Odessa Rising (Romeos)

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By Labor Day weekend my move from 326 to 309 was locked-in.  We were told that breaking us up, moving me out of the room, would be best given our tendency to stupidity.  I knew my new roommates but introductions will wait.  When Labor Day weekend hit our restriction was over, Connor was back to working on promotion, Flip was gone and Reston believe again in the sanctity of service.  The kid, Reston, bored me often with his ain’t it great way of seeing the world; his way of seeing the positive.  He bounced into the latrine as I dried off.

“Burke, you ready man?  This is awesome.  They back off our asses just as Labor Day starts! Fuck-n-A-Awesome!” His eyes dancing again.

“Where’s Connor?”

“Back at home.  I mean our room.  I guess it’s not home for you now eh?”

“Could be worse.  At least I don’t have to hear about the gaiety of PT.”

“That’s funny.  I don’t get it.  But man this is great.  Long weekend.  We were talking about hitting the pool party first then maybe the club.  They got a Mexican buffet set up over there.  Well, I guess it’s Mexican.  Might be Panamanian.”

“Might be.”  I walked toward my new room.  He followed.

“You don’t think we’ll get in trouble again do you?  I mean just having fun like July fourth without the coke…”

“And whores and beer and the spirited feeling that precedes such nefarious activities?” I interrupted.

“I ain’t got 5 dollars so you gotta speak English today.”

I laughed.

Connor bellowed from the hallway around the corner.

“Romeos Out!”

Two months had passed since I heard Connor’s battle cry.  Truth is, it made me smile inside and out.

“Romeos Out!”  We called back.  Reston continued with whatever his thought was…

“…so I told Tanner that no way I was doing it again and that I couldn’t afford an Article 15.”

“Wait, what are you saying?  What did you do?”

“I put half a quart of oil in Bravo 17 instead of an entire quart.  All I could find was half a quart and the tool guy said I’d have to pump more if I needed more and I don’t know how to use the pump so I told Tanner I didn’t do it but that I couldn’t get in trouble anymore on account of the Article 15 from July and all and that really.”

“Ok, ok, fuck. Stop talking.  Jeez.  What did he do?  Nothing.”

“That’s exactly what he did!  I’m telling you, he’s a good Man Sargent Tanner I mean.”

“Or Bravo 17 hasn’t moved in three weeks and won’t move for another three and you’re the first person to actually check the oil and give a damn.  Or, he might just like the way your lips move.”

“He’s a good man.  And you’re an asshole.”

“Agreed.”

Connor took the corner.

“Let’s go, let’s go, and let’s go!  We’re burning daylight and somebody, somewhere is drinking up all the beer.”  His crooked grin beamed.

“I’ve got beer in the fridge.” I said.  “We’ll grab them, I’ll get dressed and voila!”

“Colsen going out?  How about Warren?”

“Colsen is otre lada seeing some girl.  Warren doesn’t go out much.  I don’t think he drinks all that much.  I saw him once at Wegotcha drinking up a storm to Prince songs but other than that, not much.  Did you know he draws?  I mean like superheroes and stuff.”

“He traces Batman comics?”  Reston said.

“Not really.  He creates Superheroes, then draws them.  Helluva a drawer or artist or whatever they’re called.” I said. “Dude’s got talent.”

“We’ll hit the pool party first, see what’s up, then go to the club.  It’s a beautiful day Man.  Just beautiful. Not too hot, not too much humidity.  Perfect.”

“It’s Panama.”  Reston said.  “To me it’s always perfect.”

“How do you manage to kiss up to an entire country?” I asked.

“Talent, I guess.”  He said.  Kid made me laugh again.

+++

 

Funeral tents led up to and surrounded the Davis pool.  Families in lawn chairs huddled together as their children ran and played or waited for balloon animals.  It looked like a state fair from any state back home complete with hay bales of unknown origin.  Blue trashcans filled with melting ice held beer and soda.  We grabbed our pieces of eight from the beer barrels and headed toward the smoky, food tents. Someone was grilling hot dogs, burgers and underneath those scents floated a hint of barbecue.  The US and Panamanian flags flitted in the breeze while a DJ Van blasted AFR’s Labor Day special.  Songs about the working man from Johnny Cash to the Boss.

“We’re gonna hear ‘She’s works hard for the money’ about a thousand times today.” I said.

“Donna Summer is some kinda’ hot.” Connor said.  “She could work hard on my money any day.”

“And we’re all going to hell.” Reston said finishing his first beer.

