Category Archives: Short Stories

Short Stories

A glass of 1968 Urine, please!


I’m not aging like a fine red wine.  No, sir.  Quite the  contrary.  My cork is compromised, and I’m smelling more like vinegar … or is it urine?  Let me explain …

When I was much younger, we used to run until we vomited.  Out there in the Oregon woodlands, we opened her up for miles on end.  At the end of the course, whoever wasn’t puking their guts out didn’t try hard enough, your typical collegiate machismo.  Nowadays, I can’t reach that threshold.  My legs give out, my lungs, and just the other day it was my bladder.   That’s right, in the humidity and heat of North Carolina, I went on a run, and was eventually faced with two options: 1) Duck into someone’s backyard and relieve myself; or 2) keep on trucking like back in the day … and relieve myself.  Option number one came with thoughts of cops and subsequent judges.  Option two came with shame and a quick load of laundry.  In the end, the decision was relatively easy.  Fortunately, there wasn’t much foot traffic, just me and my wet britches hogging the sidewalk.  Someone honked, presumably the same fine gentleman with an I-honk-for-dummies sticker affixed to his bumper.  I’d like to think that I brightened up his day.  His wife may have left him, his wallet empty, but at least he wasn’t no dumb sonofabitch with wet-assed britches running in this god-awful heat.  Or perhaps the honk was from a neighbor wishing to bid adieu, who knows.  Either way, my kids found this hilarious, dad standing there in his running shorts, a big wet spot where his dignity used to be.

Ten or so years ago there would have been lies instead of confessions.  A sprinkler or a water balloon right to my manhood, blam!  But I’m over that now.  I’m not perfect, never was, and never will be.  I’ve also peed in the pool, there I’ve said it.  Some nights I snore.  Feta cheese gives me gas.  I cry at sappy movies, and then hate myself for it afterwards.  And yes, I’ve lied about the tears.  There was something in my eye, blah blah blah, you know the drill.

I blame my shame on Superman.  We watch him in the movies, admire him, want to be him.  But ultimately, we all fall short.  Each and every one of us is slower than a speeding bullet, less powerful than a locomotive, and can barely leap from bed in the morning, let alone the tallest building.

And while my kids might be older, and no longer see the big S on my chest, I’m still going to throw on my cape and imagine.  So go ahead and honk for dummies, who cares.  I’ve got miles to soar, and I’m not quite there yet.  Although, you may smell me when I get there, the stink of vinegar, urine, or worse, oh my!

The Vlad Father


In my country, they called me The Vlad Father. It is funny joke, ha ha, and I laugh. Yes, I am a fan of the jokes. The jesters would come to me, one by one, and some would make Vlad giggle. Others would fail miserably, and for them Vlad had joke of his own: What do you call jester who is black, blue and dead all over? You! Ha ha. It is funny because it is true. But there came time when Vlad’s brand of humor was no longer welcomed, and so he sneak across borders and find himself here, in America, where everyone is jester. Hilarity abounds like the young, supple breasts of Vlad’s harem. Big jokes, little jokes, and what do you need really but a handful of jokes? Ha ha.

In my country, there were no cheeseburgers or pizza.  Supersized were the buttocks of our women, and for that, Vlad had second orders.  Ha ha.  At dinner table, Vlad gorged on fatty slab of meat, what he called wife, Bathsheba.  Ha ha.  Right there on table.  She did not cross borders here into America, not because she had no love for The Vlad Father, but because we had to, as you say, haul ass, and when Bathsheba haul her ass, she need several trips.  Ha ha.  Who had time?

In my country, health care is free.  Go to clinic, get shot for VD.  That’s right, we shoot you in head with pistol.  So perhaps not free, for what is cost of bullet?  Ha ha.  There is no wait, and no complaints.  Our health care system is model for world, you should see.  We give new meaning to open up wide, for several doctors like to go to back door for knock-knock joke.  Ice cream, you scream, and orange you glad he has small banana.  Ha ha.

Oh, they say we are brutes without hearts, but in freezer there are several, of every shape and size.  You got bad heart, Vlad got good heart, or kidney, whatever you need, my friend.  We even run special: two eyes for price of one.  In America you are wasteful.  In my country, we harvest, and patch up like new again.  Lonely men buy the most lovely and perfect brides, who cannot speak without tongue, or eat without belly.  Sure, in time they smell, like normal living wife, ha ha.  Vlad makes no promise of rose garden, so push her in, pull her in, drag her in, and Vlad exchange decomposing flesh for less decomposing flesh.  The key word being flesh, my advice to get them while they are hot like pancakes.  Ha ha.

When I was boy, I had a puppy.  He was delicious.  Ha ha.

