Response

Canada flag
I was thinking of the young Canadian soldier who was killed this week.

I know all too well that should he be my brother or sister, my daughter or son, I would very much want to kill the perpetrators. I might even react the same should I witness someone needlessly killing one of my pets—my Great Dane or my Rat Terrier. I believe it is a normal reaction to such violence. As I move out from the relationship with the person who has suffered the tragedy, my emotional reaction changes. That is not to say that I condone violence on everyone else, rather the emotional response now turns to a rational and reasoned reaction to what has happened.

I believe it is safe to assume that most rational people abhor violence. We might hear that a young man was killed by drug dealers in some downtown ghetto. It flashes in our mind that the world contains much evil, but I would bet that most people will move on with their day without an emotional reaction that calls for tracking down the culprits and killing them for what they have done.

It is a tragedy of our age that many people have mental illnesses that sometimes easily sway any hope of rational behavior out the proverbial window. I may be neglectful in how I connect the dots, but even the latest killing of the soldier points to a young man perhaps preordained by his mental condition to await a trigger for his violence. Such triggers are readily available with all the news of kill and be killed. I repeat again I do NOT know the facts of this case, but I greatly believe in the cause and effect of how a disquieted mind can be stirred to violence.

I also worry on some level about the people’s reaction. There is no direct connection that the deceased has with most people but they are stirred to the emotional level of those close connected to the deceased. Most media grieves and stirs the emotional level so we all feel like we have lost a brother or a sister, or a son or a daughter. We no longer react with a rational and though out understanding of what has transpired, rather we react like we should expect his/her family to react.

I accept and understand the reaction of the family. Everyone else should react with condolences and sympathy but save their emotion response for what is truly theirs. As the probability of such tragedy becomes more and more possible, we need a dialogue of how to react in a way that does not make some sad soul lost in their own mind look like a monstrous purveyor of evil and tragedy, an antihero of sort, by all the attention, which can only spawn more of the same.

Such events are a feeding frenzy for the media, when in fact it is a private terrible happening for the families and close friends, no more, no less than any such terrible event which happens each and every day.

Birches

birches_on_sunnydayPoetry is for women.

Well, there was a time before when poetry was for men too, as it is again. The word ‘poetry’ gets a bad rap in how it is aligned with…Roses are red, violets are purple, etc.” And of course, if someone calls it poetry, then I suppose it IS poetry. Some of the problem stems from the all-encompassing nature of the word ‘poetry’; I doubt a book with only three words would be called a novel, or a song….oh wait a minute, “The tide is high and I’m moving on…”

…and poetry is supposed to conjure up sweet things, like, write a poem to a sweetheart. Well, I assure you I could whip up a poem to an old sweetheart, and perhaps they to me, that would make a shiny tin roof, sitting in the hot sun on a sweltering august afternoon, go cold as ice.

I have always had an affinity for poetry. It came from my mother, but it actually stems back to my father. He was little schooled, as compared to my Mom, who was a teacher. He worked the store and the salmon factory that were his Father’s; his indenture commencing at a very young age when school came second to having to make a living. But I remember, on occasion when he gathered in the store, late in the evening just before closing, with a few of his friends. I’m sure a beer or two was being consumed, but I remember best the poetry: The face on the Barroom floor, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Sea Fever, et al.

Grown men, fishermen, with calloused hands and lined faces well before their age, reciting poetry from memory. I have no idea if they recited the entire poem, but I do remember that each went on for some time, and all the others would listen.

My mom would recite bits of poetry now and again. She was a lover of Robert Frost, as I am today.

Poems are like old friends. Yes, old songs stick to you, you could say. But an old poem not only sticks to who and where you heard it, it gathers a myriad of events along the way and creates a small but detailed memory of special moments in your life, not just one.

With little searching I can now take a poem that attached itself to me back when I was a youth, and, rolling it forward, I can linger on a variety of moments when I read it again, or recited it from memory.

