The One-time Town of Six Mile

The morning sun had been up about an hour when Arlo Mathers pulled up in his truck, got out, and stretched. Six Mile Canyon Road was quiet as he looked up towards the site and remains of Big Jim Davis’ 1870s silver forge.

That’s what Arlo liked about the Comstock, not only Virginia City but the entirety of the area. He had only hiked here once, near the base of Sugarloaf, and he was looking forward to what he would find heading into the gorge that held a gurgling stream.

The silence was desirable as he followed the stream further down and behind the most notable rock formation into the canyon. With Virginia City above him, he pressed farther into the cut made by a millennium of water runoff from the hills beyond.

Hours had passed, and still, he wandered through the many little side chutes and gullies that the land had to offer. Though the sky remained bright blue, a small cloud of trail dust could be seen to the south.

Arlo headed towards the dust until the land flattened out, and he could no longer see the tally of dust floating lazily away to his east. Still, his curiosity held him to his coarse.

As he broke the rise he’d been walking up, Arlo looked into a small valley. He saw a sunburnt town of older-looking wooded buildings and dugouts.

“I never knew about this place,” he mumbled, “Maybe it’s one of those old western movie sets from years ago.”

A quarter-hour later, he came to the outskirts of the place only to discover it was inhabited. In period costume, people moved between buildings, crisscrossing the wide, open dirt street. Immediately, Arlo looked for a camera crew but saw none.

He stepped up on the wood sidewalk, slightly elevated to keep the storefronts and hotels out of danger from flooding. A door to his right opened, and a woman reached out, grabbing him by the arm. At first, he pulled away, but there was something familiar about her, so he entered.

“Are you new to town?” she said, barely above a whisper.

“Only a minute ago,” Arlo answered, “What town is this?”

“Six Mile,” she answered.

“But…” he began.

“You won’t find it on any map,” she said.

“Why?” asked Arlo.

“Because it doesn’t exist, we don’t exist, you and I don’t exist,” she said, still whispering.

“You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you,” Arlo smiled, “This is a movie set or something, right?”

“No, no movie set, though I wish it were,” she said, looking away as if remembering something from long ago. Then she added, “We’re trapped all of us here, and there is no getting out.”

“Trapped?” Arlo said indignantly, “Jus’ walk out like I walked in.”

She sighed, “You don’t understand.”

“Well, then make me,” he said.

“Okay, the best I can do is that I think we’re dead, and through some sort of fate or failure of the universe, we wound up here in this place,” she said.

“You’re nuts,” Arlo said as he backed towards the door he’d had come in through.

“Am I?” she asked, “You recognized me when you first saw me — I know it.”

“Yeah,” Arlo said, “So?”

“Look at me, look at me real good,” she demanded.

“I see lots of faces every day…” Arlo began.

“Yes, I suppose you do,” she interjected, “But how many women with bleached hair and a beauty mark on her face like mine?”

Suddenly, Arlo felt dizzy. He sat hard on the wooden floor, polished smooth with age, and looked up at the petite-figured woman standing before him.

“Say my name,” she said coaxingly, “It’s okay.”

“Marilyn…Monroe,” he whispered.

As he battled to regain his composure, Arlo listened as Marilyn explained how she thought she had come to be in Six Mile, and the more she spoke, the more things made sense.

“I worked on a film somewhere near here, I sure of that,” she said, “I also stayed at a bed-and-breakfast in Virginia, and I always wished I could return to it. This is as close as I got to my wish, and honestly, I have no idea how long I’ve been here.”

“None?” Arlo asked.

She smiled, “None. But it isn’t all that bad, you see. I also wanted a simpler life, and how much more simple can one get living out here?”

“What do you do?” Arlo questioned.

“I run this mercantile during the day, and sometimes I sing at the saloon or the theater down the street,” she said, pointing further south as Arlo stood to look, “Are you hungry?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he responded.

“Don’t call me ma’am,” she giggled, “Makes me feel old. Call me, Marilyn.”

The food smelled delicious as she stood over the wood stove in the back of the store, frying up a steak and some potatoes. Arlo watched her move from the stove to the table as if he were dreaming.

“Eat up,” Marilyn said as she poured him a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Arlo took a mouthful of potato and chewed. They had no taste.

He took a second fork full, and again nothing.

“I’ll admit that it took me a while to figure out the stove, but I don’t think my cooking is all that bad,” Marilyn said, trying not to sound hurt.

“No,” Arlo returned, “You’re cooking is fine — it’s that I can’t taste it.”

“Really?” she said with surprise.

Suddenly, she got up and disappeared into the store area, quickly returning with a short, stumpy bottle filled with a red liquid.

“Give me your finger,” she demanded.

Arlo put out his left pointer finger, and Marilyn shook several drops from the bottle on the digit.

“Taste it,” she said.

Arlo could smell Tabasco, knowing it would take his breath away if he could taste it, especially that much at one time, but he did as she bade him.

