One of Those

Legalism simply defined is the dependence on law rather than faith.

Once, I got into a heated exchange after claiming the Bible to be the “perfectly inspired word of God.”

“Oh, you’re one of those,” he responded.

“Yes,” I shot back adding, “And remember I have a doctorate in theology, while you sing in the choir,” which he did.

The following night, I found myself saying sorry to him for being so hurtful and thankfully he accepted my apology. Often I’ll use this incident as a reminder to try and watch what I say in the heat of any argument.

Alice in Munchkinland

She was watching the white rabbit carrying a satchel. Being curious, Alice Liddell followed the hare into the garden.

“Why are you running?” she asked.

“I’m very late. No time to talk.”

“You can speak!”

“No I can’t, I’m late.”

“Where are you going?”

“To the Red Queen’s. It’s her birthday. I’m to bring her a gift!”

“I’d love to meet her.”

“Very well!”

The rabbit slipped into a hole, leaving behind his satchel. Alice picked it up and looking inside, found a pair of ruby slippers. “I could wear them till the rabbit returns,” she said, slipping them on and excitedly clicking her heels together.

Suddenly,  Alice slipped into confusion. Once she could think straight, she found herself sitting along a brightly painted cobblestone road, “I don’t think this is Oxford anymore.”

Still slightly stunned, a very small man approached her and she asked, “Who are you?”

“Welcome to Munchkinland. I represent the Lollipop Guild and I see you’ve brought Dorothy’s ruby slippers with you. Miss Gale will be so happy.”

Conspire

The next time someone tries to shame you by calling you a ‘conspiracy theorist,’ tell them to look up how in 1932 the federal government gave 600 Black men syphilis to study the diseases progression, in 1933 poisoned the alcohol supply to stop moonshiners, killing 10,000 people, or how from 1950 to 1969, they sprayed the bacteria ‘Serratia marcescens’ over the city of San Francisco and in 1966, released ‘Bacillus globigii’ into New York City’s Subway system.

These are historical facts, not conspiracies. Then ask them, ‘Why don’t you know these facts?’ They won’t know the answer, which is: they attended a federally run school.

Found Camera and Photographic Surprises

“Found a badly thrashed Nikon CoolPix L31 camera hanging on a tree branch while driving in the desert south and west of the Hungry Valley Rez. It has a slightly bent and mangled micro SD chip and I’m doing my best to salvage whatever might be on it. Fingers crossed. More to follow…” – from my Facebook timeline.

As I drove over the hill from the house, I turned left onto the muddy road leading into the high desert that skirts the Indian reservation. Having recently snowed, I was having a time trying to climb a steep hillside as my tires refused to gain traction and I kept sliding backwards.

That’s when I saw it – a small silver and black object hanging from a tree branch. It turned out to be a small pocket camera.

“That’s odd,” I thought as I got out of my truck to investigate.

Ever the cautious one, I examined it outwardly for possible booby-traps. Seeing that it wasn’t attached to any trip-wires and that the branch it was hanging on wasn’t set up to deliver a ‘spiked surprise,’ I removed it from the tree.

It became clear that it had been in the desert for sometime (2014, if photo’s recovered are any indication) and that it would take a miracle to get the piece of electronics to work again. That being said, I brought it home and packed it in a plastic container filled with white rice, hoping to dry it out (which, for me, has never worked.)

After 24-hours and a pair of new batteries, the camera did failed to come on, however I found a memory card. Looking the card over, it appeared folded in half at one time and there was a fracture in the back-half of the thing.

With no idea whether it could be salvaged, I tucked it inside the container of rice and let it stay there for about five-hours. I would have given it a full 24-hours to dry out, but curiosity got the best of me and I gave in.

A closer examination of the card showed that the metallic strips on the front end were in good shape and I was reasonably certain I could get it to work once inserted into my computer’s port. Within a minute of inserting it, I found the card (which eventually broke in two) to be filled with photographs and videos, that I’ve transferred to my computer’s memory for the time being.