I saw Alma talking with the other linguists.  I rode over from Clayton with her but with the drug bust and all I hadn’t seen her much in social settings since.  Someone told me under the Bohio that she had been sent otre lada right after getting here.

Maybe she didn’t know?  Maybe I won’t tell her?

Maybe I’ll have another beer and work on the romance later.

“Stick with what you know.  And right now, you don’t know much” I heard my Grandfather say.

Roseman was walking around in gym shorts, tube socks and bulky white shoes.  His tank top was an image of a bald eagle with the words “Vote Weird” written in magic marker across it.  He approached us.

“Do you know where I can find a good cabinet maker?” He said.

“What?” Connor replied.  “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Sign, Countersign.  You people know nothing of the gospel.”

He walked away.  Rumors were rampant that he hit too much acid one night downtown and since then conspiracies abound.  He once took a cab to Coco Solo and asked the ER doctor about his mother’s hernia operation.  He told us, “They might know something the American docs don’t about such surgeries.  American doctors are junior college dropouts with heads for greed and golf.  We send the best people overseas to keep the CIA healthy. Panama has more CIA agents per capita than any other country in Central America. It’s all too cozy, you know.  Too fucking cozy.”

The Davis Pool was the center of many activities on base.  In a country where swimming is available year round it’s easy to understand why people from the land of 4 Seasons would find it appealing.  It was a standard joint with concrete, latticed fencing around it, showers, lockers and limited lifeguard hours.  Unlike most days, today they allowed beer inside the pool fence.  We walked in to see some Romeos we knew.  A guy from Wisconsin I went to Basic with was there.  We parted ways at Dix and ran into one another later in Panama.  He was a dental assistant and an asshole.  All he talked about was hockey, Brewer’s baseball and how the blacks and Mexicans were taking over the jobs from decent people.  I never asked what he meant by ‘decent’ but figured none of them would’ve hung around him long.

“Hey Burke, what’s up Brother?” He called out from the pool. “Happy Labor Day!”  He was drunk and obviously alone.

“Hey man.” Reston said.

“Hey Bensky.  How’s it going?”  I didn’t listen to his answer.  We kept walking until the distance was enough to make conversing weird.  Connor introduced me to a friend.

“Burke, this is Shane Wilson.  This is the guy who hooked us up back in July.”  I shook his hand.   This is the guy who sold Connor the coke that we are just now escaping and Connor seeks him out?  I finished my beer.  Reston looked nervous.  I’m sure I did as well.

“Just wanted to apologize for getting you boys in trouble.”  He said.  He was older than us, probably in his mid-20s.  A navy guy now in his final two weeks in country.  “Don’t let this place get to you.  I did.  I’ve been here five years and fuck-n-A I’m gonna miss it.”  Someone called his name from the other side of the fence.

“I gotta go.  Again, sorry about all that.  Better luck next time.”

I didn’t know what to say or think about Shane Wilson.  I never asked Connor where he got it from or how.  He just had it.  We just did it.  And we got caught.  The details didn’t interest me until just then.  What did he mean, it got to him?  How?  Why would he apologize so casually for something that could’ve been so bad?  Was so bad.

Connor spoke up.

“I didn’t know he was going to say that, you know.  I think we need to just put that behind us.  We’ve talked about it.  I mean.  It’s bad enough that’s everyone else thinks of us.  But what we think of us…that’s what should matter, right?”

“Right.” I said.

“Right.” Reston said.

“And I think we need another beer.”  I said.  I turned and for the first time in my life saw the tanned face, the gentle, equine features, the tussled, highlighted hair and the perfect teeth surrounded by the thin irresistible lips of Patricia Elizabeth Barnes.

“Wait.” I said as Reston and Connor kept walking.  Connor looked at me and then in the direction to which I stared.

“Oh, Barnes.  Yeah, she’s hot.”

“Dude.  The sun is hot.  A desert is hot.  That girl is not hot.” I said.

“What is she then?” Reston said.

“She is damn, damn, damn. With a good long wow at the end.”

She was wearing cut off shorts and a black Cure tee shirt.  She was wiping her hair and talking to some guys in the pool when suddenly she dove in the water.  They laughed.  Connor told me it we needed to move.  I walked slowly keeping my eye towards her.  She came up out of the water and then dove back down to swim more.  Reston was behind me.  He pushed me in the water.  I heard people laugh when I came back up.  Five feet in front of me, Barnes smiled.

“Hey.  I’m Burke.  What unit are you in?”  I felt like a dumbass instantly.

She smiled.

“My unit?  Wow so GI Joe.  I’m Barnes.”

“Nice to meet you Barnes.  Sorry about the unit thing.  Just you know.”

