Shoe-box Ford

After days of walking, creating nighttime shelter out of my now-worn out plastic tarp, I was happy to see an old abandoned car in the raven to my right. The rain seemed to be never-ending, with lightning clawing across the sky and thunder booming both day and night.

Once I realize that the windows were all intact and that the seats were still filled with foam and for the most part upholstered I was even more thrilled. Finally, a little comfort for my bones as I’d either sat up right or curled in a fetal position while sleeping to keep my body fully covered and out of the rain.

A 1949 Ford, a dull and peeling black paint job, red rims but no tires, engine and hood missing, the back-end crumpled and the trunk without a lid, but the split screen windshield still unbroken; it looked like a treasure and I endeavored to make it into my temporary home until the storms passed.

Beating on the seats helped drive out any vermin hiding in the cushions and loosen dirt and rocks lodged where I intended to sleep that night. As darkness fell, I built a small campfire next to the coupe.

It would be the first time in three days that I would have a warm meal; canned beans and instant coffee. I couldn’t help but feel like a newly crowned king, even if it was only in my mind.

Finally, I crawled inside and pulled the back door closed behind me. It took little time for me to fall asleep and stay asleep as the rain began to thumped hollow against the roof of the car, and the lightning flashed in the distance and the thunder echoed through the multiple canyons surrounding me.

Before turning in for the night, I had loaded my rucksack into the front seat, taking only my sleeping bag so I could cover myself as if I were in a real bed. The dry dust and the humidity mixed to create a wet, dusty odor – but I didn’t mind as I was comfortably dry.

What time it was, I am not certain. I had been sound asleep, dreaming that I was back on the Klamath River, a kid, fishing from a drift boat, when I felt the sensation of actually being adrift.

As I dragged my brain up from the deep sleep it had been in, I heard the unmistakable sound of water lapping at the exterior of the car. I blinked as hard as I could against the inky darkness, but I couldn’t see a damned thing – yet I knew I was adrift and that the old abandoned wreck was floating.

“Oh, shit!” I screamed as I scrambled to stuff my sleeping bag in my ruck and find a way to escape what I was certain would be my coffin if I didn’t get out quickly. My mind raced ahead and I pictured the old wreck tumbling down the a drop off I’d explored earlier along the ravine.

Mud, rock and other debris held all four doors fast, so I tried to kick out the rear window. All that did was cause it to bow outward and turn milky.

The only other exit available to me, as I began to feel a knot of panic well up in me, were the split-screen windshields. Sitting on the top of the front seat, I put a foot to the glass and much too my surprise the thing popped out and disappeared into the darkness.

As fast as I could I pushed my body through the opening, nearly falling into the cavity where the motor should have been. I reached back and hauled my rucksack through the window frame and waited for an opportunity to jump to safety.

It was going to be a guess when it came to leaping from the car, but I was going to have to do so strictly out of faith. The vehicle bumped into something, slowing to a stop before it began to turn clockwise in the stream of water.

That’s when I jumped, landing in a field of rocks, scraping my arms and knees as I scrambled up and away from the water. I couldn’t see where I was or what had become of the car, save for the momentary flashes of lightning that came, then left me night-blind after they went.

Somewhere, as I jumped, I lost my grip on my rucksack and felt certain it was racing somewhere down stream, buried and lost forever. So I simply squatted down on the slope of that hillside, making myself as small as possible a target from the electrical storm overhead and did my best to ignore the cold sting of the driving rain drops slamming into my body.

The rain let up shortly before the sky brightened, announcing the coming of a new day. I remained huddled in my squatting position, shivering against the cold of the morning and trying to doze before the sun made it’s full appearance.

Finally, there was enough light to see by. I looked for the car, my one time refuge – turned death trap – and could see it nowhere to be found.

Then I recalled my rucksack. Happily, I found it in the rocky field I had first landed in.

By the time the sun was above the ridge to my east, the gully washer had turned into a mud flow. That soon dried as did I and I was able to walk across it and up the embankment to the roadway.

Once on the side of the asphalt I pulled my sleeping bag from my rucksack and rolled it up properly and replaced it. I buckled the opening shut and though exhausted, I hoisted it onto my shoulders and began walking down the road.

It was maybe 15 minutes or so, when I came to a dead stop – I’d found the car buried in a thick silted mud, only a couple of inches of the roof visible from the road. I had escaped what would have been a frightening death by suffocation as I am sure that sticky gooey mud would have filled my lungs long before any water would have drown me.

It made me sad to contemplated the idea that the old junker had possibly survived decades in the desert, but a single nights encounter with a man, left it completely destroyed. But I didn’t have long to think more on it, as while standing there, gobsmacked, I heard a vehicle come to a stop behind me, so I turned to see a sheriff deputy waving me over to the passenger side of her vehicle.

“You okay?” she asked.

I smiled, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, you don’t really look it,” she replied.

“Had a rough night, with the rain and all,” I said, then explaining what had unfolded.

“Hop in,” she said as she tried to stifle her laughter at my tale, “I’ll give you a lift and even throw in a cup of coffee if you’d like?”

“I would,” I answered, “Thank you, ma’am.”

“Names Ellen,” she offered.

“I’m Tom,” I responded as I shook her hand.

After a cup of coffee and a little conversation, Ellen hired me for three days of interior painting and to sand down and roll out a couple of coats of polyurethane on her wood floors. Thinking back, she probably ran a background check on me and found I wasn’t a criminal.

She also allowed me to stay in the house, out of the rain, which was an added benefit. Unfortunately, it only took two days to finish both projects, after all it was a very small house.

Ellen was happy with my work and tried to pay me $300, but I only accepted $50. I spent the money on a blue rain slicker and a new plastic tarp and soon I was on my way.

The Overworked Mind

It’s the night-time that’s the worst. His mind refusing to take a rest as it works to develop stories worth telling.

Even when he sleeps those few hours, his mind machinates, imagining, thinking what word should come next, how the story should flow and end. Then he wonders why he’s always so damned fatigued, mind and body.

Once the morning has come to pass, he’s then stuck with another dilemma. The one where he must recall what his brain had pressed so hard against sleep for.

“What was that story-line, again?” he’ll ask while sitting before his blinking computer’s screen.

Praeteritus Puer

Sadly a friend with whom I went to high school, lost her child to murder. My heartache left me thinking how there’s not a word for such a loss.

After all, a wife becomes a widow, a husband a widower and children are known as orphans. But what of parents left behind?

So I began to study, using the dead language of Latin. I tried to conflate ‘praeteritus,’ which means ‘to pass over,’ and ‘puer,’ meaning ‘child’ into a single word.

