Cheeto-head

Pam watched her mom, guided by their good friend Ruth, walk down the steps and get in the car. She returned to front door, wanting to get out of the cold, only to look back as the car backed out of the drive.

“It’s nice of Ruth to give me a little break,” Pam smiled, as she poured herself a cup of fresh-made coffee.

She was going to sit and enjoy a piece of toast with her coffee, followed by a longer than unusual shower, as she need to shave her hair legs. But as she sat at the dining table, a knock came to the front door.

“Ah, hell,” she thought, “What’d they forget?”

As she opened the door, she found a young man standing there, hands in his heavy jacket. He had a strange look on his face, as if surprised to see her.

“Yes,” Pam ask, “Can I help you?”

Without a word, the young man withdrew a pistol from his pocket and pointed it at Pam’s face. Her flight response kicked in and she spun to her left to get away from the gun, but it was too late.

The blast sent a bullet slamming into the left side of her head, killing her almost instantly. Her body’s momentum continued and she twisted through the air until she came to rest on her left side, bullet wound gushing blood directly into the padded carpet.

The young man withdrew a cheap handkerchief from his other pocket and closed the door before slowly and quietly walking away.


Ernie had wandered through the area for the last seven days. He’d parked a block and a half away and around the corner from the main street, walking around the block, making it seem as if he belonged to the neighborhood.

As he did, he took note of his surroundings, that is to say, who was out, who saw him and more importantly, who he saw. He had a particular type of person in mind and he needed to keep his eyes open for such.

The third day, as he walked down the street, Ernie saw exactly what he was looking for as the younger woman helped the older lady from the car and into the house. It would be another four days of careful observation before he’d make his move.

Each day he returned, though he didn’t under stand why, he felt that certain need grow stronger


“Nine-one-one,” came the operators voice.

“I jus’ came home  and found my daughter, Connie. She’s bleeding from her head,” cried an older woman.

“From her head?”

“Yes, amd I think she’s dead.”


For hours the police and deputies scoured the crime scene. But they didn’t find any evidence.

“Looks like everything happened right here,” the junior detective on scene stated.

“One shot into the side of her head,” the lead detective stated, “Looks like she was trying to get away.”

The junior detective squatted down by the open front door and looked at the frame and the lock, “Think she might have known her killer?”

“No idea.”

“I know it’s too early to say — but do you think this connected to the other three?”

“Same method, but without a clear motive or some other forensics, I haven’t the foggiest.”

The pair stood looking down at the cold body before them.

“Well, if it’s okay with you, I’m gonna start the neighborhood canvas.”

“Good, lets hope somebody saw something. And tell the coroner to come in and take the body away.”

“Will do.”


Nearly 25-hundred miles, across the country in a windowless office, a small group of FBI agents huddled over a conference table, pouring through data collected from the three previous murders. After nearly four days of quantifying and redressing solutions, a fax was sent waiting detectives:

The UnSub is more than likely an 18 to 22 years old male, five-foot-six inches to five-foot-eight in height, 200-220 pounds and is right-handed.

  • He feels rejected, bullied, and is a social outcast, but also believes he’s generally smarter than others.
  • He also has history of bed wetting, arson and animal mutilation.
  • The last two, arson and animal mutilation are autoerotic with a brief period of sexual arousal and self-stimulation following.
  • This autoerotic disposition will increase his need to commit more violent acts and with greater frequency.
  • Finally, the UnSub is highly mobile and because of this ability to move around at will, his activities will continue.

Ernie looked at his right hand, the one that had held the gun, “The power of a god,” he whispered with a smile on his lips.

The excitement that coursed through his body made it difficult to sleep, hard to eat and impossible to concentrate. Killing a human being, for Ernie, was far more thrilling than setting fires or slashing and shooting cows and horses, which he’d been doing for the last few years.

“Not even dogs or cats get that look of terror in their eye,” Ernie thought, “As they were about to die. They jus’ give up.”

Then he reminded himself that he had made a mistake, he had shot the wrong woman. It was the older woman he’d desired to kill.

“Oh well, mistakes happen. I’ll get the next one right.”

He then took the time to pleasure himself, masturbating with a generous amount of baby-lotion at the memory of killing the random woman. Ernie fell asleep shortly following release.


“Yeah,” said a neighbor who lived two houses down and across the street from the crime scene, “I’ve seen this kid walking around here the last few days. He’s got bright red hair, kinda the color of Cheetos and he’s pretty chubby.”

“If you saw him again,” the police officer asked, “Would you recognize him?”

“Sure, but I can do you one better, I have footage from my camera system.”

“You do? Great, let me get a detective over here right away!”

“No problem. Anything to help.”

How Blue

One of my writing/blogging friends, Stella wrote this very sexual free-verse poem, titled ‘Mindfulness,’ and my dirty mind exploded. Once I picked the pieces up and stuffed them back in my pants, I sat down to pen a response…

‘Hot,’ but I meant ‘HOT!’
She wrote a poem, feelings
Put to words, that caused
A blue jean sensation…
Uh, If you get my drift.

And speaking of drifts,
It was a snow drift in
The field that brought
My fiery burning balls
To an icy-screaming halt.

Oh you may laugh a bit,
But there’s Kodachrome
Proof and it’s there to be
Seen by all who can dare
To see a real pecker drag.

When I said, she gave me
Blue balls, she had no way
Of knowing that I spoke
The truth and I had no way
To know how blue I meant.

The Ballad of Sol Jones

Sol Jones, considered a halfwit by many, kept his head down as he rode his horse through Reno. It had been five, long and hard, years since he’d been here and things had changed in that time period.

Soon he was north of town, nearing Verdi, following the Central Pacific Railroad track, the same outfit he’d been convicted of robbing. Sol stopped at a grouping of columnar basalt, the Colonnades, where he searched till finding what he’d buried.

Once loaded, he continued westward to a new life under the new name of Chuck Boles, for Sol Jones was no-ones gobdaw.

