Thursday, January 31, 2008

Shameless......That About Says it All

I was presented this award from Jo at Jo Janoski’s Blog. The recipient is tasked with listing three things that they believe make writing good and powerful before passing the award along to five other people:
The following things make writing good and powerful:
1. Capturing of the imagination, having the ability to transport someone to another place and time.
2. Detailed description. A reader needs to be able to visualize a character, situation, or scene.
3. A good writer will not stay in the comfort zone of writing only what they know. They will move on to foreign subjects, characters, or situations; if only to challenge themselves.
And finally, I present the award to these five people:
Shirley at Whispers in the Wind
Bob Hazelton at Average Poet
Sue Turner at Tumblewords
Alcoholic Poet at Alcoholic Poet

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How Can We Go Right?

Sifting through dialogue drifting askew;
fabrications smother a single fact.
Candidates tossing partisan spew
hoping the other don’t throw back.

Deciphering rhetoric, an arduous task,
like spelling with alphabet soup.
Securely veiled behind party’s mask,
no limit to how low they will stoop.

Finally a chief we can hail
no more propaganda to air.
Barely a visible slimy trail;
they’ll never admit was theirs.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Unlikely Cast--Continued

This is a continuation from my last post. An elaboration upon the short poem 'Unlikely Cast'.

A finely-detailed, black Mercedes limousine came into view. The tires, encompassing gold-plated wheels, create spirals of dust, gathering momentarily in clouds before being whisked into the hills by a gentle country breeze. An odd sight indeed; such a lavish mode of transportation, no appointment too grand, yet finding reason to grace a dusty path. A farm road actually, forged by the wheels of crude implements, and foot traffic of hard working farmers that transform these miles of dirt into productive sheets of landscape.

The Cyrus Barker farm, which I proudly own, rarely has the privilege of such company. Certainly Ms. Riker could send one of her hired staff, but she continues to visit herself. I waste little time worrying about her strange inclinations. My primary concern is to proudly display my fruits and vegetables, enticing her to purchase as many as her blackened heart desires, then gleefully waving goodbye to her as quickly as possible. The scrutiny of her eye is unparalleled, often spending half the day selecting only the finest and largest specimens. She does pay a premium for my goods, and that small formality in itself makes bearable her likely inbred display of condescension. Without these particular customers, my livelihood would be halved at best, if not in jeopardy altogether. Suffice it to say among the snooty folks, Ms. Riker ranks dead last on my list; her particular tone seems to reverberate in my head long after she’s departed.

As the fine automobile comes to halt, I begrudgingly prepare myself for the ceremonious greeting. Her driver opens the door, revealing a long silken gown, complete with embroidered jewels adorning the hem. The flagrant flaunting of assets disgusts me thoroughly. Following at some distance behind the dress, the face of Ms. Riker emerges; her eloquence unruffled by the unusually rough ride. Her beauty flows genuinely, yet her disguise of niceties remains perilously thin.

“So sweet of you to personally greet me, Cyrus; I’d hoped to find someone else waiting for me, but I see you’re still here.”

One side of my mouth gives way to smile, then reluctantly the other. “I’ve been anxiously awaiting your arrival. I’ll assist you as you make your selections, if you prefer?”

Vigorously brushing dust from her gown, she gracefully places both feet on the ground and dismisses the driver with a wave of her delicate hand.

“I’m familiar with the layout, no need for you to coddle. I’m certain you have pigs to slop, cattle to herd, or some other filthy beast to tend to. I’ll be certain to call when my shopping is complete. Now run along, my grimy little farmer man.”

I turned and began slowly making my way toward the fields. A defenseless watering can bore the brunt of my hatred for Ms. Riker. There certainly are filthy beasts to tend to; but I just offered and was rudely turned away. Grabbing a hoe from the shed, with unusual ferocity I began attacking the weeds encircling my plants. One of the many responsibilities of a farmer is to ensure the culling of unproductive nutrient-robbers from the fruit-bearers. Perhaps this philosophy should extend past gardening.

Grabbing a bale, I break it up into flakes, spreading straw over the fruit bearing vines, careful to apply a sufficient cover, wishing to save as many bales as possible to insulate my own shack from the approaching harsh northern winds. I pause to watch from a distance, the self-absorbed purchaser of fruit. While I will spend another winter shivering in a one room shack, she will dine in excess. Extravagant meals served her by loyal servants, berating them as they perform their micromanaged duties. Once sufficiently gorged, she will belch loudly before ordering the disposal of more food from one meal, than I will be allowed for a week. The mere jewels encrusted in the hem of her dress, are surely worth more than a years salary of my own. One wheel from her precious Mercedes would purchase ten of my homes. The cruel injustices life inflicts upon those such as I, boil within me. For a brief moment I consider grabbing my hoe, and ridding earth’s garden of an inferior weed.

“Oh Cyrus, where have you run off to? I believe I’m finished and ready to settle up.”

Ms. Riker’s voice snaps me from my murderous mood, and surely regrettable action. I smooth my hair and do my best to compose myself by the time I reach her. Throughout our conversation I continue to battle emotions welling inside. My fingers involuntarily tighten around the hoe on more than one occasion, but I successfully avoid the urge to strike her repeatedly, in her beautiful face.

Just as the Mercedes prepares to pull away and I believe I am finally rid of her, the rear window lowers and she signals me there.

“Cyrus, it’s painfully clear what you think of me; your worried brow holds more furrows than your fields. Your compulsion to anger easily holds you back from great things. You bitter attitude towards life consumes you, always believing you have been shortchanged. While I’m certain you assume my family was born wealthy, that isn’t the case. How do you think I developed such an eye for produce? My great-grandparents were peasant workers, laboring in the fields just like you, but they applied themselves, Cyrus. I benefit now from the struggles my ancestors overcame.

When I arrived this afternoon, stating I had been wishing for someone else to greet me, I could immediately see the fury in your eyes. Each time I come to the farm I anxiously anticipate someone else. Not because I dislike you, only hoping to find someone who works for you perhaps. Or even to find the farm no longer exists, because you’ve moved onward and upwards in your life.

Cyrus, I my only wish is to help you, but unfortunately I cannot. The insults I cast at you today were simply a test, only to measure your improvement since my last visit. Had I seen an improvement, even a slight one, I was prepared to hand you a check, made out in your name; $10,000 to help you realize your dreams, but sadly, Cyrus, there is no improvement. Until you can maintain your own discipline, how can you expect to conquer the world?”

