Loss of Another Friend

When I first saw her picture and before I heard her name, I thought I knew her. That’s because she looks remarkably like a young woman named Jeanine I used to work with and even DJ’d for her at her wedding reception.

A Nevada native, Jeanine Bonnet grew up in Yerington and lived in Oklahoma City. The day after Christmas, Jeanine and her four children, Natalie, 8; Samantha, 7; Mathew, 5; and Kara, 3, died in a house fire.

The fire was caused by a space heater and their home had no working smoke detectors. Jeanine’s boyfriend, escaped the fire with serious burns and is hospitalized.

Could this be the same Jeanine?

Nevada’s “Waver,” Passes Away

“The Waver,” has died at his home in Iowa at the age of 75. Ed Carlson was an institution in Reno from 1974 to 2007 when he moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to be close to family.

He used to wave at drivers in Reno, then hitch-hike south to Carson City, where he waved some more before hitch-hiking back to Reno the same day.  Ed served in the Army and worked a variety of jobs, including deputy sheriff, logger, oil field worker, dock worker, bartender, carnival worker and female impersonator in a comedy show.

Ed wrote a book about his experiences titled, “I Walked to the Moon and Almost Everybody Waved,” after having walked 200,000 miles — about the distance between Earth and the moon. He published it in October 1996.

In his book, Ed writes that he hitchhiked blindfolded from Boston, where his brother lived, across the country to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, then back towards Chicago. It was during his journey to Chicago that a voice told him he needed to be in Reno.

Ed walked Interstate 80, and the first vehicle to come along was a van driven by a man headed to San Francisco. He gave Ed a ride, dropping him off in Reno during May 1974.

During Ed’s early years of his walking and waving, he  would get nasty looks and called names. However as he continued to walk and wave people began to wave back.

“Wild Bill” Cody Signs Off

He was perhaps the the most popular air talent in Reno during the mid-80s and early 90’s. Wild Bill Cody, voted as the region’s best radio personality for six years dating back to at least the early 1990s, is dead at age 62.

The news is hard to take. I swear we were all in our 20’s and 30’s jus’ yesterday.

Wild Bill’s radio career spanned 35-plus years.

He came to the Biggest Little City back in 1987 or ’88, working at KWNZ-FM 97.3 for nearly seven years. In August 1994, Wild Bill left to take on the big boys in Chicago at WBBM-FM in Chicago, which lasted about a year and later co-hosted a morning show in Cincinnati.

He returned to Reno in 1997 to do the weekday morning drive on KLCA-FM “Alice.” Wild Bill was working as the sales manager and radio personality at KJMP in Fort Collins, Colorado and had recently told me he wanted to “return to the Biggest Little City someday.”

Wild Bill was well known around Northern Nevada for his outrageous stunts, including allowing himself to be buried alive, telling listeners to wish Jones-West Ford’s Richard West’s hair-piece a happy anniversary, standing out on the corner of Moana and Kietzke holding a sign reading, “Will talk for food,” after being fired once again and running for governor. He even rode a riding lawn mower, 1,100-miles in eleven days from Cincinatti to New Orleans to help raise money for flood victims in 2006.

Wild Bill died of a heart attack at his home Christmas Day, joining “Lucy,” his Golden Retriever and best friend in Heaven. He never got over having to say good-bye to that old dog.

I feel the same way about saying good-bye to you too, Bilco.

Tahoe Goes Hand-in-Hand with United Nation’s Planning

Along with the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update, “Mobility 2035” was also approved by regional board in December 2012. Mobility 2035 is a coordinated transportation improvement plan that helps reduce the environmental impact of transportation, create walkable communities, and alternatives to driving at Lake Tahoe.

It also allows the Region to achieve targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 by coordinating nearly $1.6 billion in projects and funding through the Sustainable Communities Strategy, which is blueprint to integrate transportation, land use, and housing strategies in a way that makes the area meet environmental thresholds and emission reductions for cars and light trucks. It also addresses environmental goals through monitoring of performance measures, and protection of natural resources through conservation and restoration of natural habitat.

It also falls inline with the United Nations, “Agenda 21” planning. Unfortunately, the media is either ignorant of this or is duplicitous in it’s lack of research and reporting of this fact.

A Shoe with Three Stripes

When I was in high school and on the track team, I wore Adidas track shoes. They were blue with three white stripes that I stained yellow, so it would go with our school colors.

