Progress Being Made

In between working to revamp my blog with a new name and new look, I’ve already run into Reno so Kyle could apply for his old job and to pick up some of his things from storage. I tried to help him but the first crate I lifted tossed my back out.

Right now, he’s in his old room working to reduce the six crates we brought home to hopefully four. Everything else will go out in our shed or in the garage.

We’ll be making another trip in to Reno as Kyle has a three-and-a-half-hour pre-hire class on sexual harassment as he landed a part-time gig at Lawlor Event Center in Guest Services. I’ve been teasing him that his girlfriend should be involved in this evenings class.

It’s a start — and I’m proud of him. Now, all I need do is figure out what to do for three-and-a-half-hours.

UPDATE: Kyle’s SHC isn’t until August. Phew!

Coyote and Night-Guard

his forsaken call’s heard
sacred night covers form
sound carries over sage
coyote plans his day
begging world join in

night-guard does jus’ so
silence from desert sand

cattle low, stir and settle
moon at crescent quarter
stars high, full and bright

night-guard warbles song
to coyotes’ off-key call
beckoning earth join in

yip, yip, yip each sings

Washing a Bully Out of His Hair

He was a bully, shoving most everyone around in the barracks and no one seemed willing to stop him, except me. However, he avoided me as much as possible after I knocked him on his butt three times during a boxing match one rainy summer Saturday.

His reign of terror included picking on my friend Holley and I decided that it was time Wes got what was coming to him. Quietly, I began to watch his habits; when he went to chow; left for work; came home; showered and so on.

One morning I realized Wes used the same shampoo as I did and this gave me an idea. If I could, I would replace his shampoo bottle filled with syrup.

If there was one thing he was proud of it was his hair. He spent a lot of time combing and brushing it anytime he passed a mirror or some other reflective surface in which he could look at himself.

Wes had a habit of setting his shampoo and conditioners outside the shower stall when he was bathing, so I knew that this was where the opportunity to switch out the bottles could be made. I narrowed my focus to his bathroom habits from there on.

In the three-week period that I had begun my self-appointed mission, Wes’ bullying continued, including pushing Holley down a set of stairs on the backside of the building. Honestly, I nearly gave up on my plan, deciding to go ‘kick his ass,’ instead, but calmer heads prevailed as Holley talked me out of it.

Because of the last attack, I decided to speed up my plan though. I ended up dumping out a full bottle of shampoo so I could refill it.

That’s when I also made a change to my planning. Instead of syrup, I purchased several small bottles of a hair remover that women were known to use on their legs to avoid shaving.

The following morning I sneaked into the shower area and checked out his bottle of shampoo. And seeing how full it was, I loaded my empty bottle with four containers of the hair removal agent, hoping to make it feel the same in weight.

Since I was too late to switch bottles at that time, I had to wait until the next morning. It was a restless night as I lay in my rack anticipating the outcome.

The next morning, sitting in one of the stalls, I heard him come into the lavatory and turn on the shower. As soon as he pulled the shower curtain closed, I made my move, switching out the bottles.

As soon as I made the switch, I rushed back to my room. I would return to the showers a few minutes later, acting as innocent as a new-born babe.

By that time Wes knew something had happened to his shampoo. But in the same breath, by the time he realized it, a large swathe of the hair he had been so proud of was laying on the shower stall floor.

For the next few days, Wes hid himself in his room, coming out only when he had too. Best of all, he decided to move off base the following week, so the bullying came to an end.

The Suitor and His Whore

“Damned sidewalk’s a helluva place to make a last stand,” Mack said to Cheese as he helped his friend to his knees.

For his part Cheese wasn’t paying attention to anything Mack had to say as he was busy looking at his scraped up palms and the rip in the left elbow of his best shirt. It was the second time in the last ten minutes the old gutter-rat had ended up on his ear outside the broke down watering hole.

“Ain’t no fuckin’ way to treat a suitor,” Cheese complained.