But it fails to reflect the parent’s profound suffering and now it has become simply too painful to continue.

Double Talking

“Well, there’s my favorite disc jockey,” she said as she continued wiping down the bar.

He laughed, “That’s why I keep coming back – you know how to feed my ego.”

“You’re here awfully early, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, wanna get a jump on licking my wounds.”

“That don’t sound good.”

“Maybe not, maybe it is – we’ll see a few drinks in.”

“Your usual, doll?”

“Naw, simply whiskey. No beer,” he said as he laid a $100 bill on the counter.

“Must be serious,” she smile as she poured a double-shot.

“Still no work for me, though I’m happy to announce a couple of my radio friends found studio work again.”

“Well, that’s good for them. But what about you? Is this why you’re wanting to get your alcohol on?”

He tossed down the double and lightly banged the empty glass on the bar. She poured another for him.

“By the way, how’d you get here?” she asked

“Oh, I walked,” he answered.

“Well, I hope you’re not walking home wasted.”

“I’m not – my son and daughter-in-law are Lyft and Uber drivers. I’ll give them a shout – or more than likely have you do it ‘cause I don’t plan to see straight by midnight.”

“Deal! Now tell me what this is all about.”

“I applied for the same positions, but never heard a thing from the stations, till I heard them on the air.”

“That’s gotta hurt.”

“It’s a two-edged sword. I’m glad they have jobs as radio is getting harder and harder to get into because everyone wants an all-rounder.”

“An all-rounder?”

“Yeah – a term I made up ‘cause I can’t think what else to call it. All-rounders do sales, promotions, write copy, cut commercials, are on the air and mop, sweep and make coffee, too.”

“I jus’ ain’t one of those kind of people,” he said slamming the second drink down.

“Sounds like multi-tasking,” she replied.

“Sorta,” he said, “But each one is separate from the other and the pay is shitty – says the idiot without a job.”

“So they have you doing more for less pay.”

“Exactly and I jus’ ain’t the guy for that. Hell, I have trouble walking and chewing gum.”

“So what do you think you can do about it?”

“I dunno – that’s why I’m here planning to get shit-faced.”

“Can any of your friend’s in the biz recommend you?”

“Maybe, but they won’t?”

“Why?” she asked as she pour yet another double, neat.

“Fragile egos,” he answered, adding after drinking down another glassful, “An innate fear that someone might get ahead.”

“That sounds kinda cutthroat.”

“No…jus’ the way the business goes – though I have recommended folks for jobs, seen them hired, trained them and watched as they moved up in status – better shifts, positions, more money, bigger markets, crap like that. That’s gratifying.”

“So, why you sitting here getting drunk again?”

“Hmm…fuck if I can remember,” he smiled, as he handed her his cellphone, “Would you please call my ride for me and keep those doubles coming until my kid gets here?”

As she dialed the number, he added, “I’m glad we had this talk.”

The bartender pour him another one and smiled, “Me, too, hon. This one’s on the house.”

The Older Ways

They called him a ‘Luddite,’ because he shied away from power tools, preferring instead to maintain the older ways of the square, the handsaw, nails and hammer. For eight weeks straight, eight hours a day, he measured, he cut, he pounded – placing each nail with precise care.

He’d heard their remarks, the teasing, the laughter, as neighbors quickly grew their fence lines as his slowly progressed. But once he finished, he smiled, satisfied his work would hold.

And over the years, many of those fences came and went, the man died, yet his craftsmanship, like a marbled monument, still stands.

Their Bones

He’d been a purely dangerous man in earlier years, but a good woman and married life had settled him down. He raised cattle now and led packing strings through the Sierra passes for pay.

She begged him to stay, but he refused, knowing the Basque herders had been cut-off from town by the consortium. And a man true to his word, he’d promised to help those shepherds, should push come to shove.

She’d cried that she could feel trouble brewing deep in her bones. He wishes now that he had  listened, as his bones lay mouldering on the mountainside, unseen.

The Wait

She stood at her kitchen’s sink, staring out the window, across the open expanse towards the tree line far ahead, recalling how he promised he’d be back within the week. In her mind’s eye she could still see him leading the two mules into the wooded area along the worn path.

It was a simple chore – one he’d completed many times before; resupplying the sheep camp in the upper meadow. She should have never let him go, she thought as a hopelessness racked her soul.

Then she caught her reflection in a window pane, an old woman, wrinkled and gray-haired.

Seeing Red in a White Out

Busy morning on the ‘stead…

Went out, shoveled what snow we had on the drive and sidewalks only to have the major part of the forecasted storm that should have been here hours ago, hit. No sense in continuing to shovel as that’s like using a coffee can to bail out the Titanic.

Came inside, got some coffee to warm up with, sat down and after a few minutes, noticed one of the three dogs is missing. “Where the hell’s Buddy?” I asked the other two, like they could tell me.

Went out into the backyard looking for him. Nothing.

Spent half-an-hour walking around the block calling his name. By the time I returned home, I felt frantic.

I even looked to see if there might be footsteps leading up to the fence, thinking someone might have dog-napped him.

Back inside, I returned to the backyard and still can’t find him. Pissed off and in panic mode — I decided to check the one closed room in the house — Mary’s office. Yup, the little shit was in there all the effing while.

Panic mode has since subsided and anger chilled, I’ve apologized to the mutt for accidentally shutting him in the room (as I’d forgotten I’d gone in there earlier and now realize he must have follow me,) and now I’m taking on the positive approach — I got my daily walk done.

The Incident at Stool Leg

“Those god-damned Kachina Dolls are at it again,” G.I. Joe stated to the gathering of Green Army Men.

He’d jus’ been updated by the clay-colored Cowboy’s, who’d been out in search of the red-colored Indians. The Indian’s had slipped off the ‘rez’ earlier in the morning, saying they were raiding a cupboard.

However, instead of the cupboards, they’d joined forces with the Kachina Dolls, who’d captured the most popular two in the toy chest as they rode My Little Pony, bareback. Joe knew he had to develop a plan quickly, or risk the loss of the couple and the horse.

Some of the men looked at each other, then one spoke up, “So, the dog’s aren’t around?”

“No,” Joe answered, “Tom locked them outside while he’s busy shoveling off the driveway and sidewalk. This means it’s up to us to take control of the situation and steal back Barbie and Ken.”

“Wonderful,” someone complained, “Another rescue of fairy boy and girlfriend.” They all laughed.