I had no idea at the time about the history behind the  style of track shoe I owned.

Christoph Von Wilhelm Dassler was a worker in a shoe factory, while his wife Pauline ran a small laundry in their Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach. After leaving school, their son, Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler, joined his father at the shoe factory.

Meanwhile, their younger son, Adolf “Adi” Dassler started making his own sports shoes in his mother’s wash kitchen. By July 1924, Rudi returned to Herzogenaurach to join his Adi’s business, which they named Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory.

During the 1936 Summer Olympics Adi persuaded American Jesse Owens to use shoes made in their factory. It was the first time an African-American had ever been asked to endorse a product.

I imagine this didn’t make der Fuehrer Adolph Hitler very happy.

Following Owens’s haul of four gold medals, his success cemented Dassler shoes reputation among the world’s most famous sportsmen. During World War II, the brothers had a falling out, which eventually led to the company folding by the time the war ended.

Adi started another company, formally registering it as Adidas in August 1949 using the first three letters from his first and second name.

The Ship Ashore Mass Murders

“Smith River, Calif.  (UPI) —  An overnight motel guest “went berserk” Sunday night and killed four persons with a high-powered rifle.” That’s the dateline from a newspaper clipping I have from 1975.

He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 23rd, 1951. He had also been in trouble with the law, having robbed and beaten a man half to death.

For that Robert Paul Sander received a three-year probation sentence. When he violated his probation he ended up in a mental health institute for evaluation, where he eventually gained an early release

He eventually ended up working at Sears as a tire changer. This is where he purchased the 30-30 rifles he would use to take five innocent lives.

Sander left Cincinnati, in mid-February heading West through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona then to Provo Utah, Reno, Nevada, and then San Francisco, He left San Francisco, driving north on Highway 101, arriving in Smith River, California,  and checking into the Ship Ashore Motel, Room # 28.

Not yet 15 years old, I would later in life come to know many of the people named in this narrative. Also, when this crime happened, it was the third-worst mass murder in U.S. history behind those committed by Robert Speck and Charles Manson.

Around 11 on the morning of March 2nd, 1975, Julie Vick, one of the motel maids, knocked on his door. She asked him if he wanted fresh towels.

He told her he did as he wanted to take a shower before checking out. She gave him a couple of towels and then went about her business in the room next door.

Seconds later he opened the door to his room to look around, making sure there wasn’t anyone in sight. He got his rifle and quietly walked out of his room, making his way to the top-floor balcony.

As a maid at the motel, Ella Beem was going about her business, cleaning the rooms on the third floor. She walked out onto the balcony next to her cleaning cart.

Percy and Barbara Harmon were just leaving the restaurant after having breakfast. They had traveled from Fortuna, California for a nice weekend at the resort.

Gordon Knott, manager of the motel, was at the lobby counter. He was looking over the registration cards to decide who was going to be checking out and those who were going to stay.

His wife, Shirley, was in the adjoining apartment, getting ready for the day. She was in the process of putting on her makeup in the bathroom.

Denise DeGraft and Carla Prough, waitresses at the restaurant, located next to the motel complex, were standing back by the kitchen waiting for breakfast orders to serve to their customers. It was a typical Sunday morning.

In my 1975 high school yearbook, Denise’s last name is spelled “DeGraff.”

Sander put the rifle to his shoulder, putting Ella in his sights. Applying pressure to the trigger, the hammer released, the rifle’s muzzle flashes as it fires.

The bullet entered the young maid’s chest. He would shoot her again, believing her death-throws to be movement showing she was still alive.

His attention turned to the parking lot below as the Harmons exited the restaurant and was walking across the parking lot to their car. The rifle still at his shoulder, he took aim and fired.

The bullet tore through the mid-section of the old man. He staggered as his wife tries to hold him up.

Inside the restaurant, the waitresses heard what they thought were vehicles backfiring. They walked over to the window overlooking the parking lot.

They saw a man on the ground with a woman kneeling over him. They recognize them as a couple who had jus’ left the restaurant.

Then glass sprayed all over the tables and floor.

Denise fell to the floor, screaming in agony. A bullet had gone through her hand, severing two fingers and into her hip, shattering the bone in three places.

Carla was hit in the arm by flying lead shrapnel from the same bullet and glass from the shattered window. She too dropped to the floor screaming in pain.

