Friday, August 06, 2004

An Equal and Opposite Reaction

An Equal and Opposite Reaction

The creek was wide but not so deep, Daniel took a seep of the fresh water which he called “fallen mountain air” and with that his eyes glimmering from the sun, an eagle flew long and far above, he twisted his musket rifle on his shoulder as if to let the eagle know that he could hunt her down. But beware that Daniel was crossing this creek to get to his confederate regiment where he was to join the infantry and assist in the rebellion against the Union Army.

Sure he had to hunt as was needed for the days to come before his arrival at the camp, but he only had 59 shots and had been told to arrive with no less than forty bollies; the general consensus was that it took 100 fired shots to average one dead Union soldier, so Daniel had in him for half a man perhaps. And so it was that he limited his prey to easy catch, as were the rodents that bothered his sleep, or within reach unlucky squirrels. The eagle was as safe as ever, Daniel finished his creek crossing and took off his shoes because unfortunately he had no boots to take off, and then his pants and hang them out to dry, as he made camp for yet another night.

He sprung a fire, and scratched his head trying to deny the lice a peaceful reign. He had cleaned his rifle, with a bore brush, adding oil here and there, and passing a dry cloth through all its frame, noting, perhaps for the first time that this was his highest priced possession. He used his bayonet to dig a whole where he would hide his coins for the night. And then sat waiting for the rodent whose turn it was to feed the civil war.

Daniel’s patience was less of an achievement than you might imagine, he was a hunter gatherer back home, a small hut, where he used to live with just him and his brother Samuel; the boys, as the town folk called them were mostly loners, hunters by trade, they brought their goods to town, and drank at the local tavern, but mostly stayed away, until one day Lincoln and Davis split a pea. Samuel was an ebullient fellow and he did not need much a calling, he went to fight the war though not sure why and yet he went happy to oblige the need for human fodder. Then one day came back the news that he died of some disease before even firing his musket.

Daniel felt the call then and immediately accepted to join the infantry in Biloxi Mississippi. And that is what brought him through this trail, where he crossed Devil River and prepared to arrest a rodent from his life. A squirrel happened by, Daniel was as still as the tree or twice as much perhaps, and yet the squirrel did take notice, though the experienced hunter did not make eye contact, but the squirrel noticed that Daniel had not been there the day before, that he was an addition but he seemed immobile enough, and in such days it was possible to imagine that the squirrel had not seen a human, and so perhaps concluded that this bulky thing could not move as fast as a squirrel aware that its well being depended purely on speed to hole.

And so Daniel begun to move like a cat, slowly, slowly raising his rifle, slowly, and even slowly taking aim, the squirrel of course was ever moving here and there and fast and quickly but any kin observer would make out that she kept on covering the same four square feet perimeter, and so Daniel steady within that perimeter, homed in on an imaginary target, and just as if the whole hunt had been staged, the squirrel chose to pause, and worst yet then stand on just its hind legs, and that was when Daniel’s hunter’s intuition had been taught to pull the trigger, and sure shot the squirrel was too late a startled.

Daniel was not impressed by his shot nor happy to have a squirrel, it wasn’t his favorite meat, he preferred rabbit but those were really hard to catch and even more difficult to shoot. He walked over and then he made eye contact, the squirrel was still alive, he took his bayonet and cut the eye stare out.

After his meal, he took his gun and began to clean it again, he wasn’t one of those many amateurish soldiers that did not understand the benefits of cleaning his gun, he was religious about it, almost obsessive and as he cleaned it, he thought of the battles to come. There were plenty of dead notices back home and plenty of maimed men to tell the stories of the war, the ladies left behind also shared blemished horrors, and so he had much to go on, except perhaps patriotism.

He wandered about the politics of the war, but he only had an oral history, Lincoln wanted to liberate the slaves, he wanted to destroy the southern economy and to destroy its independence, but what did all that mean really, the life and times had a history of war, ah nothing to it, naught for him to change all that, why he suspected he didn’t know much but for the superficial tales, Davis must know better, a learned man like that was trustworthy if only for all he knew, and he was on this side and not up north somewhere.

He took out his sack of minies and counted ball by ball to 58. All accounted for, this was reassuring, a man had to know what he had on hand, over and over to remind himself of position, soon there would be the battle, where at less than 100 yards he would have to shoot a man and many, aiming as they say, above the knees somewhere as to kill them.

He took one minie and reviewed it, cone shaped this thing would blast out through 100 yards and reach a man, he thought, “how smart the man that idea all this and all that science.” He had heard from a fellow in the tavern that it all had to do with some law of “equal and opposite reaction”, and then he thought, “how does that apply to me and the squirrel or to brother Samuel?” But that was quickly followed by “to much though makes a man dumb.” And with that he put himself to sleep, a barely blanket covering his sleep. The fired died out on its own accord.

Morning came but that is not what woke him, early in the dawn noises from splashing in the river drove him to investigate, and he was marveling in amazement, a bunch of fish were making quite a ruckus, and many almost arm in length and very reachable, he thought about them as a hunter should, but then reminded himself he didn’t like how them things smelled.

And so he packed his pouched, and kept his course for yet another day, long walking and another, till he was only half a day’s walk from his regiment, and then he paused to eat another squirrel and clean his rifle, while at it he decided to test himself for battle, he recounted minies and pull three to the side, leaving only 55. Then told him self, “A good rifleman should be able to fire three times in one minute.” Though he did not own a watch he began his practice.

With the butt of the rifle between his feet, he took a paper cartridge cut it with his teeth and poured the powder in the barrel then pushed a ramming rod to guide the ball into its nesting place. And once there with percussion cap in place he was ready to fire. He looked around him, picked a branch at less than fifty feet and cocked and did it in. He then breathed deep, imagined the man that that might be, and then felt the fright that comes with needing to reload before more enemy comes near, and so he repeated his loading action and readied to fire, further still, picked another branch more than 80 yards, and took his aim and fired yet again to hit his target just the same. And then he reminded himself, there is more than one enemy solider after me, there are more than two there are many Union men that want me dead, and while telling himself all that he loaded yet again, rapidly ramming minie into place, percussion cap on, cocked the rifle, picked a target, the eagle did dare to appear out of nowhere at less than 80 yards, and fire did erupt, spent powder here and feathers there.

Daniel caught himself in the act, he paused still looking as if aiming, and then he stood up and walked the eighty yards, which must have taken a long time, as he was stunt. He made eye contact with the eagle, he removed the bayonet from his rifle and went to finish the kill, but then he couldn’t, the animal was suffering but not far from death as the wound reveled in appearance and profusely bled, and yet Daniel could not advance the death, he was whispering with tremoring lips, “equal and opposite reaction” he dropped the bayonet and went his way far from his regiment and folk.

His town folk heard only rumors, perhaps a traitor, perhaps he got killed on his way to his regiment, he lived long on and that’s the legend.



I want to say that I will explain correctly the events of the past night but my indecent understanding will prevent that. At best a thing will be said and your interpretation will stand as the last word.

It was not the first night, there have been a few others, two or three others so as to be more or less precise, but last night was the first detailed where every explanation failed me, where I had to quiet and cease all thought, and to accept the incomprehensible without a rudder of logic to guide me.

It was early in the night, she swept her soul essence through the room in one swoop, and then paused back, harking out some quicken sound, and I want to say thought it is not for certain, that since I was laying with only my underwear that perhaps her soul had been a while without a man, and so perhaps was tranced by appetite for flesh. And so indeed it felt as she swooped right into me, immediately I felt this tightening of electricity, pulsing energy that was not of my own doing, as I had not the ability to reach to those levels of my thighs and growing, but was instead perplexed as to the goings on.

I paused as any human would rightly do, and thought of the possible, I was being possessed by some mal investing spirit, once inside of me only a proper exorcism would do away with it, and the church would brand me a heretic, or ponder what I did to deserve such a cunning evil, certainly I would be marked for life, as one that had touched the devils doings, and so I thought perhaps it best to vanquish the spirit while I still had the temerity to move under my own free will and turn the lights on, and call upon my dear wife to hug the night away.

But then I was having troubles with the wife, had lost my job, had not a dime to call my own, and things were bad and getting worst though more would hardly seem they could, and so I did dare to think that I had nothing else to lose, I had no hope of anything else in this here world, so if I were stolen by the devil at least that would emancipate me from the boredoms of this world. And how could I think else, without a job, unhappy wife, and not a dime for ale.

At such moments of perdition one has courage, and it may well be a lesson to god that had we other things we might not be misled; but here there is no lesson, except the truth, which radiates from facts.

I remembered a golden rule, that spirits must leave your body if you call them out of it, I had but to say, “away! Away you spirit, out of my body!” and with that for sure, it is said that immature habitations can be brought to end. This it is said, because a spirit can not alienate you from your body unless you permit it insurmountable habitation, where then it may squeeze you out like a squatter might.

But I was figuring I had most control the other two nights she had left without much a do, and so I figured what the heck, another night is not much to add to squander one’s rights. At first I asked, “are you the spirit of my dead mother, or my brother, or my best friend Antonio?” those being the most closest to me that I knew to inhabit the spirit world, but no reply came in any form. But then it occurred to me that I had not established rules of communication, I did not know for instance what a “yes” or “no” could be, so I decided to instruct the essence that if I was right it should press its energy upon my body to signify a “yes” and if “no” as naught it was, an absolute silence would confirm.

And so with these guidelines, again I asked the same three questions and naught came back and that was fine. I then asked are you a man or a woman, and nothing quite for sure came back, except I felt the long hair of a woman upon my face, and having accepted that, I also felt a kiss. To my immediate surprise I challenged myself morally to register this as treason towards my marriage, and my wife sleeping soundly, snoring I might add, where I felt nervous and then just as quickly thought, “the spirit world is not ruled by material laws, there are other rules that govern the cosmic.” And with that I was able to calm my self some though not completely voided of guilt.

