Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 for all original literary content by author(s)

22 December 2012

lost keys and dirty looks

My once-upon-a-time wife who threw her car-keys in the trash or placed them in the mailbox about as often as she set them on a shelf in the refrigerator. Years of this produced...

"I have lost my keys again, can you help me look?"

"Sure. I'll check on the roof, and you check the fireplace."

She called me a name.

30 November 2012


My best buddy in college always dated beautiful women.  One afternoon hanging at Gerry's apartment before heading off to one of our adventures, I was charmed to meet another gorgeous woman who I took to be his latest conquest, Nadine.

Nadine had just dropped by and treated me as if an old and cherished friend.  I was looking for subtle cues that I should leave the two of them alone, but none was coming.  Instead, she left an hour or so later, and I asked Gerry, "Why have you not told me about Nadine?"

"Pretty, isn't she?"

"And fun."

"Yes, but not my type."

"Exactly your type.  You mean you are not dating her?"

"No.  She has the looks, but...well, you know how if you shine a light at a deer, it will just freeeze and stand still staring into the light-- utterly baffled?"

"Yes, but Nadine didn't come off that way."

"She is not that way and that's the problem.  I want the girl who will be baffled by a  flashlight."

He was serious.

I was dating a wonderful girl so did not pursue Nadine, but saw her off and on at parties and dinners over the next few months.  Then she stopped being around.  Gerry explained that Nadine had a bad cancer and was pretty sick from the Chemo and Radiation.  He told me all her hair was gone.

That, too, was tragic as Nadine had beautiful and plentiful hair reaching thickly almost to her hips.  I said, "It will take her years to grow it back out as she had it."  I was fishing, but the fish which bit was not anything I wanted to keep.

Gerry answered, "I don't think she has years, my friend."

"Oh, no."


"Is there anything we can do?"

"No, she is taking it amazingly well.  She is fighting like Hell."  He smiled, then laughed, drew on his cigarette and said, "Last week, she psyched herself up to go out, and I went with her.  She had shaved her head so that it was shiny, and then -- you know she is artistic? -- she did this thing with glue and glitter all over her head, so that it was like sparkly gold, and purple.  Here was this bald girl and she was the hottest woman around.  She was loving the attention and danced most of the night."

We both sat, smiling, enjoying the bittersweetness of the story in silence.

Nadine died soon after that.  I never saw her without her hair, but wished I had seen her with the glitter.

She was my age at the time, twenty-three, and in college.  Her degree was progressing as she could pay for it.  Nadine worked as a cashier at a Dallas/Fort Worth area supermarket, Kroger, that degree was going to take some time.  Cashiers had little or no health insurance.

After her death, Gerry told me that she had racked-up enormous debt for her medical bills.  All through her treatment, her employer had told her not to worry.  Her paychecks kept coming, her apartment and utilities were paid, and, when she died, Kroger paid the medical bills so that her family would not have to.

There are real humans among us.  Look for them.

28 November 2012

The Memory-Box (Beauty in Discomfort)

I was in college and my girlfriend had made plans for us to go to a dinner party with one of her co-workers, Lavonne.  I had heard how mean Lavonne was for months.

Cathy said, "You know who I am talking about, right?

I said, "Yes, no one likes her, including you.  Why are we being invited, much less going?"

"It seemed really important to her, and that I bring you.  I don't think she has any friends-- I mean, if she asked me.  I was kind of on the spot, so I accepted.  I'll make it up to you."

"How does she even know about me?"

"She has heard me talking in the office about you.  This is so weird.  I never speak to her at all-- about anything-- and she just comes up and says she is having a diner party and wants me to come and to bring you."

So we went.  We were the only guests.

Lavonne served a horribly burned sauce over spaghetti, stale bread, and iced tea to us in her small apartment.  Cathy and I shared a smile after the first tastes of the meal and politely ate everything on our plates.  It was excruciating.

We were not expecting to be the only guests, and had planned to be among the first to leave, but we felt trapped.  Cathy cleverly and seamlessly brought the conversation around to the movie we were going to see that night and Lavonne stated, flatly, "You cannot leave yet."

She rose from the table, stepped to the bar which opened to the kitchen and retrieved a large hat-box, returning to the tabel with it and sat.

She opened the box and it was full of hundreds of photos of people we did not know (nor ever would).

Image from Pack Peddler's Place
For another two hours, Lavonne pulled out one picture after another, telling us all she could think about those in the picture and adding side-stories which did not form a coherent thread for us to follow.  But she narrated each old photograph (and some new), in such a way that she seemed to be getting to a point.  I was trying to follow.

"Now wait," I said, "Malcome is your Uncle, right?"

To my astonishment she answered, "No.  A cousin, but it doesn't matter if you can keep up-- I'm just going to go through these and say what I remember."

It was confusing.  She knew it was awkward, she knew she was being rude, and she did not care about that.  We were captives unless we were willing to be as rude, and we were not willing.  I was praying for the bottle of wine we had brought to be opened, but Lavonne had already told us she was Baptist and did not drink nor did she allow others to drink in her home.  For this, someone invented hip flasks, but I never have owned one.

Lavonne got to the last picture, and she was visibly tired.  She closed the box, and stood to start taking our plates to the kitchen.  She refused our help, but instead, ushered us to the door  and thanked us for coming.  Whatever Lavonne had intended, she had accomplished.

In the car, Cathy and I laughed about the awkward experience as we rehearsed the evening.  We had missed our movie and the start of the showing after that one.  It was so strange, and we could not fathom what part Lavonne thought we had played in her evening-- we certainly had no idea why we had been invited, or what possible enjoyment Lavonne might have derived from it.  We could have been complete strangers-- and practically were. 

Two weeks later...

Cathy called.

"Remember Lavonne?"

"Of course, but I am not sitting through another one of those dinners."  I was joking, but was filled with dread that was exactly what Cathy was going to tell me.

"No.  It is not like that.  Now it makes sense what she did.  Lavonne died."

"Died?!  How?"

"Cancer.  She has known for months.  She knew she only had a few weeks when we were there.  She went to the hospital the next morning."

"And so she wanted to go through her box of memories, but did not want to be alone?"

"Yes.  I feel... well, honored."

"Me too.  I also feel like a jerk."

"I did, at first.  But, she was not likeable.  She was rude, knew it, and did not care.  We are just the only people that did not turn her down.  She asked a lot of people before cornering me.  She really was desperate for company that night.   If she thought we were important to her, she would have told us what was going on.  We were not important."

"No.  But we were there; and for that, I am thankful to have served that purpose."

16 November 2012


Inside, the signs were everywhere stating not to touch the walls.

I stood at the East end inside of the structure, and while others read the bronze plaques arranged along that wall, I centered myself, crouched down, dropping to one knee and touched the floor-- pretending to be reading a plaque set at ankle height.

I then stood, facing that wall, and looked up.