Just yesterday my son posted a picture of him cutting down trees, and I remembered the poem ‘Birches’ as it is among my favorites. It immediately casts me back to where Len and I would climb the birched and swing down. I found the poem later in life, and I remember when I was not among trees that poem came to produce them for me. I remember when I knew I would no longer climb trees, and found the words of the poem a sweet memory; and now it marks a time when I find my son as a man who knows trees.

Women have always known the way. We men should learn to ask for direction.

Campfires

author-RLSCampfires hold a special place in my heart.

I have a deep appreciation for all the elements. In Newfoundland, growing up we would place a propeller on a stick with a nail, climb the nearest hill, and the wind on any day would send it twirling until our hands shook. On a special windy day, with breakers sweeping over the huge rocks protecting the cove from the full force of the gale, and waves crashing against the wharfs, boats and shore, our ‘leather-wind-bats’ would spin until the nail was hot enough to cook a sculpin.

Montreal offered up wonderful rain storms. They would roll in over the St. Lawrence, flat terrain waiting to be drenched. Dark clouds bellowing, air climbing, perhaps to try and escape the rain; to no effect as the lightning flashed, thunder rolled and the torrents of rain pelted the streets, buildings, cars and trees. None of that gentle rain, the drops were fat with intent to drown everything, bouncing on everything it hit, wanting to penetrate and soak deep. Nor was it a ten minute rain like the ones you get on a sunny afternoon in Florida; no warning, sun, rain, puddles everywhere, minutes later it was as if nothing had ever happened. The Montreal rain storms went on for hours some times, lightning flashing, the rain lessening up to see if someone would venture out, and then more thunder and the drenching would resume.

I like snow best in the mountains—ski country thought it need not have a mass of people which might steal from its attempt to cover everything and keep the world quiet, if only for a short time. Snow storms have their own appeal, but thick cotton-eared flakes of snow magically prepared with exact combination of moisture and temperature, minus the wind, offers the greatest silence. So quiet, you can hear the silence in each snowflake, a landing so gentle against the ground it resembles the seed pod of the dandelion plant floating off as just kissed by a loving breeze. Everything is white, pristine like a new suit of clothes for that first Holy Communion when the soul knows not of sin.

Campfires, no matter where they might find time to warm the air, are good to all seasons and settings. There is a warmth to campfires that is so much more that the fuel being consumed. It has a soul of its own that has little to do with the hotness of its being. Campfires cool and calm the evening, bring friends to gather round, forming the circle which is eternal, backs to the darkness, resting, rejoicing that the day has offered up the night. Rings of smoke send off prayers into the sky; flames flicker and fade, shades of blue where intensity resides, the soft pale yellow where the flame lets go of what must be given in offering.

Campfires might well offer light.

A Novel Idea

Book A Novel IdeaWe all love words. Some of the most memorable movies owe deference to a few good lines of speech. The Untouchables with Sean Connery, many a Clint Eastwood movie, all the way back to the “…frankly, my dear, [Scarlett] I don’t give a damn”, all stick in our memories as wonderful lines of dialogue, exact, though perhaps unexpected, for the particular setting.

Movies and television shows can only do so much of that as the plot would quickly fall to pieces as slapstick of whose line is the best. So, movie makers know their value but are careful to use them wisely and sparsely.

Some movies are great for the scenery. I am convinced I know every mountain range in New Zealand after viewing the Lord of the Rings series. Many sci-fi movies get by on magnificent animated scenes that dazzle the eye and the intellect with the brilliance so bragged about by Timothy Leary and his experiments with mind altering substances.

Plot is often minor in some movies. If present at all, it can certainly add to the effectiveness of drawing on your emotions and pulling you into the story for a few hours. We take the ride to escape for a short time, as well we should. Sometimes we are just entertained, sometimes we gain new and useful insight into other worlds, or as I mentioned at the outset we come away with a most memorable line of dialogue.

I love books so much more than movies, though I would be less than happy should only one or the other be available. The written word can take you anywhere, invite you to conjure up again and again settings even beyond the mountains of New Zealand, and without a quiver of redundancy or overuse, allow brilliant dialogue and description to flow with the force and magnificence of Niagara Falls.
Each sentence offers the possibility of being a precious gem of constructed beauty, a paragraph might conjure up a sculptured statue offering both creativity and brilliance, a chapter can toss you on a sea of peril, leave you safe upon a sandy beach, or better still, make you beg for the storm to abate when you reach the end of the chapter; and so you must go on to the next.