“You ain’t no fuckin’ suitor,” Mack reminded him, “You’re jus’ a horny old shit that can’t get a piece of ass outta your head.”

“Oh, I’m gonna marry Big Maddie,” Cheese exclaimed.

“Naw — you ain’t,” Mack shot back, “Cuz that woman’s gonna kill you if you go back in there again.”

“I’m gonna, I tell ya!” Cheese retorted.

Mack decided not to argue with his buddy any further concluding the fool must have hit his head the last time he flew out the door. Beside, he was simply there as a matter of support or to call for an ambulance once the dumb-shit couldn’t walk away under his own powers.

It took him another minute to gather himself before he decided to move himself to the sidewalk’s edge where he sat down. Skinned up or not, Cheese remained determined to go back in and win the woman’s hand.

“You ever bang her?” Cheese asked Mack.

“Nope,” Mack answered, adding, “I don’t do whores.”

“She’s one you would – fucks like a wild horse runs,” Cheese said, “And those tits are something to behold when she’s riding you down.”

“You fuckin’ banged your head good that last go, didn’t ya?” Mack snorted.

Cheese didn’t answer as he was already starting to voice his next thought, “The moment she wrapped her lips around my cock and took a drag, I was in love!”

Mack simply sighed. As he did Cheese stood up and walked back to the swinging door of the dive, “Wish me luck, mate.”

“You’re gonna get tossed out on your ass again you stupid son of a bitch,” Mack warned.

“Fuck! I’m in love and it’s all worth it,” Cheese replied as he pulled the door open, adding, “Call a priest cuz I’m either gonna need him to marry us or he’ll have to perform last rites on my corpse.”

Cheese disappeared into the smoky darkness, leaving Mack to wait for the next act to end.

A Black Bear in the Black Berry Patch

It was warm for the start of September and Adam and I were on a mission. The night before we had decided to pick as many black berries as possible and to give them to Mr. and Mrs. Thompson before the elderly couple headed back home to Alhambra, California.

Our idea centered on making sure they had enough berries to make at least two cobblers over the winter while we awaited their return. It was our way of saying thank you for the cobble pie Mrs. Thompson had made for our family and for the couple taking us boy’s fishing during their visit.

The Thompson’s had been coming to Camp Marigold since before our had moved into the house on Redwood Drive. And each year Mary and Russ Thompson’s preregistered with the camp ground for the space right behind our home.

With summer of ‘71 coming to a close, salmon season on the Klamath River ending and school starting in a couple of days, we grabbed the four wooden buckets Mom had bought at Ben Franklin’s in Crescent City for each of her children. However our sister’s weren’t coming with us as we headed down the street towards the pasture below our neighborhood.

After a few minutes, we came to the hillside that held bush after bush of black berries. It was only yards from the old baseball field we played on and we knew that the bushes on the backside of the patch held the best pickings.

We each slipped our way through and around the dense brambles, with their wide leaves and large thorns. It was well-known that if you wanted to get the ripe and plump berries, you’d have to endure a little pain from an accidental run in with a thorn or several.

Before we knew it Adam and I had all four baskets filled and we were eating berries as we worked our way out of the thicket. That’s when we heard a noise that caused us to stop in our tracks.

It was a heavy foot-fall, followed by a grunt and a gruff sigh. Still clutching our baskets, we quietly freed our selves from the brambles only to come face-to-face with a black bear.

The confrontation left the three of us startled as each of us backed away from the other. While Adam and I continued to put distance between ourselves and the bear, the bear had stopped and was sniffing the air.

“Adam,” I said as flat and unexcited as I could, “Take off running as fast as you can. And don’t look back until you made the road.”

“But Tommy…” he began.

“Run! Now!” I growled.

Adam took off as I stood still, holding my two baskets of berries and facing the bear. My heart was pounding in my throat as I slowly set one of the baskets on the grass in front of me and began backing away.

