Sunday, June 29, 2008


Like ants swarming a hill they scurried past the waiting area, busily moving from one place to another, yet very much like humans they seemed unconcerned with working towards a unified goal and oblivious to the others surrounding them. Only when having to resort to collision avoidance measures would they acknowledge another, and even then in terms of a terse word or a blatant look of disgust. Some understandably were in a hurry to reach a connecting flight and had no desire to deal with the inconvenience of rebooking.

Primarily most appeared firmly focused on business and dressed for success, carrying with them laptops, cell phones, and Blackberries. Twenty years later the means to an end differed, but he could see through the flimsy disguises just as he had then. Stiff collars and power-ties could only go so far in concealing the cutthroat, self-absorbed nature they so embraced. The slow degradation of society had made no miraculous turnaround. Not for even a millisecond did he regret his decision to abruptly severe all ties with such a civilization.

Barry Wienhelm had virtually withdrawn and disappeared from society on July 18, 1988. While working his shift for B & L Logging Corporation it appeared that once again the boss had ordered them into a restricted area of the forest to start clearing. Due to the companies’ huge spurts of growth, the fines for such infractions amounted to little more than a hand-slap. The value of prime, pristine logs that could be extracted proved to easily override the tiny amount scruples that Joey Buford possessed.

Joey was the third-generation “B” in B & L Logging and Barry worked as a team-supervisor that reported directly to him. This arrangement provided for constant tension that Barry could never quite put his finger on. Perhaps Joey’s condescending attitude and lack of respect for any and all rules contributed to his unlikable demeanor. Barry generally had the ability to dismiss his arrogance with a smile, hoping that ‘what comes around goes around’ would soon come, but this particular confrontation started ugly and finished worse. What should have been a discussion regarding business and legality soon degraded into a bout dedicated to personal attacks and eventually into a contest of physical blows.

To this day Barry enjoyed the satisfying thud of his right fist connecting with Joey’s smug, square jaw. Not even the sound of his unconscious body crashing to trailer floor stirred any feelings of regret. However, even Barry realized that in hindsight he should not have fired up the largest bulldozer and either crushed or otherwise debilitated every piece of equipment on site, bringing the operation to a halt for several weeks. Barry could have peacefully protested his employers’ transgressions had he been constructed from different fiber. A cardboard sign just didn’t seem to carry the fury that boiled from within. Barry found the visual impact of a seventy-ton Fiat Allis 31 raging out of control more to his liking.

In the back of his mind, Barry knew the distinct possibility existed that the authorities would someday locate him and bring him back to civilization for prosecution. Although he did take pride in the fact he eluded them for almost twenty years.

With only a few hours separating them Barry already missed his cabin, whose construction required him to fall indigenous pines with only his bare hands and an axe. Those trunks had been stripped by manual means and hewn by hand to fit together perfectly. He missed the serenity of the river, his steadfast companion; a friend which provided fresh fish for his nourishment and more importantly each peaceful morning offered to carry his troubles and frustrations to a destination far downstream.

While it remained fact, Barry had destroyed a few trees in a restricted zone, but the act had been to serve a genuine purpose. Those that had fallen remained on the very same mountainside that had given them birth. In his own mind Barry made a great distinction between creating a shelter for himself from God-given resources and ruthlessly logging vast amounts of acreage in the name of greed under the guise of logging.

The burly officer emerged from the restroom and without speaking a word reached down and unlocked the handcuffs, freeing Barry’s wrist and ankles from the chair. Other than reading his Miranda rights and a brief compliment as to the cabins’ fine construction, Officer Vanderhorn remained a man of few words.


Barry sat calmly aside his public defender as the jury made their way back into the courtroom. These criminal acts had occurred so far in the past it remained difficult for him to summon any remorse. During years of isolation nature served as judge, jury, and executioner. In his mind, had God interpreted the infractions to be serious enough he would have fallen victim to the great predatory wolves or been mauled by an eight-foot tall grizzly looking for a meal. Since none of these forms of natural justice had befallen him, he assumed he had been pardoned.

