The Eighth Times a Charm

The last couple of days have been busy ones for me, not an excuse, jus’ statin’ a fact. If I had been better organized I would have not missed writing yesterday .

The big news of the day is that Keon passed his driving permit test after eight tries. Finally!

I told him that it would happen and he was at the point of not believing that he could pass the test.

We went to lunch to celebrate his success at Genghis Grill in Spanish Springs is delicious and I can’t wait to go back for more of their endless bowls of fresh cooked veggies, meat, fish and spices.

Yesterday, Kyle and I took his God-mother Kay to see the movie, ‘The Dark Knight.’ At first she didn’t want to see’ it because of its dark nature, but afterwards he said she hope we could go see it again.

Both Kyle and I are willing–it’ll be our third time.

My sleep pattern has been thrown completely out of whack this last week. I have been working overnight and sleeping for a couple of hours in the morning, getting up and doing odds and ends of stuff around town or at home and then going back to bed for a few more hours in the late afternoon.

But I’ll be back to my normal routine come this weekend–and then I’ll screw myself up by working a single overnight this Monday morning. Hey, that is the life of radio.

Radio isn’t so bad.

Its jus’ a weird business of people with big and little egos, lots to no talent, bad coffee, poor hours and strange business practices. It is more fun than digging ditches though.

Today, Kyle and I are picking Keon up, and we ‘re gonna go see the new mummy movie with Brendan Frazier and Jet Li. Then Kyle heads back over to his mother’s house until I pick him up to have him drive me to Crescent City for my 30-year class reunion next Thursday.

Let the Blame Rest with Me

Getting ready to lay down for a nap as I have to be on-air at midnight, so I figured I’d get an early jump on this as there’s a couple of things on my mind…

Kyle received an invite from an organization called, ‘People-to-People,’ to go over to Japan for 14-days of study. I don’t know much about this group or even how much it costs to do something like this, but I’m pretty tickled for him.

We have a general information meeting to attend in September. That is when we’ll find out more info on this opportunity.

I was never offered a chance like this when I was in high school, but then I wasn’t a good student like Kyle.

The second thing on my mind has created some consternation within me. I emailed an ex-girlfriend, whom I had not seen since 1998 and then 1982 before then.

She emailed me back, and in one of the most polite drubbings I’ve ever been given, she said she didn’t want to keep in touch because her memories of me were not all that happy. I seem to recall that ten years ago she glared at me as we sat in the dance hall of the convention center where our 20-year class reunion was being held, but I didn’t put much thought to the look of dislike or hatred, but it was there and I put it in the back of my mind.

So much has happened with my life, that I am unable to remember every detail that has occurred, so I have always kept a journal. I have an entire book case and wooden box filled with journals of all sorts.

Sometimes I wrote about events in a straight, orderly fashion,  at times in the form of a poem and other times as a short story. In the case of this former girlfriend, I detailed the ups and downs of our relationship in both poetry and short stories.

My early daylight hours today were spent researching what had happened way back then and why she’s so bitter towards me. Now I wish I hadn’t opened that Pandora ‘s Box.

Back then I got blamed for smashing in her brother ‘s car window because I was seen running past the front windows of a local grocery store. The ex was at a popular restaurant/bar in Crescent City with a friend, her brother and his wife, when the car was trashed.

Oh, I was there, but I didn’t cause the damage. That’s not to say that I don’t know who did the dirty deed.

But when it happened I ran as fast as I could from the scene because I know in that I’d get blamed for it. Perhaps I should have waited for the police, then maybe the remainder of the night wouldn’t have gone as it did.

Shortly after dark, I was with my brother Adam and his friend, when they got into a fight over a car and Adam was severely slashed. It was so bad that his right kidney hung from his lower back and it became a real battle to keep him from bleeding to death before getting him to Seaside Hospital.

It took several hours and hundreds of stitches, but thankfully the doctors and nurses saved his life.

With all of that going on I had forgotten the car widow smashing and what followed in the same parking lot a couple of weeks later. My former girlfriend’s brother and wife confronted me and the three of us got into a fist fight.

According to my notes, I threw the first punch. And while I’m sorry for what happened, and if I could go back and prevent it, I would, but I can’t.

As of yet, I’ve not been asked who damaged the car and now, so many years later, I wouldn’t tell because it would jus’ open another wound for someone else, and who needs that trouble. I’m happy to take the blame if it means keeping the peace — hated or not.

Ol’ Red and the Devil

I wrote this for my dad, Thomas Junior Darby (1933-1995,) shortly after returning home from having buried him. It’s based on my eulogy given at the time of his funeral. I took what I said and reworked it into a poem. Red refers to his once wavy head of red hair…

It’s for sure Ol’ Red went to God,
For a chance in heaven to promenade.
But ol’ Red found him a hitch
In his git-up and had him an itch.

Ol’ Red knew this was one chance
To meet the Devil and bet the ranch.
Saint Pete would have to wait
‘Cause Ol’ Red, he had a date.

So Ol’ Red met the Devil that day,
Gabbin’ along in his mischievous way.
And if you hear thunder a-soundin’
It’s just the Devil, he’s just a-poundin’.

It’s the Devil whose mad as Hell,
Not jus’ ’cause he’d been slickered well.
It’s from his tail he tied in a-knot,
When he found Ol’ Red could talk a-lot.

Dark Shadows

“That danged washer is broke down again,” Mom said over the phone to Dad. He was working at the Requa Air Force Station. Earlier that year he had been able to get permission from the Base Commander to use the station’s laundry facilities.

A few minutes later Dad called back. Mom lifted the receiver from its cradled and answered. “Sorry,” Dad started off, “the laundry facilities are out of order up here as well.” After a few more minutes of conversation, they hung up one from the other.

