Monday, May 21, 2018


“Lymon?” I said to the big man in front of my table.

Repeating the name was a delaying ruse on my part. I’d immediately connected Lymon to the kid I’d talked to a few minutes ago. This “connection” was running side by side with my own condemnation of myself for saying anything at all to the kid. The ‘kid!’ Hell he was probably 25 at least, had been sweeping the floor of the makeshift bus station/cafe.

Our exchange had happened just minutes ago and now I was face to face with the subject of my query. A truly stupid query by the way. “Yeah” the man said, repeating his original words; “Lymon told me you thought I looked familar.” 

As he towered over me, his resemblance to Sheriff Wayoner was even more pronounced. He looked just like I remembered him.

At least a half foot over six feet, dark brown suit that belonged somewhere in he past, and a small brim hat without a feather or even a band around it. He had big, saggy jowls befitting a man of his size and age. I had him easily in his sixties, and hauling close to 300 pounds on his big frame, he’d surely stand out in any crowd, just like the old Sheriff.

They say that people who have near-death experiences often see their lives flash by, and although I was not feeling in danger of dying, I was witnessing my life rewind backwards to 1967. Back to Elm City the place of my birth and where I’d spent the first 19 years of my life. I could see the High School, the football stadium and the ugly old water tower that always hovered at its North end.

During this rewind, I sat amazed, watching in comedic horror at the tricks of fate that had been instrumental in shoving me into this corner. Three days ago an urgent request by my Uncle’s lawyer to present myself in person, for the reading of his will had started the whole mess. Actually, in retrospect it was Uncle Matt’s dying that started it or maybe his birth if you want to go back that far.

My flight out of San Francisco had been smooth until somewhere around Amarillo, when a window in the cabin section had suddenly blown out causing the young woman sitting next to it to follow the shattered glass into an atmosphere that nobody could survive. A truly horrifying experience that left all of us in the plane in shock, and it was only after the plane safely landed in Amarillo that we could breathe easy about our own safety.

In the airport I was informed that a connecting flight to Oklahoma City would depart the next morning, but a bus ticket was being offered to those wanting to leave sooner. Accepting the bus ride seemed prudent since I was somewhat freaked out about the plane incident, plus, I was tired and a 6 hour bus ride seemed like a good way to get some rest.

But my rest was interrupted by a stopover (as they like to say in Greyhound circles) in Elm City. And yeah I know, fate can’t take all the blame because I’d known it was between Amarillo and Oklahoma City. But never did I suspect we would be taking a piss break there.

Until now I’d been slowly sipping my coffee allowing thoughts of Elm City to harmlessly drift through my mind. Memories of the past were just that; memories. Memories of good times and bad times; of many things, and of Sandra.

Of Sandra and the water tower.

“Have we met?” His voice brought me back to present tense, and as he seated himself, uninvited, across from me at the table, his coat parted and I saw the glimmer of a metallic badge pinned to his vest.
“No.” I said in a off-hand way which I thought neatly hid my nervousness.

“Most older people like you think I look like my Gramps.”

During the silence after his words, I thought of the marijuana joints in my shirt pocket. I was thinking I’d really like one when that thought bumped right up next to the one telling me that Oklahoma was not California, and Elm City was certainly not San Francisco.

“He was Sheriff around here for years.”

Trying to remain calm I said the wrong thing. “Like you?”

“Good guess.” He said. Then added, “but you weren’t guessing were you? Did you know Gramps?”

“No, I’m from California, just passing through.”

“On the bus?” He grunted, looking out the window at the dirty old bus.

“You California people travel in style, eh?” The smile on his face was tight but I could see evidence of it easily turning into something else.

“Dan Close.” He said, sticking out a hand, the top of which was covered in black hair, just like I remembered about his Gramps. “Most people around here just call me Sheriff like they did my dad, and my gramps.”

I shook his hand while frantically trying to think. “John Jones.” I said to him, stupidly lying while even more stupidly, lumping two handy names together.