But now I am man in America, where treasury give Vlad staples, and this list of Craig give Vlad women.  Neighbors sniff air, and ask what Vlad is cooking.  It is Sarah from 3B.  Everyone said she had fresh ideas, and this is true, tasty and moist also her brains.  We have dinner party, and John from 2A, picking his teeth, says, “No, really, why isn’t Sarah here?”

My freezer is becoming full again, like back in my country.  Soon, Vlad will have blow-out sale on the Ebay.  Get orders in now, these prices are crazy, and will not last.

Yes, Vlad like new country, where everyone feeds like tick on ass of deer.  Sure, deer will die, but we harvest organs, patch up like new, and send to China, where they already own on layaway.  In meantime, bon appetite, my friends, and may Vlad bless America.

You are welcome!


Hem, as in Hemingway!


I’m sun burnt, hungover, have rashes of unknown origins and in hard to reach places (ahem), and have at least one dozen mosquito bites per limb.  There’s a thorn in my foot, on the bottom.  The budget is blown, and was probably a joke or wishful thinking to begin with.  There’s a dent in the rental car I’m sure they are going to make me pay for, and the kayaks we rented are a mess.  In other words, it’s been the perfect vacation, and we’ve had a lot of fun.

Did you know that Hemingway got a dose of Edison’s Medicine, and then blew his brains out in Idaho?  That when you come face to face with a Barracuda you will literally pee yourself?  Or that Key West is 90 miles from Cuba, and no, you can’t see Cuba from the top of the lighthouse.  Don’t ask.  The guy at the front desk will throw a thumb over his shoulder and tell ya to read the darn sign.  No spitting from the top of the lighthouse, either.  No jumping, not even if you have a parachute.  But if you do jump, he promises not to yell at your stupid, dead corpse, but that your estate will be billed for the clean up.  Ha-dee-har-har!  “Next!”

People come here for the water sports, mopeds, and bars.  For five-dollar t-shirts and three-dollar baseball caps.  Bracelets and Marlin, to see a possessed doll called Robbie, and the loot that was stolen from the pirates, that was stolen from the kings, that was stolen from the people.  You can’t touch the free-roaming chickens.  It’s a ten-thousand dollar fine, or about what it costs to rent a moped.  Coconuts fall from the trees, and enterprising men of young and old snatch them up, stick a straw inside, and sell the exotic-tasting water to the tourists for a ridiculous profit.  But people pay it, because what the hell, it’s vacation, right?  People line up for blocks to take photos of the southernmost point.  People walk around half naked, wholly drunk, and buy stickers that say, Fuck you you Fucking Fuck, or, I’m not drunk, my typical state is staggering, friendly and loud!  My kids drag us to the candy store, where we find lollypops shaped like penises, and chocolate boobs on a stick.   At four they feed the tarpon, and it’s quite the bloody spectacle.  If you sign a waver they’ll hoist you a hundred feet in the air, riding a parachute and tethered to the ship.  When you’re done, there are body shots and henna tattoos.  There are topless joints of both sexes, and every gender.  For twenty bucks the tarot-card reader will meditate over the cards with you, shuffle, shuffle, have you shuffle, shuffle, and make three piles.  He’ll pick them up, and wha-lah, there’s the death card, sucker, how you like me know?  But relax.  The death card isn’t always that bad.  Oftentimes it means a dramatic change in your life, that could be good thing, or a bad thing.  Or else you’re going to die.  Either way, he wants his twenty bucks.  “But good times are coming,” he says, “so long as you escape the death card.  There’s a sun in your month of October, but in November there is going to be a big fight between you and your spouse.”

“How is that any different than the month of July,” I ask him.  “Or any month, for that matter?”

He doesn’t laugh, and neither does my wife.

And so I shut up and take my future like a man.

“Don’t spend money in January, that’s a bad month,” he says.  “Unless, of course, you’re already dead, then spend it all.”  It appears that he wants the comedic glory for himself.  He gets no encouragement from me.

There’s a guy on a unicycle juggling fire, or whatever.  A guy doing backflips.  They all want money, and make no bones about it.  “Pay up. Are we not entertaining?”

There’s a seven-mile bridge, and little deer about the size of an average dog.  Speeding is frowned upon, because speed kills deer.

