One-Horse Town: Heated Escape (Chapter 10)

“You gotta plan to get us outta this?” John asked.

“Yeah,” Brady answered. “I think we ought to go under to get around them.”

John wrinkled his brow because he didn’t understand what Brady was suggesting. Brady kneeled and using his finger tips pulled a floor board up revealing the ground beneath.

Within minutes he had enough of the boards removed to allow either man to climb through. Brady disappeared into the cavernous hole only to return a minute or so later.

“We can get into the vacant building next door,” he reported.

“Then what?”

“Then we set this place on fire and escape as they do their best to save their men. Only we’ll have them with us and when we beat feet outta here we take junior with us.”

John nodded knowing he didn’t have a plan that he could claim was any better.

After having to thump one of the men in the head with the butt of his revolver, because he continued to struggle as Brady moved him, all three were finally laying on the floor of the vacant building. Both John and Brady rummaged through what was left of the stores stock and collected what they would need and could safely carry.

Next Brady began firing across the street in rapid succession, hoping that the men would begin firing back. No sooner did he squeeze the trigger than they answered with a couple of volleys of bullets.

As Brady readied to pick a gun fight, John poured several jars of kerosene on the floor and splashed several more on the walls. As the gunfire commenced, he struck a match, lighting the building ablaze.

Then both men scrambled through the hole in the floor and quickly crawled their way to the vacant next door building. They were in position to make a break out the back door by the time the general alarm sounded and smoke and flame bellowed from the store front.

“Fire!” came several cries.

“My kid’s in there,” Frost screamed as he dashed across the street and into the collapsing building.

Knowing that there might be men waiting behind the mercantile, Brady cautiously opened the back door and peered out into the darkness. He knew where his horse was and could see it from time to time as the flames from the build licked the sky.

He also needed to find John a mount and help him load the bags of gold coin he’d taken from George Keene a few days before. Taking a deep breath he calmly walked out and across the open yard into the scrub.

Evidently, every man that’d been out back, if there were any out back all, were now engaged in fighting the fire which had begun to engulf the vacant building John and the three men were in. Brady walked around to the front of the building and across the street to the shed that acted as a livery stable.

There he found John’s two mules and a couple of extra horses, still saddled. He opened the stalls that held the remaining horses and shooed them out into the street using them as cover to cross the street again.

Once at the back of the building, Brady found John having hauled the three men outside and busy stacking the bags together in preparation to load them up. As John tied down the gold and the meager supplies they salvaged, Brady laid Billy Frost across one of the horses.

Once finished, the pair turned their horses south and rode as fast as the night and the land would allow. Both knew that they were going to be chased and they needed to put as much distance between them and the posse, if it could be call such. as possible.

One-Horse Town: Stand-off in the Night (Chapter 9)

The sun was hanging above the cholla when Brady decided to stop and set up camp. By then he’d been on trail about three hours and had put Bixby some 10 to 12 miles behind him.

As he began to clear away an area, he heard the sound of hoof-beats traveling fast towards him. As they approached he undid the thumb loop on his revolver and placed his hand on the butt of the gun.

It was the card player. He reined his horse to a sliding halt and excitedly shouted, “Your friend’s in trouble. He’s holed-up in the mercantile.”

No more needed saying. John had save Brady’s life and now was the time to repay the man for the good deed.

Back in the saddle, Brady wheeled about and raced after the card player, who turned out to be quite the horseman. It would be nightfall before the pair made it to the rise overlooking what remained of the town.

“So, why you doing this?” Brady asked.

“Not all of us are Rebs,” the man answered, “Some of us are Yankees and damned proud of it.”

Looking over the situation, Brady decided to send the card player down to the main street, while he’d work his way between the abandoned building and the mercantile. A gun shot echoed up the hill and Brady took it as a sign to act right then.

Calmly, the card player rode into the town. He didn’t want to alarm those laying siege to the store that he’d been off getting help.

Meanwhile, rifle in hand, Brady slipped between the two buildings and remaining in the cover of a shadow, watched to see if he could spot anyone shooting into the building. While he didn’t see anyone with a gun, he did see one man jump from behind a water trough and race towards the mercantile with an already lit stick of dynamite.

As Brady raised his rifle, a shot came for somewhere east of the siege and the man fell, bleeding between the shoulder blades. The stick of dynamite landed a foot or two from him and when it went off, the blast left a crater in the center of the street and the man blown to pieces.

It took a minute for Brady’s eye’s readjust to the dark. That’s when he saw the card player laying on the sidewalk, dead.

He’d been shot in the head as the blast occurred. There was nothing Brady could do for him, so he stayed in place and studied the streets and the dilapidated buildings that lined it.

“We know about that gold,” a voice shouted tauntingly.

A muzzle blast erupted from a shattered window of the store as John fired towards the voice. Someone cussed loudly after the bullet struck nearby.

Brady backed out from between the buildings and sticking to the shadows, worked his way west and across the street. Still using the shadows of the buildings, he moved to the back door of the saloon, and stepped inside.

He’d played a hunch and it was right. There he could see three men pressed against a make-shift barricade.

Brady stood quietly in the doorway’s shadow and watched as the three fired round after round into the building just up the street.

“Where’s Edgar?” one man asked.

“He’s trying to get into the building from the roof,” answered another man.

Brady stepped into the room and quickly approached the trio at the barricade. He levered a shell in to his rifle causing all three to turn towards him in surprise.

“Toss your guns at my feet,” Brady stated in a very measured tone. He could sense their indecision as they looked at each other and hesitated.

Without warning, Brady fired a shot next to the center man’s head, so close it peeled off the top of his ear. The blast instantly caused their immediate surrender.

He made them remove their boots, and using the three as a shield, Brady walked them outside onto the wooden walkway. There was an immediate shift in the tension as he forced them cross the street and continue towards the mercantile.

“You’re dead,” the one on the left stated, “My pa won’t let you get away with this.”

As they proceeded to walk, Brady asked, “So was all of this his plan?”

Realizing that he had said too much, the man grew quiet. His sudden silence told Brady all he needed to know.

“What’s your name?” Brady asked as he poked with the rifle to remind him that he was no longer in charge.

“Billy…Billy Frost,” came his reply.

Now standing in front of the mercantile, Brady hollered, “John, open up. Let me in.”

He heard the latch of the door lock click and then saw the door open slightly. Brady toed the door open and forced the three men inside.

“You doing okay, John?”

“I’m alive.”

“Damn, good to hear. Got us some guests – including one that’s pretty important. Seems his daddy is one of the authors of this attack. We can parley our freedom for his safety.”

“You know you didn’t have to come back, Brady.”

“Yeah, I did. You saved my life and I’m returning the favor. Where’s Betsy?

“Took off in the first minutes of the gun fight. Wouldn’t listen, ran outside yelling at them. I don’t think she was all there.”

“I don’t think any of us are.”

John laughed.