David Jimenez, an off-duty police officer from Grants Pass, Oregon, was looking out over the parking lot as the bullet came through the plate-glass window. He and his wife fell to the floor trying to get out of the gunman’s line of sight.

Julie, the first motel maid, was inside one of the motel rooms cleaning when she first heard the shooting and walked outside to see what was happening. She saw an elderly man in the parking lot get shot and saw that the man’s wife was trying to hold him up.

She watched as Barbara ran towards the lobby entrance and a bullet tears into the woman who sprawls to the pavement.

Her husband, Percy would die the next day from his injuries.

Sander turns and looks into the lobby through the plate-glass windows, seeing the manager on the phone behind the lobby counter. He fires through the plate-glass hitting the cash register just in front of the manager.

Gordon dropped the phone and turned to run inside his adjoining apartment.

Sander follows and quickly fires another shot. The bullet strikes and spins Gordon around, and then another shot sends him falling to the floor, face down in the entryway to the apartment.

After hearing the shots,  Gordon’s wife Shirley walked out of the bathroom to see what was going on. She surprised Sander who was by the counter.

She turned to run as Sander fired.

The first bullet hit the floor; the second bullet ripped open an artery in her leg. Shirley crawled away; attempting to hide behind the bathroom door, where she bled to death before help arrived.

Sander then got in his blue Chevy and casually drove out of the parking lot.

The first deputy to arrive on the scene was Dale Parker. He was the resident deputy in the Smith River area.

Because he was first, he was potentially in the most danger, because he had no way of knowing whether Sander was still on the property or gone.

He decided, that while he gave first aid to Percy, he’d hand his pistol and shotgun to a couple of bystanders. They would provide cover fire if the shooter suddenly appeared.

Deputy Bob Long was second on the scene. He met with Parker in the parking lot and together they concluded the shooter might be on the south-end second-floor balcony.

Soon more sheriff deputies arrived, including Dick Williams, Jim McQuillen, Jim Maready, and Chuck Hupp. They along with Long and Parker would undertake the task of searching for the gunman.

It would take more than an hour for them to learn the shooter was gone. It also marked the beginning of a lengthy investigation that would involve not only California law enforcement, but also Oregon and Ohio authorities.

We had jus’ returned home from church, and as usual, the radio was on and tuned to KPOD. When the announcer started talking about what had happened north of Klamath, my parents made sure we stayed inside until the capture of the shooter.

Hours after the shootings, on U.S. 199, jus’ south of Grants Pass, Oregon, recruit officer David Moran, of the Oregon State Police, was on a traffic stop. While talking to the driver of that vehicle, he spotted Sander’s blue Chevy.

He notified dispatch, he was behind the car wanted in Del Norte County. They told him to keep the vehicle in sight, but not to make a stop until he had backup.

That backup came in the form of Trooper Smith of the Oregon State Police. With his arrival, the pair pulled the blue Chevy over, and the driver, identified as Sander, was taken into custody. Two days later, officers traveled to Grants Pass, Oregon took custody of Sander, and transported him back to Crescent City.

Eleven days after the shootings, a grand jury indicted Sander, charging him with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of mayhem, and one count of burglary. The Mayhem charge came as a result of the wounds Denise DeGraft received.

The Del Norte County District Attorney Robert Weir decided to seek the death penalty.

During Sander’s incarceration, he threw his food at the guards. Most of the other prisoners didn’t like him and he was constantly being moved from one cell block to another.

However, one inmate took to Sander, and eventually, Sander confided in him about the murders and how he did them. The state would use this inmate during the trial.

Sander’s trial began July 29th. It took a week to seat a jury because six alternate jurors were also chosen.

By August 5th, the first of the witnesses took the stand. Their testimony included the hearing of shots, the puffs of smoke observed coming from the upper balcony, and the wounding of the two girls inside the restaurant.

Then came the testimony of the two waitresses. Denise’s testimony left jurors in tears.

Seven years later, I would meet Denise personally. Up to that point she had always simply been a Senior in high school while I was a Freshman. She came over to the townhouse to visit and we ended up sitting around the dining table drinking coffee and talking.

Other witnesses told of seeing a bearded man walking from the lobby area shortly after the shots were heard, and then entering Room #28. Still, others saw the same bearded man come out of Room #28, getting into a blue Chevrolet and driving away.

Next were the officers and investigators, who arrived at the murder scene shortly after the shootings, describing what they saw, what they did and found. Sales clerks from various stores in Cincinnati took the stand, testifying about Sander’s purchase of ammunition.