The Mercedes quickly becomes a speck on the horizon. Briefly I consider what she said to me, but ever so briefly. “Ten-thousand dollars, that cheap conceited hag; she wouldn’t miss a hundred-thousand!” The continued slamming of my hoe acts as therapy as I imagine battering first her limousine, then striking the smugness from her filthy rich face.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Unlikely Cast

For to be a Farmer by W. Homer

A jeweled carriage arrives at last;
a customary deal ensues.
Two actors compose this unlikely cast,
come forth with pointed views.

“Grubby nails and soiled clothes
plague those who toil by hand.
Thank God I’m not one of those
who inconceivably chose
to work this filthy, vile land.”

“These tired, muddy boots
shall never grace her marble floor.
For a plant with shallow roots
is content producing rotten fruits
and likely nothing more.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Carried upon a springtime breeze, the familiar fever arrives again. Predictably I resist, but only momentarily, the woods clearly and distinctly beckon me there. No greater companion have I known than that of nature. The severe winter elements have taken their toll, more so than years past. I’ve consumed my last portion of meat and man cannot subsist on porridge and bread alone

With trusty bow, finely tuned, and quiver filled with anxious arrows, I set a course across the thawing terrain towards my familiar destination. Wings of black grouse burst in a flurry from cover aside me, their multitude so great my eyes temporarily deprived the light cast by the rising morn. In a fluttering of madness my arrow takes flight. I doth not think so highly of myself, nor my skills as to shun the guiding hands of the spirits. Only by their divine intervention and compassion for my hunger does my arrow find its mark. The remaining of the group scatter as setting wings carry them toward safety on yonder hill, wiser and warier from their brush with humanity. Gathering the fallen one in my palm I observe his beauty one last time. While placing him in my pouch an uneasy feeling grips me, like none I’ve experienced before, nor wish to again.

A frenzied survey in all directions reveals little to warrant the heightening of my senses. Perhaps peril existing only in my mind is a precursor to madness. Quickly I dismiss the flaring of my hackles to childish imagination, fire-breathing dragons and such. I suspect merely a wild bore responsible for my foolish notions, of his tusks I will be wary, but for his hams I will be grateful.

Climbing upon a large rock I settle into a familiar pose, allowing my bones needed rest. This location, perhaps more than any other, has amply met my needs. Observing fresh tracks along the muddy path, I prepare for the quarry’s approach. My bow comfortably rests in my palm, arrow impatiently awaiting release. Under watchful gaze cast down from the heavens, I patiently wait. It is merely time that separate hunter from the beast.

Soon my eyelids grow weary, strangely unresponsive to my will. A fierce internal battle ensues, for only a fool would slumber and risk being devoured in his sleep. My senses are dull, responding as if they had fallen prey to a reckless night filled with ale. I am perfectly sober, but inexplicably unable to resist.

Some passing of time transpired judging from the stiffness of my joints, but the precise amount unknown. I awoke from a slumber, an eerie rest brought on by very peculiar circumstances. A misty haze has settled very near the ground, veiling the forest in mystique. I quickly descend from my perch and start about my way; fervent to leave the area, but the forest seems to toy with me. Again a drunken way consumes me, more forceful than before; the correct path no longer apparent, amidst this evil fog. Full of worry and haste, my instability and a protruding branch ensures the loss of my footing; and of consciousness as my head strikes the ground.

She appears among the aspens, gracing the fringe of the grove. What I perceive initially to be a gentle breeze was mistaken. Each slender tree eagerly bows nearer her beauty, to whisper her praises. Surrounded by an aurora weaved of lavender bliss, she floats effortlessly before me. A princess from an unfamiliar kingdom possibly, yet she remains aloof.

Her long white gown of silk sweetly caresses the forest floor and coaxes the wildflowers into song. Only the finest spinning wheel could produce such a garment, and only one of angelic proportions could display it so flawlessly. The sheerness of her gown reveals a form so delicate, one incapable of being conceived by human form. For a moment I believe the goddess gazes in my direction, perhaps to temporarily quench the flames of my burning soul. My beating heart stalls at the prospect of approaching her; too long deprived such elegant company. Yet my mind continues to cling to reservations, regarding a beauty so perfect, one as irreproachable as this. Perhaps only a dream, yet her beauty defies description and my senses far too intoxicated to have been deceived by imagination.

Hesitantly I move in her direction, desperately wishing our souls to be one, but content only to be nearer. As if my presence startles her, she turns abruptly to me, but then smiles. The gaze of her eyes upon me, one so undeserving, penetrate and warm my calloused core. She welcomes me, extending her delicate arm in such a manner as to signal she has anticipated my arrival. Reaching my hand towards hers, I move ever closer to experiencing her touch.

Within an instant I felt the horrible ripping of my flesh, and the warm oozing of my blood escaping from jagged wounds. Horrified and betrayed I look back to her face, to gauge her expression. Where an angel stood seconds before, I now clearly see the blackened gums and the horrible white fangs of those that lured me.

I see no value in running. One had tasted my blood, and his frenzied rage prompted the pack. I scan the ground for my bow and quiver, but fate ensures they lay just beyond arms reach. In one last final attempt to salvage my life, I lunge for my weapon. The sudden movement only serves to summon a terrible barrage from the alpha male, his signal by which all of them follow. Those terrible fangs and powerful claws; slash at my hide with unbelievable force. Again and again they return, separating precious flesh from bloody bone.

I cry out in desperation to the angel that stood before, begging for mercy. My only answers come from those that had truly been there all along. The answers come in bouts of pain, in the form of supreme hunters, for which I was regretfully unprepared.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nowhere They Ain't

Although an author can never anticipate how a reader reacts, I feel this piece may require a disclaimer. This story references Vietnam. Some, especially those that were there, or lost loved one’s there, may not be comfortable reading it. By all means, stop right here. For those of you who continue, I’d like to make a request. Take a moment from your busy lives to analyze what these soldiers truly gave up. The next time you see a soldier, give them a pat on the back and thank them for serving; you never know, they may not be coming home.