The house that we rented faces the Gulf of Mexico, and the waters are broad, bright, and relatively still.  When the sun is shining it dances upon the waves, and with the rain comes the ripples.  When it’s cold we get the nipples (sorry, couldn’t help myself.)  When the sun sets, it seems to dip into the waters and spread like fire.  And then the waters engulf the bright orb wholly, it happens quickly, and the clouds are bright with color.  We drink and play board games, and drink some more.  The bottle is almost empty, “So come on, don’t be a pussy,” and glasses are filled back up again.  The game is a variant of charades, and Uncle Jack gets the card all wrong.  He’s not wearing his glasses.  The answer, of course, is slinky, but he thinks it says stinky.  So he stands, grunts, shits his pants, and waves a hand under his nose.  It’s boys vs. girls, and we’re guessing outhouse and toilet paper, shit stains.  The girls see the card, notice his mistake, and while one tries to correct him, the other is laughing her ass off, saying, no, let him go on.  This is gold.  Ultimately the boys win, and so we play another game, and graciously allow the girls a victory.  Girls put out when they win, it’s a fact of life.

But it comes and goes quickly, vacation.  Work should be so kind.  And now we’ve one day left, and the kids are eating bacon.

“What’ll it be? ” I ask.  “The beach?  Kayaks?  Paddle boards?”

They shrug their shoulders and tell me that it doesn’t matter.  That they’re happy just to be here, chilling like a villain.  In the end they opt for the kayak, a trip around the block.  Maybe we’ll see some sea turtles, or manatees, who knows?  Another barracuda.  Either way, it’s our last day, and we intend to milk it slowly, and savor every drop.

The answer is vacation, and right now, right here, we’re doing a pretty good job acting it out.  Work and school will come soon enough.

Florida Keys

You don’t care. I get it. Pretend to care. Take an acting class, and learn to emote. It ought to be part of your training, so that when you put on the uniform and look in the mirror, your smile tells your customers that you’re a human being. Instead, your sitting there as cold as ice like some brain-dead robot. Your thumb runs over the glass of your smart phone, subconsciously activating some app that will you take you away from it all, killing pigs or crushing candy. Anything better than this asshole, who’s demanding that the car he reserved four freaking months ago be sitting in the lot with a shiny set of keys and a radio. So she offered us an upgrade, from an SUV to a two-door convertible BMW that the kids are going to love. Wind in our hair and all of that. If only we could fit three kids inside, along with our luggage. She tried to make me happy, but oh well. “Sorry,” she says, but doesn’t really mean it. “You can phone the number in the morning and try to get a refund.” That’s right, In the morning. But right now, it’s late, and I got a family stuck at the airport, and there is no tomorrow. There is no tomorrow. Desperately, we go from one rental car company to the other, searching for scraps. Most of the cars are gone. The Enterprise lady sees the look of desperation in my eyes, and offers me a minivan for roughly the cost to buy one. I give it some thought. She doesn’t care either. No one cares anymore, and I wonder why I still give a shit. I want not to care like the others. I want prozac or whatever these assholes are taking, something to bring the dead into my eyes, a shrug into my shoulders, and perhaps a smirk of inner joy, what the Germans call schadenfruede. I want to join the ranks, because it seems so easy over there. Not caring. Not my problem. Talk to the hand.
Andrea comes up and says there’s this guy with this car, and it’s going for a lot less than Enterprise. We go and sign the paperwork, and we’re on our way.
But now, the guy at the front desk of the hotel doesn’t have the rooms we reserved.
This is vacation. Our time to get away from the hassles and the headaches. To recharge our batteries.
We have two separate rooms on two different floors, and there are no other options. So we split up, girls on the twentieth floors, and boys on the sixteenth. We meet for breakfast, eggs and renewed optimism. At least we’re not working. The family is together. The sun is shining, and we’re off for a new adventure.
Now smile like you give a shit, or at least try and fake it!  🙂

Summer Vacation


Our little family of five drove south in a  ten-year-old minivan with cookies, dreams, and paperwork to board a cruise ship called the Freedom of the Seas.  Parking for seven days cost $120.00, the approximate bluebook value of the van, or one can of soda aboard the ship.

It was a beautiful day in Cape Canaveral, Florida, home of the Kennedy Space Center.  Astronauts used to come here for a shot at the moon; we were going to Coco Cay.   It was our first cruise.


Waiting to board the ship, we entered our first line.  This would become our routine.  At the end of this line a nice elderly lady asked me to take off my baseball hat for a photograph.  Yes, she was wise to my devious scheme, one in which I had intended to use this disguise to rob sodas from the machine.  She then issued our sea cards, which would soon become the most important thing in the whole wide world.  You cannot, I repeat, you cannot lose your sea card.  Gabi lost her sea card.  Seriously?  You need this card for everything.  Eats, drinks, and especially the casino (yes, my twelve year old used her own disguise to play craps).  You even need your sea card to sing Karaoke.  I should know.  I took a shot of tequila one night and belted out I don’t want to miss a thing, by Aerosmith.  The MC came up to me afterwards and said that he didn’t think a hick from North Carolina had it in him to sing Aerosmith.  I wasn’t offended because mostly I was drunk, on vacation, and indeed rather hickish in appearance.


