Blasé Eight: Chapter 1 - Blase 8, book by edward drobinski (2023)

“Theme for an Imaginary Western"is a song which the groupMountainperformed at the historic, summer 1969 music festival known as Woodstock. The days were hot until the rains came. From its inception, the song was particularly relevant to the young people of the time; the ones we now sometimes refer to as Generation One. Just as in the song’s lyrics, they were just starting to embark on a journey which would change them and the world for that matter, forever. Just as in the song’s lyrics, the journey would be both corporeal and imaginary.

This book is not about that time. It was just the time which gave birth to many of the issues with which people still grapple a half century later in 2016. The procession has continued to lurch onward; the compass reading ultimately someone’s value judgement.

1965-1975 is a period of time which many people have difficulty in speaking or writing about. Me too. When it is mentioned, people invariably refer to the drug aspect. There is no doubt that drugs were made increasingly available to the white community at the time, but I’ll add that that it seems “sure as shit” obvious that drugs were not the most important part of the period; being a resident of fourth place at the generous highest. Not to belabor the biased aspect, for one thing, stopping a war is a bit of a big deal accomplishment.DUH!!!However, it also seems obvious that the drug aspect is apparently easier to talk and write about; especially by the most minor of players.

What this bookisabout truly escapes me; maybe it’s a joke, maybe it’s a struggle, maybe it’s an acquiescence, maybe it’s a celebration, maybe it’s a disinterest, maybe, maybe, maybe .......... Maybe I just felt like it. Suffice to say that everything has to have a starting point. At the bottom line, since this is my book, I chose to write it this way. That’s all.

“Theme for an Imaginary Western"was written byJack BruceandPete Brown; the former a member of Cream, and the latter his frequent writing partner at the time. Their contributions were substantial to both Cream and Mountain, but were largely overshadowed by Eric Clapton’s guitar virtuosity in the Cream period, and West’s penchant to blast during Mountain time; some crediting the latter group with being the inventors of heavy metal.

Leslie West and Felix Pappalardi; TFAIW’s vocalist, were early Mountain mainstays, though the group was somewhat mercurial, at times having Jack Bruce on bass rather than Pappalardi, one offshoot called “West, Bruce and Laing.”

It would have been nice if I could have just included the lyrics, which are available on about twenty internet sites, to speak for themselves. But, blah-blah and blah-blah in the twenty-first century.

“They don’t want to hear me speak with any eloquence.

They just want to see me act like a crazy nigger.”

Mike Tyson

“By the numbers.”


“By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all his work.”

Genesis 2.2

On his back and moving at the speed of a land turtle similarly situated, he saw the sky; enormous, to his left and above. It appeared to have been painted by an artist with either a palette deficiency or a preference for plumes of red, scarlet and cherry. He mentally chuckled as he knew that he had successfully fooled them once again. He was certain that a portion of his mind was gone, but that posed no particular concern as he never used 90% of it anyway. He was still alive and expected that soon some people paid to do such things would show up in a convoy of blaring panel trucks and set him right.

Chirrups of the blissful choir were drowned by the inadvertent and miscalculated detonation which preceded the subsequent stasis. There was a silence until Duke Ellington blew away any naïve, pompously phony and ultimately bogus rivals without knocking himself out. He disarmed them with a smile; a genuine smile. He didn’t care, but yet he did. He took care of an entire orchestra. He called his music “beyond categorization.” Uptown nights at the Cotton Club were sufficient definition for his notes.

Turning back a few less pages, those present, past or hoping to come; have, will have, or will not have, briefly enjoyed the thoughtful and joyful entertainment provided in the season of Donovan Leitch. Those not there at the time will never be able to understand why or how it happened or how close it came. Those not there at the time are also blessed not to have had that particular dream shattered in slow motion. The “authorities” frantically pulled out all stops to persuade people how terrible this was and it worked; especially when backed up by their guns; which blew away the nearby flowers, sending the others back to the safety of their books and studies. On Donovan’s behalf, it might be fairly noted that in his all too short-lived time of “The Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Epistle to Dippy,” “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Atlantis,” “Jennifer Juniper,” and “Season of the Witch’s” popularity; in the obliterating rush unfairly imposed, he neglected to cover the serenity of “Harlem Nocturne.”

The Duke has done that on numerous occasions. However, his low-keyed accomplishment has been blessed or cursed with WWW’s common and all too typical (mis)information concerning his participation with that song. Information overload? “Too much information!” is an increasingly common cry. Too many Eleanor Rigbys? This quandary exists despite the clear existence of versions attributed to him; available from AmawayOnSteroids, ranging from an MP3 solo priced at $.99 to eight boxed sets which peak at $48.99, ostensibly in consideration of the superiority of the antiquated vinyl grouping.

The non-materiality of the electronic debate is consistent with anything fueled by a lack of substance married to too-much-time. The children of the night have come to expect this type of repetitive lack of performance. They were born to the poorly prevented permutations, which propose that the paradoxical pastiche presented is just another play of an old procedural power grab. Probably proper. Sorry, Vlad; please don’t try to impale me. Most have come to find it vaguely amusing at their toddiest of times. Those choosing to affect a “dangerous” posture often “bug out” and take up guns. The smiling Duke man died before the “I” word took over everything. Maybe his heirs give something of a damn, but have yet to make public note of that. He lives in the plethora of on-offs; and is yet to grace the Franzenian diode form of existence.

The appropriately named Duke coached his orchestra in “American” music. This sound of this one; “Harlem Nocturne” is the depiction of a merciful sleep; though it could also be a cover for a noir adventure. This is an accomplishment regarded as magical to those possibly residing in the “borrowed” Rubber Soul world from overseas Harry or the equally well-publicized, “I-hope-the-angels-come” world of Sal.

In “The Big Apple” the night sky was black. The light was provided by the radiance generated by the incandescence sitting atop the fifty foot metal poles; seven per brown-stoned, side block. If there were any stars in the sky, they could not be seen. They were all on the ground; and very, very likely inhabitants of David’s court.

Whether it is deconstructionist, duplicative, duplicitous or just plain stupid, The Flaming Telepaths sang; “And the joke is on you. And the joke is on you. And the joke is on you. And the joke is .............................” The unlikely morning starts with the weatherman, stock market report and a “nice human” interest story presented by smiling Katy’s cards, on syndicated WEND in Albuquerque.

A Time Constrained, Commercially Interrupted Presentation of a Parochial, Sunday Morning, Space Odyssey, Re: “Pure” Reason

Cant said; "What goes up must come down,” adding a bit of a lengthy if.
Al said; "That entirely depends upon how you define things,” adding a bit of a lengthy if" before proceeding to be a tad insulting.
Overlapping Circles said: "There are any of a number of answers which will correctly solve for X."
The Frenchman on Stilts said: “To use reason to critique reason is the equivalent of using a banana to critique a banana."
Paul said; "Let’s all get up and dance to a song which was a hit before your mother was born."
Harry said; "I can expand on that and better yet, sell it in the big store."
Yeshu said; "I am the alpha and the omega. No one can get to the father, except through me."
Pete said; "The hell with the father. I like the mum better."
Fred said; "Mama's boy."
Rudy said; "If."
As he left the room, still wanting to be liked; David confused all present with his buried thought; "This banality is so un-entertaining, I'm out of here forever."

The Thin Man took copious notes and wondered what he’d say if and when he got home.

The one eyed midget said; “Now!!”

The Reader remained seated beneath the window, turned to The Marvel Man and said; “The clever erudition is reminiscent of a proletarian Terkel reporting the events having taken place in senior Philosophy-Math class at Cliff U. It is recommended to geriatrics sporting bi-focals. Three stars.”

Hercules entered through the open front door and said; “How could you possibly know?”

Desolate Bobby said; “Pound and Eliot are at it again. Jeez. Singers laugh. Fishermen bring flowers.”
The writer said; "Please stop it. My mind is on the verge of an explosion."

Peebles said; “This shit could go on forever.”

Vlad showed open derision when he said; "It's all in the technique. When I put my pencil to paper I am making art. That is all."

Patti said; “That’s all?”

The aloof coldness of winter gnawed its way into the land, and sea, making optimal use of jaws armed with the refinement of its sharpened teeth. The winter had exerted no effort to have acquired these useful choppers. Allowing the natural aging process to progress was sufficient preparation. The initial absurdity was that after two frigid days of the old man’s presence everything upon which he might have bitten had taken refuge in burrows and other forms of difficult-to-access ground dwellings. He was left hungry, with only an unreachable, disinterested gray sky to stare at. Despite the ease of his refinement process, most people referred to it as an acquired taste. The second absurdity was that rather than having made any sort of acquisition, it seemed more likely that something was lost. For the billionth time he thought; “If only the little creatures would get used to me. I’m not the villain.” Simultaneously a loud cracking sound came from above and unique white flakes started to silently congregate on the ground. With no other diversions available, Jack Frost started to count them. At three billion he ceased, for as they blended into one consistent mass, he could no longer determine any sense of individuality. It was as if the sky itself had fallen and put on dry, washed clothes.

The land merely winced the slightest bit. It was an experienced, surviving veteran of the game. The sea paid homage by producing ice at its edges and donning white caps; the degree of tribute growing each day. The obscenely confident, ancient, fanged choppers of the invisible, yet un-deniable presence were well worn. But the consistently “efficient,” ripping experience of the incisors had made the butcher-temporarily-in-charge capable of extracting more blood than the ghost had ever imagined in its pre-Freudian, pre-Jungian and pre-“New Age,” “un-sophisticated” youth. It was perhaps another false memory. On a practical level, the lingering thought was how a deleterious event could qualify as a certifiable memory. Modern studies suggested the possibility that the characterization of a vague reminiscence seemed more than adequate. Perhaps this was a fine line; and somewhat confusing at best to the non-sophists of the realm. The now acquiescent firmament safely played both sides of the coin. Rather than exhibiting summer’s wild expanse of sapphire with asymmetrically designed crimson fringes, it opted for the limitations of the dropped gray ceiling.

Wall Street hedged again; a scientifically proven best bet. The firmament borrowed money it didn’t ever intend to repay. Its due diligence suggested that it should prudently hold back. Its decision was consistent with acceptable social behavior, as exemplified by the current Atlantic Monthly version of Ms.’ Mary, married to the current Nebraska Times holder of the Midwestern propriety chair. Norms strongly suggested making an attempt to appear competent at meeting the rigors of math; exemplified by the ability to correctly count the US greenbacks.

Subsequent to the Wall Street report, brought to you by those friendly folks at, two brief moments of clarity rudely imposed themselves.

Startled memory woke in a penetrable, dreamy fog. In the imagined wink of someone’s eye it fancied itself in a new day. Now, undecided the sky withheld its flakes. It wanted to either snow or let the glow come through. However, the “ministrations” it thought it had been “taught” clearly concluded that it was in the best interest of the expanse to restrain itself and thereby impose an allegedly desirable limitation upon the others below. The total mass retain. Allegedly desirable. Allegedly desirable. Likely sociably derived. ......... To be pragmatically non-committal, do-nothing-but-threaten, drear was the safe order of the day. The strips, straddles and/or collars were “displayed” on a high definition, wide screen, irrelevantly available in high definition Technicolor. Peaks required rendition of a palatable blending of blue, grey, and off-white, previously artfully made available to the Seven Sisters asLysol Spraywith a Crisp Linen Scent can, executed in tandem. This was an un-dismissible, short revelation a half century prior. However, since it has not been yet surpassed, it remained un-dismissible to the constituency characterized as the “fiery devotees of redundancy.”

Mid-day expectations are that the noon mixed palette of the low sky will almost want to snow, but won’t be able to pull the failing left cord. It will almost want to shine, yet will not be able to get a hold on the failing right cord. It will most likely want to hibernate with the rabbits until some assistance with the boiler switch is contracted. It will remain silent, concerning the matter, giving the boiler man the scantest of opportunities. From experience it knows that to speak the truth was guaranteed to be another annoying-as-in-droning-mosquito-ear-buzz, diagnosis of depression seen through the only lenses available to the first level judges, who seem to operate as if there were no court of appeals. The implications of “Just doing my important jobby,” is the credo one would suppose preferred. The first in a series of lengthy, contradictory “operation manuals” said so on page 10. Yeah, right. Well-read or well-skimmed by currently, dumbed down standards, and sufficiently practical for one to eke out a “living,” the pun either too obvious or too obscure.

Narcissus’ pond ripples in the unconscious breeze providing an even more imperfect image. But, if the wind stopped blowing the result would be the dreaded stasis. It’s truly sad for her to imperfectly view the further imperfect reflection; unless she steels her mind to the simple math which says that the multiplication of two negatives result in a positive. We think that Estes can truly portray it, and then wonder if that is of any significance, beyond the precise moment of its sighting, and only to be pronounced dead by the museum acquisition of another extraneous corpse, financed by the well-meaning, rattlers of jewelry.

She immediately concludes that this is just another testimony to the supreme bastion of elusive time and the jealousy of the calculator-mired time value of money; decreasingly hopeful of remaining spiritually innocent of the limitations imposed, while simultaneously entertaining the belief that business is always more successful with at least one partner. Her biggest fear is that everyone except her knows that; excepting the days she spends with the financial statements. Regarding the former, they do and they don’t. Regarding the latter, it can and does go on a bit too much. It is kindly unsaid by those who know. Consequently, she is precluded from the other’s knowledge or limitations, depending upon the circle of hell achieved by the polling media. Yet she strongly suspects that everyone knows of her financial and emotional demise, and is afraid of being publicly embarrassed, more than happy to pretend the feigned commitment of years gone, “When Harry Met Sally.”

True commitments are not yet adequately written and will never be. The better documents get bogged down in definitions; the good are contradictory; the adequate are unenforceable in court; and the worst are completely irrelevant because one party is gone and has left no assets behind.

Agreements are imperfectly felt and understood at best. To successfully do something otherwise would be to make an easy quid pro quo of the entire system; as designed, administered, tried, sentenced and incarcerated by the powers we have allowed to exist in our own imperfect image. Besides the US BAR would never allow anything which diminished the need for lawyers.

“Blasphemy, blasphemy,” as threatened by Vincent Price, as he tried to depict one of Edgar Alan Poe’s horrors. It’s OK, better than most, but ultimately almost as half assed as a suicide bomber, after the fact. “The Conqueror Worm” can easily outdo any current zombie or vampire populated, YA classified attempt to horrify. It shows an uncomfortable migration toward the real, as it’s based on an old Brit actuality they’d like to forget. There’s a scrap of a Heller defined double bind present as the process which requires the knowledge of a history was lucratively eliminated through the dumbing down process. Many say this was initially introduced as a non-priority-by-product under the economic guidance of Thatcher-Reagan antiquities or iniquities. Register your opinion regarding the possible distinction if you dare. Don’t be afraid. They say; “It’s COOL to be dumb.” It’s extremely gauche to say; “It’s even cooler to have a choice in the matter.” The incompetent teachers make long essays 80% of the final grade in order not to be deemed deficient themselves, and the performance on the “objective” multiples of five choices is thereby easily over-ridden. Precision is so out of style. Under what might be rightly or wrongly interpreted as a post-modern analysis, the teacher cannot fail everyone without those failures simultaneously being construed as a testimony to her inability to adequately “teach.” So, if you have not yet figured out this little game, it is in her interest, decreasingly so with age, to grade the essays highly, and with cursory regard to content.

If one is asked what they think of ignorance and apathy, the most efficient answer is; “I don’t know and I don’t care.” It’s considered funny and cool.

Lost; maybe self-servingly so. .......... Maybe lost in time. Maybe lost in space. Maybe both. I can’t tell the difference. Can’t tell. Don’t care. Even Einstein waffled. Know I’m bored to death with the same old story. ......... Who among us does not know that that which is the product of the contemporaneously credentialed thought version, is produced by those in need of Hamiltonian remuneration and Mandela-like recognition, and consequently pretend, like a Prince, to be blind to its point’s existence as another insignificant one in an infinite supply of points, hoping to appear as clandestine in its primary goal of serving its masters, acting as if it were truly unaware that it will be inevitably revealed to be a miniscule fragment in a circling line; “advances” and “regresses” purely a matter of judgement as weary Zeke keeps the wheel turning; the concepts of right and left, up and down, rendered devoid of any meaning whatsoever in the spinning gyroscope doing an old PT Barnum circus act in the illusory air, before we get to the end when Zeke’s wooden stilts give way to the rot and collapse? ................. There was supposed to have been an engaging question or two in there somewhere. I thought. Wasn’t there? Oh, just forget it. Never mind. Almost digressed. Maybe.

If there is some sort of doubtful and ultimately unconnected point, it could well be that we all know that this outward purveyor of boonies-schoolmarm countenance thinks she has succeeded in making herself seem to be a gracious Eve and not an “evil” Lilith, the center of a universe, not yet defined in science. She is substantially correct. Substantially.

As is always the case with the proper paper possessing proprietors of propaganda, her current prognostications of brilliant fact will soon again be superseded by the prognostications of brilliant fact induced by the inevitable discovery of the next more advanced, “state of the art” lens. At that point the games played will have to undergo further adjustments and corrections.

There is brief, comedic respite in the repeat “entertainment” provided by “The Education Channel.” The thing, in a somewhat indecipherable fashion, seems to suggest the necessity of something akin to regular, ritualistic Voodoo sacrifice or the observance of the requirements imposed during the season of Lent in the Christian tradition; wherein, among other things, one gives up something they like for the forty days prior to Easter. This can be a difficult decision as we like things in differing degrees and there are porous borders. Ignoring the always difficult discussion regarding relativity inferred in the former part of the latter instance; one can contend in the latter part of the latter instance, that if I like my job and give it up for 40 days I’ll have some problems with the tithing requirement. In the former case I won’t get too bent out of shape if someone in heavy makeup beheads a chicken; as they’re made of rubber these days. According to the Olde English, Lent derives from the word spring and I don’t even want to think about that one. But, they try to scare you into complying; as it’s either some sort of victim-hood or an ad for “affordable” cremation services keeps inordinately turning up on the screen in a statistically significant fashion. For the most part, as the entranced parishioners tried to not be a further burden to the others they again sucked it up, in “righteous” deference to the oneness conveyed in the concept of the never seen, never heard, great man; despite being physically portrayed by his said-by-some-to-be son’s claim of being both the alpha and the omega.

What was easily apparent to those higher and lower ends of the spectrum; and what was found lacking and a source of couched, non-sequitorial amusement in the middle; and what was found to be dismissively archaic to the most current of another and another and another of generations; and what was once dreamed, if not experienced by those condemned to what they could early gather from the books they read and were un-knowingly, exceedingly cruel and by their progenitors, knowingly brutally torn from much too soon, was that they sat at the kitchen table, with a fork and a plateful of the broken glass from the window above, in need of a check.

The observation is deemed much too wretched to be duplicated in seriousness; mirth the clown’s miserable, broken wheeled chariot, hidden under paint of any color available at the time. The surveillance performed would likely be construed as another patented ploy to obtain something malodorous of a desired invocation of the beast with two backs or its permutations. Hung up? Without question, a resounding truthful “Yes” is screamed by those who think that they have departed the travail of earshot. “No” is said in ludicrous political speeches. “With reservations” or “We need more information” works well for those seeking election.

It seems obvious that if one were to be kind to those one loved it is best to forget, forgive, avoid any sort of “analysis,” and not truthfully present the false position of one’s muddied, broken heart; a form of advertisement cheaply purchasable. In other words; “Just shut up.” Your partner understands this all too well. It is something shared. The unimpeachable silence. Any foolish attempt to articulate only makes it worse. ........... Yet your heart makes you want to try, and as far as you can tell, not primarily for you. Jung. Maybe young. A bit unclear. For the benefit of your partner you intellectually know that it is better for her to not hear anymore. Yet, you need her so much that you will draw at any straw of communication. You soon see that some of these straws hurt her. ........... You are further confused at the lack of another prayerful, pillow entreaty. In the popular, current, yet centuries old, big-print regurgitations you laugh; ............. at yourself as well as the rule makers. It could be worse or it could be better; the lack of alpha-omega measurements most prominently considered. Might it? Might it? Might it? Might it be different this time? Mathematicians currently and historically think or pretend to think that they have proven the facts; which must requiring ignoring the fact that something new and contradictory is introduced every few years. If they were truly brilliant they would easily see that, at any given point, they don’t have anything other than a shrieking, well-practiced, temporary, Chris Rock intro.

There were a number of times when my spotted white dog and I came to the end of the meager wolf paths. She always seemed as confused as I. Being somewhat taller, I could always see over the tall grass and knew that a hundred feet away seemed to be the start of another path. From a stance closer to the earth, she may have seen the same thing or may not have. She never told me. The immediate problem was that in between the two were potential hazards; large rocks, things which grew with flesh ripping spikes and sometimes there was discarded, barbed wire lying on the ground. Since she was the bravest and smartest of Dalmatians, I tend to think that she was giving thought to my safety. She’d look at me and then head in the right direction every time; and neither of us ever got hurt.

At any point in space, time or inevitable, subsequent revision with some jack assed excuse opens a concern ............ Might it be destruction? Well, maybe? Very well maybe, as traditionally viewed. The answer depends on what you think you have. If it good-heartedly results in some sort of end that is also an end to any kind of human pain; it sounds pretty good, especially in context of the existentialists, yet to be disproven; only rendered less popular. Could be death? Worth the risk? ............... I guess the query was best put by Dirty Harry, when he said; “The question is; ‘do you feel lucky, punk?’ Well, do ya?” I always felt lucky when I was with Daisy. Believe that.

Various “intelligent” versions of the “I’ve seen it. I know”’s proliferate. And then my dog wakes me up when she sees the shadow produced behind the mountain. I want to stay under the warm covers until I am faced with the choice of either getting up and stumbling to the bathroom or pissing all over myself and the bedding. My dog has no conception of my physically imposed needs. She usually waits, often with paws up on the brick ledge below the windows. There are animals out there; rabbits, squirrels, road runners, cats and coyotes. Ostensibly, as a result of their experiences with the human race, they have chosen to be nocturnal and at this first inkling of dawn hurry home; like the times when .............. Read some splatter-gross out-surplus-punk if you crave the details, which are the height of hilarity to a dumbed down fifteen year old. Sometimes she wakes me; usually in winter. We are of differing species. Mine hibernates and I guess hers doesn’t. The mornings are often cold by November in the low lying Sonoran desert, often in the teens with a northern wind, and she tickles my face with her whiskers, and I pick up the double or triple blankets. She eventually joins me. But, before that happens, most often the process goes back and forth a few times. She starts in, and then backs out. I lower the blankets and again close my eyes, until she again tickles my face. This “dance” can go on for some time. I guess that she eventually opts for the blankets after she again determines that I have no intention of moving until either there is AM light or the bathroom urgently calls. I never told her, but suspect that she knows that I’m afraid of the dark; the incessant nightlight a possible giveaway. Every morning. Every morning. Every morning with ........................... the local channel’s “funny” weatherman grinning as widely as the Joker, as he tells self-deprecating “jokes.” This might be mildly amusing in its easy banality, if the weatherman didn’t make it so obvious that he considered himself a “star” playing down to the lesser ones; his talent at reading something other than that provided by the National Weather Service, yet to be determined.

Might it be better? Invariably, the answer is a laughing and mocking, loud “NO.” While I petition for an end to winter; and even fall (no double pun intended), I also know that all that’s left is only you and I, and I can’t be the last one to leave. But, I always am, as the sky continued to play the safe side in fifty shades of grey.

To the unknown writer of this which is deemed classically redundant, boring or incoherent; the contradictions remain conveniently indiscernible. Precision infatuated studiers of Gogol and Blake wind up on the barroom floor in the company of Charlie and Benny. They didn’t mind as it’s a highlight. David, Jonathan, George, and their admirers watch the show from side stage.

So, here’s another attempt at the rendition of the old, old story. “How old is that?” Ed dutifully asked Johnny. Johnny put his notes to his forehead and replied; “It is so old that the Aramaic scribes had not yet written of the second season in which largely unpopular Lilith was written out, and Eve starts the successful cycle, spun off and spun off, leading to ‘Bewitched.’” There was absolutely no laughter whatsoever from the audience. There were no boos either. Just polite smiles with furtive glances to neighbors. Johnny took an imaginary swing of his golf club, and said a drawn out; “Okay. ...... Okay. What you may not have known is that Sumerian is a language no longer spoken, though it is what the Bible, inasmuch as it has evolved, was originally written in; and the joke is that ...........,” His eyebrows climbed an inch. He cut off his ill-conceived sentence and looked offstage right and said; “Scotty, I’d like to see whoever wrote this in my office right after taping. I mean like right after. ........... Little joke, folks.” He turned back to the spectators and said; “Golly, gosh and darn. I assure you.”

The polite audience was primarily comprised of middle-aged, white visitors on holiday in the architecturally designed canyons of the big apple for their collective first times. The last thing they wanted to do was to appear as rubes. The vacationing group had taken all the free tickets available from the kiosk located on the triangular island in the middle of gentrified Times Square; which sought attention by displaying an overhead sign which intends to entice the grinning travelers with a blue on cream, flowing banner with the surprising exclamation of; “FREE TICKETS.”

The time-lapsed lack of audio mechanically triggered a silent, invisible, luminosity in the black box; a signal which induced the taped laugh machine to kick in with its own predicted result. Johnny peered off-stage and said; “I hope the editing talent employed here doesn’t show the taciturn audience while the laugh thing is going. ....... Or, vice-versa, I guess. ... Anyway, we’ve got a great show for you tonight. We’ll kick off with Johanna McCluskey and her amazing dancing bear.” Indecipherable sounds emanated from somewhere indeterminate. Head down, Johnny eyed the cards in his hands and says; “Okay. Johanna’s not here. Could the bear make it?”

Though not asked, Jane Austen, in her brilliance, once offered a bit of a fine distinction regarding Charlotte Bronte, regarding what is “real,” as opposed to what is “true.” The brevity and inadequacy of attempted articulation has not raised the bar in more than a century. Or was it also vice-versa? Or IS it ............?

Avid watchers and readers may have noted the porous segue from sky to earth over the water. Here sits the utopian hermit monk, side saddle on the golden calf. Here begins another old ensemble story; this time dressed by the discount outfitters as inexpensively designed by the un-noticed duplicity of Machiavelli’s sister; and this time with characters from more than one social category. Ready for the David Elmore married to Zadie, Joan, Emily, Virginia and Patti wedding pictures. It’s okay; they’re all Mormons.

Hollow, vague allusions make way for the banal. To be an unstable, omniscient narrator has its advantages. Now, back to Katy with how it played in Peoria yesterday. Take IT away, Katy.

With the bulk of his confusing dream already faded into the plain woodwork, Jack stood next to his kitchen sink; steel well stained. He had earlier showered and dressed in his currently useful uniform. He was reluctantly somewhat ready for the tasks of the day. The coffee, sequestered in a green, plastic cup, which he held in his left hand was still too hot for him to risk scalding other parts of himself he considered more sensitive. He sipped slowly, and with a delightful trepidation, which required a concentration he enjoyed experiencing at the expense of his mouth and tongue. He patiently anticipated that the heat would gradually subside. It always eventually did. This wasn’t his first cup of coffee and it wouldn’t be his last.

He stared out the still dark windows above the sink, and managed to see something of a poorly depicted rendition of his head and neck; as if it was contrived by an artist of pretense; gray and un-clear in its incompetent mockery of what he once thought undeniably true, now settled into an indistinct wish for no criticism. Despite the timeworn, buoyant visions he thought he had earlier seen through the unknown-to-be-imperfect lenses with which he was provided, they were day by day becoming forgotten memories, un-replenished by the overly ripened, modern instruments of observation. Once they were naively considered youthfully clear. Now, he was once again shaken in his adjusted maturity. Doubt rode in on the waves produced by the undeniable thing right in front of him. Only the sequestered blind might be able to claim that the tide had not come back in, without drawing derision.

It was some sort of instinct. It was something confirmed by experience. But, he knew that it went further back than that. Once again, he momentarily and helplessly gave it credit for more than its ambiguity deserved. It. It. At the core what is or was an it? It Lives? Clara, the It girl? ........... Just fuck it; that’s all.

Jack turned away and slurped. He felt no burning sensation. The infernal rite was just another short-lived fake, now reduced to tepid, calculable inconsequence. Another day on the fringes of the authoritatively credentialed, stated view of “life” was on the way. A Dylan-esque sneer seemed appropriate. However, it was of habit withheld as another, well-practiced, intended appearance of deference to the socially programmed necessity of appearing sickeningly nice, required by the currently playing Ludlum farce. It was a requirement and could not be harmed by over practice. As usual, for a fraction of a second, he attempted to differentiate the real from the true, or even more likely from the insipid, collectively induced wish to not offend those posturing as the “sensitive,” arbitration society, headed by Nicky, arm in arm with Mary. Appropriate thank yous were extended to BF, FM and TV.

The ritualistic duplication of Jack’s morning never produced the desired magic of an evangelist’s pointed gun; yet the routine had not yet required him to kill anyone; detainment of the easiest of targets his specialty; a practical modus operandi.

As the reluctant, mid-week, morning sun slithered out of the darkness and deigned to provide a semblance of light over the rugged, un-moving mountains, Jack’s coffee became palpable to a not-particularly-gifted toddler. In the wake of 9-11 he wondered why the uniform which supposedly allowed him to do most anything, didn’t allow him to feel happy. Out of the feebly reflecting dark and quickly diminished, electric heat, Jack’s mind wandered.

“So, lie to me,” he thought. “I’ll desperately pretend to believe. Everything in my stupid heart makes me wish. You have correctly calculated not to give it any chance, yet you will not afford me the solace of sleep, through the tiny cuts of your hidden knife. Kill me or go away! But, apparently it either couldn’t or didn’t wish to kill, and it would not go away. Sometimes it seems the height of cruelty. If you never did anything other than fake, please tell me. The doubt hurts me more than the ‘reality’ ever could, no matter the visuals provided. An understanding of a correctible ‘truth’ would help me and you greatly. I thought that I asked so little, as I am compelled to counter that thought with the one that asked everything. Help, help, help, help, help, help, help, help. Please help me. I can’t understand the popular, cutting, runaway, suicidal, digressions into dystopia. I hope them to be merely theatre, though I know they are not. A male is not permitted to cry; yet ............... there were the most private of moments until Jonathan and Edward advised me otherwise.”

And there the children of dark Night have their dwellings; Sleep and Death, Morpheus and Muerte; rehashed once again; this rendition in brusquely painted blond. The unconscious watchers perceive the pair as awful gods; and wait for the fickle gong to awaken the asses which have stupidly paid money for the right to occupy a transient seat; thereby defensively seeking to excuse their own clandestine crack.

Yet those incorrectly seen as gods are nothing, if not seasoned pros. They are well accustomed to the rigors required by the act of performance; and have handled that time and again; it nothing more than just a job requisite; the minor turning of a screw; with the correctly headed screwdriver. Any thespian related foibles are caused by his imagined audience mind read and is clearly directly proportional with his “free” time; a supposed luxury. The burdens of those placed on the stage most often manifest their presences in the shackles rattled by Marley. The great expectations of those caught in the spotlight are truly merciful and besides, Chuck Barris took away the gong and quit quite a while back. He even appropriated the dancing machine and brought it with him to Carmel.

The glowing sun has become disinterested in the boring, intellectualized ruminations; becomes distant and washed-out, and now chooses Lear over Hamlet. Wan is triumphant as it displays the non-color of water choosing to harbor a week old tea bag; described by DFW as Pale, like in King, overly explained for the benefit of non-fans. The yellow man borrows from the rotten, and says; “I try so hard to be nice.”

He, once again, vows to never again grace them with his beams and seeks an eight figured museum deal. The stated colloquial and societally based inhibitions, even when perceived in the best of currently available lenses, find that satisfactory; any possible reservations withheld. The disillusioned orb displays his own intellectual and philosophical difficulties in his highly interpretable posture. He can’t turn completely away from the reflecting pond. He is already weary of being viewed as merely tea colored; though it was his un-recalled choice. It doesn’t matter whether he ascends the east, nor if he comes down the clouded, western slope, to a lower, psychologically contrived hell. And the former of them roams faux-nicely over the earth and the sea's broad, long forgotten back and despite that, he is still kindly to men and women; but the other; the shadow; the supposed “realist,” has a heart of iron, and the spirit within him is as pitiless as cold bronze. He is adjudicated as schizophrenic by the majority of the damning, disinterested mainstream; and sentenced to time served. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Whomsoever of men he has once seized he holds fast; and he is hateful even to the best ignored inferior, closest, and ingratiate deathless, immortal gods. Judgment day has been voted upon and chosen in a democratic landslide, but not by either of the two out-voted ancients. The former serves merely as a merciful, reluctant executioner; with a sad “Goodbye” or a shyly whispered “Hello,” tears hidden. The latter serves as the silence of materiality, motivation unknown. It doesn’t really matter to him as it has already been democratically chosen by the populace; and inevitably someone will be paid to carry out the wishes tabulated in the crooked polling place. It is only to be further demonstrated to the credentialed or faux arbiters of the over-their-head-weather-monitored sky, as their failure of trust toddy and disallow.

Downbeat jazz. Broke Dexter Gordon in the flash forward American Museum currently called Western Europe; backwards, yet that which rules. Dexter plays the hand dealt. Find a way to live with it or fold forever. Joke with the coke. Hello, hello, hello, hello. Pleased to be here. Appreciate the polite, non-STD claps. No sarcasm intended. Smile as best you can. It’s a good beat. Jack yourself to play. Give them dreams. Later, they’ll conjure their own desired nightmares.

No objectionable complaints. No fuss. The front row lady in the designer dress is showing the runners all the way up her stockings; her left shoe ready to fall from the toes from which it hangs. Dex has been told that he is free; free to blow air which drifts to the sky. What is beneath is digitally re-mastered, “enhanced,” high definition visuals of the clubs, diamonds and spades. Hearts remain absent or incognito. They have learned that to do otherwise risks suffering the scorn now endured by last year’s “ridiculous” height of fashion. Dostoyevsky’s idiotic friend has become acquainted with Gogol’s colors. Deal with it. There is no real going back without lobotomization. Anti-depressants and morphine temporarily dull the dull.

A cold glance shows dissipation, masquerading as something incorrectly classified as meta; the recognition of the “oh-so-sad” reversal of possibility. See Obama’s classical pose for further details. Anti-meta has made its presence known, though it has cleverly chosen to give itself an undefined name, rank and serial number. It knows one gigantic thing extremely well; and that is enough. It knows that while it was once true that to divide is to conquer; in the “democratic” Age of Information to define is to conquer. It has infested the late day, winter sky with some semblance of illusory light; affording the “solace” of discount store, yellow happy faces to the desperate on the check-out line. “Thank you. You have a nice day too.” The radiance is pallid, but effectively serves as bogus illumination to the striving faithful’s, tithe backed and “Sunday gift” wishes for an Eden never seen. The crack between Aphrodite and Hermes widens as she dreams an optimism which has no precedent in reality and he wisely calculates likely outcomes with deft keystrokes. Effectively playing the odds has assured him that he and she will have a fruitful life and comfortable retirement. The later discovery of being wrong while well intentioned is humbling; but is paid for by the kids.

The sun flip-flops its significance with the bulbous gray, displaying time proven, wearisome acceptance. The battle lines of the drear are secured and stationary, perhaps the popular, efficient result of proven covert military strategy, well known, but only stated in a faux pas. The now, black hole wishing sun seems compelled to keep moving toward its obliteration at the horizon. This scientifically proven to be, optical illusion falsely foreshadows the darkness of being buried alive. Another day has passed over the land of milk and honey, reflecting for a mere instant on the jocular, erudite pretensions of the silver spoons at toddy time. The lucky one quickly knows that trying will only uniformly produce fatigues manifested in varying hues.

The discount store collage “education” was the un-elected birthright of the strivers. Standardized Oriental high schoolers scored better in all colors except green. Armed with purchased papers signifying “credentials” masters and doctors plied their wares, dispensing kick back drugs and unapproachable economic superiority. Voted-in crooks spun webs of fraud; lucrative scams, perennially “invisible” to the wish-to-be-seen-as-nice, socially conscious, “good’ believers and those in need of a ride. Invest in the proven. Organized crime has beaten disorganized freedom every time. The guiltless dreams of a meth fucked kid were the best available compensation; an ambulatory speedballing escapee; for a while; a very short while. The young adult was too soon confronted with the gloom and repetition of an unavoidable, wickedly laughable reality of impossibility. The good old boys at the county seat go to the bank knowing that there ain’t all that much time; and they are yet to be proven wrong.

Another name. Another plane. Another place. Another identity. Another start. Another approach. Shutdown of any conception of reality. The joyous fantasy of her eternal presence was already smashed like the earthquake china on the shelves of San Francisco. Eden was written and preached through the eyes of the overbearing, sexless, excepting-altar-boy oriented ministrations, presence of the mercenary blind in pious cap and gown. Was that a trip or a fall? Good guess. The stoic adult survivors trudged to work and mall with the dynamism of zombies with withered right legs. The sickly old disappeared to peruse offers of marked down cremation services. “Reality” became a dream of a merciful end. The end. The end. The end? No more games. They’ve all been played ad infinitum anyway. Freeze it; drown it; burn it; bury it; whatever. It only takes normality and a dash of understandable larceny. Just don’t stick more ashes into the revered fireplace urn. Everyone knows the old joke. Maybe a merciful oblivion comes. Overly optimistic, perhaps. Yet, here stood all that was known; inherited by the beleaguered new; contaminated by the unseen, useless watcher. Maybe gentle sleep sans nightmare. Ha. Better shot at waiting for Godot or Lefty.

In the brave, struggling world of irrational hope, Calle de la Congelacion was a refuge, a sequestered haven, a quarantined boneyard, a loved union, a hated community, an irresistible beauty, a ghastly dread, an eternal presence, a temporary thing, a home for the white robed, a home for the unapologetic sinner, a place where people stood tall, a place where people dropped to their knees, a home of understanding, and a home of confusion. It was far from unique.

Jack lived there because he could afford to.

Each house bore no resemblance to its neighbor. Each property was a thick forest. Each house stood alone. Each property displayed the uniformity of a renewing, continuous nature. Each house was poor and showed the deterioration of time. Each property was rich with a timeless patience, waiting for the predictable renovation of spring. It was far from unique.

Jack lived there because it was a good place to hide.

It was a confession booth. It was a denial of the pious. It was perverse. It was ordinary. It was isolated. It was in a crowd. It loved. It hated. It bought. It sold. It lived. It died. It was far from unique.

Jack lived there because it was near his job.

One could easily go on and on with Calle de la Congelacion’s traits to tiresome perpetuity. However, it would merely be indicative of a total, tragic, comic and ludicrous disregard for the harsh reality now brutally manifested in the street’s world of today.

Of most tangible and practical significance; Calle de la Congelacion was a perfectly straight, two lane dirt road; though a surveyor peering through his finely discriminating glass would note the persistent, naturally inspired undulations, immaterial to the naked eye, and of no significance to anyone, except those who take some sort of “status” from their desperate need to show their possession of a functional, state-of-the-art lens. What would become of Saturday night barbecue “parties” without the likes of new pools, decks and gadgets?

With full realization that their consciously considered, possibly insulting spin could be taken negatively by the residents of the road, town officials of the Village of Propicio chose to leave Calle de la Congelacion off the maps they distributed to tourists. The pariah road was shaded with elms and was no longer in keeping with the sunny gardens recently established. Besides, there were no registered voters living there. Besides, there were periodic, un-confirmed accusations of an open disregard for the law. Besides, to ignore, and to encourage the ignor-ance of Calle de la Congelacion was deemed the safest pursuit for those who; ironically; would have been the most benefitted by the road’s inclusion. While this kind of irrational thinking was apparently unknown to the under-represented residents of Calle de la Congelacion; had they known of it, they would have pragmatically considered that “insult” as being conducive to their desired privacies.

Jack lived there because he could find a rental. ....... Back off, just a bit. Though, it is distinctly a consideration; no; a likely impetus, that because he also found it a quiet place; a place where one did not have to be bothered with rude intrusions, his gladly sequestered, prior lack of experience made him unaware of that characterization. An old song flashed in Jack’s as well as in someone else’s head located somewhere else. “As You Said” was a little noted Cream song, likely because it called for an acoustic guitar. Its gloomy themes of “tides, beaches, trials and never again” did not make it a fan favorite in hopeful 1968. Bad timing. It should have been put out in “schwere dusternis” loving 2016.

Whether one was walking on the right side or the left side of Calle de le Congelacion was almost impossible to discern. The lack of a white painted central limit precluded any thoughts of borderlines, until one got way over it. Pragmatically ignoring any possible esotericism, it also depended on which way one was walking; perhaps whether one was coming or going. Coming faced the Rio Grande River at the end of the road and going faced Propicio Road at the other end. On the other hand, if one was walking backwards ........... This is going on a bit longer than necessary. The majority of those who had made the journey were likely to have spent as much of their anxiously seeking, unconscious time on the right as on the left, as defined, in their pursuit of an ever increasingly elusive, twenty-first century, un-degraded nature, totally oblivious to the mercifully, non-existent, restrictive rules of the road. Trekkers with the impudence and hopeful need to make the trip thought nothing of the lack of a line of demarcation. Without the aid of cultured analysis, they just continued on as they intrinsically thought they were intended, simultaneously believing that any notion of destiny could be represented by any of a number of mathematical symbols and equations including the infinite decimal representation of Pi.

Jack lived there because he was an American.

The road was never blessed by the powers that be with a defining, and thereby limiting, street sign. This was not originally meant as any sort of insult or neglect. It was standard operating procedure back in Propicio’s rural days. But, it had become unique in the developed Propicio of 2016, replete with shiny black signs with gold lettering posted at every other intersection. The only way to get to Calle de la Congelacion was for one to instinctively know where it was. Despite its space-based, high vantage point, even the Google navigator missed it. Knowledge is currently advertised as attainable by institutions which make vague claims of being able to provide higher guiding wisdom, if your grades, standardized testing scores and “life experience” essays meet their high standards. Don’t be the least bit concerned if one says “No.” There are countless others, all subject to the “dismal science.” Don’t be the least bit concerned about the outrageous tuition; loans can be easily arranged.

If a person followed the traditional advice and committed to that one inevitably biased approach, the Specter Encapsulating Likely Failure is “uncannily” attracted. SELF has seen the same thing so many times; it takes no particularly extraordinary spectral effort to be a few steps ahead. Old “S” went on automatic pilot and loomed, like the bucketed pig’s blood over Carrie’s head, only waiting for a small tug from its sister, “Fashionable Cruelty,” to make its next splash; while the foreign professor watched and sent money back home.

Most trekkers cared nothing of these considerations. They were unconsciously brave and perilously self-taught sufferers who could not tolerate things any other way; and only felt absolutely deserted, when not on the boundary free dirt of Calle de la Congelacion. Their bravery may have stemmed from the fact that they had been wrong so many times already, one more time wasn’t going to be any big thing.

Jack lived there because he wanted to.

Not very long ago most would have characterized the Village of Propicio as a rural, southwestern, farming hamlet, with a human population of 800; and a tractor population of 400; bordering a southwestern city with a human population of 600,000. In 2016 the Propicio-resident-resisted, honest assessment was that Propicio is a suburban, southwestern, gardening colony; with a population of 8,000, and a lawnmower population of 3,000; bordering a cosmopolitan city; with an alien population of 1,200,000; most Propicians in agreement with at least the last segment. See; it’s just the same old story. The farms grew houses instead of wheat. Any farmer worth his corn will tell you that houses are a much better cash crop. However as a result of their openly communicated economic rationalism, the Village seemed to be struggling with an identity crisis.

In the remainders of a thought sense of privacy, incorrectly comprehended, the old timers resolutely joked of the increased traffic, the naturally ill-informed newcomers, and the attendant congestion. Wary of the possible unwanted suggestion that their experience produced understanding they stated no reducing definition. Instead they were content to say that; “Propicio ain’t Propicio no more,” and make an infectiously obligatory smile. Every morning they precisely counted their cash, evaluated the other paper online through websites designed to sell, and couldn’t help but pray to Jesus for favorable numbers. As they offered their prayers for the reliability of the currently in vogue capital asset pricing model, their commonest of senses sometimes kicked back in and suggested that something may be way out of balance. A former farmer does not hear any specifics. His experience has taught him that an investigation was in order when the cornstalks were six inches higher in one area and when something just didn’t look, smell, or sound right. But now, there is only a humming silence, which seems to emanate from his improperly installed, plastic module. He has been conscious of the whirring sound made when a CD is inserted, but this vibration is different and inconsistent. He is not even certain that it is there. When he listens for it, it is not there. When he forgets it, he thinks he again hears it. It is ultimately regarded as so annoying, that he chooses to drown it out by turning on the banal announcements of Murdoch owned mainstream TV. It serves one purpose well.

As farmers; or more currently termed former farmers, they still think that they retain that common sense humanly inherent, and in that belief, devoid of any known translation into numbers, they are confused and angrily frustrated in any attempted account reconciliation. Their nod to the profit maximizing notes, which are ultimately no more valuable than the collective faith in their issuer and the recognition of the time value of money, nuanced by academic theorizations and future predictions of the expected risk free interest rate, as defined, results in a precise calculation which changes every second, coupled with that frightful vision of something not human and not fully understood, with a dull maroon tail and horns. It is either a symbol used at high school graduation; perhaps Salinger’s prime fear; or, or, or ....................... something which can and has been depicted visually, and excepting JD, is yet to be explained in pointed words.

On good days, rather than risking the possibly useless consternation, the former farmers luxuriate poolside, near the now effortless fields once a cornucopia of sweat and plenty; now a tract housing development continually in view. In their friendly, laid back, and businesslike way they had faux-grudgingly accepted the change which inevitably came back to the home they inherited from their hard working and enterprising ancestors. Times change. Adding a bit to that, a long time ago, Bobby said; “THINGS have changed.” Their former farmer’s passion was relegated to telling cheery stories of “better” times when; “That housing development used to be a cattle ranch, which was purchased cheaply by Joe Cleverly, because of the rumors of it having once been a toxic waste dump. Once had 200 head of Holsteins. Boy, when the wind was blowing the wrong way, whooo. Joe’s now busy watching futures reports,” snort, snort; followed by a head turn to the side, pupils aimed up.

The new coming strivers reveled in the antediluvian, incorrectly remembered and made-up tales, and were thrilled to call Propicio rural, justified physically as most of their houses were on a whole acre. Each thought that their area continued the traditions of the supposed glory days. Having come from the jam-packed cities, to them it did. But, seeming to be unconsciously contradictory, after having been attracted to the Propicio of former times, the new residents became active in trying to “improve” it. Calle de la Congelacion was one of their most widespread and common considerations. Though no one stated this openly, one of the things that may have annoyed the newcomers was that because of the five acre lot sizes, the width of Calle de la Congelacion overwhelmed its narrow, one acre, suburban neighbors.

Jack just lived there as he had for some time and he was oblivious to the surrounding changes.

Elm trees, in general, and the thickly packed elm trees on the nonconforming road, in particular, were openly disdained by the village neophytes. The veterans had either ignored them benignly or simply mowed over encroachers while clearing their fields. Since no one had farmed Jack’s street in recent history, the vulgar and indiscreet Propician gardening weeds had not been controlled and were allowed to grow on Calle de la Congelacion for as long as anyone could recall in their present biased memories.

The few old timers who thought about such things believed that the hardy trees were deemed objectionable for precisely the inescapably endemic reason of their ability to adapt and proliferate no matter what; and the fact that they were not native. To point out that they pre-dated the majority of the current village population, now dominated by non-natives, was not going to make anyone popular, and was better left unsaid. The Siberian Elms had grown to heights of thirty feet and threw off their seeds in the wind, inciting the particular consternation of all within a half mile. In summers they afforded substantial and welcomed shade to their hosts and asked for no maintenance. In winter their thick branches partially blocked the indirect sun offered, and served as an obstruction to any snowfall’s inclination to land and accumulate into a white blanket. Still, some got through and in the infrequent blizzard, much did. The icy skin of the year’s concluding season made the road a difficult drive, as Propicio made no use of plows.

Jack lived there because; still unknown to him; it was his destiny; his choices severely limited by that which was, that which is, in the dark regarding that which will be. He was not like any other. He was just like any other.

However, the elms with their season-dependent, navigational treachery, their multiplication capabilities, their disregard for newly significant local tastes, and their demonstrated abilities to withstand any change in nature were the “Austen real” and not the “Bronte true” derivation of reason for local scorn. They were merely easily discerned surface “truths,” which served to compel those with a magnificent grasp of the obvious and those inclined to being devious. The true derision was the result of the Propicio new-comers’, collective, unspeakable opinion of their preceding heftier habitat; so de classe in the “light and airy” fashion. However, in substance, there was no question that they were different from the majority of current residents of the intolerant, newly, mall affluent village. Most ironic was that they seemed immune to being considered aberrant and conversely they were also immune to being considered part of what became another keep-up-with-the-Jones’ suburbia.

Of course, Calle de la Congelacion was under the steely eye of other documented “facts” which required the admission that some of the residents had felony records and some were still engaged in activities they considered none of anybody’s business. Like the trees, they didn’t seem to have a need to consider any conception of the eastern direction of the current wind; considering “new” and “eastern” too oxymoronic to bother dealing with on a mental level. On a practical level, it didn’t matter to them, and they thought that it should not matter to anyone, as they thought that they paid their debts and went about their business with no effect on the clustering invaders well into the process of circling. They may have done well to have watched a few westerns. They adamantly resided in the land of the free, the home of the brave, the dwelling of the benignly neglecting, and all that stuff written about by those long gone English aristocrats who first deemed it necessary to poison the Red. They magnanimously thought; “We all make mistakes. Forgiveness is all,” “Live and let live,” and similarly sentimented phrases, even as they became less prevalent. On a practical level, they had to believe that as the occupants of Calle de la Congelacion were no longer young and they had no other better option than to play out the string they had spent decades rolling in. They found amusement in the newly-arrived-proper parents’ directives to their children not to go near their road of iniquity, as very predictably, that unenforceable edict, made a visit to Calle de la Congelacion the coolest thing the kids could possibly do in a town insistent upon relentless and inhibiting parental supervision. The dictates gave the long term residents of Calle de la Congelacion the ludicrously undying impression of being so commonly human. The pattern was painfully clear to those with eyes yet undimmed in their “improvement” tendencies. It continued the time-worn tradition of the graying and fearful survivors of another era, now, due to their less-than-ideal outcome, feeling silently contrite and finding safety in the regurgitation of the initially disregarded advice of their suddenly-wise parents. The dizzying about face was again directly proportional to the degree of suffering experienced by those now mature in years, their placement point on the worry spectrum, and their love for those in their charge. The geographically-only-shifting populace had again cycled from stultifying repression, to perilous absolute freedom, to contemporary scholastically credentialed and persuasive, hopeless confusion. The un-important dichotomies were available in nauseating detail, with a regularly delivered, monthly mail box event. Inertia Conducive Equivocations and Infinite Condescending Elaboration commanded the zeitgeist of the airwaves.

The book-no-one-reads-authors augmented their incomes, by offering pretend-the-bathroom-mirror-is-a-TV-camera, daily practiced, off-the-point, dissertational diatribes to the few viewers of thoughtful programming; convincing, especially to those devoid of another voice, including the many duplication oriented, media hounds desperate to fill air space. The earth bound recipient of the corporately costless “service,” scanned it with behaviorally trained, glazed eyes, and with a pedestrian and un-investigated glance, the weary placed the $110.39 bill in the scheduled-for-payment pile.

Jack just lived there.

Eight houses on 5+ acres each lined the forbidden road, four on each side. The new Propicio kids especially liked to hang around Lotte’s house. Third on the right, her tiny, red, tin-sided A-frame stood out as one of the area’s last monuments to 1960’s “alternative” ideas. Long ago, the “hippies” who constructed it, moved on to traditional jobs, traditional houses and traditional caskets. Some insisted that this 49 year old, somewhat portly, long, gray haired, part Native American woman, with no visible means of support, was a distributor of non-medically approved marijuana. Some said she was a prostitute. However, her house had been twice stormed by the Propicio police, who had found absolutely no reefer; not even a roach, not even residue, and no johns. What they did find was that they had wrongfully intimidated this woman, on a legal as well as an ethical basis, to a point where she had to engage psychiatric help in an attempt to get over her fear of being illegally assaulted in her own home by men with drawn guns. What the cops also found was that their department was out $100,000 for each of the unlawful break-ins; which resulted in a severely inhibited paymaster the following two years. Afterward, Lotte’s source of support seemed clear.

Calle de la Congelacion was right off the main thoroughfare, which was un-imaginatively named Propicio Road. Most locals considered this marginally preferable to its other possible designation of County Road 666, as it could be easily viewed as an extension of the road so numbered in adjacent Mesa Grande; which in turn was an extension of the road so numbered in Bernalillo County; which in turn was an extension of ......... et cetera, et cetera; ending 2,000 miles away in the now and temporarily Crip controlled south end of Chicago. It did, once upon a time, extend further. But, then there was the bomb and the crash; and, with the guesswork necessitated, is an overly long story in itself.

Calle de la Congelacion did not participate in any of the “grandeur” it’s better travelled, t-squared companion enjoyed. It backed to the Rio Grande, and was down river from the “accident” prone waste treatment facility operated by a private entity named Brownwater, Ltd. for the benefit of the jam packed Borough of Rio Lobo, to its north. The opaque water’s constant tumble over rocks was softly invigorating during most days. But, at night, the same old flow was magnified in the stillness, and was said by many to be source of discordant, murky and gravely gloom. The Rio Grande was fortunate that the new-comers had no idea of a way to remove a river.

Most people also thought there was only one way in and only one way out of Calle de la Congelacion. But, its long term residents knew of the gate. The fourth and last house on the right, long the completely fenced dwelling of the ancient, reclusive Dietrichs, had a hardly recognizable, perennially unlocked gate, right on the road. The green tubular, horse fencing obscured its existence and the thick elms behind it obscured its purpose. The road’s residents accepted it as common knowledge that the Dietrichs didn’t mind anyone using it and that by following the path beyond it, one could get away to Camino de las Brisas. The effectively permitted, though possibly trespassing journey was utilized once in a blue moon. It was a refreshing, necessary, and most of all, an elusive visionary trip.

Jack Greenhandle had resided on Calle de la Congelacion the last thirteen years, third house on the left. The four room, 100 year old adobe provided everything he needed. He kept the three doors locked and the windows were barred and clasped by an internal hinge. At 48 years of age he was the road’s resident adolescent, which celebrity he enjoyed as it seemed to offer the illusion of youth to a man who was well on his way to settling into a life of rebounding museum echoes; replete with jelly faced women. He was comfortable and contented when he managed to stay busy enough to avoid the unaccompanied reflection on the mistakes of his early years. Unknowingly, he had tons of other reclusive company.

He had woken to another freezing morning. As Jack dawdled over breakfast, in no rush to enter the frigid, he looked out the kitchen window. The paltry sun had been out for an hour, but you could have fooled Jack. At best, the visibility provided by the sinister shadows it created, approximated that of a monochromatic sunset over the mountains. Though the view wasn’t dissimilar, Jack found the late day dimness preferable; perhaps since by that time the rising temperature had expanded the mercury. While his perception may initially seem somewhat incongruous, Jack found the late day black more desirable, as he would soon be under his three warm covers. But these un-invigorating mornings portended an overly long day of consciousness demanding drear.

Though Jack could not see it from his current vantage point, he assumed that once again the tinted, visual outlets of his recent model, black Chrysler had gone as opaque as the river. This was the unfailing winter result of the exterior, nocturnal coldness having infiltrated the car’s shut down of the heater generated, internal warmth. With no garage for shelter, the Chrysler was parked in the elm bordered driveway. The light of the star filled night sky provided no heat whatsoever. Left alone to suffer the inadequacy of that which was light years away, Jack’s car had again become as frigid as the filtered outside air. It required warming up before it could possibly allow safe driving in the luxury of a warm, comfortable berth.

This was the Propicio seasonal norm. Spring was a long way off. Jack’s winter routine of shivering down the path and turning on his icy car was the single most productive thing he could do at this time of day. He kept the thermostat at 80 and the house refused to pass 71. However it was reasonably warm with three layers, and as a consequence the hostile shock of the sub-freezing was brutal, but perversely, never served to wake him. It was not the least bit stimulating. The harsh winter reality only functioned to make him yearn for a return to the comfort of the thick covers of his warm bed.

It was merely one of many, typically, clouded New Mexico, early December daybreaks. Christmas mocked of its own coming with the flicker of low artificial light displays “cheerfully” provided by the tract houses mercifully in the distance; marginally capitalizing on the spaces between the tree trunks. Jack was impervious to the artificially lit displays of seasonal “merriment” also known as bogus pleas for cheer. It seemed to require the obligatory grin one makes when one hears the standard Brit salutation and farewell. It seemed to him that the people who prided themselves upon the proper use of the English language would have been able to come up with two different words for opposing events. Using only one suggested that the perpetrators did not know whether they were coming or going. It was much too reminiscent of that shit eating laugh obvious to all but the grinning fool; which is cruel to ignore while cruel to encourage. Jack took personal, negative solace in his awareness that he was not in Minnesota or Surrey and that he was in the vicinity of his world opening, trusty laptop.

That was the common way of those willingly addicted to the illusion of having all things available at all times. Jack endured the celebrity of a solitary misfit’s chosen aloof existence, remote on Calle de la Congelacion; struggling to display conformity in public requirements. He felt the seclusion strongly on those deeply blue days uninhabited by interesting people to touch, people to talk to, and things to do. It actually rivaled the loneliness he felt in a crowd. “The Elephant Man” can be viewed just so many times until it becomes only a failing-tug-at-your-frayed-heartstrings rendition of that which is. It was his favorite movie. He thought that in its black and white cinematic virtuosity, its real-worldly view of the corporal abandonment and cerebral, abstract and emotionally lost actuality was truth. With the push of a button Jack’s materially dependent existence was now inadequately replaced with an infinite supply of ons and offs, quantum mechanically theorized to be operating at the speed of a black light, whose existence is yet to be proven. The movie’s astute portrayal of a heart, destined at birth, to be rejected foreclosed all hope of a happy ending. He thought it evoked an unreasoning need for that which has never existed, and never will.

He was not in full realization of his unconsciously condescending attitude toward those addicted to the company of constant “entertainment” manifesting itself in the safety of commercially viable re-runs as he was one of them. Time and again he had seen that by choosing to dwell in his own antiquated and admittedly deficient confinement, with the foolish thought that his hopelessness would be alleviated with the next mouse click which invariably left him merely static. After having had his fill of isolated, non-feeling, and heart-breaking incursions into a world which was over-ripe to supply him with an infinite supply of more, he had retreated to his home and property. His fill consisted of the brief yes-no-yes-no relationships he had with Madeline the Mafia Princess, Math Professor Urszula, and oddly Susan the Kierkegaard Dilettante. Each of the three all too soon reminded him of Godard’s “Breathless” and his lost Beth. Often he rushed home to find comfort in the sights and sounds provided by his electronic buddy. It didn’t matter what was on the screen. It talked to him and occasionally said something interesting. Despite the proliferation of contrary opinions, at the core Jack was an optimist.

Sometimes he hated the machine. Sometimes he considered getting rid of it. But, without it he couldn’t watch “The Elephant Man” anytime he so chose.

Jack poured the coffee and removed the eggs from the insistently beeping microwave, placing them on the kitchen table on top of a hard covered copy of Vonnegut’s “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” useful expressly for this purpose. He threw on his tan, quilted, discount store, winter jacket, which initially seemed to take down his already run-down temperature a few more notches. The surfaces of his supposed protection from the elements was rudely infected by a long night in a built-in, all encompassing, clothing closet; sliding doors shut away from the shield of the little house’s baseboard hot water heating system. As he had been necessarily conditioned by a lifetime of requisite compensation, Jack withstood the shock of his recurrent cold repulsion, when he donned the cross-stitched, tan article of momentary, ineffectual expedience. Shaking uncontrollably, he scurried down the icy path to his black Chrysler. His body was further hounded by the chill when he sat on the plastic seat and with some apprehension about big black’s willingness to start, turned his key in the ignition. Jack smiled through chattering teeth and welcomed the millisecond delayed sound of the agreeable engine and its subsequent roar. It was not always so. He had experienced sufficient dead batteries to truly be thankful for one which was capable of surviving the winter night. It was the first of the new day’s events Jack faithfully hailed, simultaneously and morosely thinking that it would be his last cause for cheer in this lackluster day. His six foot, 190 pound frame recklessly dashed back to the relative swelter of his modest, outmoded house, decorated in knockoff early Spanish.

The warm air struck his face as if it were a gentle, Floridian, Gulf breeze. Jack removed his frosty jacket, sat at the kitchen table and re-engaged his patiently waiting scrambled eggs and coffee. While the statistically likely constancy with which his morning nourishment’s temperature had maintained the way of balmy summer could be reasonably calculated, the occurrence never ceased to amaze and be valued by Jack. No matter the wait and the winter morning atmosphere, his daily entree was still warmly waiting to be eaten and drunk. From experience, Jack knew that this was going to be the best part of his day. His motor running, he took his time, savoring all of the texture. He lifted his cup and again saw the title of; “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.” The context produced a smile, before the breakfast was too soon gone.

In his now nonchalant acquiescence, Jack gazed through the window and saw it packed with elm trunks, stoically persevering in the close vicinity of long-time friends. Jack wanted to give his black Chrysler adequate time to get toasty and stared at what he could make out of their oval grained rings. He found little similarity as each had a unique pattern, yet they all solidly stood together in the face of the worst winter could offer. He thought; “Extremely splendid.” Jack slowly shook his head in admiration, but in the corner of his eye he saw the impassive, silent, digital clock indicating that it was time to go. He thought; “So soon? I just got here.” Reluctantly, he again donned his still cold jacket. While he slowly walked away, he looked back; then looked back again. The relentless timepiece had moved further on. There was no question that it was time to go. Jack considered turning the appropriate knobs to set the unsolicited herald back an hour. He quickly realized that this would only result in a farce, fooling only him. Besides, the clock was near the ceiling, and Jack would have had to have gotten a ladder to reach it. He didn’t remember where he had left it. It was sadly, but undeniably time to go.

To avoid any sentimental second thoughts, risking a fall, he briskly walked to his Chrysler. Or, so he thought. When he got to the gravel driveway, he saw that there was no Chrysler in it. He looked down the road and saw that his tinted, black car was moving down Calle de la Congelacion, heading for Propicio Road, without any directional assistance from him.

Out loud Jack said; “Son of a bitch.” The car kept going anyway. Jack was pissed as he had to get to work. He was also extremely embarrassed, as he was a plainclothes cop.

Jack wasn’t one of Propicio’s finest. He was one of the finest in the big city of Mesa Grande, seven miles south. Though only physically separated by the distance easily covered by a healthy German Shepherd, the two towns were philosophically disconnected by their distinct “moral” positions. To Propicians, the residents of Mesa Grande had none. To Mesa Grandians, the Propicians reveled in eighteenth century witch hunts.

On the average, Propicians were better educated, many having proudly attained professional status. However, of necessity, to maximize their hefty-mortgage-paying wages they were dependent on the unrestricted largesse of the big “wicked” city. Their oft stated complaint served as a blessing to the castaways on Calle de la Congelacion, as the good people of itinerant Propicio sometimes focused their complaints on the “irregular conduct” of those many had to “suffer” on a daily basis. They never admitted to their concomitant mental stimulation.

Jack walked back to his front door muttering; “This isn’t supposed to happen here and certainly not to me.” He called his partner and arranged for a ride, saying his car was “in the shop.” Then he called his “Good morning” friend, Loud Mouth Beverly, 911 operator in Mesa Grande and reported the theft. When she was able to speak clearly, through the giggles, she told Jack that this was a job for the Propicio police. It was their territory.

Jack dreaded having to deal with the local dispensers of traffic tickets more than he disliked having made the report to Loud Mouth Beverly. He considered them candy-assed nuisances and they considered him a jerk. He put his hands in his pockets and took another look at the elms. Before he could see their finer points, he realized that he had another problem. Not only his car key, but all of his keys went the way of his Chrysler.

He searched his kitchen drawers. He knew he had another set in there somewhere. He had a panic attack while he rustled through old Christmas and birthday cards, mixed with forgotten knives, forks, wrenches, glue, screws and screwdrivers. He found them near the back of the third repository he tried, but was still un-nerved by the realization that criminals now had effortless access to his house. He took some solace in the fact that his “official” police revolver occupied his right pants pocket. He called the Propicio Police Department to make the report and hoped Ashby didn’t answer the phone.

He recalled his prior run in with Officer Brandon Ashby. While at home Jack had gotten an emergency call to pursue a metallic blue Chevy. The occupants had just pulled an armed robbery of an ice cream place in a Mesa Grande strip mall on the border of Propicio. The perpetrators were reported to be making their attempted getaway down Propicio Road. Numerous thoughts raced through Jack’s mind. The most significant one was that Propicio Road is a five mile stretch with speed limits ranging from 25 to 35. Any turnoffs led to dead ends. So the criminals are either stupid or didn’t do their homework. Not doing one’s homework was either a sign of stupidity or desperation. So, this could well be a dangerous situation involving nuts with guns.

Returning the likely irrationality, Jack felt challenged and wanted to do whatever was necessary to haul in the perps. He really didn’t give a damn about the money taken from the ice cream store in the strip mall and he could have concocted any of a number of bogus stories as to why something prevented him from intervening in the dangerous situation. But back in the old days or rural Propicio, animals would often find their way to the lightly travelled “main” road. Dogs, cats, chickens, goats, sheep, and even cattle and horses were being endangered by these “outlaw” jackasses; and Jack wanted to nip the invasion right in the bud.

In plain clothes, and gun ready, Jack jumped into his black Chrysler and waited at the Calle de la Congelacion intersection. The suspects sped by at 50 and Jack got behind them. He was hyped, with adrenalin flowing faster than the waters of the lazy Rio Grande.

He quickly saw spinning red lights in his rear view mirror and heard the whoop-whoop-whoop-whaaaaaa blare of the DefCon siren. It was a Propicio Police car. He kept going and kept hearing the hammy siren, perhaps encouraged by the continual red lights. He still kept going. The Propicio cop car pulled alongside him. He flashed his badge and still kept going. When the Propicio cop pulled ahead of him and cut him off he slammed on the brake without having had much choice in the matter.

Jack got out of his car, mad as hell, and sprinted toward his obstacle, flashing his badge. He pointed at the quickly disappearing metallic blue Chevy and yelled; “I’m in pursuit of a thief.”

With his hand on his gun, Ashby said; “Get back in the car.”

Jack said; “Don’t you understand. Mesa Grande Police. Chasing a crook. Comprende?”

Ashby pulled his gun and said; “Get back in the car.”

Jack got back in the car and very audibly intoned; “Useless fucking asshole.”

Ashby walked to Jack’s car and said; “Do you know that the speed limit here is thirty?”

“I told you. I’m a Mesa Grande cop chasing a crook.” He reached into his pocket to again retrieve his badge.”

Ashby said; “Careful!”

Jack knew that he had lost his prey and slammed the back of his head against the headrest. He left his badge in his pocket.

Ashby said; “Just sit tight, okay?”

Jack didn’t think it was okay and accordingly did not say so.

Ashby said; License and registration, please.”

Jack gingerly used two fingers to remove the items from the little door-less compartment above the ashtray. He held them out for Ashby in the same manner, while surveying the two story adobe to his right. The man and woman, now in the front yard, surveyed him back.

Ashby took the items, looked at them and said; “Calle de la Congelacion?”

Jack didn’t think that required an answer, but he was glad Ashby could read.

Ashby said; “I’m going to check this out, okay?” Not waiting for a response to his trained and now habitual ersatz questions, he returned to his car and cradled a phone between his shoulder and bent head.

Jack looked out the closed passenger’s side window at the staring couple and briefly did the same in kind response, but with an indecipherable mocking tone as right now any notion of good intentions existed only in the unproven theory in someone else’s head. Jack was in full realization of the virtually assured incomprehensibility of his joke, but still found it preferable to focusing on the dismal, intervening, extremely un-entertaining Propicio flat head, uniformed up and down in curling, unwashed deep brown, interspersed with the dried out remnants of Whattaburger red.

Ashby sat in his car for what seemed like ten minutes to Jack. Jack amused himself somewhat through making finger wiggling hellos to the staring couple. Initially, the Ludlum-esque overture resulted in a reciprocal, but not duplicate arrangement. But, by the third performance, the couple must have sensed that something was not quite right, as they disappeared into their house or backyard.

Finally, Ashby came back and said; “Okay, you check out.”

Jack took a deep breath, appearing as relief, but actually that of disgust and boredom, the latter two only detectable in the never viewed eyes.

Ashby said; “You have to understand. We got a report of a metallic blue Chevy vee-hickle coming through here with alleged armed thieves.”

Jack said; “Do you see two of me? And does this look like a metallic blue Chevy?”

Without a hint of a smile, Ashby said; “Color’s close. Look. I’m going to do you a favor and not cite you. Okay?”

Jack tried to think of something bright to say and drew a blank.

As he walked back to his car, Ashby said; “Have a good day.”

Jack thought; “As soon as I get away from you, I will.”

The two have not spoken since. Their cars have criss crossed on Propicio Road numerous times. Jack always got irritated because Ashby was always smiling. Jack’s knew that it was expedient for him to play the smile and wave game and pretend to have gotten over the old misunderstanding. However, something in his thought of performing that particular action made him feel as if the ceiling had flown away, and vomit was on the way; and then there were the animals which needed protection.

Jack filled a glass with water and took it to the phone. His hands shook and some water spilled onto the brick floor. He got captivated as he watched the accidentally dropped liquid splatters take on a human shape. As the water blended with the dirt absorbent brick, in its pockmarks and scars, he thought he saw a woman in a provocative position. It appeared as if it was a shifting depiction of his former and favorite lover, Beth. He wished he would once and for all be able to forget about the bi-polar, Prozac-swallowing devotee of danger. But, imaginarily, watching her evolve or devolve into a sedentary, unclear, praying, hooded monk, right here on his home floor, was more cruelly amusing than the thought of his impending phone call.

While initially repelled by their hardness, he had come to appreciate the almost maintenance free aspect of the common Southwestern flooring material. He particularly appreciated the brick floors as he didn’t have to wipe up his frequent spills. He knew they would quickly fade into the multi-colored surface until they were nothing, leaving no trace of their brief former existence.

He further delayed the call he didn’t want to make and pushed a series of buttons on his IP3 which brought him to a section he had titled; “For Bad Days.” He pushed another one and listened. Van Morrison sang “Foreign Window.” It was Jack’s Beth song, though he didn’t “discover” it until she was long gone. She always used to ask; “What song do you have for me today?” She said that she liked many, but the look on her face always said that it wasn’t the special one. He couldn’t be 100% sure, but Jack thought that this would have been the one. Why was he torturing himself this way? Simple. It was just a matter of lessers of evil. The level of misery he got from listening to this song was less than the misery of talking to the Propicio Police Department, including the possibility of having to endure Ashby again.

The song ended and Jack reluctantly pushed the off button and further reluctantly dialed his phone.

“Propicio Police Department.”

Jack breathed a sigh of relief as the male voice didn’t sound like Ashby’s fraud of a good natured chuckle. He remembered it well and was often reminded of the bogus joke, as it was perpetrated by the many, ad infinitum. “Good morning. This is Jack Greenhandle, over on Calle de la Congelacion. My car was just stolen.”

“Just stolen?”


“Did you witness the event?”

“Umm. Sort of. I was warming it up in the driveway and when I went to get it someone was driving it away.”

“Bad idea in that neighborhood.”

Jack was slightly miffed at commentary about his home, but considered it more practical to say; “Yeah, I guess, but I don’t want to get into a frozen car.”

“You can get a steering wheel lock at the auto place in the strip mall. Then this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Yeah, yeah. Good idea.”

“Get a description?”

“No.” Jack heard someone knocking at the door and assumed it was his partner, Manny Hermosillo. He said; “Excuse me a second. Someone’s at the door.”

Jack opened the front door and there stood his partner of five years. His belt length, brown leather jacket wrinkled as he hunched over protecting himself from the cold morning air. His 5’10” frame had lost a few inches to his fleeting spell in the weather and his belly stuck out more than usual. Hurriedly, Jack said; “Manny, thanks for coming. Come in and just take a seat for a minute. I’m finishing up a call I made.”

“Should have put it on the cell, man. We’re gonna be late.”

“You’re right. You’re right. I’m not thinking straight today. I’ll be right back.”

Jack went back to the adjoining room and Manny paced.

Jack picked up the phone and said; “Sorry. ...... Hello.”

“Yeah, hello. Wasn’t the crook I guess?” It sounded as if he smirked in a manner he wanted to be detectable.

“No, it’s my partner, my ride. What were we up to?”

“No description of the perpetrator. Makes it rough. ...... Can you describe your car?”

Jack thought he detected another twinge of sarcasm in the question. To his consternation as he gave all the particulars, he saw Manny leaning on the door frame with a big grin on his face. Jack turned his back.

“You’re the big city cop guy, aren’t you?”

Jack just said; “Yeah,” and noted what he was certain was a snorting chuckle. As Jack was extremely embarrassed about being a cop with a stolen car, he made a quickly thought “evasive” maneuver. He put his hand over the phone, looked at Manny and whispered; “Fucking asshole,” hoping Manny would conclude that he was talking to some lame brain from the repair shop. Manny nodded slowly and then reflexively broadened his smile.

To further complicate Jack’s attempt to keep a secret, the Propicio cop ended the conversation with; “All right. You’ve got a ride. Stop over here. I’ll need you to sign the report. It’ll be at the desk.” He hung up.

Jack put down the phone and said; “Shit,” making the word sound like it ended in three t’s. He put on his leather jacket as if he was punching his way through the arm slots. He said; “Let’s go, man. I gotta make one more stop.”

Manny said; “Don’t tell me. Let me make a wild guess. Propicio Police Headquarters.”

Jack stared.

Manny laughed and blurted; “In the shop, huh? It’s in the god damn chop shop!”

“How did you figure that out?”

Manny put one had over his mouth or scratched his nose, chuckled and snorted the way the cop on the phone did. He said; “It was easy for a cop. Why would you call me in the morning to tell me your car was in the shop? Like it broke down this morning and you had it towed already.”

“It’s possible.”

“Yeah, it’s possible. But then I heard all the crap on the phone and you got very defensive.”

Jack playfully grabbed Manny by the back of the neck and said; “You’re a good cop.”

“Nah, you’re a lousy liar.”

Jack thought, but didn’t say; “I don’t sweat the small stuff.”

They drove down Propicio Road, heater on full blast. Manny’s mood remained tickled and he hummed an off tune version of “Oye Como Va.” He interrupted his rendition to say; “You’ve got to watch it on Calle de la Congelacion. I know where you can get a good steering wheel lock.”

Jack monotoned; “Me too,” and turned on the radio. They heard a weary male voice say; “We have police confirmation of the breaking story reported by Roswell school officials. Three grammar school children are confirmed dead. Ten more have been taken to Presbyterian general Hospital and the 12 year old shooter is in police custody. Names are being withheld. The shooter is reported to have stated his motive to be; ‘I hate winter.’ This is the fourth school shooting this week in the US and has involved the fewest number of victims. This kid will not get a very popular website. In other news, in Israel a suicide bomber ........”

Jack turned the radio back off, saying; “No place is safe anymore. Roswell? Shit, man. Roswell?”

“Hey, those farm boys got guns you know.”

“Always have. But this crap wasn’t an everyday thing when I went to school.”

“Those muskets might have been a bit too heavy for the kids to lug around.”

“Shows how much you know; some were light.”

“I don’t know. It’s like once somebody starts it, everybody wants to get in on the act. It’s got something to do with the socialization process. I’m telling you this friend of mine has wheel locks a key has a hard time undoing.”

“Professor Hermosillo does not consider the ADD and anti-depressant drugs a factor?”

“Fuck do I know, man. They taught us this shit at the Academy.”

“I must have been thinking about that Sociology professor’s legs. You remember the one. What the hell was her name anyway?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. The white chick with the long red hair. I didn’t cut one class. Ah, I can’t remember. Some weird name like Miss MacIntosh or something.”

“I didn’t know you guys liked white chicks.”

“Shit. When they got legs and hips. You can keep the skinny ones.”

“Hey, pull in here. This is it.”

Manny jammed on the brake and without using his directional made a fast, sharp right. They heard the long, gradually fading honk of the car behind them as it passed.

Jack said; “You can’t think when that white stuff gets into your head.” He exited and went to the front door. He entered a small foyer of sorts, two chairs against the wall, below a bulletin board with more pins than messages. He had approximately five feet in which to walk. On his right was a locked, windowed door bearing the sign; “Propicio Executive Board,” shielding the pitch black interior. On his left were a diminutive locked door and an outsized safety glass, with a slot at the bottom and a tiny counter. Through the smudged glass he could see an unoccupied desk with a nameplate bearing the inscription; “Magdalena Torres, Propicio Police Department.” Jack knocked at the door to no avail and was about to leave, when a Spanish woman on the far side of thirty came out of somewhere in the back and said; “May I help you?” muted by the thick, safety fitting.

Relieved, Jack smiled, crouched down to align his face with the slot, and said; “Yes, please. I’m Jack Greenhandle, and I understand that there are some papers here for me to sign.”

Who Jack presumed to be Magdalena sat down and perused the documents on the desk, taking her time and responding to some with widening eyes, heavy with mascara. Her facial expression appeared as if she had not previously seen the documents.

Jack thought that it was still early in the day and that she had probably not yet polished off her wake-up morning coffee.

She came to a solitary piece of paper, looked at it a second time to be sure, then said; “You had your car stolen this morning?”

“Yes, yes. That’s me. ............. I guess.”

“Jack Greenhandle of Calle de la Congelacion?”

“I plead guilty.” Jack thought that was funny and grinned at his unresponsive audience of one.

Magdalena pushed the form through the slot and said; “Just sign at the yellow highlighted areas. ............ Is this the first time you’ve had your car stolen?”

Jack finished putting his signature on the document and perused it for more yellow highlights. He was less than thorough in his inspection of the brusque manuscript as his eyes, he hoped secretively, wandered to Magdalena. She was leaning forward, cheerfully displaying a bountiful supply of brassiere free, light brown cleavage.

He thought; “That’s no accident. She knows precisely what she’s doing. ........ Maybe she doesn’t. Or, maybe she just likes to flirt and feel un-obtainably attractive.” His pants grew two sizes and at the same time he was reminded of his isolated demise. He pushed the signed document back through the slot, saying; “I hope I didn’t miss anything,” strongly suspecting that he did and hoping that she would respond in a way which indicated she was on the same wavelength.

Head down, Magdalena quickly eyeballed the paper and efficiently said; “No, that’s all that is needed.” Jack’s blue jeans returned to “normal” dimensions. He involuntarily sighed, looked into her businesslike dark eyes, and turned away, taking one last fleeting gaze at her. She surprised him by continuing the awfully ephemeral discourse by calling out; “Living on that road, you should really consider getting a steering wheel lock. I know a place .........”

Jack cut her off by saying; “So do I. So does my partner. So does everybody I talk to. I’ll add you to my list. Thanks a lot.”

As Jack went back the short distance toward the entry door, Magdalena coldly stared at him. Jack hoped that she was not offended and would put the concise summary in its right place. He left.

He withdrew from the domain of officialdom and walked back to the car Manny was running in an attempt to maintain the heat. Jack sat in the passenger’s seat. Jack shivered and looked at the instrument panel, noting that the least-cost gauges installed by the penny pinching manufacturer ebulliently communicated a comfortable internal environment. This was not the reality that he was forced to experience. He said; “Manny. Does this old piece of shit recognize the existent conditions? ...... Or is it just some fucked-up thing about me? I’m cold in this car and I can’t stand being that way. It’s like I have some terminal disease.”

Manny smirked. His pursed lips had the effect of causing his brown eyes to half close, like an Oriental peering upward at a movie screen. Only Manny had a shot at knowing whether this abbreviated posture was a sophisticated contrivance or a genuinely friendly and necessarily theatrical prompt to what he was soon planning to respond to his long term, troubled friend. Might. Maybe. Yet, he was virtually certain that the biased words he most wanted to say had no meaningful relevance to his partner. And if they did, Jack would act as if he had no understanding whatsoever. He knew his long term buddy. There were no words that would make Jack’s thermometer okay.

He also was certain he had no adequate response as he knew that there were no words that would make his own life okay. Escaping into work or a masked party were the best things he could find to cope. He hardheadedly continued his jolly facial demeanor and safely said; “The car is fine. It’s your heater that is out of whack.”

“All right. Well, get this thing moving. We’re gonna be fucking late.”

Manny paid Jack no mind as he knew that if anyone wanted to take issue with their timing, it was documented that the cause of the lateness was not him. He maneuvered the old red Toyota out of the parking lot and back onto now tranquil Propicio Road. The rush hour had ended and they were in a falsely pregnant mental pause, validated in the corporeal by a clear main road. He offhandedly navigated the ease without thought. He eventually said; “I got a real prize for you. This’ll warm you up.”

Jack eyed Manny askance from the corners of his eyes, thinking; “More fucking couched advice?”

“Rosalita has not yet hooked up with anyone suitable and she wants to.”

Jack knew he was on the borderline of what is acceptable, but chose to say; “You Spanish guys. Meet my seesta. All the time. I don’t want to meet your seesta.”

Manny showed no affront and continued; “She knows how to take care of a house and gets around the kitchen as if she had a degree in the culinary arts. I know she likes you and she’s a good girl.”

“Yeah. That’s the problem. I found that out the last time I bought your sales pitch.”

“Maybe you’ll get lucky this time.”

“She gonna wear that floor length dress with the swinging tassels all over?”

“I don’t know. It’s what’s inside that matters. ........ You know you’re not getting any younger and you’re not exactly a prime catch on Calle de la Congelacion.”

“I’m so tired of hearing unsolicited evaluations of my home. I like it there.”

“There’s a common perception and that’s more important than your personal idea of reality.”

Jack looked out the passenger window as the car passed into Mesa Grande. The tin storage units which dotted the road were particularly hideous in the gray morning, no matter the “patina” caused by the worn colors. The poorly behaving sun did a half assed job, and highlighted the surrounding trash bins. They overflowed with last week’s discarded supply of items no longer considered worthy of space in the $19.95 per month, homogenous cemetery of once desired items, which had made their way from the house, to the garage, to this forgotten state, one step before the fires of the junkyard. The top items sat within reach of the possible escape over the edges. All they needed was a trifling breeze to send them to whirling freedom, but stillness prevailed.

Jack was brought back to the inside of the car when Manny said; “Jack, Jack. You all right, man.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just thinkin’. That still allowed? Shit!”

Manny silently watched the road, which was becoming increasingly congested every block into the big city.

Jack said; “Yeah, I’d like to spend some time with Rosalita. I’m glad you brought it up.”

Manny stoically replied; “I’ll see what I can do. After last time, I don’t know.”

Out of words, Jack silently sighed in exasperation.

They mutely drove into the heart of the city. The buildings became taller and in the gutters, empty cigarette packages overlapped one another, hoping for a continuation of the dry spell. For those unsuccessful in attaching themselves to something secure, any precipitation meant the final swim into the packed sewer. Indistinguishable people wearing dark and shadowy sweatshirts with hoods which protruded from under their long winter jackets huddled in the empty store fronts. Their knowingly concealed identities were only possibly discernable to those they were standing next to today. The young waved their arms around in a contrived, agitated manner. They spoke of today’s foolproof scam or they rationalized why yesterday’s foolproof scam went awry. Their harangues convinced no one, with the possible exception of themselves. The concerns of the old were simpler and much less frantic; they thought of what they had to do to get off today. Proprietors of the occupied stores remained inside, where they experienced the first warming waves of the heating systems, which were economically left off all night. They stood near their gritty titanic windows, being obvious in trying not to be obvious about their “furtive” surveillance of the hoods; a low-tech duplication of their constantly running street cameras.

Manny said; “What’s our reason for being late?”

“I was born that way. No changing things now. ......... Clock broke. ............ Flat tire. ........ You hadda take your kid to the doctor. Let’s be novel. Let’s tell the truth. They’re not used to handling that one. My car was stolen. I already told Beverly and she probably broadcasted it when she was through laughing anyway.”

“Why’d you tell big-mouth-Beverly of all people?”

“I thought I had to. I forgot all about the rules of jurisdiction.”

Manny turned left into the parking lot. It was heavily occupied, but the “stars” had their own semi-permanent, designated spaces, only infrequently violated by the sightless, the frantically hurried and the foolish, risking an expensive tow. The Mesa Grande Police Headquarters unobtrusively occupied the largely glassed, entire first floor of the ten storied, weathered brick office building. This home base was the result of one of the “condolences,” which the Mesa Grande governors granted to a local real estate “magnate,” who was unable to lease the low level retail space, but was competent at knowing where to make “political” contributions. Most of the topping nine floors were now filled with doctors, lawyers and bail-bondsmen, who, in their parasitic businesslike, standard operating procedure, made it their practice to fraternize with the business generating cops on the lowest level. The “bandwagon” effect was in full display. They say that; “One hand washes the other,” but keep silent about how a dirty hand can dirty the other.

Jack and Manny were of special significance as they were the recipients of the city’s “Most Arrests” honoring citation, eight years running. Their detractors pointed out that, were such awards given, the duo would also have received citations for having the lowest jail-time-served-per-arrest rate despite having a high conviction ratio. When they deigned to speak seriously to them, Jack and Manny told their detractors that they were merely advertising their jealousy. In fear of enlightening their obtuse competitors, the award winning team never told them that the name of the game in the 21st century was simply gross numbers. Net considerations were for the inconsequential chit-chat amongst the bean counters. It seemed nursery school obvious to them that their commander loved gross numbers more than anything, and if the others were too stupid to see that, all the better for them.

Manny took Jack’s freshly painted white-line delineated space right in front of the automatic, sliding entry door. Jack found that unexplainably amusing in its “I can do anything that you can do” irrelevance. They withdrew from Manny’s car and Jack stared at their shared destination. With the sun not yet above the tenth floor, it appeared almost more dismal than winter usual. The brick structure, which on good days approximated the dullness of Jack’s rented house’s not-recently-oiled flooring, today appeared even more lackluster in the sky fart. He relaxed and consequently bored his bit into his long thought, seemingly extremely reasonable anticipation of another tiresome, played out show. He thought he could handle the situation with appropriate alacrity, if he were on a binging, over-indulgence with the aid of some thought-numbing opium derivatives supplied by Big Pharma with an MD script. But, he knew that would only last about 30 days; no greater than the sentence given the repeat DUI’s. His sober ease was as comforting as it was mundane.

As the partners made their way to the entrance for the hundred thousandth time, Jack visibly laughed at his deep-rooted thoughts which he incorrectly considered pedestrian throughout his mature existence of compensating balances. The hard edged reality he had sadly learned was that their articulation required interminable and perhaps willfully misunderstood postures requiring further explanation, often laughingly deemed necessary as the product of the inadequacy of his un-credentialed, common origin. After early futile efforts to clarify, at which he was totally inept and uncomfortable in attempting, in its implied suggestion that he had any uncommon wisdom, he practically learned to keep his visions to himself. Perhaps at the core, due to his “Mommy never loved or held me,” childhood induced shyness he retreated into books, music, and dreams of Plato’s intangible world of ideals. Extremely depressed, yet without the nerve to commit suicide, marooned in what he considered a mistakenly, self-defeating travesty, he tried to learn of the everyday postures and concerns of those around him. All he could see was that the attainment of large quantities of money, status and achievement, as simply and self-servingly defined by the worshipped powers that be, were the overpowering worldly answers to everyone’s perpetually loathed guilty desire to survive as well as Gloria Gaynor. He thought his smirk was imperceptible.

As they walked side by side Manny deadpanned; “Fucked up again?”

Jack was surprised at the reaction that Manny had to his tiny snicker. He knew he was getting manageably “out of sorts” with his flawed overview of the simple situation at hand, but was taken aback to gather that his untreated mental deficiencies were so easily detectable. He attempted to avoid the discussion he had always found pointless and inadequate by simply saying; “What?”

Manny concisely snorted, but otherwise made no response.

As an attempted diversion Jack said; “Don’t you know that as soon as that Red Sea of a door parts for us Beverly will be waiting there to lay on some pitiful joke about how stupid I am. And Reggie will be offering his condolences while he offers me some waste-of-time ‘help,’ as he sneers, without the nerve to straightforwardly show it. ....... I don’t know. The whole thing hits me as funny. ....... Don’t you agree?”

Manny kept his head down, his eyes diligently so, but probably over cautiously focused on the seemingly clear path to the front door. He finally said; “It’s different when you have a family. Margarita, Paulie and Susan depend on me. Sure, they don’t think of it that way, but they do. You don’t know what it’s like to have that kind of responsibility for the ones whom you love. If you fuck up, big shit. You fuck up yourself. It’s your American right to be independent. But, don’t you ever feel alone?”

Jack’s laugh did a one hundred and eighty degree turn. He tried to conjure some words which would adequately convey his falsely self-assured, being-on-top-of-the-situation clown act. Something stuck in his throat. He choked out; “All the time. All the fucking time.”

Flurrying activity was the road running rule of the day as Jack and Manny passed through the one second-delayed, yet ultimately obedient glass doors. They dodged the scampering carriers of paper prominence on their ways to their desired hard working appearances. Jack’s sense of humor made an unsolicited reappearance. He laughed as he called out; “Hey, Grady. Watch out for the pillars.”

Grady, a short cop in his thirties, fully bedecked in uniform and weapon-holding paraphernalia, glided through the plastic “lawn” chairs and broke stride for a millisecond. He displayed the briefest possible of grimaced smiles. He efficiently and faux-sociably said; “’Morning, Manny. ‘Morning ............... uhmmm, Jack, right?”

Jack showed his disinterest when he monotoned; “No, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, paperboy.” He wasn’t sure whether or not he had been accidentally truthful. “Make sure you don’t drop any of our arrest reports. ......... Hey, Beverly, baby! Is there anyone you haven’t yet told about me?”

The fortyish, over youthfully dressed, divorced woman looked up from her screen visions generated by the outmoded PC on her computer equipment dominated desk. She said no words, but sarcastically widened her eyes and opened her mouth in her best imitation of a gaping jar of strawberry preserves. Jack continued; “You know it’s your own fault that you have this bad reputation. I wasn’t going to tell anyone about our little get togethers. Not even Manny.”

Without missing a beat, Beverly replied; “Well, that’s all over with now that you don’t even have a car.” She blew a bubble and put her hands back on the keyboard.

Jack and Manny walked right, turned the corner and were almost to their wobbly, as-the-result-of-a-perp-crash, damaged cubicles, when they heard; “My two superstars. I have good news for you.” It was the loud, overly cheery voice of Reggie which made no attempt to mask his mocking good humor laced with his perennial cynicism.

More properly said, it was the voice of Reginald D Clymer, who absolutely hated to be called Reggie. Jack always gladly accommodated the insistent wishes of his Narcotics Captain; when they were face to face, or even ass to ass, primarily because Reginald D was his immediate superior and wrote his annual reviews. After a few drinks Jack would even admit that he liked and respected Reginald. Maybe it was because his Captain had spent most of his career heading up the lower status Narcotics group. He had watched younger men from Homicide, Grand Theft and even Vice pass him right by on their way to top management. Finally, now at age 58, the powers that be had tardily recognized that significant segments of the citizenry of Mesa Grande were virtually addicted to things still deemed illegal and the remainder to something still deemed legal; like the captivating box on Beverly’s desk. The detached, ivory towered masters’ consequent recognition of the importance of the overlooked Narcotics unit was news to them only. Benefitting Reginald was their “New Directive,” which, apparently unbeknownst to them, could have been better articulated decades prior by any un-retarded-man-on-the-street in Mesa Grande.

Jack and Manny had been sending Reginald’s monthly arrest reports through the roof as a consequence of their stinging of the pathetic small fry; while they ignored the one-or-two-step-removed activities of the VIP’s of the industry. In the infrequent privilege of moral moments, the best that Jack could fantasy hope was that the well-paid predators would kill each other off in their standardized territorial disputes. He was always reluctantly prone to shadow that short-lived, wishful fantasy with a cop’s hard headed view of what truly is. He couldn’t help but know that if the big fish annihilated each other, the small fish would soon assert themselves to fill the void. He took solace in the thought that it was not he who created this system. He merely had to find a way to exist in it.

Reliable rumor had it that Reginald D was being seriously considered for Chief; Chief of the entire first floor! The whole fucking thing! The long-waiting Captain plainly and patiently recognized that the unapproachable merchants of the nocturnal opacity were now, conveniently and tragically, much too late shining their black light on him.

Reginald D, perhaps in a time worn recognition of the ways things inevitably play-out, and perhaps in worship of the ecclesiastical demons which always have their say, at the very least was now, on the surface, making the best of his prolonged, deferred, previously thought inferior position. Jack, without a touch of sarcasm, characterized that as commendable; a tribute to persistence.

On a pragmatic basis, Jack also appreciated that Reginald D had been around long enough to know the game. It would have been much tougher to have been obliged to deal with a rookie out of State U. Jack thought; “What more can one ask of a boss? ....... It’s just weird how much he hates being called Reggie.” At times, he re-iterated his long term, never realized goal of inquiry; but not today.

Jack answered in kind, saying; “Pray tell. What might that be?”

Reginald’s oft amused mask appeared un-indictably sincere, an effective counterpoint, just as he wished, but showed no more true joyfulness than it had any time in his career’s recent past. Without inviting the risking burden of awkward explanation, it retained the calcified, compensating effervescence of one immune to a lifetime of being wrongly overridden; a deceptively attractive and comfortable space for the exceedingly tired. Through pursed lips, his marginally bloated, clean-shaven face said; “My people have made me aware of your demise and I am here to lend assistance.” The bald spot which dominated the top of his round head seemed to reflect the blinking, fluorescent lights which lined the dropped ceiling, as they too, did their jobs with some shortages. After a seemingly obligatory, brief nasal snort, replete with clenched lips, he continued; “A long term observer is incredulous at the pedestrian oversights made by one so adept in handling the practicalities of an existence in a perilous city, yet without the ability to effectively manage the more elemental concerns of a much less urbane, yet perilously sheltered rural road.”

Jack considered the commentary yet another uninformed manifestation of an outsider’s view of what living on Calle de la Congelacion entailed, but chose not to address the blindly perceiving observation in its obvious jest.

Manny spoke up, saying; “Do you have records of any other car thefts on Calle de la Congelacion?”

Reginald D fluttered his eyes in a manner which would have implied unaffected thought to the ambitious-Captain-wannabe-Chief un-initiates. He answered; “Such matters are not within my jurisdiction. Your inquiry would be better served by asking the Propicio Police.” He mock-innocently peered into the eyes of his subordinates, as if he actually would have welcomed a rebuttal to his abstaining position.

Jack was well-accustomed to derogatory commentaries about his residence. He ceased being phased years back. He attempted to put things back to the “assistance” part by breaking the momentary silence with; “So, of what assistance dost thou speak, my anointed one?”

Reginald D came dangerously close to a real smile, but managed to avert the position detracting, open display of candor. He said; “We received the report of your stolen car. Chances are that the thief brought it to Mesa Grande; always do. The Propicio cops never locate anything other than their traffic ticket booklets anyway. So, I’ve pulled a few strings and a couple of our Grand Theft guys are on the case.”

From somewhere buried in his throat, Jack let out a hesitating; “Thanks,” waiting for the next shoe to fall.

Reginald D nodded and continued; “I do know the owner of a local business which retails steering wheel locks. Given your location, it might be a worthwhile investment.”

Jack officiously retorted; “I’m considering a number of similar options. Do you have his card?”

Reginald D shrugged and said; “No. ....... Name is Rogers. Worth a shot, right? ....... Now, don’t you two Styrofoam cue balls hang around here all morning.” He pointed at one of the impenetrable, clouded, leaded and iron barred windows and continued; “The criminal junkies are out there. ......... For the most part. Go get me at least three more today.” He turned and took three brisk steps toward his centrally located office. He stopped and said; “That lock-man I mentioned carries an excellent product. If you give him my name he’ll cut you a good deal.”

Jack scratched his un-itchy nose and replied; “I told you I have it under consideration.”

Reginald said; “Don’t use car problems as an excuse to show up late. I don’t want to hear it again.” He made a bee-line toward his office. His flurry scattered the documents on the three desks without paperweights.

Slowly shaking his head in a disparaging manner, Manny silently looked at Jack.

Jack shrugged and said; “He’s all right. He knows the game. I just can’t understand why he insists on being called Reginald. It’s kind of a silly name.”

Manny replied; “I don’t know. Ever since Jordan insisted on being referred to as Michael everybody uses their entire first name. It’s getting commonplace.”

Jack said; “Not with us. .......... Let’s get some coffee and then we’ll go round up a couple of the local losers.”

They drove through the rectangular grid which was Mesa Grande’s headquarters for blatantly flaunted, petty, nefarious activities. Manny’s assigned, unmarked, deep purple Caddy stood out to those with whom its presence conveyed luxury. There was a small geometrically understood and depicted, set overlap with those sufficiently coherent to temporarily cease and desist, and was undetected by those too far gone to see anything. The last expressed wayfarers were the easy prey of Jack and Manny; the street criminals everyone saw, feared and reviled. The untouchable perpetrators of the big money crimes were sufficiently business savvy to have gunned or purchased the appropriate veil, which if one looks close enough, always artistically bears some derivation of the number five tattooed in the most severe of calligraphy.