As they talked back and forth the pair hog-tied the three men up and gagged them. It was obvious to the men that they weren’t going any place any time soon.

As the two sat, assessing their situation, a noise came from above. Without hesitation John fired two rounds into the ceiling towards where the sound had come.

There was an audible gasp before a man’s body slipped from the roof, striking the ground with a sickening thud. Brady knew that it was Edgar, the man sent to find a way in through the roof.

“Names Frost!” shouted a man from somewhere across the street. “Billy, you okay?”

“He’s tied up at the moment, Mr. Frost,” John answered, obviously pleased with his response.

“Joke all you want,” Frost shouted back, “But I’m gonna kill the both of you and I’m gonna take that Nigger’s gold.”

Neither John or Brady felt the need to reply to his threat.

Crow Steals a Cookie

Wanting to lick my wounded pride from another employment rejection letter, I grabbed two chocolate chip cookies, my water-filled mason jar and headed out back. Sitting in a chair, next to a low table, under our tree, I looked up and asked, “So, now what God?”

Above and behind me, I heard the flitting of bird’s wings. From the corner of my eye I saw Crow, perch on my table. We cautiously eye-balled each other for a few seconds before he screamed, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”

Finished delivering God’s message to me, Crow leaned down, snatched a cookie and flew away.

One-Horse Town: Betsy Green, Proprietor (Chapter 8)

John and Brady looked at one another as the voice stated, “Him. Not him.”

Brady stepped forward, “Not you – him.”

Surprised, Brady stepped back and John entered the store. Soon he came to the door way, “Come on in. Everything’s okay.”

Still on edge, Brady came to the door way and stood. There he saw an elderly Black woman holding the double-barrel shotgun that had caused him to nearly piss his pants.

“Close the door! You born in a barn or something?” she shouted.

Brady obeyed.

“Sorry ‘bout earlier,” she said, “But I don’t trust White men around these parts.”

“Understood,” Brady replied.

John turned, smiling and said, “Cat done got your tongue, now don’t it?”

Brady, smiled back and nodded.

“Betsy’s my name, Betsy Green, proprietor. Now what can I help you gents with?”

“Looking to buy some flour and coffee beans,” John answered.

“That I can do,” she said. “Got another one of them there coins?”

“Yes, ma’am,” John answered.

“Good. That’s what it’ll cost ya.”

John laid another coin on the counter and Betsy picked it up, slipping it into a pocket folded into her skirt. She quickly got to work gathering up the requested supplies.

“How you come to be owner of this place?” John asked.

“Left to me in a will. Never really wanted it but I got it and decided to make the best of it.”

After a lengthy pause, “Now I can burn it down – and maybe this whole forsaken town with it – and head for Los Angeles – that’s in California.”

“I know,” John said. “Been headed that way myself for a long piece of time.”

Sensing his travel arrangements were about to take a wild turn, Brady quietly loaded the supplies in John’s war-bag and then checked the cinch on his own horse’s saddle. John watched as Brady climbed on the back of the horse.

“Naw,” he said, “You take that bag with you. You’re gonna need them.”

Brady looked over a the bag, then lifted it off the mule and hung it over his saddle bag. He pushed his horse forward and offered his hand to John, “Take care and be careful of that shotgun.”

The two laughed as they gripped and shook. Brady was more than ready to shut Bixby behind him as he exited the single street town to the east.

An hour later and on a high hillside, Brady looked back, “Still no smoke,” he said to his horse, “That’s a good sign.”

One-Horse Town: In the Valley (Chapter 7)

The desert slowly gave way to undulating hills and washes that slowed the pairs trek to Bixby. It appeared that there wasn’t an easy trail to the town or that they’d somehow missed it altogether.

By noon of their third day traveling together, they came to a rise in the land and found themselves over looking the valley and Bixby, or rather what was left of the town. John was the first to say what the two were both thinking, “Looks nearly abandoned, don’t it?”

Brady didn’t say a thing. Instead he sat there and observed the situation below. A few minutes later he guided his horse down the hillside and into the west end of the town’s main street – it’s only street.

He could feel the unseen eyes staring at him and John as they rode towards the only building that looked to be alive – an unnamed saloon. Both men could sense that something was wrong and that after a quick resupply, if that were even possible, knew it would be best to high-tail it away a soon as possible.

Pushing the swinging doors in, Brady walked towards the bar. There he could see the tender leaning against the back wall, in the mirror were two men playing cards at a table in the far corned.

All eyes focused on the stranger as he asked, “Anywhere around here a man can get some flour and coffee beans?”

“Yeah,” came a voice from the table with the tow card players, “But I doubt she’s gonna sell anything to you – you bein’ a stranger and all that.” The man with his back firmly against the wall nodded his head towards the door.

He looked at the player and said, “Point the direction. I’ll take care of the rest.”

Having learned where he might or might not get supplies, Brady nodded his head to the man and walked outside to his horse. It was only a hundred foot distance between the saloon and what remained of the general mercantile. It’s dirt-laden windows offered a less than inviting atmosphere as Brady stepped on the wooden sidewalk and reached for the door.

He heard it before he actually saw it, the action of a double-barrel being cocked, followed by the sight of the barrel’s nearly pressed against the window pane. Brady halted, put both hands up and stepped back until he was off the sidewalk.

“Don’t think they’re interested in doing business, today,” Brady quipped, trying to sound as if he wasn’t frightened. Then he noticed John was digging under the duck-clothe covering the pack-trees on one of the mules.

Turning, he held up a gold coin, purposely flashing it in the sun and towards the door’s window. Certain he’d gotten whoever was behind that door’s attention, he tossed it against the door allowing it to rest on a slat of the walk-way.

Seconds later, the door opened and a hand reached out and snatched the coin up. The door slammed then less than ten-seconds later popped open and a voice commanded, “Come in!”

One-Horse Town: Unanswered Questions (Chapter 6)

To catch up with our story so far, begin here.

It felt like a life time since he’d last looked up into the night-time and viewed the dazzle of stars above him. Brady lay on his bed roll, saddle for a pillow, in the cradle of some boulders and rocks as the fire burned down to embers.

For days it had been hard to clear his mind of Rosa, of Keene and the town that bore his name. He was happy to be done with it – save for Rosa. Brady slowly drifted into a restless sleep.

“Hallo, the camp,” called a voice.

The call jarred Brady from the first peaceful sleep he’d had in ages. He slipped his revolver from it’s holster and waited for the voice to call again.

“Hallo, the camp,” the voice sang out.

Sitting up Brady returned, “Come into the light and be recognized!”

Not far off came the sound of hooves trudging through the hardened sand and clicking against errant pebbles. Soon Brady could see a figure, behind it two mules and nothing else.

He tossed a couple of sticks on the embers and the camp’s fire jumped to life. The figure moved closer until Brady could see his face.

“John!” Brady nearly shouted as he scrambled to his feet.

The two men shook hands, “Good to see you, too,” John replied.

