt.
One evening after staying past midnight, drinking and swapping stories with Gillis, Clemens decided he would stay over. The cabin had four bunks and two already in use.
Gillis would let the dog and the inside on cold nights, something his guest didn’t know. They slept on the cot which Clemens was currently occupying.
The pair piled on Clemens and began to wrestle as they always did before settling down to sleep. Needless to say, this made Clemens a little more than testy.
Clemens called Gillis every name he could think of, swore off their friendship, and threatened never to speak to him again. But Gillis pulled the cork from another bottle of whiskey, offered Clemens a drink, and proceeded to tell the story about an amphibian from the Golden State that wouldn’t hop.
Sam settled down, and the rest, as they say, is history.
My Cousin Elmo says, “The Biden Administration is investigating Jesus for violating stay-in-the-tomb orders.”
We have a disconnect from logical thought in this country. To wit:
President Biden ordered a missile strike on Syria. Shortly after, a Syrian man went on a shooting rampage in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security claims there is no connection between the two events. And yet…Syria.
It’s as simple as that in my mind as I wait for DHS to avoid the connection between Noah X., the Nation of Islam, and the Washington DC roadblock attack.
Thank goodness this week is over. It has been an expensive few days and will probably be worse next week. But for now, the weekend is here, and I can allow myself to relax for a few hours.
It began with shorting the light in my garage. I hunted for the problem but eventually had to call an electrician to repair my mistake. After $140, we have lights once again.
Then the water heater gave out after nearly 23-years. That’s not bad. But it cost $519 for a new one, and fortunately, a friend of ours installed it for us.
When I took the old water heater to the Reno city dump, the Waste Management guy yelled at me. No, I did not see the sign, but posting a sign at the entrance before allowing Joe Public to drive through the lot would have been the better thing to do. Masks make some people so brave.
The next day a Washoe County Library employee got pissed at me because I could not get the frigging book return touch screen to work. The old manual pull-open and push-shut draw worked fine. The third time she yelled at me and walked in front of my truck, I had murder on my mind.
It cost us over $300 for our 20-plus-year-old lawnmower once everything was said and done. I had to put a $125 deposit down because people leave their mowers to be repaired and never return to pick them up once they learn how much the “damage” is. We could have put a downpayment on a riding mower for that expense.
As I was leaving the small engine shop with the mower, my truck took a shit. It is in the shop right now and will be through next week. I have no idea what it will cost us, and I don’t even want to think about it at the moment.
Finally, my son and his wife invited us to dinner at an actual sit-down restaurant for my wife’s birthday. It was a wonderful visit, and we all came away very full. And though I was ready to help pay the bill, “my kids” pick up the entire tab.
Happily, Easter is almost here.
My Cousin Elmo says, “I’m not sure what’s wrong with my TV, but I jus’ saw a straight white male in a commercial.”
All of my life I have wanted to belong.
To what, I’ve never been sure.
Talk of tribalism has reinfected that wound.
I don’t belong. I have never belonged.
Outside the circle, the community, the troop.
Certainly, I have attempted to belong: school, military, service organizations, professions, even communities that involved hobbyists.
For a while, I will be accepted then slowly I find myself abandoned.
Left to my own devices.
No, this is not a complaint, but a quest for the why of the nature.
The answer is we are all alone, but together.
“Did you see the news about how Biden’s going to cancel a billion dollars in student loans?” my wife asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Whose going to pay for that?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“What? Why? This is important stuff.”
“Yup, I know.”
“Then why don’t you want to talk about it? This is in your wheel-house.”
“I know, but every time I say anything I make people mad, I make you mad and that’s because what I say is taken simply as opinion and not fact.”
She was still mad at me when she left for work.
After battling cancer, writer, artist, blogger, friend, and all-around nice person, Sue Vincent left us today. She was born on September 14, 1958.
In her own words:
“I am a Yorkshire-born painter and writer, living in the south of England. I paint the strange things that come as images in dreams and fantasies and write about life as it happens,” she wrote about herself.
“I was raised in a spiritually eclectic family in a landscape where myths and legends were woven into the stones, and have always had an intimate relationship with the inner worlds and the understanding that all paths are but spokes on a wheel, leading ultimately to the same center,” Sue added. “It is not the path that one walks that matters, but how one chooses to walk it.”
Enjoy your new path Sue. Know that we will all eventually catch up with you.