My Soul has Forgotten

Once, I stood before God,
Yet this soul has forgotten.

All memories having ceased
But that seed carried in me,
Because the heart could not.

Be happy and rejoice, for
My soul stood before God!

And yet…

The dirt poor and dirt rich,
To dirt we all shall return.

Doesn’t this sound unfair?

For that dirt, it does recall
Those precious memories,
Recorded before all time,
That moment it too stood
In the presence of our God.

And yet, my soul’s destined
Not to recall that visitation,
Most singular, so profound
Before coming to the world,
A human being, imperfected.

Should not that joy remain?

Then why should my soul so easily forget,
Forget, that it too once stood before God?

The Singularity

He blinked hard, as the light hurt his eyes. Vernor Vinge couldn’t help but look, it was the brightest, most pure light that the science fiction writer had ever seen.

Then he felt the words, “come here,” more than heard them.

Vernor followed the instructions, stepping through the far end of the wiring. As he did, it evaporated into particles.

“What’s happening and where am I?” Vernor asked.

“This is the Singularity,” the voice answered, “Which you first wrote about in 1993.”

“It’s nothing like I expected”

“We know, that’s why the great I AM prefers it’s original name of Heaven.”

For a Drink of Muddy Water

From monsoon-type storms all night to 108-degrees by mid-morning. That is the life of a desert tramp, who for the most part had no idea where he was on any map.

Before each night, I’d lay out a stick or look for a point-of-reference to help me maintain my direction of travel. Since the sun came up in the east and set in the west, I felt sure I was always on track when it came to direction.

When it rained or there were no discernible fixed point on the horizon, I would stand and look to see where my shadow lay. The problem came down to not knowing exactly which state I was in – though in the end it didn’t really matter much.

After spending several nights under a plastic tarp, traveling one way or another, setting up and tearing down my camp, I began heading in a westerly direction. I was crossing a desert-scape with hills, dunes and rough scrub that left me disoriented most of the time.

Having stumbled across a highway, I decided that it would be the perfect orientation point, if I kept it to my left. That’s when I saw a windmill in the distance, so I veered to the north and headed for those whirling blades, as I figured their might be water nearby.

I was right.

As I broke over a crest of dirt, I saw slightly to the left and in front of me not only the windmill but a large body of muddy water. There were several birds, ducks, geese, and a gray heron, on the far side, using the muddy body and to be honest, I could hardly wait to join them from my side of the pond.

It was obvious that this  body of water was part of a ranch or farm. The clay-lined pond had large rocks all around it, and save for a tiny squeak and click, the windmill appeared to be in good working order.

It also appeared to be slightly deeper in the middle than the outer edges and I was eager to dip my head in it and cool off. Unfortunately, there was no shade to be found in the area other than random brush.

As I drew closer, I encountered a four-strand barbed-wire fence, and having been raised around farms and ranches, I refused to trespass by climbing over or even under any kind of fencing. I didn’t fancy getting shot for trespassing.

Instead, I walked along the fence line with the hope of finding an opening. I also kept my eye on the windmill which was becoming increasingly smaller and smaller and farther behind me.

Feeling a bit hopeless because I could no longer see the blades of the spinning fan,  it relieved me to find a man working along an open stretch of fence a few hundred feet ahead of me. He was ‘restringing wire’ that had either been torn down by off-roaders or a stampede of cattle.

I opted for the off-road vehicles.

The man doing the labor was older than me, I figured perhaps about 70, and seemed very limber. He looked at me with suspicion as I waved to him.

As he stepped back, I saw his hand move to his hip, where I noted the pistol he had on. I stopped and held up my hands, “I’d like to strike a deal with you.”

“What?” he gruffed at me.

“Can I help you with the fence for a chance to take a dip in the pond back there?”

“Why?” he asked, “You know how to string wire?”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

“Okay, you gotta deal — but if you screw it up…”

I dropped my rucksack and picked up the wire-stretcher and began working without another word.

For the next two-hours I steadily hung wire between the thick posts, letting the man rest. He sat in his old John Deere Gator, under a patio umbrella he’d rigged himself, watching my effort.

It took another hour to close the gap and drive home the final fence staple. By then I was extremely sweaty and looking forward to a long dip in the muddy water – as bargained.

“My name’s Hector Martinez,” he said as he climbed from the vehicle, “You can call me, ‘Heck.’

As I grabbed his hand to shake, I told him my name and for the first time he smiled at me. His teeth gleamed white against his darkened and weather-rough skin.

“You know how to bust your ass. So I been thinking –if you want, you can come up to the house where my wife is making supper, you can take a long hot shower in the bunk house out back, have dinner with us, drink some beers and sleep under a roof or you can stick to your original plan. Up to you.”

“I like your idea better.”

“Figured so.”

With two-hours remaining before supper, I used my time to wash up by taking a lengthy shower, shaving my facial growth, clipping my toe and finger nails and drinking cold water from the tap. I got redressed and headed towards the back door after I heard a woman’s voice call out, “Suppers on!”

As walked from the bunk house, which was actually a large glorified shed, towards the main house, the woman took one look as my filthy clothes and prevented me from coming inside. I figured that one of two things was going to happen; either I wasn’t getting supper or I was eating out on the back deck.

So it was a surprise when Heck came out from someplace inside the house and handed me a clean shirt and some well-worn jeans. He rolled his eyes and smiled as he handed them to me.

As fast as possible, I rushed to change and return as I’d caught the scent of food, wafting from the open door. My stomach growled as I wiped my feet and followed Heck to the dinner table.

It was hard not to eat too fast, being a famished as I was, and Mrs. Martinez’s cooking didn’t help matters much as it was superb. As I ate, I noticed that neither spoke while eating and I followed the same pattern.

Finally, Heck broke the silence, “What branch?”

“Excuse me?”

“What branch did you serve in?” he repeated

“Air Force, then Marines.”

“Army, ‘Nam.”

“I was too young for ‘Nam.”

“You didn’t miss much.”  His comment came laced with pain and memories, but I didn’t press for details.