Adding even more wood to the fire, Brady set the coffee to heating and then dug around for a couple of biscuits to offer his foot-weary guest. “I was wondering how you made out,” he said as he poured some coffee into John’s tin.

“I knew there was gonna be hell to pay,” John explained, “if I stuck around after you escaped.”

He continued to tell how earlier in the same evening when Brady slipped out of the dungeon, he had already made his get away. “I lit a-shuck south, then west and finally north to avoid anyone who might be lookin’ for me.”

John also explained how Rosa came to be captive of George Keene, and it came as a surprise, “She was married to him. By the time she figgered out who and what Keene was all about it was too late, she’d been cut off from her family and had no way to let’em know she was unhappy.”

Brady sat their absorbing the information. He realized he’d made he out to be more than human, nearly angelic in his mind, and that she had escaped a bad marriage and he had butted in where he shouldn’t have been.

“Saw what happened to the town,” John added. “Alcala and his men pretty much razed it. Kinda reminded me of Charleston back in the war betwixt the states. I was only a youth then, but it’s something I never forgot. Been workin’ my way west ever-since.”

Before the pair knew it, the sun was pushing it’s way up over the eastern-edge of the distant mountains. With no sleep the two ate a quick breakfast of fried potatoes and more coffee, before striking camp and starting north.

“Still can’t figure how come she picked me to help her,” Brady stated.

John smiled and laughed slightly, “She asked every stranger that rode into Keene. She was desperate.”

“But, why not simply ride off on her own?” Brady asked, not expecting an answer and none was coming.

One Bad Apple

In a land that grows the best apples in the world, one has to be more than simply impressive to better the best. Grimhilde de Queen was exactly that person, proving it when she brought home the coveted Pomological Society Award to her hillside burg.

The treasure to her prize: the Red Delicious Apple. “So fair an apple, it should be in pictures,” proclaimed the Daily Mirror.

And indeed it was ‘rotoscoped,’ as she gave one to Walt. Sadly, her fame ended there, as the apple poisoned a fairy-taled princess, beginning Grimhilde’s fall into the burning pit of rock-and-roll fame.

Methuselah

Wandering the desert, it’s reddish sands, climbing one hill, stumbling down another. Desolation Wilderness; perfectly named, perfectly hostile.

He’s searching for that place, one he knew well in childhood, a dimming memory each day. Sun baking his skin, wind drying his tongue, continuing to call out her name, always that singular thought: her.

Finally. Bathed in her lengthy shadow, struggling to stay standing in her presence, her gnarled, twisted, withered limbs enveloping him.

Singing his song of death, he’s following the ancient way of his Fathers. Dying, casting up Spirit, entwining with hers, growing as straightened as Methuselah’s standing braided.

Animal Lover

In her youth, Lydia went on a tour of Africa, where she found a female lion cub, limping and alone. She coaxed the cub into the Land Rover with food, checked it’s paw, removing a large stick from between its toes pads.

A few years later Lydia, visiting a wild game park in California, saw a lioness she believed recognized her. The lioness stood by her Prius, raising it’s formerly injured paw.

Knowing it was the same animal she’d helped, she got out and approached it. Subsequently, the lioness mauled her to death.

The moral: don’t be stupid like Lydia.

Game On

“Come out to the desert,” they said.

“We’ll play some paintball and do some exploring,” they said.

“It’ll be fun,” they said.

“My dog and I showed up — and the fuckers ditched us,” I said.

Looking down at Rover, he woofs, “Let’s go and make those assholes pay.”

He knows that I speak fluent ‘canine,’ and I do so without the slightest hint of an accent. For his part, Rover thinks in ‘human.’

“Let’s,” I smile.

“When finished,” Rover gruff-gruffs, “Can I roll in them?”

While I’m not prone to fits of laughter, I emit a slight chuckle, “Sure, pal.”

All in a Name?

While downtown at an annual event playing out along the river, I watched a four-year-old boy terrorizing both animals and other children. He chased after and tossed rocks at birds, purposely stomped on one girl’s toes and had to be warned not to tease a German Shepherd, who remained calm during the ear-pulling and tail-tugging.

“What a little monster,” I thought, reflecting on how well-behaved my son had been at that age.

Then the child’s dad called to him: “Come on Vlad, we’re leaving!”

“You don’t suppose…naah…couldn’t be,” I thought adding, “It does, however, seem to explain an awful lot.”

Fobbed

Chet had locked himself out of the house yet again. He thought about calling his wife, but she was in another state visiting her mother for one more day, so he figured he could wait it out in the tool shed.

He unrolled the three sleeping bags and laid them one atop the other, cushioning him from the cold and hard cement floor. As Chet laid there he let his mind drift until he fell asleep.

It was sometime later that Chet heard strange noises. He had an old kerosene camp lantern, so he decided to light it and have a brief look around.

No sooner did he light the lantern, than the noises stopped. “Must have been dreaming.”

Chet doused the lamp, laid back down and returned to sleep in short order. Then it happened again – strange noises.

He laid still, listening and wondering what they were and where they were coming from. Chet was certain that the sounds came from somewhere inside the shed.

That’s when Chet remembered that his wife had hung a house key on a chain with a cartoonish metal monkey on it inside the shed to the left of the door. He got up, quickly retrieved it and rushed across the back yard and into the house.

While the sounds spooked him initially, Chet promptly forgot about them the moment he locked the door behind himself. His mind then focused on bed and sleep.

Soon several beings moved from the shadows, each made from nuts, bolts, washers and other odds and ends of building materials. They waited patiently for their leader, who had found a way to get inside the human’s house; their first step in world domination complete.

Serial Murder Marks Northern Nevada

More than 20 years after their disappearance, the remains of two missing Sparks teens were positively identified in March 2000. The skeletal remains of Brenda Lynne Judd, 14, and Sandra Kaye Colley, 13, were discovered in November 1999, when a Hallelujah Junction property owner in Lassen County, just off of U.S. 395, accidentally dug them up with his tractor while getting some fill dirt.

The pair disappeared in Reno during an evening out at the Nevada State Fair in June 1979, victims of convicted sex-slave killer Gerald Gallego, who faced execution in both Nevada and California for four other killings. Gallego was implicated in the girls’ deaths by his wife, Charlene Williams, who told investigators he sexually assaulted the girls, bludgeoned them to death and buried them in a shallow grave.

In a July 7, 1979,  story from the Reno Evening Gazette, Jewel Stelling, the mother of Sandra, said the girls were last seen about 8:30 pm, June 24. When they were discovered missing, she and Brenda’s parents searched the fairgrounds.

“It is like they vanished,” Stelling said in the 1979 story. “Both have very good home lives. They only have a very little bit of money,” she added.

The girls were described as the best of friends. They “used to giggle and say they were going to grow up to be famous singers and movie stars,” according to Brenda’s mother, Lela Duncan.

“[Brenda] was a very caring young lady,” Duncan said “She never hurt nobody in her whole life.”