The jurors listened intently. Meanwhile, Sander sat stationary, acting as if nothing had happened.

The next witness was the inmate who shared a cell with Sander for a short time. Tim Shelly explained how Sander told him about buying the 30-30 rifle and the ammo and how he didn’t believe he would be found guilty and when he got off from this crime.

The last witness was the manager of the bar at the restaurant. Jim Fish told the court how he saw Sander that morning, in front of room #28 at the motel after the shooting stopped.

When asked by Weir if he could identify the man who had the gun. Fish pointed directly at Sander.

On August 19th, the defense began its case. Not to the surprise of the State, it was not going to be a defense of denying the murders, but instead, it was to show Sander was insane at the time of the killings.

The first psychiatrist to testify for the defense was Dr. David H. Gasman from Redding, California. He said Sander cried during the interview which indicated remorse for his victims

The defense then put on another court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Shelton, also from Redding. He described Sander as having anti-social behavior, depressed, psychotic, and was very depressed at the time of the murders.

The defense then called Dr. O’Neil from Yreka, California. He said Sander appeared schizophrenic.

Two more psychiatrists, hired by the defense came to the stand. The first, Dr. Komasarick who claimed at the time of the attack Sander’s lacked the mental capacity to know right from wrong.

For whatever reason, I have been unable to find Doctors’ Shelton, O’Neil, or Komasarick via the Internet.

Finally, Dr. Martin Blender described Sander as a schizophrenic personality and extremely anti-social. Blender claimed Sander picked Ship Ashore because the voices told him to.

It was time for the state to wrap up its case against Sander with its rebuttal.

The State called Dr. Joel Fort, a bay-area criminalist and forensic psychiatrist. Fort explained to jurors that a person could be a paranoid schizophrenic but still be responsible for his actions – but that doubted Sander was suffering from the disorder.

After 17 days of testimony,  more than 40 witnesses, nearly 150 items of evidence, and about 5,000 pages of transcript, the prosecutor took most of the day for his final argument. He reminded the jurors how Sander fired with deadly accuracy; eleven bullets hitting the victims.

The following morning, six weeks since the start of the trial, the case was ready to be given to the jury for deliberation.

In less than ten hours, the jury notified the judge they had reached verdicts on ten of the eleven counts. They were unable to reach a verdict on the eleventh count.

Sander was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of mayhem, and one count of burglary in the first degree. The next morning the jury took less than two hours to return the verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree in the death of Shirley Knott.

Because of his behavior, which left a deputy injured, Sander ended up in solitary confinement. While there he attempted to hang himself with his pants but jail staff prevented his ‘half-hearted attempt.”

The insanity phase lasted three days. After hearing all there was on Sander’s sanity, the jury found him sane when he committed the murders.

Next came the penalty phase, where the jury would recommend either life in prison, without the possibility for parole or death. The eight-woman, four-man jury ruled Sander was sane when thus, requiring a mandatory death sentence.

Sander was sentenced to die in the California gas chamber at San Quentin. Judge Frank Peterson includes in his sentencing that Sander serves life in prison in the event the California Supreme Court should ever hold the death penalty unconstitutional.

At San Quentin Prison, on death row, Sander had his own plan. On the morning of December 10th, 1975, guards found him hanging by the neck, a bedsheet, tied to the top bars of his cell.

For their actions on the day of the shootings, the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Washington DC issued Commendations for Meritorious Service and Valor to Undersheriff G. Thomas Hopper, Lt. Charles Hupp, Sgt. James McQuillen, Detective Richard Williams, Deputy Robert Long, Deputy James Maready, Deputy Dale Parker, Deputy Delbert Edwards, Special Reserved Deputy Dale Edwards.

A year or two after the murders, Dad became the Campaign Manager for Chuck Hupp, who ran against Tom Hopper for Del Norte County Sheriff. Chuck lost and retired from law enforcement. I also assisted Bob Long several times by processing crime photos for him. Finally, I knew Tom because his father, Judge Hopper lived in my neighborhood when I was a kid.

Radio Station Specter

It was drizzling lightly as I pulled into the stations parking lot. A heavy storm was forecast to arrive that might lead to wide-spread flooding so I was at work a few minutes early to get an update on what the local authorities were doing throughout the Reno and Sparks area to prepare.

As I walked up to the entrance, I reached for the key pad. As my eyes swept by the window leading down the walk way in the sales office, I saw a tall, thin dark figure.

