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                                                The mind-- friend or foe?

This story started a few years ago when Adam Peterson found he had been born with an illness that left his joints with no muscle support. He accepted at that time sooner or later he would be in a wheelchair, this was his worst fear. That he would become a burden to his loved ones. However being the man he was  he was not just going to sit in the corner and wait for the inevitable to happen.

“I will go on as long as I can,” he told friends, family and the doctor.

They all agreed this was the best way to fight it, battle to the end, enjoy life as much as he could and be glad for what he had the chance to do with it. This was also a two-edged sword as the more he fought the weaker the joints became. What he could do one week, the next week it was too much.

Time passes and his joints got weaker soon walking became too painful even after a few minutes. Sitting in his room he realised his world was like watching water down a drain as the circles close in like a vice, telling you the boundaries of what you can do.  Things were not helped, when one day while working in the garden he tore his left Achilles tendon. Now he could hardly move. Forever closing down his world to the point that it became so small it is frightening. Once so keen on walking and using the experiences for writing was now confined to his room, the mind that once thrived on the thirst for knowledge and travel now taking over and running scenarios that could happen.

“That is the problem with an active mind,“ he thought. “ At times it is your worst enemy, as it is never at peace and forever thinking what can happen.”

 As he could feel the body weakening, the aches more painfully obvious by the day. His mind was telling him that sooner or later he would not be able to get more than a few yards without the severe pains, which were now racking his muscles and joints,. For Adam this was just a bad as the knowledge that his days of travelling were at an end. Playing on his mind was that as much as he loved his garden and growing his plants, he would no longer be able to help in the garden. This was eating away at him, his mind was leaping around and moving to a time in the not too distant when he would be housebound. This was such a chilling thought for only this year his life had turned so quick.

 At the start of the year he had planned a weeks writing holiday to his favourite haunt of Scarborough and was looking forward to going to see places he missed on his last trip. Then as his illness took over he realised that this was not an option, so he choose to have day trips as this was all he thought he could do. Looking forward to trips to places like Worcester and Warwick, where he had longed to go, his mindset was calmer on the acceptance of being able to go somewhere. He realised that two hours on his feet was the most  he could manage. He had  set his sights on shopping in town. Going to a writing course was out of reach as well as he could barely walk and the venue was old and had no disabled facilities. His garden was now the limit of his world. With his mind closing down and running the scenario of him being bedridden and unable to move. He began to wonder at this point, was having an active mind a good thing at all. Having a less active mind he would not have been able to rush his mind to the awful things ahead. Accepting the knowledge of his demise would have been easier to take.

The mind that once thrived on the thirst for travel and knowledge, feeding the writing urge had now turned in on him,  it was feeding his fears. Years ago when his dog died, friends and family had told him to get out more as they feared he was getting afraid to go out. He hardly ate, weight dropped off him until he looked very ill. Now eight years later, things had switched around, even though he wanted, he knew he would never see the lovely countryside out there again. His world had got so constricted that he wondered if it was worth it now.

The only things keeping him going were the on line friendships he had made and his urge to keep writing spurred by the possibility of a book publication.

Worse than this, he knew the more he thought about it,  the more his mind fed upon the fears, driving him to deeper places of seclusion. He had become an insomniac now, he had not had a good night’s sleep for months. Afraid of where the dreams might lead, his mind filled with dread and worry, the darkness had closed out any light in his life. In reality one of his nightmares had become his reality now. He had hated the thought of not being mobile enough to even walk, of becoming a burden to all around him. His mind reminding him that this is real now.

Adam could feel the pains crawling up his spine and through his skeletal structure, like

‘The Tingler,’ in the Boris Karloff film of the same name. Just like barbed wire around your spine, each movement a knife in a joint, each step a blade of agony shooting pains through your legs to your hips.

Many years ago, he had been chatting to a lady he had met in Canada called Faye, and she asked why he was ill so often, he had told her about the black mould spreading along the wall. “Hun you HAVE to get rid of that love as the spores are deadly.”

 Adam had bleached the wall as far as he could, there was one corner he could not get to. It was above his desk and just too far to work on with a stick and cloth. There the mould stayed, It was this corner that was now above his bed head.  Laying on his bed. Looking at a patch of dirt and mould from years gone, he had started seeing faces there. The longer he looked the more he saw. Some benign and looking happy, some not quite so pleased and some as animals The more he looked up at them from his bed, the more they changed.

He could not get up the stairs, people came to see him. But did not notice if he was seen for days, he stopped answering the door as it would take him five minutes to get the fifty feet. Walking was so hard and painful, when he did not answer nobody thought anything of it.

One day his wife wanted to ask him something. Thinking he might be in the garden she passed through his room. As she did, she saw his lifeless body laying on his bed looking at the ceiling,he had often told her about the faces.

She looked up at the corner to see looking down at her, a face she had known for many years only this time he was smiling for the first time for as long as she could remember

“He is happy now, he is with his Faye,“ she thought as the tears rolled down her face.

An unaswered question remained-was Adam’s seeing the faces their way of showing acceptance? Did he make them take him as he knew he would be with his Faye? Or was he taken against his will to protect their domain?


 
 
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Chimera
-Don Martin

Jim was startled awake from a deep sleep one night. He had the very uneasy feeling he wasn't alone. He turned on his bedside light and checked out the room. Nobody there. He checked again. Still nobody there. Hell, I even checked under the bed. Haven't done that since I was a little kid. He tried to go back to sleep, but that was impossible. About 5AM he gave up and went to the the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. He had to be at work in two hours. But there, sitting at his small dining table, was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Deep green eyes, the color of emeralds. Long red hair. A nightgown which hid very little of her charms.

“Uhm … who are you, and how did you get in here?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“I'm not really sure...”

“I am your chimera.”

“My what? I've never heard of one of those.”

“I have been with you since you were born, and I will be with you until the day you die.”

Jim sat down and thought about this for a good long while. “So you are sort of like a guardian angel or some deal like that?”

“No, not a guardian angel. We do different things. Although I would be glad to introduce you to your guardian angel. You do have one of those, you know.”

“I never believed that stuff. What exactly do you do?”

“That's really hard to explain.” Jim was fascinated with her voice. It was so melodic. He had never heard a human speak that way. “First, Jim, as a chimera I am only an illusion. I don't really exist. Except I exist for you. In general, I just sort of look after you. Try to see you are happy most of the time. That kind of thing. You've been an easy client so far.”

“OK, where do you come from?”

“I come from your mind.”

“Look, I'm 47. I've never seen you before. Why are you here now?”

“Jim, you've seen me plenty of times. Thousand of times, in fact. You just never knew what you were looking at. Or you wouldn't accept it. I'm here now because now is the right time.

“I don't think I believe any of this.”

“Well, that is probably enough for now. Go on to work. I'll see you tonight.” And with that the chimera vanished.

Jim went to work, trying not to think of the strange encounter he'd had. Work was very busy, and it wasn't hard to believe it was all just a dream. It did take his mind off things, at least. On the way home from work he stopped at a local diner for dinner. While he was eating he tried to piece the whole encounter together. Much of it was very fuzzy. Jim thought about this. You always forget dreams fairly fast, right? He concluded it was just a dream, and he wouldn't worry about it.

He pulled up to his small house and got the mail. He noticed the newspaper was not on the lawn. He'd have to call the paper and complain about the paperboy again. He opened the front door and set the mail down on the hall table. He looked around and the chimera was there. Sitting on the couch, reading the newspaper. She had changed into sweats and put her long hair into a ponytail, but she was every bit as gorgeous as she was that morning. Jim wasn't sure what to say.

“Anything interesting in the news?”

“Not really. Politics, crime, sports. You humans don't have a very wide range of interests.”

Jim sat down in the chair across from her. “Can you try to explain to me again who or what exactly you are?”

“Sure. As I said, I'm only an illusion. I don't exist. Except for you. I exist for you. Your mind, your imagination, creates me.”

“So if someone else was here, say a friend of mine, they couldn't see you?”

“That depends. They could see me if you wanted them to see me. Otherwise, no, they wouldn't see me.”

Jim walked over and grabbed the chimera's wrist. It was solid, like any other wrist he'd ever touched. “See, you aren't an illusion. You are solid. Just like a regular human person.”

“I am only solid because you want me to be. I don't have to be solid. Watch this.”

Jim's hand fell to his thigh. The chimera was still there. The wrist was still there. But his hand had somehow completely and suddenly dropped right through it. And he had a pretty tight grip.

Jim had no idea what to say. “I'm beat. I think I'll hit the sack early.”

“Go ahead. I'll be up in a while.”

“Where do you people … uh, things … uh, creatures ... sleep?”

“I sleep right next to you.”

“Why haven't I felt you there? Why haven't I seen you there?”

She smiled. “Only because you haven't wanted to.”

Jim had lived with his chimera for about three weeks. They got along really well. Almost too well. The chimera was driving him crazy with lust, and he thought he might be falling in love with it. He knew he needed some professional help, or he would eventually end up in the nuthouse. And there he could sit around in group therapy sessions while everyone talked about their imaginary friends. He wasn't going to do that. He made an appointment.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Wells. Please have seat.”

“Thank you doctor.”

“What brings you here today?”

“It's hard to talk about. Have you ever heard of a chimera?”

“Sure. In ancient Greek mythology a Chimera was a imaginary beast made up of various animals. In psychology a chimera is defined as an 'illusion or a fabrication of the mind.' In popular culture a chimera is an unobtainable dream. Why do you ask?”

“Well, doctor, I have one.”

Both men sat in silence for a good three or four minutes. “Jim, when you say you have a chimera, what do you mean exactly?”

“Doctor, I mean I got one. A chimera. She's told me the same things you just told me. She says she is only a product of my imagination. She says she doesn't exist. She's just an illusion. Except she does exist for me. I think I am losing my mind. We've been together for three weeks now. When I want her to be she can be as solid as any other human woman. Other times I can walk right through her. What is going on?”

Again the men sat in silence for a few minutes. “Jim, let's take the last definition I gave. An unobtainable dream. Now you haven't said, but I'd guess your chimera is a very attractive woman.”

“Yes she is, doctor. The most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”

“I think what is happening here, Jim, is you are fantasizing about your dream woman. You are 47, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And you aren't getting any younger. You probably think you have no chance at a good looking woman at your age. So you just created one.”