“Eat up and eat as fast as your face’ll move. Plenty more where that came from. Then we’ll have a couple of cold one’s and watch the sun set.”

“Thank you,” I replied.

Within a few minutes, I’d eaten so much that I thought I was going to be burst if I took one more bite. By leaning back, both Heck and Mrs. Martinez figured that I’d finished and they got up and she began to clear the table.

“Here, let me help,” I offered.

“No!” came the stern warning from Mrs. Martinez as I began washing the pans and plates.

Heck looked at me, smiled, walked across the kitchen to the refrigerator and withdrew four beers, two of which he handed to me. I followed him to the back door and outside, where I found two lawn chairs already set up and facing the west sky.

Following a few minutes of silence and after we pulled the caps from the beer and each sucked a few suds down, Heck asked, “So, why’re you running, son, and from what? Ain’t the law, I know that much.”

I coughed on a swallow of beer and looked over at the older man, who had somehow transformed himself from a iron-hard ranch foreman into a father-like figure.

“Don’t really know,” I answered.

“Life can be like that. Did some running myself. Got it out of my system though. Came home, went to work for my old man on this ranch. You gotta place to return to?”

“Don’t know that either.”

“Well, at any rate, you know how to string wire and that’s something. If you’re not in a hurry to get lost again, I got some work needing to be done. Can get you some fresh duds, food, camping gear, whatever. Choice is yours.”

He offered me the second beer, so I quickly swallowed down the rest of my first bottle. “Used to be a pretty good living – gotten harder with the boys working in the city,” Heck started.

Heck stared off into the distance, “I took over from my dad and thought at least one of my sons would take over from me. But they all got themselves fine educations, great paying jobs, families of their own. Can’t blame them.”

“You ever talk to them about this?” I asked as I began to feel the alcohol coursing through my blood stream.

“Yeah, a time or two,” he halfheartedly smiled.

“Sorry,” I said, letting our silence linger between us, allowing myself to enjoy the affect of my beer-buzz.

We continued to sit, making small talk, until the sun disappeared and the night enveloped us, save for the small yellow bulb that glared behind us, attracting swarms of noisy flying bugs. We also drank another beer each, courtesy of Mrs. Martinez and her ability to sense our need.

Between the two of us, we busted our ass’, fixing the gears on the windmill, eliminated the slight grinding sound that told they were wearing down. Not only did we patch up more fence line, we also patched up the side of an aging barn and even vaccinated the remaining head of cattle that ran on Heck’s land.

As we worked, Heck began to open up about his life experiences, his family history, his many disappointments, his joys and so did I. It was comforting to hear his voice and to know, though we of different generations, we weren’t that much different.

Unfortunately, we didn’t do anything from the back of a horse, but rather the Gator, which did make the work a little more comfortable. Twice though, we did saddle up, riding out after dinner, so he could show me his land and share his childhood memories filled with hard work and happy times

After five-days, I knew it was time to go, return to the road and continue on towards whatever lay ahead. Heck drove me to the town of Lakeside and in the parking lot of a Walmart, with a handshake and a one-hundred dollar bill, told me, “If you ever find yourself down this way again, stop in for visit. I’m sure I can find some work for you.”

After watching him drive away, the I turned and went into the store, where I bought a pair of Wrangler jeans, a short sleeve pocket tee-shirt, socks, underwear, rice, beans and a gallon jug of water. The $10.27 I had left over, helped pay for some of the groceries the woman and her two kids in line behind me had in their cart.

Biggish Thought

Perhaps, one day…
After I’m dead, gone,
Somebody’ll discover
All that I’ve written.

Perhaps they might say,
“This guy was a great writer —
Too bad he didn’t live to see himself
Get famous or make money at it.”

Perhaps, one day…
After I’m dead, gone.
Perhaps.
Perhaps.

Lost Opportunity of this Century

The first original Reno Rodeo showing, “Carnival of the Range,” was held July 1st through the 5th, 1919. This year, the 100th anniversary, is a ten-day run from June 20th to the 29th.

Nevada Writers Hall of Fame writer, Western author and artist Will James drew the original souvenir poster for the rodeo. I pulled this from a Facebook video featuring poster owner and Reno, Nevada local Gwendolyn Clancy, as there seems to be no other online.

Will James has a strong historical connection with Northern Nevada. Not only did he live in the Washoe Valley, where he wrote several of his books, including original artwork, he worked as a cowboy in the Caughlin Ranch area, which before becoming an upscale housing development, was a working cattle and horse ranch.

Unfortunately, the Reno Rodeo Association didn’t see fit to reproduce this poster for the benefit of their fans. Instead, they decided that a more ‘modern’ piece of art should adorn their centennial poster.

The artwork, though clean and strong, seems impersonal, mechanical, done on a computer, not by hand. That aside, it proves that the association really doesn’t have a sense of their own history when it come to the importance that an artist and author like James has on the folks of Northern Nevada.

Such a huge missed opportunity and they won’t get another chance to make it right for another hundred years. Whadda damned shame.

Yet That’s Where the Adventure Begins

The problem with books is that they end,” writer, author and all-round world champion blogger, Victoria Ray wrote recently. I didn’t immediately read her entire post as I was too busy disagreeing with her supposition.

Her words tossed me back into my ninth-year of life, when for Christmas someone, (more than likely a gift from the local VFW Hall that year,) gave me the book, “Treasure Island,” by Robert Louis Stevenson. I poured through that book, even reading it after light’s out to my brother, who was still in the throes of learning to read.

The adventures from that tome did not end with the final page.

In fact, that’s when the real adventure began as Adam and I became the bestest pirates, buccaneers and privateers in our neighborhood. What a blast we had that summer as we even built a raft (we claimed it to be our makeshift Brigantine,) but lost it to the fast flow of High Prairie Creek after forgetting to tie a rope to the frame to hold her on the bank of the creek.

Thank you for the memory-trigger, Victoria. Ship-ho!