I kept on asking questions, and thought I felt her essence humming through my body, not aggressive nor anything to warrant my concerns, I did not feel her energy punctuating any answers to my inquisitiveness. And so it was that most profoundly I felt into a progressive list of questions trying to find one to altercate this simmering energy within me, “did you get killed in a car accident? Are you in limbo on this earth? Are you from this neighborhood? Did you get killed in a terrorist attack? Are you here to help me save the world? Are you going to cure my greased filled arteries or my bad knees or my well preserved in alcohol liver?” and no question made forthcoming any surge of energy nor did she bother to make noises by breaking a lamp or torching the house, nothing, and of course I felt a bit ridiculous, her essence was clearly within me, and yet what did it want? what could I do for it? and what was its purpose of bothering with me if I wasn’t able to comprehend?

No answers came back in any form and yet she remained there simmering, humming away throughout my upper and lower torso, I felt her all the way down to my ankles, and there was some frontal lobe stimuli, and my hair was shimmering a bit, so gentle and so balanced all, that I had but to conclude that she just wanted to feel me, and so I must let go and not think, which was for me quite hard, as I was a thinker and not a doer and could not let go my natural nature was to control and so I was going out of my norm, into unknowns. I began to breath deep and long, and that caused her to move within me, so that I felt a positive reaction, and even the displacement of some tissue and some liquid and some air pockets were discernibly squandered. And with that bit of a magnification of her presence, I felt comfortable enough to encourage greater molestation, “I feel that you are a good spirit that you mean me no harm, that you are not going to take advantage of me, you may posses me if you wish, I am an avatar, I have always been mostly the thoughts of others recombined, feel free to feel me with your essence and feel this world as you might through me, feel me with your essence, I so want to be a part of you.”

And that is mostly how we passed the night except that at some point I realized that there was a night light on in the restroom, some of which escaped into the bedroom and there was also a hallway light on that wound around the stairs; and somehow she gave me comprehension of a spirit limitation, they are low, very low energy representations, miniscule, perhaps not even atom worth, and so any other energy is likely to overthrow them and turn them insignificance, that is why they are more likely to appear in the cold and more so in the night, where there is less energy emulsification to cancel them out or blind them out of symbolism. Understanding this now I promised myself to turn off all the lights the following night.


Here and There

You should always keep one eye open and one eye closed. This way you can guide your self through the machinations of this world by using your unconscious and you subconscious too. I know to do this appears difficult, how do you after all sleep with one eye open? But as these is really the only way to go you have no choice you must do it, simply put just don’t sleep as much just don’t sleep as much, wake yourself up before you’ve done all your sleep, and park your mind in the here and your mind’s eye in the there and it is as simple as all that. The rest just happens naturally, poets do just this you know, and it works for them rather well, though they not make much a living from it as it is hard to cash a check from here and there.

But just you know that only those that are near and far, here and there are the ones that walk this earth with the creative bends, and so next time you see one of us, all kind of not here or there, you know to drop a coin in our bag and let us stumble unto thee.

Good day.


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Confusing Introduction

para mi esposa Believe in anything that you cannot control

I don’t know where I am going with this. I don’t know why you ought to read this. I don’t have any idea if this has been written by others countless of times before and all this turns to merely repetition then. Regardless it is in my head, it dictates itself to me, I have to endure it and channel it into this world; you don’t have to bother with it.

It all started when I stopped drinking coffee, that was the moment of revelation. I wasn’t near a burning tree or next to a sacred rock nor near the heavens, my moment of divination, my moment as a prophet came to me when I ceased being a coffee consumer. I guess the world has changed a lot since Zeus, since Thor and Poseidon were running around making life uncomfortable for a few people. Which is why today, I don’t have to stumble into the Sphinx and embarrass myself because I don’t know the answer to the question, nor do I have to fear finite retaliation for my ignorance. Today, to not know is forgivable and worst correctible and redeemable. An eighty year old lady is cheered for graduating from college, a young man is respected for spending the best years of his life studying to be a doctor or a lawyer. There are no quick victories here, there are studious goals and professions that take life times to fully develop. In such a world you can stop drinking coffee and it changes everything. In such a world your day is not spoiled by a dragon with dirty finger nails but rather by the absence of enough cream cheese for your bagel or calorie free whip cream for your mocha. I stopped drinking coffee the world begun to collapse.

Something just tickled inside of me, my coffee started to smell funny, now I am a Colombian presumably inclined to coffee drinking by culture and habitat, and when I drank coffee I was a fanatic about it, I drank it in every format that it was manufactured in; the darkest roast being my favorite, Italian Roast, French Roast, but also I liked Vienna roast and while I mostly drank it straight with no milk or sugar, occasionally I liked a little cream on it to seduce the flavor out of it more gently. The aroma of coffee drifting from the coffee pot was seductive, I wrote poems under its influence and drank it with the joy that only a woman brings to a man.

But let me be more real about this, I was not a genetic coffee drinker, I was not prone to coffee drinking, I discovered coffee because I was writing and when your writing you sort of acquire an oral fixation, you have to have something in your hand and whatever that is you have to put it to your mouth. A cigarette, a glass of wine, coffee. Coffee, back in the old days when I started drinking coffee was cheap, coffee shops were rare then, really rare. A coffee shop where all you did was have a pastry and drink coffee was practically non existent as late as the early eighties in the US of A. Back then if you were a starving writer with no future and you needed a place to hang out you would hang out at a diner, a place where they served full meals only you would be there during the not so busy periods. And there I used to order my coffee for less than a dollar, as little as 45 cents, with unlimited refills. Of course the coffee was really bad, watered down instant drip stuff, Folgers coffee; Folgers was the coffee company that advertise having a relationship with a compatriot of mine, Juan Valdez, he gets up very early in the morning to pick the coffee beans before the sunshine picks them, don’t ask me where the coffee was the day before, but Juan and Folgers were high mountain people where the best coffee is grown. And there you have it, I drank a lot of Folgers and I tell you my fellow Juan sure did not know a damn thing about coffee. I don’t know where in the Andes they were picking those coffee beans but they stunk badly.

Anyway there was, I was telling you, the occasional coffee shop that did not buy their beans from Juan Valdez, they bought them from somebody else and carefully brewed the beast within, and you got this hot delicious aroma that just caught your attention and made you mellow on the flavor while propping you up from bed and alerting your mind to your resonating thoughts where you had either to go race your bike in the Italian Alps or write down immense thoughts so as to tired yourself out of the caffeine high.

The coffee shops that served this brew were rare in the seventies and eighties but they became high fashion in the nineties so much so that finding a dark roast was as easy as walking across the street and saying “I want a grande French Roast no cream.” For those of us that used to hunt for the perfect coffee shop the game was up. When you can reach across the street for your desires your desires quell.

But your desires do not grow tired of the same great thing, what happens is that the same great cup of coffee is not the same great cup of coffee. You see when I started going to coffee shops they were operated by local people that did not have a global sense of business. So the atmosphere was not uniform in any manner or form, the appearance was haphazardly put together by the regular customers and the matron that maintained the place and made sure the coffee was served. But there was no high mindedness to the task, everyone that went there went there because they liked coffee and they wanted to have a conversation with a stranger or more truly to sit in a public establishment for two or three hours without feeling like they had to tip or that they were interfering with the flow of business.

Occasionally a musically incline local would play the piano, if there was one to play, or the guitar or the violin, many of these musicians knew very little about music but when a poorly played violin breaks through the air in a coffee shop, something other than the music sounds good about it; and that something causes the people in it to look at one another, and to smile, and that makes the player much better than he really is; but then maybe we just don’t know what he is really playing, we are feeling it.

But maybe it was in the late eighties early nineties, that some one figured out that you could make huge amounts of money selling coffee, so they standardized the look and feel of a coffee shop, somewhat to look like a Parisian café, thought only a Parisian café with socially inclined Parisians can really feel like a Parisian café, but in America the land of the instant Margarita, the instant cultural bath, where a taco can be Mexican only in the marketing and still pass for Mexican food, in America there was no impediment to the instant café look and feel. And so it came to pass that cafes franchised throughout the land and they had all the look and feel of a real café only their employees all looked the same and wore uniform aprons and hats and smiles, and had lines professionally kept to maximize output and more relevant returns.

To add to sanguinary consumerism the coffee was placed in colorful bags and put in everything from chocolate to cookies, while next to the coffee a magical land of pastries unfolded and next to that were plenty fancy coffee cups that you could buy so that you could feel a part of the reveling coffee culture.

There was then good cause for me to stop going to cafés, they were too cute, pretty and had aroma weeds all over themselves; fastidiously perfumed with their idea of the glory of coffee. But I did not halt being a coffee shop rat. I warmed up a lot of coffee shops, occasionally listening to much of the gutter poetry that comes out of the places. Some of my best friends came out of coffee shops, it was just like a bar only the poison was coffee, and again for me it was a place to write for ours undisturbed by the passage of time. And so it was in the coffee shops that I became a prophet and by circumstance a writer.


Fashion Sense

The police were all over the building, I walked over like any curious tenant expecting to see something interesting and most often finding something common and benign. But I winced back when I saw her face, it was powder white flesh, with little red bumps, a figure cutting straight into the wooden floor, long and slender aimlessness, her eyes were semi closed, fused to some forbidden sight that they had witnessed. I lost track of the crowd around me, I hung around her like a pearl necklace, trying to make something happen, I could not cross the police line, I could only watch, I wanted her to wake up and look my way, I saw her do it, only she didn’t, she couldn’t, her life force seemed gone. Then a paramedic remarks, “she has a heart beat. she is breathing.” They rushed her out of the place and so as fast as the specter arouse before us she was gone; the neighbors all talked about the supposed happenings, she had fainted, she had been raped, she had fallen down the steps, the woman that I saw was suffering something more startling, her face had fixed on something demonic, on something beyond the stairs, beyond a rape, but what I asked myself?