I wondered who else had stood exactly there and dropped to one knee, and then raised his eyes skyward. I wished... well, I wish for a lot of things that do not seem possible.

Amazing things took place inside that building, and all the bronze plaques tell of some. I love the story-- it is part of my culture. Yet, the most amazing things that ever happened there, took place right where I dropped to touch the floor-- just a few feet from the East wall. The other story, the one without the plaques, is one of Blood poured out for many.  I remember the one, but participate in the other.

If a building could scream, she screamed in 1793.   I understand.


There is back story, also a mystery:  That holy place was my first stop on a special spiritual pilgrimage I began this morning.  I was searching for something-- an answer.

I was not yet five years old and we lived in Fort Worth.  The memory is vivid.

I woke from a sound sleep in the back of the car.  I had no recollection of being put in the car.  They must have carried me from my bed in the wee hours of the morning and headed out.

It was in whatever car the family drove before the blue Galaxy 500, and before Dad bought the 1964-and-a-half Ford Mustang.  My mother and father were there, but my big brother was not.   They hurriedly unloaded the car, and me, into a motel room in downtown San Antonio.  'Might has well had been a piece of baggage.  Something was wrong and the adults were not telling.  My mother crawled in bed, as my dad ran a quick errand.

He returned with some food and drink, crackers for me, if I recall, and a small plastic bag of silver and gold plastic medieval knights.  Period army men.  The motel room carpet was blue and green checkers of about one inch squares.  Mom slept, and I played with the army men without much interest.  I did not know why we were there, why Dad was leaving, why Mom was not talking and then sleeping.  She took a long bath at some point.

I remember being terribly afraid that my Father was leaving and he seemed afraid for me.  His fear did not add to my own, but instead, I loved the empathy.  As long as he knew, I need not struggle about it.

I remember being alone as mother slept in the bed and having those two dozen or so silver and gold plastic men, not knowing anything about medieval knights, and not knowing what to do with them.  I paired them by their kind.  Gold and silver knights with a sword slashing in this pile, Gold and silver knights with bows in that pile.  I worried that I would be bored-- and being bored is the most intolerable situation for me.  I could not read yet, there was no TV, and my brother was, inexplicably, absent.  I had twenty four or so plastic men, and the options seemed quite limited.  I was worried.

Eventually, mother was up, dressed, and ready to go.  We left the motel room-- it had to have been a motel because the door opened to the outside, but not to a parking lot.  Mom was stressed.  I just knew-- but I did not know why she was stressed.

We crossed a street.  And the sun was very, very bright.  It beat down on us with tremendous heat.  There were large display windows along that block where we had crossed, in one or two of them, beautiful scale replicas of circus wagons.  I thought they were trains.  I thought they were trains for two reasons.  First, I had never seen or heard of a circus wagon.  Second, small model displays in downtown window displays, for me, had always been of one of the two major categories:  Train set displays, and everything else.  That second category was the mundane kind and included mannequins wearing clothing, scarfs, purses, suits, shoes, watches and so on.  Only the first category had any value.

My nose to the glass as I marveled at the details of the models had mother's interest.  She pointed out that, rather than trains they were circus wagons, and told me that I did know about circus wagons, because that was what the box of Animal Crackers were supposed to look like.  I never realized that, and remember studying a box when we returned to Fort Worth.  She was right.

She stepped inside a recessed entry door and we went inside a dark little room with a glass case to the right and a hall way off to the left rear of that little room.  I had been to toy stores, and glass counters is where they had model trains.  This one did not have model trains in it.  The bald man sitting behind the counter was friendly toward my Mom but not to me.  I imagine she got a lot of that -- but that is an adult thinking, not a four year old.

I was expecting a toy store, but instead was at a counter where the man was explaining admission and times.  Mother was saying something about "Maybe next time."  I was not interested in a tour of anything.  I liked the zoo but did not like the circus.  I liked animals, but I did not like animals doing tricks-- and I HATED clowns.  I fully understand, at some deep intuitive level, the toy blow-up clown that's only purpose was to be punched.   Anyway, a toy store would have been alright, but I wanted my Dad.

We went to a building which had crash-bar doors and went through one.  Mom and I were in the back of the largest room I had ever seen except for in a Church.  It was filled with men in suits all facing a stage with a podium.  My Dad was speaking there.  Mom found us two seats at the back and we sat down there.  I have no idea what my Dad had said, but the men were laughing, and clapping.  My father was enjoying himself, and all those business men were enjoying him.  He finished and I filed-away that there was a whole side of my Dad I did not know about-- he was known by a lot of people and spoke in front of hundreds of complete strangers (to me) and they liked it when he did.  It was one of those "the world just got a lot bigger" moments for a child.

Dad came straight from the podium and joined Mom and me, and Mom was happy, Dad was happy, and I was relieved.  We left immediately. 

The memory, as I just recounted it, kept coming back in such vivid detail that I believe my mind wanted me to examine it more carefully-- my own self showing me something and demanding that I apply my adult mind and experiences to that childhood memory-- because there was something important that my child-self missed.

Using Google searches and Google Earth, I discovered that we had been at the Hertzberg Circus Museum, and that my father had almost certainly been speaking at the Villita Assembly Building.  Fine.  Details now supplied, now what?

I have mulled it all over, and come up with little of use.

This morning, I drove to San Antonio, stopped by the Alamo, and then walked to where the Hertzberg Circus Museum had been-- hoping for something which would make sense-- a jogged memory, a new piece of the puzzle to work with, sudden inspiration simply by being in the place?  Nothing.  I walked for over two hours.    Nothing.  But I did my spiritual duty: I pursued meaning and understanding.

Maybe it will still come.

14 November 2012

Secret Austin, Texas, Directions

The sun was square this morning.

Driving up MoPac* at dawn, the big red ball of the Sun rose in a narrow slit between two layers of clouds. As I glanced again, the same horizontal slit appeared between two downtown skyscrapers, causing a vertical slit of the same dimension. Thus, I witnessed the Sun rise as a square.

* "MoPac" is Austinite code for "Loop 1" (which is not a loop) so our directions make no sense to visitors. We have many other secret directions:

* "The Drag" means Guadalupe, between MLK and 29th.  All other stretches of Guadalupe are called Guadalupe (a barely audible, hard g, and no "aye" on the end-- (G)uad-a-loop).
* We have have a 1st Street-- and it intersects 2nd, 3rd, 4th... through 18th street.  The real 1st Street takes us townees place we go-- they are not for you.  What you think is 1st Street is César Chávez.  Which ever way you pronounce it, we will pronounce it the other way.

