Questions Arise from Nevada’a ERA Bill

After reading the Nevada State Equal Right Amendment or SJR8, and aside from the fact that it is being pushed last minute (three days left of the 2019 Nevada State Legislature as of this writing) without public input, Section 24 of the bill is the most concerning and reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be  denied or abridged by this State or any of its political subdivisions on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin.”

Notice that there’s no protection of religious freedom, which leads to questions regarding sexual orientation: does this mean that those whose religion does not accept homosexuality and lesbianism will lose their religious liberty to practice their religion in their everyday lives, in their churches, businesses, jobs and homes in teaching their children?

As for ‘gender identity or expression?’ Does this mean children will lose their right to privacy to be forced to share bathrooms, showers, motel rooms on trips with persons who claim ‘a particular gender identity or expression,’ which is not that of their birth? What about ‘national origin?’ Does this mean these ‘equal rights’ extends to illegal aliens giving them the right to vote and to legally receive welfare benefits?

Finally, recalling a 1998 ‘ruling’ by the New Mexico Supreme Court, agreed that the state’s law mandates taxpayer-funding of abortions. The unanimous court held that a state ban on tax-funded abortions “undoubtedly singles out for less favorable treatment a gender-linked condition that is unique to women.” Will Nevada’s ERA wording lead the state into the same situation?

The Devil’s Brew

“Coffee!” my brain screamed, “I need coffee.” Generally, I don’t do Starbucks, but I couldn’t find a 7-11 or any other coffee shop nearby, so I told myself that it would have to do.

“Yes, nothing fancy – straight black, the largest you got,” I told the barista before she asked my name.

Since it was a simple order, it took no time to prepare. Once in hand, I started for the front door with the idea of sitting in my truck and enjoying a caffeine rush, but then I saw the over-stuffed couch and it looked far more comfortable than a bucket seat.

As I sat down and leaned back, a woman entered the shop; a woman with long, wavy red hair, alabaster skin, blue eyes, light makeup and sky-blue stiletto heels. I heard her order a ‘Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato,’ whatever the hell that is.

She sauntered over to the couch and looking at the other end, asked, “Is this seat taken?”

“No, ma’am,” I answered, “help yourself.”

I couldn’t help noticing her perfectly shaped body in her form fitted Azure-colored dress, as she removed her calf-length coat.

A silence filled the space between us. It came with the strange knowledge that these coffee shops are supposed to be very popular, however, aside from a staff of three, she and I were the only two customers in the place.

“Been traveling long?” she asked without looking up from her coffee.

A little take aback, I was slow to answer, “About 20 hours.”

“Are you heading any place in particular?”

“No. Simply driving from one place to the next.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that. I have kids at home.”

“Really? How many?”

“Eight at the moment. Hopefully nine by this afternoon.”

“Wow?”

“Yes, and all adopted.”

“Good on you! Not enough good folks are willing to adopt children it seems these days.”

“I know, right, especially the older ones?”

This was followed by a short silence, which she finally broke, with “Lilith Grigori, Christian,” as she stuck out her hand.

As I started to reach, “Wait! How in the hell do you know my…?”

“Relax, silly. It’s written on your cup,” she said, adding from out of the blue, “so what are you looking for as you travel?”

“Nothing,” I answered to her odd question, wondering if this was her way of coming on to me.

“Be honest, now – a man doesn’t wander aimlessly for no reason.”

“Well, I do.”

She looked at me, then nodded at my jacket pocket and the small note book that poked out of it, “You’re a writer, you look for stories, you explore and want to know, don’t you?”

“Never thought of it like that — so I guess — yes.”

“Humble. I like that in a man.”

I smiled, not understanding the context of her compliment.

“Want to hear a wild story?”

“Sure,” I answered, taking a gulp of my quickly cooling coffee.

“I work for the Devil,” she said as she watched for my reaction.

“Nut job,” I thought, as I answered aloud, “You do? Why would anyone want to work for him?”

“Who said he was a he?”

“What?”

“She’s a she.”

It was time for me to go and Lilith sensed it, “What — does this scare you?”

“Not what — you — you’re scaring me,” I responded, “I don’t know you, but you’re coming off as bat-shit crazy.”

“Bat-shit, I’ve always wondered who in the fuck it was that decided bat-shit is the craziest,” she laughed, adding, “So you don’t want to hear my story?”

Taking a deep breath, I answered, “Only if you promise to stay on your end of the couch.”

“Okay – but I don’t bite – I promise,” she chuckled.

She sipped her coffee and stated, “I was created for Adam, but I didn’t want marry him or have his babies. In fact, being new to the world at the time, I didn’t want children at all. And because of this, I was called disobedient and my womb cursed.”

“I’ve heard all this before.”

“Well, they got it wrong, I never slept with the archangel Samael,” she announced, as a touch of anger flared in her eyes, “In fact, I’ve never been penetrated by an penis. Anyway, Luci took me in after I was kicked out of Eden and we got married. Over time, we realized that we wanted children and since Luci and I couldn’t have a child of our own, we decided to adopt the unwanted ones.”

“So, what do you do with these unwanted children, turn them into your little evil minions?” I played along.

“Do I look like that sort of person to you, Christian?” she retorted.

“I’ve seen evil and it’s usually unrecognizable,” I returned, feeling perturbed at the way she insisted on saying my name.

“We’re not talking the same thing,” she said.

“Then, explain – because bad is bad to me.”

“First off, Luci has always followed her Father’s rules and secondly, she doesn’t create sin, man’s free will does that. And while her Father issues the grace, she gets stuck carrying out the sentence and she does it all in the hope that He’ll love her again, like He once did.”

“So what’s does this have to do with the two of you adopting children.”

“You see, sinning is more generic than the Bible says. There’s a lot of specific sins in that book, but really, sin is just an act carried out with malicious or selfish intent.”

“A rather simplified definition — but I get what you’re trying to say. However, I’m still not understanding where adopting children comes in.”

“It’s simple really, they work for me. I use them to lure pedophiles.”

“Okay – fuck this,” I said sternly, “You’re taking this shit way too far for…”

“But,” she cooed in a sad little voice, “I haven’t gotten to the best part and it’s not as sick as you think.”

She waited for me to sit back down.

“I run a little site on the dark web and when a pedophile purchases one of my children, I send them to where ever and they kill the buyer — the pedophile.”

“Wrong, wrong, wrong,” I protested, “That’s not how God operates. You can’t break His laws. You can’t earn God’s grace. Besides that’s not acting with love!

“I know, but I get to have children, Luci gets to feel like she’s pleasing her Father by ridding the world of pedophiles and we make a lot of money to donate to political campaigns and local charities.”

“Still wrong. And what happens to the kid’s when they’re too old for pedophiles, I suppose you turn them out as prostitutes?”

“You really don’t think very much of me, do you, Christian? I’m really not that heartless,” Lilith smiled as she looked at the three barista’s as they lined the counter.

Each smiled and waved. It was than that I realized I’d found the portals to Hell.

Bill Manders, 1950-2019

Former News Talk 780-KOH radio talk show host and 2005 Nevada Broadcast Association Hall of Fame inductee, Bill Manders passed away on May 27, 2019, (Memorial Day) at the age of only 68. He was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 22, 1950.

Reflecting back, it was a very warm Memorial Day 2006 that I first met Bill, during the dedication of the Freedom Memorial located at Powning Park in downtown Reno, Nevada. Bill, whose last name is really Mandelaris, was the driving force behind establishing the memorial, which on that day held the names of 38 Nevada military personnel who had died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(I have the actual architectural plans, most of the documentation for the memorial and his show-opener that featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers singing ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ which were left behind when the powers-that-be canned him and that Bill told me to keep.)