I walked into my chambers, brought myself the usual hot apple tea, there is no good reason why I like it, and I sat in my overly sumptuous bed, it is my habit to live under great comfort as an antidote for every day. My bed is tall and large, it could easily fit four, I sleep alone, have for at least twenty years, I am not an atheist of love, nor platonic nor an eunuch, I am a man fraught with unyielding uncertainty that the terrors of love and friendship far out-yield all their pleasures, I abstain from such company. The folk in the building say, “Good morning Mr. Solemly,” “Good evening Mr. Solemly” and “Good day Mr Solemly” but they know better than to ask me for cookies and tea or to invite me to join them to discuss the trapping mutterings of the goings in our apartment complex.

By most standards my wealth is mediocre, I own a small consultancy firm, we are mostly hired out as assistance to other grander scale projects, or to fill in when one of those giant systems architect’s can’t escape from one of his perks. We do ok financially, we had lager dreams once past, where we would build a semi-global empire, and fu fu our way through life, but the natural malice inherent within our own and our partners and customers dismembered the entire ideal. I stayed behind to collect the bone fragments and create the cozy but cold business that we have today. I mostly work the conceptual aspect of our projects and I let others manage the day to day operations and customer relationships. It all suits me fine, I am respected for my knowledge, which incidentally I don’t treasure, and so it is that I can manage without having much interference.

And so when I walked into the lobby of the apartments today, and see this woman, striking as she was a pose of indefatigable attention, and why not say it, I was moved in a different direction, it wasn’t that I was curious about her, it was that I felt a kinship, there she was molested into an uncomfortable situation, an audience full around her, she the center of all attentions and indiscretions, no one seemed to care that the dress was revealing her, that her face was powder white, she was in this lonely apparition of uncomplicated antics, she was all alone like me with my solitary pomposity.

It is a jewel you see to see another and to recognize them, as one would one’s self, if one is perhaps capable of knowing such. Here was my apple tea, red as my blankets, red as my carpets, all defined to say everything is in here, the red floods and keeps everything out, except perhaps the occasional trim, and suffice it to say that that woman had entered into my chamber. I could tell, not from direct observation, she wasn’t here obviously, she was at Hope General Hospital, named such because a rich town man had himself such last name and dolled out for the name. But that is where she was, and here I am attached to my newspaper, as is my habit to read anything that is not a book or a textbook or anything that isn’t educational, I am a reader of everything contemporary though I myself live in a time capsule of I am not sure which era, if such existed or has yet to exist, but the world swirls around me like all those magnificent castles that allow dragons and princesses to fly around them, and then the enchantment dies and someone adds heating and it just gets all grand from there, only the castle soon becomes judged more for its endurance than from any other vice. And so my very, very upstairs neighbor was at Hope General and I was here, in my room trying to read the paper, and she kept on intruding.

I saw her standing, sitting, talking to me, though a bit stiff but talking to me, it is hard to wrinkle a person when you haven’t gotten to know them, and so here she was, being intrusive but silent and this because I didn’t know anything about her, we had passed each other at the door, and even as she pleased herself to occasionally say “hello,” I walked in and out past her because I didn’t want to wrinkle my life.

After a flurry of thoughts kept me awake all night, “what happened to her? Is she going to die? Why does she too live alone? What does she do?” And so on, I finally decided to accept my eternally denied presence at the morning croissant and coffee for our apartment living experience.

As I entered the lobby, everyone turned almost one by one to gawk at my presence, mustering the range of stilted emotions I nonchalantly, still in my sumptuous and much protective silk robe and pajamas, “hello, hello all,” this while throwing them the most endearing of smiles, my flaming white teeth cold from the experience.

All of these people are backdrops, it took me very little time to talk about the croissants not being very well made, the butter too wasn’t the best, we shared the fact that what we served in our own living rooms was better but here they were served for all. Mrs. Ansianita, the well traveled and read lady of much distinction, never stopped laughing with worldly charm; always belching out how much she had enjoyed her expansive life. Mr Rogoudirto, one of those rare precious gems, retired mafia, was all over Mrs. Simpson; we all knew it was harmless but he could bring himself to bare the cruel joke that followed him, a gone mad bullet had left him, shall we say penniless. And from afar our ever watchful landlady, she made us all out, or so she thought, for her I was probably a pervert of some sort, hidden in my little closet of an apartment; the rest of us were the cause of all her indigestions, always trying to keep us all happy we were her way of forgetting that her son had committed suicide from all the mommy love he had overdosed.

“It is such a pleasant surprise for you to garnish us with your presence Mr. Solemly, may I intrusively ask why?” Giggles sputtering benignly. “Oh Mrs. Ansianita a man needs a bit of fresh air once in a decade at least, (she utters her high confidence laugh, her mouth showing us all her lungs, she is a healthy one alright.) and perhaps the inadmissible truth is that for some strange reason my croissants weren’t delivered this morning.” Since anything I would say was merely to add benefit to her grandeur she immediately launched into my genuine interest. “And what was that all about the other day, Ms choreographed falling off the stairs in a daze, was she a crazed woman so much not to say, what was that all about Mr. Solemly?”

“I am afraid I have not been following the story, new tenants don’t register with me for years, so you might be more sure to enlighten me.”

She gets up close to me so as to tell me the biggest secret, only everyone can hear. “I heard all kinds of noises, bouncing off the walls, a party of some sort, she is a little senile, I always thought, you know they are transferring her to St Helen’s.”

My eyes showed aware restraint, St Helen’s was the insane asylum, the place where nutty people went, often I didn’t see a difference between St Helen’s and our apartment complex, we just supervised ourselves. “And why was that, why was she being transferred there?”

“Well isn’t it obvious she is nuts!” And we that abandon of a diagnosis Mrs. Ansianita left me for not being wise enough to make out the obvious.

I started to walk back to my room when the words caught me, “I see you are going to rescue that croissant from us.” “

A Senor Gonzales you have caught me with the loot.”

He got close to me to also tell me a secret, only he did justice to it with his tone and volume, “I know what happened to the senorita.”

In audible, “what?”

Only instead of answering el Senor Gonzales walked off, he suffered from a severe case of attention deficit disorder, I got a bit upset, and just walked back to my room.

The papers arrived and so I decided not to go into the office, I read instead, spend the day with the mystery tenant, figure things out. Front page, “Woman found in suspicious circumstances, no details given by police, moved to St Helen’s.” the article read on, “the police are not releasing names until more is known but the woman in question, she appears to have suffered from some mental lapse and or to have injured herself; she is being moved for supervision and mental evaluation. Dr Heldrec the chief psychiatrist comments, “she is currently traumatized but we are confident that she will talk to us and establish rapport with the rest of the world soon, it is not unusual for trauma of this sort to last a few days even weeks, but it rarely goes beyond that as long as proper treatment is applied. We are hopeful.”

Oh the antics of the brain masters, this was no conciliatory news, now I was more moved to participate, how could I help her, she obviously was not capable of talking or directing her senses, and these doctors would probably do a lobotomy or electric shock treatment or they would pour all those experimental drugs into her which are only allowed for use on mental incompetents. But how could I help her.

Indisposed I never made it into the office I waited for the paper instead, “An unidentified source from the police department has noted that the woman found in a catatonic state was indeed abused. Our source noted that she had marks throughout her body, including cigarette burns.” Police chief Randall Olsen refused to comment for this story, he noted that “snitches will only hurt the ongoing investigation” his own words. The article ended with “Nora Fadema, our investigative reporter will keep you posted as events unfolds in what could become, one of the most intriguing events since the disappearance of Carmelita Mae from the local brothel, never to be seen again.”

I had sat on my bed, my favorite place in the whole wide world for many years without much regret, but now I felt that I was bound to my apartment and to my room, and that I needed to get out; fortunately a knock at the door interrupted the violence which was being conjured by my thoughts.

On opening the door I saw a fat man, about five four, with plenty of flesh under his jaw, tiny eyes, and hair that kept neatly tucked into his head. His fingers were holding a notepad, a huge high school class ring was now only fit for his pinky. “You are Mr Solemly?” “I am he.” “I am police chief Randall Osman, this here is my assistant Mrs. Drake, she makes sure that I don’t forget to ask you all the questions, do you have a moment for us sir.”

“Sure come on in, sorry I am still in my robe but I haven’t mustered the energy to shower yet.”

“Oh yeah why is that?”

“Why is what?”

“Why is it that you haven’t gotten the energy to shower, (pointing at his watch) it is now noon?”

“oh that, oh no just laziness, I have days like that, days I don’t get up for the whole day, don’t you?”


Assistant Drake, a rather tall ugly woman, to awkwardly built for the runaway, had all the legs in the world, and that was the only part of her that spoke, she was silent, she took her pen and poked the Chief of Police, he nodded, a silent team, “Mr. Solemly you are the owner of the Chipcha consultancy firm correct.?”


“And you have lived in these apartments for 30 something years right?”


“You are a very stable man yes?”

“Well yes.”

“And for thirty years you hardly ever stepped out of this apartment to have brunch with your neighbors is that right?”

My head bobbing, my hands clasping each other, my eyes uninterestingly moving over those long legs. “Yes, I think that’s right.”

“Well then what was it that motivated you to meander down the hallway the day before yesterday, what was it Mr Solemly that caused you to break with your routine?”

“My croissants hadn’t arrived, I thought I would take some from the brunch room, it does belong to all the tenants, and since I’ve never taken my share over the years.”