After walking backwards for several hundred feet, I turned and sprinted in the direction Adam had gone, hoping that the bear wouldn’t follow and would instead stop to feast on the bucket of black berries I’d left behind. It was a great relief to finally reach the safety of the road, where Adam was waiting for me.

We sat on log at the side of the road and watched as the bear made a quick meal of the berries, then played with the basket by flipping it into the air and swatting it as it came down. Once he grew bored with the game, he turned and ambled across the pasture, waded through High Prairie Creek and disappeared amid the alder trees lining the far bank.

“You wanna go get the basket?” Adam asked.

“Naw,” I answered, “We’ll come back for it tomorrow.”

“Yeah, if that bear doesn’t come back first and eat it,” Adam chuckled.

Taxed to Talk

Congress is always looking for new and sneakier ways to fill it’s pockets with our hard-earned cash. This time it has started to look at parts of former Michigan GOP Congressman Dave Camp’s failed “Tax Reform Act of 2014.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of simplied tax-reform being talked about by President Trump and wanted by the American public. No, Camp’s proposal would restructure the taxation of advertising from a normal — a 100-percent deductible business cost — to one that is only 50 percent deductible, with the rest being amortized over the course of a decade.

The only time in U.S. history that a federal advertising tax was impose was during the Civil War. In the 1980s, Florida briefly imposed one, and it led to the immediate loss of 50,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in personal income and was repealed after six-months.

And aside from some exceptions related to false and misleading content, the federal government has for the most part respected the constitutional mandate of the First Amendment to leave advertising alone. That’s why the Supreme Court, overturned Valentine v. Chrestensen (1942) with writing that “the Constitution imposes no restraint on the government as to the regulation of ‘purely commercial advertising…’”

Thirty-five-years later, in 1977, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, that free speech includes paid advertisements or solicitations to pay or to give money. The court explained:

“‘Advertising, though entirely commercial, may often carry information of import to significant issues of the day. And commercial speech serves to inform the public of the availability, nature, and prices of products and services, and thus performs an indispensable role in the allocation of resources in a free-enterprise system. In short, such speech serves individual and societal interests in assuring informed and reliable decision-making.'”

The First Amendment is supposed to apply to all Americans — not only those who can afford to pay a federal tax on it.

Former CIA Director Calls for a Coup

Former President Obama’s shadow government is slowly moving into the daylight, as his ex-CIA chief John Brennan is openly calling for a coup to oust President Trump, should Trump fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Brennan appeared at the Aspen Security Forum in Vero Beach, Florida, during a panel discussion with Obama propogandist and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out,” Brennan said. “I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future.”

This is one of the best example of how Progressives view their place in the world of politics. Anyone who believes in the U.S. Constitution would never have claimed that saving the future of government is a paramount task compared to the saving of the Republic — but there you have it.

Meanwhile, Mueller’s team has at least three members who’ve donated to Democratic presidential campaigns and organizations over the years. The list includes Jeannie Rhee, who donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton; Andrew Weissmann, who gave $4,700 to a Obama PAC in 2008; and James Quarles, who donated to Obama’s presidential PAC in 2008 and 2012, and Clinton’s presidential PAC Hillary for America in 2016.

Let’s not forget about ‘the Mule,’ himself, and his personal relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, where the entire Russia/Trump-probe starts and ends. The ex-FBI chief and Mueller are described as ‘brothers-in-arms,’ after working together during the controversies over Bush-era terrorist surveillance.

Sounds real impartial, doesn’t it?

Perhaps a coup would be a blessing as it would bring about a second Civil War, destroying the power-base of Progressives. After all there are many more hardened patriots waiting for the Snowflake’s of the Left to violently act against the Republic, allowing for defense of the U.S. Constitution “against all enemies, foreign or domestic.”