“But she exists, doctor. She really does. I've seen her. I've talked to her. She reads the newspaper. She is a real woman.”

“No, she isn't. Listen to what she says, Jim. She says she only exists for you. She even says she is just a product of your imagination. And that's all she is. An imaginary friend. There is nothing real to her.”

“But I have a question, doctor. Can you fall in love with a chimera?”

“I think our time is just about over for today. I'd like to see you in a week. In the meantime, try not to think about your chimera. She only exists when you want her there. Do whatever you need to do to keep your mind off of her.”

“I'll try doctor.”

Jim drove home in a state of confusion. Both the chimera and the doctor were telling him the same thing – she didn't exist. But he knew she existed. He had grabbed her arm and it was ever bit as solid as any human woman he'd ever grabbed. She had to be real. Either that, or he really was going crazy.

His chimera was waiting for him at home. “How was the doctor's appointment today, hon?” He hadn't told her about the appointment. How did she know?

“How did you know about that?”

“I am a product of your mind, remember? I know what you are thinking and doing. I am in there with all your other thoughts.”

“Well, the doc says you don't exist, and I should just ignore you.”

“Is that what you want to do?”

“No, not at all. You're the best thing that has ever happened to me. And … I'm falling in love with you.”

“I'm very flattered, Jim.”

“Do your type, whatever you are, ever fall in love with … humans?”

“It's rare, but it has happened.”

“So I still have a chance?

“Yes.”

“I'm going to bed early. Care to join me?”

“I'll be up in a while. Don't wait up for me.”

Rather than follow the doctor's advice and trying to ignore the chimera Jim became obsessed with the idea of seducing her. He wasn't sure if a chimera and a human could, well, you know. But he figured if she was indeed a product of his imagination he could make her do anything. Even “that.” He made a few abortive attempts at it. She brushed him off each time. She said, again, that she was a chimera. She didn't really exist.

But she was getting really friendly. She referred to him as “hon” and “babe” and “darling.” And the worst, which she sometimes used, “lover.” She often touched him, and stroked his hair. He was starting to think maybe she wasn't a chimera after all. Maybe she was a witch. Witches could put spells on people and that would explain a lot. A witch could make him think the she was a chimera.

The chimera was sitting at the kitchen table the next morning, as usual. She was wearing her usual nightgown which revealed far too much. It was everything Jim could do not to jump her bones right there.

“Let me ask you this. Are you a witch?”

“Not as a witch is strictly defined. I do have some special powers, though.”

“What sorts of special powers?”

“Well, as you know I can be invisible. I can disappear. I can also read minds. And I am immortal. That covers the important things.”

“Immortal, huh?”

That evening Jim and the chimera were sitting on the couch watching TV, eating popcorn, and drinking wine. He reached to her and tentatively grabbed her hand. She would sometime hold hands with him. Sadly, he knew that holding hands was about as intimate as they'd ever get. Her hand was delicate and warm. Jim had decided something. He was going to settle this one way or the other, tonight. He just couldn't live with the stress of not knowing any more. If she didn't respond to him he would show the chimera the door. However you do that with am imaginary creature.

So Jim boldly wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her tight. She was all solid, a 100% woman. His lips were less than an inch from hers. Should I do it? What the hell! He softly put his lips on hers and gave her a gentle kiss. She responded with more passion. Before long their lips and tongues were wrapped and wound around each other. Jim could not take it, and he drew back. The chimera looked him directly in the eyes and smiled. “You see, Jim, I am real. I always have been.”


 
 
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                                                             Debbys’  Day

 When  Debby Martland walked into the prom that night all eyes turned to see the beautiful auburn haired girl, dressed in red. She was stunningly beautiful and popular but not prom queen, that honour went to Erika Young, the blonde.

Debby preferred not to be queen. This meant she could dance with whom she wanted to, her beau was Alec Grainger, who but for an injury would have led Brankton University to the Connaught bowl victory they had deserved since mid-season When they beat Palmer Tech 23-10, in one of the biggest upsets in College football.

All eyes watched Debby when she made her way past the football team, to a table at the back of the hall, where Alec sat on his own, drinking coffee. The crutches on the floor beside him told the tale of the end of what might have been Brankton’s finest middle line backer.

All  Debbie saw, was her man in his college jacket, sat alone whilst the team celebrated their glory after beating Yardley the previous week, to win 14 -13 with the last kick of the game “Alec, aren’t you going to join the team love?” Debbie asked.

“No love. I don’t feel I belong there now, after the injury. Let them have their glory.”

“Everybody  knows, if you hadn’t been defensive captain until the Championship game. They would never have got anywhere.”

“Could have been, should have been. I know, love, let Dave bathe in his glory, it was a hard game, and I suppose the best team won!”

“You don’t sound convinced. What's on your mind love?”

“Oh, just the different styles of myself and Dave and how we almost lost because of it. I didn’t like the way we won. Then it wasn’t up to me, to make the calls this time was it!”

“Anyway, love, you go and enjoy the evening, don't let me spoil it for my lovely Debby. I saw all the lads looking at you, when you came in.”

“Jealous?”

“Heck no!  Why should I be love? I know we are good no matter what happens. I just want you to feel free to enjoy your night, and not get lumbered with a crock like me.”

“A crock you maybe ,Alec, but you are my crock and I love you.”

“Thanks, that means a lot, when you consider how many good looking guys there are here tonight.”

“Can you tell me what happened in the game against Verlderman. We saw the tape of the game and  when you got injured. I can't make out what went wrong love. How did you see it going down?”

“The play was called from the box double tight right.”

“Sorry love, you will have to explain to me!”

 I'm sorry Debs, I get so used to talking the game, I forgot I need to tell people. What that meant was a classic Redskin move of the 70s, 2 tight ends on the right to block for a running play. I called the counter, our special 'Pork roll,' this meant instead of 4 linemen and 3 line-backers, we go to 3-4, line goes to the right, line backers to the left, to keep the runner thinking of a new route. As the runner hit the line, the linebackers pushed forward to block. That was whenI felt something tear in my leg and fell to the floor. I was in the middle of the pack and everything went on until the play stopped and the ref saw me holding my leg. Next thing I remember is going to hospital for the cast, now I can't walk or stand for long.”

“That's awful love. We were watching the game film and we think we saw Dave accidentally  stand on your ankle.”

“Why would he do that?We are best mates.”

“You tell me! It's no secret that he wanted to be a starter but lacks your fire and steel. It's no secret either, that his family have him marked out for a law firm, even though he wants to play football. If  you planned it well, he could get his chance now. Before he was at best a fifth round choice, in other words, he would have to fight for his place, we know he isn’t good enough for that.”

“Okay. Let us assume you are right, what do I get out of this?”

    

“That is something that has puzzled me since the injury,you had  several teams willing to give up 2nd and 3rd round draft picks to get you.You would have been an automatic starter, maybe even Superbowl winner love. Everything points to Dave benefiting at your cost, best friends as you are, I can't see you throwing the chance of big time away, just to hand it to him.”

“Believe me Deb, I got just as much out of this as Dave, I made sure of it. I suggest you look at the school records of 1960, when my dad played here, that might give you an idea.”

“I'll do that tomorrow love.”

“Now go and enjoy the rest of the night, I'll see you in a while.”

While Debbie danced the night away. Alec was busy writing in his notebook, she knew he always had it with him but could not think what he might be writing about this time.

The next day, as requested Debbie turned up at the library archive section to review the old school game reports, it was there she found the first part of her answer, just as Alec said she would. The report for the game against Mildermere “The Brankton side held their own against the might  of a much stronger Mildermere team for three quarters and could have possibly forced extra time but for an unfortunate accident involving ace run blocking line backer Fred Grainger. Deep into the third quarter Grainger was blocking a 3rd and short, when he collapsed holding his left leg. As he tried to stand, it was obvious he was unable and had to be  carried off on a stretcher. With the game close, this was a critical blow to Brankton. This blow which was to cost them the game and title chance as Mildermere ran out 30-20 winners, later on  taking both the Championship pennant and the Connaught bowl.”

“Maybe that is what Alec was worried about,” Debbie thought, as she wound onto the next page to find what happened to Alec’s father. The story ended with  “After being carried off last week, it has been reported that Fred Grainger’s injury is worse than thought. The Achilles tendon is torn so bad, he will need major surgery and will not be able to play again. Oh my poor thing, he was worried it would come back to haunt him, for his chance at the big time.”

After putting the reels back on the shelf and thanking the librarian, Debbie went for her coffee and to meet Alec for dinner. “Hi love, I did as you asked and read about your dad’s serious injury, that was terrible.”

“I know,Deb. He never got over it and still walks with a limp as you know.”

“Is that why you got injured then love and gave Dave his chance?”

“You have twoparts of the theory now love but are still missing two.”

“Which are?”

“What do I get from this? And what actually happened that day?”

“I know you were worried about your dad’s injury coming back sometime to ruin your chances and I know you were never really into playing football. You were the best we had, but your heart was never really there.It has been in your writing, which is why you carry your notebook. Which brings me to a good point, what were you writing last night love?”

“After my injury and knowing I want to write, the coach approached the Dean and they agreed for me to write the game reports. They thought who better than a former player.”

“I can't fault them there. Even though you have a football grant, your writing is great. When will we see the report?”

“The paper is out tomorrow with my report .”

“Great, I look forward to reading it. Now back to our original question. I see you wanting to get out of the game to be a writer and not wanting to end up with a limp like your dad. But the accident?”

“You saw the film.What did you think?”

“Being honest, I couldn't say what happened.”

The following day the report came out as scheduled, Alec’s first match report for the Brankton courier made the headlines “For the fist time in their 75 year history Brankton college lifted the Connaught bowl last week, in a hard game of defenses they came from behind to win 14-13. One of the reasons for the close fought game was the change in styles of defense forced upon Brankton by the career ending injury to line backer Alec Grainger. After a scoreless first half Yardley took the lead with a running touch down, made possible by a classic Cowboys move from the great Tom Landry playbook ( the Statue of Liberty). This involves the QB, taking a  five step drop, usually signifying a long throw, this will stop the cornerbacks and safties from moving up close. As he gets the ball he draws his arm back, the running back takes the ball from him, with the corners and safties expecting the pass play. They are too deep to stop the running game. Brankton’s offence never got the chance to shine, as they were held to two feld goals by kicker Paul Lucan, one of  forty yards and the second from thirty-five yards.