“Okay, knock it off,” Joe commanded, “Settle down. Now here’s the plan…”

Fully briefed, Joe led the men into the hallway and towards the living room. They could hear the singing, the melodic chanting and the tapping of wooden feet on the wood flooring, long before they made it to the back of the leather couch set.

A scout, the Green Army Man with the binoculars to his face, returned with a report: “They have the pair tied to the leg of a stool. They are trying to rub two used toothpicks together to make a fire and burn’em at the stake.”

“Shit! That’s a new one,” Joe said as he scratched the stubble on his chin.

Quickly and quiet, he directed the men into position for the impending attack to save Mattel’s favorite couple. As they waited for their signal, a sudden loud and frightening sound came from behind their position.

Joe turned, only to see the Hulk, in all his menacing dark-green form, running full speed passed his established observation point.

“Ah, son-of-a-bitch!” he he half-shouted, “Who the eff told him about this mission?”

But it was too late, the Hulk leaped into the midst of the Kachina warrior party and began tearing them apart; arms, legs, torsos, heads and ornamental feathering flying in all directions. Soon, none were left standing and the Hulk returned, carrying Ken over one shoulder and Barbie over the other.

“Private Hulk, reporting, Mr. Joe,” he saluted, as he dropped the couple unceremoniously to the floor and with a thud.

Joe returned the salute, “Who the hell told you about this?”

“Hulk over hear.”


“You remember Mr. Joe, Hulk Green Army Man, too.”

Joe waited for the over-muscled, under-brained bruiser to turn away, before shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Then together, the hodge-podge expedition gathered and quickly returned in an orderly fashion down the hallway.

Once they were where they belonged, one of the Army men asked, “So, what about the mess the Hulk left behind?

“Don’t worry ’bout it,” Joe snickered, “The cat’s still in the house – he’ll get the blame.”

Getting Fat-faced

It was a burning sensation from Hell as I awoke from an exhausted sleep. I was so warm that I couldn’t climb inside my sleeping bag, so I simply rolled it out and laid down on it.

The long days sun had drained me, and though terribly thirsty, I wasn’t the least bit interested in food as I searched for a spot off the roadway. It had been hours since I seen a vehicle pass by and I truly had begun to wonder if I’d stepped off the world somehow and came to travel through a bewildering landscape.

On either side were high, red cliffs, below was a double lane road that snaked it’s self like a gray ribbon between the slotted walls. Strange sounds, tumbling chips of rock and heat were my only companions and I was half-scared, half-in-wonderment and fully lost.

Now, I’d been bitten or stung. Was it a spider, a scorpion or perhaps a centipede or a snake? I had no idea as it was far too dark for me to see anything as it scurried away – assuming that it did.

Within seconds the right side of my face puffed up, swollen to the point I could no longer see out of my eye. I felt a warmish sensation course through my body which left me wanting to throw up, a severe danger in the heat of the desert, leading to deadly dehydration.

It was struggle to shake out my sleeping bag, roll it up and get it back into my rucksack. I was in a dazed-frame of mind as I finally completed the task and made it over to the asphalt.

After walking through the darkness, half-sighted and completely ill, I finally found a rock by the roadside and sat down. I needed to wait for the venom to finish what it had begun and I wasn’t sure it it’s job was to finish me off or fade away till I felt better.

Hallucination overcame me and I believed someone or something was watching me. Even though it was dark, I believed I could see shadows dancing, gyrating and floating between the canyon walls.

By this time, I was so miserable that if they were agents of the Devil, I would have welcomed them to kill me. Eventually, the poison had spread to the other side of my face, making it even more difficult to see and worse, my throat was tight and drinking from my canteen became practically impossible as I could barely swallow or feel my lips.

At first, I thought I was dreaming as I heard the sound of the vehicle pull up and stop. Next came two voices, speaking in a language I didn’t understand, but which seemed somewhat familiar.

The woman’s voice, older, more dominant, the younger one, a male, compliant. Together they approached me and ushered me to the still running vehicle and helped me into the back seat.

As we began to moved I allowed myself dream that they were aliens and I was about to get the ride of a life time. It wouldn’t be the last time I fantasized, becoming confused about events over the coming days.

My memory fuzzed out at that time, perhaps because I sensed safety or maybe my will power to struggle and survive had ebbed; I have no idea, At any rate, I didn’t wake up until a few days later in what I would learn was a hogan.

The first person I saw was a man with snow-white hair, a brightly colored shirt and crisp blue jeans. He introduced himself as Hatáli Sam. Since I couldn’t say his first name, or what I thought was his first name I called him Mr. Sam and he appeared okay with that.

Later, I learned hatáli means ‘singer’ in Navajo and that Sam was the man’s last name. He had been the one to treat my sting, what he knew to be an Arizona Bark Scorpion.

“You’ve been bit before, no?” Mr. Sam asked.

“Yes,” I answered, “I sat on a scorpion when I was 18.”

“Ahh,” he smiled, “This one must have thought you his brother and offered greetings. Makes sense. Never seen a sting in the face before.”

“Thank you for helping me – saving my life,” I said after a lengthy silence.

“You are welcome. Are you hungry? Would you like some coffee?” he asked.

“Please,” I answered.

It took me the rest of the day and most of the next to regain my strength. By that time, I was becoming a sort of cause célèbre as visitor came and went each wanting to see the man with the ‘fat face.’

Evidently, bringing gift’s is a part of the culture and soon Mr. Sam had a bench full of items. It felt good to eat, drink and enjoy the dry heat of the summer day as Mr. Sam told me I should stay more days and fully heal.

The evening of the second day, we were sitting by the hogan’s door way when Mr. Sam stated, “I wouldn’t not do this for an Anglo usually, but your case is different. You need a hozhooji, if you are willing.”

As soon as he said this, I nearly broke tradition by asking, “What does it entail.” Instead, I simply shook my head ‘yes.’

The following day, Mr. Sam awoke me before the sunrise, leading me down a narrow path to a small flat below his hogan to a ‘wiki-up.’ Constructed of branches, the wiki-up’s frame is dome-shaped and covered in several layers of skins, everything from coyote to deer and possibly bear hide.

There, he instructed me to strip down to my ‘skivvies’ and go inside and wait, which I did. Soon six other men, some my age, other’s slightly older, joined me and the ceremony began.

It started off amazingly simple; a small fire in the center of the wiki-up, hand-held square drums with wooden sticks that had a curve to their heads and chanting. The ceremony becomes more complex as one sits, sweats and eventually joins in the chanting, as I did my best to do.

Eventually, we were given a weak tea to drink. At first it was bitter to my taste, but the more I drank the less bitter it became. Unbeknownst to me this tea’s designed to make a person upset to their stomach.