“Nothing,” he said, surprised.

“You don’t belong here,” Marilyn said as she took him gently by the hand.

Night fell over the quiet little town, and that’s when it seemed to come to life. There was the mixing of several ten-penny pianos playing, raucous laughter, clinking glasses, and gunfire. It was everything that Arlo had imagined about a frontier town.

He stood back in the shadow of the overhang near the door of the mercantile, watching. Marilyn had walked up the street to the theater.

“I don’t want to, but we all have to,” she said, “It’s a rule we have to abide by, and besides, Mr. Twain is tonight’s speaker.”

“Mark Twain?” Arlos asked, adding, “But he’s been dead since…”

“Yes, I know,” Marilyn responded, “That’s how this dumb blonde figured it out, that we are all dead — well, all of us except you.”

She looked back at him as she walked across the street and disappeared into the large building. Arlo stood outside, listening to the booming sound of the southern voice of Twain and the half-hearted laughter of the crowd that had gathered. He was presenting a lecture on his adventures in the Sandwich Islands.

Above the town were stars, the same ones he knew from his time at sea and then in this desert. He watched as they twinkled.

Then he saw something pass between the stars and his sight. It was a large winged creature, half-man, half something else, and Arlo felt his blood run cold.

“Howdy, stranger,” a voice said from behind him.

Arlo jumped and turned. A man had come from out of the dark, making no noise as he walked to within feet of the unsuspecting man.

“Names Jim Davis — and I own this town,” he said in a gravelly voice, “Let me buy you a drink and tell you about my rules.”

Feeling like he didn’t have a choice, Arlo stepped off the boardwalk and followed Davis across the street to a nearly vacant saloon. Davis entered and walked to the far corner. It was the darkest table in the hall.

He motioned to the bartender before sitting, indicating to Arlo that he should take the offered chair. Before he could sit, the man behind the bar had two drinks poured and on the small table before them. He left the bottle as he hurried away.

“Seeing that you’re new here, I’ll give you a few days to adjust,” Davis smiled.

“Newcomers always find it hard to get used to, including Miss Marilyn, whom you’ve already met. She’s my gal,” he added, “Don’t forget it.”

“What is this place?” Arlo asked.

He tossed a shot back, knowing he wouldn’t taste and unsure if it would affect his senses.

“This is my town,” Davis smiled, “I built it, I populated it, I run it, and that’s the way I like it.”

“So, why am I here?” Arlo asked.

“I don’t know yet,” Davis responded, “You’re not the first accident that happened upon this place, and I don’t think you’ll be the last.”

Davis poured them another shot.

“I’ll put you up at Julia’s,” he said, downing the whiskey, “She’s another one of my women.

She runs a nice respectable hotel these days, and I think Room 29 will do you just fine.”

Arlo tipped his glass back in a single move, then looked at Davis, “Are you the winged thing I saw earlier?”

“Perceptive,” Davis replied.

Though the answer was non-committal, he could read Davis’ body language well enough to know that the answer was a firm ‘yes.’ The two men had a third slug of booze in silence.

“Thank you for giving me the lowdown and for your hospitality,” Arlo said, “Is Mademoiselle Julia expecting me?”

“Yes, she is,” Davis answered, his eyebrow raised in surprise.

“Then, I’ll take my leave,” Arlo stated as he got up from his chair, “Again, thank you.”

Arlo walked out of the saloon, knowing the alcohol was both tasteless and ineffective on him. He strode purposefully to the hotel, aware that “Big Jim” Davis was watching.

“This way,” the woman with a slight Cajon accent said, “Welcome to Six Mile. I think this room will suit you very well.”

“You must be Julia Bulette?” Arlo said.

“Yes, I am,” she said, “Have we met before?”

“No, ma’am, and forgive me for being so forward,” Arlo said.

“Do not worry yourself,” she said, “And please, should you need anything, simply pull the rope to sound the bell, and Rosa May will gladly assist you.”

Mind swirling and still suffering from the shock of finding himself in a place so strange, Arlo laid back on the cot and tried to fall asleep. Next door, he could still hear Twain and the unenthusiastic crowd he was trying to entertain.

To Arlo, it seemed as if he had only shut his eyes for a minute, and now sunlight streamed through his room’s window. He was momentarily confused at his surroundings before recalling the ordeal he was in.

Because he had not undressed the evening before, he was able to quickly get downstairs and out of the lobby before anyone could stop him.

He looked at the still closed mercantile, then found a bench against the wall and sat down. Along the street, other people were beginning their day, and he wondered what they did for a living.

“If a living is what it was called or if Davis assigned each person a duty,” Arlo thought.

From his right, he saw a gruff-looking man walking hurriedly towards him.

“I heard we had a new person visiting our humble town,” the man shouted, a slight New England accent being noted, “Alfred Doten, and you might be?”

“Arlo Mathers, Mr. Doten,” Arlo answered.