The only time offence did move was when QB sensation of the season Dirk Morrison ran in from fifteen yards on a QB scramble. The following conversation for the extra point was blocked giving Brankton an 11-6 lead going into the final quarter.

Yardley ran the ball well taking as much time off the clock as they thought they would need, before QB Ashley Cummings threw a  forty yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jake Loomings, this tied the game at 11-11, with only a minute left. Yardley went for a fake kick and Cummings threw to tight end Dave Jackson to give Yardley the lead 13-11. When all looked sealed for a Yardley win, they took a chance on an on-side kick and keeping possession rather than kicking deep. Brankton got the kick and ran it back ten yards, giving Paul Lucan a fifty yard  kick to make to win the game.

After taking the kick, and seeing the ball sail high, Lucan turned around and sat waiting, head in his hands. Either it would be a roar, signalling a Brankton win or a sigh for a Yardley victory.The ball hit the post and ricocheted in, the roar could be heard all around the ground.”

“That is a great report!” Debbie commented.  “Not at all biased or vindictive as to you weren't playing.”

“Thanks love, I am a reporter darling, my personal feelings don’t come into it. I was just reporting on a football game.”

“I've  looked at the film again and no matter how many times, I still can't make out if it was accident or planned between you and Dave. You both benefited from your injury.”




 
 
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Captain Snooper

By Paula Shene





Snooper and the K-9 Boys and Girls on Locus Street prepare for Halloween partying. Snooper recounts the tale of his ancestor, Captain Snooper, to Shadow, the Dalmatian.

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“Avast yer Landlubbers, out ‘o me way or ‘t’s the plank for ya!”

“What all are you jabberin’ about, Snooper? Oh, oh, never mind.  You’re goin’ as a pirate.  Aye?  Ya Landlubber!”


“I figured, Shadow, I’d stay in character.  Grandma says I’m a thief, even though I’d call it being a redistribution agent, and I am, after all, from a long line of pirates.  I’m even named after the first of my ancestors who went into that line of work.”

“You call stealin’ a line of work?  Wahoo, Snooper - the police call it a life of crime!”

“Ah, Shadow, I’m not breaking the law.  I only take stuff in the house, and Grandma says I’m a faithful old dog, even if I am a thief.  And frankly, I don’t agree with that thief name.  Come on, now!  Who else is gonna want the garbage detail.  Did I ever tell you about Captain Snooper, a true friend to Old Long Paul Silvertongue?”

“No Snooper, I can’t say as you did.”

“Captain Snooper, well, he was a sly old dog, and he didn’t have a home to call his own, like you and me, Shadow.  Nah, he had to roam the streets, knocking over cans to find even a tiny morsel to keep going; that is until he met Old Long Paul.”

“Old Long Paul sounds a lot like the character in Treasure Island.”

“Yeah, you’re right, Shadow.  Never thought of that.  Anyway...” Snooper went on,

Old Long Paul spied Captain Snooper rummaging through a pile of trash.  Pitiful, it was, I tell you.  Captain was all skin and bones and a bit on the snappish side.

“Kind of like Mandy was, when she was a youngster, sounds like.”

“Don’t think Mandy would like you comparing her to a pirate.  She takes the role of Alpha Dog seriously.  One day she said to me, ‘Well, maybe I started out as a runt but I made it to the top and your claim to fame is, you’re a thief, harrumph!’  She’s right, but I’ve had my reasons.”

“She must have been pretty mad at you to harrumph you, Snooper.”

“Nah, Mandy is more bark than bite, these days.  I’d like to think it’s due to my charming manner.  She was still a bit of a pup, when I first laid eyes on her. Boy she was  a cutie. Still is to me.”  

“Guess you see beyond her chubbiness then, Snooper?”

“Darn tooting, I do, Shadow.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts, and who is to say there isn’t beauty in bulk?  Let me tell you fellah, Mandy will not be pleased with your talking about her weight.  She’s been on a diet and exercising, but it’s not coming off as easily as it went on.  She’s already given you a paw sandwich over your fat jokes, so watch your tongue, Shadow.”

“Okie, Dokie, if you say so, Snooper… Ummm, is that a cutlass, you have clenched between your teeth?”
“Aye, I be thinkin’ yer be right.  It be truly a beautiful, gorgeous piece o’ cuttin’ tool, ya horn swagglin’ scurvy cur.”

“Huh? Let me think. You’re startin’ to sound like me, with a bit of a pirate swagger, too, Snooper.  Don’t know as the Girls will understand you though.”


“Aye, th’ beauties will love ‘t!  Mandy may want t’ go as somethin’ else, but she loves her pirate.  What do you think, Shadow – Should I wear the peg leg and patch? How about the scar?

“Well, Snooper, it’ll be a bit hard to run with the peg leg and walkin’ with one eye…. Hmmm?  Why don’t you try them out?  Give a walk about the yard.  Is it comfortable?  Can you see well enough?  Try runnin’ – we’ll have kids with us so we’ll probably need to do some of that.”

“Ufft.  Forget the peg leg, but I think I can handle the patch.  So what do you think of the scar, Shadow?”

“Why mar your beauty, Snooper?”

“Hey, ahoy, hey!  Tis a mark of triumph,‘ t is.  I think I be goin’ with this here scar.  Come on Shadow.  Help me get it on right.”

As Shadow helps Snooper with his costume, he asks, “So, you goin’ to tell me about Captain Snooper?”

“Certainly, Shadow.  Erm, umm…”

Once upon time {it’s always advantageous to start a tall tale with that opening} there be a privateer by the name of Long Paul Silvertongue.  He was an undercover cop for the crown and was masquerading as a buccaneer.

Long Paul was a well known scourge on the seven seas; unmerciful in his swift overtaking of, who else, the most dastardly pirates who sailed the seas.

Long Paul’s crew was made up of sprogs until they learned the trade and were willing to follow his orders in doing right, instead of just being a scurvy dog of a pirate, killing and stealing.  
“Whoa, Snooper.  Sprog?  What’s a sprog?  Long Paul had frogs on board?”

“There are times Shadow, I wonder how much you are learning, hanging with Grandma. You use words that sound like other words and make them into what you think they are.”

“That’s not true, Snooper.  I’m asking... I’m asking.  So, what’s a sprog?”

“A sprog is... Before, I tell you that... If there is anything else you don’t understand, you ask me... Or better yet, you ask Grandma.... Later.   Now... Ahem... A sprog is a pirate that is new to the job or new to the Captain’s way of doing business.  Long Paul was a decent guy pretending to be a terrible guy, so his crew had to act like nasty guys but be honest guys, too.  Understand, Shadow?”

“Err... Ummm..  Long Paul took pirates that were actually dishonest people, and made them into upstanding people.  So they had to learn to be respectful and were new at what they were doing and they were called sprogs.  OK... Snooper.  Think I got it.”
Snooper, now understanding Mandy’s displeasure with Shadow’s questions, continues on with his ancestor’s tale.

Long Paul had been sailing for twenty years and had gotten seven squadrons together.  One for each of the seas.  Every ship in each squadron had strict orders not to harm even the worse of the scallywags, but to disarm them and then sail away leaving them defenseless.

“You mean his men took the pirates swords and pistols?  That sure did make them sittin’ ducks, didn’t it?

“You better believe it, Shadow.”

“What happen then?”  Shadow, now wanting to hear this story, says, “Please, tell me more.”Snooper continues his tale,

Soon after the pirate crew was disarmed, left defenseless, they would be overrun by a government ship then be arrested, taken into chains, and thrown in prison.

“Oh! Prison? Not good.” Shadow said.

“Some of those pirates were nasty pieces of business, Shadow, so don’t be feeling sorry for them.”

Snooper continued on, “The ones that could be retrained to do right, they served their sentences and were given a choice to join Long Paul’s ships or to start a life as a landlubber.

“Snooper, why didn’t Long Paul’s crew just bring them into justice instead of letting the government get involved?”

“Because, Shadow, Long Paul’s men all over the world were known as the scourge of the seas and if the evil guys found out, then their undercover cop role would be blown!  So they let the locals clean up the mess.”

“Okay – got it. Oh, oh... Aha... This is where Long Paul got his sprogs.”

Snooper peers at Shadow and cocks his eyebrow, “Yup...And so the tale goes on.”

Long Paul offered Captain Snooper a hot meal and a hot deal.  

“Would ye like t’ join me starboard an’ learn t’ take down th’ scalawags an’ th’ scurvy dogs all o’er th’ world? ‘t’s a big job but ye look like ye’d be willin’ t’ take ‘t on.  Be ye willin’ t’ go on th’ account with me or be ye lily-livered?  What say ye, Captain?” asked Long Paul.

“What’s in ‘t fer me, Long Paul?”

“Ya bilge rat who ortin’ be keelhauled!”

“Say, what?!” Shadow exclaimed.

“Ha, ha, ha, Shadow.  You don’t understand Long Paul. He told Captain Snooper he would have a new life, a chance at starting over with a full belly, not to be a starving cur, knocking over cans, to eat!”

“With you spitting out your ‘it’ and your ‘to’ and some of your other words, it makes it mighty hard to understand your tale. Hmm, maybe we should stick to our native tongue.  What do you say, Snooper?”

“I’ll try, but I want to practice some of this pirate speak stuff, too.”

Long Paul Silvertongue talked Captain Snooper starboard on t’ his ship, The Jolly Cutt Lass, one o’ th’ finest, most beautiful, bodacious  sailin’ ships a gentlemen ‘o fortune ere laid one clear eye on.

“The Jolly Cutt Lass?  Not the Jolly Roger,  or The Jolly Cutlass, Snooper?”

“Whose telling the story here, Shadow?  You or me?  Jolly Roger was already taken and it would only be confusing, so Long Paul liked the sound of Jolly Cutt Lass, because he loved to eat Cuttlefish,  and if he said it fast, the pirates thought he was talking about his sword, and that is what it was.”

Shadow rolling his eyes said,  “Sure…whatever you say, Snooper.”

Snooper, again continues with his tale.

Captain Snooper was a sprog starboard e’en though he was called captain ‘t was just a name.  He had ne’er sailed on a real, solid, honest t’ Pete, on the sea, vessel.  He had t’ learn t’ tie knots, run up and down ropes, cook, an’ swashbucklin’, disarmin’ without harmin’ an’ gettin’  hurt. Not as easy as ‘t sounds.”    

