In Vested

In yet what I can only describe as another oddity, today I received a package from Amazon that I did not order. Now, to be exact, my wife has been expecting an Amazon order, so I didn’t look at the label when I pulled it from the mailbox.

My wife opened the package and was surprised to find a man’s vest, yellow with blue elephants, and not the table runner she had ordered two days ago. She checked the address, worried that she had opened a package meant for one of our neighbors.

But, no, my name was on it.

So I sat at the computer and typed in the address from where the vest came was sent. It would turn out to be the second half of this crazy story; it came from an Amazon fulfillment center in Coppell, Texas, that is listed as permanently closed.

Talk about going from spooky and into the unbelievably weird.

The Great Silence

We took a midday walk from the house to Eagle Canyon and out to Pyramid Highway. It’s something I’ve never done before, but the dog and I needed the exercise.

We got down to Pyramid, turning south, heading for Robert Banks Blvd. Shortly after making the corner, walking about ten minutes, I noticed something strange; no vehicles on Pyramid.

The more I thought about it and the longer there were no cars, trucks, or motorcycles, the more I became spooked. Instead of completing our intended route, we cut across the open field towards Eagle Canyon.

Within two minutes, automobiles were everywhere. I’m still a little freaked over it because while I like to write horror stories, I hate living them.

Dust Bunny

It began as something cute she had swept from under the refrigerator. But she had to leave it to answer the front door, then her cellphone.

By the time she returned, the pile of dust was gone. However, she gave it no more thought as she completed the floor by mopping and waxing it.

Later that evening, as she sat, relaxing on the couch and watching television, she realized she hadn’t seen the cats since the late afternoon. Then panic set in when it occurred to her that she hadn’t heard her baby cry or coo in the past hour.

Jack in the Beanstalk, Reimagined

The headline said the petrified tree was 62 feet, the longest ever found in the UK. Authorities in Penwith, Cornwall, were quick to rename the park as they shoveled around the fossil.

It wasn’t until a forensic photographer began documenting the site using a drone that they learned it might be more than a tree.

“Look at this?” she said, pointing to what were supposed to be petrified tree roots. “That is the upper end of a humerus bone, and down there, that looks to be a righthand.”

Work halted as everyone crowded into the ditch to look at the thing in question. A quick calculation showed the bone belonged to a 181-foot giant.

One of the laborers hired to help with the digging whispered to a co-worker, “Don’t suppose that fairy-tail we learned about Jack in the Beanstalk was true, now do you?”

Damn Yams

Chased out of the kitchen by my wife and daughter-in-law after Thanksgiving dinner, my son and I excused ourselves to the front porch, where we sat taking in the evening chill and sipping our whiskeys.

“That was sure a good dinner,” my son said.

“It was,” I agreed.

“The only thing I didn’t care for was the yams,” he said. “But then I never really like yams anyway.”

“I get you,” I smiled, “They’re not my favorite either.”

“Really?” my son said with some surprise. “I thought you loved them.”

“Nope,” I returned.

“Then why do you fuss over them?” he asked.

“Because your mom took the time to cook them,” I answered. “And cooking Thanksgiving dinner with all the Fixin’s is hard work. It’s the least that I can do.”

“Isn’t that like lying though,” he wondered.

“Maybe, I don’t know,” I said. “But the look of contentment on your mother’s face takes away that thought for me.”

“But…” he began.

I cut him off, saying, “I noticed you ate some too.”

“Yeah,” he said, “I was being polite.”

“And there you go,” I finished.

“Our secret then,” he said as he gently elbowed me.

“You bet,” I said.

Music to the Ears

Dot Webster was down and out when it came to employment, so he had taken to doing odd jobs to buy his bread and coffee. He was hitchhiking down U.S. 99 towards Lodi because he had heard that a family was looking for a piano teacher.

He was someplace between Collierville and Acampo as the sun began to set. Webster saw a small orchard of disregarded trees and sought out a hollow in which to bunk down.

Along the way, he found a cluster of edible mushrooms stuffing the morsels in his jacket pocket. It wasn’t a steak dinner, but they would appease the hunger his stomach felt.