Once everyone was aboard the ship the captain held a drill.  The rooms were cleared.  The pool.  The bars.  In gestapo-like fashion they marched us down the stairs, several different agents along the way demanding to see our paperwork.  “To the right, deck four,” they yelled.  “Mustering point seven.  Next!”  Every floor another agent asked to see our paperwork, and don’t even think about trying to slip past them even though by now you know … to the right on deck four.  Got it.  Mustering point seven.  Bullhorns announced that the drill was required per international law, veiled threats of internment for those unwilling to comply.  Once on deck four they told us that in the event of an actual emergency nothing will happen as planned.  To go ahead and forget which dingy we were supposed to crawl into and run around screaming for our lives.  Every man for himself, they said.  Woman and children … when we get around to them.

Back inside the ship, we found lines for coffee, the hot tubs, and the ice cream stand called, Sprinkles.  We stood in lines just to find out where the lines ended.  Most led you to food, but there were also line for mini-golf and Ms. Pacman, lines to climb the rock wall or to ice skate.  There were lines for the elevator, and lines for apparently no reason at all.  People would just come out of their rooms and find a line to stand in.  Shrug, and say, “Why the hell not?  We’re on vacation.”

We took out a second mortgage on our home to rent two rooms for the week, both of which were about the size of a Photo Booth.  Instead of a camera there was a bed, a small sofa, which we used for a suitcase, and a bathroom, where a man could shower, shit and shave all in the same spot.  We had a sliding-glass door that led out to a balcony, the solution to all your problems about eight stories down.  Looking over the edge, I wondered how many people had jumped?  How many, in a drunken stupor, had fallen overboard?  Would the ship’s captain even tell us if something like that were to happen?  “Uh, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.  Last night we had a young man disembark the ship prematurely.  Don’t worry, he’s dead.  Well, most likely he’s dead.  No one knows for sure.  Anyway, we’re not turning back.  Screw that hippie.  We got a port call in two hours, and we are not going to be late for Coco Cay?”  The rest of guests would have cheered, trust me, but we were late for Coco Cay anyhow.  Something about a fuel leak.  The captain told us not to worry.  “This type of mechanical failure happens all the time, but as a precaution we’re asking the smokers onboard to cease and desist until further notice.”

Coco Cay is a remote island owned by the same holding company that owns the ship.  The crew loaded the passengers onto a smaller ship called a Tender, and through choppy waters they took us ashore where the fleecing continued until moral improved.  Just off the beach was the jumpy house, an hour costing about what a jumpy house would cost on ebay.  Renting a jet ski cost about as much as a jet ski, with a tank of gas on the house.  At eleven a.m. they fired up the grills, and everyone stood in another long line for meat and an apple, and then engaged in a game of musical chairs for a coveted spot at a picnic table.  At noon the rain began to fall.  We had tickets to the aqua park.  The young man who ran the show said that in the event of lightning they would have no choice but to suspend operations.  When the clouds rolled with thunder we promptly cancelled our tickets.  A young girl raised her hand, and asked about the thunder.  The same young man said, “Thunder is okay so long as their ain’t no lightning.  Weren’t you listening to what I said earlier?”  The young girl seemed confused, stayed and listened to the safety brief.  Our party left for the line back to the mother ship.  A drunk guy behind us kept keying his walky talky, asking Scottie to beam him aboard.  A sign said to not feed the birds, but we fed them anyway.  More rainfall came, and more thunder, and back behind us the little girl obeyed the stringent rules of the aqua park.


Later in the cruise, we made it to St. Thomas.  From the port we took another small boat to St. Johns, where we hiked along a narrow forest trail to a place called Honeymoon Beach.  The snorkeling there was phenomenal.  We saw coral, sting rays and colorful fish.  On the hike back we came across a family of donkeys heading in the opposite direction, and my girls screamed like there was no tomorrow, scrambling aside to allow the determined family of three safe passage.  Later along the trail I picked up a hermit crab, and the little bastard popped out and bit me on the finger.  My son found that hilarious, the little …  My wife and I spotted a UFO, an unidentified furry object that looked like a cross between a monkey and a ferret.  On the ride back to the mother ship they gave us free drinks, and by the time we arrived everyone was pretty much drunk and having the time of their lives.