The idea being, that if you puke it up, you are ridding yourself of the bad things of ‘this world.’ I was unable to keep mine down.

After several exhaustive days filled with chanting, singing, dancing, drums and sweating, and with very little sleep and food, I was given a small piece of ‘fruit’ no bigger than a raisin to chew and swallow. A few minutes after that, I entered a new ‘level of self,’ as best I can describe it, that allowed me to see sound in color, to feel the air as it entered my lungs, hear the heartbeat of the man sitting next to me, though he was a number of feet away, and to feel myself float or glide beyond my body.

Somehow, I managed find my way, spiritually, through all five steps of the ceremony – which include the Protection way, purification and cleansing, a nine-day spiritual renewal process and finally my journey to spirit world and back. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was in ‘another place’ for over 48-hours.

Once I returned to my natural-self, I was very hungry and thirsty and Mr. Sam made sure that each man had plenty of water and food. As I sat outside the wiki-up, eating and sipping water and coffee, I couldn’t but think how selfish I was being, running away from my problems, creating new one, and not giving a damn about any of it.

There was such a peace in me that I didn’t want to leave for fear that it would not last or would be lost, but after more than three-weeks, I knew what I had to do. It was Mr. Sam who drove me to a busy rest stop, where he dropped me, sending me on my way.

I was soon to learn, that inner-peace doesn’t mean a lack of personal trouble.

Taking Time to Write

For the past three weeks, I’ve been battling a very minor health crisis that has knocked me back on my ‘tuck-and-roll.’ Because of this I’ve been remiss on doing any ‘real’ writing, relying on the time-tested skill of doing as little a possible while I continue to recover.

It has me thinking about two things — time and of course, writing. First, let me share a thought on time:

When I was a kid, I lived on ‘Indian time.’ No watches or things like that.

It was the shadow of a tree, the position of the sun, even the buzz and pop of mercury-vapor street light’s coming on, a sense of passage, not a ‘true measurement,’ as the modern man expresses his relationship with time. To this day, much to my wife and some of my friend’s chagrin, I still ‘practice’ this sort of ‘time-keeping.’

Rarely do I carry my pocket watch and I don’t wear a wrist watch. In fact my only ‘timepiece’ is on my cellphone and I leave that behind when I go out into the wilds of nature.

It is far more relaxing than to constantly worry about the face of a clock and it’s ever busily moving hands or a set of flashing digital numbers.

Now for that other thing…

A fellow-writer, whose blog I follow, recently questioned ‘why’ he is writing. He discovered that he does it to keep himself healthy — mentally and spiritually.

Many of us begin not knowing the ‘why,’ astonishingly (and in most cases, blissfully) unaware of what we’re getting ourselves into. I began when I was nine-years-old, being lonely and feeling misunderstood, by journaling, then branching out into short stories and poetry.

Then one day, we awaken and say ‘Why do this thing?’

It generally comes at that point where we’re uncertain if we want to continue or if we plan to continue — what is the outcome we’re expecting to reach. And the majority of us say, ‘I write for me, first.’

Sounds selfish, but it isn’t. It is, instead the process of healing, sharing, integrating — and it all begins within us.

Finally, I’m a firm believer that if more people took the time to write, they’d see less struggle and conflict in their lives because they’d busily see each encounter as an opportunity to explore, research, and think about, putting into words, their experiences. And by doing so, they’d come to a better understanding of the other person, if not the world and themselves.

As for that health crisis — given the time, it is resolving itself.

Pair from Crescent City Missing in Bay Area

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help in locating a 32-year-old woman, who disappeared shortly after going to pick up a friend at a San Francisco, California hospital. Kimberly ‘Cheri’ Clifton-Madsen was last heard from February 1, 2019.

Cheri is five-foot-nine-inches tall, weighs about 125 pounds, has shoulder length, blonde hair and blue eyes. Other distinguishing features include nose and ear piercings, a small celtic cross on her upper left thumb, two stars on her back at the base of her neck, a heart on her right knee and a dragon-fly with stars on her left bicep.

Her friend, 29-year-old Anthony Blake Deines, is missing as well after last contacting his family on January 31, 2019. He’s six-foot-four-inches, 210 pounds, with brown hair and eyes and recently had surgery.

If you have any information on or have seen either Cheri or Anthony, you’re asked to contact the DNSO at (707) 464-4191, ext. 6.

Swan Dive

The weather was sunny and warm, perfect for a swim in the creek. But John could only sit and watch as the other children joined in.

His bedroom overlooked their old swimming hole. It had been years since any of the neighborhood kids swam there.

As he watched, John smiled, enjoying the sight of the youngsters frolicking with wild abandon. It made him wish for his younger years.

The old rope swing seemed as strong as ever as it sent one child after another out over the deeper part of the hole. From there, he remembered, he could do cannon balls, belly flops and once, he even attempted a swan dive.

“It was only once,” he mumbled.

“What did you say, John?” his nurse asked.

“Aw, nothing,” he answered, “Jus’ thinking out loud.”

The nurse step behind him, reached down and unlocked the chair’s wheels before carefully moving him towards the bathroom. It was time for John’s daily bowel program.

The Newly Wed

It was a dark, but very clear night as the two of us stood alone on the tenement roof top. Bruce had very little to say as he was thinking. After three-months of marriage he was coming to regret his saying ‘I do.’

Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do for him, as this was a situation he’d have to work out on his own. There are only so many things a guy is able to do for a friend – and marital interference isn’t one of them.

I could see his situation had him down and pressed so heavily on him that he’d taken up smoking to relieve the pressure – something I had discussed with him before. He said he could stop anytime he wanted too.

“Well,” Bruce growled in a graveled-whisper, crushing out his cigarette, “Better get home. Looks like I have milk to pick up.”

“I completely understand,” I said, ‘Being a married man myself.”

We both looked up at the beam where the word ‘milk’ shined in the center shape of the well-known winged mammal. With a heavy sigh, the Batman disappeared into the black void of the city and I wondered if I should talk to his missus, reminding her that her grocery lists are not what the Bat Light’s designed for.

The Roped Coyote

Prospecting in the winter is as tough as it is during the summer months. One simply exchanges a broiling heat for frigid temperatures, as I very well knew.

The hill before me had a number of Pinion pine covering it and I wanted to see what might lay beyond it. While I didn’t expect much change in the scenery, I knew I was looking for that something that told me I might find a few gem stones, or a small gold vein.

What I didn’t expect was to find a coyote, tangled in a tree with a throwing-rope around his neck. While surprised at the sight of him, he was none to happy to see me as he bared his teeth as a warning not to draw any closer.