Judge Harriet Feldman made her predictable announcement.

“All rise as we hear the verdict read for Langerfeld Corporation versus Wienhelm. On the first count how do you find?”

“On the count of destruction of company property with malicious intent, we the jury, find the defendant guilty as charged.”

“And on the second count, how do you find?”

“On the count of first degree manslaughter, we the jury, find the defendant guilty as charged.”

“So says the jury, sentencing will be scheduled for one week from today. Court dismissed.”

Barry’s face showed no emotion. The public defender had dismissed his suggestion that the murder charge could have been refuted as self-defense, but the defender did have a point. It would be difficult proving that a man with a small pocket knife posed a lethal threat to a man wielding a double-bladed axe. Especially considering that Joey had not drawn the pocket knife until a swift blow had severed his right leg at the knee.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

My mother used to say
via quite a spiel
“Don’t you believe in fairies?
Why can’t you see they’re real?

Suspending disbelief
lying just beyond the brink
if fairies did exist
I’d prefer their wings were pink

I’d mold her from the heavens
if the sprite was a she
what a spectacle of galaxies
my pretty nymph would be

Twinkling stars for eyes
a comet tail for hair
“Angelic are her features”,
say all that stop and stare

Of this fairy I’ve created
Mom would likely sigh and frown
for as you can plainly see
she wears no silken gown

The Door of Tomorrow

She knocks upon tomorrow’s door
weak and weary from the fray
gathering arms from future store
to battle demons here today

Clashing with agents of time
reluctant to extend life’s lease
serving penance without a crime
a sentence without release

Pale blue eyes have seen too much
vibrant curls reduced to skin
the smile belies her fevered touch
and the raging beast within

She borrows strength without remorse
choosing hope over sorrow
trusting in an altered course
through the power of tomorrow

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Compound Interest

The pneumatic cylinder hissed its displeasure as it caught the weight of the door. A doctor’s sterile white cloak disappeared into the hallway as the barrier crept closed. Earnest L Whittington took pleasure in such repetitive things. The closing apparatus performed flawlessly while not a single person noticed the contribution, except Earnest. At a time when plenty of thoughts weighed heavy on his mind he dismissed them completely in favor of watching mundane mechanicals perform repetitive work. He himself could not begin to explain the unnatural manner in which his mind worked, but had managed to harness his preoccupation for all things mechanical into something useful. He chuckled as he recalled having been told of the improbability of a man simply listening to an engine and diagnosing which cylinder fired out of sequence.

Soon Dr. Horton would return with the test results in his hand, and Earnest would again leave frustrated, no closer to understanding his persistent ailment. The doctor would read the mumbo-jumbo in his pathetic, inflection-challenged voice.

He waved the chart above his head as if he were Moses returning from the mountain. His enthusiasm indicated that somehow decoding the chicken scratches on the page would miraculously change his patient’s quality of life. His voice struck with the finesse of a four inch needle in the buttocks. Though painful, Earnest promised he would give his friend a chance before he seized the opportunity to speak his own mind.

Earnest and Dr. Leonard Horton had been close friends for many years. Almost fifteen years had passed since the young intern’s car stalled in the middle lane during morning rush hour. Earnest, behind the wheel of his tow-truck, hurried towards his automotive shop as an unexpected detour on Fourth Street had already put him behind schedule. Long before he could see the cause he watched the harried drivers steering to either side of the unidentified obstruction ahead. As he eased the large truck into the right lane he reached down for his coffee. When his eyes returned to the busy street they widened as a man stood squarely in the middle of his lane waving his arms in a crisscross motion above his head. Earnest jammed the brake pedal to the floor, but despite his effort the gap between his bumper and the man steadily closed. He whispered a prayer for an opening in the adjacent lane and swerved in order to avoid the man. Breathing easier he brushed the remaining drops of coffee from his shirt and leaned out his window to voice his frustration.

“Ya fricken nut! Get outta the road!”