But now for the twist – while the majority of the pictures recovered are of a baby girl, her older sister, mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma’s and grandpa’s, some of the images are of sites in and around Crescent City, California, 20-miles from where I grew up. Simply put…mind blown.

Time now to find the people in the pictures.

Murder, Upgraded

Dugan dipped beneath the yellow police tape and walked through the door, “What do we have?”

“Another one and more of the same,” came the answer.

He walked towards the back of the abandoned house. Streams of bloody cast off covered the room.

Dugan squatted down as he pulled on a rubber glove. He shined a light in the victim’s eye, quickly checked behind her left ear and inspected her large right toe nail.

“Shit!” Dugan exclaimed. “He’s done practicing and has begun escalating.”

“What do you mean, Lieutenant?”

“She’s not a cybernetic, she’s for real,” he answered, “Notify Homicide.”

Judge Softly

“Just walk a mile in his moccasins, before you abuse, criticize and accuse,” Mary T. Lathrap wrote in her 1895 poem, ‘Judge Softly.’

But looking at the seven-inch high heel on my neighbor’s boots, that shiny black patent leather, reaching mid-thigh, I thought, “I’d rather not take a single step, let alone attempt a mile.”

But, hey, if they want to spend their day as a ‘number-cruncher,’ in a suit and tie, in an office, and nights dressed as a pole-dancing drag queen – who am I to judge. To each their own, right?

As for me, I’ll stick with tennis shoes.

Infamy

The Electrician’s Mate twitched involuntarily as Sailor Jerry ran more color through the lines of the drawing he’d traced on the kid’s chest. The piece had morphed over the six-hour time period since he’d dropped the ten-spot on the tattooist’s tray and took the chair.

Jerry’s art was known as being mystical and as proof, what had started out as a half-naked Hula dancing Hawaiian girl had transformed into an anchor and then a battleship. As he worked, the battleship began to list, then it slipped beneath the waters’ surface.

“So, what ship you stationed on, sailor?”

“The Arizona, sir.”

Rise Up Pain

Morning time arrives, but not yet the sun, its common sense used to stay asleep a few precious minutes more than it’s human counterpart. As for him, he toggles on the computer’s power button. It now controls his being, zombie-like, graying-glow and stupefied. Best described as love-hate, his Facebook news feed beckons and he answers, knowing he’ll find his anger and disappointment tracking amid the scrolling and flashing, the blinking cursor and the bitter words of a world still mad at itself as it has been forever. Watch the cursor pulse and be mesmerized, lulled into disappearing into wasted time.

It’s fatigue, the illness complaining, but that truck! Must it run for half-an-hour every morning before hand? No! It isn’t a diesel. It’s simply loud and annoying. They have no idea as it sits idling so damned loudly that it cannot help vibrate the windows in our home. Often I daydream, a potato shoved up the tail pipe; fixed. But then I cannot control the outcome after discovery And where that would lead, nowhere good I suppose. So I deal with it in silent rage each morning as I sit, facing reality that it’s not worth the trouble of complaint.

Somehow I misplaced them, those years of youth. That time period between my teens and my thirties. They disappeared, never to return, to be enjoyed. Maybe this isn’t true, maybe it is but a feeling to have. Not even music allows for the chance to relive them. Only glimpses, a flash here, there, but nothing real. I find that I am decaying, falling ingloriously apart. There ain’t a goddamned thing I can do about it. Alchemists spend life times searching for changes, clay to gold, gold to silver, silver to dirty then dust, without understanding, we are that nightmare’s end.

Default, it’s a place my soul secretly and openly resides, yet no one notices as we’ve been trained from childhood to ignore that we find noticeably different from ourselves. Not me though, my blinder’s lost many years ago, I see those paths not taken, stepping-stones that willfully trip, the tender stream to ford, turned torrent in a shadow’s flicker. Stick in hand, I continue digging the dust of an open field building my personal trench, one stab, one poke at a time. You’d think I’d know better by now, perhaps I do know, but habits, obsessive, compulsive, drive this system.