“My friends back home call me Odessa.”

“What does that mean?”

“That means maybe we can be friends?”  Her eyes were green and reflected the light from pool’s surface.  They were reddened by the chlorine but still struck me as beautiful.

“I like The Cure” I said.

She laughed and dove underwater.  I could tell by her fractured image underwater she was swimming away.  I swam towards the edge.  Connor pulled me up laughing and talking about we aren’t going back home to change.

I turned around and saw her talking with the other soldiers again.

“Talk to you later” I yelled.

She ignored me.

 

There is surrealism to listening to American pop music while marinating in government sponsored alcohol.  It makes patriotism of drunkenness.  To properly represent the country of Reagan, one must sway to plastic British bands, suck down warmed Buds and gawk from behind mirrored sunglasses at Panamanian thighs and the occasional hometown hotness gone soldier.  It was a gentle mood that came across me along with the sweat and squinting and ungentle realization that I, and Reston and Connor, would never this way come again.  A brief moment in the sun when, if I could just find the word or song or painting or sculpture apropos, it would be the first Art I’ve touched.  The most beautiful girl known, the best Men known, the best scenery and unlimited chemical inducements to accept it all as a birthright of volunteerism. I picture myself bent over a blank page with a giant pencil like I used in Kindergarten, trying to write it all down.  Maybe sipping bourbon, smoking cigars as a palm frond fan turns slow in the air.  I laughed out loud.

“What’s so funny?” Connor said

“Just one of those thoughts, ya know.  Nothing I guess.”

“You thinking about Barnes?”  Connor took a long drag of his cigarette as we topped the hill towards the barracks.

“How can you not be thinking about Barnes?  I mean Jesus H. dude how can you not be thinking about fucking Barnes.  And I mean it both ways it sounds.”

Connor laughed with that easy Carolina laugh.

“Man, she’s hot, I give you that.  But I think she’s married or engaged or something.  Bad story there brother.  Ugly ending, crazy birds, some guy with a chainsaw.  Just a bad ending. Ya’ know/”

“Well aren’t we poetic today.  How much have you been drinking?”  We entered the barracks and began to take the steps two at a pop.

Connor stopped.

“Too much to take the steps.  Go change, I’m gonna smoke.  Might go back and find Reston.  Either way.  We’ll be at the club in an hour.  Meet us there.”

I showered again, hit the cologne bottle and went back out thirty minutes later.

+++

Coming out of the building I looked across the scene down by the pool.  A tsunami of people rolled in, wave upon wave of brown, black and white flesh moving about like ants.  Music bumping from three locations.  The club entrance swallowed and spit out people in short order as the parking lot seemed a disco.  I saw a beer truck and a big rig with “Class Six” written across it.  Somewhere in that gyrating mass of sweat, alcohol and optimism moved Odessa Barnes.  Her vision rising as both dream and nightmare.  Her green eyes shot through my closed eyes begging me to indulge the fantasy of complete honesty, unabashed weakness and the iron-clad dreamscape of optimism.  Her beauty, strength and intelligence deserved the most and least a Man can offer. Himself.  Not the Me or I everyone sees, but what the mirror shows.  What the nightmares mock.  The Man who cries in confession, crawls to the altar call and begs mercy in  barroom brawls. I knew she was the one.  The one for what, didn’t matter. Her pleasure would be worth all pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Battle Royal, Bring out your Tonto and thank them for Keats being on your side…

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2016 is a Nineties sort of year already.  Words come like porn stars as the music of Depeche Mode, The Cure and the ever-present They Might Be Giants dance in my head.  I picked up a Grateful Dead CD (Compact-Disc) to quell the pain of stylistic sorrow losing its posh status.  But no.  The friend of the devil still thinks I should play Depeche Mode when I write now.

Write? I thought he quit.  I thought all that was some shit he did back in Virginia and now his life was one ridiculous Facebook post after another and odd photos he quickly deletes lest the censors pick up on his rather Un-American tendency to change his mind? He’ll never be famous but fuck he’s kinda’ funny and back in the day we had a blast…

The battle now is over first person v third person and how to find a technical/developmental editor in South Louisiana who doesn’t want another story about chasing chickens, Gators and the beauty of a swampy sunrise.

-Here I admit that sunrise over Henderson Swamp is probably the cause of several Basin Bridge deaths per year but goes unreported because the cops can’t really blame someone for wanting to die with that view-

First person is so easy but gives one a pass.  I can’t know what everyone is thinking and feeling and it provides a plot-driven aspect, yes?  Third person is dangerous, for me.  If I know what everyone is thinking, feeling, fearing, wondering, hoping and dreaming then the reader sees me in every thought, feeling, wonder, hope and dream.  Third person reveals more than First.  It shows the writer.  I think most people avoid art because it exposes them to the world.  Makes them feel weak, vulnerable and frail.