The Vague and Mysterious Death of Frank Fish

On a low hill in the back of the Jackson City cemetery is a nearly forgotten grave. And yet the bones beneath its plain marker shows it belongs to one of the most famous treasure hunters of the 1960s.

Frank L. Fish was very successful at finding treasure, but his contribution to the history of Amador, California, has been practicality obscured following his death. An Internet search of the Fleehart Building, that once housed Fish’s Gold Rush Trading Post & Museum, with its 10,000-plus artifacts and antiques is free of his mention.

You’ll find that the Fleehart Building, built around 1855 by Wells Fargo Agent William Fleehart, and that it suffered a fire in 1878. Then, you’ll see that it’s purchase by Jerrold Whitney in 1983, who established the Amador-Whitney Museum about women of the gold country, but the time period in which Fish was the owner of the building is absent.

Filled with artifacts from the 1849 gold rush period, that he excavated from around California, the museum also housed more than twenty years of finds from Mexico and Central America. Fish recovered gold and silver artifacts, burial urns, Spanish coins, Conquistador jewelry and several blue-jade idols, all which were photographically documented by Erie Schaefer.

The Fish family relocated to a Oklahoma farm shortly after the birth of Frank Lawrence Fish in Illinois on September 18, 1900. His parents, John T. and Mary, had an older son, John Walter Fish. While brother John took over the family farm, Frank took off to art school in Kansas City.

By 1958, Fish had a collection large enough that he opened up the Gold Rush Museum at the Buffalo Ranch in Costa Mesa. The following year, Schaefer suggested he move his collection into the Fleehart Wells Fargo building in Amador and ever obsessed with authenticity, Fish quickly moved to the site beside Highway 49, setting up a silver trailer behind the building, where he lived.

In 1961 Fish published his first book, “Buried Treasure and Lost Mines.” And while the book made Fish popular in the world of international treasure hunting, it also brought a dangerous notoriety, because while business at the museum was good, logging 38,000 visitors in 1962, Fish began getting nefarious letters and phone calls from individuals consumed with gold fever.

Between 1962 and early 1963, Fish said that he had a good lead on a $600-thousand treasure in Columbia, California, and that Fish had found positive evidence that another possibly larger and more important treasure had been hidden in the vicinity of Columbia, California.

In 1855, four men and a team of mules left Columbia with this huge load of gold pieces to be distributed to the miners. The men spoke with several riders a short distance outside of Columbia, then disappeared never to be seen again.

In Fish’s possession were letters and other papers that indicated someone had ambushed the men, stolen the wagon, mules, and  the gold coins and the four bodies hidden. During his extensive search of Columbia, Fish also uncovered evidence of an 1600-era English settlement not before known to historians.

The night before his death, a series of phone calls came into the Amador Hotel. Fish had not been answering at his museum so an employee at the bar, tired of all the phone calls, walked to Fish’s trailer at two in the morning.

Fish walk across 49, to the bar, where he sat and listened to the caller, speaking very little, hung up, and walked back to his trailer. It would be the last time he’d be seen alive.

A gun shot wound through the back of his mouth and a shaky suicide note suicide (since declared a forgery) reading: “I do not feel I can go on. Erie, please have the water at my trailer tested for poison and an autopsy performed on my body.” At the top of the note, it read, “To my son, John, who didn’t even come to see if I was alive or dead! Leave sum of $5 only.”

John Fish wrote a letter to the coroner complaining that investigators failed to photograph his father’s body in his trailer, run a ballistics test, check for gunshot residue on the dead man’s hands, or even perform an autopsy. Further, the coroner’s report doesn’t mention the phone calls, nor of the two unknown individuals seen in Fish’s trailer earlier that night.

John also asked for his dad’s gold piece, on a chain that he always wore. Initially, it wasn’t listed among the belongs collected from the body.

At first, the coroner ignored the younger Fish’s requests, but later replied that the necklace had resurfaced and they’d send it to him. No word on whether this happened or not.

Erie Schaefer arrived in Amador seven hours after the discovery of Fish’s death. Having extensively photographed his collection prior, Schaefer knew what was missing from the museum, including old mining claims, rare coins, guns, artifacts and gold nuggets and gold dust that had been display cases for tourists to look at.

In months that followed Fish’s death, Schaefer would report another eleven burglaries in the museum — resulting in much of his treasures disappearing. Schaefer also documented this fact in her self-published 1968 account of Fish’s death, speculating that Fish was murdered for his copy of the Peralta Map.

Years earlier, Fish tracked down a man named Erwin Ruth, who owned a map drafted in Spanish depicting the Superstitious Mountains in Arizona. The map supposedly to lead to the overlooked Peralta Mines.

Ruth warned Fish not to go looking for the mine because men were still being killed over the treasure. In fact, in 1931, when Ruth’s father, Adolph, was found murdered and decapitated while using the map to find the Peralta Mines.

Regardless of the dangers, Fish purchased a copy of the map. He headed out into the desert, but turned back after someone shot at him, vowing to return again one day.

In October 2011, the ‘Sierra Lodestar’ newspaper published two articles, including, “The Fish Papers,” which studied the official Amador County findings around Fish’s death in 1963. To many, the coroner’s report raised more questions than it provided answers, including: who robbed Fish’s museum, stealing his gold, his blue-jade idols and other artifacts and his life’s work?

More importantly – did Fish really die by his own hand or was he actually murdered? But like his vague history within Amador, Fish’s death remains a vague mystery.

Walmart’s ‘Receipt Check’ Bad for Customer Relations

The common law of ‘Shopkeeper’s Privilege,’ is set out in NRS 205.220 and NRS 205.240 and allows retailers to detain suspected shoplifters. The detainment must occur on store property and the merchant can only hold the suspect for a reasonable amount of time, i.e., until the police arrive.

It is ‘Shopkeeper’s Privilege,’ on which Walmart’s ‘receipt check’ policy’s based. However, the law applies only to suspected shoplifters, so the merchant must have probable cause that the customer has shoplifted.