It was going to be another cold camp as he had no way of making fire. He had lost his flint and knife somewhere along the way, more certain they’d been stolen than lost.

After dining on his found food, Dot Webster pulled the remnants of his sleeping bag around himself and curled up. Though darkness settled, he found himself still awake.

While trying to get comfortable, he saw on a plateau across from him a strange ceremony forming. As close as he could tell, 26 figures chanted and moved in a counter-clockwise fashion around a large bond fire.

The words were unknown to Webster, yet musically hypnotic, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

Silently, he watched and listened. To his amazement, he saw a Stygian shadow rise and a giant rock form into what he could only assume was an alter.

The ongoing chant and rhythmic dance soon had him feeling sleepy, and Webster found himself fighting to stay awake. It was a woman’s scream that aroused him.

It happened all too quickly for him to understand what he had witnessed. The entity had torn a pale figure in two.

Dot Webster closed his eyes in disbelief. He waited what he thought was less than half a minute before opening them again.

The sun was beginning to rise, and the plateau was now empty, save for several black stones set in a circle and a large rock in the center. He sat there studying the silence of the scene.

He had dreamed or hallucinated the nighttime events.

“It must have been the mushrooms.”

Awake, he made his way to the road and started walking south again. He had gone less than a mile when he saw a dilapidated house with a half-crumbled well beside it.

The roof was practically missing, and one wall stoved in, so Webster was sure no one lived there. Thirsty, he decided to see if the old well held any water.

A bucket lay on its side next to the well, still attached to a rope whose other end remained wrapped to a boom that stretched across the hole. Webster dropped the bucket into the darkness of the hole and listened.

A sickly plop came echoing up from the depth. Nearly dry, save for enough water to create a mud pit. He sighed and turned away, not bothering to raise the pail to the surface.

“Perhaps I can find something in the house,” he thought as he turned towards the building.

Webster peered in through the dirt-covered windows. To his delight, he saw a piano, and it drove his desire to play the moldering instrument.

The front door was not hard to push in, and the floor seemed sturdy enough as he walked over to the piano. He wiped a layer of dust from the bench tucked beneath the keys and sat down.

Flexing his fingers, still stiff from the morning chill, Dot Webster began to play from memory his favorite piece by Vivaldi, Spring. As he allowed his fingers to dance lightly over the out-of-tune keyboard, tears drifted down his face as he recalled his previous life as a music tutor.

Forty minutes later, Webster finished with a flourish, then stood and bowed to an audience not there. He sat back down on the bench, struggling to decide if he were happy or sad.

Sitting there, he looked out the filth-covered window he’d first looked through. The rope, which the bucket was still attached and hanging over the lip of the fallen well, was moving ever so slightly.

Curious, Webster left his seat and the house and approached the well. He looked over the edge into the darkness as the rope continued to jerk ever so subtly.

Carefully, he took the handle of the wench in hand and began to rewind the rope onto the wooden boom. Soon the bucket came into sight, and Webster could see something in it.

Retrieving the bucket, he set it on the wall of the old well. It was a large Raven, perhaps the largest he’d ever seen, and it looked dead.

Gently, he lifted it from the bucket and examined it. Without warning, it screamed an ear-shattering ‘caw’ at him and jumped from his hands.

It happened with such surprise that Webster fell backward on the ground. The giant black bird continued to hover over him, screaming its singular caw-caw in his face.

As it flapped its wings, mud flew from them, and soon Webster was covered in a dark thick slim. Because the stuff mired his face, he could not see that the more the bird flapped, the smaller it became until it disappeared entirely.

Thinking the Raven had finally flown away, Webster scrambled to his feet and wiped at the mud that caked his eyes. It had left him temporarily blinded, but the more he wiped, the more he realized he no longer had eyes or even eyelids.

In a panic, he screamed and stumbled about the tiny yard. His screaming drowned out the sound of the tentacled thing, with unsymmetrical human eyes that had climbed over the broken wall and moved with a squishy sound towards him.