Recollecting what I’d seen: I saw his arms as they swung by his side, his torso, hips and thighs not to mention his shoulders, neck and head. He’s at least six and half feet tall; taller than my five-foot-seven inch self.

Unfortunately, I didn’t focus on the figure as I was more intent on the keypad. But the moment it registered with me what I’d seen, my eyes snapped back to the sales office walk way.

There was nothing there, so I continued into the building. I quickly checked the office doors to my right and looked in the cubicles to my left and found no one.

I also checked with the guy I was replacing for the graveyard shift and found him in the newsroom in the back, far side of the building from where I’d been.

It was then that I knew I had seen the specter I’ve called the “Thin Man,” for the last five years. I saw him in the same spot I seen him before and where others had too.

He’s surprised me several times, suddenly appearing in production rooms or the kitchen and the conference room. Usually, he’s nothing more than a figure that appears jus’ inside my peripheral vision.

The “Thin Man,” is responsible for opening drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, opening and closing office doors that are generally locked at night, for calling out my first name and whistling. He has also called me several times on the news-line from the sales office.

The phone doesn’t often ring in the early morning hours, so when it does I usually answer it promptly. But when I do, there’s no sound at the other end and when I dial back the incoming phone number, it inevitably rings in the sales office.

Thankfully, he’s fairly harmless, but I sure would like to know who he is and why he haunts this radio facility.

Gringo

Gasoline was a lot cheaper in Ciudad Juarez than I’d seen un the U.S. in several months. I had jus’ filled up my friends Dodge Colt and had plans to find someplace to spend the night, but I didn’t get very far.

The car suddenly started coughing and sputtering, then the engine simply died. Though I tried several times I couldn’t get it to start again, so I walked back to the little gas station where I had bought the fuel.

Unfortunately I didn’t understand the language, save for a few key words and a couple of phrases, so communication with the station’s owner lead to nothing but grief. As I started to walk back to the car I found myself surrounded by Federales’, each dressing in black paramilitary uniforms, bearing machine guns, aimed directly at me.

Without understanding why, I was suddenly in handcuffs and being forcefully tossed into the back of pickup truck. Before I could regain my sense of direction, a dark hood was yanked over my head.

Within a few minutes I was being pulled from the bed of the truck and have dragged, half shoved into a building. It was a busy place, voices and machines and telephones ringing.

Then the hood was removed and I realized I was being pushing into a dark cell. As I stumbled forward, I heard the heavy metal door slam shut behind me.

It took me a minute or two to calm down from my initial fright. I had concluded that I was about to be summarily executed, though I had no idea why.

“Find a place against the wall,” an American voice spoke, “It all sits the same.”

I fumbled around until I located the cold steel bulkhead and positioned my back against. I slowly slid to the floor, which was jus’ as chilly as the wall.

Finally I grew the courage to speak, “Tom.”

“James,” came the unseen voice.

For two day, perhaps longer, James and I languished in that cell. By the time they opened it and escorted us before a three judge panel, I knew I was listed as AWOL from the Pollard Street Reservist Station in El Paso.

That, it would turn out would be the least of my worries as James told me I had been sentenced to three-years in prison for stealing a tank of gasoline. He was given 20 years, but he never explained what he was charged with.

Breaking away from the two guards holding me, I protested. I wanted an opportunity to defend myself, but that would never happen as I heard a large crash and my world went dark.

My head throbbed and my ears rang as I forced myself to sit up right in the back of what I believed was another pick-up truck. I couldn’t be certain as once again I had a dark hood over my face.

I had to fight off the urge several times not to vomit as we bounced along some uneven roadway towards whatever prison I was being sent too.

Perhaps I passed out, perhaps I simply fell asleep — at any rate I lost track of time and before I knew it, it was dark out and we were now driving along a very flat surface. The next time I opened my eyes it was daylight, but again I lost consciousness and track of time, having no idea how long or far we had traveled.

Finally, and though I couldn’t see anything, I sensed the change in my surroundings as we entered the gated wall of the prison yard.

Again I was dragged from the back of the vehicle, my hands cuffed behind me and the hood still in place. I stood waiting for whatever was to come next as the truck I had jus’ been a passenger in drove away and the large doors to my new home closed.

That’s when the hood was stripped from my still aching head and I got the chance to see my captors and fellow inmates for the first time. There was only one Anglo face in the crowd and with his reddish hair, I concluded that was James.