Less than a year later, I found myself working with him. While he could come across gruff on the air, in person he was one of the most kind and genuine people I’d ever come to know in broadcasting.

It came as a shock to me when the management of KKOH let him go from the station mid-contract. But, true to his nature, he landed like a cat on his feet, doing Conservative talk radio in central California.

Bill also received the life-saving transplant of a kidney from 17-year-old Lexi Morris, a senior at Clovis East High School, in Clovis, California, who committed suicide.

Bill was working at Power 96.7 in Fresno, California at the time and often talked about his kidney dialysis and the need for a kidney on his program. Lexi’s father, Jason, listening to Bill’s show decided, along with his wife, Amy, that Bill should be the recipient, which turned out to be a perfect match.

“You know I’ve talked extensively on this program about having to go to dialysis, and that I was looking for a kidney so I didn’t have to do that anymore,” said Bill told listeners. “Well guess what? I don’t have to do that anymore; I got a new kidney. I got a kidney from a 17-year-old girl.”

Later, he spoke with ABC7 saying, “I was in tears when I heard [Lexi’s’] story, but I would rather concentrate on the pluses in her life. She was smart, athletic, she has a great family, and I know she’s up there looking down on me, so I’ve got to honor her.”

He hosted afternoons at KMJ in 2000-03 before his stint at KKOH in 2003-12, returning to Fresno at Power Talk in 2012-14. Bill also co-authored a book in 1999 with Lorita Hubbard, titled “A Clash of Values: Are the Media and Other Outside Influences Undermining Our Family Principles?”

Once Bill’s active radio career ended, he had time for what he really loved – being a grandfather and family man. He semi-retired to Lehi, Utah to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren.

Thank you Bill, for being a good friend, having an ear ready when needed, for following your convictions and and remaining honest and humble to those around you. I will truly miss you.

Rapunzel, Reimagined

The blonde haired girl was sitting near the window of her tower and was about to close the shutters when she heard a sound below. Peeking out, she saw a young man free climbing the tower’s stone wall.

His skill was apparent as he found his way to the windows ledge in no time. As for Rapunzel, she stood against the far side of the room in amazement, because he was her first-ever visitor.

“Beg your pardon,” he stuttered as he climbed through the window, “I had no idea anyone lived here.”

Rapunzel was about to reply when a voice was heard from below, “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair!”

“Quick! Hide!” Rapunzel hissed, “If mother finds you, she’ll kill you.”

The man quickly climbed inside the nearby wardrobe and Rapunzel closed the door behind him. She then sent her hair down and waited as her mother climbed up.

“Rapunzel, my darling,” the mother croaked, hugging her daughter, “It’s so good to see — wait – something’s not right.”

The mother looked around the room, before opening the wardrobe’s doors. The man tried to reason with her, but she stabbed him anyway, then stood over him and watched as he bled to death.

“When I said that no one was to enter – I. MEANT. NO. ONE,” the women growled at her daughter, “now clean this mess up and find a way to get rid of that body!”

The woman promptly left the tower the same way she got in. In shock and frightened, the young girl dutifully did as her mother commanded.

Later that night, “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair!”

No response. This time the woman bellowed her order and Rapunzel obeyed.

Instead of her hair landing with its ususal soft flump and because of the body it concealed, the golden locks crashed violently a top of the unsuspecting mother, instantly breaking her neck. Rapunzel quickly retrieved her long hair, tied the ends to the frame of her bed, tossed it out the window again, climbed down, then cut the troublesome hair away, using a knife she held clinched between her teeth, and lived as free woman for the rest of her life.

The Gnawing

“It’s said that ‘man cannot live by bread alone,’” he called out. In silence, he proceeded to gnaw at the stale gluten-filled crust, before adding, “If not wine, then how about a shot of whiskey?”

Concrete walls echoed his refrain.

Honey Bees

The body made a relaxed thud as it toppled into the pre-dug hole following the echo of the single gunshot. It was then covered in loose dirt from the hole and disguised with flowers planted on top and each in a perfect row.

The honey bees were never so happy that spring.

Messy Embrace

The suicidal man watched the bomber, with his explosive-laden vest and dead-mans switch, and sighed. “Hey, long time no see, my friend,” he called out as he enveloped the astonished stranger in a long bear hug.

The ensuing blast was a messy embrace that saved several lives.

Black Dog

Though mentally drained and physically exhausted, I did not sleep well for the next few nights. I kept my gun close at hand as I tossed and turned between a few minutes of dozing and jumping awake.

Charley-dog, on the other hand, slept peacefully at the foot of my bed. I tried desperately to copy his good-natured attitude.

Looking back, it probably didn’t help that I immediately spent several hours researching clowns and rakes, trying to find a connection. By the time I powered down my computer and fell into bed, I had come to the conclusion that while clowns were real – rakes were not.

Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had encountered something…what should I call it? Other worldly is about the best I can do.

Slowly, my life returned to normal. Then my work shift changed and I began having night-terrors in the middle of the day when I had to sleep.

For nearly two-years as a security guard, I’d worked day shift, getting up as the sun rose and going to bed long after it set. Now, I had been assigned three construction sites to patrol five overnights a week and it set me on edge.

“I can’t help but feel like I’m being watched all the time,” I told my relief one morning. He believed it was a case of PTSD from having killed a man in the doorway of my own home.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” I replied as I attempted to shrug it off.


About a week later…

As a nighttime security officer, I had taught myself not to follow a set routine. I detoured from place to place, changing patterns at will, never knowing from shift to shift where I might start or end as I moved from one site to the next.

However, I did have one habit, lunch, which I took from two till three each morning. It was a habit that was established by the company that employed me and not of my own doing.

Finishing up my ham sandwich, I placed the empty wrapper back in the brown paper bag and tucked it into my backpack. Retrieving the metal thermos, I began to pour myself a cup of coffee, when I caught movement out of the corner of my left eye.

I snapped my head around – nothing there.

“Must be a black dog,” I muttered, recalling the term we used, when I was an active member of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, to describe a perceived movement from the corner of the eye.

Satisfied, I returned to pouring my coffee when it happened again. Slowly, I turned my head to the left and saw the briefest flash of a translucent figure standing by my vehicle.

It disappeared immediately as I tried to focus on it. With a half-poured cup of coffee in one hand, I fumbled with the keys, which were in the ignition, fired up the truck and drove from where I’d parked.

The remainder of the morning was filled with tension for me. I refused to get out of the truck to wander from place to place and key-in, opting to remain sequestered in the safety of the vehicle’s locked cab.

The following night, I brought Charley-dog to work with me. He made me feel safe – or at least safer.

There was a possibility that I could get in trouble, even fired, for having my pet with me at work. No one said a thing.

Three night after I began bringing Charley, who had grown used to the new routine, he growled. I had jus’ looked at him sleeping in the passenger seat when he sat straight up and stared off to my left – the same area in which I thought I’d seen my ‘black dog.’

The hair on the back of my neck stood on end and I felt my body shutter with an involuntary shiver as I knew he could see what I could not. As calm as my shaking hand could, I turned the ignition over and slowly pulled away from where I was parks.

As I glanced at the rear-view mirror on the door, I saw the same translucent figure dart into the ink of the early morning. It was then that I knew I was being stocked – predator and prey – and I didn’t enjoy the idea of being whatever it was’ prey.


Finally, it was the weekend and I felt I could relax a little. I had long since set-up a security system around my home consisting of several cameras and lights that would instantly come on when something came close enough to activate one of them.

Long forgotten was the old saw, “Jus’ because you feel safe, doesn’t mean you are safe.” I would be reminded of it in short order.

So my guard was down as I got up to take Charley-dog for his mid-morning walk. It was something new for both of us, since I insisted on bring him to work with me anymore and he seemed to really enjoy the exercise.