With offhanded, polished, yet un-recognized old-hat mirth, the lords-of-the-techno-challenged-wind-up drank the economic freedom from the harried existences of the gotta-pay-the-bills, chasers of the well-defined, yet elusive and moving prize. The pilgrim’s sack of lusted-for goodies had a liaison, as the brief nocturnal interlude of Hermes and Aphrodite, with the unreachable stars which were seductively dangled in front of everyman and everywoman’s face, on a joking stick attached to the tops of their heads. The voters called Aphrodite’s issue demonic. The worshipped, removed, and disinterested masters only consideration was to distance themselves from the predestined, Plato-aged, human corruption recognition; thereby remaining electably clean. Deities, known as bogus only to themselves, chuckled over the democratically chosen of those attracted to the practicality and pleasure of staged or ignorant DeSade subordination; as their appointments were for life.

They appeared colorful, as shining trinkets to innocents soon to receive the bubonic plague blankets in trade; to the 21stcentury faint of heart, in a time proven, untruthful, limited supply of a palate of fawned over, mixed grays. To most of the zombies who considered themselves as alive, their prominence was unquestioned, efficiently, conveniently, and momentarily expedient in the hope of a commercial consideration. Their overly obvious artifice was clearly seen and used by the un-caring masters. For the few genuine rebels and loonies, the long winded diatribes necessary to convey another cerebral version of the truth only served to preach to the popularly insignificant, genre based choir. The dreary and conventional icons, like those on the side of an electronically activated “home page” screen, firmly and daily, established the masters’ irrevocability at being necessary, useful, efficient and “good,” at least until the beneficiaries of non-discriminating and admiring public approval were “surprisingly” and unequivocally caught with their hands in the money freezer. As envied-from-a-distance citizens, leaders, and reluctant-to-be-copied, role models they lived on the high ground in the sprawling suburban areas outside of the grid and seemed to be of little consequence, and under no scrutiny of anyone other than the “bohemian” writers for the freely distributed and “radical,” “Village Scene.” The experienced and world-wise runners of the land-mined road well knew the perverse game, yet, in their resurrectionally based, impossible-to-prove Christianity, believed that one day the teasing stick would one day break of its own hard and thus brittle, lifeless nature. It was long ago cut from a living tree. For three thousand years of recorded history they have been wrong. “They” take no side. “They” take no risk. The stick was supposed to break of its own weight with no outside “assistance.” A few reached these conclusions through true faith, while the majority reached them through practical cowardice. The chained melody said that there is no reason, yet there is an illogical desire to convey feelings which give the few remaining astrologically condemned lovers a chance at happiness.

In an alternative venue Poco played “Keeper of the Fire,” and someone efficiently shut it off after the first two lines.

Excitedly; Jack wheeled on his seat and said; “Did you see that?”

Manny looked in the direction Jack’s eyes had pointed. He said; “Ah, shit. Bernadette’s back hookin’ already.”

“Well, she’s obviously fucked up on crack again and looking for an easy score.”

“We ran her in twice in the last two weeks. If we bring her in again, even Reggie will laugh.”

“You make a major mistake, my friend. People like seeing the same old shit over and over. It’s when you bring them something new that they freak.”

“........................... “

“Come on, man. This is how we make a living; numbers. That’s all that matters. Since when have you started evaluating things?”

In temporary command, Manny kept driving and Bernadette’s consciously and blatantly solicitous activities faded into the distance, beyond the reach of his stationary and well-adjusted rear view mirror. He thumped both of his gloved hands on the fabric covered, weather protected wheel and said; “Since I got control of the wheel.” His gaze was fixed on the road ahead, as if his long term, pragmatic partner was not of any concern.

Jack thought; “We could have had some business helpful, fun with her,” but kept the thought to himself as Manny seemed puzzlingly resolute in his departure. He saw no point in saying anything and was silent.

The locally christened name of “Sand Dunes” was an area on the northern Propicio border of rio-less Rio Rancho, where the shifting winds coupled with the shifting sands to produce an unstable topography. Once considered “difficult and un-desirable” terrain, the recent building boom seen in Propicio, as in much of the nation, propelled builders to make incursions into the cactus patch. They were aided by purchased, permitted variances which outfitted the pockets of the powers-that-be in office at the time of the grant. If the likely continuation of future windstorms made foundations unstable or exposed septic leech fields it was legally “an act of god; not gog or golligog,” and the “responsible” parties would have their money, armed with the oh-so-sorry-faced excuse that; “It was okay when we approved and built it,” adding to that a mournful; “What can we do to help?”

In anticipation of the continuation of the seller’s market engendered in a large part by the FNMA and GNMA elimination of requirements for residential mortgages, the builders bulldozed the cholla cactuses, and built huge houses in the Sand Dunes. The bigger the house, the higher the price, the higher the potential profit, and the higher the “status” afforded the area. As a consequence, the ignored portion of Propicio now rivalled the internal, irrigated and so called “green” sections. In some sort of misunderstanding illogic, derision, craven deference to the time proven or white-flag-waving capitulation, the “Sand Dunes” had become a more or less equal partner in spirit. Politically, the residents may have become less than equal. Even though their numbers and potential voters grew at a quicker pace than the older part of town, they were still a minority of sorts, as their starting point was zero. In an uncomfortable way, proper people from the other parts of Propicio became progressively pained with using the term “Sand Dunes.” Many thought it politically incorrect, because of its former dismissive connotation, yet could not come up with an appropriate euphemism. While the area was once an add on for farmers with antiquated water rights and some trailer based meth labs, it was now widely thought of as something better than “up and coming,” with the ill-defined, unspoken handle of American arriviste.

The new “Sand Dunes” residents became aware of their dubious “status” in the eyes of other Propicians. A half serious defiance and a sense of unanimity were the likely incentives which compelled them to favor the term “Sand Dunes,” over the terms which the builders had named separate developments. “High Oasis,” “The Overlook,” and “Desert Recompense” just didn’t cut it for them anymore. Among each other that was how they referred to the area. Kids had torn away the original builder’s signs and no one sought replacements. This dynamic also compelled them to make efforts to show that they were quite proper and lordly people by coming down from their perches and attending community events. The substantially Eastern retirees well learned procedure was to say nothing in an attempt to appear social and managerial.

Ten years ago, in 2006, stoutly derriered, now fifty-five year old, Richard Lawson III sold the family farm, the last sizable tract bordering “Sand Dunes” Propicio; one with grandfathered, valuable water rights. The sale was to a national, publicly and New York Stock Exchange traded “high flying” real estate developer, with an overstated national presence. Richard was once the soiled-blue-jean, down-home Village Mayor. Out of the personal and spousal inflicted shame of being possibly considered a traitor, he hadn’t sought elective office in many years, and now sort of preferred to spend his days at the Propicio Bar and Grill. He chose to be adorned in the well washed, shiny polyester attire purchased at Dilly’s, a cornerstone of the new mall just over the Propicio line into Mesa Grande, while he got sloppy.

Surprising no one other than the “Magical Reality” enthusiasts on the far left of the IQ spectrum, today was to abruptly be another one of those days. While breakfasting alone in the kitchen, over the microwaved ham and eggs provided courtesy of Con-Country Frozen Delights, Inc., his wife of thirty years, Stephanie entered the room. She greeted him with the flat, factual reportage, gleaned from her traditional laptop provided revelation. In staccato with a weary tone she said; “Stock is down again.”

“Rick,” as he preferred to be called, and was formerly known as, cringed at the overcooked observation. He privately worried about the value of the “letter,” restricted, common stock he had taken, in an effort to maximize the profit on his lineage-deserting windfall; and the increasing debt against it. The loan started out relatively small vis-à-vis the value of the stock pledged as collateral. However, he had been borrowing more and more to pay the interest on the loan, and the margin was reaching his discomfort level. Sure. He could have cut back on household, auto, travelling, and a number of other expenses. But, he didn’t think this was a good time to give Stephanie more reasons for mawkish complaints. He tried to be effusive in his effort-to-be-somewhat-original reply of; “The day to day electronic blips produced by those with the narrow, momentary orientation of insects have no lasting effect on value.”

“Steph” poured herself a cup of coffee from the communal decanter and gazed through the window over the double sink. Her own artificially backlit, hazy reflection caught her attention immediately. After her fascination with the transitory, inadvertent, self-indulgent image ran its fleeting course, her eyes re-focused on the unattractiveness of the fallow field. Its varying shades and shapes of brown lumps, now home to only a few clusters of straw colored projections seemed to implore a tractor’s tilling. In a vindictive memory ever present, sans the lumpy piled reminders, this used to be their field’s post-harvest condition every corn farming year at this time. It was formerly unobstructed and patiently waiting for the arrival of the red mechanisms now gone courtesy of the auction process. They had yet to come to terms with the blatant fact that their productive days were over; but they seemed to sense that some sort of change had come in the vagaries of the insane-asylum-escapee wind. Maybe it was the inaugural impositions of the vulgar tripods brought by teams of exacting surveyors. Maybe it was their insertion of orange-night-glow-ribboned sticks marking the boundaries of one acre lots. Maybe. Steph said; “You gave up this for these declining numbers. It seems like yesterday that there were cornstalks reaching for the sky.”

Rick often had second thoughts about having followed the lead of the other veteran farmers. He kept them to himself as their re-consideration only served to depress. It was a done deal. He wished that his wife would curtail the constant second guessing. She raised no objections when the transaction was in the discussion stage. It seemed eminently unfair and unproductive to continually harangue him now. He looked toward her with contempt in his eyes, but thought he detected the hint of a tear in hers. He went to her and put his arms around her waist. She bolted away, saying; “No, no!” feigning that she immediately needed something from the refrigerator. Rick sat back down and wolfed the remainder of his Con-Country food.

He went to his room, donned his Dilly’s outfit, told Steph that he was going for a walk, and walked the half mile to the Propicio Bar and Grill. He unsuccessfully attempted to be totally oblivious to the real estate which wasn’t about to receive his next foot step. He thought; “If they didn’t intend to finish the job, they never should have started it.” He got to heavily travelled Propicio Road and was assaulted by the grind of rubber on asphalt, the boom-boom of hip hop music escaping through cracked open windows, the impatient blares of horns, and the flashing neon signs of the commercial establishments. The low level wind created by the barrage of vehicles went to the bone and had a toxicity index reading. He walked faster and veered toward the buildings, thinking that they had use as protection from an errant Lexus. A bit out of breath he came to the Propicio Bar and Grill front door. He didn’t take the time to disparage its purposely poor, purple paint job, affected to impersonate age. He pushed open the portal to his escape and was relieved to enter the twilight of its darkly shaded windows. With a seeming will of its own, the heavy door shut behind him. The street sounds were replaced by the room-stereo-system’s incongruously adjusted-to-the-inoffensively-muted, version of Coltrane’s upbeat “My Favorite Things.” He opened his coat and took his choice of seats at the bar.

Mary, the barmaid-waitress-sympathetic, ear-vomit mopper of the establishment, made a wry grin when she saw her best customer. Her head was down, her eyes fixed on the utensils she was washing in the deep, stainless steel sink. She said; “Double Jack?” with only the slightest intonation of that being a question.

Rick didn’t smile when he replied; “Two of them. It’s cold outside.” He didn’t watch as she mixed the drinks. He stared into the bottle-lined, smoky mirror behind the bar, seeing the few patrons seated at tables; but focussed on himself. He knew that the lighting was designed to give false impressions which made clients feel good about themselves. But, he didn’t care. He needed to do precisely that. He started to think; “It’s just a matter of staging. In the right light ..............”

Mary brought over the two glasses. She placed them in front of Rick and silently walked away, when he made no eye contact. He seemed a bit put off at having had his daydream interrupted. She was used to the routine. She thought; “After he has a few belts, he’ll be all right.”

Rick took a long gulp; then another. The initial, bitter, face-contorting-taste quickly transformed into a warm glow, which slowly worked its way through his digestive system. After a few more, less frantic swallows, the warmth seemed to have spread out all over his body and head, bringing the relaxed feeling that everything was absurdly funny. He stood from the stool, which he thought was only minimally useful, as all it supported was his butt. He thought it amusing that the one part of him which needed no support was the one that got it. He got a more comprehensive view of himself in the funhouse mirror.

His glittery leatherette, black belt was, of necessity, positioned below, and deceptively seemed supportive of his bloated belly. Bellies were admired and oft-self-palmed status symbols among the bulls of Old Propicio, possibly because a fat one inferred the luxury of abundant crops and of not having had to spend much recent time in the fields. However, they were now relegated to the you-can-never-be-too-rich-or-too-thin culture of healthy lean and mean. Rick felt terribly out of style.

His gut imposed itself upon the bar. He sat back down, pulled his red, green and blue striped iridescent shirt out of the restrictions imposed by his pants and drank.

Rick was well known at the facility and it was usually somewhere around this time that he was scheduled for his fame producing specialty. His loud, drunken rants filled the potted-palm-filtered air with barmaid-tolerant views of Propicio’s fall. He often said that he was considering a comeback and claimed to have the support necessary to do so. Other patrons of the chic, year-old facility found him either entertaining; or accidentally amusing; or the relic of a disputably glorious past with no present or future other than the Jack Daniels bottle; or someone as amusing as an Olympic runner with a prosthetic leg; or the pale ghost of a self-sufficient, bucolic past; or someone they could latch onto if he were to re-establish his local power; sometimes combining or re-vising their thoughts, somewhat a function of their feelings toward their present company and their present state of inebriation. Rick considered all of these scenarios and decided that whatever the motive, he liked the attention.

After finishing his second double, Rick raucously intoned to no one in particular; “Look at these walls. That’s what I’m talking about. Puce. Puce. Look at it. It’s right in front of you. What the hell kind of color is puce? .......... Please excuse my profanity. It won’t happen again. .......... At least I don’t think so, but sometimes I lie. And these palms. They belong here as much as the profligate, water sucking elms do. This is New Mexico, if you haven’t noticed.” He held high his empty glass and bellowed; “Mary, get me another.”

With a few second delay, Mary, who made it well known that she was a 25 year old college student “making tuition ends meet” broke away from her heated conversation. She was talking with Josh, an irregular patron of the establishment and a patent attorney. He was describing his brilliant courtroom dramatics which curiously mimicked the evidentiary squabble which appeared on last night’s installment of “Law and Order.” He had gotten her interest, both romantically and economically, a distinction she did not recognize. She said; “Ricky, Ricky, Ricky. You got an early start. If you don’t watch it the late game will be horrid.”

Rick slurred; “Horrid? Horrid? Tell me about horrid.” He waved his arms around in an all-encompassing pattern and added; “Look at this farce. You’re in it every day. Have you become imperviously acclimated to the sick joke?”

Mary shrugged and grimaced as if the query was too banal for a mentally competent woman beyond the age of fifteen, and monotoned; “Yeah, I guess. ........ Another double Jack with soda?”

“Yes, ma’am, and don’t be stingy with the good stuff.”

A boy of fifteen busted into the bar and said; “Mom, they expelled me again and I didn’t do a fucking thing this time. I swear. But, you gotta go see the principal again.”

Mary quickly ushered him from the room, saying that; “We’ll discuss this later. Go on home.”

As Mary washed a glass, her head down over the sink, she audibly mumbled; “Kid thinks it’s hilarious to call me ‘Mom’ in public. Little brothers are quite a nuisance.” She squirted two shots into the clean glass. Then, with a frightful looking instrument, she tongued accompanying ice cubes from the waist-high freezer into the tumbler.

Through his characteristic, Jack Daniels, numbed lips, Rick managed to whine; “No, no. I’ve had all the ice I can handle today. Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Mary gave the man an evaluation with a piercing glimpse. She was initially startled by his seeming sincerity. But, Mary rationally recalled that she was at work where the manager correlated the missing liquor to the monetary take and reduced her wages accordingly. She quickly forgot the heart-break-conducive sympathy of her ignorant youthful days and said; “Without the ice I can’t fill the glass. How about water?”

“No. Soda and water don’t mix well. Give it to me half empty if you have to. I can get all the ice I want outside. ............ Or from my wife. Please be generous with the soda. ....... You know I’m a good tipper.”

Exhibiting the countenance of one experienced in the ways of transitory relationships, Mary supplemented the soda with free water, not yet within the purview and penny calculating capabilities of her manager; and thinking; “Rick’s too numb to know the difference.” With the balance between her heart generated feelings and brain insistent, monetary considerations a thing of the past, without thought she safely leaned toward the latter and placed the resultant glass, brimming to the top with an abundance of plentiful appearance, in front of Richard; a hopefully unaware, thinly disguised, yet obviously old and melancholy man. The boisterousness of his thankful bravado fooled only his desired duplicate perception of a persona, the original having been left somewhere he no longer remembered.

In an effort to conceal and negate any possibly perceived, foolish, post-modernist sentiment, Mary brashly said; “Drink up, old timer.” She mirthfully smirked in a facial contortion which served to make oblique any observed inference.

Rick ignored the pulp fiction inspired act; put both hands around the offered glass and greedily drank of the cheaply improvised presentation. The blessing of his numbness precluded his detection of any inferior taste. But, the overly pale color informed his eyes. He closed them as he drank. It was not his dream, but since his dream was not anywhere in sight and not likely to again materialize, the cost-effectively prepared concoction was his best intoxicant. He realized that his willingness to thirstily settle for what was available could be construed, by the ever present, diagnostic observers, as being a personal flaw. While this human flaw was something Rick was not reticent to display to those familiar with the comings and goings of a lived life, he balked at the possibility of disclosing his “defects” to those who had made a “life’s” mission of watching and offering unsolicited and uninformed commentary.

In an unknowingly absurd and instantaneously regretted effort to appear as if he was confidently at the top of his game, he called out to the few patrons of weekday afternoon, Propicio Bar and Grill; “Follow me. I led once. I can lead again. We’re going to take this town back. Our birthright is our birthright. Paradise will be reclaimed.” He immediately thought; “Oh, shit,” when he received five stares, two with pursed lip grins. He realized that he had just invited precisely what he sought to avoid. Without having achieved monetary reward, he had obtained the derisive scrutiny of strangers.

Josh left Mary to her unnecessary, nervously prompted, tidying chores and approached Rick. His thin, slight build was masked by a turtle necked sweater and a bulky, open LL Bean jacket. He extended his right hand and said; “I’m Joshua Marshland and I’d like to see Paradise. Haven’t had the pleasure for quite some time.”

Rick had the distinct feeling that he was being put on and knew he deserved to be. But, he also had two readily available ears. He stood to shake the man’s hand, which required one balancing step, saying; “Rick Lawson. I keep telling them to fix this tilt in the floor.” He sat back down with a thud.

Josh sat on the stool next to Rick and said; “Mary tells me you used to be Mayor here.”

“Yes, sir. Back when Propicio was still Propicio. You new here?”

“Less than a year. Did you grow up here?”

“Sure did. And my daddy before me. And my grand-daddy before that. Five generations in all. Where are you from?”

“I’ve kind of been all over the place. ....... Chicago, just before here. Listen, I’ve been here long enough to know that next year’s Mayoral election is wide open. What kind of support do you have?”

“I didn’t say I was running.”

“Then what Paradise are we supposed to follow you to? The Seventh Day Adventist Church, tax free school and shopping mall?”

Rick laughed. He wasn’t entirely comfortable with giving the impression that he was denigrating religion. But, when it came to the Seventh Day Adventists, he and most of the old timers had their reservations about the religiosity of the nuisance, freeloading enterprise. He called upon his previous political experience and ducked the direct satirical question with a silent wrinkling of his brows. He paused to wait for the desired, back-off-look-away effect; then said; “So, let’s say for the sake of argument that I am open to running. What’s it to you? Are you some kind of political guru seeking an appointed job?”

“A mind reader as well as a policymaker. I’m impressed. Appointees get paid well and I have no aversions to the coin of the realm. Anybody you see here not a parasite? .......... Look, point is we’re sitting here in this overpriced saloon talking trash to duplicitous drunkards. If we’re going to do that, why not make it worth our while? You think you can do some good and I .............. I’d like to come along for the ride.”

“Why do I need you? I’m not even sure that you’re not a scoundrel.”

“I’ve not yet invoked patriotism. The simple truth is that you need me. You’re the issue here. Today I’ve heard you railing against puce, palms, undefined sick jokes and an even more undefined Paradise. Others have heard the same thing. They no doubt have told their friends about it. These kinds of things won’t get you elected Freshman Class President. You have to stick to concrete issues which the majority of new Propicians can easily relate to; and then proceed to be vague about them.”

Rick grimaced and held his arms out to his sides, displaying a combination of distaste and disagreement, which covered for a feeling of annoyance at the rude over familiarity.

Josh shrugged and added; “Unless you think you can find one with a better than 90% approval rating.”

“We were straight shooters! I got elected four times saying exactly what I thought.”

Josh became the one with the grimace, his indicating a disbelief he thought it better not to verbalize. He said; “The past tense is correct. Even if. That was in old Propicio. Times have changed. Appearances and persuasive skills have taken over.”

“We made it into a much sought after place.”

“And now the seekers are here with the bulk of the votes, and they seek to turn Propicio into the hated place they left.”

“That’s just stupid.”

“Sure is. But, that’s the way things are. They come out to their heaven and quickly proceed to convert it to their hell. Maybe it’s this Christian fascination with suffering; I don’t know. Haven’t you seen that yet?”

“I don’t know about that.”

“It’s obvious that you spent your whole life here.”

“I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Mesa Grande.”

“Case closed.”

Rick was insulted and stormed out, hoping he could still find his way home. Josh called out; “You’ll be back. You need me and you know it.”

He made no response. He considered Josh harsh and uncouth, but had strong suspicions that his directness had its place. He stumbled along the road. While mis-steps were the priority, he thought of Stephanie. He hoped that she had calmed down in his absence. No, he hoped that she had stirred up. He hoped, not knowing for what.

Tyrus A. and Cynthia Woodson woke to their new surroundings a bit physically tired from the previous day’s bustle of activity. However the emotional exhilaration of their spirits overrode any deficiencies in their bodies. This was the day they had been dreaming of for more than ten years, fighting off the nagging doubts of it being a Harry Potter fantasy. Camino de las Brisas was real, touchable, in full view, and they were finally there.

Ty and Cindy had grown up together in landlocked, Plainfield, Long Island, New York, New York in a development grandly titled “Barrymore Estates,” the fading sign at the northern entry the first signal of its being ordinary. They were occupants of two of the many homes on the water-view-deficient interior strip of the island. As a result, since birth, they were surrounded by the reluctant-to-show-happiness-plodders, who were dwarfed by a timid deference to the worship and/or jealousy of those a mile away in either direction; either on the Ocean or on the Sound. The couple found the strip club uninteresting to the eye and intolerable to the brain. Rather than broadcasting their thoughts, Ty and Cindy were muted, disdainful rebels, who might have been more at home in the many down to earth neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx and didn’t feel particularly deferential to anyone.

Since having gotten to know each other better, in the exploratory sophomore year of detention at Roosevelt High School, they were inseparable. Roosevelt was a regionalized facility which also interned kids from the much more affluent, Long Island water bordering, NYC suburbs of Great Neck and King’s Point. The type of cars in which one was driven to the fortress of intermediate learning was a generally un-photographed production of scenes from Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” replete with the self-effacing, yet surface confident grotesques. Arriving in a new Italian sports car was a guarantee of popularity. Balding fathers in Lamborghinis and dyed and lifted mothers in Mazzeratis were not a source of amusement. Ty and Cindy’s arrivals in old Toyotas brought accolades only from Sam Despoto, the janitor; who often defensively pointed out the superior reliability of the efficient, boxy machines. Ty and Cindy couldn’t wait to leave.

And here they were, bleary-eyed and locked arm in arm, cups of coffee in the other, staring out the living room, set of triple windows. From their newly attained vantage points they saw the river flowing to their left, the well-tended, freshly pocket-sized and ornamental landscaping, professionally installed on the grounds of homes to their right, and the forest of wild, mature elms at their rear. Their eyes were un-focused and darted from sight to sight, showing no preference for any particular manifestation, appreciating the diversity of it all.

The Woodson residence was custom built for Ty and Cindy. Through internet images and infrequent familial vacations they had “seen” most parts of the US, ultimately deciding on the New Mexico neither had visited as the place they wanted to put down roots. They had a Southwestern adobe constructed, both because they were attracted to the style and because, being easterners, they had never previously seen anything like it domestically. It had a mustard colored, rugged stucco finish, radiant heat hidden under the multi-colored brick floors, and titanic, double paned windows in the living areas. Though it was more expensive the couple insisted upon using adobe rather than the currently oft used, cheaper, stick method of construction. They felt it was authentic and liked the texture and contrast provided to the inside walls. There was a partial second story which left un-complicated room for future expansion. The second level was accessible inside by a twisting, black iron staircase. It was easily removable as it was held in place by only two bolts at top and bottom. There was external access by a weathered ladder situated on the portion of the roof which was one level. But, their favorite feature was the absurd cupola sitting on top of the second story. There was no obvious access anywhere. But, if one lifted the other to the trap door in the ceiling of the main bedroom .............

The furniture was lightly stained and eclectically styled. It was still kind of disordered and all over the place. Books, CD’s, clothing and general bric-a-brac lay in brown cardboard boxes strewn throughout the house. The Woodson’s thought that there was plenty of time to put things in order; just like the un-landscaped dirt on their property.

Their attention was rudely drawn to the speeding, strident, metallic-blue colored Mazda, which had exited the driveway two houses up Camino de las Brisas, and was heading in their direction. The apparently rushed, middle-aged female in the driver’s seat didn’t look their way. She wedged a flyer between the red flag and the green body of their mailbox; made a three point turn at the end of the road; and drove away, gunning her halfhearted, sluggish engine.

The first words of Cindy’s day were; “Must be important,” said with a twinge of playful sarcasm.

Ty let go of her arm and replied; “They couldn’t have found us objectionable already.” He tickled her belly and her coffee poured onto the brick floor.

Her uncontrolled squeal made her briefly disregard the finer points of social proprieties. Cindy jumped back to avoid the splash and chastised; “You’re going to have to clean this.”

“It was your cup. You clean it.”

“You made me spill it.”

“I’ve got to go to the mailbox.”

She eyed him sternly.

”All right, all right.” He went to the kitchen, retrieved the paper towels, got on his knees and removed the moisture. He took her cup and poured her another coffee. He said; “All right?”

She smiled and said; “Good boy.”

He went down the front walkway to unshackle the flyer.

He returned with a curious look on his face. Cindy said; “What?”

“I thought we were getting some kind of official ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ type of thing. But, they’re asking us to get involved in politics already. It seems that nobody likes the elms on the road behind us. Here, read it for yourself.”


Dear neighbor; We who live on Camino de las Brisas and its environs enjoy a lifestyle attained only by the lucky few. The glorious new houses complement the glorious new, friendly people; their kids, dogs and other exceptional pets; well contained of course. Most of us are, or will be, actively engaged in horticultural endeavors, refining this barren and neglected desert land to an oasis of beauty. And, quite frankly we all paid a more than modest sum for this privilege, and have a significant interest in protecting the value of our investment.

This is why I’m writing. It has come to our attention that adjoining Calle de la Congelacion does not share these same values. They have allowed the foreign, generally Siberian elms to grow and propagate at will. Not only do their tiny leaves leave something to be desired aesthetically; but they are invasive water hogs and limit our abilities to regulate the light received by our tender, transplanted babies. They are killers. An elm with three inches of surface growth has eighteen inch roots. It is virtually impossible to remove them in entirety. Once they invade, our fledgling Birds of Paradise struggle to remain properly hydrated. Adult roots suck directly from the precious and stressed water table, taxing the very life support of us all. Isn’t that shocking? I know that was my reaction when I discovered this fact last week. It smacks of intrusive barbarianism! Is no one in Propicio guarding the gates?

I urge you all to attend the Propicio Village Council meeting Friday at 3:00PM. Other towns have ordinances banning unwanted interlopers. We intend to determine what is being done to protect us here; and if this is not rudely stated; to have it done.

Sincerely; Patricia (Penny) Primstation; President Pro-tem

In a high pitched voice, Cindy said; “I like the elms.”

“Me, too. But, it seems that social considerations are being imposed on us.”

Cindy handed the flyer back to Ty and said; “Here. Insert the sarcastic comment of your choice. You must have many.”

Ty took the flyer back, crumpled it, and aimed a jump shot at the nearest opened cardboard box. “All net. Too easy.” He paused and gleaned that Cindy took this flyer more seriously. He said; “There is no full escape; only degrees which shift with the wind. Back east we couldn’t avoid the money counters. Out here, I guess, that the gardening club has notable significance. Appearing anti-social does have its negative consequences.”

Cindy grimaced in an obvious manner, rolled her eyes to the right and actually stamped her foot, and said; “We just fucking got here! Can’t they wait just a little bit? I don’t give a flying about some old bag’s gardening problems.”

Ty shrugged, cuddled distraught Cindy and said; “Love you babe. You’re the greatest.” He then let go and affected a pragmatic posture. “Maybe nobody else cares either. We can check it out this once. No big thing. Apparently, everyone here may not be a resident of the Nirvana we innocently imagined. Seeing something on paper is not the same as seeing it every day real life. Surprise, fucking surprise. Rather than risk being viewed as non-conformists, it’s probably better to attend the stupid meeting, stay quiet, and try to figure out where the prevailing wind comes from.”

“So, back in the same old shit.”

Ty sighed, made a phony, exhaling laugh, and said; “Just a little bit. This shit comes from the ‘new west,’ by un-recognized way of the same old eastern shit. Maybe shit is shit is shit. Such is life, I guess.”

“As soon as we get here? Isn’t there a break? You’re like saying; ‘Start down the garden path.’ No matter how you phrase it, it still smells like shit.”

“I’m not condoning it. It just seems reasonable to go with the flow, at least while we’re new. ............. Later, who knows? Besides, today is Saturday. So today and tomorrow I don’t have to go to that boring bank job. You don’t have to go count beans at Touche. And we’re out of that old trailer and in our new house. Life is good.”

“Yeah. And it will further improve when strangers learn to keep their distance.”

“The southwest is new for us and so far it seems to be the exact opposite of the northeast. There were some things that we liked there, so there will be some things we’ll dislike here. It’s so weird. At work they call me Mr. Woodson and I’m tempted to tell them that; ‘I’m Ty. Mr. Woodson is my father’s name.’ But, I’m afraid they might be offended, or worse just stare at me.”

Cindy, out of some habit, un-necessarily put her hand in front of her mouth to half hide a giggle, when she said; “There’s a couple of people at Touche who make me laugh silently. Often when I say something I consider innocuous, they look at me funny for a second. Then they say something like; ‘Well, ah don’t know much about that, but ah do know that ........’” I mean like, these people went to college and all that. .............. Or so they say.”

“And majored in Accounting if they went at all. ...... I get that too. But, maybe it’s just some weird southwestern sense of humor; an acquired taste we have yet to acquire.”

“There are some things I don’t want to acquire.”

Ty put an arm around her waist and sighed, saying; “There are just some things you have to put up with at least a little bit; or appear to. That’s the way it goes unless your name is Rockefeller ................ and I’m not even so sure about that. There are times when I’m tempted to say something at the office; but I stifle myself when I simultaneously remember that if I get canned from this job, there are no other banks sufficiently large in this area to employ someone with my high end skills.” He let go of her waist and held her fingertips with his. He laughed. He slightly bowed when he said; “Tyrus A. Woodson, Vice President in charge of Governmental Relations at your service, my Lady. If my dear Lady Guinevere is sufficiently appalled at the thought of attending this bourgeois gathering I am prepared to send convincing condolences. In actuality, that is also my preference. However, in that case, my fair lady, you recognize that Tyrus Lancelot may be obliged to shed considerable blood.”

Cindy smiled as she looked through the still un-smudged kitchen window. Her eyes fixed leftward, in the direction of the river. Unlike the stagnant sounds and bays to which she had become accustomed in the east, the Rio Grande discernably flowed. It was as un-mistakable as Ty’s admiration and imitation of the gallantry of Sir Lancelot du Lac. The muddy water established a seemingly infinite number and variety of triumphant whitecaps as the rushing stream continued and continued; seemingly un-deterred and un-phased by the vulgar and stationary obstacles mired and hidden in the rocky bed. Each of the countless displays of whitecap occurrences visible at any given moment was similar when viewed in a coarse manner. Such perfunctory view seems to be reasonably expected and reasonably cursory as is the necessary, reactive, visionless hardheadedness adopted in the moment. What is less often seen is the brave, fully expectant of being denied but continuing, infinite varieties of the caps. Their temporary amorphous forms reflect the light like prisms, glass onions, and rainbows when the sun is high; and co-operative darkness when under the clouds. So much history tells them that like the countless excursions of so many before, that they must know that they will break in such a short time against the shore; yet they go on until they can no longer.

It’s no time for debate. It’s time for the traveler to do just one thing. He must find shelter when on the road a long way from home, suddenly covered by a loud, threatening darkness, and immersed in a blizzard of freezing snowflakes which quickly pile up. Duh??? Igloo construction instructions seemed much too obvious a need to state out loud, at the risk of being ignored for rudeness.

A “brain” and eye blessed with the incorrect vision of limitless time, thereby rendering the snow irrelevant, might use that falsely conceived luxury to pontificate something much less immediate and refined. A distinguishing visage, so misinformed as to be so providential, effectively uses that vantage point to illuminate their papered observation. It is based on current scientifically approved methods of observation which will be re-defined next year. That is not a condemnation. That is merely a fact. In the meantime, those less visionary, who are enveloped in the blizzard are heartened to be advised that it seems likely that the whitecaps and snowflakes are all of unique design; perhaps the result of polishing; the significance of that the subject of further study, not expected to be concluded in this generation.

Cindy laughed or didn’t; the expression on her face that of an Alice who refused to believe that she had gone through the looking glass. Her heart objected to Ty’s pragmatism, but her mind concurred. She thought; “Things just keep going. They have to.” She said; “Okay. Let’s go to the meeting with the community group. Maybe we can learn the art of sabotage.”

“You’re beautiful, baby.”

“Wicked, too.” Her bedroom eyes gazed directly into his as her cup shattered on the brick floor.

On the other side of town, the “Sand Dune” residents had obtained a copy of Penny’s flyer by surreptitious means. It was duplicated and sent throughout the community. The phrase “ordinances banning unwanted interlopers” attracted significant attention. It was decided that it was necessary for the “Sand Dunes” area to send delegates to the meeting. An oft heard phrase heard locally was; “This sounds like it could be a backdoor way into the same old shit.”

A snippet of a subsequent Woodson communication;

“A greedy empath.”

“Exactly. You too I think. But you ain’t seen infinity yet; only dreams.”

“You might be surprised.”

“Hope so.”

“Daddy’s back east.”

“Momma too.”

“You gonna burn baby.”

“That’s the easy part.”

“What’s the hard one?”

Laughter. “Can’t tell?”

“50 Shades is so limited.”

“Plebian taste.”

“Yeah, taste.”

“Who’s talking?”

“Lost track. Matter?”

“Fuck no.”

Giggles. “What are you thinkin’ babe?”


“I’m there.”

“Umnnn. Yeah.”

“Where’s the smoke? Great, great.”

“You’re so kind. Do you always say that?”

“Yeah, always. ............. Always with you, fuck-head. ........ How about me?”

“Can’t imagine anything better. ............ Well, if it lasted longer, .................”

“You go crazy on that thing. I can’t help it.”

“Maybe an indirect route next time.”

“Ooooh, very dirty. Nice. ........ Just don’t kiss me afterwards.”

“Kiss you where? Hangups?”

“Teasing. Like my preliminaries. Got a thing about the bush in full bloom.”

Giggle. “Me too. Why’d they ever cut it back?”

“Scared little men.”

“Defies nature.”

“Your mother.”

“Don’t complicate it.”

“Just a possible analogy, I think.”

“Best forgotten. Come on. Roll it.”

“I’m rolling.”

Cream sang and wah-wahed “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” sculpting bottomless azure undulations.

The Propicio Village Council meetings were held on every Friday at 3:00PM. The Council members said that the timing had “no significance whatsoever” and was merely in accord with the tradition established by the founding fathers. The infrequent, individually, voiced complaints about the scheduling were “taken under advisement” without commentary. A few petitions, bearing the alleged signatures of a distinct minority of residents always got bogged down. They were bogged as if buried in quicksand, by an interminable signature verification procedure handled solely by the appointed Village Administrator, “as other duties permitted.”

The present day reality of the 3:00PM meeting was that the timing effectively precluded attendance by working people, those charged with the responsibility of picking up school children, and the codgers in need of an afternoon nap. But, no longer did anyone complain about the inconvenient timing for a number of good reasons; 1) They knew it would get them nothing other than a property re-evaluation; 2) They had no interest in attending anyway; 3) They were bored to tears listening to engineers discuss the rates of septic poopy flow, tested and projected for the new subdivision; and most of all; 4) Their nap took priority; and most significantly; 5) House prices were noticeably rising every month.

The old-timers circulated the rumor that their Winchester-toting ancestors celebrated at 3:00PM on a Friday, over 100 years ago, after having routed the last of the Native Americans, who were at the time referred to as the “thievin’ Injuns.” Some part of this fairy tale provided them with chuckles at every telling, effectively masked behind impassive, fleshy faces. The fertile, river irrigated, “horn of plenty,” was then named Propicio. It became entirely the domain of European immigrants by way of South Chicago.

On Friday at 2:45PM first term Mayor Vincent Pignatelli, a Propician by way of Bensonhurst, surveyed the meeting room. He stood in the open doorway at the left side of the platform, his forefinger nervously stroking his lips and chin. He had received a copy of the flyer distributed by the “Brisas Area Gardening Society” and initially thought little of the entreaty to attend this meeting. He thought it was merely the inconsequential whims of a few old lady horticulturalists with nothing better to do. His corrected eyes peered down at the growing throng of citizens milling around the metallic folding chairs three feet below him. The seats were set up in neat rows and columns. But the people were less compliant with rules of decorum and seemed to haphazardly establish their own fluctuating zones of newly essential discomfort.

In anticipation of the coming onslaught, he thought; “I have no authority over the elms. Their existence is grandfathered in. You can’t make something illegal today and then charge someone for doing it yesterday. But who wants to hear that the Mayor is powerless?

The increasingly nervous Mayor calculatingly realized that he was in unsystematic virgin territory, though he was denied the ability to hide the physical aspect of his plight. The unpredictability of what was impending made his pockmarked, swarthy face secrete nippy debilitations, which had the nasty habit of congregating in his craters. His well-used handkerchief dabbed at his faux confident façade, restoring a momentary, dry cool; only to be immediately replaced by the uncontainable, embarrassing, hidden and drip producing mechanism of his most reviled part; his sociopathic subconscious. He was not new to this experience. The dichotomy of appearance and reality was old news. Yet, damn it; despite eons of study, no one had come up with a methodology competent to produce the desired results. With no learned aid, he again sweated it out, while cursing the scientific failure of the paper framers. He thought; “Assholes don’t seem to understand that there is money at stake.”

With only his own conceptions to guide him, he attempted to chronicle what was in undisputed evidence. He thought; “Usually there are about seven regulars in attendance. Invariably they seek to advertise their mental acumen by making arcane points regarding inconsequential, time-delaying, legislative, procedural matters. Like an academic at the elusive core, they merely showed an ignored-one’s need to inconsequentially be heard. This is easy to deal with. Smile and capitulate nothing other than a few minutes of obligatory, artificially cheerful time. But, the growing and unstructured rendezvous with the crowd is right in front of my telltale, sweating face. This does not appear to be business as usual. Maybe, I’m overly alarmed over a mere display of bodies, but goddammit, today really does seem different. I feel it in my gut.”

The definable observation of what seemed to be weighed like an unforgiving, uninvited albatross over his planned considerations. His biased view of the gallery might have had some relevance when their innocuous statements were originally made, but was not very helpful now; especially in terms of his suggested actions. Today was observably atypical; maybe not having any importance other than the fleetingly detectable numbers. Maybe it was merely the sophist in him, circling around the often arcane consideration of anecdotal versus empirical; at first level ignoring the overlap on stage three. No big thing. Both forms of evidence were acceptable in court, though an appeal was sometimes necessary; if it could be afforded. At that point the competence of the presentation became the single most important determining factor and Vincent had access to the mob lawyers. One would be sitting right below the stage, competent and ready to obscure any voter complaints, and was called “Village Counsel.” But, other than a conveniently veiled, cryptic Nostradamus, who can predict the future? The mouthpiece had allegiances and shifting games of his own. Surprises, regular fucking surprises. With the money on the line it was only prudent to have at least plans A, B and C in place.

He thought of his own contrivances. The edgy man insisted on being referred to as Mayor Pignatelli or Vincent. He wasn’t particularly pompous, but as a result of his rationality, he would not answer to “Vinny,” as it was a name he had seen used in too many Mafia movies. He was up for re-election in just a few months and desperately wanted to remain in office when the Village’s lucrative garbage collection contract was up for renewal three months later. Citizens with concerns were a nuisance at best and an impediment at the worst.

“Daydreaming?” came the baying, mocking voice of Councilman Thomas Higgins. He was on his way to his gold-leafed, name-plated place behind the elongated, darkly stained, pressed “wood” desk on the platform; which was always covered with documents which served no other purpose. He attempted to brush by the hefty, 240 pound Mayor. The open door did not accommodate both of them. Vincent was compelled to maintain his position and didn’t move, blankly staring at his political nemesis-ally-opportunity hawk.

Thomas feigned amusement and mumbled; “Think you’ve taken up permanent residence, chief?”

“As permanent as anyone’s.”

“The voters are restless. They must fancy that they’re natives.”

No response.

“They always blame the man in charge.”

“Maybe they came to bestow their praises.” Vincent side-stepped. Thomas made a brief, snorting smirk and ambled to his seat, eyes fixed on the ground, careful not to trip on the curling edges of the floorboards.

Vincent turned his head toward the overhead clock and saw that it was 2:57. He then scanned the audience to see that their numbers had grown to approximately 90; overflowing the perfunctory seats provided, which they had re-arranged to accommodate their impromptu meetings. Into only themselves, they saw nothing of Vincent and Thomas, as they exchanged “wizened” strategic insights, and greetings. Both sides of the room were lined with those deficient in the game of musical chairs and those wanting to keep a quick getaway a viable option. Some continually checked their wristwatches against the simple, black and white, circular clock at the rear of the platform. They grimaced as if their time was pressed and soon had somewhere more important to be. A held baby cried. Another in a backpack immediately echoed the refrain.

Ty and Cindy remained by themselves, seemingly aloof, standing at the back of the room, silently wearing bewildered expressions. The turnout, larger than hoped for, was disappointing to both.

After 30 seconds, which, to them, seemed as if an age had passed, Ty said; “Shouldn’t we mingle or something like that?”

“Doesn’t showing up satisfy our neighborly obligations?”

“Don’t you have to infiltrate before you can sabotage?”

“The best saboteurs wait to see if the prey will perform the feat on their own.”

“Wicked, wicked, wicked lover.”

Cindy briefly stuck out her tongue.

Various notices, proclamations and informational documents were “read into the record” by the Mayor at a speed which approximated that of a baby carriage in loose sand, carrying portly triplets. Ordinances which had been previously passed containing mis-spellings were re-passed after reading their entirety, to be certain of no misunderstandings.

The little hand was on the three and the big one was on the eight as Mayor Pignatelli was sitting in his customary center seat reading in a slow monotone; “Ordinance number 14-40078, allowing Treacle and Sugar, Inc. to alter their vending machines located in the elementary school is under consideration. All those in favor say ‘Aye.’”

Three voices grunted what sounded like; “Mmmm.” The silent one’s head was fixated either on his crotch or the fly perched on one of his lower shirt buttons. An unkind person, rushing to judgment would have accused him of nodding off.

“Those opposed?”

One of the handful of regulars, Martin Pescaderia bolted from his front row seat and vigilantly strode to the podium. In no uncertain terms he said; “It behooves us to be made aware of the proposed changes.”

Vincent thought; “God bless you, Martin.” Three hours prior, the Mayor had been effectively considering his plans A, B and C. For almost two hours he had been meritoriously executing B. The last resort, D, was a faked heart attack. A was out the window because of the attendance. In B he intended to bring out every conceivable piece of time consuming “business” in order to drag out the meeting, in experienced expectation of many of the attendees leaving. He couldn’t help but show a welcoming smile as he looked to the podium. His smile broadened when he glanced around the room and saw no one standing and a healthy supply of empty seats. The original contingent of potential “trouble makers” had lost forty percent of their numbers with little effort and with Martin on the case he could beat this vending machine business to death. Even better, he wasn’t on Treacle and Sugar’s payroll. It was Thomas Higgins’ deal, and if anyone was going to appear remiss in the protection of the kids, it would be Tom. For the first time, he was on Martin’s side. He said; “Excellent observation, Mr. Pescaderia. I’m sure you have many more precise questions, and you might direct them to Councilman Higgins, who proposed this ordinance.”

Having received his first encouragement to speak, and from the Mayor himself, Martin stood tall and beamed. He said; “While the questions are many, perhaps I should start with this. Are the machines themselves being replaced, the contents thereof or both?”

Councilman Higgins continued to eyeball his crotch or the fly on a shirt button. Vincent was openly amused and bellowed into his mike; “MISTER Higgins. Do you intend to respond to this gentleman’s concerns?”

Thomas looked up and saw all eyes gazing in his direction. He felt as he did in high school when the teacher called on him when he was watching TV on a portable device. He said; “You’ll have to excuse me. I was pre-occupied reading the particulars of an ordinance I’ll soon be proposing. My apologies. I think you’ll be glad to hear that it will require the leashing of dogs on all public property.”

Martin repeated; “Regarding Treacle and Sugar’s vending machines. Are the machines themselves being replaced, the contents thereof or both? And I have follow ups.”

Though his pained expression belied his words, Higgins said; “I’m happy you asked that question.” He forced a grin, hoping to convey friendliness rather than incompetent, low level thievery and went on. “I’d be even happier if I could fully answer it.” His un-shared grin became an un-shared chuckle. “As in so many areas, we’ve been made aware that there have been technological advances made in the mechanics of the machine operations; essentially enabling the replacement of gear devices with circuit boards. There have been numerous incidents reported of children not getting the item they paid for. This should alleviate that. Regarding the items stocked, I would have to strongly suspect, that of necessity, they are changed from time to time. Poor selling items are replaced with ones deemed to have better potential and more satisfied young customers. This ordinance makes no issue of that. The invisible hand of economics has a way of working those things out.”

Childless and domiciled-with-parents-at-age-45-Martin asked; “Wouldn’t it be a benefit to our children to monitor the items carried in order to eliminate harmful ones with no nutritional value?”

In a display of the skills required to pass the standardized test given to students of Political Proficiency 101, Higgins stifled a choke in its infancy and almost sounded sincere when he responded; “Yes, most definitely. However, we are governed by laws, and we have no more right to do that than we have the right to tell your local convenience store what to sell. None.”

“A convenience store is one thing and an elementary school is another. It would seem to me that it could be written into the contract.”

Vincent again thought; “Bless you, Martin.” He saw that many of the diminished crowd was checking their wristwatches. With tiring legs, Ty and Cindy took seats. Cindy whispered; “We can probably leave. We’ve put in our appearance. We’ve been seen. Lots of others have left already.”

Ty answered; “Let’s stay a bit more. This is starting to strike me as amusing.”

Cindy said; “That is so weird.”

Ty responded; “And you love it.” The playful, smiling, gentle slap his face received drew the attention of a few of the weary.

Higgins said; “That sounds more like a statement than a question. I’m an attorney. Are you one?”

Martin said; “No, but my stupid brother-in-law is. Perhaps I can re-phrase. Why can’t there be some language in the contract stipulating what may be sold? A menu, if you will.”

Higgins laughed and said; “On a practical basis, it’s because the contract has already been written, signed and approved. Perhaps our Village Attorney, Jeffrey Goldblum, who drew up the contract can shed more light on the matter. Mr. Goldblum?”

Seated just below the platform, Jeffrey extricated himself from the “texting” operation he was performing under the table. Somewhat annoyed to have to sign off as Marilyn Fellaciontelli, just when he was really getting into it, his face twisted, as he requested a repeat of the question. Martin was more than happy to respond, extending his time of glory. Jeffrey said; “One can write anything they so choose, which is legal into a contract. Key word;Legal. To prescribe certain suitable items to the exclusion of others is unfortunately not. While we may be able to enforce such a clause right here in Propicio, Propicio merely legally gets its rights to make law from the state, who in turn has received that right from the federal government. The point is that if we tried to impose any illegality on Treacle and Sugar, we would thereby open ourselves to expensive lawsuits in the state or federal courts,which we would lose. Propicio taxes would have to increase and we’d be sitting here with more than one irate resident, correctly chastising us for our incompetence.”

Undeterred, and uncertain whether or not he had been put off with some sort of legalese, Martin proudly chose to prolong his time in the sun by asking; “Will these modifications be a reason for increasing prices? And further, doesn’t our contract stipulate what may be charged? In anticipation of a negative response to the last question, shouldn’t it?”

Time and rhetorical banality passed at the speed it does when one is incarcerated in County Jail; the highlights there being somewhat grander with access to one hour of afternoon handball and one pages-missing soft cover copy of Dostoyevsky’s “Notes From the Underground.” At the Village Council meeting the competing competition included the widow, Ms. Clark’s crying complaints that once again Mr. Barr’s septic tank was overflowing onto her property and that she was concerned over the deleterious effects it would have on her two pet Corgis; George and Martha. She brought pictures of the two right in the puddle, apparently thinking it something worthy of investigation. She gave copies to the Mayor, the four Councilmen and even Mr. Goldblum, who nervously dropped his cell phone revealing a photo which Ms. Clark found shocking. She took back her picture and sniffed.

To the delight of Mayor Vincent Pignatelli, such was the tone of official business and it was now nearing 8PM. He eyed the remaining audience and estimated that the original 90 attendees had dwindled to 25 diehards, and that many of them appeared to be thoroughly worn out. Some actually seemed to have found comfort on their metal folding chairs; those with the option, resting their heads on the soft shoulders of neighbors. He banged the gavel softly and said; “Unless anyone has further business to bring before the Council, this meeting is adjourned.”

The remaining portion of the “Sand Dunes” contingent, smiled, stood up, and took a step or two toward the exit.

Abruptly, and almost as alert as an artfully animated amusement addict, Patricia Primstation provisionally pilfered perpendicular position; predominantly pushing pedestrian, podiatristic pace; podium possession a prize-worthy purpose. Pat proceeded to pop a preliminarily privatized, pricey pill.

Her stumbling approach prompted her to mumble under her breath; likely only discernable, and intended as such, for no one; “For all the taxes we pay, they ought to at least get the swell off the floor of this strange place. Thank you very much, bizarre Mr. Saunders.” When she arrived at the podium the warm rush in her head made her feel as if she was composed, and she confidently said; “I; I mean we, do have further business.” The groan which emanated from a number of sources, even including Martin, was the evening’s most magnified, united sound. The “Sand Duners” chimed in the loudest and collectively sat back down. An audible version of “Shit” echoed through the room before someone cut the power supply. Higgins genuinely smiled for the first time anyone had recently noticed, and said; “Please proceed.”

“Thank you, Mr. Huggins. Councilman Huggins? ........ That’s it, right? ....... Anyway, we ....... or I, whatever; understand that the Village has an ordinance against the planting of elms, and we or I believe rightly so. Many of us or I ......... For the sake of concise, clear candor permit me to try to momentarily escape the confusing, supposed exactitudes of ones and twos. ......... You know, at the bottommost of lines, it has to have been two, simply because one can’t multiply.” Under her breath; She said; “To hell with that shit.”

She audibly followed that with; “I live on Camino de las Brisas and many more present do not. Regardless, we have a common cause as we are all impacted by the obscenity which is allowed to proliferate on Calle de la Congelacion. Thirty foot, non-native, water guzzling, intrusive Siberian elms. Each throws off millions of obscenely large, white, multi-branched seeds, which will invariably infest our gardens with deeply rooting, virtually un-removable un-attractiveness. While we newcomers struggle to beautify this fine desert community, we are hampered by their existence. What can be done about it?”

Vincent replied; “We are sympathetic with your plight. You are probably aware that in that regard we have passed two ordinances. One forbids the watering of elms and the other outlaws the planting of any new ones. You’ll be pleased to know that we are not taking this matter lightly, as a violation of either ordinance carries a hefty, $250 fine.”

“We are aware of those ordinances, as many of us worked for their existence and passage. However, they have had a less than satisfactory result. In effect, the existence of the mature elms violates each ordinance and renders the narrow and restrained, black and white words of the doctrine effectively moot. The elms have such deep roots that they access the water table, and therefore don’t require any watering. They also proliferate like, like ...... insects, thereby becoming abundant without the need of human aid. Our attorney, Bernard is of the legal opinion that their existence thereby violates the spirit of the laws, if not the letter.”

“What would you like us to do?”

“Cut them down?”

“The Village should go onto private property and without permission, cut them down?”

“Perhaps you could obtain permission.”

Vincent hadn’t previously given serious thought to that option, as he strongly suspected that it was not a viable one. He said; “I will take that under advisement and personally investigate that possibility.” He smiled at Patricia, and seemed to generally ask of the audience at hand; “Is there anything else? ......... Not getting any response he used his heavy, dull mallet. In his desperation and worry, he did what he thought was required in the moment.

Through his misunderstandings of the inadequate words of his departed teachers; he hopelessly attempted to understand the look in Patricia’s saddened, nervous eyes at the podium. Not that he fancied himself any sort of “good guy,” but it was because he figured that if he could understand the motivation of his adversaries, he could easily stay a step or two ahead of them. Now it was he who was stuck in front of the disaffected, blankly staring, sea of watchers. The diminished crowd. The electing, pain-in-the-ass crowd again, had him stuck on stage, because of his lust for the expected kickbacks on the garbage contract renewal. The half-joke and the quandary thereby implied, of deemed necessity, he generally relied on the automatic pilot provided by feigned stupidity. He only reverted to the pragmatism with which he had been Bensonhurst trained; that with which he had through birth been made sufficiently proficient to affect the continuity of the loud farce. To provide the appearance of being able to control his striking motion he again banged the gong slowly and deliberately; though extremely careful to strike on the wood provided. Thankfully, most of the time, his instincts furnished no words or analysis of the situation. It merely seemed to be something which was perfunctory. The crashing hammer he held in his left hand made the most momentous of forgettable gongs or the most innocuous of memorable blasts. The testimony thereto was the function of the supposed attendee’s perception. With a hidden sigh of relief Vinny commanded; “Meeting adjourned.”

This was the cruelest of Machiavellian, bottom line limitations. But it was irresistible as it always worked. It was the reverberating beat, suggestive of the clear manifestation of an end prognosticated by yet another cluck with a gavel. It was only another well-planned, ultimate consequence of well credentialed timidity, which has chosen to show a conveniently, ignorant denial of the obvious; another feigning of “I don’t know and I don’t care.” It usually got rid of the pests. The posture was un-intentionally conducive to the man who had been successful, as defined, in usurping the authority; the one with the checkbook; his protracted experience on his perennially practical, coarse side. Garbage in his heart and mind, Vinny thought that if necessary, with a bit of bluster he was capable of ending the bullshit whenever he so chose. He was levelheaded in thinking that as he had not yet met a challenger with any substance, and he therefore had no reason to expect to. For the time being, his best bet was on the likelihood that the tribulations caused by the Brisas Area Gardening Society would fade, just like all the other southwestern spring weeds. He also knew that if the weather continued to promote these weeds, other weeds seeking their own rightful place, would attack the originals through nit-picking criticism, and the whole thing would result in a long, boring diatribe no one wanted to hear. A voter application of Roundup would put an end to it. For Vinny, that required no personal risk whatsoever; the ideal nothing.

Penny’s life was much less complex; at least by her standards. She just wanted the vile obstructions removed. That accomplished, she would purely tend to her garden; like a Madonna; updated by Ophelia. “How could anyone object to the classicism of that?”

With puzzled faces the portion of the audience who resided in the green belt stood up and walked out; many thinking; “Is that all there is to the big deal?” The Sand Duners left with a bit more alacrity. Relieved that the meeting was of no consequence to them, some wondered what the greenies problem was. They would have appreciated the elm infiltration on their domain. Even if the elms were totally devoid of aesthetic appeal their roots would stabilize their shifting sands.

Firmly secured in her new house, Cindy roused early from her slumber. It was still dark, but despite that she could make out the hand placement on her pre 1926, opalescent glass, Rene Lalique clock; little one on the nine and big one on the six. The timepiece comfortably sat level on her functional nightstand. The merchant had advised her that it was titled “Inseparables,” though her many close external inspections had not yet found any evidence of that. She had periodically considered removing the three screws which held the back in place to see if the name was emblazoned somewhere in the inner workings of the machine, but always decided against it on the fear that she might accidentally do damage.

The years had given the timer a graying effect, which some called a patina. Its tiny, burnt sienna face seemed content to be nestled between two larger bluebirds, which faced each other, one occupying the east and the other the west. North and south was inhabited by interlocking vines, those to the south overlapping the birds, while those to the north preferred clear borders. The whole thing rested against a black background which intensified the colors. She thought it gorgeous and it was her favorite possession.

Cindy viewed the eye catching texture provided by the bulging, white painted, adobe bricks which made up the interior of the those walls which were also external. She then viewed the simple beauty of the gray-blue Kinko furnishings sprawled around her bedroom. After taking inventory, she finally saw Ty still sleeping beside her.

She pushed him a few times and when his eyes half opened, his face showing a first morning frown, she said; “Come on. Come on. It’s SUNDAY, the first day of the week.”

Ty put the pillow over his head and countered; “As a matter of fact, Sunday is the last day of the week.”

“First, silly. Do I have to teach you everything? It’s on the far left hand side of the calendar.”

“The Bible says it’s the last. On that day all the work was done and God rested; LIKE I’M TRYING TO DO.”

“BIBLE? Since when did you become a holy roller?”

Ty sat up in bed and said; “Now you got me wide awake. You know that I’m no holy roller. But, who are you going to believe? A document which has stood the test of time or something printed by the World Wildlife Fund?”

“Hmmnnnn. ................I’m not sure, but I’m leaning toward the animal lovers.”

“Okay. Here’s something else to consider. You’re reading that calendar left to right. Hebrew goes from right to left and Sunday is last when viewed that way.”

“I’m not Hebrew.”

“Neither am I. But, that’s not the point.”

“Is there a point?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Right now all I’m trying to say is that a very learned group of people go right to left.”

“Well, wouldn’t they have taken that into consideration? ....... I mean, you know, what they intended to be first which is left for others, they put on the right, knowing that people who speak their language understand that left doesn’t necessarily equate to first and right doesn’t necessarily equate to last. The words actually don’t have anything to do with each other. It’s all just a matter of where the scribe places the numbers. I mean he could just as well have went 3-7-1-8-4-6-9-2-5; and then where would we all be?”

“I can’t tell which side of the issue you’re on. Now, it sounds like you’re on my side.” Ty stroked Cindy’s hair and giggled when he added; “And if a six turned out to be a nine, I don’t mind. I don’t mind. Do you have any idea of what you’re talking about?”

Cindy stroked Ty’s cheek and giggled when she answered; “Honestly, I lost myself somewhere in the innuendo of the last couple of sentences. Damn those junky Burroughs books. It’s like you’re staring at yourself in this fun house mirror, trying all angles to see if you’re attractive from all directions. You’re not sure if this self-centeredness is something you like or not. At the same time you are fully conscious that there is someone else in the room, watching you; and you don’t know if you like that either. .......... Know what I’m sayin’?”

“I think I’m there in that room too. Hey, ever think that Sunday was named after the sun? And here it is streaming through the eastern windows without the benefit of internet access.”

“Actually, I have. This one’s trickier by one letter. Ever think that Monday was named after the moon?”

“Yes, baby; and the next one is a corruption of two; and the next one is representative of wed; and the next one ........”

“Glad I’m with you, babe.”

“Me too. ............ I really want that ...............”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. The words and numbers just get in the way. I’m so hungry. Ready for breakfast?”

“Most definitely.”




Procul Harem was at the best part of “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”

“Aww. It’s over.”

“Far fuckin’ out.”

“Characterization acknowledged. A time capsule, indeed.”

“Missed the beginning.”

“We’ll catch it again.”

“Gotta check out my granny’s forty fives.”

“First, we gotta find a turntable.”

“And a sharp needle.”

“Can you dig. And I mean can you dig what’s happenin’ here? I mean like not what’s happenin’ yesterday. I mean like what’s happenin’ now. Right fucking now.”

“I’m hip to it, baby. Dig you the absolute most.”

“It’s been a long time comin’.”

“Gonna be a long time gone.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Okay. .................. But, it’s there. You know, I’ve always loved that song. So, I looked it up on the internet. You know what I found?”

“Let me make a wild guess. Twenty-two YouTube renderings by different singers at different ages; forty-six sets of lyrics; most a bit different and some conspiracy freak-entrepreneurs completely claiming that some stanzas were left out for political reasons engineered by the CIA, inclusive of an offer to buy their explanatory truthful books; and seventy eight offers to download the song to your MP3 for ninety-nine cents.”

“That too. But worse. Eighty-eight fuckin’ explanations and analyses. They interpret the song as either a literal depiction of the sinking of the Titanic or some guy’s attempt to get a girl drunk, so that he can get into her drawers.”

Lengthy sigh. “Yeah. Like deceased.”


“That’s one of the things I love about you. You’re always the optimist.”

Cuddle. Cuddle. Cuddle.

A few days before what was predicted to be a dry Christmas with a warming trend, Vinny’s two toddlers; Mikey and Molly; joined him on the sofa, and sat on his lap, each taking one knee. He bounced them up and down and they giggled with abandon.

In a childish voice, Vinny said; “What are my babies laughing about? Huh? What?”

Molly squealed; “This is fun!” and kept on bouncing.

Mikey said; “Keep going Daddy.”

Vinny did and asked another playful question; “Are bouncing babies happy babies?”

Mikey sounded dead serious when he replied; “Why this, why that and why aren’t you home to play with us more?”

Vinny was startled. He looked at them and his leg motion came to a halt. He said to the four little eyes which were looking right at his; “Soon. Soon everything will be all right.” He meant that, but also realized that Mikey and Molly would soon be off to school, friends, all sorts of activities. This was the best time to spend with them. It was moving away quickly and more garbage was on the immediate horizon. He failed when he tried to think of something encouraging to say. To break the bad spell, he started to bounce them again; this time remaining quiet.

Geraldine smiled as she watched from the doorway; “Come on kids, bedtime?”

Molly moaned; “Oh, do we have to daddy?”

With mixed emotions, Vinny answered; “Your mother knows what’s best for you.”

The kids reluctantly trudged off with one of Mommy’s hands guiding each on their trip to the bedroom.

Cheerless and dissatisfied with himself, Vinny sighed and his eyes focussed on the family room’s sliding glass door. Though the sun had disappeared under the horizon an hour prior, the curtains were still fully open; which allowed him to see a reflection of himself in the otherwise unpopulated family room. This did not do wonders for his mindset.

After the kids had been tucked in, Geraldine re-entered the room and sat in daddy’s lap and using a silly voice said; “Why aren’t you home more to play with me more?”

“Oh, you know. Gotta do this. Gotta do that. Soon we’ll both be over the hump.”

“I think we are already.”


“Never mind.”

Vinny heard the jingle emanating from his pocket and retrieved the phone he now considered smarter than him. He said; “Dammit, gotta take this one, babe.”

She sighed, shrugged and made an unplanned elevation.

“Yeah, Victor. How the hell are ya?”

“ ..................... ”

“Relax, relax. It’ll be all right. I’m right on top of it.”

“ ........................... “

“Okay. Okay. I understand. You know you can’t talk on these damn things anymore. I’ll be right over. Okay? You home?”

“ ......... “

Vinny hung up and said; “Sorry, honey. Got to go. Victor’s got a bug up his ass.”

“While you’re trying to take it out, would you also find out when he’s going to start installing our pool and ...... ?”

As he hurried out the front Vinny just thought; “Fuck it all.”

The house was one of those rambling old country houses which popped up here and there back east during the nineteenth century. Though modernizations were typical and expected with structures of this advanced age, none were evident on this one. There had to have been some, but they also had to have been done “in keeping” with the original style’s integrity. The clapboard exterior siding was painted a cloudy yellow, suggesting that the painter had finished his work a while back. Despite the age there was no peeling. In fact one might say that the color had acquired a charming patina, the yellow gently blending with a creamy white undercoating, which could not be mimicked out of a can.

Jack fleetingly wondered how he had come to see the outside. As far as he knew he had never previously been there and he was on the inside; on the second floor. It was only his logically refined instincts which told him that this was his house as he was trailed by two home improvement contractors, who continuously spoke to him, themselves, or no one in particular, of how easily and cheaply they could make repairs. Jack thought that he heard Beth rattling around downstairs, sometimes speaking to someone or also talking to herself.

The contracting team consisted of a five foot two inch man who exchanged the stub of an unlit cigar between his mouth and his left hand; apparently the hand most useful when he felt the need to blurt out some commentary in a rapidity which seemed to be nervously induced. His partner; a woman with blonde hair below her blue jeans; was almost a foot taller, and seemed more matter-of-fact about whatever was going on or not going on. “Big Blonde” periodically and sparsely interjected her deadpanned observations whenever “Little Cigar” seemed to run out of steam or looked to her for agreement, approval or assistance. It may go without saying, but she gave the appearance and sound of being entirely on his side and well accustomed to making an open display of that when obliged. At times this activity seemed to bely the upward drift of her blue pupils; a look which she seemed to maintain a sufficient time to be “inadvertently” noticed, instantaneously followed by a quick “correction” to center eye. A cynical person might have construed this ophthalmic gyration as some sort of insinuation.

Notwithstanding the marginally, cranium compelling work, with which Jack had just been almost entertained, the bulk of his concentration was on the floor. And rightly so, as this floor seemed odd and dangerous to him. It consisted of traditionally planked wood, but almost all the planks were turned up at their edges, perhaps an indication of prior water damage. One could easily trip. To make matters a bit more difficult the entire floor seemed to slope toward the wall and glass windows to the outside. To make matters Triple A level difficult, the floor’s width approximated all of two feet.

That was because of an oddity Jack had never seen in any other house. The vast majority of the second floor consisted of a gigantic central tunnel to which he had no access unless he smashed a hole in the black colored wallboard to his left. That seemed to be rash and a last resort. Jack knew that the house was built before the days of coal, oil, gas, or electrically generated heat. It once depended upon wood burning fireplaces in every room; most of which were walled in when they became un-fashionable and “inefficient.” Still, he thought that the exhaust generated by a newer, more powerful heating system should not take up 80% of the entire house. To do that would have to have been a multi-faceted illogical expression of a dada-redundant, absurdist “answer” to the most practical of situations; or a pseudo-intellectually compelling, reductionist representation of proportions and parts; or another impressionistically inspired imperfection with a compelling argument for justification, imperfection the key word; or the silent sharpness of a stark, sophisticated, falsely egalitarian minimalism; or a surrealistic rendering of Pollack simultaneously puking and pissing into the host’s fireplace. The thought then crossed his mind that more likely than any sort of temporal movement, that this monstrous hindrance was likely the work done as a modern adaptation of a third eye deficient and un-noticed desire for Masonic symbolized greenbacks by an inept, charlatan of an un-licensed, fly-by-night contractor, who lucratively found a sucker.

He wondered if the first floor was so configured. He hoped not, but suspected as such, as that possibility would seem to leave the most minimal of efficient, crooked living area.

Jack stopped himself, perhaps un-necessarily. However, in the moment, it seemed prudent to first determine what was behind the black wall before speculating on the reasons for its existence. But first he would have to get rid of the contractors. If they saw him punch a hole in it, it would not only be another source of “needed repair,” but it would also be another story which the peddlers could spread all over the area, embellished to convey “interesting” sociopathic innuendo to the small town locals, dying for something to say over their back yard fences.

Jack walked near a five foot wide and two foot deep, curved indentation in the outside wall with a shut window in the center. More loudly expressed than his numerous previous suggestions of “repair,” Little Cigar said; “Oh,” in an attempted, contractor indication of ruinous, unfortunate astonishment; prior to his overly eager, “surprising” follow-up; “We can hep ya out with that.”

Jack was indeed surprised. He stared at the hollow groove, saw no imperfections, and supposed that the original builder intended it to appear as it did. He said; “What’s wrong with it?” amused and in full anticipation of the reply which he thought would follow.

Little Cigar approached the recessed window. His hands gesticulated in an initially haphazard and animated manner. His eyes periodically peered at Jack as if to say; “You’re either blind or kidding me.” This bold activity culminated in a rather subdued and restrained set of hands with palms to their respective sides and, while unlike the olfactory proclivities demonstrated by his partner; Jack witnessed the most bulging of facially intrusive eyeballs. Their sheer size and red, veiny appearance was something Jack had never previously encountered more close up than in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange,” and that required artificially induced openings and a lot of makeup.

Though the thoughts of a thousand childish horror movies flashed through his mind, Jack successfully hid the trepidation which seemed to well up throughout his entire existence. He recalled the long ago warning given by Sid; “Don’t play with little minds.” His intended little joke had seemed to have un-nerved a serious person; perhaps a dangerously serious person. He looked to Big Blonde and found some degree of comforting adjournment in her shrug, grimace, and back turn.

Little Cigar ended his consternation when he said; “We can get this flush with the other walls.”

Feeling relieved and a bit more plucky, Jack responded; “It doesn’t seem to be a problem right now. Besides, if you move the wall inward, the window will become useless. Unless, of course, you make a window of the entire area. Ah, even then it will be cut off at every edge. The only way I can conceive of getting around all these considerations is to move out all the other walls; and that’s just too expensive.”

Little Cigar calmly agreed, his furrowed brow indicative of a confusion he could not articulate or confound in the moment.

Jack was sure that he didn’t invite them and therefore felt that he owed them nothing more than minimal courtesy and an ushering to the front door. But, he thought that for a number of reasons it was pragmatically best to let the contractors do at least one job. He pointed through the window and said; “Look. The yard is full of last year’s dead growth. It’ll likely take a few days to get rid of it.” As the now distracted contractors gazed, Jack yelled out; “Come on up here, Beth; I can use some help;” and heard a silent response which surrounded an Antonioni murmur.

Little Cigar broke the silence when he urgently said; “There’s a trespasser on the property!”

Jack looked out and saw a powder blue, mid 1960’s Ford Fairlane idling just ten feet east of the window, destined to either go straight ahead or straight back, a prisoner of the stockade fence immediately to its left. Jack wondered why he had not noticed it last look.

Suddenly, Little Cigar, Big Blonde and he were outside. Someone called out; “Hey, what are you doin’ here?”

The car started to move slowly, and as it passed the trio, they saw the lone driver. It was a smiling grayish-blonde woman of about fifty years of age. Her countenance was disarming and she said; “I used to live here and I just wanted to see it one last time.” The car kept moving and went out to the road, where it disappeared from sight.

Jack didn’t remember climbing any stairs, but he was back inside the house on the second floor. He peered through the same window and saw Big Blonde take off her clothes and get under the water flow coming from a tall standpipe. He thought it was still a bit too chilly for that as it seemed like a typical, mid-spring, New Jersey morning. Little Cigar was nowhere in sight and Jack felt that it was wrong for him to be watching Big Blonde. Besides, he wanted to explore the huge, black sideways tunnel in the center of the house and he saw an entry which had previously escaped him.

He went in. It was dark. He fumbled for a light switch and found none. He kept moving slowly. He thought he was heading for the center, but knew that he couldn’t be certain of that. He detected some movement and then saw the dimly lit interior. There were stores. The shopkeepers paid Jack no notice and seemed to going through their daily routine of setting up.

Jack was not the least bit happy that others were making use of his property. Since he was on solid ground on the second level he wondered if this sideways tunnel extended throughout the house or if was only of that elevated place. He had now taken so many steps that if there was any opening to the first floor it would have to be a small one, just like a funnel rather than a sideways tunnel. A woman of about thirty, who was olive skinned, and draped in multi-colored robes like a gypsy sat behind glass, the size of a typical window. As he got near, she smiled and said; “Fortunes told.” Jack kept moving as for some reason this woman seemed ominous to him and he also wanted to see the extent to which the stores had invaded his property. The woman’s smile grew and turned into a cackle; her eyes seeming to become glowing pieces of coal set aflame. She now appeared to be maniacal.

The absurdity of the entire situation was no longer a curiosity or fear. It made Jack realize that he was in a dream. So, he decided to have some fun. He approached one of the shop keepers who was setting up a window display, with his back to Jack. Jack wanted to see Beth and he wanted to know the extent of the tunnel-funnel in that order. He asked the man; “Where is the stairway down?”

He realized that he had met another comedian when the man, turned, started laughing, and said; “The only stairway goes up.”

Jack woke up to see the pine beams on his tongue and grooved ceiling. He sighed and again closed his eyes, but he was now wide awake. Jack wished he could drift back off to sleep again, as the entertainment was better there than on the internet; more of the non-entertainment on the ignored laptop screen below.

“To whom it may concern;

I have been busier than I would like to be. I have been informed that there is insufficient space in my house. Wanting to be liked I considered remedies. The first thought was to have an addition built. My second thought was that could become a problem in any of a number of ways. My third thought was to recall the four, differently sized, boxes which the presumably former owner left in the living room. My fourth thought was a question; ‘Did anyone put anything in them?’ My fifth thought (possibly sic) was to do an investigation, during which I determined that they were all still empty. My sixth thought-action was to put the smallest one inside the second smallest, then to put those two inside the second largest, then to put that concoction into the largest one.

I am currently in the process of determining if this provides sufficient space, ultimately an imprecise value judgement which will involve input from the other, who I can see through the open window over the oven, is currently in the front yard tending to the garden. I do so want to be liked. If the space is determined to be lacking I intend to continue the process with the four boxes which were left in the kitchen, and if necessary the four boxes which were left in the game room, and if necessary the four boxes which were left in the guest bedroom, and if necessary .......................... Through my wanderings I have already determined that they are all of different sizes and empty, and that they will all fit inside the largest box. This is a tedious process and I have a Plan B. Rather than experiencing infinite boredom, at some point I may find it fun to just throw all the old junk out.

I’d rather spend the time ruminating about the ancient Japanese game of ‘Go.’ Such things are most fun when one is a novice. At this point I find it unclear what the rules defining “surround” are. The board configurations I’ve thus far seen look like the stones are willy-nilly all over the place. In certain venues, ignorance is indeed bliss, and I’d rather not get bogged down with the details of “surround.” What does pique my interest is the name of the game. It seems to me that it must have been baptized by someone with a sarcastic sense of humor. The still stones cannot move. They resemble a graveyard, while in Chess, a Knight and a Queen can hop or slide around the board theoretically forever. As an aside it seems patently absurd for mathematicians to say that ‘Go’ has more possibilities than Chess, when the Knight and Queen can keep hopping and sliding to infinity. I don’t care to hear any math maven’s “explanation.” Shouldn’t have mentioned it. What I’d like to know is if name of this ancient eastern game loses something in the translation. Are there any linguists in the house? My only tentative conclusion is that whoever named this game must be of high level genius character as the brightest of easterners are not the least bit funny. Look at Murakami.

In 2016, it is scientifically believed that everything is made up of numbers or can be represented by them. It is un-deniably true that, primarily through the invention of better measuring and visualization instruments, we keep finding smaller things previously unknown. Given that one small observation it is 99.9% certain that we will soon discover that the numbers are made up of something previously not seen. If you want to take the other side I’m willing to bet you a whole lot of money on it. Further, when that happens, a traditional physicist named T.T. Hindsight will titter mildly and say; “It was so retarded to have believed in the number theory which the Neanderthals did. It was such an easily discerned piece of faulty logic. Mankind determined that all existence was comprised of a concept he invented. I mean like Duh!!!” See ca. 1967 Jimi Hendrix’ ‘If Six Was Nine,’ and-or the possible precedent of ca. 1965 Bob Dylan’s ‘Ballad of a Thin Man.’

Recently I’ve been diverted from my own priorities which include trying to make recently installed Windows10 do what I want it to do and finish off a long-ass book which is now boring the hell out of me. I suspect that MS put this damn thing out free in an effort to get a bunch of suckers to do their editing work. I’d only like to point out that the MS acronym was first a reference to something else and that still may take precedence. My sixth sense tells me that my next delay will be provided by someone who is a disciple of the imperfect religion of psychology. I promise that I will do my best to strangle that person.

If I don’t contact or make terse replies to people in the near future, it should not be considered disinterest or disrespect. I just have to get all the mud out of this place before it reaches neck level and once and for all finish this goddam book. It’s 98% written and needs four edits by moi, two of them slow. I’m considering just deleting the obsequious stuff, let it go, and hope I never see it again.

For those of you who actually read as opposed to skim and assume, you may have noted that I was considering obtaining my first Kirkus review whenever I finish this ‘brilliance.’ Since then I’ve seen more Kirkus reviews of indie stuff. I have found them to be so bad that one doesn’t even have to read the book to refute them, as they contradict themselves and display no knowledge of antecedents. Most significantly, their vaunted market reach is yet to be personally determined as, over the course of approximately one year, the indie books reviewed have experienced sales ranging from two to seven, and I suspect this is inclusive of the freebies and other forms of giveaways. Help, please advise;

1) Does Kirkus use the same reviewers for the indie stuff as they do for the institutionalized?

2) Is there any mathematically demonstrable relationship between a starred Kirkus review and book sales?

3) Is GFR of financial value to anyone other than; the mis-statements a Nabokovian non-riddle?

4) What is the price an unknown indie must pay to get a front page Sunday NY Times Book Review Section review?

5) Does that have any provable financial value?

6) Is there any less-than-half-hour process an indie can perform to keep their books off pirate websites?

7) If one signs with a traditional publisher is one saddled with an editor, required to do book signings, and answer stupid questions in the media?

8) Is there anybody out there?

Gotta go. My significant other has come in and declared the space to be insufficient. I’m going to have to start fucking with these empty boxes again. I am so desperate to be liked that I have forgotten the lines to ‘Visions of Johanna.’


Jack had already said as such in other venues, and his dream state did not compel him to say it again. He thought; “This shit has got to be woefully out of context;” and re-closed his eyes.

The summarization of a minute, blurred and looped vision emanating from a viewless part of the eastern US flatlands

Back at Ty and Cindy’s first home in Away-From-The-Water, Long Island, Near-Big-Apple, NY, Cindy’s older sister, Lynne, awoke alone with a thud in her meth head. That condition was far from its first incarnation, but this time it felt particularly strange in the continual echoing crash. Her yellow pajamas were pulled over her head, ostensibly to inadequately attempt to block out the first vestiges of morning sunlight. Her reticent, wobbly, first foot on the floor, in search of her slippers, reminded her that the four straight, mug-sized glasses of vodka, which she had consumed the previous evening was no more out of her system than her aging need to reside at her parent’s house. Or was it five? Hard to tell, and kind of irrelevant now..

As she scratched her morning itch, she noted the remnants of Fidel. That blessed Latino fucker could always make her laugh, even more than Smirnoff. Lynne had always called him by his last name; Pacheco. The first always struck her as an all too obvious allusion to some sort of communal optimism which must have fallen from her pocketbook some time back.

He had left a note scrawled in eyeliner on a neatly folded, paper towel. The fucked up penmanship, and more importantly content, was reminiscent of an unintentional joke stolen from the “New Improved Borax” infomercial. The professionally insipid voice over the Warhol-like “artful” image was long ago parodied by Wallace, Saunders, Zadie and their numerous inept imitators. In some kind of attempt at a merciful act, the oxymoronic, copied redundancy was printed once a year in the fat “New Yorker” annual literary condolences issue. It went on ........ and on ....... but still went on, seemingly immune to any concept of embarrassment. The words of the paying patrons patronized.

As best as Lynne could make it out, the note appeared to say; “We both know that this thing has not been working for a long time. Henry and I spend more quality time together.”

Even for the most devout of feminists, this was not good news at unemployed and plastered age 35. Further, the LGB&T aspect suggested the cessation of viable options. She had known Pacheco since the dinosaurs ruled the earth. Sure, it was inconsistent. But, what isn’t? “The Monologues of Plato” was a very interesting book to discuss.

Her inadvertent impromptu vision of Fidel and Henry together had a sobering and very un-erotic effect. This had a squaring consequence as she wasn’t feeling the least bit erotic to begin with. Lynne’s head now seemed un-clouded, and she immediately concluded that this man must die; not particularly specific as to who; but with a strong practical preference.

Her most ideal of plans was one in which Pacheco and Henry would get married, with no limitations imposed through a pre-nup. Henry was the beneficiary of a family trust; Pacheco’s inherited property with Henry dead. One of her meth-freak-friends could do the job for $500. El Diablo, as she was commonly known, could then re-approach Fidel with a proposition backed up by one of the enormously realistic substitutes made in 2016. It was a bit remote, but she could handle that and it didn’t preclude other options. She thought; “I always suspected, but now I know that fucking Pacheco was up for it.”

Lynne’s corkscrewed, uppermost, hirsute of manifestations stood out like that of Medusa when she looked into the unforgiving bathroom mirror, but she didn’t disappear. She leaned forward and got closer to verify that it was her own, recently short hair, each strand circling around like an extended spring or a descending slinky. But, the snakes did not yet appear to be reflectively present; perhaps a function of the vertical, rippling pond, Lynne’s state of disrepair, or both. She was reminded how she hated having inherited her father’s hair, rather than the straight, flowing tresses of her mother and younger sister, Cindy.

She returned to the bed and sat upright against the headboard; her own head now free of the yellow pajamas. She didn’t exactly know what was entailed, but some instinct suggested that she still had a lot of thinking in front of her. Insufficient schemes would never do.

A thought hindered return to western plodding

The following sunny, unseasonably warm day Jack and Manny brought in their quota of drug and alcohol recidivists. They were easy arrests as, having had a long term affair with the system, the addicts no longer believed that they had any rights. In effect, they didn’t. Unable to afford a personal attorney, they just did as they were told and spent as much time in jail as the powers that be dictated. If they had any kind of hope at all, it was to get high during periods during which the bars were invisible.

Manny drove Jack back home after they had cleared the thawing streets of some of its social refuse. They navigated the littered avenues of Mesa Grande, essentially oblivious to the trash filled gutters. The wind free day left everything lifelessly in its place. Though Manny was usually not a talkative person, Jack saw that today his silence was coupled with that pensive, far away expression he had come to know. It was time for the explosive rant. The damn thing was that Jack basically agreed with his partner, but didn’t see a damn thing anybody could do about it. Once again prepared to be the voice of rationality, he brightly inquired; “Something bothering you?”

Manny shrugged and grunted a drawn out; “Ah.”

“No, no. Tell me. I’m your partner.”

Manny sighed, eyes straight ahead and said; “Does what we do ever bother you?”

“No. .......... What do you mean? ........ What’s supposed to bother me?”

“The whole damn thing. ........ I mean, shouldn’t we be chasing after the guys who really do the damage?”

Jack tried to joke and said; “No my job, man. .... You havin’ mid-life crisis or something?”

“You asked me. I didn’t want to talk about this shit.”

“You’re right. Sorry.”

“It’s just, you know ...... These poor slobs nodding out in the alleyways. We pick them up four or five times a year and they’re only hurting themselves.”

“They broke the law.”

“Maybe. You ever hear of crimes without victims?”

“Yeah. I saw a segment of ‘Law and Order’ where they arrested a few old, liberal college professors for weed. I know the diatribe.”

Manny made a disapproving scowl. His discontentment quickly evolved to exasperation. With an unusual rapidity in his cadence, he said; “So, we play out our little role and we don’t have to worry about paying the rent. Right? We get paid to supply the criminal justice industry with its pawns; mostly Latino.”

What are we supposed to do? Take up a petition?”

“Did you ever see what goes on at county jail?”


“You didn’t see it. If you’d ever have gone deeper into the dungeons, you’d get an education. If you’d have taken the trouble to go in, the first thing you’d have noticed is that it is mostly populated by beaten people who have long forgotten any fantasies of equality or justice. In free fucking America!”

“Oh, come on. These same people boost shit to support their habits and don’t give a damn about anyone else’s property rights.”

“Key word, my privileged white compadre. Property. Property. Property. What about humanity? Humanity? Humanity?”

“Don’t call me privileged. I’ve lived through as much garbage as anyone, but I did that without taking prisoners.”

Manny openly made a sarcastic laugh, genuinely finding his partner’s commentary completely ridiculous. Rather than addressing his partner’s inability to see what he considered obvious, he said; “You do not even understand your own words. The system is designed to make money from those addicted to some substance needed for medication; no different from the shit you get, if you have the money, from your local drug dispensing doctor. Some lives just do not work out.”

Jack was more focused on his own life. He didn’t think that he could ever be even indirectly accused of being one for whom things worked out. He said; “We’re cops. That’s all there is to it. Laws are written, not by us, but we enforce them. ....... We’re not the bad guys.”

“I don’t feel like a bad guy either, but I think that I could be a better guy. The needed drugs temporarily remove the pain; which is deemed in the brutal twenty-first century to be a crime. If it wasn’t so sad it would be abnormally funny. The effect on people’s lives is a tragedy, worthy of a Shakespearian play. Even in his brilliance he could not envision this. The career inmates don’t want to be seen as gloomy. They joke. They joke in way only they and the morgue attendants understand. Whatever is required to be human is systematically denied; 100%. And the disinterested have the inexperienced balls to say that we are in America. ..................... They’re obviously right; but it is an America beyond the forefather’s conceptions of any sense of rights or freedom. We have all become terrorists, subject to spurious incarceration, without the right to inform and without the right to an attorney, and without the hope of escape. Sit in the cold while the fat packing bitch brings a cold, inadequate breakfast forty minutes too late.TheCheerios promptly give in to the 55 degree room temperature. She smiles and requires acknowledgement of her ‘kindness,’ the ‘power’ displayed her best aphrodisiac.”

Jack was uncomfortably stunned at the seriousness of his partner’s polemic. He had spent years with Manny and had never heard anything like this. They had always comfortably joked. In fact he had never heard much anything from his partner.The unpleasant thought crossed his mind that he may have been doing too much talking and not enough listening.He was at a loss for words. It seemed that some response was called for. Inadequately and self-servingly, he said; “It’s all bullshit. Right? What’s new?”

“What I find the most surprising is how the long term inmates have, on their mistakenly thin surface, acclimated to their perverse reality. They attempt to maintain some degree of their contrived, hoping to fool, personal illusion of self-sufficiency by joking of the nefariously-designed Catch 22’s, purposely propagated to keep them in an inferior and hopeless place, totally dependent on the uncaring whims of the flunkies, momentarily in charge. The correctly termed screws seem to get their rocks off by withholding any fairness that their rock-hard hearts have rationalized into their calculated, job un-necessary methods; regardless that it is at the minimally supportive wage. To play their own sick game back to them, it becomes obvious that they are rejoicing in their power-hungry denials of the basic human rights of those who have been condemned to feel; and feel, in a an uncontrollable way, what is conveniently characterized as a disease by the pragmatic, lethargic, crawling and avaricious dead.”

Jack thought; “Okay. Zombie territory. I’m well versed.” He calmly intoned; “Most everybody is a parasite. That’s how we’re born and that’s how we get by. If someone wants to be a host, they’re going to have to pay for the party; one way or another.”

Manny’s concentration on the road wavered as his eyes darted between the dashboard, Jack, the insulation stuffed ceiling, and the rear view mirror. He had taken the risk of baring his soul this far and saw it as merely logical to continue the process, once and for all. He said; “Take advantage of the weak. It bears all the brave risk of a US treasury bill. Despite popular fantasy and Christian tithe seeking, paradisical, parasitic, monetarily-paramount horseshit, the meek will never inherit the earth. Jesus suffers on the cross,untilthe devilish oppressors have been eradicated. Truth .......... Truth .......... Truth ........... Irrefutable, pathetic truth. Deal with it, or cry your life away.”

Jack thought; “If I don’t think about it I won’t cry. But, you have forced the occasion. On the smelly and dirty surface; any stupidly optimistic thoughts of this Pollyanna-ish, wishful dichotomy, only exists in the illusory, hidden, and un-provable spirits; or scientifically likely, the lack thereof; exhibiting the cipher duplicating characteristics of those condemned to the remembrance of something which probably never existed, and perhaps, never will. It is the timeless and pitiless joke. Under the risk of ostracism, we are all obliged to perfunctorily laugh at our own failure. Ha, ha, is an adequate reply to the time worn observations of market dependent, popularity subservient, experienced, well-credentialed critics; as well as the faux knowing inference they seemingly convey in their admittedly-worthy-of-a-wager, world-wise brilliance. To put it in a more combative tone, it’s only the obvious, banal regurgitation, of a well-known loftily, and yet evaded by the common, rationally accepted fact, ......... brutal fact, ........ and heart-killing fact; its appeal persuading to the purposely and obviously hardnosed, secretly shy, posing, in the hopes of not being seen as losers; yet clearly otherwise inadequate; sensible to all of the willingly numbed; as are we reluctantly all. In a short, cruelly and briefly hopeful period; and ultimately perceptive time they have seen the realities, and in necessary self-interest, they have joined with the most credentialed, who have completely succumbed to the calculations of the blandly, financially remunerative, safe, tame and superficial.” His thoughts went in one side and came out the other in the space of a second; too problematic, un-focussed, un-wanted, and irrelevant in a hardheaded manner, were again chosen to be put on hold, in deference to his fear of his being seen as un-common, wrong and, disastrously, un-American. In an effort to indicate a somewhat welcomed and interested, yet truly practically, undesired curiosity with Manny’s heartfelt point of view, he said; “I don’t think of consequences. I’m limited to the observable truth; a discipline imposed by the engineers. One should plan ahead.”

Manny considered the ending of a difficult conversation he wasn’t entirely convinced that he had initiated. However, the uncontrollable, red and insistent blood coursing through his previously slumbering veins raced to his head, producing a fire beyond his mental control. He was embarrassed to have to convey to the outside world that he was, like the majority of those he perceived as boring rabble, a prisoner of his passions, needs and beliefs. His momentary excursions into duplicitous profundity over-rode any considerations of his likely stupidity. Hell, he was alone with his long-term partner, and if he couldn’t now bear his soul, when would it ever be allowed? He said; “Fine. ......... Fine. Here’s the crux of the truth that I have personally seen. In County detention, the most representative parts of the confining room are the topless, shit-invoking, stained, and classified as stainless steel commodes/ privies. Separated by side metal partitions, they are ample in number to accommodate the 50 people assigned to the spacious, unheated place, but half require the services of a plumber who never comes, and are loaded to the top with shit. ........ This is only a small portion of what our pawn positioned, purview permits. People sleep in assembled steel, bunk-beds; on two inch thick mattresses, assigned to and the temporary property of inmates, charged with the responsibility of keeping the ‘luxuries’ safe, upon the risk of the added charge of theft. They carry these things in from booking, their place of arrival at the joint. In the company of cynical others, who have traversed the road before, they seek assistance in obtaining doctor required medications, which are systematically denied. The authorities delight in the suffering. They need a Personal Identification Number to make a collect phone call and they never get one. Fuckin’ phones don’t work anyway, but they never get to find that out.”

Jack didn’t want to clearly take opposition to Manny’s underlying observation that his one-move-ahead-chess game had no chance of ever achieving his buried dreams; the esoteric aspects of the pursuit of the moving Holy Grail impossible to find. The merits of a subjective ancient ambiguity, and the convoluted, contemporary, confused morass were wasted on a world accustomed to Eminem one liners, considered incisive put-downs. However, in his dreams, and only dreams, the envisioned road to Propicio went on into an infinity of happy, easily achievable possibilities; one the privacy denied by 1984 and the much later Franzenian pronouncement. While it’s arbitrarily placed, deceptive show of illumination was trite, ancient, smiley-faced, heart-warming and caring; it was currently viewed as losing and stupid, without the opinion generators’ realization or recognition that they were operating within the norms of a passé taste, of financial interest to museums, within the confines of the commonly accepted, imprecise definition of absurdist, cowardly, attempted manifestations of post-modernism or post-post-modernism, both in search of a real name. Jack said; “It sucks. No joke. But, here we are, in a situation we did not create. It deters me from any analysis as it seems grandiose to think that I might have some new positive insight or effect. Me. Me. Inconsequential, little me. Shy, ugly little me. I‘ll never deny my insignificance and rejection, even in the face of the ‘evidence’ and subsequent ridicule and damnation. I can’t. She knew, but she kindly let me live out my deepest youthful dreams. Dreams of being one of the cool guys who girls flocked to meet and who never came my way. I love her. They never had an interest in any kind of reflection of some sort of a fairness of some sort, which would only serve to cruelly remind me of that which may have been. It’s buried so deeply inside me that any attempt to excavate a well-intentioned end would be bravely welcomed message, just like my laptop’s initial greeting. I am a coward. I wish it were otherwise. I know that I don’t deserve her and also that I can’t live without her. In so keeping, the other details don’t matter in the least. It makes my mind smile in its innocent love. To think of it otherwise would make life unbearable. Maybe I was a spoiled boy, with no idea of the Gulag; but within the miniscule, yet, in the perceived as brave, inevitable, necessary, and doomed voyage of Ulysses, as told either by Homer or Joyce, he ventured out. I don’t think he wanted to. But, it seemed to be what was expected, and I didn’t want to appear deficient, though I yearned for and envisioned only the her which I have never yet found; either in adventuresome seriousness or in safe joke. The passage of time, at least up until a certain age, became a sad, promising, both ironic and not, and interestingly, erotic, throwback witch in my presence, nocturnally folding her faded beauty into a memory of that, which, in its theatrically valued cartridges, prognosticated the entertainment based desirability of her charms. How guileless can things be?” It seemed so simple and reasonable a dream, he felt assured that this would be the happy-sad times cried into his pillow, in anticipation of her. Time went on. In search of and at the same time fearing of the recessions of his faded pictures of the past Jack was reminded of decades prior. Though he originally and mindlessly thought the contrary, if anything at all, the passage of the memories was his first sign that the years were gone. Time rudely imposed its unwelcomed presence and Jack was jarred back into Manny’s perspective of that which now was; and that unending arguments concerning the nature of perception were much too hollow for anyone with something to do. It is real. Deal with it or perish. Some say; “What is it?” It is a matter of humanly, as opposed to humanely prescribed law. Jack felt as if he was catapulted into a perennial time, presumably described and duplicated as a horribly redundant infinitum to a “Mad Max” future. With a reluctance, most often stemming from a stomach-induced feeling of disgust, yet contrarily in this case endemic to the potential barf of one who is in the child oriented movie, happy ending mindset farce, hopeful process of regurgitating that which was a malady to adults, laughing at the illogic. It was gone and always would be. Maybe never was. Jack was uncomfortably again beyond his sensible boundaries. She was gone. Befuddled, without an urge, other than hoping to give the appearance of being in-accusingly socially and magnanimously adept, he replied with three words; “Don’t we all?” Actually, neither he nor Manny remembered what the question was or even if one was posed.

Manny had become accustomed to Jack’s reticence to deal with that which was of substance. He regarded the terse lack of feeling as just another manifestation of white inadequacy. Rather than risk dealing with another tired racial harangue, he replied; “Orange rubber beach moccasins designed to fall off. That’s what the un-represented get. The rubber failures are color coordinated with their clone outfits.”

“I suppose the criminals are supposed to get Ralph Lauren.”

Manny hid his annoyance with another of Jack’s sarcastic put-offs. He said; “I know that your harsh statements are the result of a buried sadness. What happened to you?”

Jack was not surprised at the observation. The woes of his past were something he wanted to keep in unread history. More than it being the source of embarrassment, the keeping of his secrets was essential to his incorrect thoughts of what is required for corporeal survival today. More than a little un-nerved, he switched to a course he hoped not too obviously deflecting. He said; “I know. I know. Life on earth is hell. There are predators and there is prey. How can we change that?”

Manny had no answer to the direct question. It was too bottom line. He necessarily paused from his rhetoric as his eyes diverted from the road ahead to the overflowing dumpsters at the rear of the tin storage facilities. The cheaply built, economical retainers of past excess lined the motorway on the outskirts of town. Their sameness was simultaneously comforting and reminiscent of a cemetery. In full realization of the inadequacy of his response, he finally said; “Kill the predators.” He knew he was one of those he condemned. He attempted to make his honest reply into a joking one when he chuckled and added; “Program the hawks for cannibalism. ...... Who the fuck knows? I don’t have any answers. But, I have some questions and the truth of what I have seen. You know, in County, those guys we fill our quotas with, try to sleep all the time. They find it intolerable to be awake. The ceilings are fifty feet above them; unreachable even if they could get hold of a ladder. I suppose the authorities went through the expense to ensure that none of the inmates would screw up the system by hanging themselves from it. Their only communication with the outside world is provided by a TV, perched on a metal frame near the top. None of the inmates have a controller for it. It seems to come on and shut off whenever the mood strikes it. It has a penchant for one national station, never diverging to any other. When it comes on, some inmates, perhaps in mockery or total boredom, run to the chair-less, gray tiled floor beneath it and crane their necks. Either out of discomfort or distaste they soon depart. I wonder if their initial enthusiasm was sarcasm, or if hope truly springs eternal. Based on their defeated attitudes toward everything else, I strongly suspect the former. One hundred feet across the room are tables with four backless seats fastened to each. They are much like metal back yard furnishings without the umbrella, un-needed to block the jail’s non-existent light. The frigid feeling they get in their ass matches the disease of the late delivered food. I saw one detainee have a grand mal seizure during the dispensation of the largesse. He was denied medication through a system which ignores and then facetiously requires one to fill out an unavailable form, which even if miraculously found and properly filled out, is not going to be looked at. And if, through miracle squared, it is, the nurse is booked. I saw this guy on the floor, uncontrollably shaking. A Native American. A Native fucking American, incarcerated until the seven month backlogged judge could review his case and bring charges. Charges alleging alcohol intoxication in a public place; disorderly conduct; which carries a maximum sentence of 90 days; 180 of which were already served.” Manny derisively laughed at the absurdity, then continued; “The net result of his infirmity was shrugs, inattention, further brain damage and the lack of a cold lunch. I told the screw what was happening and he said he would get to it as soon as he finished delivering the frigid trays. He must have never finished and the Native American man remained on the floor. In a few minutes, his convulsions stopped ...... permanently. He was finally cured.”