What does probable cause look like in Nevada?

1.  You must see the shoplifter approach your merchandise.
2.  You must see the shoplifter select your merchandise.
3.  You must see the shoplifter hide your merchandise.
4.  You must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter.
5.  You must see the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise.
6.  You must approach the shoplifter outside of the store but on store grounds.

Receipt checks are voluntary and should the customer refuse, they may leave the store with their lawfully purchased items. However, if a person declines a receipt check and an employee detains them or in any way prevents them from leaving the store, the retailer can be held liable for false imprisonment. False imprisonment is the illegal confinement of an individual against his or her will and is both a civil violation and a crime.

Some ‘membership only’ stores like Sam’s Club and Costco list receipt checks as a condition of membership within its membership agreement. Refusing to show your receipt at a club store could be terms for membership termination.

Walmart is not a ‘membership only’ retailer.

Dog Food

Convicted of butchering an abusive ‘John’ by slicing him open, placing a cheap wind-up clock in his bowels, Nanette crudely stitched him up, waiting to see if time heals all wounds. It doesn’t.

Now she endures time, day-dreaming in nightmare-fashion, of that ‘final ten-foot’ of life.

She lacks the knife, but in her minds-eye, she takes former ‘Johns’ in slashing silence, opening them like bags of dog food with a razor. She needs to know if what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Nope — each begs, cries, grows weaker, dies. Nanette smiles vacantly; she won’t give the state the satisfaction.

Muddy Feet

It’s jarring to wake up in the middle of a muddy field, barefoot, three blocks from home and without the slightest idea about how I’d gotten there. Suddenly, a dark figure appeared: “It’s about time. I’ve been calling to you for the last three nights.”

“Who the hell are you?”

“My name’s Weir Legion.”

“So why are we out in the middle of nowhere?”

“Because I wanted to deliver this message in person.”

“A message?”

“You’re fucking with things you shouldn’t be fucking with.”

“Like what?”

He grinned and I woke up, back in my bed – feet caked with mud.

Dream Rocks

The kids played in the open field beyond my fence line. I could hear them yelling and laughing as they used a stick as a bat and small rocks as balls.

Every once in a while I’d catch the sound of stone cracking against wood and the kids whooping it up. I wanted to go watch, but I had leaves to rake.

As they carried on with shouts of joy, it took me back to my childhood, playing baseball in field below our subdivision.  Then a well-hit pebble struck me in the head, knocking me out.

I began to dream.

A Scene from Ranch Life

“Ah, shit! Jeans or sweats?” he calls out.

Followed by, “Tennis shows or boots?”

“Sweat shirt or jacket?” he asks.

Next, “Cowboy or baseball hat?”

“Bare handed or gloves?” he wants to know.

All questions a good stock man must ask himself each time a cow or three escapes the fence.

“Too hell with it! No effin’ time to get dressed,” he exclaims.

So, if the neighbors be appalled to see him chasing down cattle in his skivvies, while wearing his wife’s rose-pink satin robe, then they’ve not live long in the country. If those neighbors remain unfazed by the sight and even offer to help, then they’ve probably done it themselves and are in no position to judge.

Welcome to the ranch life and don’t expect to see any selfies.

For One Bullet

Now he was not only broke, but broken, too. That’s the thought Richard Berger came to as he struggled to climb out of the snow bank he’d been tossed into following the brutal attack.

He was on his way home, walking across town, when he happened on two men coming towards him. He tried to look them in the eye as he said ‘hello,’ but their hoodies and the  shadows blocked his view of their faces.

Before he knew it, they’d struck Richard on the top of his head. It was a blow that brought stars to his eyes, but failed to knock him down.

As quickly as he’d turned to face his attackers, he raised his right arm to protect himself from another blow. He felt the lead pipe internally crush the two bones in his forearm.

So immense was the pain, that Richard grabbed his arm in agony, and in doing so, bent over slightly. That’s when the pipe came crashing down on the back of his head.

Not fully unconscious and not fully awake either, he felt the two men rifle through his clothes, taking his wallet, containing a five-dollar bill, from his back pocket and .38 caliber snub nosed revolver, from his right coat pocket. Next thing he knew, as they laughed, they picked him up and tossed his limp body into a high drift of freshly plowed snow.

Richard laid there, aware of the danger that he was in from hypothermia and frostbite. But the cold felt good against the fiery pain of his beaten head and broken arm. Beside he wasn’t sure if the two men had left the area or if they were waiting to do worse to him.

For nearly 20 minutes, he laid half-buried in the snow, violently shivering. Then he began to feel sleepy and noticed he was growing increasingly warm – certain signs of hypothermia and the pathway to frozen death.

Stiff and in pain, Richard forced himself to sit up and dig his way out of the hardening snow pack with his one good hand. He’d had gloves on both hands at one time, but noticed that the right was missing and by the time he’d freed himself from the icy would-be tomb, he’d shredded the left and it was now worthless against the cold.

After staggering about five blocks, he happened upon a 24-hour convenience store. It didn’t take much urging to get the clerk to call the police for him.

At the hospital, they took Richard immediately into surgery. When he awoke, he had a cast on the busted arm that extended from above his bent elbow to the spaces between his fingers.

Opening his eyes left the room spinning and the overhead lights made him sick to his stomach. He could see a man in a shirt and tie, wearing a parka, standing at his bedside, but it was all too much and he felt himself slip back into the darkness of a medicated sleep.

Hours later, he woke again. This time the medication’s effect had worn off and he began to focus on his surroundings.

“Hospital?” Richard asked.

The man in the tie and parka was sitting beside his bed and he stood up, “You’re in County General, Mr. Berger.”

Richard nodded his head in response. Then he looked at the cast on his arm, “I knew it was broke it when they hit it.”

“Yeah, sorry this happened,” the man said. “My names Detective Jones. Can I call you Dick?”

Richard shook his head and said, “No. Richard or Rich. Please.”

He looked at Jones and noted the lack of surprise on his face.