I find that reading something brings me closer. In a movie you see the mountain. In a book you experience the mountain as the author describes the dark step face of a mountain range, stretching into the clouds, and with a few words more, lets you feel the danger as he brings you up close to where the heroes slip hesitantly along the path…”slick ice and nowhere to hold on, the wind battered their bodies against the slippery face. They climbed along a few inches of steep trail that, should they fall, the sound of the scream would be lost well before the tumble on the searing rocks below.”

I find that novels invite you in. Like in a poem you are asked to provide your own interpretation. There is enough direction to move you along with the plot, but each reader will find a very personal path of circumstance and character, setting and emotion.

There is evidence in this brave new world that storytelling is hard-wired. Reading a story is not much different to the brain than actually experiencing what you are reading—yup, whiskey and women.

Rosebud

rosebud-imgStories on the radio, the view-master, sledding, catching sculpins.

I loved going for a ride in the skiff. My dad would bring along a treat and we would sit in the front and let the spray and the bouncing through the waves excite us beyond belief—better than any roller-coaster we had no knowledge off, more exhilarating than a wild dog sled ride, which we also cherished.

I miss ice-skating and roller skating, comics, the Hardy Boys.

A cold Pepsi after a ball game we played sometimes in the park, sometimes on the street—cars being a nuisance to our fun; first put the peanuts in the top and catch them as they fizzed out the opening; someone always called “drops”. We’d hang in the store until we were kicked out, but not before we purchased a Popsicle – orange my favorite.

The fish and chip shop was also a great place. There, pinball machines, you had to leave a quarter on the machine as a way to get in line—three games for a quarter. The fries were hot, a special kind of soggy, and begged for salt, gravy, and vinegar – that too had to be shared with who came along with you. Sometimes you shared the pinball as well, one flipper to each; harder to pass the ball but someone to blame when the game went by too quickly.

The first days of summer, after school was done, the first snow, and Christmas.

The first long kiss at a party where the night was still young and there was lots of time to try again. Holding hands on first dates, especially when she was the one who reached out. Sex changed all that, a little like finding out about Christmas, all the better as you could now get what you wanted sometimes, but something was lost, nonetheless.

Fireplaces, lots of beer, skiing.

There was a time when friends were everything. Routines, card games, dinners, vacations, parties, like a wild and free flock of birds. Find us here, now there, what’s new? Try this, hugs, come on let’s go out and have some fun. No cares, the child still in control, the adult slowly emerging but at a loss to embrace true purpose.

I remember work, dedication, stress, breaking things.

I don’t particularly blame the transition—necessary as such learning is. Such times come like the two sided coin; what waxes great on one side has not far to reach to the other side where disaster waits its turn. This time has little to do with what will be missed; rather it is the sculpting of your life. You remember where the chisel cut, where the hammer smashed, and should you be lucky enough, where a loving hand brushed the dust away.

Rain, snowy days, sunshine, fresh air, music, good books, dogs, saying goodbye, new beginnings, reaching out, so much more to do.

But people come first.

The Last Heartbeat

The Last Heartbeat

Let the light in one last time
No going back now
To where the sparrows sing among the boughs
Building nests beside ponds along the perimeter flush with spring rain
Fluttering, joining in nature’s theme of rebirth and beginning
Intent on life and creation.

                                                                                                                   A filtered light no less
What else could a window bring
DoveWhen far outside the woods moan against the storm to come
Wondering where the warmer days have gone
Colorless, pale against the full moon’s reflection of the other side
Hibernation, not yet dead.

Draw the curtain
Burial of all that must be
Seasons have no place where the spirit dwells alone
When one must leave the other
Eternal, not a cycle to move from light to darkness and back again
Final, the last beat of a heart.

Two Tramps

AutumnI read again “Two tramps in mud time” —a poem by Robert Frost. He wrote it with a setting of spring time. I, for some odd reason, seek it out as the autumn leaves begin to fall.