“Come, let’s get a bite to eat,” Doten said, “We can talk about something more than the weather.”

They crossed the street to the diner. Inside, Doten took a seat, back to the windows and door, allowing Arlo the seat that afforded a view.

“What’ll it be?” the tough-sounding woman asked.

“I’ll have my usual, Pearl,” Doten answered.

“You?” Pearl asked Arlo.

“The same, please,” he answered.

She walked away without a word, and Doten smiled after her.

“Rough around the edges,” Doten said, “But I like them like that.”

Arlo sat, surprised that the woman he had ordered food from a few seconds ago went by her nickname and not her real name of Janis Joplin.

By this time, Doten was talking, and Arlo was not listening.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he laughed, finding his inside joke funny.

Arlo remembered how Ruby, a nickname she had given herself before she had died, had been discovered at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City before heading to Haight Ashbury and wide-spread fame.

“So, as I was saying, Marilyn thinks you are here by mistake,” Doten said, “That unlike us, you are still living, and she believes you might be able to escape. Should she be correct, perhaps you are the key to everyone’s release.”

“We ain’t never getting out of here,” Pearl said as she put the plates filled with food on the table with a bang.

She turned and started away.

Arlo raised a finger to Doten, “Hey, Janis, do you still sing?”

The woman stopped and spun around.

“How in the fuck do you know I used to sing?” she demanded.

“Oh, I know!” Arlo said, “So, do you?”

“Only when I’m alone, which ain’t never,” she answered, “Jim don’t like my singing.”

“Well, I do,” Arlo said.

“Yeah, well, you don’t count,” she growled.

“I think it’s time for a new sheriff in town,” Arlo shot back.

“Don’t got one,” Ruby answered as she stomped out of the room.

Arlo removed his pack and unzipped it. After digging around, he found what he was looking for and clapped it down on the table in front of the still eating Doten.

Doten slowly reached over and picked it up, “Well, I’ll be. We do have a sheriff, after all.”

Arlo took the one-time toy badge from Doten and pinned it on his shirt, then said, “I have a plan.”

With Doten, Arlo wandered up and down both sides of the street, introducing himself as the town’s Marshal since that’s what the badge read. That evening, he went to the saloon where Davis held court and waited, sitting in the chair Davis had sat in the night before.

“You know he ain’t going to like it,” warned the bartender.

Arlo smiled, “I know.”

Soon it was dark, and soon Davis entered the saloon. By this time, Arlo had a bottle of whiskey and two shot glasses on the table. He motioned for Davis to join him.

“You got some guts,” Davis said, taking the seat, “Being a stranger and all and in my own town.”

“What can I say — I’ve always wanted to be a lawman,” Arlo replied.

“Dangerous line of work, especially in Six Mile,” Davis said.

“Yeah, but with you in charge, no one’s going to do anything to me,” Arlo returned.

“Well, what if I wanted to do something to you?” Davis threatened.

“That would be your prerogative, wouldn’t it,” Arlo answered.

“Yes, it would,” Davis responded.

“But then I have a little secret that you don’t know about and that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know about either,” Arlo said.

“A little blackmail,” Davis said, “You catch on quick.”

Suddenly, the saloon doors burst open, and in walked an older man with white hair, mustache, and white suit. He held a crooked cigar between his teeth while signaling with two fingers for the barman to bring him two drinks.

“Well, if it ain’t Jim Davis and the new town Marshal,” the man, Arlo knew as Twain, said, “Pleasure to make acquaintances.”

“We’re having a private talk, Clemens,” Davis said.

“Don’t mind me,” Clemens said, “I plan to get so drunk that I’ll barely remember who I am and this Hell in which we all seem to be stuck.”

“Seems you are a disrupter, Arlo Mathers,” Davis said.

“Marshal Arlo Mathers,” Arlo shot back.

“You think all of this funny, do you?” Davis said, ire in his voice.

“No, sir,” Arlo said, “It isn’t funny — it is sad.”

“Hark!” Clemens shouted, slapping the tabletop, “That’s what I’m talking about. Excitement, something more than a repeat of night after night, day after day.”

“Shut up, old man!” Davis yelled.

“Calm down and have another drink,” Arlo offered as he poured yet another shot of rot-gut.

Davis downed it and tossed the glass across the room.

“What is your damned secret?” Davis demanded.

“Not yet,” Arlo smiled, “First, I want a small favor.”

“What?” Davis asked as Arlo motioned the bartender to bring a new glass.

Pouring another shot for each, then filling the two empty glasses Clemens had in front of himself, Arlo measured his response, “I want to hear Pearl sing.”

“You got to be joking?” Davis said, “She doesn’t sing — she caterwauls!”

Arlo noticed Clemens face sour at the suggestion.

“No, I’m not joking,” Arlo answered, “I’d like to hear her sing and maybe put a smile on her face for once. Because you don’t let her sing, she is a miserable little cuss.”