The tow-truck had traveled less than two blocks before changing course to assist the stranded motorist. Business had been slow, and he hoped the man wouldn’t have the audacity to ask him to tow the car to a competitor’s garage.

A couple of hours later Earnest had the well-used Mercedes back on the road. The doctor, impressed by the prompt service and unusual circumstances, insisted on making the check out for an additional hundred dollars. He claimed Earnest had been a Good Samaritan of sorts and earned every cent.

“Do you have any questions about the test results, Ernie?”

“Just what makes doctors so smug; pretending to know everything? ‘A hell I don’t what’s wrong with ya, Earnest’ reply, would be appreciated!”

Earnest lip parted as if he wished to continue, but a familiar feeling came over him as his lungs did not fill with air.

“Are you finished Ernie? If you’re dissatisfied, you should seek other services. Considering it was more than a year ago I suggested you see a pulmonary specialist! I continue to see you because you’re my friend and I enjoy your company. As a doctor, I’m doing you no good.”

Earnest’s lungs had partially recovered allowing him to speak in a raspy voice.

“Why did you bring that broken down old Mercedes to me instead of a transmission repair shop after I had already diagnosed transmission trouble? It’s simple—because you trusted me, precisely the same reason I come to you.”

“It’s not the same Ernie. The human body and cars are not the same at all.”

“Bullshit… deal in hearts and livers and I deal in timing chains and spark plug gaps. When I suspect fuel system trouble I don’t run a diagnostic check on your brake system. It’s almost as though you don’t want to find out what’s wrong!”

The doctor stroked his graying goatee while giving careful consideration to the words that had lingered on his tongue for many months.

“You want my honest opinion? You have congestive heart failure and since you haven’t visited a specialist and been formally diagnosed and treated. I’d give you no more than a couple of good years. Ernie, don’t you understand? I hoped you would visit another doctor.”

“Boy Leonard, you may know medicine, but your people-skills could use a little polish. You’ve got to ease a man into the idea he’s dying.”

Dr. Horton allowed his disgust to push his head from side to side while he released a heavy sigh.

“You accuse me of sugarcoating your diagnosis and now you say I lack bedside-manner. What is it you want me from, Ernie?”

“A friend, Leonard, and a fine one you turn out to be. Maybe my foot should have found the accelerator instead of the brake fifteen years ago! I’ll see myself out. Think I’ll head home, pull up an easy-chair, and wait to die alone.”

The front brakes squealed as the doctor brought the Mercedes to a halt in front of the trailer. It had been nine long months since the Mercedes had been in for maintenance, the exact amount of time since Ernie had closed up his repair shop. Leonard felt as though somehow he would be betraying his friend if he went elsewhere. He slammed his fist into the center of the steering wheel, frustrated that he had honored Ernie’s last words; most likely he had died alone.

Leonard regretted that his presence, even now had not been of his own accord. He had received a call from a neighbor, voicing her concern over the growing stack of newspapers outside Ernie’s trailer. She apologized for bothering the doctor, but admitted she didn’t know who to contact. As far as Leonard could recall Ernie had no relatives, at least that he spoke of.

He locked his car and reluctantly began the unceremonious walk to the door. The lack of any filtered light peeking through the curtains didn’t bode well for the situation. After two sets of unanswered knocks, each increasingly more deliberate, he tried the knob and found the trailer unsecured. Ernie had never seemed the type to be overly concerned about security. Perhaps he deemed the idea of a break-in less likely than a visit from a friend.

He ran his fingers along the interior wall searching for the light switch. His breathing came in short, rapid bursts as the bare light bulb inadequately illuminated the room. Ernie lay stretched out in his recliner, television remote still in his hand. He hadn’t been gone long. The experienced olfactory senses of the doctor failed to detect even a trace of death in the air. Leonard took solace in knowing his friend had gone peacefully, evidenced by the sheet of paper lying on his chest. If Ernie left a note, it had to be addressed to him.