* We may call 26th Street "26th" whether it is marked as "Dean Keaton" or "Manor" (which is not pronounced in any way you could guess).
* We all know that "North Loop" is 53rd-- and that it is not a loop (and North Loop crosses Burnet, which is not pronounced in any way you could guess).
* When we say "take the 38th and a Half street exit," we refer to what is marked as 35th Street.
* There is an apparent rip in the space-time continuum along 35th and 38th streets.  In that region, 35 and 38th (which we call 38th 1/2 Street for reasons of our own) are one in the same, while 36th, 37th and their halves simply do not seem to exist.   A few have tried to follow 35th Street only to find they are really on 34th.  Likewise, in places you can turn on 38th 1/2 Street only to find you are on 38th (and no 100ths) Street. 
* We may tell you to take 38th and a Half and then turn on Burnet, but only we know it is marked "Medical."
* "Koenig" (Kay'-neg, sometimes Coy'-nig) when we refer to parts of 290, Allandale, Northland and FM 2222.
* We say "Capital of Texas Highway" for "Loop 360" (which is, as you may now have guessed, not a loop) -- unless speaking among ourselves, when we call it "360."
* They had to close Mueller Airport, because everyone mispronounced it (its Miller), and move it to ABIA (which we all call "Bergstrom"-- because we are mean).
* To go from 4th Street to 38th Street on Pleasant Valley, go north on Pleasant Valley, turn straight on Chestnut, then, at your first opportunity, turn straight on Cherrywood. We will call it which ever one we feel like calling it in the moment.
* So, you are taking 290 from IH-35 to Oak Hill? We can give you direction on how to do that, with several exits, and we will not once mention 290, but we will mention "Ben White" -- good luck with that.
* We say "Ben White" or "Ed Bluestien" but only because there are no signs using those words.
* On some (and I'm not telling which) entrances to MoPac, you have to turn right to go left, and turn left to go right.  There are signs, but those signs are only visible when you have committed to the (wrong) lane.  No one will let you over, because no one let us over-- it is how we learned so it will be how you learn.
* Headed to the Formula 1 Race?  You are going to take Highway 71, of course.  But we do not call Highway 71 that.  What we call it depends on where we are... and our mood.
* If you hear on the radio that the "Upper Deck is shut-down," you will have, at most, 4.2 seconds to choose the correct lane before you are committed-- and you will choose the wrong one because we do not give visitors so much as a hint as to how to know which lanes go "upper" and which go "lower."
* When someone needs to take a specific numbered street exit from IH-35, we do not tell them which lane to be in, we say to "use the upper (or lower) deck" -- depending upon which street.  We know what it means, but you won't.

* Because it makes perfect sense to visitors, we sometimes refer to the non-existent "19th Street."  There never has been a 19th Street and there never will be.  No signs make mention of it-- but we do.
* There are no east-west freeways in Austin, so to go east or west you will use one of the five (5!) north-south freeways.  Because everyone is either going north, east, south or west, the north-south freeways are always packed; and so it is that we always complain that we need more north-south freeways.  Got it?
* There are exactly two (2) major thoroughfares in Austin upon which the lights are timed to facilitate the flow of traffic.  On all other roads, the traffic lights are timed to impede the flow of traffic.  Only about three dozen townees know the two good streets, and we are sworn to secrecy.
* Remember, if you are on anything in Austin with the word "Loop" in it, and miss your exist, you will NOT return to it-- instead, you will end up in either Mexico or Oklahoma.

* All directions given to tourists may be intended to direct you to Oklahoma or Mexico.
* Yeah, sure, 6th Street is THE hot spot-- and ALL the great local bands play there.  Do not even think of going anywhere else as 80,000 drunk college kids can't be wrong.  The townees only avoid it because we want to make sure the tourists can enjoy an authentic Austin experience during their brief time with us.

This roller coaster ride we've been on's nearly at an end,
I bought my ticket with me tears and that's all I'm gonna spend...

The morning Sun was shining like a red rubber cube.

10 November 2012

I have pretty much ruled-out that cat explanation. This leaves....

I live an odd and occasionally mystical life.  I do not attempt to apply mystical meaning to the prosaic, but neither do I attempt to force a mundane explanation onto the unusual.

I lived among them for just less than two years.

I lived among them for just less than two years.

When I was home, and many of them away, their kids played with my kids and they called me the "block Dad." When I was away and they saw my wife was not coping, there was no gossip and no blame, only action; and so they came and gathered her and my kids and kept them safe until I returned. Sunset meant the men sat in each other's driveways sipping an after-dinner beer and telling stories with the dogs and kids playing on the lawns. If someone's car broke down, tools and handbooks appeared from all over until it ran again.

Help was always subtle. The movie "Saving Private Ryan" was in theaters back then. Red's wife stops me on the sidewalk to say, "Red is determined to see that movie, but he is not sure how he is going to take it. I only mention it so you can keep an eye on him. He might be struggling for a few days." She told no one else. Red did fine, reliving some of his stories with me the next few days, and stopping short and leaving the rest untold when his eyes teared up, but he was himself.

That was the only real community I have ever known. We took care of each other and valued each other. We had to, because it was our community and moreover it was right. I often think how that ought to be describing the Church. I never wore their uniform, but they treated me and my family as if I was one of them, and I am thankful.

Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps.

WCG+ 11-Nov-2012

07 November 2012

Aggie Tradition

From today's presentation at College Station honoring my grandfather (who died when I was an infant).

I am not an Aggie, but when Aggies talk about "tradition" -- that the university remembers and honors their own so long after-- it means something... something important.

Plaque presented to my family and me in honor of my grandfather, the first Texas A&M PhD recipient.

The reference to heroism was an act he made saving a boy's life that was recognized by the Carnegie Medal of Heroism. This award provided money to be used for his education. My grandfather wisely selected Texas A&M and continued his education.
WCG+ 7-Nov-2012

God versus Country

This nation is not, nor has it ever been, the Promised Land. I reject "manifest destiny" concept of the US. My faith neither legislates to others, nor does it allow itself to be legislated by others-- it is utterly divorced from the world and its ways.

I think one of the best things that can happen for the faithful-- is to hear a resounding NO! from the world and the worldly. The true faithful are set apart from that world. We live in it as strangers, and so we let the world have its ways-- and God will have His ways, for us-- and for those who seek Him. Whether we like it or not: Ours is the better portion-- the spiritual, mostly unseen, in this life.

If we truly live as enemies to the world, then we are the hunted and not the hunters. We are behind enemy lines and with few resources, tend to our neighbor, but not to his government. I hope most American faithful begin to see this truth-- because then our faith becomes something truly powerful in its intimacy with the Most High God, and no longer mixed with positioning based upon worldly matters, but on how one seeks, and is found by, God.

– WCG+ 7-Nov-12

01 November 2012

What will NOT be discussed in any political campaign

Yeah. That. (and I was the at-home-Dad). Anyone outraged besides me?
"...The results showed that in 60% of the cases, the father had filed for enforcement of his access rights within six months of the initial court orders. However, despite repeated filings, within five years, 90% of those fathers all had lost all contact with their children..."