Written March 20, 2020, after coming upon an accident while heading home…
Turning from Seventh onto Sun Valley was like entering a twisted dreamscape. But now I know that this witnessed scene is but a view of the remaining year.
I expect no one to understand.
It was minutes beyond noon, as work let out early. It would forever be ‘out early’ because of COVID-19 and high taxes now, the business permanently closed.
At the side of the pock-marked asphalt, beyond the solid white stripe, lay a body on the icy Earth. I stopped to see if I could help, only to learn it was a large dog, its blood soaking into the dirt and mortal remains quickly chilling.
Holding the dog’s head was a large German woman who lived across the street. She pressed deep, the 14-month old dog to her aging breasts until animal control arrived to take away what remained.
Her neighbors, a Mexican family, stood in weeping despair near the open gate from which their puppy had escaped. Only the father’s sad eyes were dry.
Ahead sat the garbage truck, half in the travel lane and nearly in a ditch. The driver, stone-cold sober, hung on his open door, blood-shot eyes red and looking every bit as sick as a man who suffered a bender the night before.
Yes, a forboding, I tell you. This year will be filled with death, tears, isolation, separation, long waits, and misdirections.
Ere walking over to the mailbox, I complained aloud that I couldn’t think of anything worth writing about. Then as I went across the street and looked down, I found an overly-used piece of lined paper folded and tucked in a sandwich bag.
With a habit of picking up anything I find, I did likewise with this, knowing that I’d look to see what it was first before tossing it in the trash. But after seeing and reading and rereading it, I think I’m gonna hold on to it.
I also have something greater to share…
At first, I thought it was some school kid’s doodle pad, but the more I read, the more I realized that I was looking at the ‘journal’ of a homeless man. I say ‘man’ only because I read ‘ex-wife,’ among the many scrawls on this single and most singular piece of paper.
Life can be so wickedly hard, and this is the written proof.
My Cousin Elmo says, “Instead of getting rid of Dr. Suess, let’s get rid of Dr. Fauci.”
As a master hoarder of all things historical and not-as-of-yet-historical, there is a secret pleasure in collecting calling cards. We know them better today as business cards.
Yesterday, I received four cards, possibly five, if one should include the double-side card.
The farthest came is from San Angelo, Texas. It was handed to me by this fella and his wife, whom I invited to visit the saloon where we were gathered for a post-funeral wake.
That is what happens when one drives up, asking, “Why is everyone dressed up so in period-piece?”
(Most id the people attending the funeral procession we’re dressed in mid-to-late 19th-century western wear.)
Nice couple. Small world.
Mark and I learned we have an odd crossing of personal history…
- He was born in Sacramento, the same as my brother.
- We each had a great Uncle that worked in the aerospace industry, namely Rockwell-Rocketdyne. His in Texas, mine in Los Angeles.
- Each of our Great uncles brought us a small poster from Virginia City, Nevada when we were kids. The short poem “My Job.”
- And finally, we both have family in Oklahoma, where he and his wife live.
That is the value of a calling card, and yes, I will use the older vernacular in this case, and why still I maintain that a ‘stranger is really a friend you ain’t met yet.”
Standing on the observation platform, the Commander and a Sub-commander of the spaceship looked at the blue orb known as Earth. The craft’s sensors detected a planet devoid of human life.
Soon the scouts they had sent to investigate returned. The lead scout reported to the platform where the two officers waited.
“Did you find any sign of the Humans?” the Sub-commander asked.
“None,” answered the Scout.
“What caused their disappearance?” the Commander asked.
“I can only speculate,” the Scout began, “But they may have bought and used so much toilet paper during the pandemic that they wiped themselves out.”
The sergeant sat in his cubicle listening to the static and hiss of the shortwave. His duty was monitoring the signal being bounced from Moscow to West Germany, write down anything he heard and report it to the duty officer.
Three-years through his four-year Air Force enlistment, and with a couple of hours left in this shift, John had heard little worth reporting. It seemed to him that the so-called ‘cold war,’ was below the freezing mark, and he could hardly wait to rotate home.
He took a sip of his lukewarm coffee, then paused with a slight head jerk. He had heard something faint, but it was there nonetheless.
Dash-dot-dot, dot, dot-dash, dash-dot-dot. Dead in Morse code.
He transcribed the words that followed. Certain he had it right, John got up and went to the duty officer with the intercept.
