O-Brother

Adam Maynard Darby, 46, passed away on January 25, 2010, in San Francisco, California. He was born on August 4, 1963, in Sacramento, California.

He attended school at Margaret Keating Elementary and graduated from Del Norte High School in 1981. Adam served honorably in the U.S. Army as a Ranger.

Adam is survived by his wife Kelly, his son, Jace, and daughters, Jasmine and Lynda. He also leaves behind two sisters and a brother and their families.


It’s hard to believe I had not spoken to my brother Adam since I had to call the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department and have him removed from my home. It started the second day he was visiting us for the first and only time.

Adam had been drinking all day long. He brought booze and finished what booze we still had in our cupboards. Eventually, his mood shifted from being a nice guy to a man with a lot of anger and hostility towards me and my family.

He threatened sexual assault on my bride and our roommate. The threat scared Mary so badly that she locked herself in our bedroom. The threats escalated to violence as Adam tried to choke me out.

Luckily, he failed and that’s when I told him to leave.

At first, he wouldn’t go, then I called the law. He told me that if he stepped out of my front door, he’d never talk to me again and that I could consider myself to be ‘brotherless.’

I told him to go before he got arrested and ended up in prison. He was a two-time loser in that department.

Yeah, ‘tough love,’ is hard and it is made harder still by the things in life one cannot control. I had no control over Adam’s death and I have no control over those withholding information about his passing.

All I can do is forgive them and myself and continue living a good and decent life. It’s the only way I know how to honor my younger brother.

I’ll miss my younger brother all the rest of my life…

What Makes a Cowboy

“What makes you a cowboy?”
A ‘slicker asked my friend.
My friend scratched his chin,
“Ain’t no tellin’,” my friend replied,
“Jus’ the way its always been.

“Is it the hat or the boots you wears?”
The ‘slicker asked my friend.
My friend just smiled some,
“Naw, it ain’t that,” my friend replied,
“At least not where I come from.”

“Is is that horse you rode up on?”
The ‘slicker asked my friend.
My friend just grinned real wide,
“Cain’t be that either,” my friend replied,
“Guess it comes from what’s inside.”

Comb Over

Grease the palm that earns the bread,
Wringing hands together in nervous frenzy,
Running fingers through the hair of the head,
Reflecting hard on what’s yet to come.

Time for a parting of the ways,
The grand brush off comes painlessly.
Hope is gained for the division stays,
Everything swept aside in a couple strokes.

Crossing over where things grow gray,
Streaks in a field of yellowed grass,
Each blade must have a perfect lay,
Things will never be black or white again.

Victimized by age and time of life,
It is a vain mans thoughts that betray,
That give him pain and strife,
To at least have hair to run a comb though.

The perfection that once was his head
Has been replaced by the need of magic.
At least he’s not like his Dad whose dead,
Who died with something less than a comb-over

Whole Nine Yards

It was a simple trip out to a medical ship via helicopter and back again. However, the craft would never make it back to dry land.

The four of us zipped over the near-white beaches, where tourists played and laid in the sand. It was a far cry from the interior less than 20 miles away where Marines were hunting the drug cartels on a daily basis.

It was a Navy craft, an SH-2 Seasprite, originally designed to hunt down Soviet submarines. The Seasprite I was aboard though had been converted to Search and Rescue craft.

As we left the safety of the firebase, we came under small arms fire. It was routine for snipers and those working the coca trails to shoot at any helicopter leaving the fortified compound and they didn’t care if it has a large red-cross painted on it or not.

After we picked up our needed supplies and were in-bound an alarm sounded in the cockpit. I was sitting in a jump seat, further in the rear of the craft and knew the loud beeping meant some sort of mechanical trouble.

In the distance we could see the beach and the tourist enjoying their tropical vacation. I could tell we weren’t going to reach the safety of that sand as the craft drew closer and closer to the sea below.

The pilot, a Captain, pushed the Seasprite as hard as he could in hope of reaching land or at least get close to it. I watched as the water became so close to the craft that I could have easily stuck my hand out the hatch and touched a wave.

Then he announced, “Hold on!”

The helicopter bucked violently backwards then pitched forward with even greater violence as we hit the water. The ocean immediately started pouring in to the craft causing it to sink.

The pilot and co-pilot opened their doors and swam out into the sea. The flight engineer and I popped open the side hatch and did the same.

We had nearly made it — another 25 to 30-feet to go and we would have been able to remain completely dry.

Some Friend

It had been a very long day for Dave Barber and I. He had filled in for me at my office while I was working a medical flight to Greeley, Colorado.

Earlier in the morning, Sgt. Tommy Jenkins was either shot by someone, had accidentally shot himself or had pulled the trigger on purpose. In any case, he needed more medical aid from a larger hospital than our base hospital could give him.

When I returned to the base, I offered to buy dinner for us. We also decided to go to a local mall and visit our favorite bookstore.

On the way home I decided I wanted to stop quickly at Deanna Hurless’ so I could tell her how Tommy was doing. She and I were both members of the base honor team and Tommy was the unit’s NCO in charge.

As I got out of the car, I told Dave I’ll only be a couple of minutes. He decided to stay in the car because he was too tired to expend anymore energy jus’ on a quick visit.

Two hours later it dawned on me that Dave was still waiting in the car. I rushed down stairs to find him sound asleep even thought the temperature was near zero degrees.

When he woke up, he looked at me and asked in a rather sarcastic tone, “A couple of minutes, huh?”

I had no excuse for my forgetfulness.