Once I understood what had happened to this coyote, I was instantly reminded of the poem, ‘The Belled Coyote,’ written by Bob Fletcher. It’s the poem on which Cole Porter based his 1934 hit song, “Don’t Fence Me In.”

So, I stood silently and watched him as he tried in desperation to escape the rope. He was having no success and it was obvious that he’d been at it for days, as his frame showed the gaunt ravaged of a slow starvation.

Realizing this, I felt for my six-shooter, thinking I should put him out of his misery, but the more I saw his struggle, the less heart I had to do so. There was something in his eyes and in his action that screamed survival and I couldn’t refuse the call.

Instead, I set about figuring how to release him from the predicament he had found himself tangled in. The first thing I needed was a long branch from one of the Pinions as I planned to use it to keep him at bay while I cut the rope from the tree he become entangled on.

As I knelt on the snow-covered ground, I could hear him issuing warnings in his guttural language. However the more I worked, ignoring his complaints, the more he calmed and the less he showed me his fangs.

Sizing up the rope, I knew I had to cut it as close to the coyote as possible, lest he end up getting entangled again. That meant untangling the rope from the tree or simply cutting it would be ineffective in the long run.

Knowing that my rescue of the coyote called for a different plan, I decided to withdraw from the tree and fetch some jerky from my pack. I tossed him a small piece, which he initially tried to run from.

Eventually, his nose caught scent of the meat and he began investigating it. After he gobbled it down, for the first time his ears perked up and he didn’t snarl at me.

After feeding him a couple of more pieces of jerky, I concluded that there was only one way to get him free – and that it involved perfect timing – because I might not get a second chance and worse, he could bite me. With my branch in hand, being dragged behind me, I worked myself up closer and closer to the beast, until I was about five-feet from him.

Offering jerky bits, helped alleviate his natural fear, as his hunger was far greater than his fear. Finally I tossed a piece of meat over his back and as he turned to retrieve it, I lunged forward with the branch and trapped his body to the ground.

To say he was unhappy is an understatement as he did everything he could to escape from where I had him pinned. Using the branch as a step, I held him tight to the ground and moved closer to where the rope embedded in his fur.

Then in a very uncharacteristic action, the coyote simply submitted as I quickly pulled the would-be noose from his neck and yanked it over his head. Then I sprung back, creating some distance between us.

The coyote jumped to his feet and raced off down the far side of hill. Laughing at how quickly he high-tailed it away, I shouted after him, “You’re welcome.”

Returning to the tree in which he’d been tangled, I set about working out how to unwrap the rope. It took me about 15 minutes, and once done, I began coiling it up, having realized I now had a new throwing-rope.

As I loaded my pack up, I saw my ‘friend’ had returned. I knew it wasn’t about coming back to say ‘thank you’ or anything like that – as coyotes, like dogs live in the ‘now’ – he knew I had food.

Then and there, I decided to leave him the rest of my beef jerky.

Problems Adding Blogs to Reader

Is anyone else having problems with adding blog sites to their WP reader?

I am have a terrible time with the feature. Sometimes, I will add a site and it’ll appear in my list of ‘Blogs that I Follow,” only to disappear when the site it refreshed or reloaded.

And then every time I try to add a blog through my WP reader’s manage page, I’ll get the green ‘Followed’ message, which disappears instantly, then replaced by: “Sorry, there was a problem following ____________. Please try again.” The blank is the web address of the site I’d like to add to my WP reader.

And so far, though I’ve reached out for help from WP and their Forum, I’ve had no word back about correcting this problem. This is so frustrating!

Blue Glass

At first I planned to create a fiction story about my experience (maybe later on I will) — but then I realized, even as hard as it is to admit to my strangeness — it might do someone, somewhere, some good in knowing…

As a child I had a bunch of little quirks that made me an oddball, that isn’t to say that I don’t still sport some quirks, but I understand them a bit more and am able to manage them better. One strange thing that I had going on as a kid was a fascination with blue glass bottles.

There was a time that medication such as Vicks VapoRub and Milk of Magnesia came in actual blue glass bottles and I’d collect them. Believe it or not, I found the blue color of the bottles, coupled with the coolness of the glass as a calming device to my otherwise overly active mania.

Even stranger is the belief I held about those glass containers. I would breathe into them after I had completely scrubbed and cleaned them, thinking that I was transferring a bit of my spirit into them, before putting the lid back on them.

Over the years I had well over 125 different bottles, from the giant Vicks containers to the even bigger M.O.M. ones. I had them all neatly lines up in both the garage and in my bedroom that I shared with Adam, until I was 16-years-old.

One sunny summer day, following a long weekend of traveling for two different track meets in Oregon, I came home to find my collection gone. Mom had grown tired of it, claiming they were a waste of time, and had Pa Sanders take them to the dump.

It took me several days, if not a couple of weeks to get over this and the unwarranted fear that I was going to die because my trapped spirit was tossed out with them. Every time I see a blue-bottle, now days, whether it be plastic or actual glass, I recall those extreme days of summer and then laugh at my silliness.

Back then no one really had an understanding of manic-depression – of which I was more manic than depressed. Had anyone realized I was in such a state, they’d probably would have lobotomized me or something.

As a side note in 2016, The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a paper on the positive effects of Blue‐blocking glasses as additive treatment for mania. Such things leave me to wonder if I was onto something back then and had no idea.

Lost Coast: Crescent City’s Missing Dead

As often is the case, when towns become increasingly populated, the local cemetery is eventually relocated to make more room. One such cemetery, once found at the foot of 9th Street, in Crescent City, California, is now known as ‘Brother Jonathan Point’ and ‘Brother Jonathan Park.’

In 1949, local Kiwanis Club members took it upon themselves to clean up the old cemetery and make it a historical landmark because the victims of the Brother Jonathan sinking were laid to rest there. It would take another 10 years to complete the task.

The Del Norte County Historical Society applied for what was known then as the Brother Jonathan Cemetery to be registered as a state landmark in 1955. The Rotary Club then “reconstructed” the site using 28 original headstones circling a flagpole on raised ground.

The only headstones belonging to Brother Jonathan victims are those of Polina and Daniel Rowell. The remaining 26 are those of various local residents.

Originally, purchased by the Masons in 1854, their records show that it had separate sections for Native Americans, the Masons, Catholics and the Chinese. One of the problems with early records involve the Chinese population.

As per their custom, they would bury their dead in the cemetery, only to dig them up to have their remains shipped home to China for burial with their ancestors. However, no one bothered to record these interments or their removal and the only proof that a body had been laid to rest, then removed, were the divots left behind following a removal.