“Are you sure?” the Captain asked.
“Yes, sir,” John answered.
Returning to his radio and headset, he would finish his shift with the knowledge that he knew something that the rest of the world, including those in the nearby cubicles, would learn later. For now, he had to remain tight-lipped and close out his day in silence.
Back at his single-room billet, the young sergeant tried to sleep, but it was impossible. His mind kept playing those four letters over and over.
Finally, he gave up and went to the corner and picked up his guitar. He sat back on his bunk and began plunking those four letters over and over until he found their rhythm.
It wouldn’t be for another two years that he’d finally find a use for that chord. By then, everybody knew what John had first learned that March day, and now it was old news, and still the Cold War continued.
Fifteen-years would pass before that chord would be considered a future county music classic. You’ve probably even heard the famous words, “But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” a time or two.
Dash-dot-dot, dot, dot-dash, dash-dot-dot.
At one time, Johnny Cash had been the only person outside the Soviet Union to know that Joe Stalin had died. And the Man in Black would immortalize that secret in “Folsom Prison Blues,” hours before the world would learn this too.
My Cousin Elmo says, “The problem with being empathic is that you feel sorry for the assholes, too.”
Perhaps I should have known it was gonna be an “Ahh, crap!” kinda day.
My wife brought home two cream-fill donuts for me. Aside from already partaking in my “doctor recommended” two cups of coffee, the one donut turned out to be jelly-fill, the other empty.
“Ahh, crap!” I complained, eating both anyway.
Everything started out alright, then I decided to remove the fluorescent lights from the garage ceiling. All was well as I did not electrocute myself, fall off the ladder or break any of the tubes.
Then I realized that other lights were no longer on. Track and trace, trace and track to find the “short” in the powerline, and I have yet to locate the problem.
My brain growls, “Ahh, crap!”
As I was finishing up a news article, editing and locating a suitable picture to go with it when the power went out to the television, stereo, and the Internet. Did the problem in the garage earlier cause this?
Immediately I think, “Ahh crap!”
Discovered that a fuse had popped off at the junction box. Easy enough to fix, so I return to the computer where my news article…is gone…and I must start from scratch.
Now say it with me: “Ahh, crap!”
BAM! He jumped from bed at the sound, looking at the bedside alarm, 3:17 am, and as the dog suddenly stopped barking.
Before he had a chance to react, they were on him, men in black uniforms forcing him to the floor and handcuffing him. He was bleeding from the top of his head, where a rifle butt has struck him.
Quickly, he was half-carried, half-dragged from his home, and into an awaiting vehicle. An EMT doctored the gash to his head before they were on the road to where he didn’t know.
Within minutes he was sitting in a small room, painted ocean green, in an unbalanced metal chair in a corner. There he waited for nearly an hour before a man in a crisp white buttoned-down longsleeved shirt and blue and red striped tie stepped into the room.
Without a word, the man placed a photograph and a letter on the small table near the wall. Only then did he introduce himself as a Special Agent.
“Do you know what that is?” he asked, pointing at the photo.
Still cuffed, he slid forward in his seat and looked closely at the image.
“It’s a picture of the letter you have next to it. It’s from a high school friend of mine,” he answered.
“Correct,” the agent said. “The photo’s from a postal service app called, “Informed Delivery.”
“Yeah,” the prisoner said, “I remember downloading it. So what? It’s on the app store site. Is this what this is all about?”
“No,” the agent answered, “It’s about your friend who’s been linked to an underground movement of domestic terrorists.”
“No way!” the man said.
The agent looked at his wristwatch, “In fact, he should be in custody by now. You’re under arrest for conspiracy to commit domestic terrorism.”
“But I didn’t do anything,” the man exclaimed. “And what about my right against unlawful search and seizure?”
“It doesn’t matter,” the agent said, scooping up the photograph and letter. “We didn’t have to get a warrant because you gave your permission by downloading the app. And as you know the postal service is a part of the government, so we can look at your mail anytime and flag whatever we see as a potential threat.”
“But I didn’t do anything,” the man said again as the interrogation room door closed.
**Note: there really is an app called “Informed Delivery” available from the U.S. Postal Service and from your favorite app store.
Moving womanhood forward nearly 10-days, the winner of Miss Silver State USA is a person of transgender. Kataluna Enriquez will now compete for Miss Nevada USA, the state pageant that leads to Miss USA and Miss Universe.