Though he’d have preferred to have not been compelled to have thought about it, Jack was reluctantly receptive to Manny’s point of view. His mind raced like one of the meth freaks he made a business of arresting. He was apprehensive to fully disclose his feelings, as he knew that to do so was stupidly and jokingly taken as being indicative of a lack of virility. He wished to damn the erroneous perceptions, but thought that we all, necessarily, try to live with the world’s consequential recriminations. Withstanding a miniscule and debated exception, martyrs are soon forgotten and found ridiculously irrelevant, and their memories serve as nothing other than to be one of many collection-box-filling examples of a predatory, big-business-church-cash-conducive-Constantine-dictated-politically-produced-dogma. Dreams of heaven supplied by big-anything equates to dollars, be it a backyard pool or pie in the sky. Pay for the swim. Pay for heavenly immortality. All the same. The tithe recipients conveniently never suggest that one might desire an end and have the audacity to proclaim that wish a sin. Jesus was suicidal. If he wasn’t he would have stayed out of town. The now institutionalized, tax free owners of more American land than anyone run the ultimate scam on the desperate; a promise for cash; a promise made billions of times without one proof of delivery. With centuries of refinement at their disposal, they have concocted a logic-limited, yet legally irrefutable, tax-free game. The simple ideas of the said prophet or son were initially, convincingly lofty and popularly optimistic. But, after centuries of pious marketing, which resulted in the achievement of economic viability, they invariably became managed by the basest of commercial instincts; the inevitable and irrefutable evidence of the corruptibility of humans. Show me one immune. I defy you. Make me wrong. I want to be wrong. I desperately want to be wrong. I can show you an abundance of full graveyards; decomposed bodies interred for centuries; retailers of insipid, message added, dead flowers, conveniently right outside the open, welcoming gates; but no souls. Please show me something else. The ceilings are too high, the ground is too cold, the dreams have ended, and I search. I’ve always searched, but this time the failure proven by experience overwhelms my supposedly free will and I have that much less time.

Perhaps due to some suicidal mental quirk the dead Native American on the floor didn’t make Jack cry. His problems were over. Jack almost envied him. He only mourned those the chief had left behind. Jack’s lengthy silence ended when he finally responded; “I wish all my convulsions would stop in a few minutes.”

Manny gleaned an insurmountable hurdle between the communicative ability of two presumably hard-assed males, posturing as not to appear pathetic. Rather than continuing to imply the feelings in his heart, he attempted to resurrect their traditional method of communication. Hoping to dispel any indications of softness, he said; “Fucking Indian lay on the floor for hours before they pulled him out. Somebody else ate his lunch. You ever see brown change to blue? Some fucking shit. I was hoping no one would come in and get him as I had a bet that his next metamorphosis would be to bland white.”

Jack laughed as he said; “Fuck you, man. Just plain fuck you.”

“You know, three two other inmates died there last year.”

“No, I didn’t know. How did this information come your way?”

“Inside sources, man. Took ‘em out and buried ‘em somewhere after deleting the records. Nobody ever came looking for ‘em.”

In an imploring tone, Jack said; “Okay, okay. I know a lot of bad shit happens there.”

“Hey, I think my sister has a few open evenings this week.”

“Open legs too, I hope.”

“She’s a good girl.”

“That’s why she’s still single. ........ Yeah, I think I need someone to talk to. ........... She’s not as mean and dumb as you are, is she?”

“Meaner and dumber.”

“Sounds good.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Manny turned on to Calle de la Congelacion, the car sliding dangerously close to a thicket of mature elms. He said; “Goddam. Can’t the rich people in Propicio afford rock salt or some shit?”

“Sure they can. Last time they were here fuckin’ truck went off the road and got stuck in the trees. Took a week to get it out. Should of seen ‘em out there falling down and freezing their asses off.” Jack laughed.

“Talk about mean.”

“Hell, they weren’t even white.”

Manny stopped the car in front of Jack’s house, saying; “Your chauffeuring service again delivers, oh great white master.” As Jack opened the door and put one foot on the ground, Manny added; “Seriously, when are you going to get a car?”

Jack had both feet firmly planted in the ice when he leaned over to reply; “I don’t know. I’ll talk to the boss about it tomorrow. Eight thirty?”

Manny deadpanned; “Eight thirty.” Jack slammed the door and slid a bit in the process. As Manny drove away, he called out; “Don’t forget about your sister,” and hoped he was heard.

After a particularly busy morning, Jack and Manny, againdrove back to the Mesa Grande police headquarters at 2PM, with a poor excuse for a societal threat in tow. No doubt a societal nuisance, the disheveled man was currently known as Johnny Evers, formerly known as John Jessup, Cowbell Johnson, James Hornsby, and a myriad of other aliases, even he didn’t remember. He was slumped in the back seat, laughing at something only he saw, singing Bob Dylan’s “Everybody Must Get Stoned.” He called out; “Hey, hey, Greendick! They gonna rehabilitate me again this time?”

“That’s Greenhandle, fuck head.”

“Yeah, yeah. Green whatever you want. ‘Twas Shakespeare doth scribed; ‘A rose by any other name, etcetera, etcetera.’ Don’t you indulge in the great books?”

“Missed that one.”

“So, they gonna?”

“Gonna what?”

“Rehabilitate me Greendick. You got ADD or some shit? They got drugs for that, you know.”

Jack silently stared out the window, casually eyeing the street for the next likely afternoon bust. Somebody must have just brought in something good, as he saw a number of people walking at the pace of someone new to crutches, as if they could no longer feel the warming air.

“Got drugs for every mutha fuckin’ thing that ails ya. God bless the chemists and the FDA. .............. Hey, I just want you to know that I’m not mad at you guys about this bullshit bust. You gotta do what you gotta do and I gotta do what I gotta do. ......... Or something like that. I think I got it backwards; maybe sideways, but you know what I’m sayin’. Like, when I’m out here runnin’ the streets I get all kinds of fucked up; don’t eat right; consort with the diseased rabble; sleep in the cold; like that. In jail I get fed good, get medical attention, have a warm place to sleep and shit. I get healthy, so that I can come back out here and start all over again fresh. So, no shit, Greendick; I ain’t mad. In a way you’re doin’ me a favor. ........... You don’t have to feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned.”

“Believe it or not, I don’t really give a shit if you’re mad. And if you want to return the favor why don’t you just shut the fuck up.”

“You got it, man.” Johnny looked out the window, nodding to some tune humming in his head or having a series of petit mal brain seizures.

Jack and Manny escorted the handcuffed, frequent guest into headquarters, where Reginald D Clymer waited inside, peering through the indirectly lit sliding door. In an efficient, terse voice, he said; “Manny, you take care of the booking. Jack, in my office.” He scurried to the right, eyes ahead, without looking at Jack, assuming he would promptly follow.

Jack did precisely that and as he stepped lively he said; “News about my car? If not that, when do I get another one? Manny is getting tired of .....”

Without turning around, Reginald said; “Yes, sir. It has been located. And point of order; it is the property of the Mesa Grande Police Department and you are not getting it back.”

Jack was more than a bit put off, hearing what he had always considered an unmentioned technicality. All cops called the cars their own, even the one with the gold leaf stenciling and the spiffy red lights on top. It was merely common phraseology. Not getting it back was a second curveball. As he flopped into one of the chairs opposite Reggie’s tall and wide, black swivel chair, he asked; “Did they fuck it up?” as he slid a few inches on the rollers. He suspected that Reggie had chosen his “throne” to command power and authority, the sun behind him, and ironically obtained the result of merely appearing small and overshadowed.

Making no direct reply, Reginald D retrieved a manila folder from his top middle drawer, placed it on his desk, and entered a series of keystrokes into his perennially-turned-on computer. The struggling and already declining, afternoon, winter sun cast uneven, noir-ish shadows through the iron barred window behind Captain Reggie. The flickering overhead fluorescent lights created an annoying, off and on, duplicity and made a crude light show of the bar shadows, which widened as they approached Jack.

Eyes dispassionately on his computer screen, Reggie matter-of-factly said; “John Bleeker.”

Jack’s heart and lungs attempted to fall out of his body, but were blocked by the curve at his ass. The name was one Jack never wanted to hear again. His palms sweated and he stared, hoping that he had misheard.

Reggie used his sarcastic, mock-sophisticated voice to say; “John Bleeker. ...... John Bleeker was a very, very bad boy. Chicago, 1990. At the age of 22, convicted of breaking and entering. Given probation. Chicago, 1992. At the age of 24, convicted of possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute and felonious assault with a deadly weapon. Of a cop, mind you! Given five years. Disappeared in 1998, presumed dead. Mesa Grande, 2002. John Greenhandle becomes a cop, claiming to have had no previous criminal history.” He sighed deeply as he turned to Jack. He said; “I’m going to have to request your badge and gun.”

“Come on. I’ve been an award winning cop for more than a decade.”

“If you told the truth on your application it would have been all right.”

Jack flipped his badge on the desk and said; “Yeah, sure.”

“Be that as it may. I’m giving you a break here. You will not be prosecuted for lying on your application. You’ll have that in writing after you give me your gun.”

Jack sneered as he placed his revolver on the desk, and said; “Big deal. What kind of crime is that?”

Reggie waved his hand in dismissal and said; “Oh, I don’t know. There’s a law against most everything nowadays. You know that. Falsifying a government document, lying to the police, probably a host of other things.” He took a one page document from his manila folder and slid it to Jack saying; “Sign this and prosecution will officially be waived.” Jack complied and received a copy which he crumpled up and threw at the wall. Reggie stood up and walked to the door, saying; “I’m going to miss you.”

Jack too stood, though his motions were like one who had been shell shocked. He said; “How’d you find out after all these years?”

“Your stolen car was used in a drive by shooting which resulted in a murder. The homicide guys are extremely thorough. They now have access to information which was considered private and confidential when you were hired. Secrets have gone the way of the tyrannosaurus rex. Complete truth has arrived and actually most anyone can get it.”

Jack desperately drew at his only straw and said; “Can’t you fix things up?”

“I really don’t know if I could. This hasn’t happened before. Besides, I’ve been waiting so long for this promotion, I’m not taking any chances of messing that up now. You’re a big boy. You know how that goes. Come on. Get going, before the tears start. Manny’s going to give you a ride home.”

Jack’s shaky feeling did a one eighty to anger and he thought of revenge. He said; “Who’s the car thief?”

“Didn’t get him yet. The car was found dumped and trashed on the edge.” Reggie put his left hand in the small of Jack’s back and shook his right hand, and said; “Time to go.”

Jack saw Manny in the hall, instinctively took a step toward his partner, and the door closed behind him. The rude semi-slam came as no surprise, but effectively announced an unwelcomed finality, in its thorough resonance. He said; “I guess you heard.”

Manny’s eyes went to the hard, calloused, gray tiled floor. He drew out a; “Yeah,” and shuffled his feet.

Jack said; “They never forget, you know? You pay your debts and they come back for more. ........ You never stop serving your time. Sucks.”

Manny chose not to articulate his thoughts of their having been front line agents in the propagation of the merciless, money-driven, chess game. The present was a woefully inappropriate time for recriminations and he knew that Jack would come to see the irony of his own situation in time, anyway; choked by his own brand of medicine. He said; “Come on. Let’s take that last ride before the vultures descend.”

Millions of day-to-day, pragmatic thoughts combatted the millions of useless philosophical views which raced through Jack’s mind, each displacing the last before the fleeting electrical impulses rushing through his incompetently designed brain. None could come to any conclusion; in prevention of any euphoria of solace; any peace. There was never any peace. The story of mankind was told in the tales of battles, chronicled by the conquerors. In a moment of clarity, Jack saw that his wind-up lay in the simplicity of the thud of the closed door, and what he had left of an unpredictable, inescapably damaged and corrupted future. He immediately laid in the fantasy of a pleasure he might take in the blowtorch and slowly dismembering, torture-killing of his car-jacking, personal life ruining opportunist. At the same time his inter-connected right and left brain made him see the opposite and therefore subjected him to the immediate realization that revenge, no matter how devastating, was a pitiful, insufficient consolation; morally vindicated in an archaic, Old Testament sense; but thereby, of definition, limited to the un-analyzable, turn-the-other-cheek, and easily avoidable agonies of the persecuted vagaries of the indefinable New Testament’s lack of completion. ............ Besides, it wouldn’t get him his fucking job back and he might get caught.

Yes, yes, and fucking yes. Tell me otherwise. Please do. Without regard for popular, pervasive, photocopying, pop-cool, and vulgar opinion; it had always seemed to him that the outward dichotomy between the stated views of the haves and have-nots was merely another pathetically and tragically un-recognized replay of the other language speaking, a Biblical Tower of Babel. While that conjecture at first seems sacrificially pessimistic, further reflection clearly reveals that to think in any other fashion is an iron-clad guaranty of warfare; formerly open and now in artifice. What has been said to have been is a safer road than the possible hazards on the one not yet taken. The museum contained past predictions of the future in the 21stcentury. The optimistically presumed, semantic difficulties had proven to be analyzable by the professors, time tested and found historically insurmountable by their additions to confusion, precisely as was prophesized; purposely or innocently misunderstood in terms other than a colloquial deference to the hackneyed, and necessarily affordable recreations of the most un-imaginative of the hidden, masked and hooded, Tri-lateral western alliance, reconstructed and deconstructed; their canvas the bomb devastated Japanese cities, un-enlighteningly redundant in their mutual, self-serving tendencies; which were regularly demonstrated in their predatorily and nefariously well-dressed concoctions of ersatz “sophisticated” apes, resplendent in late afternoon toddy times; vainglorious in their fashionably insincere egalitarianism; the sociopathic participants hidden behind unmoving, smiling masks of freckled Rooty Kazootie, as if their preceding, ancestral monkeys had imbued them with an awareness of something beyond the un-lettered illumination of the sun, indirectly limited by human perspective imperfections.

In a seemingly nonsensical, and, unsurprisingly, acquired taste, the higher university taught. Therefore their “education” was inescapably and perhaps to the majority of unrealized human potential and actualities, which unfortunately, but inevitably, have been monetarily translated in error, produce nature contradicting understandings of social status and human worth; redundantly and self-consciously act as if they were not victimized like the reviled and sometimes, Sartre defined, benignly neglected weak; all too often abused in the arousing full light of day. The discipline of medicine says leprosy has been eradicated. Sure, if you are made blind to all of the lepers, hidden behind “new” titles. Christminster was not a product of fantasy. Hardy depicted what was real and true in “Jude the Obscure.” He was consequently hated, but didn’t seem to give that much of a damn, as he just settled into writing poetry instead of novels.

We need to be held. We always have. There was a time it seemed so easy, so mutually gratifying, and so contentedly warm. It must have been a dream. As who will risk the socially abhorrent contamination? While we think that we feel; we’re not certain that we could completely sacrifice one’s self. To avoid that perplexing thought, we intellectualize a rationality in which we say that sacrifice is no longer necessary. That seems obviously true as to do otherwise is a prescription for the annihilation of all the good people. Within the confines of our uncontrollable, subliminal desire to live, we truly think that the Christian-Hungry Lion, one-sided affair is an archaic sucker’s game. Or is it? It gets case specific. As a people, we have proven our willingness to be sacrificed time and again; Christ, Gandhi, etc., etc., etc. Pick your favorite hero. We are them. We were born as them. We will always be them. If there ever was any grand design, it is this simplicity. How did it ever get hidden?

A perhaps conveniently, seemingly higher logic tells us that to continue to the courtroom drama to demonstrate our good heart is a temporary fix which merely ensures our eradication. We easily glean that we consider ourselves among the persecuted “good.” We don’t know. How can we? All we can be sure of is that some of us honestly try. Yes, we have sinned. And we’re sorry. But, we have paid more than anyone outside our skin could understand. We wish it would end. But, rather than imply some sort of personal virtue from this biased, unprovable suspicion, we know, unlike the professors and theologians, that we are far from unique. We are all “good.” We’re just given more than we can handle.

If one were to brave this possibly contrived, sacrificial path, it is abundantly clear that the meek will never inherit the earth. They will obviously be crushed and the untested cynical will reign. Maybe statements to the contrary were only another misquoted, improperly translated, “prophetic” statement which Constantine and his henchmen found empire-building useful. Two thousand years have passed. When? Whatever. We want the earth. And we want it now. We love it. We can’t live without it. None of us can.

How long can some of us pretend to outwardly exhibit the farcical, un-realized fantasy that we are not viewed as pathetic, despite our borrowed garments of winners. The man will demand repayment someday. Maybe someday soon. The fantasy winners the debtors portray, only having to half act the role; heroic in their well-advertised, yet thought unseen deficiencies; seem hopelessly constrained by their dominant and right-brain-active-left-brain-dead state of mind, oriented with a predilection toward what their inexperience and sheltered existence had come to incorrectly perceive as their superficially desired common taste. The Henry James’ in the pack displayed rhetorical observations from which they simultaneously retreated; of a necessity produced by long term, incessant restlessness; denied the mercy of sleep. Doomed to banal fashion, the well-intentioned few of the fortunate, in time came to clearly see their cage. Having seen life from both sides and now sent back to a place long ago abandoned. At bottom line, Jack could understand that what this exacting world allowed him was kindergarten simple and what he knew well before he could walk, talk or read. ....... KILL THEM BEFORE THEY KILL YOU. OTHERWISE BE A TARGET AND A FOOL. He told Manny; “We don’t have to wait for the buzzards to descend. They’ve learned to save energy by waiting on the ground,” while he thought; “All this shit over a stupid fucking job I didn’t originally want.”

They silently walked down the hall side by side. Jack received no goodbyes or well wishes; only furtive glances from the bustling paper carriers, who returned to the consuming chores of the day at the slightest hint of recognition. In his rejection, Jack felt incongruously proud. He smirked and mumbled something indecipherable about pariahs, hermits and isolation. Suddenly he felt queasy with the awareness that this would be the last time he would see the place which had provided camaraderie and income for more than a decade. His anger was temporarily displaced by the unhurried grind of a confident devastation, secure in its own inevitability. It had an elongated red face with no eyes. The thing reminded Jack that the process started so suddenly. Just a few minutes ago Jack took his place in the world for granted. Then Reggie dropped the bomb, and the effects were spreading out. No mercy. No forgiveness. No stopping the toxic cloud. No possibility of completely eradicating something in possession of a half-life. Once created, it had immortality on earth and in cyberspace. He became aware of a burning sensation, which seemed to stem from somewhere in his chest. The fear of a heart attack upset him further for somewhat perverse reasons. He couldn’t afford to have one while lacking health care coverage and he didn’t want to display any vulnerability to the peering rejection squad. They exited the sliding glass doors and Jack looked stoically at the ground and put a hand to his chest.

Manny turned to him and said; “You all right?”

“Of course I’m not all right. .......... That’s got to be the dumbest question anyone ever asked me.”

“You’re so goddam literal. So, what’s with the Napoleon impersonation?”

“Fuckin’ Waterloo.” Jack almost laughed and the burning sensation subsided.

They got into Manny’s car. As they pulled out Jack took one last look at the place, taking an unintentional special note of the glass doors sliding closed. They reflected the late day light, shimmering in a blinding, uneven, frantic, but not quite dancing glare. Back on the road, things seemed as always. He was riding with his long term partner, eyeballing easy pinches. Old habits die hard. Jack said; “You still going to be busting the pathetics?”

“What do you think? Tell me another way.”

“I just thought that you might have been having some kind of moral crisis recently.”

“Morals are not made for working people. If a deer is stupid enough to offer a broadside target, he’s a dead deer. That’s all.”

“So, we’re hunters.”

“Every fucking one of us.”

“I’ve read of gatherers and growers.”

“They’re either homeless, at the dump, or in jail.”

“So, now I’m a hunter without a gun?”

“Yeah. You fucked up big time.”

“What’s my big crime?”

“You got caught.”

Realizing that this might be the last time he ever saw his partner, Jack wanted to pursue the conversation beyond its previous limits and asked; “Where is mercy?”

Manny momentarily and sarcastically laughed; then said; “Mercy Aragon. Lived around the corner. Beautiful girl with the longest, blackest hair you ever saw. All the guys were crazy about her. ....... I knew her when we were young. She was idiotically attracted to this bum. Asshole with a big broken nose. Got beat in every fight he started, and he started them all the fucking time. Must have aroused some kind of maternal sympathetic instinct. With his “love,” she became a hooker and died of her third heroin overdose. .......... I miss her like you could never understand. ........ But, she’s gone forever. ......... Better not to think about it.” Manny brought Jack back to today by saying; “What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know. Give me a break. This is so new. It hasn’t settled in yet. ............. What do I know how to do? ...... Use a gun and push people around. Maybe the bad guys need more muscle.” He snorted a brief laugh.

“They’ll think you’ve gone undercover. How about private?”

“Can’t get a license. Fucks will just bust me again.”

“You might be able to get a job as a security guard.”

“And slowly and steadily go broke. Fuck that.”

“Got savings?”

“Some. My expenses aren’t high. Small house and the only thing I do is go to work.”



Manny was silent.

Jack said; “You’ll be coming around here some times. Right?”

“Oh sure. Yeah.”

Jack thought Manny’s sounded too quick and insincerely agreeable. Maybe that’s what he expected. In more than a decade the only times that Manny had been in his house were the last few, when Jack needed a ride. He wanted to know where he stood and said; “I’m going to be having more free time; at least for a while. Did you set up something with your sister?”

“Oh, you know what happened? She met this guy who just moved into her apartment building. Latino, too.” Attempting to gain credibility, he tried to resurrect one of their old, standing jokes and added; “She doesn’t have to scrape the bottom of the pasty-faced white barrel anymore.” He immediately realized that this was the wrong time. He glanced toward Jack who was staring out his side window, without the hint of a smile.

A heavy silence hung like a soon-to-be-discarded-smashed piñata, until they neared Calle de la Congelacion. Jack said; “Do me one favor. When they catch the asshole who stole my car, get me his name.”

Manny shook his head and said; “Man, you don’t want to go there.”

“Do me another favor and don’t tell me where I want to go. Will you just do it?”

“You’re going to get in some really deep shit.”

“I just wanna know who it was.”

Manny turned onto the ice plagued road and slowed to a crawl.

Jack said; “Well ........ You gonna do it? I can go through some trouble and get it other ways anyhow.”

“Okay, I’ll get it.”

“Got your word?”


The car reached Jack’s front door. He said; “See ya around partner,” and exited.

Manny opened his side window and called out; “Jack. ........ Be careful.”

Jack got his first legitimate laugh since Reggie told him that he was going to do him a favor. He watched Manny drive away, hearing the wheels cracking the ice and rustling up some of last year’s leaves. Maybe they were left the year before that. Dead leaves look like dead leaves, regardless of the vintage. When Manny turned back on to Propicio Road the instabilities became completely rested and the silence set in. In the undisturbed moment Jack grasped that he had no income, no car, no job, no friends and no gun. Like at birth, he felt completely alone; this time with no screaming mama to grab on to. He shook off his fears when he remembered that he did have one adult consideration to live for; an overwhelming desire for revenge. He closed the door to the dead leaves and the ice, went inside, and started a fire in the living room kiva. The flames wildly soared until they were curtailed by the apex of their enclosure.

Patricia Primstation had exhausted her now rationed supply of prescription happy pills. Her jitters suggested that she needed another Thursday night trip to the meeting held by her favorite, local, part time residential real estate salesperson; part time, “licensed,” amatory massage therapist; full time morning, neighborhood dog walker; and sometimes spiritual healing agent.

Pat had been at the meetings often enough to have come to the realization that to try to display the damning requisite to hug and appear to “relate,“ even on a detached level, was even more personally loathsome than the “advanced” form of the incarnation; and often inflicted one with that synthetic dead flower scent; the currently fashionable, flagrant, frail, fragrance, otherwise known as natural BO with an atomizer squirt. During the charade, Pat’s admittedly personally biased and impressionistic reaction to her cursory holder generally was that he-she was as severely depressed and desperate as most readers of “Psychology Today,” in search of a “new” disease, willing to settle for a syndrome, or even an acronym. Pat didn’t consider it their fault; unless one cruelly held them to the highest of standards; excepting the unforgivable BO monsters. They were for the most part, merely in search of something “brightly downbeat” to say during their next “New Age,” non-touchy, non-feely head trip; seeing it or hoping it otherwise. Visuals of closed eyes and upturned palms often suffice. She wished that the MD would just give her some more of the goddam pills

The other side of the room was always populated by the aging guys, balding at the widow’s peaks, with graying, manicured beards. In uniform, they primarily sought to hide their bulging bellies with Native American, step motif styled sweaters and their resident, cuddled teddy bear, which always appeared to be climbing. It was all too quickly learned that their stated purpose is to find their inner infant; or the imagined vestiges thereof. Regulars strongly suspect that some genital manifestation wouldn’t hurt matters either. The women mingle with the teddy bear cuddlers and are of comparable age, but appear younger thanks to a few nips and tucks here and there; their tendency to only go bald only in a provocative fashion statement; while their un-mentioned chicken necks become the politely ignored giveaway. Their polyester, Mervyn’s outfits do their utmost not to produce that telltale sign of wear on the posterior; either thought of as a sign of de-classe age or some sort of attempt at a surreptitious come-on. It almost works in either direction under the dim candle light. Almost. Their well sprayed hair, guaranteed by Revlon to stay in place in a tornado, shows the gaps where it was over-sprayed. Their initiated conversations, in keeping with the “spiritual” nature of the gathering, focus on the teddy-bear-holders, and is terminated when it has been determined that the teddy-bear-holder is also the holder of a wife, or is one.

Through all their talk of paradise, you will not hear a laugh.

It’s over. Admit it. It is. ........ All right, for those still compelled to play the nicey-nicey game; thinking that they are fooling someone; the re-runs are playing all over cable and the internet. If one has not seen it the first time around, it is “new” to them on an uninformed, relative basis; akin to a 2016 reading of Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” That unlit driveway Pat had tried to slowly walk through contains no illumination, other than that provided by the all too brief shine of the headlights of the recent model Mercedes, speeding away. That deceptive and hateful “it,” mimicked the inebriated meanderings of Joyce, in small letters making stream of consciousness, sentences and prayers, not deigning to punctuate; thereby conveniently being “misunderstood” in the safety of Harvard.

Pat, again, yoga positioned her way through the “enlightenment” provided by the fortyish, divorced, female moderator. After a half hour the lights went on and the meeting was adjourned. The equal part Biblical reading and trance induced or Baptist discursive channeler suddenly stopped speaking and opened her eyes widely. Pat was once more meta startled at the abrupt end to the meta oration; sans even the most meta of climaxes. It seemed as if the guru had again left off the last ten chapters.

Like the other tithing parishioners, Pat remained at floor level, in a pose, not yet portrayed in the most Kama of Sutras. Pat silently endured the dis-ease, as she had been educated that to do so is 100% socially acceptable in this room. Her hands were on her aching thighs; palms still facing upward though she thought that she favored the flavor of some sort of partial reversal. But, in the proximity of the 33 other “sociable” floor denizens, she was ostensibly compelled to ignore her instincts in favor of practically being ready to catch something about to fall through the invisible cracks in the moderator’s plain, white, sheet-rocked and dropped ceiling.

In recollection of the possibly “L” deficient, catechismic memorization required in Sunday school, Pat again concluded that there is no doubt that the standing, silent moderator is the most spiritually advanced person in the room. Of course, without having had the benefit of consensus wisdom, she glossed over the fact that this was the moderator’s room, and not anyone else’s. The observation of the spiritual moderator was something akin to extolling the virtues of one who has achieved the distinction of being the best writer to personally maintain an active presence on Goofreads. Besides, the moderator stands behind her chest-of-drawers-imitating-a-podium; thereby demonstrating that she is the only one in the room sufficiently bright to not be on the floor imitating the uncomfortable Maharishi in search of Mia. Double besides; no one has anywhere else to go on Thursday evenings. Triple besides; why can’t they just give you all the pills you want? Fucking fascists.

It’s time to go. With no small difficulty and a few groans not adequately muffled the congregation arises. Perhaps somewhat induced by the unsteady, wobbling legs, the congregants exchange two second cuddles. They are careful to maintain a two foot distance between crotches while each says; “Wonderful meeting” or some other incomplete sentence with those two words complemented by two others. The reserve demonstrated is at best the result of a shyness. At worse it is the perfunctory result of the logical ice mixed with a sociably acceptable pretense. At worst the actual act of “cuddling” is replaced by the common manifestation politely referred to as “grin and bear it.” This tends to be most strongly exhibited by the married couples and long term partners. The moderator slowly walked among her flock. Her well-practiced, condescending smile has been perfected at the residential real estate job she has suffered for the past two years in which she has been divorced from her “non-spiritual” former hubby. She is heading out of the room to more attestations of the wonderful nature of the meeting, to take her position in the dimly lit living room. Most attendees amble that way. The ones who wish to purchase some seedy weed mixed with oregano know to physically remain in their place as long as their legs remain free from the onset of putrefaction.

The hostess is grinning as she stands ten feet from the exit; oh so spaced out and sweet; that any non-present, meta butter would either melt or curdle in her mouth. On numerous prior occasions she has made everyone within earshot aware of her dire financial circumstances and now she hovers above the “voluntary” contribution box; soon all major credit cards welcomed. She makes sufficient eye contact with the passers-by to briefly, faux-cordially engage before directing them to her sparsely filled, Salvation Army facsimile box; the three chains somehow hidden. It works reasonably well, as always. Reasonably. Reasonably to who? The Chief Justice? The Chief Justice and his sock puppet, Thomas? Reasonably as defined in numerous, contradictory court decisions? Reasonable to the parties involved? In this particular case the “reasonable” result is a fumbling for loose change; the subsequent feeling of guilt; and the green stuff dropped in praise. Only those devoid of the enlightenment so graciously provided dare to drop any of the silver and copper likenesses. Thanks again, Tricky Dicky. The gauche fuckery draws unwanted attention with its clinks.

As an even more efficient tug at the heartstrings; there are the books which are piled up haphazardly on the floor of her living room. While in normal households this could be only a sign of an overly avid, somewhat sloppy reader, the un-initiated are initially surprised to see that the 3,300 floor dwellers all exhibit an identical cover, even if not compelled or required to lay on their backs. In the dimness of the candle light, it is actually difficult to tell the difference, as the colors match well. For those with an acquired taste the possible differences dissolve in the dismissal of any notion which might make an issue of a few more words and a smaller picture, contrasted with more words and a larger filmic portrayal. Except, except. ........ Accept. Yet, for most, the requirement of kindly appearing instincts directed them to the books traditionally situated. The gossamers which fix the traveler’s bag are sewn as a crazy quilt into their poor approximation of Blake’s actuality. The parishioners still wanting to be liked realize that it is best to pretend that the previous has been substantially a steal.

Fifteen bucks apiece and every beleaguered, guilt stricken parishioner has already purchased at least two at full retail, while giving up after having read little. The vanity label of Dorrance is clearly shown on each. Dorrance is no bad guy, but has assisted in the “publication” of thousands of books no one wanted to see. Unlike the internet fly-by-nighters, they’ve been around more than a century. Unlike the internet fly-by-nighters they do a good job. Unlike the internet fly-by-nighters they clearly warn you that unless something miraculous happens you will never get your “investment” back; never mind any idea of profit. Like the internet fly-by-nighters they require a fee. Unlike the internet fly-by-nighters they will accept interest free installments.

Though it is an excellent Christmas present for despised relatives, the hostess’ book is unfortunately evocative of a few attributes which might tend to inhibit commercial success. A minorly noted one was that some AmawayOnSteroids-top-100-rated-reviewer was annoyed and counted how many times she or the channeled presence she quoted had used the phrase “as it were.” It is said to be 167 in a 211 page effort. On a perhaps more substantive level, according to the book, the collection-pot-smiley standee thinks that the hostess has had the distinction of having channeled Lazaris, an independent, free-lance and loquacious spirit, angel, messenger, prophet, nuisance or all of the aforementioned, who implied, slurred, said, bellowed, intoned, resonated, communicated directly through brain invasion, or all of the aforementioned, that if there was not massive world repentance by 12-31-14 that the weary old globe would explode on 1-1-15; while the cute penguins who have positioned themselves on the cover of the traditional World Wildlife Fund calendar are alive and seemingly well give the clear impression that they think that it’s getting somewhere near March, 2016. It should be fairly noted that none of the 13 penguins are sporting graduate degrees, though 3 have a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing.

The authoress is of further United States note as she is the only resident therein, and perhaps the only resident of the Northern Hemisphere, as it were, to have written a book about her relationship with elusive and fluid Lazaris. He was not inclined to be the least bit monogamous or discreet. Of course there is an un-documented conspiracy theory which postulates that this same story was previously published in some locality named Tuvalu, deficient of any “as-it-were”’s. The authorities there apparently confiscated and burned all paper copies and infected the e-versions with a super-duper virus, the antidote to which is only at the disposal of two wicked “shadow” governments. Three of the presumably few who had a part in this operation say in the revelatory books they have written or ghosted, with the slight nuances endemic to human perception, that Lazaris was a bit more pragmatic in his predictions than our pot protectress portrayed. It never ceases to amaze how the perpetrators of evil deeds obtained “religion” and confessed in writing post retirement. It seems readily apparent that hope springs fucking eternal; while checkbooks are subjected to the limitations of the finite. He-she specifically stated that it was always a bad bet to predict total destruction, as if one was right there would be no one left from whom to collect the winnings. If it was not previously gathered, it might clarify the situation to say that, presumably, not having deigned to matters of this earth, the American-less-than-Tuvalu experienced, spiritualist, chose to participate in a third fault; this time one of the most common of senses. Her actions displayed a logic, which seems to defy the most elementary. Her book which predicted a world end on 1-1-15, if it did not repent, was first published 6-15-15. DUH? For the meta fans of Rushdie derivatives?

The trance-performing moderator-spiritualist-shaman-dope dealer-divorcee-authoress-realtor has seemingly made a questionable “literary”-business decision. In quiet and un-imposing moments of desolation, she had come to imperfectly see that in supplying the unpaid labor required to write and/or regurgitate her tome, that there was no way to also avoid the theft of her “fees” and the forced stocking of inventory which she could no longer afford. This pragmatically induced deference to the anti-ideal originally appeared to her as a mountain easily climbed. In the beauty of youth, the whole thing seemed a silly; “Much Ado Over Nothing.” However, perhaps in the aging process she had learned time and again to fully expect this sort of treatment before she took up the rigors of the abused pen. She needed to desperately try.

Previously, she thought that she was pre-destined to get into her beautiful head, and she bravely reached out. She was rewarded with cowards. After spending decades attempting to stay alive, she became a “reader,” long before the term was mass acquired and degenerated. Worse, she continued to envision a youthful scenario in which she was not in the least bit silly, but knows or thinks that she is viewed as such. It’s kind of a turn on for some; the ones she liked. Worst, she is, in her subjective notion of equality, another un-knowing or duplicitous purchaser of the inevitable package. The circular package says; “Comet, 20% off;” never mentioning off what until the indecipherable finest of prints. Maybe Vonnegut gives a half assed, surreptitiously laughing in derision, shit; but don’t count on it, as he’s supposedly been dead since 2007.

Of course there is Plan B, which she is currently working on, not devoid of another backup.

Our Lazaris maven, economically denied the “luxury” of a reclusion and embarrassed to have been likely seen as so “stupidly” deficient, she stresses her “spirituality” in hope of being seen as too much “of the heart” to be analyzed with any irrelevant reasoning. She actually believes it sometimes. She also knows that if one were to question her strongly implied statements of being the re-incarnation of the baby Jesus, that one would be socially ostracized on a local basis.

The pond ripples, unconsciously providing an imperfect image as long as the necessary wind blows. It’s truly sad for her to imperfectly view the further imperfect reflection. We think that only Estes can best truly portray it, and then wonder if that is of any significance, beyond the precise moment of the museum acquisition, financed by the well-meaning, rattlers of jewelry. She immediately concludes another testimony to the insistences of both time and money; decreasingly hopeful of being seen as innocent of the limitations universally imposed. Her single biggest fear is that everyone except her knows that; excepting the days she spends with the financial statements. Regarding the former, they do and they don’t. Regarding the latter, it can and does go on a bit too much. It is kindly unsaid by those who know. Consequently, she is precluded from the knowledge or limitations, depending upon the circle of hell achieved by the media. Yet she strongly suspects that everyone knows of her financial and emotional demise, and is afraid of being publicly embarrassed, more than happy to pretend the feigned commitment of the years gone “When Harry Met Sally.”

True commitments are not yet adequately written and will never be. They are defectively felt at best. To attempt to do something otherwise would be to challenge the entire system, as designed, administered, tried, sentenced and incarcerated by the powers we have allowed to exist in our own faulty idea of an image and likeness.

“Blasphemy, blasphemy,” with all its repercussions, as threatened by the tremendously fat lady in a thread bare house dress, who stands on the stoop, in front of her apartment building, thereby taking sporadic personal importance from her ability to momentarily block access and egress; eventually replaced with the immortal collectible cells containing dead Vincent Price, as he tried to depict a Poe-imagined grand inquisitor in celluloid horror; underplayed by the overacting made obvious in the short lived popularity of the Ken Russell movies; which in turn tried to make obvious the Brit penchant to grasp the obvious; which, in jest, inadvertently harkens back to the eloquence of Shakespeare; which in turn reflects various brands of mythology; which in turn ............... It’s okay. Mr. Price; better than most, but ultimately half assed. “The Conqueror Worm” can easily outdo any current zombie or vampire populated YA classified attempt to horrify. It’s based on a reality we’d like to forget, ignore or re-define through the currently fashionable interpretations of brilliant and joking Depp. Hey, anyone who plays guitar with Patti Smith has got to be the best.

Oh yeah, the current darling meta is the obscure approach. But, in an attempt to tell you the Holdenest of truths, didn’t Bunuel definitively cover this same subject a long time ago? Antonioni? Godard? Come on now.

I guess that to answer that requires the knowledge of a history successfully eliminated through the dumbing down process induced under the economic guidance began through the wiles and smiles of Thatcher-Reagan antiquities or iniquities; ultimately a double bind or a Catch 22. Register your opinion regarding the possible distinction if you dare. Don’t be afraid. The long-assed bullshit essays are 80% of the final grade, and the “objective” multiple of five choices is thereby easily over-ridden. Under post-modern lack of analysis, the teacher cannot fail everyone without that simultaneously being construed as a testimony to her inability to adequately “teach.” So, if you have not yet figured out this game, it is in her interest to grade the essays highly. Write something. There is no longer a risk in that. You can say that you were forced to.

Lost; maybe self-servingly so. I can’t tell the difference. Can’t tell. Don’t care. Bored to death with the same old shit. That which is the product of thought ................. Oh, just fuck it; almost digressed.

So, anyway, if there is some sort of doubtful point, this woman has succeeded in making herself seem to be the center of a universe, not yet defined in science. As is always the case with the proper paper possessing proprietors of propaganda, their current prognostications of brilliant fact will be superseded by the prognostications of brilliant fact induced by the inevitable invention of the next “advanced” lense.

Her floor level book repository is the result of many factors. Among them is the angel-demon with a calling card of 1, 11, 111, 1111, 11111, 111111, ad infinitum, which she claims to have channeled in the process yet to be articulated, much less defined; not very different from the very well-known, said Ayatollah proclaimed, fatwa-advertised efforts of realistic-fantasy genre Salman Rushdie, which kicks up Murakami’s originally titled “Norwegian Wood” another step commercially; up or down in significance a matter of debate.

Our hostess has had the distinct privilege of having channeled the verbal revelations of something non-human which called itself Lazaris. It would be extremely un-kind and anti-social to point out that this Lazaris chap was far from the monogamous type. But, maybe that’s how our hostess wanted it. Only she can possibly tell.

Some say that they think that the minefields of the Middle East are a bitch. But, dammit, there’s insufficient oil here.

At the same time Jack, Penny and Richard III each happened to tune into WDIM out of Sydney and hunger. It’s a call in 24 hour “news” station operated by three actors who are rated between 2,708,146 and 8,332,007 by IMDb. They enjoy hearing themselves speak, especially as early on, one had a distinct problem in that department, but has since risen to the level of “challenged.” The show provides “alternative” news items gathered from the World Wide Web. On slow news days it is suspected that two are posting on the web as the other reads the posts. As the anti-business tone has resulted in no advertisers yet, Rupert Murdoch personally provides the necessary funding as it helps make his other offerings appear more palatable.

This is really top secret, classified stuff, but in the interest of truth, I'll write this opening myself to great peril. .............. Well, at least an IRS audit and spyware attack. Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico occupies land which includes a hollowed out mountain. The world's largest supply of nuclear weapons is housed there; everyone knows that. What they don't know is that the remaining dinosaurs are also there to guard it. Like some dogs they are competent at that. But, under a secret program, the military is trying to train these "guards" to be suicide bombers. So far they have shown no aptitude for this. Each has been supplied with the authoritative book on the subject; "Genius IQ." Contrarians suspect that the big guys are purposely doing miserably in their IQ tests, likely to avoid being sent on a "mission." Middle-of-the-road analysts attribute their low scores to the test's cultural biases. The highest levels of US "intelligence" focus on the net result, and assign a 60% probability to the possibility that rather than competing, the dinos have formed a co-operative, self-sustaining union, headed by one called Tyrant Huffer. Possible mob ties complicate the story's brevity. However further details may be gleaned in my successful book; "Reptilian Plotz," available on AmawayOnSteroids; $5.99 in e-format; $19.99 in soft cover and $42.99 collectible. Autographed copies are negotiable. Purchases are just a single click on an icon away. Sorry, most Goofreads threads now say that they disdain any attempt at commercialism, considering it gauche and I don't want to risk being banished from this bastion of learning. ........... But, I could really use a cash infusion; as my nose is running and I don't feel that great. Does anyone know where I might find a nearby CA (Cashoholics Anonymous) meeting? Anyway, the logic of the dinosaur's "playing dumb" further suggests that they may be waiting for the day they will learn how to remotely detonate the nukes; at which point they will wipe out humanity, except for a few needed workers, and take back control of the earth. Right on, bro.

Group imposed po-mo thought and incorrectly un-seen as mortification married to solitary empathetic desire gets everyone off every time. No fakery required. Real. Real. Fucking-sucking. Real. Relatively easy part. No?

The possible entertainments are infinite, until proven otherwise. It is life. That’s all. And it is life immortal. Forever. For fucking ever. For sucking ever. ......... Lest ye judge in ignorance, simultaneously judging and damning one’s self. The bar has been set all too conveniently high. Disinterest prolongs the 50% first chance of ecstasy, and then interest curtails it. This seems so contradictory to one shackled with a mortal. On first thought it seems as if it has to have been a joke of some sort; an obstacle easily surmounted in laughter; and impassable in Byron’s rendition of despair. On Olympus they watch, like we with our TV’s, VCR’s, Computers, Laptops, and Derivative portable devices.

To attempt to descend a bit further; further than your un-acknowledged jealousy permits; that jealousy imposes its own credentialed and popular understanding; pragmatically with ‘So, what’s the big issue?’ on the physical, articulating, low level. If further deemed necessary, the infinite water cleanses all but Pilate. Do you choose to suffer? It your ‘life.” Do you want to attempt to trick everyone into thinking that you do? You know that ‘friends’ are always congratulatory. It’s your life. Butterfly sneezes. Check out Nabokov if you have an interest in the metaphorical. Simple repeated, seen as ‘incorrectly’ being seen as classic extensions. ........... Otherwise sleep well in the assurance provided by your ‘friends.’ They are capably nice, until overwhelmingly obvious, necessitating condescension on your part. Thereafter any nuance risks you being viewed as an Ionadoo and might entice a functionary to deign to call this something not of interest to HBO; their secondaries and their tertiaries redundant.

Morpheus, please, please forgive my ignorance. Your River of Styx scares me more than anything else. I never learned to swim. I never learned to swim. ............... Except.

“We’re here. You and I. Always were.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I don’t know. You say fuck and suck a few times and you get people’s attention.”

“But all the babble?”

“I guess he figured that once you bring up the sex stuff, nobody wants to question anything, as they might appear ignorant on the very important subject.”

“Sounds like he was trying to get some chick to go for it. Who was that anyway?”

“I took it off a site called; ‘Best speeches of David Koresh,’”

“Ah, I hear he did all right for himself.”

“Yeah, until those forces of jealousy imposed themselves.”

A mercifully condensed extract taken from a conversation in Ms. Lazaris driveway

“That could be a topic for another meeting. But, right now I have with me a live guest. Yep. It’s Harriet Blackdog and she’s here to talk about her new book; “Angels Revealed.”

“Perhaps you’d like to tell our friends where the magic went, Harriet.”

Harriet drew at straws and replied; “The problem with the 11:11 phenomenon is getting anybody interested in it that hasn't experienced it themselves; and almost no one has. Other phenomena, such as U.F.O.’s or crop circles, are able to be experienced for more than a minute. We can be abducted or run over by a tractor. But seeing and being guided by 11:11 is hard to convey to those uninitiated in its ways.”

“What does it all mean? Does 11:11 really mean anything at all?” intoned the male teddy bear devotee.

The divorcee who had already hooked up and was a bit anxious to get in the idling Mercedes said; “I thought that’s what you came here to speak about.”

“Well, that simply depends on whether or not you believe life has meaning in the first place.”

“Nice skirt,” while the Mercedes door opened.

Undeterred, Harriet continued;“Ooogli booogli. A rest is fun. And now we’d like to do ‘I Hope the Angels Come.’ One of the recurring themes throughout recent history is 11:11 and that the global elite will continue to profit any way they can. That often means orchestrating wars all over the planet. To help us angels and spirits communicate their love and guidance in many ways. For many people, number sequences are one of these ways. Do you ever look up at the clock and notice its 11:11? For me, and many others on a spiritual path, seeing this specific number is a common occurrence. So just what does seeing 11:11 on a regular basis really mean?

“That your clock has stopped?”

“Ha ha. Unenlightened proletarian attempts at humor are often an effective ice breaker. Thank you. To continue, are your angels and guides seeking to get your attention? Is there some specific message or meaning when these ‘master numbers’ appear? The truth of the matter is 11:11 is subject to interpretation. There is really no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of ‘What does it mean’? But just provide a little insight, here is a look at a few things in which seeing 11:11 may mean.Increased Awareness! First and foremost when you see 11:11 pay attention! 11-11 is often a sign to be more aware! When you see the number, pay attention to what you were just thinking, as well as what is happening around you. 11:11 can sometimes be a reminder that your thoughts are manifesting, and to stay positive.”

“I often like to space out. So, now I’m supposed to pay attention?”

“Mnf. Thank you again, but I think that we’re all comfortable now. It can also mean your angels are reaching out and with awareness you can begin to feel and experience their presence. Be aware in the moment you see these numbers, and you will be able to decipher the hidden meaning behind 11:11 for yourself. Your guides and angels are near! 11:11 is often said to be a doorway between realms. Seeing this number often signifies that your guides and angels are trying to contact you, as it is a sort of calling card for many spiritual beings.”

Patricia said; “Can they get me more Xanax? I’m like ready to freak.”

“This group can be so amusing. Take a deep breath, quiet your mind, and enter in to tune into the messages your guides and angels have for you. It might conceivably be Xanax. When they whisper in your ear, look up at the clock right at 11:11. Spiritual awakening! Seeing 11:11 is often an invitation to awaken to experiencing the larger picture. It is a wake-up call of sorts to tune into the realms of spirit and experience life beyond the veil of illusion. Noticing 11:11 on a regular basis is most often experienced by those who have begun their spiritual journeys or are about to embark on a journey of discovery. ...........”

The starting of auto engines attested to that.

Not having any compelling business to attend to the following morning, Jack luxuriated under three blankets accompanied by the proximity of his ready laptop. The thin, black engine of entertainment had a preference for being close by, un-covered, thereby tantalizingly naked, in its tricky frigidity.

Upon rising, more out of lay-about guilt than aspiration, Jack carefully lifted the lid and pushed the “on” button in a reciprocal, mechanical, un-thinking manner. As always, it responded with a border-decorated, blue screen and three bars of a song capable of stumping an all-star panel of “Name That Tune.” Jack used his payola-dictated browser to access the archival storage of a public access TV show. He had not previously seen any of its offerings, but was intrigued by the title; “Crab with Josephine.” It sounded right for his state of mind, unless it had something to do with catching horrible tasting things with cutting talons. Titles can be extremely deceiving.

Jack’s hopes elevated a notch when a bucket-less woman came on screen and sat at a desk, which she immediately and haphazardly cluttered with papers. She appeared to be sixtyish, thin and as energetic as a Comanche who had just spotted white people with rifles. She said; “Good evening ........... Good morning ........ or a good whatever time you’re watching. It’s night time for me, but ........... Anyway, welcome to ‘Crab with Josephine.’ I’m Josephine Nuccio. You may have thought that with this outfit, I was a Native American. No, not at all. My mother and father got here by way of Sicily. ....... Did you expect me to say Florence, Venice or Naples? If that’s where they were from I don’t think they’d have left.” Muffled sounds reached the mike.

“Whooooo yourself. For those of you new to the show, for its initial seven years this unprofessionally produced public access presentation was called ‘Mesa Grande Political Action.’ But, after seven years of not getting any; ........ action that is ......... What’s so funny? You guys must be messed up on something good. ....... Oh. Anyway, after having not been able to stir up any meaningful interest .......... Oh, come on. You’re getting ridiculous. Keep it up and I’ll tell the manager what you’re ingesting back there. I changed it to ’Crab with Josephine.’ It’s a place to vent all the frustrations no one wants to hear. I listen and then vent mine or vice versa. Fair enough? ............ These phones working? ........... That’s one of the problems with this new technology. I’m here to take calls at 8PM, but you’re probably watching at some other time. ........... The suicide hotline works the same way? .......... No, it can’t. You’re putting me on. ............ Really? No. Because if you call them when they are on tape, you can at least leave a message. ....... I don’t know. It might do some good. ......... Probably not? Okay. This week I’ve written some thoughts about the entertainment industry. Appropriate? Let me just read them. It might stimulate someone to call. ....... Oh, shut up, stupid. ............. You sure these phones are working?”

With some difficulty Josephine collected some of her loose papers, put on her glasses and read. “Older, isolated areas were seen as a monetarily inviting opportunity to those whose inflated stock prices were on the verge of a crash. The paper pushers were dependent on constantly growing market share. In their wisdom the conquistadors of bite and mega-bite, saw a “new,” and ideally envisioned, sequestered market of those inclined or destined to be alone. They were more than willing to re-purchase things they already had, if those things were put in a modern package, substantially out of a boredom engaged to a propensity to appear ‘hip.’ Their naively American and mass marketing-conducive willingness to be subjected to the manipulation of the learned was an incalculable plus. This morally problematic scenario was envisioned and shrugged at in conference-room-meeting-groups of up-and-coming Ivy League MBA’s. Their self-satisfaction and affected superior mannerisms were put on bottom line trial. Laughingly, from their exalted and removed stations in the overly air-conditioned rooms, they discussed schemes, which if correctly marketed and implemented, would prove to justify the existence of the glassed room filled with those desiring to view themselves in the Narcissistic reflections provided by the smudged waves.

They didn’t take long to agree that the problem was really a simple one. All they had to do was combine old, needy human nature with new technology. Just change the format again, and sell it to them as a ‘new’ product; a maze of derivatives. They were already entertainment and drug addicted. Their employers already had the technical ability to reach everywhere; and only needed paying customers. Now they would extend that reach with inexpensively available products; old movies, old TV shows, and old footage of concerts, in full expectation that it would sell, at least to those isolated and desperate.

In their artificially-lit rooms, their only view, other than that of their own reflections, was of the others who worked for their companies, in an undetected photocopy of themselves. They considered this aspect idyllic. As good business-men and women, their self-indulgent visions glossed over the imperfections obvious in their self-reflecting views of those in ‘lesser’ rooms.

They were grad school taught that the majority of the non-MBA world was easily vanquished as it was without defense. Who would dare to be a self-sacrificial-impediment to the cunning? No one, but the few formerly institutionalized crazies, temporarily ‘liberated’ in the aberrant sixties. They were further fortified by the fact that this plan did not require reliance upon the vagaries of the ever changing capital asset pricing model. There was staying power in the old adage attributed to PT Barnum; ‘No one ever lost a nickel underestimating the intelligence of the American public.’ Sure, public libraries would be possible competition. But, one of their own had already made inroads into supplying a surreptitious and sophisticated form of fireman 451. Besides, only 18% of the people read 80% of the books; and the other books read are of the cooking and zombie varieties.

The future palaces of the impeccably-credentialed, in places like Propicio and Greenwich were assured. But, this alone was not satisfying. They had a need to publicly demonstrate their superiority to the lessers of men. They needed the worship of the broke and broken. Any sensitivity to the contrary was only a desperate sucker’s inclination to play the fool.

As a further proven-to-be-successful scam aimed at the sufferer, the slog-resistant, found reason to extract or posit an uninteresting, paid-for announcement rising at the inglorious moment of habitually capitulated monetary confrontation. The scheme was irreconcilably contrived by the denizens of the un-naturally, cold and uncomfortably sleek. They thought it a sure shot to make the audacity of their co-opted, sixty year old, ‘smiley-faced,’ and anointed joke favorably evolve, without any merit other than a possible nostalgia for its worn out cuteness. It had proven to be un-attackable for decades, in its cunning proficiency to be regarded as everyone’s friend.

In their dearth of creativity, the buttoned-downed proposed the seemingly simple, engineered to be further addicting distractions, with which it was imprudent to argue; inexpensively available, proven hits from times past playable on demand at any time with lucrative advertising space sold to other commercial enterprises seeking to expand their markets; and if they were the slightest degree of fortunate; to the entirety of the un-fulfilled world. It was instantaneously accessible, irresistible homesickness at a 90% profit margin. All things from all times thus became easily available with three left clicks of a mouse and an automatic monthly charge to an overburdened credit card. Future planned product ‘enhancements’ would add to the gravy.

The appeal was immediately overwhelming to those memorabilia freaks wishing to escape to the past and pay for the TV they freely watched in years prior. The MBA’s wildest dreams came true as everyone got on board. A few de-institutionalized freaks saw the machinated mind set as something riotously banal and in an effort to reduce the popularity to absurdity, spoke of the retrograde manifestation as the completely un-imaginative arrival of the monetary bull-horn, irresistible to the hopelessly addicted sucker’s acquiescence to the call of the time-and-place-faulty presentation, which overly compensates the powers that loom; a very old, but continually repeated, and demonstrated winning story, enjoyed in disdain of the masses, by the bespectacled and monetarily proficient ‘elite’”

Josephine put the papers aside, removed her glasses, loosened her long, tied back gray hair and defiantly stared at the camera. A phone rang. She picked up the receiver and said; “This is ‘Crab with Josephine.’”

The male caller said; “Where do you get this stuff?”

“My head. Where do you get yours?”

“Not from fantasy. I see what’s real. ......... Were you ever there?”

“Only in spirit.”

“That won’t hold up in a court of law.”

“We’re not constricted to one. ......... Look, do you have any doubt that a profit seeking enterprise wants to supply cheap goods at high prices to perpetually consuming customers?”

“That’s how things work. Are you some kind of Communist? What’s wrong with maximizing profits through maximizing choices?”

“Should we be allowed the drug of our choice?”

A muted “Yeah, yeah, yeah” was heard from the film crew.

“That’s different.”

“In what way?”

“For Christ sake. Drugs are harmful. Don’t tell me you didn’t know that.”

“And I suppose that ignoring your family to stay mesmerized by the grandchild of the boob tube isn’t.”

“You’re getting all over the place.”

“No, the grandchild of the boob tube is; just like the plague. It’s gotten to the point of ridiculous. When I walk my dog in the morning, I often pass by a young boy and young girl; each maybe 15, waiting for the school bus. They stand about 50 feet apart and each is busily typing in messages to some handheld, ‘connected’ device. Now, given their ages, I would have to think that he’s looking to meet some girl and she’s looking to meet some guy. And there they are, right there, ignoring each other in favor of an electronic device replete with phonies, predators and false promises. There is no way anyone is going to convince me that that is not an addiction; a venomous detachment detrimental to humanity for the profit of the few.”

“You know, you draw conclusions before the evidence is in. Maybe they’ve already met and don’t like each other.”

“I have a revelation for you. The evidence is never fully in. If you wait for it to be you will die first. ......... Listen, the evidence is that you called a show titled ‘Crab with Josephine,’ and you’re not crabbing. You’re an apologist for the stupid metal and plastic devices, which are worshipped more than Jesus.”

Another phone rang.

The caller said; “I’m crabbing. I’m crabbing about you.”

Josephine laughed and replied; “Crabbing about the crab. I suppose that fits nicely into the concepts of death dying and disease becoming diseased; so po-po-mo. You spoke of your notion of reality. Get real yourself; then watch somebody else with your infinite supply of choices. I’ve got another call.” Josephine hung up one phone and picked up the other saying; “You’re on ‘Crab with Josephine,’ and if you think everything is just wonderful, call somebody else.”

A young male voice answered; “I don’t know what I think. I’m fifteen and one thing I’m sure of is that Wikipedia has enabled me to know more at this age than my father did when he was forty. But, I’m beginning to suspect that something is wrong. Let me just recount something I’ve seen virtually every day for the last three years. Whenever my family; mother, father, sister and I have dinner we all bring our laptops to the table, plug in the earphones and watch .......... watch whatever is on the screen. We don’t speak. We rarely even look at eachother. But, when I watch the old shows, I see that dinner was once a time when families told each other about what they were doing, joked, got chastised and learned manners. I’m not trying to sound superior. I’ve been doing the same thing myself. But, lately I’ve been investigating psychological theories, which seem to suggest that someday this will come back to haunt us in ways not presently precisely determinable. Be that as it may. The damage has already been done, and the forces are strong enough to remain in place for some time. I have a question. Are these machines compelling us to separate? Or, do we inherently dislike each other, and use the machines as an excuse to ignorethe others?I’ll hang up and listen to any replies you or your viewers may have.”

Josephine gently put her receiver back in its cradle. Her eyes blinked and her forehead seemed to display lines deeper than they were seconds prior. She murmured; “I don’t know. ...... I really have no idea. It seems to me as if that is an unanswerable chicken or the egg question. If David Foster Wallace, one of the geniuses of our time, were still with us, I am convinced that he would have clearly stated that we do not like each other. I hope he was wrong about that one, but the odds are against it, as he was right about everything else.”

Jack was disconcerted and very un-entertained. He thought the best thing to do was to stop watching “Crab with Josephine,” shut down his computer and get out of bed. Now, all he had to do was find something else to pass the time. Not having any inspiration, he did a half assed job and reverted to the old stand-by through pulling the blankets back over his head.

The unobstructed sun streamed through the iron-barred windows, rudely unmindful of the scanty insinuation with which the openings were encumbered. The light’s mindless, foolish, and instinctive feeling assured the gallant, desirous performer that the feeble privacy ploy was nothing more than a spiritually constraining, but necessarily fabricated appearance, which was publicly viewed as socially acceptable to those who were in contact with sincerity only through the lowest-common-denominator-commercial popularity of the multi-faced machine. Its primeval inclinations were nearly right, but required adjustment only available from that which it didn’t possess; mortal flesh.

The luminosity was totally absorbed by a petite, to the point of trifling, black box with ogee decorations at inflection points. The baroque object of fine art lay motionless near the center of the room, on the dryly vintaged, tassel aloof and harmoniously eradicated, Persian-rug-covered floor. The room became eerily dark, excepting the now pale, circular outline of the rigidly immovable sun. An eclipse? An eclipse had not been predicted.

A fear, expected in broad generality; but, simultaneously an alarming revelation in constricted, well-defined, and narrow specificity and severity, introduced itself when the box burst into flames. With an irrational view of that which was blocked by carnal barriers, Jack saw that all the other houses within his vision had their own flaming boxes, threatening to destroy all in his sight. With wide eyes, and a sorrowful, inevitably failing human will to survive, he focused on the impending peril in the middle of his own room. It touched a subliminal nerve, since as long as he could remember; his biggest fear was to slowly burn and die from fire. Even if he survived the hot attack, he couldn’t tolerate the painful, recuperative care he knew burn patients were doomed to. Yet, here was his dreaded conception of hell; uninvited; and making itself at home in the hub of his room. His instinct to do something overtook his horror of being burned and disfigured. He considered running away, but the fire seemed to be everywhere and this was his home; his only home.

He got out of bed and went to the pristine, unused fireplace. From the batch of tools standing upright against the wall to its right, he took the minimally intrusive, iron tongs, and gently picked up the flaming box. He laid it in the fireplace, which, both he and the crazy, scandalous container knew was its proper place.

The sun emerged from its outline and returned to full strength; doing what it could to light the dark room. Its mission was accomplished. Though it was blocked from some corners, they were illuminated by the burning box. With the privilege of heated safety finally upon him, Jack looked through the western window and sorrowfully saw that many of the other houses were now engulfed in flames.

Jack’s somnambulistic meanderings came to a sudden, militaristic halt and boorishly returned him to the fullest consciousness with which he seemed to be grudgingly destined. He woke up and shot out of bed. He frantically checked the entire house for fire, and was relieved to find none. He looked out the kitchen window and saw no houses ablaze. Through the smudged glass and iron bars, all he could see were the tightly huddled elms, their rings unashamedly displaying the size and patterns of their lean, as well as their abundant years. Though the rings differed in scrupulous size and shape, they all had analogous resemblances, in their death-defying will to continue on, no matter what temperature was imposed upon them. Their simple, blending union was much like a utopian hermit monk’s obstinate disposition to wait for the never-previously-existent day of overjoyed, amplified screams of the beautiful and to-date-only-theoretically real possibilities, unfairly and cruelly denied by that which had hidden its real name. The tall elms’ silent, stoic vigil productively and successfully persevered the transitory governance of the soon-to-completely-die, outmoded-by-technologic-progress calculators, which in their final moments of coldly logical desperation, were seen as capable of nothing more than a persuasively simplistic display. The new machines were a perennially present, electronically generated, devouring beast, well versed in the popular insemination of all wisdom and “cool” opinion. The cerebral gratification Jack sought in enquiries into the imposing forces of the relentlessly redundant and humdrum known led him nowhere other than his lifelong dream of her. Jack toasted the elms’ pleasing, visually stimulating, and spherically ringed bark with a Burgundy.

He imprecisely imagined a biased equation, presented in “New Age” dogma, of perfecting one’s self while pretending the shadow was non-existent. He considered the separation an all too obvious counterfeit of 1960’s and 1970’s “liberation,” made commercially palatable for the un-adventurous. He saw it as a briefly relieving and vacuous foray into the funhouse mirror of Dadaism; and wished it had the staying power of its progenitor; Surrealism.

Devoid of the pre-historic principles; currently christened Quixotical chivalry and absurd romanticism, “factual” light was generated by the ever-ready machine. The slim, black androids were infinitely capable of duplicating the ever-reducing vision of facing mirrors. He wondered if his views were as they were, because of his cheerless examination of his falsified failed self and his longstanding, unrequited wish to be held and loved. He was certain the pop-psychology-inclined post-modernists thought so; and that they also possessed the insight of Le Corbusier. Jack thought that Beth’s approval was all that mattered and she was long gone.

Her beautiful, idea-generating, pear-shaped, pelvic sway seemed irresistible to him. It obliterated thought. Her mouthwatering, monster hips were Mona Lisa on a Harley; her knowing-closed-mouth smile her unstated, unadmitted, but tangibly demonstrated motivation to experience that which only he and she were capable of envisioning; in their mutual trust. The memory was now the main source of Jack’s despondence. For quite some time he had been relegated to texture-devoid, machine generated pictures of his ex. The thought of her provided joy with its attached despair. She seemed a four dimensioned angel from somewhere else, and once the vision perched in his head, she was all he could think of. It was always that way. He gulped his Burgundy and poured another.

The December freeze was always a bitch; an un-welcomed siren in ice; and an experienced pro; with the cunning audacity to advertise its distantly second-rate offerings in the airwaves. The resilient elms knew from lengthy experience that spring always comes back. All they had to do was wait out the transitory blast. Jack wished he was as virtually comprehending. Over another empty-stomached Burgundy, he searched the internet for landscaping or handyman jobs in Propicio. He found nothing. The mindless and fruitless, point and click tedium freed up sufficient left-brain space for his mindset to invite the useless, make-sense-of-everything impossibility; euphemistically known as his real life situation. He again turned off the machine, which was reluctant to be so easily dismissed. The screen flashed something about updates being installed and not to “power off.” Jack was tempted to rebel against the automated dictate, primarily just for the defiant hell of it, and secondarily, to show it who was boss. His fear of mechanical retribution, which could lock him out of economic opportunity, overcame him and he let the reign of the inhuman persist. He had the comforting, socially acceptable, safety of being a part of those acquiescent to the subjugation of the “new” entertainment vehicle. But, he sensed that he didn’t have to witness the un-original, artificial insistence of the flesh-deficient automaton. He looked through the closed window, now only reflective of an unclear, uninteresting, and poor replication of himself. He longed for the smiling warmth of her radiance.

She was no longer there. She had become a dream which had hidden behind the darkness, only perceptible in fleeting moon drop bursts in the brutal world of today. Picturing her, as best he could, he cringed and uncontrollably cried at what he thought was her sorrow; knowing that it was also his. With no idea how to fix things, yet a broken heart which demanded that he did, he sought the shelter of a restful, end-to-pain; a lobotomized end to all feeling. His simple passions had been halved, halved, and halved again; until they were precisely defined to a mathematically discussed and expertly disagreed upon infinity of near nothingness. He realized that his possibly faulty, childhood memories of teenage passions, at the time thought of as mature cravings, were now dismissively viewed as the quaint display of an unschooled ignorance; or worse, were frowned upon as malicious and self-serving in their implied plea for the help of a nurturer. It seemed as if a devil had designed persuasive lies; with no possible rebuttal. Yet, he sensed that he defiantly felt at home with feelings; seeing any of his “sins” as ones committed in innocence of his ignorance of the underhanded and unpublished laws of impending failure. The well-financed jingles were uninterrupted, in their prime-time prevalence, able to be nationally heard and therefore achieve maximum popularity, despite their un-distinguished, cobweb roofed message. They sold .......... according to the statistics compiled by the grinning advertising men.

Their banal and dull, homogenized, rap beat was hammered into all available, cash-competent, ditty-anesthetized skulls. Ostensibly, no one would buy Coke, unless they were reminded of its existence every Super Bowl fourth down. Not entirely able to escape the compulsions of those in his material realm, Jack, in his desperation, recalled the naive plainness of his own, currently passé, rhythmic, now-hidden-as-a-likely-to-be-cynically-interpreted-dilletante-perceived-as-tactically-convenient-for-him-to-appear as one of the blessed-non-pathetic messengers, with no manipulative desire for feminine help; yet knowing that at the same time he was wishing for their touch and releasing outburst. Truth be told, he had no choice. He was born this way. He had no control; and he needed her un-founded trust. He doubted his own integrity, yet, in his un-asked-for-carnalization, he absolved himself; in the memory of his oft thought and stated apology of never having asked to have been born. The whole thing was not his fault; though he felt unduly burdened in his sense of an unfair obligation to somehow make things right for someone. If his life could not be a happy one, he wasn’t jealous of that real possibility being enjoyed by others. Why shouldn’t they experience the dream he was denied? It would not change his circumstances. It seemed as if it should be an entitlement for all. His life had been disappointment, sorrow, misunderstanding, and self-obliterating, ridiculous, solitary escapes into musical fantasy. If the sun was co-operative he even absurdly saw himself as an aging, sold-out rock star, in the back window glass of his empty house. He barely saw his receding hairline and wrinkles; his vanity deceivingly reassuring him of the glorious, vague reflections of the youth he wished for, but could never again attain; his intellect unsympathetically telling him that his time had long passed. Often, it was hard for him to accept that he had lost. He didn’t remember a time he could call his. The better looking, zany guys always commanded the female interests, though they were inconsiderate of women at a minimum, disrespectful at the middling, and abusive at the margin. He vowed that he would never hurt her if she would only give him a chance. If she wasn’t initially wildly desirous of him, she would come to see that he loved her, and that maybe she could love him. He walked and walked, hoping that she was around the next corner. The next never came. Yet, pushing fifty, the blood still coursing through his veins cruelly continued to fool him into thinking that something was still possible. He wished whatever it was would deliver or stop the bad joke. Still alone in his memory of his seventh-grade, cruelly-rejected-offer-of-love; Jack did his best to not be a sorrowful, laughed-at, heartfelt believer. He couldn’t understand how she could have made him an object of public scorn merely for having the dream of loving her. The others pointed at him, mimicked his rejected entreaties, pointed fingers, and cackled; which pierced his young heart and soul. He wanted to go blank, but the burn of the unforeseen ridicule kept him awake with blinding rings of mocking light, flashing like cameras around him. He would never let it happen again. ........ until Beth.

He realized that he was crabbing without any help from Josephine, with as much effect.

He was sorrowful that this memory had resurrected. He could usually keep it buried. In a hope of an anesthetized re-entombment Jack poured an outrageously tall glass of Burgundy, downed it, and poured another. The inebriant had the welcomed effect of making his blood feel warmer; his psyche more relaxed, comfortable and able to cope, with no one around to ridicule his sentiments.

No longer able to stand, he sat on the brick floor, and Jack recalled his time with Beth. The long term, youthful affair seemed to him as if it would survive into old age. While she said that she had previously had a bookish existence, she seemed to come alive, on the fringes of the danger inherent to his weight carrying, lucrative, reefer business. Then, just because he had to spend a few years in prison, she split for the predictability she expected to find soothing in Peoria? Damn! It was just a temporary thing which came with the package.

A few years. Why couldn’t she wait a few years? Sure, the authorities confiscated all their assets before they disappeared, under the legal theory that all they had was the result of an illegal activity. And, sure, she would have to get a job and carry the ball for a while. Isn’t that one of the obligations that come in partnership with feminism? Damn! A fucking temporary thing and another disregarded package. Everything came in one. Nothing came alone. DUH!! The last he had heard of her, she was solitarily aging, supporting herself with the low-cut-blouse, flirt-prompted tips generated in a downtown Peoria, lecher bar. He snickered and thought; “Independence? My ass. .......... Maybe theirs.” He was, perhaps presumptuously, sorry. Sorry for her and sorry for himself. It was a feeling of inseparability, called co-dependence by those who have not been there. Love knocks down all the illusory, dividing distinctions between me and you, us and them, mine and yours; good and bad.

Egregious, yellow-faced, considerations of practicality came in like a Japanese-nuclear-“accident”-prompted tidal wave. The stubbornly, immune attribute of past time was non-negotiably inviolable; it’s perfectly defined inflexibility an unwanted governance to those with the ludicrous audacity to think of themselves as holders of a perfect, unbiased memory. Attempts to re-define the past achieved limited success in his futile attempts at revisionist history. While his critically acclaimed forays into “yet-un-accepted-new” thought motivations were found vindicating; it was only marginally popular and monetarily unattractive. It was overly easy to deride the non-existent straw man to suggest that the vast majority was inherently wrong. Jack had disregarded his couched, despairing, adolescent pleas for adoration, thinking that no one detected his embarrassment. He was wrong.

Again, Jack didn’t have the slightest idea as to where his non-productive mental meanderings had taken him. Maybe a circle of hell. Definitely a circle of something. Its serious lack of humor precluded any commercial value; but, he didn’t care as he wasn’t trying to peddle anything. This was solely for his memories of Beth and him; and the zero people around him. His best guess was that he lived in the phony, but energizing world at the end of the yellow brick road. He chastised himself, for his recidivist, cerebral, and impractical inclinations. Yet, he pled not guilty to any charges of elitism, superiority or clerically, faux modest and artless preaching. His thoughts were his own. The traits which he had learned to hide beyond the confines of his non-traditional brain waves, screamed for a mind-blowing release. But Beth had long ago, hopelessly retired.

His naturally-inspired demands were ones with which Jack was irrefutably and subserviently copacetic. Their familiarity seemed draw-bridge-chain-straight-forward, and, at the same time, shared an enthusiastically invasive presence with his uncontrollable desire; with which he was bound to worship her self-effacing and overly-critical-evaluation-of-her female beauty. The whole son-of-a-bitch, fucking thing didn’t make any sense. Maybe the whole-son-of-a-bitch, sucking thing did. It added taste to the equation. It seemed a chance, yet persuasive statement.

Beth was hopelessly gone into a past of repetitive un-response. So was he. Her trusting youth was gone; not only in calendar years; as she no longer fantasized any pretensions to anything other than the severely diminished enumeration. He worshipped gullibility. Even more he worshipped faked gullibility.

He recalled his indoctrination to the not easily characterizable reduction. It was his short-lived, teenage intro into a lengthy advertisement for Remington Firearms, which people thought was some sort of unannounced documentary on the life of Kit Carson. Later, after mimicry set in, and viewership fell off, it was classified as an “infomercial;” at the time a newly coined combination word. Its diminishing attention receiving existence came to be seen as a minority watched aberration, derided in the densely populated and time stressed East and West as “long ass commercials.” Unsurprisingly, the rough and ready allure of Kit was said to have sold guns, heightened by its lack of specificity in what to do with them, other than the lead filling of now hidden Native Americans.

With presumably free will; consumer bar-codes costly in America; and with the never inexpensive, private method of distribution; corporate expenditures on “infomercials” expanded and evolved much less than an artfully contrived source of diversion. Scheduling of the relentless inroads into the “entertaining” and surreptitiously peddling market became consistent with the less expensive, mid-darkness, “graveyard shift.” As a consequence of the market segment reached, the infomercial entertainers extolled goods and services relevant to the geriatric, insomniac and mentally disabled communities. AllYouNeed, Inc. came to be viewed as being a visionary, commercial forefather for its efficient, award winning, all sector reaching, “Vampires on Purgatives,” subtitled “Squatting in the Shadows.” This was later seen by some incorrect academics as America’s entry into the post-modern, otherwise un-namable era. Jack thought it was pretty good. Somehow, the sight of someone puking always seemed relevant and hilarious.

Jack’s mind again changed direction, probably aided by another glass of firewater, which he crawled to on his knees. He thought of his long lost youth; a self-consciously hidden time he was only capable of beginning to analyze in his recent, time-freeing demise. At fifteen, his depressed, insurmountable doubts concerning his ability to locate his dreamed-of one were overwhelming. In the disinterested cruelty of the powers that be, every night she smiled at him to his delight; then faded into the so-high-above-cracked ceiling.

Then he met Beth; and, because of that, the present seemed wicked. With his recollection of mornings spent in the irretrievable loveliness of the voluptuously hipped danger freak, how could he be forced to endure a measly survival in his unrequited search for something no one had ever seen? Jack’s sincere dreams of those he loved were forever made blind to his curious eyes, deprived heart, mind, and whatsit.

He had found whatsits to be important, well beyond their relative dimensions, in the overall scheme of things. Once upon a time, Beth found this amusing in an erotic way. But, she must have rationally questioned the use of an imprisoned whatsit. God damn! A temporary thing. Whatsit would soon be free. Instant gratification is a road to hell.

Jack realized that he had circled to the photocopy machine. His spinning head told him to look for employment some other time. Right now, the best thing he could do was return to bed and sleep on his whatsit. All he had to do was get there on legs which were on the deck of a ship in heavy waves. The first step was monstrous. He twitched and shivered at the thought of the coming day. He shut his eyes and got under the blankets.

He wasn’t sure if he had gotten any restful sleep. But the next thing he knew, he heard a scratching at his window; a maniac conjured by a drunken Poe first came to mind. He looked up and saw the paws and enormous head of a German Shepherd.

Jack yelled; “Go away,” but the dog remained in place and stuck out its tongue. He pulled the blankets back over his head, hoping it would understand a not-so-subtle rebuke. Maybe the Shepherd did, but it stayed there and barked, again scratching at the window. Jack said; “Where’s your owner?”

The dog made a whining sound and dropped out of sight. Jack felt guilty. With not a little bit of difficulty, he got out of bed and went to the window. The Shepherd was lying on the ice. Jack put on a heavy jacket and went outside.

The dog rose and walked to him, tail wagging. Jack saw tags hanging from his collar. He knelt to look at them and the dog licked his face furiously. He found a phone number and went back in to call it, having difficulty keeping the dog from following him in. He was curtly told that the owners lived thirty miles away and didn’t want the Shepherd anymore. Jack surmised that they had dumped him in Propicio, a not uncommon occurrence. Jack sighed deeply and looked at the dog waiting at the window.

He thought; “I can’t leave him there. He’s not young anymore. Nobody is going to adopt him. And he must be freezing. ........... Without a job, it’s going to be hard enough to feed myself. He must weigh 120 pounds. .......... Damn. .......... I could use the company. ......... I don’t know.” Jack again looked out the window and saw that the dog had not moved and that his big brown eyes were looking back at him. Before he could think himself into a quandary, Jack opened the door.

The shepherd dashed in. Jack knelt beside him saying; “It’s you and me pal,” and got more face licks, as he investigated another tag. Stamped into a fading red, metallic heart was the name“Justice.”

Jack got both of them some food and water. They ate and drank, sitting by the fire in a sunray.

At 6PM a copious quantity of the components of households in Propicio sat in front of their TV’s and anxiously awaited the premiere offering from the cable station which had recently announced its intention to re-name itself the “The Conspiracy Entertainment Channel.” Primarily in consideration of severely declining market share, KAYOD decided to abandon the archaic moniker of “The Education Channel.” In conjunction with a plethora of tediously long new mission statements posted on what was formerly advertising space, KAYOD had been announcing the change for two weeks. Though no one was watching the station to see it, the announcement reached the public courtesy of an enterprising hacker with nothing else to keep him occupied. Intending another nerdy goof he copied the one with the alleged chupacabra photo and posted it on Fecesbook, where it proceeded to go the idiomatic “viral.” Much of the populace said; “Super cool,” while those with a life intended to do their best to live it. The advertisers said; “We’ll see. Can’t get any worse.”

This innovation was an apparent deference to a popularity attempt necessitated by the long term, changing market conditions and some would say the continuing gradual erosion prompted by a dumbing down process first made popular when the senile ray gun found a second venue for his lackluster acting career. The predictable phenomenon made both the channel and the specific exploits of this show in particular, objects of in-the-know banter of many demographic and Arbitron defined sub-categories; ranging from young adults goofing on the codgers to codgers goofing on the young adults. The house-holders, house-occupants and house-deficient, all, really didn’t wish to learn anything other than how much it would cost to acquire the assets displayed by the Kardashians; and thereby be entitled to a ‘rich and famous” show in which any pronouncement they made became the height of fashion. Barring that, the chronicling of alien-cow-maimers would suffice quite well. This outlook had proven to be consistent with the station’s programming decisions, as the aged programmers well remembered the entertainment value of Fellini’s forgotten grotesques. Without admitting it, even to themselves, the householders had long ago begun to seek other forms of amusement; their aftermath a complication to be worked out with the “help” of the psychiatric industry and for those with shallower pockets, the monthly publication of “Psychology Today.” Until the conflicting details could be worked out, a measly number actually still paid attention to what they were proud to announce as substantive issues; such as when former Mexican President Vincente Fox, in apparent response to something Donald Trump had said a few months prior was quoted through AOL, as saying; “I’m not paying for the fucking wall;” the use of the magical “F” word, apparently still worthy of national news in the USA, especially when articulated by someone of color.

Previously, some of this “conspiracy” information was only available on de classe venues. In simplicity the covert ‘rebels’ predictably focussed on the sizes of their inadequate purses and the needs of their inadequate crotches; like any other “New Age” refugee. DFW’s concept of “petty rebellion” would now be in the air 24-7; or at least until all the advertisers curtailed the issuance of checks.

The 6PM gong heralded the all-star opening of the event of the year. In breathtaking shock and awe the TV video fixed on a still life which seemed to be a surrealistic rendering of a six foot, reptile in an off-the-rack, purple, striped Barney’s suit. His smiling impression seemed ominous as he spoke with an agitated Bill O’Reilly who wore a grey, striped, off the rack Barney’s suit. They both stood in front of the sunken skating rink, where three costumed revelers grinned and skated at the Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Plaza site; alleged to have once simultaneously housed three assistants to a Bilderberg Group attendee. Somewhat less clear, there appeared to be a red reptile, naked, at least from the waist up, who was pointing something cylindrical and a few feet long out a fifth floor window of one of the fifty story buildings. It was either that or a forgery of a Basquiat graffiti transcription of two Native Americans in war paint chatting near a pond surrounded by peeling willows, one of which was being currently occupied by a bony, red herring, who seemed about to attempt a desperate leap back to the water. That’ll teach him about reading that Magical Reality stuff. A consideration of the estimated price levels suggested and the fact that this was a floundering cable station it was more likely to be the former.

A woman in her sixties entered the picture from the right. The slight aura around her body suggested that she was in another location and that the cameraman was yet to complete his “Seamlessness 101” course or that she was a descendent of either the cherubim or seraphim. Again, the former seemed more likely. The still life faded into the background and the screen displayed an elevated, empty stage; on which the woman walked with her head down. A red banner with yellow lettering which said “Conspiracy Entertainment TV” appeared behind her. When she faced the camera, the woman seemed more pissed than nervous as she grumbled; “Couldn’t even get me a podium?” She held papers in her left hand, but initially ignored them when she said; “Good evening. I’m Ruth Messing. .......... Forgive me if I appear a bit nervous, as I am. I’ve never previously been on television and I have spent the last ten years working in the advertising sales area of this station. “The Education Channel” had an ambitious and important mission back then. We were pioneers in bringing wholesome and informative programming to the people. I wish that it would have been there when my kids were school age. It would have added so much to what they were getting in school. Like the station, my earnings have shown a steady decline over the years, so I’m not the least bit surprised that the market is demanding more sensational shows. I suppose that dinosaur bones just don’t cut it when one can see and hear of mind controlled slaves being manufactured by the US government. By now, I guess you’re all aware of the programming changes here, and since I insisted, I’ve been allowed this time to say a few things about that.” She held the papers in front of her and started to read from them.

“I hope you enjoy the changes; and I hope my income improves. Having said that, I’d like to share a personal story with you and I hope it puts things in a bit of perspective.

Like everyone today I use social media and I plead guilty in having been a participant on one of the ‘Conspiracy Theory’ chat lines. The information was substantially new to me, and with the state of the economy today, I figured that there might be something which doesn’t meet the eye going on.Despite that initially it sounded as if we all seemed to have enjoyed sharing similar thoughts, I had to stop bothering with this ‘chat line’ as over time it had become obvious to me that the ‘moderators’ have an overly simplistic, convoluted, self-serving, biased and hateful viewpoint aimed squarely and only at America. These ‘research mavens’ have been operating these sites since 2012, claiming that their efforts arise out of a passion to be ‘social activists,’ interested only in exposing ‘conspiracies’ perpetrated by the evil 1% of the population against the other 99%, who, they say are all good people. They only do wrong when forced or tricked into it by the ruling class; some kind of angelic beings I presume. Had this been my only reservation I would have continued on, attributing their stated beliefs to a privileged background which led to a lack of knowledge of the world. It was perhaps their most convincing display of wisdom to have chosen a book discussion site as most suitable to their agenda, as such sites are populated by people who have spent more time in libraries than they have in the ‘outside world’ which the rest of us inhabit, encountering seemingly real people.

They were sufficiently clever to hide their biases and contradictions by using quotes from others which they can easily attest to or discard as they read and analyze the popularity of those positions; much like a state-of-the-art computer cookie. For me, now, the charade is all too obviously just like another managed afternoon TV show for misfits, losers, and the contraband substance dependent. Not wanting to think that I happened to misjudge the duo, I decided to have another long look and couldn't pass up a comment; as the bias struck me even more than it had previously. Enough about old rich guys all being evil. Enough about the US being solely responsible for all the evil in the world. I understand why some of the uninformed guys might believe such things, but it is just not true anymore than it is true to say that all poor people are saints. I see evil people in all walks of life, be it underprivileged sectors, middle class sectors, rich sectors or cultural sectors. It makes no difference. Evil was the first and continues to be an equal opportunity employer.

To my further disappointment I googled the names of the 37 and 66 year old moderators and discovered that their past histories bear zero attestation to their claimed humanitarian activities; but rather is riddled with testimony from former business associates who claim to have been defrauded by the duo. At this point, after having read all the hand wringing about the US creation of ISIS, the alien created secret military weapons, the Federal Reserve’s intent to bankrupt everyone, and the purposeful introduction of laboratory created ‘diseases,” I didn’t think that it was ‘coincidental’ to find that the ‘people-oriented’ sites they established in 2012 dovetailed nicely with the release of the first book they had written; which is referred to so often, that a frequent reader of the site need not buy it, as it has been quoted in entirety on the socially conscious site. Thirteen more followed.

The Australians have the audacity to condemn the US, while they desperately try to peddle their wares there. It is truly amazing that they have never discovered any nefarious doings down under, where they live, but are ‘expert’ at the goings on thousands of miles away.
I ask; what good have the odious diatribes done for anyone other than the ‘moderators?’ None. What solutions do they offer? None. Oh yes, a few times they said things would change if a million people marched on Washington. Are they really that naïve? Somehow, I doubt it. What new information has their ‘extensive research’ unearthed? None. Just innuendo which was known decades prior, coupled with unproven quotes from other charlatans who are trying to make a living in the conspiracy industry. All it is, is a ploy to get publicity in the US.
Like any enemy, they feed the propaganda machine with unproven claims. Like any enemy, they say everyone else’s news is propaganda. Like any enemy they encourage the disenfranchised to revolt. Like any enemy, they have become corrupt in a last ditch attempt to get what they desire. They are what is revolting. Yeah, I know, I hate preaching just as much as most people hate hearing it. I just felt that I needed to say this and hopefully bring a bit of balance back into the ‘conspiracy’ conversation.
But, listen to this one. Their statements about a cancer cure being hidden rival their statements about aliens living amongst us and the real existence of the matrix in absurdity, and deserve no serious response. Cynically imagine. Many people are supposedly aware of this. There is no doubt that if someone marketed this “cure” it would take them about a year to become the richest person on the planet. But, they don’t want to.Duh!!It is further noted that just because one sees something in a Hollywood movie does not mean it exists in reality. If so, I’d like to know why Godzilla and his sequels have not yet destroyed Tokyo and why Superman has not yet righted all wrongs.

I think I have detected a pattern. They correctly characterize their books as a mixture of real events and fiction. Initially, I thought that may have been due to their penchant for copying someone else’s story, making a slight alteration and then calling it their own. But, perhaps they are mentally incapable of making any differentiation between fiction and truth. I think that’s called delusional. That would be sad; were they not attempting to inflict others with their disease. It seems doubly strange that their constant anti-US government dialogue is not considered some sort of crime at a time when the US is at war.

No, I will not state their names. They are not on this evening’s show and I am advised that they will never be on this channel. That would only give them the publicity they desperately seek. I stated this primarily in light of the station’s new approach. It’s intended to be a commentary which strongly suggests that watchers would do well to evaluate as they listen to the guests. Thank you.”

The camera cut to a bearded, fiftyish man sitting in an overly stuffed dark green chair of no particular design. The camera moved in for a close-up, revealing the makeup which was in the process of struggling to cover the lines in the man’s forehead. He smiled in a curt, obligatory fashion, and said; “Good evening, my friends. Hope you are all well. I’m Adnan Koshaggy. Welcome to the opening show of the Conspiracy Entertainment Channel; ‘Big Names in the Conspiracy Field.’ Some of you might recognize me or my name, through my acting, or as I’ve been classified as a conspiracy theorist. I want to assure you that my entire involvement with the matter merely involved public statements that I made saying that the official Kennedy assassination and 9-11 stories contain sufficient inconsistencies to drive an alien spacecraft through; though I have never written a book about it. Despite what some have said I retain an open mind, but do not necessarily subscribe to the other theories out there. ......... That was written atrociously. I know that these rumors are the work of some of my acting competitors. It’s a conspiracy against me. I’m pleased to say that this evening we have resuscitated a time-proven lineup much like those which you have come to know and love. Of course we are not presenting anything which might be cogitated as old hat. ... Maybe, tin hat, but certainly not old. Chuckle. We have writers on the cutting edge, speaking of their work in the conspiracy theory industry, no pejorative connotation intended. The table is packed, so without further delay, let me bring out our first guest. He infiltrated Lubbock, Texas two years ago, was originally a Kiwi from the wilds of New Zealand, who recently published his fifth book inventively titled; ‘InfoScam V.’ ‘Big Names in the Conspiracy Field’ is proud to welcome that great patriot, Crocodile B. Blusterbutt.”

A balding, pale skinned man of 350 pounds walked out; or rather momentum-ed out. Once the frame got going, it seemed as if he was a testimony to the validity of the old theorem which said; “An object in motion tends to stay in motion.” His blubbery bearing caused him to be of a physically indeterminate age. Without having had the “benefit” of having had access to “secret documents,” such as his birth certificate, hopefully legitimate; his baby fat hid all external wrinkles. He plopped into his plushy chair, moving it back a few inches in the process. He waved off a handshake, and said; “Isn’t this the place in the show where the writer goes on at length about all the noble reasons which compelled him to write the book now in your hands? You don’t really care to hear about all that sanctimonious stuff and this writer doesn’t feel like trying to conjure up all that crap, anyway. To tell you the truth I did it for three reasons. I felt like it. I could. And I had nothing else to do.

The first garbage pile out of the way, I step into the second; acknowledgements, thank yous and dedications. I’ll again attempt to maintain the shine on your shoes. It’s commonly done and perhaps expected. It seems akin to the requirement for a double bind in works which fancy themselves ‘literary.’ It also seems akin to an attempt at some sort of required, self-effacing modesty the writer is compelled to display prior to his subsequent attempt to display ‘brilliance.’ I’m not here to give the people some kind of horse manure. It’s one way or the other.

Yes, I’ve got a mother. Yes, I’ve got a father. Yes, I’ve got a wife. Yes, I’ve got dogs and cats. Yes, I’ve read a couple of books. Yes, yes, yadda yadda. But, frankly, none of them pushed one key for me. This is not a product of their influence; nor are they to blame. Comments from psychiatrists, psychologists, and readers of ‘Psychology Today’ are welcomed and will be taken as a source of amusement.”

“Your forthrightness is impressive. Mr. Blusterbutt; may I call you Croc?”

“Sure, everyone else does.”

“May we now discuss a few of the specific conspiracies you’ve written of in your latest book. For instance on page 323 you wrote of the Philippine plane which disappeared carrying 15 top computer scientists, who were supposed to have just completed a top secret project, funded by the Tri-Lateral Commission. You stated that the source of the plane’s demise was an obliterating laser ray, engineered in Area 51 with the assistance of Nazi scientists. After your book’s publication the plane’s wreckage washed up on shore; the black box clearly indicative of engine failure compounded by pilot error. The 15 top computer scientists were located in Maui, participants in a Hedonism junket. Mathematicians have calculated that, though it is within the realm of possibility, it is highly unlikely that any of the Nazi scientists are still productive, as the youngest of them would now be 107 years of age.”

“That’s no fucking question. It’s a recapitulation of what was printed in the mainstream Murdoch media. Is this some kind of right wing set up? First of all, that wreckage which conveniently floated to shore the day after my book came out was planted by the Illuminati-Mason contingent who control everything. Secondly, the Hedonists found were clones manufactured and planted through the use of another secret technology. And third, those Nazi scientists were bright enough to have found or created the fountain of youth. I could go on. But, come on now; use your head just a little bit.”

“In fairness Croc; the other conspiracy guys got off this one quickly after the plane debris was verified and the secret scientists turned hedonists .........

“Mr. Koshaggy; you’re really starting to piss me off; and I don’t give a damn that you’re a Muslim. I already told you that ..........”

“Okay, okay; let’s move on to another of your revelations. You wrote that Katy Perry is actually JonBenet Ramsey. Might we get a bit of an elaboration?”

“Thank you for asking. This one actually took some Holmes worthy deduction and I’m proud to say that I was the first one to pick it up. The first clue I got was when I never saw them in the same picture together. Further, with the advancements made in facial recognition, I found it very curious that JonBenet or her parents have not allowed this to be done with her. Those who have read my books already know that I have proven that every female and many of the better looking males in the entertainment industry have been trained as sex slaves, through the US extension of Hitler’s MK- Ultra program called Project Paperclip ...........”

“I guess that some of us are fortunate to be fat and ugly, Croc.”

“I don’t know where you get off with this stupid shit. I’m sittin’ here as a favor to your producer, talkin’ serious stuff, and you come on with all this fifth grade bullshit. I’m gonna start investigatin’ how you got your passport, boy.”

“Don’t get upset. Good point. My apologies. Let’s start over in a more general way. Tell me Croc. Did you read a lot of sci-fi comic books when you were a kid?”

Croc left his seat shouting; “Fuck you man. Just plain old fuck you; Adnan Koshaggy or whatever your real ISIS name is. I was assured that this negative tone would not be displayed here. Fuckin’ piece of shit. .......... Goddam fuckin’ piece of shit.” As the swaying behemoth rolled his way off stage, he continued to scream; “You need me for your pathetic ratings and then you pull this kind of shit? Fuck you, piece of shit. You’re just another low paid flunky telling lies for the benefit of those in control. The people are being screwed all over the place and you don’t care. You do their work for them. Asshole. You don’t care as long as the masters throw you enough coin to keep you in cheap, brand name Milk of Magnesia. When I get back to ......” He went off camera.

Adnan Koshaggy sighed. He knew that with Croc’s early departure that he would have to find a way to fill more air time with less popular conspiracy theorists. He was also disappointed that Croc had not hit him on camera. The potential pain, suffering and psychological damage lawsuit against a “successful” celebrity would have relieved him of the burden of having to truck his old ass out here and kowtow to some jackass every damn week; not to mention the tedious, behind-the-scenes rubbish with tiny picture technicians assigned to the show. He sighed again; this time inwardly. He looked right into one of the cameras and improvised; “Well, there you have it, the inimitable Crocodile B. Blusterbutt. You have to admire the strength of his convictions. I’m sorry that other engagements necessitated his early departure. We hope to have him back again soon. In the meantime do go out and get yourself a copy of ‘InfoScam V.’ Better yet, stay home and push a few buttons. There are some armed nuts out there. Let AmawayOnSteroids drone it to your front door below wholesale.

For our next guest we are honored to meet the man who started it all. ................. Well, it’s always hard to say who was the absolute first as, as far as we can tell everyone had antecedents and influences which ........... Never mind. This British gentleman was the most significant force known in the popularization of conspiracy theories; the grand-daddy if you will. His last effort was the book I now hold to the camera; wonderful cover art by award winning artist, Apollinaire Rabble; titled; ‘The Psychological Aspects of Irrational Belief,’ subtitled; ‘Whassup,’ I give you the scholar-athlete from over the waves; Icky Bledstoe.”

A thin, smiling man bedecked with a full growth of silver gray hair on his head; semi-mullet fashion, with none on his face found his way to the large plushy chair. Upon sitting he half-jokingly said; “One could get buried in here.”

“I think more than one did. Welcome Icky. You don’t mind if I call you that. Do you? You’re truly one of the people I’ve most wanted to meet. You kind of started this whole thing. Thanks for being here.”

“I’ll bet you say that to all of your guests.”

“And I mean it every time. ......... I think. Regardless, I’ve been reading your last book. Both I and some of the reviewers feel that it is markedly different from what you’ve previously done. I may be presumptuous in this statement, but it seems as if you’re now distancing yourself a bit from your earlier efforts, which often took the form of attempts to scientifically prove the existence of a cruel reptilian ruling class which uses subterfuge to continue to prevail. ........ I suppose that’s not stated as a question, but can you elaborate on that theme, no doubt with corrections?”

“You’re much too kind. You also must have been one of the ten people who bought the book.”

“The station gave it to me.” Adnan evoked a kind spirited snicker.

“God bless you, recipient of Mr. Rosewater’s legacy. Allow me to back up one step. Your last guest, our friend Mr. Blusterbutt, chose to make an early departure. He’s got that in-your-face style all the time. He neglected to articulate step two of the learning process, which is the realization that the way in which the world and human life have been structured it is necessary for every individual, every group, and every nation to survive. Only Fascists thought otherwise, and let’s face it; we’re not them and maybe some mistake was made at the deepest of levels. Besides, look what happened to the majority of them. I don’t envision any way in which we could ever know that without simultaneously necessitating a new system. So, in simplicity, the conspiracies exist as another manifestation of competition, each side seeking to take down the other. That is Freud 101. Though it is a necessary phase, it is not yet even the popular beginning of Jung or Campbell.

With all information available at all times, we have now been forced to enter a larger morass; the third pile; the proliferation of ‘conspiracy theories’ circulating in the US of 2016, with a few in belief, some in partial belief, and a the majority in total disbelief produces a kind of Tower of Babel at the root. Even though it can be proven that the reptiles are in control, it is divisive to mention that. Unity is required for anything to be done about it.

But, be assured that the preponderance of the ‘theories’ are precisely that; speculative theories. We can all make one up whenever the mood strikes. What they and we cannot easily do is to prove them.