Nowhere They Ain't
He lay motionless, buried in the undergrowth, concealing himself as best he could. Now comfortable with his attempt to remain undetected, he reluctantly inspected the damage. An enemy bullet had ripped through his left knee cap, leaving him with only one good leg. Excruciating pain radiated upward through his thigh and into his torso as he applied even the slightest amount of pressure. Blood pooled at the corners of his mouth, his lower lip receiving the brunt of his effort to remain silent. The taste of his own blood reminded him of the urgency of coming up with a plan. The results of doing nothing would be a final dispatching bullet through his brain. There were honorable ways for a Marine to check out, but lying, waiting to be shot like a dog couldn’t be counted as one of them.

Ritchie listened intently to the foreign chatter, not that he could understand a word, but only hoped to determine the number and position of the enemy forces. Hacking and slashing urgently at the vines, the soldiers hastily went about unearthing their wounded victim. Although Ritchie’s combat knife, the only weapon he possessed, seemed insignificant, he knew otherwise. If his death truly loomed immanent, he intended to inflict as much carnage as a one-legged marine could muster. Although Ritchie knew well, the awful toll hand to hand combat took on a mind.

A significant chasm existed between simply taking a man’s life via a well-placed round, and the task now facing him. Weapons allowed a soldier to remain distant and detached from his work. Perhaps the introduction of guns had made killing too easy. Sparing a man the unsettling details; a victim’s mouth gaping open awaiting one last ragged breathe that never came. Eyes stretched wide in disbelief, yet ironically still unable to detect the bullet that ripped through his skull. Distance in yards proportionately lessened the effects of taking a husband from a wife, a father from a child. Men were not designed to make such final decisions, yet he struggled with fatal choices each day.

He waited patiently on his back trail, realizing eventually an unlucky soldier would soon pass by within striking distance. Sounds associated with the clearing of vines were insufficient to mask those replaying in Ritchie’s head. The unfamiliar sound of a blade slicing cleanly through a windpipe and the gurgling sounds of a freshly slashed throat. Fear coursing through your soul, due to the uncertainty of outcome regarding the struggle. Finally, as the lifeless weight of another man rests against you, your hands covered in blood not of your own, you hear your soul weeping and praying that is the final time.

Chilling scenes from killings past prompted his body to rebel. Shivering and glistening in a cold sweat, Ritchie observed a single soldier, now veering dangerously close. He briefly considered the results of hesitation, then leaped from his hiding spot, and quickly gained control of the thrashing man. As he gritted his teeth and began to draw the blade across the man’s exposed throat, his necessary work interrupted by a familiar voice, cutting through the humid fog.

“Ritchie—Ritchie, what the hell are you doin’? Let momma go. For God’s sakes you’re gonna choke her!”

Ritchie shook his head from side to side, certain he had heard his kid brother’s voice, yet unwilling to completely trust his ears. Fearing a trick, he loosened his grip only slightly. Slowly he became aware of his young brother fists beating upon his back, demanding their mother’s release.

Once convinced, Ritchie immediately raised his hands towards the bedroom ceiling. As she turned around to face him, he grabbed his mother and kissed her forehead gently. Tears collected at the corner of his blue eyes, giving way to a sparkle his mother hadn’t seen for some time.

“Ma, I swear I didn’t know it was you—couldn’t never hurt you, ma. Had one of them, damn ole dreams again—won’t leave me alone, momma. I tried—to run from ‘em, but momma, just can’t get nowhere they ain’t.”

Betty held her son close and made good use of her apron, as she lovingly wiped the tears. Just after her husband’s passing, while contemplating raising these boys on her own, she made a vow to protect her children from all harm, but some things—regretful things, are out of a mother’s hands. Each horrible night her family remained separated, she prayed that God would bring Ritchie safely home. He had returned, but not the young boy that had left for Vietnam. His eyes had seen too much, his hand forced to perform unspeakable deeds, and now his troubled soul desperately sought only to rest.

“It’s alright, baby. Knew you was havin’ a bad dream, just hopin’ I could wake ya; keep the sufferin’ to ‘minimum. You get on downstairs and get some of ‘dat breakfast. We got to go into Birmingham s’afternoon to see another doctor; get you some good help, son. Now go on—git.”

Ben, the youngest of the boys, sat fidgeting in the waiting room chair. Thoughts of baseball consumed his young mind, but he did hope this doctor could help his brother. It had been more than a year since Ritchie came home and he hadn’t even shown the slightest interest for a game he used to live for. Ben missed his brother’s play; no one could crack that ball like Ritchie could. His record of ten home-runs in a single game, ten—over the chicken fence at the Johnston farm, still stood today. Many of the locals used to talk about Ritchie playing in the big leagues, but they didn’t talk much anymore, not about Ritchie playing baseball.

The doctor removed his stethoscope from Ritchie’s chest, and after looking at the chart nodded his head in affirmation.

“Healthy as a horse, I’d say! So what seems to be the matter young man?”

Ritchie glanced over at his mother, who appeared equally anxious to hear a response. He didn’t know exactly how to put his troubles into words, especially in mother’s presence. The doctor continued to tap his foot, as Ritchie searched for the correct words to describe the emotions he felt.

“Doc, I’d rather not speak, in front of momma.”

The doctor lowered his black framed glasses, peering at Ritchie and then at Betty.

“Ma’am, can you give us a few minutes—alone.”

Betty picked up her purse and patted her son on the shoulder. “You tell the good doctor what’s ailin’ ya, so as we can get the old Ritchie back.”

“So son, what is it that’s bothering you?”

“Well doc, ain’t somethin’ I can put into words, exactly. Just ain’t been right, since comin’ back; my head I mean. Strange thoughts ‘creepin’ round all the time, don’t seem to fit in no more. Momma and Ben, they treat me extra good now. But with these dream…I’m—I’m ‘fraid sometime I might hurt ‘em.”

“What do you mean, Ritchie? Do you feel like you want to hurt people sometimes?”

“No—not specially momma or Ben. Done more killin’ in ‘Nam than any man shoulda been asked to do, for his country or otherwise. Don’t wanna never hurt no one again, not on purpose. It’s ok sometimes, for maybe a week, but then they keep comin’ back, dreams, real as anything, doc. Can’t shake ‘em and can’t run from ‘em. Like I told momma, I can’t get nowhere they ain’t.”

“Alright son, you can go back to the waiting room now—and send your mother back in if you will.”

Betty allowed time for the door to close completely. “What do ya think, doc? Can ya fix him?”

“Mrs. Barnard, I believe your son’s very ill, but I’d like him to take a test to confirm my suspicions.”

“What kinda test?”