I get tired of strong, sarcastic and tough.  You can only be leaned upon so much  before you long for the cracking.

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Much has transpired since I last entertained myself with hearing my voice tell my hands what to say knowing others would have their mind tell their ears the same words.  Writing is the only magic worth the price of admission.

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The Smiths blare…

So I broke into the Palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing”
I said: “that’s nothing – you should hear me play piano”

…in my ear and yes, I know they’re more an 80s band but Jiminy Christmas I listened to them in the 90s!

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Donald Trump:  What the hell?

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I love the posts about Native Americans, Illegal Immigration and White fuckers.  BTW, Columbus never landed in North America so quit blaming his non-navigating ass for stuff people did 100 years after he went buh-buh.

But back to Tonto.  If you’re against illegal immigration some one is going to bring up the Native Americans. Which makes no sense.

If Europeans were “Illegal Immigrants” (I view them as invaders, different, yes?) and the Native Americans suffered at the hands of Illegal Immigration then you must either be A.) In favor of cutting out Illegal Immigration or B.) In favor of wiping out people based on race, ethnicity, culture etc.  If the Europeans screwed the Native American by immigrating illegally to the “New World” then Illegal Immigration is a bad thing and can’t be justified by saying, “Well, you did it.”

1.) I didn’t do it.  Neither did you.

2.) If it was wrong to show up uninvited 400 years ago and fuck things up, how is it Okay now?

3.) I’m rambling and the wine shames me and shines me.

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One more.

Universal this and that requires something most people in favor of universal this and that never think on…limitations.

If you provide an universal service (unlimited supply) then you have to qualify people (limited demand).  If you don’t provide universal service (limited supply) then you have unsatisfied people (unlimited demand)

The market does this through price mechanisms, natural resources and the tendency for old fucks like me to be judgmental and more than a bit vain.  Socialism, as practiced in Europe, does this via limited Demand.  Immigration.  Observe the immigration policies of the “First World Nations” of socialist-leaning Europe.  Then observe ours.  Now look at theirs again. Now look at ours.  How long do you think the Swedes would put up with demonstrations by Illegal Immigrants about their Rights?

I ain’t arguing the instability of the system you propose, rather, I’m making sure you understand the thing your Right hand is protesting against is required to satisfy what your Left hand is begging for….

We all have small minds but still they must be made up of decisions in order to work correctly.

{First World/Third World is bullshit political-class speak for “We’re better than you or you need us or tsk-tsk-tsk, thing aren’t going your way are they.”  I hate those phrases in general.  Racism and sexism are subsets of elitism with physicality as qualifiers.}

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Ah, the Cemetery Gates pull me back in…

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I started a blog once about personal finance.  In keeping with the fine tradition of telling others how to live, I was broke at the time.  The blog did well.  Except for “Boardwalk Furries” (26,354 unique readers to date), the finance blog was doing better than this blasphemy ever attempted.  Then I noticed all the readers were from Venezuela, Brazil and some small dot of camel spit in the Middle East.  I checked out the “View your page” section only to find it covered with ads, spam and nefarious pornography the likes of which caused me to lose interest in eating carrots for a month…. I deleted the blog and returned to confines of this rambling for the foreseeable future.

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I used to wonder how people picked a favorite team for this n that.  I go for the Bears because my old man did and a good portion of my family still lives in the Chicago area.  But that is a product of someone else’s life, yes?  Someone else decided for me.  I think this happens to a bunch of fans of this n that.  Dad rooted for them, I’m from here, etc, .  I realized recently I’m becoming a bit of a Saints fan.  I think rooting for them during the second of two losing seasons builds a little street cred.  My son, Alex, will only watch football if the LSU Tigers are playing and he’s wearing his purple n’gold hat.  He’s from here.  I can’t stop that and a part of me doesn’t want to.  I like the idea of my Son being from someplace different than his Father.  Seems a family tradition…

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Getting to see Buddy Guy again with some good friends. That’s a story in itself.

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Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you think…you have a story.

Go write it in words or painting or music or work or the family you create or the words you speak tomorrow to a random stranger who needs to hear it.  Tell your story.  It is a good story.

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Strangers are the most trustworthy people.  They never bring drama, never gossip about you and will never tell your Mother how much you cuss.