Several Dr. Suess books will remain out of print, banned for their racial bias. “Please tell me about my White Privilege again, Daddy,” said no child ever when wanting a bedtime story. Cartoon character Pepe LePew has also been canceled due to rape allegations, even though in 1991, he married the cat he had chased on-screen since 1945.
And we were all given the pleasure of watching Cardi B. and Megan the Stallion rap and grind to their “Wet Ass Pussy,’ song during the recently televised Golden Globe award show. No word on the number of towels needed to wipe up the moisture left behind.
Masks have been named the top-selling item for 2020, followed by toilet paper and hand sanitizer. There was no mention of the propaganda the media managed to sell everyone about a “full-blown pandemic” and “a lack of widespread fraud.”
President Joe Biden fell three times while attempting to walking up the steps to Air Force One. No one was there to help him, while others on social media made fun of him despite the possibility that he has dementia.
You can also add the White House Easter Egg Roll to the list of yearly traditions canceled, once again by the pandemic. Reports are that roasted rabbit will be the delight of many tables this Easter Sunday.
Meghan and Harry sat down to have a chat with Oprah, where they got to air their Royal families dirty laundry while soiling themselves at the same time. Meanwhile, Oprah scores a fat wad of cash for her part.
Speaking of the Royals, Queen Elizabeth’s public birthday celebrations at Buckingham Palace have been canceled due to COVID-19. And soon there will be an unveiling of a new Princess Diana statue at Kensington Palace, in celebration of what would have been her sixtieth-birthday and just in time to be vandalized by the “woke” crowd.
Finally, Hasbro is planning to scrap “outdated” Community Chest cards in favor of new “woke” ones. There are issues with receiving a tax refund, getting a bank error in your favor, and winning a beauty contest.
Please allow me to repeat…beauty contest.
“Calvin Lamar Fritz, born November 12, 1959, in Crescent City, CA., passed away February 4, 2021, in Crescent City, CA.” That’s all the obituary reads.
Calvin, his brother Keven, my brother Adam, others, and I played “combat” day-after-day in the woods. And sometimes we fought like cats and dogs, and for real.
We met because our parents were long-time friends.
Considered “slow,” and places in special ed at Margaret Keating School with me, I refused to let anyone call Calvin an “M.R.,” because he wasn’t mentally-retarded. As a 5th grader, I got into a fight with an 8th grader because he kept calling Calvin names.
Calvin will always be the tender-hearted kid, that lived in Sages’ Court on the other side of Highway 101 from me.
It has been some time since I’ve turned on the television. Admittedly bored, I was curious to see what might be on and of possible interest to watch.
There is nothing.
Going through the channels, I discovered that we have two new national news stations: i24 and Newsy. After listening to them, I concluded both suffer from corporate propaganda also.
Nothing new there.
Interestingly, our service provider Spectrum has “muted,” “silenced,” or “shut off the sound,” to BBC News, Fox Business, and Fox News. Meanwhile, CNN and MSNBC are “sound efficient.”
Regardless of the presentation, this is censorship and wrong.
never let others
sense of morals keep you
from doing what is right
Younger people might not understand this, but the elder among us, especially anyone living in the US or those who listened to Armed Forces Radio Network, will. Many times I would remain seated in my truck long after pulling into the driveway, waiting, listening for those nine special words.
There was a sense of wonder, sometimes astonishment and from time-to-time a great big, “I KNEW IT” at the end of the broadcast. It was hard to shut the receiver off.
Radio hasn’t been the same since Paul Harvey’s last uttering of, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
while I have been brushed aside
no longer needed or even wanted
after all, what can an employer do
do with a man over the age of 60
with a broken back, overweight,
all anyone sees is as described
they fail to see the experience
work ethic, leadership, ability
to adapt, to overcome, to learn
meanwhile, i watch with sorrow
a seventy-eight-year-old man
trip, stumble, and fall, three-times
going up steps to Air Force One
with no help, assistance, or aid
and while others laugh with delight
(there is nothing funny in dementia)
i see a man who is in need of help
like i am in need of full employment
and neither are a concern to them
humanity failing and it sickens me.
My Cousin Elmo says, “I don’t want any more help from the government. I can’t afford it.”
Watercolor and ink, 8 1/2 x 11 inches
My Cousin Elmos says, “Saint Patrick is Italian.”