In seconds, the thing rose taller than the man before it, and like a heavy curtain fell over him. Though muffled, Dot Webster screamed even more.

Soon, the screams ended, and silence followed as the thing reshaped itself into a malformed human. Blinking as if to focus, the distorted figure opened its newly acquired eyeballs, turned, and raced from the yard towards the plateau from the evening before.

That night as a gibbous moon raised in the eastern skies, a twenty-seventh figure took its place among the dancing and chanting group that encircled the old one, singing, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

A Word to the Wise

Hindsight is 20/20.

Kyle Rittenhouse should have remained with his ‘team’ instead of splitting off from the others. They should have been working in tandem.

I know.

Though a former police youth cadet and part-time YMCA lifeguard, Rittenhouse should have never claimed to be an EMT (emergency medical technician.) Negative perceptions are hard to overcome.

I know.

When an incident like this occurs, ‘team members’ must politely refuse to speak to the press about anything, whether they know what happened or not. As the Kenosha Guard learned, not all media are there to collect facts or disseminate the truth.

I know.

“My God, I know him.”

UPDATE: Brooks posted a quote in 2016 on a now-deactivated Facebook account: “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing & don’t slow down for any of these idiots…”

UPDATE: Brooks was convicted of statutory sexual seduction on November 1, 2006, for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old. Sentenced to probation, Sparks Police arrested him for failure to obey sex offender laws on June 23, 2016. He made bailed then absconded.

UPDATE: Brooks has been charged with crimes 16 times since 1999.

UPDATE: Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson now says Brooks had been part of a domestic disturbance minutes before he drove into the Christmas parade.

UPDATE: Brooks has an active warrant in Nevada for violating the state’s sex crime law.

When I first saw his photo, I practically fell out of my office chair.

“My God,” I said aloud, “I know him.”

Darrell Edward Brooks Jr. may have killed five people by running them down during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Another 40 are injured, some critically.

He is a sex offender from Sparks, Nev., and I reported on him in 2006. He was 24 or maybe 25 years old when convicted of having sex with a teenage girl, getting her pregnant, as well as pimping her out.

So I did a quick search on the Nevada sex offender registry and found him. The photo, though a decade old, looks like the alleged suspect.

As for how the national media is covering this, they say it is an accident, that Brooks was running away from a life-threatening situation. They also say that the incident had nothing to do with the ‘Black Lives Movement (BLM)’ or the Rittenhouse verdict.

They cannot possibly know either of these suppositions and therefore ought not to be reporting this as fact.

Facts are that Brooks has open felony charges in Wisconsin after he allegedly tried to run a woman over at a gas station. Other lesser charges against him include resisting an officer, bail jumping, recklessly endangering safety with domestic abuse assessments, disorderly conduct, and battery.

Social Media Memes, the Media and Chrystul Kizer

Oh, geez! People, do some research and don’t believe everything you see on social media.

The name Chrystul Kiser keeps coming up in connection with Kyle Rittenhouse. She allegedly murdered her pimp in 2018.

She has yet to be tried in connection with this crime and has been out of jail since June 2020. Finally, in June 2021, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals found that the trial judge had erred when denying her the ability to raise, as an affirmative defense, related to victims of human trafficking and child sex trafficking.

The court has yet to set a trial date.

Who Were Rosenbaum and Huber?

Guess I’ll do the work of the national media by telling the truth.

Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot in self-defense, had multiple convictions in Pima County, Ariz., spending over 14 years in prison. He served the first ten years on his first rape charge, but for the two other rapes, he only received sentences of 30 months.

A grand jury charged Rosenbaum with 11 counts of child molestation and inappropriate sexual activity around children, including anal rape. The victims were five boys ranging in age from nine to 11 years old.

Meanwhile, Democratic Arizona State Rep. Daniel Hernandez, who represents District 2 Pima County residents, tweeted after the jury found Rittenhouse not guilty, “My heart goes out to the families of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber.”

Dems in Arizona must be so damned proud of their elected representative.

As for Huber, in 2018, he was found guilty of domestic abuse and disorderly conduct in Wisconsin. He also served a prison sentence in 2012 for choking his brother.