“Well so you told Mrs. Ansianita that, and I am sure she believed your story Mr. Solemly but I am an old dog and I decided to check, and sure enough your croissants had been delivered promptly at 7am, just as they are everyday for you are one of pastry Chef Michaels preferred customers; he told us and I quote, “never deliver Messier Solemly’s croissants late, never.” And I must say we did leave him a bit distressed to imagine such calamity, isn’t that right Assistant Drake?” and with that his fat stubby hand clump over her thigh for assurance. And assistant Drake complied, “That’s right sir. Chef Michael was so disturbed that there might have been a late delivery, he immediately call for the delivery log, we were able to verify an entry by Tommy, the delivery boy, and next to it were the initials of acceptance of delivery, (she immediately takes a copy of the log, attached to a clipboard, shoves it under my face and proceeds,) “are these your initials Mr Solemly?”

I slacked my body down unto the chair, “Oh yes those are my initials how silly of me, I forgotten I received the croissants, probably felt into absent mindedness.”

“Well that can happen to any of us Mr. Solemly, even to a competent and highly respected meticulous and consistent man such as yourself; we’ve taken the liberty to confirm with your secretary that you are unlikely to forget things just as you are a miser when it comes to her salary.” And he laughs, and Assistant Drake laughs with him, and I join them.

“But there is just one thing Mr. Solemly, why, why is anyone doing this to you, why?”

“Doing what to me?”

“Saying that you are being more odd than you usually are?” “They are saying that you are actually taking the time to talk to other tenants, curiously asking about Ms Victoria Snead, for instance Senor Gonzales said you asked him about her.”

“Oh please what are you implying here, I have nothing to do with this, this Victoria Snead, I don’t even know her.”

“You know of her, you know her name, you asked at least two other tenants about her, and you are obviously reading the papers about her.”

We all stared at the papers on the coffee table, the articles about her were circled in red, as was my habit with anything that caught my interest.

“That is a habit of mine, I circle things, see, and with that I pulled out a bunch of magazines and showed him the red penned highlights, (smacking the article with my hand) see does this mean that I bombed a café in Paris, does this mean that I started Mad Cow Disease!”

I paused and breathed, Jones and Drake looked at each other as if to prove to each other that they had an open mind and could believe any given thing before reaching any given conclusions. Exasperated I noted, “let us have a bit of common sense here, ok, just a bit, ok.”

“Believe me Mr. Solemly we are there with you, we don’t know you, we don’t want you to be the man that did this to Victoria, we don’t want that, that is why we are asking the questions to flush you out in the first screening, ok.”

I a bit more relieved.

“Sorry, it is a bit of a dribble for you, I understand.”

“Now then one more question, were you indeed gawking at Ms. Victoria Snead while she laid there.”


He joined his hands together so as not to smack me, “gawking Mr. Solemly, in this case the act of looking at a catatonic woman with lust, with want, please don’t spend your time reacting to my questions, please just answer them, and thank you in advanced.”

“Well yes, (my hands moving somewhat obtusely,) I did walk into a situation what was I to do, that was what the scene called for, attention, call it gawking, I don’t know I was startled we are not used to bodies laying there in our lobby, this is a very organized and safe community.” I didn’t think I had finished answering, I didn’t think so, but I stopped. Both of them got up simultaneously.

“Well you have been of much help Mr. Solemly, sorry for any trouble we have caused you, and if you don’t mind we would like to keep in touch with you.”

Nervously I said, “Is the first screening done then.”

The schmuck turned winced his head, “we would like to keep in touch.”


Dr Heldrec was standing before a sitting erect, assisted by belts, Victoria Snead, a long slender frame, blond short hair, pale skin, she had ambulatory control, but it wasn’t voluntary. Her eyes were green, that was her more striking feature, the rest would have to be helped by highlighters, but for now her appearance was characterized by a monotone paleness throughout; aside from a perfectly long neck which could be overall an splendid setting for an emerald necklace on ice.

“Nurse,” Dr Heldrec was well known for not calling any of the nurses by name, he did not believe that Doctors should get personal with Nurses or with their patients, so in general he would use “the patient”, “the nurse” and thus the sterilization allowed him to cope with the severe cases which were the mark of his trait. “Nurse note that the patient has ambulatory functions, her organs are intact, she is digesting properly, there appears to be no internal damage, her condition is mental in nature, aside from some bruises throughout the patient’s body, which are probably explained by the fall from the stairs, though they are brought into suspicion by cigarette burns on her right shoulder blade, and three splattered on her belly.”

The nurse maintained silence, you did not talk to Dr Heldrec, he talk to you, that was that. As he eyed the woman before him, “Nurse her bio” “36 year old, 5 feet 11 inches, weighs 129 pounds, has no known profession, no medical history, the police are cataloging her apartment before we know more, no relatives have come forward.”

Dr Heldrec digs deep into his serene essence, he grabs the woman’s jaw, opens the mouth, places his forefinger into it and explores it, looks at Nurse, “no mucous,” strangely the Nurse feels guilty, jots down, “no mucous found.” The doctor feels the patient’s face, his fingers tactile matching the bone structure, then her arms, he feels the length of her arms, the patience shows no response, her eyes do remain open, they don’t appear to blink, though we know from the results of the examination that she has the capacity of sight.

The room remains cold, sterile white, the white lights add to it, the patient simply wearing a simple hospital garment with nothing underneath, does not shiver, neither the nurse nor the doctor seem to expect any reaction from this.

Dr Heldrec doesn’t discuss anything further here, he ends the review, and meets with Doctor Green, St Helen’s Director, and a man of some worldly repute. He had seen the patient earlier, he was a generalist in the sense that he followed more his intuition than any medical results, Dr Heldrec asked for his opinion and Green complied, “She is suffering an acute mental collapse, something siphoned out the anime from her neurons, she doesn’t seem to be firing them from any necessity nor does it seem that the external world is stimulating them; we can expect a catatonic condition for a month or two, I say leave her alone, keep on feeding her intravenously, don’t dope her, she isn’t going to come out of it if you do; keep her sleep as much as possible, that will be the best to do for now. Meanwhile see what we can find out about her history from the police.”

“There is something that I don’t like about this, it appears that she was burning herself, something made her self destructive, but what?”

“Oh old boy don’t fret over it, she doesn’t have to solve any great mysteries for us, this sort of self emulation occurs all the time, most of the time the world doesn’t know we are doing it, when we smoke, drink or seek reckless professions, it’s the same thing, actually a milder manifestation of self destructive tendencies than cigarette burns or tattoos there isn’t.”

“Well maybe you are right, maybe it is nothing, I will wait to talk to the police before I burden you with any conclusions.”

“Are we still on for bridge tonight?”

“Not tonight, I think I am going to finished that book of Cognitive Psychosis.”

“I knew you would coward-out, I will have to play on the internet instead.”

Minor smile “Suit yourself Doctor.”

The two left each other, leaving behind signs of distress in one and routine in the other.


Victoria Snead’s apartment was a reduced event for the police. A bed with cotton sheets and maniacal straightness throughout, a chair, her clothes strung about, no books, no paper for taking notes, no diary, no love poems, no books, the list of things missing from the standard apartment were baffling, the refrigerator was practically empty, clean almost, cheese slices, a can of chili, some bread and ham slices, and a glass-pitcher of water. Her closet was equally stark, three dresses, no pants anywhere in sight, just three dresses, four if you count the one that she was wearing the day that she was found. There were no pairs of shoes, one if you count the ones that were found along her that day; she was into solid simple colors, no myriad of anything, she wore hats, there were five hats, very modern and stylish head dress, indeed they were well kept, and that was all of that.

The rest of the apartment as noted by Assistant Drake, “a drab of place to live.” Well there was certainly nothing comfortable about the place, no couch, no tables, save for one by her bed, that one contained an alarmed clock, which had no battery, ringing had long gone. Police Chief Osman, “This dame doesn’t have a life, where is the phone, there isn’t even a phone, where does she work, doesn’t anyone care about her!”

That is when the door to the apartment opened, and two very well dress and finely made up dames walked in. Both in their thirties, equally endowed with sophistication, one a blond, the other a brunette, both wearing head dress, and both ornamented to the hilt, it was magnificent to see such a blatant attack upon austerity. The brunette uttered, “We care about her, and her name is Victoria, and we are her best friends in the whole world and where, where is she and what are you two doing in here.”

After the appropriate officialdom introductions, the dames introduced themselves, “I am Emily and this is Sylvia, we are two of the trio that is solely bringing back the hat to fashion!”

“Well, (said the chief) we are delighted to see you both, we have been needy of finding a friend of Victoria’s she has suffered,”

“Suffered what!” “Suffered what” (eyes glaring, palms to mouths, quivering howls)

Assistant Drake goes over to comfort the women, “We are sorry your friend Victoria has suffered a memory loss, apparently she fell, and had done some minor harm to herself, she is now at St Helen’s psychiatric ward.”

The two women looked at each other, leaned into one another, and “we must go see her, she must see us, right away.”

Putting civility aside Chief Olson noted that he would like ask them some questions, they looked at him as if he were nuts, and exclaimed accordingly “first we must see Victoria!!” and with that they rushed out leaving the Chief and his assistant in bewilderment land.

Dr Heldrec received the notice from the nurse. He received Victoria’s friends in his office. “Clearly she is no condition to see you right now, there is nothing to be done about it, she has had some sort of severe trauma we have her heavily sedated, she needs time for her senses to reach some kind of accord with the rest of her mind and body, and the best that we can all do for her, at least for now, is to wait it out.”

“Why that is insane Doctor, pardon me for saying it, but insane, why once she sees us she will recognize us instantly and progress much faster, you must let us see her.” It didn’t really matter which of the two spoke it was as if either were speaking, the expressions of one would follow the cadence of the other. “I would reinforce that Doctor Heldrec, you don’t know our friend, we have the ability to cure her, please let us try.”