Before the cuffs were removed the five of us, James, me and three Mexicans, were looked over by Cereso Prison’s El Capitan. He was short, man with a pencil thin moustache and cruel little mouth and dark squinty eyes.

He addressed us, and though I had no idea what he was saying, I could tell by his demeanor he was giving us the rules; his rules. I could tell he expected us to live by them or else.

As soon as he was done, we were quickly ushered into a cell. There were no beds and all we had for a toilet was a rusted, dented paint can.

Like clock work, we were handed a tray for food, or what passed as food, by the prison’s standards each day for the next week. The three Mexicans originally housed with us, were released into the general population by day two, yet James and I remained locked up.

“They’re afraid we’ll be killed,” James explained.

“Why?” I asked.

James chuckled and replied, “We’re foreigners and don’t have family to pay El Jefe the necessary extortion to live in his prison.”

He went on to explain that El Jefe was also a prisoner, a God-father of sorts confined behind the walls and what he said, went and that was finally.  According to James, El Jefe was even more powerful than El Capitan.

“Did you really steal gas?” James finally asked.

I laughed, “No, but I called the guy who sold me the gas a thief.”

“Why’s that,” James asked.

“The shit fouled the engine and it wouldn’t start,” I answered.

Then James pointed out, “You know your cars stripped by now.”

“That’s okay,” I returned, “It wasn’t mine anyway — I borrowed it for a weekend get away.”

We laughed at that.

“How about you?” I asked.

James smiled broadly, “I’ve been fucking a policeman’s wife.”

“No,” I shot back, thinking he was pulling my leg.

“Yeah,” he returned, “I was warned but I could stay away from that tight little thing. Got me 20-years for rape.”

For the first time, I really looked at James. I hadn’t realized he was a good ten-years older than me and not in as good a physical shape as me.

So when after ten days our cell door was unlocked and slid open, I felt a lump of fear catch in my throat. I could see the same thing in James’ eyes as we slowly walked away from the relative safety of our cell and towards the open yard in front of us.

“I don’t like this,” James said as we stepped into the sunshine for the first time in over a week. Then he added, “Watch my back and I’ll watch yours, don’t show any fear and lets find a wall to lean against where we can see anyone coming at us.”

“Roger, that,” I replied.

It didn’t take to long for someone to come at us either as a large man with scars on his arms, neck and face walked with purpose towards the two of us. I know it happened quickly, but it seemed like slow-motion as the brute, started slamming what I thought were punches into James, stomach and chest.

Then like that he walked away, leaving James bleeding. He had stabbed the red-head repeatedly and then simply blended into the mass of bodies standing there watching as the only other Americano bled out onto the brown dirt.

A pair of guards rushed into the yard and gripped him under his arms and dragged James away. I never saw him again after that.

Instead, knowing I was going to be next, I decided to figure out how to defend myself against what was coming my way. I had learned already, though the attack on James, that the yard would become eerily quiet, as if the men were expecting something, and then the attack would begin.

I also noted that the old man, also known as El Jefe was present and though he said nothing, he directed the action.

More guards came into the yard. They grabbed me and dragged me back inside my prison cell and secured the door behind me.

It didn’t take me very long to realize they had left our food trays behind in the cell and that I also had an extra blanket, the one that had belonged to James. I conspired to put these items to good use.

For another seven days, I found myself segregated from the rest of the prison population. During that time I had taken the heavy plastic trays and fashioned them into body armor.

By using a small nail I’d found in the corner of the cell, I drilled a hole in the upper corner of each tray and fastened then together with a strip of cloth from the remains of my tee-shirt, to form a front and back plate of protection for myself. Hidden under my work shirt, I tore a hole in the center of the blanket and draped it over myself and my creation.

By the end of two-weeks, I was feeling stir-crazy, and emboldened by my body armor I was screaming for the guards to let me out so I could roam the prison yard. It took a little convincing but finally, my door was opened and I ventured forth.

By this time I had grown weak from a lack of decent food and from no exercise other than that of pacing my cell. I wandered out into the yard and towards the wall where I had seen my only friend in the world meet his doom, and leaned against the cool rock facing.

Though many of the inmates looked at me, no one paid me any real-mind. In fact, I was left alone for the rest of my time in the yard.

That evening I was directed to the main dining hall, where I would have my first meal with everyone else. As my tray was filled with the slop-of-the-day, I recognized one of the men serving us as one of the three Mexicans who had been with me on that first day.