Masonic records also show that it’s west boundary went to the end of ninth Street, the southern boundary to six street, the eastern boundary as far as A Street, which now encompasses Taylor and Wendell Streets. While building homes, in later years, contractor’s unearthed several caskets, leading to the speculation that some homes came to be built over undiscovered burials.

The wreck of the ‘Brother Jonathan’ on July 30, 1865, brought some of the 224 drowning victims to the cemetery. As many as 90 bodies washed ashore in the Crescent City area, with 66 people being buried in a mass grave, marked only by a row of pine trees.

As time went on, the cemetery fell into disrepair later described as a ‘jungle littered with stones broken by vandals.’ Finally, after a storm in the 1929, that brought caskets to the surface, the city requested that anyone with family buried there, re-inter them at the Crescent City Cemetery on Cooper street.

While relatives of the Brother Jonathan disaster collected some of their loved ones, it’s believed that some remains are still in the area, whereabouts unknown. The same can be said about local residents, as it’s thought that all the headstones were officially relocated, but not all the bodies.

There are no complete records on how many people came to be buried at the cemetery. In fact, there are no known official records before 1905, but after 64 years of use, it’s estimated that some 1,500 bodies were at one time or another, interred in the patch of land.

The Rise of the News Bot

Recently, a friend of mine lost his job at a small town newspaper after 28-and-a-half years of working for this organization. His ‘firing’ is a symptomatic of an even greater problem as technology, used simply for monetary gain, begins to replace human-skill in the newsroom.

Many of the US’s ‘leading’ newsrooms are now using artificial intelligence to ‘produce’ data-heavy stories. The Associated Press, which is often used as a resource by smaller organizations to develop their own news articles, began using ‘language generation’ software to produce both sports and earning reports in 2014.

The Wall Street Journal uses AI technology to help identify ‘fake news’ stories. Many of these same stories are also written by that same AI technology which eventually flags these ‘fake news’ articles, canceling each other out.

Finally, in 2016, the Washington Post used a ‘robot reporter’ to cover not only the Rio Olympics, but also the US presidential campaign. And that’s the danger – one mistake not caught before filing and every news agency using that source becomes questionable.

On June 22, 2017, the Los Angeles Times, reported hat a 6.8 magnitude earthquake had hit the Pacific Ocean about ten miles from Santa Barbara. The computer found the data, dating back to 1925, and ran with it as if it had happened that day.

No wonder, the media suffers from serious trust-issues and again, they’ve done it to themselves with their so-called saving money measures.

Flush with Pain

As I sit and type this, I do so while in pain. It began Friday even after going to bed; first a stabbing pain that came and went in a flash, followed by the need to sit on the toilet a couple of hours later.

But since the pain had vanished, I thought nothing more about it. In fact, I did something I very rarely do – I went to the movies and ate nearly two large tubs of popcorn.

That’s where this really begins, because I also ate two small beef tacos for an early dinner and then a good-sized bowl of rice after getting home and before bed. About two in the morning I grew hot and sweaty, but also felt chilly.

Since I often have night-terrors that include night-sweats, I didn’t think much of it. That all changed when it came time to get up, and the left side of my lower abdomen had me doubled over in agony.

Though I hurt, I forced myself to take a shower and get dressed. However in less than an hour I was back, laying on the bed, chilled and sweating.

But being the ‘macho man’ I’d like to think I am, I didn’t stay down for very long. In fact, I deliberately returned to my daily routine, having a second cup of coffee and a couple of pieces of bacon for breakfast.

The pain didn’t go away and I was thinking that perhaps I needed to go to the VA hospital for a quick exam, but them I passed gas and felt tremendous relief. The pain subsided for 10 or 15 minutes and I knew in an instant what was wrong – I have a case of diverticulitis.

Simply put, diverticulitis is an inflammation (or in severe cases an infection) of small pouches called diverticula that develop along the walls of the intestines. The formation of the pouches themselves is a relatively benign condition known as diverticulitis.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and a change in bowel habits. I hit all the high points, save for nausea — thankfully.

One of the things that can trigger an onset of diverticulitis is popcorn – and as stated before – I ate two large tubs while a the movies. But I may have already been in the throes of the disorder the night before and the popcorn jus’ made it worse.

Anyway, changes are coming – more fruits, veggies, salads and the like; less red meat and grains. And finally, longer walks — perhaps more hiking, too.

At present, I am on a clear liquid diet, mostly warmed water, to help flush my system. I still haven’t had a really colon-clearing bowel movement (I’ll spare you the details when it happens,) and standing up is still a painful (though less than it has been) activity.

One final thing – in my experience – only the passing of a kidney stone is worse than this when it comes to pain. In fact, I deliberately stopped drinking whole milk afterwards.

And now — time to return to my ever-humble commode.

Joe’s Latest Visit

As I sat staring at my computer vacant screen, I caught a slight movement in the corner of my left eye. Looking over I saw my Action Figure G.I. Joe climbing up the side of the book-case towards my desk.

A few seconds later, he made the perilless leap from the case towards my desk. Unfortunately. he landed on a loose stack of papers and tumbled hard to the carpeted floor.

He must’ve knocked the wind out of himself as he laid motionless for about ten seconds. Finally, and as I was getting ready to check on him, he sat up.

“Fuck you, you asshole!” he snarled at me as got to his feet.

“What the hell did I do?” I barked back.

“Nothing! Absolutely nothing – and that’s the problem, butt-face!”

“Hey, shithead, the last time I tried to help you, you got all pissy with me.”

“Well — that was then.”

“So, you want help now?”


“Yeah, what?”

“Whadd’ya mean ‘Yeah, what?’”

“You want help – so how do you ask for it.”

Please,” Joe lilts as if the very word is killing him, “help me up on to your god-damn desk.”

Gently, I reached down, grasped him around the hips and lifted him to the desk. Once, I was certain he’d found his footing, I let go, where he simply stood there as if lost.

“What’s wrong now?” I asked.

“Shit! I can’t fucking remember why the hell I came in here,” he answered, hands on his hips, “Can you please let me down?”

Again, as gently as possible, I grasped him around his mid-section and lowered him to the floor. I could hear him muttering to himself as he walked down the hallway.

I returned to staring at my computer, the cursor still violently flashing at the top of the page, and thought, “Awkward…”

When Being Helpful Isn’t

The Communists took over and decided to execute their political rivals using the guillotine.

The Constitutionalist came first. When the Executioner released the rope, the blade refused to budge. He declared it a miracle and let the prisoner walk free.