When girls disappeared, they were initially listed as runaways by the Reno Police Department because there was no sign of foul play. But the circumstances not only led family members to believe otherwise but also two teachers and a private investigator.

“When they said runaway, I didn’t quite believe it,” said Mary Mingo, a Sparks High School math teacher who remembers having Brenda in a ninth-grade class the school year before her disappearance told the Reno Evening Gazette.

“It didn’t mesh with what I had seen. She didn’t seem irresponsible or belligerent like the conceived notions we have of runaways.” Mingo described the 14-year-old as “very quiet.” She said she was a B student in math, but “a very good worker. It was a self-paced program, and she was always ahead of everyone else. She did several assignments a day. There was no discipline problem.”

Mingo also indicated Brenda was somewhat of a loner. “She didn’t have many close friends in that class, but it was a small class,” Mingo said.

Barbara Olson, a Sparks High English teacher, told the Reno Evening Gazette that she vaguely remembered having Brenda in a fourth-period class. “It seems to me she was very naive, as most ninth graders basically are. She was a very friendly, open girl. Very sweet.”

Brenda also worked part-time in the maintenance department at the airport.

“She had a paycheck waiting for her which she never picked up,” said Rob Wheeler, a private investigator, hired after the girls’ disappearance. “That doesn’t sound like a runaway.”

Wheeler added that the day before their disappearance, Sandra, who attended Sparks Middle School, competed in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints beauty pageant at Idlewild Park’s, California Building. “[T]heir psychological profile doesn’t point to them being runaways,” he concluded.

After capture, Williams told investigators that at her husbands urging, she’d lured victims to their vehicle with the promise of job. Then they’d abduct the victims and Gallego would sexually assault them as Williams drove to a remote site, where Gallego would kill the victims, often times with a hammer.

Both Sparks girls died from “blunt force trauma,” to their heads.

Around the same time the two girls bodies were found, Gallego was formally sentenced for a second time in Pershing County, Nevada. This time for the 1980 kidnap-murder of 17-year-old Sacramento girls, Karen Chipman Twiggs and Stacey Ann Redican, who were abducted from a shopping mall and later found in a canyon near Lovelock, Nevada.

Williams pleaded guilty to her role in the Nevada killings and testified against Gallego at trial. She served nearly 17 years in the Nevada State Prison for her part in the killings of Stacey and Karen, before being paroled in 1998.

She now lives in the Sacramento area, working for a charity involving wounded soldiers and their families.

Williams claimed she and Gallego prowled mostly shopping centers for victims. However while at the state fair, they founding advertising fliers on parked vehicles, removing a number of them and forming a small stack. They then concocted a plan to invite a girl to their van on the pretext of offering her money to put them under windshields.

They eventually found a girl to Gallego’s ‘liking’ and while she agreed to distribute the fliers, she said she’d first have to check with her father. After she left to do that, the Gallegos decided it would be too risky to take her and when the girl returned, the Gallegos told her they had found someone else.

Next, the two enticed Sandra and Brenda to their van and though it was still daylight, Gallego forced them into the vehicle at gunpoint.

A witness reported seeing the couple in a van and later determined it was registered to Williams. Reno police then located the vehicle parked at Circus-Circus. They also learned that Gallego, using the name of a distant cousin, Stephen R. Feil, and Charlene A. Williams, were married in a Reno wedding chapel on May 31, 1980.

Meanwhile, former coworkers in Reno remembered Gallego, known to them as Steve Feil, as a quiet man with few friends. Gallego worked at the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company from July to September 1979.

“He was a very quiet guy,” recalled Cheryl Langford, office manager of the Reno plant. “He never seemed to say much. “He was quite good-looking, [and] he was friendly when I you spoke to him,” she told the Reno Evening Gazette.

Surprised when several police came to the plant several times to ask about Feil, Lanford said, “I couldn’t believe I actually worked with the guy,” adding that he only was in the office area of the plant about one-half hour each day. A route salesman who delivered Pepsi to local stores, Gallego spent a short time in the office each day before he left on his rounds, she said.

“He just went from store to store and sold pop. We never had any problem with him,” she added.

However after working for the plant a few months, Gallego got into a fist fight with a grocery worker behind a local Warehouse Market, said Dave Ziegler, a supervisor for the bottling company. Ziegler said he did not know what the fight was about and there were no injuries.

“I just told him that he would have to watch his temper,” Ziegler said, adding Feil was then placed on probation. “I interviewed the people at the store and got his side of the story. Seems that both were at fault for getting into it,” he said.

Gallego then worked for a few more months, Ziegler said. “He wasn’t a bad worker. He was always on time and stuff. He sold quite a bit and always made his quota and his commission. He was very conscientious about his job,” he said.

FBI agents arrested the Gallegos in November 1980 in Omaha, Nebraska on charges of murdering Craig Miller and Mary Elizabeth Sowers. The couple was forced into the Gallego’s car at gunpoint, while leaving a fraternity party November 1, 1980.

Craig was ordered from the car and shot; his body was found near Bass Lake, California. They killers then returned to their apartment with Mary, where he sexually abused her before taking her to a field in Placer County where he then executed her.

In 2002, Gallego died of cancer in a Nevada prison medical center while awaiting execution for murder’s of Karen and Stacey.

The pair of killers were also suspected of the murder of Rulan Waite McGill, who was last seen shopping at Meadowood Mall in Reno following dental appointment when she disappeared. The 32-year-old Winnemucca teacher was found submerged in an irrigation ditch behind a warehouse at Greg Street and Industrial Way, in Sparks, having been robbed, sexually assaulted and stabbed to death.

Two days after she left home, her vehicle was found abandoned behind the warehouse. The following morning, Rulan’s stepfather, James Porteous and his brother-in-law, Harold Barnett of Emmett, Idaho discovered her body.

In November 1997, Terry Childs, convicted in 1987 of murdering 17-year-old Lois Sigala in Scotts Valley, California and serving a 41-year sentence told Santa Cruz prosecutors that he was responsible for 11 other murders including Rulan, in the late 1970s. Childs confessed to the crimes to avoid being transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison, near Crescent City, California, known as one of the toughest in the state after stabbing another inmate at Corcoran State Prison in an apparent murder attempt.

He’s currently housed at Salinas Valley State Prison.

Autographed

The moment he saw her, he had an erection and it stayed with him throughout the night. Ruby was her name and a redheaded firebrand to boot.

Only 12 at the time, Nick had seen her on the neighbor’s television as she gyrated in motion to the beat. He couldn’t get over how much she sounded like Janis Joplin, but was so much sexier.

It had been years since Nick thought of her. But that suddenly changed as he drove by the Stardust along the Vegas strip, where he saw her name on the flashing marquee.

He quickly parked and went in. Nick had to see Ruby perform and his stomach felt topsy-turvy as he sat down in the Starlight Lounge to watch.

Ruby was still that and more as Nick sat there recalling how he had masturbated to her image in his mind. He felt that same swell of flesh as he focused on the movement of her hips and listened as she half-crooned and half-screamed over the band playing behind her.