“So is your gramps still around?” I asked, not knowing why I’d asked such a stupid question.
“Nah, he said, as he shifted something, probably snuff, around in his mouth. He died a couple of years ago.”

When I said nothing, he continued. “Went to his grave never solving the one case he couldn’t get over.”
“Oh yeah.” I said, trying to figure out how to get away from him; a bathroom break, something to eat, anything.
“Yeah, the girl who died on that water tower over there.” He said, while pointing out what I’d failed to see; the water tower was barely visible in the distance.

The same one that had always been on the North end of the football field.

“Got a smoke?” He asked, causing me to wonder why.”

“Yeah.” I truthfully told him, in place of lying as I should have. Pulling my leather cigarette case from my pocket I pushed the lever to open it. I wasn’t worried, I knew all I had to do was pick out a Marlboro from the midst of the joints and then put the case back in my pocket.

Except that I dropped the case, and as it clattered to the floor I knew fate was not through with me yet.

As he picked up the case, I watched as his eyes went over the contents.

“So, are these here funny looking cigarettes what I think they are?” He said, his eyes now fully on me.

Friday, November 24, 2017

“Did you see 6’ foot Blond’s post on Tranquil Stream?”

His voice rather than the question jarred me awake.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know who was speaking to me; I’d first heard his voice as a teenager, over a half century ago.  The thing about Leo though, was he could/would, pop in whenever he felt like it, regardless of whatever I happen to be doing.  It had caused some awkward as well as hilarious situations before.  

However, this time it was of no real consequence, other than waking me from my afternoon nap, which I’d been taking after finishing 18 holes on the golf course a few hours ago.

I look around and locate my drink in the cupholder of my lounging chair, noticing that it still had a little ice in it, which surprised me somewhat because I remember the afternoon sun had been quite warm before I’d dropped off into wonderland.  Taking a drink I pick up a half smoked joint in the ashtray, and as I light it, I recall ‘the dream.’

We were getting married.  No, not Pup and I, but me and my second wife.  My Mom was there prattling around, making sure I was dressed properly, (she was always fussing with the way I dressed when I was a kid).  I remember thinking I’d sure like to talk to her since she had died almost five years ago.  I was dressed in black pants of some sort, not levi’s, but exactly what I wasn’t sure, and a nicely starched, button up shirt, brown in color with a black tie.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘why a brown shirt?’  After all, brown is not my favorite color.  

“I’m thinking to myself in the middle of a dream,” I say aloud as I remember the joint in my hand. Taking a deep drag while looking around to make sure no one’s spying on me, I nod at Leo; he’s sitting next to me in a lawn chair.

As usual, in my tiny part of the world, (my enclosed back porch patio) it’s just me, and of course, now Leo.  My ‘miniature’ Bose boom box is playing nearby but the sound is turned low, and although daylight is still strong - I can feel the coolness of the oncoming  desert evening.

I take another hit from the joint and proffer it in Leo’s direction as I get up from my lounger.  I’m looking for my cigar, and thinking how the PC crowd would do a “back-crawling cringe” at Leo’s cigarette, which is dangling from his mouth.  Of course shortly after that they would notice the joint and my cigar, and the gig would be up.  We’d probably be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.  Yeah, I know that’s an old cliche but it’s something I can imagine easily, and actually fits my thought process at the moment.

By now I’m also processing Leo’s ‘wakeup question,’ and even have an answer to give him; but I’ve been too slow.

“You heard me didn’t you?” He says, shifting in his chair and propping a foot on my golf bag.

Before I can answer he says, “What'd you shoot?”

“99.”  I tell him.

“Finally broke a hundred did you?”

“Yeah it was a good day.  What did 6’ blond post anyway?” I finally ask.

“You’re not worried about punctuation today?”

“Nope!” I say forcefully, before continuing - “I decided the other day that if I ever wrote anything again, it was going to be on my terms, screw all the details.”  

As my words reverberate around us - I add - “I’m not worrying about details anymore.”

“You going to dot your i’s and cross your t’s and that’s all?”