I won’t try and interpret the poem—I would be wrong in any case. I often see things that were never intended; while others might think out of the box, I am nowhere near the box. Still, anyone reading the poem will get a sense of purpose versus desire and how they might come together. As well I always come away from the poem with a keen view of the vantage point from where I look at things has much to do with what I see—and I should be cautious to always remember and understand where others are perched went they share an opinion.

My main interest in the poem is chopping wood. Gathering wood for the winter is so in tune with nature. Animals that hibernate will look for a den; the nutty creatures of the world gather what they must. Spring’s purpose is to explode with growth and possibility; autumn demands we prepare to sustain. Chopping wood helps me go into that frame of mind. Yes, there will be holidays; but they too should remind us of thanking the good earth for its bounty, and as darkness creeps in we will ask the spirits to protect us through the long night.

The first row of wood is always the best, as it says ‘yes’ you will have fire; there will be warmth as the cold winds whirls around the chimney, and the heat and smoke rise to forbid entry. After the first row, there is a feeling of accomplishment—the rest will add to what was up to now a necessary task. I wonder if squirrels count their store in fashion?

Chopping wood conjures up what it must have been like when homes were heated entirely from wood; wood houses, piles like pyramids, axes ringing for days and weeks as they moved the cords of logs to what the long winter would require. Of course the smart ones were a year ahead of the cycle if dry wood was the goal—a whole different matter.

The chopping is much a form of meditation. The piece of wood is set to where the knot will not impede the split to come. The swing of the axe, one hand holds, the other slides along the handle with the arc of the blade. The wood and the axe are one; bring it down again on the heel of the axe, and let the wood do the work—the chunk of wood gives, and so it goes.

It is a good time to be outside and ponder what is to come; cycle into cycle, the more the hope that work will surrender to pleasure, and that pleasure might be one with the work. What other reason would we do what we must, unless we are doing what gives us pleasure?

We are all tramps in the mud unless we take up the axe for a different reason.

The Druid and the Flower – Chapter 3

sealsoftheages-book1

Chapter 3 – Walker Bob
Summary of the Journals
Subtleties of choice
Often echo unintentional transformations

***Bobby – Ten Years After The Collapse ***

Some things do not need an event to mark the occasion. Some outcomes are preordained. Perhaps it is a combination of circumstance and decision-making that sculpts character; perhaps the sculpting is subtle and slow-baked; perhaps it is hot like a hammer shaping molten steel. Years before the world fell apart many knew each day they woke that all hope was lost. The molding was complete, no polish necessary, the possibility of gleam long exhausted. More precisely, they no longer cared about hope. Such an attribute would mean they had aspirations of their own. This represented the people who served his father. Before and after the collapse those who worked for his father, served him and him only.

Robert MacDonald had no aspirations either. His father ran this city. The West End had once represented a city within a city—people with all sorts of backgrounds speaking a variety of languages. The area had sported three universities, all those students with their minds waiting for the store of drugs his father and his army provided; not the legalized stuff, which came watered down as a bottle of gin in a sleazy bar. Before the collapse his father sold misery to folks; after, he inflicted misery.

Bob’s dad liked to walk the streets and meet with the folks who sought his trade. He remained careful to have his well-trained posse by his side in case someone decided to welcome his presence in a manner not to his liking.

Bob did his utmost to stay out of his father’s way. That was not a task to be accomplished easily, no matter how great his effort. The same posse protecting his father kept a soft collared leash on him. No one wanted the wrath of his father should his father’s son come up missing.

Bob finished his workout in the private gym. Two hours of programmed routines under the watchful eyes of a trainer who reported all progress to his father. The last half hour required a ring workout designed to keep him up close and in focus with his fists, his body, and his face. Well, this morning’s ring work-out had only lasted a few minutes. The dude was still out.
He tied his worn leather boots and left the pile of workout clothes for someone else to clean up. Today was Saturday and his father had told him to be in his office by nine o’clock. The clock showed eight forty-five and his arriving on time necessitated a five-minute walk. He’d best not be late, as that would mean a lesson before the main lesson. He crossed the gym floor with the two guards flanking him from a distance. He pushed the two big doors open and stepped out into the sunshine. He moved forward and let the doors swing shut behind him. He walked down the steps well aware that his not hearing the click of the doors closing meant his two guards were following close behind.