We were less than two-minutes into our walk when I saw a woman approaching from the opposite direction. She looked to be in her early-50s, a little over weight, but pleasant to look at.

While I thought nothing of it as she crossed the street mid-block, Charley took note. The fur on his back stood up and he refused to take his eye’s off her as she suddenly turned down another street.

I felt on edge as I looked back and caught her, stopped, watching me.

Back home after our half-hour walk, I concluded that whatever these other-worldly things were, they were everywhere and my only defense against them was the early warning of a dog and a gun.

Laying down for my daytime nap, I plotted, trying to develop a plan to deal with these beings once and for all. Unfortunately, I could come up with nothing that could or world eradicate them from my life, but I did begin to wonder if they were somehow implanting themselves in other peoples lives.

The Mystery Surrounding Donnell Vista

It was Monday, August 8, 2005 when 64-year-old Nita Mayo traveled over Sonora Pass. Last seen at the Strawberry General Store near Pinecrest, California, the nurse didn’t return to her job at Mt. Grant General Hospital, in Hawthorne, Nevada, the following day.

Alarmed, her co-workers contacted the Mineral County, Nevada, Sheriff’s Office and reported her uncharacteristic absence. Both Tuolumne and Mono County, California, Sheriff’s Offices were also notified.

Nita’s car would be seen by a Caltrans employee at Donnell Vista that Monday night and again Tuesday morning. But he didn’t think much about the car, as backpackers also use the point for overnight parking.

On Wednesday evening a Tuolumne County sheriff’s sergeant realized Nita’s 1997 Mercury Sable station wagon was still at the vista. Inside her locked car were souvenirs from the store, her purse, wallet, glasses and car keys. Only her camera and prescription sunglasses were missing.

Search dogs were brought in, but no scent of Nita was picked up. Further searches of the area also failed to locate any evidence of her.

In September 2005 Tuolumne County Sheriff’s investigators named Jewel Rice of Colorado Springs, Colorado as person of interest in Nita’s disappearance. She’s believed to have been in the Strawberry and Donnell Vista areas around the same time, asking for help after her vehicle broke down.

Jewel left Sonora without her car on August 12 and current whereabouts remain unknown.

Nita’s not the only person to be reported missing from Donnell Vista on California’s State Route 108. Forty-six-year-old Patricia Tolhurst vanished from the vista in 2014.

On April 20, Patricia mailed a letter to friends letting them know that she would be hiking in the area of Donnell Vista. She also sent two audiotapes to a friend telling him her life story.

Two days later, her white Toyota 4-Runner, with its sun-roof still open would be found abandoned with her keys, purse and identification inside. Search and rescue teams found no nearby clues leading to the mother of two.

Then sometime before October 3, 2016, 68-year-old Breck Phelps vanished along with his fishing gear and cellphone, from Donnell Vista. His car, a red 2007 Nissan Versa, was found a quarter-mile away near a trail leading to the Stanislaus River.

After four-days of searching by teams that included the California Rescue Dog Association, Monterey Bay Search Dogs and the National Guard, no sign of Breck, a corrections officer at the  Sierra Conservation Center, near Jamestown, California, was found.

Finally, 20-year-old Humboldt State University student and future forest ranger, Michael Madden went missing from his campsite at Sand Bar Flat, 25-miles south-east of Donnell Vista around August 10, 1996 with his dog, Matilda. Four days later, Matilda would wobble into camp, worn-out and severely dehydrated.

Two days later, friends went looking for Michael only to find a freshly build fire and Joseph Tine using Michael’s registered campsite. He was carrying an automatic pistol and asked the friends if they were looking for “Mikey.”

Over the next six-hours Tine is said to have repeatedly cocked this pistol as the group waited for Michael to return. Tine was given a polygraph nine months after Michael vanished, however the results have never been released and he’s never been charged.

Investigators say that they believe Michael met with foul play. Included in this theory is a possible run-in with Cary Stayner, who was convicted in 2002 of murders of the Carole Sund, her teenage daughter Juli Sund, also from Humboldt County, California and their teenage traveling companion Silvina Pelosso as well as Yosemite Institute naturalist Joie Armstrong.

If you have any information you can can call the Tuolumne County, California, Sheriff’s Office at 209-533-5815 or the Mineral County, Nevada, Sheriff’s Office at 775-945-2434.

Lonely Highway

It’s called, “The Loneliest Highway in America.” U.S. Highway 50 runs from from Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland, bisecting the state of Nevada, north from south.

Early morning, perhaps one or there about, and I was finally leaving Baker, Nevada, where I’d been attending a cowboy poetry gathering. I’d thought about spending the night, was even offered a bunk at a nearby ranch house, but I wanted to get home to my wife, so declining, I drove west towards Carson City, the state’s capital.

After stopping in Ely to refuel my truck and get the largest coffee the gas station had to offer, I hopped back on the highway and quickly zipped passed the turn-off to the small hamlet of Ruth. It would be some 70 miles before I’d see another town.

Listening to whatever radio station I could find on the dial, kept me awake along with my windows being open and the cup of coffee as I tooled across the open expanse of desert with far off mountainscapes surrounding me. Unfortunately, I had to slow down for a small group of cattle that had managed to escape their pasture.

Driving has always been and remains an enjoyment and I’ve never minded driving in the dark. As I progressed, I only encountered one vehicle heading the other way and none as I continued to roll west.

Recalling the evening of poetry, songs and stories I relaxed into my drive. But then I saw something standing in the highway jus’ outside my headlights and I pushed on my brakes to slow down.

It was a man – or what I believed to be a man – with an unusually large and perfectly round-shaped head. Soon my speed was about 35 miles an hour and as I came closer, he stepped into the eastbound travel lane, so that I could pass him.

“What in the hell?” I heard myself blurt out as I drove by, disturbed by his bulbous hairless, earless white-head, yellow clown-style hat, solid blue irisless eyes, black pointed nose, gray suit, tie and dress shoes.

Quickly, I glanced in my rear view mirror, moved to the side of the road and retrieved my revolver, all the while planning to give this asshole a piece of my mind. But no sooner had I stepped from my truck and looked back, he was gone.

Jus’ as quickly, I got back in my truck, fired it up and took off. Call me coward, but I really didn’t want to confront or be confronted by whatever I’d seen.

The event became a footnote within hours after getting home and telling my wife about what I’d witnessed. We laughed and forgot about it.

Later that same day, she had the television on and as I walked into the living room a commercial appeared. The sight caused a cold-sweat to flood over my entire body.

I shouted, “Holy shit! That’s the thing I saw driving home!”

“Don’t be silly,” she scoffed, “That’s Jack from ‘Jack in the Box.’”

Upstairs

While it’s true that I cannot recall Mother ever singing or cooing me to sleep, nor do I remember ever seeing a spinning mobile above my crib, I can still hear the man in our upstairs attic and how he came down every once in a while to wander our night time hallways. His hands like ice and breath smelling of rusting iron.

Rose Petals

It was the fragrant smell of roses and it only took a moment to find that my bed was covered in the crimson red petals. There was also a candle on my dresser, lighting the message, “I love you and want to do something that will take your breath away.”

I felt the air slip from my lungs…

Holes

She screamed at him because he was in jungle fatigues, loudly muttering, ‘I don’t want to remember all the faces of the people I’ve killed.’ He didn’t need to remember their faces; he woke every morning to their pale, rotting forms standing over his bed — each riddled with holes from the gunfire shot through them.

Shooting Lesson

We headed to the outdoor shooting range 20 miles north of us. I noticed Bob was playing around with his prosthetic leg, a bonus from time spent in Afghanistan.

“What wrong with it?” I asked.

“I’m using my old one today and it’s uncomfortable,” he answered.