Every night there was a show at seven p.m.  Either stand up comedy, magic, Broadway musical tributes, or death-defying high-wire acts.  A New York comic asked how many democrats were in the audience.  Two people clapped, and were subsequently booed by the rest in attendance.  The comic gulped, told a few more jokes, and then shuffled off the stage with an apologetic shrug

There were shops on the fifth deck, Ben and Jerry’s and cupcakes.  For twenty bucks you could buy a wallet and watch, and my kids couldn’t wait to one, spend their money, and two, lose what seconds ago they couldn’t live without.  On the eleventh deck were the pools, hot tubs, and just enough deck chairs to start a riot over.  A sign says don’t reserve the chairs, but who goes on vacation to read signs? Better to get up early and lay claim, and then find yourself in an argument with the one person who read the sign and subsequently stole your chair while you went to get ice cream at Sprinkles.  (FYI, there were no sprinkles at Sprinkles, just cones, three flavors, and another long line, although not in that order.)


One morning we woke up at St. Maarten, and took a taxi cab to the French beaches.  West of the rocks, old men and women walked around naked.  I know this because I told my kids to stay put, and went there (ran there) with my wife.  It was quite deflating, so to speak.  At no time were we inclined to join the shriveled masses.  Men, penis to penis, chatted politics and weather.  Ladies sunbathed on their cots, legs spread wide, some shaven, most not.  C’est la vie.  The cutest thing we saw was a naked puppy on a surf board, with several sets of unbridled tits.  Just adorable.

Back on the sane side of the beach, the sand was fine and warm, the waters clear.  Eric, our waiter, brought drinks as we lay on our chairs.  The kids built sand castles, and the girls had their hair braided by the ladies who came by with bracelets for sale.  Young ladies wore thong bikinis.  Chloe and I got the jet ski up to fifty five miles per hour, and the day went by even faster.


The next two days were spent at sea.  We slept in, ate good food, watched movies by the pool, and rotated our necks beneath the ice cream machine.  And yes, we stood in more lines.  Regardless, there were far more smiles and laughter, and that’s what I’ll remember the most.  The kids giggling by the pool with friends, everyone getting dressed up for the formal dinners.  It was our first cruise, and most likely won’t be our last.  Next year, however, we’re going to see if the lines aren’t a bit thinner at Yosemite, with hopefully just as many smiles.


P.S.  Perhaps later I’ll post about what happened after the waiter at the beach restaurant in St. Maarten gave us a free bottle of rum and shot glasses.  My wife told me that if I wrote about that she’d kill me.  And for now, I just can’t take that chance.

Yeah, I stole a car. You gotta problem with that?

Not that I’m in a whimsical mood; however, writing about an old and murdering friend got me remembering about a time in my life that I’d rather forget.

Yes, we stole a car.  A pickup truck to be exact, but don’t get all high and mighty just yet.  Imagine if Justin Bieber or Lady GaGa was playing at a nearby venue.  Iggy Pop.  The Wiggles.  And you were in a mood to rock out with your cock out.  Certainly  you would have sneaked around the neighborhood looking for unlocked cars with keys beneath the floor mats.

FYI, don’t leave your keys beneath the floor mats, or on top of the visors, just like you shouldn’t leave your wallet in your shoes when you take them off to bowl.  Sure, it seems like a foolproof idea, perhaps even brilliant at the time, but everyone’s doing it, even the crooks.  Little miscreants like us, sneaking around with barely enough money in their pockets for nose-bleed tickets to the show.

We didn’t exactly hit the jackpot.  The truck was a POS, short for piece of, well, you know.  A hoopty with a bad muffler and no heat, with a half tank of gasoline.  An AM radio, and we listened to the Mighty 690.  We had a stash of beer and a baggie of weed, but I’ll never admit to this in a court of law.  We had Ozzy on the brain, Crazy Train and War Pig – in the field the bodies burning, as the war machine keeps turning.  To a couple of teenage boys, that song was the freaking bomb.

Entering the city, we followed the signs the Portland Memorial Coliseum, found parking in a handicap zone.  Was that wrong of us?  What’s worse, stealing a truck, or stealing a handicap spot … with a stolen truck?

We bought our tickets and went inside.  It was our second concert, the first being the Oregon Jam at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Quiet Riot – Come on feel the noise, girls rock your boys – with Loverboy, Joan Jett and Night Ranger –  Sister Christian oh the time has come, and you know that you’re the only one so say … okay!  And so we were seasoned professionals, cocky and hip, tucka tucka tucka!  And because we were in a stealing-kinda-mood, we found better seats on the floor, closer to the action.  We sang along, riding a contact high to the encore.  We high-fived people that we didn’t know and hugged others.  We yelled Ozzy countless times, and if felt great.  What a perfect name.  Ozzy!  Imagine Nigel or Benjamin, it wouldn’t have been the same.  Benjamin, Benjamin.  Too many consonants.


When it was over, we made out with a couple of girls in the parking lot, and then one of their fathers pulled up and honked his horn.