History - In 1988, in opposition of an amendment to the Revised Child Support Enforcement Act, member of in Congress got a funding bill passed to have the US Dept. of Health & Human Services conduct a 50-state study to show that fathers wanted no relationship with their children following a divorce. They were opposing an amendment that would establish a $10 million grant to the states to set up "Expedited Procedures To Enforce Court Ordered Access Rights".

Read more

WCG+ 1-Nov-2012

27 October 2012


Bringing a town together -- with a fork in the road.

A six-foot-tall fork appeared in Carlsbad, California, at the intersection of Levante Street and Anillo Way on Tuesday. The unnamed artist is a 62-year-old retired teacher who said he was impressed by the joke in The Muppet Movie in which Kermit and Fozzie encounter a giant silverware fork when they are looking for a fork in the road.

Carlsbad residents got a kick out of the sculpture, but a city crew removed it on Wednesday. You might say they got the fork out of there. Another resident erected a sign in its places that say "Why the fork not?" which the city also removed. Then residents then began taping real, normal-sized forks to a nearby sign. A spokesperson for the city said the sculpture is a code violation. (via Fark)
A fork on a "U-turn" sign might have a completely different meaning.

I found on: Miss Cellania

WCG+ 27-Oct-2012

20 October 2012

Carry On! Parental Alienation

For my P.A. friends scarping the bottom of life today...

Time to get away from the problems with no solutions and find (or make) some adventure, some reason, some fun, some friends, good food, and maybe just a wee bit of adult beverage. It is what Saturdays are for and is its own sort of justice.

WCG+ 20-Oct-2012

A Cuban Missile Crisis era Party which turned terrifying:

My mother and Father at party in October of 1962, Richardson, Texas.

Almost immediately after this image was taken, one of the most spectacular meteor showers occurred -- appearing very much like ICBMs under the circumstances. The party soon broke up.

WCG+ 20-Oct-2012

13 October 2012

Common Purpose

It is Texas-OU weekend and ACL Festival time and the crowds are gathering with common purpose

WCG+ 13-Oct-2012

12 October 2012

Texas Launch Facility

SpaceX launch facility in Texas? Not yet, but...

The dazzlingly successful start up aerospace company, SpaceX, has been more than just eying the southern tip of Texas for a new launch facility-- they have been buying land there.

What little is being reported on this venture often misses some important points.

First, launching to orbit requires tremendous energy, and the rotation of the Earth, spinning on its own axis, is a tremendous free source of energy. The closer to the equator, the easier it is to place an object in orbit if you launch toward the East-- in the direction of the Earth's spin.

That limits the locations of possible launch facilities within the continental US to South Florida and South Texas.

Because of the possibility of the need to self-destruct a launch if a rocket motor fails, it is also important to have an unpopulated region east of the launch site-- preferably ocean. This is why NASA placed the original orbital launches at the Cape. South Texas has the same or better advantages with the Gulf Coast and a slightly more southerly location (by about three degrees).

Second, the environmental impact mentioned as the chief, perhaps ONLY, stumbling block deals with local wildlife. That the beach area within yards of the proposed launch complex is a nesting ground for the endangered Sea Turtles is a fact. Whether that would impact egg-laying or egg-hatching is hard to determine.  My guess is that turtles do not care anymore than they do about a thunderstorm.

What is not mentioned is where these endangered turtles nest. They nest on every sandy beach on the planet. Any sandy beach is used. A mile or so of Texas beach is not going to make dent in the reproductive abilities of the turtles.  I love those turtles.  No, I do not eat them, although I do hear they taste a lot like California Condors; but when I body surf or snorkel along the coast, I often delight in finding one swimming along beside me with interest. *

Other animals of concern include only rare strays from South or East along that small section of the coast, as it is native habitat to none of those creatures.  The Piping Plover is an excellent example.  Anyone who has used Google Earth to study the Texas Gulf Coast in recent months will be aware that one cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a Piping Plover nest when the migrate to the Gulf Coast (all of it!) for breeding.


* For other body surfers and snorkelers, here is a hint:  Sea Turtles find humans fascinating.  If you keep your arms at your sides when submerged, they will approach and swim along with you.  Flailing arms scare them off, no matter how slowly you may move them.

WCG+ 12-Oct-2012

07 October 2012

The Cranberry and the Squirrel

In the "Fun with Facebook friends" category (and for whom this post is placed)...

I woke on the first chilly morning of the Texas Autumn, made coffee, and sat down to see what I had missed since falling asleep early on Saturday night, by taking a look at what my friends had posted on Facebook while I had slept.

I was amused by an "myecard" share from a friend with whom I went to Elementary School:

As I shared this with an author friend of mine, Sue, I was intrigued by the thought that my elementary school friend, Sarah, might also be a writer.  I scrolled down through the various posts and came upon yet another post from her:

Awesome, is it not?  She had shared this from another Facebook page and in a follow-up comment, when asked by a friend, "What is it?" Sarah responded, "It looks like any number of unfinished stories waiting to be discovered."

The plot thickens! I thought, and so I commented.

Me: "Okay, Sarah, what is the deal with the story-writing theme?
"I mean, I am sitting here with my word processor up, and trying to decide which, if any, of my gazillion unfinished sto
ries I may work on today, and this is the second such post from you I have seen. (Sidetracked by making a list of real-life people who have annoyed me, and so will be killed off in a story!)"

Sarah: "LOL @ Crews. I love this image. Any image that is so perfect in exposure, focus and lighting, AND is of such interesting, flawless artful composition as to make you wonder about it, is award winning photography. I get images from stories, and from really good images, I get stories.
"This one is about 125th of a second in time, maybe twice that, but it is somehow not that stagnant. It defies it's medium and moves forward suggesting a rather interesting series of events yet to unfold. And a complex back story.
"Go ahead, I challenge you to write it!"

I did.

The Cranberry and the Squirrel
The cranberry woke in the cold morning frost and, realizing its predicament, said, "Damn" and gave up its last. After fermenting there for about a week, the very squirrel which had gnawed its way, first into the attic, second into a box of my unfinished manuscripts, and finally into the papers themselves ventured out of the relative warmth of its winter nest and ate the sweet and strangely pungent cranberry. Minutes later, the effects of the fermentation took hold in a most unfortunate set of circumstance, as drunkenly the creature darted under the front right wheel of my car as I returned home from work. Clutched in its tiny paw was a mere scrap of paper from the box of manuscripts-turned-squirrel-nest. It read, "The Cranberry and the Squirrel."

Time for that second cup of coffee.

01 October 2012

A Good Morning.

Good morning!

It was 57 degrees this morning before dawn. Had a light, but long sleeve, shirt on for the first time since the short Texas Spring. As usual, I start work at 5:30, but have twenty minutes of nothing to do but wait at about six-- my favorite time of the day.