The truth, often ugly, is also freeing.

A Few Notes on the Rittenhouse Case

If you only watched or learned about the Rittenhouse trial via ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, or NBC, you will not know:

The gas station, where they initially attacked Rittenhouse, is owned by his grandparents. They came on to his family’s property to attack him.

Rittenhouse put out a dumpster fire being rolled towards that same gas station, meant to burn it down and possibly cause an explosion.

On orders, the police had to stand down while businesses were looted and destroyed.

His father and Grandparents live in Kenosha, twenty minutes from where he resided with his mom part-time in Illinois.

Rittenhouse was knocked down twice and then nearly kicked the head.

Huber hit Rittenhouse in the head twice with a skateboard.

Grosskreutz aimed his gun at Rittenhouse first, which he admitted on the stand.

In Wisconsin, it is legal for Rittenhouse to have a gun, even at 17, and that he did not cross state lines illegally while in possession of the weapon.

Rosenbaum was a five-time convicted pedophile.

Huber was a two-time convicted domestic abuser.

Grosskreutz is a convicted Burglar with an assault on his record also.

All three men shot were not Black but White.

Prosecutors withheld video of the attack, and when forced to admit this and send a copy to the defense, the video was compromised and nearly unviewable.

Police caught an MSNBC reporter following the bus carrying jurors to their homes and photographing them, and the news agency was banned from covering the trial.

And finally, President Joe Biden defamed Rittenhouse before the trial began because he gets his news from the dishonest media, too.

Chocolate Raised

“You’re 37?” he said, standing by her office door. “You look much younger than that. I thought you were closer to 21 or something.”

“Thank you,” she said as she smiled up at him.

“What’s your secret?” he asked.

“I let a demon possess my soul in exchange for eternal youth,” she laughed.

He laughed, “Whatever,” before turning and leaving.

“You gotta stop telling people that before they start to believe you,” the Demon voiced.

She shrugged and said, “Meh. I’m heading to the breakroom for some coffee and a donut.”

“Oh, good,” the Demon said. “Try and get a chocolate raised.”

Can’t Beat the Logic

By the age of four, my son insisted on dressing himself. Not only did he want his clothing to be color-coordinated, but he had to button every button on the front of his shirt, and he had to have his socks pulled up, even though he might be wearing pants.

The only difficulty he experienced was putting on shoes. He always had them on the wrong foot.

“Your shoes are on the wrong feet,” I said once.

He looked down at them, studying the situation, then looked at me and in dead earnest said, “But they’re the only feet I have.”

Touche’!

Edweird

Edweird had heard of this place as he crossed out of the green, lush forest and into the mountains of snow and bitter winds. Not only did it come like a whisper from the clouds, but the indigenous peoples of cerise, flaxen, and sepia spoke loudly of it.

Down into the valley, he stumbled, exhausted by this drive to find this place they called “Same,” or was it “Sane?” By the time he reached the desert’s edge, the name no longer mattered.

It was the destination, not the journey, that spurred Edweird forward.

The rocky landscape gave way to endless vistas of bright titian and heliotrope bruisings. It became difficult for Edweird to recognize the sky from the earth, and many times it caused him to stumble and fall. Still, he found the will to regain his footing and step forward and forward again.

Parched, tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth, Edweird fell victim again and again to the taste of the gritted soil of an ancient mirage. He cried foul each time and threatened to surrender to the elements but never found the right place.

Hands and knees shredded, and his mind numbed to the ever-presence of fatigue and loneliness, Edweird came to a long, high wall. Slowly, he stood, using the smooth stones as leverage to find his balance.

Confusion set in, and he found it hard to decide which direction he should go. It was too high and smooth to go over, and he could not see the end of this structure to either side of himself.

Edweird felt stuck.

Finally, a gust of hot air forced him to his right, and he followed the wall for days and nights. Upon his third turn, for the wall was circular and not straight, he discovered a crack between the rocks.