Back at the truck, we threw away the parking ticket.  Not our problem.  (I imagine now the poor old man getting this in mail, a parking ticket from a city hundreds of miles away when he was home that night asleep, oh the injustice.)

We must have been the only kids from our small town who attended, because the drive back home was lonely.  The time was north of midnight, and we were heading south on Highway 26.  Literally, there was no one else on the road.

The gas was getting low.

There was no way that we were going to make it home.

In this, our time of need, I turned to religion.

I asked God for help.

If we run out of gas how will we suffer the cold or coyotes, there on foot for another hundred miles with snow on the sides of the roads?  Amid the vast and harsh Oregon wilderness?

Karma, that’s what it was.  Still, I prayed to God.  Just do me a solid, oh Lord, and I’ll turn over a new leaf, be better, stop smoking weed and drinking, get good grades.  Obey the Ten Commandments.  You name it, I’m there!

The engine puttered  and then starved, and we were coasting.

God would be putting us to the test after all.

And karma is a bitch.

But I swear that this next part is true, and would do so with my hand on the bible and in a court of law, for sure!  Fo sho!

From behind us some headlights appeared.  Another car, and perhaps the occupants were friendly.  Distant, but closing in on us as we coasted to a stop.

We hit the hazard lights, and waited.

When the car neared, we exited with intentions of flagging them down.

They could have been murdering lunatics for all we knew.

A religious cult.

Gang members on initiation week, out to kill a couple of doped-out honkies.

We had no other options, so please, God, I’ll be good from now on, promise.

It was a white utility pickup truck, and it pulled up behind us.   A man exited, and asked how we were doing.  Asked if there was a problem.  We informed him that we had run out of gas, and he turned, went to the back of his truck, and returned with a gas can.

“I work for the state,” he said.  “Canvas the roads looking for people who need help.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah.  I got gas, water and food.  You boys hungry?”

In fact we had the munchies.

“There’s chips on the front seat,” he said, removing the gas cap to our stolen truck.  “Help yourselves.”

We ate Doritos while he put gas in the truck.

We must have reeked of booze and pot, but when he was done he just smiled and patted us on the backs.  “You boys take good care.”

“Thanks, mister.  You too.”

We started the engine and drove away.  He followed for a while, and then flipped around and drove the other way.

From the passenger’s seat my murdering friend said, “We got a fatty left.  Wanna smoke it?”

“Hell yeah, bro.  Spark that shit up.”


Dear Journal

I remember a boy named Tony Yee.  His father was estranged, and his mother remarried.  Her name was Judy Nathan.

Tony and I first met in the sixth grade.  His family moved in next door from California, and he was an only child.  Their’s was a small ranch-style home on the corner of First and H Street, in a poor mill town in central Oregon.  Tony’s stepfather was an American Indian, and worked at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation some twenty-odd miles north of our town.  His mother, Judy, worked as a cashier at a local convenience store.

Our town was barely on the map, the census back then around 1,500 residents, a place where everyone knew your business.  Buses ran to and from school, but it wasn’t uncommon to take to foot and walk.  The junior high was a stone throw from our neighborhood, the high school a bit further.  Oftentimes we stopped by the grocery store before or after school, drinking sodas and playing video games.  Astroids was all the rage, and Defender.  On the weekends we hunted for soda and beer cans, and exchanged these for nickels.  When we weren’t in school we threw rocks along the rivers, and when in a more daring mood we crossed the train trestles that lay several hundred feet above the gorge, listening for the distant horns from encroaching locomotives.

We both came from broken homes, but never spoke of this unseemly bond.  We needed escape, and found it in each other, running the streets in innocent games of tag or kick the can, down at the school at the outdoor basketball hoops.  Fashion was unheard of, but we tried like hell to be cool.  Upon entering high school, we succumbed to peer pressure and smoked weed and drank beer.  No one told us that we couldn’t.  My grades slipped, and his fared even worse.  But what did it matter?  The future was a luxury that we couldn’t afford.  However, there were times when Tony talked about becoming a garbageman in San Francisco, the city from where he moved.  A friend of the family was making fifteen bucks an hour, and after thirty years planned on retiring with a life-long pension and money in the bank.  Sadly, Tony’s dreams were better than my own.

My sophomore year was dark with drugs and alcohol.  I look back now and hate the kid that I was.  He was everything wrong with society, a rebellious loser, having spent a few too many nights in the county jail for offenses that no parents ought to be proud of, and mine weren’t either.  Mostly, my parents were indifferent, because dad had problems of his own.  No, he wasn’t an alcoholic or abusive.  Dad was slowly dying, and toward the latter years it became rather ugly.  Pain medication wasn’t helping, and my mother had had enough, was slowly losing her mind.  The family was unravelling, and so what did it matter that I turned to alternate means of managing the pain that was my own?