To whom it may concern…

Leonard, you big dummy, who else would I be writing to? What took you so long, surprised the neighbors haven’t complained about the stench, or maybe they did. I had every intention of calling several times, but I suppose intentions only serve to lengthen my list of regrets. There remains only one piece of unfinished business left in my life and it would seem my procrastination has relegated doing this by proxy. Go to the freezer and you’ll find an envelope.

Leonard did as the letter instructed. He tucked the cold manila envelope under his arm before returning to the chair.

I want to thank you for your friendship. In all these years I didn’t bother to do that. I’ve never believed in fate; with all my heart I believe a greater power placed you in front of my tow-truck that day. For the record, I really don’t regret not having run you under.

In case you’ve forgotten, the envelope concerns the overpayment on your first repair. At first I was opposed to accepting the excess, but you insisted. Times were tight and the bank had sent final notice of foreclosure; confiscating not only my business but the one thing that had given my life purpose. The generosity of your deed sufficiently staved off the hungry dogs. Slowly my situation improved and I set that money aside. As you know I made multiple attempts to return it, but each time you refused, giving a different but equally lame explanation.

Leonard opened the envelope and found a crisp one-hundred dollar bill tucked inside, in addition to a large bundle of cash.

This is the original loan including the proceeds from shrewd investments. Pretty impressive for a non-Wall Street type, huh?

Leonard, there’s something to be said for familiarity. I’ve lived my entire life in ‘Comfortville’, driving a tow-truck for most of my life for God’s sakes. There comes a time when we must all move on. Promise me you will take this cash and purchase a car befitting someone of your status. I always pictured you in a vintage ‘Vette’; jet-black with lots of flashy chrome. A hot blonde in the passenger seat wouldn’t do you any harm. Doc, you need to live a little, tear up some open road. Punch her once for me, will ya? The ‘Vette’ I mean! Here’s to open roads and pegged speedometers, my friend. Cheers!

Leonard knelt quietly in front of the stone, running his fingers across the deep recesses carved there. It would have been a travesty he could not have endured had Ernie’s marker remained undistinguished from the others. Ernie accepted a simple role in life and asked for nothing more. While he excelled in his field, he never allowed the world of business to override his love and compassion for his fellow man.

His fingers moved from the name, Earnest L Whittington, down the shapely outline of the ’67 Stingray that was carved there.

Leonard turned the key and smiled as the aftermarket exhaust roared to life. Ernie had been right about more things than he ever realized. Leonard had passed on the blonde, at least for now, leaving room from his friend in the passenger seat any time he cared to ride.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Savage Beast

The morning started a little rough when my truck battery decided to play dead. Actually there was no feigning of anything and to be truthful it began more than a little rough. The turning of the key produced nothing more than a click, and I in response invented some new words in my fit of frustration. Forgive me if I misquote and since these are not real words I’m uncertain of the spelling. I believe it was, ‘Fricken-fracken, piece ‘o’ schnacken’!

Locating the right tools to remove the battery devoured my last bit of patience, or so I thought. Perhaps it was the seized bolt for the battery hold down bracket, or when the corroded positive terminal broke off in my hand. It’s very difficult to determine which event caused the unhinging to take place, and quite possibly it had been a cumulative effort on behalf of all things mechanical to persecute me.

Actually my morning/afternoon exercise in frustration turned in a positive direction from this point on. To my surprise the auto parts store not only had a new battery that fit in the same physical space, having the same specs in regards to cranking amps, they had the old style terminals (significantly more substantially engineered).

Not until my drive home did I recall that my wife’s car had satellite radio. Perhaps music does soothe the savage beast. Since neither my wife nor my impossible-to-please teens were in the car I sought out the station of my choice. Suffice it to say I found my fix in the form of a station appropriately named ‘Hair-Nation’, in reference to the eighties bands. The first song that played happened to be Zebra’s, Tell Me What You Want.