Bob turned to the left as he entered the main pathway that joined his home, his father’s office to the right.

“Bobby! You know you got an appointment, right?” One of the guards rushed to catch him.
“Ya, I know! I need something from the house first.”
He continued along the path and through a wrought-iron gate guarded on either side by watchtowers. The real guards peered down from a perch well-hidden on the roof of his spacious home—a much safer and more functional place from which to guard the residence.

He opened the door and went directly to the kitchen, where he encountered his mother.
She glanced at the clock. “Bobby, you’re going to be late.”
“I need a kiss from my mom and a grape juice.” He swung the fridge door open, grabbed a long, slender bottle of grape and closed the door gently.
He kissed his mom on the cheek. “You’re right; it looks like I’ll be late again.” A huge grin spread across his face. His mother gave him a gentle pat on the cheek.
“You are a strange boy. I love you.”

Bob headed out the door, took a sip of grape, replaced the cap and tossed the bottle to one of the guards. “Let’s go.”
He gave his left shoulder a turn, attempting to press out a kink from having landed that last uppercut to the chin of his opponent and dropping him to the ground.
That guy was at least eighteen. My father is upping the ante.
Well, not bad for a thirteen-year-old.
The dude should not have smiled at me after I jabbed a few easy ones. I was hoping to have a fun round, rather than the usual lesson insisted upon by my father.
I bet the dude won’t smile tomorrow.

They entered the waiting area of his father’s office at eight minutes past nine. Bob took note of the time but held back a smile. This was not a place to smile.

He sat for twenty minutes; not like his father to delay a slap across the head for being late. Maybe he had something better planned. No matter. Bob would suck up whatever punishment he was dealt and get on with the day.

His father had told him this would be a day of instruction; he would learn how to use a weapon while on the move. Bob had already had numerous practices with targets, utilizing guns of many sizes and calibers—his father referred to these as the old stock from a romantic era. He liked to explain to his son how the old weapons released the feel of power to the shooter as they exploded their intent. Modern weapons were far more effective and deadly but gave no such payback to their user. But they offered an advantage while on the move—a burst that releases itself over nanoseconds should the first round not be precise as intended.