“Wanna go back and switch out?”

“Naw, it’ll be fine.”

With that, I let the subject drop because at times, Bob could be moody about his ‘fake leg.’ Within minutes we pulled into the gravel lot, got out and grabbed our shooting gear.

Our group included two Marines, two Army and one Air Force veteran. Making up the six-pack is a civilian named Harold, brother-in-law to one the Army vets and a real know-it-all.

Today, Bob, the other Army vet, and Harold were going to play cowboy and practice quick-draw methods. Harold assured everyone that he was a master of the art-form and was certain to come out on top regardless of Bob’s military background.

It didn’t take long for the two of them to square-off. Five out of six rounds, Harold out drew Bob in their private competition.

“See, told ya,” Harold bragged.

“Wanna go again?” Bob offered.

“And lose again?” Harold countered.

“What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment,” Bob smiled.

Something was up as Bob turned to look at me and gave a quick wink. For the life of me, I had no idea what he was up too.

Suddenly, the red light flicked to red. Both men fired and Bob screamed as a stream of blood pumped from his right foot.

Harold looked at the blood as it gushed in a geyserly fashion over and over. The sight overwhelmed him as he squealed in a high pitch, ran in place for a few steps and them collapsed on the ground, having fainted.

For his part Bob walked over to the fallen man and shook him awake. Once Harold had a handle on himself, Bob told him it was practical joke, that he had shot himself in his fake leg on purpose.

Harold was so pissed, he refused Bob’s apology, loading up his equipment and leaving the range. The Range-master was none to pleased either as he banned Bob from the facility for the remainder of the year.

“So, was it worth it?” I asked Bob on our drive home.

“Oh, hell yeah,” he chuckled.

Tariff War

“Sir, we have intel suggesting the enemy is preparing to strike.”

“What kind of strike?”

“Like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

“Get to the point – what are they planning?”

“To strike.”

“To strike what? Us?”

“No. sir, themselves.”

“I thought you said they were going to attack?”

“No, sir. I said ‘strike.’”

“That make’s no sense.”

“No, sir, it doesn’t, but then they are Unionized.”

“Any idea what they’re striking over?”

“Increased Chinese tariffs.”

“What? Why?”

“Appears they want the Chinese tariff’s reduced.”

“Don’t we all?”

“I would think so.”

“Then why?”

“Personally, sir, I think it’s that derangement syndrome.”

Pill Box

The old folk in the village spoke of a fabled pill box on the backside of the mountain above their forest home. I told them I planned to explore the other side of their mountain and find it.

“It would be best for you to seek your adventure elsewhere,” came each elders’ warning.

Finally I began climbing the mountain towards the top. It would take me a week to finally crest the peak.

Not only did I find this pill box, I also found the giant that used it to store his medications – or should I say – he found me.

A Democrat walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “What’s your most popular drink?”
“The Russian Collusion.”
“Okay, I’ll have one.”
The bartender gives the Democrat an empty glass.

Y?

It were as if my dog knew, don’t ask me how – he jus’ knew. His knowing at this moment wasn’t going to help me though as I sit in a jail cell waiting to be charged with murder and whatever else they could find to throw at me.

Clowns outside of a circus or a child’s birthday party have always left me really creeped-out. However, while I’ve seen many videos and a couple of news reports about random clowns appearing on people’s door steps, I never thought I’d have my own encounter.

That all changed two nights ago, as Charlie-dog began to bristle and growl at the door. I shushed him several times before I decided to go have a look outside.

But before I could do that, I heard a noise out front on the porch, that caused me to quickly retrieve my pistol. I waited and after hearing the sound again, I quietly unlocked the front door and jerked it open.

“Holy fuck me!” I screamed as I came face-to-face with a clown sporting the reddest hair and sharpest teeth I’d ever seen.

Instinctively, I raised my weapon, but he was half a second quicker as the ax he held slammed across my wrist, knocking the gun out of my hand and somewhere behind me. The blow also sent me to my left and falling backward.

That’s when Charlie jumped in and went to work.

To be certain, this is not Charlie-dogs normal behavior. In fact he’s always come off as somewhat shy, even cowardly, preferring to stay behind me when people come over for visit.

Before I could scramble to my feet, the dog had the clown by the arm and was shaking him, almost as if he were a rag-doll. I fumbled to find my pistol as Charlie found the man’s neck and began ripping at it.

Undeterred, the clown did his best to bring the ax around to defend himself. But I didn’t give him the chance as I fired a round directly into his face, jus’ above his bulbous nose.

This ended the attack. Having seen enough horror films, I kept my weapon trained on him as I used my cellphone to call for help.

Shortly after the law arrived, I was arrested on ‘suspicion of murder,’ because I shot the man while he was laying down and outside of my home. Sadly, I’m not sure what has happened to Charlie-dog and no one will tell me or even try and find out.


Seven blocks away, inside bay 3 of the county’s medical examiners office’s autopsy room…

“Tuesday, May 14, 12:15 pm,” stated the medical examiner, as she started the autopsy, “Subject appears to be a male…age undetermined due to excessive, white and red face paint…orange, red hair…his hair, appears to have been recently dyed…clothing consists of a single piece cotton costume, baggy, white with red and blue polka-dots…large, red leather shoes, 20 inches in length, white shoelaces.”

“Subject has a single gun shot wound to the face…mid-center…bridge of nose…slightly beneath obital socks…appears to be cause of death…is wearing some sort of off-white or milky-yellow contact lens with a reddish pupil… which…seem…to…um…be very hard to remove…we’ll have to come back to them…examining his mouth, he has…well that is odd…46 teeth…some are filed down. Are you getting this?” she asked the technician filming the autopsy.

“Yes,” he answered as she moved ahead with her external examination.

As she continued, becoming more puzzled by her initial findings, “After removing the subjects clothing and foot wear…he’s extremely pale…waxy skinned… unnaturally taut over his musculature…arms are slightly longer than normal…29 inches… feet…large at 19.5 inches…nails, very thick…hands, large…fingers long, boney…pointed nails…note to self: Marfans Syndrome…height is six-one…weight 181 pounds….”

“So, beginning with the ‘Y’ incision…” her voice faded off.

After a few seconds of silence, “What the hell?!” she exclaimed before ordering all of her staff from the building.


About twenty-hours ago, the quiet of the county lock-up was interrupted as several men, all wearing dark suits, came in and with official government documents in hand, escorted me away to another room. Even though I’d long ago refused to talk to anyone without my attorney present, they insisted on questioning me about last night’s events.

Exhausted, hungry and feeling chilled, I finally answered their questions to their satisfaction and they left. Next the district attorney, the chief of police and the sheriff came into the room to speak with me.

It was the DA that did most of the speaking, telling me in short that I wasn’t going to be charged and that I acted in self-defense. He even told me that Charlie-dog was okay and would be returned to me as well.

“So, why no charges?” I asked.

The three men looked back and forth to one another before the sheriff answered, “We don’t know for sure what you shot — but the higher-ups think you killed a Rake.”

Stunned, I sat in silence for a few seconds before asking,”Rake? Higher-ups? What the hell do you mean?”

Irritated, the chief relied, “He didn’t stutter. If it was up to me, I’d lock your ass up and throw away the key!”

“Good to know,” I responded.

They left me to sit in that room for about half-an-hour before I was escorted through the building to a waiting squad car and driven home. As we pulled up to the sidewalk, in front of my house, an animal control vehicle was already parked waiting with Charlie-dog.

It was a happy reunion until the deputy who had brought me home, stepped next to me. That’s when Charlie’s shoulder and rump hairs began to hackle and he started in with a low, menacing growl.

“I’m sorry,” I said to the deputy who backed away and started to get into his cruiser, “he’s shy around people and he’s had a long night.”