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All men have secrets and here is mine
So let it be known
For we have been through hell and high tide
I can surely rely on you …
And yet you start to recoil
Heavy words are so lightly thrown
But still I’d leap in front of a flying bullet for you

Not only cool writing but one of the best guitar intros out there.

What difference does it make?  The Smiths.

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Indeed, what difference at all?

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Read Jose Saramago….

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-John.

Writing through the Dream, T.C.’s old joke and the music we should all hear.

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You write the piece long before the title appears.  Right here I should insert some contemporary or classic literary reference but to be honest I haven’t read that many good books.  Well, I’ve read them but I can’t remember shit because I really think a good book leaves with you an emotional note more than a quote.  Who gives a damn if Fitzgerald used way too many, very, very over-used adverbs in describing most everything when your finish, IF you finish, you sincerely wish that someone would really, really keep telling the very, very interesting story?  How many sentence fragments does Cormac McCarthy use when telling us about some Kid hellbent on violence or what an apocalypse looks like when pushing a grocery cart?  Honestly.  Plus, classic literature sucks.  How many times does Dickens have to tell you Marley is dead before you understand?  He wrote well for his time, but for all time?  Not so much.  Great plot, horrible writing.

Here I am drinking and listening to Johnny Cash and wondering where this fiction addiction will lead.  Hellfire, I don’t know.  I just find myself writing whatever crazy shit I come up with and losing myself in the process.  Writing is a lot like using drugs; you don’t know where it’s going and it is probably bad for you…but still…it’s a lot of fun.

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Gaines lives down here.  Hell, he teaches at The University of Louisiana, Lafayette and if I were a stalker-type I’d long since shown up at his door begging for inspiration.  I don’t see the need in grovelling at his groovy feet asking for inspiration.  Besides, he’d probably call the cops once he found out I was a Conservative. 

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Ugly mess, politics.  Everyone clamors for their rights, their shares, their pieces of eight from the booty haul of the American Dream but Truth be told, it ain’t so Buster.  The American Dream was a con script from jump based on Marketing needs and the want of some guy named Levi in selling sub-divisions to returning G.I.s.   I can speak my mind, I can show to any Church on Sunday and I can expect to be left the hell alone on my property; that’s the American Dream, if you ask me.  All this Mojo about an attack on said Dream, or continuation of said Dream is more Marketing.  Look at it this way…Politicians get their chubbies by promising goodies to the masses.  The masses, woefully uninvolved in their own Dreams, believe what the Politicians say…The DREAM is under Attack.  or, THE DREAM is REAL..  Either way, you’re a sucker about to swallow a load that just plain tastes gross.  The Constitution, for the most part, is damn hard to over turn.  Let it go.  Quit voting your fears and vote your brain.  Seriously.

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I’m Homophobic.  No doubt.  Think about what those guys do to themselves…for FUN.  Honestly, I get skittish thinking about a doctor’s visit now that I’m over Forty.  Those guys do such things for enjoyment.  That’s toughness.  Damn right I’m Homophobic…one of those guys could probably kick my ass all over creation without a thought.  Homosexuality…that’s T0ugh.

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I don’t know who Honey Boo-Boo is…

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I began this story about a kid who wakes up at his own funeral.  There…you know all I know now.

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For anyone coming across this blog by mistake, I say again: Writer’s Block doesn’t exist.  Like Mid-Life Crisis, it’s an excuse based on Fear and Laziness.  Get over it.  Not every word you write will be good.  Just write it.  Wait six months.  Come back to it.  Then decide what to do with it.  You aren’t God and you aren’t whoever your favorite writer is….hell, your favorite writer isn’t your favorite writer.  They’re just some person who stuck it out through the FEAR.

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Back in the Army this guy used to tell everyone that the key to a large Manly Member was to rub Lard on it every day.

Some kid took his advice.  Every day for weeks, this kid rubbed his Happy Spot hoping for an increase in his bounty.  Nothing. In Truth, his Manliness grew smaller during the process….

After several weeks, the kid confronted the soothsayer of all things lengthy….

You said I would see some increase if I rubbed it each day.

True Dat my friend.  You used Lard every day?

Lard? Well, they didn’t have that…I used Crisco.

Dumbass, Crisco is a SHORTENING….

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Get drunk, listen to the Blues and get back to me.

Tee-Shirt love and the power of Royalty….

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It had to be summer of 1985 because I wore my Purple Rain tee-shirt around like a bum wears body odor.

Oh yeah, that's how I rolled...