In the summertime we worked for the local farmers, moving irrigation pipes or hoeing mint in the myriad fields.  We spent our money on clothes, shoes and drugs.  To pay off our debt to society, a judge ordered us to community service, wherein we spent a good portion of the summer washing county cops cars or cleaning the horse stalls down at the fair grounds.

Halfway through our junior year he and his mother moved back to San Francisco.  We kept in touch with phone calls and remained rather close.  That summer, we convinced our mothers that it would be in our best interests if he moved in with my family to finish out high school.  What happened then was inexcusable.  Our behavior was not something that I am proud of, and never would I allow my children the mere thoughts of such criminal antics.  We took to drinking and driving, stealing cars and money.  We fought with whomever wherever, and avoided the law by flight of foot or by car.  My grades plummeted, and so did his.  My senior year was the glitch in the DVD, a fragmented schism, but I know that it existed.  I have the yearbook to prove it, and there I am in the photos.  And there’s Tony, and oftentimes we’re standing together.

Judy drove up for graduation, and discovered at the ceremony that her son, Tony, wouldn’t be graduating.  He had missed too many classes, and his grades were abysmal.  How I managed to squeak by remains a mystery, for I had Fs of my own.  Tony went home with his mother, back to San Francisco, and I never heard from him again.

Dad was near death, and I had to get away.  From everything.  From the town and from my family, from all the influences and the drugs, and start life anew.  I took the remedial classes at Oregon Tech, and eventually earned credit hours that could be applied toward graduation.  My head cleared, and then my body.  How I went from one extreme to another I’ll never know.  A guardian angel?  Some internal drive that didn’t awaken until I turned 18?  Oftentimes I wonder on my younger years had I not met up with Tony.  Was he the catalyst for my near destruction?  Was I his?  Or were we simply bad together?

When I graduated from Southern Oregon I joined the Marine Corps.  My head was clear and my heart was strong.  The trials of Officer Candidate School were nothing compared to those that I had grown up with.  From Quantico, Virginia, they sent me to flight school in Florida – the beginning of a career in aviation.  I’ve travelled the world, and I believe that as a United States Marine I’ve done some good.  Perhaps enough to balance me out; perhaps enough to make me whole.

Late last year, in 2013, an old high school friend sent an email.  “Look up Tony Yee,” he said, and so I fired up Google and went to work.  His full name is Anthony David Yee, and I found several articles in different northern California newspapers.  From high school, Tony joined the Marine Corps, but from what could be gleaned he ran into trouble and was soon forced out.  From there he spent time in and out of prison, until years later he found himself homeless and alone.  According to an article, Judy wanted nothing further to do with him.  She was living alone.  One day she left home for work.  Later that night, upon returning, she found her son waiting …

… a man of forty five …

… my best friend growing up.

Several days went by, and Judy failed to show for work.  Her coworkers phoned the police, and informed them that Judy was afraid of her son, who had showed up out of the blue days ago seeking shelter.  The cops went to her house, where Tony answered the door.  Inside, the cops found signs of a struggle.  They arrested Tony, and eventually found Judy.

In court, Tony confessed to murdering his mother.  At first he attempted to strangle her with a rope.  When she successfully fought him off, he grabbed a ball-peen hammer … and went to work.  That night, he drove around looking for a place to hide the body.  Out of ideas, he returned to his mother’s home and stuffed her body down a neighbor’s septic tank.  A judge sentenced him to life without parole inside of a high-security California prison.

Several thoughts have come to pass.  Is he inherently evil?  Certainly there’s an argument to be made.  Had he gone crazy and desperate?  Since we were best friends, and considering our debauchery together, am I too inherently evil?  Which, I don’t believe to be true.  Perhaps we become what we nourish, society quick to forgive the criminal antics of a juvenile, but not so much with a man and his murder.  Interesting in that we both joined the Corps, and where he failed I in turn flourished.  What I know of my time in the Corps: we are a rag-tag group of war fighters, comprised of both good and bad men intent to keep evil at bay.  Which again, existentially speaking, puts into question my nature.  In killing other men, I would sleep easy.  In killing his mother, does he?  I wonder if he still dreams?  Or are his nights full of monsters?  Was I there at the turning point of his life, like the night when we stole a truck to drive to Portland and, of all things, watch an Ozzy Osbourne concert?  Was it the night he dropped acid?  The list goes on, and does it even matter?  He nourished the evil inside, his nature be damned.  Although I too feel the evil, always near, I drop to my knees and pray to a God that I hardly believe in.  An illusion perhaps that allows our species civility and life, that governs demonic desires.  Perhaps mankind is inherently evil or good, some percentage of both?  Who really knows?  Pondering the meaning of life is an exercise in futility.  We live, we laugh, some murder, and in the end we all die.