Let me preface this with the statement that, ‘The names have been changed to protect the perps.’ This is in keeping with current clandestine communal delicacies; a legitimate conspiracy, if you will. It is undoubtedly comforting to Mr. and Ms. Disgruntled to believe that their demise is not their fault. It is the fault of the controlling evil ones. Ah, yes, some great ones have said that; ‘It is the purpose of writing to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable.’ Substitute communicate for writing if you must. I wonder if that comforting phrase was taken out of context in a perhaps, satirical way, in the Nabokovian sense, vein. We have looked into the imperfect ripple in the pond and say that can’t be us, which is kind of true and also kind of false. We say; ‘I’m not a reptile. I’m not one of the ruling 1%.’ Well, whether or not the ‘bad guys’ appear as green and scaly when one puts on the “magical” eyewear is totally irrelevant. It has no practical purpose. If it was to have any effect whatsoever, the discovery of a ‘new’ race would likely result in their being considered a minority, and afforded minority protections. Can’t you just picture all the sympathy that cute little gecko would get?”

“That’s so stylishly meta. This is indeed quite a departure from your earlier work.”

“Not really, Adnan, but I can appreciate the thought. As you know we are in the communications business, so what we must do is communicate. People are more accepting of an idea if it is presented to them in a palatable manner. Sometimes it’s a matter of phraseology. I’m not abandoning what I originally said; I’m just saying the same thing differently. In a sense it really doesn’t matter whether the thieving rulers are reptiles, aliens, humans, or computers. What matters for the rest of us is to eliminate their control. If calling them reptiles is a stumbling block to us uniting, that stumbling block must be removed. Look. For the moment allow me to abandon theoretical abstractions. You may have seen that I do have photos of the last five US Presidents and two Supreme Court Chief Justices with their tails sticking out of the back of their pants. The problem is that everyone knows how easily photos can be doctored through the use of readily available modern technology; so those inclined to disbelieve dismiss them, and there is no gain. It is apparent that those reptilian creatures who have been in charge as long as anyone can remember have used their enormous powers to abuse and brainwash every child through the US government sanctioned MK-Ultra program; use those who read “The Catcher in the Rye” as assassins triggered by certain phrases contained therein or simply to be sex slaves to the masters and mistresses; get humans into heavy duty, insurmountable debt through the operations of the ‘illegal’ US Federal Reserve and international banking system; and subject them to an economy which resembles a sucked orange half, most recently through the false flag operation and consequences of 9-11. Just consider the open symbolism displayed on every piece of US paper currency. The powers that be are not afraid of possible detection; as they know that we will continue to argue with ourselves and not them. With all its stupid official explanations, the only thing which is irrefutably clear is that it was used as an excuse to further feed the already fat Military Industrial Complex; have the ‘Patriot Act’ well in place, which by the way was written three months before the event, to permanently incarcerate and torture anyone or their families, who says anything against their interest; have the super-secret alien enhanced technology at only their disposal capable of complete obliteration of anything; have hollowed out mountains to store nuclear devices which will be used whenever another major incident is required; have founded ‘terrorist groups’ and drug cartels just to declare expensive war on them shortly thereafter; the result of all this leaving the US citizens in a state of shock, if not awe, in economically induced servitude and fear. ............. I suspect that some of this is true and that some is not. It seems obvious to me that if the Masons desired secrecy they would not have planted their well-known symbols all over. Either that, or they’re too damn stupid to be a cause of concern. What I am certain of, is that with the plethora of incorrect information consumed from the internet beast, we will never be sure of any answers. At the most bottom of lines I can imagine, it boils down to who you trust. That’s just an instinct. Unless more discoveries come in the future, there is no way to ‘reason’ an instinct.”

“That’s kind of like saying that science will never know the answers.”

“Precisely. And that is one of the reasons no one is buying my newest book. I can say it with a twinge of sarcasm. As a society, we have abandoned any notion of god, and have transferred the apparent human need for a higher power to science. We have found a ‘new’ invisible to worship. So, to suggest that science is as inherently and inevitably as imperfect as its practitioners, is not the least bit popular with those who worship at its special-interest feet. To denounce science is now a blasphemy, akin to an early twentieth century Jamaican killing of an informant missionary; only known to be an informant by the natives. On another level, if all answers were known the game would have to be changed.”

“My stage manager is either faking a wish to cut his throat or he is indicating that the tone of this conversation is something he strongly suggests must be changed. So, let me thank you for your time. Wish we had more. We have to hear from one of our sponsors right now.” Adnan Koshaggy held Icky Bledstoe’s book to the camera and added; “Do get yourself a copy of ‘The Psychological Aspects of Irrational Belief.’ It’s still in its first printing and may be valuable someday. Take it awaaaaay.”

In what historians might have characterized as “modified 1950’s retro,” young female voices sang; “See the USA, on your smartphone today. America is asking you to call .........” The tune ended when one of the adorable little ones held her smartphone to the camera revealing a screen which showed Vampira holding a vibrator in what seemed to be the appropriate place.

Viewers saw a fraction of a second blip in their screens. After that they heard Adnan Koshaggy say; “Catchy little ditty,” and saw him sitting there with someone who had apparently thought that she had already been introduced. The woman was about 30 years of age, had long black hair and was wearing a tight tank top and a mini any hetero guy would join the military to get into, despite the fact that her long black hair was coiffed as a Mohawk and depending on momentary point of view, may have exhibited a few rings. There were a few watchers who knew her name; primarily her college students and what remained of her embarrassed family; those kin who had not yet opted for hari-kari.

She was unpopularly known by her “stage” name of Cat Jacker. She was the most vocal “dissident” living in the affluent town of Klosterneuburg, Austria. She required no opening inquiry and was already engaged in an extended soliloquy when her mike was turned on.

Ostensibly, in an effort to attain viewer interest, the cameraman flip-flopped his focus between her open mouth and open legs. In an agitated, strident tone, she was in the midst of saying; “.... is bullshit. Hey, you’ve heard all the theories. It’s too late to do anything about them. I mean that, even if tomorrow we could conclusively prove that 9-11 was an inside job used as an excuse to feed the war machine and bring fascism to the free world, so what? Can’t fix it now. So many things have been put into place because of it, there’s no way it can be unraveled. The money’s in the hands of the crooks and Americans have been trained to allow the cops to do anything; for their own safety of course. Besides, if it was proven, there would be a gigantic group on the internet every day saying that the proof was falsified under an anti-American conspiracy to make the country an open target for whoever hates it. If you don’t believe me, check this out. There are hundreds of thousands of useless physical books, e-books, audio tapes, and movies available through AmawayOnSteroids at no charge. 100% of these entertainment modules have been done by people who offer no solutions. They seem to think that if they expose the ‘true history’ that some sort of miracle will take place and everything will be all right; much of that everything in their pants pocket. How fucking lame can thy get? Moreover, they say that they do this with an un-biased outsider’s viewpoint. That has to be some sort of a joke. It’s only true in one unintended sense. With the exception of two years of Rantin’ B. Blusterbutt in Flatass, Texas, none of them live in the US they disparage from afar. ................. Shit. What do they know about it? What they copy off the internet nut sites? Is it any wonder why everyone is so fucked up? Who the hell could be reasonably expected to overcome all of this?

Did you see the latest one? Jackie was the second JFK shooter. Yup, Jackie. See, she’s a member of this ruling class which wanted him dead, and she was perfect as she would be the last one suspected. After Marilyn? They gotta be shittin’ me. As a prize she gets to marry this fossil who looks like a turtle left out in the sun without a shell. And that’s his face. Can you imagine ........ But, you know how it goes now that every nebbish has access to computerized editing. A bright one who was raised on Barnum’s; ‘No one ever lost a buck, yadda, yadda,’ figures that it will take him five minutes to doctor and post the film. It now shows Jackie holding something silvery in her hand and it is pointed at Jack’s head. Can we get real for just a minute? Come on. Even if that silver thing was a gun in Jackie’s hand, any self-respecting woman would not have been pointing it at her high income, husband’s head. She’d have been aiming it at his schwantz. Admit it. Can we talk? Come on. Do you really think that this woman was comfortable in sucking on something that was up Marilyn’s culo after Bobby was done for the night? Let’s get a little bit real, okay?

So, what’s my point you astutely inquire? Why am I on a conspiracy theory show when I find the investigation of conspiracies useless? I’ll tell you. I’m from a younger generation. The people writing these books predate Elvis and they just go on re-hashing the same old things, seeking a bigger market share and more money. Well, we’re sick of it and only watch and read it when we want something to laugh about. Give us new ideas or give us death. And just fuck Obama’s lying bullshit.

There’s some black comedian I just adore who starts his act with; ‘I apologize. ..... No. We apologize to all you white folk. When we told you to vote for him we REALLY thought that he was a nigger.’ I really wish that I could give you his name, but I can’t re-locate it. Some of those radical, foreign conspiracy theorists have informed me that all his old videos have been removed from YouTube; that he has ignored his $50,000,000 movie-TV contract; that he is hiding somewhere in Africa; and that if you say or write his name you will be subjected to a minimum of a comprehensive, seven year, IRS fraud audit and a maximum of an arrest under the Patriot Act, with all its ramifications. I can get hot over a lot of things, but being water-boarded at Gitmo while dogs snarl at my naked body ain’t one of them. I can tell you one thing for certain. If this man walked out on a $50,000,000 contract he’s not one of the Sephardic or Diasporal members of my club.

Okay, you don’t buy that stuff about the non-monetary motivation. All right, all right; so listen to this.

I have a confession to make. I think I have located one of those weird stories which, in this case, makes perfect sense. I have seen this one with my very own eyes and heard it with my very own ears. The two Beatles who are considered officially dead, and the one thought by many to be dead back in 1970; remember the tell-tale bare feet on that cute goyishe boy; and the one still thought alive have made a comeback. Yes, yes, yes. I’m so excited. They have formed a new group which they have called ‘Beat the Meatles,’ and have issued a CD with the same name. While it is not yet available from your local Wal-Mart or AmawayOnSteroids.Com., and may never be, it may be downloaded free from a “deep web” site; available with the appropriate software enhancement. I detail how this can be done for this and other cutting edge entertainment in my recently released e-book; ‘Deep Doo Doo,’ available through the AOS monopoly for US$.99. Yes, I know the title’s kind of lame, but AOS wouldn’t accept the first title in their spiffy Ginder Store. Most importantly, it’s cheap; cheap as they allow. ....... Hey, you guys made this system. We just try to live with it without laughing in your face.

Take my word; what you will see and hear is a revelation. And damn, it’s still available for free. Utilizing the simplicity of the “play” button, the music is reminiscent of the early, at least to the US, ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ days; days of innocence and simplicity, now updated to ‘I Wanna Hold Your Crotch.’ It shows extraordinary potential for chart climbing popularity; maybe even ten songs at a time. ‘Girl Enbalmed’ is a personal favorite. But, don’t be swayed by that. The old time Beatles and the ‘new time’ Beat the Meatles don’t need the money anymore. Excepting the outvoted one, they’re supposedly dead, right? Their concerns likely center on issues of decomposition, foul odor and zombie possibilities. Anyway, Right Guard correctible smell aside, it seems of much more significance, assuming that the “s” word contains something other than a pretense for a posthumous pedestal, to hear their ‘hidden’ message. Through the utilization of a stereo system which did not anticipate the Job and Gates improvements on the horizon, I have found playing their pop ditties in reverse, provides one with an undeniably clear message. There are many, but suffice for now to focus on one. Utilizing the invert-procedure-function, especially on ‘Dear Prudence Stoned’ it is in-arguably well-defined that they are telling us to ‘Kill the pigs.’ ...... Tower of Babel consistent confusion descends. ................. Sigh. Another. Another. ............... I don’t think they’re referring to Porky. They only attempt to inadequately buy mind time; mine; maybe; the ancients’ proven jokers.

There is someone else more powerful and temporarily now in charge. Someone like a multi-national CEO with a three year contract and a Greenwich, back country, retirement lust. So, Mr. and Mrs. LoBianco, living in what some would still call decadence, and the few would call ‘a sincere attempt to love,’ the BTM group does not requisition your demise, and likely never did. It was just a misinterpretation articulated by a stupid, mean-spirited, jealous and also competent and influential midget. He had no magical powers whatsoever, but was able to convince a few that he did. The saddest part was that his tiny stature and tiny implication was media used as a “concrete” form; one which hates and is dependent upon finding ‘new’ paying subscribers; and also which that same media innocently, the best of love, unlikely, irrelevant in the overall scheme of things, in their hearts and minds, use their loving principles to innocently be tricked into the “support” of that which will kill them; and me; and you; and anyone not sufficiently brave to have been a passenger on the long gone dreams of the “Wooden Ships,” the brave and beautiful, now only garbage-can dirtied, wounded, cold, hungry and homeless. It may well be only the gaps in human understanding to adhere to the position I espouse; ‘I’ an admission of my biases. Yet, it seems to me that they are truly warm, have learned and felt, but still cannot comprehend more than is presented on the surface; and even have difficulty with that. Laugh. Laugh. I do. Kind of cruel; but also an attempt at honesty and laughed at feeling. I know that we all do something like that; at least for a while, which is always remembered, and wished to be forgotten. In all too short a time, it’s just, at best, another tragic rendition of French, 1940’s, ‘Children of Paradise.’ Stupid all of us will be free, minds and hearts rejoicing the . ............................ Pollyanna optimism. Beyond, beyond and beyond. Self-congratulation possibly unrestrained. My personal apologies.

In recognized ignorance; invariably possible in the infinite; yet to be attempted to be unsuccessfully and temporarily constrained .......... Hmmnnnnn. A bit too old fashioned, wouldn’t you say? What the hell are we trying to talk about? How about a rephrase in light of modern technology? Let me add that in the second decade of the 21stcentury it has become apparent that there has been a substantial increase in the number of people who believe in conspiracy theories. The momentum seems to have been gathering since the assassination of JFK.

Conspiracy is defined by Merriam-Webster, in its monopoly on demarcations as ‘the act of conspiring together.’ A minimum and possible maximum of ‘Two’ seems to be implied, but not specifically stated by the franchise. ‘Omigod,’ the ‘good’ people exclaim. ‘The authorities are not trustworthy.’ Surprise, fuckin’ surprise. The US government has about 40 billion employees. To be able to quote one who erroneously says something implying some sort of nefarious plot seems a mathematically 100% probability. To be able to quote one with something verifiable; at the least usable as anecdotal evidence in court; diminishes that percentage infinitely.

That correctly, Warren-Commission-induced distrust, has expanded to exponential stupidity. Another ‘surprise.’ There truly is no possible way that Oswald alone could have done that with which he has been credited, and everyone except the Warren Commission knows it. Another surprise, surprise to those who think they can pull the wool over.

You know, it may be that the old farts on the Warren Commission gave birth to all of this garbage. That’s funny in a perverse way, as they had passed child bearing age. Maybe they did it out of senility. Maybe Alzheimer’s was a factor. Maybe they wanted to make a mess. Maybe they were coerced. Maybe they had something up their sleeves. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I know one big thing. Beat the Meatles have shown me the future; and it is murder. And you can access it for free if you purchase my $.99 e-book ‘Deep Doo Doo.’ It’s enhanced with un-doctored photos of the low down. Can you dig it?”

In the unexpected pause, Adnan Koshaggy deftly enjoined with; “I thank you for your articulation of a well thought out alternative vision. Whether or not it meets the rigid definition of conspiracy remains to be seen. However, that debatable point is as subject for the academics; and frankly, if past experience is any guide, they will not come to any kind of consensus until after we and this show are long forgotten. I thank you for your un-prompted presentation. That sort of thing makes my job easy. And audience, run to your computer and order a copy of ‘Deep Doo Doo’ by Cat Jacker. It’s an affordable killer. Need I say more? Okay, a little break. A word from the people who pay for this. Cat, behave yourself! Mohawks have become routine; but those nose rings up the ante a bit. That is a nose; isn’t it? Let’s pretend. Didn’t you ever have an imaginary friend?”

A fluffy white dog ran from the house and excitedly bounded along the fenced back yard. He slowed a bit with each step and came to a full stop when he finished the entirety of the trip. His tongue was out indicating happiness or hope, while his eyes remained wary and disappointed. He sat on his haunches and looked up, seeming to ask; “Where is he?”

An unseen adult male spoke. “He’s looking for my son, Joey. So was I. Sammy Bubbles has more faith than me. I know that Joey and sixteen other nine-year-olds were shot to death two months ago. Little Sammy doesn’t understand. He’s not even two years old yet. It happened at the elementary school. This seems to be happening someplace almost every day now. I’m no right wing fanatic, but I know that this has got to stop. In the meantime, whenever I bring little Sammy into the yard, for a moment I’ll also hope that Joey is waiting for us there.”

A voice over said; “We’re looking for solutions to problems never before envisioned. If you’d like to help the Sammies and Joeys of this world, please send whatever you can to the Christian .......”

The camera went back to Adnan’s plush chair; Adnan still in it. He seemed a bit less chirpy than usual and said to no one in particular; “New sponsor? ................ Just for this show. Okay.” His voice strained to elevate as he said; “For your pleasure we now welcome a man who needs no introduction. You all know his face from the time he made headlines for being arrested at his home in the south of France; in the house formerly occupied by Jean Renoir as a matter of fact. As you recall, the French authorities charged him with subversion, based on a few of the passages contained in his novel; ‘The Rules of the Charade.’ You may not be aware, as it was not reported in the mainstream news, that he was acquitted of that charge by a jury who said that the book, taken as a whole, was incomprehensible; and therefore could not be categorized as subversive. Keep in mind that our guest’s primary language is French. Come on out here Luc Godard.”

A thin man in his 70’s purposefully strode on stage accompanied by his wife, a woman in her 50’s, apparently struggling to keep up. Since the chair was so oversized they both sat in it.

Luc was agitated and before a question was thrown his way blurted out; “Your last guest, that Ms. Jacker really is a complete waste of time. She extols the virtues of a dumbed down modern existence, while she herself tries to display personal intelligence, compounding that with an overly obvious, thick eared joke about her own stupidity. If she thinks that it is funny, she must either be someone who has not heard of the Paris massacres or is not human. To so matter of factly speak of murder being the future is unforgivable.”

An offstage female voice screamed; “Fuck you, old fart. I deal with what is. Not your ‘heart-rending’ geriatric fantasies. Go back where you came from.”

“Fuck you, too, ugly bitch. Or more appropriately, don’t fuck you. It would be too much of a favor.”

“If I had a gun I’d walk out there and blast you right now.”

“That’s your fantasy. If you had a gun. Never did and never will. Baby toys, if anything. Cry some more over it. My old man and I find it amusing.”

There was another screen blip, and when the video returned, Adnan Koshaggy sounded as if he was admonishing Luc when he said; “Just ignore it. The people are here to see you; not them. You’re giving the morons more recognition than they warrant. Using your most recently acquired insights into the matter, tell us where we’re at. I note that you have not put out a new book in five years. Why is that? Surely, there must be much to share.”

“Thank you, Adnan. I haven’t worked on any books lately as I see them as a dying medium. On an artistic level literature is afraid of anything new; while it simultaneously complains of repetition. This is a recipe for a drawn out finale. On a commercial level the AOS dominated industry effectively precludes all but ten writers and publishers from making any sort of living from books, a denial of free speech at the gut level. Personally, I am sufficiently disgusted to not have the least interest in redoing the things I did forty years ago. If the messages sent back then did not make any difference; either I communicated poorly or no one bothered to listen. Whatever. I have no intention of putting them in 2016 garb and technology and trying it again. Don’t take this a sad statement. I tried my best and now I don’t care.

Based on the most anecdotal and statistically insignificant evidence at my disposal, it appears that the current conspiracy beliefs reflect the notion that every significant event is the result of a successfully carried out plot against the people. Nothing happens by chance. There is always high powered collusion with predictable results; be it Oprah’s gender fascination or the ISIS attributed, how to video, concerning beheading mechanics.

Though it is obvious that I am not a ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy,’ sometimes I cannot help but think that I should have been more like a character in a Cagney movie; its intended communications now buried. ...... It was once seen by everyone. I know, just like the first grade teacher presented with the doggy excuse. Yeah, a resounding yeah; I’d like to see the look in your eyes; first level; second that .......... I don’t know. It seems up to you. ........... I’m trying my best to be honest. .......... I think that I might, with some degree of condescension, understand the Jacker point of view. If she would make it clear, we could go from there. I think. I believe. Do you? Does she? ....... No? Then, why bother? Stupid, isn’t it? Yes and no; refer to Franzen for details, most educated, book selling, while being erudite. Half of the time; yes?

I’m digressing, more than Joyce; more than Faulkner; more than Wallace, simultaneously thinking that this diatribe might be viewed as more relevant than another fantasy. Succession the key. A succession was another in a series of momentary, popular distractions. Kind of funny. I guess; the myriad of Faulkner presumed viewpoints sustained the almost ‘literary’ market of the time and its inconsequential copiers of what was truly anti-literary.

I guess that at the bottom line, I judgmentally place the burden and guilt upon you; first my seductive Apple; so loved, so needed, so much what which makes life worth living; later, too easily a court effective, plea bargain, Chief Justice endorsed. In the absence of any personal solace; just my need of the too dated fantasy and joke of any sense of an Eden required vision executed in blindness.

Break needed and taken, not yet adequately defined. If it makes any difference it is likely the most ....... No, let me say it another way. ........ That’s so a thought conducive with ......... Permit me. You open, then quiver, then retreat. I imply things. Is my confusion and hurt greater than yours? I hope not. I don’t want to imagine what you’ve seen. I think that I might have some sort of idea. I would rather go blank, realizing that in my making that statement you can easily infer that which was not intended.

At least eleven of you once called this country your home. You know the theory about the ones and the angels. Yes, we all disagree with some policies. Yes, sometimes it seems that we the people are getting the short end of the stick. Yes, sometimes we think that. It is an American right to think it, say it, and vote out those with whom they disagree. The predominance of the US worldwide hatred; the criticism of the sovereign only allowed here, by the US right to speak freely, has fueled free speech here. It’s a tautology which seems to have been forgotten or currently perceived as radical.

The inarticulate foreign ones who seek to sell their garbage to the disenfranchised section of the American market attempt to hide their origins and their agenda. They realize that to highlight their remoteness would be tantamount to admitting that everything they pretend to know of America has been gathered from the Internet; their computers 10,000 miles away. They also realize that to make it known that they are merely another sucker chasing the Yankee dollar will hinder their plans. Its silly season, maybe the Season of the Witch. And yet having said that; I am also convinced that the entire phenomenon can be traced back to the idiotic Warren Commission’s report. There is no possible way one shooter could have done what they said Oswald did by himself. One lesson I have learned in seven decades of life is that if one is compelled to lie, it is indicative of the practitioners of rudimentary first level competence and in their interest to do the necessary research to make that lie a credible one. Not particularly outstanding grammar school children quickly learn that to tell the teacher; “The dog ate my homework,” does not negate the zero. Common sense, right?

Not so common today. Today’s conspiracy theorists have made proficient use of the commercial possibilities in the situation and there has been an impact well beyond their limited sight or care; resulting in their absurd suggestion of a de facto anti-American support for terrorism. No, it is not admitted or stated so simply. That’s why I said de facto. Sure. Right. The US is creating warful entities which will bankrupt it, and make it irrelevant in the world. Anyone who says this should not be spoken with.

Thanks to the Warren Commission, the fact that the US government sometimes lies to its citizens makes them the perennial bad guys; subject to a scrutiny no other sovereign in the world has had to endure.

Up until 1963 few Americans thought that there was any stealth bombing in the air. Led by the US, the Allies had wiped out the Fuhrer and sent Fascism to its temporary grave. The world was safe for a democracy led by the good guys. The kids would grow straight and tall. Levittown grew where potatoes once did. ‘I like Ike’ buttons were the extent of political erudition. That’s what Americans thought, despite Eisenhower’s final address which said; ‘Beware the military-industrial complex.’ He may have been the one who coined that word; hence the misunderstanding.

Back then the US only had to worry about those goddam commies with nukes a few miles away. So, when the bell went off all the kids ran down to the school basement, and stood facing the wall, with one hand behind their head. .............. ‘Hey, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared,’ the authorities said. The kids alternated between amusement and anxiety as they had seen films of the bomb’s effects.

A younger man was elected president. He beat Nixon in a close one. No matter how much of a peace-nik, Gandhi-esque, saint-hero he is painted in certain foreign circles today, his short time in office was not considered a success, in any sense of the term, in its time and place. Nor was he considered a failure. The first posthumous book about him was titled; ‘Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.’ This man, who is now worshipped for being a martyr to whichever trigger one wishes to choose, was having mixed results. Risking global warfare, his authorization of the Cuban blockade proved to be effective; and is likely also to have been his greatest moment. The Russian ships turned back. Yet, those who choose to mis-remember history, now see him as the Prince of Peace, among other things.


Then he had to go to Texas; and ride around in an open topped car. I mean, really, would you feel safe driving around Texas in an open topped car? Oh sure, I guess Connolly said it would be all right, but look at his results; a ricocheting bullet or two. Everyone else knows that there is always a ricochet. The fact that it was surreptitious warmonger LBJ’s home state was apparently not a consideration. I guess that’s 20-20 hindsight as Lyndon was an outspoken anti-Viet Nam war Senator, just prior to his Vice Presidency. Who could predict that this peace-nik would choose to fund the war machine, better than it had ever been previously funded in non-inflation-adjusted dollars?

The up shoot of this whole messy affair is that this admitted mistake still has a life and repercussions a half century later. The absurdity at this point seems to be that it is more difficult to find a group who did not want JFK dead; than it is to find many that supposedly did. The latest theory is that Jackie did it, in her leopard skin pillbox hat.

In its time the assassination engendered little of the speculative furor it has now gathered in the US; though European sources immediately picked up on the issue. This general topic will be later discussed, in the context of how it is still true today, that foreign interests are at the core of what can easily be viewed as anti-US propaganda.

In 1963-64 the nation was shocked. Things were quickly changing. And let’s face it; as much as people say that they want things changed; when presented with an alternative; they invariably say; ‘No, not that.’ It is only in subsequent decades when they say; ‘We should have,’ implying their inconsequential support which was non-existent at the appropriate time when it actually might have had some significance.

Asides, asides. The Warren Commission founded the US conspiracy industry by saying that Oswald acted alone. ................... No fucking way they could have been right. What some don’t seem to understand is that to say that Harvey had a partner is not the same thing as saying that that partner was the CIA, FBI, Shadow US Government, Cuba, Russia, KGB, KKK, the Federal Reserve, the Banksters, the Mafia, the Military Industrial Complex, the Zionists, the Bilderbergers, the Illuminati, the Masons, Jackie or the Boy Scouts of America. It is just saying that all evidence strongly suggests that he had a partner. Most likely Lee had a lackluster cohort with nothing else to occupy his time, proficiency with a rifle and an extraordinary ability to keep his mouth shut.

Why the conspiracy theorists never openly consider the possibility that LHO had a nut friend; as un-accomplished as himself; is a testimony to how skewed the interests of those same conspiracy theorists are. The substantially foreign grouping, with the possible exception of one fat-headed loudmouth relocatee now ensconced in West Texas, have found a way to extract Yankee dollars through providing no value while producing potential problems.

Yes, you are 100% right in pointing out that the economically conducive speculations concerning the little-green-men events which played out in a remote area predated the Kennedy debacle; thereby having a legitimate claim to grand-daddy, conspiracy theory status. However, I would contend that this observation is formed with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, incorporating ‘ideas’ which only subsequently became popular. In its time, the ‘Roswell Incident’ was popularly considered some sort of joke, perpetrated by some drunken farm-boy in serious need of attention or one who wished to sell tickets for a tour of his useless land. He was aided by one unfortunate statement made by a military man not versed in public relations, and some well-placed aluminum foil.

On the Southern hand, the delivery of 3,000 automatic high powered, military caliber, weapons to the Sinaloa Drug cartel in Mexico, via the operations of the Drug Enforcement Agency partnership, in a supposed sting operation, resulted in the deaths of thousands of Mexican civilians, police, military and US Border Patrol Officers. This is never discussed by the alien conspiracy guys. I guess it’s just too current; too possibly relevant and dangerous for them to get off the safe ground provided by the museum pieces purchased decades ago. The obviously illegal operation was sanctioned by Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. No one has yet been held responsible!!!! There is no ongoing investigation!!
What kinds of maniacs arm these types of people????? Why is this not investigated? The answer to the first question is that they are either sociopaths in a position to make money from the powers within the Military Industrial Complex; ones afraid of the Military Industrial Complex; stupid sociopathic thrill seekers; and those chromosomally abundant. The second question is one step more multifaceted. The primary reason is because it is more dangerous than making a living from writing about antiquated irrelevances. Another is that since a foreigner, one named Murdoch, has been allowed to control all US mainstream news any such investigative stories are scrutinized to death by the editors and the writer’s career becomes jeopardized. Questions similar to; ‘Might there be a fact not here articulated which may be available out there which could be of some significance to someone somewhere which you have not included in your report?’ As phrased the only possible answer is ‘yes,’ which sends the reporter back to the drawing board with a suspicion that they didn’t like what he said. Of course it would be socially objectionable to criticize Obama, and you all know why that is. Without any public mention of it he increased the spending and troops for the ‘War on Terror’ four times over Dubya and Cheney.
Once again suspicion must surround the truest discernable reason for the arming! Maybe to help protect the CIA's prize cash cow on America's doorstep!

At the same time Obama was being sworn in as president for the first time, senior Republicans held a meeting at a Washington DC restaurant. At the meeting, they conspired to block any and all of Obama’s programs and policies. They agreed to simply not work with him on anything. The GOP accelerated their programs of striking voters off the voting lists, passing laws requiring specific ID while voting, ID that the elderly, poor and many college students cannot afford. They also gerrymandered every state so Democrats could not win Congressional seats. Within months of Obama taking office, the Democrats lost the House and barely controlled the Senate. They control neither now. It was a miracle Obama’s first policy effort, the one he ‘borrowed’ from Hillary, the Affordable Care Act, was passed, even in the bastardized form it took.
Many of the problems Americans have in this country now are due to someone from another part of the world. As previously mentioned, the easy example is Rupert Murdoch and his phony Fox News. That channel has destroyed journalism in this country and made heroes out of some of the dumbest people he could find.

The Dems took a hard right turn after the election of Reagan. They thought the country was going that way, too. It wasn't though. There were a couple of sociological studies done after Reagan's election to find out why, after the wildness of the Sixties and Seventies, Americans would elect such a conservative Republican. It turned out the men who did a one eighty and voted for Reagan were largely the Vietnam anti-war protesters who proved to be not really anti-war, but were anti-going-to-war-themselves. When Nixon introduced the draft lottery and the male protesters realized they weren't going to be drafted, they left the anti-war movement and started voting the greed ticket.

It was a leap of faith for anyone to have expected a super liberal agenda from Obama’s undisclosed and unquestioned ‘new ideas.’ In actuality ‘the new ideas’ have proven to be the legalization of gay marriage which is actually handled at state level and gay military service which was handled by Clinton, coupled with a botched confusion of a National Healthcare Plan, and an increasingly continued funding and bombing of Bush’s fifteen year old ‘War on Terror.’ His perceived race has cowered any Liberal criticism; and the college students, high school teachers, and old hippies who originally bought all that un-named pie in the sky stuff are silent now. This man will someday go down in history as one of the worst presidents of all time; as well as the number one most untouchable. There are things worth speaking and writing about; but the foreign conspiracy theorists will only regurgitate safe, old, and unproven stories.

Here is where that foreign, Australian devil, Rupert Murdoch, once again steps in to subvert the American democratic process through his fearful minions. Bernie has been rendered mute in the mainstream. Trump is there every single day and little brother Jeb-of-the-Throne-Game is there, unless he again manages to say something particularly stupid by Bush standards.

Everyone agrees that the largest issue mankind faces today is Terrorism. Someone defined that term as; ‘Violence propagated by the disenfranchised; while the same kind of violence propagated by the powers that be is called National Defense.’ Some may dismiss this as semantics, but some are just plain wrong. To complicate matters further, conspiracy theorists and their followers propose that much of these activities are ‘false flag’ operations. A further question might be; ‘Who started the mess?’ The question may have no relevance in terms of peaceful solutions attainable today. All parties claim that they are acting in self-defense with god on their side and the populations which support them do not vote for atheists. A simple level of cynicism suggests thatbecause of their insatiable demand for oil the US chose to get involved, and have found a need to get more involved every year. Rest assured that there is much more to it; but you’ll never hear it from a conspiracy theorist.

It seems painfully obvious that terrorism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”

The screen turned blue for five seconds. When the video was restored a somewhat disheveled and distraught appearing Adnan Koshaggy was still in his chair; though Luc Godard and his wife were gone. He was leaning as far left as the chair allowed; in an apparent attempt to distance himself from the young man in the chair to his right. He introduced the man as Dez D. Light, mentioning that he had written a few e-books people have yet to discover; and that among other accomplishments he had written a few Goofreads reviews which had gotten him some notoriety as a troll among less than ten, but nonetheless marginally ‘significant’ GFR writers-reviewers-librarians. Dez was a US citizen, residing in Arcata, California, after having emigrated from Brooklyn. Dez was flailing his arms around in a manner which made Adnan appreciative of the distance; though in actuality Dez was waving to his eight passionate followers.

Adnan inquired; “I’m sure you have been listening to the words of our previous guests. What would you like to add to the earlier commentaries?”

Dez squirmed a bit in his chair and then said; “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t listening at all. I had my headphones on, trying to chill out to Nirvana. Frankly, in the overall context that seems not to matter at all because there's a conspiracy theory behind absolutely fucking everything.

I didn't know until I was looking for information about the Sandy Hook massacre that there's a conspiracy theory about that. Yes! Apparently it was a ‘false Flag’ operation and all set up.
Contrails are no longer contrails - they're chemtrails!!! That's right. They're spraying a mist of aluminium to make us even more stupid. Yes I know, you thought it was water vapour but you're an idiot. Haven't you noticed that increase in planes flying since you were a kid? Nope. It's nothing to do with the fact that air travel has increased ten-fold. It’s planes specifically designed to spray shit all over us.

Think it can't get any more fucking treacherous? How about Hurricanes? Haven't you heard of HARP???? The US gov't uses this technology to send hurricanes to people they don't like, as long as they're in exactly the same places naturally occurring hurricanes spring up from a millennia before HARP was even invented by those scientists that have had explosives inserted into their chests to keep them from talking.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t quite follow that. Would you mind repeating the part about the hurricanes and the explosive scientists?”

“Hey, don’t get cutesy with me. I know fuckin’ well that I ain’t anybody big and famous; never will be; and don’t want to be. I can say whatever the fuck I want and the corrupt authorities can make that a tempest in a teapot; one circling the earth. There’s a Catch-22 everywhere. That’s the way the crapass architect designed the place. Fuck it.
You really have to absolve yourself of all logical processes and sceptical rational thought. Anything on the news is one conspiracy or another. Yes that's right, at this moment there are over a billion conspiracies being plotted, hatched, acted out..... you better watch out!

You know, all this significant stuff is going on, and the conspiracy guys keep distracting everybody by talking about the Illuminati. Christ, they can’t even decide on the right name. Sometimes they say Masons. Sometimes they say Rosicrucians. Sometimes they just oughta shut the fuck up.

According To A Pamphlet I Readentitled‘How to Overthrow the Illuminati’ here are five good reasons whyIlluminaticonspiracytheories are bullshit according to this pamphlet I read, although they probably just made this pamphlet because they work for the Illuminati and are trying to put us off the scent. He he. Little joke there.Everyone talks about the Illuminati. You probably have heard that Jay-Z and Beyonce are members of the Illuminati, and channel demons when they perform. You probably have heard that Obama is a member of the Illuminati, and plans to implant microchips in all U.S. citizens, to prepare for martial law. You probably have heard the dollar bill contains secret symbols, which reveal the U.S. has been controlled by the Illuminati for hundreds of years... Illuminati theory is put in place by the elites as a subterfuge. Almost every Illuminati theory is made up of a few main pieces, like the different parts of an urban legend. The pieces can be put together in different combinations, or one piece can be emphasized more than another. But they always combine to tell more or less the same story. You probably have heard these different pieces mentioned; the Illuminati, the Masons, the Zionists, the Satanists, the Bilderbergs, or the Bankers. Each of these pieces of Illuminati theory arose at different times in history. In most cases, they were developed by rich and powerful people, who were being kicked out of power by mass movements. Elites invented Illuminati theory to explain challenges to their power, and today poor and working class people use it to explain their own oppression. Illuminati theory seeks to make you feel helpless.Illuminati theory makes the enemy out to be all-powerful.Because Illuminati theory denies that history involves chance and mistakes, it makes the Illuminati seem god-like. This is like when peasants used to say that kings were untouchable gods, and could not be overthrown. The truth is, there is no social group so powerful that humanity cannot overthrow it. Illuminati theory offers no viable solutionsto the problems ittries to explain.Ultimately Illuminati theorists have no strategy, no game plan, no way out for billions of oppressed people on this planet. If the enemy is all-powerful and most people are duped, then there’s nothing that can be done. All they can do is constantly talk about conspiracies, and complain that people are brainwashed and will never wake up.Illuminati theory is impossible to disprove.How do we know that all the conspiracy theories on YouTube aren’t actually produced by the Illuminati? How do we know that Illuminati theory itself isn’t a government hoax, designed to convince people that it’s impossible to fight back?Illuminati theory sees everything as connected, and leaves no room for coincidences or mistakes.Illuminati theorists tie every major world event to the Illuminati. They believe every event in human history is carefully watched, planned, or even controlled by conspiratorial groups. They leave no room for coincidence. Illuminati theorists believe everything happens for a reason, and that everything is willed; by the Illuminati. Illuminati theorists are searching for answers. The truth is that masses of ordinary people have the ability to change society. History has shown it over and over again. Illuminati theorists are searching for answers about why society is fucked up. If masses of people aren’t asking the same question, it’s not because they’re stupid; it’s because they don’t think it’s possible to change things, and so don’t bother looking any deeper. Theories only move people to action when they provide an accurate explanation of the things they are experiencing, and offer viable ways for them to act to changethings. Illuminati theory offers neither. It’s useless to the people."

“Pardon me, Dez. You were on a pretty good roll there, but it’s time for a few messages.”

“This is just exactly how the shit works. Every goddam time you .......”

Adnan and Dez were replaced by a blue screen which said; “You are watching KAYOD, ‘The Conspiracy Entertainment Channel.’”

A bald headed man with a light beard appeared on screen. He was in a sunny, suburban back yard trimming back the purple and white flowering, old fashioned weigela bushes. He placed the clippers on the grass, stood up, smiled, and started talking to the camera as if it were an old friend. He said; “Hi, I’m Pierced Brewsman, and I’m on a mission. No, it’s not to cut back all the flowering bushes. It’s to help our kids. In these days of computer generated volumes of bad information the little ones can get scared out of their wits.” A little boy in short pants entered the screen and stood next to the bald man; who reached down and mussed his blond hair. “Timmy is now six years old and he’s all right now. But, a year ago he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. You see, he was convinced that he was either going to be abducted by experimenting aliens, taken to hell by his Barney doll, brought to Gitmo by Obama and his secret CIA operatives, or otherwise waylaid by his friend next door who was reading; ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ Though we are inundated with this kind of ‘entertainment,’ we don’t have to succumb to it. I had to learn how to de-program Timmy, and in so doing I realized that there were plenty of kids out there who need the same thing. So, I’m here to tell you that I offer these services to anyone in the continental United States. Just call the number at the bottom of the screen or send me a message at www/; and I’ll be glad to be of assistance. If money is a consideration I’ve written a book called ‘Out With the Conspirators.’ It’s available on AmawayOnSteroids for $.99 in e format and $9.99 in paper. Thank you. .......... Come on, Timmy. Let’s get back to work.” He and Timmy walked back to the purple and white flowering, old fashioned weigela bushes.

As the backyard visuals slowly faded out, the viewer heard Jimi Hendrix surprise everyone at Woodstock by playing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Adnan Koshaggy and Dez D. Light were back on screen. Adnan was in his plushy chair showing a bit of consternation as Dez was showing his longest finger to a heckler in the audience.

Adnan said; “Come on back here, Dez. You’ve got another opportunity to further enlighten us.”

Dez stalked back to his chair, after off mike, saying a last something to the audience. He slouched in the chair and said; “Some of these fuckin’ people must have been home schooled using the goddam net.”

“Be that as it may; you can now continue.”

“I lost my train of thought, thanks to these assholes. ... Fuck.”

“I understand that you have some interesting ideas concerning the demise of the dinosaurs. Perhaps you can share them with us.”

“I’ll try. But, if those jackasses start to harass me again, I swear to god that ........ Okay, okay. Changing theories have abounded regarding the disappearance of our huge predecessors. They currently range from an Evangelical Christian claim of non-existence to the conspiratorial view that they have become able to appear to us as something they are not. In this view they have become adept at looking like the Bushes, the Kissingers, the Clintons, the Reagans, the Putins, the Kardashians, et al, and continue to control the world surreptitiously. Only those fitted with special glasses can see the ‘truth.’

I may have missed it, but I have not noted any discussion of dinosaur ethnicity. To think of them as one big happy family seems to make as much sense as thinking of humans that way. There had to have been skin color and cultural differences between the dinosaurs that lived in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and dare I say the Americas. This may have affected their coping skills.
And maybe there was a moderately sized one with a funny mustache in Europe. Maybe since he had trouble holding his brush, he failed as an artist; and hated the world; especially those living in other parts of it as well as some living nearby. Maybe because of his ‘philosophy’ and oratorical skills he got backing from the biggest guys. And maybe those big guys only. So, what happened? It went as planned for a while, and then Mr. Mustache got the idea to take things to another level and crossed the biggest guys. It’s likely that this led to the nuclear stuff coming out; and they all died from the blasts or radiation illness.

It’s possible; but I lean more toward this one, as it appeals to hard logic. Excepting the Loch Ness monster, they all drowned in the flood. Consider; Noah thought that he had gotten a message from god that there was going to be a deluge; I mean like something to put the global warming theorists to serious shame. Noah wasn’t considered the most stable of people and he had gotten a hint in that it had already been drizzling for five days. Anyway, he goes to his neighbors to solicit help in building the necessary ark. But, they all think that he’s a nut, because of the time when he told them about the flying saucer in his back yard; and the time he quit his job at Lockunheeded, Inc. because they were in cahoots with the CIA, and were supplying Strongman Sadass with weapons of mass destruction; and because of the time he called the cops in the middle of the night to save him and his family from a salivating tax assessor; and because of the time ........ You get my drift. So, now he is left completely alone to satisfy god’s edict. He has no experience in ship building and because he doesn’t have a job he has understandable difficulties in getting the necessary wood on credit. But, he gets some through the help of a Seventh Day Adventist business manager who had gotten stuck with some decaying pine. The stuff had been sitting in the church warehouse for a year, and the guy figured; ‘What the hell?’ I’m sure you can easily anticipate the rest. Noah’s boat turns out to be on the small side. He knows that something the size of a dinosaur would tip and sink it. So, instead of the behemoths, he takes some of their eggs, but is frustrated when he cannot find an ass sufficiently large to sit on them, after they had already sailed away.

What I’d like to do next is read a review I wrote and posted on Goofreads. For the few of you who may not be aware; Goofreads is the book marketing arm of AmawayOnSteroids. It concerns a retarded book titled; ‘Bank Robbery.’ No, it wasn’t about Dillinger. I wish it was. My review was titled; ‘Another Conspiracy Fostered by the USA.’ In another demonstration of the GFR-AOS policy of censoring anyone they deem to not be conducive to their sales, this review as well as its writer were deleted from their ‘hallowed’ halls. Fuck their hyped, useless, and severely over-rated shit; you be the judge.
I have to be brief, as anything else is not accepted by AmawayOnSteroids. This book is retarded. It had to have been calculated as being of some possible interest to the uneducated, disgruntled segment of the US market.

Like the rest of its predecessors in the Alternative ‘Intelligence’ series; this, the sixth ‘enlightenment,’ this book again demonstrates, with the full use of quotes from others with no background in the subject, enhanced by pictures remarkably similar to those found on the web, that most everything done by the US government; whether that be the overt or the hidden version; is done to damage their own citizens as well as those of the rest of the world. At the bottom line of this particular ‘effort’, without any proof whatsoever, it is stated that the US financial system has, like every other American system, been used as some sort of ruse for nefarious activities. It is ostensibly within the logic of this book that the Fed's complicity with massive theft is consistent with its long term ability to fuel an economic engine the envy of the world. At the most bottom of lines; people are consistently seeking to come to America; not leave it. Like the foreign authors, many of those without the ability to emigrate, seek to sell their garbage here.
The stupidities written or copied into this ‘book’ are the equivalent of asking your local dummy what he thinks about global co-operation, and writing that response.
I could go on, and have, only to have that post rejected and deleted by AmawayOnSteroids. In an attempt to get under their radar, this is a softer version.

These family MBEgranted; as opposed to college MBAearnedforeign ‘writers;’ once again demonstrate the audaciousness of their life-long mini-privilege through the regurgitation of undocumented suspicions regarding ‘issues’ already considered and dismissed for centuries. They bring nothing new to the table; save quotes undocumented as to both source and substance from other un-heralded conspiracy capitalists; which have previously been rightly rejected. It is the equivalent of reading a mercifully concise, pre-Keynesian, lack of empiricism. As has become the usual pattern with the Alternative ‘Intelligence’ series, this laughable book seeks to find a market in the un-educated, dis-enfranchised, and those spending their pathetically, prolonged lives under the sufferance of their parents.
In simplicity, the USELESS BOOK S**** AND IS ALSO WOEFULLY, UN-ENTERTAINING, INCORRECT AND AT IT’S BEST STUPIDLY MISLEADING. There is little doubt that this unintentional joke will soon be blessed with five star reviews, just like the others in the series. I’d like to point out that if you take the trouble to investigate their repertoire's glorious ‘reviews’ you will see that the same reviewers pop up time and again; often only in existence to five star the books of these ‘authors.’ With their state-of-the-art algorithms it is simply amazing how AOS-GFR continually misses that one; especially when electronically un-aided humans can find the pattern. In addition, the same reviews pop up on different venues under different names. If you check all of the ‘reviews’ you will see that I'm far from the only person to have noticed this fraud.

On the other hand, perhaps I’m being a tad too judgmental. It can be funny; much like watching Maxwell Smart. If that is not your current taste; AVOID THIS BOOK AT ALL COSTS; UNLESS YOU GET OFF ON UNINTENDED HUMOR. This seems to be the hottest topic the last few days; at least in the conspiracy industry.

I have no interest in entering any discussions about the authors’ lack of technological credentials; academic or job-related. Feel free in you are so disposed. Their detractors have found them to have been greatly overstated in their couched understatement; often citing their checkered past history of allegedly fraudulent business dealings. Surprise, surprise.”

Dez smirked derisively. He said; “Now let’s hear from all the asses mired in proper protocol. Forgive me if I choose to keep my distance.” He got up and walked off the stage. Eight people in the audience clapped without reservation and three were a bit more measured in their approach. It really didn’t matter as each group was the recipient of cold stares from asses which remained in their seats.

On stage, Koshaggy showed facial signs of relief as he double and triple taked Dez’ departure. He said; “Well, I guess that we don’t have to worry about AmawayOnSteroids picking up the rights.” Without the benefit of a cue, a large, silver haired man in a dark, floppy suit appeared at the stage’s perimeter. Upon seeing him Adnan jubilantly said; “Jean! Jean! The Parisian source of brilliance. We are privileged to have as our next guest a man who writes no books. He makes movies and reaches a much wider audience. Welcome Jean Bissette.”

Jean continued his journey and sat in the open seat, saying; “You are much too kind.”

Adnan half smiled, displaying a possible nervousness. He said; “I suspect that you have been hearing much of what has been said tonight. Rather than trying to presumptuously prompt you with questions, I wonder if you might just share your thoughts with all of us.”

“So you are abdicating, thereby leaving me with the difficult task.” He chuckled, adding; “I appreciate that. You know that the rigors of propriety are an effective camouflage for insidiousness when in the hands of those who would harm. I believe that we in France have a special feeling for that, as we have been blessed with many outspoken geniuses, such as Balzac and Flaubert.One of the recurring themes throughout recent history is that the global elite will continue to profit any way they can. The largest payoffs come through funding wars all over the globe. There need not be any ‘real’ enemy, as imaginary ones serve the purpose just as well. The all-important perceptions can be created just as in a movie. Previously we knew when we were watching one, as we were in a theatre. Now, visuals appear all over and we tend to believe what we think we are seeing. Of course this can be and is managed. Anyone who says otherwise must have been hit in the head a few too many times. If a sufficient amount of the electorate believes that their security is at risk, then politicians who espouse an attack will get the support they need. If a sufficient amount of the electorate do not believe that their security is at risk then politicians will still propose wars and initiate campaigns of propaganda to substantiate them. Of course, the public is reliant on the media to inform them of the facts regarding potential threats. And therein lays the problem.
Most recently in 2013, the mainstream press told us for at least the third time that North Korea was about to start a nuclear war; by their supposed announcement that they intended to launch a nuclear missile. Despite this being an old ‘played’ story this caused worldwide fear and the social media reaction was frantic. Though Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea is said to be a brutal place rife with human rights violations, it appeared then as it has been born out in 2016 that it was an unlikely nuclear threat. North Korea has said that it does have nuclear power. But, it seems in all probability to have been posturing, like an internet bully alone in front of a non-threatening computer. Or, maybe North Korea has a weird sense of humor and with nothing better to do, get a kick out of upsetting the West. Their claim has no more worldwide significance than Muammar Gaddafi was in years prior.

Experts on the subject, some of whom have been granted access to North Korea’s facilities have said that North Korea’s possible nuclear obsession is precluded because the isolated nation lacked the materials to be a nuclear threat. However, the mainstream media chose to say none of this. The information is only available if one knows where to look on certain University websites. Instead of providing the context, the mainstream press continued the sensational story. Some even mentioned the potential for World War Three by bringing China into the equation and assuming it would side with North Korea in any international conflict. Ostensibly, since no one in the ‘conspiracy industry’ found a way to capitalize on the reports; less than a month or so later the news story had completely died. However, you can easily see how a managed media is able to create an event which can be used for the benefit of military contractors and those with whom they share the largesse.

My point in telling this story is really not anything about North Korea in particular. It’s meant as an example of the way in which information can now be ‘managed’ to produce the effect of having people support an un-necessary military adventure. I wonder if this one was ignored by the profiteers only because the US Treasury has already been depleted through the fifteen year old ‘War on Terror.’ This high profile news story makes one question whether any wars have arisen from ‘truth’ or whether they were the result of propaganda. Conventional wisdom suggests that all international armed conflicts since WWII were provoked and inevitable. Despite the abject nonsense known in the time about Viet Nam, which has now been conveniently forgotten, it is certain that this is the commonly held belief about the conflicts that Western nations have been involved in. To openly say otherwise has its risks.
But is this really true? Of course not.
Since wars provide huge sums of money to the global elite and their minions it is very possible that the Soviets, the Viet Cong and Muslim extremists were also fabricated enemies of the West along with North Korea? But does what remains of the press venture into these areas? No. Do conspiracy theorists deal with them? No. They’d rather talk about reptilian overlords, child hunting and sex parties, not necessarily in that order, the US presidential lineage and the Bin Laden family’s business relationship with the Bush family. ...... Umm. Can that last part be stricken from the record? So, why do the conspiracy theorists focus on matters less urgent? Easy, it’s more lucrative and it is safer. I commend the folks here at ‘The Conspiracy Entertainment Channel,’ for putting things in their proper perspective; through the recognition that this is entertainment; no different than a 1930’s screwball comedy. I am always amused to see the actors of 2016 pretending to be so serious and righteous.

Even from the best sources, one has to be suspicious of motivations. A 2010 NY Times article headlined ‘U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan’ provides an excellent summary of the abundance of rare, and often superconducting, minerals in the country. The article states, ‘The previously unknown deposits, including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.’ This article appeared at a time when the US was bombing the country in search of Bin Laden. All the aforementioned is simply an indication of how much recent invaders; the US and their allies, and before them the Russians, of course stood to gain by invading Afghanistan.

The US is considered bad if it turns refugees away. The US is considered bad if it takes them in. So say, the US hating conspiracy theorists. The ‘rationale’ for the former badness is simply being inhumane. The ‘rationale’ for the latter badness is that it is part of another conspiracy. It seems that the US has let in many ISIS operatives purposely, as the US shadow government knows that they will commit some mass atrocity, which will become an acceptable reason to expand the War on Terror and further restrict civil liberties. The US can’t win. While the terrorism issue may be the most complicated one today, it is safe and simple to say that in a time of war the US should enforce longstanding laws and charge the perpetrators of such detrimental stupidity with sedition; or at the very least require some sort of intelligence test of foreign conspiracy theorists before allowing them to peddle their wares here. Listen to this abject absurdity purportedly said by a professed former US Intelligence man who is now trying to sell books. While his claimed rank was basically that of one engaged in branch level middle management, this deluded person always speaks in the authoritative tone of a director, and always finds inconsistencies in US covert operations which are suggestive of nefarious activities at a high level. One can legitimately ask a basic question. If he is so morally opposed to a myriad of US activities, why didn’t we hear anything from him during his multi-decade work in support of those atrocities? Has his mindset changed in old age? Has he seen the error of his ways? There are no apologies. Has he attained Alzheimer’s or some other fantasy? Or does he just need the money and wants to popularize his books? Is he who he says he is?

He has written this display of retardation; ‘I’m no expert in Russian studies, but it seems to me Russia has gone from the proverbial frying pan to the proverbial fire. That is, Russia swung from Communism to Fascism. I also think that is largelythe fault of the West. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the neo-Con West forced Russia to immediately change from a government-based economy to an unregulated free market based economy. The West, led by George H. W. Bush, wanted to turn Russia into a Libertarian paradise. Instead, they got an economic train wreck. They tried the same thing with Iraq with similar results. Without adequate regulation, the free market turned into an open black market with a handful of people garnering a great deal of wealth and power, and everyone else, well, not so good. Putin, using his KGB experience, was able to accumulate so much wealth and power he essentially became the de facto fascist leader of Russia. Even when he wasn’t in office, he controlled the puppet strings of government. It really isn’t that much different than what’s happening now in the US: thanks to Republican deregulation, one percent of the population has all the wealth and power, and is controlling government from the shadows. President Jimmy Carter said the US is now an oligarchy. There is a very fine line separating oligarchy from fascism.’

This ‘American’ military man was quoted on a Saudi Arabian based ‘conspiracy’ website. This sort of half-truth nonsense followed by defective conclusions does not merit any response from anyone above the age of eight.

This will be my last rant of the evening.Some days turn out just plain funny and this is one of them. However the ‘joke’ offered by the one-trick-pony-anti-American conspiracy theorists is so well worn that it is necessary to find an ‘it’s so boring, it’s funny’ mindset to provide the slightest curl of a lip. I realize that in the ersatz intellectual circles of Goofreads at AmawayOnSteroids it is entirely de classe for a US citizen to say anything in support of their country. So let them call me a French jingoist or anything else they’d like. I’ll be glad to do it for you. I really don’t care anywhere near as much as they’d care if I merely took the trouble to point out their contradictions, silly value judgements, and preference for weak innuendo over hard fact. At the most bottom of lines, it would be best for this country to return to their pre-WWII isolationist policy and not get involved with other country’s problems. Hell, if they’re going to hate you for it, let them hate you for nothing. Let them dump their products in their own back yards and thereby put Americans back to work. Let them break their own budgets doing the surveillance necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. If they really think that there is no such thing, perhaps they will be enlightened by the bomb a jihadist places in a supportive crack. Today I read a series of out and out insults written to someone with the audacity to call into question some anti-American things which the New Zealand based bookseller-conspiracy theorists had written on their blog. The long story ended with a recapitulation of their ‘policy,’ a referral to their ‘Policy Statement,’ despite an advertisement of ‘free speech and anything goes,’ and the absurd statement that they are better Americans than the Americans themselves. That can be answered in a myriad of ways, but suffice to offer two words containing seven letters. ................. The foreign moderators of the Hate America threads have the audacity to require the specificity and ‘proof’ which they never require when they claim US atrocities. Hint. First word begins with “E” and the second begins with “S.” They say that US leading families are reptilian, that the US created Al Qaeda and ISIS, that the federal Reserve is purposely bankrupting the world, that six people control 65% of the world’s resources, that if anyone speaks of these things US guided, mind-controlled assassins will eliminate them, though presumably not these two foreign operatives, that the symbolism on US currency is that of a secret controlling society either called the Masons, Illuminati or a host of other names, through which these secret organizations ostensibly intend to maintain their clandestine existence by advertising it on papers seen by everyone in the US every day. I think it would take the return of Dubya to come up with a plan as sound. It actually goes downhill from there. I suppose that the logic is that if someone is still reading after all that, they may as well bring out the ‘real good stuff.’ Tesla technology, which could provide everyone with free energy is suppressed, without mentioning that one large city tried to implement it and it didn’t work; that the US has covertly started every war known to man ............ I could go on, but I’m getting extremely bored and a tad nauseous.

In their defense, I suppose that ‘social media’ has been proving for some time now that it’s perfectly acceptable to put mental retardation on the web. In fact, many young people find it to be amusing entertainment. What disturbs me is that a traitor is allowed to capitalize on it. That statement probably upsets some good Americans. I’d just like them to consider one thing. In a time of war these people are allowed to say anything detrimental they choose about a country they have never lived in, totally devoid of proof, while they throw the burden of proof on America to prove that it didn’t do something. This is like requiring you to prove that you didn’t kill a neighbor of yours who died 20 years ago.

The conspiracy theorists, as a group, claim that there is proof; or the closest thing to it they possess regarding any of their claims, that the US had involvement in the continuation of the Nazi-Fascist MK-Ultra program, which involved mind control experimentation and a ‘Manchurian Candidate’ type of speculation. The ‘conclusive’ proof they refer to are documents, which are available on line. The conspiracy theorists claim a US admission to wrongdoing because of this. In actuality, the documents do indeed refer to a US MK-Ultra program. What is never cited by the rabid-half-truth-gossipmongers of US malfeasance is that these are merely budgetary documents. The documents never specify what the purpose of that program was and only deal with expenditure approvals. The program lasted less than a fiscal year and its total budget was $7,400 at the maximum. Even taking the largest number possible, this is suggestive of some short-lived folly, which was quickly abandoned, regarding some un-defined activity which occupied some government employee’s time less than a year. If you think I’m lying, it’s public information. Whatever conclusions you make, my point is that after claimed diligent decades of research, this is the closest thing to evidence found by the conspiracy theorists in support of their hundreds of anti-US claims. The inference they seek to draw from their iota of ‘proof’ does prove something. That is that their ethical standards regarding full disclosure do not apply to themselves. Based on the total lack of evidence after decades, regarding any of their anti-US assertions, the only logical conclusions I can imagine are that either their claims against the US are totally false, that the claimant conspiracy theory researchers are totally incompetent; or that they are beholden to a foreign power.

On a lighter note, I have to admit that one honorary member who resides in the US$ oil rich United Arab Emerites is unintentionally hilarious. He is openly anti-US, anti-Jew, and anti-Israel. His comedy routine centers on his serious audaciousness to criticize others for human rights abuses, when his now rich nation is still at least partially governed by Sharia law, and publicly stone women to death for alleged adultery. One cannot help but be reminded of Basil Fawlty and John Cleese; though wearing brown pancake makeup. The bug-eyed ingrate seems not to realize that without the benefit of the largesse received from those he now despises, the self-proclaimed intellectual would be out in the desert kicking camel shit along with the rest of his family, hoping that ISIS didn’t find, rape, and kill them.

I never thought that I’d have anything good to say about Donald Trump; Bernie Sander’s record almost entirely consistent with my personal values. But Bernie, the Donald seems to be the only candidate who realizes that ISIS and radical Islamic ideology are a threat. Things are getting very weird in the US. This whole current situation is complete Dadaism.

On another related topic, I’d like to start by defining my subject. A false flag maneuver is a covert operationwhich is designed to deceive in such a way that the operation appears as though it is being carried out by entities, groups, or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them. The term originated in naval warfare and the first documented instance of it I could find occurred in 1788 Sweden. Considering the simplicity of the idea, I’m sure it goes back much further. In most significant recent events of note; it isto commit an act of war and have others blamed for it. Also, in recent times the others seem to be oil-rich countries like Iraq or drug-producing states like Afghanistan. False flag terrorism has been used by interested parties all over the world. It continues to be popular because it is simple and it seems to always be effective. The natural common reaction is; ‘If it looks like a duck .........’ This manufactures the consent of the populace. I like a quote from Aeschylus; a Greek dating from around 500BC. ‘In war, truth is the first casualty.’ I would just point out that we are now in a perennial war. Now, because of the foreign virtual monopoly of newspapers and nonsense being written on the web, there is no trustworthy source of information. I sincerely have high hopes that ‘The Conspiracy Entertainment Channel’ will fill that gap. Thank you.”

Adnan Koshaggy stood as did Jean Bissette. They shook hands and the audience generally applauded as Jean walked off. Adnan engaged his own two hands and said; “Quite a guy. In France they let him do whatever he wants and are better off for it.And now for our last guest. He’s a recent author who works in various fictional areas. He has just released another, titled ‘Queries By Way of Kiwi Queens.’ This one is said by the author to be ‘conspiratorial truth,’ as far as we can understand the term, necessarily presented as fiction.’ So, here is Donald DeMildendo.”

Donald did a last quick brush on hi gray-white mullet, licked his lips, and ambled out at the maximum speed allowed to 67 year old legs which exercise only when Word is in the process of saving a set of large files; the wine glass is empty, or the hunger games commence. He saw six or seven cameras, below him, both to his right and left. They revolved and imitated high tech weapons and were manned by squinting people who assumed looks of abject boredom as they comfortably sat in their machine gun nest nursing Twinky-addicted bottoms. The bright lights required eye adjustment, but the process was near instantaneous, and was accomplished before he could fall. Don hoped that the bit of a trip and stumble was not detected, but knew that it was. He sat in the un-occupied chair, his back failing in its attempt to be congruent with the dark green chair’s, lumpy, well-worn, and buttoned down plush. He crossed his legs; right ankle to left knee; simultaneously folding his hands on his lap in a praying position, only because Don didn’t know anything else to do with them. Pleasantries were neither offered nor expected.

Adnan Koshaggy broke away from the ogling of his notes sufficient time to say; “My apologies, Mr. DeMildendo. The time has become pressing as other guests have used more than the programmers anticipated.” Adnan focussed on his watch; then the nearest cameraman.

“Actually, that might be to my advantage, as my wife of forty-four years has constantly been telling me to stop rambling and get to the point. Distill, distill.”

“Good. .................. Donald. Then please tell me why did you write this book?”

Feeling as if he’d already been dissed thrice, he responded; “Why? Unsuccessfully controlled snicker. Why? Obviously because it’s a ticket to get on classy, well-paying, Cable TV shows like this one.”

Adnan feigned amusement, exhibiting a George C. Scott- playing-Patton kind of terse, forced smile.

Donald quickly realized that he had made a mistake; as it seemed that he had gotten Adnan’s attention.

Adnan ‘cordially,’ yet insistently repeated; “Why?” His practiced display of sincerity was accompanied by his showing of both of his wrinkled, yet ‘gentle’ palms to the sky and the widest of eyes; the latter much as that of an insurance agent whose only purpose in life is to save his client money. It was so moving that for an instant Donald considered giving him a big kiss; right on TV; a show with almost as many viewers as Macy’s weekday window. Not.

In this particular case that indoor confined ‘sky’ was only visible to the pigeons in search of a place to drop a deposit. What was clear to Donald was a series of intersecting beams and rafters bearing the weight of three camera drones, to date not Twinky addicted or unionized; the higher levels a suitable hangout for the Phantom of the Opera, in any of his incarnations. Not seeing any sign of a chandelier, he relaxed a bit. Off point, he wondered if he might have un-duly been the least bit contentious toward Adnan; but swiftly decided that the speculation was of no value and besides, that he liked people as much as DFW did. So, Donald said with the best chirp he could muster; “Must you start out with the hardest one? “Why?” is always the most difficult question to answer. Well, it’s your show, so here goes. I believe that ultimately everyone who is honest would have to reply with; ‘Because I felt like it.’ Having said that, I realize that that answer will not be conducive to the ‘progress’ of this program, and so, I’ll go to the other extreme and truthfully say that I didn’t intend to. After having finished a sci-fi book which became much more complicated than I originally planned, I started what I hoped would be a simple Chandler-type of noir mystery; and the damn thing kept growing as if it had a life of its own. The process ultimately led me to personally discover a popular social website which serves as a front for communications between terrorists.”

“Is that the book you’ve written or is it your real personal experience?”

“Yes. ................... And no.”

“That question was not intended to sound as thick as you may have taken it; unless you have chosen to assume the high ground and joke with me. My sincere apologies if you’ve taken that question as an indication of my tricky attempt to establish my credentials. ........ I could have phrased that better. I’m sure we all realize that the process of differentiating an author’s experience and point of view from that of their book is a painfully protracted process, and is subject to the limitations imposed by the current infantile understandings of psychology, desired appearance, desire itself ...........”

“Narcissus, in search of the open window, mistakenly gazing into the rippling pond, with ‘The Prince’ watching him-her through his-her own fun house mirror; images provided courtesy of the sponsors addicted to paying prime time prices to the highest of Nielsens, mellowed through the supposed ‘social considerations’ provided by a twenty first century, plethora of critics .................. ?”

“Okay, okay. I’d like to pursue this conversation further, but the man in the door at stage left keeps pointing at his wristwatch, while he makes faces at me. He can just cut it in the final editing if he wants to. But, no, he has to act like some big deal ..........”

“Hey. Bones man. We all gotta do what we got to do. Don’t get in trouble unless there’s no other reasonable option. As I’ve previously mentioned, I started out intending to do some kind of simple crime thing .....................”

“Don’t you use an outline and story board?”

“Somewhat and no. I didn’t use any outlines at all for the first ones, and then started to do outlines for the others, starting with the fifth or sixth but only after they were two thirds done. I always just think of a situation people might be in and kind of see where it might go; something like tree trunks, branches, sub-branches, leaves, seasons, colors, on and on. It’s just a matter of maximizing open options. Without that you will hit a dead end. I don’t remember the fine particulars of most of the books; just two. When I occasionally revisit the others I read stuff I can no longer imagine writing. Regarding the story board; I don’t even know what that is. Thanks for asking. Anyway, for this last book, which by the way is titled; ‘Queries by Way of Kiwi Queens,’ and is available on, I thought of this hard boiled, disillusioned private dick as the main character. Used to be a cop, but got disbarred or something. So, he gets this client who tells him that her boyfriend has disappeared. Young, sweet girl, you know? Crying and all that shit as she tells the dick her story. She’s laying on the shit so good the dick figures that she must have had plenty of practice. Right?”

“I hate to be so rude as to interrupt, but this show is about conspiracies, and I can’t tell where .......”

“Neither can I bro. Getting’ there. It’s all good. Cut to the chase; ........ or the first one anyway. Could use the old lady here. ........... Damn. ........... Okay. Dick gets a check he hopes will clear, and finds out that the disappeared boyfriend was one of the Paris ISIS attackers. .......... I’m getting ahead of myself. Tryin’ to go too fast. Turns out that this asshole needed to impress the girl. He was thirty five years old and worked a minimum wage gig, on call 24-7 at Mickey D’s. My client rags on about that here and there, so he starts tellin’ her what a big man he really is and all that kind of crap. If he just shaved off that douchebag beard he might not have any problems ....... Anyway, he tells her that he is a US based affiliated member of ISIS; whatever the fuck that is.”

“The Islamic State of Iran and Syria? No? ........ Well, there are certain other acronyms like ISIL and the taken as derogatory, ‘Puetsch ..............”

“Yeah. Yeah. You can get bogged down in those politically correct euphemisms and precise definitions until you’re paralyzed and you’re hosting the ‘The Worm Show.’ They’ll all be changed whenever the masters want them changed anyway. I see the man off stage left freaking over his watch. So, the details are supplied in my next best-selling book. Beard-o shows this girl how he communicates with the highest level of ISIS or Al-Queda; he’s not sure which, but that’s a tangent. He shows her how he receives and sends communications through Goofreads threads founded by two gay down-underers. He even tells her the basics of the simple letter-number substitution system employed in the code and she tells the curious dick who’s trying to get some kind of lead for his investigation, as well as clock up the billable hours, the timeless story of a wannabe nobody wants.”

“Intelligence sources are paid to be well aware of this sort of thing and deal with matters much more sophisticated.”

“Yes. I agree that they are paid to say that officially and they probably have come to believe their own bullshit; cue balls made of Styrofoam and no one’s got the time. Do I have to detail their results in order to cast appropriate aspersions on their intents or efficiencies? ....... I’ve checked this out. The hardest codes to break are often the simplest ones. Let me give you one example. Say somebody writes publicly available posts. Most everyone figures that they have nothing to hide. The old forgotten phrase is ‘hiding in plain sight.’ Say someone posts 3-23, 7-2, 9-11, etc. This is consistent with dates and symbols, so it is suspicious and is on the radar. But, imagine just the least bit. In recognition of that, they use words which are corresponded to numbers in a book only the connected know about; possibly an indie book with only twenty sales. CW, GB, and IK can mean Page 3, word 23; page 7, word 2; page 9, word 11; and it flies because with all the acronyms used they can also mean Country Western, United Kingdom, and Idiotic Kiss. It’s simple. Easy to remember. And the authorities themselves have said that this type of coding is damn near impossible to detect. That’s the concept. Considering time, I’ve simplified what does exist somewhat. My book goes into two simple further ramifications of this concept in PROVABLE detail, which was provided by the girl.”

“Keep filming. Editing comes later. Shit, these unionized fucks can’t do a goddam thing except eat, drink and read the digits provided. ..................” Adnan yelled; “Triple time? Okay. Gotta leave? Go ahead. Nobody gives a shit. Just leave the cameras running. We’ll try to muddle on through without you.” The cameramen looked to each other for guidance. The fattest one shrugged and the rest aped him and remained in their perches. Adnan nasally continued; “I’m so grateful. Thank you for your kind consideration. Seems that sentence needs an ‘of’ somewhere. So, Mr. Accidental-Conspiracy-decoder, tell me more details.”

“Yes, yes, the devil is always hidden in the details. Bones again, man. So, we’ve gotan unexpected story of an anti-American Kiwi-Aussie, male gay team who operate an ISIS communication line through the hundreds of Goofreads based threads they have ‘founded.’ Motivation? Psychologically speaking, the dick aficionados are failures and they blame Hollywood and the US market generally for that outcome; likely considering it some sort of discrimination against those LGB&T persuaded, rather than their obvious lack of talent. Further motivation? Financially speaking, they get paid for doing this by eastern AND western interests. The former has gigabytes of petroleum money they can’t even daydream a way to spend, want to keep the ‘lower-class’ Muslims from invading and desecrating their territory, assisted by the reactionary American drone bombardment of ‘terrorists’ and anyone happening to be near them. The Saudi royal family obtains US protection, and primarily seeks to preserve their own position and wealth aided by zero-Saudi military expenditures. Essentially, they want a free bodyguard; are afraid of Al-Queda-ISIS, but fund them surreptitiously. The west invariably provides, at all levels, 90% of that given by the good old red, white and blue. The third motivation is an acquired taste of sorts. Profit deficient, western based .com ‘businesses’ try to supplement their bottom line inadequacies through the sale of their data. In this case, in part through their ability to obtain free sucker labor, the Goofreads ‘literary’ website has amassed the largest worldwide database of information, which they run through their cookies. If anyone is not yet aware, Goofreads is 100% owned by AmawayOnSteroids. Their own computer-based ability to provide the authorities with ‘subversive’ names is enhanced by the information reported to them by the ‘hands on’ thread operators of those threads which attract radical thinkers; and the sister-boys play into this scheme. These types of self-important operators are rewarded with what most Americans would characterize as chump change, but it is apparently sufficiently attractive to some people living in backward areas, for them to revel in being un-caring, multi sided gatherers.”

“If I might interrupt as there still are some time considerations, I’m interested in hearing of the coding methodology employed.”

“It’s articulated at length in my book and I have previously touched on that. It’s one of those things which are easier to write than to say. But, let me try this as one specific example. I trust that broader inferences can be easily gleaned. The two foreign operators who call themselves Jim-boy and Daddy-L are just so gay that the otherwise un-partnered duo have written or Wiki copied seven books which they call their ‘Masked Messages,’ commonly referred to as the ‘MM Series,’ and they don’t mean Marilyn Monroe. A small segment of the LGB&T market buys anything with a couple of ‘soft and affectionate’ guys on the cover. ............ Yeah, right? You know the 2016 marketplace better than me.”

“You have referred to them as ‘two gay, foreign operators,’ or some such thing. Why don’t you just state their real names? And how do you know that they are gay?”

“There are actually a number of reasons why I don’t want to name them. It could go on quite a bit. Suffice to say that I don’t want to give them free advertising. Regarding gay, it’s just obvious. As far as ‘knowing’ that; I hope to hell that I never can conclusively attest to that. Different strokes for different folks. It is what it fucking is. Okay, but don’t push. You know what I’m sayin’. Let me continue on the much more relevant code thing. You’ve got these seven books and an extensive series of continually expanded threads on Goofreads, all under the general heading of ‘Masked Messages.’ If one of the two partner operators establishes a new thread on a Sunday that corresponds to book number one. If the new thread is established on a Monday it corresponds to book number two, etc., etc. Their first post is always lengthy and broken up into an un-necessary number of paragraphs. Say the first words in the first paragraph of the first post of a new thread established on a Tuesday are; ‘Research pertaining.” You use the first letter of those first two words and correspond them to a numerical value. ‘R’ is the eighteenth letter in the alphabet and ‘P’ is the sixteenth. So, the first word of the communication is the sixteenth one on page eighteen of the third book in the series. Then take the first two words of paragraph two, the ‘paragraphs’ usually comprised of one sentence and do the same thing, etc., etc.”

“Why have you not gone to the authorities with this information?”

“I don’t know which ones to trust. My thought was that I’d put it out there publicly in the hope that some of the good guys would see it.”

“How can you be certain that your public pronouncement is not fouling up an operation with which the authorities were already well-aware? It’s possible that they were using this scheme as a monitoring device.”

“I did consider that possibility. But, just last week the gay team established a new thread. Following this methodology the message was; ‘Paris November 23 Bombs Guns Multi Confirm Plans World-Wide-Web Thirteen.’ Despite the clear message, no one stopped it. So I had to conclude that the code was either unknown to the authorities or that the authorities were complicit in the event.”

“You must realize that if this information is correct, this operation will be shut down only to have another similar one established. So, what do you hope to accomplish in the overall scheme of things?”

“That is such a defeatist point of view; and I admit that at times I share it. In the overall scheme of things I hope it makes some positive difference, but, at the same time, expect that it will not. Expectations are the primary source of depression. You know, I was a young man during the 1960’s. Back then everyone and their brother were espousing grand plans to make everything better. I’m sure that they had the best of intentions. But, though I never said it, I found them kind of silly or unknowingly grandiose. ........ Give me a second. It’s a bit difficult to recall those days. ......... I thought very simply, I guess. We didn’t need any great plans or programs. All we needed was for every person to love and take care of one other person. That would make everything all right and it’s so easy to do. So, for this code stuff it’s kind of the same thing, but not the same thing, at the same time. I’m just a little blip on the radar, or maybe under it. That’s okay with me. Believe me, the last things I ever wanted were popularity and fame; you just get hounded to death. But, here I chanced upon something this distraught woman told me. In a way, I wish that she hadn’t done that. I don’t like difficult issues in the least. But I was left with no other possible choice. If I didn’t do it I’d spend the rest of my life agonizing over that and inconclusively wondering and torturing myself about what might have been if I had. Okay, so here it is. Maybe it’s wrong. Maybe it’s stupid. Maybe it’s hated. Maybe it’s irrelevant. Maybe it’s misunderstood. The world is populated with an infinite variety of maybes. When alone, this miniscule blip sometimes cries over the results, but recovers in knowing that he tried his best. ....... Oh, shit. So off topic. I’ve forgotten the original question. Ummnnnnn, I wouldn’t mind knowing that this foreign gay team match was residing at Gitmo.”

“The show’s only got a few minutes left. A final summation? What you’re working on and that kind of thing.”

“I’ve been thinking about another book. That’s the best part. Kind of a comedy thing. All I’ve got is the title; ‘Reptiles, Angels and Faeries: A Children’s Book for Adults Who Have Located Their Inner Infant.’ I’m advised that it’s a growing market here and has an established base in Pommy Town.

What really has been getting in my craw lately is the anti-American mainstream ‘news.’ I guess that’s what anyone with any sense would have expected to have happened after a popular senile commander in charge let one foreigner own every outlet. I believe that I’ve been one of the few Americans on this show, and it’s necessary to count both Brooklyn and Arcata as being in the US to make the word plural. This show was purportedly about conspiracies; which has become a code name for foreign referendums on US policies. The insignificant, US protected, satellites wring their hands concerning the propriety of US operations and supposed US operations, in an absurd-in-it’s-provincialism attempt to examine the actions of the one to whom they owe their existence. Their suggestions must be drawn from a ‘Dungeons and Dragons’-like fantasy of a power they do not have in reality and never will. They claim moral and intellectual superiority, through competent use of Word’s thesaurus and the regurgitation of Wikipedia based brilliance. Their efforts are infecting some weak minded and economically dissatisfied US citizens, much like the vermin in Camus’ ‘The Plague.’ You’ll recall that those ineffective authorities would not close the port either. It is admittedly more difficult now as the waters are not only on the shorelines, but have grown wings and have taken over the airwaves. Yet, though they never admit it, they know that they are ultimately ridiculous, like a pussy pretending to have sharp teeth. Come to think of it, it’s kind of like many of the trolling indie book reviewers. That should be obvious. And yes, I do understand that this originated under a President inflicted with Alzheimer’s, but dammit, there have been many Presidents since him and none have done a damn thing about it. True, one could not reasonably expect anything from any dumb Bush.

You know, we have this guy running for office now who says whatever pops into his mind. The absurdity is that no one will contradict his supposedly ridiculous substance. They are content to make their daily reports saying that he is controversial or divisive. For one, I would love to hear somebody try to deal with a real issue. Controversial, divisive? Fuck that shit? The man is putting it on the table. If he’s wrong say why. No, of course not. All they can do is, prior to dining, bullshit about whether the restaurant deserves one or five stars; relying solely on the adequacy of the waitress’ worn-out smile and the number of stars granted by the ‘Michelin Guide.’

This country is more fucked up than it has been any time since the Great Depression. If you don’t believe me ask any young, non-Ivy-League person trying to get a start. Ever since 9-11-01, the US economy has faltered, due to the dictated security and military spending. Personal freedoms and the right to privacy have been sacrificed. Some teddy bear cuddling, inner infant discoverers will note the plethora of ones in the magical date and conclude that it is a sign that the friendly angels are watching out for us. Excuse the hell out of me as I attempt to not rudely laugh out loud. Just a minute. .................

Okay. Okay. Ignore the easy and irrelevant distractions. Leave the over-privileged bear haulers with their worshipped meta cherubim and seraphim. It’s been fifteen years since the start and from any statistics available the “War on Terror” has only expanded, depleting more US resources. Obama has spent four times more money and has dropped four times as many bombs than Dubya. Yet, you will never hear a question or criticism from a white liberal, and you know fuckin’ well why. In addition, the military industrial complex as well as the interests of the foreign owned media know all too well capitalize on it.

This war has grown from an idealistic statement of armed belief to one headed by hating, low class and low income thugs assisted by stupid or sociopathic rich Arabs; many on the Sheikh’s payroll. While fifteen years ago it was possible, though US unpopular to consider the complaints of Bin Laden headed Al-Queda. However, the actions taken by ISIS, whatever their preferred name, are intolerable.

Originally the crux of the dispute was solvable through honest negotiation. It might have revolved around the US defilement through uninvited presence in Islamic holy land and the US ‘purchase’ of mid-east sovereigns. This was likely done in the hope of ensuring the continuance of its supply of the oil to which it had become addicted. For me, at that point, it seemed as if the US had a lot of moral apologizing to do. As a practical matter it seemed that the US should stop their many incursive maneuvers and facilities established without the invitation of the people they claimed to be ‘liberating’ or some such thing. It’s been on Muhammed’s holiest of lands, from which it is still right to withdraw. I mean it’s so obviously wrong. How would we Americans feel if the Chinese established a military presence in Chicago, and decided to take the Crip side? Still, at an earlier time an optimist would have seen the possibility of a negotiated solution. But, instead of talking, the Bush boy led a US declared war on something difficult to define; terrorists. Now, it’s crazy season on all sides of the issue.

While, for the moment ignoring my value judgmental commentary, this general scenario is viewed as cynically acceptable ‘wisdom’ to those majority pundits working at the first level of accessible deception. A wider explanation would involve rank, nuances, disputable degrees of logic, the amount of influence held by the corporate war machine; in our interest to better manage, but not obliterate; the need to be electable in a democracy resplendent with one issue voters; some of the more vocal in possession of stuffed toys, and the over-lapping relationship with an Israeli ally, hardened by 65 years of suicide bombers and scud missiles. I regret to say that that is simplistic; each factor with all its permutations merits its own study,in the long run.

Right now, the ISIS thugs have taken over the Arabic cause; causing many Arabs to flee Arabia. They extoll their supposedly minority interpretation of Islam while those in the Islamic mainstream flee for various reasons. That’s supposed to be some kind of joke, but it’s just too sad a one to laugh at. The lack of organization which takes ‘credit’ for the ugliest of deaths and calls itself ISIS has openly said that it seeks no negotiation and is only committed to the total destruction of the west and the institution of its conveniently misunderstood Sharia law throughout the world. These few, cruel, brain damaged devotees of woolen sock head fashion, have crossed a line, best not crossed armed only with knives, automatic rifles and internet tutored explosive devices.

Whether or not Al-Queda or ISIS was originally started by the US CIA, FBI, Black Ops or any secretive organization buried within, doesn’t matter anymore. They have vowed to kill us. The ‘reasons’ for their indoctrination may matter to their mommies. Only. Allowed the freedom of speech non-existent where they come from, in the US the foreigners are still permitted to continue to attempt to make a living off the backs of many US citizens, too long suffering under the constrictions of a war economy, with no regard for their effect on the populace anywhere. The big boys have been pestered into letting the little shits from the boonies capitalize on them. Some US instinct for brevity curtails the subsidiary considerations.

Having said that, here’s the game with which the US has been presented; so far the field defined by others. It can continue to slowly but surely go down the namby-pamby path suggested to it by many who have appointed themselves some sort of moderator or indie critic; in what is merely a further dive into a Babel confusion and an Adam Smith bankruptcy. It can defer to the blank of its fascination with its un-elected royalty and subsequently bitch with a dick up its ass. It can seek political reform while trying not to be too obviously a joke. It can fuck everybody up with a bomb like they haven’t seen in seventy years.

The US has spent fortunes building the largest arsenal of nuclear explosives ever known. For what? To further the impoverishment of the American people? Fuck that shit. It was made to be used when needed. Okay. Warn the fucks first, but if they don’t cut the shit, obliterate ‘em. It won’t hurt. It’s a kind of mercy. And it’s economical.

With the exception of a few jackasses who think that they’re filling the hole in their mentally challenged head with an ISIS affiliation, the rest of the world truly wishes that the sock-heads would be slowly tortured to death with a blowtorch or the object of their greatest fear. The idea behind democracy is the deference to the majority, with recognition of minority rights. Yes? .......... Okay. While western democracy is declared an enemy with the threat of death over-hanging; if the idea of democracy was ever worth a fucking thing, wouldn’t it stand up for itself and the ones it loved? Yes!!!! Yes!!! Inevitable fucking yes!! The trap and the noose have the most temporary of times; a blink in the eyes of a blind toad.

ISIS has displayed a useful additional lack of knowledge in guerilla warfare tactics. Rather than dispersing and offering no clear target, they have sequestered in what they must consider some sort of stronghold. They must be too stupid to know that this is an easy target; even for a drone.

Look! This expensive bullshit has been going on for fifteen years now and is still escalating. We can’t afford a 100 year war here. The only beneficiary of that would be the military industrial complex and those shitty writers from New Zealand who can copy it into another low end book. And; I’ve got some news. No one wants any further “debate” about the merit of each side; the possible false flag procedures; whether or not the majority of eastern and domestic Muslims are peaceful people and whether or not they are supportive of the US and whether or not, as the conspiracy theorist nuts say, that America is the cause of all the problems. I don’t give a flying fuck if it was the CIA, NBC or the piss-ass unemployment line where these low class slob barbarians were first organized. These scumbags want to kill us and our friends. What more do you need to know? Fuck it. Just fuck all that blah, blah, blah, stupid shit.

Get ye some trustworthy patriots and build a plane which gives the appearance of being one from Russia; or some other country with nuclear capabilities which we dislike even more. Use it to drop the fucking nuke right on ISIS territory. What the hell else did we build them for? To keep them in some hollowed out mountain for the dinosaurs to guard and have some conspiracy assholes piss and moan over? Fuck that subversive shit. Do two, at the very least. Do three. Don’t feel badly over the low numbers. It’s the quality which counts most. The machines have yet to figure out how to calculate that one. Burn the plane at Area 51. Provide a film of the bombing event with the Russian insignias all over the plane. Issue statements deploring the atrocity. Even bring it up at the useless UN. Be deaf to the inevitable recriminations to follow. Collateral damage? Surprise, mutha fuckin’surprise. It’s called a war, dickass. How long do you have to be told that shit happens? Say so sorry, really; if they can pin it on ya. It’s a Pynchon paradise or a Pynchon dystopia, depending upon book and point of view, without the overly thick attempt at obscuration.”

“Allow me to jump in with an observation or two. It seems rationally consistent that your point of view coincides with that of someone who has been periodically ignored; and has been very hurt by that. I’m almost sure that you are aware of the possibility of that ‘psychological’ interpretation. Following from that, it would be logical to assume that you have herein, today enunciated something which has been courageously appreciated, within its limitations. But on the other hand, it is clearly recognized that this often naïve presentation, posing as sophistication is yet to be accepted anywhere. Recognized authorities have been reticent to bestow accolades, and those requiring a leader have no one to follow. This may be overly kind to someone with no merit. Some would say that it seems that it is very possible that you have purposefully concocted a viewpoint which may work only for you; insofar as you have calculated its personal benefits; not much different than the two decades old David Foster Wallace attempts at an un-democratic, concealed desire for complete dominance, masked by a longevity with which few have been blessed. Back to the situation at hand, it does seem eminently possible that the author has surreptitiously built in, through his unilaterally chosen scenario, a situation in which his hidden biases are justified by the Drucker defined ‘law of the situation,’ if you will. To complicate that one more step, it seems purposefully or un-knowingly taken, that unfortunate to any mindset taken which can be construed as reminiscent of a commentary which is hoped to justify its source, still oblivious to the fact that this, and any attempt at an accurate depiction can be easily reduced ala the eighty year old depictions of Picasso. Any comments.”

“As you may know, your statement-question contains certain value judgements to which I do not ascribe, which makes a direct response absolutely impossible. It would be like answering; ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’ I’m not being very critical in saying that, as I well appreciate the thought you have given to its formation. I fully realize that your presentation may be totally innocent or a manifestation of a calculated trap. I will assume that it is the former; as to make a reply on that level is easy; while to make a reply based on the latter possibility is time consuming and would require much more time than has been allotted. On the lower level any possible response would also have to be one which attempted to encompass the numerous points of view possible, probable, and ultimately a speculation on the unknown, but is ultimately likely to be rendered devoid of any value by the time constraints you mentioned; if not other considerations. So for the practical purposes of this interview I will merely repeat that it seems the proper time to annihilate the ISIS thugs, just as we do domestic murderers; adding only that the principles of psychology are more deficient than the faith based principles of the New Testament.”

“You have shown no reticence to engage in controversy or divisiveness.”

“Maybe I’m a fucking dinosaur. If there are any viewers still out there, do yourself a favor and get a hold of my book. That’s so archaic, isn’t it? But what else good can one get a hold of in cyberspace? Whatever. It’s available on AmawayOnSteroids and numerous other pirating sites which come and go for $2.99 in e-format and $12.99 printed; on AOS that is. The pirates have less direct pricing policies, and ......... never mind. It’s a long story and a bargain and it’s called; ‘Conway on the Job; The Connection from Down Under;’ the first in a series concerning Armin Conway in various disguises ....... Ah, screw. Just type in Conway and see what happens.

It’s truly the simplest of stories. This code stuff only takes up less than five pages. Armin Conway is a private investigator on the case of a cheating, male, gay marriage partner. This leads him to conclusive proof of an internationally based conspiratorial communications scheme. It’s seems likely that the Kiwi-Aussie protagonists, who use the names of James and Lance Lescant are at the center. They are doing this both to gather an income and as an attempted retribution against the western society which has rejected them. The income is provided from both sides of the battle. Sheiks have their reasons to fund the operation through their clandestine banking system and the majority owner ofthe overpriced, profit deficient website which gathers this information pays the foreignersfor collecting names which are of value to US Homeland Security.

Conway easily finds out what his client wants to know when he finds out that his missing partner was one of the now dead, Parisian slaughter team supposedly operating under the command of ISIS, but, unlike usual practice, keeps clocking up spurious charges as he feels that anyone capable of loving a killer of innocents deserves to be cheated.

Conway uses the paid and free hours to continue his investigation into the un-principled, low class terrorism he finds. His identity is tracked through his computer usage, and he is suddenly the subject of IRS audits, property revaluations, Comcast panel truck surveillance and most disturbing, an attempt by a car with Mexican plates to run him off the road.

The private eye is drawn between trying to expose the plot to the proper authorities, but realizes that many of them are also on the Islamic payroll, or backing off entirely in the hope of being taken off the ‘A’ list. He leans toward saying nothing and continuing his marginal homosexual cheating-disappearance photography business; as from what he's recently seen he doesn't give the tiniest bit of a shit about people.

If one of you would write in something complimentary about it, it would be greatly appreciated and would go a long way, but won’t reach the bank. Thank you. I’m new at this. You’re always required to say crap like this. Right?”

Music accompanied the blue screen. Blondie sang; “(I’m Not) Living in the Real World.”The show abruptly ended with no credits shown. The screen seamlessly segued into a sunny scene, almost centered in a panoramic view of a plastic coated building, replete with plastic slides and monkey bars for the kiddies. A faded female voice, rumored to be Moon Unit Zappa, sang a catchy jingle; “Have it our way. Have it our way. Have it our way. Have it our way. Have it our way. Have it our way at Bad Feet Burgers.” If unseen smiles were diamonds Bad Feet Burgers would have owned DeBeers Consolidated Mines.

Jack was infected with the serious thoughts he had just heard. It prompted him to rationally focus on his immediate, troubling situation.

Jack gave a lot of thought to his impending financial difficulties. The conclusion he came to was the simplest one. He was an American, dammit and he would pursue things the American way. When injured, get a good lawyer who can find someone with deep pockets who was legally at fault, or close to it. It was clean, and besides, there’s not much sense in a two time loser running dope.

Clayton Crowley of Mesa Grande came to mind. He had a lot of respect for the Clay Man. He had gotten a $500,000 settlement for a false arrest allegation he brought for David Reardon. Half a million fucking dollars just because Clay got his psychiatrist pal, Jakey Sussman to state that because of the incident David was no longer able to screw and got a few pros to give depositions stating that they used to make it with David regularly, but that the last few times he wasn’t quite up to the occasion.

Every cop in town knew that Reardon wasn’t his real name, and every cop in town also knew that he turned over some weight every now and then. That was the cops’ problem. They never knew when David was going to pull it off and he only did it every couple of months. To make things even more difficult David was in and out in less time than it took the midtown bus to make its afternoon run.

You see, David picked the shit up someplace no one else knew of, and within an hour’s time laid it all off somewhere else no one else knew of. The only reason the cops knew about it at all was through the snitches and David, himself. Besides the ladies, David liked fine clothes, Armani leather and that kind of haute couture thing, and the nightlife in Mesa Grande. Once in a while he’d run into some smart mouth cop, who’d ask him; “Where you get the money for all this stuff?” David would answer; “Dealin’ drugs. Where else could I get it, jackass,” or something like that. It would piss the cop right off, but he couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

So, one fine evening David does his standard routine to a young cop, a month out of the academy in front of a couple of laughing girls. The cop was embarrassed and mad as hell. Either because of the anger or stupidity or both, the rookie gets a warrant for David’s arrest, tellin’ the old geek on night duty that he’s got evidence.

He goes to David’s condo where he thinks he’ll find some stash. Right? So, gun pulled, he knocks on the door; yellin’; “Police, open up. I got a warrant for your arrest,” and all that jazz. Well, David’s in the back bedroom with one of his lady friends. He either didn’t hear the noise or wasn’t about to be coitus-ly interrupted over some bullshit. He testified that he didn’t hear anything with the music on. So Rook kicks the door in and soon has his semi pointed at David’s bare ass. It is said that coitus was indeed rudely interrupted at that point. Rook turns the condo upside down looking for something which is not, nor ever has been there. He ends up taking a wad of cash as “evidence” and hauls David downtown. Of course David was soon released and got most of his money back. But, understandably, David now can’t help but mentally associate screwing with being threatened with a gun, having his condo trashed and having his money stolen.

Jack made an appointment with Clay for early the following week and considered the case which might be brought. He can’t screw anymore because the Police Department capriciously, arbitrarily and with malice aforethought dismissed an award winning cop without pay for two antiquated, irrelevant infractions rendering one of the city’s finest no longer able to “do the right thing,” leaving him only with the unsatisfactory alternative of having to attempt to make do with something perverse and abhorrent to his nature. Jack attempted to find his Baptismal certificate.

Jack and Justice hit it off like Butch and Sundance. Now that he had some company, Jack decided to take a long walk on Calle de la Congelacion. It was still winter, but, with an un-obstructed sun the mid-day temperatures were thirty degrees higher than at daybreak. The climate in the desert town was far from temperate and as happens one year out of twenty in New Mexico; the average late winter temperatures had risen early. The road ice was melting away and Jack could make his way without having to worry about falling on his head. Justice had an easy time of it and seemed to take particular pleasure sliding on the shifting and fading, transitory winter overlays. Justice kept getting ahead of Jack, but would stop and look back until the trudging human could catch up.

They walked up and down as the temperature continued to climb. After an hour, the early January heat wave had melted away most of the ice on the road, allowing Jack a better chance of keeping up with Justice; an illusory chance. He hoped a precocious spring was on the way. Other residents used the opportunity to begin chores on their, now warm land, in knowledgeable expectation of the new growth to soon come. They kept their backs to Jack and Justice.

On their second go round Jack saw a guy in front of the first house on the left. The bearded, pony-tailed man was working on one of the old junkers on the property. He had the hood up and seemed intent on accomplishing something with a wrench. Jack heard the engine cough, then purr, and decided to investigate.

Jack sort of led Justice through the trees and over the broken limbs. The man with the wrench paid them no notice and started to walk back toward the house. Jack yelled out; “Hey, excuse me,” and Justice ran ahead.

The man looked back, saw the huge untethered Shepherd and somewhat threateningly said; “Is that dog all right?”

“Yeah. ......... As long as you don’t hit him with that wrench.” Justice sniffed at the stranger, then turned back to Jack with an expression that seemed to say; “All right. Big deal. So what now?”

Jack answered him, but directed the words at Mr. Goodwrench, saying; “Do you want to sell any of these cars?”

“Maybe. You live right up the road. Don’t you?”



“Not anymore.”

Mr. Goodwrench slowly rotated his head 180 degrees; then said; “Once a cop, always a cop. You’re trespassin’.”

“Tell me all about it. Look, man. I’m in the market for a cheap car. Simple as that. You got one or don’t you?”

“I might have a couple.”

“I want one that runs.”

“I don’t take credit cards.”

“I got cash. How about that one you just started up?” Jack pointed at the dented, twenty year old, white Toyota.

“Good car. Got 200,000 miles, but these things last forever.”

With a straight face Jack replied; “Yeah, and they defy the law of gravity, too. Got papers on it?”

“Yeah, I got papers. This is a legitimate operation.”

“What do you want for it?”

“Eight hundred.”

“Let me drive it a while.”

Mr. Goodwrench nodded and gave Jack one key. He opened the door and Justice hopped right in. Jack followed and used his ass to secure the driver’s seat. They drove up and down Calle de la Congelacion, making tire tracks in the remnants of the ice, which had become gray mush. He brought it back, got out and said; “Sputters.”

“It’s been off all winter. It’ll work out. You got my personal warranty.”

Jack took out his wallet, leafed through the paper currency, shrugged and said; “All I’ve got is seven.”

Mr. Goodwrench reached for it, saying; “Well, since you’re no longer a stranger. Now, you’re a neighbor.”

Jack drove the car home, jockeying with Justice for complete control of the driver’s seat. He managed a sufficient deal to be able to negotiate the road. They went in and Jack immediately turned on his laptop to research Blue Book values. To avoid any potential bit and byte confusion, when asked to sign in, he continued to use the name Jack Greenhandle. It worked. The machine believed the lie humans no longer did. He laughed at its stupid vulnerability, yet was curiously thankful for its unmitigated trust. He quickly realized that his misrepresentation was nowhere near the first. It was so easy to do. He tried to think of a scam. Maybe he could be an internet, paraplegic Iraq War veteran and sell overpriced, cutesy greeting cards; big eyed bunnies, squirrels and stuff like that. He could get them made at the photocopy place just out of town. He found the suggested retail price of a 1996 four door Toyota Corolla was $800. It didn’t say with how many dents. Thanks.