“Especially runnin’ up and down ropes, I be thinkin’, aye?” Shadow said, copying Snooper’s accent.

“The rigging rope, Shadow!  Sailors do that all the time on sailing ships. The mighty vessels anyway.”

“Oooooh!”

Snooper continued,

Captain Snooper looked t’ be an old sea dog but truly he be but a sprog.  He be barely grown just a tiny bit out ‘f puppyhood.  His momma had just delivered him an’ his brothers and sisters right before they got thrown ou’ o’ their lodgin’ an’ had to make their way on th’ streets.  Pitiful awful tis be.  Hard life be etched on his muzzle, grizzled lookin’, but soon good eatin,’ no more tippin’ cans, good bunkin’ down, and a trusty hand on his brow, made his grizzled muzzle darken, an’ his body grow with strength.  He sailed only with Long Paul and be not commissioned to sail on the other ships under Long Paul Silvertongue.

“Sounds like Long Paul was a good master and took care of Captain Snooper.”

Aye, aye, he be an excellent master with a pure heart.  There be other seadogs on Long Paul’s ship, but Captain Snooper stayed the favorite of Long Paul Silvertongue through many a battle on many a sea, side by side t’ th’ Fiddlers Green be the end.

“That’s what every pup and dog dreams; a Master who loves them until they go on.  Ah, Snooper...I know this one. Fiddler’s Green...Pirate Heaven where all the good guys go, when they pass on.”

"Yes, Shadow and we are some lucky pups.  And speaking of pups, here comes our beauties with the kids, and Dad and Momma."

“Hi Shadow. Don’t you look spiffy in your fireman’s outfit?  I liked my punk rocker outfit so much I decided to go with it tonight.  What do you think, Shadow?"



Ah Sophitia, you look beautiful in anything you wear.”







“Aarrgh, Shadow, you be blushing?”


“Hush, Snooper.”

“Look at my Mandy,  Shadow - she’s going as Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile and Meghan is a Princess, Little Guy is a car.  Figures. He loves all kinds of cars and trucks.”

Mandy sashays over to Snooper, “I presume you’ll be sailing down my river, Captain Snooper?”

“For you, my Queen, be it so.”  Snooper bows before Mandy then barks out, “Come on boys, girls and kids, we’ve got a lot to do before the night is over.”

“So, Snooper, where do you figure Mom and Dad are taking us – trick or treating or a harvest party?”

“Well, Shadow if we’re lucky we’ll get to do both and then I can genuinely be a pirate.”

“How so Snooper?”

“Shadow, Trick or Treating is extortion, I be thinkin’, so that’s one step up from stealin’, and that be in me blood, me fine, hearty matey."




 
 
Picture
PROLOGUE



   “I am getting so sick of doing this over and over.”

    “Damn, Charlie, don’t you find doing your job and doing it well, exciting in itself?”

    “Well I sure would Ches but we keep changing our roles!  One night I’m all spiffed up in blue, get a weapon and wonder of wonders it actually works!  But then I’m dressed in brown or gray and I’m lying or just downright getting hurt or worse.”

    “Heh, heh, heh.  Yeah, there is that, but it’s steady work, only a couple of hours a night, and you know that old saying, there’s no rest for the wicked.”

    “Guess I’ll go get ready.  See you’re already kitted up, and looking like you’re raring to go.  Think you‘ll dodge it tonight, Ches?”







 October 2, 2000
    


        “I’m extremely tired.  We’ve been on the move since 6 a.m.  And it’s already going on midnight.  Do you think you can find a place to stop?  It’s dark.  Looks like all the sidewalks are rolled up for the night.  It must be overcast - can’t see any stars, either. “

        “More like all the owls are in bed.  Doesn’t look like any sidewalks around here.  No street lights.  The map said the battlefield was down here…  somewhere … we’re obviously not going to find it tonight.  Let me find a place to turn around, and we’ll head back to that small town we passed.  Maybe have to sleep in a parking lot though.”

        “Look!  Isn’t that a State Trooper up ahead.  Let’s stop and ask him.  If the battlefield is around here, then we can come back in the morning.”

        Easing the van and trailer over to the side of the road, Hal gets out and walks over to the Trooper’s car.  “Evening officer.  My wife and I have been traveling cross country and wanted to take a look at the Shiloh battlefield before heading on to our destination; been wanting to see it for years, this being the first chance.”

       “Well son, you’re in luck.   I was just getting ready to clock off.  The battlefield is on the other side of this here, wall.  Don’t get too much traffic down here but the kids joyriding and looks like all them have gone onto bed; real quiet tonight.  You can pull around onto the gravel road; it’ll take you in a U shape.  There’s a rest area on the other side of the U.  Feel free to park there and look around come morning.  The park officially opens at nine a.m..  I’ll lead you in before I take off.”

       Hal cautiously follows the trooper’s car down the gravel road.  Earlier that night, the van and trailer, took a five foot leap off a concrete road into an unmarked roadside building project.  Both Hal and Louise thought that’d be the end of the trip.  Miraculously the shocks in both van and trailer held.  Now Hal is conscious of the fact that in this rural area anything can happen and while this road looks maintained, it still is far from being paved.

        The restrooms are the typical fare for a public site; women on one side, men on the other.  Hal knows his wife will need to use the facilities, but she will probably just stick with the porta-potty they have in the trailer.  A true godsend to a woman who needs a rest area twice an hour, knowing every rest stop from coast to coast and border to border in this U S of A.  She surely embarrassed him that time, asking the shuttle driver in Sitka, Alaska where the nearest rest room was located.  Said it was a good thing she had asked since it was the only one in town but Hal still maintained it was embarrassing.

         True partners knowing who needed to do what, to get quickly settled down for the night, they soon had the dog fed, watered and walked; a pot of coffee brewing, and a quick snack before settling down into a rare quietness outside where even the countryside night life appeared to be sleeping.   After reading but a short chapter in the Good Book, they snuggle under covers because early October weather even in the South is on the chilly side.   

         They both have just drifted off to sleep with the dog at their feet when the trailer is violently buffeted, knocking the overhead cot off its pinning and onto the three sleeping forms on the lower bunk.  The dog erupts into howling and starts to burrow under the covers while the humans push the cot onto the floor and then turn to different windows to see what is causing the tumultuous rocking and to see what is making the noise of an advancing army.  

         There is nothing to see  but the noise and rocking continue until it appears to move off into the distance where the sound of gunfire continues and finally sputters out.  Louise clicks on a light.  

         “I caught the time when I flipped over to look out the window - it was 2 a.m..   And now it’s close to 2:30.  What do you make of this?  You heard that bugle? And the yelling?”  

       “I know Hal.  This was bizarre - I would say a prank by the locals except I looked out the other windows while you stayed on the bed.  Nothing.  I was a bit concerned because the trailer was rocking so badly and I thought it would go off the piling you rigged, but figured it had to be paranormal because I couldn’t see anything and the dog was so scared, and she’s not afraid of anyone.”

       “How about a cup of coffee Louise before we turn in again and hopefully can get some sleep.  After eight hundred miles, yesterday, I’m going to want to sleep ‘til noon but the trooper said the park opens at nine, so we’ll be lucky to get four or five at this rate.”

       Hal tries to cajole the dog into one more outing before bed, but she refuses to come out from under the covers.  The couple settle down once more, hope for quiet, and succeed in sleeping until eight a.m. when their alarm goes off.

       After a small breakfast, they are able to talk their dog into accompanying them on a short walk around the parking area as they both look into trees for speakers which, if found, would account for the noise.  Even that was not to be.  No logical explanation is apparent.

        They guide the trailer back onto the coupling of the van, load up, and slowly drive out of the park.  










EPILOGUE


    “Last night was such a disappointment!  All that work for nothing, Ches.”

    “What are you talking about?  We at least had an audience.  That’s something that is few and far apart.  It’s as if people know it’s going to happen and just ain’t willing to be a part of it.”

    “Right.  But no one was afraid last night unless you count the dog.”

    “I don’t get you, Charlie.  You got to drive the car last night and wear the brown outfit.  I didn’t even get to be a part of the charge.  I was in Grey and got shot down first thing, and I’m not complaining, am I?
    Show goes off in half an hour and looks as you get to be the trooper again, so you just quit your whining.”  




 
 