“Dick Berger? Funny. Ha-ha,” Richard said coldly, “So, no — don’t call me Dick.”

“It never dawned on me,” the detective said.

Richard let the claim slide, knowing that anyone smart enough to tie their shoes could figure out such an unforgiving name. He’d grown up being teased endlessly and had long become aware of when a person had worked out that his name came with an innuendo.

“Bullies are all the same,” Richard thought.

It had also been part of the reason he’d been so gullible as a kid. As a preteen, he simply wanted to be accepted by someone and unfortunately that someone had taken physical advantage of him several times as he grew towards adulthood.

Richard shut the thought out of his mind, knowing that chapter in his life was now closed. He gently felt his head with his left hand, finding the two large bumps left by the pipe, but no stitches.

“So, Richard,” the detective asked, “Did you see who did this to you?”

“No,” he answered, “All I know is that there were two of them.”

Richard continued to describe what happened. As he talked, the detective took notes.

Two days later, the hospital discharged Richard. And despite his pain, he’d agreed to go to the station and make a formal statement.

“Well, the good news is,” Detective Jones said, “We caught the two guys who mugged and beat you.”

With that he produced Richard’s empty wallet, holding up the plastic bag that contained it. Also in the bag was his state identification card.

“That’s it,” he said. “If you need the wallet as evidence, keep it, all it’s been good for recently is holding my ID and little else.”

Jones smiled, “No, you can have it back.” He slid the bag toward’s Richard and a clipboard with a release form to sign.

After the pause, Jones said, “Not to diminish what happened to you, but the two perps had a gun on them that we think was used in a murder after they robbed you.”

Richard shifted in the wooden chair at the mention of ‘murder.’ He could feel himself begin to tremble and grow sweaty.

Jones added, “Figured that might shake you up a bit. I think you were the warm-up.”

“Yeah,” Richard said, looking at his arm, “Guess, I could’ve been murdered too.”

“Well, Richard,” Jones said, “If we need anything else from you, I’ll be in touch – but I think we have this thing pretty well wrapped up. Can I have a cruiser drop you at your apartment?”

“No, thank you, Detective,” Richard half-smiled as he offered him his good hand to shake, “I’ll walk.”

It was a battle to fight off the waves of panic Richard felt as he walked towards the station doors. The sweat left a chill to his body once he stepped outside and into the late morning-time air.

A couple of blocks away from the police station, Richard grinned, “Three mother-fuckers with one bullet; a pedophile and two assholes.”

Rear-view Mirror

The red Porsche was already moving faster than the posted speed limit, but Alan didn’t care as he pressed the accelerator to the floor. He wanted to see what the stolen car could do along the vacant flats of the Mohave Desert.

Alan saw the briefest flash of black and white of a California Highway Patrol vehicle, as he raced by pushing 190-miles an hour. He’d caught the officer flat-footed.

Ten minutes later, Alan checked the rear-view mirror and saw the cop – a mere red-and-blue dot. Alan also admired himself in the same mirror before losing control, crashing, killing himself.

Missing Crescent City Teen Sought

UPDATE 2: Crescent City Police say Cramer returned home on her own and is safe.

UPDATE 1: Cramer’s cellphone’s been tracked to an apartment complex on Gary Street in Crescent City. Police have been informed. No word yet if they’ve investigated this latest development.

Your help’s needed in locating a missing and possibly endangered teen from Crescent City, California. 14-year-old Venus Cramer was last seen as she left her home the evening of January 15.

She’s described as five-foot, four-inches tall, 100 pounds with light brown shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. Her mother, Caroline believes she is in the company of a teenaged boy named Dion Broutis, Jr., also of Crescent City.

If you see her or know where she is, you’re asked to call the Crescent City Police Department at (707) 464-2133.

Night Storm

Tangled deep within sheets, blankets, bodies warm in slumber. There are the usual noises, but then there comes that eerie sound outside, wind blowing snow against the house, creaking lumber, so singular and out of sorts, only those in the know understand the angled blow isn’t done in harm, with its raking pound, which imagination distorts and defeats.

dogs dream
wife snores
wide awake

Fierce

“Twenty-ninteen is gonna be a fierce year.”

“How so?”

“I’m finally gonna toss out all the rules and simply be true to myself.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“It does, if you think about it. For years, I’ve been living with rules that do nothing but bog me down.”

“Like what?”

“Like not worrying about who the hell I offend when talking or writing. I’m tired of polite society when it comes to how I wanna use my words.”

“I’m glad you brought that up — lets talk about that.”

“Oh-shit-oh-dear, why do I feel a lecture coming on?”

“If you cleaned up your act, they’d probably let you do some preaching in church.”

“What the fuck do you mean ‘clean up my act.'”

“Your language. You cuss for no reason.”

“My cussing is simply a bad habit and I can control my tongue when I need too.”

“But how come you use cuss words when writing, or paint dirty pictures and tell off-color-stories and jokes on your blog? You know people see that stuff and then they question your morals?”

“So who’d they rather I preach too — so-called saints sitting in church pews being judgemental about my language or the sinner who might find some inspiration in something I’ve written because we speak a common language?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“Fine, I talk, think, paint and write dirty because I think it’s the right fucking thing to do and I don’t think God gives a good-god-damn about my language as long as the message is getting out!”

“Yes, He does. Says so in the…

“I know ‘course language’ and all that crap.”

“Right. So try honey and not vinegar.”

“What? So I can catch more flies? I don’t wanna catch flies or bees, if that’s what your thinking. I need people to read what’s written.”

“I see I’m not going to win this debate with you.”

“Damn right. Told you 2019 was gonna be fierce and remember, God works in mysterious ways.”

“Shut up!”

Mental Shit

There was a time when I didn’t find my shit very interesting.
But now that I’m locked up in this insane asylum, I find it of extreme interest.
No shuttlecock, cards or checkers for me.
Finger painting and pitching practice are my newest hobbies.
And as soon as they remove this jacket, I’ll be getting my shit together.
You can bet your sweet ass on that.
Shhh…here come’s one of the Screws now.