Amazingly after twenty-plus years I recalled each line and quickly found my screeching heavy-metal voice. Glancing in the rear-view mirror gave only a visual indication of transformation that coursed through my veins. I no longer saw cheap Walgreen sunglasses and my inch-long flattop instantly became a bleached shoulder-length mane. Reaching for the volume knob I found that once you surpass thirty-eight the digital display appropriately reads ‘max volume’. My image in the mirror became distorted as the bass made it quiver with excitement. I had almost forgotten the art of driving with your knee, but like riding a bicycle it came to me in an instant. Thankfully both my hands had been rid of the arduous task of steering just in time for my ‘air-guitar’ solo.

As if a healthy dose of Zebra was not enough, the rock gods blessed me with Geoff Tate of Queensryche blasting away the last of my frustrations with Operation Mindcrime. As an encore while I pulled into my driveway Rob Halford of Judas Priest reminded me I had been ‘Breakin’ the Law’.

P.S. To those discerning few; you may notice that I could find no images of Zebra, therefore I included the Scorpions, who entertained with ‘The Zoo’.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Oh cobbled road of stone
you answered desperate cries
leading from this home
you prevented my demise

Oh winding road of stone
your paths are so diverse
they guide me far from home
these roads I have traversed

Oh solid road of stone
companion true indeed
for years without a home
you served my every need

Oh weary road of stone
with keen and seeing eyes
my loneliness for home
exceeds my weak disguise

Oh friendly road of stone
and healer of direction
will you guide me to my home
which alludes my recollection

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sweet Temptress

Sweet temptress of the day
you bring forth deep desire
with your svelte and sultry way
you lure him near the fire

With silken touch and graceful state
your passion penetrates his will
beyond those smoldering eyes of slate
lie voids no mortal man can fill

Encompassed in your velvet dreams
his writhing soul finds sweet escape
bitter sweet her temptress scream
as he assaults her ashen nape

When evil reigns and lust arrives
with bloodshot eyes she stalks her prey
now living as the queen of lies
no longer temptress of the day

Friday, June 6, 2008

True Blue

He reached up and adjusted the brim of his Dodger ball cap so it tilted slightly downward. The flimsy shield made of fabric did little to thwart the rain. This particular May shower had combined forces with a gusty northerly wind, which transformed a gentle rain into horizontal sheets that tested his will. Each of the determined drops slashed at his face causing his patience to wear thin. Mike Cadiz, a nineteen year veteran of the L.A.P.D, was no stranger to the elements, but tonight he wore no uniform. The oath he had taken to serve and protect didn’t stop when he clocked out. The obvious odor of alcohol emanating from the occupant explained the man’s struggle to produce his driver’s license. Many things had worked to bring these two men together, but mostly luck. Good on Mike’s part and misfortunate concerning the inebriated man.

Mike had exited the convenience store when he spotted the car in the parking lot. A black 2004 Chevy Cavalier that matched the description given by the witness two days earlier. The fact that the owner had made no attempt to conceal the heavy damage to the front driver-side quarter panel surprised him. Mike knew it would be best if he called one of his buddies on patrol, but instead returned to his car to wait.

A rail-thin middle aged man emerged around the corner of the mart. His spindly arms appeared taxed just carrying the brown paper bag. The glimmering of brown glass just visible left no doubt as to his purchase. Mike couldn’t fault him; he too preferred longnecks. Mike lit another Camel light while he watched the man enter the car and promptly retrieve a bottle. He took several hurried swallows before setting the beer aside and reaching for the ignition.

Mike’s reliable Seiko indicated the time, one thirty-two a.m. Few if any of the fifteen minutes he promised his wife remained. Fifteen minutes would have sufficed to run out and purchase a pack of smokes, but then this opportunity came along. Although she needed him there with her, he knew his wife would understand. Only a few minutes of effort could prevent a serious accident.

He allowed the black Cavalier to exit the parking lot and followed at a safe distance. The driver continued to utilize his entire lane and occasionally a portion of the opposing one. Perhaps an indication this wasn’t his first twelve-pack this evening. After the man made an exceedingly wide right turn onto a side street, Mike placed the lights on the dash and activated them.