“No problem,” he called out as he turned the engine over and drove away.

“Never liked that guy,” the animal control officer casually stated, “there’s jus’ something about him and your dog knows it too.”

“Well, thanks for bringing him home,” I smiled as I shook her hand and headed for my front door.

As she drove away, her words hit me. It was then that I realized that the deputy was one of those things, but in a different disguise and Charlie-dog knows – he jus’ knows.

Picking Flowers

Fatigue; it’s a Marines greatest enemy when on sentry duty. Hendry and I had the assignment; we sat in the farthest listening post from the forward operating base.

Half-asleep, I heard Hendry ask in a near panicked tone, “What the fuck’s that, Sarge?”

Not known to swear very often, I popped awake at Hendry’s voice and looked into the darkness towards where he stared. All I could see was the jet-black ink of night, while he could see varying shades of green projected by the night vision googles he held up to his face.

“What?” I whispered, half-annoyed.

“Listen!” Hendry demanded.

Though only a few seconds, it felt like a few minutes as I halted my breathing and adjusted myself to hear even the faintest noise. Then, there it was – the unmistakable sound of a little girl’s laughter.

Fearful of falling victim to the menace of the ‘thousand-yard stare,’ seeing things in dark, I shifted my eyes quickly from left to right and back again. I saw nothing, but I did continue to hear that faint laughter, which changed into a giggle and back again.

As I started to reach for the radio handset, Hendry suddenly shifted, moving his shoulders and head forward reminding me of a pointer hunting dog. I admit, it is a strange thought to have rush into one’s head during a moment of impending danger, but I also adjusted myself, hoping to see what he’d detected.

“There,” he half-hissed, half-whispered, as he pointed into the darkness, “I can see her. She’s skipping back and forth. It looks like she’s picking flowers or something.”

I still couldn’t see anything beyond a yard or so. A high cloud cover had obscured any moonlight.

“Lemme have the NVG’s, L.C.,” I directed.

Hendry complied as he maintained his M-14 at the ready. Looking down range, I saw her too, exactly as the Lance Corporal had described.

“What the fuck,” I mumbled, more as a statement than a question, as I handed the goggles back to Hendry.

The giggling and the laughter continued as I debated with myself about what I should do next. I knew exactly what my orders were but I had no idea how I could explain it without sounding section-eight.

“She’s coming toward us, running…I think,” Hendry said, almost calm.

Quickly, I brought my rifle up and placed it against my shoulder. No sooner had I done that then she appeared – but there was something off about this child.

“Ellos vienen!” cried a child’s voice.

The words barely had a chance to register in my mind, when a shot rang out from the treeline and across the field. The child fell face forward into the tall grass and scrub as if she’d been struck in the back.

Without hesitation, Hendry returned fire on the muzzle flash, as I radioed in that we had contact. Quickly, Hendry and I crawled from our post and into a secondary position that we’d established as a mortar dropped into our previous fighting hole.

For over two-hours we beat the enemy back as they tried again and again to breach our perimeter. Come sunrise, the enemy melted back into the jungle ahead of our teams, whose job it was to engage the bad guys long enough to either run them to ground or call in artillery.

Once we were certain that the bad guy were no longer a threat, Hendry and I walked over to where we watched the child as she pitch over from being shot. We found nothing but a bundle of old, dead flowers in the spot.

Later, after learning one of the teams had found an injured enemy soldier, we heard scuttle-butt that he and three of his buddies were watching a little girl playing in the open land between the treeline and our FOB. He said one of the men shot the girl and that they were startled when the same guy was shot through the throat by our return fire.

When asked about this little girl, neither Hendry, nor I said a thing. We may be dumb-assed Devil-dogs, but we aren’t completely crazy.

Eden Enforced, Part 2

The Central Authority claimed it had all started that year. However Dom knew it had begun earlier than that — over 25 years before the deadly rioting of that year.

Yes, Dom had been part of a movement to take control of the United States from Progressives. He had been vocal in his opposition to what the media labeled, “Hillary Care.”

Fortunately the idea of socialized medicine died with the Clinton presidency. However it raised its ugly head once again some decade and a half later — this time as the “Affordable Care Act.”

It was the first time Dom recognized the new media dialog of “parsing.” The act turned out to be anything but ‘affordable’ and it eventually led to the governmeny take over of all health care in the country.

But it wasn’t health care that lead to the riots that year — it was the dismantling of the second amendment. The loss of privately owned pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotgun created a chasm between the people and politicians.

It too, began with a parsing of words. Gun control enthusiasts changed the argument to gun safety and before people knew it cities and townships were holding gun swap rallies which lead to voluntary registrations then mandatory registrations.

Finally, once the Federal Government announced that it had signed the United Nations’ “Arms Trade Treaty”, and that all but two states ratified the treaty, rioting broke out across the country. Soon military units from Russia, China and Mexico, called up by the U.N., arrived to put a halt to the rioting.

It was unknown to Dom and possibly to the Central Authority how many people died during that week’s event. That’s when the “DDP” formed, which organized the disappearance of those who wanted no part in what they believed to be a new one-world government.

“It’s funny how they took an insult, and turned it around,” Dom thought of the DDP.

He knew DDP stood for ‘Dooms Day Preppers,’ which he had seen on TV years ago, but paid little attention too. Shortly there after, the third banking collapse happened.

By this time Dom and his family were living in the mountains between Utah and Nevada. He had decided to join up with the “DDP” but failed to make contact before the authorities swooped in and detained those not already living in one of the designated Resettlement sites.

“I didn’t know they were for real” or “I figured that was a bunch of right-wing hog-wash,” and worse was heard throughout the compounds. Dom realized then many people had swallowed the worm and hook the media had lured them with and now it appeared to be too late

Dom’s wife Anne died in one of the compounds. By that time Dom was in a Reeducation camp along with his son, Cam.

Cam, however disappeared early one morning over a year ago. Rumor was that he took the old man’s advice and escaped the first chance he had.

“And don’t you worry about me,” he told Cam. “Jus’ get yourself free and keep moving and don’t you dare try to rescue me.”

The thought brought an agonizing pain to Dom’s heart. He had raised the boy to do right and the rest he had to leave “up to God.”

Through the entire struggle, Dom believed God would make into good that which is bad.

A Gate Keeper caught Dom praying once. Within the hour they dragged Dom from his domicile and chained him to a wooden pillar in the middle of the compound.

With the sound of a horn, the citizens of the compound gathered to hear it announced that Dom was to be caned — 20 lashes for failing to appreciate all that the Central Authority had given him in exchange for his life.

Dom could vaguely recall the third blow. He passed out and suffered the following 17 blows in silence.

When he awakened he had lost several days and several pounds.

The wounds were open and raw. He could barely move from the pain that racked his entire body.

Dom managed to drag himself up the wall of his domicile and peer out the slit facing the compounds center. He did his best to hold himself up as he reached for the door.

However the room twisted and turned as he pulled the door open. Dom fainted in the doorway where he remained to early the next morning.

Something was picking at this skin. It hurt one moment then felt relieving the next.

Too weak to get up Dom laid on the cold cement surface of the room as the sun jabbed a beam of light through the window slit in the back of the room where his cot stood. It was then that he saw the shadow that moved across his back.

Stronger and slightly in fear, Dom moved as if to roll over and the shadow jumped to life and streaked away. It floated gently to the top of Gate Keepers shack, looking back at Dom.

A black bird was making a meal of maggots growing in his infected wounds.

Dom lay back down quietly and soon the bird returned. Hours and hours later long after the sun had gone away the bird flew away, having eaten every last morsel it could find.

Dom owed his life to both the maggots and the black bird for cleansing his wounds. He took it as a sign from God that He has seen Dom’s struggles and when God deemed it right, all would be traded for blessings.