Gummy Bear Surprise

My neighbor Beth Wachter was well-known for her practical jokes. One night she covered my 1972 Volkswagen Bug with Gummy Bear candy.

After she was finished, the fog that had moved in, turned to a heavy mist. The moisture sealed the little pieces of gooey candy to the surface of my car.

It would take me hours to get all the gelatin-based confectionary off my car. Along with removing the candy, it would also remove several patches of paint as well.

Too bad Beth didn’t know I had jus’ spend around $300 to get my Bug re-painted over the weekend.

Clothes Lined

At first I couldn’t believe what it was I was seeing. A man was running across the parking lot of the Salvation Army store near the corner of Sutro and Wells, close behind him was an uniformed officer.

As the pair drew closer, I could tell the officer was a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper. He was being outrun by the man he was obviously chasing.

Then they raced across the mini-mall parking lot, where the man being chased literally jumped up the steps, further out-distancing the officer. The man outrunning the trooper was heading straight for me.

I decided to act.

While I had no idea why the man was being chased, I knew he had to be stopped. In my experience, people don’t simple run away from law enforcement unless they’ve done something they don’t want to be arrested for.

I could tell he was going to pass right by me.

As he did, I spun around and clothes lined him at the chin. He was in such a mental state from having run so hard and so fast that he didn’t realize the potential threat I posed.

He flopped hard on the ground. And as he rolled over onto his stomach, intending to get up, I stepped on him and grabbed his arm, placing it in a straight-arm-bar.

Te trooper finally made it to where I was holding the nearly exhausted man on the ground. The officer was panting heavily and I thought he was going to collapse as he came to a stop.

“Give me your cuffs,” I said.

He handed them to me and I slipped them on the man on the ground. He didn’t put up a struggle as he was completely spent from his attempt to avoid arrest.

As the trooper sat on the curb, several Reno Police units rolled up and took control of the scene. Even an ambulance arrived to check out both men.

I never did find out what the guy was wanted for or why he ran from the trooper.

Puddle Jumper

It was the first time I had ever flown on what some people call a “Puddle Jumper,” a small propeller-driven passenger aircraft. The planes size didn’t bother me as I had flown with my Uncle in a much smaller two-passenger aircraft before.

There were five people aboard the craft; the pilot, co-pilot, a couple and myself.

We left Denver right on time and I leaned back and allowed myself to drift off into sleep. I have no idea how long the flight was, but I do know that I was awakened by severe turbulence.

My mind was still foggy when I heard the pilot say we’re less than five minutes from Wyoming’s capitol. He added that there were strong winds and the flight would be rough for the rest of the way.

There would be no more sleeping for me as I leaned into the aisle, looking if I could see anything ahead of us. I couldn’t see anything, so contented myself with looking out the window to my right.

The craft flew over a series of barbed-wire fences as we made our final approach. That was really the last thing I saw before came to a violent and abrupt stop.

There was no warning, no shouting or screaming as the crash happened so suddenly. We’d learn later that the aircraft was flipped over on its back by a gust of wind about one-hundred feet from the end of the runway.

Everyone walked away without injury.

Dear Mike

Mike and I had become good friends in the time we had served together. He was always going on about his beautiful wife and how lucky he was to have her and what he planned to do after he finished his current hitch.

We had just returned to the fire-base after being on a patrol for three and a half days. As usual he had mail waiting for him on his rack as we entered our tent.

And as usual, I had none. So I was looking forward to living vicariously through whatever Mike’s missus had written.

We were nearly knee to knee at the end of our racks, when he opened the envelope. I took notice that it didn’t have the same sweet aroma of perfume that many of the other had.

Without saying a word, Mike’s face took on the pallor of severe shock. I watched as the letter dropped from his hand and hit the wood-slat flooring of our Hooch.

Curious, I reached down to pick it up when I heard a double-kick. Before I could reach Mike’s hand, he shot himself under the chin.

Blood and matter sprayed everywhere. I sat in shock as he lay on his back, atop his rack, dead.

Finally, I looked down at the letter still my hand. Through the drops of crimson and flesh, I read the words: “Dear Mike…”

Implosion

The first time I saw the Mapes Hotel and Casino had been 21 years earlier as I passed through town on my way home for Christmas leave. The old building was the Greyhound Bus stop and it was there that we were allowed to get off, stretch our legs and get a bite to eat.

Jus’ over 23 years prior to this, Mom and Dad spent their one and only honeymoon night at the then popular hotel. About half a year later their marriage would implode and our family would start on the path to dividing, one side or the other.

By the time I left the Marine Corps and moved to Reno, the old nighttime hotspot had been shuttered for around five-years. I walked by its dirty windows and boarded up doors every day on my way to my first casino job at the Club Cal-Neva as a keno writer.

For years city fathers fought back and forth over what should be done with the place. Some wanted to refurbish it and turn it into apartments, while others wanted to demolish it, making room for a revitalized downtown area.

After nearly twenty-years of neglect, it was decided that the building was too far gone to save. And several groups had done their best to save the Mapes, even going so far as to attempt to have it listed as a historic site, but to no avail.

It was a crisp January morning when Kyle and I got up and drove downtown to the post office that sits between Center and Virginia. Its parking lot faces the Truckee River and at the time offered the best view of the Mapes Hotel and Casino.

We were there only a few minutes, when a siren wailed in the distance and the first explosion erupted. Within the blink of an eye the old brick structure was nothing more than a pile of rubble, its dust, tailing slightly northwest on the early morning breeze.

Like my parents marriage, it was now gone, irreparably damages beyond what it had been at one time. It too was a victim of implosion, destroyed from inside.