“A test that would allow me to properly judge his metal state.”

Betty faced flushed with anger and frustration. “You think Ritchie’s some kinda nut, don’t ya? Test—fer what? So you can lock ‘em away somewhere, forgit he ever existed. My boy gave everything he had for his country and I’m damn proud of him. Ain’t gonna reward him by havin’ him put in some institution, where they drool all over themselves. Ritchie ain’t like that; he just needs somethin’ to get rid of them dreams! Thank you for yer time, doctor. We’ll be on our way now!”

Betty grabbed her youngest son by the arm and hoisted him from the chair, signaling for Ritchie to follow. No one spoke during the two-hour drive home. Betty’s mind, still consumed with anger and frustration, Ben’s thinking of his first World Series, and Ritchie attempting to think of nothing, for nothing beat the alternative.


Betty placed a bag groceries just inside the front door, and went back to retrieve another. Barely able to function any longer; not only her body weary. She knew, full well, the challenges of a single mother, but Ritchie’s troubles were of another kind, one that couldn’t be solved by a double-shift.

Ben came streaking down the stairs headed for the door, with his trusty ball-glove in hand. “Headed over to the Johnstons, ma; be back around dark!”

As she began to put away the meager amount of food she had purchased, Betty shook her head and smiled, knowing Ben had developed the same love as Ritchie. The two of them were much alike, but Betty intended to keep a tighter reign on the youngest. She feared she had lost Ritchie to the war. That wretched war claimed many young lives, not just one’s returning in bags, but others just as broken. Borrowed for killing, in someone else’s cause, then when their usefulness determined done, turned loose back from where they came, ill-prepared to resume a life put on hold.

A bottle slipped from her tired grip and shattered on the floor, sending shards of glass in all directions.

“Damn—can’t hardly ‘ford groceries as it is, clumsy old fool droppin’ things now.”

As Betty made her way over to the counter, seeking a towel to clean up the mess, she noticed an envelope on the table. Picking it up, she instantly recognized the handwriting. The thoughts of a dish-towel, spills, and everything else at this moment seemed unimportant.

Betty fell into the easy-chair in the living room, and opened the envelope addressed to “Momma”

Went huntin’ this afternoon. Been havin’ extra bad thoughts today, needin’ to get someplace. Boy, Ben sure loves his baseball, make sure he practices good, some day he might just find a spot in da majors. Momma, I’m hurtin’; down way deep inside, don’t know how about to fix it. I know you hurt too momma, hear ya cryin’ at night. I ain’t foolish, know its cause me and the way I am now. Kinda why I’m huntin’ today, don’t wanna be no burden to ya no more, don’t wanna see ya hurt. ‘member ‘at night in my bedroom, didn’t mean ya no harm; thawt the gooks was comin’ after me again. I’m tired momma, tired of fightin’ things ain’t there.

Momma, ya took good care of me, but I’m grown now, need to fend on my own. Pop’d be proud of ya, what ya done fer us boys. Sure will miss yer cookin’. Don’t hold supper count a me, figurin’ I’ll be gone awhile. Can’t go far, cause I sure am tired, momma. I gotta place far away in mind; b’lieve it might be somewhere they ain’t!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Feelings bent and broken.
Prognosis for recovery;


Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Tangled Web

The stairs creaked slightly, just like before, but finding my way to the bedroom in the dark proved to be no challenge. Easing the door open just a crack, revealed her undressing by the bed, part of her normal routine. Mesmerized by her sculpted, flawless body, I nearly forgot the nature of my business, but only momentarily. Like a tiger on a fresh piece of meat, I pounced on her quickly, thrusting her violently against the wall, enjoying of the pleasure of pressing my body against her partially nude frame.

“How’s that feel?” I asked, as the cold steel barrel of my .45 rested against her forehead. The terrified woman offered no response, but the fear that widened her brown eyes and caused her lower lip to tremble gave me inappropriate pleasure.

“What’s the matter, Violet, cat got your tongue; can’t come up with anything under pressure?”

Kill my wife? Of course not, but she didn’t know that. From the outside, this little game might seem extreme, but considering her shenanigans over the last six months, I figured she deserved every bit of what I had in store for her.

Six months ago we began the dissolution of our three year marriage. Sitting there in the lawyer’s office on our very first meeting, she delivered an unwarranted and debilitating low-blow. Mistakenly, I supposed this separation could be amicable and we settled on using the same lawyer. Common representation proved to be only my first mistake, the second being, a belief that anything involving Violet could be amicable.

Truthfully I don’t recall much from that morning, up until Violet spoke. In response to the lawyer asking what she wanted (in the settlement), she stared across the table at me with vengeful eyes, and through gritted teeth, grunted out her demand.

“I want his balls!”

Even the lawyer couldn’t help but be impressed by the eloquence of this charming woman; the one I had chosen to be my lovely bride. To this day, I’m certain sympathy pains were responsible for Mike’s decision to represent only me. Fortunately Violet had tipped her hand the very first day, and my defense had seen for himself what a ‘peach’ she could be.

Looking back there were plenty of reasons to have throttled back this wild ride; having met Violet in a chat-room being the most glaring, but once we met in person my high levels of testosterone seemed to blur my normally good judgment. Violet, a gorgeous combination of Greek and Italian descent, resembled a fine tuned Italian sports car; built for thrills. What dweeb is thinking about gas mileage when he climbs into a Ferrari, and jams the accelerator to the floor?

Not only is it a custom to break plates at a Greek wedding, Violet extended that tradition to nearly every argument. On more than occasion my quick reactions resulting in a plate shattering on the wall instead of my forehead, the intended target.

Our plagued marriage couldn’t be pinned on her ill-temper. In fact her feisty nature made for a spicy bedroom, and indeed that aspect of our marriage still frequented my mind, especially on lonely Saturday nights. Actually, her over-involvement in my business decisions raised a waving red flag. She became extremely irate at certain choices made regarding the business that I painstakingly built from the ground up, and that irritated me. The suspicions grew to a point where I chose to seek the services of a private investigator. The case file that he built regarding Violet’s past made my jaw drop.

It would seem she had kept very busy in the ten years previous to our marriage. Entertaining for a short time and then divorcing five husbands and amassing (stealing) awards of 4.5 million dollars, all of which resided in a bank account in Greece. All of this sprinkled with a few stays at a mental facility. This all added up, when rummaging through her things, exposed one-way airline tickets back to Athens.