Soon it was two in the morning as Ruby slipped off stage behind the curtain, only to reappear seconds later at the bar in front of Nick. He paused for a moment to study her figure from behind.

“Now’s my chance to meet her.”

Trying to stay calm and look cool, Nick walked to the bar and stood beside her. Ruby smiled at him, lit a cigarette and asked, “Wanna autograph?”

Nick choked for an instant before answering, “Sure.”

“Sorry, I forgot, I’m fresh out,” Ruby sighed. As she batted her eyes at him, she added, “I guess we could go back to my dressing room and fuck.”

It was so nonchalant and disarming that Nick had to fight back cumming in his pants. She reached down and softly caressed his jean-swelling pecker with the manicured nail of her pointer finger, “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Without a word Nick followed the petite redhead singer to her dressing room. He was barely in the door when she started undressing him.

His dick sprung out of its confinement like a sprint-loaded spike and Ruby was on it like a kitten on a ball of yard. Her mouth and lips pleasing, her finger nails on his balls, inviting pain-driven groans.

Soon the two were a tangled mass of undulating bodies, fucking like this, sucking here, fucking like that and licking there. Ruby shuttered beneath Nick as he battled not to unload in her for a while longer.

But soon Nick’s stiffened cock betrayed him and he painted Ruby’s insides with a load of hot jism. After, they lay together, heavy petting and passionately making out, their bodies struggling to recover.

“What brings you into the casino tonight?” she asked.

“You. I saw you were playing here tonight and I couldn’t pass up the chance to hear you sing in person,” Nick answered.

“In person, huh?”

“Yeah, I saw you on TV once.”

“Crissakes, that’s been few years ago.”

“I jerked off thinking of you mashing your hips into me back then.”

“No fucking shit…”

“Yeah, but this beats the fuck outta that.”

“Then once more for the road, mi amigo, then I gotta get home to my old man. He’s probably already wondering where the hell I am.”

Nick was far ahead of her as he slipped his hardened dick in to her juice-laden pussy as deeply as he could. She smiled as Nick kissed the flower tattoo above her swollen right nipple, before he gently began suckling it all the while cupping the breast in his left hand.

Ruby was three hours late getting home. And Nick was certain that Charles Bukowski, had he known, would be jealous.

The Archery Contest

Fitch had grown tired of that damned cherub of love, Cupid, using him for target practice. So he decided that the next opportunity he had, he’d put a stop to the weaponized-child’s rein of hurt on his heart.

“Tell you what Cupid,” Fitch offered, “let’s have an archery contest. If you win, I’ll fall in love with the first woman I see. If I win, you leave me alone.”

“Sure,” Cupid said with a smile, knowing he’d win.

On the day of the big contest, the two lined up side-by-side, bows in hand. Cupid shot first and Fitch shot Cupid.

Daughter Spider

A great war chief had a beautiful daughter, who weaved beautiful blankets. Her skills were in high demand and she enjoyed the company of many women from other villages who came to watch her work.

One day Bear decided to visit. He sat and listened as she bragged about how she could turn anything Mother Earth created into a blanket more spectacular than Mother Earth had done herself.

Angered, Bear, Mother Earth’s great protector, challenged her to a contest. They each had to weave a single blanket by the end of the night.

Knowing he would lose, Bear enlisted the help of tricksters Crow and Fox. He told them to tell the daughter that she had won, that she was more creative than Mother Earth and that she should go to the top of the mountain and shout it to all the world.

Soon, everyone heard the daughter’s shout echo down the mountainside and at hearing this Mother Earth turned the daughter into a spider. Daughter Spider still makes her blankets but can no longer brag about how beautiful her work is.

Veteran, Second-class

There’s always been this suspicion in my heart that I am nothing more than a second-class veteran. Turns out, I’m right.

First, I never received the same educational benefit my Grandpa got following World War II. Nor was I offered the same educational package that my dad earned after Vietnam.

Along with these, once honorably discharged and in the care of the Veterans Administration’s hospital care program, (or whatever it calls itself these days) I’ve never qualified for eye or dental care as my dad and grandpa did. For me, if it isn’t “service related,” it doesn’t exist.

In fact, until I told the VA that I had ideation of suicide, they refused to treat my PTSD and severe depression or bipolar disorder. And the only reason I received physical therapy for my back injury is that the doctor forced the system to admit me as an outpatient.

And now I’ve learned, as I’m filling out a job application, that if I am unable to list myself as a “Protected Veteran;” someone who was in “a war, or campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized,” then I no longer qualify to be listed as a veteran at all. Neither the Cold War or the War on Drugs counts because no ribbon, badge or official medal have ever been issued.

A one time in the U.S., any man or woman who served this country, receiving an honorable discharge, were military veterans and were given the same care and benefits alike, but no more. Leave it to the federal government to decide that one kind of service is greater than another and to find a way to divide people without using ‘color, race, creed, religion, age, disability or age.’

Under Foot

He’s certain there’s more rehab to come even after the VA hospital cut him loose. Now a double amputee, both legs gone, one above the knee, the other below, Kraylin continues to navigate a world made for able-bodies.

He doesn’t complain about his inability to walk without losing balance or that escalators still scare the hell out of him. What Kraylin has difficulty with is a nightmare that comes with sleep.

In it, he explains, he bolts wooden shoe stretchers to his stumps, then struggles to walk, “They remind me of what my feet looked like after being blown off.”

One-Horse Town: Come Morning (Chapter 5)

Two days after Rosa was laid to rest in her family’s plot, nearly 200 men rode into the Alcala’s hacienda. Each carried not only the tools of the vaquero trade, but also enough guns and ammo to supply a small war.

“We ride in the morning,” Juan Alcala commanded.

Brady found it hard to sleep that night as he kept thinking about how to kill Keene. It had been the only thing on his mind since he brought the news to the family.

Not only had he imprisoned Brady and tortured him, he had allowed Rosa to die by doing so. “Cruel men like George Keene need not walk the earth.”

As Senor Alcala wanted, every available man rode out before sunrise, towards the mountain across the desert. There they would hole-up through the night before striking the town at daybreak.

Hours before the sun shown itself, all 200 riders were in their saddles moving in a large swathe across the desert through the cholla and chaparral. They rode with intent, to be at the edge of the town as the sun came up.

Brady could hear the small talk as it passed between men. Also within his hearing came the chambering and re-chambering of brass cartridges, the cocking of a hammer and the clicking of a squeezed trigger.

Soon all those sounds evaporated into silence as the mass drew nearer the town. One last check of the plan and twenty groups of ten men trotted out of the desert from different directions and onto the town’s single street.

A general alarm sounded throughout Keene that brought all able-bodied men from their bed’s to their windows. And without a word, gun fire erupted from the buildings and returned by the riders.

It was chaos and pandemonium for the town’s people. The horse-backed men went through the town, looting and burning each building, killing each man who interfered and driving the remaining towns-folk out into the desert.