Slowly his wounds healed and though not fully strong enough, they returned Dom to the general work force. As a member of a crew of ten men, they made then dig ditches manually, complete terracing and fill in rutted roadways.

The physical labor was hard but it left Dom feeling whole. It also made him work muscles and flex joints that he would have otherwise allowed to soften or grow stiff.

He also realized that to survive the camp he would need to become a model student— a step below becoming a model citizen. Dom decided to devour whatever he was given to memorize and regurgitate it when required.

Obsidian Door

At 74-years-old, Grandpa Bill was a man of very few words. One late afternoon, as we sat on his porch in silence, he produced a large cigar box, handing it to me.

“Wanna to tell you ‘bout this,” he said, as he motioned for me to open the box.

Inside was a neckerchief wrapped around three items: an obsidian stone, a length of burnt bone and a battered Colt .45. Being 12-years-old, it was the pistol that held my fascination as I picked it up.

“This is so neat, Grandpa,” I said as I held it as if I were aiming it at a bad guy in some Western movie.

“And it used to be pretty at one time,” he smiled.

“Does it work?”

“Not since the last time I had to use it,” he stated, “And that’s what I wanna tell you ‘bout.”

He picked up a bottle of beer from the ice-bucket beside him and opened it with the ‘church-key’ he had sitting on the table between us, “We were sitting around when a Cherokee woman came crying to us. Said two of her children had been taken by a shaman to a bunch of rocks a few miles east of own and that he was going to kill them.”

“Being hot-blooded, me and James, another Oklahoma Ranger, decided that we could not stand for such a thing and immediately began searching for this shaman. James found the entrance to a shallow cave and we both figured that must be where this Injun had taken the stolen kids.”

He paused to take a drink from his beer, then lit a cigarette, “I crawled through the small crack in the rocks, first. The entrance opened into a narrow passageway, so narrow that I had to turn sideways to get through it. The walls of the passage had scratchings and etchings in then. Then it opened up into a cavern.”

“How could you see all this?” I asked.

“In the center of this cavern was a fire pit. Around it stood a dozen children, chanting and singing, eyes rolled so far back in their heads that you couldn’t see their pupils.”

Grandpa Bill took another drag on his cigarette before saying, “Now this is where it gets strange.”

“You mean chasing a kidnapper into a cave and finding a bunch of kids acting strange, isn’t strange enough?”

He laughed, “Never thought about it that a-way. Anyhow, before I could gather myself, I heard a voice behind me, so I turned, and there’s this old Injun holding a gun to Jame’s head.”

“His English, though broken, was good enough for me to understand that he wanted me to drop my holster. I did,” Grandpa Bill sighed as he shook his head, “And then he blew Jame’s brains out.”

“Naturally, I lunged for the gun, but he shot me through my right thigh. I blacked out and when I opened my eyes, the Injun was in my face asking me if I wanted to meet ‘White-man’s God.’”

“Thank goodness, he didn’t kill you.”

“I think it surprised him when I nodded yes. Didn’t know what to do at that point, so he walked over to a doorway, something I had not noticed before then. It was massive, made of pure obsidian. Biggest slab I’ve ever seen, but it had a large chip in its center half way down.

“The shaman picked up that piece of obsidian, you see in the box, there – and placed it in the chipped area – then something started to push the door open from the other side. As it opened, a unhuman, spindly hand came through the crack between the door and the jamb.”

“The hand was large, long fingers, and it felt around the edge of the door, as if it feared entering the room. Being scared to death myself, I crawled over to my holster, pulled my gun and I shot that dirty Injun in the back.”

“His blood splashed on the hand, which caused whatever it was to go crazy. Next thing I realize, I’d forgotten about my thigh and was on my feet, using all my weight to closed that door.”

“Must’ve surprised it, because I felt it give way, but then it pushed back. I almost had it closed but the hand got in the way.”

Grandpa Bill stopped and looked out towards the setting sun,”I pulled my knife out and hack at the fingers. Lopped one off and it howled a deafening noise as it pulled back.”

“That’s when I slammed the door closed. But whatever it was, the began to push back, opening the door again.”

“Panicked, I noticed that piece of obsidian the shaman had placed in the chip. I forced the door closed again, then clawed the chunk of rock from the door, letting it drop to the ground.”

The second it hit the rocky floor, the banging and guttural roaring stopped. Everything going silent. The kids then snapped awake and started crying.”

“The finger I’d cut off, caught fire, burning till it was nothing but bone. I went to James, but he was done in, so I picked up the bone, the rock and with the children following me, limped my way through the narrows of the cave and into the welcoming glitter of a starlit night.”

“It wasn’t till early morning that a posse found us. A few of the fellas were brave enough to crawl back inside the cave and drag James’ body out.”

“It was sent back to his family in Pennsylvania so as he could have a proper funeral and burial. I continued to ride for the agency for a few more months before I decided I needed a change of scenery and I came out here to California.”

“What a story, Grandpa. How come you never told me about this before?”

“Figger you’re almost 13 and you should know there are things out in the world that defy understanding. I didn’t know this when I left my home in Ohio and I wanted you to have a fighting chance if you ever come up against something you can’t explain.”

“So, what became of the cave?” I asked.

“It was dynamited shut shortly after James body was removed,” Grandpa answered.

We never talked about it again and Grandpa Bill died a few months later. To this day, I have no idea what happened to that old cigar box and its content therein.

Decades Old Murders in Northern Nevada and Eastern California Solved

For nearly 37-years, she was simply known  as “Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe.” She was discovered shot to death by hikers near a trail close to Mount Rose Highway, in Washoe County, Nevada, on July 17, 1982.

But now she has her given name back: Mary Silvani, born in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1948. After developing a DNA profile from a rape kit taken at the time her body was discovered, detectives used a set of fingerprints provided by the Detroit Police Department from a misdemeanor arrest in 1974, to verify the body was that of as Mary.

Cold case cops also have the perpetrator of the crime – a man who died in prison five months after the murder – James Richard Curry, born in Texas. In 1946. He was identified after his two children provided voluntary DNA samples, confirming that their DNA matched those of the Mary’s murderer.

Five months after Mary was killed, Curry confessed to committing three other murders in California while in custody. He’d been arrested after he killed a man in his home and sexually assaulted the man’s wife, kidnapped her and killed her.

Curry died in 1983 in prison several days after a suicide attempt. The other murders Curry committed occurred in California’s San Jose and Santa Clara counties and suspect he may have also killed a co-worker from Waukena, in Tulare County, also in California, where he had lived, but that victim’s remains have not been located.

It was in April 2018 when the Washoe County Sheriffs cold case squad and forensic unit began working with the DNADoe Project and IdentiFinders International to make the duel identifications. However, there’s still more work to be done as investigators still don’t know whether or how Curry and Silvani knew each other.

Meanwhile, the Eldorado County, California, Cold Case Task Force has been busy solving two other decades old murders in the South Lake Tahoe area. In 1977, horseback riders discovered 27-year-old Brynn Rainey’s body buried in a shallow grave near Stateline Stables and two years later, 16-year-old Carol Andersen’s battered corpse was found dumped alongside a road.

Investigators recently identified the murder suspect as deceased South Lake Tahoe resident Joseph Holt after hiring Parabon NanoLabs, to construct a “family tree” from DNA obtained from both crime scenes.

DNA samples taken from Carol’s body during her autopsy, as well as those collected from a blood stain left on Brynn’s shirt, were later matched to the suspect’s brothers. Holt grew up in San Jose, California, was a graduate of Cupertino High School and the University of California, Berkley. In 1974 and moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1974 where he launched a career in real estate, dying in 2014 at the age of 67.