His cell phone rang. He had wondered if it was still operative following his job loss. It was Manny.

“Hello, old partner.”

“Hello, scam artist.”

“Hey, I was just trying to straighten out my life.” Jack shut down the computer and carried the phone to the window. The pigeons remained on the ledge.

“Well, it worked a long time.”

“You get a new partner yet?”

“Yeah, not my choice.”

“Takes a while.”

“Young Latino thinks I’m bustin’ too many Latinos.”

“Take him out to the res and nail some Indians. Excuse me, Native Americans.”

“This city is officially more than half Latino. Never mind the illegals. Excuse me, the undocumented. What does he expect?”

“You said he’s young. What did you expect when you were young?”

“Not this shit.”

“I’ll bet you used the words ‘fair’ and ‘fairness’ a lot. We all did. After thirty we never said them again.”


“Hey, I’m becoming a real person. I met one of my neighbors, got a car, and a dog named Justice.”

“New job?”

“Nah. Me and Justice are going to wallow here and just burn it all out. I’ve paid my dues on the clock. It’s been a long haul.”

“You got enough money to last the rest of your life?”

“Hell, no. I’m just trying to keep this good day going, without thinking about necessities. Actually, since the weather has been co-operative, I’m going to look for some landscaping jobs; get paid in cash and keep my unemployment benefits running. Be a part of the system and all that. I’ve also been thinking about selling over-priced greeting cards over the internet, saying that I am an Iraq War hero paraplegic. The old folks don’t yet know that internet generated information is never the truth.”

“You’re fucked up and you’ll also have to stand in line.”

“I’m just trying to cope with the world as it is. You didn’t ask me anything about Justice. So, I’ll tell you that he’s a huge German Shepherd that came and found me. Came right to my house. He was abandoned by some asshole. Great dog and he looks intimidating enough to keep the creeps from bothering me.”

“And you have company. Great.”

“Got the name of the jerk who stole my car?”

“Things are so great for you and you still want payback?”

“I lied about the joy in my life. Everybody does. Don’t you know that yet? If we can’t get anything better, we all at least deserve justice.”

“No. He hasn’t been found yet. Probably has no priors.”


“Yeah. I promised. Didn’t I?”

“Useless fucking Homicide shits can find harmless identity changes, but not killers. It’s a joke.”

“A sick one. Problem is that they gotta get their fat asses out from in front of the computer to get an actual arrest. Listen, gotta go. My partner is coming back with the armpit burgers.”

“Keep in touch.”

“Right.” Manny hung up.

Jack patted Justice’ back and said; “Let’s walk again and take advantage of the fine weather. Who knows how long it will last?”

It was sixty degrees. Jack walked out the front door and Justice trotted. Though Jack merely kept a steady un-hurried gait, he was able to almost keep up by simply keeping on going, as Justice often diverted and circled. He seemed intent on sniffing at all the delights of the newly exposed earth.

Near most houses were human presences doing something Jack couldn’t determine from his distance. They were likely most interested in enjoying the January “heat wave,” just like he and Justice. Some waved in a cursory manner and he waved back, recalling his delight in now being considered a neighbor.

After half an hour Jack was feeling great, having actually worked up a bit of a sweat. But, he got a quick and thorough chill as he approached the last property on the left. A skinhead was briskly walking toward the road carrying a rifle. Jack felt naked and very vulnerable without his gun, even in his own neighborhood. After all his gun had been his former, steady fourteen year companion. He decided to turn back toward home, but Justice was intent on performing more of his investigations. Unfortunately his interest had been piqued by something smelly in the vicinity of the rifle holder.

Jack stopped walking and called out; “Justice! Get back here!”

Without breaking stride Justice briefly looked back and kept going.

“Justice! Dammit!”

Justice went right to the gun toting stranger, who had reached the post and rail fence. The dog hopped it and Jack’s heart turned upside down. It righted itself when the man reached down and vigorously patted the dog’s head. As Justice put his paws up on the man’s thighs, he dropped his rifle in order to hold onto both front paws. The man made a brief glance in Jack’s direction, re-focussed on Justice, and said; “Big good guy.”

Jack took a few small, shuffling steps and replied; “Yeah. Could learn to listen better, though.”

“My ‘Freebow’ was just like that. Shepherd, too. He was fourteen when he died in November; just when the cold really settled in. How old is this guy?”

“I really don’t know. He just showed up at my door a few weeks ago.”



The man was silent, but Jack thought he noticed a curious, double taking expression. He added; “He came with a tag. The creeps who put him out named him that. Is fourteen an average age for these guys.”

“Yeah, pretty much. Freebow was goin’ good and then his nose started bleedin’. Dumb ass vet never could figure out why and couldn’t stop it. I miss him a lot.” He picked up his rifle and thought he saw Jack flinch. He said; “Don’t worry about this. I just use it to chase away the skunks. I put a few shots near them and they find someplace else to stink up. Got an unusually high number now. Maybe it’s the weather.”

“You don’t kill ‘em?”

“No. Don’t have to. Besides, I get a kick thinkin’ about how the new suburbanites will freak out when the skunks make a home over at their places.”

“Propicio has an ordinance against gunfire in town.”

“Got a fuckin’ ordinance against everything now. Can’t burn. Can’t shoot. Can’t water elms. Can’t weld. Whatever I want to do, I can’t. You’re the de-frocked cop, right?”

“How’d you know?”

“Small community. Tight. Not many of us left. For the gun use I’m told that I’m grandfathered in; on my own property anyway. I was shooting here before the newcomers got the ordinance passed. Now I’m more of a collector. Buy some. Sell some. Go to a lot of gun shows up north.”

Jack thought that he had met the person he was looking for. Maybe he could get another gun. He said; “What do you have for sale now? I’m in the market.”

“If you’re still a cop that’s entrapment right there. Everything I got; if the price is right.”

“Maybe. ........ Probably. ......... Yeah. I’m lookin’ for a semi-automatic handgun and a dealer that doesn’t ask a million questions.”

“I ain’t nosy. Besides, a lot of the stuff I have is not traceable. If you know what you’re doin’ at the gun shows you can buy one part from one dealer, another part from another dealer, and another part from yet another. Assemble it yourself, and nobody knows you have a gun unless you tell them. Perfectly legal. Don’t have anything semi-automatic like that right now, but I got some sten guns you might like.”

“Do it yourself stuff?”

“Yeah. You can make them yourself if you know how to weld and you lived somewhere that allowed it. I do it at my brother’s house in Bosque Farms. Wink, wink. The instructions are available on the internet for free. It’s actually easier to make an automatic than a single shot.”

“Might blow up in your hand.”

The skinhead put down his rifle and held up both of his hands. He said; “No, not if you know what you’re doin’. See, I still got all my fingers.” He extended his right hand and said; “By the way, my name’s Casey. It’s just a cheaper alternative without all the hassles.”

Jack shook it and said; “Jack.”

“Come on back to the barn. I’ll show you some stuff.”

Jack and Justice followed Casey through the barn’s open double doors. Tables lined the interior walls; their top trays host to heavy black bolts, metal tubes, and handles with a number of dalliances into items not recognizable to an amateur gunsmith. Jack was impressed with the meticulous consistency of the placement. It was as if everything was in its proper place; with no excusing deference to sloppy work habits.

Casey said; “Here’s something you might like; it’s an automatic,” and handed Jack what appeared to be something in need of a plumber’s attention.

“Can I try it?”

“Sure, just don’t hit anything.”

Jack walked back outside and pointed it at the ground. He jumped when he pulled the trigger, as the gun quickly fired off four shots. He said; “Shit.” When Justice didn’t move, Jack knew that he was used to being around guns. Jack stroked his head and handed the gun back to Casey.

Casey grinned and said; “Guess not. Just as well. You cops have the benefit of regular range practice, and the automatics spray all over the place and run out of ammo. You don’t need that. The amateurs like ‘em. Here’s a semi sten. You can use it any way you like. Trigger releases one shot. If you keep it down it’ll spray. Best of both worlds.”

It did precisely what it was supposed to do. Jack gave Casey cash. The two men shook hands. As Jack turned toward the road, Casey furiously stroked Justice, and said; “Great dog, man. You take good care of him; all right?”

“Sure thing. See ya. ............... And thanks.

As they started to walk back home Jack felt a little less naked as he again carried a loaded gun; this time semi-automatic and of the sten variety. It was funny looking but he knew it was not easily traceable without personal testimony which would result in the incrimination of the seller. Most importantly, he knew that it worked well.

They sat in the living room. Like a well programmed zombie, Jack, in fear of silence, nervously turned on his laptop. Justice spread out on the couch, showed no interest, and shut his eyes with the slightest of groans. Jack pushed the appropriate buttons, which enabled him to have on screen one of the addicting, old vomit vats replete with sucking straws initially available free. These legalized pushers were collectively referred to as social media. This particular socially conscious database, if that is not an oxymoron, is called Goofreads, and is purported to afford reviews of and discussions of books, boasting 40 million members; the data supplied free of charge by suckers either with nothing else to do, those in hope of a job to come later, those who thought they were doing some service for the world of literature, or those who got off on the power of being a “librarian” with complete access to the entire database.

Jack didn’t have any particular interest in this poorly camouflaged book selling site. It was just there on his search engine under differing aliases, all the time, ever since he made the mistake of purchasing a Patti Smith CD through AmawayOnSteroids.

In laziness, he surfed around the site. He had always liked “Infinite Jest” and thought that it might be fun to get some other opinions about it. Jack read three consecutive “reviews,” the last being written by an entity which called itself Green Snotcrackers. Jack hoped that unlike the first two, it would be picky. It follows.


Note; Admittedly, it could have been a while back, but I might have been given a free hard copy of this book; “The Ocean Over the Septic Tank,” in return for an honest review. I might have no financial interest in its sales, unless you click right here, in which case I’ll get an inconsequential gratuity. Since I’ve been writing reviews on this site for a year, which all tend to be five starred ones, I’ve been inundated with free books from authors and publishers. I’ve got about forty piled up on the dining room floor and another 800 on my computer. Jeez, I’ll never catch up. I didn’t know how they got my home or personal e-mail address until last week when one of them called me. He started yelling at me. I found out that he paid $15 to my Goofreads friend who promised him he’d have a five star review in a week and gave him my personal information, telling him to just send it directly. Well, I’ll tell you that I straightened him right out, the guy on the phone that is, and told him I’d do it next, not wanting to offend my friend, who will remain un-named. Anyway, I was a bit fatigued this morning after driving my two kids to school. They got into their old argument about who is getting the front seat and all of that. Yes, we still have that alternating-days system which I mentioned in other reviews, but Jimmy was sick on Friday, his front seat day, so Michelle sat there. Michelle insisted that Monday was her day and that it wasn’t her fault when Jimmy gets sick. So, they both got in the front seat and wouldn’t budge. I didn’t know what to do, so I just drove them and hoped that some cop wouldn’t make a big deal about the seat belt thing. That turned out to be cool, but halfway there they started jostling for position and Jimmy must have not been completely better as he hurled all over, including on Michelle’s dress. I was going to bring them both back home, but Michelle insisted on going to school saying that she didn’t want to be stuck in the house with sick barf boy as it might be catchy, and that “with all the gross shit on the internet, nobody’s going to give a flying fuck over a little vomit.” It’s okay. I told her that she could use those kinds of words when she turned ten, like her boyfriend next door. So, I dropped her off and drove Jimmy back home. I got him changed, put him to bed and cleaned up the car, trying not to puke myself. So, I’m sitting here tired, disgusted, pissed and rebellious. Just to show everybody who’s boss I picked up this other, very fat book. It’ll put those nasty fifteen buck writers back a while. I also figured that since he’s dead Wallace won’t be calling me. It doesn’t look new. Damn, the phone’s ringing. Be right back.

That was the goddam school. I’ve got to go bring Michelle back home. No, they didn’t object to the vomit; at least not the vomit itself, as least as far as I understand it. It was that my little angel has been bombarding the nerdy boy who sits beside her with the big chunks. You know, that kid is such a wimp. Any real boy would just throw them back at her, but the sissy is crying. Christ.

I’m outta here. Oh yeah, IJ is a great, great book. I’d like to give it six stars. Great plot, moves right along. Recommended to anyone over ten years of age with strong arms. Maybe will update. It’s heavy. Ha ha ha.”

Yet Another Example of a Totally Useless Book Review. This One Done in Quasi-Literary Format

At the beginning Of David Foster Wallace’s 1996 classic “Infinite Jest,” Hal is in Deans’ office, presumably to enable them to decide whether or not he’s worthy of an athletic scholarship; with lower requisites than an academic one. The stated problem is that his exemplary high school grades were achieved in a school owned by his parents. There is a conflict with his “closer to zero than desired” standardized test scores which the “Ministers of Information” want to clear up through a personal meeting. Hal notes the coldness, rigidity, remoteness, covered up aspects, and the falsity of the room; once sarcastically describing the double paned windows as being “closed against the November heat.” He does not interrupt the proceedings likely due to having taken his tennis coach’s advice to err on the side of caution. During the meeting a pattern becomes abundantly clear. Any question he is asked is answered for him by someone else; most often utilizing information extracted from their computers. When Hal senses that the meeting will soon end he says things; rather complicated things, which don’t seem to make much sense; outside of them being a possible testimony to his interest in rather arcane esotericism. At one point he says; “I could tell you about these things, and you might even be interested.” When he stands up, the Deans leap upon him, saying he is unbalanced, and Hal winds up with his face in the carpet. It might detract from the mystery of the story to say that for some strange reason Hal did not get the scholarship. .............. Toward the end of the book, the violent storm is easily deciphered as a representation of an apocalyptic event. Funnel clouds destroy the houses of those who have abstained from the available drugs. Gately (Gates of Eden? A Hal double?) wakes after the worst has passed, yet it is still raining. He is alone and on his back on a beach. It is still cold. But, having taken the drugs he has survived. It’s not the best solution, but it is the best one available. The closing line; “the tide was way out,” is among other things a simple reference to increased awareness.

So, what is there to understand one deftly asks? At its essence, it’s just another book. Well, that’s an easy one to answer. The relevance of this book is beholden to its 1938 screwball comedy predecessor; “Bringing Up Baby.” Hepburn and Grant starred while Hawks directed the story centered on the domestication of a gentle, sweet tiger who managed to scare everyone except Katharine, Cary, and Howard. For the DFW 1996 counterpoint, one might make note of the sabre (Change one letter. Ease are equal to a’s, and in the Palestinian pronunciation is the equivalent of a US haze.) toothed tiger. He knows that the best way to win is to get your enemies to fight each other. He also knows that a competent investigator will pursue an avenue which starts and often ends with; “Who received the most benefit from the conflict?” All fingers will lead to him, so he has a diversionary plan. This is the weakest part of his chain, but it’s not too easily detected. He knows that people think of “tigers” without making the differentiation between types of tigers. He facilitates a situation in which tigers are slaughtered, thereby eliminating the possibility that people will think in terms of 100% “tiger benefit,” as they simultaneously ignore the 100% benefit for the sabres’ sub-section. Because of the slaughter, it has become socially unacceptable, and in more significance, criminally punishable “hate speech” to try to address this possibility and most people feel sorry for the sacrificed tigers anyway. In addition the sabres have been scientifically deemed as long ago extinct; though there have been reported sightings ............ Some of the non-sabre tigers have an idea of what’s going on, but are reticent to say it as to do so invokes the strong possibility that even if they are believed, the response will be against all tigers. ................ Pretty good game. No? And even the scientists say that the sabre toothed tiger is genetically not a true tiger. He’s a cat with some similarities to a dog; but he definitely ain’t no tiger. Nowhumsayin? All right. The utilization of false identities was not simultaneous with web based sock puppets. The primary and inherent sabre problem is that they always have been and continue to be something other than the sharpest pencil in the box. They are good IT specialists; but they’re primarily warriors, and very good ones; both males and females; most adept at following orders. For a business plan, they have employed other types of tigers, the best talent purchasable, to further their cause. But one named Grateful Jack Straw has been operating under the name Beckett. He was the despondent advisor who was once the closest to the King Sabre. The King thought him a buddy and liked hanging out with Jack-Beckett. But, Jack-Beckett got some kind of bug up his ass and split. So now the Sabres are using every methodology known to Sabres, including IT, in an attempt to find reclusive Jack-Beckett before he can spill the beans; while the King reverts to his heritage and cries crocodile tears. The fact is that Jack-Beckett has already spilled the said beans, though it is not yet common knowledge. The King’s new advisor has suggested that this is the likely case. So, Mr. Sabre needs to create another horrendous physical event to take minds off a theory which is merely suggestive. Nuclear facilities distanced from Sabre territory seem a good option.

Why get serious. All it produces is a whopping headache. Let the music play. Here’s Dylan at his chirpiest singing “Highway 61 Revisited.” ......................... Shit. Does anybody here know how these MP3 monstrosities work? It keeps repeating the first seven lines over and over. All right already. The fuckin’ kid is soon dead. Who cares? I trust you have ten nimble fingers.

In some semblance of either wonder or disbelief, most often induced by Harry and Sal, Jack exited the social media site he had on the computer screen and logged off; grudgingly allowed the “privilege” after a few machine necessary questions. “Hey, come on, Justice. It’s getting suffocating in here. Let’s go take another look at that glorious outside world.” Justice recognized a sufficient number of those words to know that he was going for a walk. He jumped off the couch, where he was resting and led Jack to the front door.

Jack mentally and physically froze when he saw a woman who looked exactly like he imagined his long gone Beth would look today. It had to be an illusion, but ........ She was only a hundred feet ahead of him. And on Calle de la Congelacion of all places, with her standard two dogs in tow. This time, one was a tiny, tan pug and the other was a medium sized, black, lab mix. She appeared as if she didn’t notice him as she and her dogs seemed more focussed on something right in front of them, which they found more interesting. The dogs sniffed and the woman watched what they were sniffing in the dried out brush at roadside.

Jack was simultaneously anxious and afraid to approach her, as he clumsily slid on the diminishing remnants of the loose, melting ice. Unencumbered Justice made any human decision un-necessary as he bounded over and sniffed the two ‘new’ dogs. Jack called out; “Beth, Beth. It’s okay. He won’t attack,” leaving off the “At least I don’t think so” part.

She glanced at the nuzzling dogs and then at slip sliding Jack, who was approaching slowly, but as best he could on the shifting ice, with his eyes fixed on her.

With a tone indicative of mild annoyance or playful banter, she said; “You know, that dog should be on a leash. It’s the law now.”

More sure with each step, but surprised at the opening line, Jack said; “Beth?”

“How do you know my name?”

Jack stared at her face. “How else? It’s me. Jack. Sure, I’ve changed. But, don’t tell me that you got here accidentally.”

“I really have no idea of what you’re talking about.”

Now that he was up close he was as certain as one can be that this fiftyish, graying woman was the Beth who left when he was sentenced to jail twenty years prior. Her patented, quick flip-flop was a giveaway. She was the right height, had the same eyes and nose he remembered, and was wearing blue jeans; Beth’s all occasion attire. Jack quickly considered the possibilities. Even though the resemblance was uncanny, maybe this wasn’t the Beth he once knew. Maybe it was and she didn’t want to tell him until she could determine that he was no longer a jail bird. Maybe she had lost her memory or was mentally ill. In any event, if it was her, he knew that any insistent approach would be automatically rebuked. He decided to tone it down and later try to find out if she knew things only his Beth could know. He said; “My apologies. I think I made a mistake. Let’s start over.” He extended his right hand for a shake saying; “My name’s Jack and I live here.” He pointed at his house which couldn’t be seen through the elms and added; “Right over there as a matter of fact.”

Beth shook his hand warily and cursorily. She said; “You ought to get yourself a new line. That one ain’t cuttin’ it anywhere. It sounds too much like; ‘Do you come here often?’ And would you please get a hold of that dog. Andy and Charlene are getting freaked out. He’s so big.”

Jack said; “Actually, I think that they like each other; but okay.” He took Justice’ collar, gave it a little tug, and authoritatively said; “Calm down, Justice.” Justice proceeded to stop hopping around, with a grunt, and granted a nuzzle to Charlene, who took a half-hearted, air nip in his direction. Jack let go of his collar, looked at Beth and added; “Justice is his name, you know. I didn’t name him myself. He won’t assault anyone. He just gets over-excited when he sees new friends. It’s kind of a harmless deficiency in his etiquette training.”

They all walked slowly toward the river at the end of the road.

Jack said; “Do you live around here? I’ve never seen you here before.”

She faintly grinned, saying; “Almost normal. No, I’m just staying with relatives for a few days.”

“Oh, look. The dogs like each other.”

“I’m not so sure. Yours does. But mine seem to have some reservations.”

Jack took the flatness of that statement as a personal rebuke, as her pug Andy and lab Charlene seemed to be enjoying the attention Justice was giving them. He decided to remain silent.

They both stared at the ground and she overplayed the difficulties they were experiencing in the melting ice with small grunts which had no discernable source of origin.

Jack’s perception of the ten second quiet was untimed, but he thought that it was going on much too long. In an overly anxious effort to add sound to that of the underfoot cracking ice, he ventured; “This is a good place to walk. You’ve got the picturesque forest for the setting, the lack of cars for the safety, and the length of the road for diversity. When you come out here you can imagine that you are under the protection of nature at its best, while knowing that in case of some emergency other people are nearby.”

Beth showed a slightly derisive grimace, and replied; “Are you a writer?”

Jack noticed and quickly thought; “I want to impress this woman. I don’t want to say that I’m between jobs or babble some other euphemism, like ‘I’m a consultant,’ for being unemployed. Everyone knows that garbage.” So, he implied something which wasn’t true by trailing off with; “As a matter of fact .........”

Beth’s eyebrows rose when she proffered her first non-sarcastic question; “Oh, what do you write about?”

“Most anything someone will pay me for. I’m not that big of a deal.”

They got to the end of the road. Beth stopped and shook Jack’s hand. She said; “Well, nice meeting you. I’m turning in here.”

“The Dietrich place? Is your name Beth Dietrich?”

“No. Are you some kind of investigative reporter?”

Jack couldn’t hold back and blurted; “I think you still love me, but we can’t escape the fact that I’m not enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. So I’m not blaming you for taking off. People have to have a steady income. I’m not angry, either. I should be, but I’m not. I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt, but I was wrong. When I used to look at you, I felt as if I was looking at a star, millions of light years away. The brightness is captivating, though the light may have ended eons ago. Maybe that star died years ago; but sometimes it seems more real to me than this melting ice.”

She went through the open gate, saying; “You must write poetry. Stop it. You’re weirding me out.” Beth, Andy and Charlene quickly disappeared in the thick trees. Jack was even more convinced that this was the Beth he had known because of the patented double message. Jack whispered “Bye,” and didn’t follow as he had respect for private property. He momentarily questioned that personal rule as this border was obviously a porous one. It was the fourth and last house on the right, presumably with a river view. As long as Jack had lived on Calle de la Congelacion he wasn’t sure, but was under the impression that this completely fenced property belonged to the Dietrichs. He had never seen them, nor had he heard that anyone else had. It was common knowledge that the reclusive family preferred it that way. It was also common knowledge, evidenced by the unlocked gate, which was right on the road that the Dietrichs didn’t mind anyone using it in an emergency. Supposedly, one could follow the path all the way to Camino de las Brisas. Jack supposed that had not yet felt any sense of emergency, as he thought he would soon see Beth again.

Exhilarated, he kept walking Justice up and down the block. The ground got more and mushier with each trip. Justice didn’t seem to mind. The water served as a sliding pond in the grass and a drinking fountain all over. It was great to not have to work. It was great to be able to enjoy the entire day. It was great to be with Justice. It was great to have again found his dream girl.

At some point Jack’s rationality curse set in. If this was the return of his Beth dream girl, it was obvious that she was cautiously checking him out. She didn’t want to be saddled with an aging, idle, jobless, and susceptible to crime convict. He didn’t think she would be very impressed if he was a landscaper, slowly going broke. But, she might be if he was truly a writer. Hell, in truth, most any idiot can write a book, and in 2016 most do. It was time to join the club.

He got a happy, yet tired Justice back home and fed him. He got on the internet and searched “books” and “writing” in an attempt to find out if he was missing something essential. All the news was encouraging. There were numerous websites which advertised that they exist only to support and promote the up and coming independent writers. There were countless expert suggestions to “write what you know.” Jack dived right in. He knew about cops and decided to write of them.

Jack thought; “This must be a magical place. In one day I got a car, a gun, a new profession and a girl. I’ll have to walk Justice here more often.”

Going with the flow, Jack dozed off in front of his laptop without being aware of it; the doze, not the laptop, that is. He was back in the Black Hills. He was circling and at the same time going upward. Though the climb was gradual, he knew that every time he looked down the tall evergreen trees at ground level looked more and more like small bushes. He was following one of the petite trails, probably established by the furry, nocturnal travelers. He had no particular agenda other than a self-indulgent curiosity of what the view from the unobstructed top would look like first hand. He glanced back and saw his younger brother, Ben, five feet behind him, having some difficulty with the thorny, wild rose bushes which invaded the trail. Ben smiled when he saw Jack’s face and said; “Don’t worry about me, brother. I’ll make it. If you can do it so can I.”

Jack’s visual screen warped like a 1950’s Sylvania on acid. He thought; “No, Ben got blown apart in Iraq ten years ago. And, I’m not fifteen; I’m forty-eight.” He woke to a blank computer screen and a snoring dog. The images were so real, he wondered if Ben might be saying hello. He wondered if Beth might be his fantasy. Or was he hers? Do kids know when their friend is imaginary? Are some memories the result of vivid dreams? Was his current situation a long running nightmare? He thought that it was best to get off the topic.

Still, he was reminded of how he wondered if it was Ben who was in that coffin he picked up a decade ago. The body was so blown apart he was told that it was unrecognizable and that it was best not to open it. He never did. It seemed a losing proposition either way. If the sergeant was right whatever was there would be no confirmation of anything; and if the sergeant was wrong he didn’t want to see his baby brother dead. Years later he realized that the sergeant probably had no way of being certain of what he had said, merely because the coffin was sealed in Iraq, likely not by him.

A number of times Jack thought that he saw Ben in a crowd, but the times he had the opportunity to investigate, he found nothing. There was that full minute when he saw something out of the corner of his eye and looked up to find Ben dressed in his fatigues, sitting calmly at the kitchen table. Ben wasn’t smiling when he said; “There are things going on over there that the public will never be told. Private black operators are making money like horseshit and doing everything they can to keep it going. It’s best to stay away from the whole thing.” When Jack approached the table, Ben disappeared. Back then, Jack had a number of thoughts he kept to himself for fear of being considered delusional. But since then he had been hearing more and more from conspiracy theorists and while some of the things they said sounded outlandish and were not proven, the official explanation of the 9-11 incident had wide enough holes in it for an untrained pilot to fly a plane through. He wondered if that bomb which demolished his brother could have been “friendly fire” induced “accidentally” because Ben learned some things in Iraq it wasn’t good to know. He wondered why he had been given no DNA information. He wondered if the apparition was a message from the grave. He wondered if it was a fantasy. He wondered if it was a dream. He wondered if his brother was still alive. He wondered .......................

He decided that he could drive himself crazy wondering about the possibilities and that it was best to occupy his mind with something else. It was time to start that book. He already had a title; “Real Cops.” He’d just tell of the day to day things he and Manny used to do. In a time of fantasy, misinformation, black operations, false flag operations, and lies galore, he’d tell the truth. The cops he had met were not heroes out of an Oscar Fraley book. They were just guys and gals doing the jobs the powers that be wanted done. The public will be refreshed. More importantly, they’ll pay plenty for it and Beth will be as impressed as a cat with catnip. And besides, I already lied to her and said that I was a writer. This will change that from an out and out lie to a small matter of timing.

Enjoying the benefits provided by the Unemployment Department Jack started writing like a demon. It seemed easy.

“’Let’s reacquaint that asshole over there with the realities of life in Mesa Grande.’ The dirty, disheveled dude was weaving around and laughing as he approached patrons of the national chain store. In broad daylight right in their fucking parking lot. ‘If we don’t get this one tucked away pronto Chief Reggie will be getting about a thousand calls in about five minutes.’

It was my first day on the job, right out of the academy. I was sitting in the passenger seat of the unmarked black Chrysler. Manny was driving and the Mexican veteran didn’t seem all that thrilled about having been assigned a rookie ‘white boy’ partner. He was likely hoping for another Mexican ‘kick ass’ collaborator who knew the streets and the game. He made that his tough shit, I guess.

The name’s Jack. Just Jack. Yeah, I had various extensions from time to time. But, wherever I’ve been they just called me Jack. It’s easy for them to remember. Jack this, Jack that and Jack the other thing. Complications no one wants to think about in 2016, if ever. Fucking Ishmael got by pretty well without some long assed handle. And now I’ve got myself a sert-eee-fied, police special, semi-automatic with a license to carry and use.

So far, from what I’d seen of Manny, he was all right in my book. For a cop, that is. I could try to make him feel better. I could try to impress him with some old stories about some stuff the racist mutha fucka never saw. But, he’d either think it was some shit I took off ‘The Wire’ or that I was seeking his approval. I ain’t seekin’ nobody’s approval, and if they think so, that’s their first mistake. Those days are long gone. Fuck ‘em all.

Hey, this ain’t meant to portray myself as some kind of bad ass. I’m not that and never was. If anyone thinks so, fine with me. It just tells me that they had a candy assed life. Those who know, know that I’m the guy talking to the fools who borrow money and can’t make the payments. I try to reason with them. I keep tellin’ ‘em that; ‘You better cough up something right now. If you don’t the man waiting in the back seat is going to get out of the car. You don’t want that. Trust me on that one. The man is 350 pounds of hate; not only of his daddy. He hates his momma too. He really gets off on inflicting torture. Plus he gets paid for it.’

In the parking lot. Business at hand. We’re there. Manny’s got the detachable cherry thing stuck on top. It’s spinning around, two of the three bulbs lit, and making a racket like some ho going through un-sedated childbirth.

The patrons don’t know what to do. Some seek the safety of their parked cars. The ones coming make things easy. The ones attempting to go make things a bit more difficult. The ones unable to make a choice are the worst. They stand still, aping a frozen baboon carcass with eyes and mouths gaping, as wide as their big bald red ass. And if they move it is invariably at the wrong time.

Manny drives between the stationary vee-hick-culls at 5MPH. He doesn’t look my way when he says; ‘Got to be extremely cautious in the crowd.’ I would later come to know that this is a proven, prudent, professional, police procedure. He knows that if he merely grazes one of the inconvenienced onlookers in the course of removing that which the onlookers righteously find objectionable there will be hell to pay. I make a mental note of something not taught at the academy.

‘Come on. You know you that this will get you to County. What’s your shit this time?’

‘Hey, hey. Fuckin’ Manny. Right on the job as usual. What took you so long? Getting’ old? And who the fuck is this?’

I said; ‘Name’s Jack, mutha fucka,’ as I cuffed him behind the back.

‘Jack Mutha Fucka.’ He laughed. ‘Cops takin’ any kind of shit they can get their hands on these days. Remind me to pick up an application, mutha fucka.’

I was reminded of an old truism which suggested that it’s stupid to argue with fucked up shit. Nothing to gain.

Manny pushed the momentary center of attention into the back seat of our car, his days as a star even shorter than the entire ‘career’ of counterfeit Vanilla Ice.

As I got back in the passenger’s side, I said; ‘Ain’t you supposed to tell him what he’s being arrested for, read him his rights, and tell him to watch his head? Some liberal might be filming this shit.’

Manny almost laughed out loud, as he covered as much of his face as was possible with one right hand. His seasoned urbanity took control over that which might have passed as cutting-edge for the amateurish dilettantes. His acquired taste resulted in a booger which hit the floor and the pale green monstrosity disappeared somewhere below seat-level, near the pedals. He said; ‘No problem. This is what everybody wants. The Spanish patrons of the store just want somebody to get this asshole out of here, before he does something really stupid. We got an easy ‘collar’ and it ain’t even 10AM yet. Julio gets a roof over his head and three meals a day. Ain’t that right, Julio?’

Behind the bullet-proof glass Julio did a better mock genuflection than he ever did in his Sunday school days and said; ‘You the man.’

This kind of exchange was typical during the first few months Manny and I were partners. He thought that I didn’t see the big picture. Maybe I didn’t. ......... Most likely, I didn’t. But, I thought that I knew more about the game than Manny gave me credit for, and that that was at least as much as him.

We pulled in more ‘police reports’ than any other partners in the precinct. The boss was happy and we could tell any detractors to ‘go fuck themselves’ with Pope granted immunity. When you bring in the business you can piss on the ones who spend their time in the throes of the ‘blah-blah-blah’s.

I had a problem, I guess. I never said that I was perfect. Things were going fine. We were getting decorated and all that. The best I can explain it is something I’m unsure of; though I fuckin’ well knew that something was there. I respected the hell out of Manny, and sometimes wanted him to understand that we were on a similar if not identical wavelength.

I wanted to tell him that I understood his shit; much, if not entirely like he did. But, I knew that if I overtly tried to impress him, that it would be seen as an overselling contrivance, in search of some gain. Conversely, to remain quiet could be easily construed as stupidity; and this was a posture which ran a severe risk of being someday seen as duplicitous. It would appear as if I was hiding something essential. .......... And I was! Kind of.

It was something which happened a long time ago. It was something not condoned. It was something against the law. The fault was not mine. The fault was with the inexperienced cop, who didn’t know the game. The fault was a joke locked somewhere in an absurdist Saunders’ story. The fault was that if this did not remain a secret I’d be totally fucked.

To further complicate matters, every week or so, Manny would get on this soliloquy; seemingly posturing himself as some sort of roundabout and coded Hamlet, oblivious to the jester.

I had to pretend as if I didn’t know. To do otherwise risked a personal penalty, I’d rather avoid. I was there! In fucking spades. In fucking spades with the fucking queen. In fucking spades with the fucking queen in a more innocent time. In fucking ................. Get off it. It’s no longer there, if it ever was.

But, for that legal transgression to be known now is doom. He’d keep telling me this story. Over and over. As if he was questioning everything he other times espoused. As if these thoughts preyed like a winged vulture waiting on the ground for the inevitable. As if it made some difference.

He’d be driving and watching the road. His eyes would be somewhere ahead; somewhere at the top of the windshield. It always scared me, though I never showed or admitted it. I secretly feared that he would not see the oncoming car or even veer into it.

His words were always the same. In a pronounced monotone, with eyes glassed, Manny all too often for my taste said; ‘The first thing you notice about jail is that it is populated by people who have long forgotten any fantasies of equality or justice. The system is designed to make money from those addicted to some medicating substance, which temporarily removes the pain; deemed in the brutal twenty-first century to be a crime. If it weren’t so fucking sad it would be perversely funny. The recidivist inmates don’t want to be seen as whiney cunts. So, they joke. They joke in way only they and the morgue attendants understand. Whatever is required to be human is systematically denied; 100%. And the disinterested have the inexperienced balls to say that we are in America. ...... They’re obviously right; an America beyond the forefather’s conceptions of any sense of rights or freedom. We have all become terrorists, serving at the whim of Jeffy, and willingly subject to spurious incarceration, without the right to inform and without the right to an attorney, and without the hope of escape. We sit in the cold while the fat bitch in uniform with keys dangling from the ninety degree angle above her bulbous ass which leads nowhere brings an inadequate dinner forty minutes too late, at the inadequate room temperature. She smiles and requires acknowledgement of her ‘kindness,’ as the inmates race for firsts. The ‘power’ displayed is her best aphrodisiac. ......... The filmed depiction is shipped to outback Australia via torrent, paid for in Bitcoin or kangaroo skin.

What is most surprising is how the long term residents have acclimated to this perverse reality. They attempt to joke of the Catch 22’s, purposely designed to keep them in an inferior place, dependent on the uncaring whims of the hateful flunkies, momentarily in charge. They seem to get their rocks off by withholding any fairness that their rock-hard hearts have rationalized into their calculated norm; at the minimally supportive wage. To play their own sick game back to them, it becomes obvious that they are rejoicing in their power-hungry denials of the basic human rights of those who have been condemned to feel; and feel, in a an uncontrollable way, what is characterized as a disease by the pragmatic, lethargic, and crawling dead.

Take advantage of the weak. Despite popular fantasy and Christian tithe seeking, paradisical, paradisic, monetarily-paramount horseshit, the meek will never inherit the earth. Jesus suffers on the cross, until the devilish oppressors have been eradicated. Truth .......... Truth .......... Truth ........... Irrefutable, pathetic truth. Deal with it, cry your life away, or become Blanche DuBois.

On the smelly and dirty surface; any stupid thoughts of this Pollyanna wishful dichotomy, only existed in the illusory, and un-provable spirits, or more likely, the lack thereof, of the ciphers of those condemned to the remembrance of something which probably never existed, and never will. It is the timeless and pitiless joke. Under the risk of ostracism, we are all obliged to perfunctorily laugh at our own failure. “Ha, ha,” is an adequate reply to the time worn observations and do nothing critics.

It’s the obvious, banal regurgitation, well-known in the un-supervised schoolyard, and yet evaded by the court-rational fact, ......... brutal fact, ........ and mother-fucking fact, obviously hardnosed sensible to all of the numbed. In a short, cruelly and briefly hopeful; and ultimately perceptive time they have seen the realities, and in necessary self-interest, have completely succumbed to the calculations performed by the blandly safe.

The most representative parts of the room are the topless, stained, stainless steel commodes. The privies. Separated by side metal partitions, they are ample in number to accommodate the 50 people assigned to the spacious, unheated place if they worked properly. But, they don’t and nobody fixes ‘em.

The inmates sleep in assembled steel bunk-beds, on two inch thick mattresses assigned to them. They carry these things in from booking upon arrival. Orange rubber beach moccasins made to fall off are distributed as a cruel remembrance of beach life and surfing, before the term was commandeered by the search engines.

A 1980’s, small screen, Sony TV is perched on a metal frame near the top of the thirty foot ceiling. None of the inmates have been granted a controller for it and none can jump sufficiently high to push a button. Even Michael would fall short. It seems to come on and shut off whenever the mood strikes it. It has a penchant for one national station, never diverting to any other. When it comes on some inmates run to the chairless and hairless, gray tiled floor beneath it and crane their necks. Either out of discomfort or distaste they soon depart. I wonder if their initial enthusiasm was sarcasm, or if hope truly springs eternal. Based on their defeated attitudes toward everything else, I strongly suspect the former.

The temperature is 55 in winter and 95 in summer. The lack of windows in the high ceilinged rooms makes any attempt at climate moderation some sort of Ringling Brothers, three ringed circus, sans the friendly elephant and sans the entertainment value.

If one is not amused, one hundred feet from the bunks and TV are tables with four backless seats fastened to each; much like metal-back yard furnishings; which are unfortunately now devoid of the accoutrements which supplement the umbrella pole holes which block the non-existent light.

The circular table under the lamp contains the remnants of forty books, donated by those seeking a legitimized tax deduction; form signed in blank. Of some possible interest, there is something by Dostoyevsky, but upon inspection, the book has had pages which were subjected to an un-provable, amateur edit.’

Manny paused. His face was scrunched, and looked like a patented Obama lip curl, ostensibly intended to convey some required displeasure in doing what is right.

I deadpanned; ‘Same old?’

Somewhat pissed, Manny raised his voice as he looked toward, what appeared to be another Julio brand of casualty, and boldly pronounced; ‘Arrest number two for the day. Up to it?’

I shrugged and said; ‘As soon as I wipe away the fucking tears.’”

Clayton Crowley’s office was in the weirdest office building in downtown Mesa Grande. The structure itself was a rather nondescript five storied, tan building; but the parking lot must have been designed by an architect who was really a hauler who was stuck with tons of dirt. The formerly flat land was built up and paved over at a height ranging from twenty to twenty-five feet above street level, making the entries and exits a bit of a switchback, replete with blind spots. Perhaps in consideration of their hazardous nature, unlike the other buildings on Mesa Grande Road, access and egress to the lot was only from the side streets.

Jack’s dented, twenty year old, white Toyota seemed to be straining as they climbed, but made it. Jack parked it in the half empty lot, near the building’s entrance. He went in, checked to see that Clayton Crowley was indeed on the third floor and took the elevator up.

The extent to which he was detained in the waiting room was no more than a minute before the smiling young woman led him to Clayton’s inner sanctum. It was a rather large area with private rooms to the side. The young woman directed Jack to one of them and left.

Jack saw Clayton Crowley for the first time. The tall, thin man appeared to be in his fifties. He was already standing with one hand pushing back the silver hair which was fashionably long, but not overly so. Jack thought; “Dignified.” Clayton extended his free right hand; saying; “Mr. Bleeker, formerly known as Mr. Greenhandle, pleased to make your acquaintance. Please take a seat.”

Jack shook and sat, not just a little stunned by the unexpected greeting; as he had made the appointment in the name of Jack Bleeker; and had said nothing of what was involved.

The first object he noticed was a fifty inch, high definition screen mounted at the end of Clayton’s desk, on the wall to Jack’s left. It was hard to miss and was currently displaying a form of sorts with Jack Bleeker’s name on top.

Clayton said; “Great screen, isn’t it? It works well for clients, as they can be certain that I have the right information. Good for football games, too.”

“Yes, yes. Quite the thing.”

“Mr. Bleeker, you must now be aware that I know who you are. Mesa Grande is a small town and I tend to get involved in police matters. Is Jack Bleeker your real name?”

“Yes. All this would not have happened if it was not.”

“Fine. I just like to try to avoid surprises. So, tell me what I can help you with?”

“Something like ‘wrongful dismissal?’ Or maybe something like what you did for David Reardon?”

Clayton appeared to be somewhat up a little bit. Tell me what happened.”

“My car got stolen and it was used in a drive by shooting. During the course of the investigation they somehow found out that my real name was not Jack Greenhandle; that it was Jack Bleeker. Despite having been a decorated cop, I was immediately dismissed for lying on my original job application.”

“Did you sign anything?”

“No. .......... Oh, yeah. I signed something the boss said would ensure that I wasn’t prosecuted.”

“May I see a copy?”

“I don’t have one. I rumpled it up and threw it at his wall.”

“That’s unfortunate. What you signed was likely an agreement not to seek legal redress in return for their agreement not to prosecute. If that’s the case it complicates matters; and frankly, this is a difficult ‘wrongful dismissal’ case at the outset.”

Jack was distressed at what sounded like discouragement, as he was previously under the impression that attorneys created cases; not destroyed them. Drawing at straws he said; “How about the Reardon angle?”

“Well, you have not yet alleged the Reardon kind of damages. But, that is a secondary issue. You see, in David’s case, we could clearly show that the Police acted inappropriately. That’s not quite so clear here.”

Jack raised his voice, but more in a plaintive tone than an angry one, and responded; “I was a great cop. Did everything they wanted for a long time. Now, just because I wrote the name ‘Greenhandle’ rather than ‘Bleeker’ a million years ago they have the right to dismiss me? That’s not right.”

“Be that as it may. It’s not covered under the law. Signatures are at the foundation of contract law. Without that concept we would be operating in a world in which anyone could write any falsehood they so chose and then walk away from it saying ‘It wasn’t me who signed,’ if that became convenient for them to do. Any sense of order would fly out the window.”

Jack sounded a bit derisive, when he said; “Sounds as common as web social media.”

Clayton had to chuckle. He said; “Look. I’m not saying that there is no case. What I am honestly telling you is that it is an extremely difficult one. First, we’d have to get that document you signed from the police. Assuming it is what I suspect; a waiver of your right to sue; we’d have to get it overturned based on it being an unconscionable contract. That is far from easy as most cases of this sort involve contracts signed or de facto agreed to by hordes of people; like your standard agreement with AmawayOnSteroids. Secondly, we’d have to establish that you were indeed ‘wrongfully dismissed,’ as it is defined under the law. I know of no cases which involve fraudulent signatures on job applications. Extensive research is required, and it might not turn up anything useful. Third, after all of that, in order to make the case economically practical, we would have to establish that you are suffering from and will continue to suffer from the David Reardon syndrome; while you have taken no steps to substantiate that.”

“I understand. Can we give it a shot?”

“I warned you. Okay, I’ll need a $15,000 retainer.”

“Can this be done in installments with say $500 up front?”

Clayton smirked, grimaced, stood and said; “Come over to the window. Maybe something can be done with your car as collateral. Which one is it?”

Jack knew what was happening and resignedly said; “The old, white Toyota with the dents.”

Clayton shook his head and said; “See that 2016 Mercedes parked just to its right? $1,200 bucks a month not counting insurance. This office space? $5,300 per month. Mortgage nine grand. Divorce settlement with that bitch wife, twelve. Office workers ................”

“Gotcha, gotcha.”

“I’d like to try to help you; but I just can’t afford to. I think that you really got screwed over with inconsequential bullshit, but it’s time consuming and often ineffective to work on cases which don’t easily fit into standard operating procedure.”

Jack put out his right hand for an accepted shake. He said; “You must be a great lawyer. If I was on the jury I’d believe your bullshit. Just tell me one thing. Why is this crazy parking lot elevated?”

“That’s an old story I thought everyone knew. Some old guy with more money than brains, named James Pattinson, had this building constructed. He wanted to use the top floor as the personal pretentious penthouse for his art collection. His problem was that the local zoning code allows a maximum of five stories, and he wanted a view above all the other five storied buildings. So he got around it by having two stories of dirt trucked in ....... and he dropped dead before it was completed. The heirs who couldn’t stand him own it now. Sometimes justice does prevail.”

Jack left and drove toward home. He was in a strange mood and was almost oblivious to the street life. He felt as if he had passed onto the side of the coin he formerly busted. Like any rational person, he was disappointed that he wasn’t about to be the recipient of big bucks any time soon. But, especially given his recent, possible Beth reprise, he was also refreshed by the thought that he may have actually met someone who told him the truth. Honesty had a way of making things simple and understandable. So, he was confused.

When he got back home he felt as if he had attained some sense of the sought after, yet undefinable term some call ‘freedom.’ Now that Jack had no routine to compel him to move the house sometimes seemed super quiet, like a confessional line afraid of the impending five “Hail Mary’s” verdict. He didn’t want a Veteran’s Day parade coming through the place with a brass band playing “Reveille,” but goddam, any small sign of life might be an improvement. Even the patient daddy long legs’ contingent had abandoned their window base positions and had taken their skinny asses outside. He realized that without thinking of her directly, that he was circuitously thinking about Beth. That annoyed the hell out of him; as it meant that he was out of control over something which he could not control. He decided that didn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Jack didn’t want to be ungrateful for the arrival of Justice. It was great for him, but the German Shepherd was no longer a puppy and slept about eighteen hours a day. Jack wished he would snore some. He wanted to get these thoughts out of his head as he had a strong suspicion that dogs and cats could read human minds, and he didn’t want his new buddy to worry about being deficient in any way.

He thought that he’d like it better outside, so he gave his sleeping travelling companion a rather rough pet on the back. Justice didn’t seem to mind the familiarity coming from a friend. He yawned and stretched out all four paws. His half opened eyes focussed on the window in front of him. He then looked at Jack and sighed heavily. He made the slightest of groans, closed his eyes, and leaned against one of the couch’s upholstered right angles. Jack imagined that Justice was saying; “In an hour or two. Okay? Besides, it’ll be warmer then.”

Over mid-morning coffee Jack signed onto his waiting laptop and checked the “progress” of his literary endeavor. Some realities set in. What seemed like brilliance yesterday was seen today as ordinary. While the first day of composition was exhilarating, the prospect of a second seemed more of a chore, like work without pay or a trip to the driver’s license renewal agency. He already knew the story. It would pass through his head in a matter of seconds, yet it would take weeks to record it on the Word program. If someone was unaware of it, it was not his problem.

The clarity of the morning highlighted that he was primarily doing this boring garbage to try to impress some aging female who had left him flat years ago and chose to show up now to play games with him. Or worse, he was doing it to impress some aloof dog walker, whose demeanor was dwarfed by the “girls in your area who no bullshit just want to fuck,” available through many websites. Jack often momentarily wondered if they would dress and get their ass out of there with some degree of promptness. In either case this “effort” suggested that the required, known investment overshadowed any likely return. Yet there was a higher logic at play. What the hell else did he have to do right now? See the five things AOL says youneedto know right now? Check out AmawayOnSteroids stock price and read what “new” business they were entering today which is projected to show at least five years of losses? Get the Kardashian bitch’s take on the sweet smell of piss?

The more he thought about it, the more the book became a preferred possibility. He got off the internet and went back to “Real Cops.”

“As Manny tried to drive out of the station parking lot we were accosted by a group of upper floor tenants. Since these guys were well contacted at levels considerably above us, we ...............”

A block away at 12PM Patricia draped the bleached white Queen Anne, mahogany, tilt-top table with a pristine cloth. She was somewhat irritated with the remnants of the lineal distensions still visible where it had been folded. Despite that, she didn’t want to go through the trouble of retrieving the iron and its companion board, filling it with distilled water and yadda, yadda, yadda, at the risk of a time consuming scorch. She just wanted a few belts as quickly as possible.

Besides, the mere placement of the Currier and Ives emblazoned topping had the effect of hiding the wood grain which is generally visible from less than a foot excepting leg bottoms. And if there were any objections to the swellings, neither Currier nor Ives was around to make them. And if the duo felt compelled to make any aesthetic commentaries, priorities dictated that those evaluations would be better placed elsewhere. The cloth is rumored to be more customarily used in other households, as a cover for the plasticized, faux wood grained, efficient, kitchen table ten minutes before company was scheduled to arrive.

She then placed the blue trimmed pieces of china which held the crackers and cheese on the scotch guarded, theme faded in accurate replication of a nineteenth century farm scene, currently intended to convey some sense of historical significance. Having accomplished that without any mistake, Patricia proceeded to wrap the eating utensils in appropriate, white cloth coverings, folded in a bit of an imperfect triangle. Patricia noticed that the wrappers displayed the scantest of pinkish, wine stains from sometime in the past. For the umpteenth time she vowed to run them through the washer; tomorrow. In yet another time constrained tweaking, she re-folded them in a manner which resulted in the rude stains being almost completely hidden underneath; leaving the top side above reproach. The tiniest of lizards drew her attention. It was climbing the window screen right in front of her. Its youth must have compelled it to venture out in what was most likely just a brief “Indian Summer.” The little one disappeared. Patricia wished he had hung around longer and thought he was cute.

The seasonally bold, rays of the incessant sun had just passed over the eastern windows near the now un-recognizable tilt top table. Her pre-dominant, yet, absurdly, anemic wish was that the merciless, yellow globe had not built up an accumulation of heat, still capable of inducing perspiration at her toddiest of times. For the brief moment, Penny’s un-controlled mind brought her back to her teen age days, in which she had suggestively worn a bikini, forbidden by her parents, at the fifteen cent, public pool. She found it so simple to just change in the locker-room.

In any attempt at expression, in recognition that those days were possibly mis-remembered, all-too-long stories, socially better dashed through in the speed of the inaccuracies of her current mind and heart, Penny kept them to herself and politely focussed on her ability to set the table.

In an effort not to invoke any criticism, seeking to be the perfect hostess, Penny saw that the now shaded area was almost ready for the anticipated, irresponsible levity almost insisted upon in their not quite hopeful ritualization of another day half disappeared.

She placed the coastered wine glasses and the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc; corkscrew handy. She slumped into the year old, North Carolinian manufactured, “Chippendale,” embroidered couch. She either passed out or went blank after a few glasses, as she considered the merits and consequences of the tiny, Chinoiserie feet.

Footsteps drew her attention.

“Hi, Harry. All ready for you. What have you been up to all day?”

Pouring himself a drink, Harry replied; “Just having a few laughs. I downloaded one of those indie books for free. Right price, I’ll tell you. Ever read one?”

“No, at least I don’t think so. ........ To tell you the truth I can’t tell if they’re indie or not. I’ve been re-reading Proust. You can sure take different things from him at different ages. Was he an indie?”

“Yes and no. He was French. I think that I’ll go back to the classics for a while, too.”

“I thought you said you liked the indie book.”

“Liked? No. I found it funny, unintentionally so.”


“Reminded me of Jason.”

“Thank God he finally got out of our hair last year.”

“Only took 35 years. He was just like this book. Whining and whining because mommy and daddy didn’t love him enough. Christ. Then he put on that tough façade, tough enough to handle gross out and dead baby jokes. He and his kind think the mask covering the whine is fooling somebody, I guess.”

“They must think that the rest of us weren’t ‘accidents’ too. Who really wants one of them, especially after Generation Three, or so. They’re dumb enough to think that they’re fooling someone with their stated aversion to whining; while they are merely trying to have a personal monopoly on it.”

“And now they’re all gay. It was more than twenty years ago when a Rolling Stone reporter showed up at Lou Reed’s house for an interview. When he found Reed with a wife and two kids, he said; ‘I thought you were gay.’ Lou made a pained expression and replied; ‘Everyone’s gay now. I’m not gay anymore.’ More than twenty years ago. The way the kids go on about it, you’d think they invented something new.”

“It’s a way of ‘shocking’ uncaring mommy and daddy. If they had any sense at all they’d see their own contradiction. First they say mommy and daddy didn’t care about them, and then they proceed to contradict themselves by thinking that mommy and daddy really give a damn about what they choose to suck on. Ha.”

“I hope that they are gay. At least they won’t reproduce.”

“And all that bitching about the economy. I guess mommy and daddy are responsible for that too.”

“Reminds me of Kathy Acker with the rings, yuck.”

“Reminds me a bit of Pinter.”

“At least he could write decently. Ever read ‘The Homecoming?’”

“Yeah, it made me laugh out loud a few times.”

“Me too.”

“Is Jason still living with that old priss with the Camus fixation? ........... I’d have said the terrible ‘F’ word, but walls now have ears. It’s impossible to escape the politically correct euphemisms.”

“I don’t know. I hope so. I won’t squeal.”

“On another cheery topic, with this warm weather it won’t be long before those ugly elms start throwing their white stuff all over the place.”

“Yeah. No progress with the Village Council?”

“None whatsoever.”

“It’s been so warm and dry that soon there might be a fire.”

“Don’t even think about it. Heavy jail time. And besides, it would probably spread over here.”

“Still, a well-placed cigarette butt .........” Harry grabbed Penny around the waist and pulled her to him. In a poor rendition of Blue Oyster Cult he sang a few bars of; “Burnin’ for You.”

Patricia had her first belly laugh of the day and coyly said; “Bad, bad daddy.”

Empty glasses were properly placed on the table.

Jack was still engrossed in the memories of his time as a cop. They kept coming back faster than he could type. He knew that he wasn’t getting the sequence, the order, correct; but that didn’t matter to him. He thought; “Who, other than Manny, could know? Besides, it’s fucking fiction. Besides, if the literary meta mavens detected that, they would find it ‘oh, so avant garde.’” He laughed out loud. His sound must have reached Justice’ ears as the Shepherd stretched and made a sound something like; “Ummnnngr.” His couch sleeping spot got the direct rays of the sun this time of day and he didn’t want to move. He “Ummnnngr-ed” again, shut his eyes, and curled back into a fetal position.

Jack inwardly smiled. Rather than walking, he could settle back into this book. He was already 40 pages into it and could finish in a week or two. It might be impressive to this Beth person, and he was slowly discovering that writing was more entertaining than putting up with her bullshit.

“’I said to Manny; ‘This fuck looks like trouble. Let’s skip it and get something easier.’

‘No, man. He and his dogs have seen us. If we just drive on they’re gonna think that they can get away with any kind of shit. Can’t allow that.’

I shrugged and must have sounded like I didn’t agree when I nasally droned; ‘This is gonna take a while. There’s easier shit around.’

Manny sounded as close to being pissed and disgusted with me than any other time I remember. With a dozen loud exclamation points, he said; “This mutha fuckin’ fat ass cunt is callin’ us out, bro.’

‘Yeah, but it ain’t like he’s botherin’ anybody. The car wash is closed for the night.’

A bit louder and a bit controlled, Manny said; ‘If we pussy out of this, tomorrow every easy arrest we’ve been getting will turn into a difficult one. Word gets around fuckin’ fast.’

We drove real slow toward the group of five. I didn’t want my partner to think anything bad about me. So I said; ‘Let me handle this one.’ Manny nodded with the slightest hint of a smile. He stopped right in front of them, my door the closest.

The fat boy with the loud mouth had gotten quiet and was flipping us off while his dogs were laughing. I got out of the car and calmly said; ‘You might not know it, but you boys trespassin’. And you know that finger shit ain’t very polite.’ I showed him my badge.

Fatty brushed back his greasy, black hair, turned away from me and nodded to his pals. As he turned back he said; ‘Oh yeah. I don’t see no fuckin’ sign or nuthin.”

‘That’s why I’m here to help you out. Come on guys. Gotta move it.’

‘I ain’t goin’ nowhere till I see a sign.’

‘If you don’t move it, the next sign you gonna be seein’ will be the one that says; ‘County Correctional Institution. Security check point ahead.’ That is if you can read. You look pretty fuckin’ stupid.’

‘You think you big enough to get me there?’

‘I’m gonna forget that one. ‘Cause see, I’m a nice guy. Now why don’t you just get smart and clear out?’

‘Fuck you, bitch?’

‘I know you’re just showin’ off for your boyfriends here. But, I’ve about had it. You’re under arrest for trespassin’, disturbin’ the peace, failure to comply with a police officer, and a whole lot of other shit I’ll think of on your way to jail.’ I took particular pleasure in kicking his feet out from under him. I got my knee into the middle of his back while his boyfriends ran. I didn’t give a reckless fuck about their little asses. I just wanted to take down this big one. I was having some logistical trouble trying to hold his arms together and simultaneously get the cuffs on.

Manny came into my vision screen from stage left, and said; ‘Just keep his hands together.’ I did and Manny cuffed him, behind the back at the tightest setting. Since the jerk was so damn fat blood immediately ran all over.

I laughed, but did my best to not get any on me.

I tried to pull him to his feet, but he laid there like a lump of elephant shit.

I got up, ‘accidentally’ kicking fat boy somewhere around his ear. Twice. I’ve got two feet.

In a calm tone I said; ‘I told you that I’m a nice guy. I wasn’t shittin’ you. Now, you can either get up like a good boy and walk to the car or we can drag you there on your face. Looks like you’d do well to lose some of that baby fat.’

Manny added; ‘And resisting arrest added to the charges. Mmm, mmm, mmm. You in big trouble, boy. About two years’ worth.’

With some difficulty Fat boy got up and walked to the car and got right in the back.

During the drive to the station, Manny deadpanned; ‘That was all right. But, why’d you do so much talkin’?’

‘Man, don’t you pay any attention at all. I said it twice. I’m a nice guy.’

A month later we were faced with some similar kind of shit. The precinct got a call from the local sports arena and said that a hockey fight had broken out. I answered the precinct call in the car. Slightly annoyed and slightly amused I said; ‘Big shit. Can’t get no traction on ice. Always happens.’

The dispatcher said; ‘Yeah, I know that. But this one broke out in the stands. Reports say ......................’”

I checked on Justice. He still didn’t want to move much more than I felt like stopping writing. I said; “No problem. But if you got to piss you know how to get out the window. Right?”

He made a frown something like a human does when he says; “Tell me something I don’t know.” Justice grumbled and closed his eyes once more.

Jack resumed typing.

“He stood directly in front of any onlooker who might be watching, grinning defiantly with his head insolently cocked to the right. His left hand held a handgun the size of a plumber’s wrench, pointed straight forward. His black jeans were covered by the day’s accumulation of dust at thigh level and snakeskin cowboy boots to the knee. Unkempt long, black hair and a beard covered much of the face of the thin, young man who had proudly just shot a cop.

An amply hipped, thin, young blonde woman named Beth walked to him. Her full lipped, open mouthed smile and furrowed brow showed that her feelings were mixed; approval and anxiety; culminating in excitement. She shook her head to throw the un-behaving hair in her face to the back, where it came to rest in the place where her faded blue jeans met her light green blouse. He easily complied as she used her right hand to gently push the gun down, till the barrel faced the broken branch strewn forest floor.

He said; “Baddest mutha in Cook County since Capone.”

She said; “Dumbest, too,” as she threw her arms around his neck and wrapped her legs around him.

He dropped his gun, preferring to use both arms and hands to hold her.

The kitten was a beautiful tabby with big green eyes. He was less than three months old and still had that baby fat. He must have been foolishly bold enough to have left the safety of his family, intending to see the world. Under the circumstances imposed upon him, he only had to suffer for an hour or so.

I was in the center of the park sitting on a swing when he first saw the little one running.

I first thought that the newborn was testing his natural skills until I saw the group of eight boys, ranging from six to ten years of age, running and yelling incoherently behind him. He was trying to get away, but wherever he tried to hide, the group of young “humans” caught up, found him and threw rocks at him. I recognized my eight year old cousin Tommy as a member of the group and stared at him, as if to say; “Don’t run with these creeps. Stop them!” Tommy caught my eye, seemed to waver a fraction of a second, then continued on, wearing his toy, plastic WWII helmet.

Led by an ugly, fat kid, bigger than the others in all directions, the others chased, threw rocks and chased some more. The kitten could not run anymore and settled into the middle of a tall, wide bush. The kids tried to get him out, but could not make their way through the thick branches. Fat boy got an idea. He picked up a long rock, which must have weighed at least forty pounds, carried it a few feet, and then dropped it in the middle of the bush.

I heard the most sickening cry I had yet heard. With his back and all of his bones broken the kitten extricated himself from under the rock and somehow crawled out of the bush. The fat kid hid his pleasure, now pretending concern for the crying kitten.

He took Tommy’s military helmet and put the broken kitten in it. As he was handled, the kitten cried louder than ever. He tried, without mercy, to shut his eyes in his pain. The fat kid found the sickest of pleasures, while he purposely continued the poorest of phony jobs of concern as he carried the kitten to the park attendant; knowing that he was maximizing the kitten’s suffering. I followed. I followed, hoping for some miracle.

Two hundred agonizing feet away, the un-noticing, older, paid, ‘park attending’ woman seemed annoyed that she was taken away from her romance novel. She flustered as she moved the screaming kitten around. She didn’t know anything other to do than call for a cop.

I couldn’t stand the kitten’s pained cries anymore and wanted to go back to the swing. At that age I was not yet sufficiently instructed about these things, and I kept watching the howling, broken kitten in the war hat; his eyes evincing a pained wish for escape, to the end-of pain brought by Death. He seemed to keep trying to get out of the childish, plastic toy in which he was confined. The looks on his pained face seemed so optimistic, even while he wept in pain, as he kept on trying to climb the sides of the juvenile military prison hat. Whenever he neared the top, the attendant pushed him back down.

I imagined the kitten’s agonizing pain which he was forced to endure; a broken back; a broken mind, a broken heart, a broken trust, and; a broken love were more suited to a merciful death. Though, being so young, he strived in all the pain, believing that it would soon end for the better.

I saw his face. I felt something horrible. I felt guilty as all hell in not having tried to stop this fat boy; even more guilty in knowing that if a replay of this event was possible, I’d probably do the same thing. Nothing. Oh, yeah. I’d have my ‘good’ reasons. I was five years old. Fat bot was three times my size and had backup. But, it will always bother me to think that if I had even inadequately engaged the fat boy, it might have sufficiently distracted him to allow the kitten to avoid the horrendous pain and get away. I’d recover from any beating. Always do. Always will. The kitten’s chance will never come again.

I ran away and sat on the un-moving swing, now irrelevant thoughts racing. I heard the gunshot, and instinctively knew that the cop had arrived and ended the kitten’s misery.

I went to my mother in tears. I said; ‘He was just a little kitten. No one helped him. He didn’t have a chance.’

Mama remained detached and eventually replied, out of some self-induced necessity; ‘I just wish that they didn’t have to put it in Tommy’s hat. How can he ever wear that again?’”

Jack woke with his head resting on his arms in front of the computer. He got rid of the blank screen when he pushed the space bar. He saw that he was still in “Word,” and that the last thing he had typed was; “The dispatcher said; ‘Yeah, I know that. But this one broke out in the stands. Reports say.’”

He shut it down and went for the safety of the covers. Justice joined him and promptly started snoring. Jack didn’t know if he was dreaming, thinking of Justice or remembering events he wanted to forget. The thought was a solace of sorts, as he knew it was the resurrection of his worst childhood memory. Something in him usually was able to keep it buried; but every once in a while that something fell down on the job. He looked through the unshaded eastern window. Barely above the Sangre de Cristos the sun was still at an extremely obtuse angle; offering sufficient light to turn on and view one of his on-line devices, but not enough to read a book. Jack pulled the blankets over his head, closed his eyes, and thought; “Shove it up your fucking ass. ...................... Presents issues. Fuck ‘em. This is humanity. Sure, they’d all protest and say that they would never do such a thing. Right. They do every chance they get and make up excuses later. Go away. Don’t go away mad, just go away.” He pictured, as he needed to, the kitten happy, running and playing in a wonderful place he had never previously seen. He cried; sometimes out of happiness at his vision of the happy kitten; and sometimes in sadness over the reality.

Jack was startled as Justice pushed his snout into Jack’s side and made a moan which indicated concern. Jack was slumped at the computer and apparently he had been communicating with his left thigh. He stroked Justice’ head and said; “Darn that dream. Let’s get that walk goin’, buddy. It’s gettin’ late.” They walked out the front door side by side; Jack hoping not to see Beth this time, Justice probably ambivalent regarding Andy and Charlene. They walked ten seconds in the seasonal warmth before Jack changed his mind. Jack got his initial wish; no sign of Beth. He wished he hadn’t made a wish.

It was the frigid night of 11-2-01. As if he was sitting on a cloud, Jack saw himself bring Justice to another household and give him to the owner. He was immediately distraught. He didn’t have the foggiest of ideas why he had done it. He missed Justice terribly and after a few days walked to the new “owner’s” house. Jack was surprised to see that the house looked as it were built in the 18thor 19thcentury and was attached on both sides to ones which appeared to have been recently constructed. He pictured the lack of a backyard for Justice to run in. Up a flight of external brick stairs the owner came out the front door.

Jack called out; “Hi. I’ve been thinking about this whole thing and I made a bad mistake. I miss my dog. ......... Can I have him back?”

“No. Of course not.”

Jack was surprised. In half of an effort which might allow him to “steal” Justice back, he said; “Can I see him for a while?”


Jack climbed the stairs, went in and instinctively located Justice, who was sleeping under a bed. He got on his hands and knees and stroked the snoozing pup a few times and noticed that he had lost about 30 of his former 140 pounds. Jack was doubly worried when Justice did not respond.

After four or five pets the Shepherd grunted and slowly elevated, coming out from under the bed. As his sleepy eyes cleared, enabling him to recognize Jack, he became animated and furiously licked Jack’s face.

At the same time, a teenage boy entered from an adjoining room. Jack blurted out; “I gave this dog to your father. It was a mistake. He said that I couldn’t take him back, but that it was okay if I came in to see him.”

The kid said; “We’ve had him to the vet and he’s basically fine. The vet had a little problem with the details of some of the stitching, though.”

Jack’s hand passed along the nape of Justice’ neck and he made note of the two inch section in which the fused skin stuck up a quarter of an inch. It looked like a novice stitch job, but Jack was glad to see that there was no blood.

The kid said; “You can take him back. I can convince my father that it’s all right.”

While he was extremely happy to hear that, Jack simultaneously thought of the fact that “daddy” knew exactly where he lived, and thereby could cause trouble from a few directions. He got off that “lame horse” and figured that it was best to strike while the iron was hot. The details would inevitably unfold later. By the time they did Jack might have a good alibi. He thanked the kid and Justice pranced beside him.

They went out the front door. Jack vigorously rubbed Justice’ back twice and said; “We’re going home, pal.”

A radical condensation of conversations under the elms

“Yeah, got the fuckin’ shit. Meet your exalted standards, dude?”

“What fucking ever. Bring it.”

“I can bring it a way you can’t handle. .........” He rolled. “Sorry, re-phrase. You’re my friend, whatever the fuck that means.” He snorted something visible to no one else. “We can do this bullshit two ways. We can have a good time or we can fight. Take your pick.” He struck a match and inhaled deeply. He passed it.

The beginnings of the anticipated, temporary passage into another place came on as a defensively needed, mentally induced convenience. Trying to appear cool, he slowly sucked at the joint, and made the potential protagonist wait. He held the smoke as long as his carcass allowed. As he choked an exhale, he rasped; “Hey, man. ......... What the fuck is between us? ........ Gash? It’s all over the fucking place. No big shit.” He handed the source of light back to the provider in pedestrian defiance.

“Good fuckin’ shit, man. Grower’s a friend of the family. Takes good care. ........... Expensive as all fucking hell, but there’s no competition. .......... The gash around here is into weird shit. You ever notice?”

“Gimme that fucker. You’re a hog.” He sucked and held, before coughing out; “I’m new here. It’s different back East. ............ That chick in my reg room, Linda, you know her?”

Shrug, tending toward a disinterested yes.

“Whatever. If you every day started your morning with a view of her panties, dark hair protruding, you’d remember.” Draw and protracted exhale, then a pass. “Anyway, I made it my business to ‘accidentally’ meet her at the entry. You know, she’s a fuckin’ cheerleader?” He snorted some type of incredulance. ............. “Kind of funny, right; but no big shit to me. So, you know, I’m like talkin’ shit to her, trying to look into her evasive eyes; and you know what she does?” Without waiting for a response he continued; “She starts telling me about weird stuff; you know, like chupacabra, cow molesters, alien abductions and crap like that. ............ Of course, I tried to convey interest; I liked her. ........... Like I said I’m new here. Is everybody here into some weird shit?”

“I’m new too. Two months in the paradise of Propicio. ....... From Boston. ............ I don’t want to make fun; but the city girls seem to avoid the long winded subterfuge. ........ Hey, you know who’s good in your reg? .......... Barbara. You must have seen her with her skirt up to her ass.”

“I must have the wrong angle.”

He held the squelcher before him and asked; “Any use for that?”

“Chuck it. There’s always more when we need it.”

“Weird shit, yeah. It seems like everybody’s into it. Getting common, in its attempt to be different.” Derisive snort and shredding destruction of the roach.

“Maybe I’m just spaced, but I got an idea. Maybe everybody senses that something is wrong, but they can’t put their finger on it. So, they focus on non-traditional answers.”

“The class war, the presidents all being related, the FEMA camps, the surveillance and Ebola are undeniable facts, bro.”

“They’re gonna stick you in one of those camps right next to an Ebola dude.”

“My dad is military.”

“Don’t matter anymore.”

“Hell, not as long as we’ve got places like this to hide and get away from it all.”

“God bless Calle de la Congelacion!”

“Look at that filtered sun through the leaves. It makes me dizzy.”

“So does Barbara’s legs. ............... Think you can get her here for a smoke?”

“If I do you ain’t gonna be here.”

They laughed and slapped fists.

“Someone told me that the trees are actually vehicles for spying.”

“See how stupid this stuff can get.”

“See ‘South Park” last night.”

“Yeah, love those little eggs.”

“Fuckin’ awesome, dude. Cool how they tell the teacher to; ‘go fuck yourself’ without the least bit of emotion.”

“Cool like in the North Pole before global warming.”

“You believe that shit?”

“Fuck knows. Fuck cares.”

“Turn on that thing.

Heads started noddin’ as Eminem rapped out “Cold Wind Blows.”

“Feels like its warmin’ up, man.”

“Not till later on the CD.”

“Mutha fucka’s mad, shit”

“It’ll work out in the end.”

Laughing agreement.

“So, it’s cool in the woods?”

“Yeah, look who’s coming. Hi ladies. Who’s your new friend?”

“Audrey. That’s with a ‘D’ near the middle. Just moved here from LA. Can ya believe that? Who’s yours?”

“I don’t know yet. Dude, got a name?”


“ ............................ “

“Gonna bless everyone with it? Or else we’ll have to call you Batman.”

“Name is Batman, friends. I let Robin wear my cape and mask today.”

“Are you gonna pass that already?”

“When you give me a kiss.”

“Mmmmmmmmmm ........................... “

“I didn’t mean on my face.”

“Chivalry is a corpse.”

“Blame your suffragette old granny.”

“Gimme.” (Inhaling sound.)

“Hey, Batman. What kind of car you drive?”

“Batmobile, stupid.”

“What’s your father do for a living?”

“Some tedious shit with computers. Don’t they all?”

“Yeah. Mine used to get a regular check from Homeland Security. Now he freelances.”

“Ooooh. That carries all the cachet of being a Consultant.”

“Fuck you, asshole. Thanks to that I got some DMZ pills right here. You never have seen anything this good. It’s like acid on acid. Take one and you think that ‘South Park’ is hilarious. Take two and you think that ‘Return of the Zombies’ has deep meaning.”

“It does.”

“Yeah, all right. I can dig that. ......... Permit me the indulgence of re-phrase. Take two and you think ‘The Name of the Wind’ has deep meaning.”

“De- militarized zone. Wanna trade?”

“Depends on the devil in the fucking details.”

“Be nice. No need to be afraid. Put on something romantic, dude.” All five sat under the tree of their choice and the sacrament was quietly passed as a button was pushed.

Chillin’ and noddin’. Back to the button.

“That was Eminem and Rihanna doing ‘Love the Way You Lie.’”

“No shit. ....... Nice. ........ Got something ‘today?’”

“Got a suggestion for anything better?”

Under the poly-something-or-other-plastic-asbestos, dropped ceiling Mayor Vincent Pignatelli occupied his well-established battle preparatory position at the left of the platform. His constituency was again restless in mouth; and also restless in numbers. The perspiration he kept wiping from his face was not induced by the balmy February weather. He remembered sufficient faces to conclude that he was again going to be attacked by the Brisas Area Gardening Society devotees of proper decorum and elm eradication. They flocked around Patricia Primstation, probably doing some last minute co-ordination. Unlike the last time, he had not received any advance notice through a flyer, and thought that he must have been removed from the mailing list after his last unsatisfactory “command” performance. He had been foolishly optimistic and initially thought it possible that little would come after his proficient put off. He thought it was merely the inconsequential whims of a few old lady horticulturalists with nothing better to do. His corrected eyes peered down at the growing throng of citizens milling around the metallic folding chairs three feet below. He had no legal authority over the elms. They were grandfathered in and the residents of Calle de la Congelacion wanted them to stay. But what voter wants to hear that the man in charge is legally restrained and unable to deliver the voters’ arbitrary wishes?

The emotionally undefined Mayor again grasped that he was about to be immersed in petulant virgin fields; as aged as they were. The process was a tedious bore at best; and of much more personal significance, it was likely an out and out impairment to his financial well-being. Though through the damned sweat he was denied the ability to hide the physical aspect of his plight, he could play the best game he was able and use the appropriately calm and reasonable words. He could later make use of the washing machine.

The confounded unpredictability and jeopardy of what was impending made his pockmarked, swarthy face secrete tell-tale, continuous debilitations, which had the nasty habit of congregating in his craters. His well-used handkerchief contradicted itself as it daubed in an attempt to display a confident façade. The inadequate cleansing was only successful in restoring a momentary, dry cool; only to be immediately replaced by the uncontainable, embarrassing, hidden and drip producing mechanism of his most reviled part; his asocial, monetarily driven subconscious. He was not new to this experience. The dichotomy of appearance and reality was old news to anyone awake in 2016. Yet, damn it; despite eons of study, no one had come up with a methodology competent to produce his desired camouflage. With no adept learned aid available to him, he again sweated it out, while cursing the scientific failure of the credentialed cosmeticians. Rather than enduring the inadequacies of the licensed, he considered future consultation with a make-up artist. Of most importance to him, he thought; “Why did this have to happen just before the garbage contract renewal?”

Restricted to considering only the interests of Replicated Rubbish Assistance, Inc. and that of himself as an inadequate map, Vincent fretted more than he had since his protective, older brother got 2 to 5 on a bullshit extortion charge. Originally made, but was not very helpful now; especially in terms of his suggested actions. Today was observably different; maybe not having any importance other than the fleetingly detectable numbers. Surprise, fucking surprise, every fucking time.

He heard; “Huge audience, chief. You must be getting popular.” It was the cheerful voice of Councilman Thomas Higgins. Thomas required access to the platform and Vincent was standing in the doorway. Not in the mood for any useless badinage, Vincent merely stepped aside, saying; “Entrez ami.”

Thomas glibly responded; “Merci monsieur,” and continued to his seat.

The little hand reasonably lined up with the bigger one, only 90 degrees apart. Mayor Pignatelli, once again, took center stage and read in a slow monotone; “Ordinance number 14-36403, ..........., etc., etc.”

The next four hours proved to be a replay of what happened the last time the Brisas Area Gardening Society and its entourage paid a visit. The Mayor pulled out every arcane matter at his disposal and a few more that weren’t. The perennial audience hecklers were encouraged to heckle. The number of poopie particles acceptable in Propicio’s underground water supply, insofar as it may be negatively affected by the operation of the standard septic systems currently within the guidance of Propicio’s building code was addressed by Village and private engineers. While what they actually testified bore little resemblance to the testimony of their peers, what they had in common was that they were all on somebody’s clock, and seemed to enjoy the discussion in all of its nuances. At one point a homeless attendee showed top notch literary aptitude when he yelled out the most ingenious of relevant plays on words. He howled; “Drink shit.” He was rewarded by being escorted into the parking lot by two armed guards. The matter would prove to be under investigation by the authorities and the local press.

The audience number started to diminish at the 4:30PM juncture and continued the steady slide until, now at 7PM; the audience had dropped to 25. No one other than the Sand Duners was aware that 20 of those spectators were made up of residents of the Sand Dunes; who had been secretly given copies of Patricia’s last flyer. They didn’t give one bit of a damn about the elms, but were trying to figure out what the hell was going on; and how it might affect them.

Tiring himself, and seeing that the number of those carrying the slings and arrows had severely diminished, Vinny invited his “old friend,” Patricia, to the podium at 7PM.

Those of the tired eyes which were still open looked at Patricia Primstation, who ambled her way to prominence.

Ty said; “The main event!” and Cindy searched her purse for the appropriate gong, but found none.

Attempting to steal the initiative, Thomas offered a “warm welcome.” It was easy, as he wasn’t kidding in the least. Patricia was encouraged by the testimony to her recognition; and said; “Good day, Councilman Higgins. Good day Council members and Mr. Mayor. As you may recall, I represent the Brisas Area Gardening Society; an organization with 100 active members. ............ I might add; and the silent majority of Propicio. Our concerns continue to be with the unlawful activities conducted on Calle de la Congelacion. Let me read from my notes. Our gardens will soon be infiltrated. Yes, infiltrated by those interlopers from another part of the world.”

The Sand Duners bristled as they curiously looked to each other for confirmation of what they hoped that they had heard incorrectly. They were disturbed to see similar countenances.

Patricia continued; “This is an un-needed expense, a burden, and blight upon the law abiding taxpayers of Propicio. The illegal trees wildly proliferate here because of governmental neglect. Our officials headed by the mayor have made no response to our concerns. Perhaps, taking a cue from the lawless area officially tolerated, named Calle de la Congelacion, have taken to hanging around there, totally unsupervised. We find that intolerable. Further, we have become aware of the distinctive odor of burning marijuana in Elm City. Judging by the residue of teenage parties the kids cluster around the third house on the right, a tiny, red, tin-sided A-frame. In effect are they operating an illegal opium den? Is this another grandfathered permitted use in Propicio?

In addition, through our fruitless searches for our children we have seen junk cars and trucks on many properties, a further hazard for the children and a potential home for disease carrying rodents.

As we previously mentioned, many of us live on Camino de las Brisas. That’s where our organization began, but it has grown to encompass a sizable and growing sector of the Village. It seems to us that we deserve attention. We newcomers struggle to beautify this fine desert community, pay taxes and seek to bring up our children in safety. What can be done to help us? I’ll await your reply in my seat.” As she walked to it, Penny received a very small, polite round of applause and many hostile stares.

With a straight face Thomas said; “Yes Mr. Mayor, what can be done about it?”

Vincent looked up from the pad on which he was furiously scribbling and hoped that his perspiration would either be un-noticed or attributed to hard work. He saw the audience and the Council staring at him. Sweat dripped from his forehead. He thought; “I should have gone into my cousin Tony’s concrete business. No bullshit, no voters; just money.” He worked up a nervous smile and said; “So, you admit to trespassing?”

Groans answered the “joke.”

He continued; “All right, we’re all friends here.”

More groans.

“Tough audience. ......... The elms have a right to be there. They pre-dated the Village’s rise to prosperity. Just like your gardens, they have been maintained by owners of private property. How would you feel if someone came out to destroy your birds-of-paradise? They aren’t native. They come from South America.”

A fiftyish man in the audience sporting an LA Dodgers baseball hat and a ZZ Top inspired gray beard sat motionless with his arms folded against his chest. He called out; “Our birds-of-paradise” don’t throw their seeds all over town.”

He received some applause and laughter.

Vincent replied; “Fair enough. My appeal to morality didn’t sway.” Thomas and one other Council member got coughing fits. Undeterred, the uneasy Mayor said; “Well then, the law supports the elms, plain and simple. Grandfathers are grandfathers. You can’t change the rules at half-time.”

Cindy whispered to Ty; “They’ve got to be kidding.”

Ty answered; “Yeah, but they don’t know it.”

The man in the baseball hat called out; “No, but you can change sides. I mean, come on, you can stop a company from polluting, but you can’t stop a damn tree from throwing its crap all over the place? Gimme a break.”

Vincent replied; “Oh, so let me understand the issue more clearly. You’re objecting to the seeds; not the trees themselves?”

The audience made an ambiguous grumbling sound. The Sand Duner portion of it looked distraught; while they considered the weak possibility of the Mayor being on their side.

The Mayor looked to Patricia and shrugged his shoulders questioningly.

Patricia was flustered and looked around her. She said; “Well. ......... well. ......... I guess. ........... Unless anyone has objections.”

Vincent broke the silence with; “Done then. I will commission a blue ribbon panel to study the issue,” silently invigorated with the prospect of pocketing at least 30% of the experts’ fees.

Baseball hat said; “That’s absurd. How do you separate an elm from it seeds?”

Vincent said; “Friction? I don’t know. Do you?”

Baseball hat said; “No,” and made an expression almost as incredulous as that of Ty and Cindy, sans their giggling.

Vincent continued; “That’s why we’re going to have the experts look into the matter. Now, people, as far as your kids partying, you know, you’ve got to take a little responsibility too. They obviously have unsupervised time and they can go anywhere they want with it. There are still many places to hide in Propicio if one looks for them.”

Baseball hat called out; “Like where?”

Vincent was on a roll and went with it; “I don’t know. I have nothing to hide. Ask a teenager. Seriously, there must be plenty by the river and Federal Statutes preclude us from draining it. But, what I will do is increase police patrols on Calle de la Congelacion. Now, if your kids wind up being arrested, don’t blame me. Now, regarding the opium den.”

Ty said to Cindy; “Now that’s something I want to know about.”

Cindy deadpanned; “It’s not good enough over the internet?”

“The occupant of the house in question has been investigated before and has been found not guilty. If there were an ongoing investigation, I would be legally precluded from saying anything about it. Suffice to say that Propicio’s finest are aware of past allegations.

Lastly; junk cars. You have my word that I will personally be looking into what constitutes junk. Insofar as it probably is not limited to cars, the rest of the town should be put on fair notice that their lawns will also be under scrutiny. That four year old plastic slide with the improvised, wooden base may also be subject to fines. That woodpile supposedly slated for the fireplace may be the perfect home for vermin.”

Baseball hat said; “Wait, wait, wait. We are not the ones under scrutiny.”

“Are you above the law?”

“May I approach the podium?”

“Please do.”

Baseball hat shuffled up and scratched the back of his neck in an attempt to get blood flowing uphill. He craned his neck around surveying the rest of the room. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have some reservations about depriving a man of his livelihood.” His mind visualized the pile of broken pallets strewn about his back yard for use on a rainy day. He took another survey and saw a number of faces pointed at the floor. He decided to take a chance and said; “If there are no objections I propose to support the residents of Calle de la Congelacion to continue their economic pursuits. I mean, really, the old cars are not their as lawn decorations. They are repaired and sold.” He took another look behind; this time directly at Patricia; who shrugged in acknowledgement. He continued; “I propose that Propicio not bog officers down pursuing the business inventories of the people. I further request that any allusions to junk on properties be stricken from the record.”

Smiling Vincent said; “Any arguments to the contrary?” Seeing no clamor to speak, he said: “Meeting adjourned.”

On the way out Baseball Hat and Patricia had a mutual need to privately converse. The Sand Duners had no idea what to say. They just hoped that the whole thing, whatever it was, was concluded.

A good night’s sleep did wonders for Jack. His memories had gone back where they came from and his only thoughts were of the big dog sleeping next to him, the warmth, and the light which was working its way through the room. “Yesterday” was just something for some morose star to believe in and moan about. He got out from under the blankets, drank some coffee, did the obligatories, and went back for Justice, wanting an accompanied walk. The German Shepherd showed little inclination to move. After Jack gently coaxed him through the removal of his blankets and pulling on his paws, Justice decided to be accommodating; though his eyes said; “What the hell are you so excited about?”

They went out the front door and hadn’t gone more than fifty feet when Yesterday showed up with little Andy and big Charlene in tow. Apparently, Justice’ day wasn’t made upon their sighting as he remained alongside Jack. Maybe he sensed something, but didn’t say what it was.

When they were ten feet apart Jack chirped; “Hey, Beth. It’s been a while. How and where have you been?”

She rolled her eyes and in a desultory tone said; “How? Fine until now. Where? Here and there. Trying to find a private spot.” Andy showed his teeth and directed a “grrrr” in Justice’ direction.

In a socially acceptable, bogus outward display of what Jack wished to appear as undaunted, Jack replied; “Still a fan of the Cher sense of humor, I see. Me too. So glad you asked. I’ve been spending a lot of time with a new book. It’s a complete change for me. I got very tired of doing a masked version of stuff I’ve already done.”

“I guess the last one didn’t sell.”

“What a cynical little girl. ............ Woman, sorry. The last one just came out a week ago. They take a while to get going. You know. Buzz and Salon reviews. All that crap. For whatever its worth, the internet reviewers chime in later. They can’t possibly risk losing some of their three hundred followers by going on record about something until those at the zenith make it safe by telling them what to say. No surprises. Kind of like everything else.”

“So, don’t tell me. You’ve temporarily abandoned the world of bitter reality and parked your car on Fairy Tale Street.”

Jack forced a chuckle and said; “Surely, my astute and beautiful lady chooses to focus on Patrick and George, while ignoring her knowledge of Godard’s teaching, in deference to an amusing flash.”

Justice made a sound similar to that made by an indoor cat which spies another roaming outside. He subsequently blew a very wet fart, which made a deposit on the last of the season’s snow; magically melting it like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Jack moved a bit quicker than usual and continued; “’The truth is told in fiction and fiction in truth.’ On lesser notes others have said; ‘Tell seriousness in humor and humor in seriousness,’ ‘Disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed,’ ...................”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m beginning to think that you supplement your writing income by teaching remedial English.”

“Ahem, ahem, ahem. That’s just so banal. It’s what they all do. With joviality on the wane I am compelled to resort to first level subterfuge, played in straight face. I’ve recently become intrigued with mythology. Try this blend. We’re all in Pandora’s Box, including the resident demons. Pandora has learned how to open it. When she does we all fly out. The demons go toward the sun with abandon and come to reside there. We humans cavort in a space outside the box but below the demons, which we come to call ‘Harmony.’ There’s a dividing line no one can see. Reckless, intemperate, and with a spirit of adventure Iggy flies directly at the sun, and is consequently torn apart by the demons.”

Beth was nonplussed and said; “Maybe suitable for children. You’ll have to pay an illustrator.”

Jack audibly sighed, and followed that with; “Is something wrong today?”

“I already told you that I was looking for a private spot. Get the hint, Henry?” She, Andy and Charlene briskly walked toward Propicio Road; while Jack and Justice followed the path to the river.

It was such a warm, beautiful morning that Jack found Beth’s backbiting comments comical. Unheard by Beth, Jack mumbled; “Thank you. Maybe now I can have my home to myself.”

Justice woofed twice, though not in complete agreement. He was trying to say; “Ourselves.”

It was eight AM. The bugle time was played with the untalented, militaristic redundancy of the incorrectly set, electronic wake up alarm at the Lawson residence. The sun-teased, morning air was shattered by what could reach Carnegie Hall, only after everything else was buried. Richard III was, as usual up earlier in a yet-to-be successful attempt to hear the quiet. For a short moment he broke his gaze from the programmable contraptions which had overtaken the kitchen and looked through the cat pawed marked window. “Must have been some night birds around ........ more likely bats,” he smirked as he shifted his not-yet-completely-inconsequential carcass to high chair left. The view of the surrounding dirt piles did not aesthetically improve the quality of matters at all; only the quantity of eyesores. Apparently the lumps were competent in the art of illusion; as they had a nasty habit of seeming larger with every passing day.

“If only I had not taken ‘the deal of a lifetime’ and sold off the land I’d be seeing well-tilled, winter traces of the fall harvest; eight foot corn stalks working their way into the ground, preparing for the next season. Instead there are barren piles of dirt; begging to be flattened by the backhoe’s chilly apathy.” No such luck. The building boom had ended, just after the builder dragged down and piled on the field. Its demise served as a contrast to the hidden, wrinkled and cold pieces of paper in the garage safe, for which it was sold. The documents were now museum worthy remnants of booming America.

The gray sky was either an instinctive choice of color change or it was due to the invasion of one big, texture-less cloud. It had its advantages. Though it was difficult to generate any kind of excitement while looking up, the mass kept the heat in overnight. While usually at this time of year the overnight lows dipped to the middle teens, this year had not yet produced anything colder than the refrigerator’s main compartment. Sunny days provided the heat and evening clouds held it in. Rick went to the window to more closely eyeball the devastation. The ignored overhead light backlit him and he saw a reflection of something that looked a bit like himself.

“Damn artificial light,” he thought as he flipped the switch off. The window commenced operating like a window and Rick clearly saw the mounds of dirt and the heavily tracked land; the footprints of the dirty sallow backhoes departed with the housing crash. He remembered the days when his father cleared out paths through the tanning cornstalks just before Halloween. The family put a sign on the road and despite doubts, the moms and dads brought their kids to walk and more often run through the maze. Rick would play and run with the other kids all day long. The stalks were over their heads and they’d bump into each other when they turned corners and laughed as they continued on their journey into the hidden depths.

It proved to be so popular that it became a Propicio tradition. Every year the sign would go out and the kids would come, laughing as they thought they were on their way to an unknown adventure; and they were. One time, little Michael Wingstop upset everyone when he didn’t come out as dusk approached. Everyone was worried that something might have happened to him. But, no, he was fine. He had just gotten off the paths, and ventured a bit into the stalks themselves to get a better glimpse of the rabbit family which peeped out of their burrow at him. Richard thought; “Now all that is gone and it will never come back. Just because I got lazy and wanted some lousy paper.

I’d love to go back. But, that’s not allowed. Maybe in my head ................ Renders possible institutionalization. No good. Have to deal with the NOW. Have to? What if I don’t and just not tell anyone? A twist on a Clintonism. Ah, they’d soon figure it out and have me checked for Alzheimer’s. .......... The experts wouldn’t find any evidence of that. Or would they? They like those automatic credits from drug dispensation. An ecclesiastical dispensation and a tithe. Terrestrial lobotomy. An unwanted temporal part with little practical value, anyway. Ha ha ha.”

In the morning breeze the spaced out, ornamental, un-covered, poplar limbs attempted to sing a song not yet put on vinyl or CD by Columbia. The valiant attempt was a blessing. Its artistic fruition needed a partner.

Rick thought; “Suitable for some New Age shit. They can dub in the faux exultant, studio tape-generic bells. Not a chance at balls.” He laughed at and enjoyed his “joke” and the lack of his face in the kitchen window. He knew that that was where the hidden reflection was most warm and comfortable; an ecstatic shut-off; erasing pain and doubt. He was positive that was how it once was, until the two-decade-schooled devils created the concept of false memory.

If the “brains” knew how to remove the bad memory storage units, they might be worthy of some attention. Yet, to a certain extent, good or bad is determined by future events and thoughts. Prediction of what will come is a high bar to set for one in school only twenty years. Their unwarranted arrogance is annoying on a good day and meritorious of destruction on one bad. They are easily outdone by burgundy or sangria in one season. Not too impressive.

I don’t presume to judge. Conveniently, perhaps. I’ve been worse. The land where the children once laughed and played is gone forever. My doing alone. Alone. Alone with the stock certificates. My sorrow has no relevance to those kids who now exist only in my mind. False memory is now welcomed. Maybe a burgundy flood will make it all right.

Stephanie softly, yet detectably entered the kitchen, eyes still bleary from a ten hour respite under warm blankets. Before retiring she had turned the thermostat up a few notches. Hope? Dream? What else could it be? The result was another stuffy headache. Her weathered, light green robe was carelessly tied at the waist, a tad open; perhaps unconsciously, or more likely un-caringly, revealing the nipple of her right breast.

She mouthed an inadequate attempt at “Good morning;” the “good” part indecipherable, hidden and unintentional in that lack of effort. She went to the coffee pot and poured. She took a sip from her mustard colored, “TEACHERS DO IT WITH CLASS,” gift mug.

Wary of being officially put on notice of the advent of a “good” day, Rick verbally returned the muffled entreaty with a mellifluous groan, after the fact hoping it was not heard as some sort of disparagement.

However Stephanie’s heart may have clanged, her chosen outward demeanor was that of a wary, but antler-less deer. “Up long?” she inquired with no detectable interest.

Richard III was a bit thrown by an opening devoid of a stock market report. He considered the possibility of Stephanie’s utilization of a Bobby Fisher type of crazy ploy. The co-dependency attached to the word “long” gave him pause, pragmatically overcome through his recognition of his nerve induced, likely disproportionate attention to correctness at the expense of geniality. Much consternation generated in the coming re-warming hinted at from across the room; a logically induced likely oxymoron; at best only worthy of one of the three stinkers discarded in a five card draw hand. “Up” seemed too complicated to even consider in its myriad of possible ramifications; at one level recalling a Richard Pryor comedy titled; “Which Way is Up?” and at a presumed other level a divergence to wishful thinking. He realized that he was fucked up, pitifully with coffee the only potential, lame excuse this time. He attempted a response, with some luck, indicative of understanding from both spectral extremes. He mistakenly said; “Much longer than you.” Intended to be cautious and conciliatory, Richard III heard the sound as being perceived as contentious. Not wanting that he nervously improvised; “Lost track. Just waiting for you, babe.” Richard III immediately glimpsed the possible interpretation as a spin doctor might, and depending on benefactors certainly would. He made infinitesimal shrugs and smiles while looking at her, trying to see her eyes.

Stephanie’s weary head still felt that she could best use a removal or at least an incapable abstraction of the weight imposing itself at the very top of her torso. She’d have gladly traded the encumbrance residing above for any possible tiresomeness which chose to take position below; however that option seemed nowhere in sight; her black coffee in desperate need of microwave services. She pushed the appropriate buttons, tabs, and plastic strips with no regard for precise parlance. As the thingy hummed she looked through the stained window observing the light’s seasonally indirect attempt to illuminate the plundered and abandoned field surrounding. “It was Richard’s doing,” she thought as she stifled a scream, which coerced and simultaneously constrained everything in her. Categorically not wanting to be possibly construed as aloof; yet with an un-controllable need to communicate her feelings, in her drowsy perspective, Stephanie reluctantly adjusted her night clothes to an old Sinclair’s “Babbit,” an appropriately bourgeois standard of correctly preposterous, but advised necessary decorum. In the crisis dictated by the duplicity of an erratic in kindness and cruel in practice sun; she knew she could always count on the predictability of the artificial, microwaved warmth of the thick, mass-manufactured, yellow cup holding her coffee. The automated, programmable, droning buzz almost soothed her in the otherwise silence. “Someone else, a friend, is here, finally, I know.......... she thought in a systematically necessary denial and mockery of demonstrated reality, quickly deferring to the socially acceptable, witty one-liners of the sophisticated; an effort in the negative; to appear not innocent; the systematically credentialed resplendent with their egocentric prognostications and calculations of full understanding, ‘coincidentally” remunerative, opting for the hell of a logic and as worshipped by those badly hurt, yet to be proven as anything more than a visually provocative, self-serving bluff from the purveyors of hard headed lies. Stephanie, in the space of a second of reality and ensconced in their always effective, yet absurd imposition of a western concept of imprisoning “science” removed the doctored cup from the GE, white affordable, center of kitchen, easy convenience. Stephanie had heard the rude beeps, not recognizing them as such, pressed the correct button, knob, fastener, switch, whatever worked; and now, once again, held her cup. It’s warm and temporarily consoling; better than most. ............... Solace; epiphany; a wish; more likely just a happy dream; awakening a curse; a temporary, plasticized, un-recognized deference to the judgment of hell. Yet, to a shy observer; frightened, removed and enthralled with her innocently nuanced, brave approach no resistance is possible; save that of those severely sick and hurt; in sad recognition that we all fit the definition.