“The computer dots my i’s and crosses my t’s; I don’t have to worry about that crap.”

“Interesting.”  He said.

“What did she post?” I ask again.

“A song; “Sound of Silence.”

“Great song.” I said.

Not Simon and Garfunkel’s version though, he said with a shrug, hitting the joint.  Some dude I’ve never heard of - I didn’t care for it.

“And I probably won’t either I tell him as I take a drink, sucking an ice cube into my mouth.”

Chewing the ice I tell him - “but it’s a generational thing you know - she’s a lot younger than us.”

“Nobody can do it like Simon & Garfunkel.” He says.

“Yeah it’s one of those songs that will never sound right sung by anyone else.  Fuck! Even Elvis and Jesus couldn’t do it.”

“You sure use the F-bomb a lot.”

“As if it matters.”  I tell him, before repeating what Dad had always said; “in a hundred years nobody will notice the difference anyway.”  

“Or give a damn for that matter.” I add, putting my own post script to it.

Lighting my cigar I sit down in the lounger, picking up my drink.  I eye the last piece of ice floating in the brown liquid and say -  “Way too many people worried about being PC these days when the truth of the matter is, nobody knows what we’re here for, if there’s even a reason.  The religious crowd have their own particular brand to lean on I guess, and if that helps them, then what does it hurt that they think I’m going to hell for using the F-bomb?”  

We both laugh.

“Why don’t you listen to the song, see if you like it?” He says, smiling.

“I will, later. I say, and then - almost as an afterthought, I say - Every time that song comes up it reminds me of 68, and I don’t like to go there.”

Leo dragged on the joint, passing it back to me, but didn't say anything.  

“It was a wild fucking year.” I say as I retrieve it and take a hit, looking at the sky; the sun was sliding down in the horizon, and it looked to be another spectacular California sunset; one of the reasons I love it here. 

Then, as had been the norm of late, my mind took it on itself - to divide reality into two paths; I took the one less traveled.  

Leo laughed aloud at my thought, and pulled his cap down low, hiding his eyes, but I didn’t need to see his eyes to know he was taking the trip with me, or that he was letting me get away with the Frost comment.

It was July 30, 1968, and I was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston, in San Antonio Texas.  It had been a long hot summer, and although there was still almost a half of the year left - I’d had enough of 1968.  MLK had been killed in February, in early March a childhood friend had drowned in a lake back home, and Bobby Kennedy was killed in San Francisco in June.  The college crowd was rioting almost every day and Vietnam was beginning to crank up really hard.  Just 3 weeks ago we’d learned that my girlfriend’s brother had been killed over there.  

Ironically, in between the time we learned of Carl’s death and the time it took to return his body, I’d gotten orders for Nam myself.  I was to report to Ft. Lewis, Washington in early September.  For now, though, I was packing my shit, getting ready to drive to Oklahoma City for the  funeral.  Carl’s mother had requested that I wear my uniform, and although I didn’t think too much of the idea, I wasn’t going to argue the point.  As for my new assignment; I’d not told anyone - yet.  I’d wait and do that once the funeral was over.

A radio was sitting on my footlocker, a song was beginning to play.  It was Simon and Garfunkel, and although I instantly recognized the song, I’d never heard them do it before. 

It did not get a lot of play then, nor ‘ever’ for that matter, but 6’ blond’s post had reminded me of it.  

“7  O’ clock news/Silent night”

by Simon and Garfunkel
Music from the 60’s


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

initial statement

   I always knew I’d come back, just didn’t know how.  Here at the end of the beginning, it seems so natural (already) that I feel no fear, dread, or even a bad premonition.  It is as it should be.

I was lucky (some would say unlucky) to maintain full mental stability, as physically, I declined ever so quickly with each passing year, especially the last few months and weeks.  But my lifelong love of music was so soothing that I was allowed to ignore the state of my ‘wreck of a body,’ and, instead, I was able to fully appreciate one aspect of old age; the ability to (as my father-in-law always said) enjoy my steak, immensely (screw the cholesterol).