Picture
Storm
By
George S Geisinger

There's a storm brewing outside at the moment. You can see it accumulating in the clouds overhead, just outside my window, way up over the tall trees, which trees, all still have their foliage from the summer. I'm always impressed with the ferocity of the storms down here in the Tidewater Area of Southern Virginia. They are all more passionate and furious than any of the storms I'm accustomed to, from all those years I lived in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area, way up North of here. It must be that we're more exposed to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay down around here, at least, that's the impression I've got.
Another thing about the Tidewater Area, is that one gets to see a lot more of the US Naval Aviation going on down around here, than you ever see up home, because there are the great Naval airports here, not far away, and all the fighters come and go, patrolling around this place, near the Norfolk military bases, where there are all the major military establishments around here. I'm really expecting that the sky is just going to break loose at any moment now, but it hasn't happened yet. All that's happened is that the sky has gotten dark, with the sun going down, and my lunar muse seems to be stimulated by the darkening of the angry skies overhead.
There was a contractor in my suite this afternoon. He & I proved to be contemporaries, with a lot more to talk about than first met the eye, concerning the music industry of our mutual times, back in the 60's and the 70's. None of the placid old fuddy duddies around here know anything about all those great guitarists of the 60's and the 70's like ole Stuart did. Tommie knew, but he left town. 
Stuart was able to shed some more light on things like, who was around doing the best guitar music during those days gone by and scarcely noticed. He even mentioned some names of guitarists I wasn't at all familiar with. It wasn't surprising, considering my head was in the clouds until just very recently, concerning the music industry of those times. I was too busy blowing my mind in those days. I was stoned and I missed it.
Stuart sealed up the windows here in my suite, at the Brighton Dam Apartments, here in Ginger Beach, and regardless of whether I've got screens in my windows or not, I'm securely sealed behind the closed windows, nice and snug by now, thanks to Stuart, with nothing being freed up to open, here in my suite at all anymore. I don't hear any thunder in the air yet. We're a little bit off the direct flight path of the US Navy Fighters just right here, where I live, so we don't hear the jets from right here in the building, at all. Anyone who would want to attack the east coast of the USA by air, would be very well advised to do it elsewhere, other than around Norfolk. 
The fighters around here sound significantly formidable.
I'm well situated here in this place, in a very stable, large two story, brick building, with everything going for me to be able to weather any kind of storm that blows in around here. A few months after I arrived in these parts, we were evacuated to circumvent a presumably fierce hurricane coming our way. We arrived back home here, after weathering a lot worse conditions in Richmond, than the conditions turned out to be for those who stayed behind, right here by the bay. It sort of seems like a conflict in terms, that Richmond got hit harder than Ginger Beach, but that was what we were told when we finally got home.
As I write, all the thunder clouds outside have grown darker and darker. All the heavens outside seem to grow more and more the furious by the moment, around here. I keep pausing in my writing to glance out the window. The trees directly in my line of sight are standing stock still, and the clouds just get more and more ominous by the moment. I used to enjoy going for rides in the country, when I lived in the country up in Maryland. I've asked around since I've been down here, and it sounds like there must not be any real country roads, anywhere around in my local area down here. 
It's a moot point now anyway. I have no way of going for a ride down a country road anymore, now that I've moved down to my new digs in Ginger Beach. I've sold my car, and let my driver's license expire since I've been here. There isn't anything I can do about it, either. Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone. 
They paved Paradise, put up a parking lot – Jonie Mitchel.
The hour is just about the time of sunset, but I'm not writing about that. I'm writing about the weather that seemed to be developing around here as I wrote. I fully expected to experience a cloud burst before this much time elapsed. But the clouds have been darkened by the sunset, and the evening darkness has set in, without any sign of the usual telltale developments of any kind of severity of weather making itself obvious outside my window, as the time goes by. I must have been mistaken. I've seen enough storms in the past year and a half, since I've lived here, to know that what I expected to develop must have blown right past us.
Now that it's pitch dark out my window, we've lost power for a minute, from a lightening strike I never really even noticed. It's raining cats and dogs outside, all of a sudden. I didn't really think I read all those thunder clouds so completely wrong. I guess I got my thunderstorm after all. It's almost magical to hear the sound of the rain outside in the dark night air. 
I'm certain I wouldn't be so enamored with it, if I had to be outside during all this rain. There is something romantic about the Native Americans, who used to live the way the four-legged lived. I've always used to consider the ways of the two-legged and four-legged, whenever I used to drive my car around, out in the weather of rural, Central Maryland. I'll never grasp that lifestyle now that I'm indoors all the time, at a retirement community.

The storm must be several miles away by now, the way all the effects of the breakage in the electrical current after dark, was the only clue left in this environment, for the old hippie to imagine what it's like to live in a wilderness, now that he's sitting alone in these very comfortable surroundings, here at assisted living, down here in Dixieland. The two-legged is cut off from all of his most harsh reality contacts, as he sits in quiet comfort, here in the Deep South, where he has to live now.
The man was a boy scout for a few months, way back when he was young, but he learned so little about what it required, for a man to live well, out in the wilds, from being a boy scout so late in life, when he scarcely every went camping with anyone. It would be an insult to the Human Beings, to infer that he has any idea what the Too Many to Count have reduced the Human Beings to, who used to live free in this land before the locust people came.
The only thing the two-legged knows about the wilds, and about living wild, he accomplished by wasting away his brain on his own, personal experiments with what he calls his recreational chemistry, which the old, used to be, long haired hippie freak finally notices, as the storm finally blows in on the other side of his secured window. The lightening, which somehow brings him no thunderclap that would be audible to him, lightens up his window sometimes, for him to see in his seat indoors, at the moment, which is not any matter of consequence to him in this environment.
There are other two-legged, the man understands, who live out under the skies these days, but nobody around here hunts game with a bow and arrow anymore, including our wish-he-was Native American, from before the time of the White Man. The homeless people around here are not likely to be anybody the man might know. Now, up home, the guy used to see some homeless people he had been in the laughing academy with, in days gone by, but it was wasted effort to try to talk to any of them. They were just needy people, and he obviously wasn't, in his latest circumstances.
He'd go buy some cigarettes, and go out to the traffic lights, where the latest Human Beings beg nickels and dimes, and give the cigarettes away, for absolutely nothing, talking trash and acting a fool among the tribes of the disenfranchised. He realizes that's what it would amount to, and he dismisses the idea before it gets a foothold on his thinking. For our man to buy any cigarettes, would be like our man buying anybody alcohol, and the guy refuses to go there.
Well, the storm seems to have blown on through by now, and the ground did get wet, after all. The guy is just as glad he doesn't have to sleep in wet clothing tonight, as he tries to think of how he can wrap up this little piece of blogging he's been exercising over too much time to do anything much else, in this dark night. There's the muffled growl of some kind of jet outside, just as the man wants to let this thought go altogether.
Some outdoors man I ended up to be, coursing through the wilderness on paved roads in a climate controlled automobile, on four wheels, then breaking my hip while I'm walking indoors, necessitating me to have to walk almost exclusively indoors with a rollator all the time. I don't even feel competent to walk simply using my cane anymore, although I might take the chance I'll fall, and trying it again sometime. 
My spiritual experiences with nature are valid enough, I'm certain, but I'm so far removed from those experiences now, I don't see how I'm ever to retrieve them. I've set myself on a quest here to write about my spiritual connection with Nature here, and find myself failing utterly.
I've managed to get my writing noticeably closer to my actual schizophrenic thought processes, according to my observant, former therapist, but whether anyone will ever want to spend much money on my writing based on this analysis, while I'm freely demonstrating schizophrenic thinking and writing like it, too, neither he nor I can imagine. 
I figure it's worth a try though, and I continue to post writings here and there on the world wide web. My memories of a traumatic personal history are not likely to attract a lot of readers, either. I think my writing might go the way of my crocheting. I might abruptly leave off with it, while the telltale signs of it would simply remain in place, where they are, either selling or not, I can't honestly say I'm too involved anymore.

 
 
Picture
                                                   What happened?

The night air was cold enough to steal your breath, the mists rose from the marshes as I looked out over the river. Across from the docks from where I stood lay the old church of St. Simon in the Wolds. Long forgotten, since the building of the new town of Creech Hinton.

I was watching as a sea mist rolled down the river Bowles. The port of Creech Hinton was only  six miles from the sea, and even less from the old town area of Porterton, but they could have been in  two different time eras. Porterton; the once thriving port on the north shore of the Bowles had been a vital medieval port in its time and the sailor’s church had seen some good years service.

One day, so it is said a boat was seen leaving the back door carrying a strange load hidden in a large bag. Iit was reported to be Lord David Endersliegh the local land baron as he was never seen again although owning most of what later came to be Creech Hinton. Creech Hinton grew from strength to strength, as Porterton died away and the old church got left to rot.

The Endersliegh family went into shipping and got wealthy from the fishing trade, with a mansion in Creech Hinton and another five miles inland at King’s Porrow. They grew to be the main land owners on this side of the  Bowles as well. Just as things looked like they might take off big for them, the Endersliegh family were hit with a series of illnesses and bad deals. People started talking of the St. Simon’s curse, and how years before it had claimed a family, trying to leave Porterton.

Standing at the dock, I could just make out the church and the single lane track leading to it. From this side though all there is, is a huge low lying mud bank, as I stood there I saw a sight which chilled me.

         

Along the river coming out of the mists was a low punt, being pushed by two men with poles, they were heading to the back of the church. As I watched, fixated at the sight unfolding before me. I heard one of the men shout "Come out Endersliegh and pay your debts, like a man!"

This was followed by a shout from the second "If you don’t come out, we'll come and get you!"

A shout from inside the church echoed across the mists of time "Try as you may, I am not coming out!"

I could only stand, mouth agape, I was witnessing an event from the distant past for some reason, I had no idea why nor why it was shown to me.

The punt appeared to move to the west bank and pitch. The men got out and softly walked to the church, daggers at the ready. As they turned the corner of the church I lost sight of them but could still hear the struggles going on inside the building. The sounds of men in a struggle carried through the mists as did the sounds of metal upon metal.

 As the struggle ensued, I heard a cry from inside the church "Davis Martenfeld, I curse your family to stay here until the church falls around you."

Then men left carrying a large and obviously heavy baggage rolled in a church drape. One of the men I recognised one as the second boatman. The other I had not seen and assumed to have been in the church during the fighting as his clothing was torn and bloodied This man stood a head above his companion, and had a darker complexion.

From this distance and through the mists, all I could make out was that the men rowed up the river, then disappeared in the mists. This mysterious happening had intrigued me so much, I started to enquire in the town as to its meaning. With interest at a new pitch now I set off back into Creech Hinton, to have a meal at the Towers Inn. During the meal and with a mind full of images.

I was musing to myself,when I asked the barmaid  "Excuse, as I don’t know the area well,what is the easiest way to Porterton by car?”

The bar hushed, she looked at me with a mix of trepidation and horror in her eyes, as she leant forward to say "Sir, in these parts we don’t mention that place, there is still a lot of folks who have bad feelings about it."

A gent at the bar looked at me and said "I saw you looking over the river at Porterton earlier, young man and at the look as if you had witnessed some odd events. You wont get much shift from folk here about Porterton. That's as close as folks here are likely to get to it, as we remembers the spring of 1995 and the terrible accident that befell the Martingfield family."

With a look of interest I replied  "Martingfield you say!"

 "Yes sir, John, his wife Jane and son Philip tried to leave the area, the car went off the road and got stuck in the bogs over there, weird thing  it was a clear day. John knew the road well, so why did it go off? He lost both of them and went half mad with grief."  Seeing my interest he added: "Why are you so intrigued by the name? They are an old family, and have been in Porterton longer than memory can recall.”

"I can imagine, I know they have been here for centuries.”

"How? You said you don’t know the area.”

"When I was out there, through the sea mists, I saw a boat row up to the church, two men got out and went into the curch, I heard the struggles of o fight inside and two men came out, I recognized one, he was one of the two who went in. The other was darker and taller than the first.”

The bar went silent as I continued with the story of my sightings "Next I heard a cry of Davis Martenfeld I curse your family to stay in the area until the church falls around you!”

People that only a few minutes ago were happily chatting away, now started leaving, as the bar cleared I turned to the man sat by me and said "What did I do wrong?"

My companion said to me "Buy me a pint kind sir, and I shall tell you a tale."