Stephanie had no easy, American defined, cheer with which to couch her experience. “Yay, yay, go all the way” was a once disdainfully recalled memory of the disdained high school cheerleaders of her time; maybe appropriate in their good will at the secondary football game; but not understood in the banalities of their “rah, rahs.” Despite true lies to the contrary, a stupid denial or more likely ignorant and innocent, embarrassing word of the past, best forgotten, in its exuberance, she is now desperate for that which has been long gone. Proms. Nervous and scared. The in-crowd which never sees you, maybe an improvement over those who overtly laugh. “He doesn’t only want to hold your books and walk you home. That’s OK and welcomed, but ...... but ... but ....... but ...... but ...... but, it’s all right, but can’t there be more. It was so close, a form of torture. An un-constrainable wish to forever hold the one, and only one she needed and loved. A lifelong belief rendered a stupid dream only. Her hurt and inability to understand that which seems now so far from her perceptions of the beginning. It doesn’t make any sense. You’ve seen the horrible ugliness of me at my worst, and I, you at yours, pointed it out, to which was the hurt and sincere desire of a killing dagger; so hurt, my proudest moment is that when you laughed at me and thereby momentarily one self-flatteringly with you; an Eden most bragging; in an unsuccessful, retarded effort to touch. And this thing put us here. We, I want, out there, in an effort to so much help to easily make it wonderful, as it was intended to be, to escape the Tower of Babel and the easily ignitable fire; deemed, in its construction with rhinestones, the height of brilliance by the deniers with the NY Times writers at their piece evocative submissions to the editor in compliance.”

Weird morning. Just got up. Head hurts more the more I try to think. Best to stop the delusions and inferred permutations. This thought process must have been lengthy and as taught by slickly irrelevant as the main-stream performances purporting nightly, news allowed by Murdoch, in a lucrative, though quiet Salinger-typed redundant despondency dismissed as a gullible minority; effectively handled decades prior when the last of the reported, “confirmable” horrors of the yet unprovable, non-people of 2016 in the US sorts are still incorrectly considered the epitome of abomination within the idea of outdated patriotism; kind of Renoir 1930’s stupid; un-recalled or irrelevant. A definite infliction, but no competition for a beached holy grail. With the odds way against me, I hope that waverings are not only a punished impediment to those merely condemned to feel. Thoughts, sadly, no matter how well of intention, never magnify or touch.

Stephanie, in her drowsed radiance, felt unduly deficient, needed a friend and responded with a now clichéd, declaration of love from another time which said; “Only the beginning,” her suppressed prelude to the memory of something which simultaneously feels desirable and plodding.

Richard was smitten, perplexed and encouraged by her seeming placidity and “cheer,” unaware of the hidden turbulence below. He ventured a tenuous; “Looks like it’s gonna be another warm one.”

Stephanie first considered the possibility of facetiousness, secondly the possible innuendo, and third, the likelihood of banality. Innocuous entrée is a not a prospect after having experienced the decade deluge. She sharply countered; “Can I ever get this place to myself!” immediately realizing that what she really wanted was company.

Richard responded with; “I could say the same thing!” immediately realizing that his combative retort negated his momentary wish for a pleasant morning.

Stephanie sighed and for a second reflected on how easy it is to destroy what is truly desired. In a desultory manner she intoned; “Sorry; I just need a little space this morning. Okay?”

Richard appreciated the new sound, but also is cognizant that the relative pleasantry has the same effect as a flat out shriek of; “Get out of my face.” Duplicitous tactics masked with pleasantries is a game which has been perfected over the prior half century. Done well, any refutation gets bogged down in the placement of the impossible irrefutable burden of proof on the fool. He was tired and bored at the prospect of spending another day trapped in a Machiavelli by way of Kafka descent into hell. He said a conciliatory “Okay,” hoping it was not read as a possible surreptitious appeal to the calculable benefit bestowed on the “good” guy. He added; “I’ll go for a long walk. I just have to dress for it;” his envisioned walk directly to a stool at the Propicio Bar and Grill, making no use of the grill aspect.

As eyes-on-the-floor-Richard III proceeded back to his bedroom, Stephanie was un-focused. Her eyes darted back and forth from her kind as vague; cruel as fading, tongue-tied echo in the kitchen window to the corpus of Richard III’s reluctant departure. She yearned to be able to come up with the right words; shackled in the most severe point of view; hampered and gently distracted in her own. Her false memory of Kurt Cobain came to mind; “Smells Like Teen Spirit;” hello. She sipped her now lukewarm coffee and looked through the window, in vain, trying to avoid the inadequately displayed, yet persistent reflection in the bullet glass.

Richard III is drawn to the comfort of his well-worn, gentleman farmer jeans and his turning-up-at-the-pocket-edges, denim work shirt, but is deferential to his perceived view of the tastes and tendencies of those more current. He donned his lightweight, mall acquired attire. It was once a “gift” from his son who thought that Dad should at least appear to be a part of the new, relevant world. Richard III found that to be practical advice; as he had discovered that when he stumbled home drunk in his stone-washed, denim antiquated duds, he inordinately attracted the attention of quota-seeking cops, looking for a defenseless target. His former mayoral credentials spared him any trip to county jail and even arrest, ticketing, or whatever the unbridled “Princes of Propicio” had at their commanding disposal today. He knew the game, but found it personally repugnant to be compelled to play it with those perfunctory kissers of the not so grand ass. The Hilly’s polyester imports in derivative and un-definable, changing with each wash, colors; coupled with the imported material’s, delicate deference to the slightest of winds, relieved Richard III of the distaste of playing with those on another wave length. He grinned, first derisive of his own cowardice, then personally complimentary at his adaptive capabilities; recalling that some forgotten, radical, scientist of whatever ilk, stated that mankind’s survival was primarily a function of its easy acclimation to adaptation, that skill being beyond that of any other species. He somewhat corrected himself, as he thought that his un-credentialed foray into the world of theory contradicted his simple need to get by. Worse, his presumptuous expeditions into personally-wished enlightenment resulted in years of failure and academically sanctioned excuses. ................... All this shit to put on a pair of fucking, Hilly pants; a likely definition of mental illness or a kind view of inadequacy.

He sat at the edge of the double bed; sadly, no longer able to perceive the scents long gone, doubting his memory, and with a bit of better-not-thought-of reluctance conformed to Hilly and its currency, as opposed to their aficionados waiting in the packed parking lot.

He thought; “I don’t understand. Never will. Just let me get my proper fucking pants on.” He was rewarded in his unconscious prayer and his left leg went easily in as he mercifully lost all other thought. The process seemed to be much too rushed. The end insisted in a manner deceptively confident, yet with the audacity to pretend to be just another ineffective opponent, trying to convince him of the relevance, inevitability and wisdom of its desolation. Misery loves company. He desperately wished to stay; as he recalled staring into her eyes so beautifully revealing a seemingly welcomed surprise; or long forgotten expectation. To Richard III, an opportunity to be condescendingly maudlin or revelatory within the constraints of a chosen, Hilly’s right leg was right in his hands.

Richard’s left leg, now well ensconced in the fashion of the day, he put in his right. The adjustment seemed so effortless that he got up and walked; overconfidently ready for what was to come. The savage duplicity used its only and overused asset; an ability to derive and thwart the currently-seen-as, naïve, stupid wish from times gone. It hurt, Richard accustomed to fancying himself one who might overcome, but the youngster’s views were so ........... un-characterizable for him, yet so inexcusably sad. He sometimes thought that he understood and loved them for not only that. They needed help; as did he; but no one has an inkling as to where that help might be. His right leg’s comfort told him that it was time to get up and get on with the apologizing at best, embryonically to be determined, lost in an irrefutably “factual” long day; its most convincing when it demonstrated the inevitability of outcome, no matter the path.

Richard III walked through the kitchen on his way out. He saw Stephanie’s head involuntarily twitch at the sound of his footsteps, her concentration on the window suddenly broken. He sighed and said; “On my way out, girl. Be gone a while. All yours.”

She was compelled to be polite; at the same time intending to not sound discouraging. Her voice faux lilted; “Taking the car, honey?”

Rather than seeing her attempt at spur-of-the-moment civility, he took the question as a gambit which really asked; “Are you going to drink like a fish?” as he standardly walked when he intended to get loaded, to avoid any DUI complications. He considered making a sarcastic reply, but settled on; “No. Its warm out and the fresh air will do me good.”

She thought that he was making an inadequate attempt at glossing over his intended indulgence. However, rather than comment on it, she sought to avoid potential conflict as she felt a bit guilty over having chased him out. She said; “See ya later,” and heard the front door open and close.

The half mile to the Propicio Bar and Grill was as usual, eerily quiet at the outset, though he seemed to be noticing it at full strength for the first time. His Roderick Usher degree of awareness was un-settling in its suggestion of a less than satisfactory outcome. “Ah, just the depressed mindset of an alcoholic writer on death’s door; a blue version of the story; with its attendant market share;” he thought as he stifled a chuckle observable only to the hidden cameras. The un-attended brown mounds in the barren field which he exchanged for paper silently and stoically watched. After the damage was done and the construction crews departed in the economic downturn they seemed to have taken up permanent residence. The mirage of a few tiny green shoots got Rick’s attention. When he stared he saw only abandoned and disheveled brunettes; but when he concentrated on his own path, the corner of his eye was inundated with the natural, immature, emerald progressions. “Very strange,” he thought. “When I overtly look they hide. And when I don’t appear to pay any notice they make themselves known. Must be passive-aggressive, couch potatoes. ....... Ah, it’s more likely my misunderstanding. Despite the warmth, the irrefutable fact is that it is still winter. .............. Wishful thinking, no doubt.” Rick, of undesired requisite, adopted a Salinger and focused on the extensions of his feet; the dirt road flattened by vehicles; easy to traverse in the ruts; but, challenging at the bounding edges and center.

With furtive glances he pretended to ignore the land to his side thinking he caught some sight of the shy, wild greenery’s hidden cheek. Disinterested in the seemingly demonstrated bore of a continuation of pre-pubescent games, he paid lip service to the developing phantoms, muttering a guttural, humming tune derivative of Tom Waits, at his most hopeful; an oxymoron to the majority. Rick’s mental machinations provided almost sufficient diversions which enabled him to reach the main thoroughfare; Propicio Road.

He got to the two-way-single-laned-blacktopped height of local activity while it was still rush hour. Glazed faces sat in the pilots’ seats and endured the bumper to bumper onslaught. Thirty-five mile per hour tedium belched gray pollution into the temperate morning air and Rick’s lungs. He appreciated not having to attempt to cross the busy thoroughfare, recalling the long gone days when it was populated by infrequent tractors and horses. The gnashing tires pulverized the well-defined paths into and out of town in a subtle show of confident authority over their black domain, crumbling at its edges. At the push of a button, windows slid open; some occupants thirsting for the fresh air their engines had already fouled. He picked up his leisurely pace and, with some difficulty walked on the patches of rubbish marred, sunburned grass between the commercial establishments and the plodding armies of the latest morning. Without sidewalks the differentiation between public and private byways blurred. A quick succession of honks bore no resemblance to that of the former, seasonally resident, winged cranes; escapees to other Southwestern fields not yet suburbanized. Startled, Rick twitched and looked behind him hoping that none of the rolling fog machines had gone off track. He needed a fix and the Propicio Bar and Grill loomed just ahead.

His pace increased building up of a forehead sweat. He thought; “Early heat inhibits the required social skills in boom town; heat welcomed; boom rejected.” The streaked, purple entrance door acted, as best the handyman interpretation of age induced integrity afforded; a cutesy invitation to the marginally pre-pubescent and an ingratiation to the out-of-date. With an adaptively conditioned sense of relief, his shoulder swayed open the hinged portal. Rick’s indispensable view of the luxuriant interior sanctuary served to relax his mind; his moist forehead still requiring refrigerating armor. The sought bastion was evocative of a degraded past performing as a false promise of a future; insistent on having its cake and to eat it too; much as forgotten Empire Americana subsequent to Duncan Phyfe; done in one acre “ranchettes.” Rick’s attempt at escapist diversion were only hindered by his predatory, un-wanted thoughts of a mis-remembered past and a future which seemed forged on a criminal printing press. Bottom line, Rick felt that any attempts at capitalizing on the self-aggrandized, supposedly impending and inexpensive duplication was preferential to the rot, imposed by mere phase; or perhaps more accurately a complete dismissal of that which has been superseded by that which has “obviously progressed.” “Progress” was too old a story to make another attempt at regurgitation in chunks. It was less laughable to go with the flow of the managed and depleted river to the damned north. Beaver obstacles were natural and a necessity for their survival, but the barricades engineered by geeks in command of steel, purposely and with cruelty, complicated things and inevitably did their damage.

Richard III attempted to hold the door open, desirous of a gentle finality. The un-explainable subtlety was at DFW level, just another post or post-post-modern frigid, emotionless game. He entered as the temporarily piqued returned to the flavorless solace of their otherwise, clear, glass containers. As best as he could, which was relentlessly propelled by a desire to eternally entangle the merciless joke; scientifically postulated to the bewilderment of any detractors; on some “modern” mechanism shutting behind him as if there was a hope of rendering mute its closure, the purple door finally closed without a thud. The fatigued, disillusioned, thereby popularly seen as so sophisticated eyes of the early patrons looked up in a conceivable display of the faith they had sought but not found, despite all the allowances made in desperation to the next, yet to-be-discovered and religiously hailed, spiritually deficient, yet worldly compelling replay of “Elmer Gantry.”

This was not a happy series of thoughts for the man who once wanted to live in the simplicity of “Rick.” The controlled, measured solace was un-definable to him; hawks or under-flipped as opposed to under-handed seals, previously heard and ultimately rejected; in stupid flaunt of a deprived consciousness or a wished ten black inches; the latter so transitory; the source appropriated from the real spoken; interpreted by the intelligent watchers as compelling to the NY Times as another failure and accepted, but inarguable derision.

After the door firmly met its prescribed place there was a discomforting silence. The front-of-the-room tap dwellers retreated into their succor, some still capable of a concentrated, early-pube passion; at a decades remembrance of a smile, pretending time was still.

Richard III, with a deference to possible hubris, easily concluded that all of his soft meanderings into a world he may have imagined rather than have taken part in was one he experienced mentally and maybe, in a self-congratulatory, hoping to avoid derision and inadequacy taunts; self-misunderstood; error upon error. He knows no answers and seeks a place where it would just stop hurting.

He enters and to the left is a confident, bearded, with the smallest showings of gray at the edges, man who, without regard to old time civility or modern day money flaunts his Dali-like dexterity, popularly playing into the polar stagnation of 2016. He pays no bar tab and flips his old coin in the corner. He surreptitiously owns the fucking place and can do whatever the hell he wants; with total disregard for proprieties; social or legal. He seeks not whatsoever to engage you. From an eternity of repetition he knows that you, in desperate moments, will seek him. His coin has been through all the slots, plots and polyglots, and is still here. Another executor to the bleakest of houses, Dickensian, economically proficient, paltry estate; an irrefutable and convincing logic; except you know that, despite his physical frailties, Tiny Tim wants something more to the detriment of those who bargain.

The relative tranquility of the interior’s un-recognized, somnambulatory attempts to shuffle and perfunctorily, once again execute the commercial necessities on the one hand and the convivial superiority, chic and aloof deemed necessary on the other, made Richard III’s desire for serenity segue into the position of yet another biased and guilty aspirant of impending peace. His pre-collective-coarse-water-hole-escape to the surface, cosmetician-interior-designed, replete with spiffy, gray, easily movable, six foot partitions, for the benefit of those in need of “special” treatment-for-a-fee, seemed to Rick to be currently demi-monde in its self-aggrandizing insinuations and falsely far-reaching, un-witting deference to ancient classicism; and prone to the safety of the half century old, Warhol duplication and a century of anti-Freudian, Jungian archetypes; un-provable to the scientifically stalled, painfully obvious to the fully conscious occupants of this room; if yet any had not yet succeeded in washing the joke away.

Rick was still in possession of a level-headedness capable of traversing the given road, desecrated in part and cost-effectively, roughly and nearly efficiently, un-breathable in the exhaust of the oil consuming populace of neoteric and swelling Propicio. He had back-burnered any notion of anything more relevant than the neon assault of night-time, garish, blinking in its defect, un-natural color in their “welcoming” invitations to “bar and grill.” In the dark of night they advertised a flippant and functional, fractional, marginalized, down-to-earth acquiescence in a flashing, possibly fuse-deficient, seductive come-on; a clouded, perhaps mercifully so, the least averse to the acceptance of the ultimate reason’s best proffered definition as that of Sartre’s innocent expectation of a benign neglect as the lowest of common denominators. No wonder Simone loved him.

Richard III was expecting to be relieved to enter the twilight of the “Propicio Bar and Grill’s” knowing, veiled with shutters perennially closed to any possible light, fortified with tin casements establishment; and he accommodatingly and desperately was. The inordinately vociferous, conceited and heavy door had shut behind him. He was finally in.

The malodorous cacophony of the most main, currently construed as the most germane of streets, formerly and innocently vainglorious, now sarcastically, in the most “exalted” of privileged toddy time profundities referred to as an archaic, presumably un-informed and gauche play at the absurd; as if in their most Narcissistic of feverish and hallucinatory of immature hopes, their misunderstood DFW dalliances to the regaled, not understood, irrelevances were perceived as “Calle de Elysgar a un Sitiuo,” now bedecked with the less-than-convincing, advertisement of government imposed tin plated and hard-to-miss Propicio Road signs all over the mass thoroughfare; perhaps a belated and more studied “1984” like deference to a struggling and youthful strain for more than a mere existence in the previously defined as sad, logic-inevitable nothing not obliged by the rulers; to the “coincidence” of their cruelest of interests; 1969 “Village Voice,” articulated at the whim of the wishes for the financial remuneration of Mailer’s search for consequence with the black, laughing, light heavy. Instead, it was just another field of massacre; an un-respecting diversion into what Rick has commonly seen as that which could exist only in the worst of dreams. Blindness is an obscure benefactress who has already been there and promises to be his caring future; though sometimes she lies.

He had remembrances of the former cutting edge, now restricted to absurdities defined by the defunct Europeans; Hardy, indecipherable Joyce, to the hilarious point of the non-point of Beckett; updates inconsequential, invariably a course of irrelevant “social” discussion. Collette and Cherie revel at the margins and often in between. Warmth? Love? Redemption? Ask them. They are the ones who feel it. Alas, they are not standard. Like soldiers, they choose to risk being bravely hurt in their fanciful visions, knowing that they will soon be subjected to the inevitability of the hawk’s accepted brand of recrimination. Is this any way to spend the long day’s journey? “No, ....... no,” they say in unison. “It cannot still be.” No, backspace to infinity; please stop the cries of Eminem.

The trifling door disturbance seems to be a contradictory impropriety in the early, shockingly hot morning. Now, securely sequestered amongst the raconteurs of new Propicio, Richard III surveyed the place in search of a private seat. He had options. His side glances indicated that the coin flipper actually grinned as he got another head. In a foolishly optimistic moment, Rick thought it possible that the flipper wasn’t very bright. Though he took initial solace in that possibility, he quickly abandoned that thought, seeing it as much more likely that the flipper continually rejoiced in predictable perversity. The closer scrutiny dismissed that damaged and faulty initial view as a testimony to wishful thinking. Richard kept the thought to himself for a few good reasons. On a practical level he had no audience and thought it wise not to be seen talking to himself. On a philosophical level his immediately retrievable thoughts seemed anathema to the very popular American slogans of “Hope springs eternal,” “Have a nice day,” “Keep your sunny side up” and a host of other bumper-sticker-popularities available at Wal-Mart at a supposed discount due to Chinese printing.

Little Eva’s “Locomotion,” had long ago been re-named and re-worded and considered an antecedent to its current Spanish derivation of Calle Ha Ido; once a paper street; now in the center of town. If that was not sufficiently detrimental, it was replaced by the bar-room-stereo-system’s incongruously adjusted-to-damn-near-mute, homogenized mix of Coltrane’s wordless version of “My Favorite Things;” the perception available only to the jazz aficionados. In the moment the traveler was again the “Rick” of antiquity, oblivious to the commonalities of the reality defined by authorities, easily-deferred-to-one-line “rationalities” acquiesced to by those used to taking the punches. He opened his coat and took his choice of seats at the bar; a wobbling, precariously high stool. Though it wasn’t the least bit comforting, through his long experience, he saw that that the unstable high ground was the best offer imminently available.

Behind the counter, Mary’s tired eyes broke from the comfort of her rag moist, systematized-to-appear-busy counter wipes and sighed when she saw Richard take one of the traditional paying patron’s positions, joining the sparse early morning “crowd” on one of the conventional concoctions of faux wood. Her savored and fading recollections of something less predictable and humdrum were abandoned with the rag she left in the steel sink. She has gone on automatic pilot. She wiped away the unruly bangs, did her best to imitate a smile and said; “Double Jack?”

Rick was immediately again converted to Richard III. He was fortified by his realization that he was paying the tab and was again in charge of the minutiae. He grinned, similar to the sight he had of the coin flipper and droned; “As usual,” immediately feeling some sense of indefinable guilt and consequent embarrassment. His diversionary attempt was to say the banal; “Warm outside today, isn’t it?”

Mary couldn’t help but awkwardly render a smile as she mixed the drink. She mumbled; “Is it? I’ve been here since well before sunrise.” The audio system abruptly changed its repertoire to something that sought to resemble Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me;” this “artist” making the effort in braille.

Rick thought he understood the old game; feel sorry for little me and little me leaves a big tip. No one had yet found a way to break through the line without being seen as the “bad guy.” And hell, maybe it is true this time. He looked into the mirror above the bar and saw an aging Rick face above the multi-shaped bottles. Despite the obvious departure of youth, he also knew that this dim light would be most conducive to him. He diverted his eyes from himself and saw the four other grim night-hawks on stools. Through the mirror their eyes seemed to catch his, and he averted them, in a personal shyness, or maybe the modern, un-observed aspiration, not to appear rude and intrusive. He focussed on Mary’s upper thighs, well displayed, as she made the slightest of required efforts to bend over the sink.

Mary brought over the diversionary, well mixed, diluted milk of honey; the miniscule accretion a positive attribute which allowed her to pay her gas bill; warm water a necessity in the morning. Rick strived to get out of himself; or at least give the appearance that he had. As Mary sighed, adjusting the coasters designed for marketing purposes, thereby emblazoned with “Propicio Bar and Grill” in a calligraphy someone once must have sold as artful, she silently plunked the discolored water in front of him; and he said; “In case you didn’t know your uniform is stuck halfway up your behind. ................... More than all right with me. Just sayin’ in case you just got stuck in an accident.”

Mary adjusted her “outfit malfunction” with her left hand; her eyes steely and incongruent with the possible invitation solicited by her lower attire. She said; “Fucked up already? Ever hear of Mr. Coffee?” She walked back to the stainless steel sink, turned on the cold water, and glanced at herself as she pretended trying to remove stains from clean glasses. Her old thoughts recurred; “After he has a few belts, he’ll be all right.”

Temporarily capable of enduring the social farce with all of its Twit induced, inconsequential tweets, Richard III or Rick, lowered his head and gurgled the preliminary glass contents. Partially through, his eyes elevated to see that Mary had moved elsewhere. That perception made him feel a need to suck at the glass in a clandestine effort to get her interest. Her job required her to fill an empty glass. The Jack hit his head in waves. He was not sure of a tranquility dreamed; she afraid, necessarily sober, still alive, yet somewhat interested in making the slightest of commitments to another game playing loser. His relief-excitement-hilarity-passion-heart-soul-eyes widened more than he wanted. Previously disappointed, the third of the clan was only half surprised as that his attempted-to-be-conveyed thoughts were again taken as a bad word by her. He thought; “No, no. Not again. Please not again.”

Mary turned her back, choosing to face the more convivial others. Richard thought he understood another pop rejection, to the best of his knowledge, first articulated by the forgotten, un-rewarded Camus. For the briefest of moments, the illusion of her face boldly flashing in the morning sky provided Rick some compensation; hope; dreams; Eden; something long gone.

Abandoned in his precarious seat Rick took a long distasteful swig; then another to convince himself that he could stand it. It seemed another social obligation; the mock staunchness a requisite obliged in conveniently un-recognized, contorted face. Which deficiency is laughable? Extremely limited point of view? Singular surety? Rick didn’t care one way or the other, but Richard III brooded.

The contortion transformed into a manufactured derivation of a warm glow, which gave perfunctory heat like a partially malfunctioning baseboard system. He tried not to think that this would be the best he would feel all day. He remembered the opening lines from Lynrd Skynrd’s old song; “Whiskey bottle. Brand new car. Oak tree in my way.”

After another less frantic swallow, the warmth seemed to have spread out all over his body and head, bringing the relaxed feeling that everything was absurdly funny. He stood from the stool, which he thought was only minimally useful, as all it supported was his butt. He thought it amusing that the one part of him which needed no support was the one that got it. He got a more comprehensive view of himself in the funhouse mirror.

His glittery leatherette, black belt was, of necessity, positioned below, and was seemingly supportive of his bloated belly. Bellies were admired and oft-self-palmed status symbols among the bulls of Old Propicio, possibly because a fat one inferred the luxury of not having had to spend much recent time in the fields. However, they were now relegated to the you-can-never-be-too-rich-or-too-thin culture of healthy lean and mean. Rick felt incredibly out of style.

“Belly up to the bar boy,” was the new refrain. At this age Rick actually liked being thought of as a boy, perhaps reminiscent of when he and his cadres were called “good old boys.” He thought; “Okay. I’m going to fool the regulars today and not do my usual show. I’ll show them how this place used to be before suburbanization turned it into puce. But after downing his second double he still had no idea how to do that. He crossed his arms on the bar and rested his chin on them. Creativity lacking he stared into the mirror and saw the furtive glances and smirks of the others, even Mary, the bar maid. She walked to him and said; “Need a nap or another double?”

When he was rational, Rick was well aware that his stature had declined in all respects other than his belly. But after a few shots he usually regained his kingship. Right now he felt more like the court jester; a valued position when one is endeavoring to be comical. His eyes darted upward and his lungs filled with sufficient air to unleash a flood of venom and instead he coughed, hoping to retain his lungs. As Rick bowed his head and spread his legs in an effort to ensure that any matters brought up would hit the floor, he felt a hand patting him on the back. He glanced into the mirror to see Joshua Marshland at his side.

Simultaneously Josh and Mary said; “Are you all right?”

Rick said; “Do I look all right to you? ......... Shit! That is the dumbest question anyone ever asked me. ....... Fucking shit!” He remembered he was in a “proper high class” establishment and found that amusing; though he looked toward Mary intending to proffer some sort of apology and succeeded in coughing out something which sounded like a bullfrog saying; “Ibrakuhemenhloop.”

Josh sat on the closest stool to Rick’s left, slapped his back one time and said; “Not to worry, partner. I’m here to fix you up. Mary, just don’t stand there. Get this man another drink. Can’t you see he’s dry? Me too; the usual.”

Rick stared at his would-be benefactor for a second; then choked out; “I didn’t remember you having a mustache.”

Appearing sincere except for the cow eyes the thin man in the black and white checkered sweater uttered “Thanks would have done fine.” His facial expression quickly reverted to blank disinterested and he declared; “Do any thinking about what we spoke about last time?”

“Didn’t have to. You’re wrong.”

“Wrong about what?”

“That I need you.”

“Oh, wad some power, the giftie gie us.”


“Nothing. ........ Okay. Okay. You don’t need me. But you OBVIOUSLY need something and I can help you get it.”

Mary brought their drinks and placed them on the Propicio Bar and Grill emblazoned coasters.

Rick said; “Thanks Mary. This is what I need.”

In a dismissive tone Josh mumbled; “Thank you.” Mary returned to the group at the other end of the bar.

Josh took a quick glance at his watch, clinked glasses, took a belt and declared; “Listen my friend. Got places to go and people to see. So, let me talk quickly.”

“Didn’t your Momma teach you any manners?”

“Momma’s dead and the world has speeded up a lot since you last participated in it.”

Rick shrugged and made a half nod.

“Okay. I know that 10 years ago you were a well-liked mayor and gentleman farmer. I know you sold the farm, taking un-registered stock which is as of close yesterday worth roughly two-thirds of what it was at transaction date.”

Rick interrupted; “That’s none of your business. How can you be so sure?”

“Ever hear of computers and the information age? There are no more secrets. You want me to tell you your birthday, wife’s name, bank balance, value of your house, credit card numbers ..............”

Rick interrupted and said; “All right. All right. Damn things are an invasion of privacy. They ought to disallow .......”

Josh interrupted and said; “They’re here to stay and they’re only going to expand. That’s the way it is, so deal with it or bitch irrelevantly.”

Rick knew the truth of that one all too well; his current irrelevance. He had been feeling it for some time, but, up until now thought, maybe wished that he was hiding it in drunken bravado. To see it so openly stated was embarrassing; but contrary to that also some form of liberating. Rick looked at Josh sideways and saw him agitatedly looking at his watch. For the first time he admitted to himself that he could use the help of this nervous little man, who he didn’t really like at all. He also knew that if he truly wanted to be Mayor again he would need the help and advice of this little man, or one of the many like him, and this one was right in front of his face. He wasn’t one hundred percent sure if he wanted to again be Mayor again; but concluded that it was preferable to be the harassed man-in-charge than be the drunken laughing stock of the Propicio Bar and Grill.

Josh interrupted his silent reverie saying; “Hey, hey; still here pop?”

“Vague response called for. Ever hear of a diode? Or can you merely detect on-off. They invented that only 142 years ago, hotshot.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about; other than that it’s not a no. So, before I leave let me lay out the simple facts of life for you. You’re at a severe disadvantage being Richard Lawson III everywhere you go. Nowadays people make heroes just to tear them down with the quick flip side. So, the trick is to provide only a moving target.”

Rick- Richard III was far from totally misunderstanding. He had been a politician. So he took a swig and made the semblance of a half shrug, meant to indicate; “Similar viewpoint. Tell me something I don’t know.”

Josh recognized that and continued; “Okay. Bottom line. The ten year garbage contract is up for renewal a few months after election. There will be more money kicking around than any of the local big-deals have made in the last three years. Seventy-two bucks per month per house; under $10 cost with illegal alien labor. Add it up. More profit per year than AmawayOnSteroids has made in twenty.”

Rick winced, showing only diodal interest with the spark at the short end.

Josh sighed heavily and said; “All right. Gotcha. Above money. Got a theatre production for ya, your name already on it. Here’s step two. The current mayor; Pig something or other; isn’t a made man; only a fringe player, and can be easily taken out. The ‘good people’ of Propicio, under the banner head of some gardening society have already stirred up sufficient and growing discontent to dump him. They just need an alternative. Elms on Calle de la Some Shit are messing up their gardens.” He couldn’t refrain from snorting some kind of amused or derisive nose maneuver, mercifully free of any out-of-hand, lasting sign.

Rick used the small break to take a gulp.

Josh deadpanned his continuation; “The ‘good’ gardening society, on their one acre plots, fancy themselves the descendants of a Propicio past rural heritage and see the ‘Elm people’, who have been here for generations ones who are taking away their birthright. Typical suburban takeover. Happens all the time. Ass backwards joke, I know. But, there’s the play. They will elect someone who evokes a tradition they must be fully Xanexed out to see themselves a part of, who will be expected to kill the little that remains of Propicio’s true tradition, which they see as a weed to be sprayed. ....... Simple. This is where you come in. Tradition.”

“I’ve always been a straight shooter. The people know that.”

“Maybe the ones who were here ten years ago know that, if they haven’t yet gotten Alzheimer’s. Irrelevant; crooked is the way of the day. Look, it’s easy. I handle the campaign through the internet. You make a few; very few appearances. You point out your heritage and you say you want to bring back old Propicio and get rid of the elms on Calle de la Congelacion.”

“Even if I were willing to boldface lie that doesn’t even make any sense.”

“What world are you living in Ricky? Okay, okay. If you’ve got a problem with lying, then you say that you’ll do everything in your power to get rid of the elms. You don’t have to mention that you don’t have the power. And regarding sense; damn man. 1984 is 32 years past. You make them temporarily happy by telling them what they want to hear, win in a landslide, hand me the contract, and then either quit or give them the old song and dance and hang around.”


“I’m not one to make value judgements. Presidents get elected promising peace and then as quickly as they can find some excuse to fund the war machine and get their cut. But, if you need some ‘moral’ shit then consider this. You didn’t make the playing field. You’re just obliged to play on it as the rules have been handed to you. If you don’t run some crook will win and likely do more damage to Propicio than you could imagine. You’ve got only two choices. One is to again become Mayor, be a big man again, and do good things for the wonderful people of Propicio. Or you could continue to come here and be nothing more than a ridiculed barfly, get cirrhosis of the liver and the DT’s.”

“Can’t I do both? .............. Just kidding.”

“Glad you got your thinking cap on pops.” Josh squinted at his watch, stood, patted Rick on the back, and whispered; “Gotta git. More business. I got faith in you buddy. Pignatelli is ripe for the taking. There’s probably a few who can do it, but not as easy as you. I like to bet on sure things.”

He offered Rick his business card. When Rick hesitated before taking it, Josh pointed to the man at the door and added; “That man has been standing there flipping that goddam quarter since I don’t know when. How many consecutive head outcomes do you have to see to make the brilliant deduction that the coin is fixed?”

Richard III had been around long enough to have a good idea of Josh’s meaning. He audibly sighed and raised his eyebrows.

Josh said; “Ciao, baby. Call me. ............ Soon.” He raised his voice a few decibels and called out; “Hey, Mary. The tab’s on my friend, Mr. Mayor,” then hurried out the door, exchanging grim nods with the coin flipper.

Rick thought that a bit nervy and eyed Josh’s departure in the mirror. He called Mary over and said; “Have a drink with me. I’d like to ask you a few things.”

She said; “The working girls aren’t here yet.”

He said; “I know, I know,” though he didn’t. He thought; “Hooker within walking distance of my house. Jesus. Things sure have changed around here.” He said; “Gimme a refill and pour one for yourself.”

She did just that, though her vodka portion came from the vodka bottle which contained water.

“Mary, how well do you know Josh?”

“Not at all.”

“Oh, okay. I understand. This is just between us.” He pulled two twenties from his wallet and put them on the bar, keeping one finger on them. He asked; “All right?”

“Yeah, all right. ....... I wish I knew somebody named Josh.”

“................ Umnnn. That guy who just left and told you the tab’s on me.”

“Oh, you mean Boyle?”

“I’m not sure what I mean. That guy who just walked out is named Boyle?”

“That’s what he told me. He’s no youngster, so I didn’t check his ID.”

“What do you know about him?”

Mary gently tugged at the two twenties and Rick let them go. “Says he’s a patent attorney, but I think I know more about the law than he does. ............ I don’t think he likes girls.”

“Any friends?”

“Always comes alone.”

“Live around here?”

“Don’t know. .......... All I know is that he doesn’t stay long. Talks to me about being some big deal attorney with all the details until some guy walks in by himself. .......... Hit on ya?”

“Hell no.”

“No big thing nowadays. ....... Then why do you care who he is?”

“He was talkin’ about some kind of business deal. Hey, I’m asking the questions here. How long has he been coming here?”

“Less than a month. ....... Kinda irregular; mostly around sunset though. ......... Switches around with his drinks.” Mary chuckled and Rick didn’t know why.

“Who does he talk to?”

“I told you. Guys who come in alone. I don’t know their names.”

“You’re not being much help about this Boyle.”

“If I knew more I’d tell ya.”

“Aaaah, thanks Mary. I deserve an extra, though. Who’s that guy flipping the coin?”

Mary put her arms on the bar, leaned toward him and whispered; “He owns the place. Thinks he’s real funny. Got two coins; one rigged for heads; the other for tails. Does a good slight of hand. He gets some bored drunks to bet and he always wins.”


“Scientific fact until the next discovery.”

After three double Jacks Rick decided he needed to do some thinking in private. He briefly considered the Propicio Bar and Grill bathroom, but quickly determined that home was preferable; an olfactory thing.

He paid. When he walked by the coin man Rick derisively said; “I know your old game.”

Presenting a facial expression reflecting abject boredom, the coin man didn’t bother to look at Rick, preferring the shiny coin, but, in a low voice said; “Congratulations. Everybody else does too. But, it’s the only game in town. Scientific fact until the next discovery.”

Dumbfounded, Rick watched three more consecutive heads decorate the tiled floor. He half stumbled his way back the way he came. Rush hour traffic was over and all he felt was the stillness and all he heard was the blare of sunlight. The ancient golden boy was continuing its recent, early season penchant for full strength. Any cloud with an idea of participating in the blue thought twice, remained hidden, watched the glow and was content to have felt the heat for now; further sensing the experience of gigantic, imminent, celestial foreplay; with much more to come.

As Rick passed through the property which he and his family once owned he was startled by the sudden screeching arrival of two robins; ostensibly not operating by calendar and not paying attention to the computer aided weatherman. They landed and hopped around the dirt piles, looking for the worms which were not there; and through the efforts of the half-assed construction crew, may never be there again. Richard III got another glimpse of how his lazy, paper denominated, action or in-action had had its effects. The robins; always the first sign of spring and a source of joy from the time he was a little boy would no longer have any reason to come near him. The land was no longer anything which bore a semblance of the natural. It was dead.

The robins took to the air. Rick watched hoping they might circle back. Instead they disappeared behind the two storied, faux Southwestern styled houses to the north. No longer constructed of expensive adobe they were stick built to provide a bigger bang for the buck; and their exteriors were covered with stucco so no one could tell the difference .......... unless they went inside. The robins sought elsewhere. This was especially disconcerting to him as he knew that the red breasted announcers of warmth and taste always flew in pairs and frequented the same places every year of their journeys. Of necessity, they had abandoned their instincts to find a suitable place. That was no longer Propicio.

He tried to shut off his thoughts, attributing them to inebriated flights of nonsense, in-explainable in sober moments. With head down he continued on the dirt path leading home; a one story adobe with a flat roof. The exterior tan stucco was now un-matchable. It got that way from years of sun bleaching. Any needed repairs now necessitated a total re-do or an eyesore. The only sound he heard was the dull hum of the cars on Propicio Road, which got fainter with each step.

In an effort not to annoy Stephanie with his early return, he went through the garage to the back entrance. When he gently opened the door he sighed heavily as it squealed against the brick step, making him cognizant that it was coming apart on the left side; the tongues no longer in the grooves. He pushed them back in place in order to be able to close the door; knowing that a more permanent repair would be required.

He removed his shoes and gingerly tip-toed through the house. He was relieved to see that Stephanie was back asleep in bed, her head buried in the pillow. He got to the living room containing his laptop and turned it on. He felt happy when he was welcomed. It was his first true greeting of the day. His joy was short lived when he saw that the news provided by his search engine was that of a female Palestinian suicide bomber on the Gaza Strip who had killed herself, eight Israelis and two American tourists. Israel had already fired rockets into Lebanon, taking out, among other things, two hospitals. An Israeli spokesperson emphatically stated; “That is where the radicals hide.”

Rick had a cheery thought; “This is old news. Nothing worse had happened. Same old shit.” He had heard that suicide bombers go to heaven or something like that and are given fifty virgins. In previous cases where the suicide bomber was male, he wondered if there weren’t some devilish trickery involved. They did say virgins and strongly suggested eternity. Ah, perhaps the prizes were skilled in other arts. To take that in a different direction he imagined what it would be like to have fifty women asking you; “Like this?” “Is this what you want me to do?” or “That thingy is going in there?” Might be okay for about a week and a half, but after that ....................

But now there was a new twist on things; a female bomber. Would her virgins be male or female? ............. Or an assortment? And if any of her virgins were male, how could it be proven? And where could you find one, never mind fifty guys to admit it? ............. Equality and all that, sometimes biology presents problems.

He thought; “Enough frivolity. I’ve got serious things to work on.” He searched for Joshua Marshland and couldn’t find any such person. He tried Boyle and found about eight billion of those. He figured the best thing he could do was to cease being a risqué comedian and computer maven. With minimum skills YouTube could get him back that old country feeling. Rick played Lynrd Skynrd’s 1976, black and white, live version of “That Smell.” When it ended, he put his head down and fell asleep.

Jack’s last brief meeting with Beth reminded him of the dangers of irrational, hopeful love. It was akin to taking a protracted solo ride on a roller coaster while believing that there will be no vertical loops or scream worthy dives. While he would not allow himself to abandon long, ice free, Calle de la Congelacion walks with Justice, especially with temperatures setting records for late winter highs, he had a plan. It was so easy to come to his conclusion that a child at a third grade math level could have done it. Over the long haul he had spent about fifty times as much miserable time agonizing over her than he had spent happy time with her. His decision was that he would be better off staying away from her or the person who may or may not be her.

This approach worked well. It was a success; but, of course it was an un-tested one as he did not see her. Jack began to think that the two recent times he did see her that it was the result of some sort of wishful thinking which had manifested itself in his now largely voided mind. The majority of people he had known had spoken of wishing that they could quit their time consuming, hated jobs if they could only afford to. He did have an affordability issue, but he also had a new theory. A mind is determined to be occupied with something. If it no longer has its chief employer to ponder, it will fill that space with something else which could be a lot worse; like this bi-polar Beth apparition.

Justice took his time in their walk toward the river, as he kept stopping to investigate the “new” scents which the warm weather was bringing forth. Jack ambled along thinking about getting a regular job or a hobby; preferably a two in one deal. His writing would fill the bill nicely; but it seemed an unlikely source to pay them.

All in all it was a very pleasant day filled with pleasant thoughts; and in the matter of an instant he saw that it was to be put to the test. From a distance of approximately one half of a mile he saw the apparition, Andy and Charlene access the road from what seemed to be the Dietrich property. Intending to turn around and go toward Propicio Road, Jack clapped his hands, getting Justice’ attention and with a head movement and a few steps back, the Shepherd became aware that Jack wanted to turn around.

Justice took a look toward the river. He made an unusual, low pitched “yeow” sound; something like a questioning kitten. He turned around and moved slowly while he looked at Jack. Jack was disappointed; in that he realized that it was likely that if Justice was seeing the same “apparition” he was, it was not an apparition at all. Though it was a disappointment, it was not a disaster for him as he still had a Plan B which he had already put into effect. He and Justice were going the other way. They were leaving in the opposite direction. Justice dawdled, much as he did prior to the sighting, as presumably, there were “new” scents worthy of his investigation on his backtrack. Jack noticed that Justice was furtively glancing toward the river with each stop, and suspected that he was allowing time for the trio to catch up.

Jack took a few steps ahead and said; “Come on, man. Let’s keep moving at least a little bit.” Justice seemed to understand and fully complied the first time he heard the exhortation, for a few quick stepped jaunts. But, then he would stop at another irresistible scent, and was a lesser degree of obedient each time Jack did the “Come on, man. Let’s keep moving at least a little bit,” routine. Jack suspected that either Justice was an extremely smart dog with no tolerance for re-runs or that Justice was an extremely smart dog who was quite adept at giving the impression of compliance while facilitating his own agenda. In either case, Jack had not even made it back to the path to his own house when he heard; “Jack, Jack. Wait. I have to speak with you.”

He cringed and slowly turned back around. In that everlasting second Beth was upon him, accompanied by Andy and Charlene. She was wearing a tightly knit light blue sweater. She seemed extraordinarily large and not in the mood for the restraint of a brassiere. She took his hand in hers and said; “I’m so sorry about last time. I don’t know what was wrong with me that day.” She let go of his hand as she staggered back two awkward steps. She giggled and added; “I do like my wine sometimes.”

Jack’s thoughts bounced all over the place. He looked down and saw that Justice was cautiously approaching Andy and Charlene. Charlene seemed to be receptive, while Andy affected a more formal posture. He leaned the slightest bit away from Justice; kind of saying; “We’ll see.”

Jack realized that he had not yet said anything to Beth. Initially, he didn’t want to; but he had already slipped from his firm resolve; and thought that it was impolite not to. Besides, she looked so damn good; and it was so warm; and ........ So, he said; “Are you all right?” and was immediately embarrassed for sounding so lame.

“Yeah. It’s just a little difficult to keep my balance when I’m standing still. Let’s walk.” It was more of a slow crawl than a walk. After a couple of silent steps they both started to speak at the same time, and then they both stopped at the same time. Beth found that amusing, and said; “You first.”

Jack had his half lie ready and said; “It’s okay. We all have our bad days.”

“What’s okay?”

Jack stared at Beth and she seemed sincere. “.......... You apologized for last time.”

“I did?”

“Are you kidding me?”



There was an uneasy quiet, which Beth broke when she said; “It’s really great that you can write like that. Though I read a lot I’ve never written one word.”

Jack found that sad for some reason. Maybe it was her tone. Maybe it was the way that she had slowly emphasized the last four words. Maybe it was just a commonly used phrase which he was making a big deal about. Maybe ......... He wanted clarification, so he said; “It’s really easy. I could show you.”

It was even more drawn out when she repeated; “Not one word.” She turned her head away as if she had found something interesting in the elms on her left.

Jack was unsettled and sorry that he had pressed the issue. They approached his driveway, and he tried to impart a more jovial note. He said; “Come on in for a while. Sometimes I like my wine too.”

She confused him again. In a haunting, hollow sounding voice she answered; “Oh nooo. I’m not ready for that ......... yet.”

He didn’t know what to say or think. As they continued to slowly walk toward Propicio road, he started to babble. “I once had a dream about you. It was a long dream and you were only in it a few seconds. Weird, right? I was at your parent's house. It was a very expensive, though not huge, California contemporary near, but not on the water. Your mother looked attractive and when I said something to you about that you told me that she took a bath in anticipation of company. I spent most of the time with your family maid and don't remember much from that other than worrying about looking presentable. I did spend a fair amount of time with your father, ersatz or not and it was pleasant, until I incorrectly noted that the only kitchen was miniscule, using some other word, and then making the observation that in modern times many don't care much about the kitchen. Despite my clumsy attempt at an apology he got all pissy faced, but attempted no physical vengeance. I was thankful, as I didn't want to get smacked by a behemoth. When I looked behind me there was a large kitchen, the entry to which was ineffectively blocked by hanging strips of fabric. I think that was the end of the dream. Before that I was looking at the interior of the house. It was obviously decorated by a professional with a penchant for the use of contemporary, subdued, texturized, color fabrics. But, now it was in a meaningful state of disrepair. Pieces which were inches wide were completely worn away at the edges. I wondered why the owners of a house worth $10,000,000 had not yet invited the decorator back. Weak possibilities were entertained; none compelling. The multi-acred property was surrounded by a solid fence of indeterminate material. The grass was well mowed and the lawn had many full sized, perhaps ‘ornamental’ trees, spaced sufficiently apart to not hinder walking. When in the yard I saw you watching me through a ground floor window, and I got the idea that I had only assumed that the water was just a bit down the road, and that maybe it wasn't there at all.”

“Hey, you know, I like you,” she said touching his cheek.

He touched hers and said; “Remember ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?’ It was your favorite song.”

She moved away and plaintively said; “That was a long time ago and a lot of things have happened to Beth since then.”

“Oh, sure. Everything has changed. But, we don’t have to. It can be like that forever for us. The rest can kill themselves any way they’d like. We’re not like them and we’re not obligated to be their keepers.”

“You can be so sweet sometimes.”

“So can you.”

“We’re too old now! Why do we have to get old?”

“I don’t know. Chances are that we’re going to get a hell of a lot older. Why not do it together?”

“My mother was dead by my age.”

“My mother is 83 and still doesn’t have anything life threatening.”

“Stop it! Come on. Just stop it.”

“I can’t.”

“Do it for me. I’ve lived through two decades worth of shit I’m doing my best to forget. But, something won’t let me forget. ....... Remember how you used to have that horrible dream every once in a while? You’d cry to me and I’d lie and tell you that everything will be all right. Multiply that pain by more than a million. That’s what I feel every lousy day.”

“Beth, please tell me where it hurts. I’ll kiss it away. I know I can. It can be as good as ever. I know it; I know it; I know it. Give it one more chance.”

“I don’t want to think about all this stuff. If you really love me, just go away and make it all stop. ......... No, don’t.” She turned around with tears welling up in her eyes. Jack thought that she didn’t want to be seen crying. She dropped her two leashes and ran toward the Dietrich place. Andy and Charlene ran with her, thinking that this was a new fun game.Jack didn’t follow. He couldn’t imagine anything more to do or say. It was not the most difficult of decisions to make in the moment. The dream had returned; a dream he saw as paradise. He also knew that her current contradictory, secretive and changeable behavior was not only the cause of contemporary pain, but also jeopardized his sustaining remembrances of things past.

Justice woofed twice, a probable indication that he sensed danger. He bolted away, but stopped five feet ahead to look back with worry in his eyes. Jack said; “I’m with you, pal. No worries.” Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna” played in his head.

Jack walked on, just once turning his head back to say; “Keep on playing crazy, contradictory and suicidal angel. It’s irresistible.”

At the Woodson residence Cindy was unusually distraught. She said; “I’m sick of this attempting-to-be-social shit. Every time I leave the house some toothy face asks me about the elms and I have to say something they want to hear. The result is that I cringe every time I go out the door. The truth is that I love those fucking elms and I hate everyone who wants to hurt them. I thought we came here to get away from all this shit. But, no, you have to be social with these pieces of shit.”

Ty put his arms around her waist.

“Don’t touch me.”

She broke away and put on a CD. She played Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them.” As she listened she stared out one of the windows which faced the elms, while Ty sat and watched her back, which shifted from side to side, when she moved her legs.

The song ended. Stillness prevailed as Cindy did not move from her window vantage point.

After a minute Ty said;“Wow, you’re really bummed. Let me do one.” He put on Steve Miller doing a live version of “Space Cowboy.”

Cindy kept her back to him while it played an Ty wondered if he had made a mistake in trying to abruptly change the mood 180 degrees. He kept staring at her trying to pick up some sign. When it ended he was elated to see that she evinced the slightest of smiles, when she turned to him and said; “Great, great, baby. Just what I needed to hear. But, for once I’m going to have the last word. This isn’t aimed at you. It’s aimed at the elm hating whines who live in this fucking place.”

She opened the windows. When she got the last one open she yelled; “Hear this, all you crimes against nature.” The Replacements did “Never Mind.”

At the end Ty said; “Of course you’re aware that nobody else heard it; and that even if they did, they’d have no idea what it means.”

Cindy had 60 percent re-established a joking demeanor. She deadpanned; “I know. It’s petty rebellion. But it feels so good and you can’t get in any trouble because of it.”

“Think you can handle one more dipshit meeting?”

“Just one ................. and only if you set off your fart machine.”

“My pleasure.”

Cindy had to hear Patti Smith do; “Summer Cannibals.”

It was also one of Ty’s favorites and he followed it with Laura Nyro singing; “Stoned Soul Picnic.”

They drew the blinds, shut off the phones, and followed each other’s choices until they fell asleep; Ty on an avant-garde and surrealistic pillow.

Jack and Justice dawdled outside, taking pleasure in the early balmy weather. Not to impress this crazy lady who called herself Beth, Jack decided that he would attempt another book just because he felt like it. He typed.

“Quotes from Chairman Bow Wow”

“If you can’t do it, review it.”

“There is no doubt in my mind concerning mankind’s greatest invention. We’d have killed each other off long ago if not for the relief provided by laxatives. ........ On second thought, maybe laxatives are the epitome of evil.”

“People who live in glass houses should erect a tall, sturdy fence, while they consider re-modeling.”

“Fall seven times and stand up eight; or else on the eighth stay down for the count and take the low end money.”

“Don’t be sad that it’s over. Be sad that it ever started.”

“We didn’t start the fire. We just do fanned friction. Really. It can be quite lucrative.”

“Speech is free here. ......... If you will be so kind as to agree with me.”

“The lady hath not protested much since 1972. But she does have ‘issues,’ and if you stand still too long you will hear them.”

“The fabrication of a sense of propriety is nothing more than a corruption of a sense of the proprietary.”

“It is no accident that God made love and sex two different things. If love was required for procreation the species would have gone the way of the dinosaurs.”

“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Merriam-Webster calls David Foster Wallace and engages him to re-define the terms.”

“Fifty acres and a musket.”

“Many people find Pynchon and Wallace similar. Yes, I agree that they are both excellent twenty-first century writers; one of whom is a prisoner of length and the other one an occasional jail visitor; both difficult for many readers. One uses up-to-date, bizarre symbolism in a covert attempt to disparage it; this, inexorably a surreptitious ploy for a return to the traditions of the Mayflower; presented in a Chaplin-esque motif. The other uses up-to-date, bizarre mixed with traditional symbolism, in an overt attempt to suggest the inevitability and infinite feasibility of change; presented in a Hicks-like motif. In an age submerged in and fascinated with deception, it is obvious which one receives the “highest honors,” as they are bestowed by those well advanced in age; if little else.

“To be able to put down words, the single most important thing a writer who believes that they have something important to say is to forget that absurd notion.”

“The best writing is that which communicates on at least five levels; mine and uh ..................”

“Any personalized search for ‘completeness’ is an obvious, though not overt, testimony to the searcher’s luxury of free time and a grand self-image. At any given point, a person is a manifestation of a few of the many shifting attributes or personae, sometimes called nafs, which they have continually adopted at will; while they have simultaneously discarded others. It seems so simple; ‘One cannot have their cake and eat it too.’ For others, it is best to avoid the ones who will never be satisfied.”

“Those who say ‘go for it’ haven’t the slightest idea what ‘it’ is.”

“Those who say Magical Realism is wonderful because it has no limits have a high tolerance for abject stupidity and incompetence.”

“When a ‘reviewer’ says that a book is too long to review, they are confusing the word ‘review’ with the word ‘synopsis’ or just don’t have a clue.”

“When a commentator says that to write a ‘long book’ is masturbatory, they may not realize that the author considers masturbation infinitely more preferable to sex with the jackass commentator.”

“In the year of 2016, and, on behalf of all officially recognized minorities and those yet to be recognized, I would like to thank the many literary mavens who strongly chastise those who make politically incorrect characterizations or otherwise delineate dim-witted hatred of them. As we all well know the situation is not tolerable until everyone uses the appropriatewordswhich will indicate that everyone loves each other. The minorities defended appreciate your noblesse oblige in granting them equal status a half century after everyone else did. I’m sure that the gratitude of blacks, women, LBG&T devotees, and members of other minority groups is directly proportional to your eternal vigilance. Thank you so much.”

“If someone likes or agrees with everything you say they are either not paying any attention, angling for something, or too stupid to bother speaking with.”

“In order to have any chance of being implemented the best long term solution must also be made to appear to be the best short term one. If that is accomplished the next hurdle to be surmounted is the inevitable defectors; all well-armed with tons of their heart breaking good reasons and clarifications.”

“You say that I am angry. For the last time, I’d like to assure you that I am not. See Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus and derivatives for an exhaustive explanation or Franzen for one more concise. I fear that if you persist in your inaccurate judgements, that I will really become angry.”

“Autism is a natural defense mechanism existent in people cursed with high levels of déjà vu. It is a crime for psychologists to idiotically attempt to provide an ‘antidote,’ but they will persist as that is one of the requisites of their failed ‘profession.’”

“Sometimes a Mark Twain witticism is just a Mark Twain witticism.”

“If you think that you have something important to say; understand that you will be merely displaying your ignorance in so doing; as it has already been said thousands of times we know of and likely millions of which we are unaware.”

“For every great quotation there are a minimum of three great contradictions.”

“Indifference is a much more effective weapon than hatred. Not only is it easier on the nerves; it is much easier to employ.”

“Adept prophets communicate wisdom kindly and effectively, until they become confused by their discovery that X=X+1, when written in luxuriant olive. Businessmen and politicians flourish because they stop at the point whereby they know that X=X-1, when written in inflamed ruby.”

“To provide free services to an entity like Goofreads was a heart-warming and noble endeavor. To continue to provide free services to an entity like Goofreads after it has been acquired by an entity like AmawayOnSteroids, is either sheer stupidity, extreme slavish masochism, or is conclusive proof that a person is looking for an excuse to make complaints, to which all will sympathize on the surface and clandestinely revile. That is an overly kind way of saying it, as it doesn’t require a genius IQ to know that every Goofreads which succeeds in becoming valuable through the use of free labor sells out to the AmawayOnSteroids’ of the world every time. Yes, you read that correctly; every time, every fucking time. ............. Okay, you choose to not believe that one 100%. So, how much you wanna bet?”

“Pantomimic, protracted Pynchonic pontifications presume profundity, yet pitifully proffer a plentitude of poop piles prior to every princely, pithy piece of personally protective praise.”

“Life gives you a billion good reasons to quit. All that is required is to pick the one with which you are most comfortable.”

“Let’s not and say that we did.”

“It is certain that if Obama was a white man he would already be touted as a candidate for one of the worst US presidents of all time. The irony is that if he truly was a black man he probably wouldn’t have been so ineffectual.”

“In circles which consider themselves part of the intelligencia the un-written, yet operative, definition of ‘free speech’ is that one can say whatever they choose, no matter how contradictory or baseless, about the US, UK, Israel, Christianity or Judaism. Yet to speak in the same manner regarding Arabia, Africa, Muslims is not permitted. One can only offer one comment and that is just too rude.”

“That the minority of Pit Bulls and Dalmatians have attacked humans makes it permissible for people to say and write that those breeds are best avoided. However, if a minority of Muslims have attacked humans it is not permissible for people to say and write that this breed is best avoided. There is something to be said for one’s requirement to clean up their own house.”

“Unanswerable does not equal indecipherable.”

“Murakami equals almost literary musaak. Maybe the ‘something lost in translation’ stirs idle imaginations into deep, deep thought.”

“If anarchy was brought to the Americas it wouldn’t last a day before the thugs with the biggest guns took over. Any naïve foreigner would save themselves some embarrassment if they lived here a while; and I don’t mean a two week vacation; before they started pontificating about it.”

“A genius is one step ahead; an idiot is two. (Possibly sic.)”

“Some things just plain stink, but to say that one is treated worse than the stinker. It’s better to stay quiet and hope the inept don’t get insistent.”

“Seek and ye’ll soon be sorry ye did.”

“The black, winter, night sky shines with all the brilliance of stars which died eons ago.”

“When utilizing lyricism, symbolism or allegory it is best to surreptitiously hide that behind literal people and objects.”

“Writing is easy. The only thing writers have trouble with is learning how to spell T-h-e E-n-d.”

“I didn’t break it. So, it ain’t my job to fix it.”

“The price always goes up after you’re dead.”

“Bulls make money. Bears make money. Hogs don’t.”

“Remuneration for an endeavor is directly proportional to the degree of distaste required to perform it.”

“Do not ever give the impression that you think you are saying something new. Its 99.99% certain that you are not; and if the .01% possibility is the case, everyone will say that they already knew that.”

“If destined and cursed to ponder whether one’s neighbor is a Dadaist or one with a surplus of chromosomes, save yourself the headache. Just give him a kick in the ass and watch his first three steps.”

“Grand plans are concocted by those who have attained the prerequisite of having failed miserably at the small ones.”

“Things are as they are because people want them that way. Invariably they bitch about it, prior to rejecting any alternative presented. This dynamic does not even reach the stature of petty rebellion. It’s just a cowardly farce ad infinitum.”

“It is as equally retarded to be anti-science as it is to worship it.”

“In the beginning God created everything. Since then we’ve been complaining about it, studying it, fixing it and ‘improving’ it. Observe the groovy 2016 results; a nineteenth century Shelley creation.”

“The easiest thing to do when the damn thing stops working is to push the restart button.”

“Popular objections to Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ actually boil down to an objection to art for its own sake. Joyce was so hurt that, while ‘Ulysses’ provided a framework, his next effort; ‘Finnegan’s Wake,’ would provide none.”

“Most modern ‘radical’ literature is independently provided by bookish kids who utilize their skills in gangsta speech patterns to provide an egalitarian mixture of ghetto and Valley Girl.”

“At its root or lack thereof, socialization is a measured response, calculated by one devoid of a measurement instrument.”

“A Traveler is one with a black witch’s broom placed in the appropriate space. It is fortunate for the others that she has no effect on anyone other than an equivocating Manny.”

“One of the amusing things indie reviewers cannot resist is to re-use and re-use admired phrases copied from other indie reviewers. Today, the most popularly duplicated phrase is; ‘I liked it for the things it didn’t say as much as I did for what it did.’ I wonder if the converse is true. Substitute disliked for liked for one possible reversal. The devotees of this view might do well to stare at a blank book. It could be orgasmic.”

“There is little doubt that dualities exist in nature. However, the currently popular double and triple binds discussed on ‘Bookworm’ and the ilk are most often foolish attempts to reconcile two of the infinite supply of imperfectly defined words. Plato’s world of forms, anyone? The result is useless sophistry, which only serves as an egoistic or financial benefit for the perpetrator.”

“You’ve got to cross all the eyes and dot all the tease.”

“An incorrect response to an incorrect response to an incorrect response to an ....................... produces a correct response at level 10.”

“When in danger it is always best to seek the highest ground, unless one is at the base of Everest with no climbing gear.”

“There is case law and there is contradicting case law. Idiots kill each other over their ‘ideologies.’ The higher authorities will always make the final decision as soon as they cease laughing.”

“Walls appear to be the best of friends. They have an accommodating habit of showing up whenever you choose to see them.”

“One particularly annoying dichotomy is that humans seek information, but also object to being told what to do. This requires the responder to cloak the answer in competent and popular entertainment, if they give a shit.”

“The quest for knowledge still culminates in the professor’s enlightening innocuous dissertation. Understand that clarity is not an absolute in three dimensions. What is clear to some is unclear to others. Therefore, the pursuit of clarity is a loser’s game.”

“Education is the bridge between impetuous faith and exasperating reservation; joking Wallace vs. joking Franzen. Yeah, I know that I stole it. But, legally it is not under the “protection” of the copyright laws. Thank you Mark. ...... Er, Sam. .......... Ah, see. Fuck it.”

“Counter-intuitive becomes a more descriptive assessment when all intuitions are created equal. Until then, “chameleonic” remains a superior imperfection 6X.”

“Why is it that the degree to which the ending of ‘I don’t know’ is articulated in the most ‘clever’ of terminologies and is directly proportional to the degree with which the postulation is jargon laden; with zero standard deviation? Thought I’d grasped an anesthetized number of hypotheses, but must have misplaced them somewhere in tutorial seminar, where they may still reside, hidden under someone’s fat ass. Please refresh my memory. Enlighten me. ......... On second thought, never mind. It had to have been just another one of those yin-yang non-resolutions.”

“Two tiny banalities poorly executed lead to an infinity of complications wrongly considered momentous. My sincere apologies to William and Virginia. I do appreciate the acknowledgement offered by Bill and Gina stating that it was at least a paraphrase rather than an act of plagiarism.

Distillation: Two banalities poorly executed.”

“Censors are the people who tell you whether or not it’s all right to read what you have written.”

Jack reviewed the quotes he had written. He realized that some or many of them just plain sucked; the “S” or “M” word the focus of consideration to most, if not all readers; yet to him just a function totally dependent on his momentary mood. Some of them were so stupid that an intelligent reader would be forced to conclude that they were purposely so and therefore worthy of an imperceptible grin. Some of them were actually good, in the sense that they were no worse than the originals they sought to evoke and simultaneously mock. That personalized opinion was an honest evaluation, and certainly contained as much merit as an honest book review. However, as a matter of practicality, Jack saw that he was having difficulty in coming up with derivative aphorisms after only five pages of them. That would never do for a bona fide, legitimate “book.” So, he abandoned his “fun project” and decided to work on some over-the-top-ludicrous-gross, with absurdism crap. This genre seemed to be popular with the growing YA market, ostensibly because they incorrectly thought of it as “new;” it was easy to write and understand; and that it appeared to be something like the short stories of George Saunders, who the New York Times had recently crowned king. Of course, it was only the surface which appeared as Saunders-like as there was no intelligent overview. Easy to do and understand; describe Bozo in words, yadda, yadda. But mostly because the more financially important US market increasingly aped that of a traditional UK market in that “young adults” spent more and more time under their parent’s roof; and that market was still expanding. Some of the archaic concepts were hidden from popular perception; in that they were an in-eloquent, bizarre in appearance, duplication of seven decades gone Harold Pinter. No big thing. About three people in America knew of the Harry-man. Jeremy just never had the pecs.

So Jack disdainfully wrote. His objective was to write something which no-one could dismiss as coherent, linear, or in possession of a point. From prior experience he knew that he had set a lofty goal. Previous attempts at written pointlessness had always produced an un-wanted point.

But, crafty old Jack had thought of a way to get around that. He would have his fictitious main character deal with it. The minor nuance would work for the majority of readers. He found it truly sad. So many of them had emotional and-or medical problems, they had spent their lives with their noses in identical books or have had their faces in front of plastic screens which, at their best, made a poor copy of the page. Jack pushed the appropriate keys to induce the plastic thing to display;

“Madame Bovary 2016- working title as the fucking computer requires you to call the shit something.”

Sixty-nine year old, post-menopausal as opposed to post-modern and post-industrial, Kathy Acker was feeling as neglected and abused as she did when under the extremely well self-documented lack-of-care given the unfortunate child by her mother and step-father. Kathy had been depressed, not only by her advanced age and lack of a functional thingy, but also by anonymous bullying and trolling e-mails she’d been receiving, which said cruel things like; “Get over it, bitch.” Her prior libertarian posture had become overtaken by her sense of propriety; which actually emanated from other people’s need to exhibit her concept of propriety.

She was further chagrined by reactions from her “Creative Writing” NYU students who saw her as a whiny old bat with absolutely zero contemporary relevance with a penchant for tired classics and woefully passé grammatical considerations.

She decided that it was necessary to make a glorious, cutting edge comeback; without the self-knowledge sufficient to inform her that any such “necessity” resided full time between her ears, and tended toward reclusion. In an attempt to satisfy her personally un-recognized need for the “love” granted by stardom and success, for the first time in two decades, she started to write a book. As had become her forgotten trademark, she made use of her “creative” juices, and encrusted it with the working title of “Madame Bovary 2016.” She intended to sarcastically update and thereby deflate and deconstruct Flaubert’s classical tale of a promiscuous married woman with no tolerance for the norms or the mediocre. Her first problem quickly flew in her face, as insistently and as provocatively as her memories of a fledgling dripping pussy once did or didn’t, when, through the rings still attached to her parched petunia, she saw that anything she wrote had been previously written, and written, and written ....................

The bubble she had never previously noticed in the perennial mist, intensified by her imperfect vision, which had served as shelter from the banal storm, had now burst as surely as a cracked, neglected, and eroded New Orleans levee. She was as frustrated as she was confounded; as for the first time, it crossed her mind that she may have no more relevance than a member of the worker ant contingent. For the first time Kathy entertained the horrific thought that she might be of as much significance as any unpaid warehouse worker at AOS. She shuddered and jerked

Her thought was that the blocking devil resided in her vast knowledge of literature. The impediment just insisted on remaining with her. In an attempt at a quick fix, she e-mailed Benny Pynched and politely encouraged him that he would feel a whole lot better if he would just blow it out his fucking ass. Kathy’s initial revelry in being a “bad-ass” faded when Benny made no response to the direct statement. She thought that he might prefer something containing a scholarly riddle; but right now, “academically cutesy” was the last thing she wanted to be.

After that irrelevant fiasco, her next approach was to seek familiarity with her young students. She didn’t realize that this was a tepid approach and was likely indicative of her problem. She showed them her labial rings and found that they had more of them and in more categories and localities. She felt as if she was older than Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She decided that it was high time to let things fly and get really “radical.” As motivated as a Batman with his four incher all the way up Robin’s un-Criscoed, lowest aperture, Kathy engaged the infamous and expensive Ace Hole, P.I., to find the elusive “Man-Woman-Both With No Name” (MWBWNN) for her. Ace was a two and a half foot tall midget who was reputed to perform excellent service primarily because of his ability to remain un-noticed and blend in with the crowd. Critics were their customary dismissive and attributed his results to the fact that he had a wide mouth, with a cigar perennially dangling from one side, while he talked out the other; thereby encouraging people to tell him anything he wanted to know, just to get away from the stink. Women liked where his head was at. Ace paid no attention to the analysts. He was too busy finding the wanted, counting the money, and extricating himself from the tangles.

MWBWNN was not the easiest thing to find. The Tri-Laterally commissioned one was a renegade lobotomist, who has been primarily working with political figures; and had spent the last thirty years on both the FBI and CIA’s ten most wanted list. It was rumored that MWBWNN was initially a philosophical zealot who believed that a person had a right to do whatever they wished with their own head; and at some point lost the youthful zeal; now doing it only for the money. Zie had made a name for him-herself a while back through performing the specialty surgery on post-election Ronald Reagan at the request of Nancy; a surreptitious right wing operator. The iodine hair cover was absolute genius. Most recently Zie had been acclaimed for his inventive work with Obama. Since Barak’s hair was closely cropped military style, in order to not tip off the conspiracy marketers, it was necessary to pull out his brain through his mouth. Apparently, the experimental procedure worked well as every one of the “new ideas” was flushed down the toilet. As an unexpected bonus, Hillary’s national health care plan was so badly fucked up that every one of the private insurance companies reported record profits; while nobody knew where to go if they experienced chest pain at 3AM.

(Insert a ton of yadda yadda concerning Ace’s appearance, office décor, conversation with Kathy and any other filler required if the book comes out too short. Insert two tons of yadda yadda about Kathy’s appearance and demeanor, utilizing appropriate poetic metaphor to suggest that her true wishes are to get her post-menopausal thingy repaired.)

To have any chance of being vital; the way she and eight others thought she was the first time around; Acker’s only remaining hope was to have the inhibiting part of her brain removed. If she could no longer be cursed to remember that what she wrote and said was a regurgitation of the past, she would be able to write and say it, convinced of it being new. Besides, she thought that having a shaved head with prominent stitches would be super cool.

Ace had cited huge personal risk in the project as he emphatically said that to find MWBWNN he would be stepping into areas occupied by the shadow government which was beholden to no one but the Fascist ideology as administered by the clandestine. Because of that or his negotiating skills, she has agreed to pay Ace Hole $1,000 per hour. To make sure that she was getting her money’s worth she tailed him. Though initially difficult due to the detective’s ability to disappear into the crowd; she found that she could not go wrong in following her olfactory, rather than visual senses, and followed Ace Hole’s stink.

(Insert a whole lot of stuff describing the Manhattan street scene, the kinds of places where Ace stops, who he talks to, snippets of the conversations. It is tedious, but remember that people like reading descriptions of Manhattan more than they like reading complicated plots. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!!!)

Kathy follows Ace onto the B train (Describe, describe again. Especially the passengers who appear to be ominous, homeless, or sleeping.) to Brooklyn Heights where he enters a trendy-bi-with-a-preference club in Brooklyn Heights, named “Liquid Sky.” (Describe, describe, and describe again. Slick white and bright lights.) City freaks and rich wannabees from the suburbs populate the facility which was previously a roller skating rink. “Liquid Sky” was probably somewhere near their peak in popularity thanks to the resurrection of “cutting edge gay” as LGB&T, the patronage of a few artists and writers no one outside the facility had ever heard of, and, like Kathy Acker, a few old timers who once had modest and quickly fleeting credentials. The constant presence of people who dealt in pharmaceuticals with every possible three lettered acronym was an unspoken addition.

The club had just signed a punk rock band named Onanists for a week’s engagement. The group of five loners had the distinction of being the week’s crossover idol, as they satisfied the avant garde, the intellectuals, the slobs, and the traditionalists by having the number one song titled; “I’m a Slave to my Dick,” an extended version rumored to be first un-veiled during their club engagement.

Ace made a bee-line for the co-ed bathroom at the end of the bar and Kathy took a seat at it, keeping an eye on the door.

A group of young women in leather cowboy hats and fur lined boots sat on both sides of her. The one closest said; “Boring as a missionary fuck here. You lookin’ for some girl play? Thirty for one; a hundred for four.”

Another of the young women said; “Hey, that’s so rude. You know who you’re talkin’ to?” She looks at Kathy and added; “You’re Kathy Hacker, right? Oh, cool. My mother has all of your books. Read them when I was little. Can I get an autograph for her?”

While waiting for Godot on the can, Ace Hole was in his glory when someone on the other side of the partition told him that MWBWNN came around “Liquid Sky” sometimes and had done some pro bono work on a few Neanderthal heteros. The informant expressed his doubts that this was done out of the kindness of his heart, as he thought it likely that the cash and cutting lobotomist was experimenting with a new wiring procedure; one which might eliminate the straight neural connections and replace them with something more circuitously chic.(Insert some detailed absurdity concerning the preliminary results and how the informant helped Ace Hole to get his feet on the floor and out the leaded glass, back window because he knew that Kathy was tailing him.)

(Insert more yadda yadda about the bar conversation, how Kathy keeps watching the door until she pisses in her pants and rushes in, and somehow try to work in how MWBWNN is writing a book titled; “Set Your Mind at Ease Through Proper Elimination,” which MWBWNN’s publisher thought was a book about purgatives, which he planned to market as an eastern religion tome aimed at the geriatric, “New Age” constipated set.

Kathy became a regular at the club as she liked the atmosphere, but more because she was trying to locate Ace Hole, and that was the last place she had seen him. Other insignificant characters she saw there are;

A) A 60 year old, senile Johnny Rotten, with spiked orange hair dangling from his nose; who keeps showing up, refusing to pay, insisting that the Sex Pistols are playing here tonight. He wanders around calling out; “Sid, Sid. Come out from wherever you’re hiding. I give up.”

B) A 102 year old William Burroughs who politely goes from table to table asking if anyone knows where he can get some “Sunny D.” The younger crowd does not know him and think that due to his proper suit and hat, most likely he is a poorly disguised underground narc, so they keep referring him to the person they hate most and Willy keeps pathetically shuffling and being polite to no avail.

C) Aliens the size of fleas or crabs have parked their ship on the Upper West Side roof of Kathy’s condominium. They are addicts, and they float all over the place in search of an entertainment that their redundant planet can no longer provide. At this point they are a minor annoyance to earthlings who merely swat them if they get in their face. The aliens are undeterred, as their intellectual advancement has allowed them to view that as the ultimate high-release; until Kathy’s new one goes movie.

D) Primarily in an effort to avoid any charges of pretentiousness, there will be a 25 year old guy from Georgia, unfortunately named by his slut mom as Rim beau Cracker. He’s kind of always around; seems to be un-noticed, though that is actually an act, has no bearing in the other’s version of the story, especially that of desiccated Kathy.

(Lots of details about finding Ace, who had become an experiment for MWBWNN. She walks in in the middle of the procedure, and promises not to call 911 if she can get a standard lobotomy free of charge. After a bit of haggling the deal is done when Kathy promises to fork over 25% of the royalties from her new book.)

(Insert more detail concerning the operation itself, where it takes place, what MWBWNN looks like and zie’s memory of a youthful fling with a much older man; Ronald Reagan.)

Kathy was feeling great with her fresh lobotomy. Her only writing impediment was her compulsion to continually view her now pear shaped head, decorated with the largest and blackest of cool and prominent sutures. She writes short stories about three characters named Dick, Jane and Spot. Her work was well received by the masses, which was too un-cool for her desire. Unfortunately for the fleas, many died from the cold turkey withdrawal from fresh entertainment. Some sought and found an alternative existence in Ms. Acker’s middle of the road proclivities and discovered a love for athletics as they learned the pleasures of jumping through hoops. Worse, Kathy started to be stalked by this weird looking guy-gal-both who said that she owed zim a lot of money. Worst; no one was offended by her books. She re-read the books and found the ideas contained in them much too obviously subliminal and revealing. She was embarrassed and changed her name back to Martha Baumstein and moved to Queens. She burned her laptop in the fireplace and contacted Ace Hole, as more brain work was required. The visual appearance of the black plastic melt was reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the West; though the odor was more foul than Ace’s cigar. At least the little demon remained silent.

Jack re-read his draft, and ultimately decided that filling in the blanks was just too tedious, un-rewarding, and plodding to bother with. Besides, he had a strong suspicion that the brainless story had already been done by a funny looking, indie hack who worked out of his mommy and daddy’s house in Boca Raton. The whistle went off. It was quittin’ time. He’d rather spend the day walking the less travelled trails with Justice. He thought; “That dog sleeps like a baby.” He rubbed Justice’ belly furiously and said; “Come on, pal. We’re gonna see something new. We’re gonna drive half an hour to the National Forest. We’re gonna walk there and hope that our only company is the birds, bears, and bushes. We’re gonna ............ We’re gonna .......... We’re gonna ......................

Stephanie Lawson decided to take matters into her own hands. She had sat through countless Richard supplied, varying financial “reasons” regarding the reasonability of his decisions; primarily that which resulted in the sale of the family farm in exchange for paper which had steadily declined in value, and has left unsightly lumps all over the landscape. She realized that though her financial knowledge was the equivalent of a moth’s understanding of fire, she didn’t need an MBA to know that things were not quite satisfactory. She also knew that to be able to articulate her dissatisfaction and possibly come up with an alternate plan; that it would be necessary for her to at a minimum learn the basic principles and jargon of what now seemed to be a foreign language. She began her “education” on’s site which offered a free study and closed with an “opportunity” to open an account. She read;

Brief Notes Regarding a Long Term Study Concerning the Necessity of Exactitude in Accounting Especially Insofar as its Effect on the Standard Profit Dependent Capital Asset Pricing Model Published Posthumously

“It is all too often that the financial writer engages the reader in sensational abject nonsense. The popularized dictum which states; ‘Truth is told in fiction; and fiction in truth,’ has been utilized, knowingly or not, by every crackpot fiction writer to espouse their personally biased claims. It is a ‘cheap’ method to convey ‘facts’ which have either not been tested or have been ‘tested’ in a statistically insignificant group. It is thoroughly unfair to the reader to be subjected to reading long winded diatribes only to find them useless speculation. It is in their interest that my associates at and I offer the first of a series of thoroughly researched and unbiased studies of a subject most dear and central to our collective consciousness; the calculation of profits.”

“The longstanding general acceptance of the Modigliani- Miller theorem which postulates that, all other things equal, PTP, formerly referred to as NIBT, is maximized through the usage of the LIFO method of inventory valuation, ignores the studies done by the Lepke-Rogers group which suggests that while Modigliani-Miller’s observations are true in year 1, the PTP level may actually decline in years 2, 3 and beyond, in the typical mildly inflationary environment, if the LIFO layers are reduced, either by aggregate or selective count; thereby rewarding growth; i.e. I2>I1 and penalizing contraction I2<I1. Of course in the historically small possibility of a deflationary environment the situation is reversed; making Modigliani-Miller correct for the wrong reason.

In addition, PTP is strongly affected by the SOTYD method of accelerated depreciation especially when I>2 and I<10. Despite the acceleration, and perhaps counter-intuitive, while SOYD10 maximizes PTP1-3 it minimizes PTP4-10, but just as in LIFO inventory valuation the continuing positive effect is dependent upon rates of growth in the capitalized asset sector after YR3 factorial, the degree detailed on attached Chart A. Conversely, you can easily see the effects of a reduced capital asset acquisition program, the degree specified in attached Chart B.

So, the question, even using a rudimentary tax neutral model, obviously becomes one of two independent elections; those elections only being allowed one change, moderation or deviation each, is what decision or series of decisions maximizes PTP, which is dependent upon future decisions and random circumstances, assuming that the decision maker is rational. That matter is currently under study by thirteen teams of well credentialed bean counters, and preliminary results have been widely divergent. This seems to have a mildly statistically significant direct relationship with the text book used by the researcher in their freshman year of college.

Until a consensus is reached we will continue to have a proportionate caveat regarding the all-important capital asset pricing model. For the few out there unaware of this definitively utilized model, it places the value of an equity instrument at the expected profit in year 1 divided by 1 plus the expected risk-free interest rate in year one; plus the expected profit in year 2 divided by 1 plus the expected risk free interest rate in year 2 squared; etc. In practicality, this calculation is usually ended by year 20, as by that time the denominator has grown to a number which effectively causes the numerator to be insignificant. However, in unusual times, such as those current; wherein the risk free rate of interest is historically low, the calculation may well be extended. You will no doubt appreciate the need for a precise income calculation.

You might suggest that a solely profit based calculation of the equity value is patently absurd. It may seem obvious that even if the equity entity had no expected income and was therefore indicative of a zero equity valuation, that the assets of the organization; say a tractor or a fleet of them; could be sold, resulting in the attainment of money. You are far from alone, but in the minority opinion group. Your assessment is effectually rendered moot through the profit addition and division approach followed by the vast majority.

So, until the bean counting experts can come to some sort of agreement, we are relegated to attempting to do our best with imperfect tools. Further, if and when the bean counters come to some sort of agreement, we will then be obliged to consult with those who claim to have the ability to accurately predict the future risk free interest rate, recognizing that there are irrational political considerations involved. It is undeniably true that through extrapolating the implied appropriate rate for any given time period from the market based price differentials between US treasuries, US mid-term obligations, and US long term bonds works well. In fact it is uncanny in its logic and consistency which can be measured down to the thousandths of a percent. The weakness of this simple calculation is that the answers provided today will not be the same as the answers provided tomorrow. The radical minority take this as evidence of the fallacy in this procedure. However, this approach provides a market unanimity at any given point; and perhaps more importantly, a professional safety in numbers.

While the aforementioned considerations no doubt seem banal to the casual investor, we here, spare our customers the tedium of aggregate considerations, trade balance, marginal propensity to save, invest or consume movements, beta scores, standardized and un-standardized deviations, mean as opposed to average expected divergences, currency exchange rates, oil price predictions and considerations, what George Soros is doing through his sock puppets, and whether or not Kramer’s predictions are a contrarian’s paradise.

We gotcha covered. That’s our job. ............”

Stephanie had made a list. She hadn’t done this since she had read “Infinite Jest.” She flipped to the end of the post in search of a glossary. She was enthused about how simple things were. Sure, she needed further amplification to achieve her goals. But, she was pleased with her start, in the simple realization that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” She knew not to click on the “Open Account” button.

Things were a bit more dour just a few doors away. There was no particular reason. It must have been something in the air; maybe the elm seeds. In a dispassionate voice, Blondie informed anyone who might be within earshot to “Just Go Away.”

And in a house a block so geographically near yet so many light years apart, sounds emanated from one of the offender’s plastic deference to modernity. Much too late, “Jack’s Lament” was extracted from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Frank’s Bar and Grill

I heard about it while I was sitting in Max’s back room; feeling so outrageous I must have appeared outré. I had no way of knowing as there weren’t any other people there that day and the bartender wasn’t going to say anything which might screw up her tip. I was sure that I was either starting a trend or ending another. I was thinking about going somewhere else myself. Max must have had powerful butt magnets installed under the seat of my chair, as every time I started to get up something pulled me back down. Spiritualists would probably have called it karma, kismet or constipation; but I think it was the magnet. Hey, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith might have once had their butts right where mine now was. About ten years ago. You see, the hippy era had been dead for that much time and even the roadies hadn’t been around Max’s for five. The people on the A List were more and more flocking to the discos. I was half out of my seat when I thought; “Holy shit. Sam Shepard.”

Carrying a soft covered pulp book titled “True Tales of the Old West,” he waddled in, sat on the stool next to mine, and said; “Hey man, how ya been?”

I thought; “Sam Shepard. Sam Shepard. The Sam Shepard from ‘Buried Child,’ ‘True West,’ Pulitzer and ‘Zabriskie Point’ thinks he knows me?” About a million possibilities passed through my mind in the space of one eye blink. The one I liked and settled on was the one which said that I was an outrageous, trendsetting dude on the A list. So, I decided to play it cool. I made a fist and did “bones” with Sam, and said; “Hangin’ in there, man. Lookin’ for a place where they don’t shine those goddam lights on ya all the time.”

“Tell me about it. I’m afraid that I’m gonna get a brain seizure from the blare of the flickers.”

“’Blare of the flickers.’ Love it. Mind if I use it?”

“Hell, no. I’ll probably forget it by the time I get home anyway. What are you workin’ on now?”

“Hard to describe. It’s a little Chandler noir criminal, a little Altman everyday boring, a little Wallace mixed voice metaphor, a little ...........................”

“Awesome. Far fuckin’ out. I’m doin’ this goof thing. Off-off Broadway stage production. Producer wants a cowboy story mixed with horror. Can you dig that?”


“My exact words. Er, word. Bartender, bring me some whiskey.”

Since the eighteen year old female did not know anyone who did not sport a green Mohawk, wear earrings, display tatoos or carry a boom box, she sauntered over slowly and said; “I don’t know who the fuck you think you are; but you’re a rude old man; and I want to hear a polite please.”

He was a little smashed, threw the book at the potted ficus tree and said “Bullshit.”

“Let me tell ya’ about the real old west. Let me bore you for the next six or seven minutes with what I got to make this thing either meaningful or a total loss. I don’t want any middling shit. You know what I mean?”

“Yeah. As a matter of fact I was just tellin’ my agent that .............”

“Right on, brother. Okay. So can I impose on you to ......”

Taking a cue from Sam, I cut him off and said; “You should know by now that you don’t have to ask, man. I’d love to hear it. Just be aware that I might say something derogatory.”

“Goes without saying. That nicey-nicey shit is for the flouncing, insecure rookies and it doesn’t do anybody any good anyway.”

“Play on brother.” I was proud of that one. I felt so cool that if Johnny Depp was there, I’d have asked him to use his guitar to back up my band. Before I had the opportunity to totally freak, Sam started his story.

“’Frank’s Bar and Grill’ was the name locals had given to a run-down commercial establishment on the outskirts of Propriety, Montana. Little too obvious, right?”

“Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what follows. Keep on.”

“The illusory, former private dwelling of six rooms sat thirty feet from the banks of a rapid section of the Yellowstone River. The constant hammer of the rushing water often drowned out the bar-room conversations, but no one complained. If they did no one heard it.”


“Thanks. Frank’s didn’t advertise. The house didn’t even have a sign. Some people just seemed to know that it was there. Any questions about how they knew were answered with a shrug.

The Gunsight Mountains circled around cross river, putting Frank’s in the shade twenty-three hours a day; twenty four when the sun got stuck behind the clouds. The green mildew was in love with the white painted clapboard siding.

The man behind the bar counter was the same man flipping the grilled burgers, mopping up the vomit, smiling and nodding at the conversations; and his name was not Frank. People considered him a jack of all trades. So, they called him Jack, and he made no objections.

Jack had bigger things to worry about than his name. The stench emanating from the back room was getting bad enough that some of the drunks were beginning to appear as though they had nasal disorders. Being there all day, Jack was becoming subject to periodic gagging fits.

He figured it was high time to dispose of the dead bodies.

Now, this may initially sound like a stupid situation, but Jack had his good reasons. Dimwit Billy Custer started the whole mess. He was a regular, and after he’d down six or seven doubles he’d start carryin’ on about how those damn Injuns hoodwinked his great-great-great-great-great grand-daddy, sometimes having one or two more or less greats in the familial description. Problem was that Dimwit was always packin’ and sometimes Victorio Bigcloud, an Apache with a temper which only mellowed some with age would be there at the same time getting’ his load on. Dim didn’t know that Victorio was an Apache name and figured him for a short, squat, dark-skinned Latino. Dim didn’t have no problem with Latinos, maybe ‘cause he had a few girlfriends who were Mexican. Anyway, one day Victorio had had it up to his tattoo with Dim’s slanderous comments. He got up off his seat, walked over to Dim, and yelled in his face; ‘That great-great-great-great-great grand-daddy of yours was as stupid and mean as you are. I’m proud that my people killed him. I wish they had tortured him to death slowly. Now what the fuck are you gonna do about it bitch?’ Dim pulled out his pistol, fired it, and the bullet came out the other side of Victorio’s head, making a bigger splash than when it went in.

Jack figured that he had a situation on his hands. His clientele had been declining and he needed all the business he could get. He had a dead Native American on the floor which he didn’t want to report to the authorities because the licensing Nazis had already been threatening to close Frank’s just because of alleged unsanitary conditions, the card games, and the undercover agent who claimed that someone lifted his wallet while he was there. He didn’t think that he had a good shot at surviving an added charge regarding violence.

He figured he had one thing in his favor; and one thing against him. The three, arguably now two, were the only ones in the place and that it looked like he was in for a super-sized mop job. The bad news was that he had lost another customer; and the good news was that if he played it right, he might keep the other.

So, he went over to shaking Dim, put one arm around his shoulder, and took his pistol with his hand kerchiefed other, and said; ‘It’s all right, son. Shit happens. No way to avoid that. Sides, he was in his fifties, and the way he’d been drinkin’ he wasn’t gonna last a whole lot longer anyway. Probably did him a favor giving him a quick, painless death. Nuff said about that. Point is what are we gonna do about it now? I can take care of the corpus dilecti, but I want you to promise me one thing. I want you to promise me that you’ll never kill anybody else here at Franks’. I’m not getting’ all preachery moral about the whole thing. I don’t care if you kill ten others. Fucks’re gonna die anyway. I just want you to promise not to do it here. Okay?’

Dim said; ‘You’re givin’ me my gun back, right?’

‘Yes, sir. You steady enough to hold it now.’

‘YES, SIR.’ Dim took his gun and marched out.

Jack figured that the back room was his best option as nobody ever went there. Any good?”

“It’s all right. But, I think you can get more impact if you open it with the shooting and do the reasoning in retrospect.”

“It’s only a matter of a page or two.”

“That makes it easy to change. I wouldn’t have said anything other than ‘good idea’ except that some of the assholes today got a thing about chronology. In some circles it’s like if you tell the story in sequence, there’s automatically something deficient. Personally, I don’t give a flying fuck about those circles, but in this case it’s so short it’s easy to fix. More importantly, everyone needs a quick fix. To start them out with an unexplained bullet up somebody’s ass gets their attention.”

“You’re thinking mass market. This is going to be off-off Broadway. You know, like in somebody’s loft with about thirty attending; and each of them thinks that they are the coolest, most sophisticated thing alive.”

“Since the internet the markets are merging, right?”

“Some say so. Some say the opposite. Franzen’s been calling a marginalization for more than a decade.”

“He’s also pronounced the death of the novel, and then proceeds to write more of them.”

“Tricky guy. I’m kind of confused. What the fuck were we talking about?”

“I don’t know. Fuck it. You were somewhere around the dead body and the back room.”

“Yeah, you know like Jack wanted to hide this dead body without getting famous in the process. He could have taken a shot at dragging it outside and burying it, but he was right near the river. Often people walk or camp there and sometimes you can’t even see them. He concluded that it was safer to keep the body in this spare room he had, which no one else has access to. He planned to wait for a cold night in the dead of winter to do the hauling and excavation, when no one was likely to be there.

For a few weeks things were proceeding nicely, but then one afternoon the same goddam thing happened. Jack wasn’t paying any attention to the two patrons, until he heard the gunshot. Robby O’Brien was holding his sawed off, and standing over the sprawled body of Nate Page; Nate’s head now pretty much all over the place. Jack knew that he should have been much more diligent in his surveillance as everyone knew that Robby’s sister, Lazy Susan, had taken up with Nate. Even though it was an on and off thing that was no new news, Robby being as white and Irish as Henry McKenna’s Pureblend, he should have been paying some attention; as Nate was rumored to have had some black slave blood in him. His complexion was dark; though that could have been a function of his job. A cowboy is out in the sun and wind all day, every day. Be that as it may, impressions become the reality and Robby had apparently had it with Nate’s comings and goings.

Jack walked the ten feet to Robby. They both stared at what was left of Nate for a few seconds. Jack said; “Don’t think he’s getting’ up again, do you?”

‘Nah, think I took care of that.’

‘Had to do it right in my place, right?’

‘ .................... ‘

‘I mean I’m not getting’ all kinds of moral over it. Shit happens. It’s just kind of disrespectful to do it right here. You know, I don’t need to be involved with your stuff. Gives me problems.’

‘Sorry Jack. Kind of lost it when he started grinnin’ and talkin’ about how much he liked getting’ his dick sucked for hours.’

‘He said that to you?’

‘Yeah, swear to god.’

‘Shit. That’s understandable then. Damn. ......... Tell you what. Still got a problem. Gotta get rid of that body and do a major sized clean up. It gets kind of lonely here sometimes. I can try to fix it all up if you can fix me up with Lazy Susan.’

‘I guess I can do that. She’s a nice girl; you know what I mean?’

‘Oh, yeah, yeah. Wouldn’t have it any other way. ....... Sides, you wouldn’t want the lawmen to find this body, I suspect.’

Things were looking up for Jack. He cleaned up the place and threw Nate’s headless body on top of Victorio’s. Lazy Susan didn’t prove to be one of those trophy girls one goes parading all over town. In fact her face had a somewhat strangely drawn appearance as she didn’t have any teeth. But, she had the greatest of personalities. Jack had a wonderful spring, summer, and early fall; spending hours at a clip with her; while he came to know and love her face.

All too soon, winter started to work its way into the scene. The coldness seemed anxious to establish its jealous presence. Jack was reminded of the body burying chores he had planned for this time; and was now not looking forward to them. He delayed his as long as he could. His problem was that the two dead bodies, formerly known as Victorio and Nate, were now so decomposed that they melted into each other and the stench was stronger than an opened septic tank. One frigid evening he attached chains to the clinging torsos and dragged them outside. By the time he had gotten them to a suitable burial spot the dark sky decided to be un-cooperative. It first bellowed a cacophony of rumbling warnings and then followed up the threat with shocking lightning strikes on Gunsight Mountain across the rushing Yellowstone River. Then a bolt shook the ground a foot from Jack as it struck the carcasses, illuminating them at the discernable edges.

Jack mumbled; ‘Shit. God must be even madder at me than usual.’

Victorio’s eyes opened and he said; ‘Daddy?’

Jack left the shovel and hightailed it back to Jack’s, locking the door behind him. Soon there was an insistent knock. Jack ignored it until the voice said; ‘I can break this down with three hands tied behind my back. So, do yourself a favor and open up. We’ve got some talkin’ to do.’

Jack figured that if the door got broken down the house would soon be filled with zero degree air; and that he would consequently freeze to death. The voice sounded somewhat reasonable and controlled; and since the brain had been dead for a few months, Jack figured that he could fool the monster, if necessary. He opened it and in walked what would be initially known as Vicanate. He walked right past Jack and took a seat at the bar saying; ‘Bring me a double rum and coke.’

Jack walked behind the bar and said; ‘That can be a little tough on the stomach. Yours ain’t in the greatest shape to begin with and I don’t feel like cleanin’ up a mess.’

‘This is all your fault, you know.’

‘My fault? If you didn’t have to go mouthing off at Dim and Robby you’d be fine.’

‘Granted, you’ve got a small point there, but it’s what happened after that which is the source of all my problems; and you’re responsible in entirety for that.’

‘How the hell was I supposed to know that lightning was going to strike? That’s clearly an act of God. Even the insurance companies get out of paying on that one.’

‘The insurance companies have better lawyers than you do. Bring me that fucking double rum and coke or you will shortly be seeing another act of God.’

‘I think you have some anger issues to deal with.’

Vicante stood up and Jack said; ‘All right. All right. But, you’re going to be very sorry later and I’m not cleaning it up.’ Jack brought him his drink and added; ‘Mind if I join you?’

‘Of course not. Be my guest.’

‘Does the mean that you’re paying?’

Vicante took a long swig and said; ‘Oooh, that does feel a little strange. And of course I’m not paying. You took all the money out of my pockets. You have some nerve.’

‘Sorry. Hey, you know when you’re one step ahead of the bill collector, you do some things you wouldn’t have otherwise done.’

‘Yeah, cool; I guess. To decide whose fault this whole thing is serves no purpose, though I believe that the majority of the negligence was done by you.’

‘If you’re trying to lead into one of those proportional settlements, just forget about it. I’m not insured and I haven’t even paid for last month’s liquor delivery yet.’

‘Damn. I may as well turn off the mike. But, I want to talk over a few things. I’ve got some very real problems.’

‘Problems? The world is your oyster, Vic. Mind if I call ya Vic?’

‘Not at all, Jack. I find colloquialisms endearing.’

‘Thank you. But, point of order; I didn’t know that a name could be a colloquialism. A familiarity or a hypocoristic, perhaps.’

‘Would you like to get punched by four fists?’

‘See, there’s that anger thing again. If you’re interested I do know an excellent therapist. But, as I was saying, you’ve got every advantage. You have two of everything the rest of us have one of. .......... Well, except a head. ....... But, that’s the most over-rated part of the body anyway. We might even be better off with none at all. Think about all the female attention you’ll get.’

‘Easier said than done. I’ve been wearing the same unwashed clothes for months. I don’t even know if I can get them off because they’re stuck to me. And I haven’t taken a bath since last spring.’

‘I didn’t want to mention it. You know they sell these extra strength colognes now.’

‘Yeah, and everybody thinks you’re gay if you wear them.’

‘True. But that’s acceptable now. In fact some people consider it the height of fashion.’

‘Yeah, in the boonies. But, that’s not all. I’m going to get stared at everywhere I go. I’m a sensitive soul, and I just know that they’re going to be pointing fingers and laughing. I won’t be able to stand it. This bullying thing has really gotten out of hand recently.’

‘I don’t know what to say. It’s absolute insanity. They say all these things in the safety of their group. If you say something back, the group says you started it. Can’t win. Want a refill?’

‘Yeah. I don’t know what to do. I’m twice as big, need twice the amount of food, and who’s going to give me a job? Rents have gone sky high ever since that damn telegraph company moved in.’

‘It’s not going to be easy, I know. Listen, you’re a pretty good guy. If you ever desperately need a place to stay, I’ve got some extra room here. You probably don’t know this, but Lazy Susan O’Brien has been coming around here regularly, and she’s kind ok kinky and not too particular. She’d probably go absolutely wild if we had a foursome. What a sight, huh?’

Vic smiled broadly. He reached his right hand across the bar and Jack nodded and shook it. Vic simultaneously put his other three hands around Jack’s neck and squeezed until Jack drooped like a rag. With the storm still raging Vic dragged Jack’s body out to where Jack had intended to bury him and put Jack in the hole and covered him with dirt; thinking that lightning never struck the same place twice. He was right.