And the Insults Keep Coming

Last week, GOP Congressman Blake Farenthold criticized his GOP colleagues in the Senate for lacking the “courage” to repeal Obamacare and pass a replacement bill. He specifically called out “female senators from the Northeast,” whom he suggested he would have challenged to a duel ― if they were men.

“If it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style,” the congressman said.

This week GOP Senator Susan Collins was captured on a live microphone making fun of Farenthold, whom many speculate was the one he challenged to the duel, “He’s huge…he’s so unattractive, it’s unbelievable.”

Collins was referring to a photo of Farenthold that circulated in 2010, during his first run for Congress, adding, “Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this bunny, Playboy bunny?”

This was followed by Democratic Senator Jack Reed saying to Collins over a hot mic, that she could “beat the shit” out of Farenthold.

Needless to say the media was all over the battle of words. However, it also shows their hapless inability to avoid double standards.

The Left’s propaganda apparatus has had little to nothing to say about ‘The Daily Beasts’ Ira Madison III, who likened Sarah Huckabee Sanders to a drag queen in a posting on Twitter shortly after President Trump promoted her to the role of White House press secretary.

“Butch queen first time in drags at ball,” he tweeted to his followers – along with a photograph of the new press secretary.

Furthermore, they have been largely silent on Hollywood wannabe’s who’ve been unkind to Sanders by openly insulting her on Twitter.

“I felt like Sarah Huckabee Sanders left and right eye switched places or something,” Black comedian Akliah Hughes wrote.

And not to be outdone in nastiness, ‘Family Guy’ writer Damien Fahey tweeted, “Sarah Huckabee Sanders looks like every woman eating lobster on a cruise ship.”

Progressives are so kind and tolerant.

Obsidian

What is it all about,
These final years of living?

Having worked till you are no longer needed,
Broke and broken –
No further to proceed.

Am I alone in this search for meaning?
If I’m not…
Where are the other travelers on this road?
It certainly seems that I am.

Hiding perhaps,
Cowering in their facade’.

Acting O-so happy
Outwardly faking it?

There is an odd sense
A Loneliness that hangs
Upon my bent and arthritic neck.

Like a stone of obsidian,
Black, shiny, sharp.
Cutting – no – no – no –

Digging through my chest
Until is replaces my heart
And yet, I do not bleed –
Not from my visable wounds…

Instead my life’s energy flows
From words, phrases, cliches’.

And though shared
They are meaningless to
Me,
To you,
In these final years –
Our final years unliving.

My First Taste of Mexico

There is so much about my first trip to Mexico that do not recall. Not that it was nearly four-decades ago, but because it was a booze-fill weekend where I had no one other than myself to be responsible for or to.

There were five of us, and I sat in the middle, in the back seat of the rented car we were using. In fact, aside from me, the only person I can remember with any certainty is Mike O’Gorman, whom I nicknamed “Jughead,” as he reminded me of the Archie comic book character of the same name.

Up until that time, I had not ventured very far outside of the San Antonio area for worry that I might get lost and have to explain why I didn’t make it back to base in time for morning-time muster. So going to Mexico was a big deal for me and I could hardly wait to get there.

The quickest route was to take Interstate 35 to Laredo and crossing the border into Nuevo Laredo. It was only two-and-half-hour drive but by that time we each chomping at the bit to wet our whistles and meet some South-of-the-Border beauties.

Once across the border, we began asking around for the best watering-hole to be found. This is the last fully cognizant memory I have until Monday morning when I woke up in the trunk of our rented car and being hustled into our barracks get ready for the duty-day.

The particular saloon, bar, club or what have you – the name also escapes me – was full of American Expats who were more than willing to buy (I never spent a dime all weekend,) a round or seven for a group of servicemen on furlough. My haziness kicked in shortly after this point in our adventure.

Aside from drinking, what I do recall is following a couple of fellow American’s from one place to the next. In one instance, we even stopped to get something to eat as we hadn’t eaten anything since morning.