The large oak door finally swung open and his father’s main man ushered him inside the den, where his father and two other men stood viewing a screen. His father’s reference to his office as a den conjured up all sorts of irony. But then again, a den was truly the home of a wild animal.
“When did it happen?” his father asked one of the men. He turned to acknowledge his son’s presence with a slight nod.
“Don’t know, sir. There’s no time stamp on these old systems. The warehouse was empty. We didn’t give it much interest.”
“Well, this happened in one of my warehouses, so that makes it my problem. Why did we ever review the recordings?”
“It was a routine service, sir. It just so happened she took it last night.”
“Do you know who she is?”
“Cindy something or other.” One of the men started looking through items that had been collected from the site.
Bob’s ears perked up as he heard mention of the name Cindy. He had been to a birthday party two days earlier and had received his first kiss from a girl named Cindy. She’d been celebrating her fourteenth birthday.
Bob got up and moved closer to his father.
His father turned to face him and positioned the screen so Bob could no longer observe what they were viewing. “This don’t concern you. I have some things to take care of. So let’s you and me meet up tomorrow same time, and do it then.”
Bob pressed closer. “Who is this Cindy, Dad? Why are you talking about her?
“She’s a mess I need to clean up. It don’t concern you.”
“Dad, I know a Cindy. Tell me it’s not the Cindy I know. What did she do to you? She’s just a girl, and she doesn’t do drugs.”
His father gave him a stare designed to melt an iceberg. Bob saw his father’s fists clench and relax. Not at all like his father to pass up a moment to be a little brutal.
“You two get out. Wait outside. And close the door.”
He turned to Bob.
“If I show you this, it stays in this room, you understand?”
“Dad if you hurt her, I—”
“I didn’t hurt no one. Shut up and sit down. Tell me, who is this Cindy you know?”
Bob proceeded to tell his father about the girl and the birthday party.
When Bob finished the story, his father moved to the shock proof plate glass window and stood there, silent for a while. He turned and came back to the video screen.
“I don’t know if this is the Cindy you know. But if it is, you’ll find out soon enough, once you leave here and check and she comes up missing. It’s best you find out now. All our warehouses are monitored. Some more than others. This warehouse was empty, but monitored nonetheless. One of our men was doing a routine inspection of the equipment and he found this. As best we can tell, it went down last night. This is not pretty. We had to dump the body.”
“Dad, let me see the video, please!”
His father turned the monitor his way and pushed the rerun.
He recognized Cindy.
The video went on for what seemed like hours. No voice, nor was voice necessary to understand what was happening. So helpless, so cruel, so unbelievably gruesome.
Even his father turned away.
Bob tried to run from the office. His father stopped him cold and pushed him into a chair. “I assume you know the girl. That makes this even more a problem.” His father pointed to the screen. “You know who the guy is?”
Bob shook his head.
“We do. He’s a hothead punk kid who likes to think he can run a gang and take whatever he wants.” His father put his hand on Bob’s shoulder. “I got no problem with whatever he wants to do unless he messes up my territory. It now seems he’s messed with more than my territory. He messed with a friend of yours. That, son, is a death sentence.”
“Father, I want him.”
“One day this’ll be your business to handle, but this is my problem.”
“Father, this is not one of your problems. This is…was my friend. That punk is my problem. He has to pay for what…that…I wanna make him pay. Do you know where he is?”
“My men have him. They picked him up a few hours after reviewing the video. They have him at the warehouse.”
“Let’s go!” Bob made for the door.
“We go when I say.” His father turned off the video. “Let’s go!”

*****

They entered the warehouse. The blood had already been cleaned from the earlier scene. Jamie Devereux sat in a chair, bruises readily identifiable on his face, his mouth holding a gag.
One of the men turned to his father. “We gagged him. He wouldn’t stop screaming for his bloody miserable life.”
Bob approached him. “Untie him, remove the gag, and give him a knife.”
The men turned to his father for direction. “Do what he says.”
One man untied him and removed the gag. The other returned with two switchblades, blade in.
Bob took one of the knives and pointed to the prisoner. “Give him the knife.”
“I ain’t fightin’ no boy; especially no boy who belongs to him.” He pointed at Bob’s father.
“Suit yourself.” Bob tossed the knife to Jamie Devereux who caught it but did not switch the blade open.
“My guess is you’re better suited to fighting little girls. Well, you’ll never do that again.” Bob took a quick step and lacerated Jamie Devereux’s right cheek. The blood poured.
Jamie Devereux pushed the switch and the blade flew open. “Hey, I got no fight with you.”
“Oh, but you do.” Bob stepped in and lacerated the other cheek and stepped back before Jamie Devereux had registered what had happened.
The trick with a switchblade on skin required you to tear with the edge, not cut. More pain, more blood. Cutting belonged to surgeons. He wanted to lacerate, and so he did.
Jamie Devereux went into fighter stance, flipped the knife over. Bob read the move. Jamie Devereux intended to finish the fight with a stab to his chest. Bob feigned a jab, and as he had anticipated the other man reached out his free arm, a move designed to pull him in and plant the knife in Bob’s chest, clean and final.
Bob pulled back before completing the jab. He instead sliced through Jamie Devereux’s wrist as he tried desperately to retreat from the ill-fated extension.
The contest continued for some time before it became apparent that this was a game of cat and mouse but Jamie Devereux was not the cat.

Bob’s father had planned to teach him about modern weapons today. But there were some things even his father didn’t understand about power. The new-style weapons were fast and lethal, silent and effective killers. Yes, the old style weapons gave the feeling of power but they did very little to engage the emotions of the opponent, especially if they held one too. The knife presented power and emotion. The situation allowed each to assume some hope, some possibility of victory. Bob took care to take a small slice at a time; each slice took away hope, until all hope was gone. The sweetest part of victory came in knowing your opponent accepted that hope had abandoned them.
Jamie Devereux pleaded for his life, offering up all sorts of gibberish about how he was forced to do what he did to such a helpless young girl.
Bob let his knife end it.
“You should have said no.”