“Fine,” he said, “But don’t blame me when your ears begin to bleed, and you go deff.”

Arlo poured one more round for the three of them before getting up and taking the short stroll down to the theater, where he took a seat in the front row of chairs.

Ruby sang for nearly five hours, and it was well beyond midnight when her voice finally gave out. Only a few patrons were in the theater opposed to when Twain appeared, but Arlo stood and clapped, whistling, stomping, and calling for an encore.

Davis appeared from outside and fairly hollered, “Okay, Marshal Arlo Mathers, you got what you wanted, now give me what I want!”

Taking his time, Arlo walked to the front of the building and into the early morning darkness. The air was chilled, and he found it galvanizing. Though frightened that his coming ploy might not work and would mean a painful death, Arlo started his bluff.

“You know that stash of gold and silver you are protecting?” Arlo started.

“What stash,” Davis said, in a poor attempt at a bluff himself.

“Come now, dishonesty does not befit a man of your stature, Big Jim Davis,” Arlos said.

At the mention of Big Jim, the man turned pale.

“Err…fine, I…uhh…do know what…umm…you are speaking of,” he stammered.

“It’s all gone,” Arlo said, “It was found about twenty years after you died in the dirt, back-shot while trying to rob that Well Fargo wagon.”

“No, it isn’t,” Davis said, “And they shot me for no reason. I hadn’t even drawn my pistol.”

“All the same, your dead, we’re dead, and that loot you think you’re protecting with this figment of a town is gone,” Arlo said, “Sorry, pal.”

It began as a soft roar, growing louder as Big Jim’s color went from pale to a bright red before he burst into flames. The flames lasted through the morning and turned to vapor as the sun’s rays touched it, and then, Big Jim was no more. As the day wore on, the street grew less busy, and the buildings started fading.

Before he vanished, Doten handed Arlo a paper, the Gold Hill Daily News, dated May 11, 1864, saying, “It’s the last one I have, and may she bring you a fortune.”

Down the street, he saw Marilyn in the window of the mercantile. She waved and smiled, then turned, disappearing into the fast-fading building.

Suddenly alone, Arlo Mathers pulled the toy badge from his shirt. He dropped it in the sand, knowing he’d never find it again as he walked towards the base of Sugarloaf and his truck.

U.S. Senator Harry Reid, 1939-2021

Flags are at half staff in memory of former Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid, who died at his home in Henderson, Nev., on Tue., Dec. 29, 2021, at 82.

His wife, Landra Reid, said in a statement that he passed “peacefully” surrounded by friends “following a courageous, four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.”

“Harry was a devout family man and deeply loyal friend,” Landra added. “We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from so many over these past few years. We are especially grateful for the doctors and nurses that cared for him. Please know that meant the world to him.”

Born Dec. 2, 1939, in Searchlight, Nevada, to an alcoholic father who killed himself at 58 and a mother who served as a laundress in a bordello, Reid grew up in a small cabin without indoor plumbing. He hitchhiked to Basic High School in Henderson, 40 miles from home, where he met Landra.

At Utah State University, the couple became members of The Church of Latter-Day Saints and would marry in 1959. He worked nights as a U.S. Capitol Police Officer while putting himself through George Washington University law school.

As head of the Nevada Gaming Commission investigating organized crime, Reid became the target of a car bomb in 1980. Reid blamed Jack Gordon, who went to prison after a sting operation over illegal efforts to bring new games to casinos in 1978.

By age 28, Reid was a Nevada Assemblyman and the youngest lieutenant governor in Nevada history at 30, as running mate to Gov. Mike O’Callaghan, in 1970. Elected to the U.S. House in 1982, Reid would run and win a Senate seat in 1987, which he held until his retirement in 2017.

Reid leaves behind Landra, his wife of 62 years, their four sons, Rory, Key, Josh, Leif, and a daughter, Lana Reid. Funeral services are on Sat., Jan. 8, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas.

Chew Briskly

As a rule, I do not engage in New Year resolutions. What possessed me to do so yesterday morning, I cannot say.

What I do know is that I broke my lifelong pledge, and I possibly established a new world’s record for breaking a brand new undertaking. Like I always say, “Never do anything halfway.”

“I’ve decided that my New Year resolution is going to be working on not putting my foot in my mouth,” I said to my wife.

Silence met my sudden proclamation.

I should have stopped there as I added, “I’m guessing yours is to lose weight.”

Bringing in the Sheaves

No, I shall not divulge which Virginia City saloon this happened in, but it does need saying that the young woman tending the bar that afternoon was a Millennial.

Ordering an Irish coffee with plans to wait out the snowstorm slamming Mt. Davidson and the Comstock, she handed me my change. One of the coins stood out.

“Look at that you, rarely see old Wheat pennies these days,” I said.

“A what penny?” she asked as I handed it to her.

“A Wheat Penny.”