“I am deeply sorry and I am just as gravely concern as you are about the well being of the patient but we are not going to jeopardize a well diagnose recovery path based on some amateurish assumption that does not take into consideration how trauma is treated, and how fatal it can be to disrupt gradual procedures that are known to work.”

“We will appeal this decision, we must speak to the head of this hospital.” As coincidence would have it, Dr Green was just on his way in.

“I am, I think, the head of this hospital, Dr Green a pleasure to make your acquaintances and how may I be of service to you ladies?”

“Well…” one uttered, “…you may put that pipe out, please sir.”

“Oh my lady I very much would like to that but I am afraid it is the only evidence that I am still the director of this fine institution, I authorize myself to smoke it against any other pretense of authority.”

“I suppose since Freud smoked one it must be institutional.”

“Your humor does not go unnoticed my kind dear, and now how may I be of service to you?”

“We demand to see Victoria immediately.”

“And you are?”

“We are her best friends in the whole wide world, we are like sisters, we are jointly reviving hat etiquette in the fashion world.”

“Oh that sounds very wonderful, and in reference to seeing her, what does her Doctor say about that.” Looking towards Dr Heldrec.

“Well as you must know my position is that under her current condition the patient can not been disturbed, anything done to alter her current condition is just going to undo the natural progression to some stability, I propose we don’t bend the rules for the sake of the patient.”

“Understanding your good intentions my ladies, (leaning into them) I think the good doctor is right, we do all want what is best for Victoria, it is best to wait out a normal transition into normalcy, (calming them with his hand gestures) sometimes patience is the best friend of recovery.”

“We do not feel that you two medics understand, we are not going to stop here just because you wont let us see Victoria, we will take this to the police chief, to the courts, we are not going to wait months while you sit here observing her, expecting miracles, when we know that if only she sees us she will instantly recover!”

And with that the two fine dames, rose in perfect unity and walked out resterilizing the hospital as they went.


Police Chief Olsen was a moderately stubborn man he was also into solving cases fast, he didn’t like an untidy case list, an open case was a case that needed to be closed, and so when the two dames arrived at his office, he was pleased to see them again and to hear their request. He immediately got on the phone to the top hierarchy at the hospital with the two bonnets listening before him.

“Listen here Doctor Green, I don’t want to tell you how to run your hospital of nuts and equally I don’t want you to tell me how to run my investigations, but it would be best that you let these ladies see their friend and that way we can awaken her and get to the bottom of what happen to her.”

Dr Green mildly responded, “I see Chief Olson, you are not going to tell me how to run my hospital as long as I don’t tell you how to run your investigations, and you need me to open this patients brain right now by cutting through it with her friends presence. Now why doesn’t that sound logical to me.”

“I aint no fool Doctor, all those titles you have don’t scare me, these two women were close friends, they can help us pry her memory open, and you are not giving us the opportunity to test this.”

“That is right, I am not giving you the opportunity to test this theory.”

“Why don’t you try to be reasonable, if it doesn’t work then what is the difference we will just keep on waiting as was the original plan.”

“Yes, I am sure it is that simple Chief, only I am charged with her care and responsibility and so I can not allow visits at this time. And so let us leave the good will of Doctor Heldrec to do the right thing. Meanwhile I bid you a good day sir.

Dr Green had some how concluded that the conversation had ended and properly hanged up the phone. However the lack of a mutual interpretation of that event led to some consternation at the other end.

“Why that son of bitch hanged up on me, he hanged up on me! He slammed the dumbfounded phone down. And yelled, “Drake! Drake! Get Harris, tell him I want access to the patient, I don’t give a damn what kind of legalize it requires!”

Drake was a little startled, “Can we do that? Can we force access to a patient?”

“Drake don’t just stand there pretty legs, get Harris to figure it out, that is why he gets paid more than you do.!” “Yes sir.”

And so the two starlets were happy as could be sensing that Olsen was a can do guy and he was going to pry open the gates of the hospitals.

Harris District Attorney called back, “Sure under certain conditions we can ask a judge to grant us a mandatory visit to the patient, under some supervision of course, but by the time I put the arguments together for such a violation of a Doctor’s right to guard the well being of his patient, the two months that he is asking you to wait would have come to pass. They don’t take transgression of these privileges lightly; and if something irreparable happens to the patient due to our actions you can bet the entire medical establishment will sue us.”

Olson probably didn’t understand or cared about much of all that, but he understood the implications of the words “sue us” doctors were as good at suing as they were at being sued, so he hanged up the phone, looked at the waiting ladies. “I think in times like this it is better to heed the advice of the legal experts, we are going to have to wait a couple of months before we do anything here.”

“But how can they keep us from her when she most needs us?” They both said it, really.

“You know I don’t like the law, (displaying some perplexing reflection) well I like the law but it is not always completely fair. We have to accept this.”

The two got up simultaneously, instantly windrowing all the fashion sense in the police department.


Mr Solemly was still absent from work, though it being his company affected little his chances of promotion, and so there he slaying the time pondering the face of a woman that has marvelously captivated him while seemingly dead and not while she was walking past him when fully alive.

He had been following the newspapers, radio and television intently listening, the patient, Victoria had gone off the airwaves, and now he didn’t know what to do. That is when he decided that the best to do was to snatch her from the mad house.

We could easily move to define what made him want to do this; anxiety, something that day he saw her clicked all the nerves that had hidden him, perhaps he had found a moment of honesty, there she was on the floor, all those prying eyes and yet she kept her speckle of a self defined in this finite point of space, something we don’t know what it was, and our thoughtful man had relinquished all practicality, he was now being governed by any laws, he was tucked into himself, he was now action at a distance, attraction mandating proximity.

It was not difficult for him to realize his intentions, the Helen’s mad house was not a high security ward, he was sure of that, neither was Victoria Snead a kind of criminal, she was being prevented from seeing visitors but this was merely preventive medicine. So it was that our man drove his Volvo to the funny farm. There he guessed approximately 20 rooms, that wasn’t that many, he had massive powers of deduction, he entered through a rear door, and there he picked one room after the other, he assured himself first that there were no security cameras, the guard in front could not see him, and the nurses on duty were watching the television, all in all things were calm.

He was methodically counting rooms, 11, 12, and some of these people didn’t look like they were healthy at all, he was spooked, he was used to neurotic behavior, his apartment complex was a flowering pot of it, but he wasn’t used to seeing it full blow disclosure like that, he was wondering why he was going to snatch the girl, he was insane perhaps or was he looking for trouble and adventure; he didn’t know, he needed to do it, he was not going back empty.

Room 17, was in a basement space that contained the last four rooms, it was obviously an area where isolation was an intended result, the small hallway contained all four rooms and was darkly lit, the lights within the rooms, were themselves intended to be left always on, sign read, “lights in rooms are to be left on at all times.” Obviously troubled patients could not be afforded the luxury of darkness. He checked once again around and surely it was safe, he peered slowly through the window, and got a good jolt!

Inside he saw Emily and Sylvia, both were smoking, the door was sealed shot so he could not hear anything, he himself did not know who they were, but he certainly thought these two strangers had foiled his plan. He slunk back down on the concrete door, almost forgetting to be on guard, feeling disappointment, when he noticed that it was easier to hear under the green door’s crevice.

“…and she looks good in this medical garment…” “the place fits her I think…” “she wouldn’t ever imagine that we would leave her alone here…” and then he heard a violent movement, and he rushed to the window, to see that they were slapping her, and pinching her, pulling her hair, and he could almost discern their voices, “girl you try to leave the sisters, you don’t leave the sisters.” Either one and both were talking, “it seems you could have come-around, and help us change the fashion world, there was no way we weren’t going to win, but you try to kill the hat trio, we don’t want you now though, it is too late, we will rescue hat fashion without you, but you have to burn…”

And trailing those punctuated speeches a cigarette was extinguished on her belly, and then another one, next to her wrist, however the girl was limp less, we know she could move but she didn’t move, the girls laughed, then helped each other to light another cigarette, “girl they wouldn’t let us come see you, we wouldn’t have it any other way, we weren’t going to let you rot in here, you nasty girl.” “yeah you took the plunge down the stairs, not nice, now see how dumb you look without us;” “girl you were smart, but you are not smart no more, and look at you all pale like that, all huddled in your own presence, your not making any fashion sense now.”

And they grabbed her and colored her lips, and begun to add a little mascara to her eyelashes, and liner to the eyes, and brightening powder to her cheeks, and the monstrosity was somehow beginning to look like them, but not really, and Solemly was watching and instead of helping her he was crying, crying like a baby, crying, his hands trembling, whining, his stomach and lungs both competing for air, leaving his brain starved, and he would lean and writher against the door to watch, again the lifelessness within, and he would gasp for more air, sputtering;

Inside, “girl you haven’t looked this good sense you left us,” again it was either or both talking, “we make you right.”

But Victoria must have gotten something from the visit, “hey we make a different chic, look at you move,” “our visit helped, she moved her hands,” indeed she was looking at her hands, “yikes, mama, what is happening here the girl is moving!” “See I told you we were good for her, damn doctor doesn’t know how fashion cures a girl, doctor doesn’t know ha baby.” Putting her hand to Victoria’s chin, again either, “baby you are certainly more lively now.” Kiss.

Perhaps it was the recognition that she had a hand that forced Victoria to use it but she smacked the pretty lady a good one, to which the other reacted with empathetic rage, and thought to attacked and it sooner became a mangled fight, that somehow arouse enough aggression in Solemly, he opened the door and slammed his way into the fray, and there they all slugged it out as well as they could tell who was whom, and soon the hospital night staff managed to join too; and it was hilariously frenetic as it seemed quite impossible that damage was being done to anyone but for much noise, until Dr Heldrec rang the alarm bell!