In my mind’s eye, when I reflect back on that moment, it seems like it was nighttime. Anyway, I ordered several of whatever, deciding that the last one had to be the hottest they could make.

Talk about being instantly sobered. First, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see and then I couldn’t stand, having slid off my stool onto the floor and beneath our table.

In retrospect – I can honestly say that I passed out. When I awoke, which was not even seconds after dropping on the floor, everyone was laughing and I did my best to join in, but I think the sudden expulsion of food and alcohol from my body made it a difficult matter.

But, still unwilling to give in, we continued to other places, all on foot to find drink, food and awful side-street exhibitions. Because I had gotten sick, I was no longer as drunk as everyone else in my party.

After being served our drinks, a portly naked woman walked onto the center floor, which I had assumed was a dance area, guiding a mule on a lead. What she proceeded to do with that animal, I refuse to even bother giving words to – it was disgusting, but not wanting to seem uncool in front of American Expat friends, we laughed and carried on like it was the greatest show on earth.

Except for ‘Jughead,’ he wasn’t laughing – instead he was rubbing his face in her hairy-spot like he’d never seen one before. I nearly got sick for a second time.

After witnessing that, I decided I was going to have to wash that sight out of my brain by killing a few memory-cells in whatever alcoholic swill served to me. It didn’t take long for me to become so drunk that I couldn’t really remember up from down or left from right and I stayed there until around two in the morning on Monday.

In reality, I had awaken long before we got back to base. However the more I kicked and louder I screamed to be let out of the ‘god-damned trunk,’ the greater the howls of laughter came from the back and front seat’s of our car.

The booze must have caught up with at some point in the trip back because I have no memory of going through the front-gate of Brooks Air Force Base. In fact, it was a shock to see sunlight once the trunk opened and I was being half-lifted, half-dragged into Building #512.

Afterwards, I decided that if I ever returned to Mexico, I’d either be by myself or in the company of a pretty woman. So, being the romantic that I am, a few years later I went there by myself and wound up in jail for a month.

Oh – and as for O’Gorman and that woman – he claimed he had no memory of doing such a nasty thing and swore up and down that we were making it up.

Unpacking My Stuffy Head

As I write this, I am in bed battling a summer head cold and losing. Earlier on Facebook I described my condition as having had wet cement shot up my nose, into my sinus cavity and behind my eyes.

The description still holds.

Earlier, as I stood in the shower trying to steam everything loose in my brain-holder I come upon a memory that I’d not thought of in ages. When I was a kid I’d see other neighborhood children, who had not gone to school that day, out playing after the school day was over.

This used to make me so jealous as my mom believed that if you were sick enough to miss school, you were too sick to go outside and play after the school day ended. Looking back I must now say that I completely agree with her.

Unfortunately she’s passed on; fortunately I don’t have to admit it to her.

And by now, most of us have heard of texting while under the influence. Well, I managed to write an entire three-page letter while looped by having taken too much over-the-counter medication – NyQuil and Vick’s Formula 44, to be exact.

(Funny, but my spell check wants to change NyQuil to tequila.)

Anyway, shortly after medicating myself, I decided to write my good friend Deb Spring, who was living in San Diego at the time. Once finished, I sealed it in an envelope, addressed it, put a stamp on and walked it down to our mail box in our apartment complex.

Then a few days later I received a nice, polite letter back from her telling me that she loved me too, that no she wouldn’t have sex with me and that I was already married, so my proposal was out of the question. Needless to say, I was embarrassed and called her to explain.

Being overloaded on medication, I eventually passed out. And when I woke up later that day, I thought it was all a dream or perhaps a hallucination — not the mortifying nightmare it became.

Oh, and Deb, if you still have that letter, it would be okay by me if it happened to find its way to your fireplace or wood stove some chilly evening.

Finally, a few years back I lost my favorite canine companion, Harley. A dog with his caring qualities comes around only once in a lifetime I figured, but I was wrong.