All is quiet, and I sit cross-legged under a street light and a tree at the rear of our parking lot, and look up at the stars-- sometimes with coffee, and sometime with a cigar-- this morning it was both.  It is one of my "special places" and I go there for a reason every morning.

Orion was high in the East, Jupiter higher above his head, and the nearly full Moon to the West and, as always, I begin the Daily Office of Morning Prayer-- with only birds and perhaps a few angels near enough to hear. An order of Sisters live in a Chapter House on the other side of the fence and I often wonder if they are praying the same... the unknown Spiritual Community... and the unseen one...

And the birds, when I return to that parking lot at about seven fifteen-- now it was my turn to listen to their morning praise.  Several mockingbirds, quite a few grackles and two dove make up "the regulars" and they flutter about and we all listen to two Mockingbirds sing all our songs into one.

23 September 2012

Lesson Learned

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them,  “It is enough.”

I have been brooding. I am quiet and sometimes worry that I seem to others as if invisible.  So it is at present.  Here is what my brooding produced:

The Muslims burn, rape, and murder and the American people, in their anger, respond with disparagement of ALL religion, most often in an anti-Christian form. 


Because Christianity poses no physical threat to those who disparage it and its believers.

But the lesson is learned, over and over:  Non-Spiritual persons (that is, most Americans), respond only out of fear and attack only the weak.  Most Americans are restrained because they are cowards, but a few are restrained out of discipline.

God knows, even if no one else does, that was my ex-wife’s method in life, and I remained quiet, passive and, as a consequence, her violence and incessant disparagement never ended.  My honest view was that I could never allow my children to learn that anyone was expendable to me, so I stayed. My ex-wife knew I would never hit her back—and called me a “Looser” because I would not.

Christianity holds no tenet concerning pacifism.  We are not even supposed to be passive.  But I tried to endure and love my ex-wife into treating me and others with respect-- and that did not work, and I lost more than enough, I lost everything that mattered.  I lost my children. Lesson learned.

Likewise, I can persuade, by application of reason (apologetics) a fundamentalist to re-think their judgmental view of others, but I have never been able to persuade an atheist.  My failing, perhaps; but… Lesson-learned.  The Muslims know how to persuade cowards, don’t they?

For your, “Aren't you supposed to turn the other cheek?”  I answer, No, and if I was, I am out of cheeks to turn.  Besides, what right do you think you have to quote my scripture to me as if you know what it means?  The arrogance has gone too fare.

You do not have to believe what I believe and my friends know I never expect that of anyone.  My faith is deeply intimate and has been so since my earliest memories; and I know that such spiritual intimacy is rare, so I have no reason to expect others to share it.

You do not have to respect Christians-- but fear of paying a price for intentional violence and intentional disparagement against them might be a good thing.  It is a lesson which can be learned—if necessary.

Middle-age crisis, perhaps. I walked along the sidewalk and into a fast food restaurant.  Five rowdy and drunk foreign exchange students, German, from what I could gather, were boisterously ordering fifty-two tacos plus burgers which overwhelmed the staff.  I waited fifteen minutes before one of the staff so much as acknowledged my presence, much less took my order.  The man before me gave up and left.  He was small, and elderly.

I'm fifty-two and not all that small-- but felt being loud and young would have gotten me better service.

With my bag of tacos in hand I walked down the sidewalk and was confronted by five Middle Eastern college students walking abreast, all wearing the same blue soccer uniforms.  They looked aside as they neared me, obviously expecting me to step out of their way.  I smiled and said in my low and calm voice, "I swear I will walk right through you." I did not change length of step nor cadence.  Just as I spoke the last word, I got the attention of one, who tried, too late, to dodge me, as I sent him sprawling.

I did not bother to look back. But I smiled bigger, and felt wonderful as I walked on listening to my iPod playing a Clash song--  Old man music.  I am an old man to a twenty-something, and I am also well disciplined.  I know how to shame a bully.  America is full of them.

Walking home a few hours later, the streets were mostly quiet and my mood was quieter, too.  I wondered about having just seen freinds I adored, but who I knew could take me or leave me without much thought.  It is has always been that way for me.  I felt depressed, and thought through the past co-workers who saw me as competition rather than a brother in arms-- someone who would always have their backs.  Secretly recommending a peer for a job I actually had hoped to have, but never letting my friend know of my endorsement nor my personal desires which conflicted with it.   Then I thought of the balance, and how difficult it is to know when to stand up for self and when to just be there for others-- and how few care either way.

My mood was darkening and then, that voice of my beloved Other, filled me, saying, "Now, son, you understand.  You love but are not loved, you are invisible and so not real to those who do not see.  Would you rather be loving or merely loved?  Which is your nature?  You have already chosen, so why the regret?  You cannot be any other way." 

The night was dark, clear and warm.  Instead of drunk boisterous college students, I heard birds nestling in the trees as I passed below.  Lesson Learned.

26 July 2012

Disenfranchising our own

My friend just posted an excellent piece...

How Voter ID Laws Disenfranchise Individual American Citizens

The author uses excellent examples of those we tend to marginalize in our society which is cause  to rethink our own responsibility.  She comes at the subject from the perspective of an insider working with the struggling poor, the homeless, and those in most need of compassion.

While the recent voter laws spawned the article, voting laws are only one more tool used to remove the voice from those most needed to be heard by us.

06 July 2012

There Is Another Kind of Evil...

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
– Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace.*

It had been a difficult few days—struggling to tame my rage.  Invasive memories of past trauma, spiritual contemplation of a recent loss to death and another one imminent.  A poem writing itself as I try to type and keep up, an old wound reopened and a repeating demand to do something about that which I know is wrong but can find no action to resolve... yet again in my life.

The trigger

On the second of July, I was waiting on the city bus which would take me to a restaurant I intended for dinner. I had a Herman Wouk book with me for company at table and was in a joyous spirit.

As I approached the bus stop, glancing at the darkening sky, and silently speaking the Phos Hilaron, (“… our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing Thy praises O God…”) I saw three unformed officers facing a man seated on a low stone wall. The man was homeless, and possibly mildly intoxicated—I saw no signs of that other than his passivity. According the homeless persons with whom I have worked, the University of Texas police rough them up as a message not to go near the campus.

A few years ago, I saw it for myself and spoke up. I was thrown down and arrested for my trouble. About a dozen people watched the homeless man be assaulted, and the police somehow assumed that the homeless man must have deserved it. That same dozen stood by, silently, as the police then turned on me for speaking up for the homeless man.

Not surprisingly, I watched the three officers closely in how they treated this homeless man. Here is what took place:

An unshaven man, of about sixty five years of age, teal colored shirt and beside his backpack was sitting on the landscaping wall bordering the sidewalk, along northbound Guadalupe just before 24th Street, apparently waiting for a bus. Three University of Texas police officers stood facing him, spread out so as to make about a third of a circle about him. The one in the center was a blonde male. Flanking him were two females, one tall and thin, and the other medium height and dark.