Next came the Capitalist. When the Executioner released the rope, the blade moved only half way down. Again, he declared it a miracle, and the him go.

Finally came time for the Democrat to be executed. While being readied, he looked at the Executioner and said, “If you put a little machine oil in the blade’s tracks, it’ll work better.”

FDR Report Cover Page

My high school U.S. history teacher, Mr. Costello assigned the class a report. I ended up doing mine on President Franklin Roosevelt.

Evidently, Mr. Costello wasn’t impressed with my artwork. He wrote over it, commenting on everything from content, to capitals, sentence structure and grammar.

For three nights in the Spring of 1977, I banged out eleven pages of report on an old broke-down manual typewriter I’d been using since I was at least nine-years-old. Sometimes I miss the clickety-clack and ding of the obsolete.

While I tossed the report away in a fit of anger because of the way he graded it, I kept the cover page anyway, because I thought that it was pretty good. Hell, I still think it’s pretty good.

Old Writings, New Discoveries and OMG!

While digging around in our attic, sorting out my camping gear, I discovered a shit-load of poems I wrote between September 2001 and February 2003. A lot of that time, I spent off the grid, running from myself and eventually addressing life’s problems.

There are at least 500 pages that I now need to deal with. Questions include do I even wanna post them?  And if I post them, should I go for broke and post them all or should I be selective? Finally, how do I post them; type each out or do I simply scan them and then post them?


The Gardener Came Today

Robbie Cheadle is the woman behind the website, ‘Roberta Writes.’ She recently penned a flash-fiction story titled, “Lavender not Forever,” that I found kinda erotic, so added to it, only this time from the gardener’s point of view…

John watched as the woman, either mad with joy, anger, perhaps both, ripped her grandmother’s lavender plants from their mooring. As the gardener, John had spent nearly 20-years caring for the old woman’s plants and upon seeing Nettie in her state of rage, he wanted to be angry with the granddaughter.

Instead, he explored Nettie’s features, her standing there in her newly inherited garden, skirt hiked high, panties slightly showing, satin blouse clinging to her sweat-soaked breasts.  It was then that he realized that the more he saw, the more he thought himself a bumblebee, lengthy proboscis searching Nettie’s nectar.

Missing Crescent City, California Woman Sought

emiley teschUPDATE 3: Edward Culver Hughes IV was taken into custody by the Del Norte County sheriff’s office following a three-hour stand-off on February 18, 2019. He is charged with homicide and bail has been set at $1 million.

UPDATE 2: The Del Norte County Sheriff’s office has identified the body as that of Emiley Tesch-Hughes. Her husband, Edward Culver Hughes IV is a person of interest in her death, but they need your help in finding him. Please call the DNSO at (707) 464-4191 ext. 6, or sheriff investigators directly at (707) 951-7530 if you’ve seen him or know where he might be.

UPDATE 1: The remains of a body have been found inside a closet of the Hughes home.  The Del Norte County Sheriff’s office is not releasing the name of the body until an autopsy is completed and the next of kin has been notified.

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help in finding a missing 31-year-old woman. Believed to be in Eureka, California, Emily Tesch-Hughes was last seen December 23, 2018, in her hometown of Crescent City, California.

Emiley’s described as five-foot, four-inches tall, weighs about 145 pounds and has blonde hair and brown eyes. If you have any information about where she is, please call the DNSO at (707) 464-4191, ext. 6.

Where the Hell is My Hank Bauer?

For days I’ve been searching everywhere I could think for my Hank Bauer baseball card. The reason I wanted it is because my blogging-friend GP Cox, who publishes, ‘Pacific Paratrooper,’ posted a story about the ballplayer turned manager.

So why is this particular card so important to me? In a nutshell: Bauer is a Marine.

A month after the Japanese Imperial Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Bauer enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving with the 4th Raider Battalion and G Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. During 32-months of combat, he earned 11 campaign ribbons, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Wounded a second time during the Battle of Okinawa, Bauer was a sergeant in command of a platoon of 64 Marines. While the Japanese Imperial Army’s counter attack left Bauer so badly wounded that he had to be evacuated to the U.S., only six of the original 64 Marines in his platoon survived the battle.

Anyway, as a kid, I wasn’t very interested in collecting baseball cards. I preferred collecting comic books instead.

The same can be said now that I’m an adult. However, somewhere through the years I came into possession of a single collector’s box of baseball cards – mostly from the 1970’s.

There are only a couple of ball players that I recognize, including Tug McGraw and Rollie Fingers. Then there was the only 1960’s autographed card in the box, Hank Bauer of the Kansas City Athletics.

Since he is a Marine, I thought I had pulled the card from the box and placed it in my ‘special drawer,’ where I keep my other prized Marine Corps items. Unfortunately, the card wasn’t there and for the life of me I couldn’t begin to think where it might have gone.

Feeling down about having lost the card, I pulled the collectors box of from my closet shelf and began thumbing through them. You know, jus’ in case…

And with five cards left, near the end of the box, guess what I found? Yup, evidently, I placed it back in the box with the other cards.

Where the Black Dahlia Comes Close to Home

Alfre Woodard could be heard over half a block away as she screamed at a house on Roberts Street, in Reno, Nevada, which is where the majority of the film crew, including stand-in’s, extras and walk-on’s, not involved directly with the current scene being shot. “Miss Sally Brown! Come on out here. I know you’re in there. Come on out here right now, because I’m gonna whip your ass!” she shouts as character Jimmie Lee, Fauna Hodel’s mother.

The director barks, filming stops and everyone claps and cheers, including Fauna Hodel, who is in that crowd. The movie is “Pretty Hattie’s Baby,” and it’s November 1990.

Nearly three-decades later, Fauna Hodel’s story is in the limelight again. This time it’s a TNT made-for-TV series called, “I am The Night,” starring Chris Pine and India Eisley.

Unfortunately, Fauna isn’t a part of the crowd, cheering the recent incarnation of her life, as she passed away following a year-plus battle with cancer, on September 30, 2017 at the age of 66. She was born on August 1, 1951 in San Francisco and raised in Sparks, Nevada.

In both the 90’s movie and the TV show, the story revolves around Fauna’s struggle to discover her true identity. Growing up in Sparks, both black and white children teased her.

In a 1990 Reno Gazette-Journal article, written by Lenita Powers, Fauna explained that kid’s would ask when her father dropped her off at school, “Who’s that colored man? What are you doing with him?”

“He’s my dad,” she’d answer, “I’m colored, too.”