Number One

Okay.
So, now I know where I stand in the frame of life…
A friend calls me to say ‘good morning,’ but that’s all they can do, because they have to take a shit soooo bad that they have to hang up and hit the stall.
At least I was Number One, before their Number Two.
And as this morning goes, I find I’m flush outta ideas…

Impasse

Two years ago came the giving up on politics, acknowledging certain human flaws, finding dishonesty and a broken heart, understanding that half want to rewrite the start, and that preferences are not for the rule of law, but rather the dirty tricks, an ugly and temporary fix, exactly where Liberty and Socialism part.

it was Godly freedom
fought for, defending, dying for
outdated parchment

Dennis Romero, 1949-2019

My daughter-in-law, Alex Lane has let me know that Reno, Nevada has lost yet another radio ‘old-timer.’ Alex worked with Dennis Romero as they aired the local daily show, “Gun Talk.”

Dennis was about a month short of his 70th birthday and according to a post on his Facebook page, he passed away January 3, while sitting in his favorite recliner at home. He was one of the leading voices of KCKQ 1180 AM, in the Reno Town Mall.

Dennis, his voice, his talent and his bigger-than-life personality and heart will be sorely missed by all who knew and worked with him.

The Fleshing Out

“SHIT!” I screeched at the top of my lungs as I found myself again seated before my keyboard. My shout scared the dog’s as they slept peacefully on the bed behind me, and they scattered, heading for the outside.

“Sorry,” I whispered through gritted teeth, “but it’s the same thing every year as I silently resolve to stop blogging.”

This time it began 21 days before the New Year arrived. On that day, shortly after waving goodbye to my wife as she headed for work yet again, I sat in the dark of our at our dining room, talking to God.

“Father God – please release me from this chore,” I begged, “I don’t think my blogging is do you any good and I know it’s not doing me any good. Besides, I’m so damned tired.”

I heard nothing, felt nothing as I held my face in the palms of my hands, thinking, “Maybe, God doesn’t hear my groans. Hell, maybe He thinks this more of a grumble.”

After a lengthy period of silence, I added, “Let you’re will be done and not mine,” and I finally got up and walked to the back room to write my last story of the year. That’s where I found myself screaming cuss words at my reflection in the computer screen and frightening my hounds.

One-thousand-six-hundred-and-fifty words later, I put the story of ‘a desperately hopeless man with an ironic sense of humor and bent on suicide,’ to bed. Done. Finished. Finito. No more. Over and out. The end. Fin.

Finally, the old year dissolved in a liquid vat of nothingness and the new one began it’s emergence from the unending void of measurements. And so, on this first new morning of a new 365-day period, I sat at the table, having seen my wife off to work once more, and I opened my conversation with Father God.

“Thank you for letting me off the hook, Lord,” I started, “Thank you for allowing me to borrow from your mind, from your talent. I’m so happy not to be blogging anymore.”

I gently put my head on my arms, resting both on the table and relaxed, slipping towards a near-state-of-sleep.

It was like a bean-bag fired from a shotgun, as two thoughts simultaneously blasted their way between the hemispheres of my brain. Two internal voices shattering my revere; one saying ‘You ain’t off the hook,’ the other laying out a flash of a memory, a story-line needing further fleshing out.

The shock caused me to pop up from my chair and come to a standing position. My brain felt like it was beginning to boil as one of the voices stated clearly: “You can quit if you want – but I trust you won’t because you fear and love me.”

“You know that I do,” I answered though no one was there. (Oh, how I hate when He uses the older definition of ‘fear.’)

Then I began to cry, realizing I was living with both the thorn and the rose, lovely and pain-filled. As I walked down the hall to the back room, I suddenly remembered, “I’m not writing for the glory here on earth.”

Seven-hundred-and-six words later, I published my first blog post for the newest year. What a frickin’ kick in the ass this lesson has been.

An App for That

While I’m used to my night terrors, having a good old-fashioned nightmare is rare and even more unusual is the occasional bad dream. This bad dream began as a stress-test of sorts as I was unable to take a shower ahead of an important gathering.

Then…

“Eighty-eight and 89 are problem children,” said the unrecognizable man, “She had to leave to go take care of them.”

“What do you mean leave?” I asked.

“She left and is driving back to take care of the problem,” he explained,“You can stay with us and we’ll drive you back.”

Instantly angry, I growled, “The hell you say!”

With that, I dug my cellphone from my pocket and started dialing as I walked quickly towards the exit of what had now become the front-end of a very busy casino. I took the transformation in stride as the man I’d been speaking with continued to call after me, trying to get me to slow down or stop.

The cellphone gave off a busy signal. I tried again with the same results; then a third time only to realize I was dialing my number.

Even more frustrated, I finally dialed my wife’s number. It rang twice, she picked up and without giving her a chance to even say ‘hello,’ I demanded “You get your skinny, little ass back here this minute. You ain’t leaving me behind like…”

She banged down the phone as she hung up on me. The intermittent signal of a busy line followed.

Then I snapped awake to the buzz-buzz-buzz of my bedside alarm sounding-off. It took me a few seconds to focus as I fumbled to switch the damned thing off.

Then I had to laugh…

Cellphones no longer emit a ‘busy signal,’ especially one that sounds like those that I grew up hearing when all phones were both stationary and rotary. Furthermore, you’re no longer able to slam the receiver on the phone cradle like we could when younger, unless there’s an app for that.

They don’t, do they?

Plot Device

“Hello?” I called out to the glowing eyes.

“Hello,” growled the Big Bad Wolf as he entered my campfires glow.

“Are you lost or something?”

“Something,” he answered, before asking, “Aren’t you not afraid?”

“Not one bit.”

“Why not?”

“I am master and you are subject.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will,” I responded.

“I’m looking for Red Riding Hood,” he announced after a lengthy silence.

“Sorry, but she’s jus’ another plot device.”