Of all the possible conclusions, this one never occurred to me; a slight surprise to an intellect such as mine.  Oh yes, of course, before you point it out - I do admit to a subpar ability to properly compose my thoughts, but that is of no consequence (much like my last cholesterol numbers).  After all, it’s not the initial form upon an arrival, but the impact that follows.

Remarkably, the lack of a physical presence is less alarming than the total absence of time, but upon reflection neither should be (a worry), and aren’t. 

I am cognizant of where I’m at, though unable to explain or define it.  So, once again, a seemingly signifiant event  presents itself, and then slides harmlessly to the side.  Who can find fault with that?

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I’m walking.  

The night of my dreams is dark and empty of stars, as it tries in vain to hide the grayish fog holding my memories. 

Ahead, the old neighborhood appears, familiar houses with dimly lit windows that peer outward, like eyes seeking a meaning.

On the right, Gayla’s house; two story with a recessed porch beneath the upper floor.  It’s fronted by two tiers of flowers, their bright colors strangely out of place amidst the dark shadows.

 I look, but she’s not there.

Instead, I see two men, their identities indistinguishable;  one is holding a cup or perhaps a glass, one or the other has to be my father.

The house appears to be yellow, and with my memory I cannot argue.  A two rail wood fence bordering the sidewalk, offers but feeble protection; the rails, slender and crooked. 

A lone figure walks slowly on the sidewalk ahead; man or woman, does it matter?

The sidewalk, cracked and dirty, is slick from a recent rain, as is the road.  A Dalmatian dog in the front yard, stares expectantly as I brush away the thought of Croatia in my distant mind.

Instead, I remember that once I was a strong man, young and viral.  A pleasant dream for sure, but as to where or even when I existed - nothing -  just that once I did.

A man wearing a hat with an open umbrella over his head, casually walks a dog on a leash, trying to look inconspicuous.  I know the dog from somewhere, but it’s a place I cannot go, a place of terror from a distant past.

But my thoughts are not all irrational; I know the name of the street I’m on, and the town I’m in.  “Apple Avenue,” in the little town of Elmwood Ohio; the place of my birth.

So I go downtown in search of that thing that will lift me free of my old home town.

Just past the library, Andrew’s gift, I come to the Army Enlistment office.  Sergeant Lewis Sanders is leaning from the door, arm out, beckoning me inside.  

I walk past him, determined to not make the same mistake twice.

With each step I know I’ve escaped; I’m free.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Part 1
After killing (the act of flipping to the end) the latest “Best Seller” I was reading this afternoon, I decided a trip to the library was needed.  And - then - I changed my mind and decided going to the library would be a colossal waste of my time.

Therefore, I decided to type these words describing what’s on my mind - presently.

Sitting in the cave (my hideaway in my home) I’m smoking some really good weed, drinking diet Mt. Dew laced with “Absolut Vodka,”  while contemplating things.

Btw, I have no illusions about being a ‘writer.’  However, I am a thinker, and my thoughts however put on this white screen, are in no way made inconsequential by my lack of writing proficiency.

Society dictates proper writing anyway, and “society” sucks if you ask me.  Society is responsible for much of what is wrong with us.  Just think about it for a mini-second; What has told us for decades that marijuana is bad for us?  Times up; Answer is; Society

Oh, the punch line?  Yes, Yes, and what do we know today about marijuana?  Times up: Answer is; just put “medical” in front of marijuana; enough said; FULL-STOP.

So, bottom line.  We have spent decades (and millions of dollars) locking people up for smoking weed, while at the same time depriving ourselves of the medical benefits of this natural drug.  Did you notice I said - “natural drug?” 

We have society to thank for that.

There are many, many examples of how society screws us, the marijuana example is just one. 

Part 2

President Trump.  

No words today, except to say I don’t think he will be the POTUS come this Xmas, and if there was a Santa Claus I would be asking him/her for that - for xmas.  Another societal miscarriage of common sense; the invention of Santa Claus.