This I did with relish, I have a fascination for the stories of the folks in villages. "First I shall introduce myself, I am Roger de Endersliegh. Yes, the same family that owned Porterton lands and now Creech Hinton. I too am a local fisherman, as have my folks been down the centuries. Earlier today I came ashore from a fishing trip, the night is warm and with no breeze, yet you saw a sea mist rolling in. I can assure you there was no mist tonight. I would have been in a lot sooner than   8:00, the bogs and channels here can change shape in the mist. It would be so easy to get lost out there, even for an experienced waterman like myself. Folks around here have long awaited and feared this day, it was said “ A stranger will cross the barriers of time and reel back the truth for all to see.” I don't doubt what you saw, folks around here are mighty suspicious being as they are fishermen and their kin."

"Where did the people go?" I asked Roger.

"Probably to the church of St. Mark’s down the road."

"Why? There are some closer.”

"It's the largest church in Creech Hinton, they've gone to pray to save their souls, safety in numbers I guess. For the time they let the Martenfeld family suffer the sins of my family."

"Aren’t you worried for your soul?" I asked him.

"Not in the slightest!"

"Why not? By your admission  your family were the real sinners here.”

"Were we? Or was the town itself  to blame for blaming the Martenfeld family for that night over the centuries? If they had stood by the family then, instead of running to this side of the Bowles river, things would have been a lot easier. The Endersiegh’s would still have owned a lot, we had the boats, the men worked them and the ladies cleaned and mended the nets for us.’

"Do you believe your family is cursed?  You had all that illness and lost the money.”

"No. Why should I?"

"Because the folk here have mentioned it !"

"Mainly because they want to, it was no more than some bad business deals, with companies that collapsed. As for the illnesses ,we found out  fifteen years ago it was a  genetic ailment that had lain dormant for centuries, it could have come to the fore any time.”

“Why do the folks her believe in it so strongly then?"

"Their way of cleansing their souls-I guess."

"Aren’t you going to put them out of their misery after all this time though?"

"Maybe, I  haven't decided yet, the Martingfield’s have suffered for centuries. I guess a year or two more for these folks won’t go a miss will it after all this time."

The bar closed for the night, my new friend an I went back to the docks to continue our chat about the area and its history “You saw, you won’t get much help from folk here, if you want to visit Porterton and the church but I am willing to drive you there. I know the bogs and marshes well. That is partially why they wont go, nobody from here has been there in about  thirty years and they are not sure of the roads."

"Partially you say. What is the rest of the reason?”

 "Mainly, they are very superstitious of the area and think it is haunted since the curse was laid on it, and don’t wish to come over here."

"And you don’t!"

"No, the family feel secluded there. It isn't comfortable but at least they were not scorned as before. The accident years ago was no more than a slight miscalculation of the tides. They move the sand bars on which we drive. Miss one and you are in the bogs, another reason, people think it is haunted, but just tidal pressures on sands.”

We went our ways, agreeing to meet after breakfast the next day for the  journey, although the journey was short, owing to the land conditions a  ten mile journey was to become a  twenty-five mile journey to avoid the marshes. On the journey to the church we had another interesting discussion linking to events of the previous day.

"I couldn’t help notice your name is de Endersliegh and not Endersliegh." I queried.

"Yes, the de Enderligh’s are a French family and we go way back. That's why the man you saw was darker and taller than the two who entered the church, he was a foreigner to England, the locals thought that Martenfeld was helping him set up for a series of raids on the coastal villages as Martenfeld did not sound English either. The name they have now was their real one, not a modern variation.”

"The two men I saw in the boat, looked a lot different to him though as I said smaller and lighter skinned."

"Probably just a pair of vagrant sailors down on their luck, looking for easy money, which is why one got killed."

As the car moved towards Porterton, the clouds closed in and a feeling of dread enclosed us "Going to be stormy at sea tonight my friend, look at the clouds ahead."

As we drove, the clouds seemed to be gathering for a terrible storm, as they went from grey to black and appeared to cut off all light, so much so that even though it was before midday. My friend was driving slowly on full beams.

"I noticed last night, that the boat vanished  half way upstream and tales say your relative was never seen again."

"You have to remember then sailors had few charts, most was done from memory and hearsay around ports so they probably got caught in the riptide here as they didn’t know the currents as we do now."

As we turned off the A3589, onto the Porterton road, the road went from a road to little more than a dirt track as so few people use it. There were strange stories of the house and church, which kept folk away.  Half a mile down the track we met a large gate and an electric fence.

We stopped at the fence, looking around we saw a camera link. "Hello Mr. Martingfield, can we come in and have a talk to you?" my friend asked .

A distant and tinny voice replied "What for? Ain’t talked to anyone in years, don’t feel like doing so now."

"Can we come in please? We have some important news for you and I would prefer to tell you, rather than this machine.”

“What we have to say is personal and private and I don’t want to get soaked as the storm will break soon." I added.

On my cue, there was a loud clap of thunder and the rains came down, pelting on the car roof and bonnet.  There seemed to be no let up, either from the rains or inside, so I decided to take a chance.

"Mr. Martingfield,  if you want to stay locked in there you can. We will give you  five minutes, then we are off and you will NEVER know what you might have had. It's  YOUR choice now.” I put the phone down, turned around and said to my friend "No use waiting in the rain, let’s get in the car."

"If he calls, we wont hear the phone in here, with the distance and rains."

"If he wants to meet, he can open the gates for us, I'm betting he's in two minds now."

After four minutes the gates opened, and we were allowed in. For the first time in over thirty years, somebody had been down this drive other than the family It was really scary, the drive was bereft of any signs of nature, it was as though nature had given up. The old church and house were close to ruins, obviously they had hoped it would collapse and break the curse for them.

As we drove up to the house, a man came to greet us, dressed in an old cardigan with torn jeans and slippers, his grey hair straggly and sparse. He greeted us with "Hello I am Paul Martingfield, the last of the line,”

We walked across the hall to the only room which appeared to have lights on, our host bade us to sit down. The old chairs creaked under the strain of being sat on for the first time in ages. We were looking at the books on the shelves in the library whenour host returned with some coffee " I am sorry for being so abrupt, years on your own,knowing I wont have family have turned me nasty to others."

"That is understandable." My friend said as we had our coffees.

"I've seen you around Creech Hinton sir, and wondered are you related to the Endersligh’s as you have their features?" our host enquired after my friend.

"Yes I am Roger de Endersliegh and have come to tell you that there is no curse here. In the olden days your family knew the tides and ways here and kept to yourselves. My family lost the money in bad business deals and found we had a genetic flaw recently which is the reason for all those illnesses."  My friend continued "You are free to leave whenever you wish. I am so sorry that your family suffered for things beyond your control, that you did not do, for so many centuries."

When we drove up the road, you could see the look of happiness on the man’s face as we crossed his gate for the final time, him knowing he would never get drawn back there by fear again.

That night in the bar, I was chatting to my friend about the things we had done when I said:

"You appeared to have rationally explained every thing away, haven’t you."

 "Not by a long way!”

"What do you mean?You explained the curse, your family, the missing boat, there isn't much more."

"Yes there is a whole lot more."

"What?"

"There is the story of how a stranger will cross the barriers of time and reveal the truth for all to see, and how on a clear warm night, you  saw the sea mists rising. That is something I cannot  explain away.”

   

  

     

    


 
 
Picture
Tweaking
By
George S Geisinger

The boy, Jungle, reaches into his pocket to get out his crescent wrench. His bike needs just a little bit of tweaking, as he stops to tighten a bolt, just as he remembers doing when he was only a little bit younger, as he would have liked to have done in this one, very hectic situation, but everything happened so fast.
Oh, how Jungle wishes for those days now, as he gingerly picked himself up off the ground, painfully enough, where he'd just now plummeted headlong from his brand new, Japanese Racer, just because some bolt had come loose on him at high speed, that was supposed to be holding his handlebars in place, on his brand new bicycle.
He had a bad accident.
Jungle had lost control of the new bike at high speed, going down hill.
He had run out third gear to top speed, on the maiden voyage of his brand new, birthday bicycle. The boy had managed to wreck the darned thing, just going down the closest hill away from the house, for his first time out, since he'd just gotten the darned thing as a birthday present that same afternoon. 
Jungle was doing something like a full, headlong, downhill, 35 mph, on a bicycle no less, when he'd hit a large stone with his front tire, which threw him royally. It had been a quick moment of violence, which he had been out of control of entirely.
He'd hurt himself, too. 
Jungle hadn't been able to steer the new bike away from the big rock by the side of the road on the big hill, in his out of control careening along, on his way down past the old motel, near to where he lived in those days. He never made it down the hill, with his shoulder bothering him right away. 
Jungle tried to pick up the bent up new bicycle from down on the ground, where it had landed him abruptly down in a heap. He tried to carry the bike back home with him, but found his right shoulder hurt him too much to withstand the weight of the bicycle at all.
He was forced to leave the wrecked bicycle behind, struggling to even walk home without it. 
The boy was hurt. 
He gave up trying to lift the mangled weight, and started walking home in pain, with his hands in his jacket pockets, to support his sore right shoulder as best he could. He thought sure he'd broken a bone somewhere in that shoulder. Jungle was a little boy again, as he arrived home, moaning and groaning to beat the band, when he finally got home out of the cold March air.
The boy was only 15 years old that day, and it was his birthday bicycle, back in the mid-1960's, when he was still a youngster. His folks had just traded in his trusty old, fat tire Schwinn, to get him this new, candy ass, light weight, lousy Japanese Racer he thought he wanted so badly.
Boy, had he been wrong to let that old bike go!
That old fat tire Schwinn had been a classic, even back in Jungle's adolescent days, while it was still a lot newer bicycle than it would be now. It had belonged to his uncle, when the man had been a boy, back whenever, and the old bike was a collector's item, even by the time his folks had traded it in on the brand new bicycle.
Well, Jungle didn't want the darned bicycle, or any other bicycle. They could leave it where it was or cart it off to the dump, as far as he was concerned. He refused to ever ride a bicycle again. Jungle was yelling with pain.
He was done with bicycles, he was in so much pain that day. Thanks for the birthday present anyway, folks, and his folks ended up carting the brand new wreck off to the dump. But for some reason, his folks put up with Jungle's yelling, and took him to the ER.
The entire investment was a waste of money on the part of Jungle's folks, but it was only one of the first of many wastes of money his folks would squander on the rebellious boy throughout his youth, until he finally got ahold of himself as a younger-middle-aged adult, quite some time later.
Jungle was supposed to be a very bright boy, and did well enough in school without ever cracking a book, the whole way through high school. Buying him things, like a college education for instance, when the time came along for the investment, proved to be something like buying the boy that bicycle. His tuition money turned out to be a big waste for his folks.
Jungle only arrived back home more hurt and no more educated, apparently, than he might have been if he'd never gone to college at all. The years after he came home again, turned out to be worse than a nightmare for all concerned.