I remember his laugh, and wonder whether it held joy or cruelty.  If he ever knew love?  If we were ever really friends, or associates in crime?

Has he since examined his life?  Have I, and have you?

One night I’ll never forget: we were juniors in high school, and I was spending the night at his house, which wasn’t often.  Judy and her husband went off to bed.  Before long they were having sex.  It was obvious.  Tony and I were sitting in front of the television set, high on weed.  The living room was dark, just the glow of the television set.  He grabbed the remote control, and turned down the volume, which had the effect of amplifying the sounds from the master bedroom.  He looked at me, and didn’t break eye contact.  Just looked at me with the dead and hateful eyes of a Rottweiler, and didn’t say a word.  Looked at me until I got up and walked away, into the bedroom, closing the door.  Was he embarrassed?  Did he hate his mother for loving another man?  Who knows, but after all these years I know the look in his eyes while he waited for his mother to come home from work.  How he sat in the darkness with the television on and the volume turned down.  Sat for her, and waited.

Happy Thanksgiving

My first post just happens to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday 2013.

Here is my take on the matter:

I just love this time of year, ‘tis the season for giving.
Everywhere we look there are people giving thanks. Giving middle fingers, and more intimately giving the clap. We give each other heartburn and are happy to do so. Want a heart attack? My pleasure.
When did this new fad begin where we give thanks every single day in the month of November? Wish I had that much to be thankful about. I want to give thanks, but seriously, should I be thankful for these bunions? What about the hemorrhoids blister that I’ve named Becky? (Oh yes I did, Becky.) And should I give thanks to my massively receding hairline?
Not to be a bummer, but what about the weather – global warming and melting ice caps and hurricanes and tsunamis? So thank you weather chasers, as I sit in my lounge chair laughing my ass off while you try and outrun the tornados.
Thank you bananas. Seriously, I just ate one and it was delicious.
Thank you head lice, for hours of entertainment popping the shit out of you.
Not that I’ve had head lice, and I’ve never had the clap, either. (Becky!)
Thank you middle age and Vegas body shots and my stupid pierced earlobe.
Thank you Men’s magazine for showing me the body that I’ll never have, and then showing me a better body the month after you promised me six-pack abs. You know what? Fuck you, Men’s magazine. I hate you!
Thank you deep breaths.
Thank you Robin Leach, you prick, for showing me the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Thanks you hot tub of water and my little rubber ducky, candles and wine and masturbation. Hell, I could give an entire week of thanks to masturbation alone (Becky!).
Thank you Dexter for killing all the people that I don’t have the skill or courage to kill. But I’m right there with you, strapping those assholes to tables and plunging my knife deep inside their black heartless hearts. Psst. Dexter. You do it a little too quickly. Honestly, why should killing be as quick as masturbation? How’s about a little foreplay, and we can start with the middle finger of the guy who flipped me off the other day in traffic? The lady with the wicked tongue in the checkout line we cut out her tongue. You get the picture. The pervert, his prick. You get the picture.
Thank you Toby. He’s my little dog. He’s cuddly and lovable, and I’m quite certain that should I ever die in bed he’d eat my face off.
Thank you technology. I fucking hate you technology, but maybe if I say thanks you’ll be a little kinder.
Thank you DC politicians for our roads and the military and for allowing me to spice up my boring life while my jerkoff friends and I talk on the phone about overthrowing McDonalds. “Who is this Big Mac that they wish to hold hostage?”
Thank you Ipad for allowing me to read the news without paying for a subscription, although Toby liked the newspapers better. Bad Toby!
Thank you tradition, for turkey and stuffing and cranberries and pumpkin pie.
Thank you bulimia.
Thank you curser for blinking the way you do. But really, who’s the sadistic techie that made you blink like that, over and over with the blinking, like some pendulum, or some guy tapping his foot waiting for an answer. Die, curser, die!
Wait. Don’t die. I feel I’d be lost without you.
Thank you leaf blower. We’ve had some real good times, giving it to the leaves the way we did. Becky used to blow me like that.
Thank you Black Friday, for all of the wonderful videos you post on the Internet. For making me feel sorry for that fat asshole who rushed to the front of the line only to be trampled by fatter assholes behind him. For the cameraman who faces the hurricane of thrifty, dopy shoppers. For the incoherent interviews, about how people had no idea that it was going to be this bad. “Last year was bad, but this shit here real bad!”
Thank you bad, for being badder every year.
Really, I just love this time of year.
What’s not to love?