“Now everyone stay put! Stay put! You are all to stay put! And it didn’t take long for Dr Green to arrive and for Police Chief Olsen and Mrs. Drake to arrive, and soon the whole thing became a nightmarish oil painting by Goya, the orderly state standing guard over the outlandish but fashionable weirdoes.

The entire group of buffoons from nurses to Mr. Solemly and including the patient were placed under house arrest. And the next day begun the investigation in earnest.

Sylvia and Emily fought a gallant defense. “We are the hat girls your honor, and this girl violated our hat etiquette.”

The judge was not as amused as the audience. “Your hat etiquette gives you the right to violate a person, to scare her for life with cigarette buts, to infringe upon her right to feel safe in her own apartment!!”

“Well your honor, when someone doesn’t follow your fashion sense don’t you put him in jail?” and they both went on without waiting for a response, “yeah, it is freaky how you can jail people because they don’t do how they are suppose to do and us you reprimand for that.”

The rhythm of the verse deployed by these ladies was insufficient to convince the judge. He did a wry stone musical depiction of the sentence, “and for casing bodily harm to citizen Victoria Snead and taking liberties in her presence not condoned by the civil code, you are to spend three years in prison without parole.”

The girls cringe at the thought, “Jail us, uniforms, we would have to wear uniforms! No your honor the horror, our hairdressers and our hats how would we care for them?”

“Ladies, I don’t think you are aware of the severity of your situation, however you are to cute to be declared insane, but let me clarify that you are both to go to jail, and sense when you are united it allows you to create unrealistic machinations, you are to serve your sentences in different penitentiaries.”

The hat ladies feinted and weren’t taken out of the court room, on stretchers and with handcuffs.

Mr. Solemly was released by the judge summarizing his situation as that of an “undeserving hero.”

The Sanitarium was told to pay damages to Ms Snead for allowing trespassers to abuse her, and the night watchman was fired.

Victoria recovered fully or perhaps, we don’t know, she was plainly normal, almost as happy without fashion as she was with it.

One day he went over to her apartment, she undid the door, and they watched each other for a while, walking around and through one another, and feeling an epic silence of silliness, until he came close to her, their palms joined, and their smiles kissed.

From then on they became inseparable and are currently living in his apartment, they lounge with the other tenants often, and he still can’t seem to get to the office. They have no children, and we are ok with that.


Abrupt Ending

It was not a good day to wakeup, especially because it was actually night; I had slept the entire day. There wasn’t much left of the evening. I was surrounded by the furniture, the long dark walls, the huge living room that had never made me feel at home, some young architect on his way to designing convention halls and airports had made his way through my abode. I was its inhabitant, helpless against the giant artifice, the fireplace was more than seven feet, giant flames would dwarf my frame and unhinge my shadow and embellish with memorable insight against an inconceivable, fainted bleached wood that helped the demonstrativeness against the marble dark walls.

The entire place was an intent to subdue congruence and admonish any intent at aesthetic cooperation. Every wall, fireplace, kitchen and so on was an unwilling participant, their intent was to demonstrate that individuality could overpower unity, that within the scope of one house everything could be in disagreement and yet sustain itself on a foundation. In some way I was an unequal participant too. I was here, this was my home. I lived here with my most cherished friend Aghan Oakly, and with my sister, Phudian Ilsen, I was an Ilsen too, and Phudian lived with her lover Marina, perhaps the only sweet person in the household.

We had no pets, we had a bar with all the liquors the world could produce, the kitchen could feed an entire army, and it served us well as we each cooked our own foods and never dined in the company of one another. We were independents, we told ourselves that we were, we didn’t need each other, when we needed someone we dialed the phone and connected, but otherwise we preferred not to mingle. Aghan kept to himself, he had requested a place to stay; down and out, a laid off engineer from the Boeing Company, proof that the loss of plane sales to the Europeans can have a gruesome effect. He had taken up consorting with the liquor bar, and frankly living off the estate of my diseased grandfather; a man that himself managed to live alone at least the most important days of his many years. Living here everything was somehow paid for; lawyers from Haurfan and Haurfan and Morgan would come by once and month and have sister and I sign off on the expenses. The bar tab was the least of anything, the pool cleaner was getting rich off of us, the gardener was obviously sending his kids to Harvard, and our driver and two cooks, would certainly have no problem financing their wants; Aghan could drink his sobriety away in god company and reduce all those flight of fancy neurons.

The lights were dimmed, the place was mostly dimmed during the day as well, there were a few large windows catering to the intensity of the possible horizon, which was wholly obstructed by a wooden deck, the intent being to prove that the horizon could all be man-made, straight into the night sky, where stars were diminished by the tinted glass, under our feigned power.

My name is Horace Alen Ilsen III, the third though there were many more behind those last three, we were the third we started counting too late, we could have easily counted as many as far back as the AD and BC demarcation would allow. Our family retreated all the way back to the beginning of civilization, before we were monkeys, before we were crawling fish, before we were mere bacteria, protozoa, we were there at the start. There was no part of civilization we could not claim association to, we were there, we are here, we will end here.

Phudian was my dear sister. I don’t know why we never made a sincere connection, I don’t remember us trying too hard, but still one would imagine that after such grueling evolution we would have everything in common including psychic entanglement. We didn’t. It was rough, we didn’t however acknowledge the rough, that wasn’t for us to do, we didn’t have the time to say to each other, “we don’t get along” hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and nothing in common; what we did have was instant disentanglement, we knew we didn’t fit together, the rent was paid, the booze was free, the house was huge, we never had to talk to one another, we could meet each other in the hallways, stretch both of our arms out and still pass without touching each other.

Amplitude is a monogamous friend, our eyes could spend an entire day divining what to focus, we could eat at any time, we could sleep at any moment, we could die without notice, Phudian didn’t try to arrest our insoluble contentedness.

Phudian, you may have surmised was an indolent lesbian, I say indolent because it was happenstance, desire seemed like such an excommunicated attraction that it didn’t factor into her relationship. Phudian was a lesbian simply because she didn’t want to be penetrated, because the idea that a man would cross the hairs was an arcane proposition. When we were young she had many suitors, her attractiveness might have been wasted but it could not be denied; she was this petite attraction of denials, a man could feel that he could do anything with her, there were no limits to her passion arousing godlike smell, her scent was an angelic scent, a congregation of angels, you could sit next to her and smell your desires arousing, and passions unfurling only Phudian, (an obscure ancient meaning, “turned off obstruction”” the double entendre emancipated in the apparition of my sister, “here I am I stink like god and you cant have me!” Sweet!

Phudian had an antagonistic side: Marina. Marina was a wonderful soul, so juicy with intent to please everyone, and yet so abstracted from us, neither Phudian nor Aghan could muster the energy to engage in her fervor, she was one of us within the giantess home, but really we did not care to indulge in caring situations, either way her sweetness would have amounted to great bitterness in the out there world. We gave her a roof, a bed, my cold sister, and plenty of fire, where she could languish in her dreams, unaware that they would never materializ. For instance, she loved my sister, my sister just didn’t want to be touched, Marina fulfilled her own enchantment by believing that my sister was pure. My sister just didn’t want to be touched! She wasn’t pure, she couldn’t be bothered by purity; she didn’t want to be held, she was untouchable, so purely untouchable, and yet Marina held that to be a romantic ideal, she never ceased her zenoic march towards the eternal damnation of love.

Aghan had been married, fortunately his wife left him for another man: they were high school sweethearts, they were both married, they reunited over the internet, they found each other, they forgot each others vices and broke up their marriages to reinvent their childhood sweetheart engagement, and so thanks to the magic of the internet Aghan was left with Drew, his most adorable cotton-faced, curly-haired, ice-cream-commercial-cheeked daughter; alone in a giant house with two large cars, and a dog name Peter, after the son that was lost during childbirth. And then, one day, Aghan took up the vice of alcohol; he could have taken on more serious drugs, but he didn’t like they way they made him feel, alcohol was his vice of choice, and not long after that but not because of that, but rather because the Japanese and the Chinese did not buy enough Boeing airplanes, Aghan found himself unemployed and highly skilled, in other words, in heavy water.

Fortunately, Aghan’s next door neighbor Joan Citrix, an active and concerned citizen realized that if the television was on 24 hours day and going at full blast and through the kitchen window cockroaches could roam during the day, and maggots were beating up the rose bushes, then there must be something wrong with her former barbeque pal. And so she, preferring not to engage in uncivilized confrontation, called the social services department and they duly came over and took Drew away so she could find new horizons in strange new dwellings. Her father then became a more indefatigable drinker until he was impounded, and one day I get this call and find myself taking my old buddy out of jail and bringing him here to my wall-less fortress.

Today has passed, I stayed in bed too long. I open my nightstand drawer, play around with a gun that I find in it. Pretty gun, I am not a gun person, never have been, don’t know that I know how to aim and shoot one. I play around with it, a little, touch the small barrel, it is one of those cute guns, Saturday night specials perhaps. I have heard the name I don’t know what it means. The gun is tiny next to my hand, it seems difficult to imagine that this gun could kill someone. I check it out, take out the cartridge that slides downward from the handle, there are five bullets there, they all have hollow tips, a person that doesn’t know about guns can’t know what a hollow tip is and what it does.. as the bullet travels through the air the high rate of speed, heat and atmospheric friction fall into this frontal caved-in hole at the point, and so warp the bullet’s frame, making it contort more into a hammer head type shape and then slam into an elephant and knock it down from the impact without bothering to penetrate, though from the absurd velocity penetration also occurs, but the jagged tumbling entry ricochets from bone through organs and eventually manages to escape, creating an alternative breathing hole for bloodletting.