My first question to the detective regarded the health of each of the ex-husbands. Were they ‘six feet under’? A black-widow, she was not, all of the husbands were still living, scattered across all parts of the country. A brown recluse described Violet, not quite as infamous as the black-widow, yet under a cloak of anonymity she quietly injected her venom.

I intended to put this game to an abrupt end tonight, and had every intention of preventing her from laying claim to even a miniscule penny of my assets. After letting her know her sordid past had been exposed, I presumed she would agree to drop the whole thing, but as a backup plan if she became uncooperative, every ugly detail would be splashed across all of the major news networks in the country. The complete file of her dirty deeds lay on the front seat of my car parked outside, just in case she needed a convincer.

“Although you look very inviting tonight, I’ve come for business. Let me throw out some facts for you. I know everything about you; the five husbands, the money, the stays in the mental facilities, everything you did before we met! Also the ticket back to Greece; did you think you were gonna screw me then call it quits. Hell, you’re not greedy—a girl can live nicely on around five mil, huh?”

Figuring the scare tactic had done its work, I removed the gun from her forehead, yet the imprint of the barrel remained. With the gun still pointed in her direction I laid out my plan.

“Here’s how it’s going to go down. You’re going to tell your lawyer you only want fifty grand, so you can get this whole thing over with. In return for your newfound generosity, all the dirt on you stays under wraps. How’s that sound?”

“Whatever you say—just put that gun away. Yeah, yeah fifty grand that sounds fair to me. I’ll call my lawyer first thing in the morning, I promise.”

A smile crept across my face, relieved we had come to a mutually acceptable deal. I now took time to admire her sensuous brown breasts, perfectly contoured. Truthfully in the end as in the beginning, Violet offered only cheap, naughty, jungle-love. Yet the image of another man’s meat-beaters on those beautiful breasts, in place of mine. Suddenly an idea occurred to me, a little side deal, something to sweeten the pot. Moving forward, my body came in contact with hers again. Moving her jet black hair aside I whispered in her ear.

“You remember in the lawyer’s office what you said you wanted—my balls. That’s going to cost you. You’re plane leaves on the 14th, no later than the 10th, you’ll deposit two million dollars in a Swedish bank account, in my name. If you choose to be uncooperative, on the 11th at midnight the cops will receive the complete file of your dirty little history, and you’ll never see Greece again!”

Violet pushed me away, her growing hatred for me evident in her pouting expression. Not only could she envision loosing half of my assets, due to my clever plan I had now laid claim to a piece of her ‘hard earned fortune.

“You dirty bastard! That’s my money!”

“What’s yours is mine, right baby? Fifty-fifty, we’re still married remember. Don’t forget, two million by the 10th; or you’re going away for a very long time.”

I pushed Violet down on the bed, and turned around to leave. My heart hit overdrive; I could feel the thrusting in my temples as my steps carried me closer toward the bedroom door. This whole ordeal reminded of some kind of freaky suspense novel, but I had played my limited hand brilliantly. Truly, what alternative had I given her?

Just barely audible over the beating of my heart I heard the dresser drawer slam shut. I had completely forgotten the purchase of a small pistol for home defense. Whirling around with my gun at the ready, a brilliant flash from the muzzle temporarily blinded me, just as the hot bullet ripped through my chest and I fell helplessly to the floor.

I stared down the length of body at the .45, still miraculously in my grip. Perhaps it would be of some value to me, had I not left the clip for my gun lying right next to the files on the front seat of my car. I truly never intended on physically harming her.

Writhing in pain, she knelt over me, her warm breath coming in quick pulses.

“You don’t look so tough now”, she taunted. “You still have something of mine, though.”

Violet maneuvered around to my side and as the sound of unzipping of the fly on my jeans reached my ear, I knew her horrible intentions. Her evil laugh echoed in my head, as my broken body made a feeble to attempt to move away from her. Surely she wasn’t crazy enough to do that.

As she got to her feet, the echoing laugh trailed off to only a chuckle. “You never were that good. Out of six husbands—well, let’s just say you didn’t measure up. But you’re money’s just as green as the others.”

“You’re a crazy bitch! No wonder they had locked up in the loony bin!”

She raised the snub-nose and again pointed it my chest. I could see the tension of her finger increasing and the cylinder beginning to rotate, but my body wasn’t responding to my brain’s pleas.

“Yeah I’m crazy alright—crazy like a fox!”

Another round scorched through me into the now blood-soaked floor—before everything slowly faded to black.


Bob Hazelton at is a master with word, cadence, and rhyme. Sometimes his work is shallow and funny, other times he poses profound questions, but never does his work fail to inspire me. A recent post prompted me to respond with my version of a continuation.

Somewhere we find a concession
between the head and the heart.
Without a forthright confession
A brain has nowhere to start.

Yet a heart with no reigns
will find a treacherous trail.
Feelings, tempered with brains
seems the least likely to fail.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One of a Kind

Portrait of a Woman in a Large Hat by
Amedeo Modigliani
Standing before the glass
behind the dressing room door.
This wonderful hat exuded such class;
why hadn’t she purchased before?
The shadows it created were simply divine.
Could a woman pass on something so fine?

It flattered and catered her every pose;
accentuating her emerald green eyes
while disguising the length of her nose.
Her forgotten beauty was suddenly realized.
She gathered her things and went up to pay,
“Such a fabulous hat, I must have it today!”

She strolled to the register as proud as a bird,
in possession of the splendid, magical hat.
A blood-curdling scream was all that was heard.
For another in line was holding the very same hat.
“I wouldn’t wear that in the house, let alone outside;
I hope it rots on your head!” the crushed woman cried.

Never Look Back

The sun struggles over the horizon, the rise and fall of the waves causes a brilliant reflection to dance across the bridge of my nose. Spectacular sunrises no longer intrigue me as they once had, and neither the magnificent sunsets. The sun slowly appearing to be swallowed by the other side of the ocean, once fascinated me, but each of these events now only represents a new-found hellish extreme.

Day seven finds me barely capable of fending off thoughts that continue to accost my weakening mind. What a welcome relief death would bring, if nothing more than a foreseeable end to the constant torment that plagues me. Trapped in a world where the only reward of surviving seems to be the punishment of another day. My mind travels back merely a week earlier in time, when things were not so bleak.