His folks held the 15 year old to his word, and carted the wrecked bike off to the dump, never to supply him with another bicycle, until he was back from college, living in some God forsaken place down by the city, where the distances were long, and the young man couldn't afford a car. 
Jungle never asked for another bike, after the one he'd gotten that green-stick fracture from, with that new bike of his. His folks were trying to teach him to watch what he said when he wasn't feeling well, but he missed the lesson altogether.
The incompetent Japanese couldn't even tighten up all the bolts on the darned thing before they sold it to his folks. He might have checked out that little bolt himself, if he'd have thought about it, back when he was still 11, or 12 years old, back when he was still hanging around with his favorite pal, the wretcheder, ole Buddy Beam himself, from way back up North, where Jungle had a little bit of training about how to keep up a bicycle.
Buddy Beam turned out to be a tinker, and when Jungle showed up on his doorstep at the age of 20, the boy, Buddy Beam, turned out to have become an auto mechanic. Figured. That guy was always tinkering with something, back when the two young men had been boys.
He hadn't seen ole Buddy, ever since his family had moved South of the Mason Dixon Line, back when the two boys were only 13 year old friends, of a soon almost-forgotten yesterday. Jungle and Buddy would scarcely ever see each other again. 
When they did get together, it was like two strangers meeting after a whole lifetime apart. They didn't remember the same things at all, from back when they'd been 13. They were 20 by the time they got together again. It might have been a lifetime, for all they knew. Buddy Bean remembered one thing, and Jungle remembered something else entirely.
They turned out to be strangers to each other at the age of 20. But Jungle's folks helped him to look up his old friend, when college was out for the summer, before Jungle's summer job finally started hiring.

Jeez! Jungle's shoulder hurt, back when he'd been 15 years old. 
It was a short ride, but a long walk in the cold breezes of mid-March, way back up the hill toward home, to his grandmother's house, from halfway down the big hill. The boy came into the house with his whole family at home, in those old days of glory, long gone by now, lost into the mists of his tomorrows, as he remembers his youth. 
His effusive complaining about the pain in his right shoulder, and his vulgar language, and explicative's about his accident on the new bicycle, convinced his folks to take the boy to the ER for an X ray of his shoulder. The X ray showed what the doctor called a green stick fracture to his right collar bone. No wonder it hurt. He'd broken the darned thing.
Jungle was not tiptoeing around with a lot of delicate wordings at the time, either. He'd been shouting obscenities until he'd finally given up on shouting altogether, when he was finally getting the medical help he thought he needed.
The doctor strapped his upper arm to his side, with an ace bandage, and put his lower arm into a sling, which was the way doctors were treating that sort of fracture in those days. The result was a shorter right shoulder than his left shoulder turned out to be, later on in life. Jungle went home only slightly feeling any better, and attended high school down there in Dixieland with a broken collar bone, until it finally healed up, in what seemed like an eternity, back when he was an adolescent boy.
Jungle was still going out with the beautiful little Peaches, who loved to ride on the center bar of his fat tire Schwinn. He was left without any bicycle to ride on at all, since his folks had traded in the old bicycle, to get the new one. The boy's rash statements that he would never get on another bicycle, became a nuisance by the time he met up with the MP's on the military base.
Jungle found out what the MP's were like on the roads of the Proving Ground, where the beautiful, little Peaches lived with her folks, back in those days. The boy got caught hitch hiking on a military base, and boy, did he get hassled by the pigs that day. He found out what it was to be hassled by some smart mouth MP. The guy acted like he wanted to shoot the kid for just touching his car door.
The bastard needed to get a life, treating a hurt child the way he treated the Jungle.
Jungle was the name his sister and her girlfriends called her brother George, because of that popular TV cartoon of the times, called George of the Jungle. In those days, all the kids in their circles had to have a nickname, and Jungle was George's name. It was much later on in life, that Jungle would finally permit his own sister to call him Georgie.
The beautiful little Peaches soon complained that their friendship was “not the same anymore,” for some mysterious reason, and the boy was left out a girlfriend, as well as without a bicycle. It all might have kept the status quot, would it have been to stop and tighten that one darned bolt, but the boy did not have his wrench with him, and the accident was beyond his control. 
He was going too fast to stop when the problem developed. 
The problem, and it's apparent consequences, had caught him totally unawares.

 
 
Picture
The Woods
By
George S Geisinger

The old man shuffled slowly down the public sidewalk near the rest home, ambulating quietly but deliberately past the little cops of trees by the side of the road, with some considerably focused amount of effort on his part, with his very necessary rollator helping him to do the walking down the short distance he planned to walk, outside of the rest home, as he breathed heavily through an oxygen cannula to his nose. 
A rollator is a fancy walker, with four relatively larger wheels than an ordinary walker, with a sort of high seat in the middle, used for resting. A rollator is generally used for greater ambulation than any sort of ordinary walker, and you always have a seat with you, to sit on temporarily, to take a break from your walking, if you ever need to rest along the way. 
He kept the bottled oxygen cradled in the basket of the rollator.
A rollator could get you there faster than a two wheeled walker, if he could walk faster, and it looked like a far more sophisticated machine than a walker ever is, although the two gadgets cost about the same amount of money, and they function just about the same way, one as good as the other, although the one with four wheels happens to be a little more mobile than the more simple arrangement, the two wheeled walker. 
Neither one is anything like a wheelchair.
A wheelchair is another matter altogether.
There was even more of a complication to the man's ambulation than simply having to hang on to a rollator, to keep himself from falling down anymore. He had been a smoker for 50 years, beginning in earnest in his youth, when he was well under age, after toying with cigarettes frequently from a very early age in his childhood. The complications to his health stemmed from smoking all sorts of things from very early on in life.
He'd not only been known to smoke cigarettes, but he'd been known to smoke reefer, hashish, rush, and PCP soaked parsley flakes, as well as dippers, which were standard cigarettes dipped in PCP, in order to make cigarettes into an hallucinatory chemical. PCP is actually a very powerful horse tranquilizer, used commonly to execute horses, but it is also a powerful hallucinogen when administered to human beings. The man had always preferred the hallucinogenics, relying on them to keep him isolated from the harsh realities of his youth.
The poor guy had smoked all sorts of things, with the solitary exception of never having smoked crack cocaine, or should we say, he avoided free basing cocaine early on, when people had just begun to experiment with that venue of getting high. He was becoming accustomed to being the fall risk he had finally become, which had a major detrimental effect on his walking, with increasing significance, the older the man became. At this particular time in his life, the man was aging rapidly, as a result of his breathing disability. All the smokeables had taken their toll on his respiratory system.
He had done almost all of the hallucinogenic drugs one could imagine, until he was almost grown. But he never took heroin, and avoided cocaine almost completely. One of his foster home buddies told him that all you had to do to get hooked on heroin was taste it once, so the man would never taste it, out of a healthy aversion to the chemical.. The worst things he took were things like PCP, LSD, magic mushrooms, and mescaline, for the purpose of escaping the horrors inherent in the staunch realities of his childhood. 
The system had gotten him involved in the Program of Sobriety while he was still in his teens, and he had succeeded in getting himself started in a meaningful sobriety, as well as making the most of his higher education, by getting an advanced degree in Information Technology. He was a natural at computers, and made a lot of money in his lifetime, determined to make the success of himself that his parents had failed to accomplish.

All of the ongoing complications of needing to avoid having another fall, which necessitated some sort of regular, ongoing manual support when he walked, prior to his 60th birthday, he certainly could not go around play soldiers in the woods anymore, not that he particularly wanted to as an adult. 
But the woods still had a certain allure for him, anyway.
Gazing wistfully toward those old trees and the unkempt undergrowth around them there, the old man couldn't help but wonder what it was that he ever saw in such places as the woods. He couldn't help himself from wondering what the whole big idea of going into the woods to play, as a child, had actually been for him. Then he remembered that the woods were always the safe haven for the boy that he used to be, that he'd frequently resorted to going and hiding in the woods, at any given moment in his rocky, unstable childhood, as a refuge, from his intoxicated, irrational parents.
The old man could remember his addicted, violent parents, who were seemingly unending in their abuse of the old man, who was remembering his life as a small child. He remembered his abuses frequently, as if they were an albatross around his neck. He could only stifle his urges to throw temper tantrums the way he used to do, when he had finally ended up a ward of the state. The thing that had accomplished that whole ball of wax, was the arrest his parents when they got carted of to prison for drug trafficking, when the guy who was an old man by this time, had still been a little boy.
He remembered as if it were yesterday.
He was passed around to all the foster homes for the remaining years of his childhood, until he had finally succeeded in raising himself, because there was nobody else to do it. He had spent his time with Voc Rehab, getting a degree and a job in computer technology, when IT was a new science, first opening up. His occupation in life did a lot to help him develop his independent resources. The man conquered all of his own addictive habits while he was working and reading books, to further his informal education, until he finally kicked the last of his addictions. 
After 50 years of being addicted to nicotine, the man finally kicked the cigarettes.
There, surrounded by those trees and that undergrowth, in an entirely different day and time, the boy could be free to imagine all sorts of elaborate fantasies, and he could smoke cigarettes as a juvenile, if he might have had any cigarettes on him at the time, to smoke on those rare occasions he could find to comfort himself in his childhood, with a false sense of impunity from his domineering, manipulative parents, at any given moment of his turbulent, abused childhood. 
The smoking was a matter of rebellion against his elders in his family, even as an adult, a good 50 years into adulthood. It took the death of all the elders in his family, for the man to finally triumph over his nicotine addiction in his own senior years. The time came, in the Rehab, where he'd gone to learn to walk again, after his very violent fall, when he finally realized he was cut down to about 5 cigarettes per day, when he was accustomed to smoking more like 50 cigarettes per day.
The damage was already done. He had already gone through whatever withdrawal he was going to go through. The only thing remaining for the man to do, was not go back to anymore smoke breaks while he remained at the Rehab. His nicotine addiction was already licked. It was only the old man's part to claim his victory and stop going to that outdoor place where there were a few die hard old men and old women, wasting their time and his, by sitting around in wheelchairs smoking cigarettes. It was no longer an attractive behavior in the mind of the man himself.
His chronic emphysema was cumulative, as it took over more and more of the old man's lungs, until he was finally forced to carry a heavy bottle of oxygen 24/7 everywhere he went, before the man was even 65 years old. His memories of childhood play, had grown dim in his many advancing years of living, as his brain got less and less oxygen from his debilitated lungs. 
His gait slowed down to a snails pace, as he coursed wistfully past his symbolic little cops of trees, outside his rest home, where he liked to take his symbolically defiant little walks in his old age. There was no way, by this late date in his life, that the old guy could lick anything or anybody, except for resisting his addictions, which just happens to be no small matter for many a human being, in this day and time.