I am in the living room now, I walked here with my gun, I am standing by the giant fireplace, my silk shirt is black, my pants are black, Aghan enters through the hallway. I reach into my pocket, pull out the gun, he is making out my motion but expects no harm from it; I aim, arm straight, squinted eye, head in sights, pull the trigger, once and twice and Aghan hangs against the wall, splattering a dance, and caves into the hall, behind a couch where I can no longer watch.

Phudian rushes in, streaking her hands against her face, my handgun hanging from my arm, I turn degrees to meet her sight, and volley a round her way, and two, and no more, two is enough, it seems. She screams more so, her hands masked red, her eyes exposed, her pale face retrieving bullets gone into her neck, and squelched her figure hanged, from air or some strange thousand Gs disguised, she pummels draining herself from the airport and the stadium, on her way to some glorious convention.

Marina is not far behind, she sees me, I move again, so eloquently sight her with the barrel, her face is more subdued than normal, she stares at me but not with fright, she looks long at me and leaves this place, and I track her with my sight perfectly aligned, but still a bullet in the chamber, and I aim but never pull it out of its calm.

I would like to say I felt something but the walls were so far apart. I stood there for a while making good contrast with the fireplace, the marble casing against my silk black slacks and shirt, the black iron on my pearl hand, the indisposed grip.

I went out to the deck, crossed its massive width, walked down the lengthy stairs onto the beach, and tossed high and far into the sea, the thing.

How long do you think it took, for the police to come and spy my doings, and a whole bunch indeed for only four shots to ring.

The uniformed officers came and yellow lined and chalked the place, adding this invisible contour to the place that I might not have noticed otherwise. They regaled in the events, pictures were taken, I saw a lot of writing going on, and then in just as swift an exit as their entrance they were all gone, dimming their presence like the stars.

Three remained one woman and two men. “Mr. Ilsen we have been kind in allowing you a few minutes to compose yourself, we have sent the officers away, but we must ask now ask you some questions, may we please?”

“Absolutely, I am fine! Feel free to count on my assistance in this case!”

The two men were casually dressed, both with bluejeans, one in an oxford shirt the other in a black sweater arrangement. The girl was a blond, very short hair, blue eyes, a most appealing athletic build, she too was causally dressed. She approaches.

“Hello Mr. Ilsen, this is Harry and Shiac, we work these type of multiple suicide cases together. I am Polly, and we are not police officers.”

“You’re not?”

“No, we are psychiatrics, we are here to establish that you didn’t commit the crime, we have no reason to believe that you did anything wrong and so we are here to prove that you are not the one.”

“But shouldn’t a detective be here investigating and determining the cause and effect?”

She sat me down on the couch and sat herself down on our large black coffee table, her legs, unrehearsed, straddle the scene. “Well yes, if you prefer a detective can come here, we are a new thing sort of, a squad of three heavily trained psychoanalysts that in theory should have a greater advantage in assessing the situation and identifying the killer.”

Shiac invites himself into the conversation.

“It’s this new thing, cops investigating crimes seems a bit outdated, they don’t seem to qualify, if you imagine that most people don’t commit premeditated murder then it stands to reason that Sherlock Holmes is probably out of his league, it is most likely that the spontaneity of crime is dominated by infantile, instinctual or emotional charges that when they go off can deteriorate any relationship.”

Harry injects himself.

“We embark on the search for the more genuine aspect of the crime, even if a crime is premeditated it probably has emotional roots, traditional criminology is event driven, it attempts to define everything that wasn’t, and from the possible, everything that was and thus leads to the event, (coolly posing with his arm holding a cigarette that I had never noticed being lit.) We believe the event is just circumstance.”

Polly dangles on…

“Presumably detectives are good at capturing criminals with guns in their hands, the new way calls for people like us, you are actually our third case, it is an innovative approach and as you may imagine there is a little pressure for us to prove the new methodology.”

I pulled up to the bar and poured myself a straight scotch. “Would you dears enjoy some with me?”

Polly “Sure, scotch is fine.”

Harry, “I will hang with my smoke, thanks.”

Shiac, “A glass of red would be fine.”

Me, “Officers that drink on duty, eh.”

Polly, “We are not officers, we are researches, the crimes that were committed here today are not evidence to us, they are merely suppositions, there may be a greater crime that has been committed to arrive at this conclusion, we don’t assume anything, we are scientists of the mind, we think the mind kills after the murder has already been committed in some unimaginable realm or dimension.

Shiac, “What Polly is saying is that tonight’s murders are a consequence, we appreciate that fact, we prefer to get to the real crime, we don’t know what that is. (noticing I was some what perplexed,) we are savage children, today someone killed your sister and your best friend, but that was a result of the real crime that caused this crime, we don’t know what the real crime was, the obvious crime, that your sister and best friend were killed, wasn’t it.”

Harry, “I don’t want to interrupt but you don’t seem very perturbed by tonight’s events Mr. Ilsen.”

Mr. Ilsen, “Yes, you are right, I am not perturbed, someone came in here and killed people that were somewhat dear to me, but I have never felt a need to be demonstrative about my feelings, I am a very private person, and so you have the consequences of that and my conservative upbringing for that, I don’t cry, nor do I dwell, life is full of tragedies, it is poor manners to embellish the tragedy.”

Harry, “Damn good ok.”

Polly, “We would like to begin running a test, if you don’t mind. We know it will be somewhat taxing but then we will go and leave you to your moment.”

Mr. Ilsen, “As you must and justice must.”

Polly, “We are going to ask you some questions, please be as sincere as possible.”

Mr. Ilsen, “Are you saying I don’t have to be sincere?”

“I am saying please be as sincere as possible Mr. Ilsen”

Harry begins, “It is a starry starry night, there are no clouds, a flock of seagulls fly past your window what do you think?”

Mr. Ilsen replyies, “Seagulls sleep at night.”

Shiac protrudes, “In India cows are sacred, you wouldn’t want to kill a cow there, are you a meat eater Mr. Ilsen?”

Uncomfortably answering, “Well, yes.”

Polly, “There are many ways to get rid of lice, you can use olive oil, special shampoos, even certain vitamins will assist you in killing them, which would you prefer?”

“I prefer to live with lice than treat them, too many people have them, they just keep on coming back, it seems pointless to get rid of them.”

Shiac, “You have never married, your sister is a lesbian, are those two factors connected”

Spilling a bit of the third scotch without water, “I don’t see any connection.”

Harry, laughing, “neither do I chap, neither do I.” Proceeding with his question, “If some people are not drowning, but they are in the titanic, do they deserve to be encouraged?”

Ilsen calmer than necessary, “I never thought of that but I did hear of a mother that realizing they were sinking tied her three children together ensuring that the family stayed together.”

Polly seeming a little impressed, “Do you have a gun?”

Without hesitation, “Nope.”

Polly, “Well we are most grateful, we know this wasn’t your standard investigation and so must take some getting used to, but we do appreciate your cooperation. Till tomorrow.”

With that they all did say goodbye leaving Ilsen by himself in the dim darkness.

He sat there in the sea of a black couch and drowned.


Real TV

Her eyes were oval large brown, crying but not bursting red, the eyes were clear, they were angled towards me, they were saying I didn’t comprehend, I couldn’t possibly understand, she was devastated and my words would ring hallow regardless of their accompanying compassion. And yet she knew, a pretty woman should not cry like that without awaking every sentiment within the man standing before her, she couldn’t help herself, yes my sentiments were hollow, her beauty somehow told me she couldn’t possibly suffer like the rest of us, she had been a star in real TV, and she was now famous, and I walked into this diner an average Joe, to have a cup of coffee so as to feel a part of the world by paying for a cup.

“Its not right that you should be crying like that, please calm yourself down.”

Crying berracouslously, “Its so unfair, how could he do this to me, and in front of all those people.”

I putting my hand on her shoulder, she didn’t sit at the counter because she didn’t want to be touched. “What did he do to you?”

“He made fun of me, he mocked me, he… he…” aaagh.

“Well suffering is not a good way to get even, you should just get angry, crying is not going to do any good.”

“Who are you, you don’t know, you don’t know nothing.”

“Well your probably right…” looking at my grubby uniform, I was a Pest Inspector, for Harry Solomon of Cockroach Incorporated. It wasn’t even my company I was just day labor, It was a job I owned to my victims, it paid the coffee, the uniform was included, nine years on the job, you get a free uniform after five, my blue jacket read, “Joe Wilson” an average Joe. And so I continued as she was molested by my long introspection, “…maybe I don’t know nothing.”

She stopped her sorrowful state, “I didn’t mean to insult you, you are trying to be helpful Mr… what is your name?”

“Joe, Joe Wilson.” I motioned to greet her hand.

Sniffling “Marlenette Thompson, that’s me. Yes that’s me”

“Who has put you in this sorrow?”

“What do you mean!” She seemed upset or surprised. “What do you mean you don’t know who I am?”

“Well not till now that you say your name is Marlenette, I don’t come here often, can’t say we met.”

Her shoulders dropped, she released a deep breath, tossed her head back, “And here I thought you were talking to me because I am a television actress.”

“Oh you are in television, sorry for not recognizing you but I don’t watch nor own a television, just what I read on the papers is all I know about television.”

“Now you make me feel so silly, I didn’t mean to be so distant, but its just men, and women too, they come up to me all the time and tell me how wonderful I am, and I don’t know if they are being serious or if they just want to get me to bed.”

“Yeah I could see how a pretty woman like yourself would have such a problem even if she wasn’t famous, so it must be really hard on you.”

“Well, yes, it is, it is…” she sort of drifted out of the situation, and then suddenly started ‘crying again.”

“What Happen to you?” While giving her a napkin for her tears.

“That jerk, we were the perfect couple, that jerk.” Sobbing “…and now it is all gone.”

“But what happen to you.”