Though his eyesight was weak, he could see people moving, passing by the narrow opening. Edweird pressed himself into the gash, and though frightened of tight spaces, forced his withered body through to the other side.

Inside the walls, Edweird watched as the forms he’d seen from the outside, turn to look at him. Many did not stop to recognize this busted and battered man as he dropped to his knees in surrender.

“We’ve been expecting you,” a calm voice stated.

Edweird looked up and saw the form of a man standing with a blinding sun obscuring his face.

“Come,” the man said. “Let us get you water and crackers.”

Edweird stumbled to his feet and followed obediently. All around himself, he saw people shrieking, crying, dancing, laughing wildly, talking and mumbling, singing, and doing other strange things that only those who have lost their minds would do.

After a meal of saltines and cool water, the man said, “Welcome to…”

Edweird could not make out the name. Did he say, “Same” or “Sane?” Though the problem had plagued Edward before this, he was safe now and therefore no longer concerned himself with such details.

After resting for three days and feeling stronger in body and mind, Edweird decided he must be moving on. He needed to find his way back to his place of beginning.

He returned to that part of the wall through which he had entered, only to find the slot was absent. For three days, he searched, and for three days, he found the same thing, solid stone, polished smooth, but no escape.

On the fourth day, he was approached by the man with the sun in his face, once again.

“The crease you seek will not return until your soul heals,” the man said.

Edweird leaned back against the wall and slipped to the ground, screaming and crying at his plight. The idea of being trapped was too much, and Edweird cracked with madness.

And though it would pass in the blink of an eye, seventeen years later, the crack in the wall would open, but by this time, he was comfortable in his sameness and sanity. Still, from time to time, Edweird inwardly thought of that slight opening and his life before.

He could not help himself. Nor could Edweird help become the man with the glowing orb that adumbrated his image.

Aging to Death

In my twenties, I never thought about death. I never thought about dying. Even when nearly killed, I was sure I would live forever and be happy.

In my forties, I began thinking about death as my folk and friends began to die, and I developed a sudden fear of dying. I didn’t want to die viewing it as unfair.

Now, in my sixties, I know that I will die one day. My greatest fear isn’t of death itself, or even what lays beyond, rather that I’ll die alone in an uncomfortable bed, mindless of myself and those I love.

A Case of Dead Cats

She contacted me via email, saying she had information about any gruesome crime story I was investigating, and it sounded promising. Cats were disappearing from all over town, only to later be found torn to pieces and partially devoured.

I wanted to know if this was the work of a cult.

We agreed to meet in a park east of the train depot at four that afternoon when it would be the least busy. I found it puzzling that she didn’t want to talk to me over the phone, citing the risk of being spied on even though she’d used the Internet.

Since we’d never seen one another before, she described what she’d be wearing for our meet-up. Red hair, green jacket

Cautious, I wondered about the fringes of the park, keeping an eye for any out-of-place activity. Finally, I saw a woman who fit the description.

Wanting to remain careful, I didn’t approach her right away. I waited another five minutes before walking down the path to where she was kneeling.

Once within a few feet of her, I knew something was wrong, and I was in danger. Her growl was low and long as she turned and charged.

Shining

It was as dark as Hades as he approached the underpass. The shaft was even darker.

He could see illumination at the far end, and that gave him hope. It meant people, and where there were people, there was safety, food, and fire.

Slowly he walked down the passageway, hugging the wall. He couldn’t see a thing in front of him, so he shuffled to avoid tripping.

More than halfway to the glow, he sensed a movement, then heard the knife’s click. He’d have to pass through Hell to get to the light at the end of his eternal tunnel.

So Much for “The Customer is Always Right…”

It is the worst customer service that I have ever experienced.

Yesterday, I purchased an item from this place right over the border in California. I got it home and found that it did not work.

So today, I took it back and asked if I could get a refund. The young woman behind the counter politely told me ‘no’ even though I still had the receipt.

So, I asked if I could get it replaced. Again, the answer was ‘no.’

Then I asked to talk to a manager. I explained to the guy that I had just bought the item, got it home, and found it did not work.

The manager smiled at me and said, “You are out of luck.”