Their work was without mercy as they hunted down associates of Keene and ended their violent lives with final violence. Finally, Keene was found, cornered in the same gold-laden dungeon in which he held Brady for those many weeks.

There was no way Brady was going to get a chance to exact his revenge as he watched a number of men hoist a still-belligerent Keene, spitting and kicking, into a nearby lifeless tree, by his neck. Knowing this, Brady went over to Senor Alcala, thanked him for his hospitality, shook the old man’s hand, turned and rode north.

Brady felt a general state of sadness, knowing that all of this came after the death of Rosa. He come to realize that it may take a life time to get her out of his head and out of his heart.

He also knew that if he should ever ride back this way, he’d find the town of Keene abandoned and as dead as the man it’d been named after. “Maybe the town of Bixby will have something better than chicken and dumplings to offer.”

One-Horse Town: Five Gold Coins (Chapter 4)

John had been good to his word. After checking for the arrival of darkness through out the rest of the day, Brady finally found himself outside his prison and next to the livery stable.

As quietly as possible he slipped inside and began searching for a horse that not only could run but could gallop long distances without a breaking. He also looked for the lightest saddle he could, to subtract weight from the horses back.

Once Brady found what he wanted, he saddled the animal and slowly walked it out he back of the corral. He had hoped to find a pistol or a rifle, but neither were available, so after coaxing the horse out into the desert a ways, he hopped in the saddle and trotted away.

Brady had found a willing horse, it needed no spurring as it tore across the moon-lit sandscape. Before he knew it and hours before the sun arose, Brady found himself skirting his way up the mountainside towards the cave and Rosa.

As before the sound of echoing horse hooves filled his ears as he breathed in the fresh air of the canyon lands. Finally, Brady reached the sloping flat surface and the boulder that hid the cave’s entrance.

Quietly and fearfully, he approached the darkened opening already certain he knew what he’d find. There she was, peacefully at rest, her eyes forever open to the endless mystery.

Brady sat by her side, weeping and apologizing for not having returned until then. Soon he gathered his unused rifle he’d left her, returned to his horse, mounted and rode away, leaving Rosa alone for a second time.

Now he had to find her family. “They’ll want to know where she is, what happened to her and to get her back.”

Brady dropped onto the valley floor long before the sun touched the eastern range. By the time it was noon, he had ridden to a hacienda of a friend of Rosa’s family. They sent a rider out to the family, demanding Brady rest and eat.

Within an hour, several vaqueros had found their way to the ranch, each wanting to hear the story for themselves. Brady obliged, not leaving out even one detail at each telling.

Finally, Rosa’s father, Juan Alcala rode in through the gates. His stern features racked by grief at the knowledge of his daughter’s death and how.

“I know the place,” a ranch hand named Pepe offered, “We used to ride and play up there when we were ninos.”

With that, a party of mounted cowboys raced back in the direction to where the cave was hidden and it would be sometime before they would return. So Juan Alcala decided that the time would be best used to plan a raid on the town of Keene to avenger the death of his only daughter.

Brady withdrew from his pant pocket, five gold coins and laid them on the table in front of the old man. “And there’s more where that comes from.”

One-Horse Town: Nigger John (Chapter 3)

He knew he couldn’t move her, Rosa’s injuries were too severe. “Getting you on my horse alone, could kill you.”

As she slept he gathered all the supplies he could from where Rosa’s horse had met its fate. Brady even considered climbing down to where the horse lay to retrieve what remained in Rosa’s saddle bags.

When awake, he shared his plan to get her help. “I must get you help and the only way that’ll happen is if I leave you here and find your family.”

On the early morning before the sun rose, he checked his saddle and lead his horse around the boulder and along the wall. Brady felt a sense of dread as he hopped in the saddle and knowingly left the injured Rosa alone.

By noon, Brady was guiding his horse off the far side of the mountain and back onto the flat, sandy desert. He willed the horse into a light gallop, heading in the general direction Rosa had instructed him to follow.

As he crested a rise and slipped down into the gully, a group of fifteen riders surprised Brady. Before he could even think of escaping they had surrounded, lassoed and dragged him from his mount.

“Where is she?” one man said from somewhere in the group.

“Who?” Brady responded.

“Rosa!”

“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

Without warning the butt-end of a rifle slammed into the back of Brady’s head and the world grew black.

Brady awaken to a severe headache and then found himself chained to the wall of a darkened room. He touched the back of his head and withdrew his hand covered in drying-blood.

Isolated and in near-darkness, Brady sat on the hard-packed earth and listened for what sound he might hear. There was very little, but every once in a while he could make out voices talking and arguing among one another.

Having dosed off, he jolted awake at the sound of keys rattling in a lock. Suddenly a stab of bright light flooded the dungeon where he was being held.

“Food,” a man stated as he slid a tin between the bars.

With hunger gnawing his insides, Brady took the plate and greedily scooped it into his mouth with his fingers. He handed the tin back to the man, noticing his jailer was a Black man from the color of his skin.

“So, where is she?” George Keene demanded.

“Don’t know,” Brady answered.

Obviously, Keene owned the town and could do as he pleased, including beat his captive and leave him imprisoned for God-only knows how many days. Day-in and day-out, the torture continued until Brady broke.

“She’s back with her family,” he lied. “And they’re planning to kill you.”

While the torment stopped, Brady still found himself a prisoner of Keene.

“How many days has it been?” he asked himself as he felt the notches he’d scratched in the wall after each time Nigger John brought him food.

For a month and a day, all Brady could think about was Rosa, alone, injured and in need of help. A quiet desperateness fell over him as each day passed.

Then one day, as his food arrived, John acted out of character. Not only did he unlock the bar doors, he unlocked the chain holding him prisoner to the wall, whispering, “They’re planning to kill you. There’s a door over there that leads up and next to the livery.”

As usual, Brady ate what food was given to him, then said, “Thank you, John.”

He started planning his escape for when it was dark. And still, the thought of Rosa weighed heavily on his mind.

One-Horse Town: Into the Desert (Chapter 2)

The pair half-trotted, half-cantered out of sight of the town. Brady understood at once that Rosa knew the lay of the land, so he let her lead him deeper into the chaparral covered desert into Mexico.

The sand, dirt and small rocks made for an easy trail to follow and Rosa knew this as she reined up so Brady was side-to-side with her. “There’s a canyon ahead. It leads up into the mountains. I know where there’s cave that we can use to hide.”

After entering the canyon’s mouth, Brady dismounted and using his slicker, smoothed over the hoof-prints of their horses, hoping to make it harder to see which direction they’d gone. He knew that if they had a half-decent tracker, he’d figure it out within a minute or less, but the delaying tactic made Brady feel better none-the-less.

It was a steep and narrow ledge of a trail as she turned from the sandy loam of the canyon’s dried up creek bed. The clatter of the horse’s hooves echoed through the towering sandstone cathedral’s and disappeared into nothingness.