My girlfriend had the standard teen-age drama of having a boyfriend while her best friend had none. My job was to find a date for my girlfriend’s best friend so I could see my girlfriend while her best friend visited. Essentially, it was the plot summary of a John Hughes’ movie gone awry.
(Cut the long parts in editing. Some scenes belong on the cutting room floor, Ricco.)

I was wearing that tee-shirt one day when this tall, lanky quiet kid and I met at the arcade. He said something about my tee-shirt. I asked if he liked Prince. He did.

When my girlfriend said, “Find someone for Renee.” I thought of the tall, lanky quiet kid who liked Prince. My girlfriend and her best friend were Prince nuts.

I saw him again and asked his name.
–Tony.
–Well, Tony you want to come over to my house for a get together on Friday night. My girlfriend’s best friend needs a date.

He laughed.

–I’m serious.
–Really?
–Doesn’t happen much, but yes.

It took a little more convincing and a promise that we would watch Purple Rain. He showed up. I remember Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill and Old Milwaukee 7 ounces. Everything else stays back in 1985…

Honest officer, we thought it was Kool-Aid...


The girls disappeared in the summary plot of yet another John Hughes’ movie. Poor kid lying to the rich girlfriend to keep her from finding out what a loser he really is…

But.

1988–Tony offered to skip his high school graduation because I wasn’t allowed to walk across the stage.
1989–Tony sent me as many care packages as my family.
1991–Tony drove 14 hours to pick me up when my Dad died.
1992–Tony did manage to get lost and miss my wedding.
1993–Tony got off work and drove to Blacksburg to see my first child’s birth.
1994–Tony became our room mate.
(Edit the details Ricco, the audience is getting restless!)
2011–Tony held my son Alex while eating cookies on Christmas Eve.

We both were “blessed” with Fathers we hardly knew.
We both have siblings we met late in life.
We both married women with dark hair and glasses.

The story of my life, so far, would be missing lots of laughter without that tall, lanky quiet kid who liked Prince way back in 1985.

All because of a tee-shirt.

Thanks old friend.

Been working on my rewrite, that’s right….

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I’ve tried to write a Christmas story for twenty years now. I wrote one years back about Christmas in Panama and how one event, that passes so quickly, can linger for decades and impact aspects of your life you didn’t know would even exist. Like the stories you’d tell the children you never thought you have. Or the beer you drink during the Holidays out of some twisted attempt to stay loyal to people you’ll never see again.

It isn’t working out, this Christmas story. I lack the necessary hocus-pocus imagery to pull off a tale of redemption. So Charlotte and her dying mother and the family that burned to death remain locked in my lazy, balding head as prisoners awaiting hocus-pocus.

………

Writing it like dieting. Starting is easy…continuing, well….

………

Back when I wore a 7-11 smock and my friends called me “Hodgie”, I knew a teacher named Gary. He came in the store each day and got a coffee. During summer this educator drove a Blacksburg Transit Bus to make extra dough. He paid off his student loans 2 years earlier by driving a Bus Route. I guess some people Occupy a part-time job they don’t want to pay off their student loans and other people shit on cop cars to pay off their student loans.

……….

You represent your own lazy ass, not mine. I’d rather drive the part-time bus route, thanks anyway.

……….

You could put a Pot plant in one of those Topsy-Turvy tomato things and grow weed upside down on your back porch. Tell your friends it’s a Willow Tree seedling device. Like they’ll care…

……….

I’m beginning to believe I’m fearful of success. I’m scared I might be right about that…

………..

See Charlotte is riding down a road in Mahalia. Snow. Ice. A slide into ditch and she meets this family. They help her out of the ditch… see, lost interest already, I have… I can smell the hocus-pocus coming like a dog smells fear.

………..

This is the part when I admit I have no idea what to write about but have finally sickened myself enough with reminders about how I don’t write anymore. One short story makes it to an online magazine (ONLINE! Not even real…) and suddenly I’m thrown back down into a fear that hits like a speeding bobsled on the slalom of my life.

If you’re bad, you suck.
If you’re good, what then?

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You ever use Google Earth to check on places you read about or places you visited just to make sure they’re still there if you get a chance one day to go back? Me neither…

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A woman at Wal-Mart told me someone I knew many years ago had died of a stroke. He was about 42. He was her son. She began to tear up as she stocked the shelves and reminded me about his love of baseball and good jokes. I felt my eyes grow misty as I looked at the bacon and sausage and hot dogs and bullshit that is nothing more than death packaged to support life. I left. A mother crying over the death of her child. That’s too much hocus on Christmas Eve.

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Any man who has a prostate exam would realize that Homosexuals are possibly the toughest sons of bitches on planet Earth. The Gay Rights movement should just push for every Male to have a prostate exam. I mean, they go through THAT for fun….! That’s tough, I don’t care who you are.