“I was constantly teased by black children. ‘You’re white! You’re white!’ Even Mama would tease me: ‘Child, you ain’t black.’” adding, “Mama explained who I was [and] she had great empathy for my real mother, who, she said, was forced to give me up. As I grew up, Mama told me the story of how I got to Reno.”

Jimmie Lee Faison was a ladies bathroom attendant at the Riverside Hotel when she met Dorothy Grace Barbe from San Francisco in 1951. On one of her many gambling trips, Barbe asked Jimmie if she would be interested in taking an illegitimate baby.

The mother was a white teen while the father was supposedly black. Jimmie Lee believed that the teen family was looking for a nice black home for the baby of “mixed race.”

According to Jimmie, she didn’t pay much attention to the request until a few months later, when a telegram arrived at her workplace, announcing Fauna’s birth. Soon Jimmie was on her way to San Francisco to pick up the infant girl with fair skin, straight brown hair and blue-gray eyes.

Renamed Patricia Ann, Fauna’s childhood was one of immense hardship as her family was poor and Jimmie Lee, an alcoholic. And when things at home became impossible, Fauna would move in with her aunt, Rosie Love Hawkins Bilbrew, a housekeeper at Harold Club until she retired in 1984.

“Even though Mama was an alcoholic, this woman endured incredible hardships,” Hodel, told Powers, “Mama grew up in the wrong time. She was a pretty black woman who created her own princess tale in her own environment. She wanted more out of life than it was able to give her.”

“I was her baby and she would “do everything she could to keep me,” said Hodel, refusing to speak ill of her ‘Mama,’ “She worshiped the ground I walked on.”

Fauna dropped out of Wooster High School at 15, pregnant with her first daughter, Yvette. This and a second marriage lead to her realizing her mission in life, to finding her real mother.

It took more than a decade, but she eventually located Tamar Nais Hodel in 1971 at the Honolulu International Airport. And with her real mother’s identity came the obvious truth: her mother had made up the story that I she was pregnant by a black boy.

After Jimmie died in 1976, Fauna moved to Hawaii to be near her real mother. She also started writing, “One Day She’ll Darken,” the basis of the show, “I am the Night.”

But the story doesn’t end there. Fauna soon learned that she was born into a family with an infamous history reaching back to the noir-world of late 1940’s Los Angeles and the murder, dismemberment and display of Elizabeth Short, known better by her newspaper-selling moniker, “The Black Dahlia.”

Her grandfather, Dr. George Hill Hodel remains the number one suspect in the killing of Elizabeth Short. He was never formally charged with the crime, and came to wider attention as a suspect after his death when his son (and Fauna’s uncle,) Los Angeles homicide detective Steve Hodel, accused him of killing Short and committing several additional murders, including the ‘Lipstick Murders,’ and those attributed to the ‘Zodiak.’

The senior Hodel first came under suspicion for murder in 1945, following the death of his secretary Ruth Spaulding by a drug overdose. Investigators suspected him of having murdered her to cover up his financial fraud, such as billing patients for tests that were never performed.

Hodel first came under police scrutiny in October 1949 after being accused of molesting then fourteen-year-old Tamar. Three witnesses testified at trial that they had seen Hodel having sex with his daughter, but a jury acquitted him of the charges in December 1949.

The LAPD eventually placed Hodel under surveillance from February 18, 1950 to March 27, 1950, installing two microphones in his home, and assigning eighteen detectives to the case.  In one instance Hodel is heard telling another man, ““Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary any more because she’s dead.”

Detective’s were never able to build a case against the elder Hodel, who died of heart failure in 1999. However, documents were later found indicating Spaulding planned to blackmail Hodel.

As for the six-part TV series, here’s a spoiler alert: Pine’s character, Jay Singletary, a Marine and Korean War veteran, who was once a promising reporter but disgraced while pursuing a story about Hodel and is now a lowly paparazzo figure, is nothing more than a plot device. He doesn’t appear in Fauna’s autobiography, created by the show’s writers for the sole purpose of making her story easier to tell.

The Old Lady’s Shoe

“So you’ve been reading Mother Goose, huh?” Grandpa asked.

“Yup,” answered his eight-year-old grandson, “Though I don’t understand the one about the old lady living in a shoe with all those kids.”

“What don’t you get?”

“How she fit everybody in a shoe.”

“Would it help if I told you the old lady was actually a prison warden and the kids were really inmates?”

“No. I still don’t get it.”

“Well, what if I told you the shoe they lived in was a Secure Housing Unit or S-H-U, for short?”

“Oh, now I get it!”

The retired corrections officer smiled.

That Pocket Watch

Alice watched as the white rabbit bounced through the garden, pausing in the grass. He looked at the watch in his paw.

“Oh, my!” he exclaimed, “I’m late for a very important date!”

Tucking the watch back where he had it, the rabbit hopped twice more before a pistol shot rang out. Alice ducked and when she lifted her head, the rabbit lay still on the ground.

“Good shot, Watson!” shouted the taller man.

“Why would you shoot such an innocent white rabbit?” Alice cried.

“Innocent?” replied the shorter man, “Why dear girl, that rabbit stole Mr. Holmes’ pocket watch!”

Scorpion Stinger

In summer of 2002, it was night-time and I was asleep on the ground. I rolled over and got stung below my right eye by an Arizona Bark Scorpion.

My face swelled up and all that jazz. Once the swelling went away, I was left with a small bump that kind of looked like a pimple, but nothing ever came out of it.

This morning though, the bump actually looked like it had a head, so I gave it a good squeeze. Much too my surprise, the stinger from that bastard arachnoid came out of the site.

I’m still grossed out!

Peer Pressure

“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” came the happy refrain around Woodchuck Hollow. He tried to join in, but the sound left him in agony and with no cure for his self-imposed illness.

Poor Harold Woodchuck had gone and done something stupid the night before and was paying for it now with a hangover. His head throbbed, his stomach churned and his body trembled as he fought off the need to throw-up.

And all he could remember of the night before was Cecil Groundhog chanting, “How much wood-grain alcohol can a woodchuck chug?”

When She Took Control

Gasping for breath while clutching the meat cleaver and continuing to crash head-long through the dense undergrowth, she ran for her young life. Her cape tattered, her breasts slashed and bloodied, she heard them — but did not listen.

“Stop! You’re the victim,” cried the deer.

“Wait for the woodcutter to save you,” called the tree.

“Go back, you’re jus’ a girl,” whispered the path.

“But this isn’t how the story ends,” complained the reader.

“Fuck that shit!” she shouted to the differing voices, “I saw what that asshole did to Granny and besides I think I only wounded the son-of-a-bitch!”