“El cuchillo, Gringo,” he whispered as I passed him.

“Knife — he said knife,” I found myself thinking.

Cautiously I moved around the room looking for the place I thought would afford me the best chance at defending myself. I selected a position against the wall and near the doorway.

It took me only two swallows of the crap I had come to think of as food to realize it was deathly quiet in the room. I looked up from my tray and around at all the faces staring back at me.

Then slowly, one by one, men started getting up from their places, leaving the uneaten food where it sat and lined the walls of the large room. Soon only me,’El Jefe, El Segundo and the man next to me remained seated.

‘El Jefe’s eyes seemed to flash at the man next to me. It was like a sudden explosion of movement as the man swiped at me with a large blade.

I jumped back, avoiding the knife.

Again he came at me, intent on murdering me in cold blood. This time though I was on my feet and ready for him.

He stepped into me and I grabbed the arm in which the hand that held the instrument of death was attached. I allowed him to thrust the blade as hard as he wanted into my chest.

The force was met with a loud “thunk,” and a scream of pain. He had stabbed my armor so hard that his hand slipped from the handle and down the blade.

Amid the fresh blood oozing from his fingers and palm, I wrenched the knife away from him and thrust it deep into his chest. I became frenzied, stuffing the blade to the hilt over and over again in the soon lifeless form of the man who had attacked me on command.

Then I stood there — listening to my heavy breath and heat beat and the silence of the room.

As soon as I came to my senses, I turned and pointed at El Jefe. He gave me a half-smile as El Segundo rose from his seat and moved around the table towards me.

From out of his waistband he produced a slender blade. It occurred to me that I had seen it before — the day James was attacked and then it dawned on me El Segundo was the one who murdered my cell-mate.

El Segundo lead with is right and I knew this, so I was prepared when he sprang like a panther at me. I stepped to my right as he rushed by me, slashing open my serape.

He turned and started back at me, but was halted in his step, before he dropped to his knees. I had also slashed him — right below his right rib cage and now his guts were spilling out and onto his thigh.

I took advantage of his wounding and thrust the blade of my knife into the back of his head.

El Segundo fell to the cement floor and convulsed for half a minute before growing still. I tried to pull my knife from the bigger man’s head, but it refused to budget.

Instead I picked up El Segundo knife and backed my way towards the door. My eyes searched the room for my next possible attacker, but no one moved.

El Jefe simply sat there, a half-smile on his face as if he were enjoying the sport of gladiators battling to the death. I flipped El Segundo
‘s knife in the air and caught it by the blade.

A second later, I saw it buried in the El Jefe’s throat. I had thrown it without thinking and with a bit of fortune the knife had found its mark.

El Jefe gurgling on his blood as I turned a walked from the hall and into the prison yard. I placed my back against the wall near the gate and allowed myself to sink down onto my haunches and fade in and out of sleep through the night.

None of the guards bothered me as I eventually fell asleep.

It wasn’t until the sun had crept its way up above the wall, that I realized it was now morning and that I had slept much of the early hours away. The sun’s warmth was broken by a shadow as it rose over me.

I opened my eyes to find El Capitan standing over me.

At first I thought I was about find out first hand what sort of wrath he had in store for me, but much to my surprise he spoke to me in broke English,”Go, you are free. Go.”

“Now?” I asked.

“Go!” he repeated, sounding impatient with me.

The heavy metal gate squeaked as it was pushed open. I stood up and walked towards it, glancing back to see if this were really happening or maybe some sort of sadistic game, but El Capitan waved me out.

The clanking of the gate sounded final as I looked around at my unfamiliar surroundings. I was standing in a worn and rutted dirt roadway with no idea where I was.

But since I knew where the sun rose each morning, I turned to my right, and started walking. I walked until I could no longer see the walls of the prison and then I started to run.

Within half and hour I walked across the border into the United State, finding I was more than 400 miles away from where I had begun this incredible journey. Later I learned James survived his attack, spirited away by the wife of the cop he’d been fucking.

Anchor-babies to Get Legal Nevada Driver’s Licenses

Immigrants brought to the country illegally as children and granted a temporary reprieve by President Barack Obama this summer will be eligible for Nevada driver’s licenses and state IDs, state officials told the Sun this week. And Governor Sandoval says he supports the policy and has no intention of changing it.