The bus was long in coming, I thought, and spent my time sitting on the wall and standing, sometimes pacing. I was about twenty feet from the officers who had been talking with the man, when suddenly the blonde police officer began yelling angrily at the homeless man. It was a sort of “You will agree with me, or else!” sort of tirade.

I do not know what had caused the police officer to be so afraid that his anger had taken the better of him like that. The homeless man was small framed, and appeared to be half a foot shorter than the officer even if he were to stand. He presented no threat at all.

I pulled myself up to sit on the wall about twenty to twenty-five feet from them and facing the scene and close enough to hear what was said in normal tones. The angry officer told the man to stand up, and turn around. The homeless man did stand, and understandable whined a bit about it, “Ah, you don’t need to take me to jail.”

“Turn around and put your hands behind your back.”
He did as the officer ordered, turned his back, stood still and placed his hands behind his back with his wrists about three inches apart.
One of the women officers placed the cuffs on the man’s right wrist. The blonde man yelled, “Hands behind you back!”
“They are!” The man declared, rightly.
Instead of simply cuffing the other wrist, the tall, curly haired officer yelled, “Stop resisting!”

Right then, I knew what was happening. The man was compliant. His hands were behind his back, wrists together. He was not resisting, not even moving. If you could have hit a pause button, and asked me what was going to happen, I would have told you this:

The three officers are going to throw the man to the ground and rough him up, because they think that yelling “Stop resisting!” will make everyone assume that the man deserves it. Nobody will notice that he is not resisting and the officers count on that. They do this because they want to send a message and they do it to the homeless because their voice of protest means nothing to most people; and, most of all, they do it because they are bullies to whom our officials have armed and granted authority to use force.
Exactly what I knew would happen, did happen. After throwing him down, they yanked his arms around for show, knelt on his head, and cuffed him. One of the three, taking turns, was constantly kneeling on his back or his head for the next several minutes.
The dark haired female was mostly up and pacing. She glanced around several times to see who, if anyone, was paying attention. She made eye contact with me three times-- once, briefly, on her first circuit around the man and her partners. A second time, briefly on her second circuit; and then a third time, longer, because she realized I was making and holding eye contact with her.
I was nicely dressed, clean-shaven, recent hair cut and calm. My face and eyes were expressionless. I also sit cross-legged, and that lends itself to being interpreted as a peaceful “lotus position” by some. I did not feel peaceful. I felt resigned. I had been in this very battle before and hurt for days from what the UT police did to me for sticking up for the innocent.
I have an arrest record—no conviction, of course-- but I have been arrested twice for doing the right thing. I am not an activist, just a citizen--just like that man being roughed-up by those three officers. Knowing that one of them realized that I had seen what they had done and were doing, was concerning. She looked like she was going to ask me something. I think she was also checking to see if I had an iPhone out, for worry that I was recording the events.
She chose not to speak. I chose not to speak up. I’m used to hating myself, and sometimes more than other times. This was one awful moment in my life.
They got the man up and escorted him onto campus.  
My bus never came. Anyone of four routes should have come by in the thirty minutes I waited, but not one did. I walked two or three blocks to the next stop in the direction of the restaurant and looked back. Not a bus in sight. There was a reason for this. I was to see what I saw.

The restaurant would be too close to closing-time for me to feel right about going in to order a meal, and my sense of joy was long gone. I grabbed a hot dog from a 7/11 and ate it as I walked into my local pub.

Our forefathers would be shooting by now
-- unknown

Mystical Help

I wrote a poem yesterday… sort of. I am not a poet. I do not attempt verse, and have no knack for rhyme.

What I typed, I called, Apathy of the Dead.

Those four words stopped me in my tracks. They just came to mind. I was thinking about injustice. I was thinking about the Christian tenet, expressed in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the Communion of Saints” and my mind whirled into the depressive spiral of “I cannot solve this intolerable problem without help!”

And help is ten years late in coming for me, and five years too late. I know that, and so the death spiral of demanding an answer is rarer than it once was. The desperation is gone, because it is too late. The anger, however, haunts me now and then.

It could happen again! It could happen to others! It is happening to others!

But no one wants to hear that… except for those others.

And so, and getting to the point, I pondered praying to the Communion of Saints in whom I believe. Those are the persons who have died believing. Of the dead, the Communion of Saints are made up of the holiest, and the most powerful. If they have power, I wondered, why do I not see it used?

I have a mystical answer, but at that moment, I smiled, and nodded my head in silent understanding—but not agreement—of how so many have reached a point where they are forced to tolerate the intolerable-- so deciding, “They do not care.”

“The Apathy of the Dead.”

The words came, I knew them to refer to the apparent reality, but not the mystical Reality—and I meant them that way when I spoke them out loud, alone in my room. I nodded again, submitting to the awareness that I was done with what I had been busying myself with, because I knew I was supposed to write.

I typed as quickly as I could as the words came. I was afraid I would lose some and not remember; but the words came just as I was able to keep-up, and then paused. I looked and saw a pattern. I looked for rhyme and there was none. I looked for meter, but knew it could not be.

I filled in with what seemed to fit, neglecting the pattern, which had been visually apparent, knowing that it could not be sustained, and that I had not knowingly intended it in the first place.

I stopped. Emotions, memories, desires, and my whole life-story fought for attention and placement in the poem, but I would not—could not—set the experience of the words down, but only the words given me.

I then read what was before me for the first time.

A tired smile on my lips, I asked myself, “Perhaps, in whatever language these words originated, they might rhyme? Perhaps in that language, they are also in meter. I know I only put signs to what poem was given me, incomplete, but I think power is still underneath what I typed. Perhaps it is for me alone; but perhaps I consider all my stories too intimate—too much “for me” and “too much of me” to believe they are for anyone else.

But then, a flood of thoughts given me by others over the years, confirmed over and over again…

Dr. Reginald Fuller, New Testament Scholar and Anglican Priest told me this mystery first—before any other shared this truth with me. He said it as if wondering why he had to explain it to anyone.

“The Exodus story of the Hebrew people, led by God, escaping from bondage out of Egypt, and spending forty years in the desert before entering into the Promised Land—that is also the story of the Church. You knew that. Right? Of course you did. But have you considered that it is also the story of the individual soul? It is, you know.”

I did not know any of that when Father Fuller spoke those words to me. It is, of course true; I just did not want it to be true.

The Poem

So, the poem is intimately my story, and just as possibly a story of many.

The Apathy of the Dead

Or so it seems
Devoid of material force
And lacking temporal immediacy
Days of extending autonomous power at an end
The Church Militant feels very much alone, abandoned by Them.