Turning it over, examining the sheaves on its backside, she said, “I thought they were copper.”

How It Really Went Down

I saw Daddy beating Santa Claus
Underneath a streetlamp last night.
He kicked him in his sprite
And I thought it plain effed up
As Santa fought jus’ like a wild pup.
I saw the cops clubbing Santa Claus
Underneath a streetlamp last night
They smacked Daddy all around
As they forced them to the ground
All because fighting is against our laws
I saw Daddy in jail with Santa Claus
Comparing notes and who can tell
If I’ll ever see another Christmas time
As the two get at the bottom of my crime
That Momma never kissed Santa at all.

The Christmas Letdown

It is less than a full minute from Boxing Day, and the trio has gathered together for one more visit, though it is brief. A sadness hangs silently in the fogginess of the quiet night, and not even the blazing lights of the twelfth day are reflecting on their loneliness.

Lo, Christmas has come and gone for yet another year. Put away for 364 days before being brought out in complete festive rebirth.

One by one, they turn and disappear at the old church bell’s sounding. First goes Christmas Present, followed by Christmas Present, both leaving Christmas Future.

Future stands alone praying for human enjoining, but it is for naught. Midnight, Future steps back from the light, disappearing, put away until the next time greed, materialness, and gluttony desire such company.

The Old Man at the Door

After a long Christmas eve day of moving cattle from the upper field to the valley and closer to our home, I was tired and ready for bed after a good supper. We’d been in bed for at least two hours when the dog barked, and a knock came on our front door.

“Who in the world could that be at this hour?” the missus said as she instinctively pulled on her robe and headed for the kitchen to warm up some coffee.

I answered the door to find an old man with a large white beard standing on our step.

“So, sorry to wake you, but I broke the trace on my sleigh and wondered if you might have one I can borrow or some way of repairing this one?” he asked.

“Sure,” I answered as we went to the barn, where I let him look over my tack.

It took him very little time to find a trace that would work for his sleigh and the team pulling it. I invited him back to the house for a cup of coffee, where I grabbed my truck keys to drive him back to where he needed to go.

Coffee in hand, he got in on the passenger side, and I climbed behind the steering wheel. As usual, I had a hard time getting the truck started as the engine had grown old and tired.

Finally, on the road, I smiled, “Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford a new one.”

He said nothing. But when he looked at me, I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye.

Less than ten minutes later, we pulled onto a side road, where he directed me to turn in behind a thicket of trees. I offered to help him set the traces, but he declined.

“Thanks,” he said. “I’ll look into that new truck for you.”

Returning home, I told the wife about what he said and explained that we may have met the real Santa. She laughed and returned to bed, and I followed shortly after.

That morning, with childlike anticipation, I went outside and found my old pickup truck parked right where I had left it shortly after midnight.

Merry Christmas

Fractured and missing pieces, I decided to buy the framed tile anyway. It bore this single word, “Grace.”

The clerk tried to talk me out of it, saying she’d send someone back to find a better one. I told her no, that it was perfect as is.

She frowned at me and tried again to get me to consent to a new tile. I explained to her that broken people are saved only by the grace of God, then she understood.

I paid the discount price for it.

“For it is by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:8

Merry Christmas!

The Tricks the Mind Plays

Tongue in God’s ear, a true story…

We have had a thermal inversion over the area the past few days leading to pogonip. Pogonip, known more widely elsewhere as hoar frost, hangs low to the ground, thick and blinding in some areas, patchy and thin in others.

Buddy and I went out for a walk in it. Eerie, especially when there are few sounds of civilization in the background.

As we crossed over this hill and dropped into the valley below to the dirt road heading back towards our home, Buddy lowered his head, his fur hacked on his back, and he growled a low and menacing growl. Instantly my spidey senses went up, and I began watching for a possible threat.

Without warning, a small figure passed beside us, about five or six feet away, walking in the opposite direction along this road. The fog was so thick that it was difficult to make out the person, other than the fact they were very short compared to my five foot seven.

“One of Santa’s helpers, an elf, or worse, a gnome?” I caught myself thinking.

They said nothing to me, and I said nothing to them. I’m not even sure this person saw us through the thick fog each of us was wandering in. A bit spooked, we practically raced home.

This morning I learned a man with Dwarfism moved in down the street from us.

What the Dickens?

Where Chance O’Gregory was sneaking off to each evening, I had to find out, and so I pretended to be asleep when he slipped from our cabin and started up the hillside towards our claim. My colleague had the same idea as he rolled from his cot, fully dressed as well.

Quietly, we followed O’Gregory into the darkness, unsure where he might lead us.

At the mouth of our mine, we saw a light glowing. We became suspicious and prepared to take action.

Once inside the tunnel, we found Chance seated at a table with three others. He didn’t seem abashed at all as we approached.

“Meet my new poker-playing friends,” O’Gregory smiled. “That’s Christmas Past, he’s Christmas Future, and this is Christmas Present.”