“Tommy, Adam,” Mom yelled out.

Both of the boys were in their bedroom when she called. They rushed to her immediately.

“I’m going to need your help with the laundry,” she said.

She picked up the telephone and called Camp Marigold to see if they could use their washing machines. Camp Marigold was just over the fence in the back yard.

It was an RV park during the summer and not much of anything else during the winter. It was long past summer and using their laundry room would prove to be no problem.

The plan was to take the laundry over and wash it. Then they would haul it back over the fence and dry it, since the dryer was still working. And after a weeks time with four children and two adults, there were fourteen piles of dirty clothes laid out in masses on the floor.

Adam looked at Tommy and said, “There goes our day.”

They both sighed because each knew the younger brother was right.

There were only two washers available in the campground’s laundry room. And each took nearly twice the time to wash as their washer did at home.

The going was slow and the coins in their pockets burned even slower yet. However they continued to climb back and forth over the fence, each with a load of laundry in tow.

They were down to their last three loads of laundry at sunset. The summertime day had grown into a winter-like evening. Finally the back porch light was turned on.

The yellow glow from the single bulb cast long shadows towards the fence. There were actually two fences. Theirs was set higher by two feet with a foot and a half gap to the lower fence built by the owner of Camp Marigold.

All that day Adam and Tommy had climbed over their fence and down to theirs and finally to the ground. Then they climbed up the camp’s fence and then higher yet over theirs then down into their backyard.

After dark there was very little lighting on the Camp’s side of the fence. And from behind the top of the higher fence to about ten feet out on the Camp’s side, there was no light at all. In fact it was absolutely dark.

Having noticed this, Tommy set about with a devious plan. He would wait for Adam to start climbing the fence and then he would scare him.

Tommy chuckled to himself, for the very thought caused an image in his brain. He saw himself reaching out into the pitch-blackness and touching his younger brother on the shoulder.

And even though he knew he would not be able to see his brothers’ face, he imagined the frightened wideness of his eyes. He imagined his inability to scream as panic choked off any sound he would have started to make. Meanwhile he could see Adam running in place from fear.

He crouched down in the darkness, between the light of the porch and the shadow of the fence. Tommy sat and waited.

Suddenly Adam appeared from the corner of the old building they sat near-by. He approached the fence. He set the basket full of wet, clean laundry on the top rail of the Camp’s fence and proceeded to climb up it.

That’s when his older brother reached out and grabbed his shoulder and in his scariest voice, half whisper and half growled, “Little boy!”

Adam’s body stiffened at the touch and unleashed at the sound of the voice.

The older brother could see nothing of the scared brother’s face or body. The darkness blanketed everything, including the lightening swift right fist Adam hurled at the sound of the voice. Adam was on target and Tommy never saw it coming. He had punched him squarely in the nose.

Tommy fell backwards as Adam clamored over the fence. The basket of wet, clean clothes toppled from the fence rail and landed in the mid-section of the wounded boy. He gasped for air and could only breathe through his mouth.

He laid there for a few second in the dew-heavy grass, beneath the apple tree, next to the old building, by the fence. Tommy awakened to the stabbing pain of a beam of light shining in his eyes. He tried to lift himself up, however he could only raise up on his elbow, his head heavy and swimming with confusion.

Dad had a flashlight. He was looking down at Tommy from a top the fence. He quickly climbed over and down to be next to the boy as he lay on the ground. Tommy leaned back, hoping that Dad would have pity on him and the sorrowful state he was in.

“Cripes! I think you broke his nose, Adam!” Dad yelled up towards the fence.

Adam’s silhouette rose up slowly from beyond the fence at that moment.

“Well, he shouldn’t have scared me like that,” he said in his defense. Then he added, “I didn’t know it was Tommy.”

Dad helped Tommy sit up and then eventually stand-up. He felt sick to his stomach and his legs were weak.

“The only reason I don’t give you a whipping’ is ‘because your brother already don it for me,” Dad said.

Tommy thought to himself, “I wish I could have taken a trip to the wood shed.”

He would have preferred that over being beaten to the ground with a single punch to the face from his kid brother.

His mother was less sympathetic. After cleaning him up, she sent him back out to finish the wash. That included re-washing the wet, clean load of laundry that had fell on top of him.

The load he managed to bleed all over.

In the Book

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my doctor at the Reno VA. It was a good visit, I’m in pretty good heath so there is little to nothing for me to worry about.

On the way out of the building I noticed an old man, hunched over his walker working his way up the sidewalk. I walked by him ,and. then had this feeling that I should stop and go back and find out if he needed help.

Come to find out, he really wanted a wheelchair. So I got him one and since he didn’t have anybody to help him get around I decided to stay with him through his check in and up to the point where he would meet with his doctors.

Long story short here, he didn’t have an appointment and was only coming in to see if his electric scooter was ready. As it turns out it wasn’t.

But, before he found this out, we spent time talking. I found out his name is Roy and that he’s 92-years-old.  He is as sharp as tack and has a great sense of humor about everything in life, including the five deteriorating vertebrae in his back .

His comment on this was such: “I used to be six-one and a half, but because of my vertebrae giving me fits, I’m not much taller than five feet these days.”

Roy went on to tell me that he feels his pain in his back and he feels fortunate for that. And if he weren’t “all bent over,” he ‘d be in perfect health. He also says he’s lucky because he was in the Infantry during World War II and he didn’t even receive a scratch.

After Roy found out the needed information, I rolled him out side to the bus stop to wait for the bus to come. We talked some more as we waited and as it came time for him to get on the bus, he held out his hand and thanked me and said, “I’m in the book.”

I think I’m gonna give Roy a call.