The marching-orders only understood in vague and inner sight
The Marian assent of Let it be, the carrying of cross to private Calvary
The uncertainty of purpose when confronted with certain defeat.
The wounded hero’s failure against the victories of a lusty youth
A Merlin’s life convoluting time, purpose’s gain became loss
Boldness still, but confidence at no time, one struggles in weakness
Few siblings-in-arms, few siblings at all, you fight as spy or scout.
A mocking world without sight but much loudness of voice
Drowning your own, preparing you for when, soon, you will be mute to them

Gleaned truths, intimate sights, strobic flashes of Reality
Tell a story of More. Promises unimaginable purpose
Inners tears and unseen blood, the ancient co-mingling of human heart
The left-behind will leave no others, the bleeding heal, the defenseless defend.
Refugees seek out the forsaken because of this; and they, the other.
Neither seeking victory but only meaning, only the More.

The Dead have lived as refugees, shepherds and martyrs;
They were the teachers, the seers,
Intimates with God whose cries of passion still ring and merge into Song

I leave the poem there, hanging—or finished, I do not know which. Out of time to write, and my Muse departed anyway. I must hurry to a friend’s for Fourth of July activities of barbeque, beer, a film and fireworks. The film part seems odd, but my host has mentioned wanting to watch this film with us several times and we had not yet done that.

The Wound

The film was Boondock Saints.

It is a story which begin in a Church. A Priest—a Monsignor—is preaching about a second kind of evil: Good people watching evil done and not taking action.

Of course, I was busy justifying myself in my inner dialogue as the movie continued:

But I have taken action, and usually alone, and when alone, I have rarely made a difference and usually been hurt. I used to think leading by example worked, but no one follows.

It wasn’t working. My excuses did not exonerate my conscience.

According to what I have read, the screenwriter said that opening scene is based upon his own personal experience. Clearly, its is mystical experience in the film—two brothers suddenly stand up in while the Monsignor is preaching, walk right past him to the Altar, kneel, pray, then rise to kiss the foot of the Crucifix above the Altar before turning to leave.

Outside the Church door, one of the brothers says, “It seems the Monsignor finally gets it.”

The rest of the film’s story is those two brothers finding themselves thrust into vigilantism… and loving it.

They have a prayer which mystically justifies what they do, and are considered Saints.

I have no such “marching-orders.” I have no brother who has been thrust into the fray at my side. I have no police force silently approving any such act. I have been the scout, alone behind enemy lines. I have been wounded. “Taken out by sniper fire” as John Eldredge states it in, Wild at Heart.

What I do have is a Muse. A Principality, technically—an Angel. He recited a poem, or a song in my inner hearing and I typed it out—for me, but maybe for another. It said nothing of a promised victory. It said nothing of brothers-in-arms, much less legions of angels at my side. The song said my prayers are heard, but the action is mine to take until I am so wounded that I can take no more.

This, I think, is the same Angel who once told me that God, too, acts by a spiritual restraint—having the power to stop evil and punish evil, but instead crying tears with us to the injustice, and loving me for not demanding justice, but only living it as best I can no matter how much my inabilities bring about rage in me.

When I was young, more than once a police officer chastised me for a good deed, making it clear I should have waited fro them. Only once did one take the trouble to say to me, “You are going to do what you do no matter what; but expecting us to be there is foolish. You did the right thing, but you got lucky. Son, I am telling you that you ought to have a gun. That man is not going to forget that you stopped him—and he is not going to forgive you either; and chances are, he will find you before we find him.”

He was right. That evil man did find me before the police found him. I did not like the advice he gave me, but I had begrudgingly taken it. I did not like Father Fuller telling me (as if I already knew it to be true), that my path would be in wandering in the desert. When family and friends warned me about an evil in my midst, I did not heed, did not believe… and the unthinkable happened; that is, Eldredge’s “sniper” took me out; but he claims that happens to true warriors.

Today, I do not feel like a warrior, but merely a nomad.  But it was never apathy.

Postscript - Not Alone

*Sometimes attributed to Edmund Burke

11 May 2012

The Great Escape

Stalag Luft III, as seen from a 1944 Allied reconnaissance image shortly after the escape.

RAF image (1944)

Same image as Google Earth overlay.

Marked are the three tunnels "Tom, Dick and Harry" (plus, the later and lesser known, "George").
  • "Tom" was discovered by the guards. 
  • "Dick" was abandoned when the treeline for which it was intended was cleared for a new section of the POW camp to be built 
  • One night in March of 1944, seventy-six Allied POW's escaped the Nazi camp using the 336 foot long tunnel, "Harry." 

Three made it to safety, 73 were ultimately captured, and of those, 50 were executed. Despite the depiction in the film, no Americans took part in the escape, but had been a part of digging the tunnels. In fact, when the prisoners learned the Americans were to be moved to a separate section of the camp, tunneling efforts were increased in hopes of finishing one of the three in time for them to participate in the attempt.

"George," by the way, was begun near the end of the war, but the camp abandoned before it was completed.

The true story of heroism is both tragic and inspiring-- as is the film version.

When the acts of man have been extraordinary, I believe the places associated with those acts become "more" and take on a special significance in and of themselves. I spent a few hours researching, compiling and marking for that reason.

The geographic location is just south of the town Żagań, Poland (formerly, Sagan, Germany).

08 May 2012

So a Priest, a farmer, and a Sheriff walk into this...

Sitting here and hearing a sound that sounded out of place...  

That sounds like an aircraft engine-- on the ground on the street below, I think to myself.  I grab the television remote and press the mute button.

Yep.  That is what it sounds like-- but a very small aircraft engine.  Maybe it set down in the storm-- but that is one curvy road it is on.  Nah!  Can't be.  Whatever it is, it is heading the other way.

So, I lose interest in the sound, and realize I wasn't watching the television anyway; but (and better yet) I am reminded of a story:

Cessna 172 (from Wikimedia Commons)

I was living in small town Texas, where cows outnumbered people, and my "city-boy" Mazda 626 successfully did duty as a cutting horse on my way home from work, to block the attempted passage to freedom (or something) of a neighbor's loose bull.

One night, I was driving home on a long, mostly straight country road--  Farm to Market road something or other-- in that same cutting-Mazda.  It was just after 9/11.  We were all supposed to be alert for anything out of the ordinary back then, and since I am anyway, and alive because of it, I am sensing nothing unusual.

It is dusk, and I'm tooling along at sixty miles per hour because that was the speed limit.  Coming up out of a low spot in the road which I know has a fifteen degree curve right at the top of the little rise, I am always alert to the possibility that any traffic coming toward me may not be familiar with that curve, and am watching for headlights to appear.

Instead, I see a flash of red and then a brief glimpse of solid green light and come off the throttle and ease into my breaks.   I am down to a trot on my trusty Mazda as I take in the possibilities, and decide that despite the absurdity, I am rather certain that when I get to the crest of the hill, I am going to find a Cessna airplane on the road before me.