Each stood to shake our hand.

A VC Christmas; or How to Use the Comstock Chronicle

He is one of those Virginy City folk who picks a person whose lot he thinks is a lump of coal, then goes to work, figuring out a way to make their Christmas special. This year Alibi Ames had Brutus Howl in his sights, whose job it is to write about the goings-on of the Comstock in all of its glories and pitfalls.

Alibi does not know Brutus well, although he has seen him wandering the boardwalk along C Street late nights and always alone. He also thinks he knows what this loner will like.

He pulls a deluxe three-volume set of the 1973 edition of the Doten Journals from his bookshelf. He carefully wraps it in the pages of the most recent Comstock Chronicle, tucks it under his arm, and heads to the Union Brewery.

Brutus shows off his new acquisition the following morning.

“Those are worth more than your typewriter.”

“They are worth more than my typewriter to me, too.”

“Were they a Christmas present?”

“I think so.”

“From?”

“Who knows? Maybe Sam Baker or Santy Claus.”

When Alibi hears how happy Brutus is, he smiles and takes a drink of his whiskey-laced coffee.

Dominion Voting Machines Make the Nevada News Cycle Again

Lander and Elko Counties in Nevada are talking about replacing equipment manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems.

It comes amid ongoing concerns about tampering and fraud that evidence, wholly ignored by the media and political elites, tying the equipment to Venezuela and George Soros. And like a good lapdog, the Associated Press got out front of the story by adding “claims have been largely debunked.”

Discernment counts, so please note the word “largely.”

And as if that weren’t enough, the AP also has to make sure that everyone knows the ‘Republican’ Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has said the results in Nevada were accurate and reliable. They fail to mention how she was the only GOP candidate on the up-ticket to win reelection in 2020.

And as if this makes it all better, the AP also reports that all electronic voting machines are certified by the federal government and required to run on closed systems to prevent hacking and cyberattacks.

My final thought is in the form of a question from the movie “Moneyball,” wherein Brad Pitt’s character asks, “If he’s a good hitter, why doesn’t he hit good?” If the machines are not compromised, then why the concern about replacing them?

Take Your Child to Work Day

It was “Take Your Child to Work Day,” and I got permission to participate. We walked into the office, and I showed my son my cubical, my desk and then gave him a tour around the building, where he met all of my co-workers.

We returned to my cubical, letting him sit in my seat and play with the computer as I was finishing some paperwork. Finally, I told him I needed my chair, and he got up so that we could switch places.

As we did so, he asked, “Dad, where are the clowns you say you work with?”

Meat Pie

From the most recent file box I’ve been sorting through, I found what might be the very first poem I ever wrote. My 10-year-old handwriting is such that I cannot tell if it is dated March 5 or May 5, 1971.

Poor Peter Cotton Tail
Robbed mother’s garden
He went to county jail
Meat pie for the Warden

Because the date is faded and my penmanship unreadable, I thought maybe I wrote it close to Easter time, but the holiday happened on April 11. Written for publication in our elementary school newsletter, it never made it to print.

Now I get why they refused.

Tommyknockers to the Rescue

Recovering from a skull fracture, I was asked again by the Trooper to explain how I wrecked my truck. I consented, though I knew no one believed me.

“My truck slid off the road because of the icy conditions and rolled down the hillside near the old Orphir mine,” I said. “I hit my head but never lost consciousness and crawled out my busted windshield.”

The uniformed woman jotted down some notes and asked me to continue.

“I tried to get back the hill but couldn’t,” I continued. “That’s when I smelled smoke from a fire, and so I went to find it to get some help.”

“It didn’t take me very long to find it, but it was unattended, so I sat down to warm myself,” I told her. “I was sleepy but knew I might have a concussion and had to fight off the sleep.”

A few minutes after sitting down, soon I was accompanied by a group of men,” I added. “They weren’t your regular sort of men, the tallest being about a foot or so in height.”

“One of them began dressing my head wound and another to feed me and give me something warm to drink,” I stated. “I could not understand anything they were saying and figured it was because of my head injury.”

“Can you repeat what you heard?” she wanted to know.

“Something like, ‘go seek pens brew,'” I offered phonetically.

“Any idea how you got back to your truck?” she queried.

“No idea,” I said. “I must have lost consciousness and was carried back, cuz that’s where I woke up.”

“How do you explain your truck being on the side of the road and no longer in the ditch, then?” the Trooper asked.

“Not a clue,” I answered.

“Are you sure that your truck went down the embankment?” she asked.

“Certain,” I returned.

“Well, we didn’t find a scrap of evidence that your truck went off the road,” she frowned. “You must have been hallucinating or something.”

“And?” I asked certain there was something she was not saying.

“We can’t explain the tiny muddy footprints and the small handprints in your blood located in the cab of your truck,” she finally said.

I relaxed and smiled.