The task force is still investigating whether Holt is responsible for other unsolved crimes. Call the task force tip line at 530-621-4590 if you have any further information on Holt, these two cases or any other unsolved crime.

Fur Wrap

As we say here in the backwoods, “She was dressed to nines.” She had bought all sorts of glamour magazines to learn the fanciest dressing a woman could anywhere whether it be our little burg or the big city, which she hoped to visit soon.

Once that big day came, she wrapped herself in in her finest red fox fur and piled into the back of the Greyhound bus for her big trip. She’d never been to the city and at 19-years-old and two-years out of high school she figured she should treat herself before she had to get married, settle down and start raising kids.

After hour-upon-hour of road way and riding, she finally reached her destination. It was more fabulous than she could have ever imagined, as neither radio nor black-and-white TV could do it justice.

As she marveled at the new sights, the unbelievable sounds and the incredible smells, she was accosted by a group of animal rights activists who began taunting, harassing and shouting at her. Without warning one of them tossed a cup of red paint on her as they screamed ‘Animal murderer!’

That’s when the red fox unwound himself from her shoulders and neck and with his gleaming white, but very sharp teeth bared and a guttural snarl, chased those protesters away. He’d always been protective of her like that.

Eden Enforced, Part 1

Dominic promised himself that he would not put up a fight or openly show fear. Instead he planned to walk to the “Ending Room” without hesitation.

It was the waiting he had to admit that was the hardest. He knew this day was coming three months ago but he had no idea the final few hours would be so difficult.

For as much as he thought he knew, he was suddenly uncertain. What was to happen next was a guessing game more than any knowledge he had acquired over the years of “working” for the Central Government.

He sat watching the two Enforcers, dressed in black with their large mustaches and wooden clubs. Where he sat was no bigger than what Dom remembered to be the size of an old-fashioned phone booth.

Dom knew there would be no last meal, besides he wasn’t hungry. The fish-odored cube of sustenance would be better used to feed someone else anyway.

Suddenly there was some sort of disturbance in the far end of the hallway. Within seconds a smallish man dressed in a heavy orange robe wearing a large white beaked mask over his face, strode by Dom’s holding place.

The ‘Grand Phoenix,’ Dom instantly recognized. He knew then his death was imminent.

Old as he was Dom was still physically fit. He had only recently experienced a slowing down of his motor skills, but then he was nearly 60 years old, and such things could be expected.

Without warning the waiting was over as one of the Enforcers stepped forward and yanked the steel cage door along its tracks. Dom waited to be invited to stand up.

However because he did not stand right away the Enforcer, joined by the other, grabbed him under the arms and lifted him roughly to his feet. Dom jerked his arms free from their heavy grasps and stepped forward on his own.

He turned in the direction that the Grand Phoenix walked. He lifted his head, sucked his stomach in and pushed his chest out as he walked the few steps to the “Ending Room.”

The “Ending Room’ was bright and sterile. It was the cleanest place he had seen in decades and it startled him, so much so that he stumbled in the doorway.

“So much for a graceful entrance”, Dom stated aloud as the Enforcers grabbed him by the shoulders, holding him up.

They guided him backwards to a large board standing on end. They forced him against what turned out to be a metal table covered with a white cloth.

From there the two Enforcers worked quickly and quietly buckling the leather strap around his waist. Dom relaxed as best he could as the pair immobilized his legs followed by his right arm and finally his left.

Once finished, the table jerked to life and started tilting backwards. Dom could feel the hum of the electric motor buried somewhere inside the tables thick pedestal.

“So this is where all that energy I’ve produced over the years went,” Dom joked, though no one laughed.

Before he knew it, a woman wearing a white surgical mask appeared by his side. She slapped his left arm where the elbow bends and produced a needle that she gracefully slipped through his paper like skin and into his blue throbbing vein.

Once again he felt the motor inside the tables single leg hum to life as it tilted forward. Within seconds Dom was upright, feet on the ground again, but with his arms held outright from his body.

Standing in front of him were the two Enforcers and the Grand Phoenix. Dom couldn’t help but to once again notice how small and unhealthy the man dressed in orange seemed.

Then the Grand Phoenix spoke, causing Dom to snicker. Not only was the man scrawny, his voice was high-pitched and weak.

An Enforcer stepped forward and struck Dom hard in the stomach with the end of his club.

The older man tried to tighten his muscles from the blow but it hurt all the same: “Really?” Dom challenged, “Is that all you got?”

The Enforcer moved forward again with his club poised to strike the old man on the side of the head. It was the Grand Phoenix who intervened in the coming beating.

Instead the Grand Phoenix held a scroll in his left hand above his head. He allowed it to unfurl, where upon the end of the parchment bounced of the surface of the hard floor.

The man in the bird mask started “You’ve been found guilty by the Central Authority of being non-productive and are hereby sentenced to death via lethal injection.”

It all sounded so official, but Dom recognized it for what it was — parsing: Saying one thing and meaning something else entirely. He had perfected the art of parsing as a writer for the Authority Publishing Bureau, having worked his way up from typesetter, to ink monkey and finally as a typist.

Still the Grand Phoenix droned on reading out the list of events of Dom’s life the Central Authority know about. The worse according to the man behind the mask was how Dom had participated in the mass “Fall Riots of 2015.”

In the distance the emergency bell rang.

Playing Chicken

Where we put our childhood memories and how they get buried, verses when they suddenly choose to reappear has always fascinated me. However, in some cases the memory that resurfaces is so much more interesting than the other.

The trigger to this memories reemergence was a simple photograph of a rooster. (Told you some memories are more interesting than trying to figure out the ‘why’ of where they’ve laid dormant for years on end.)

When my mom was angry with me, she’d call me unflattering names. One morning, shortly before noon, I did something that really peeved her off.

She yelled at me, “You’re such a little cock.”

(Raised in a bar, Mom learned from a very young age to drink, smoke and swear with the best of them.)

Unphased by her name-calling by the time I turned 17, I smarted her back, “I think the polite way to say that is ‘You’re such a Bantam Rooster.’”

She chased me out of the house with whatever she had in her hand. When playing-chicken with a ‘near-death’ experience, it’s always best to be quicker than the experience.

Dorothy Shields, 1961-2019

Writing an obituary is possibly the hardest tasks a grieving family has to face. Because of this, sometimes it gets set aside and may eventually be ignored until it seems that it no longer matters — I mean the loved-one is gone and so what’s the point, right?

Well, the obituary isn’t for the lost loved-one, it’s for those of us left behind and we all deserved to be remembered in some way, big or small, with our family and friends. That’s why I often offer to help write obituaries as I have a God-given gift called writing and I feel I should use it to help others, not simply satisfy my ego.

On a more personal note, I only aided with Dorothy’s obituary, it was her sister, Marie who carried most of this burden. Thank you, Marie for letting me help you and your family.

Dorothy and I were jus’ reconnecting after having lost touch for nearly 38 years, so it’s very hard to learn that she is gone before we had a chance to share all of our memories as kids and our separate recollections as adults. Rest in peace, Dorothy, my dear friend. See you soon along the banks of Heaven’s great river…

Born November 1, 1961, on her father’s birthday in Crescent City, California to Beverly (Adamson) and John Van Dusen, Dorothy Lenore Shields passed away on April 25, 2019 at her home in New Castle, California. She worked as a waitress at Thunder Valley Cafe in Lincoln, California, where she was a good friend and constant support to her coworkers.

Dorothy was born with a mothering soul and taking care of people was her gift. Dorothy even took on the responsibility of caring for her siblings at the tender age of 13. She enjoyed painting, taking photographs, playing with her grandchildren and loved her family more than anything

She graduated from Del Norte High School in Crescent City in 1979 then joined the U.S. Army, serving as a Chaplains Assistant, while stationed in Germany. Following her discharge Dorothy returned home to Klamath, California, before eventually settling in New Castle with her husband.