Try not to figure all these words out, they are only fleeting, moments in a time that is passing before our very eyes. Yes, you can see it happening in the relationships of being, like social media, a platform leading to anti-social behavior. Likewise, passive aggressive actions. In reality, neither are. Words, they have definitions, but their meanings now obscured, tucked away in cute misstated phrases and paragraphs. So do not try to add meaning where you find none. Simply know that what you read today meant something totally different yesterday and they’ll mean nothing hundreds of years from now.

Coffee and Cough-drops

My mind fevered, influenza racks the joints.
Thoughts rush in, jumbled, lay where they fall.
Day is night, night is for insomnia and ragged breathing.
Life as I’m living it, isn’t worth the trouble.
I’m tired of trying anymore.
Time to make some changes – but what?!

All of my life I have sought to belong and I have yet to truly succeed.
I’ve tried my best to be a part of one society or another and I’ve never found real acceptance.
I’ve tried to be a part of the military, the ranch and rodeo life, cowboy poet, photographer, manager, firefighter, law enforcement officer, emergency medical technician and instructor.
Even broadcasting and writing are now closed to me as I can find no employment in these areas.

Earlier, I stepped out front of the house, searching for a place that might offer me a bit of creativity as I struggle to write anything worth meaning.
I stood at the hood of my truck for several minutes.
Nothing.
I fear that I am losing my gift, my ability to go anywhere and write anytime.
I truly hate struggling this way.

My words have lost their taste, like a bowl of white rice, seasoned with a flat salt; utterly tasteless to the palette.
Thoughts are as dry rot, good only for the produced dust that not even the termite finds useful.
I have gone the way of the earthworm, hunting its’ hole, hiding from Spring’s Red Breasted Robin.
Nature has its course and my writing is following suit.
Without truth, frankness, pain and a strong lack of fear, words become nothing and neither are the page and ink used to produce them.

My mind requires some stimulation, otherwise I have no intellectual spark from which to run.
That’s how boring my life has become.
The only gleam gained is by the glare of the television screen or some flash of novelty from social media.
I need action!
But how to acquire action when I haven’t the money and the dogs need looking after?
There are no answers for me as I ask this question yet again.

As I think about all the clutter in my life and what to do to make sense of it, to order it, to organize it, the rules must be simple: keep my writings, artwork, cameras, computer and a few old books.
Period.
That would clean out that backroom in a hurry.
But where do I find the energy, the desire, the will?

Maybe it’s the little things that need looking after.
The tiny acts of living — like creating a grocery list;
The scramble of dog hair as it skitters across the wood floor;
Five heaping scoops of ground coffee to three huge glasses of water in the maker;
Watching dormant grass fade from green to yellow to brown;
The sound of my lock-blade knife as it snaps open with a sharp click;
How each dog’s foot fall sounds different one from the other.

King Solomon is right – everything is utterly worthless.
Not all attempts at humor will be funny.
Sometimes there is too much truth involved.
Not even laughter can hide all the pain, real and imagined.

Nose Douche

Being sick, having a fever and suffering a continual headache for a week can leave some people desperate. I once heard of a woman driving a four-inch nail into her head to find relief from a migraine. That’s desperate and supposedly, it worked. Personally, I cannot see myself being that hard-up to pound a spike of any size into my face, but then I recently proved I’d do other stupid stuff to get rid of the constant pain.

Laying in bed, I decided that I needed to do a neti-pot. Instead of giving me the relief I needed, I spent 10 minutes on my hands-and-knees wiping up the mess I’d made on the floor. Afterwards, my wife suggested that I should do it in the shower next time. She also suggested going to the store to look at nasal irrigate machines, but I figured I could design a functioning system out of supplies I already have lying around the house.

Simply put, I have a length of old-fashioned medical rubber hose that I used to use as a tourniquet while drawing blood. My plan included attaching one end of the hose to our kitchen sink’s faucet and jamming the other end up my nose, turn the water on and let the flushing commence. All was fine until the water came out way too fast and a bit too warm. Once I get some sleep, I plan to go to the store as my wife suggested in the first place.