“So, no refund? No replacement?” I asked.

“Nope,” he said, shaking his head.

I left upset, vowing not to buy another lottery ticket from that place ever again.

A Haunting

Since childhood, Angela had dreamed of this particular house, the flagstone walkway, and the wrap-around porch with its swing near the front door. It was only a dream as she entered and wandered about the busy home, children like herself racing from room to room.

As she grew older, so did this continuous dream. She saw the children grow up and move out, their parent’s age, the home grow quiet, and the upkeep slowly subside.

Now married and with children of her own, Angela had the dream, less and less. It had never occurred to her that such a house existed outside her sleeping thoughts.

One day, as she and her family were driving through a neighboring town, she saw her dream house in real life. A for sale sign stood in the front yard, and she beckoned her husband to stop the car so she could take a look at the place.

Knowing her dream, he obliged. She got out and quickly walked up the flagstone walkway to the front door.

She knocked, and an older woman answered. Taken aback, Angela knew the lady was the one from her dreams.

“Hi,” Angela said, “This is going to sound strange, but I have dreamed about your home for years, ever since I was a little girl.”

“Nothing strange about it, dear,” the woman answered. “You’ve visited us so often in the past that we were beginning to wonder if you would ever come by in person or simply remain a ghost haunting our house.”

Fragmented

Driving down Six-Mile Canyon Road was more familiar to me than the trip up to Virginia City, and as it was dark, I was not relishing the idea of doing so. I had just passed an old house on my left, noting the lights and thinking in all the months I traveled this route, I’d never seen it before.

As I looked back, I suddenly found myself faced with a small band of wild horses. I stepped hard on the brake, downshift, and stirred to avoid them.

“Why hadn’t they bedded down already?” I thought as my right front tire caught the edge of the road and dropped off the asphalt, sending my truck over the embankment where it rolled twice before coming to rest on the roof.

With adrenaline pumping, I struggled to release my safety belt. Finally, it came loose, and I dropped with a heavy thud on the canopy of my truck’s roof.

My chest on my left side hurt tremendously, and I could tell that I might have fractured them. Also, my right ankle felt as if I had seriously twisted it.

“Should I try for that cabin back there or stay here?” was my thought.

Then I smelled gasoline, and my decision made.

Carefully, I crawled from the cab of the overturned pick-up and clawed my way up the embankment. Looking around, I could see little.

The horses were gone, but in the distance, downhill from me, I could see the cabin’s lights. I decided to go for help there.

Slowly, I stumbled and crawled down the road towards the lights. The asphalt had long since given way to hardpan earth, filled with rough and jagged rocks and an uneven track leading steeply towards the lights that promised assistance.

Finally, I hobbled onto the top step of the house and knocked on the rough-hewn door. The voices I’d heard a second before had gone silent.

Finally, a man’s voice called out, “Who is it?”

I answered, “I need help. I rolled my truck.”

Noisily, the door opened a few inches, revealing the face of a young woman. She was smiling but then frowned.

“Yeah,” she shouted back over her shoulder, “And he’s bleeding pretty good too.”

I put my hand on my head and saw it was covered in blood when I drew it back.

When I woke, I was on the floor in front of a large pot-bellied stove. I had blankets underneath me, serving as a pallet and more on top of me, keeping me warm. I was dizzy, so I lay there unmoving.

“What are we gonna do with him?” I heard a woman’s voice ask.

“We’ll let Jack decide that when he gets back,” a man answered.

Footsteps approached, and I opened my eyes to see the same young woman who answered the door looking down on me.

“So, welcome back to the land of the living,” she smiled. “Names Patty.

“Not a bad-looking woman,” I thought, “But whadda gap between her front teeth. You could drive a semi through it.”

Suddenly, two more faces appeared, a dark-haired man with pock-marks and a pale older redheaded woman with thick glasses.

“That’s Carol, and he’s Billy,” Patty said.

“Oh, hell, Patty,” Billy yelled, “Why’d you go and tell him our names? Now Jack’ll have no choice.”