Dorothy cared very deeply for others and was always there to listen and to provide a shoulder to cry on while giving great advice. Loving and compassionate, she was always giving so much of herself and did all she could to help others through the difficult times in their lives.

Preceded in death by her mother, Beverly, Dorothy is survived by her husband, John Shields; son’s, John and Jacob Gregory (Shara;) grandchildren, Auron, Rylan, Charleigh, Serenity, Zane, Hunter, Jocelyn and Jameson, her father John (Jeanette); sister’s Julie Bergren and Marie Reed (Robert); and brother, Robert Van Dusen; nieces and nephews, Cevin Bergren, Rhonda Bergren, Crystal Gasser, Terah Van Dusen, Beth Clark and Dallas Reed.

She Hopped the Fence

Jennifer Casper-Ross, then 30, used her friend’s cell phone to call her father in Las Vegas, Nevada, at around 5 am. She told him she wanted to come for visit, then she took a cab the Reno-Sparks Cab Company on Gentry Way in Reno, Nevada.

In the early hours of that May 5, 2005 day, Jennifer’s husband came home, found her drunk, and saying that she needed to leave. She had her belongings and family photos packed.

For whatever reason, she took off on foot from her Oakhurst Avenue home for the Peppermill Hotel and Casino on South Virginia Street. There, staff and guests would tell detectives that Jennifer arrived already intoxicated and that she had marks on her wrists and arms.

The cab company was where her mother would have normally been working the graveyard shift, but unfortunately for Jennifer, she had the day off. When she learned her mother was not there and being only a mile from home, Jennifer left the building, when behind it and jumped over a fence.

That’s the last time anyone has seen Jennifer.

An employee of the cab company would later find Jennifer’s broken high heels in the company’s parking lot. And her husband would report her missing that day.

At 15-years-old Jennifer was an already gifted ballerina, performing in local community events in her hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. By age 19, she’d earned a spot in Gregory Thompson’s Productions as a dancer at Harrah’s Reno Casino and Hotel in Reno.

In March 1999, she married Sean Ross, who mixed the sound and operated the spotlights during Jennifer’s performances. Four years later, the pair welcomed their son.

Jennifer was also University of Nevada-Reno student, who had majored in veterinary medicine but switched to bio-medical engineering. She was awarded the NASA national space grant college and fellowship program in 2000 and was a year away from completing her degree.

But by 2005, Jennifer’s life had begun to spin-out-of-control after she broke her tailbone practicing for a show, followed by the lost her job at Harrah’s. After being fired, she began giving ballet lessons and moonlighting as an exotic dancer.

Jennifer was also struggling with a continuing case of postpartum depression and would later be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Having been hospitalized several times, her marriage had also begun falling apart.

In the early stages of the investigation, Sean found two bloodied notes inside the couple’s home, which indicated that Jennifer hoped Sean would continue to care for their son if anything ever happened to her. DNA and handwriting analysis confirmed that Jennifer wrote the notes and that it was her blood.

Jennifer had attempted suicide and had gone missing before for several days at a time, though never for long. This aside, detective’s have not been able to establish when the notes were originally written.

At first, Jennifer’s husband, Sean cooperated with the investigation, but after failing a polygraph test, didn’t return for a second interview. Three months following Jennifer disappearance, he filed for divorce and moved to San Diego, California.

Jennifer is a White female,  5’9″, 130 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Her ears are double-pierced, has a navel-piercing and a tattoo of the initials ‘J.G.’ on her left foot.

If you have any information about this case, please call the Reno Police Department at 775-334-2121.

Honestly Abandoned

Honestly, I’ve not tried to write in a couple of days. The mind’s been an utter mess. What I did have is this stupid ditty that came out of the folds and fluids of my brain as I slept off a drunk. I have no idea what it means and no idea what can be done with it. So I leave it here, where it can sit like an abandoned egg in hot weather, rotting…

while i’s ain’t no Barabbas
i’s be da guilty fellas here
ans’ as deys lets me free
damned iffen deys didn’t
keeps dat innocent man

Dawn Bellatti Melton, 1964-2019

Because of the family’s desire to have very little made of her passing, I’m keeping my tribute to Dawn Bellatti Melton as short as possible…

Dawn was born June 30, 1964 in Crescent City, California to Joanne and Stanley Bellatti. She passed away in Medford, Oregon, on April 28, 2019 at the age of 54.

She graduated from Del Norte High School in 1982 and had recently retired from Pelican State Prison having achieved the rank of Captain. Dawn is survived by her parents; her daughter, Tayler Melton; and twin sister, Carrie Bellatti.

Her quick smile and bright personality shall be missed by many, including me.

Steve Wakefield, 1954-2019

“Steve’s been taken to the hospital again. Please pray,” the Facebook posting stated two-days before he lost his battle for life. Such news is hard to absorb because for the majority of Del Norte County, California residents, current and past, Steve, his brother Rob and the Wakefield name have been a major factor in our lives.

Steve passed away April 26, 2019, at the age of 64. He was born in Crescent City on July 1, 1954, to Bob and Sybil Wakefield and was a lifelong resident of Crescent City.

Steve suffered a stroke January 24, 2018 that resulted in his being transfer to Pacific Medical Care’s Stroke Care Center in San Francisco, before a second, more severe stroke hit him on February 11. Seven days later, Steve announced his retirement.

He returned home on March 9 to hundreds of well-wishers as he landed at Border Coast Regional Airport. The pilot of the air ambulance made a pass over the welcome area, lined with fire, city police, sheriff’s office and CHP patrol vehicles, and all with their emergency lights flashing.

The Crescent City Council proclaimed December 3, 2018, as ‘Fire Chief Steve Wakefield Day,’ noting that he became chief 23 years ago and calling him a driving force in combining Crescent City Fire and Rescue and Crescent City Fire Protection District, “to centralize strength while maintaining exceptional service.” And in May, the Crescent City Chamber of Commerce announced that Steve would be the grand marshal of 2018’s Fourth of July parade, which he was.

Steve attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School, graduated from Del Norte High School in 1972, and went on to Humboldt State University. Following college, Steve and his brother Rob owned and operated Wakefield Brothers Garbage Company for a several years.

In 1976, he joined the Crescent City Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as a firefighter, captain, battalion chief, assistant chief, and finally, fire chief. Two years later, on August 19, 1978, Steve married Debra Day and together during their 40-plus-years of marriage, they raised three sons.

Steve is survived by his wife, Debra; mother, Sybil; sons, Ryan, Marc and Matthew Wakefield; sisters, Sarah Valley and Martha Wakefield; and brothers, Doug and Rob Wakefield.

Les Miller, 1962-2019

Leslie ‘Les’ Miller was born on September 3, 1962, in Crescent City, California. Raised in Crescent City all of his life, Les also passed away in Crescent City on April 9, 2019, at the age of 56.

I’m still reeling from the shock.

While I didn’t know Les very well back in the day, I do remember him as ‘that kid with the goofy smile, who is always cracking jokes,’ when we were in high school. He graduated from Del Norte High in 1980, a couple of years after me.

Later, he worked at Glenn’s Bakery as a baker and short-order cook. I also learned that Les had a hand in building several structures over the years including Pelican Bay State Prison.

But what Les was best known for were his magnificent wood cravings. To be clear, these weren’t ordinary carvings using chisels and such – no, Les used a chainsaw – from start to finish and he became pretty well-known across the U.S. for his craftsmanship.

We reconnected a few years ago through Facebook, sharing many of the same political views and recollections of Del Norte County as it was when were both kids. Les’ passing has left a hole in the hearts of many people, including mine.