“You mean like you?” Big Bad grumbled.

“No – like you.”

“Is that what I am?”

“Yes,” I answered calmly.

“So now what?” he asked, as he paced back-and-forth like a wild animal in a cage.

“Well, why don’t you join my pack?”

“I can do that?”

“Yup, but first have some Stephen King stew,” I smiled, “Made it myself.”

“What’s in it?”

“Another plot device.”

Big Bad hesitated, thinking before he asked, “What – did he refused to join your pack?”

I grinned, “Exactly.”

“A large bowl, if you please,” he stated as he settled in by the fire.

Dust Cover Recovery

Perhaps my mother’s spirit of thrift found its way to me early New Years Eve morning. More on that after a little back story on her ‘thriftiness.’

My Erector set wasn’t even a week old before I ripped the plastic window on the box. Mom was there when it happened and I asked her if I could get the Scotch tape to repair it.

A day later, I did the same thing, gashing the repaired plastic with one of the metal beams, it’s thin edge and sharp corner cutting it like a hot knife through soft butter. This time when I asked to repair it, Mom said no.

“I have a better idea,” she said, “let’s replace it.”

Before I knew it, she had the scissors out and was removing the damaged plastic from the window box. Next, she retrieved a plastic paper protector sleeve, split it in two and with some Elmer’s glue affixed it into place where the old plastic used to be.

“Where’d you learn to do that?” I asked.

“As a kid,” she answered.

“You had an Erector set, too?”

“No, we were poor and had to learn how to make things last,” she answered.

Her ingenuity impressed the hell out of me. And I think some of it may have rubbed off on me as I recently found out.

The book is 81-years-old and the front flap of the dust jacket had fallen apart. In order to save it, I cut a piece of paper slightly smaller than the dust jacket, folded it over the front hardcover of the book, glued the front flap onto the inside edge of the paper and then the rest to the outside of the paper.

Yeah, there is a better way to salvage an old dust cover, but I’m not so concerned with archival technique as I am with keeping the two pieces together and with the book. Besides, I think my improvisation adds a little character to the aging tome — and all thanks to Mom.

Red Robin Goes Full Redneck


Our big New Year’s Eve celebration was to Red Robin in the early afternoon. We learned that they have instituted a new ‘napkin’ system; paper towel rolls at each table.

My wife took a picture to send to her sister. Their mother, Helen, was a BIG fan of the Robin. They both agreed she’d be disappointed with the new napkins.

Privately, I didn’t find anything wrong with it — as this is kinda how I was raised.

Visitor on the Wing

“Effing buzzards,” I complained as I glance skyward hoping to catch sight of one.

They were nothing knew, in fact I generally welcomed their company along with the occasional condor, hawks, ravens and crow. But because of the hot sun, a lack of decent water and an inability to catch a ride, the straight trek was baring down on me and I was feeling put off.

Since no one was stopping to give me a ride that early morning, I had dropped over the side of the roadway to do some exploring amid the rocky debris field. Sometimes there was an item worth finding, either lost or purposeful disposed of by a passing motorist.

Still those shadows from overhead persisted and the more that streamed by, casting their shadows over me, the angrier I became. I stopped and took a longer than usual pull from my canteen, now filled with warm, brackish-tasting water. Still it felt good on the tongue and perhaps it would ease some of my inner-hostility.

As I struggled to slip the canteen back in it’s canvass holder another shadow winging overhead. It was larger than before and I looked up, shouting, “I ain’t dead yet, so leave me the…”

Stepping forward, I stumbled on a rock and fell.

Suddenly I couldn’t speak as I watched the most beautiful broad-shouldered man, with bright feathered wings, float to the ground a few feet from me. He was eight or nine feet tall and he had an aura about him, not a glow, but an aura — like one might see in a photograph of a person with flawless skin and a slight shine.

As he came down, I realized that not a pebble, not a grain of sand moved under the powerful breeze of his wings. I then noticed that all sound seemed to vanish as did the movement of the high clouds that danced among the mountain peaks in the distance, either side of us.

“Am I dead?” I thought.

“No” came his answer, though his mouth didn’t move.

“Do you remember me?” he asked somewhere inside my brain.

I shook my head hard, trying to dislodge the voice before I simply shook my head, ‘no.’

“You will and you’ll recall this meeting, too,” he smiled.

Again the voice came from inside my head. I sat down, my body feeling weak and unsteady.

“First,” he said, “Let me get the formal introduction out-of-the-way: ‘I am an Angel of the Lord, fear not! I bring you glad tidings from on high.”

My heartbeat suddenly pounded in my ears and I felt dizzy and I slid from the rock I’d been perched on, to the sand beneath. Towering above me, he sat down on a nearby rock and joked: “I know it’s a bit corny by today’s standards but we’re all required to say that to every human we come into official contact with.”

“Official?”

“Yup,” he answered, “Official. He knows you’ve been struggling the last couple of months and I’ve been sent to tell you that you’re going to be okay. Ask to be healed of this and you will be. Mined you, only this affliction of confusion – but nothing else.”

I sat there not knowing what to say or if I should say anything at all.

“Capeesh?” he finally asked after some silence.

“Jus’ the confusion,” I answered slowly, nodding my head.

“Good,” he continued to smile, “It’s time for you to ask, then to go home, your time out here,” he lifted both hands and motioned all around him, “is over. Do it in whatever order you want. Now pick up your bag and get up on that roadside or you’ll miss your ride.”

As I looked down to pick up my rucksack, I felt a gentle and cooling breeze float over me and when I lifted my head, he was gone. Then I realized that the harsh Nevada sun was beating down on me as I lay on my stomach, head turned to the right and a field of rocks and sand is all I could see.

Though still in shock, I quickly jumped to my feet and scrambled up the steep grade to the highway, where I stuck my thumb out for ride. The first vehicle that came by, slowed, stopped and before I knew it, I was en route home. As I sat in the back of the truck, I kept my eyes peeled for sight of the winged man, but never again saw him.