“As long as all of the DMV procedures are followed and other forms of identification are valid, I support this policy,” he said.

But at least one Republican lawmaker said the Nevada Legislature should weigh in on the question when it meets in early 2013.

“If any individual doesn’t have full status, to me, they shouldn’t have a full driver’s license,” state Senator James Settelmeyer of Minden said. “A lot of facets need to be discussed at the Legislature. I, myself, do not prefer to see an agency head make a decision that has such large repercussions.”

Immigration experts had been unsure whether the Nevada DMV would accept the employment authorization cards issued to those who received deferred action.

“These individuals will not be treated any differently under Nevada law than any other noncitizen applying for an identification card or driver’s license,” said Kevin Malone, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

Other states, such as Arizona and Nebraska, have maintained they will continue to deny illegal immigrant’s driver’s licenses, even those who qualify for deferred action. But Nevada officials said the state will honor the employment authorization card, which is a photo ID issued by the Department of Homeland Security to the deferred action applicants and other non-citizens in the country legally and have been accepted by the DMV since at least 1999.

By some estimates, Nevada is home to 20,000 young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children who qualify for the “deferred action for childhood arrivals” — a program informally known as Dream Act-lite after the broader legislation that has failed to pass Congress.

Busting Nevada Employers over Unemployment

Businesses in Nevada will pay about $77 more per employee in state unemployment-insurance taxes next year in order to build up the state’s jobless benefits trust fund, which was depleted during the Great Recession as a record number of workers lost their jobs.

Nevada has been borrowing money since late 2009 and as of October owes $625 million to the federal government. That balance at one point reached $800 million.

The state is also paying interest on the federal loan after officials in 2011 set aside $66 million from the general fund for interest payments. State officials estimate interest charges for the next two-year budget cycle will total $40 million to $48 million.

The Department of Employment and Training adopted a new average tax rate of 2.25 percent on the first $26,900 of an employee’s wages. The new rate takes effect January 1 and amounts to a 12.5 percent increase under a formula used to calculate the tax.

Agency staff estimate Nevada may be able to pay off the loan by 2016, and the state’s trust fund could become solvent again by 2018. It’s unknown whether the state will use its general fund dollars to cover the interest costs.

Obama’s Favorite Flip Flops

“I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program”—Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama, June 2003.

“I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter”—President Obama, August 2009.

“Leadership means that the buck stops here. . . . I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit”—Sen. Barack Obama, March 2006.

“It is not acceptable for us not to raise the debt ceiling and to allow the U.S. government to default”—President Obama, July 2011.

“I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages”—Obama questionnaire response, 1996, while running for Illinois state Senate.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage”—Sen. Obama, November 2008, while running for president.

“It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married”—President Obama, May 2012.

“We have an idea for the trigger. . . . Sequestration”—Obama Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew in 2011, as reported in Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics.”

“First of all, the sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed”—President Obama, October 2012.

“If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election”—Sen. Obama, 2007.

“We’ve made the decision not to participate in the public financing system for the general election”—Sen. Obama, June 2008.

“I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign”—Sen. Obama, June 2008.

“The way Bush has done it over the last eight years is . . . [he] added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back. . . . That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic”—Sen. Obama, July 2008.

“I don’t remember what the number was precisely. . . . We don’t have to worry about it short term”—President Obama, September 2012, on the debt figure when he took office ($10 trillion) and whether to worry about today’s $16 trillion figure.

“[Sen. Hillary Clinton believes] that . . . if the government does not force taxpayers to buy health care, that we will penalize them in some fashion. I disagree with that”—Sen. Obama, Jan 2008, opposing the individual mandate for health insurance.

“I’m open to a system where every American bears responsibility for owning health insurance”—President Obama, June 2009, supporting the individual mandate.

“Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times when America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive”—President Obama, April 2009, in France.

“We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms”—President Obama, April 2009, in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Nothing Governor Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing”—Barack Obama, October 2012, on whether he went on a global apology tour.

“The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel”—Sen. Obama, September 2008.

“Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years”—President Obama, January 2010.

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-fired plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them”—Sen. Obama, January 2008, on his plans to financially penalize coal plants.

“Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution”—Sen. Obama, August 2008.

“Here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment”—President Obama, October 2012.

“If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition”—President Obama, 2009.

“We’ve got a long way to go but . . . we’ve come too far to turn back now. . . . And that’s why I’m running for a second term”—President Obama, October 2012.