Standing in the elements, Mike adjusted his cap again. The soaked ball cap had given up what little protection it had provided just a few minutes earlier.

“Sir, this weather is nasty. You think you could hurry a little?”

Mike’s request seemed to frazzle the already nervous man. Document after document fell in his lap as he rifled through his wallet. The beam of Mike’s flashlight focused on the center console.

“Is that an open container in your cup holder?”

“Um—yeah officer, sorry about that, been a long day at work. You know how it is.”

Mike then guided the flashlight to the exterior of the car and examined the damage closer. The crumpled metal did seem consistent with what he assumed had transpired.

“Don’t suppose you can tell me what happened to your car, can you?”

“Well—officer, funny thing, my wife ran into the garage a couple of days ago.”

Hummmm, I see. I swear the insurance companies would go broke if it wasn’t for the female species.”

The man laughed nervously as if Mike believed his story and eventually if given enough time he could produce a valid license.

“You know what? I changed my mind. Don’t bother with the license; I think I’ve seen enough.”

Three empty casings clinked consecutively as they rebounded on the pavement and found rest in a puddle. The minuscule noise they produced paled in comparison to the actual muzzle blast but it was the clinking that caused a satisfied grin on his face. The first round smashed into the unsuspecting man’s temple, predictably expanded before exploding on the far side, carrying with it the man’s last milliseconds of life. Logic would have prevented the second and third rounds from being fired, but this had never been about logic.

Mike returned the model 1911 back to its resting place, tucked beneath his shirt, hiding in the small of his back. He grinned as he realized his preference for his own weapon opposed to standard issue. Certainly there were dozens of reasons he could cite. The silky smooth action and the immediate response the trigger provided were astounding when compared to the overpriced Glock. But on this particular early morning it was the origin of the weapon that gave cause to smile. The .45 had come from the evidence locker. On an off change that a ballistics test be performed the authorities would show up at the last registered owner’s home looking for answers. Mike knew the drug dealer from which the gun had been confiscated and had a pretty good idea he had not rushed out to register it.

Adjusting the beam of his flashlight he carefully collected the spent casings. After inserting the brass into the front pocket of his jeans he reached inside the Cavalier. The beer remained cold, a testament to justice dispensed quickly. Mike guzzled several swallows before pausing and wiping his lips with the back of his hand.

Aaaaahhh! You’re certainly welcome Mr. Kowalski. I had supposed the second D.U.I. and suspended license would keep you off the street. Regretfully I was incorrect. Oh, it’s no problem at all. Even I realize what a burden a heavy conscience can be. Hope you rest easier now, I know I will. No, no, thank you for the frosty beverage.”

Mike waited until he reached a busier thoroughfare before flipping on the headlights. As the light turned green his foot pushed heavily against the accelerator, hoping to make up a few of the lost minutes. With only a few blocks separating him and his destination he met with delay. Swirling blue and red lights swallowed his rearview mirror. For a moment he experienced a quickening of his pulse; the results for which he was responsible for inflicting on a daily basis. He rolled down his window as the officer approached.

“Sir, I need to see your driver’s license and proof of……”

“Jose, Jose Martinez, it’s me, Mike.”

“Hey Mike, almost didn’t recognize you. You’re lookin’ a little rough, but that’s certainly understandable. Hey, how’s your son doing?”

“I’m headed back to the hospital now, just had to run for a pack of smokes. After two days he’s still in a coma. The doctor says he could wake up any minute, in a week or a month from now, or never.”

“All of us guys at the station feel terrible about what happened. I assure you, if there’s one bit of justice left in this world we’ll catch that drunk that ran your son over!”

“I know everyone is doing their best and we really do appreciate your dedication. ‘Stay true to the blue’, isn’t that what they always tell us? Well, I better get back up there. My wife’s waiting and I’m already late. You be careful, man, plenty of freaks and misguided souls roaming the streets at this hour!”