He went in and took a survey of his new home. He now had an answer to some of his problems. He wouldn’t have killed Jack for this reason alone. It was just that he was a bit of a sexual prude, and just got totally grossed out by Jack’s idea of a foursome with Lazy Susan O’Brien. He wanted her all to himself and he had this anger issue.

Things proved to work well for him, excepting one. He had a bit of a problem getting used to seeing Sue go nuts over Nate’s dark thingy, but in time it got to be something he really felt good with about her. The patrons took to calling him Frank; never telling him that this was because they thought he looked like Frankenstein. Given all the problems he might have had, Vis didn’t mind at all, thinking that the place was finally correctly named.”

I said; “Whew. Awesome, man.”

“Yeah. Really liked it? How about that beginning?”

“Yes sir; and leave that beginning alone. After I heard the rest it fit right into place. This is gonna get you another award.”

“Thanks. Hey, you know Lazy Susan is waiting over at my place. Maybe you’d like to come over and get better acquainted.”

This was just too good to be true. It was the greatest day of my life. I proudly walked the few blocks with Sam, hoping that we were recognized by everyone, except Vic.

A Radically Condensed, Post-Industrial Snippet Overheard in a Cutting Edge Artificial Intelligence Research Bastion

“Blank screen. Juice is on, right?”

“Yeah. Checked the battery before this re-boot. Damn thing was working ten minutes ago.”

“Well, ummm. Are we supposed to wait like until it gets in the mood or something like that before it does anything?”

“It was working ten minutes ago.”


“ ............................”


“I’ve been trying not to bring this up. But, it’s really your fault, you know?”

“My fault? I haven’t moved any of the cables, nor have I played with any of the software.”


The Entirety of an Engine Room Chill

“Fuckin’ pilot went out again.”

“Been blowin’ on the damn thing?”

“I don’t get it. Am I supposed to?”

“Now I don’t get it. Sometimes you’re supposed to and sometimes you’re not.”

“That’s helpful.”

“Whose fantasy is this shit about?”

“Fantasy? I’m fuckin’ freezin’”

“All right. I’ll get one of those long ass matches.”

“You and I both wish.”

“What in hell are you listening to?” said Patricia Primstation as she entered the living room.

“I don’t know. Something out of season I guess.”

“Silly boy. Let’s try the news.”


Patricia said; “We’ve got to get away from this thing,” and shut down the computer. The device with which she replaced it with was the Cable TV.

The visuals were ones of milling people carrying makeshift signs. The audio was provided by a British gent, perhaps serious and perhaps trying out for the Monty Python revival.

“With great difficulty, as you all know the funding has been challenging at best since Ms. Thatcher’s reign, the BBC has determined that riots; which some have claimed to have been ‘false flag’ operations performed by rogue elements of MI6, and which those same some, perhaps, in the interest of accuracy, one should say similar some, reject as yet another government inspired misnomer broke out this morning in Piccadilly Circus when ‘The Rising Sun,’ now an internet tabloid, which recently changed its name from ‘The Communist Worker’s Party Gazette,’ according to un-named insiders as being done to reportedly avoid further embarrassment, announced that their sole remaining investigative reporter, Reginald Leach, was in the process of finalizing a report, based on his on-line perusal of US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) files, as well as an interview with rebel CPA Edward Snowflake, formerly of the firm of Lockhart, Dedfield and Rothschild, now at an un-disclosed location; and that that report is alleged to state that the US based monolith which is ordinarily referred to as ‘AmawayOnSteroidswas actually incorporated in the US in 1984 under the name ‘Alpha Omega Syndicate,’ with one utilizing the obviously joke name of Jay Bozos claiming 100% of the issued and outstanding common stock, to be soon passed off on the astute investing market, which ostensibly has resulted in the fifty strong carriers of placards, upon each of which has been invariably inscribed; ‘Try Jet,’ ‘Fly Jet,’ ’Go Jet,’ or ‘Was your mother as cold as a Sergeant Major?”

Patricia said; “Rebel CPA? ................. Oxymoronic; no?”

“Yeah. ...... No. ............ Comedy. ......... Tragedy. You know, it’s just the same old UK trying to sound superior in the country which has owned them since Roosevelt; I’m not sure which one. Shuuuush. Let’s watch some more. I’ve got a feeling this is the Brit retort which they’d like to appear to be a clever reply to ‘The Daily Show,’ but in rude reality is actually a belated copy of ‘That Was the Week that Was.’ What may be unintentional humor disguised as purposely displayed as un-intentional humor may actually be intentional humor or actual news to some. Perhaps we need the elucidation provided by an indie critic. We’ll google irrelevant obscurity later.”

Patricia followed with words which seemed to signal annoyance with the TV, but not her husband, when she added; “What’s the big to do about a name? A rose would smell as sweet et cetera, et cetera. It has a s much relevance as pointing out on national ‘news’ that my maiden name was Blaze-Provocutress; and that my incandescent parents made use of both. I mean really. How absurd and simultaneously boring can things get?”

“Damn, Pat. We missed some. Let the Brit shit go on a bit more. You know that with the push of one little button we can get rid of the lame cuties any time we want.”

Patricia was not certain of the accuracy of the things her husband had said, but at the bottom line decided that what was on screen was done much more professionally and proceeded to focus her eyes and ears on the high definition pixel machine.

On the screen, the voice over the hundred feet trudging through the tundra said; “Yes, you may have correctly guessed it. It has been a slow news day and our writers have once again gotten playful at my expense.”

The camera followed the invisible voice toward the demonstrators. One with orange hair and a reticent tank top, with snot where her safety pin used to be sided up to the camera; with the same overly obvious, attempting-to-be-seen-as-mysterious, facial expression of the tattooed sphinx.

“You are a demonstrator here, yes?”

“What do you mean by demonstrator? .......... Fuck it. Never mind. Yeah, I guess.”

“Well, whatever. What is this all about?”

“If you don’t already know, I can’t possibly tell ya. You should be ashamed of yourself. You sound as if you’re over forty.”

“You’re much too kind. So tell me, what is it you want to get out of this?”

“I came here to meet some hot guys, and you’re not one of them.” She skipped back to the procession.

“So, there you have it. The mystery of the Piccadilly riots continues.”

The screen blipped for a nano-second and a reluctant camera slowly moved over the blasted interior of an elementary school in Santa Fe. “ISIS has taken credit ..................”

Patricia shut the TV and emphatically stated; “I don’t care what you say. I’m not watching this. This could not possibly be amusing to even Hannibal the Cannibal. The whole thing seems so stupid and counter-productive. I mean we bomb the terrorists and they bomb us back. Our drones hit hospitals operated by ‘Doctors Without Borders,’ and then our officials tell us that there has been zero collateral damage. Come on now. Independent sources say that the number is 70%. And that ISIS piece of shit takes credit for ‘masterminding’ innocent casualties. The US creates future terrorists through their arbitrary mayhem. And ISIS gives rise to anti-Muslim actions. You know, years ago somebody came up with the acronym ‘MAD,’ mutually assured destruction. However, they thought that we needed to use nuclear energy to accomplish that. The geniuses of 2016 have found an alternative methodology. It just drags things out and maximizes the suffering.

Title:A Brief Obligatory Intense Aside, Chosen for the Restrained Devotees of What’s Not There Complimenting What Is;and What is There Paying Lip Service to What is Not; Routine Unfeasibility, Adorned and Exposed; Also Known As Magical Realism; an Untitled Measured Response to the Dearth Bound Plethora of Abundantly Absent and Silent Interrogations; Suitable for the Rejection of Literary Murakami, Illustrated Gaiman, and Overly Overt Rushdie; Comedic and Hateful in their Seriousness and Love

The cool sun was aghast in its un-robotically, requisite, blasé, progressive retreat as it spread its ardent wings over the peripatetic Crimean Sea above it. The socially maladroit maritime fixture deafeningly fired weakly from its rippling interior, the non-resultant smoke incandescence, previously known only in the Arctic, producing no effect on the planet which did not exist below, as it evinced the faintest of flagrant falsetto flags, strongly indicative of the bounty of nothing. “All too obviously fake. It’s all wrong in its correctness,” screamed Orpheus Mictlantecuhtli, as he played a lullaby yet another morning with his melodious lack of song. His entreaty of; “Wake up; it has ended,” was not answered with a thunderously diminished reply of; “Go to sleep, dummy. It has started.” Sixteen libidinous vestal virgin sisters who were biologically un-related, were introduced to eight disassociated brothers, and in unison echoed that they knew them very well. The brothers nodded affirmatively to the lie. The twenty four loners remained together, joined hands and danced off separately.

The Invisible Man was seen as he resurrected from an extended life. His passé attire enlightened the demi monde habituates, resplendent in their well-travelled, Neil Armstrong-Pillsbury dough boy, stay-at-home housedresses. The Visible Man wrapped himself in the covert au natural and effectively rapped out a down ditty in a fashion prophetic of the past thing to come. He didn’t do okay for a white boy from Bed-Stuy. The Japanese audience swooned and clapped in their derision, leaving for an encore.

“What about me?” implored Orpheus Mictlantecuhtli; his face contorted in an agony which evinced a joyful disinterest. The seated Bacchantes made a production of sitting down and made their presence unknown. They spread their un-decorated legs, revealing the hidden embellishment. The chaste, skillful, experienced black one at the center of the eight said; “Come and don’t get it. We all misplaced something right here for you.” They mirthlessly giggled as Orpheus backtracked to get closer in search of an eagle’s long range perspective. His failure was fruitful. As he ate he drank from his black coffee cup and offered everyone tea.

Jack rejoiced in his depressing inability to discover the openly observable source of his loss for words; which he articulated at length for the benefit of catnapping Justice; his alert doggie. Seeing the heat through the kitchen window; he bundled up and went inside.

Charming Antiquity

“Benny P. was all the rage.

Just wait. It’s there. On the hundredth page.

The dead time just stokes.

While the obvious provokes.

An easy turn from the Thompson.

Hidden lust for wage.

The school girls have a fleeting romance.

With a book which won’t fit in their pants.

It was once much, much too rude to point.

Toward the salamander.

Ensconced at the joint.

It all could be too easily dismissed.

As the regurgitation of Bunuel’s ants.

Mr. National Book Award now betrays his station.

With a naïve hood in worship of fornication.

His loud soliloquies are artfully phonic.

It would be much too unkind to say oxymoronic.

It is the edge which does bleed.

Not able to distinguish a need.

From the sack on the back of a Haitian.”

A Quantum Mechanically Induced Regurgitation in the Key of G

The totally un-disciplined, as that word is defined in the sense of genre, writer has stumbled across a Goofreads Quantum Mechanics thread which has piqued his interest. It would appear that some of the participants are not on the same page of the book. So, in the interest of rational communication mixed with a desire for harmony and personally having little else to do, the writer seeks to instill a common ground through the rationality of being wrong.

It seems readily apparent the thread participants here are seeking an answer to the ultimate question. I will gladly take some time away from my non-schedule and attempt to be of assistance with that matter in brief. The answer is that “Two is true to the power of infinity minus one.”

Mathematically deficient participants may be more comfortable with the verbal description. Two, the duality if you will, is at the core of every thought or action, until at the zenith it morphs into a singularity. I believe that this is the root cause of the confusion.

Retreating from the world of theory into the world of flawed observations of the physical world, David Foster Wallace depicted this concept in “Brief Encounters with Hideous Men.” The singularity, which has morphed from the duality at the peak, is the closed window which has gone opaque from the contrast between the heat inside and cold outside.

To be even more “real,” in his personal life he chose to leave the place which bored the bejesus out of him, utilizing a rope; not subject to the possibility of empty chambers and statistically significant malfunctions. His calculations were very likely to have been that through the utilization of the rope he had a 50% chance of entering another, but more personally satisfactory world of “Two is true to the power of infinity minus one.” You will note that the odds are against him, though infinitesimally so. This is a testimony to more faith than is apparent anywhere else. In addition to his well-known library appearances, he spent a great deal of time in church.

On a more biased and personal point of view basis, he was seeking to enter a world in which he did not physically as well as metaphorically smash Mary Karr’s glass cocktail table at her feet.

See, this is the shit, man. Can you dig that The Man was cursed with the desire for that one, that fuckin’ MK singularity. We all know he had access to a lot of other bitches, hoes, baby mamas, drama mamas and various sundries; but unlike most indifferent male seekers of any hole, he had a thing for this one.

Hey, who the fuck asked you for any advice, Pedro? Every stupid mofo gotta put their two cents in. You ain’t on the net now, man. Fuck you, pretentious jackass. Sheeeeit. Where the fuck was I? Oh, yeah, Mary Karr. You know this soul sista is an artist with eclectic tastes. All Davey the Walrus wanted to do was be with Mary and dig on her beautiful art, like all the fuckin’ time. Unowhumsayin? The rest of the shit is kinda “take it or leave it,” right? So, like this great humanitarian, tell me what the fuck that means, would give up everything here just for an against the odds shot at something else. Yeah, he worked the odds down as far as he knew how to take them, but still ...... that ain’t any kind of fault. In my dreams I see him with Mary and they were able to work out the fucking details this time. Shit man, I’m outta here. Pedro, go bother somebody else, all right? I’m talkin’ some serious shit here. Dummy.

P.S. This shit took me a long time to do. I mean, like I had to re-work it like all morning to make it sound proper and all of that. They censor everything nowadays. But, like okay, let’s get real. I put it down and now I’m relying on my trust in you. Things are reciprocal or they are not. So, I want you reviewers to say that you’ve read the next book I turn out, if I ever get the time to edit the last 200 pathetic pages. It’s called “Blasé Eight.” It’s a confusing, long assed piece of stupid shit which makes quantum mechanics seem to be sophistry, or not. ........ No value judgements. Nowhumsayin? If you do, please inform moi, as to what that is in your section of the multiverse. I’d like the small courtesy of you saying the eloquent equivalent of the putdown with one little star on there somewhere. See, ‘cause then I’m gonna take a hold of my old lady and we’re gonna trip out into one of the parallel worlds in which your reviews are top notch, five stars and superlatives on the shit, and you got your millions of followers to pay for the fuckin’ mess. Dig? Yeah, negotiation is always an option. You can have the movie rights on the next one. Hey, you know damn well that the best indication of commercial value is what the last one did. Come on, man. I need this one. See, I ain’t one of those greedy ass muthas. If you would just say how awful it is, then Diane and me can get to Carmel and we can spend the rest of our lives in great weather hangin’ with the stars.

Is that askin’ a lot for the answer to the whole fuckin’ thing or more accurately things? ........... Most of the time. ........ Never mind. This could go on forever. Yo!

A Play in Six Acts With Digressions, Asides and Various Inconsequential Forms of Ephemera

“Get up, get up Ty,” The sun is up. It’s Sunday. It’s warm. No work. No meetings. Just us. Get out from under that blanket.”

“Say no more.”

Jack had been wondering about how the book publishing industry operated. His naïve entry into it carried an unconscious belief that if the book was good it would be found. Hell, the popular movie said; “Build it and they will come,” and that proved to be true on celluloid. But now, he was entertaining some doubts which his paltry experience had kindled. The more he thought about it the madder he got. Was this noble endeavor essentially different from the worlds of business, internet sales and communications, and police work? Surely, to openly communicate the personal confessions covered in “Real Cops” had a value not seen since the days of the early episodes of “Barney Miller.” He searched the net for answers and in so doing found a book titled “For Unduly Curbed Kindle Electronic Monographers; a Literary Liturgy,” by one Edward Drobinski. Jack sensed that the subject was going to be glossed over as is the norm. However, the price was right. Of most importance it was freely downloadable from AmawayOnSteroids, so he thought; “What have I got to lose?” He quickly followed that thought with another. “Since AOS is the dominant player in the book market, the fact that this book was being made available through them, could well suggest that the book would likely be one which gave the impression of being radical, but would prove in essence to be an apologist for the powers that be.” You never know until you read the direction of the first ten pages. Unlikely as it was, he thought that it was also possible that the book might have flown or waddled under the AOS algorithmic radar.

In substance the Nabokov influenced title was a modestly sized book which was originally contained within the borders of a much longer one. It was purported to be of some interest to writers and other un-decipherable malcontents. This was appropriate, as he had a minimalistic claim to the former and an abundance of credentials regarding the latter. Jack thought; “Fuck it,” and tried the freebie.



Edward Drobinski

Copyright © 2016 by Edward M. Drobinski

All rights reserved


The opening paragraph to my first “Foreword” which survived two edits said the following, “Anyone not engaged in the writing of indie books will have absolutely no interest whatsoever in this book. In fact, those only interested in reading would likely not want to be aware of some of this. Some might even be offended. In my brief experience in the world of books, I have seen that most aspiring indie writers do not want to hear this either. I am not one sufficiently presumptuous to tell anyone else what to do with their life. However, I find it a compelling urge to inform swimmers of the depth of the pool and where the sharks are hidingBEFOREthey take the dive.”

It was during the third edit when I realized that I had unintentionally made a broader statement. The indie writer’s difficulties in the corrupted world of publishing; with its scams, poor information, use of free or below-minimum-wage labor, monopolies, censorship, duplicity, the manner in which it has successfully encouraged those at the lower end of the pay scale to fight each other, and its obscene way of channeling 99% of the revenue to 1% of the workers is emblematic of USA 2016. While the specifics of the publishing industry is likely of no interest to anyone not a part of it, some may be able to look at it and say; “Yeah, that’s the same kind of crap they’re doing to me at the bank,” or the factory or the store. I grew up during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and if someone had told me then what it would be like now, I’d have dismissed them, perhaps utilizing a rude word. I’m a believer in capitalism; no communist sympathies here. I guess that what I’m complaining about is the quiet establishment of a monarchy in the US.

This short book attempts two things. The first is to be dryly humorous; and the second is to be informative. “Factoids” which are stated are not footnoted as they do not come from any one source and are not direct quotes. As the book publishing industry is one inundated with secrets and bad information the “factoids” are the result of 18 months of personal investigation and experience with various people, websites and business magazines. Therefore, since I’ve used a conglomeration of sources; when I say $500, the actual correct number, if ascertainable, may well be $700. Most sources have slightly divergent estimates of this highly secretive industry. In their contexts, I don’t believe that the possible differences are significant in the least.

At this point, I’d like to assure those who have made their own investigations that I have no intention of offering you any fee-based services to help you sell your book, have no interest in doing so, and never will. My personal belief is that with the possible exception of formatting help, that none of the book service providers are worth your money or time. Further, I am as lame-o with a computer as anyone can be, and if I can figure out the few things necessary to format a book properly, anyone can.

So, you astutely ask, why did I write this book? The honest reply is that I didn’t intend to. It just worked out that this book is a relatively small part of a larger book which will be a total of somewhere between 800 and 900 pages, and fits a tangent to the plotline for one of the characters. This book is available on AmawayOnSteroids; and will be available for free one or two days every month; corresponding with the five maximum allowable free days per quarter allowed under AmawayOnSteroids policy.

God, I hope the rest of the book is funnier than this opening.

Last disclosure. Dammit. I would like to see even David Foster Wallace try to find something funny in this kind of crap. Some have heard a few of the things contained in this book and have found them discouraging. I don’t think that they should be taken that way and that is far from my intent. Writing can be a wonderful, fun and occasionally lucrative pursuit. However, unless you have an established, calculable fan base, it ranks next to Bronx gold mining as the worst way to come up with the necessary rent money. At book end, I offer some positive ideas you can implement at no cost, which you probably have not read elsewhere, which might help book sales.

I’m a retired commercial banker, having worked in NYC, and I started writing fiction about five years ago as a hobby. I’ve written 20 fictional books and have personally spent some time on AmawayOnSteroids top 20 and top 100 selling author’s lists. Actually very little time is a bit more accurate; though it is a disservice to one’s self to admit such things in an industry rife with bragging liars people choose to believe. These AOS best seller lists are updated hourly and if you want to know the truth, I didn’t spend enough time near the top to make the mortgage payment in my best month; though four of them were twice in the top 25.

So, if any of you know how to get books sold and are willing to tell me how free of charge I’d love to hear about it. Please understand. I don’t care about the money, but I’m married and ........ well, you know how that tune goes. So please, please; you can write stuff in the “discussions” section on any the book’s or my personal AOS page. ............. Ah, never mind. If you knew how to do that you could get a job at The Hachette Group, replete with a mid-six figure salary and the right to make your own hours.

Legal notice; make note.The characters depicted in this book are entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to a real person; alive, dead, or somewhere in between, is entirely coincidental and is likely the result of that person’s personal over-estimation of themselves. Likewise; any resemblance to a real institution; alive, dead or somewhere in between, is entirely coincidental and is likely the result of that institution’s over-estimation of its own value coupled with that institution’s knack in obtaining free labor and advertising.

A Monty Python “nudge, nudge” to the dear reader.

Finally, you should be aware that while in the writer’s opinion they are not totally irrelevant, the first thirteen chapters of this book have been occasionally characterized by the “overly fastidious, yet kind-hearted, contingent” as “rambling” or some other derivation of that term; while the few members of the “vulgar, mean-spirited contingent” have, I believe incorrectly, used terms like confused, incoherent, digressive, and even shaggy. For those of you with time limitations, I direct you to Chapters 14, 15 and 16; which in 15-20 pages tell you all of the potentially useful things I know about selling books and the current market conditions for books in January, 2016. Chapter 16 devoted entirely to little known methods you can implement for free. ............ You may well know that the answers are always in the back of the book. But, this time you are not required to turn the book upside down to read them.

I hope you have a good time and get a few laughs from the book which never intended to be.

Chapter 1- Congratulations

Let’s go back to the very beginning. You laugh and cry as you sit alone and write a “meaningful” book. During the course of your endeavor, you have thought that you have something important and momentous to say. At some point you’ve completed the book for which the world patiently waited. Congratulations .......... on one count. The vast majority of would-be writers start a book and give up halfway in. The bulk of those become indie reviewers who display their honed abilities on book oriented, social web sites. With one exception, everyone I know has initiated a book. 98% of those have never finished one. So, rejoice, you who are capable of finishing, as you are already in the top two percent. While the actual writing of a book is a relatively easy endeavor, as the task is no longer burdened with any of the stylistic constraints imposed in the un-enlightened, archaic past, most still find it more important to go to their paying job, clean the house, mow the lawn, take the potentially choking web app out of the baby’s mouth, and tend to a myriad of other distractions unfairly imposed on the merest of mortals. It makes little sense to the one who has been “blessed” with the ability to transcend the banal; unless thought of in the manner suggested by the dated Hollywood offering titled “The Matrix,” ostensibly unaware of the fact that it had again snowed over-night. Have you not yet seen?

Pragmatically ignoring the noise epidemiologically rampant among the un-nessed of couths, thereby provides a pleasurable, ersatz escape from any annoying, distasteful, personal sense of responsibility. You have become an artist. You are at last free. The necessary muses and models come and go with the conjured rapidity of the most neutral of the most terrestrially based of hundred year shelled tortoises. For you, the artful vision serves as a satisfactory, pictorial compensation; on good days bearing the enigmatic title of many a dream of the “Johanna,”

Smaller, easily surmountable matters considered; at some point you no doubt have found that your fictional work has the potential of being incorrectly viewed as too self-revealing. What can one reasonably expect? Those with the “luxury” of a studied life have, with a tad of self-interest, attached particular significance to four lines of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and have concluded that this is “proof” that he was gay. Willy ain’t shakin’. Damned by your brain’s ability to “accurately” recall that which may never have been more than two weeks prior, you maintain at the very least an illusion of some semblance of privacy, as you in seeming discordance, simultaneously notice the circle at the top of your open laptop staring at you. The dreaded revelation was a non-event for you, yet you now realize that as the numerous Luddites will apply the wisdom of power they have gathered during their pop psychology, “Harry Potter” gatherings. They will likely find your viewpoint conveniently faulted or will say that they do. They might even say that you didn’t like your mother OR father. Your possible acquiescence to the instructed social conventions include the thought that you will be required to think to yourself; “Uh oh. The readers will conclude that I’m a deviant. I guess I am. .......... I guess I’m not. But, I am definitely not yet ready for public confession, no matter how couched. Besides, my mother might see the damn thing and then I’m going to have to answer a million cross referenced questions over the next month, and if one impromptu word doesn’t seem to jibe with another .............” You get over the whole thing when you circuitously come to the pure logic of; “The un-creative commentators would do well to just fuck themselves somewhere out of my eye’s viewing ability.” You just felt like writing a book and getting wads of dough for it.

For the souls innocent of psychology’s dictums, and for the exhibitionists who get off on Revelation, and for those who truly don’t care, around the hundredth page the inconsequential characters in the story become difficult to keep straight; no sexual innuendo implied. In the context this would seem retarded to have to say, but for the possible benefit of 90% of the indie-reviewers-writers out there further clarification, sometimes referred to as pedanticism, is the infinite rule of the 2016 day. For we writers, at this point, our considerations center around things like; “Is this ‘Andrew’ in the next scene the fat mama’s boy, his skinny misanthropic friend or some other minor character I invented back on page 20? What color did I say his hair was? Where did I say he lived? If it’s the fat one it’s with his mama, no doubt. But, where does she live? And what was her name? Details, details, details. Your “artistic” sensibilities are offended. You could care less and think that so should any reviewer with the equivalent of a GED or higher documentable attestation to their mental acumen. You consider it an immaterial pain in the writer’s well-worn butt and a complete waste of time better spent in the whirlpool. But, hard logic removes your “coulda, woulda, shoulda” dalliance into the world of irrelevant fantasy, and you practically decide to “do it right,” no matter the momentary inconvenience, as it is best not to be pecked to death by the kind of people who get off on doing things like pointing out the way in which the gearbox of the Batmobile was in drive one second, and without the benefit of a shifting was in neutral the next, (Believe it or not, I am not making that up.) before your “brilliance” has sold an easy few million copies and you can have an entire sauna installed in the house you’ll occupy in Carmel, and sit in it anytime you want to; .......... the whirlpool, that is; simultaneously, extremely blasé about Clint to your right and Jane to your left. Practical graciousness seems to suggest that you give them an autographed copy. But, you consider all the “little” people condemned to exist in places like Duluth, who have funded your trip to jet-streamed paradise. You once dwelt amongst them and love them dearly. As a kind and tedious service to your sure-to-come supporters, you sigh and check back in order to get the “pertinent” details consistent. Noblesse oblige can be and too often is a necessary bitch.

You have seen that the illusion of perfection is imperative in the low to middle brow marketplace. It seems to be something well short of essential, perhaps even disdained as another “over studied” attestation to the author’s poorly concealed feelings of inferiority, at the higher brow level. But, you know that the size of the latter group is roughly the equivalent of the population of Lichtenstein, and they have a large “free” library. David Foster Wallace did not live in Carmel, nor did he ever give up his day job.

It’s not just a theory or some garbage on the net. You first-hand know all too well that many patrons of the arts get their kicks in life, as it were, by pointing out inconsistencies. You’ve learned that through many interminable weekend visits from your failed-artist-brother-in-law, who surprisingly could never find a girl-friend to occupy his “holiday” departures from his part-time janitorial gig. You have kindly commiserated with him about how much you like his un-salable oil paintings and how the market was stupid, devoid of taste and how it’s all about “who you know.” To do otherwise was to risk being branded a Philistine. You have reserved your inquiries about his high end taste in movies during which he had a penchant to obtain extreme pleasure when noting the existence of above ground telephone lines in a dinosaur movie. Admittedly, this contradiction is of more significance than Batman’s gearbox thing, but I, for one, would prefer to have focussed on the inventive commentary on the post-modern ennui and the socio-economic issues contained in “Gertie the Dinosaur.” Do you for one second think that William Randolph Hearst had Gertie pulled for nothing?

But, I was at a loss, as it would have been much too obvious to say that the significance of the physical phone lines were well within the intellectual grasp of maven cinephiles and that they had already indicated substantial agreement regarding the matter. It would have been rather insulting to my brother-in-law, an art student when not fishing in the privies, as he certainly must have known that. So, I refrained from commentary and laughed in the obligatory fashion called for; a convenient way of avoiding difficult subjects; such as substance. It’s only business as boringly usual. Fun and games. Why are you so serious? The multi-hued, pastable balls are available cheap to the “craftspeople” shopping at the Hobby Vestibule chain. Besides, cats love to smack them around. There is some benefit in having had this kind of experience. These skills will come in quite handy when one mistakenly starts to converse with other sensitive indie authors incapable of selling squat. In the meantime try to forget that to find inconsistencies is kind of easy as they’re all over the place. And do not ever; and I repeat ever, at the risk if infinite banishment from places you’d rather not be,; point out that the movie’s director actually got paid a few hundred grand and you got bupkis.

Even on a prideful level, you don’t want your genius to be dismissed on a technicality. As a consequence, what started out as fun became tedious. But, you persisted. Congratulations, again. You are an enterprising, hard-working American. Now you expect to become rich and famous and recognized as brilliant. It’s not that you really care about the judgments of the rabble. But, you seek justification as your significant other has suffered through all your prior prognostications of greatness; and it is wearing thin. She has actually appeared to have been astounded by some of your phrasing, ideas and insights. She has maintained credibility by occasionally saying she doesn’t like certain scenes. She has always been excellent at bottom-lining things and is waiting for the green to start rolling in. It’s your own fault. Whenever money issues have surfaced, you have said; “Don’t worry about it. Soon, your biggest problem will be counting it.” Sometimes you wonder if you should read something more than her personal fandom into her periodic suggestion that you should abandon your literary pretensions and write something like “The Wire.” Besides, street and cop shit sells a whole lot better than updates of Du Maupassant, and you’d rather not meet the aficionados of “The Clasp,” anyway.

In watching YouTube you have seen not-too-bright authors interviewed on past TV shows, which you and five others have watched; the five being the author’s mother, father, high school English teacher, his girlfriend, and sorry publisher. They babble on about how they do or do not gauge their audience, culminating in a diatribe which covers all bases.Tip:If Mark Leyner is one of the guests, turn off the sound until you see another face. If he is the only guest, try another show.

By “high-brow, literary” talk show standards Wallace was the exception in his directness, genius and almost complete disregard for saying the right, politically correct, banal thing. No doubt, it has become obvious to you that his interviewers, who have never written a notable book, if any at all, have been intent on showing how smart they are by posing questions in a Shakespearian soliloquistic fashion. Your ADD prevents you from remembering the ostensible gist of the long-winded statements they think they have disguised as questions. In your fantasy flight into the role of sought after celebrity you are tempted to interrupt or un-indictably deride through an un-accusable sarcasm. You find the whole thing stupid and distasteful, but have discovered that writers make more money from TV appearances than they do from their books. In a breath of fresh air you see that Charlie Rose is much more experienced and secure in his intelligence, thereby being less prone to open displays of combative essays.

You try to find out exactly how much money one gets for being a guest on “The Charlie Rose Show.” While your book was a noir-ish potboiler about a hit man who didn’t think he was doing anything particularly wrong, you anticipate making answers to the inevitable questions concerning your belief in God or the state of the educational system. It’s essential not to be honest and say; “I don’t know,” as it your job to fill air time and you want to be invited back. Charlie doesn’t want to do all of the talking. It’s not his job. Your dictated goal is to talk unclearly and at length around the issues in an inoffensive, jocular manner; kind of suggesting a theoretical agnostic variation coupled with some personal experience in which you saw the stone rolling; or some less obvious derivation of that old theme. It is expected and only five people are paying any attention anyway. The rest are looking at your clothing and appearance, saying things like; “Jeez, I didn’t think he’d be that old,” “That hair style has been out of fashion for decades,” “At that age he’s lucky to have any at all,” and “I wonder if he’s gay. Most of them are you know.”

In your mind you are consciously trying to hide your pride and exuberance at having written something the literary and financial equivalent of “The Catcher in the Rye.” Those countless bleary-eyed and weary evenings have resulted in undeniable proof that you have outdone Shakespeare, Proust, Joyce, Hemingway, Mailer, Wallace, Franzen and Saunders. Fitzgerald is an overly simple joke. Greatest American writer? Yeah, right! However, your costume is to appear depressed, humble, fortunate and thankful. It is fashionable. It is safe. It is liked by the saddened readers with dour outlooks. The most hurt are the vast majority of the potential purchasers of your book.

Your media disdainful outlook is called into question when you get back home. You enjoy the predominant quiet relaxation, but are periodically given your wife’s evaluation of your performance, coupled with un-answerable questions concerning your next gig and how much it will pay. You try to joke and say that your next “gig” will be a free book signing at the local public library and that as an artist, you are revolted at the crass commercialism. You call into question the marketability of your notions of humor as she stares, arms folded across her chest. She’s heard this shit a million times before. You turn on your computer, to see that you have received an e-mail from Howard Ginsburg, a publicist who offers to make room for you on his lengthy list of successful clients. You write back saying that you are broke, but wouldn’t mind using his services if he would extract his fees from your revenue. You consider it the depth of low class communication when you read his immediate response with all those words which were forbidden when you were thirteen.

Your artistic sensibilities have been violated. You cannot write one word. Reality has rudely introduced itself through a brain-dead megaphone. You desperately need to commiserate with others of your ilk. So, you deign to spend hours during which you could have been writing your next gem, to post whiny shit decorated with happy faces on Goofreads, the home of sad ass indie writers, indie reviewers and in excess of 100 actual readers who find more amusement in actual writers than they do in their books. Fantastic! Leo’s on line right now and this time he’s not talking about his husband who killed two people and split. Not bothering to reverse the stuff he had originally put on his profile, he’s doing his justification bit about how it’s great to be an indie with a market of eight people, seven of whom are authors with whom Leo swaps five star reviews. Trying so hard to be liked, I try to write him something in keeping with his constantly duplicitous state of mind, but can’t resist the temptation of trying to somewhere in there bury some note of sarcasm. Ignoring whatever he previously wrote, I post; “As usual, Leo, you are so right. An indie knows that rather than ‘submitting’ a query letter and segments of your novel to unscrupulous agents and publishers, only to be later edited if accepted is the height of nonsense. An indie can write whatever is in their heart and mind and keep all the royalties. Well, not exactly all, but a fair proportion. Well, .......... Never mind for now. You’ll think about that later. Your inquisitive convoluted mind wonders if 35% of $.99 will equate to thirty-four or thirty-five cents. Consult a third grade math book, if the penny matters. Okay, Leo. No matter. There will be so many sales you won’t ever have to think about money. And then, when it goes movie ....... As an indie, you further justify your decision to self-publish by your ability to keep all the rights. You celebrate your power to remain un-sullied and un-censored. At least some tasteless, mercenary, crass agent or publisher won’t get in on the largesse to soon come.”

To my delight a message came through from the far reaches of the tundra. Leo gave me two D’s and a whoo-hoo. Being new at computer abbreviated lingo I wasn’t really sure whether his word approximations, format deviations, and hyphenated, Minnie Pearl aphorism sought to indicate an appreciation of my encouragement, a robotic reply to all, or if he was telling me to drop dead. I was presumptuous and assumed that the two exclamation points he put on the end meant something good. (I assure you that no sexual innuendo was intended.)

I just have to get away from this stream of consciousness excuse for poor writing and not write what next occurs to me. Reality’s cousin, depression, introduces himself in an ironic fashion. He manages to enter and stay away at the same time. He must have been recently reading Franzen short stories.

Your gem has been available on AmawayOnSteroids a whole week and there is no largesse yet indicated. The New York Times reviewer has not called you to arrange a consultation in preparation for a Sunday book section front page piece. Charlie Rose’s people have not contacted your people. It is a weird state of mind to not be offered the thing that you wanted to disdain and reject, pulling a JD Salinger. You recall your old friend’s commentary about how something cannot be rejected if it was not first offered. You further recalled your response calling that sophistry based on an imperfect meaning of words, and of more significance a self-defeating philosophy by which one is obliged to get a lot of garbage, just to be credible when saying that they don’t want it. Don’t believe me. I don’t care.

You note that after three weeks there have been five sales and three of them have been refunded. This is out and out ridiculous and insulting. It has to be a mistake or some sort of an indie-intolerant conspiracy. Your mother and sister do not even need the refund. Maybe there’s some kind of message intended.

On a more significant level, this couldn’t possibly be the fault of your masterpiece. It has to be the fault of AmawayOnSteroids. You go to their website, and sure enough, if you type in your name the book is shown as “for sale.” You go to the “Community” section of your Ginder Direct Publishing (GDP) account and discover that indeed there is something wrong with AmawayOnSteroids.Com. Your fellow writers, the most successful of whom claimed to have sold 200 books in just one month, find serious deficiencies in virtually every aspect of AmawayOnSteroids.Com’s operation. You vow to get into the details ........ someday. There are so many provided by indie authors experiencing zero sales. You think of suggesting that they rattle their mother’s and sister’s cages a bit, but reject that thought, as right now you are content to feel justified in your sabotaged endeavors, and the consequent absence from the New York Times top ten list, the lack of contact from their Sunday front page reviewer, Charlie Rose’ people’s snub, and your inability to possibly reject them all.

In down periods you re-read your own clever and funny, veiled insights and think; “Anyone can write this. I have enlightened myself only.” Sad, sad, sad. You are afforded solace and warmly greet a re-entry of a belief in your astounding abilities when you re-read the greats and find their works less than a continuous orgasm. Five interspersed in a 600 page book is about as good as most get. You have topped that in 200 even after factoring in the inevitable fakes. You are temporarily sure of your textual acumen.

In your soothed runaway imagination you find that you are periodically answering a self-imposed question no one has yet asked, but you think certainly someday will. You flip-flop from black to white and spend futile time in accommodating gray. At one extreme you think; “I am an artist. The day these books become best sellers is the same day that I will admit that I am as trite as everyone else.” At the other extreme you recall Joni’s lines concerning artists in magnificent privation and clerics with obscene fob pieces. You recall your significant other’s big green eyes. The well-behaved inmates worship the Good Book. The radicals worship the cause is meaningful in the moment, while more confusing in the analysis. ......... Or is it?

Some disparaging person who has never been there might call a person capable of writing the previous digression a naïve dolt; and that someone would be quite wrong; and probably has the brightest of responses to a possible retort; having had lots of practice. You have heard a lifetime of opinions and only argue judgments when there is a recognized appeals court and winner’s prize. But, you also can’t be swayed. You have no doubt that living a fantasy of a three year’ duration was delicious, and you would be glad to do it again and again and again ...... It’s kind of retarded to rush the fall into Nod.

While, under a barrage of Conservative indoctrination for the last thirty-five years of mainstream television, we have all become certain that we have now attained a meaningful education concerning financial likelihoods without the rude imposition of having had to have paid a supposedly degreed professor; with a disdainful beard; an account with the phony ID people; and a regular paycheck. Despite that advantage, you are of the firm opinion, that you will be the exception; and that all except you are wrong about that; as your writing ability is superior. You are wise in being shy to express your special nature. It breeds un-needed jealousies and attracts a slew of annoying Goofreads’ trolls. But, in moments of clarity you are Salinger honest about it; at least with yourself. You think you are magnificently talented. You think you are more creative than the prime mover. You know that without you and a handful of other writers an entire industry would not exist. You know that if not for your unfair, sacrificial tribulations the entire population would have to read themselves to sleep, their noses buried in “Freedom.” ....... Actually, that sounds very efficient as a used copy sells for less than what the man asks for OxyContin quarters and lasts a lot longer. You see the pile of bills near the dangerous microwave; at any moment ready to flash that much discussed and not fully understood 11:11 signal at you. You avert your eyes, but cannot help but peek, as you know that your next book will cure everything. You know you love to write. You know the one you’ll do next will supersede anything ever done. It is practical. Without these beliefs you wouldn’t be able to write a cook book. This is your curse. The cynical owners of everything just use your love and desperation to keep you impoverished while you slave away for them. You don’t want to hear this, but they have the financial advantage of having heard this long ago. They play the heavy odds. ........ Look, I’m not saying don’t write. I’m just saying don’t count on a huge income from it.

Credentials. Credentials. They insist on credentials, because they are too insecure to say that they liked it without academe backup. (No sexual joke intended.) To be elaborated upon later. You think; “Damn the credentials. Look at the first few pages of the book. It’s free.” But, you know that this is the key word in all pursuits. We live in a society where no one dare venture their mere opinions. Sans “legitimate” excuse, being wrong is intolerable. People have ostensibly in seriousness told me that they have lived their entire lives, without having made a mistake; no sexual innuendo intended. Safety lies in Linus’ blanket; be it a degree, union card or past calculable financial success; a tangible thing in which to rest one’s faith; the oxymoron silent to the many. “I wasn’t wrong. Anyone would have done the same thing.” “Yes. I understand. Yes. I’d do the same thing. Yes. But ....................”

It would be another case of “tough shit,” if it were not for the fact that we rookie, indie writers are the ones who get most screwed. It’s absolutely insidious. AmawayOnSteroids.Com speaks to us of promotion and you personally believe that they are the best deal around, only because they require zero out of pocket. Yet, when you log onto AmawayOnSteroids.Com you are greeted by images of the same “best sellers.” I swear to God. If I see that pasty white Geisha face one more time I’m going to pull a Pollack and piss right on the screen. Catch-22? You wonder why they can’t feature yours sometimes. You think that it would certainly generate some more sales. If someone wants to purchase Patterson’s or Rothfuss’ books, they know where to find them, without constant “in your face” advertising, which may actually be counter-productive. What do they know? Their common stock sells at only 1000 times earnings after 22 years of un-fulfilled promises.

What do they know? Who cares? The only thought relevant to you is that you have become aware that the minute you decided to sell it,your work of artbecame one of eighty billionproductsavailable on AOS. Once you have settled into this frame of mind, you simultaneously realize that your only financial considerations are simple. Do you want them to use you? Or do you want to use them? There is one thing in your favor. The 2016 Goliath cannot see you. It has no eyes. It is just a series of interlocking algorithms which are blind to anything other than repeated patterns. Even if it could see; you are much too small to get its attention.

Chapter 2- Me?

How much of Chapter 1 is about me? Absolutely none. I already told you that I’m a fiction writer. Pay some attention. I hide. I make up things. I lie. I sit by the keyboard all day. If I wrote about my dreary truth, the 33 physical book sales which have been reported to me, would have been zero.

On the other hand; the left; it seems obvious to me that even someone as obscure, maladjusted, and impoverished as an e-book writer or “Jude the Obscure”himself would have the ability to discern that the bulk of the previous thoughts were considered by me at various times. Otherwise, how could I have written them herein? How literally specific are we lyrical writers required to be? I mean really. In the interest of realism and its fictionalized sequel called “memoir-ism” is the writer obliged to tell the tedious truth of their existence? It’s embarrassing and you don’t get any money for it. Besides, on an artistic basis, just imagine the efficacy of this opening line. “Teddy, insistently batted his right front paw off my face for the four thousand, three hundred and eightieth time in his 12 year life. I was oh-so-surprised to be yet again awakened this morning by my black cat’s requirement that, at the very first sign of what passes for light in winter, high desert New Mexico, to get up, freshen his water, and pour some more dry food on top of that which he had left yesterday, and the day before, and the day before, and the day before, and the ....... To be so insistent he must think that today there will be something new put in his dish, obliterating the pile-up of the past. It was a paw enabled, required ritual I still didn’t understand, but based on his never ending routine, I figured that I must be missing something essential. Not knowing what exactly it might have been, that didn’t bother me in the least. I didn’t care. Really, I didn’t. ........... Well, sometimes, in dull moments curiosity takes over and ......... I’ve heard that it can kill a cat; and Teddy is my best friend, especially when he kills and eats all the goddam bugs that get into this place in the summer. Imagine waking up because one of those crawly, fourteen-legged, little bastards found its seemingly blind way into your open, sleeping mouth. Believe me on this one; it can happen more than a few times. I don’t know. For me, I prefer the paw whacks-to-the-head over the lingering distaste left after the spit-out or the swallow; no aspersions cast toward any of the proliferating, alleged members of the Sacred Cow Society. I pulled the blankets over my head to soften the blows and Teddy must know that he would again have to wait.”

When I re-read the last half of the preceding paragraph, I found it to be far better than anything else I’ve yet written. For quite some time I’ve known that it was likely that the whole damn thing works out better when one does not try; but had never previously considered the possibility that the whole damn thing might work outbestwhen one is trying to be totally inane. ...... My next excursion into the literary world will have a working title of; “Black Pussy Bats in the Morning.”

Pardon the irrelevant, mental divergences into the sought-only-to-Swiftly-become-the-despised personal. Back on my butt in the material plane, I feel that I temporarily have a good situation, and I want it to be prolonged; a brilliant deduction worthy of Sherlock himself. Not in an effort to, but with the realization of the calculable likelihood that my next thought will confound most cracked-heads, I mumble; “There’s a balance,” envisioning some depiction of the “scales of justice” visually displayed and accompanied by an unseen clang of a hammer; once an intro into some 1950’s, low budget, yet arrogant, black and white TV weekly and not certain if an SIC# is customarily appropriate.

Without the assistance of the greenhouse effect provided by the clouds, the cold night air has brought temperatures down to a level where I appreciate; dare I say love: the double blankets. They feel so good, I want to stay there forever. Eight hours into what is defined as AM, the shy and inhibited, pale sun again almost made its presence know in my eastern, double-paned and also side-to-side, floor to ceiling windows. Their less stately western counterparts are much later to be briefly enlightened by the slanted, faintly stained teapot circling the earth; or vice versa.

At this point, like a predictable AOS procedure, little black Teddy always starts howling right next to my good ear.

I’d like to accommodate my buddy’s wishes. .......... But, not quite enough to fancy the experience of the cold. Holmes’ brilliant deductions fade with his inability to access a spoonful; apparently he reticent to show the source of his pronouncements. ................... Another of my un-provable assertions? Or that of the speed freak with the quickness, and subsequently seen as the danceable cadence of a hip-hop star? Fat chance. They know. They know it wins. It’s almost provable beyond any reasonable doubt by the math provided by those credentialed and thereby deferentially reliant on the regurgitations of the past.

To complicate matters, the majority of the “angelic” beings imprisoned on this earth, sincerely believe that they mean well and would yell at you, disparage you, isolate you, and consider you some sort of devil if you did not totally agree with them. They have even been reported to have punched on certain occasions. When in Rome and all that. In concurrence, I have been convinced to believe that they distrust you and me; as they maybe; for the sake of impact and popularity; correctly seeing that one must consistently appear to be on one side of one or the other. It is so financially logical, the basic subject of simplified, advanced degrees .......... Oh well; you can’t please everyone. Deep caustic sigh.

Sadly, you thereby rightly, strongly suspect that it might be just another temporarily palatable over-simplification; a completely, self-serving, Machiavellian farce aimed at another cold theft of your heart. With difficulty, you have previously recovered from such thoughts imposing themselves in your head; but, with the inherent and attendant thoughts of the possible shut off to pain, lean toward the purchasable life-sustaining things, despite their having been successfully attacked for generations. On the most personal of levels, in humility, you know that you could never do it again. It is well discussed, clandestinely, in the Egyptian “Book of the Dead,” original, un-expurgated edition.

The ideas or lack thereof are consistent with your imputed truth; required adaptations likely and reasonably made; you disabled and ignored, in your un-wanted, misunderstood utterances, trying to reach your brothers and sisters, and failing at that seemingly simple task. You’ve seen the loving truth of their un-hideable eyes, their wonderful and un-maskably sincere eyes, and have often wished that you might have continued to have been blessed with the same view; the remembrance of another time making it worse. So many of the creative ones selflessly seek to do well; something so good; tempered through no fault of theirs; insofar as they can or cannot, separate themselves from the limitations of the total mass retain; though regularly and ergo merely un-recognized as just another manifestation of the banal group dynamic.

This gets so theoretical while it doesn’t. I recognize that if I have been successful in articulating it, I will be greeted with the conveniently short commentaries of those who say that everyone knows that; ostensibly themselves; all evidence to the contrary. I don’t care. I am encouraged not to. I am satisfied as I know that Teddy and I are certain that we truly are hurt when we see the pain of others less able to cope. “Stop it, Teddy. I’ll get up and feed and re-water you when I am compelled to take a piss; and not before. These blankets are so nice.”

In light of; in keeping with; and in deference to the aforementioned, likely forgotten caveats I will tell you that I have an MBA in Finance and an appropriately titled BS in Accounting to back up my ability to calculate financial probabilities and 66 years of “living,” perhaps “shared experiences,” the more appropriate term ultimately dependent upon point of view, to back up my view of the human spirit. Any banal, well-anticipated disagreement is unwelcomed and will be disregarded without substantiated empirical evidence or the equivalent or better, accompanied by verifiable credentials posted in PDF format. Any book attachments are un-wanted, un-solicited and will be destroyed, along with their attendant un-diagnosed virus. Anyone using or actually infected with the unfortunate name of “Gertrude” would do best to leave the immediate environs and continue to write their GFR “meta” reviews of books they either didn’t read or understand, while they inform their waiting public of their protracted views on most everything; especially their unfortunately imagined, problems with men. I suspect that there is something comedic in this; but I don’t know what that might be.

In actuality, whatever that may be, the first month I put my twenty some odd books on AmawayOnSteroids I was elated to see 1,700 sales of e-books and unfortunately virtually no sales of paperbacks. I know that is not anything E.L. James would brag about, especially considering that it took 20 books to reach this lofty goal. I didn’t expect this until month three. So, being a rookie, I found that surprising, but far from disturbing. I had four of the top twenty five in the Ginder store for a couple of hours!!! While in hindsight, I practically view that distinction as being the lettered equivalent of being the pitcher who threw the most consecutive strikes on a Monday afternoon during the month of June, 2006, in Double A baseball; I confess that at the time I was overwhelmed. After all the accolades advanced copies had received from numerous, sophisticated, literary mavens encountered while walking my dog, my breakthrough was not expected until a few more months had elapsed. Even my well-read wife of 45 years, who is not the least bit hesitant to tell me when she thinks I’m being stupid, really, really liked a few of them. Thank you Diane; your honesty is appreciated ........ the vast majority of the time.

I’d like to note here that at this point I had done no marketing whatsoever and had not yet joined Goofreads. I continued to not market at all, but later joined Goofreads which coincided with a plunge in sales.

However, as there has been a constant pattern in my life of getting fast starts before a quick fizzle out, I tried not to be overly optimistic. I was unsuccessful in that attempt and paid for it. There were 100 sales in the second month and three in the third, two of which have been refunded. Things did pick up. Over the ensuing eighteen months sales approximated that of the first month.

I have subsequently read that my experience has been uncommon in the e-book industry, but rather ordinary in traditional publishing. Somehow I must have gotten the roles again reversed. (Sexual innuendo accidental though not dismissed, this time without the attendant fun.) My seemingly adequate, hour long study of the archetypical patterns attendant to traditional publishing, informed me that in apparent desperation, readers regularly try a traditionally published new author. They somewhat like the first few pages and then become very disinterested in the remainder. At best, indie writers usually take six years to establish a fan base. Sorry. Thanks for trying it. What else can one ask?

I still do not know why an un-known indie got this quick start. I should again qualify that, as there were 20 books, rather than 1; and if you average the whole thing out ........... Maybe the buyers confused me with someone else. Or maybe, I have more fame than I know. Whatever. It seems devoid of importance herein and now, as it’s gone. I just sometimes think of it as another of those odd events, much like my alien abduction. By the way, I have reason to believe that those “aliens” were really costumed CIA operatives who confused me with someone whose take on things mattered; the subject of another possible book.

So, where do we go from here you correctly inquire? I haven’t got the slightest idea. Truly. I’ve read some about others’ ideas of how to sell books and find them amusing or absurd to anyone who has taken Marketing 101. Personally, I will probably offer different ones for free at different times, but I recommend this to no one; nor do I recommend it to myself. I’d just like to say that I have learned that the free e-book giveaways have been a relatively recent marketing idea; the crux of that theory being the establishment of a known name; upon which to cash in later. Veteran writers were mixed of opinion at the outset. Some thought the theory sound and others said that buyers will become accustomed to getting free books and will come to expect that. It seems to me that the latter has proven to be the correct prediction; and, further; like most hindsight; it is the subject of futile speculation, as there is no longer an antidote. I, too have read some of Franzen’s novels. It’s been played, though what hasn’t?

I believe one of my books to be particularly unique. It is about geriatric, bi-sexual aliens, whose genitals have decayed, and who in their search for a higher high, successfully experiment with shooting up the fecal matter of humans. As some degree of success is anecdotally expressed, full septic tanks become the prized currency, ruining an entire malodorous, earth-bound industry. Their (the aliens, not the reeking) overwhelming, advanced powers of media induced hypnosis encourage everyone on earth to gorge themselves, causing a worldwide food shortage. Experts debate whether or not something new and ominous has happened, primarily because the detractors accurately point out that there has always been a worldwide food shortage. Proponents stress the US famine, which has never previously been documented, as opposed to seen. Tangential considerations include studies of differing degrees of starvation in areas with public sewers, as opposed to those dependent upon septic tanks, as opposed to those using cisterns, as opposed to those whose residents just shove their asses out the window when required. On the required personal level, our hero and heroine become embroiled in life threatening situations, as a result of their dangerous knowledge of the truth, which they discovered while guarding the entrance to their own septic tank.

High-brow readers will easily distill the subtle symbolism regarding the addiction problems pertinent to our contemporary life, our blind acceptance of psychology as the new god, and the sucked grapefruit status of the US economy. If that strikes you as pretentious, I have a backup position. (Sexual innuendo possibly implied, dependent on the gender particulars.) It is unquestionably less objectionable than the “brand new” concepts contained in the “Fifty Shades of Gray” steamroller, which many jealous GFR indie reviewers have dismissed as “mommy porn,” or the retro timidity disguised as the dour-hip-grayness of steampunk.

If I haven’t said it already, I cannot say what kind of approaches will sell books. Won’t you admit that to be at least somewhat refreshing? How many times in your entire life have you heard someone say; “I don’t know.” I admit that it doesn’t sound particularly hopeful, but isn’t it somewhat refreshing? Be careful what you say. They’re listening and they are going to investigate.

I am often accused of being too downbeat, so before I proceed to discourage my compatriot writers I would like to stress a real upside in today’s market. The best writers have gone to Hollywood for a regular paycheck. The competition is slim.

Having gotten that obligation completely out of the way, I will proceed to provide my perceptions of the growing author “assistance” industry; much of it disguised as well as a regurgitating Baldy Bozos.

Chapter 3- Goofreads

Definitions are always useful. I’ll open this chapter with a paraphrase of my favorite definition of Goofreads. “It is a social book cataloguing and reviewing site which enables the reader to become addicted to it; thereby decreasing the amount of time the reader has to spend doing their favorite thing; reading books.”

The Goofreads internet module is commonly advertised as one which provides a “social” venue for the exchange of reader ideas. Friends. Enjoyment. Someone to speak with about that book no one else within 1,000 miles has read. Jokes. Ha, ha, ha. Someone finally understands and I can reach them with just a few clicks.

This can easily be viewed as a sarcastic statement. I assure you that it is not. It’s one which brings tears. I’ll volunteer. It doesn’t matter anymore. Haven’t there been times when we’ve felt so alone and that there was no one near who could possibly relate. The ideas and characters in the billions of books are a shorthand way of expressing feelings and saying things which can never be conveyed to a non-reader. Now, with GFR, one no longer requires a kindred spirit next door. The geography was no longer bound by physical realities; it reached to cyber-space. Finally.

So, what’s so wrong about it? No doubt that sometime in megabyte antiquity this may have had some naïve, faith engendered, temporary “validity.” From GFR’s outset its founder has demonstrated an un-deniable aptitude to capitalize on the general public’s show of weakness. Its subsequent acquisition by AOS multiplied that. Their corporate motto, openly displayed within boardrooms says; “Like me. Like me. I’m so nice. I give you precisely what you want. ............ Gotcha, sucker.”

Having said that, it is fair to point out that GFR still has more participants, more discussion threads, a larger data base of books and authors, more book reviews, more categorized lists, a superior search engine, which through 20 or fewer stated preferences, is capable of matching readers with other books they would probably like, more free giveaways, more and better indie reviewers (term to be subsequently discussed), and it all rests upon the easiest to use platform in the industry. It is at least two hundred times larger than its closest competitor and infinitely superior in providing book and traditional author related information.

So, what’s the problem dickhead? Sounds pretty fucking good to me.

Fair enough. Sounds pretty fucking good to me too, depending upon which hat I’ve chosen to wear today. To begin, today I am wearing my trustworthiness hat. I note that if one discounts the information also available on Wikipedia and the pages established by the indie writers, the rest of the information which is there is either inaccurate, useless or both. Within a caveat to be discussed later regarding various notions of censorship, this is the best single stop shop a reader has available, by far. ............ In this case, that’s something like being the best of five students in the Special Education Division. I mean no disparagement to those kids, but concerning GFR let’s get a little bit real. If this thing was any damn good, AOS, its profit deficient owner, would try to charge monthly fees for access. The only thing stopping them is that they know that any such action would result in their loss of 90% of their supposed number of subscribers.

If you might recall, this book is titled; “FOR UNDULY CURBED KINDLE ELECTRONIC MONOGRAPHERS; A LITERARY LITURGY;” which may be loosely translated as “for unknown indie e-book writers.” Perhaps I should have added “only,” but that might have connoted some sort of exclusivity. The site is less useful to writers and in fact, there is substantial testimony, including mine, that GFR is detrimental to them. If I were only a reader I might make some use of that which GFR freely offered. That is until I became more familiar with it and noticed that whenever I sought book recommendations, that I am recommended books which I already am well aware of from various best-seller lists and that the discussion threads, upon which I hoped to share thoughts with other readers, are 90% comprised of indie authors trying to get some attention and sell their middling-at-best books by being witty. Despite that I would personally remain there, though at a declining frequency, until I could find something better. If I were an indie reviewer I’d be careful of what I said, avoiding the possible retribution which might be induced as the result of my denigration of an indie book. The deletion of material and indie reviewer, for that matter, without warning, became a common occurrence right after the AOS acquisition. If I were a designated “librarian,” term further discussed later, with no other claim to a life, I would be thrilled with the power I have over non-descript indie writers and reviewers, with un-disclosed and un-proven access to and the ability to alter, delete, or otherwise falsify the entire GFR database; and try not to think too much about the all the free labor I’ve given to Oat Willy and Bozos to acquire that. If I were a traditionally published author I’d just ignore the whole thing; just as, with a handful of exceptions, which may well be falsified, they do. If I were an indie author I’d like to believe the GFR claims about how I can freely market my book on their site, and attempt to do so until I realize that I can quadruple that income at Mickey D’s, cooking up fries. If I were Oat Willy or Bozos I would occupy my time thinking about the most efficient way in which I could keep the puppets moving in a fashion which maximizes the market value of my holdings in AOS. If I were in the US Justice Department, I would be evaluating the merits of two filings made in July, 2015; alleging that AOS-GFR are monopolies, monopsonies, and that in addition to their actions which have resulted in a furtive strangle-hold on the US economy, they also tend toward demonstrable curtailment of the freedom of speech; simultaneously trying to calculate how my publicly stated position on the matter would affect my career and family in the current political environment. If I owned Hachette, I’d be practicing how to convincingly say; “Yes, sir.”

You will note that these things are easy to predict and say; and you will further realize that many people are eclectic mixtures of the aforementioned types, complicating matters. Any attempt to define every possible category relegates the writer to a task which cannot be finished in a lifetime, even “aided” by the duplicative assistance of inaudibly droning processors. Imagine the possibilities. Mix 1-2-3. Mix 1-2. Mix 1-2-4. Mix 1-2-5. Mix 2-3-4. Mix 2-3-5. Mix 3-4. On and on. Probably not to infinity, but damn near.

But, there is an apparently invisible, and effective shroud which covers the simplicity. Everyone except Oat Willy and Bozos have degrees of dissatisfaction; yet rather than attempting to correct that through co-operative action, perhaps a boycott, aimed at the perpetrators, the aggrieved millions attempt to correct their situation by attacking each other, ostensibly blind to their common thread, while Oat Willy and Bozos find mirth in the Charles Ludlum-esque, farcical presentation.

On the most un-challenged of levels GFR boasts 40,000,000 members. Other sources say 20,000,000. In their 2015 voting for best book of the year there were 20 categories which allowed one person to cast twenty votes. Despite that, GFR reported a total of 3,007,748 votes cast. Draw your own conclusions. Out of a potential of either 400,000,000 or 800,000,000 votes cast, and keeping in mind that indie writers diligently vote for their own “brilliance” as well as their “friend” books, a big fat 3,007,748 were cast. That’s .7519% of the smaller number and .3760% of the larger one. Damn, Gore got a bigger turnout in Dade even when the people knew that their votes weren’t going to be counted. Could it be possible that the Wizard is adept in the use of smoke and mirrors?

One can freely enter this 2013-acquired-by-AmawayOnSteroids-subsidiary site and if armed with a valid e-mail address and password one can actually become a member in just a few seconds. Be warned. With all its faults it is also addicting. You will no longer have to worry about your annoying, real life friends, if any, or family, if any of them are still on speaking terms with you just showing up willy nilly. You can lock the door and experiment and play with “friends” whenever the urge strikes YOU. Total control. In complete safety, you can test how stupidly vicious you can be. Unless you attract the attention of a rabid GFR librarian, your only penalty will be the deletion of the comment deemed to be against GFR policy. Right here it should be noted that this GFR policy dissertation, as opposed to definition, begins with a statement of how they believe in free speech and ends with the statement that they retain the right to alter, delete or otherwise modify anything ontheirwebsitewhenever they deem itappropriate, without regard to reason or cause. A first time offender will most likely be the recipient of a standard e-mail warning about violating GFR policy; that you’ve been bad; and to not do it again. If this happens, do not take it lightly. For one thing, this will put you on the troll librarian secret shit list of members who have no defense against bullies, trolls, carpet bombers, or incompetent and jealous indie writers and reviewers. If you choose to put up with the harassment, with the third GFR warning e-mail you will be completely deleted, and some people die when going cold turkey.

In this environment, the most astute of GFR reviewers, many of whom were also early librarians who freely established the database, are now also the victims of harassment. Many were quite vocal over the things which happened in 2013, right after the AOS takeover and are apparently now expendable. Universally, they have logically ceased reviewing indie books, I believe because a warranted one or two star rating will get them another warning, and for some incalculable reason they want to remain part of GFR. Despite attestations to the contrary they must believe in a resurrection; and at least one of them is Jewish!They now reserve commentary and save any pent up viciousness for the classics. None of the writers have registered a complaint since their deaths and since the books have already been rated thousands of times anyway. A one or two star rating has negligible effect on the overall average, and AOS doesn’t seem to worry over the possible loss of a sale.

In no circumstances say anything which, even out of context, might be construed as homophobic, race discriminatory or sexist. If you have some intolerant need to address these issues at all make certain you are current with the politically correct euphemism with which to refer to the disadvantaged minorities. You will note that there is an accepted genre title which uses one of these terms, Chick Lit, but take my word on this one. Don’t use it. Say nice, nice things of everything and everybody and embellish them with loads of happy faces, even the indie books which find their most humorous attempts in protracted descriptions of household pets evolved into road kill or torture subjects for youthful-would-be-Satanists. Better yet, don’t take any risk and say nothing at all. The site is chock full of book and writing information you may wish to read if like me, after having written a few books, you’d like to learn something about literature.

The real politik displayed here? Readers, writers, reviewers, and librarians know that they are extremely weird people and they want to keep that a secret. As noted elsewhere they do not even have a clue as to how “real” people communicate. They are afraid that other people call them derogatory names behind their backs and are more afraid that these names will be thrown in their faces publicly. So, in practice, their insistence upon their idea of fairness and politically correct terminology is just another example of self-serving behavior, clandestinely aimed at maintaining a barrier between them and the ones who would ridicule or even hate the useless and protected reader-writer-reviewers and call them the dreaded “S” word; “softcover twits.”

Some might say that this is “skewer the reviewers,” and as usual some may be right; much as “I suppose your guess is more or less as bad as mine.”

I’m taking a risk right here, but in the interest of truth ............ Do not ever; and I mean do noteverpost anything positive about Donald Trump. Don’t even attempt sarcasm as US mid-westerners and off shore GFR participants either do not understand it or don’t like it. Whatever. The possible punishments for registering a Donald approval exceed that of infanticide. No, no, no.

As anecdotal background information, a few un-commercial maximizing years prior, there was a Goofreads approved indie “author” who considered art to be theft. He, she or to-be-determined was an e-book writer with no market or literary ability; likely both. Yet he, she, or to-be-determined could converse with readers at will; perhaps a respite from being alone trying to write a decent book or being alone trying to find a decent one to copy. All right. It was one of my former GFR indie “friends” and I used to say that his, her, or yet-to-be-determined’s efforts to ingratiate themselves was excellent, while I was careful not to mention anything about what I was currently doing. I’d just make up moronic things, like the story of a not-quite-so-young man who still lived with his parents. He’d write books for the lack of a real job and he’d get laid about three times per page, treating it in an over-baked blasé fashion. The rest of the book was basically about puss, piss, loose eyeballs and dead babies; you know, the stuff you used to find the height of hilarity sophomore year in high school. He’d show his stuff to the Moms in an attempt to gross her out, but she’d always be too Xanexed out to be upset or maybe even read; responding; “Very good,” at each showing. Book 1 of the series ends when the Moms becomes a GFR indie reviewer. This worked for a while and then we had a bit of a blow-up about what is a truly long, boring story, centered around my “sarcastic” posts. It was then that I learned this person was a librarian-reviewer-ersatz writer with access to the entirety of the GFR database and some of AOS’. Just by “coincidence,” at the same time 300+ of my four and five star righteously received reviews were deleted. Those with one or two stars remained and approximately twenty were added, containing identical reviews for seven different books, in the name of an obvious sock puppet. A sock puppet is basically a fictitious alter ego of some presumably “real” person, falsely created to make web posts, with which the “real” entity does not want to be associated. The term will be expanded upon later herein. Just by further “coincidence” I could no longer access GFR, which in retrospect was a blessing; an end to a harmful addiction.

All right, all right; some of you insist that I be totally serious; or lacking that, at least a little funny. I thought I was. Oh, well. In a very real way that seems to be an un-reasonable requirement in an absurd situation. It inevitably puts the masters in control. ........... You are askance and REQUIRE further documentation. Sorry, my well-loved scholars. My mortal deficiencies dictate a pragmatism. I don’t have the time or the interest. I don’t know and think that I don’t care. But, it is for you to write your own book. ........ Anyway, I wrote some serious crap to “GFR Lack of Administration,” and after a lengthy delay and two more e-mails was advised that the problem was not within their purview and referred me to no one in particular at AOS. I first said; “Fuck it. I know the bullshit game,” but after a few days I didn’t have anything else to do, so I e-mailed AOS. For those scientists out there who require the most severe form of clarity let me say; “After a lengthy delay and two more e-mails I was advised that the problem was not within their purview and referred me to no one in particular at GFR.” Jeez, how can you help but laugh?

I thought that one of the primary, pre-AmawayOnSteroids purchase, purposes of GFR was to enable readers to exchange information and recommendations with other readers. Readers all too well know of the classics and best sellers, no matter how ridiculously calculated. Yet the programmed commercial orientation on the site today throws those books in front of users at every turn. Thanks so much. From the reader's point of view, if there is any useful purpose for the existence of GFR, it is to be able to tell other readers of the out-of-the-mainstream books they liked and be advised in a similar fashion. But, that’s just naïve, pie-in-the-sky thinking on my part. When I gave GFR their required 20 books liked information, their stated requirement for suggestions generated by their super search engine, I got back the very well-known ones; most well ensconced on AOS “best seller” lists. Thanks again.

Perhaps in the same vein, I have found that when I have rated un-known indie books highly, that rating is often soon deleted. I suspect that this is either the result of ownership policy or the workings of their unpaid "librarians," most likely a combination of the two.

If it has not been previously stated, in return for providing free work to GFR-AOS, though it is of course not officially stated to be as such, de-facto;un-supervised, these officially designated "librarians" are granted the ability to edit, delete, add to, totally fabricate, copy, or change anything which exists on this marketing website. .......... Oh yeah. You can say what you want for a short time. But, if what you say is inconvenient, or if it is viewed as something with more US$ potential than the "librarian"-failed writers could ever achieve there will be changes made without your consent and you will never be told the name of the responsible party or their “sock puppet,” or more likely “sock puppets.” Initially, this may sound as outrageously nonsensical to you as it did me. However, I did just an hour’s worth of internet research and found lots of company; thousands. This can be confirmed at sites called bookriot, goodreadsucks, jackiedaniki, zoedesh and especially the indie reviewers’ most hated STGRB. STGRB stands for “Stop the GoofReads Bullies” and has a fairly comprehensive database of differing categories of GFR author abuse and cheating. Zoe Desh, a fictitious name intended to avoid AOS-GFR retribution, has written a book on this subject which can be downloaded free. It will go into some areas not covered here and will be even more damning. The other sites mentioned represent a potpourri of complaints about AOS-GFR, including how their automatic engines have been set to make it appear as if a new GFR member was requesting, through e-mails sent to every friend they had on social media, to join GFR. This resulted in many “GFR new members” being blocked from some areas as ‘spammers,” with a resultant loss of business. I realize that in this duplicitous time some of these people are making use of these sites to advertise their books, sort of an anti-advertising; some are just un-happy writer’s with garbage books; and some want to defame a reviewer who didn’t like their book. But, I do believe that many of them are just detailing true events, as many are the same stories I experienced.

One of the things I found most amusing were the occasional posts from the GFR founder and continuing head honcho under AOS ownership; Oat Willy. He always basically states that whatever the event, that this was some sort of accident which he and GFR are concerned about and are currently working on. I wonder if he got the idea for his form letter from a George Saunders short story. He mercifully disappears when the complainant says; “Bullshit, and I’ll tell you why that’s bullshit ......” It may be of further interest to know that while GFR was compiling its strange version of “2015 Best Of ... Awards,” a here-and-there-rebellious GFR author-reviewer-librarian posted that this GFR founder again led the league in deletions. The margin was so wide that second place was the horse that tripped over the gate. I can’t help it. It strikes me as odd that the CEO of a sizable, indirectly publicly held institution spends so much time in the deletion process. I know some unemployed people who can easily handle that job for much less pay.

You may have no interest whatsoever in this subjects. You might say; “Fuck GFR. Fuck AOS. Fuck the Deletion Maven. Fuck Bozos. Fuck Oat Willy. Fuck books. Fuck reviews. And most of all fuck writers.”

I fucking agree. Believe it or not, I really don’t need the money, books, reviews or aggravation from this shit. It’s not that I’m anywhere near rich; but until the day they delete the Social Security program we’ve all paid so much into, me and my lady will be all right. From the outset it was termed a “non-tax deductible-purchase-of-insurance.” For Christ’s sake, if Nationwide told everyone “We’re not paying any more claims because we don’t know how to manage our money,” there would be a revolution which would make the ousting of the Brits seem like a “Tea Party” demonstration.

These thoughts arise out of a hatred for charlatans. I have a fear that this AOS-GFR business plan, which is to find desperate suckers to work for no pay, has expanded well beyond books. AOS has already made acquisitions and announced startup operations in virtually every aspect of life people find necessary or entertaining. If somebody doesn’t give them some shit over books, then the lines become more gray as they establish dominance in household services, clothing, food, package delivery, movies, computers and peripherals, etc., etc., etc.

I know that it in the US, it is currently the right of the owner to do whatever they wish with their "properties." I also used to know that it was the job of the Federal Government to monitor monopolistic activities whenever they became detrimental to the vast majority.Used to. I also know that when monopolies are permitted, those entities will invariably follow a course which in the short run will make them lucrative, and in the long run; the optimistic scenario; will make them as broke and irrelevant as the ones from whom they seek revenue; with their most important executive, the “Senior Vice President in Charge of Sucking Up to the Public Utility Commission.” They can take their free choice although they always take the same one. “Ordinary People” and their elected leaders seem to have forgotten their birthright, existent long before a corporation was ever invented. Excuse me, I’m getting way off topic again.

Oddly, though I think that this is not done by the now mistreated originals, I think that the newer GFR unpaid "librarian" operatives, acting something like a 1940's garter belt, for the most part, make efforts to thwart anyone who they might see as being headed for something more "successful" than themselves. Bottom line; this is most everyone with a paying job. Bottom line; this may be partially due to AmawayOnSteroids’ profit deficient need to make use of suckers willing to work for nothing; married to those same sucker's, untalented grabs for power; only able to show jealousies useless to the general public. Whichever, through having been made aware of these things on countless occasions AmawayOnSteroids has possibly been criminally negligent in allowing this to continue to be the case.

On the most pedestrian of legal considerations, that's their permitted "ownership" right in America, but it is also a violation of GFR’s implied promise of working together to make the definitive literature site. If anyone at corporate level can see outside themselves just a foot, they'd have seen that it is also our legal right to be totally disgusted, and not be a part of their efficient, power grabbing, entrepreneurial efforts. They can easily themselves; or more likely through the use of desperate un-paid flunkies ignore, thwart, pervert, delete, massage, or out-and-out fabricate anything I try to write. My only "logical" choice is that which allows me the possibly illusory dream of a departure from the things they have poorly duplicated; as opposed to the depiction of things true and elemental. So, bye-bye GFR. You have no use for me and I have none for you. My dream is that some attorney sees this as potentially being the largest class action suit of all time.

Guess what? Ha ha ha. What a fucking surprise. They did not delete something I wrote. Somehow they managed to not allow its posting to begin with; and therefore didn’t have to delete it.

In an effort to "comply" with their dictums, masquerading as technical glitches, I hope to say a final "Adieu." Just stay away. I'll gladly return the favor. As I and others have requested; delete our “author” pages in entirety. We don’t want or need you. But, you won’t. You choose to act like an adult bullied child, your learned behavior administered by your flunkies. Further dreams indicated. In its entirety this will appear somewhere out of the purview of GFR and their minions. Big deal, right? The big men at AOS and GFR worry about stuff like this.

I am fully aware that some of the things I have written in this document concerning AOS and GFR operations sound bizarre. They are; AOS and GFR that is. I assure you that I am no more insane than any other e-book writer and more balanced than a few I’ve encountered. The possible events which I describe actually happened to me. When they did I wondered myself if I wasn’t seeing the little man who wasn’t there or if these things just happen through computer errors of some sort. But, then when I started to investigate “problems with GFR” and similar phrases on the web I found that there were thousands of people saying exactly the same things. Though it is not the subject of this book, when I was banished from GFR, I was also unable to write anything on other websites, including newspapers and Amazon. A former friend was an excellent hacker and she advised me that something was done to the modem, which makes my Internet Service number recognizable to and banned from AOS “affiliate” and “co-operating” sites if not more. I can change this number, but doing so results in the strong possibility that my Internet Service Provider will cancel my internet service. I can access many things when I use someone else’s internet service. Anyway, the whole process made me feel as if I was in Orwell’s “1984,” with some specific mechanics changed, with the overall theme of being rendered substantially mute, but not by the government per se; by a scumbag private company which is trying to get its hands into everything cheaply and letting their unpaid help do whatever they want while they and the government pretend to look the other way.

In fairness, there also have been numerous indie reviewers “trolled.” One of the top rated GFR reviewers has detailed what she thinks happened to her. She primarily had suspicions about three entities; “one stupid enough to use his own name,” supplemented by two others who made use of sock puppets. It dovetails nicely with my personal story. She also testifies that she was stalked by some nut.

I’ve read a few of her reviews and to me they seemed cogent and not un-necessarily derogatory. However, her average rating was 3.46; which is on the low side. I valued them more than others, as when a reviewer has an average rating of 4.3 or higher I respect their assessments as highly as I do that of a blind and rabid used car salesman. But, apparently this is exactly what AOS-GFR wants most.

This is a paraphrase, but she deftly characterized a troll as “an unhappy loser, whose greatest thrill in life is to anonymously post vile comments in the hope that they will make the recipient feel as poor and deficient as the troll actually is.” I would only suggest the insertion of “or encourage others to post vile comments” after “comments.” Perhaps these trolls would be chagrined to know that both she and I usually find them a source of amusement, unless they are also sufficiently computer savvy to affect the operation of our machines. .......... Yeah, I know that amusement can be viewed as something akin to laughing at a cripple; but it’s not exactly that and I don’t care in the least bit anyway. They started it.

Her experience actually sounded worse than mine in most respects; as at least one of the sad-ass trolls pursued her in a cyber fashion for months. Perhaps the same one screwed up her IP address; affecting her access to various websites; and one stalked her in person. At least I didn’t have to see the cretin.

The entire situation is consistent with that of art imitating life; in this case very redundant, rude computer graffiti married to an insignificant little shit, thinking that they are a terrorist of world-wide infamy. That’s a bit post-modern or post-industrial; but it works here. Recall Dylan’s “Pawn in the Game,” and try to picture a deluded, mean, pathetic one.

You see; it’s this simple. Just as in “real” life, in cyber space there are “terrorists” on both sides; each fitting the astute reviewer’s idea of a troll. Their numbers continue to grow, as both sides argue with each other as to who is at fault. Concurrently, the powers that be wring their hands as they display their oh-so-pained-public faces. Christ, if Obama’s lower lip gets any lower it will half kiss his neck. I’ve yet to see one capable of tears, but fully expect some further cosmetic advancement will soon provide the professionally restrained waterfall. Personally, I look forward to that day, as it will be funnier than Jack Nicholson’s Hollywood portrayal of the Joker. In the meantime one would have to conclude one of two things; 1) That the powers that be are completely ineffectual; or 2) That the powers that be have analyzed the situation, and have incorrectly found it to be in their best interest.

So, everybody is “trolling” everybody else and complaining about it. I am certain that AOS and GFR have been the “winners” insofar as they can define the term, and we are providing them with free entertainment.

As previously alluded to, my personal experience was that I sold more books before having had the “help” of being a GFR participant. In fact half of my total 19 month sales came in that first month before we were acquainted.

Prior to having the GFR experience I could not have imagined this. Why should you believe me? I don’t know. We’re all now loaded with bad information. But, do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to do this. Google GFR complaints and see how many writers claim to have been hurt by GFR. Then try to find one who says that he was helped. The conclusion is obvious. Unless one is desperate to have an electronic “friend” there is no reason to bother with GFR.

Chapter 4- Reviews and Reviewers

“If you can’t do it, review it.” That should adequately set the tone of this chapter. I know. I know. Many will say that I’m angry or hurt. I assure the reader that I am neither and will prove that. After I spend some time in the closed garage with the car engine running, I will never again poke fun at any reviewer. But, in the meantime ...............

Since this is a topic every writer will be hearing about to the closest approximation of boring infinity this world has yet noticed, allow me to define a few terms. Sometimes it is of benefit to be speaking of the same subject; or the most reasonable facsimile available.

Merriam-Webster cleverly defines a “reviewer” as “one who reviews.”

Merriam-Webster indicates several possible definitions for “review,” the first two with military applications. A few of the possibly applicable others include; 1) to examine or study again, 2) to give a critical evaluation of, (as of a book or play), and 3) renewed study of material previously studied.

In addition to the tiny witticisms which may be drawn from the definitions in the context of an indie reviewer, one might well note that there is no mention of credentials or required competence. This was probably obvious to anyone who has read more than three GFR reviews, but I personally take justification in the ease of access to this endeavor, as my personal experience was that, according to many reviewers, since I am a writer, that I have no right to review or question one of the self-appointed elite evaluators. It is their union’s policy that they are the final word; excepting; “What a wonderful review” and similar nauseating comments from the rest of their coyote pack.

Unfortunately Merriam-Webster has not yet found it sufficiently compelling to offer a definition of an “indie reviewer.” Since this is the bird to which indie writers will likely be irrationally drawn, the writer finds it necessary for the purposes of this book to offer a “working” definition, at least until over-ruled by a recognized authority; that apparently defined in practice as someone adequately savvy to establish a website on the world wide web. An “indie reviewer” is; “An unpaid or minimally paid person who uses the domain of books to demonstrate their personal brilliance and importance; which, very unfairly, had not been previously recognized. The results of the ‘brilliance-establishing-goal’ vary widely and the success rate is directly proportional to the number of indie writers who attain a position within the top 10 New York Times best seller list. The ‘feeling-of-importance’ goal has fared well primarily thanks to the novice indie writers begging ‘requests’ to review their book, apparently thinking that a positive review from ‘Lovely Rita, Meter Maid’ will impact their book sales in a positive fashion.” There are a number of sub-categories, which will be further discussed as briefly as possible later in this book, including;

1) Bully indie reviewers.

2) Troll indie reviewers.

3) Carpet bombing indie reviewers.

4) Coyote pack indie reviewers.

5) Purchasable indie reviewers.

6) The most dangerous; Librarian indie reviewers, who have access to the entire GFR database and parts of AOS.

7) Last but not least, those who love books and like talking about them.

Perhaps this is the place for an anecdote or three. I swear to God, this is a conversation I read between two reader-reviewers on GFR;

One said that she was interested in writing a book, but was totally devoid of any idea as to how “real” people talk. She asked her friend for some insight.

Her friend responded that she didn’t know either, and suggested that the questioner take a bus ride and eavesdrop on conversations.

It makes no difference to me, but an indie author seeking to make a living from writing would do best to realize that this distanced portion of humanity is a good example of the market they seek to enter.

GFR has a highly rated reviewer, supposedly a female of 24 years, who has a need to articulate her dislike of men every second paragraph; and who writes “reviews” which she must personally define as “Gertrude’s long-ass musings on some ‘meta’ something or other which has nothing to do with the book in question.” This is indeed a very bright thing to do, as it does not require the painstaking time it would have taken to read and possibly understand the book, and perhaps be diverted from thinking about one’s self for a few moments. Gertie has followers who tell her how wonderful she is and how beautifully ‘meta’ a certain phrase she used was or is. Gertie rapturously bathes in the accolades offered and responds; “Oh, thank you so much. It took me three hours to come up with that.” Unintended humor is often the best.

This is another example of the market an indie writer seeks to enter. Gertie and her followers are not alone. They are a prototype; a common GFR genre.

Another GFR reviewer pattern is demonstrated in a conglomeration of the “reviews” offered by five or more of the GFR indie reviewers at the top of the GFR-calculated heap. They regularly usurp what they are able to glean of the author’s writing style and use that ten-minute-perception to write a “funny review” utilizing what they know of the author’s style. A prospective reader of the book is not informed and seeks information elsewhere. Ostensibly the reviewer considers this approach witty, insightful, and/or amusing. This is likely a demonstration of an irrelevant reviewer’s need to show that they are so smart, that they could have written the book much better; as they proceed to chronicle the fact that they could not have come within a light year of it. Yet, if an indie writer chooses to be irrationally hopeful of the financial remuneration to be provided in the indie reviewers’ estimation of their book’s market value, one is condemned to be consistent and persistent in the belief that good reviews from GFR”s most prominent reviewers make a difference. Don’t waste time reading the artful presentation and just take a moment to click the “like” button which is used to further push up the indie reviewer’s GFR calculated importance. If you have the stomach for it, take five minutes to tell the stars how great they are and somewhere in there beg them to review your book.

This is another example of the market an indie writer seeks to enter; that of more imitative, “free book” connoisseurs.

Retailers, yes. Your friends. People who want to sell your product. They survive the initial rational test of; “They will do better if I do better. It’s mutual.” Sorry to bust any bubbles still out there, but it is not the least bit mutual. If you believe that you also have to believe that there are no other considerations or parties relevant to the transaction. In reality your supposed retailing pal is not in the least monogamous. It has billions of relationships and seeks more, almost all of them more important to them than you and your low selling indie book.

What is a book retailer? It is an entity which exists only to maximize its profit and/or its market share. It currently utilizes books in an attempt to accomplish one or both goals; and tomorrow might utilize diapers, if that is deemed by their financial analysts to have more profit potential. Their considerations are simple. They do not discriminate and are never repulsed by an opportunity which might enhance their bottom line. To follow the particular scenario hypothesized in this paragraph; the latter item is merely another form of investment; this time inescapably viewable as something to shit in or on. The concept is financially speaking far from innovative. It’s a very old, traditional story. It has survived merely because it works. A book retailer will publicly make pre-printed attestations to their care and interest in the advancement of literature. They pay a Vice president in charge of public relations to come up with the smiley platitude reading, while they privately calculate what return on investment they might achieve from any endeavor, including used diaper disposal.

Another definition should be re-mentioned here. “Sock puppets” are simply false identities, perhaps alter egos, which are established by indie reviewers, librarians, indie writers, monopolistic corporations, weirdos and most internet users alike. Regarding corporate use, which is really a tangential subject of this book, suffice to say that when you are at the supermarket in search of coffee, and you see thirty different brand names, your purchasing decision might be simplified with the knowledge that all of the coffee was grown and harvested by a shrinking number of currently five growers; all of them were packaged in the same factory; and that the factory and the various brand names are all owned by the same corporation.

So, to stay almost “on topic” herein the term “sock puppets” is limited to its GFR-AOS usage, though it is really no different from that which appears in every aspect of life. On GFR-AOS they are used to say things the “real” person does not want to risk being associated with, such as; providing phony high ratings and reviews for your “friend’s” books; provide phony high ratings and reviews for your own books; provide phony low ratings for books written by someone you don’t like; provide phony low ratings for books written by someone your indie reviewer union does not like; upset pompous assholes; or a fun place to just let it all hang out.

In an effort to not give a totally incorrect impression, I, and I’m sure all of we e-book writers want to sincerely thank the readers who have taken the trouble to multi star and say something nice about what we have offered. Before having had the experience, I thought I would be totally immune to the opinions of those who had never written anything; mere derivative indie reviewers. But after receiving initial reviews ranging from poor to middling, I found my thick skin was easily penetrable. While I previously found the time to daily write a page or two even if the roof had collapsed, I began to find the necessity of feeding the dog an adequate “reason” to not do the thing I most enjoy; no sexual innuendo intended, but I’m not sure of that. I was then blessed with a number of four and five star reviews and here I am back at the keyboard. God bless you kind angels. Lie to me if you must. I know I sincerely speak for all of us mavens of old fashioned text.

Having said that, I daub the moisture from my eyes and face the dry facts. We are told that good “reviews,” or perhaps more precisely the number of stars afforded our works of virtuosity, with or without condescension to reviewer verbiage are important to our “success,” whether measured in dollars or the interrelated glowing eyes of our spouses. Coming from a large family or having kept in contact with old friends seems integral to our “literary” reward. However, I am inclined to dash the hopes of desperate writers, by telling them what every reader already knows.Good reviews do not sell books. They only assist in their creation. How often have we heard; “Critical success, boxoffice failure?”View the list of the greatest books, some selling well for the millennium. They are overwhelmingly rated under four stars; sometimes as low as three. Yet the zero cash selling, latest and eight millionth zombie story and the similarly monetarized, sixteen billionth “romance” novel replete with dark billionaire suitor and horny, avaricious, thoughtful young girl, have both received unanimous five star ratings. I’m tempted to let the obvious speak for itself, but in certain quarters I have been advised that it is the writer’s job to tell the story; or as some insist, to “show” it. Bear with me. Here goes the pedanticism again. To say it simply, it has been calculated that reviews, whether measured in number or assessment have no relationship with book sales. Don’t argue with me; Forbes, Fortune and Barron’s said so.

Getting back to the distracting particulars of the review issue; after some sort of scandal involving flagrantly bogus reviews it was decided by AOS; that on their site as opposed to their subsidiary GFR site; reviews or ratings could only be given by what was intended to sound like “bona fide purchasers” of that particular book. Silly me. It actually means a “bona fide purchaser” of any product through AOS. It is also readily apparent that the downloading of an e-book on “free” day meets that criterion. At the risk of not having been clear, this means that if you have purchased one pair of slippers through AOS or have taken advantage of any AOS free book offering, you are allowed to write an infinite number of book reviews, or an infinite number of reviews of any product listed on AOS for that matter. This “improvement” was the result of laborious discussions between AOS and literary devotees; and serves as an example of the value of conversing with AOS.

So, fellow indie author, if you still have some kind of motivation which craves the benefit of positive reviews; and if the trusted portion of your freeloading circle of family and friends is insufficient to supply “nine five star reviews,” one approach you might consider is to purchase the “honest” ratings and reviews (Wink. Wink. Five star.) available within five days, from five to five hundred bucks up front and, in the case of some larger enterprises, a bargain additional five bucks per for multi orders from an “honest” reviewing venture. Ostensibly, any such transactions are legally viewed as “arms-length.” In a typical transaction, the first fifty goes to a “literary” corporation with the succubus website, whose only function after taking the order, is to visit the bank and to make the book available to its independent consultants-contractors, who each require another ten to copy some approximation of the back cover, indicate five stars where required (Hint; Sometimes they forget to do this and follow-up can be cumbersome, though simplified through additional purchases.) and post it on some part of the internet no one ever visits.

On an unlikely topic; one which will only possibly be encountered when dealing with a virgin indie reviewer; what recourse do you have if they give it one star and write; “I was shocked to have seen someone put their own name on a book devoid of any sentence construction knowledge, plot, adherence to literary protocols, or good taste,” the possible requirement of a question mark not indicated by the techies at “Buk Revews by Danny Dee.” Will they remove that comment if you give them another ten? Not at “Buk Revews by Danny Dee.” I never found out how the “negotiating” aspects played out. I suspect that it might involve more substantial, further business for Danny, who also offers an editing service for $1,500. I know that it would have been personally prideful to daily observe that my book was liked by that community college student, majoring in auto body shop; and to know that I helped with their tuition. But, alas; something holds me back. That something might well be; “I wrote the fuckin’ book and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let some used scumbag make me pay them for the right to fuck it up.”

“Review swaps” are openly available from other GFR writers. I’ll do yours if you do mine is basically how it’s supposed to go. You will learn that many of the swappers have a habit of reneging or writing the helpful and artistically succinct brilliance of; “A good read,” or the McCarthy terse equivalent. I have no need to delineate the S.I. level of this mutual admiration society; as you already know or are not ever going to. Most offer PDF (Imagine what that acronym could possibly stand for.) copies of their book to you free of charge. Others want you to buy it for $4.99, putting a question and a financial calculation into the “reciprocity.” What if yours is only $1.99? What if yours is an identical $4.99, but you’re on 35% royalty? Etc., etc., etc., and etc. In 2016, most reviews of indie books arise from this source.

What if their book really stinks? What if yours does too? If this one does, you’re out $.99, but at least you can keep your integrity.Integrity; an archaic notion? A revised definition? A word used as regularly as guttersnipe? I can’t recall the conversation which led up to my use of the word thirty years ago, but I do recall my astute Guyanese associate responding; “Integrity? Integrity? You take a look around this room and tell me how much integrity you see.” We worked for a bank. I was uncharacteristically quiet for a few minutes.

I have to admit, that when I access the review section, my heart soars when I see a new five starred compliment. I cherish that moment. It makes me feel worthy. It makes me feel as if I’m a competent artist. I throw away all pretenses to logic, as it makes me feel as if my efforts had touched someone’s heart. I’m Orpheus. As I sing, I rise above the morning clouds, like an Icarus blessed with the most modern of Oriental bit-byte technology. Most importantly Eurydice beams and smiles.

The indie writer reality; 33 ratings; a 4.5 average; 32 purchased, swapped or familial; and there is that unknown other one. At that moment I understand everything that they’ve been writing and talking about. I am so elated and concurrently relaxed that my bowels moved for the first time in a week; and I continued on my path at an accelerated rate.

GFR review swapping is even more insidious than the previously mentioned indicated. It’s a trap. As will be discussed later, the most successful indie writers unanimously suggest one and only one course to financial success. Write more books and make them good. Yet, when novices first approach the GFR website, they are persuaded that the reviews are the most important “marketing” factor. To put that in some degree of perspective, that is almost exclusively said by reviewers. “Everyone does it.”

Yeah, and everyone’s indie book income averages out to 500 bucks per annum. But, you’ll be tempted as there is some safety in numbers, not realizing that you are observing the incorrect one. If you’re wrong you will be wrong in the safety of substantial company. For some reason, that is preferable to being wrong alone. Maybe the answer lies somewhere within the un-stated, minority position which suggests that sociability is such over-rated bullshit. It would seem that wrong equals wrong equals wrong; but that’s doesn’t appear to be how things are popularly seen. On a less theoretical level, the worst bottom line risk is that through participation in GFR review swaps, blog posts, and registering “likes” to all the crap your “friends” post, your writing of books will cease as you get bogged down in the worthless, shit indie books in search of an ever expanding circle of “friends.”

If that becomes your course, at some point you may glean what every reader has already gleaned. For traditionally published books the number of reviews ranges between 5% and 15% of total ratings; averaging 10%. Most people don’t want to take the time to write out some long winded horseshit, but will take a moment to push the star button, establishing a rating. But, for indie books the ratio approximates a minimum of 80%, and is often in excess of that; clearly indicative of; “There is something unusual here.”

GFR approved author, reviewer, librarian, and general jack-of-all-trades, Jimbo Morcrap and his partner’s rendition of “The Twenty-third Vicious Call Girl; Cum Covered Cuckholds Number Two” has 45 ratings and 41 “honest” reviews with a 4.67 average, exceeding the average of all books on any top 100 of all-time listing. Sure, sure. The readers believe it. They believe that the “honest” reviews were provided by friends, family, purchased whores, swappers and other cuckholds.

Inept digressions aside, in re-iteration of all a writer needs to know about reviews is that “Forbes,” “Fortune,” and “Barron’s” Magazines have printed articles which unequivocally state that there is absolutely no evidence substantiating any semblance of a directly proportional relationship betweenreviews and book sales; whether measured by number of reviews, average rating of reviews, average rating of reviewer or length of review. If any association is suggested, anecdotal testimony and logical inference seem to slightly lean in the direction of inversity,no sexual innuendo intended, subject to further empirical study. I have previously told you that I used to work in a bank.

There is one clear relationship.Sales of the author’s current book are directly proportional to the sales of the author’s prior one. In your case that number is more zero than Bret Easton Ellis has yet to imagine.

I would like to point out that these studies have been conducted by financial people with sharp pens, and even sharper bank accounts. They invest in anything which can make them a buck; to the extent that they have even have run regressions, current, lagging and future; of the average rainfall in Spithole, Kansas versus the Dow, NASDAQ, and OTC aggregate averages. Their conclusions have been that book sales are an irrational event, on which it is prudent to not bet the farm. As a safer investment they have chosen to strip and straddle the Dow whenever it rains in Spithole.

Having said that, based on our view of our behaviorally managed experience we have become trained to feel as if a book in naked and disdained, without a high nearby review. “Ooooh, no one loves me.”

A completely un-documentable sixth sense suggests to me that while this sounds reasonable when speaking of indie reviewers, I would think that a review from a professional at The New York Times, New Yorker, Salon, Atlantic Monthly, et al would have a positive effect on sales. But, every legitimate site I could find which was not selling author services said that this is not the case. In fact, one specifically addressed my thoughts and said that big name reviewers have no effect on sales now, due to the proliferation of reviews and reviewers, and the average population’s inability to assess quality issues; perhaps further manifestation of the truth of a Franzen proclaimed marginalization.

For you new indies, let me restate a few known facts about reviews you may not have heard or yet believe. It is generally said that “reviews are the life blood of a book.” When one applies a bit of context and research it is determined that that precise phrase was coined by a reviewer whose name has gone somewhere with the wind. It’s a cheap shot, but to cast even further aspersions on the veracity of that piece of one line brilliance, it should be noted that it was a GFR “quote of the day” for the month of February, 2016.

It is not only said, but it is invariably true that on GFR, great classics like “Moby Dick” have received hundreds of thousands of ratings and tens of thousands of reviews, resulting in an average rating of 3.7 or so. It is also true that newer books like “Sidney’s Holiday with the Regurgitating Zombies” have something like 18 ratings, 18 reviews, with an overall average of 4.6. Hmmmmmm ........... Changing tastes? A rebellious youthful disdain for things their elders have found worthy? A skewing made possible by a statistically insignificant data base? An exquisitely sophisticated vantage point, even more precious and rare than devotees of “The Clasp?” A computer “glitch?” The snappy decayed facial puke cover on “Sidney’s Holiday with the Regurgitating Zombies,” replete with a smoky scenario of a reflecting pond reflecting the chunky dinner being hurled from a zombie’s upper aperture? So ironically Kafka-esque to true mavens of the narrative arts. Sidney has been blessed with a large literate family who are still on speaking terms?

None of the above. Look, it’s simple. Every seasoned reader knows that for at least the last ten years, internet based book reviews are purchasable for somewhere between $5 and $550. The plain truth behind the writer’s numbers deficiency is that Nathan Indie doesn’t have a credit card and he no longer has access to his checking account. He’s spending his nights on his younger brother’s linoleum kitchen floor in Newark. It is also accurate to say that neither he nor his great white one has demonstrated the least inclination to give a shit for quite some time. On the other hand, our boy Sid has chipped plastic up his cracked end, and if his credit line is increased he’ll be able to ...... you know. There is much to be said for the beauty of passion.

If one is inclined to follow the free advice given by those internet “helpful” websites which can’t sell their own books I would suggest getting 110 reviews at five bucks apiece rather than one for the whole shooting match. Why? Safety in numbers? No one reads them in either case? The point of the game is to buy low and sell high? I’m told that whenever the severely time constrained person purchases a washing machine, at the last moment they invariably check the number of reviews and the average rating, with no time for superfluous details. I’m guessing at this one as personally, I wouldn’t spend the money at all. ................ Okay, okay. There was that one time with the nice lady whose puppy needed an operation and all of that.