After all, while being discharged, the emergency room doctor warned, “I wouldn’t try it again though — I’m not sure you’d survive a second drowning attempt.”

Small Adventures

In his 1906 short story, ‘Man About Town,’ O. Henry takes the reader on a small adventure about New York City, searching for the illusive man about town. The story isn’t simply about a curious man’s hunt for another.

It’s more of a journey towards self-awareness. This is a lacking that you and I don’t often recognize in ourselves unless it’s pointed out.

Likewise, it isn’t until reading a newspaper article that the searcher learns he’s the ‘man about town’ in his quest. Throughout much of our lives, we’re both the person we need and are searching for without know it.

Give and Take

In forensic science, Locard’s Exchange Principle says that the bad guy will unintentionally bring something physical into a crime scene and leave the same with something from it.

If you take this a bit further, and outside the realm of criminal investigation, it stands to reason that we can leave behind in our daily wake, emotional imprints on our environments and the people we know. Likewise, we take bits and pieces of the people and our environments with us when we come and go.

The difference is that with emotions, we have a choice between leaving negative energy or positive.

Silver Tailings: Rattlesnake Dick

She calmly propped the now-empty shotgun against the door frame and walked out to her waiting horse. Once in the saddle, she rode south-west, towards Gold Hill, Nevada, name-unknown and directly out of the historical archives of the state.

Rattlesnake Dick’s big claim to fame was that he was a two-bit hustler and a thief. In fact, John Richard Darling had even stolen the nickname “Rattlesnake Dick,” from another contemporary and more successful outlaw of the time.

His name appears constantly in the local newspapers all throughout 1863. On May 16, while riding the Austin Stage, Dick managed to ‘soak’ a lady out of her watch and money.

With the proceeds in hand he set out on a drunken bender. By the end of that evening he was not only charged with being ‘drunk and disorderly,’ but he was also charged in the bilking of the female stage passenger.

Once he sobered up,  they released him, the ‘D & D’ charges having been dismissed and the petty larceny tossed because there was lack of evidence in the case. But this didn’t stop Dick from finding trouble of his own doing once again.

Shortly afterwards, he got word that a well-known town drunk from the Carson River area had been temporarily left in charge of a saloon. Not one to miss an opportunity. Dick sneaked in the establishment and way-laid the intoxicated man.

This time law enforcement didn’t have to go very far to find their man. After nearly killing the man and robbing his till, Dick went upstairs to his room and passed out.

And even though they found the drunk man’s wallet in Dick’s room, there wasn’t enough evidence to levy charges against the criminal. So, once again, they dismissed Dick’s case.

In August, Dick found himself ‘shanghaied’ into the First Battalion, Nevada Territorial Volunteers stationed at Fort Churchill, as the War Department was actively recruiting men for battle in the eastern U.S. When he told his wife, she grew enraged and a fight broke out between the pair and she ended up badly beaten.

Once recovered from her beating, she moved to a ranch along the Carson River near the fort. Having heard of her arrival, Dick rode out to see her.

As he walked up the steps, she lowered a double-barrel shotgun at his chest and pulled both triggers. And though gravely wounded, Dick managed to stagger back to the roadway, where he found a ride waiting, who took him back to the fort for treatment.

While Dick survived that day, he wouldn’t survive threatening the life of ex-convict James Warren, better known as Jimmy Fresh, who in August 1883, shot Dick in the face and twice more as he lay on the ground dead. Thus began the job of chroniclers as many would spend a life-time trying to unwind the real crimes committed by John Richard Darling and those he purposely confused with his so-called namesake, the other “Rattlesnake Dick.”

Full Name Ultimatum

People watching isn’t limited to the mall. While at the Department of Motor Vehicle, I got to watching a boy of about seven and his younger brother.

The pair were playing at the feet of their father. When dad was called to the counter, the older boy leaned into his younger sibling and stated as a matter of fact that their father was in trouble.

The younger lad asked, “How do you know?”

His older brother responded, “That lady used his full name – like mom does when we do something wrong.”

At least she didn’t say it through clinched teeth.