…………

I’ve been working on my Rewrite, that’s right.
Gonna change the ending.
Gonna throw away the title.
Gonna toss it in the Trash.

I’ve been working on my Rewrite, that’s right.
All the time I’m spending.
Every minute after Midnight.
I’ve been working on my Rewrite,that’s right.
Gonna turn it into cash.

-Paul Simon

……………

This is the part where I mention how I’m going to write more often.

……………

–John.

Bisbee shame, furry love, and finding the Chicken House…

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In November 2010 I posted a blog entitled “Boardwalk Furries”.

To date it is the most popular blog posting I’ve created. It relates our encounter with a group of folks who get their jollies dressing up like stuffed animals and hanging out. They also ‘yiff’, which is what furries do when bumping uglies.

Judging by the topic’s popularity, perhaps I should write about pseudo-sexual deviance on display at oceanfront locales more often. Think of the ratings.

>>>>>>>>>>

A couple of friends on Facebook have shamed me over my experiences in Arizona. It’s actually my lack of experiences that is the shameful part. While stationed in Ft. Huachuca, I failed to visit a town called Bisbee. I actually failed to visit most of Arizona although I made a day trip once to Tuscon. Through WordPress I met a person from Bisbee–Find an Outlet–who is an interesting representative of an intriguing place. Check out her blog.

But what all the shaming reminds me is that we should explore the world around us, regardless of where in the World we are. I’ve a paltry collection of photos, writings, and memorabilia from the places I traveled back in the day. I recall spending much of my time pissed with myself for winding up in places where I knew no one and no thing about my environment. Instead of learning like a grown up, I cowered like a child. I stayed in my room, listened to my cassettes from high school and wrote boring letters back home. Blech.

But what’s done is dinner and I refuse to play with my food.

I learned that lesson years ago. Funny how the reminder came back through a few pictures of a town I’ve never visited.

Explore your world, wherever you are.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A man came in the office the other day asking for the manager. Sadly, that’s me. He sat in my office and requested a tour of the facility in addition to asking me many questions. He was an older man with scuffed boots and blue work pants with a red handkerchief peeping out of his back pocket.

I asked why he was interested.

“My family owned the land that this place is on. I grew up on this land.”

Over the years, he’d driven by many times.

“Just to look, ya know. See what was happening on the old homestead.”

I gave him a tour and told him as much about our company as legal. We were standing on the dock. I was rattling off bullshit a pound per minute, trying to convince the man how much good a milk company can do. The nutritious aspect of what we sell. The thousands of pounds of dairy products donated to local Food Banks. He smiled and looked around.

We walked around the back lot.

“I think this is where the chicken house was…I guess. Hard to tell.”

We made it back downstairs to the coffee pot. By now, he was rattling off and I was smiling. His Daddy was a dirt farmer who worked in Richmond at what was the Lucky Strike plant. He and his siblings worked the farm; mornings, evenings, summers, weekends, whenever. He said he couldn’t remember how many times they ate meat at a meal. Somewhere around once or twice a month. The rest of the time it was beans, cornbread, or whatever Mama could boil over the fire. There were Eleven brothers & sisters.
One brother died young. I could tell by the way he said it, he’d never talked much about it. The words just fell out of his mouth.

As he was leaving I explained the gate would open up automatically, as his car got near it.

“Mama never wanted to sell it. Developers just gave her too much money after Daddy died. Now she’s gone. Me and one sister up in Maryland is all that’s left.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

He smiled. “Yep. Let me go see your fancy gate. Thanks for your time.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>

A television is a handy piece of furniture when your bookshelf is full and you need to put a book down someplace.

Other than that, it’s mostly useless.

>>>>>>>>>>>

Go Bears…

>>>>>>>>>>

Room of his own. (Final)

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David Gray awoke three days later and weighed 636 pounds. The hospital had placed him on a borrowed cattle scale. They zeroed it based on the mattress’s weight. Administrators had come from varying departments to check in on David. He had become their first, and only, famous patient. News organization from around the state, then the country, then the world, wanted to learn about David. The media named him “The Growing Man”.
He had not eaten food during the six days it took him to gain 450 pounds.

Tests were conducted on his blood, his urine, his fat cells, his flesh, and his semen. Research was done on similar cases up to the point where it was discovered no similar cases existed. David Gray, the Growing Man, was an anomaly of modern medical science. Psychologists flooded the talk show circuits offering opinions on David’s mental state. The President took the opportunity to commission a study on obesity. Speeches were made, pundits shouted, water coolers boiled amid heated debates on the Growing Man. Vegas gave odds on David’s weight when he finally died. Odds were in favor of a heart attack by month’s end.