My relationship with John, my childhood friend, had faded over the years. Miles did not separate us; his home and mine were no more than twenty minutes apart. Our parting of ways seemed to deal more with social standing rather than proximity. Prompted by my wife’s passing, my work felt like the only place that provided an escape from the lonely existence called the rest of my life. The multitude of extra hours quickly moved me up the corporate ladder; with blinding speed my work had afforded me a very nice home in a subdivision. John had apparently been unable to see the enlightenment of ‘applying’ himself. The generosity of his parents allowed him to continue living with them; otherwise his minimum wage job would allow little chance for survival. John had always been a follower, even when we were boys. Although at that time nothing qualified me as a leader, but John tagged along anyhow, almost like a little brother.

After nearly twenty years of non-communication, John began to call my home. Explaining he had recently acquired a fabulous old sail boat, but she needed a ‘little work’. Truthfully little time existed for such things as a fixer-upper boat in my busy life. Every Saturday my voice-mail box reached capacity. Finally he broke me, as he began to recount childhood memories; when we were young boys and still the best of friends. His words brought back memories of how we worked for weeks, constructing the ultimate tree-house. I had to admit that those years of carefree living certainly did seem appealing now. After several Saturdays something stirred inside me, perhaps the loneliness in his voice spoke to me in a familiar way, but something deep down in my gut prompted me to go.

Much of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the seaworthy craft were my own. Surprisingly we had a good time as we knocked the top off of a few beers and simply got reacquainted. For months we toiled together on this project, but as we waxed the last plank on the newly installed desk we realized we hadn’t given her a name. All seagoing vessels must have a name. During the re-living of days of yore, John had reminded me of a phrase I used during high school, most particularly when attempting to override his good judgment. So we settled on the name ‘Never Look Back’.

We set sail that morning on her maiden voyage, leaving the tranquil marina behind, intending on spending the afternoon enjoying the fruits of our labor. The weather forecast concerned us little, since neither of us were sailors. The beer flowed freely and the sun-gods smiled brightly with great intensity. We were two teenage boys again, without a care in the world and truthfully it felt good.

For several hours our boat sliced the placid aquamarine glass. Small momentary disturbances swirled behind the rudder, but left little evidence of our trail as we moved further out to sea. Smooth seas ahead it would seem, until with little warning the thunderheads began to form. Only then did we bother to notice not even a sliver of land could be seen in any direction.

The intense storm and raging seas probably could have been avoided, if it were not for the malfunctioning of the motor and then later the radio. In repairing this old vessel we only bothered with the external. Taking time to ensure every piece of trim sparkled, the deck planks were thoroughly sealed and waxed, but never once considering the functionality of such emergency equipment. Sure they were there if we needed them, but the likelihood of that remained slim.

Eventually the pelting hail and intense lightning forced us below-deck. The cabin, cramped and close, seemed to grow ever smaller as the churning of the sea intensified. In short order the tight space became a vault, smelling strongly of vomit, which belonged to both of us. The putrid aroma became increasingly intolerable, but no possibility existed for even a quick breath of fresh air; we had to ride the storm out.

At some point, during the thrashing about, a fitful sleep claimed us both. Only the terrible crash of objects in the cabin as well our bodies slamming against one another woke me. It required little expertise to realize our vessel had capsized. Immediately I attempted to call to memory the location of the life-raft. After gathering any item deemed to be of potential value, I verified the straps on John’s life-vest were secure and eased open the hatch. Chilly, frothy seawater quickly swirled around my ankles and began to fill the cabin. We both slipped through the hatch one after the other and exited this certain tomb.

My first task would be to scale the deck, which at this stage resembled a climbing wall. Surely it would provide the best chance for survival. Finally the lid broke free and the raft bobbed in the water. After we slithered into the rubber raft, a sigh of relief came over me. Naively, I believed the most difficult portion of our trial had been conquered.

At the time the raft represented the key to survival. Time being the key—such an underrated factor in how we see things. Depending upon the severity of circumstances, only a few short days can totally and irreversibly change your point of view.

As for myself, physical rescued consumed me. I’d always been able to solve my own issues, in my own way; and believed in some twisted way that the lack of being in complete control, symbolized weakness. But ever so slowly, it became evident that the sunken sailboat and I had much in common; gleaming and sparkling on the outside, but lacking substance from within.

John, on other hand, remained consistent in his positive attitude. Completely independent of the outcome of this disaster, his belief in his final destination never wavered. John’s primary concern for his parent’s well-being over his own impressed me. He remained content with what he had accomplished in this world, and had no fear of the other side.

For days I had watched John sit and diligently pray at the other end of the boat. His lips murmured praises to a God that seemed to have abandoned us. It had been two days since we fired our last flare and still not a single sign of rescue. We had eaten our last sea-ration three days ago, and my stomach protested often. Truthfully my self-sufficient mind had run out of suggestions, possibilities, and most importantly, hope.

John, in my eyes, had always been the weaker and less successful. Now I realized he possessed many things that eluded me, such as inner-peace, hope, and faith; the kind of things necessary to sustain a man when he finds himself completely alone. Seeing no other viable solution, I supposed no harm would come in accepting his invitation to join him.

John received me with a smile and extended his hand. He treated me like a long lost friend, one that had been expected for some time. He squeezed my hand firmly and began to pray. To my surprise, his request had nothing to do with our rescue, but everything to do with my soul. My mind quickly began to sort through memories of a lifetime, a lifetime comprised primarily of regretful situations and relations. Bitter tears burned my eyes as John graciously asked ‘his God’ to remove the unnecessary weight from my shoulders. As each painful episode occurred to me, it vanished just as quickly. A life’s worth of hurtful and deceitful intentions seemed to be scattered by the wind. My lips involuntarily repeated the words John asked me to say, and once I uttered the last word a calming peace settled down upon me.

John stood up in the boat and helped me to my feet. Carefully he loosened each of the fasteners on my life-vest and it fell to the floor of the raft. John removed his preserver and tossed it alongside mine, then slid over the side of the boat into the water, and finally turned to address me.

“Come with me, my friend. My prayers have been answered and it’s time for us head home.”

I supposed at first delirium had claimed John, but the look of confidence in his eyes and the calmness in voice as he spoke, convinced me otherwise. For the first time in my life I had decided to follow someone.

As my body entered the water, the surrounding sea that had tormented me for more than a week now appeared serene and beautiful once again. With the receding of the small swells, I could see a familiar form in the distance. My wife stood there, appearing just as beautiful as our wedding day. With outstretched arms, she welcomed me and softly called my name.