I get to the top of the crest and there is a Cessna aircraft on the road before me.  Not surprisingly, I am not surprised.

A woman in her sixties, wearing a print dress with lacy trim which was undoubtedly sold in a catalog also containing lawn art, model windmills, duck-shaped mailboxes and wooden heart-shaped things to hang on a wall with attached twine-- a woman dressed like that (in case you forgot where this sentence was going) was standing in the road, giving me the universal hand signal to slow down.  I lip-read a little because of some hearing loss.

I spent most of my youth in water.  I love swimming, but have these tiny little ear canals, and the water can get in, but it can't get out.  My physician told me they were small enough to be considered "deformed."  I had ear infections all the time, and so he had plenty of opportunities to consider the tininess of my ear canals.  Still, he never forgot his favorite joke when I went to visit him.  He would put that little dark green plastic funnel thing with the light in my deformed ear canal and then wave his fingers past my other ear so as to pretend he could see straight through.  It cracked him up every time.

Well the lady on the side of the road wasn't doing any of that, she was using one hand to make like she was pushing some invisible dog down that was continuously jumping up on her leg.

I don't know why acting like one is pushing an invisible and overly affectionate dog down is the universal sign for "Slow down" but it is.  Try it-- you'll see.  Anyway, I mentioned I can lip read, sometimes.  Well, I am fairly certain her words were "Slow ya' ass down" and that rather strengthened my interpretation of the hand signal.

I was near a stop anyway, and besides, there was a plane blocking the road in front of me, so I really didn't need any direction as to what to do.  I don't recall any section about right-of-way in the Texas Driver's Handbook mentioning aircraft; but when you have been driving for more that a few decades, some things just start to be intuitive.  In my my mind it went something like, Big vehicle with wings blocking the road with spinning blade bigger than my car-- best to give it room.  Besides that and having a little experience with airplanes (I have even ridden in them), I found it a bit ironic that the woman with the plane on the road was signaling me with suggestions as to what I ought to do with my car.

"Ma'am?  That being a plane... well, pardon me, but isn't it supposed have a bit more altitude?  Have you tried going faster?"

Okay, I did not really say that.  But the plane was turning itself around, and I watched an elderly man, wearing cowboy boots, jeans, and a nice cowboy hat (felt) holding a package, trot off toward a pick up truck blocking the road opposite the plane from me.  There was a car waiting there.  He must have been very experienced because he seemed to have stopped without needing any specific instructions.

The old cowboy backed the truck to the woman, she got in, and they hurried down a dusty drive right there through the pasture beside the road.  The plane was lurching as the engine revved-up and then was airborne before it got to the car facing me.

I was doing my best to catch up so as to read the tail number as it flew almost directly away from me, but by the time I got my Mazda 626 into a full gallop and along side, the plane had slipped too far from the road, and turning sharply, so I never saw any digits or letters.

I didn't have a cell phone in those days but was only three minutes from home, so I raced there and called 9-1-1 as soon as I got inside.

In less than a half hour, a Sheriff Deputy pulls up and comes to the door.  He asks me if I can show him where I saw the plane.  I'm still wearing my clericals:  Black suit, black shirt, white priest's collar, and want my dinner, but this could be important.

I can, and say so, and get in his cruiser.  I direct him to make a right at the end of my street onto the Farm to Market runway, and go a couple of miles.  At the top of the right hill, I say, "This is it.  Right here."

He pulls the cruiser to the shoulder and takes out a note pad and asks me if I could describe the plane.

I tell him it what model of Cessna it was.  He asks how I know, and I am explaining that it has a high wing, fixed tricycle gear, four-seater, white with dark blue or green trim-- couldn't get the tail number.

The Deputy looks at me funny.

I look at the Deputy funny.

"How do you know all that?" He asks.

"I saw it."

"How do you know all about that type of aircraft?"

I explain about my years working as an assassin for the CIA and how the flashy-thing only removed selected memories, but I still remember all my early pilot training which was required before I began flying the space shuttle on secret missions to shoot down the black helicopters that were causing all the alien troubles down in Roswell and their fluoridating our water in retribution and so poisoning our precious bodily fluids.

No, I didn't.  But wouldn't that have been fun?  And in my collar.  Lord knows I am kicking myself to this day for not saying that.  No.  I told him I was a Chaplain for the local Air Force Auxiliary, showed him the related ID, and he put that on his clipboard.  That seemed to satisfy the Deputy.  Some people can't handle the truth.

So, just a hundred yards further on from where we were parked, was a red brick, two story farmhouse.  All the lights were on, and the Deputy says, "Think they might have seen anything?"

I said, "The plane was on the other side of the hill from them, but they must have heard it."  We drive up the driveway and find a man rummaging through a tool box in the well lighted garage.  I like to use "lit" for when a fire has been struck, and "lighted" for a description of artificial brightness.  It seems odd to me to plant in the readers mind the possibility that I might have meant that the man may have been rummaging through a tool box inside a burning garage-- set afire by some arson who knew his craft.  One would think that the man would be frantically looking for a fire extinguisher, but he wasn't.  He seemed to be simply looking for a specific tool.  And since I make no mention of an arson, or a fire, I am hopeful the intent of my word choice created no confusion.

So, anyway,  I get out of the car with the Deputy.

The deputy says, "Howdy.  Say, did you see or hear anything unusual a little earlier this evening?

"You mean the plane?"

God as my witness:  The Deputy answered, "Soooo.  There was a plane."

The gentleman in the garage started, "Oh yeah, we--"

I interrupted, "Now wait just a minute!  You mean, after all the details I gave you, you thought I was making this up?"

Now, I didn't want to insult him more than I needed to because I did not want to walk the two and half miles back home that night; but I was ticked, and perhaps a little emboldened because there was an outside chance that if he did leave me, I could always catch the next plane.

The man in the garage laughed, and continued, "Yeah, there was a plane alright.  Landed right in front of the house, and we heard it.  When we went to look, it was going over that little hill there and down below."

His wife had come out to join us, and she added, "We figure it was drugs."

The Deputy said, "Yes Ma'am.  Out here away from the city, they make their pickups and deliveries and then drive them in to distribute.  Sometimes they just fly low and drop the stuff out.  I guess they had to do a pick-up of some kind."

It was an uncomfortable ride home... for the Deputy.  I enjoyed myself.  I gloated.  He knew I was gloating.  I had earned my gloat, and I was going to have it.

"So, while you may have had doubts, there was no call for you to express such surprise that I, a Priest, was telling the truth."

"Yes sir.  I'm sorry."

"And then it turns out you knew about such things being a way drugs are delivered out here."

"Yes, but until the lady said something about it, I hadn't thought of it."

"But you were quick to think that the Priest must be crazy?"

I was grinning and setting my spurs in, and he was apologizing the whole way.  His only way out was to get me home to my supper as quickly as possible.  He had that engine roaring, and I swear, we were nearly flying.