Buddy appears to have the same qualities that Harley had. He like to be with me at all-times, comes to check on me when he’s elsewhere, he likes to wake me by lightly liking my face and at night, and when we hit the rack, he’s right there waiting for me to get settled under the blankets.

In fact, he’s been jockeying for position with my lap-top since I started this post and furthermore, he doesn’t seem to mind the smell of VapoRub – unlike me. Now – if I can only get him to stop snoring…

Small

“You were born prematurely,” Sam’s mother explained to him when he went to her again to complain about being smaller than everyone else in his class. He had heard the same thing most of his life, but had only now, at age 12, begin to understand what being ‘premature’ actually meant – small.

Sam knew he was different and that was also because of being ‘premature.’ At one point he held the ideal, even though he didn’t fully understand its meaning, as something to be proud of – but then Ernie moved in down the block and everything changed.

Nearly everyday Ernie would meet him around the corner from his house, which Sam had to walk by to get to school. And nearly everyday, Ernie would punch him or knock Sam down, taking his lunch money or rifling through his lunch bag, taking whatever the larger kid wanted.

When he had enough of Ernie’s bullying, Sam finally let him have it with a solid punch to the head. Unfortunately for Sam, a teacher saw him throw the punch and it was Sam and not Ernie who ended up in the Principal’s office and later suspended from school for fighting.

This came after Sam had told every teacher he could about what Ernie did to him each day. Not even Sam’s father could persuade Ernie’s mom to make her son stop his bullying.

“He’s jus’ acting out,” she stated, excusing her boy’s behavior, “Besides, his father isn’t in the picture anymore and he doesn’t always listen to me.”

So Sam resigned himself to being Ernie’s punching bag and lunch-provider for the rest of their sixth grade year together. Sam hoped, prayed and wished that come summertime, things would change.

One late afternoon, Sam’s father came home early from work. Once upstairs he stopped to check in on his son, to see what he was doing.

Sam was looking through the wrong end of the telescope his folks had bought him for Christmas, the year before. His father stood there, watching, perplexed by Sam’s smile as the pre-teen moved the scope ever-so slightly from side-to-side.

Finally, the father couldn’t contain himself anymore, asking, “You do know you’re looking through that the wrong way, right?”

Surprised, Sam swung the tube around and looked at his dad, answering, “Yeah, I know.”

“So what are you looking at?” his dad asked.

“I’m watching Ernie playing in his front yard,” Sam responded with a smile.

“Why?” the puzzled parent returned, “I thought you two were still at odds.”

“Oh, we are,” Sam said, “But when I look at him from the wrong end of the telescope, he looks so small.”

“And..?” the dad asked.

“And he finally looks on the outside like he does on the inside — and I’m no longer afraid of him,” Sam beamed.

The Opel Kadet Challenge

When I was 10 or 11, my parents bought the most uncoolest car in the world; a gold-colored Opel Kadet station wagon. Being a small car, it only sat three people in the backseat, meaning one of us four kids would have to climb in the very back behind that backseat.

One morning, we loaded up and hit the road, heading south towards Eureka and later Fortuna. Uncomfortable and bored, I started pestering my two sisters and brother.

As we dropped down the hill near Clam Beach, where the California Highway Patrol had an unmanned weight scale and shack, Dad had enough and glared at me in the rear view mirror. Being somewhat intelligent, I knew exactly what that meant: “Knock it off!”

But being only ‘somewhat intelligent’ and realizing I was about to get in big trouble was my forte’. Therefore, I pressed my luck by doing whatever it was I had done to one of my siblings one time too many.

“Don’t make me come back there!” Dad shouted as he looked at me in the rear view mirror.

To be perfectly clear Dad was driving the car, so I felt very certain that he was not about to let go of the steering wheel and climb back to get me. To that end, I was only partly correct.

“I’d like to see you,” I smiled as I did it again and one the kids squealed.