His father took the knife from his hand. “Go with my men. I’ll be along in a bit.”
Bob looked at the blood on his hands, ran them against his pants, and followed the two men out the door.
Bob’s father waited until two of his personal guards arrived on the scene. “Which one of you pushed the Devereux kid into doing this?
The two guards looked at each other before one of them spoke. “We did what you asked sir.”
“You forget this happened, you hear me?”
“And clean up the mess.”
Bob never forgot the name, Jamie Devereux, nor did he ever speak the name again.

***Bob – Twenty Years After The Collapse***

Bob was more than comfortable in his city. Well, his father’s city. He’d left his teens behind a few years ago. He took some measure of amusement in being referred to as a Gater—a play on words which aptly described his way of life.

The collapse had been a most glorious event for his father, who’d immediately recognized the wonderful opportunity it presented. Like rats on a sinking ship, people scurried everywhere, looking for a place to hide. The sinking city like the sinking ship offered no place to run, no place to hide.

All the wonderful stuff left behind—a gold mine beyond anything his father had hoped for—so easy for the picking, at least in the early stages of the wonderful disaster.

The West End was now a fortress inside a city that had shrunk from millions to less than a hundred thousand—not the doings of his father, though he might have hastened their demise as he gathered and controlled everything of value. The circumstances that destroyed the world were many steps beyond his father’s ability to comprehend. The collapse gave people extremely limited possibilities for survival. Most failed. His father thrived.

His father walked about the neighborhood with his guards in tow—a passive display of power. Walker Bob adopted the walkabouts for its obvious symbolism; though he learned that some theatre was necessary now and again.

He had his men pull the prisoner along behind him. They moved out to what had once been a well-maintained sports field belonging to one of the universities. The field had given itself up to trampled grass and rubble. Bob strolled to the center and waited for the word to get out. Walker Bob was taking a walk. His men had impressed upon the locals they’d best attend the meeting.

Walker Bob stamped out his second smoke and approached the prisoner. “Okay then. I need to know who helped you with this.” The prisoner dropped his eyes. He had already been informed he would not be leaving here alive. Walker Bob waited.
“That’s okay. You know you’re a dead man. But it’s not that easy.” Walker Bob gave a short whistle.
Six of his men marched from the back of the gathered crowd with four children and a woman, their hands tied behind their backs.
Walker Bob went to where the youngest stood, put his hand on the child’s shoulder and turned to face the prisoner. “My promise to you all is we will protect you and ensure you live well while under my care. In return you will not steal from us or betray us. This man has done both. He did not operate alone. I must know who the others are.”
Walker Bob turned his eyes on the crowd. He turned back to face the prisoner. He gripped the young boy’s shoulder; the small boy winced but was unable to withdraw from the grip. Tears formed in his eyes.
“I know at least three others helped you steal from my father. I’ll ask you one more time, and then I’ll kill this child.”
“No…no…stop, please. I’ll tell you.”
Quick movements erupted in various sections of the assembled crowd as the guilty men attempted to flee from the inevitable. Walker Bob’s men moved to intercept, but he stopped them with a wave of his hand. “They have no place to run. We’ll deal with them later.”
The names of the accomplices were gathered and verified by those in the crowd who’d watched them flee—three other men in total.
Walker Bob turned to the prisoner. “Say good-bye to your family, and choose your way to die.”

***Walker Bob – Twenty One Years After The Collapse***

His father had, soon after the collapse, decided the old university would make a great residence. The grounds now housed extended family and the personal guards who came trained to identify and kill any predator with an intent to attack. They watched for, listened to, and sought out information on a level that would have impressed the agencies of old. The entire clan of the city was now widely referred to as the Gaters—a loose derivation of the gatherers they’d been. Of course, they did not only gather what they wanted; they took whatever they desired from whomever they wished to. Many unfortunate souls fell in the wake of their precision raids.