David looked around the room. A maintenance man had removed the television. He was a bent man with gray hair and white knuckles. He’d helped with the cattle scale while listening to the television clamor about the Growing Man’s sexual habits, his high school experiences, and how the Growing Man is making a political statement against hunger by exposing the nation’s gluttony. The bent man yanked the television out the next night.

He stood at the foot of David’s bed as David slept.

I don’t know why they do that…hell with ‘em…

David watched his hands as they rose. His fingers were pale sausages, his hand the size of Cornish hen. He felt hungry. He felt disgusted. The wish for sleep came upon him. Though his dreams escaped him, he knew he was still thin within them. He gasped for air as fat continued to surround his lungs. A nurse came in.

You’re awake. She said.

She closed the door softly. Coming close to the bed she said,

This is my first shift with you. You have your own shift now.

David nodded. Can I get some water?

Of course. Whatever you want. She poured some water in small cup; put the straw to his mouth.

You’re famous, you know.

Thank you.

After I check your vitals…could I get an autograph?

What’s wrong with me? Why is this happening?

The nurse ran her hand across David’s chest. All the hair had fallen out.

Nothing’s wrong with you. You’re famous.

The door opened.

Nurse Watson. Oh, he’s awake. Wonderful. How are you doing Mr. Grow…Gray?

The doctor moved to the foot of David’s bed. He checked the chart then looked at the scale’s readout.

Six Thirty-Six. Holding steady.

I weigh six hundred thirty-six pounds? David said.

For the last…looks like the last two hours. Yes. Holding steady.

David closed his eyes.

Where’s my wife? David said.

You’re married? The doctor blurted. Of course, it says so here. She must be at lunch or something. I’m sure…

David looked at his left hand. The bloated skin of his third finger was scarred.

We had to cut it off, Mr. Gray. I’m sure it’s in your personal effects.

David kept his eyes closed and pictured an easel. A prairie of rolling hills with a warm breeze causing trees to sway surrounded him. He wasn’t thin, or fat. He was… The brush in his hand, the paint splotched on his shirt joined to stop time. Tomorrow was unseen canvas. Yesterday faded with a dab of paint thinner. He had no deadlines, no job, nothing to grasp. He was… Guilt crashed upon the rocks of his dream. David had no desire for home. No desire for Rachel. He knew she was gone from him. David sensed no feeling of loss at the knowledge. Something must exist in him. Anything that would show all he worked for, all he produced, was worthy of the effort. The voice he’d heard that night a few weeks back. The voice that reminded him of painting, of his love for Sinatra; it came to him now. It was his voice, but not his words. He felt the words permeate every part of his bloated self. You need room of your own.

The doctor spoke up.

Mr. Gray. We’ve tested you every way possible and have found no logical reason for your sudden weight gain. You’ve consumed no calories beyond sustainment. Surprisingly, your cholesterol, sugar, blood pressure…all normal. It’s as if, well, your body doesn’t realize it’s gotten larger. Your heart rate is normal, although your breathing is a bit irregular at times. Strictly speaking, except for your weight gain, you’re as healthy as any man your age.

David opened his eyes as the doctor was speaking. He kept the images, the calm, before him as he watched the man’s mouth move. This is real. He thought. Room of his own. A man must make room of his own. David chuckled.

Yes, the doctor said. It is odd isn’t it? We simply have no idea what has happened to you.

The doctor looked down.

Six thirty-six, he said. Holding steady. If there’s any change, let me know.

She moved towards the bed after the doctor left.

Don’t touch me, David said. Just don’t. And no I won’t give you an autograph. Just go.
She looked stunned and walked from the room.

David felt the sun’s warmth coming in the window. It rested on his arm. He tried to remember what his arm had looked like a week ago. It was lost to him. The memory of his body was gone.

Rachel was gone. She’d left him. He knew that as intimately as he knew the feel of the sun’s heat. His house was empty, waiting for his return. He breathed deep and held it. The exhalation lasted a full minute. David felt dizzy when it finished. For reasons David only glimpsed, The Growing Man had stopped growing. He was holding steady.

636.

David Gray looked at the mountain of flesh that hid his feet. It rose and fell with his breathing, but David observed it as if it were separate from him. It was more than an easel, he thought. It was more than paint. He knew it by experience, not definition.
The sun gave the room a golden hue. David smiled softly. He fell asleep.
The scale’s readout changed.

632.

629.

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