Swallow

Standing there in my grief, I watched as she walked away from me and out of my life. I watched as the darkness of the night swallowed her up.

Looking down, I studied the diamond ring that she had returned. It no longer held the shine that I remembered the day I gave it to her, the day she said yes.

When I looked up again, she was gone, but then so were the street lamps, each wrapped in their Christmas best, which lined the sidewalk. Then I realized that the night and its inkiness had swallowed everything, including me.

About that Mistletoe

It has been difficult for me to do any personal writing for the last few days. That is how busy I have been, writing for the two newspapers and attending holiday events.

And no, I am not complaining. It has been ages since I’ve been invited to a dinner party or to attend a festive gathering and not expected to write about it.

I will complain about a lack of mistletoe, though.

Along with these things, I also have my usual chores to complete. Since my wife works outside the house and I work from home, for the most part, I do much of the laundry, including making beds.

Of course, I also get the occasional ‘honey-do’ list, which isn’t so bad. Oddly, holiday events have become the difficult thing.

Why? I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut and only listen.

So, what am I saying as I spin this post into something more extended than it need be? If I’d be quiet and listen, I’d probably have something decent to write and worth reading.

Now, to deal with the limited time I have each day because two hours of sleep every night is far too much to maintain such a crazy schedule.

The Elocution of Sally Petonis

When born, her parents saw nothing but a bright future ahead for their only child, a daughter they named Sally. But try as hard as they could, though an attentive and imaginative little girl now a toddler, she refused to talk.

Then one day, when she was out of her parent’s sight, she found a bobby pin on the floor and proceeded to slip it into an electrical wall outlet. The results were as expected, with a power surge vacating the home and the child shouting in pain.

Sally’s parents spent the next fifteen years trying to shut her up, and were thankful when she went to college.

Oh, # @ !% Christmas Tree!

Since the economic downturn of 2008, we have used a plastic Christmas tree instead of fetching one ourselves from the forest or paying for one already cut and sitting in the corner of some near-deserted parking lot. Last night, I promised I would bring it inside so my wife could decorate it.

First, I combed the garage for the red and green container I put it in last year. I did not locate it, but I did find our outdoor Christmas lights and hauled them in to make sure they still work.

Next, I rummaged through the containers in our shed. Again, nothing.

Frustrated, I looked through the closets, in the crawl space beneath our home, and inside the attic area that we sealed off with R-13 insulation to save energy. Still, I could not find the damned thing.

My wife came home from work, and I told her about not finding the tree. She looked at the red and green plastic storage box I had dragged in earlier in the day, the one with the outside lights.

“Did you look in that one?” she asked.

Sheepishly, I answered, “No.”

She opened it up, and guess what was right on top.

It is Time

To get rid of old papers and other clutter (which is hard for me,) I have begun transcribing everything into a typed record. To the best of my ability, I will stay faithful to what I first wrote, save for spelling and some odds-and-ends of grammar.

1969

Jul. 4. There is this thing called Woodstock happening in New York. Music and people and peace. I don’t think they will be playing the kind of music my mom or dad likes.

Jul. 16. Apollo 11 has blasted off, and I’m nervous. The Russian’s crashed into the moon either last month or early this month. I don’t want that to happen to us.

Jul. 20. Our astronauts have landed on the moon. While I have been nervous about this, I wonder how Uncle Orval feels now that they are there.

Jul. 21. Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon about 8 o’clock tonight. ‘Buzz’ Aldrin joined him. It was exciting, and as I get ready for bed, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll be able to get any sleep tonight because I doubt I will.

Jul. 25. Sen. Edward Kennedy, the youngest brother of JFK, drove his car into a pond. The body of a woman was found inside the vehicle when they pulled it from the water. Why would anyone leave another person to die like that?

Nov. 9. A bunch of Indians has taken over Alcatraz Island. I wonder if I know any of them. 

Dec. 17. Dad said that the Air Force’s Project Blue Book is closed. I don’t think I will ever know the truth about all this stuff. Maybe God will tell me after I’m dead.

1970

Jun. 13. The Pentagon Papers are being made public. As best I can understand, these are top-secret papers about the Vietnam war. I think it is wrong to tell government secrets.

1971

Jul. 5. Eighteen-year-olds can now vote. That only seems fair because they are also fighting in Vietnam. It will be another seven years before I can vote. Right now, I wouldn’t know what to vote for

1972

Mar. 22. The Senate has passed the equal rights amendment. I am confused because I thought everyone already had equal rights. There has to be more to this than I understand. Maybe one day.

May 15. A man shot and nearly killed presidential candidate George Wallace today. And while still alive, he is in bad shape. Wallace opposed desegregation and supported “Jim Crow” laws. So, I’m not sure if there is much loss there.

Jun. 9. A flash flood caused by a dam breaking in Rapid City, South Dakota, has killed 238 people. It sounds like no one warned them that the water was coming.