Walker Bob understood emotion of any sort was a poor director of a careful plan. You might allow yourself to have one or the other, but not both. Not that he ever had an urge to lose himself in some flood of joy or remorse, shame or pride.

He needed to get about his father’s bidding, but for that he needed a key.

Walker Bob found his father’s right-hand man inside his house on his knees, puking and struggling for breath. He had come looking for him, needing to retrieve a warehouse log from his father’s office. The den stayed locked to all except his father and Reggie. His father was not due back until late afternoon.

He picked Reggie up and helped him sit on the couch.
“Bob, he poisoned me.”
“Who poisoned you?”
“Your father.”
“Why would my father poison you?”
Reggie coughed again, and a small trickle of blood dripped down his chin. “I’m old. It’s my time to go. Your father has to replace me. I know too much to remain alive. I had hoped for a more honorable way to die. You father has a strange way to reward all my service to him.”
He coughed, spit, and struggled for a breath. “Perhaps I can return the favor. I pushed your mother off the roof that night.”
“Wha—?”
“Listen to me! Didn’t you find it strange his new wife showed up so soon after?”
Walker Bob struggled with the rage inside. Rage he could summon at will to bring fear to those he wished to admonish. He never thought it could arise from a button someone else had pushed. His mother had fallen to her death from the roof many years ago. She liked to go up and gaze at the distant Big River, especially on a night when the sky was full of stars. He knew it represented a moment in which she conjured some semblance of freedom. He had assumed it an accident. “You’re a crazy old man.”
“I might be and lots more. But I remained faithful to your father and I did what he asked.”
Walker Bob pulled his boot knife and ended the misery, for one of them at least.

*****

Walker Bob had drugged all of the guards. When they awoke they would assume someone else had done so.

The last words to his father before he pushed him off was that his mother was getting her payback.

He stood at the edge of the roof where his mother had taken her fall. He gazed down.

His father lay on the ground below, blood and bone mingling together.

Walker Bob left the roof, went downstairs and outside.
There he sounded the alarm.

Some Days Just Suck

sad kiten Some days just suck.

All the bullshit about cease the day, enjoy the moment, grasp at your future. Some days you have trouble just wiping your ass. Well, I do anyway.

Those of you that read my stuff know I come packaged in a heap of optimism folded into an impossible ability to stay down. I remember Cool Hand Luke at the fight scene. Please don’t think for a moment I have such ability; my not staying down is in an air conditioned house against the heat, and a warm fire against the cold. But, I so admire his ability to get up no matter what. The other man kept hitting him, and Luke no matter what, would struggle to his feet and with arms limp at his side, take the next punch, and the next.

No, thank God I don’t live with that, but I do have miserable days. My thoughts wander to all the shit I might have avoided, to the emptiness of it all. Who the fuck would come inside this mind and tidy up? Not me, surely. Shame, disaster, remorse, more shame, childish things, manly things I should have avoided, paths left untraveled, I could go on and on.

Even when things are good, there is always a chance of calamity. Money can always test your resolve, a dishwasher refuses to wash, a fridge refused to cool, or on one of those special days a furnace gives up the ghost. Health is always there as a concern—your own of course, and should that be okay for the moment, there is always yours friends and family to be worried about.

Accidents of all sorts like to visit at the most inopportune times; animals keep you busy with more ailments than humans.

Most of these things we expect, and when they come we usually spit in the wind and take in on the cheek.

But some days are just plain old depressing. Maybe it’s due to a lull in the action, a time when the little demon of futility sneaks in to pester us. Nothing special is happening, but there is a pall of misery about the day, like a funeral is about to happen. Nothing to be done except endure and allow it to move through you and beyond.

Most days I know to keep a close watch on each moment as it unfolds, that is all I have to do. That is all any of us have to do. And that is not hopeless; it is the way of things. I remember the ways of rain. Sometimes gentle, sometimes it comes in torrents. Sometimes it teams up with the wind and kills what it can. But, then again it goes back to being gentle and cleansing, and is all about growth.
We can be no more than nature intended. It is feeble to believe we are Devine, and it is so much feeble to believe we are inept. It is merely the way of things.

Some days just suck.