Only once during the swim to meet her did I stop for a moment to rest. One fleeting glance back to the raft prompted John to speak. Perhaps he believed I wished to return there, but his words rang out clear and true across the water.
“There’s nothing left for you there, my brother. Take your own advice—and never look back.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


A greenish haze now looms large;
the atmosphere thick and dense.
Thunderheads hover supercharged
coiled and willing to dispense.

Brilliant spears of white hot light
searing towards the helpless ground;
Unleashed in deadly sonic flight
blowing by the speed of sound.

Nature’s wrath is all aglow;
electric beast bares her fangs.
Blinding arcs lead off the show
followed by thunderous bangs.

Heed the warning at my insistence;
she takes the path of least resistance.
Bar your windows and your door
I’m certain an encore is in store.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fatal Flaws

Some memories are better left lying dormant. Although we wish to believe we’re in complete control of our mind, make no mistake, we are not. Occasionally unsavory things bubble to the surface and demand to be dealt with. One such memory from many summers past now begs to be recorded, and so it shall be.

It escapes me as to who was responsible for the invention of the game, perhaps it alludes me for good reason. In all likelihood the creation was mine, but my best friend was only too quick to oblige me in playing. A foregone conclusion now, it was foolish to have taken such pride in being naturally adept at that game, but as a youngster analyzing details was unimportant. The world isn’t just about fun and games and the simply fact we called it a game didn’t alter our actual intent.

“Flaws” as we so aptly named it didn’t have many rules. There was a single objective; come up with as many physical defects in a person’s appearance as possible and record them on a notepad. The player listing the greatest number of flaws was the winner. It was a simple but devious game and somehow the intriguing subtleties consumed me. It would not be overstated to say the game became an addiction, just as ugly and demanding of a compulsion as any other.

The public arena seemed to provide the greatest number and variety of unsuspecting victims. For this simple reason we frequented the local malls and county fairs, as they seemed to be a rife with distorted individuals.

The very first time we played was at the fair. Once inside the front gate I immediately sensed the experience would be different from years past as these paltry amusement rides could no longer hold me captive. The temptation to play increased as the number of people comprising the crowd did also. My mind donned its shining mental armor, shifted into predator mode, and prepared for the ensuing battle. With a quick glance, like two addicts looking for an out of the way corner to get their fix, we weaved our way through the crowd and found a comfortable bench. This, my friend, was a target rich environment and that was all that was required for our secret game.

After finishing several rounds our eyes danced with a mischievous glimmer and our faces were painted with smiles of satisfaction. Somehow this small dose of cruelty was enough to quench our desire—but only for now, both of us realized it wouldn’t be long before the urge came calling again.

I suppose for several reasons, brevity being the least important and my sanity being foremost, we’ll roll forward to present day. Where my mind sits imprisoned and sorts out the details of the game.

At some point the private realization dawned on me; this had become more of a lifestyle rather than merely a simple game, but this revelation didn’t begin to slow my deep-seeded love for the game. Deriving indescribable pleasure from innocent people’s pain seemed to come natural to me. In my mind I had become an intellectual Jeffrey Dauhmer, able in short order to strip any human being of their dignity. Only a pile of chalky white bones remained in the wake of my wrath. The fact the victims were unaware of the invisible grief they had been stricken with began to haunt me. Perhaps it would be beneficial for them to realize their obvious flaws?

Over the next several months we continued to play, with only slight variations. Although we could no longer allow our victims to roam free because instead of writing down the flaws we physically began to ‘correct’ them. My preference was for the scalpel, it’s ever so sharp blade always cognizant of only removing the offending area. Suffice it to say we had crossed a ‘not so thin line’. It was a gradual transition, mind you; prompted by the voices that continually began to accost me.

Perhaps a fresh perspective on things would be appropriate now, allowing my best friend to tell some of this story from his point of view. Sadly that is no longer possible; his vicious and sharp tongue was unfortunately one of his glaring flaws. Regretfully this ‘correction’ required my steady hand also. Years have washed away the clarity of those images, too graphic and numerous to count, but the ‘correction’ of my friend’s flaw remains my single regret. Perhaps it was haste on my part, but he was weak and would certainly be unable to keep our secret. His sarcastic tones will be missed, but the risk was too great. Now I have the best of both worlds, carrying his sharp and forked tongue with me at all times.

Those of you reading today might incorrectly assume that I perceive myself as flawless. Outward flaws only mar your appearance to the world and are easily remedied, yet the ones that plague me in multitude, are hidden from view. The doctors here believe they have convinced me to refrain from cutting myself any longer, in a futile attempt to release the spirits. Not by their requests has the cutting stopped, but only in my own admission that these demons have found a dingy domain, breeding undisturbed in the dark corners of my soul, and have no reason to seek refuge elsewhere.

These perceived horrific actions have not come to me by conscious choice; rather due to my affliction of special insight and a great responsibility. Only the padded wall between myself and the guards restricts me from acting upon this obligation even now. I refuse to release the belief that all humans seek perfection. Why would our society waste millions of dollars on diets, plastic surgery, and the like if it were not so. The professional licenses they hold to do similar work, albeit inferior to my art, seem inconsequential to me.

Perhaps long after my scheduled execution, instead of being considered mad, society will hail me as a visionary. Only giving those poor flawed humans what they so desperately desired—perfection.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Perfect Complement

His expert hands emptied the contents of the shaker, filling every inch of my hungry glass. No one in town makes a dry martini like Joe—no one. Normally I would avoid alcohol while working, but this Arturo Fuente, Joe’s gift to me and one of the finest cigars known to man, begged for a martini complement.

Joe’s a top-notch bartender, a connoisseur of fine cigars, and an all around decent guy; which made me regret even more the business that I came here for. Years of absorbing sad tales and missed opportunities eighteen hours a day can certainly wear on a man’s psyche, perhaps that was what had happened to Joe.

Tonight though, he was working the game masterfully; his occasional glance and sympathetic nod were yielding cents; dollars and cents. The number of bills lying on the tired old bar easily outweighed the empty glasses; two to one at least, a testament to his prowess. How he feigned genuine interest in these tragic stories, mumbled through thin lips misdirected by inebriated minds, was beyond me. Joe was good and managed to fool most of the patrons, but not those with a discerning eye, like myself. Joe’s sole intent was a decent tip, but who could blame a guy for that. Hell, who doesn’t admire a man who takes care of business first. Finally the conclusion washed over me; it was business that was the contributing factor that pushed Joe over the edge—to commit cold-blooded murder.