Sleep overtook me, and when I next came to my senses, the day was gone, and night had settled. Still laying on the pallet, a warm body next to me.

Without disturbing her breathing or moving her arm that lay across my upper chest, I looked to find Patty snuggled against me. The stove above us was no long ablaze.

I allowed myself to drift back into sleep, but not before I heard Carol complain, “Jack should have been back by now. I think he’s scrammed with the loot.”

“He’ll be here, don’t worry,” Billy snarled. “Probably having trouble because of the damned snow.”

“Snow,” I thought, “There was no snow listed in the forecast for the week.”

It was screaming and shouting that woke me. The three were arguing about what to do with me.

“Jack ain’t coming,” Carol said.

“I agree with Carol,” Patty said.

“Yeah,” Billy replied, “We gotta cut our losses and split.”

“What about him?” Carol asked.

“What? Him?” Patty angrily said. “His head’s stoved in. He ain’t gonna remember nothing. Besides, we can leave him here. If he dies, he dies, if he lives, he lives, we’ll be long gone by then.”

“But you told him our names, you dumb bitch,” Billy hissed.

“I can do it if you ain’t got the guts,” Carol announced.

“Yeah, with what?” Billy stated. “I got the gun.”

“I have a knife,” Carol returned.

“Guns quicker,” Billy said as he came towards me. By this time, I was ready to act.

“I don’t wanna be no murderer,” Patty shouted.

“We don’t care what you want?” Carol barked.

Suddenly, I could hear scuffling and shouts and cries. I decided to act.

As the three roughed around the room, I sprang to my feet. Though in pain, stiff and sore, and feeling extremely dizzy, I grabbed the handgun out of the back of Billy’s waistband.

He spun, snarled at me, and proceeded to lunge at me. I squeezed the trigger, and he flew back against the wall, dropping heavily to the floor.

The room grew silent as the women, who had been fighting between themselves and Billy trying to break them up, came to realize what had happened. Patty screamed, and Carol picked the knife she’d been holding and rushed me.

Again, I squeezed the trigger. As smoke drifted through the room, Carol lay in a crumpled heap near Billy, and Patty stood transfixed by the dead bodies.

Outside, I heard the squelching sound of a vehicle’s tires making their way down the steep, snow-cover hill to the cabin. Still in pain and shocked at what I’d just done, I hobbled to the back of the cabin and exited out the backdoor.

As quick as I could, I moved into the draw below the building and scrambled along the winding path it had made over years of run-off from the mines above. When I awoke, I was only feet from my truck, and the snow had melted away like I’d seen it do so many times before.

I rolled over onto my back and looked at the dark cloudless night sky, then chuckled at the thought, “Wait five minutes, and it’ll change.”

Stiffly, I pulled myself to my feet. My right ankle was oddly-twisted, my left chest crunched with every breath I took, and I could feel the sharp stabbing pain from the open head wound where my scalp was sliced open.

It took me all night to make it up the hill. I stumbled into the first saloons I found still open.

“They’ve been out looking all over the place for you,” came a concerned voice. “Where the hell have you been?”

“I…I…” was all I said before I collapsed.

The hospital bed was comfortable compared to the pallet I had been on a day or so before. Next to my bed sat the county sheriff.

“Hey,” he said. “Lazurus arises.”

I laughed only to find how bad my chest hurt and then began coughing as the muscles around my ribs spasmed.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he said.

As soon as I stopped coughing and could talk again, I announced, “I shot two people.”

“That’s what you kept saying,” the Sheriff said. “But, we can’t find anyone. Not even this cabin you kept rambling on about.”

“What about Patty, Carol, Billy, and Jack?” I asked. “What about them?”

“No record of anyone by those names or the descriptions you gave us,” he answered.

We went back and forth over my story, what I remembered, the names of those involved, and the handgun I had on me when I walked into the saloon.

“What about that?” I asked as I sat in the Sheriff’s office, nearly healed from my ordeal.

“So you fired an old gun you found,” he said. “I’m surprised you didn’t kill yourself with that rusty old piece. But you didn’t shoot or kill anyone. I promise you.”