That’s when Dad stopped the car. I mean he didn’t step on the foot brake – nope, he tugged hard on the emergency brake — and everyone behind him went flying towards the dashboard, including me.

Without turning around, he grabbed his intended target, me, and jerked me over my siblings and out through his driver’s door. And right there, on the side of Highway 101, fairly close to the vista point on the south end of Clam Beach and somewhere beneath the airport on the bluff overhead, he commenced to giving me a butt-whipping.

Several log trucks and chip haulers went screaming by as he tanned my back side, each one blasting their horn in amazed approval. Then he marched me around to the back of the car, popped open the hatch and made me climb in before slamming it shut and returning to his place behind the wheel.

Never again did I smart-mouth my dad by challenging him to do something like that, having learned to accept his warning at face-value. And to this day I have no idea why I didn’t think about the fact that all he had to do was stop the vehicle to ‘come back there.’

The Rocks in My Head

As I got ready to leave my VAMHC (Veteran Affairs Mental Health Care) doctor’s office, I noticed a grouping of rocks, some smooth by the tumbling of rapid waters, still others in rough form, gathered atop her mini-fridge. It seemed a strange place to have such a display.

I couldn’t help but ask, “So you collect rocks?”

She smiled, “In a round-about way?”

“Yeah, how so?” I came back.

“They’ve all been given to me by patients,” she answered.

“Really,” I responded with surprise.

“Yes,” she said, “It may seem strange, but a lot of veteran’s bring them to me – to all of us, as gifts when they come in for their appointment.”

As we exited her office, the doctor pointed to the open door across the hallway. There on the desk sat another collection of rocks that included plain-looking rocks to a piece of purple-colored amethyst.

“See,” she said, her smile widening, “And I haven’t taken the time to figure out why.”

We proceeded down the hallway to the appointment desk, talking about the rock’s and their possible meaning. I confessed to her that I also collect rocks, many without any real worldly value.

Much of my collection is kept in a plastic pencil box. And I can tell you pretty much where and when I picked a particular specimen up and what I thought was so special about it.

“Really?” she asked cheerfully, adding, “So why do you think you do it?”

“For a couple of reasons,” I answered, “First for the memory of it – which is to say, ‘I passed this way,’ and then to feel connected.”

By this time we were at the appointment desk. My doctor turned to me and asked quietly, “Connected to what exactly?”

A smile crossed my face as I answered: “To the world once again.”

“Wow,” she whispered loudly as we shook hands and said goodbye.

Velva

By week eleven, our final week, we were beginning to see new faces around the barracks. It was the members of a new “baby flight,” entering the pipeline. It was nice to see some different people after nearly three-months.

The night before graduation, after I learned I was going to pass the coarse material, I decided to celebrate by getting drunk. I was sitting at the bar in the club, sucking at my third or fourth beer, when a petite blond asked if I’d like to dance.

A slow song was emanating from the jukebox at the time. Without hesitating I jumped from the bar stool and said yes to the woman in standing in front of me.

Her name was Velva and she was from New York State. We danced close to each other through that song and the two that followed not worried about whether the music was fast or slow.

By the end of the third song we had decided we wanted each other physically. We wasted no time crossing the commons to my barracks room.

Velva was eight years older than me I would soon learn. Furthermore she has two children back in New York as well as a husband.

I didn’t let her stats sway me.

Velva left well after curfew and as I was drifting in and out of sleep. I begged her to stay, but she was worried she’d get caught in the men’s section of the barracks after hours and get in trouble.

Later that morning, after our formal graduation ceremony, I was scheduled to leave the base for my permanent duty sight. Somehow, Velva found me and she wrapped her arms around me as tight as she could and she quietly cried into my shoulder.

All I could do was hold her just as tightly.

Then it was time to go, as a cabbie stepped into the hallway announcing her was there to take me to the airport. And like that I never saw Velva again.