The trail broke wider as the two rode higher where the echo of hooves died-off. Now it was hard, flat stone leading through the small gorges and slots carved into the mountain by centuries of rainfall.

With the height came the ability to see into the distance and for the first time Brady pulled-up to look back on where they had come. In between rises in the red and yellow earth he could see glimpses of dust as it streamed low across the horizon.

They were following at a quick pace, but far enough behind that they’d have to stop for the night because of the setting sun. Back on the trail, Brady hurried his horse forward to catch up with Rosa.

She had paused, having gotten down from her horse to give it a taste of water. Brady moved ahead of her as she double checked the cinch on her rig and lifted herself aboard.

The landscape was open and flat, laying at a slight downward angle, made of hard multilayered weathered sandstone and emptying into an uncharted abyss. On other side was a wall of some height.

“Right ahead of us, around that boulder,” she pointed.

Brady guided his horse towards the wall and proceeded around the angle of rock, that Rosa had indicated. That’s when he heard Rosa’s horse scream in deathly fear.

Looking back, he watched in horror as her horse first slipped downward on the rocky slope, then pitched itself onto it’s side, slamming Rosa hard to the ground. The horse continued to struggle and slide towards the gap as Rosa lay unconscious, her left foot still gathered in its stirrup.

Brady leaped from his horse and scrambled towards the downed horse and rider. By the time he touched the reins of the panicked horse, he knew it was too late to save both of them.

He sliced through the fender holding the stirrup and turned his head so as not to watch as the screaming horse slipped over the edge of the precipice and into the unknown darkness of the cavern below it. Refocusing, Brady looked Rosa over, noting she had several broken bones from where the animal, in it’s fright, had rolled over her en route to its death.

Gently, he lifted her battered and limp form from the rocky ledge and carried it around the boulder that she had pointed out. A few yards from there, he found the opening to the cave she’d described and he placed her inside the mouth.

For the next two-hours, Brady spent his time moving his horse into the nature-made shelter, building a small fire and caring for Rosa’s injuries. He was thankful when she fluttered her eyes and seconds later looked up at him.

“Lay still and rest. You’re badly hurt,” he calmly told her.

One-Horse Town: Welcome to Keene (Chapter 1)

It was roughly a two-day ride from the tiny town he found himself in to the next, and that was across the border in Mexico. Brady stepped off his horse, wrapping the reins lightly to the post, before dusting some of the travel from his britches.

Everywhere he looked, he saw one name and one name only ‘Keene.’

“A one-horse town,” he thought as he searched out the only grub-hole along the dirt street.

Inside, he found the a table in the far corner from the door vacant and sat down. The special on the chalkboard sign read, “Chikin-n-dumpluns.”

“I hope it tastes better than the spelling,” Brady said to no one as he flagged down the counter help to order.

She was a sight he hadn’t seen in days, petite with deep brown-eyes and black hair. She moved quickly to where Brady sat, ready to take his order.

In her hand she held a piece of paper. “Coffee and today’s special,” Brady stated as he read the note written on the paper.

“Help me.”

Knowing that she might be seen, Brady played it cool and nodded slightly. She vanished into the back, beyond the bare wood counter.

Brady was unable to stem his curiosity, he wanted to know what sort of help she needed. He pulled a worn notepad from his shirt pocket and a pencil tucked on the inside of his hat brim and wrote down a two words: “With what?” and laid the pad open where she could read it upon her return.

She glanced down as she set his coffee in from of him. It came in a china cup, dainty and floral, with a handle too small for even his pinky, and sitting atop a saucer sporting the same design as the cup.

Obviously, she was a step ahead of Brady. Folded neatly under the cup was a bit of paper that read “escape.” Brady picked the cup up by it’s brim and in one gulp drank the liquid down.

“Ma’am” he said, as he raised the cup indicating he’d like more.

“Rosa,” she replied.

“And can I get a bigger cup?” he asked.

She smiled and nodded yes.

He then took the time to write out the words, “Out back. Eat first.”

She stepped up to his table and set a clay mug in front of him and a coffee pot, while taking away the ‘good’ china. As he poured another cup of coffee and wiped the last of the gravy from his plate with a dumpling, Brady fingered the hammer of his pistol, removing the leather-loop that secured the six-shooter from falling out of the holster.

Finished, he put away the note pad and pencil stub, and stood up. He removed from his vests watch pocket a couple of coins and set them on the table, before leaving the diner.

Not wanting to draw anymore attention to himself that he already had by simply being a stranger in town, he slowly checked his saddle, adjusted his bed-roll and made certain his saddle-bags were secure. Once mounted, he reined his horse between the diner and what passed for a hotel, coming out in back of the eatery.

Rosa was there, waiting. She already had herself a horse, saddled, supplied and ready to make her quick getaway.

Be Strong

The masked-man entered the couple’s bedroom as they slept. He immediately tied up the husband.

Next, he tied up the wife and as he did so he bent over her, appearing to nibble on her left ear. Finished, he went into their bathroom.

“Don’t fight him,” the husband whispered, “Be strong and know that I love you.”

“You need to be strong,” she replied.

Puzzled, the husband asked, “What does that mean?”

The wife answered, “He says he’s gay and wanted to know where we keep the Vaseline. I told him it’s in the medicine cabinet. I love you, too.”

All that Glitters

Nearly empty now, her mother’s storage unit only held two cardboard boxes and an old leather suitcase. But memories of her mother lingered, hanging in the air, almost visible.

“Not much to show for the life of a seamstress,” Julie sighs.

The boxes, like many of the others are full of cloth, odds-and-ends, bits-and-pieces, multi-colors, the smell of mothballs and little else. Finally, Julie opens the suitcase, finding a costume jewelry-layered dress.

Julie lifts the dress, allowing it to glitter in the light. She then recalls the wadded up newspaper used for packing — and the headline: ‘Diamonds Stolen, Police Baffled.’

Her Personality

Two months and still she couldn’t figure out how she wanted her new apartment to look. Table here – or over there; her couch in the only place it would fit.

“At least I know where I want my artwork,” she told herself as she sat on the floor looking around the room. It was her first real home in years and she became determined to make it reflect her personality.

As she sat there, she dreamed and day-dreamed until it did reflect her personality. Without noticing, she slowly dissolved into her surroundings until she altogether vanished into her new apartment.

Crying Room

Once again we’re hearing stories about Universities having safe-spaces and crying rooms. I didn’t go to college, no, I joined the military for my ‘higher learning.’

“To each his (or her) own,” is how I figured it.

We didn’t have safe-spaces. In fact, we really didn’t have any sort of space we could call our own – not with Drill Instructors emptying drawers, dumping out foot lockers, tossing mattresses and bedding around the bay and screaming in our ears.

We did, however have a crying room, though we never once dared call it that. We only used it twice, but believe you me, that was more than enough.