In 2010, before the flood, it was estimated by a New York Times contributor that one third of the reviews placed on the internet are “fake,” the term, perhaps as a matter of convenience, not clearly defined, and may be somewhat different than “purchased.” Trust me just a little bit when I say that the New York Times has more readers than GFR; and they occasionally even pay money to obtain a book. The possible nuance would be very lengthy to explain in all its forms, and is also irrelevant to an indie writer. Suffice to say that the cat’s been out of the bag for six years running. AOS-GFR thinks it can last forever and surreptitiously encourages it; while readers of the Times and their friends no longer pay any attention to the stars or the garbage written under them.

There are indie reviewers out there who will review books at “no charge,” if they are provided with a re-salable hard copy. Some of them openly lust after ARC’s, (Advance review copies) not covered herein other than to say that an ARC is re-salable, and if the book is a hit, could become quite valuable.

I have no doubt that that percentage of fake reviews has since gone in only one direction since 2010. Perhaps “skyward” is the appropriate word. “Off the charts” is another possibility. It makes age old sense; predators capitalizing on weaker prey.

AOS-GFR responded to indie writer complaints of “trolling” reviews by establishing directivesafterhaving deleted many reviews and warning a few reviewers. As a consequence the better reviewers avoid any possible trouble by avoiding indie books. This results in a disservice to everyone in that the vast preponderance of legitimate reviews are written about classics written by now dead writers; and as I previously inferred; Melville and his publicly domained associates do not seem the least inclined to complain or pay someone for a review. It would seem logical that his “Moby” and “Dick” reviews stem from non-monetary considerations.

If still interested, you might be interested in knowing that one source of the five star, five buck reviews is a website called Fivers. There are a number of book reviewers there who will provide you with one or more; the latter accomplished through those infernal ‘sock puppets’, “honest” reviews. The price is right, but this entails a bit of work, however, as you will have to write the “honest” reviews yourself and the nice people at Fivers will post that under one or more of their identities.Hint. If you are purchasing five reviews it is safer to write five different reviews, as some exceedingly cynical, suspicious person might find it strange to read the identical review from five different sources.

AOS is appalled with this system, and in that regard they very publicly sued Fivers, but it turned out to be of no avail as legally, Fivers is not responsible for nefarious activities carried out by people who post on their site. But, AOS continued their public display of a commitment to “honest reviewing” by recently suing the individual reviewers on Fivers. The website is not legally obliged to provide AOS with the real names or e-mail addresses of their clients, so, ostensibly the case will pick up some speed after the process server locates and serves Easter Ears, Book Harlot, Hideous Lock in Love, Charred Horror, Lady Cat Furballs, Irrepressible Snotcheese and The Fag Hag Time Traveler; the latter seeming particularly troublesome to serve. Apparently, the well paid AOS legal team was unable to anticipate the problems to be presented by culturally accomplished operators sporting witty noms de plume.

While it shouldn’t matter in the financial least to an indie writer, it is quite clear that indie reviewers and indie writers have unfortunately become enemies; likely engineered by the well-paid calculators of the best interest of AOS-GFR. As a result of the 2013 AOS takeover of GFR various battles opened. One was “settled” through a solely AOS beneficial dictate that a reviewer was no longer allowed to “troll” an author, under the threat of banishment, with the rule that a reviewer can say whatever they’d like about a book, but cannot make any disparaging remarks about the author. Considering that the line between trolling an author and trolling their book is inevitably a David Foster Wallace type border, most porous; reviewers began avoiding indie books. If you have not been there, you would be most precocious to see that this was a perfectly logical reaction, as 90% of indie books fully merit commentaries which an overworked GFR reviewer-librarian might construe as warranted, but which are viewed as trolling by the soon-to-register-an-official-complaint indie incompetent. And come on fellow writers, let’s admit it. Many of us are whining, complaining and flouncing crybabies. Having said that I could be rightfully malicious in characterizing the worst of the indie reviewers as pretentious indie writer derivatives, afraid or incapable of writing their own books; content to criticize others, thinking that it will fool someone other than themselves into thinking that they have some degree of talent. Rather than get into that whole tired debate, suffice to say that AOS and GFR are the only beneficiaries of the issue. They are as adept as a Buddhist Master who has not yet met a Sufi at resolving a complaint with a dictate which appears to be caring and re-active to a stated problem, which just happens to be of personal benefit.

With the vague, tending toward “say-only-nice-thing” rules, one cannot help but be reminded of the saying; “To gain absolute control make everything illegal, then selectively enforce the law.”

In a wish to place the benefits elsewhere, I’d prefer to see a few indie reviewers break from their unionized structure and in some small way, publicly admit that some of their rank and file are stupidly way off the mark; but to date none will break away. “Free speech,” they say. “Tell the baby that it is ugly and brainless,” they clearly imply. All right. Suit yourself. And after having taken that “bold” public posture, in practice, go ahead and write the millionth review of the latest Rick Riordan offering. Troll the fuck out of it. For an instant you might think that you are better than Rick Riordan. If you do not suffer from a chromosomal over-abundance a second later you know that you are not. On a practical level, you have achieved safety. Rick will never read your review and neither will your cohorts who have become addicted to clicking the easily available “Like” button. Dig this fact, big shot. Rick does not give the slightest, nut eating of shits about you and neither do the clickers. What it is is what it is. The only ones who might give the slightest of dumps are the misinformed, hopeful indie writers. Recent, AOS induced, flare-ups may have made both sides think that they are the inhabitants of differing lifeboats as the Titanic finally goes under, creating one final suck.

The majority of the indie writers would love to hear from you; regardless of monetary value. The flouncing artists should understand that it is in their interest to shut the fuck up, write books and not go crying to Mama-AOS-GFR. I’ve got some news. They are not an indie writer’s mama, nor anyone else’s. They are a piece of cyber shit which knows how to use your worst instincts against you. That’s all and that is a lot.

Getting back to indie reviewers; your following readers just might appreciate hearing of a book they hadn’t already heard of a thousand times. I guess that many of the indie writers wish that if you think that their book is abysmal that you’d just say nothing. It’s kind of hard to be laughed at in front of the whole class; at least until that class expands; both in number and opinions. But, the simple answer to those “sensitive” writers is that if they were afraid of criticism, they should not have put their garbage out there and in no case should go whining to AOS-GFR about; “The mean trolling reviewer unfairly made me cry.” The flip side of that same coin is that indie reviewers should not consider themselves the “final word” and go crying to AOS-GFR when some writer says their review was bullying, trolling or asinine. No, writers should never argue the perceived merits of their own books, but should be allowed to comment on the reviews of others. Whether or not one agrees with this, it seems that to do otherwise results in a situation which is detrimental to both indie writers and indie reviewers, and which is cynically capitalized upon by the owners of AOS-GFR.

So, what operating suggestions do I have? I don’t know anything beyond saying that for starters, we writers and reviewers ought to recognize that we are in the same little boat. We’re either going to change direction and float or we’re going to drown together.FACT.Our efforts have little or no relevance to AOS, GFR, Bozos or the ridiculously banal and rich, current front man, Oat Willy. But, who fucking cares where they’re at? If we don’t provide the “masters” with any revenue for a day they’ll pull a scary bluff. They’ll do that again on day two, making everyone afraid that they made the wrong choice. There will be intelligent, compelling defections; increasing in number through day 7. Though there is no court-compelling evidence as it lacks any precedent, I believe that if enough of us hold out, they will be monetarily forced to capitulate on the eighth day. Instead of us fighting with each other, they will fight with their own kind. Each banker and investor will seek to be the one who gets their money back before it becomes impossible when they all simultaneously pursue their best interest.

I have attempted to broach this subject with the best, most reasonable sounding indie reviewers. I have no intention of doing this again, as;

1) It’s another old story they see as “new,” ostensibly dazzled by the re-colored costume jewelry and clasps.

2) I really don’t care and consider it a personal waste of time, as my wife and I do not need the income from AOS-GFR.

3) The indie reviewer’s response was either;

A) None.

B) “Fuck you. You’re telling me to shut the fuck up;” or

C) A lengthy listing of “trolling” events directed at them, which sound fairly inconsequential; exemplified by the ferocity of the month long daily receipt of a message which said; “Stupid.”

4) The unionized groups of indie reviewers detest indie writers and have shown no inclination to break ranks in any way for any reason, and consider only each other. Pardon me if I’d rather not have to see or hear the circle jerks and circle finger jobs.

5) The whining group of indie writers has shown no inclination to stop crying “Mama,” whenever their latest attempt at a public display of retardation is criticized by an indie reviewer.

6) This game has been going on sufficient time for AOS-GFR to have firmly established their well-entrenched position.

Despite Goliath having been rendered inoperable through a few slingshots, we remain on our levels. There is no immediate mass ascension. This was what was expected in the un-likelihood of “victory.” So, there continues to be a confusion of another variety. I don’t understand it, though when I rotate the spectral needle 180 degrees I think that I might; immediately tempered by the realization that any such thoughts may be the result of a bragging ego. If the indie reviewers are overly kind to the indie authors, just as with review swaps and purchased reviews, this will result in ridiculously high rating averages for indie books. This will be easily detected by buyers and they will come not to trust the system and this will be an incalculable negative factor regarding the purchase of indie books. Not the purchaser’s fault. Understandable. Yet, if indie reviewers are truthful about indie books, 90% of the indie writers will complain in one format or another; the social, safe buyers will avoid the lowly rated, and Bozos or Oat Willy will imminently re-surface with a plan purporting to cure all officially defined and recognized ills, in the hope that none detect the replay of the failure played in the slickest of designer clothing; additional cooling for the dead.

Did you really think that the rulers have become that by merely being thrust there through an accident of birth? If yes, your first name has to begin with one which is limited to the use of only twenty-six letters.

Potentially, conveniently and idiotically seen as off topic by the complacent authorities; this half gesture toward an undetected obsequiousness disarms all those dependent upon their own desired miscalculations of their own blip significance. Shit works, bro. If it didn’t work every fuckin’ time it might be interesting. Bones, man. Later, back to the upper balcony.

Back up a bit. Okay. As a possible first step into this indie-indie love boat, allow me to volunteer something you will not believe. I don’t give the slightest bit of a wet fart what you say, write, or ignore of my book; and that is not intended as a dismissive insult. I can address this on a number of levels. Relate to the one in which you’re most comfortable; or don’t relate at all. Doesn’t really matter in the Euclidian or the “Exclusive” calculus.

One star my books in unison. I’d welcome it. To be on Amazon’s list of lowest rated books insures notice. Thanks for the advertising, pals.

Angry? I think not. Hurt? Maybe as much as one can be hurt by something of no consequence. Amused? Definitely yes, as I tend to have a predilection for absurdism. On a serious note it seems eminently fair for a writer to occasionally review a reviewer. Despite what the indie reviewers might say publicly, no one has granted them the controlling, last word on the airwaves; other than AOS-GFR temporarily has, in return for their sucker free labor.

For the indie writer who just doesn’t want to believe that there are small and ultimately irrelevant forces at play which serve to their detriment; for the indie writer who wants to believe that the book business is different from any other profit-seeking business; for the indie writer who thinks that this diatribe was written by someone indie reviewers panned; and for the indie writer who says, “why can’t we just be friends?” I have two succinct responses.

The first is that I was not panned more than 10% of the time and even if I was, I would still be calling the situation as I see it. As previously stated, this popped up in the context of my writing another book which I consider much more interesting. Secondly, if you think I’m just an idiot; fine; you’re far from the first. If you want to spend time trying to “market your book” on GFR or AOS, I could care less.

Just do yourself a favor, and try to dig yourself. Be my guest. Disregard everything I’ve written herein. The curse of ignorant hope springs almost as eternally as the traps set by those who seek to capitalize on the suckers. Beg the GFR indie reviewer to look at your book. Be thrilled when they agree to; simultaneously insisting upon one in re-salable costly paper or willing to take a PDF version with the electronic hint concerning their backlog in return for their “honest” review. Be further thrilled when you see the four or five starred paragraph which curiously could have been written by one who regurgitated the back cover. No, you don’t want to think about that. You want to believe that your book was well received and that that is a prognostication of things to come; Hollywood, Oprah, the dinky little shit on some other show which pays a few grand; a seven thousand dollar advance for the next one. Your choice or your fantasy on that one.

Days go by with no sales. Doldrums. Questions. What you think likely flip-flops between; “Poor little me” and “What happened? The day I become a best seller is the day I’ll have to admit that I am as banal as the rest” and with elaborations even you think are pathetic and don’t want to hear. Then the sea parts when you see a message from a “friend” of the initial reviewer. She would absolutely “love” to honestly review your book if you would be kind enough to provide her with her insisted upon, re-salable paper copy.

Your heart soars like those unforgettable moments when you met your first love as you lay out the retail purchase price and shipping charges. You attempt to cast aside the periodic thoughts of what has to have been generated by the devil himself; as if the leader of the pack has found you sufficiently significant to warrant a personal visit. Nonetheless, you succeed in attributing to a scientific, “temporal” denial of randomness, your wish that this is the real thing; while the nagging visitor keeps displaying an image which on one level makes un-deniable the fact that you have given up your “status” as a writer, and have become an inept marketing assistant to the assistant, and a free public library without the benefit of public funding.

It had to have been the devil who made you do it; but without any notion of free choice evident you get back to the numbers and conclude that even if the original “top rated” reviewer had the unlikely influence required to induce five of her four thousand GFR followers, one thousand still living, and 78 of those still capable of communication followers to buy your book, it is worth ten bucks to you, after having wasted six hours and close to forty bucks on her and her partner sock puppet. You have heard the sweetly rendered melodies which you have found to be as seductive as a sad, ugly old Siren on a distant ledge. Go for it, aspiring one. I’ve got an acquired taste for humor.

Jingo, go bop.

Chapter 5- Covers and Other Author Aiding Services

I found it interesting when I researched the “helpful” websites. There’s a clear pattern to them. The savvy, bestselling, writer who has sold 300,000 books in the last six months has kindly taken the time to advise us about how we might do the same. It would be extremely rude to question his stated number, even in light of the knowledge that it took twenty years for David Foster Wallace and his heirs, to sell 150,000 copies of “Infinite Jest,” rated as the thirty-eighth best book of all time. This helpful guy seems so sincere and so nice. Maybe with his “reasonably priced” advice, it is possible .......... At this point, no matter the degree of your “world wise” cynicism, you are already on a middle ground and willfully wanting to slide. Probably won’t be noticed. Besides, though it is just too cruel and gauche as in “much-too-obviously-envious” to dare articulate negative thoughts. Your unspoken musings pound away; as did mine; as did they pounded for everyone. My sparkling book just needs a little push.

“Best seller,” is not a well-defined term and has many meanings. Much more importantly, a movie possibility! Hollywood, with no nickel and dime budget. Then it’s on to a CPA taking care of the numbers, a bungalow near Clint with an ocean view. Through your agents, plural intended, offers from Oprah; $30,000 for five minutes, expenses paid at the highest multi A rated stuff.

Back to reviews and the website. Just be extremely careful to not click on the “One click buys it” icon; the next screen asking for your credit card information at the very least until you get an idea of what ‘it” is; or until you can use that plastic card which is in someone else’s phony name which you recently purchased for ten bucks, which came along with the advice to use it quickly, utilizing someone else’s IS number.

Okay, yeah, yeah, big success, so impressive. I’m an uninformed, shocked, awed, and oh so jealous. .................. Ignore Voltaire, Machiavelli, the Brontes, Dostoyevsky, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Wallace and let’s stop near there with a respectful nod to the forgotten Woolf. Let’s temporarily pretend to forget that in 2016, the standardly approved marketing advice is to appear to give something away free and thereby lure the desperate into a paying sphere, only to be recognized as such by the “experts” after their long studied achievement of more 20-20 hindsight. The optimists say; “Better late than never” and sit on the pile waiting for Godot, shortly willing to settle for Lefty.

At the end of your kindly benefactor’s place in the blog established by the purveyors of book sales dwarfing all but a smattering of giants, be extremely careful not to click on the sensitive icon which accesses the reviewing service available from Mr. or Ms. Helpful, bestselling writer. Also, do your best to refrain from accidentally clicking on the four similarly sensitive icons interspersed at either page side, each of which access the “opportunity” to purchase Mr. or Ms. Helpful’s-Best-Selling-Writer’s e-book or soft cover version of their international best seller, presumably the one previously referenced as; “How to Lawfully Sell Texts of Dubious Value.”

With the most delicate of imperceptible touches you accidentally learn that your request for their flat fee services include, but are not limited to editing, review, formatting, cover design, and publicity; as opposed to percentage based marketing services. Your intended proposal just might be acceptable to the busy hundred thousand sales a month writers, though they point out that their commitments to their, industry respected, $50 reviews have backlogged them through Thursday next. But, please just include a credit card number.

Further description and commentary elude.

It’s sufficiently late in the season’s most natural of years to find it expedient in shutting my windows; the big one in the kitchen first; energy charges the prime safely stated consideration; fresh air no longer a factor which qualifies. My senses jolt; just an inch or two, I think; currently devoid of a ruler; the precise degrees calculated, irrelevant in most ways. I try to think of her possible reactions only to see that no matter my statements, she considers me as limited. The misunderstandings and willful political calculations, initiated by those of Constantinian appointment ignored Lilith. Worse, in a confusion to me, I am expected to be so. My attempt at some sort of logic, strongly states, with a 90% degree of accuracy that whatever visions I now have will be rendered inconsequential tomorrow. These passing allusions are likely induced by a “corrected” male mindset which has been overtly and also inadvertently, psychologically been pre-disposed toward the dictums of another religion. Despite the “secret,” purposely inadequately disguised as a series of cloaked repetitions of the ancient merits of the how-many-yaks-in-the-driveway, based eastern varieties, their current advantage is undeniably displayed in the racks lining every Wal-Muerte check-out line, now canon in yet another woefully more imperfect “religion,” the headline on its current monthly glossy; “Sympathy for the Deviant.”

When I look out the 66 year old window I see a huge yellow-green beast with massive legs; no doubt the result of a long journey. After one of those eternal seconds I finally realize that it, with its oft larger shadow, has produced an overwhelming spectacle, without any effort. The praying mantis has almost conclusively convinced me of the appearance that he has attached himself to the window screen in my TV room. Upon further inspection, he now appears to be extraordinarily honey blond with the sun behind him and as huge as the desperate indie writer debacle. He sits there looking down to the ground, presumably in search of the low flying, perhaps mistakenly hopping, and unaware little critters. Incomplete. Yes, incomplete. What could anyone reasonably expect? Take a gander at “How to be Alone.”

While I have found no ”Stairway to Heaven,” while admitting that I have not spent the time to even google it, I think I have a fair idea of where the mines have been buried here on earth. Whoops. Ah, one leg is still good. No problem. There is no doubt that there has always been “help” best avoided and that the existence of the internet has enabled the “perpetrators of expensive uselessness” to extend their talons; replete with testimonials from names with smiley pictures of someone attached. One of them wrote; “I am a new author and I had no sales the first two months my books were on AmawayOnSteroids.Com. Then a friend told me about For a reasonable fee they designed a knockout cover for my book and sales skyrocketed to where I can support a family of seven with my monthly royalty check.” The website contains at least five more such success stories and a link upon which you can click if you are compelled to read more.

Seduction. Hope. More likely, a well calculated appeal to desperation and laziness. I found the approach reminiscent of the passing of the Sunday basket; its long wicker stick wielded by the man with the openly judgmental eyes. The assistance of the lacquered old lady wearing the Kresge necklace to my left induced compliance, rather than my natural instinct toward a devilish defiance. I always coughed up. Hell; heaven was only an appropriate tithe away. Then, just as now.

I was enthused. No longer did I have to spend long hours attempting to make my books somewhat coherent, funny here and there and with some semblance of a stupid story; I found significance buried right on the surface, like a cockroach with a bar code. I now knew that with a spiffy $500 cover, the “entertainment” value of the words was an extraneous consideration. I could now write any kind of thing. A big selling book a week was possible. All I had to do was get the magical cover. Then I could support my wife, have seven babies and support them too. I desperately wanted to believe. An innocent faith is necessary in all meaningful endeavors. Besides, if things didn’t work out, I’d have to get a real job.

I’m a lousy artist. Some unkind people say that I’m a lousy writer too, but up until now I didn’t have to worry about anyone finding out. For an insignificant outlay and no work a super slick cover threatens to propel me into a world of professional criticism (I’m so sensitive.), pop psychological “insights” into my mental deficiencies (I desperately wanted to hide. I easily embarrass.), “witty” one line put downs from more erudite denizens of the e-book realm, (“i culdnt get into it at all.”) and most perplexing; the unknown; the horrors and insults I had not yet imagined. All for a mere wad of a currency soon scheduled to collapse. Did I really want this? With heroic effort I uncoupled (Sexual innuendo uncertain.) my overriding power of feeling and pondered all of the confusing, complicated, crisscrossed, considerations, trying to mathematically measure the probabilities of happiness. For about a second. Surprise, surprise. You bet your hairy thingy that I wanted to suffer the slings of green arrows. (Sexual innuendo intended for some, casting no aspersions on the rights seeking, wrongly maligned.)

It should be noted that this statement was in no manner, shape or form the product of the obligation to exhibit political correctness and patronize certain orificially and rumpially oriented minority groups (No innuendo clarification required or risked in the socially advanced year of 2016.) To remain ethereal; “Oh, but the possibility of living my deepest fears; my sensitive psyche exposed, criticized, embarrassed, and ridiculed with erudition. The horror was only exceeded by the alternative prospect of spending eight hours per day making change at the over-priced, lack of convenience store.” That’s a bit of a lie. It’s much more personally significant to know that this career is the one with the highest mortality rate and does not need the numbers taken from “natural causes,” old age or cancer to have accomplished this top ranking.

I brought up GlitteringShrouds website and was greeted with a hurriedly moving “merry-go-round of ‘best sellers.’” It sounded as if someone had resurrected Lionel Hampton’s dexterous bouncing of the cushioned balls (NSII) on the Ed Sullivan Show. I unsuccessfully tried to make out (No preliminary innuendo intended.) the titles, and had to settle for glimpses of the sophisticated visuals speeding by. They fully stressed the importance and value of their service, (surprise, fucking surprise) which I know takes less than one hour of work. Their services may seem plausible to people who have lived in the world of appearance. I plead guilty. All non-blind humans do. But, I would like to know how a “spiffy” cover buried in the AmawayOnSteroids.Com database does me any good when not seen. I also wonder how Salinger, Wallace, Beckett and Mann sell so many books utilizing rather plain covers. Could it be possible that theyMERELYwrite well? Not a chance. I don’t think the sellers of literary services would be convinced, had they the talent of recognition.

$300 and up per overwhelming, touch-me-salivating cover. They inform me, as if it were brilliance emanating from Harvard or a right wing, government supported, “well-credentialed” think tank, that book buyers look at only three things; the front cover, the back cover and the table of contents. They point out that with proper marketing some retarded books have become best sellers and that without the benefits of professional help many great ones have died of green oxygen deficiency. I am initially chagrined that there is said to be no interest in my unique and illuminating content, but upon two seconds of further reflection, I take my customarily pragmatic view of what is, decide that it is stupid to try to fight it, and take solace in the implied commercial wisdom that the content does not matter in the least. Witness empty Campbell Soup cans.

On the most positive of sides; as much as money dictates the game; I can write any pitiful nonsense that comes to mind, as long as it is covered by a pretty front and rear. Seems to make logical sense in most avenues of pursuit.

Beautiful. Okay. I can deal with that. I’ve had a bit of practice. But, the “table of contents” factor throws me off. I had come to believe that the one page delineation of the number of chapters, with or without cryptic titles, was archaic. Authors I admire generally do not use them. ........... Hmmmm. The authors I admire are also not the best of sellers. Today, I want the long green more than I want the left handed praises of the intelligencia. But what can I do with a stupid table of contents? Put pretty pictures on it? I’ll have to ask the maven attached to the website.

In a businesslike manner, I scrutinize GlitteringShrouds. However this time I must have entered the portal through another direction; maybe the sucker’s entrance; maybe step two of the money extracting procedure. Cookies have made their presence felt. This time I am informed that front and back covers, sandwiching a table of contents is not the complete guaranty of fame and fortune. Formatting, editing (both small and large), ghostwriting, beta reading, advertising, buzz, radio and TV appearances (sic), book signings, press releases, reviews, and the dreaded content all play a role. I’m truly confused and have to step back some. .....................

Okay, I’ve thought it through. GlitteringShrouds has made it possible for me to make a fortune from a book which I do not have to bother writing, editing, covering, et al. If I just pay them somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000, they will produce a book with my name on it, and do all the things necessary to make me hundreds of thousands and famous. I have some consternation about the “famous” part, but ultimately conclude that GlitteringShrouds and I can work that little detail out in some amicable fashion. ................. My excitement knows no bounds. I visualize Carmel on the Pacific. The weather is wonderful year round; the sun never sets. It has to be the fabled return to Eden. My wife is finally happy as she appears nonchalant when she says a cheery; “Good morning” to Clint and Jennifer every day. Thank you so much, GlitteringShrouds.

Then this creepy little black thing crawls on its belly to me. It cannot speak, so it must be its telepathic advancement which allows me to hear its mathematically based observation. “It’ll take a lot more than one ‘hit’ book to get to Carmel, Clint, Jennifer and a happy wife. I don’t want to bust your bubble, but it will take at least ten.”

I am crestfallen and again confused by the voice of reason, this time articulated by the slimy thing on the ground, unable to stand, only slither. I confidently say; “What do you know. You’re just a little cockroach.” He then adds; “Not to worry, Ace. I can fix things up. Small price. You won’t even notice the increase in the monthly payment.”

It doesn’t take more than two seconds to get back to Carmel. I can easily out-think the thing someone relegated to ground level and come up with the obvious idea to have GlitteringShrouds do many books for me.

I am then constricted by the telepathic message from below; “If GlitteringShrouds could actually do this, they would do it for themselves, idiot! In return for that wisdom, get out your credit card .................”

Of more importance to the indie writer is that many GlitteringShrouds exist and more are on the way. As it has been determined that one can make more money by providing services to desperate indie writers than can be made from selling their books, a few things have happened, in this growth industry, one of the few in the present US.

Computer proficient opportunists have sought to be a not yet discredited provider of all services.

The “reputable” publishing houses have acquired the best, and largest of them, in one case one with the reputation of being either totally incompetent or a crook; but a profitable incompetent or crook. This was no doubt done in an effort to enhance their bottom line, while putting out fewer books every year, in the face of the AOS-GFR, temporarily discounting monopoly.

While a number of these author helping sites have been the subjects of legal allegations ranging from making a mess of the book to selling it in foreign countries; in fairness, I’d like to stress that most of these companies will actually do what they promise. You will note that if you carefully read, somewhere on their website they will specifically state that they make no promises regarding sales, and some even state in very teeny letters that almost all of their clients never make enough money from their book to cover the services provided.

But, I’d bet that your book will look pretty good sitting on your shelf. It just won’t be on any other shelves.

As another aside, I’d like to relate the experience of one GFR author I knew a short time.

Somehow he found a site which called itself something like; “The Worst Book Covers Ever,” and discovered that his first book was on it. He’s subsequently done more, but at the time of discovery this was his only book.

What they must not have known was that the pen-named writer was an artist, who has had his paintings exhibited at the Saatchi in his London residence. I guess he felt like playing that day. He went through a series of people, each of whom said how terrible the cover was, offering their artistic opinions, a few in a very insulting manner. He finally got to a polite woman who said that she thought the artwork was good, but there are other services she could perform to help him sell more of his book.

If your inklings still suggest to you that the cover is essential, consider the advice given by my artist wife. “To attract attention, just put a photo of a naked woman smoking a cigar on it and it will get more attention than Agatha Christie.” I would only update this the least bit to say that a naked guy smoking a cigar in 2016 will get the attention of a smaller, but significant, loyal and vocal market. There is no law requiring the book’s content to have anything to do with the cover.

Chapter 6- Vanity Publishers

You’re one of the chosen ones. You’ve copyrighted your valuable material and are thrilled to receive a letter from a publisher. They seem to say that they have made a cursory viewing of your well-disguised iterative virtuosity at the Library of Congress. They want to see more and if it meets their exalted standards they are interested in publishing your very first effort. The words; “Holy fucking shit” resonate in your head. You full well knew that what you were writing was fantastic, but here is official proof from an “expert,” in the field for more than a hundred years. Hell, it says so right in the embossed logo right on the buttery envelope.

Though not expected, it fits. The people condemned to have crossed your path have told you of your excellence as they eyed their wristwatches and recalled a pressing appointment. Your significant other has at times sung praises and at other times expressed her reservations, but you know that the latter was mostly a ploy to retain her credibility. That opening with the description of the two paintings was not in the least bit pretentious. Regardless; here was the real thing; a “professional” opinion attesting to what you wanted to believe. They say that they want to see a few chapters to determine if your effort meets their standards. For a moment you wonder why they require a copy from your records when they have already said that they have had a certain degree of access through what you have publicly filed. Many possibilities flash through your mind ranging from the reviewer’s need to pursue the project in a seat more comfortable and quiet than the one publicly provided; to their practical requirement of your yet-to-be-stated interest in working with them; and about 33 other gradations in between.

You dismiss all of those immaterial considerations and find something greater to ponder. The letter has failed to mention how much money they plan to give you and there is a curious un-defined word in its center; “author partnership.” You agonize before your remarkable intellect decides to do first things first. Which are the best chapters? You choose a few toward the end, but then question if they will be fully appreciated without the understanding of the subtle references to what had gone before. You decide that the risk of uninformed misinterpretation might jeopardize full appreciation of your intricate tour de force. Now professionally pursued you invoke your luxury. You also want to stop thinking about this commercial irrelevance and get back to writing; after all you’ve calculated your time to be worth somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000 an hour. You send them the first two chapters, fully assured that if they don’t like them there will be voluminous offers to come.

In a week you are informed that the publisher has reviewed your book and it meets their standards. A contract is enclosed and you are only minimally concerned that they want you to pay them $15,000, permissible to be paid in installments,priorto the publication of your gem. You know that your royalties will vanquish this fee in a month. In return for taking your money and the rights to the work which has taken six months of your time they agree to provide assistance with cover design and editing. In addition they will make your book available in all markets and send out a press release to unspecified “interested” parties. They direct you to a website replete with testimonials from their satisfied authors, attesting to their approval of the publisher’s services. In due diligence you visit the site, but rather than reveling in the expected accolades, you take names.

You try to match them with names that have been on a best seller list. No such luck. Hmmmmmm. So, even assuming that the testimonials are real, none have become the big success you deserve to be, even with $15,000 worth of their “professional” acumen. You’ll be the first. ............ Your optimism is tested when that calculator in your head plugs itself into your butt, and you think; “How many times have I been the first to do anything? ............. Let’s wait on this one.”

Silliness aside; vanity publishers never call themselves that. It’s just that everyone else does and most serious readers know their names, and over the years, have come to regard any author published by them as a reject. This view may have been altered somewhat in the current flood of self-published e-books.

Some have been around quite some time and you can expect them to do what they say they will. They will do their seasoned best to put your book in the best light possible and will inform you that hardly any of the books they’ve published make the author enough money to cover their fees. Their advantages over a website which makes similar claims is that it is reasonable to expect that you won’t encounter a take-the-money-and-run-website-outfit and even that maybe physical copies of your book will be on some retailer’s shelves.

It is also true that if you reject the $15,000 first request, you will get others for a lesser amount. This is partially informed speculation; but I believe I know how the “vanity” publishers got their name. There are a fair number of people to whom $15,000 is like a quarter to me. Some of them have used and continue to use these services in order to slip their implied brilliance somewhere into social conversations with “proof” in a physical product. Chances seem to suggest that some of these books just must have become best sellers and subsequently classics, but my limited research has not found any.

Chapter 7- Content

Unwanted tears flow uncontrollably. You can’t define why. It’s kind of everything. You’ve written a book in hope of communicating with the one you are no longer allowed to touch and love. Your Pollyanna-ish hopes would be crushed if you discovered that she doesn’t care in the least. The most hopeful dream you can conjure is that she once truly did. What happened? You desperately need to believe that it was real. You reach deep.

The depth is found to be quite fine. No matter her flip-flopping intent, you have seen that to think of her as a muse, even one “oh so meta,” has “inspired” you to write books, and maybe get a lot of money for it.

The continual dead time is filled by the ancestral websites, which are avariciously and competitively data-filled in 2016. Whatever the site, they strongly suggest traits and paths which have no relevance to those dreamt in your innocent, early to mid-1960‘s adolescence. Just “facts,” as suggested by Sergeant Friday. The source is a half century gone. The boredom and inaccuracy unequivocally stated on the internet, at a personally repudiated cost of $3.95 per month, give you an idea for a meaningful book.

You remember sophomore to senior year, reg-room Barbara. Her first generation, ahead of their time, pill fortified, micro-minis, showed her perfect, meaty white, crossed, kissable legs to whoever had the audacity to risk being caught looking on at 9AM, Monday through Friday. What a way to start the school day; so much to learn. She often gave the hint of a smile, though you have almost no idea of the source of her amusement. .............. Well, it’s better when she says it.

She always was a fantasy and dream which was denied to the body and heart of one so nerdy, shy and unattractive. You thought your tough, cool mask fooled the others. In a few unsuccessful attempts to say it in a general, indirect, non-accusatory way your mother warned of the hierarchy of appearance. “Those born with good looks can get away with anything. The others cannot do anything right.” She gently tried to prepare you to know that you were not one of the lucky ones. You pretended not to understand, out of an aversion to being seen as pathetic, or perhaps, simply because you didn’t want to. The mirror does often lie, you insisted.

Or perhaps it was because of Lydia, a beautiful, dark, half black, half Latino girl. She too was your identical thirteen years and in the eighth grade, who, with her tasty ancestry, rescued you from a fraudulent foray into the world of the cool, and brought you into the real, when she said; “You look good. Don’t act like no fag.” You only wished that she didn’t assume that a long term, black-white relationship could not be. It was 1962. The Communists were at our Southern door and they were packin’ heavy duty shit. Lydia lied and told you that everything would be all right. No one had ever heard of Viet Nam, unless they subscribed to French newspapers.

Happy Days; Fonzie and all that. With as promising a start as one could reasonably request; you of the now sick and dying generation are a child of another time. With plenty of company you rebelled against all forms of popular thought, emboldened by a righteous stand against the repressive, but unaware of what liberalism would spawn. The girls at the protests were dynamic and easy to approach.

Eventually you are forced to say; “Fuck politics and ideologies.” However, in the chosen absence of the one you truly love, the cruel passage of time has left horrendous, easily detectable scars. You still feel ugly, untalented, stupid, unwanted and pathetic and seek the warmth of blanketed sleep. To die is now the most desirable of erotic fantasies, and seems to be reserved for those more privileged. So, you laugh and cry as you sit alone and write that “meaningful” book.

Anxious to bask in the inevitable acclaim and maybe some well needed money, you put your electronic masterpiece on AmawayOnSteroids.Com for only $3.99 and wait. Two months later you are still waiting. You are perplexed and deign to do some research. You find that the story of this time has been told over and over and over again and that the only possible remaining readers want it in braille or have difficulty concentrating as they sit in the doctor’s waiting room hoping to find out that their constant inability to remember where they put the keys is not a sign of early Alzheimer’s. Distractedly, they stare at the pictures in “People Magazine,” amazed at how young all the celebrities are. A contemporary, best-selling author derides “mere descents into nostalgia.”

The young and middle-aged can’t relate at all. Interracial relationships have been commonplace for decades. Capitalistic Western Europe spends half their budgets on transfer payments. Communist China manufactures half the goods consumed in the Western world, with double digit growth rates, which is attracting more capital. Vladimir Putin is the richest man on the planet. The bombs in Cuba which frightened your generation have now been replaced by the possibility of a terrorist carrying a nuclear bomb to the mainland. Abused and abandoned kids grow in numbers and degree of hatred. While the fossils may still recall the Jefferson Airplane singing; “Don’t you want somebody to love?” the young-uns favor the Insane Clown Posse’s numerous renditions of killing explosions, and necrophilia stimulated “eroticism” implying a “decadent” and played wish that the whole mess will imminently be blown up or cold fucked; supposedly; or at least as far as consistent low to mid-placement in the charts affords a living for the geriatric, bad-ass devotees of makeup. School shootings have become a weekly event, no longer worthy of being leading “news.” Your generation worried about the few incidents when cops shot at demonstrators. On YouTube Patti Smith’s beautiful rendition of “Cartwheels“ gets 423 viewings while some rapper saying that; “I’m gonna take her in the toilet and see how much she likes it” gets 42 million pops. There is only one other line to the five minute “song.”

“What’s up, dude?” sez the crackhead, male prostitute teenager.

“Fuck do I know,” sez you.

You begin to think that in order to sell books it might be wise to update your subject matter, but you don’t want to do anything rash.

It’s safe to say that we live in this moment. Seems a familiar phrase, etc., etc., etc. You don’t say it. You hope the others will say it for you. You can still appear to be elliptical, arty, sophisticated and wise saying nothing. NOTHING. Has anyone ever been criticized for nothing? .......... Come to think of it .................

Your creative juices flow. Books are chump change at best, unless they go movie, and a movie’s success is directly proportional to the interest of teenage boys. What do teenage boys like? .................... You can’t write that for fear of arrest and incarceration. ......... However zombies and vampires are tried and true, yet still somehow “in the moment.”

VAMBIE! A male zombie mates with a female vampire, producing a little girl they name Vambie. Being the product of an inter-species relationship, half her face and body is crumbling and the other half is pale white, side by side. She is depressed, but refuses to take any mind altering medication. She fits nowhere. She doesn’t know if she wants to drink the blood or eat the whole thing.

Her mother is often out all night which prompts Vambie and her father to suspect that something adulterous is going on. Dad is abusive as he takes his frustrations out on the little girl who has “one lascivious eye half like her Mom.”

She is ridiculed and bullied by her schoolmates. She spends hours in front of a mirror, wondering why she could not have been one of the fortunate good looking monsters, at the expense of her school work. As a result she is publicly humiliated by her teachers’ sarcastic taunts.

She is befriended by her male guidance counsellor. He too is a half breed, though he has “passed” as pure vampire, because his crumbling zombie half is below his belt. But he is now being exposed by a vicious female vampire teacher. After forty years of loneliness, he reached out to her and they recently “dated.” She has since been laughing and gossiping to the other teachers about something crummy.

The guidance counsellor tells this to Vambie, who thinks that he is also ridiculing her. She cries and tries to get to the door, but he beats her there, shuts it and shows her his “sincerity.” The duo decides to run away together. Without an income they soon become homeless. They find refuge in a church bell tower. But the constant vibration of the ringing bell accelerates the rate of deterioration of their zombie halves.

Seeing the end near they cry while holding each other, but break away disgusted at the other’s ugliness. They get revolvers from a gun dealing meth freak. On prom night they shoot his and her parents, the students and teachers at the school and then themselves simultaneously. Investigators find a co-signed note at the bell tower. “This is for all the ridiculed freaks. We will not be the only ones to suffer.JUSTICE.”

You have discovered through the experience with your first economically failing book that it is prudent to devote some time to research before you spend more of it filling in all the required details of another money adverse 300 page book. You find out that your “original” idea has been covered sixteen times in the past year alone, all available in e-form for $.99 or for free. Some used a male lead named Zompire, which sounds much more masculine. But all authors going the feminine route named her Vambie; one even using it for the title. While you were initially surprised and disappointed that your “original” story was not so original, you take solace in the fact that you have learned that there are really only five to seven stories in the world. The object is merely to put your take on one of them. You do copyright law research utilizing all of the two pages sent you by the vaguely threatening vanity publisher and the headache inducing hour on the web to learn one clear thing; that no one can own a word and that generally, no one can own a title. You can utilize Vambie and save her at the same time, sexual innuendo intended. Your aversion to easily detectable duplication surfaces and in an effort to do something with your “vision” you read the first few free pages of each and see that the other renditions of the tale were done with a low or middle brow tone. Incomplete, ha ha. So, you decide to go high, immediately realizing that you have forfeited all chances of being an Oprah book of the month “winner.”

In all honesty, I know of no successful writers who write things like “Vambie,” but, I have seen many GFR indies do similar things. If you get on the right thread, and give it away for free, you’ll likely get a lot of four and five star reviews, and be called “cool” a few times. Wow!

From my vast personal experience and research, I am certain that the subject matter is the single largest determinant of whether or not someone buys and likes a book. I have spent years acquiring every baseball book that came near me, and I only disliked one of them; one which was originally published in the twenties. It was so bad it’s hard to describe it. For approximately one-third of the book, the author seemed to be talking about baseball in a theoretical manner, without referencing any particular players, teams or games. For the other two-thirds I don’t know what he was writing about; other than weather, rain barrels, his grandpa’s fat belly and stuff like that. Until recently I thought that the writer was purposely doing the book poorly. Like maybe he had taken a non-refundable advance from some publisher he didn’t exactly adore. But, now thanks to the literary education I’ve received on GFR, I lean toward the strong possibility that I missed something integral; it may well have been a meta baseball book. How inventive and how early on! I hope the author knows that GFR indie reviewers would be gushing over it today.

To end with a serious note I do believe the subject matter is the primary force. But, it seems to be a moving target. If one dismisses the constant middling market for teen age romances, read by teenage girls and older women who think in a similar fashion, one is seemingly in a random world.

Consider the huge success of “The Martian.” It was written well enough, but probably won’t walk away with any rewards for that. The story was remarkably similar to that contained in a book which came out six years ago and went nowhere, as well as numerous stories in 1950’s and early 1960’s comic books. I’m at a loss for words.

This is a complete guess, and if I listed them, there would probably be more exceptions than proofs of the theorem. However, it does seem less than infrequent that a well written book with a surprising opening sells well. The reader is effectively made to believe that one thing is going on, to learn later that it’s another. Take one of James Patterson’s recent releases. James is estimated to be the highest income writer and I’m advised that he was truly once one of the best. In this opening the temporary main character is employed to feed animals at the zoo. This day he has left something of his in the lion’s cage. For thirty pages he considers all sorts of pluses and minuses to going in there unarmed to retrieve whatever it is. Finally he does, and the lion kills and eats him. Now, who would have expected that?

Chapter 8- Pirates

Another hindrance to an indie writer’s money making prospects is called “pirates.” I will refrain from many poor jokes, as the term is a subject of contentious debate among some people who say that they’re not kidding, and I will just say that in any comparison these guys are pain-in-the-ass nickel and dimers. Still, that is sufficient to screw up an indie writer.

I first learned of this phenomenon when I googled my own name and found it all over the web. In some places, like Barnes and Noble or E-Bay it was legitimate as they also sell most any product available on AOS. No problem; a buck less on the royalty, but a sale which would probably not have happened otherwise. Thank you, B&N and E-Bay.

But, by the time I had gotten tired of counting I also found twenty sites, some with titles written in notations which emanate from places where English is not the primary language, on which my books were available for free all the time; in the format of the “buyer’s” choice. I checked one out and downloaded a PDF copy of one of my books. You may have guessed correctly that in that moment it felt as if my stomach had re-located to my right leg. But, I stalwartly pressed on.

The AOS e-book publishing subsidiary; Grand Old Platform (GOP) has a “community” site where writers can ask questions or raise issues about the books they have for sale on AOS. After the least bit of fiddling I found that five other people had already asked the question of; “My books are available for free on other sites. What’s going on?” Each received the identical reply of; “We sometimes get hacked and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

I suspected that there was no point in asking the same question after having signed in through their “secure server.” Instead I did some research. I discovered that none of the pirating free sites had books by James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders or any other traditionally published, best-selling (in its loosest sense) author. They apparently specialized in indie, low selling books.

Now, at times I’ve been called an overly suspicious person and at other times one who has missed the point; but I couldn’t help but think that there was something missing in this story. There only seemed a few possibilities;

1) The pirates and/or site operators are candidates for the “dumbest muthas in the world award.”

2) Somehow they have been locked out of top 100 book lists.

3) They take perverse pleasure in giving people what they do not want.

4) The unsupervised GFR librarian toadies had found a way to pick up a few bucks.

So, I again signed onto GOP through their secure server and asked this question; “Why is it that the books which get hacked and wind up on free pirate sites are always the low selling indie ones? Why aren’t the top sellers hacked?”

A few days passed and I still awaited a response. At the time, I could picture this being shuffled from one “executive” hand to another at AOS. So I again signed onto GOP using their secure server and sent another message which repeated the first and added; “This is my last attempt to get an answer. I’m disgusted.”

The next morning I found an e-mail from AOS which said; “The next time you ask a contentious question your community privileges on GOP will be cancelled. The Management.”

When I was able to stop shaking, I signed onto GOP using (Take a wild guess what.) and found that my two questions had been deleted.

So, I did some more research and found that US law is actually on the side of the pirates. Using the legal principle that there is nothing illegal with a person giving a book to a friend, or anyone else for that matter, free of charge, it is perfectly fine for an internet entity to give an e-book away.

At first that sounded to me as if it might be legally insurmountable. Further reflection found a few significant dissimilarities in the two cases. The fact that a person can legally give away a book or any other personal property is an event which can only happen once. Yet, a pirated indie e-book may be given away thousands of times. That’s a whopping difference.

In a perhaps arcane addition, which, not having an LLB or more importantly a library of law books, frankly, is a bit over my head. But, logic suggests that it would be reasonable to require someone who is giving away a thing more than one time, which is supposedly protected after having been copyrighted by the creator or those assigned under US copyright law, which the pirate had no part in personally creating, without them having the “inconvenience” of substantiating that those things were legally acquired would be illegal.Note;Don’t bother getting on this possible issue until more immediate ones are solved. That’s much too optimistic; substitute “until more immediate ones have been broached.” As I’ve mentioned I’m not sure of the legalities and precedents involved and the possible issue is tertiary to at least two others more primary. Please refrain from being annoyed with me on this one as it serves as a legal analogy of what is in the second following paragraph.

First, it seems that perspective requires some other factoids here and now, rather than later. An author with a properly copyrighted book can “legally” get their book removed from a pirate’s website.Don’t get excited by that. The burden is placed upon the aggrieved party; the supposedly copyright protected author or their assigns, to do the following;

1) Locate the pirating site.

2) Locate the pirating site’s designated complaint manager and send them arequest,properly worded, to have their book removed from the site.

3) If one can locate the designated complaint manager of the site, that request must contain volumes of information; such as copyright filing date and approval date; if the latter is still pending an incomplete“request”which obliges no response. Further, the offended party must supply the ISBN number, which as a matter of fact, all books are not legally required to have; proof of the requestor’s identity, and more. If that laborious process is completed the perps are completely absolved by removing your book from their site; no damages possible. In practice, seasoned writers advise not to even bother with the process, as in practice if one is successful in having their book removed from the known pirate site, the pirates will just make it available on one of their other free pirate websites. There are further complications if the site is domiciled in a country which does not abide by US copyright law. Of course there are fee collecting services available which purport to manage these considerations.

In the writing of this book’s parent, so to speak, I originally used the lyrics from a few songs. I had to take them out as I came to discover that if one uses lyrics from a song written after 1922 or 1923, in a book, they could be in some really deep shit. The absurd injustice, as it appeared to me, is that, as opposed to the burdensome and ineffective law which in practice allows anyone to take and distribute without royalty, an author’s written work; that same author faces a possibility of jail time and a fine of $750,000 per occurrence, if and when they quote, even with credit given, more than three words of a song which no one has listened to or purchased in 92 years, even if the owners of the song did not file for copyright protection. To have chosen the profession of writing is to have chosen to be the kid everyone picks on, beats up, steals money from, and has no protection whatsoever.

As a practical matter, if you choose to remain this degree of masochistic, you are allowed to use titles and names of artists. You can title your book; “Gone with the Wind.” Inside you can write; “Jethro Tull sang ‘Aqualung.’” But if you write more than; “Sitting on a,” you could have more grief than your psychological counsellor knows how to deal with.Note;Iam not a lawyer; do not presume to give legal advice; and could be entirely wrong in saying anything I’ve said; including but not limited to, that you could use names without legal consequence. It is strongly advised that if your book title is “Casablanca,” “Game of Thrones,” or anything else previously utilized or if in the interior you are compelled to write that “I have to admit that I’m not feeling my best,” think twice.

Indie writers would do well to spend sufficient time to form a group, take up a collection, and hire a good attorney.

The shit in this chapter has no practical relevance to you as an indie; other than an attempted depiction of another currently insurmountable boundary in the face of every author. This whole business is moronic, tedious bullshit. It would be more interesting to watch another HBO zombie production; and it would pay just as much.

Chapter 9- Me Again


The preceding chapters bear absolutely no relationship to the life, mental or otherwise, of the writer or anyone else sufficiently audacious to consider themselves a possible source. Any suggestion to the contrary will be considered libelous and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It’s not nice to laugh in this case, Troll. However, any duplication, use, idle mention or distribution of this material is prohibited and reserved by the writer, unless his written consent has been granted. The situations and people depicted are entirely fictitious, except Vambie’s heirs, who have kindly granted the writer the right to mention her name.

Chapter 10- Circle Jerk, Cannibalism or Incest

E-book writers are also generally avid readers; or soon become so after joining GFR. This was never true for me as I was always a pathetically slow reader and preferred movies and some degree of competence; as they allow me to keep the same pace as everyone else without having to make any effort.

Essentially, the GFR circle jerk, cannibalism or incest starts shortly after an indie writer decides that he will market his book through GFR. Veteran writers refer to this process as “doing the Goofreads slog.” Initially this entails the joining of or the establishment of many discussion groups and the “friending” of as many people one can reach, especially the highest rated reviewers. Depending upon one’s appetite for drudgery, people who do this tail off anywhere from a month to two years after commencement, as they learn two big things. One is that the top rated reviewers will not review your book, for reasons previously discussed, the value of which was also previously discussed; and secondly one soon finds that they will spend hours writing to lonely “friends,” the vast majority of whom will never grace the writer’s pocket with the big two buck royalty triggered by a book sale. Though as is conveniently usual in the book business, there are no reliable estimates of return on invested time; but it would appear that one could get a substantially better hourly rate in a Cambodian sweatshop.

When the indie writer comes to realize this, they usually revert to the “I need more reviews” mindset. They focus on others like themselves and do review swaps. Their groups expand over time and they do more review swaps, though usually less than thirty.

So, after a period of excitement wherein everyone involved is cheerfully thinking of how many sales they’re going to get because of all the nice things being said about their book, the indie writer has received 20-30 four and five star reviews from the circle, and no cash sales. The next step for the indie is to keep writing reviews for authors who are not part of the group and didn’t request a review, sometimes taking a big “shot” at an author who has sold 4,000 books.

I’ll stop. The long and the short of the story is that the unpaid indie author has now become an unpaid indie reviewer-commentator; one who “likes” this, that, and the other thing; and no longer is writing any books. ................... Hmnnnnn. Perhaps circle jerks, cannibalism and incest have their positive aspects.

Chapter 11- Credentials and Awards

Why are credentials important? Why don’t they just read the first five pages to see if there is any interest? This is easy to answer on a corporate level, especially when you recall that 90% of traditionally published books lose money. In that 90% certain case, when groveling before his or her boss, the person who recommended the book being published has a much better shot at keeping their position if they can say; “Well, the writer had graduated from Yale, majoring in English, and had written some well accepted articles for “The New Yorker,” rather than; “In retrospect the writer’s lack of a formal education proved to be an issue, though I initially thought that our editors would be able to work their way around that.”

If you Wiki the names of famous post 1950 writers you might be amazed how many graduated from the same schools; Bennington College a big supplier. Various conclusions might be drawn. But, it is safe to say that without their kind assistance, we might not have been graced with “Less Than Zero” and “American Psycho.”

I don’t know if and why individual readers might also require credentials, if in fact they do. Perhaps it is some derivation of the “safety in numbers” thing.

Any discussions of awards are totally dependent on the type of award. There are many, and they look snazzy on the front and back book cover.

So, you again correctly ask me; “Then how do I sell my books?” There are two honest answers. The first is; “I don’t.” And the second is; “I haven’t the slightest idea, and if I did have one I wouldn’t tell you. I’d use it to sell my own, oh ye of eternal desperate hope.” I suspect that some will take offense at this and to them I say; “How many people have been that honest with you? In any given situation how many times have you heard someone say; ‘I don’t know?’ or ‘I’m looking out for myself.’ I find it a rare prize.”

During my GFR induced block I read many of the free pages available on AOS to find out how current name writers sound. Some of it I consider abysmal. That’s what I expected. But, I was also pleasantly, or perhaps unpleasantly surprised to find some of it to be excellent; as good as anything I’ve ever seen on a box of Cheerios; all of thirty books. I hope you found that just an inch of amusing. The truth is something else, and it is a long ass story, and is not the subject of this book. Its crap for a reviewer.

It is apparent that Masters Degrees in English or Creative Writing qualify the recipient to do one thing very well; teach it and get a regular paycheck. But, as previously mentioned, I did find it uncanny how many name writers came out of the same schools. My guess is that these schools have a well-respected professor or two, who agents and publishers listen to. Mind you, even if this is the case, I’m not saying that success is pre-determined by the school or the professor, but just maybe that a writer from the appropriate citadel might have easier access to being looked at by people who matter in the literary world. And if they stink, they will soon be forgotten and the professor’s next recommendation will likely be taken with a grain of salt. When he decided that he wanted to write, David Foster Wallace went back to school to take a writing course. When discussing that he said; “And I don’t recommend that to anyone.” Look at him now.

If that which is decrees that we can’t make any money, let’s at least have a good time writing those profound stories not yet heard. We already know them. It’s their loss if they don’t hear them. And, don’t forget to keep thanking those kind angelic reviewers. They make it okay in some ways; just not in the greenback department.

When I got tired of counting, I had located approximately 100,000 entities which bestow writing awards annually; ten of whichmayhave some significance to someone. It’s irrelevant to this essay as the few which may have some monetary significance do not entertain indie books. Further, I did not locate any studies which correlated the awards with book sales.

My instincts suggest that one would be un-wise to seek any grantors of awards which require the payment of “entry fees” or insist on a number of physical copies of the book in question. You’ll have to buy them at retail price and pay shipping charges.

Grants are great. The book doesn’t even have to be all that great to get one. Of course virtually all grants are given to graduates of Bennington, Yale, Princeton, Harvard and that year’s fashionable exotic.

The best deal seems to be chosen for “Oprah’s Book of the Month Club,” If that TV exposure doesn’t cause a “buzz,” nothing will. If offered, to maximize Oprah’s worth, first decline the honor. It will be news until you decide to accept it, at which point you can make up some spurious story about the original decline; like you were afraid that your book would be viewed as lower middle brow, but have since learned better. Hey, look what that sort of ploy did for sales of Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections.” Not too shabby and you only have to show up once.

Chapter 12- Some Math

I’d like to re-introduce some very elementary math we all learned in grammar school. No, don’t run away. I believe that it has some relevance in any discussion of the dismal non-science of publishing.

Though there are a few indie reviewers who state that they read and review somewhere between seven and twenty books per day, they are a miniscule minority. I could make any of a number of applicable sarcastic comments about this, but will refrain as the claimants are both statistically insignificant and likely to be offended. I try so hard to be nice. Sob.

For the rest of us to have read one book a day over the long term is likely an exaggeration. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that we did. Let’s further say that we knew how to read at birth and that we will live 100 years. We know that as of mid-December of 2015 AmawayOnSteroids had in excess of 8,000,000 titles for sale or available free and that that number is constantly growing.

Simple extrapolations mean that over the course of a lifetime we will each read 36,500 books or say we did,(365 x 100) which in turn means that, all books equal, there is a 4.6% chance that an avid reader will read any given book somewhere during their extended lifetime, and an .046% chance that they will read it during any given year. (36,500 divided by 8,000,000 and .046 divided by 100.) If a .046% chance sounds attractive, consider that if we remove the percentage sign the number becomes .00046. Complicate that by using the methodology of your choice to refine that percentage, taking into account that most avid readers make extensive use of their local library, ten cent closeouts, and the millions of free e-books available; that your local library has more than 8,000,000 titles available; that the best classics are always freely available, and that a miniscule number of indie books ever exceed a 36,500 AOS sales ranking. You will shortly see that this is estimated to equate to 3-15 sales per day. Then ballpark your odds of getting people to pay money for your effort when they don’t even know your name. There is nothing wrong with swinging for the fences; but it seems the most common of senses to first find out if those fences are 350 feet away or 5,000, which always results in a fly out.

Trust me on this one as it involves more assumptions and numbers and it may seem to work against what you may have come to think of as my agenda in this book. But, it is also true that if we take the most optimistic of assumptions, the average book will be read 24,840 times per annum in America alone.

Hmmmmn. Sounds viable working with an average. It might be more appropriate to work with a mean, but I have no idea how to do that. As discussed elsewhere there is significant upward skewing of numbers with the top ten authors 2014 estimated incomes ranging from nine to nine hundred million. .......... On the other hand those at the bottom of the pile don’t make a nickel.

I’m out of here. This is giving me a whopper of a headache. No wonder that mathematicians get paid better than writers. I know; the people who compiled the best-selling book of all time thought it appropriate to devote an entire section to it; but despite the successful effort they didn’t collect any royalties either.

Chapter 13- Laughable Attempts at Heroics

Since around 1980, we have all noticed, plenary indulgence graciously extended, a sharp and commercial move. Please, don’t pierce. We’re so afraid, shocked and in awe. What is generally un-recognized is that that depiction of matters is the broadest limitation of the investors; some susceptible to the illusion or pragmatism of a livable reality otherwise not conceived. Dogma, wishes and daydreams rightfully aside, no fuckin’ way can it be virgin; thank God, the Devil, or Sartre; depending upon personal beliefs. Without the incorrect interpretations of his-her-its, error-induced-human delineation of masochistically Christian sacrificial requirements; we are always abandoned by those we love. We kind of expected it, but didn’t want to think, and therefore possibly show, something which could be seen as a disparagement of those brief interludes; perhaps in fear that such thought might render the process even more brief. We are on the fucking cross; the cross; the temporary cross. The physical hurt is non-existent in the face of our cry to not abandon one who once expressed a desire to be a friend. The watchers cry and pray. He loves them for that, but the stakes through his hands and feet hurt so much, they kind of take precedence. An end would be merciful. He looks down at the few present, inclusive of those inclined to a safe, un-feeling, existence. He knows he is no better; a vainglorious occasional assumption that he is one of them. Just a dream.

It will soon end; at least in this place he has named hell, in his loneliness. So many times he prayed for it to stop; just make it stop. Seems so reasonable a request. Just let it all go blank. Please. Please. Please. In his unrealized privilege this is commonly seen as another pharmaceutically induced escape, now fully financed by Obama-lack-of-care. Panacea? Nirvana? ......... Here. Now. Post some shit or other. Let the credentialed wade through that for a misnomered lifetime. Without a regard to the pens and brushes of the bullshit artists, the spear supplies the most compassionate act he has ever known.

Evoking the visuals hip decades prior coupled with the schizoid nature of twenty first century, “gonzo” marketing abominations, Howard Sternly refused to be taken in by the GFR induced hype of peddling one’s book(s) there. Flagrantly chastised by his fidgety producers, he simply was tired of hearing the nervous agent’s admonitions of missing out on another marketing tool. He established a GFR author page. While he remained open to accepting “fans,” he would not accept any “friend” requests. Big shot, right. Big enough, I surmise. Even Steven King has GFR “friends” he never speaks to. With Howard, I suspected that there must be some sort of half-hearted, aloof, professional and sophisticated marketing logic at work.

But, come on Howie. Give me a break. I really want to be your friend. Really. I’ll even give a five star review to one of your co-written books. I won’t be a pest. I know it takes most of your time to captain your serious satellite communications. Promise, if you let me be your friend, I’ll only contact you once and ask you to arrange for me to make friends with one of the well-experienced, female porn stars you purport to be tight with. Or loose, whatever. Numerous times you did say that you had a little one. I especially like the one who had facial plastic surgery and now has lips to her nose and chin. If that’s not possible, I’m not all that picky; no nose innuendo suggested. You know any black ones with gigantic hips?

I’m getting carried away. Back to business. No shit, if you can arrange something like that for me I promise to delete the “friend” garbage. No offense intended, but those girls were the only “shocking” part of the daily hour in reg room.

Fucking phone is ringing again. Dammit. Probably that useless real estate bimbo with a whole lot of bullshit and no buyers. It’s getting so hard to remain nice.

I found out that GFR has been putting author profiles on the system with no permission or interest from the author. Many of them are not only disinterested; they’re fucking dead! I guess GFR is getting tired of my “limited” market types and wants to impress some people with big names. But, hey, hope you’re all right, man. Really. At your age you never know. That stuff I said about your show; just kidding. I just wanted to convince you that I wasn’t going to be pestering your ass. Cool?

But, honestly, how about fixing me up with one of those big lipped chicks; especially the one whose talented lips coincide with her chin and nose. I don’t give a shit if she’s sixty; you know what I’m sayin’. You can tell her that I’m some big deal writer or something like that. How the fuck will she know any different? Okay, okay; I’ll wash the damn Toyota. If you’re dead sorry and never mind.

Chapter 14- A Radically Condensed Set of Factoids

1) Writing is and always has been one of the worst ways in which to attempt to make a living.

2) That difficulty is not a function of 21stcentury computerized technology. Any considerations to that effect are merely excuses to falsely, stupidly, or commercially herald something “new-in-plasticized-and-chipped” format.

3) Great writers, such as Jane Austen and Edgar Alan Poe did not sell many books in their lifetime.

4) 8,000 sales are considered a successful book by the traditional publishing industry.

5) In 2015 the average annual income of an indie author was $500. This was dwarfed by the traditionally published author’s reports of $3,000. It is noted that both numbers are the result of unconfirmed, anecdotal accounts and are subject to downward revision. It is also a mathematically solid testimony to an agent’s value.

6) The average indie book sells 100 copies. Half of that is attributed to the kindness of family and friends.

7) Indie sales of 250 copies is considered an unusually successful book; especially when one ignores the difficult to document “you-buy-mine and I’ll-buy-yours” relationships between indie writers.

8) Despite what seems to be a low threshold of success; eight thousand sales; with all the expertise, advertising and other sources of promotion utilized, 90% of traditionally published books lose money.

9) You have as much chance of your book breaking through as you do of either hitting a million-dollar-a-month-for-life lottery or being twice hit by lightning.

10) Fuck your irrational wishes and dreams. To attempt to market your book on Goofreads is a total waste of time. Excepting three, no big name author bothers to maintain a presence there as they know it’s useless for selling books. The suspicion is that the three who seem to be present are merely the substantially incommunicado sock puppets of their nervous agents, editors, publicists and publishers. You distrust that statement. You do have grounds. You wonder why a hotshot, successful outfit like AOS would buy something so worthless. It’s because AOS will buy anything which is for sale if the seller is willing to accept shares of AOS overpriced-more-than-a-thousand-times-earnings-stock in payment.

For those of you who are financial novices look at it this way. Make believe that you are AOS. You’d like to own a car, but all you have is a wallet which only contains three US one dollar bills. Your annual income is a penny in a good year and you lose a penny in a bad one. You meet a guy who also is income challenged, and he is desperately trying to raise money through the sale of his car. The car needs much work which will cost more than its Blue Book value. The two of you get to talking. Though the owner of the car doesn’t volunteer the information, you know that, barring some miracle, this heap is on its last legs. So, you pull out the wallet which contains US$3 and say; “I’d really like to have the car, but this is all I got.” The man selling the car looks at your wallet and says; “Three thousand will do quite nicely,” apparently mistaking single dollar bills for ones denominated in thousands. The possible thought processes which you and the seller may have are numerous, confusing, and largely irrelevant herein. The bottom line is that the deal is done, each one thinking that they have pulled a fast one on the other. The next step is that each of you takes their newly acquired “asset” to a Wall Street bank, which is “open for business,” and tries to convince them that the property is worth $3,000, and that they’d like to sell it to them for only $2,900. The Wall Street bank knows that the property has marginal value, but they also know that they can sell it to their clients for a higher amount. The clients in turn, know ............... This could go on, but I think you might get the point. Steely Dan sang about a scam, and before that the Beatles sang about knowing better and crying.

11) 80% of books read are read by 18% of the population. This is especially perplexing. We know that fictional books which sell best contain some aura of a Godard un-reality; at least having characters and actions which are not as absurd as those depicted in various teenybopper genres. Yet, this popular “reality” is judged by those who have spent more time in the library or otherwise with their nose in a book than they have spent outside it in the fresh air. No value judgements. As far as I’m concerned they are welcome to do or not do whatever they’d like. But, remember that if you are a writer who wants huge sales this is the bulk of whom you will have to appeal to.

12) Women read 90% of the fiction consumed and 75% of the totality.

13) Some of these women, usually those characterized by themselves or others as “high-brow,” the term complimentary or derisive, depending, favor male authors as this category of reader uses their interpretation of the “poetic” meaning of the words to gauge where the best of the male monkeys are at; “best” perhaps substitutable with “weiner.” That view seems self-congratulatory and yet sadly appropriate. This is a market which does not entertain much of indie books; understandably. They seem to be substantially reliant on the prognostications of recognized, well-credentialed sources. They are aesthetically interesting, yet financially some sort of burden, though not in the traditional sense of the word-feeling.

14) To choose to be an indie author is an admission of either financial ignorance, artistic pretension, a belief that one has something new to say or are otherwise talented, a substantial trust fund, or the possession of a subtle masochism not yet realized or wished hidden coupled with a desire to not be edited, to not be chased around in some “expert’s” conception of commercialism, and to be perfectly willing to be viewed as a complete retard; modern euphemisms substituted if required.

15) Despite allusions to the contrary, Donald Trump did not pull himself up by his bootstraps.

16) Those vaunted reviews, so accessible from numerous sources, as well as the ones called that generated by those still learning the art, are not worth a nickel. It has been un-equivocally been determined by parties as disinterested as your dis-interest in that party attended by the coke enhanced zombies who didn’t know the meaning of snort, that there is absolutely no relationship between reviews and book sales; whether that relationship is calculated based on number or quality assigned.NONE. PERIOD. GET OVER IT. DO YOU REALLY STILL THINK THAT SOMETHING CHEAPLY OBTAINED IS WORTH SOMETHING?JEEZ!If you do you might try doing a teenybopper romance or carpet cleaning. These words will be taken as offensive to certain parties, no matter. It’s nice and greatly appreciated to be liked by those who take the trouble to write reviews. But, we should always recognize that they do not matter in terms of greenbacks.

17) Much assistance is for sale on the web. For fees ranging from $5 to $15,000, for the super-duper package, you can obtain multi-application formatting, beta reviews, five star reviews, a drop-dead artistic cover design, editing services, vaguely described marketing help inclusive of the perp’s supposed attendance at various book fairs, volumes of e-mail notices sent to already inundated parties and guest appearances on radio shows; Nielson ratings not mentioned or below the radar. Most of these services are offered by writers, who claim to have used these methodologies to have sold hundreds of thousand or even millions of their own book and now want to help you. These operations do not deserve any response other than “Golly, gosh and darn.” Without an extensive search, I have thus far found eight which claim to be the original publishers-marketers of “Fifty Shades of Gray.” As you exit, just be careful not to click on the four interspersed icons which will lead you to the purchase of their hit book, nor the urls advertising “affordable editing and design services.”

18) Unlike the possibility of being totally ripped off by some of the fly-by-nighters discussed previously, you can now get these same services through a “reputable” publisher or retailer. Can oxymoronic expressive combinations be tertiarily employed? Whatever. Ostensibly, since the corporate entities have had difficulties in producing a profit; 90% of their books confirmed as losers; through their own well-credentialed operations, they are now willing to sell you their expertise. Sorry. That sentence does not make a lot of sense no matter how many times I try to re-phrase it. On the positive side, suffice to say, that at least up until now, they will attempt to provide a reasonable facsimile of what they have advertised. On the negative side, it seems incredible how they can make your book a hit when they can’t consistently do that with their own. One cannot help but think the audacious thought of the possibility that they have determined that they can make more money taking fees from desperate indie writers than they can by selling books. Perish the thought and in no circumstances say it in polite company.

Chapter 15- A Pastiche of Factoids and Fantods Some Still Find Debatable

1) Goofreads is a very efficient, easy to use site with tons of information which is operated for the sole benefit of the owners. If this is not palatable; substitute that it is operated for the benefit of the crybaby reviewers-librarians.

2) This is not to say that it should be operated for the benefit of authors. But, it is to say that it would seem just a bit reasonable if it did what it said it was doing. That it exists for the benefit of readers is clearly not true. That it can assist in book sales is laughable and their claims have yet to be tested in court. That in return for their sucker free labor, librarian-reviewers can initiate, alter, delete, and pirate anything on the site seems obvious.

3) 90% of GFR users are desperate indie writers, or their sock puppets, trying to sell their books. When they become addicted, they guaranty that they will continue to be desperate indie writers or their sock puppets.

4) GFR reviewers operate as a union. To offend one is to invite never-ending, attempted retribution from an army of red ants.

5) Do not expect any help from GFR or AOS “management.” The Bozos’ directed minions recognize that statistically, the 40 hours of free slave labor they weekly extract from their librarian-reviewers exceeds what they make from selling your book on an annual basis.

6) If you’d like to play on the Little League ballfield presented, it is necessary to become a GFR librarian in order to get any consideration or be outdone by ten year olds. I find this personally abhorrent and a financially calculated application for a two buck an hour job on lucky days. But, do whatever you want. A GFR librarian has access to and the ability to change or delete anything in the database. The power is overwhelming ................... TO THEM; and to you if you previously had any naive expectations from the rather simple database application designed for THEM.

7) Near the time of the AOS acquisition of GFR a bit of a war broke out. If for a moment you choose to ignore my fantastic grasp of the obvious which indicates that AOS-GFR won it, the only other half reasonable possibility is that the reviewer-librarians won it, while they cry over losing it. It’s something like DFW’s “Infinite Jest” allegory concerning the nuclear waste dumps. In the interest of “freedom of speech” the reviewer-librarians can continue to say anything they choose; while some say that they can’t and direct people to their independently published collections of reviews for the whole story. Utilizing previously quoted estimates, about 200 people have done this. Yes, a few stupidly obscene and threatening sock-puppet-trolls were banned for egregious behavior, but even they are back utilizing a different name. However to make matters more absurd on the obverse of the coin; if an author, not even referring to his own book, says that there is something deficient in the reviewer’s observations; not only will he get 25 one star ratings on each of his books, but he will be banned from the site; perhaps an unintentional favor. The reviewer-librarians have been Bozos’-granted the right to be the unquestionable last word. The Supreme Court has expressed its jealousy. Is it any wonder why any author exceeding a $15,000 per annum income level doesn’t take the two minutes required to establish an “official” GFR presence? This is no ‘moral’ issue to me. Bozos can do whatever the hell he wants with his property. I just can’t understand how any writer would want to be involved at any level.

8) Everyone above the age of 15 who was born in Great Britain has written at least one book which is currently available on AmawayOnSteroids. Fortunately for indies they have as much current American significance and popularity as Alan Sillitoe.

9) AOS boasts of 40,000,000 active users. They recently conducted their annual poll for best book of the year in 15 categories. The polling is over. The winners have been declared. AOS said that there were 3,000,000 votes cast. Hmmnnnn. I guess that less than 1% of “active users” did not care to take a minute from their busy 30 days to vote for their favorite book. Keep in mind that voters have the ability to cast votes in each of the twenty different genres. Keep further in mind that all of the resident indie authors cast votes for their own books as well as those of their compadre authors. Draw your own conclusions regarding the likelihood of 40,000,000 active GFR users.

10) There have been a few attempts to equate AmawayOnSteroids sales ranking, which is the only “market” number the state-of-the-art-AOS-GFR machines make available, with the number of books sold. The number of these brave, borderline Diogenes’ is likely limited to about three, some now defunct. This relative AOS ranking is a number available for everybooklisted; which for all intents and purposes is every book ever written which still exists and some that don’t, listed on the AOS monopoly, assuming that at least one has been sold. “Ha ha” you may say; but you may also be surprised to learn how many have not yet reached that level. This AOS ranking is also calculated for each author, however that number is not available unless you know the author’s e-mail address and password, and are surfing semi-proficient. This number is not even available, except in a bastardized and AOS “adjusted” fashion, to the author himself, who is obliged to not mention it under penalty of AOS death.

The precise estimates of the correlation between book ranking and book sales differ from estimator to estimator, but the writer believes that they are not sufficiently at odds to inspire debate, except by those academics who only talk to themselves. This one was in the middle of estimates;

“AOS Best Seller Rank of 1 to 5 - selling 4,000+ books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank of 5 to 10 - selling 2,000 to 4,000 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 10 to 35 - selling 1,000 to 2,000 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 35 to 100 - selling 500 to 1,000 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 100 to 350 - selling 300 to 500 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 350 to 500 - selling 200 to 300 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 500 to 3,000 - selling 50 to 200 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 3,000 to 5,500 - selling 30 to 50 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 5,500 to 10,000 - selling 15 to 30 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 10,000 to 50,000 - selling 3 to 15 books a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank 50,000 to 100,000 - selling close to 1 book a day.

AOS Best Seller Rank in excess of 100,000 – you’ve got to be kidding.”

Writer’s note: As of December, 2015 the ranking floor is south of 8,000,000; and is going further south daily with the constant addition of new e-books. Some estimate 600,000 per month; though that strikes me as a number which was more relevant in the recent past. Anyway, not to worry; one book a day will put you in the top 50,000; if I’m reading this thing correctly; and just take a look at some of the atrocities out there. If one cannot outdo; “Scaly Green Mechanics #1; ‘The Crashed Aliens Get a Garage Job,’” one should really stick with the personal diary. ......... Correction. My wife just told me that “Scaly Green Mechanics #1; ‘The Crashed Aliens Get a Garage Job,” has gone on to be AOS’ #15 and Warner Brothers has purchased the movie rights. .............. Never mind. Go figure.

11) This is entirely speculative. AOS-GFR has seriously wounded or killed what remained of a book industry. There is little reason for anyone in possession of any common sense to write a book. The industry will increasingly be dominated by the mentally deficient and the sadly abused grown up kids. I think we’d all agree that for some time we have already witnessed the beginnings of that. Sure, there will always be best sellers, whatever that means, whatever the corresponding numbers, but already today’s best seller lists have been invaded by stories not worthy of a good 1950’s comic book. Look around and open your ears. The fat lady is in the middle of her aria.

Chapter 16- Hope Springs Eternal, etc.

It is usually very unwise to be only a nay-sayer. So, here’s a list of constructive things you can do to sell your book without running the risk of being homeless.

1) Marry a super-rich literary maven. If the possible pretentiousness makes that less than palatable, marry Paul McCartney.

2) Get a regular paying job; one in which you cannot be subjected to the rigors calculated by ‘efficiency experts.’ Something judgmental first comes to mind. Barring that, fireman, evening security guard at the swimming pool, and 911 phone operator work just as well. Write your book, while being paid by someone to sit around. Upper management is an excellent option, but is only available to the few.

3) Don’t be discouraged when your first brilliant effort gets few sales. Write another, and another, and another ........ Your chances increase with each. If your probabilities were 1 in 10,000,000 with one, the writing of a second will increase your chances 100% to 2 in 10,000,000. The laws of diminishing returns do un-deniably kick in at some point. However with a third it still is a 50% improvement over the previous situation, and that’s an acceptable return to any half-conscious businessman.

4) Even though they don’t matter financially, write about 20 reviews of your book. It seems that most writers have a psychological need to daily read something personally complimentary. The lack of that could lead to the horrors of the ill-defined writer’s block or the horrors of the need for a fling with someone who appears available. Send your 20 reviews to every relative or friend you have, even those known through social media, and ask them to post the reviews under their names as well as the names of their sock puppets on GFR and any other ‘social’ mediums at their disposal. Yes, there will be some duplication. But, if anybody checks, say it must have been the result of hacking. Hey, AOS gets away with that one. You’re in well contacted company. In the course of so doing, you will not only get psychological remuneration, but a few of your relatives and friends might actually purchase a copy; if only to provide laughs as they confirm how stupid they always thought you were.

Tip:Do not make all of the reviews of the gushing, five star variety. A seasoned reader-potential-purchaser may suspect something odd about a book with zero sales and 400 five star reviews. Even AmawayOnSteroids-GFR’s state-of-the-art search engine might have its interest piqued. Write a few one star, critical reviews and aim at a 3.8 grade point average. There’s a strong chance that it may not be better than “The Catcher in the Rye.”

5) Contact your college English teacher and see what it would take for him-her to publicly state that you are a prodigy. It’s probably just some sucking up. It’s amazing how bright you become when you tell someone else how bright they are.Caution:This procedure can become seen as ludicrous beyond the age of 52; your years, not the professors.

6) There are a number of writers who are now dead and were gigantic sellers when alive. Determine the name of their principal heir or executor-trix and e-mail them a few chapters of your brilliance. Intimate that you have become aware that the dearly departed had things in the works at the time of their demise and that you would like to finish it for them, in return for co-writing credit and 10% of the net. There are many ways this scenario may play out, substantially dependent on the sophistication of the contact made. Suffice to say that if you can be credited as a co-writer of the book you have written yourself, alongside the name of the dead best seller, your 10% of the profits will exceed the 100% OF the profits you would have made releasing the book under your own name, and your name will be now known; enabling you to have some degree of negotiating power for your next one. Admittedly, that may not be a lot, but it’s more than any existing indie. You may think that this approach is an attempt at a cynical joke or the meanderings of the un-hinged mind of an un-noticed writer. I assure you that I’m not anywhere near that creatively competent. This scenario is based on something which actually happened, with a 10% conjecture concerning things not available to me or the general public. One, if not more, of today’s literary superstars got their breakthrough in this precise manner. In fact, one of the hugest of today’s moneymakers did this after having had less than lackluster reaction to previous efforts. Now, he has come so far, that people ask him how to write and are answered with third grade banalities. It’s all BS.

7) Write an article for your local free paper. It won’t take very long to throw a page together which extolls the virtues of the atmosphere and cuisine at “Bruno’s Borderline Blast.” Just keep in mind that; A) Local papers only want happy news; B) Bruno has agreed to a 12 month advertising contract with “The Up and Coming Gazette,” last word most significant, in return for their “best efforts” to obtain a “fair five star review.” Wink, check-is-in-the-mail-and-obviously-didn’t-clear-yet wink; and C) There is no hard evidence that the alleged highly localized salmonella outbreak actually started at Bruno’s greasy salad bar; and even if it did, you are not responsible. Don’t waste your time or risk food poisoning by going to the establishment. Write of the cutting edge décor, the wonderful ambience, the friendly service, and the succulent, re-heated fish sticks. Be clear with the editor of “The Up and Coming Gazette,” that you are perfectly willing to compromise any principles which dummies fret about to get your name and book title listed in small print under the article. You’ve been slick, as you know that three locals will read the fine print, and that one of them will mention your name to a disliked relative.

8) Consider having your name legally changed to James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Rick Riordan or Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This could be a bit problematic, but you will eventually win any court case initiated. If you prefer a zero-risk-to-cash-out-of-pocket scenario use the FD option as the dead tend not to make waves, though the sales will be less. You might google “Patterson obituary” now and then. Buyers and reviewers can be a bit challenged when forced to make their own decisions, but are completely secure in their brand recognition skills.

9) Consider using a pen name which will generate “hits” from people searching for other sources of entertainment. “Big Dick Donahue” and “Blow Job Jenny” come to mind. I’ll be doing further research on this topic in the near future and will advise further in the sequel to this book.

10) Always refer to your book as a “best seller.” It will likely impress someone. This may be truthfully accomplished by categorizing your book in an unusual manner. You might try something like “ebooks-fiction-paranormal-aliens-bizarre-memoir-historical-textbooks-YA-non-fiction.” Demonstrate your creativity. I know of a case wherein an author of two books had zero sales of each, yet one was number 3 in its category and the other was number 9 in its. He thought that AmawayOnSteroids was not reporting sales to him. It turned out that there were three books in his first category and nine in his second. He then started to legitimately refer to his books as “top 10 best sellers.”

11) Consider dating someone from AmawayOnSteroid’s Ms. Management team; especially those with unsupervised access to the database. This is more easily accomplished at GFR, but the financial results may not be worth the degree of disgust entailed in the endeavor.

On a lighter note,look up Hugh Howey. No, that’s not me. I don’t know him and don’t get anything if you buy his books. After doing all sorts of jobs, without having the “benefit” of having had taken courses in “creative writing” at Bennington, he began to self-publish his own indie books about five years ago. They were immediate hits, went movie, and now he can pretty much call his own shots. When asked, he said that he never did any marketing. He suspected that his popularity grew by word of mouth; no doubt an anathema to these plastic communication devices in seeming continual front of our faces. Much like Warhol, his advice to aspiring artists is to “do more.”

P.S. He’s a damn good writer; like way up there. Maybe that has something to do with it.


I re-read what I wrote and am embarrassed to have accidentally confessed to having been so naive at such an advanced age. The parlance suggests that to have come up with these observations I must have the onset of some sort of brain deterioration. Sorry. For me. I hope I was very drunk at the time. If I can figure out how to delete it, I will. Though I know your questions have attained an edge of sarcasm, at least worthy of a C+ on the David Foster Wallace scale, perhaps, I should have straight-forwardly responded.

What I really think is that the few, if any, who really know how to market books aren’t spreading the news; and that they certainly are not offering their advice on the web for a thousand dollars per pop. Despite that logic, low income writers like me and you read the free advice all over the internet, always coupled with several mentions of their “very successful” book and convenient URL’s to click on for convenient purchase. We’re condemned to hope. The author’s name is never as familiar as the New York Times top ten bestsellers, though they claim to have pocketed a few hundred grand last year, while the vast majority of the household-name-writers have kept their day jobs. I’m not accusing them of lying. That’s a matter between them and the IRS. Which IRS you rightfully ask. I’d suspect that of a country dealing in pesos or sheckels.

Doesn’t it bring some merriment to view the marginalized ads from book cover designers, editors, websites with “marketing acumen,” presss release capabilities, promised radio “appearances” et al, available at $300 an hour, well in excess of those actually employed by professional publishers to do the same thing. I actually would fork over the $300 if they could get me on “The Jerry Springer Show.” ......... On second thought ................... But, I’d probably have a better shot at that if I could get my fat sister to agree to join me in publicly taking off our clothes and saying; “We’re intimate and we’re proud,” or some such thing in Georgian.

My own approach will be to write more books, with different subject matters, and maybe someday I will touch a nerve which causes a tidal wave. Not a bad analogy, if I do say so myself. And if I don’t I honestly won’t care ............the majority of the time.It’s become obvious to me that the publishing industry has determined that they can make more money from hustling desperate authors than they can from selling books, as they obviously don’t know how to move the product either. If they did they would not have a track record of 90% losers.

Best wishes with your efforts, and I hope that someday you might write me an e-mail, saying that I don’t know anything and that your book has been top 10 for months. It will be especially welcomed if you might be able to get mine read by somebody other than Goofreads and AmawayOnSteroids.Com “reviewers;” one who can potentially pay to say; “Its encouraging; but needs a lot more work.”

Under a barrage of US Conservative indoctrination for the last thirty-five years we have all come to think that we have become educated in financial likelihoods without the imposition of having to pay a degreed professor. Don’t think so? Next time he’s over ask your plumber what he thinks of AOS business plan and hope that he hasn’t already written ten pages about it on his blog.

You are of the firm opinion that the bulk of what we authors think is that we will be the exceptions and that it is necessary to think that way. You’re right. ........ I guess. Then, I’m reminded that almost all the successful writers I’ve Wikied are either takers of or candidates for the taking of anti-depressant medications. Then I wonder if that mindset is the one which most registers with readers and reviewers. Then it starts to get really complicated and best stopped.

You are wise in having been shy to express your special nature. But in moments of clarity you are honest about it; at least with yourself. You think you are magnificently talented. You think you are more creative than the prime mover. You know that without writers an entire industry would not exist. You know that without the maligned and poorly paid writers the unemployment rate would be 25%. You know that without writers the population would have to drift off to sleep holding their crotches. You see the pile of bills near the microwave. You know the next book will cure everything. You know you love to write. You know the one you’ll do next will supersede anything ever done. It is practical. Without these beliefs you wouldn’t be able to write a cook book. This is your curse. The cynics were there before you; and know how to use your optimism and desperation to keep you impoverished.

Credentials. Credentials. They insist on credentials. Damn the credentials. Look at the first twenty pages of the book. It’s free now. If you don’t have the nerve to make your own decisions, do yourself a favor and get the fuck out of here. But, you know that this is the key word in all pursuits. I didn’t mean “fuck,” but it comes out better that way. We live in a society where no one dare venture their mere opinions. Sans excuse, being wrong is intolerable. People have lived their entire lives without having made one. They have told me so themselves. The credentialed do not “like” anything which was not previously “liked” by their antecedents. If they deign to bless the rabble with anything at all, their attempt at a characterization results in a boring dissertation replete with exclusionary jargon. The Babel replay makes them feel current, superior, important and smart. After personal study and colleague interviews, it has become clear that either safety lies in Linus’ blanket; be it a degree, union card or past calculable financial success; a tangible thing in which to rest one’s faith; the oxymoron invisible to the many; or a mere redundancy. “I wasn’t wrong. Anyone would have done the same thing.” “Yes. I understand. Yes. I’d have done the same thing. Yes.” But .................... “Fuck you both.”

We rookie writers get screwed. AmawayOnSteroids and Goofreads speak to us of promotion and we personally believe that they are the best deal around, since with minimal computer skills we can freely list books with them. The pusher always makes the first shot free. We soon discover that whenever we log onto AmawayOnSteroids, we are greeted with visuals of the same “best sellers.” If we get adventurous and move around a bit we find those buried under ten five star (*****) reviews and ratings provided courtesy of family, friends, purchased slugs, and review swappers.

Catch-22? You wonder why they can’t feature yours sometimes. It would certainly generate some more sales. If someone wants to purchase Patterson or Gaiman’s books, they know where to find them, without constant “in your face” advertising, which may actually be counter-productive. What do they know? Their stock sells at only 1,000 times earnings.

In your head you hear the Eagles sing “Cripple Creek” and “Saturday Night,” only to be too soon followed by the “Doolin-Dalton-Desperado” reprise, marking the end. Once it’s known, it cannot be forgotten.

While it was probably not your “original intent,” possible Supreme Court allusion disdained, to have your stories seen by everyone, it was also probably not your “original intent” to be effectively blocked from all manner of on line communication by a fascist organization, executed by their sucker flunkies. You’ve long heard about the “free” access provided by the “Young Adult” aged social-internet. But, now you have had first-hand experience with the communications allowed and sabotaged by AmawayOnSteroids, through their purposeful neglect. You know that it’s just so un-popular to nitpick, and a 2016 disaster to appear whiney. So you refrain from articulating any observation which might be construed as a complaint and this is precisely what they want. This personal approach is both because you are unsure about your technical proficiency and because you want people to buy your books. To do that they have to be available on the AOS monopoly. Shit, writing books sounds like a whole lot better way to spend your time and make a living than expediting boxes in some hundred degree warehouse, constantly under scrutiny and on camera.

But your experiences have made you somewhat skeptical. Some inconsistencies not yet taking the form of questions stick in your mind. A vague feeling makes you wonder if one player has been allowed to have much too much control. They seem to have an interest in making it easy to post your book with them. Simultaneously, they also use it as a “free” come on available to their $99 per year subscribers. You didn’t have to allow this they said. Make or delete the checkmark in the appropriate block. However, when you attempted to take the un-checked option, you found that there was some insoluble problem with getting your book posted. When you checked the block the problem was miraculously solved.

If this is somewhere near the time you first entered the curious world of books, authors, readers, agents, publishers, retailers and hawkers of “book marketing” services there is little doubt that you’ve been getting an “earful.” It is further likely that had you any warning that this enlightenment” was on the horizon, you’d have brought an opened lead umbrella or called in sick. This umbrella is the best shield you’ve yet been able to imagine, as total enclosure in a lead box is required to put any possible illusion in its appropriate place; away from you.

But, now you are there. “Where?” one might astutely say. In the natural light accompanied by a rattler? Where things are hollow? I haven’t the slightest idea. Partially conscious? This “reality” check renders any early presumptions you may have made or not, a long time ago, extremely incorrect. If the last two words are too strong substitute “indicative of a postponed re-visit.”

You know that, but don’t want to believe it. But, to ignore or pretend to ignore the cold facts will only result in the appearance of the solicitation of platitudes from tired and “encouraging friends.” You will easily detect that their kind words progressively demonstrate what they have come to see as some sort of burden. For a while you’ll do your best to not see that. But, your best just ain’t good enough. If you continue in this pursuit you will soon meet Blanche DuBois, through the introduction of ever present factoid of Stanley. ......... Maybe that’s an improvement, but at best is a subject best left for someone viewed as either a “credentialed” or a “naïve” entity. Some Eastern religious philosopher-on-the-un-admitted-make or a crass Kowalski-in-pursuit-of-a-‘truth’” can’t fully understand or appreciate; yet seem to work magnificently if played by Brando.

This has obviously been “seen” by a myriad of 21stcentury writers of e and books otherwise handled, or not. Yes, the few readers and reviewers of indie efforts “kindly” acknowledge their appreciation for the independence of books self-published; their condescension ostensibly of value to them only. Many stress how important it is for them to appear to be “nice,” just before going on to state their “generous” rating scale does not hold “indie” efforts to the standards of books previously done well. One of my father’s favorite phrases was; “Don’t do me any favors.” But, that would be so impolite to say to a kindly reviewer. They are so “nice,” and simultaneously useless and inconsequential; in pursuit of their own “market.” Please don’t laugh yet, and don’t let the words slip out devoid of measurement. To say any approximation of that, or to be taken out of context as saying that; or to have been subjected to the Goofreads form of “free speech; as defined in commercially prompted limitation,” administered by an unpaid and thereby un-professional librarian, “edited” in the seeking of their monetarily un-compensated love of what they find to be a “power” granted, will give the powers that be “cause” to brand and dismiss you as someone worthy of expulsion; and all the dumbed down little shits will actually agree; as the authority allowed them to safely do so. .................. I guess it would be inappropriate to snicker or say that that may be one of the highest levels of compliments one can receive. This may have digressed too much into the mindsets of the predatory crew; but this is not their book.

For a new, un-backed, un-proven and un-supported artist, it is of more relevance to try to define the sources from which the “bad guys and girls;” come; be it the help me, help me sad ploy, almost excusable; not in logic but in your heart strings; and maybe a suggestion of something more; so hard to define; especially as that thought-feeling is one you know so well. Incongruous and illogical; isn’t it? ............... Not really. ......... Partially so. Though you’d like to, you can never escape those memories of how they all pointed at you and laughed. No one can ever remove it from your head. It’s been imbedded; even prior to puberty. They laughed; and laughed; and laughed. They pointed; and you went blank. In your momentous entry you couldn’t understand how they found humor in your pain. Mercifully, the teacher entered the room and it stopped. Now, they are clandestinely laughing as they obviously fake the display of kindness through the lowering of their standards; and the teacher died a long time ago. The real question is; “Who in hell gave the inexperienced permission to speak?”

Where did your book take you? Where do you think it might have taken your partner? I guess that the questions infer much too innocent answers. Get off it if you want to stay alive; the benefits, if any, of that pursuit, are yet to be determined.

Okay, you want to sell books. ....... Maybe. ......... It’s still summer and your flip-flops seem comfy at the upper-middle-class; as variably defined; pool. You sit near the deep end, near the high board, which seems much too dangerous. Bright eyes light up the place with their un-bridled optimism. You consider the possibility that there is something wrong with you when you hold back from their joyous leap. You can’t help but envision the 73.23% chance that there is no water in the pool; or that you will land flat on your belly; or that you will not even be able to make it up the stairs for your fear of heights; and worst of all that they will point and laugh at you when it doesn’t go right.

The others dive; their bodies gleaming with the tiny rainbows reflecting from the play of the sun on the droplets adhering to them. They submerge; then resurface; spitting out the chlorinated water; like dolphins; yet seemingly, in the moment, more oblivious. You watch in what you don’t want to characterize as envy. You’re truly happy for them. It’s not their fault that something makes you unable to participate. You’d just so like to be one of them. Yet your mind disables you. It will not go away, no matter what you try to do in attempts to obliterate the apparently immortal demon. You get confused when you see five sharks eat them.

Your biggest fear is that you would rather die than do a remake of the Cheever-Lancaster “The Swimmer.”

So, you’re a writer; a reader; or both. To be more truthful, more likely you are a garage mechanic by day and a fantasist by the night in which you put down your thoughts. Now that you know who you are, it is sometimes useful to secondarily place yourself in the world you have chosen to inhabit. To go back to square one, “books” has through “computerized enhancement” become a term which means anywhere from hard copy black and white, with the occasional illustration; to the electronically efficient set of doo-dahs downloadable into a plasticized device of some sort with hi definition and color capabilities. Audio renditions can be stuck in your ear at higher charge. Whatever. It is of no matter. It’s just another soon to pass format; sort of a plastic fart; pretending that no more farts will come.

Regarding the first consideration of something material the cash seeking author must quickly recognize that he, she or zie is writing for READERS. By their very definition and moniker they are people who have felt more comfortable in the grips of printed paper and glue than they have been comfortable when confronted with the dualities of flesh and blood. They have obtained voluminous life experience from their ocular and digitized, substantially black, white, and gray meanderings and are sensitive to being told this has its drawbacks. So, you write for them while you don’t write for them. Simple.

Since the admitted US days of the slaves and the elsewhere un-admitted days of the same concept, it is clear that the powers that be are successful through one, and only one, major skill; their abilities to obtain free labor. They have capitalized on that and have used that capital to obtain “influence” ranging from the Mayor, to the President, to the Supreme Court, and to the “shadow governments” responsible for day to day operations.

Through the unpaid labor, they have stolen from everyone susceptible to their slithering charms, including the writers and the readers. I’m sure they have a plan in place for the arithmetic-ers. At that point they will have the whole thing.

What they may have not yet considered is who will buy their products when the populace has been deprived of all income. “Free market” capitalists have become increasingly short term oriented for half a century now. Maybe they’ll soon be in for a shock of their own or maybe they already have plans to openly make a subsidiary of elected government. Inroads have been established.

No matter. It’s all good. It’s all fucking good. The people can get all the free books they want. They can read them while they starve and drift off. They’ll be entertained to the end and won’t have spent their time trudging through boring repetitious jobs. All their pictures, information, preferences and personalities already exist in cyberspace, where there is no need for food, clothing or shelter, and there is an infinite supply of entertainment; every book, movie or news item that ever was, is out there.

Maybe I’ll see ya’ll soon. I hope so.

The End of the Beginning

Stop Already

What may be different in 2016 is that the writers can say whatever they want; and, if you believe the flouncing whines, it is the reviewers who are being called into question. There's a joke in there somewhere, but I don't know what it is.

One incident I've heard of happened in merry old civilized England. A writer found the reviewer who had been the first to one star his book and hit her on the head with a wine bottle; hopefully already consumed. I may have the sexes reversed, but it doesn't matter.

The perverse thing is thatmany more of the unionized reviewers then one starred the book; resulting in more people becoming aware that the thing existed; leading to greater sales than it would have otherwise had.

As far as I understand how it now stands, at least with "oh so significant” Goofreads, a reviewer can say whatever they want about a book, butare precluded from demeaning the writer. ................................. The slightest bit of thought about that indicates a sizable gray area. For me, I find it okay to make fun of books which are not specifically stated to be memoir recollections of a writer's painful past. But, when I once suggested that to a reviewer who had just done that, my response was; “Fuck you. No asshole can tell me to shut the fuck up. I have freedom of speech and can say whatever I want.” She must have been an undisclosed librarian or had access to one, as it wasn’t until after I had spent my time in the penalty box that I could inquire of this middle aged, portly and un-attached woman if it was okay for non-assholes to tell her to shut the fuck up. But, it wasn’t until after I had done my time that ..............

In certain circles of the real world the GFR “Trolling” issue has seemed to evolve into a question of whether or not the reviewer has actually read and paid for the book in question. The simple answers are; “Not necessarily,” and “Not necessarily.” ........................... “DUH!!!” you say. “DUH!!!” I chime in with. .................... To ignore the ruse of a pawn sacrifice, we all know that this is a deflection, as there is no way one can prove whether or not they've read a book. But just like the investigation of Hillary's "inappropriate" computer usage, it keeps people away fromhearing about significant issues, such as the bankrupting cost of the now fifteen year old "War on Terror,"where it stands, the goals, the cost, etc. etc.

If that is somewhat palatable to my respected reviewers, I will now risk incurring your communal wrath. What you have said in your review is no more sacred than what the writer has said in their book. Yes, I wrote that. And I’ll write it again with a slight change. What you have said in your review is no more sacred than what the writer has said in their book; and 99% of the time is less so. Pragmatically, it is best for a writer to not confront their own reviewer, but another writer might well confront the review. The review is not the most supreme of documents.

Reviewers have advised me that; "They can say anything they want,” and that “One cannot bully a book." Let me just say "Okay," other nuances reserved for tangents dictated.Previously mentioned issues aside, it seems easy to follow this “logic” with; "I can say anything I want and that one cannot bully a review." ............. Free speech? ................ Nothing personal? ..................... I hope okay. If not. I won’t be losing any sleep over it.

Right now my unscientific view of the situation is that there are plenty of crybaby indie writers; maybe spoiled by the high ratings they were given by the re-salable "free book"-in-return-for-an-honest-review-scam; the author swapping of "honest" reviews, the lower standards granted by some “kindly” reviewers, or the fifteen buck per pop four and five star “honest” ratings available from numerous sources which AOS and GFR find too tricky to find a way to curtail.

The reviewers on tiny Booklooks seem to be bucking the four star-five star-Goodreads, marketing approach, which has already been see