The fancies of his youth have left the old man bereft of his imagination at the moment, as he realizes easily enough, the necessity of walking with a rollator, his perpetual precaution against being fall risk, medically speaking. A while back, the man had fallen violently and broken his right hip, precluding any further driving of an automobile, without spending an awful lot of money to get the controls of a car altered to be specifically adjusted for his most recent physical disability.
He wasn't too alert anymore, either. The old man had become an invalid, living in a rest home with the other forgotten people of life. Every once in awhile he could go for a walk outside on the sidewalk, to look on without passion or fancy, at those few old trees that were there, in that little bit of a woods, down the street a little bit from the rest home where he'd chosen to live out his old age. All of his walks always took him to the same place, which he practiced as a deliberate act.
It had been a major effort for him to quit smoking.
If it not become so difficult for him to supply his habit in Rehab, the man would have picked up a smoke a long time ago by now. But the way things went, he would have had to walk five miles each way, in a blizzard after dark, to replenish his supply of smokes for that final moment of weakness. It had been quite awhile since he'd smoked at all. It was just not feasible for him to go get cigarettes, in spite of the intensity of his craving.
He had a severe case of the jumping heebie jeebies for a cigarette, one desolate evening at the Rehab, where he was relearning how to walk again. Since he could hardly walk down the heated hallway to get to his suite, from the dining room where everyone ate their meals. He was learning how to walk again, after that horrible fall he'd gone through. The man finally decided it was a fool's errand for him to try to walk five miles in a blizzard to get a hold of a pack of cigarettes.
It was a profound revelation.
He'd been given a titanium ball joint surgically, in his right hip, which was really quite sturdy, but it rendered him a perpetual fall risk, medically. The idea was that his hip would work like any normal hip, within reason. The idea of losing his balance and falling down again, was clearly something for him to avoid altogether. The only thing he could do this late in the game, was to keep himself on his own two feet whenever he walked. The reason for all the precautions, was not that the titanium was brittle. Titanium is anything but brittle.
That was far from the point.
The one thing that made him a perpetual fall risk, was the idea that all the human things around the titanium ball joint inserted into his femur, could possibly break in such a way that no orthopedic surgeon, regardless of his skill in surgery, would ever be able to repair the damage caused by another fall, so that the man might never be able to walk again in his lifetime. Rehab drummed that message into the man's subconsciousness mind on a daily basis. Our man even had trouble saying the message to himself coherently.
It was a medical imperative that he avoid falling at all, ever again. It was his responsibility to maintain the functionality of his right leg.
The old man gazed into those little bit of woods, and remembered playing soldiers in the woods up home, when he was little. He would simulate the noises of the imaginary battle with his own voice, and go cavorting around in those woods, flopping down on the ground anytime he liked. He'd been young and carefree then, or was supposed to be, with the few things he found to entertain himself, in an atmosphere around a house with a couple of junkies for parents, trying in vain to raise him, while actively feeding their own addictions.
As a child, the boy had fended for himself with as much ingenuity as he could muster, like his parents did, who would manipulate everyone around them, to get everything they had, from their own cigarettes, to the food on their table. When the boy had become a man, by the sweat of his own brow, as the addicted son of a couple of heroin addicts, the boy learned early about the value of money – and the value of a good education and a good job.

Now, the old man turns his rollator around, and slowly makes his way back to the rest home. His walk is almost over. He never did hear from his parents again after they'd been arrested for drug trafficking. Social Services saw to that. He was shuffled through the system, and learned in the Program of Sobriety how to lick his addictions like the craving he had for the reefer and the alcohol, which were bad enough addictions in the first place. He learned how much of a key it had become for him to avoid the alcohol.
Then, finally, he conquered the cigarettes. 
He never had a wife or children, because he was too wary of others to trust anybody well enough to marry them. He got a job with computers when he was still a young adult. In those days all the professional programmers were using COBAL. Now that he was old, with enough of his own resources under his belt to be able to afford to live alone in a rest home for the remainder of his old age. He was slowly suffocating to death on emphysema. No one ever came to visit him in his old age. 
There had never really been anyone he let into his life all that much.

 
 
Picture
Good night cruel world

I poured myself a tumbler full of Jack Daniels, and sat down in my favorite chair. I took a sip of my liquor and pondered my existence, as I looked around my home, which was a 14 foot camp trailer. Would I be missed? No, I thought. There is no one left that cares what happens to me, including an ex-wife, two kids, and four grand kids.

I took another sip of my whiskey and picked up my blue Smith and Wesson, model 19, .357 with a six inch barrel. I opened the cylinder and carefully loaded six semi-jacketed hollow points into the waiting weapon. Each bullet slid into its nest smoothly. A perfect fit. I closed the cylinder and locked it into place. I have planned this day for months, and I want it perfect. No mistakes as there would be no do overs.

I laughed aloud as I recalled that I had purchased this gun from one of my cop friends, who incidentally, killed himself this year. Talk about irony.

What I was about to do was against everything I had ever learned in life. I had always been strong, but now I am weak. I spent my youth in a whirl wind of fuckups. I had committed minor crimes and major sins. I had violated at least five of the Ten Commandments, and was pretty sure I was headed straight to Hell. The thought of going to Hell caused me to pause. Do I really want to go to Hell today? Fuck it, Hell couldn’t be any worse than my life.

I spent four years in the Marine Corps as a young man. My last three were in Vietnam. I killed the enemy but did not come home with a chest full of medals. I was an average Marine, which by other people’s standards, was way above average. Instead of the conquering hero, I came home to people despising me for serving my country. They called me baby killer. I never killed any babies. The transition back to civilian life was difficult until I secured a position with a metropolitan police department.

I wasn’t sure, but I may have got the job because no one else would have me, but I was made for the job. I was a pretty good cop, but a lousy employee. At least that is what my chief told me once. I did find that in the 60’s and 70’s people hated cops worse than ex-military. What the hell, they made me feel at home. At least I had my brother officers. The streets were as mean as depicted in the news. Murders, rapes, assaults, burglaries, stickups, and the worst of all, family troubles, was the daily diet of the street cop. I was tied to the job more than anything else in my life. I had no civilian friends and drank too much. I smoked cigarettes and cigars and ran around with wild women. I even had a few hookers who would throw me a quickie any time I wanted it.

When I married, I thought my life would change for the better. We had a nice ceremony, a hell of a party and an enjoyable honeymoon. The first several months were great, but things went downhill when the job became too much for my wife. I suppose I could have changed more, but the job meant more to me than anything. My brother officers were the only people who understood what I was going through.

The answer was close at hand, I thought. I needed to have children. That would give me something in common with the average man and placate my need to carry on the family name. We ended up having three. When they were infants I would spend all of my home time with them. Watching them walk and then talk was a miracle to me. It was the happiest five years of my life.

Our third child died shortly after being born and my wife decided she didn’t want to have any more. I was in total agreement. I scheduled a vasectomy.  I thought would satisfy my wife’s objection to more children. Apparently she had a better idea. She just quit having sex with me. It took me a while to find out she was having sex with other men instead.

No problem. I found a few groupies and reconnected with my hooker friends. I was back to having regular sex. I started drinking heavily again and spent more time away from home than at home.

My wife got a job at a topless bar and got a full time live in baby sitter for the kids. Neither of us was home very often. It was just a matter of time until we finally got divorced. Through the years she convinced all of our children that I was the devil and I didn’t get to see them after they were old enough to make up their own mind. I lived in poverty while I struggled with child support.

I lived in squalor my remaining years on the department. I had no family, no civilian friends and was slowly alienating my fellow cops. I was bitter and angry, so I retired.

I finished off the glass of whiskey and picked up the revolver again. I practiced putting the barrel in my mouth. I needed to make it right the first time. I didn’t want to end up a vegetable. I poured myself another glass of Jack and eased back into my chair. Feeling sorry for myself wasn’t anything new for me. 

Since my retirement, the government took aim at my retirement package. My pension was cut in half and the prospect of any health insurance is nil. I found out a week ago that I have cancer and there is no way I can have it treated under the current Government guidelines.

I know I brought all this on myself, but I fought for my country and stood up against criminals to protect society from danger and now I am sitting in my fucking camp trailer about to blow my head off and head straight to Hell.

I finished my glass of whiskey and pulled the gun up to my mouth. This is it. I am on my way out. Dear Lord, please take me to you and if you could, make sure I don’t shit myself.

I put the gun into my mouth. I pushed the barrel deep into my throat, as far as I could without gagging. I wanted to make sure that I blew out my brain stem. I wanted death to come instantly. I started to sweat and my hand began to shake. Was it fear that I felt? It was, but not of dying, it was where I was headed, Heaven or Hell. I cocked the gun and had one final thought. God, forgive me my sins and forgive me for taking my own life. Jamming the barrel further into my throat, I squeezed the trigger.

The hammer slammed down. The firing pin struck the primer full force. The primer should have exploded and ignited the powder in the bullets casing. It did not fire. I gagged and vomited the gun out of my mouth. The gun fell to the floor. There was an explosion as the gun went off. The bulled carried through the thin walls of my camp trailer and into oblivion. The gun was lying on a newspaper and seemed to be pointing to a specific article. The article said “Election today, be sure and vote.”

I know this is a sign from God. I needed to go out and vote, to do my part to save my country. I got up and went to clean up. I had to go out and vote.