No, we called our ‘crying room’ the gas chamber. And I remember doing fine both times, not one tear shed, that is until ordered to remove my mask and suck in a lung-full of ‘2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile a cyanocarbon,’ commonly called CS or tear gas.

There’s a reason there’s a saying painted on the far wall that reads, “Even the Brave Cry Here.” Let the tears commence – followed by violent gagging and in some cases, projectile vomiting.

Toe Nails

No one said the married life was an easy life. Especially when you marry a woman who becomes a beast on the eve of a full-moon and then again on the new moon.

The hairy legs and arm pits are easy enough to live with. And believe me, her howling isn’t as bad as her bite.

Admittedly, there’s a bit of hound in me when she gets in one of her moods. I’ve been known to take advantage of the situation, if you care to know what I mean.

But I wish she’d clip her damned toe nails before bed.

Goodbye, President McKinley’s Statue

Nearly eight years ago I wrote a short history about how the statue of President William McKinley came to grace the town square of Arcata, California. This was long before the idea that removing statues and other symbols, because they were somehow offensive, became a political tool, weaponized to rewrite U.S. history, both small-scale and large.

Recently, I became aware of how the City of Arcata has voted to remove the statue from the town square. One prominent group says this is the proper thing to do, pointing that McKinley instigated a ‘genocide in the Philippines’ in 1899.

We were at war with Spain at the time, so there is more to the story.  Afterwards, the U.S. established posts and bases in the chain of islands and we’ve maintained a presence there ever since.

It’s true that the U.S. has not always acted in the best interest of those it offers to support. This goes for those foreign lands we so-call ‘occupy,’ as well as those who live within the borders of our own nation.

But here’s the problem with expunging history based on political correctness: the human genome goes back to Africa and the Middle East. This means a complete expungement will return us all (if not you and me — than our coming generations) to this same point of origin. No one escapes the rewrite.

Too simplify this idea — if you are not Asian and insist on wearing pants, you are stealing from the Asian culture — which is ‘cultural misappropriation,’ and thus are to be expunged from ‘our’ history, which I’m sure you’ll agree is total B.S. None of this makes sense unless one breaks it down to beyond the P/C culture and realizes it is about ‘power,’ which in of itself is a politically incorrect act.

Remember what ever weapon’s called for today to destroy history and culture can and will eventually be used again at a later date. After all, it happened to Native American’s and now its ugly head has returned.

A Kitty-Cat Conversation

“You know,” Tabby said, “I really don’t mind living with my Human after all.”

Mishka responded without taking her eyes off the bird sitting on the nearby outside window sill, “Yeah, why’s that?”

“To start with, they feed us and we don’t have to work for our food like that dumb Dog does,” Tabby answered.

“Well,” Mishka stated, “I miss the hunt and if they ever leave the door or a window open, I’m gonna split this scene. Get myself some fresh meat.”

“I hear ya,” Tabby replied. “I’d also miss the entertainment factor.”

“Yeah, what entertainment is that?” Mishka asked, tail wagging furiously as she watched the bird tease her through the window.

“I mean, look at her, Mish!” Tabby demanded. “Years of yoga and she still can’t lick her own ass.”

“Point taken, Tabs,” Mishka came back, “And think how surprised she’ll be when she finally does.”

If cats could laugh, their Human would have been seriously shock. As it is, all the felines could do were purr loudly.

And in return their Human stupidly smiled at them as she attempted the ‘Eka Pada Sirsasana’ one more time.

After the Cow Jumped Over the Moon

“So, dad,” the boy started.

“Yeah?” the father answered.

“How did man first figure out that a cow tasted good cooked?”

“That’s an odd question, kiddo.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Really? You couldn’t ask me about why the grass is green or the sky is blue?”

“Oh, Dad, those are easy questions with easy answers.”

“So, you know why grass is green?”

‘Chlor…um…uh…how do you say that word?

“Chlorophyll?”

“Yeah, that one.”

“I’m very impressed!”

“So how did man figure out how good cow meat tastes when cooked?”

“Well, you know that nursery rhyme I used to tell you about the ‘cow that jumped over the moon?’”

“Uh-huh.”

“It’s based on a true story.”

“Really?”

“Yup. What the nursery rhyme doesn’t say is what happens after the cow jumps over the moon.”

“Why?”

“Because it was bad. The cow burned up reentering Earth’s atmosphere. It was Neanderthal’s that found the cow and they ate some of it. That’s how we know eating cooked beef is okay.”

“Wow, Dad. You sure are smart. I can’t wait to tell my teacher.”

Drawing the Line

Flying. It’s jus’ not my thing anymore — at least commercially.

The prices are too high. You have to get to the airport much too early for your flight. And crowds, crowds, crowds.

Then there’s the long lines leading up to and through security. Take-off your belt, take-off your shoes, get wanded, pat-down and a full-body x-ray.

And lord help you if you fail to follow the rules about how much liquid your allowed or you have an old fashioned-shaver with an old-fashioned straight-edged razor blade in it. So many rules!

Once beyond the security check point, the food is too pricey. Restroom smell like — well, you know… And the seats are uncomfortable and the floors is even worse if you get stuck overnight in the facility.

But I had to take the flight. It was the only way I could get back home in time for the funeral and my family was expecting me.

There are times I’ve found when I must set aside my personal phobias, bite the bullet and do what must be done. But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit next to a crazy lady and her so-called emotional support animal.

Worse than flying commercial these days is my fear of Great White sharks. I’ve seen ‘Jaws,’ and it doesn’t end well — at least not for everyone.

Soothing the Savage Beast

The inlet of water was deeper than it was wide, creating a darkness that looked as foreboding as its name of ‘Deadman.’ But neither the name or the shadow deterred Mason from his goal.

The boat was almost too small for both Mason and his cello as he rowed to the center of the inlet and dropped anchor. He waited for the sun to silently slip beneath the distant waves before he stood the cello up and began to play.

Mason was in his own world and didn’t at first notice the dozens of eyes that stared at him from the water, heads bobbing in the gentle surf. His audience, mermaids and mermen, could feel the vibrations of the music resonating from the bottom of the boat through the salty brine of the sea.

The longer and with greater spirit Mason played, the larger his audience grew and the closer they came. In fact, to his amazement several of the mythical creatures clung to the sides of the row-boat, listening and cooing in soft tones between one another.

Mason’s heart filled with delight and he played until dawn, the sun bursting from the eastern hillside, upon the open water. Finished, he laid his cello aside, stood and took a deep bow, awaiting his sea-bound listeners to heap their praises upon him.

His cello was unscathed.

Dishwasher Upper

“Happiness is an inside job,” goes the old saw. We think we know what makes us happy and we make time for those activities we believe fill our lives with happiness.

Yet if you keep yourself open to it, you may find happiness in some very surprising places. For me, it was as I did the dishes.

The warm water, the soapy suds, the quiet time at the sink together, placed me in a meditative state. It left me thinking about that days events, leading to the satisfaction of seeing clean dishes, stacked and ready for the next days use.