Sep. 6. Eleven Israel Athletes died today at Munich Olympics for nothing more than being Jewish. We watched the police talking with the terrorist on T.V. Guess talking to people bent on destroying others does not work.

Nov. 7. In a landslide, President Nixon has won to a second term. Neither of my parents is happy about it. I can’t see where any of it makes a hill of beans difference.

1973

Feb. 27. A bunch of Indians has taken over Wounded Knee in South Dakota. There was a massacre there in the late 1800s. They are shooting at law enforcement and white people. Maybe they want a second massacre to happen there.

Oct. 10. Vice President Spiro Agnew has resigned because he cheated on his taxes in 1967. He is to be replaced by Gerald Ford. Mom and Dad are giddy at the news.  

1974

Feb. 4. Newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped today by a group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. They are an American terrorist group. As Mom said, “We’re going to hell in a handbasket.” I agree.

Mar. 4. The minimum wage has gone up to $2.00 an hour. That is a forty-cent increase. I can hardly wait for it to take effect and see it on my paycheck.

May 9. For months, all I’ve heard is how President Nixon did this bad thing or that bad thing. Well, today, impeachment hearings began against him. He is the second president to face this. Andrew Johnson was the first. 

Jul. 2. While helping me deliver papers because it was raining so hard, I learned that the speed limit is now 55 mph. It is supposed to help reduce the need for gas. I don’t see how, though.

Jul. 27. The House Judiciary Committee has voted to recommend the first article of impeachment against Nixon: obstruction of justice. It all has to do with Watergate and how Nixon orchestrated a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters to bug the place.

Aug. 8. It is all over for Nixon as he has announced that he will resign tomorrow at noon. My folks are happy. I can’t see the difference between the two parties, but I do recognize the damage they’ve done to our country.

Aug. 9. Vice President Ford was sworn in as President today. I am not sure that is trustworthy. He was a part of the Warren Commission and the investigation into the Kennedy assassination. I have so many questions about all of that.

Sep. 8. Ford pardoned Nixon today. You can’t do this when the person hasn’t been charged or convicted. I knew he wasn’t to be trusted.

1976 

Jul. 4. America celebrated 200 years of Independence today. While I enjoyed the day, I am afraid it is all for not as this country is ripping itself up from the inside out.

Jul. 14. Four-thousand subway passengers had to be rescued during a blackout in New York City last night. One-thousand-six-hundred and-sixteen businesses ransacked, 550 police officers injured, and 4,500 looters arrested. People are so stupid and greedy.

Jul. 15. A school bus with 26 children and the driver disappeared in Chowchilla, Calif. Since I’m with the track team is in Millbrae, I had to call home and let my parents know that we were okay. I am not sure where Chowchilla is, but it doesn’t sound anything like Millbrae.

Nov. 7. Jimmy Carter is our newest President. It seems like there is hardly enough time to let the ink dry on official documents before we get another one.

1977

Aug. 8. Elvis Presley died today. Let me leave it at that.

May 31. Oil has begun flowing through the Trans Alaskan Oil Pipeline. President Carter wants to shut it down. 

Sep. 7. Torrijos-Carter Treaties was signed today. It is the beginning of giving away our control to Panama. I don’t think it’ll be long before we find Panama causing problems for us. Furthermore, I wonder what else our government will give away without the consent of the people.

1978

Apr. 1. The minimum wage has increased again, this time to $2.65 an hour. I find it funny because it happened on April Fools Day. What isn’t funny is how much both the feds and state take out of my paycheck every two weeks.

Jun. 12. David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam,” has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. This case has been confusing from the start. It is still unclear why he did what he did and what a ‘talking dog’ has to do with anything.

Jul. 25. We are a step closer to being our own gods. The first human conceived through in-vitro fertilization, a test-tube baby, was born in England today. I wonder what God thinks about this.

Aug. 26, A new Pope has been elected, Paul I. He is the third pope in my lifetime and the 264th historically.

Sep. 28. Pope Paul I has died. News reports list the official cause of death as a heart attack. After all, he was 80, and his ticker could have given out. It’s speculated that he was planning to release the second of three secrets given to the children of Fatima by the Virgin Mary and murdered. We’ll never know the truth.

Oct. 16. A second pope this year has been elected; Pope John Paul II. He’s the first non-Italian Pope since the 16th century. Let’s hope he survives the next 30 days.

Nov. 19. Nine hundred people were found dead today in Guyana at a place called Jonestown after drinking poisoned punch. Two days before, Representative Leo Ryan was shot and killed during a visit to the settlement. 

Dec. 13. The first minting of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar happened today. I have yet to see one other than in pictures. It is the first time that the mint has placed a woman on our currency.

1979

Aug. 27. Lord Mountbatten and three others were blown up and killed today. I saw this on the television while getting ready for my shift at the hospital. Dave and I speculated about what it might mean for the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Brittain.

There is more to follow.