Joe, always the gentleman, lit my cigar first and then tended to his own. As a swirling cloud of opaque white smoke encircled his head, he began to speak—in that thick undeniable New York accent.

“What would life be without a fine cigar? Awe—dames is ok too, but they’re disposable. Once one’s outta the picture, it’s time to find another.”

The term, ‘dames’ continued to ring through my head, as did Joe’s apparent disdain for them. On this particular night that was my reason for being here, only one more piece of evidence was needed regarding a ‘dame’s’ murder in order to ‘put this case to bed’.

This case was so cold a detective with my experience was embarrassed to have his name attached to it. The original dick, some snot-nosed rookie, came up empty handed—no big surprise to me and even less surprising that the boss turned the case over to me. Under normal circumstances I prefer to start from the beginning and solve my own cases. A hot trail, where the smell of gunpowder still lingers in the bedroom, the smell of sex and cheap perfume is folded among the rumpled sheets, and empty casings lay scattered on the hardwood floor. Yet this particular case involved not a single one of those elements.

Her name was Lola Gambini, a tawdry, busty blonde; the type of woman no man had trouble recalling. Drop-dead looks and ‘a body to die for’ (which apparently came to fruition), weren’t the only things she had going for her, or against her depending on how you look at it. Lola was the daughter of Tony Gambini (‘Da Big One’), one of the most vicious, and feared bosses to rise to the top of the underworld in the ‘big apple’. Climbing the crooked ladder of success usually requires sacrifices—frequent payments, always in the form of blood. It would seem that Lola’s lineage ensured she was merely one of those installments.

They found her in an alley within a mile of here, not one of her blonde hairs out of place. Her glistening ruby red lips still painted on, but there was only one problem. A .45 caliber bullet has a special way of making any stunning girl look suddenly unattractive. The entrance wound, right between her dazzling blue eyes, doesn’t immediately catch your attention, but the exit at the base of her skull, now that’s another story. A gruesome scene like that can make even the most hardened detective take a second look at his lunch.

Although the young sleuth originally assigned this case was unable to crack it, he had gathered all of the evidence necessary; he simply didn’t know how to use it. The only missing piece of the puzzle was that innate ability that just couldn’t be taught. You either had it or you didn’t, and personally I didn’t think this ‘pup’ would ever hunt with the ‘big dogs’.

The case had been in my capable hands for almost a week now and I knew who the smoking gun belonged to, but I had to get a look at for myself. Sure, I had concocted a motive for the killer, but I wanted to hear him say it. Maybe I’m a little twisted like that, but there’s something gratifying about standing face to face with a murderer and hearing him confess in his own words.

“Hey Joe, you heard about Lola, right?”

Joe continued to busy himself with bar-work, as if he hadn’t even heard my question. He ran another glass through the soapy water and just as I was about repeat the question, he sat the glass down and moved closer to me. His dark stubbly face was mere inches from my own, and I could feel the heat of his stale breath. My heart-rate doubled in an instant, but the rush of these encounters is what makes the game worth playing. Telecasting my intentions, my right hand eased inside my suit and rested comfortably on my sidearm. Joe’s quivering lip gave away his reluctant intent to respond.

“You ask that question like I know somethin’!”

“Well,—do you Joe? Wait a second—don’t answer that yet. Let me tell you what I know. I know Lola was killed not far from here, she also had a matchbook in her pocket from this bar, and most importantly she was killed with a forty-five caliber Springfield Arms model 1911. If my memory serves me correct Joe, you just so happen to have a loaded ‘1911’ sitting beneath this bar on the first shelf, down near the register. What do you say to a ballistics test?”

He wasn’t going to be easy to rattle, but all good detectives know consistent pressure will eventually yield results. Joe was tough, but even the toughest crack in the end; it was only a matter of time. Joe moved back from the bar and continued his busy-work, as if we’d just shared some casual conversation. Instead I had blatantly and coldly just accused him of murder.

“Come on Joe, everyone knows Tony squeezes all of these businesses for protection money. What makes your bar any different? How’s a business man to stay afloat? Nobody’s blaming ya, Joe.”

Beads of sweat were forming on his brow now and indicated my time-proven tactic was working. A confession was only a few seconds away and I needed to keep pressing.

“Well, I figure a good business man, like you Joe, knows he can only sustain those losses for so long—then a man’s gotta do something about it. You were tired of paying your hard earned dollars to slime like Tony, and decided you’d reverse the tables and take a little piece of Tony this time!”

Raising my voice, I leaned in as close to Joe as the bar would allow. Grabbing a fistful of the front of his shirt, I pronounced each word very clearly. “So Joe, when you couldn’t stand it anymore, you took that forty-five from under this very counter and you hunted Lola down—you went and killed Tony’s only daughter. Didn’t ya Joe—Didn’t ya!”

As the tears began to swell in the corners of his eyes, he whimper, “Yes—yes, I killed the bitch—what do……….

Joe’s words abruptly came to end. Out of my peripheral vision in my right eye I saw a terrific flash come from the end of the bar. Fragments of brain matter scattered everywhere and shards of Joe’s skull made a clinking sound on the clean glasses that hung from above the bar.

“Tony sends his best—you cowardly bastard!” A voice rang out from the dark end of the bar.

As quickly as possibly I grabbed my own gun and wheeled around in the direction the shot had come from, but it was too late. Whoever had killed Joe had made a clean escape, and having little inclination to go chasing one of Tony’s boys down a dark alley, I instead retreated to my stool.

One of the patrons at the other end of the room slowly approached me. “Here—the guy threw this up on the bar before he shot.”

Intuition told me it was far too late for old Joe. Leaning over the bar I watched helplessly as the warm pool of blood continued to grow and then soak into the coarse boards beneath his once sharp business mind. Opening my hand I examined the object the customer had given me; it was the useless last inch of a cigar, but the band remained intact. Arturo Fuente—apparently one of Tony’s guys had found Lola before the police arrived to the crime scene.

Another case put to rest, not exactly how I envisioned it, but nonetheless justice has been served. Only one nagging question remains, now that Joe is gone, where will a guy find a good dry martini and fine cigar?