“Then what happened?” I asked. “Why do I remember doing it?”

“I ain’t no doctor or anything, but I think that bash on your head caused you to hallucinate,” he replied. “I can’t think of any other explanation.”

It has been a few months since I crashed into the ditch along Six-Mile Canyon Road. I’ve returned to that spot several times, looking for fragments of memory, a scrap of the cabin I visited.

Nothing.

Then this evening, as I was walking north towards my favorite watering hole, I happened to run into a woman some 20-years my senior. She looked at me without any expression on her face, then a smile spread across her face, revealing a gap between her front teeth that you could drive a semi through.

“Why darling,” she said, “You look like you jus’ seen a ghost. You gonna be okay?”

Vibrate, a Sunday Morning Haibun

Jus’ a Sunday morning thought…

when you talk to God
then He hears from the Heavens
but nay-sayers laugh

Scientists working in the field of Quantum Physics discovered the vibration of your voice affects molecules in stars on the edge of our Universe. This phenomenon is known as Quantum Entanglement. Still, others call this prayer.

Hook, Line, Stinker

Jim presents himself as older than me. He might be, but I don’t think by much.

That is not the point here.

While in Virginia City yesterday, I saw him sitting on an upturned bucket, a fishing pole in hand, drowning a worm in a mud puddle from the boardwalk. Knowing he was up to something, I asked him to come into the Ponderosa Saloon and have a drink with me anyway.

As we each nursed a double-shot of whiskey and being the smart-ass I am, I asked, “So how many have you caught today?”

He smiled, “You’re the seventh.”

The Black Hole

“What if a black hole is just the pupil of a giant eye sucking all the light and information into it as it observes an unimaginably larger world ?”  Alexia Sober

God sat on the edge of humankind’s known Universe, observing what he had created with his Big Bang mind. For the most part, He believed that it had all gone well.

But then, the Humans, the ones he had created in His likeness, began to think of themselves as gods, equal to Him. It was not what He wanted from them.

“Look,” said a scientist from JPL, “It appears that a new black hole jus’ blinked into existence.”

After several days of calculating and recalculating, they announced to the world that all was safe, that the earth was in no danger. Meanwhile, God sat quietly, taking in all the light and information the Universe had to offer.

“All I wanted was a relationship with my creations,” He sighed. “Now I’m going to have to show them exactly how big the expanse beyond is and prove to them they are not the gods they think they are.”

He turned and called out, “Hey, Son, can you come here for a minute?”

“Sure, Dad, be right there,” Jesus answered.

The Humans had hoped it would be aliens.

Teen Dies in Crash with School Bus

UPDATE: Ricardo Gomez, 17, of Sun Valley, has been identified as the motorcyclist, who died.

A 17-year-old boy operating a motorcycle died on Eagle Canyon Drive at Richard Springs Blvd., in Spanish Springs this morning, Thu., Nov. 4, at around 7:30 a.m.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t released his name.

The crash also involved a Washoe County School District School bus. Both were heading westbound when the teen slammed into the back of the bus.

While there were students on the bus at the time, none were injured. A second bus transported the children to school, where counselors are on hand if needed by students.

Eagle Canyon is closed at Richard Springs as the investigation continues.

Twice the Satisfaction

There is very little that is more satisfying than working in your garden, be it flower or vegetable, hands in the loam, dirt between your fingers and under your nails. However, more satisfying is the act of sitting down after a good day’s work in the air and the earth and opening an old pen-knife, and with the sharpened point of the master blade, skin the dirt and clay from under one’s fingernails.

Idiocracy

No, this isn’t about the 2006 movie by the same name, but it is damned close.

In November 2019, I read a story about a man being turned away from his polling place because of the shirt he wore. The poll worker believed it held a secret message for Trump supporters.

What did the shirt read? “Triumph,” as in the logo for the motorcycle manufacturer.

Now, voters in Virginia are being turned away from the polls for not wearing a mask. This is unacceptable.

As pundit Charlie Kick points out, “Voters CANNOT be denied their constitutional right based on an unconstitutional mandate.”