“We were friends, you know real closed friends, and we decided that we would try out for COUPLES LIVE, we thought it would be fun, and it was. We were a popular couple, people really digged us, we were so cute, you should have seen us, he was caring, we got along really well, of course we never really slept together, we were friends, I wouldn’t have wanted it, but then one day we did sleep together, and… and…”

“hey, hey its ok, calm down, its alright, you don’t have to talk about it anymore if you don’t want to.”

“I want to talk about it, I cant keep it inside anymore, he flamed me on national television, in front of all the people that believed me, in us, he destroyed everything.”

“What do you mean he flamed you, I don’t understand?”

“He flamed me. We were the perfect couple, the perfect couple, we would cook together, all these fancy dishes, people would write us for our recipes, and we would give them live, he was the better cook, but we laughed a lot massaging the flour, baking, adding chocolate chips, oh god, it was so good.” She seemed to get happy from the memories. “and we gave each other aprons for our anniversary, we didn’t know we were going to give each other identical gifts, just like no one knew that our anniversary was a fake. And then the day of GRAND COUPLE SELECTION, he freaked out on me, I was so static, we slept together the night before, I wanted to sleep with him, we were obviously going to win, I was happy, we had duped the judges, and I felt it was because things were really right between us, really right, we hadn’t noticed when we fell in love, and that night was magical…” streaming her tears in every direction, her eyes now red, red, red. “oh god how could he have, that night was magical.”

“But what happen then,”

“we were in the kitchen, it was the final show, I don’t know why the kitchen was our favorite room, I don’t know, and then I dropped the egg, and as I was cleaning it I got some on his shoes, and he flipped, he flipped, he told me I was a good for nothing, that he didn’t love me, that he didn’t want anything to do with me, and I couldn’t believe he was saying those terrible things, and the cameras were rolling, live and he seemed to get more riled up the closer the camera got, he was like in his element, he told the audience, Jesus I still don’t know how he could do this, he told the audience, he dint love me, he told them he was gay, he told them….” Her crying reaching quiet time, her animal self was crying now.

I didn’t know what to do, the people in the dinner seemed attentive and thrilled with the whole thing, I didn’t really pay attention to them, but I don’t know I worried a little, and I kissed her forehead, and it seemed to calm her, so I held her close, “hey, you don’t have to worry that guy is an asshole, he shouldn’t have done that to you, not on national television like that, you have every right to hate him now and to hurt, you don’t deserve that kind of treatment!”

“Why would he do that, why…”

“Oh I am sure he didn’t mean to do it, he gave in to the pressure of reality TV, don’t think he was even in control of himself, he was not, how could he have been, no way.”

She looked at him with a sense of divination, there was something so pure about this man Joe, he was so pure, she didn’t know how to express it, she blurted it out, “Joe please take me home with you, please.”

Joe looked around the people at the dinner, they were all staring, and finally one scraggy old man alerted him to his situation, “oh take her home for god sakes, she needs you.” And so the old man sipped his coffee as if he had just given some kind of destined command.

Joe wrapped her in her white Rabbit Coat, underneath a flashy red dress subdued, he left a ten dollar bill on the table some how figuring that would cover all the coffee consumed and also the disturbance, and walked out with the flamed and fallen starlet.

The sunshine arouse the next morning as it had everyday since the beginning of time.


Spill Over

Of course we knew, we were the deplorable knowers, we had seen it all, we had been informed even before it was an atrocity, and then there was the unusual coincidence that more than news for us it had been part of what we did, that is we did it.

Troops were storming our barricades now, the front lines kept on inching towards us, it was as if the entire war would meet its end at our feet and everyone was eager but us.

We could not have foreseen our heroics turned into the a marching horror of disciplined atrocities, we could not have seen it that way, we were young, naive, unaware of great victories, Sergeant Slosher was the only one in the troop that had seen battle, he had been compromised by a bullet and gotten a purple heart out of it, he was proud of it, he wore it all the time, hed put shoe polish on it so that it would not brighten the enemies sights, but other than Slosher, we were kids, playing paint ball with our own blood.

We came here to help these nice people escape the tyranny, they needed freedom we wanted to give them the same opportunities that we had back home. Only now it seems inappropriate to have to bring liberty with bullets; that is how Private Johnson saw it when he squeamishly unleashed a barrage of bullets into the town’s council.

It was a hot desert day, we were marching through the town on operation Quiet Town, the idea was to humble the insurgents and show the town folk that we were the good guys. A hot desert day though, in a place with a strange god and absorbed peoples, and Private Johnson paranoid himself and confused the brooms for guns, the black garb for uniforms, the sunglasses glaring as flashes of lightning fire, and so he pulled the trigger and held it down and since he was the machine gunner it sounded like we were all firing and couldn’t run out of ammo.

Johnson, Private Johnson, know nothing kid from some civilized dungeon, helter skelter where ever he went, guy didn’t know more than to rob convenient stores, a judge offered him the option of joining the military or going to jail, why he chose the military who could know, just like now we could blame the judge.

Once the bullets of fear were going down pass a waterlog, through the dry hot air, and into a collage of blood, we took cover, Sergeant Slosher knew we were overburdened by the situation, and he ordered us to take cover and assume defensive positions, the towns folk were not well armed, but one couldn’t very well defend oneself against an enemy one didn’t understand or could not really see until it was too late.

We took cover and then Sergeant Slosher walked over to Johnson and shot him, he didn’t wait for the kid to say sorry, or for the situation to clear itself out, or for a jurisprudence court-martial, he went up to him and shot him! He then looked at his eleven soldiers remaining and warned us. “You fucking assholes do stupid shit like that and I am going to kill you too.” He took his helmet off washed himself he sweat with his sandy hand, “but now I think we are dead anyway, we are not going to walk out of here alive, so you guys just hang tight, see how long we can make these bullets last, if we stay together we will at least be able to say we got fired upon first, we have been corralled, and Johnson lost it and became a danger to us, I shot him.” He kicked the body, spits on it, and then takes his purple heart and places it on Johnson’s body, “kid got scare, anyone can get scared out here, the situation scares the shit out of me.”

My name is Harvinger, I come from a nice family, they have never lived shit like this, I joined the Army because I didn’t have anything particular in mind for myself, the family was proud of me when I graduated from boot camp, they thought I had accomplished something, I could tell I hadn’t but I couldn’t tell them that, they were so happy to see me in uniform. When the war started they got sad and worried right away but they thought, well at least he is in a policing battalion, they go in after the grunts have made the area safe, but then the very word police denotes, “civilian enemies.” It should have been obvious, damn obvious.

The boys and I we understood what Slosher was doing, he was honoring a fallen soldier and trying to save our asses too, poor guy he couldn’t possibly benefit much from his payroll check, where was the money to justify his responsibility. He walked over to me, “Are you scared?”

“Yes Sergeant.”

“Me too. Now help me hold this together alright.”

“Yes sir, I will.” I don’t know why I threw in the I will, I guess it was corrosive but I had to somehow say I\t, after all I was agreeing to cover things up, I wanted a way out, he noticed but he couldn’t acknowledge it.

“Men, we are in a heap of trouble now, the chances that we will walk out of here alive are nil, the only thing on our side bettering the odds is that in war nothing ever happens like it is suppose to happen, that is to our favor, that is all.” He then called for Mustacho, Alen Mustacho our communications man, our link to the civilized world.

Turn the juice on and repeat after me Mustacho; “Heavy fire.” “Repeat it” “Heavy fire, under heavy fire, unknown enemies, trapped in an abandoned building north two blocks from the central square, urgent, need air and ground support to fortify and secure position, one man dead.”

Mustacho solemnly repeated after his sergeant, repeated, but there was not an ounce of belief in his voice, he didn’t sound rushed, worried, he sounded numb, if I had been listening on the other side I would have doubted that he was talking under heavy fire, instead I would have concluded that he was a hostage repeating what he was told.

The sergeant must have concluded the same because after Mustacho ended the communication he kicked him in the ribs and yelled, “listen here asshole, (pointing to his own ear) I am going to save your ass and you are going to let me! (then looking at us) I know you imbeciles don’t get it, I know you aren’t going to get it, but Johnson changed the laws of engagement, the laws of reporting, the laws by which we are going to get out of here, and no one back home is going to judge you assholes heroes for holding on to “I DIDNT DO IT” it is not in some congressman’s interest for you to be right, justice stop mattering when Johnson unleashed the machinegun and with those bullets implicated us all.” He took out his revolver, and pointed it at Mustacho’s temple, now you young ones might not want to live but I don’t know why, I don’t particularly like my job or this life but I don’t want to die willingly, so you will decide for yourselves, but nothing that jeopardizes us getting out of here alive and with some form of heroes welcome at the other end, is getting in my way.”

In order to save Mustacho and ourselves we all said, “Yes sir!” With that he ordered Mustacho to open the channel of communications, and I was ordered to use the machinegun in all directions to create a sense of urgency.

The town folk were already offended enough, they had indeed been firing pot shots here and there, but after my little barrage they started throwing hand grenades, and we weren’t safe any more.

We started hearing our own troops arriving in from the south, we knew they were now shooting indiscriminately so as to rescue us, we only had to hold out for a about fifteen minutes till the tanks made it to the position that we were broadcasting over the radio.

Sergeant Slosher ordered a helicopter gun ship to lay waste to a government building and to destroy a Mosque, and after all that the civilians were pretty much frightened into a stupor of disbelief and the rest were laid as dead. I felt safe enough to look out for our troops when a headless those of shrapnel from a grenade charred my arm off.

Sergeant helped me, “kid you are going to get out of here alive. Ok.”

“I don’t want to live without my arm sergeant, please shoot me, shoot me before the medics get here.”

“Your talking nonsense kid, I know what it feels like, but after a little while you will want to live. And we are going to make it now.”

The other guys were staring at me with fear in their eyes.

“Listen Sergeant, (reaching for every ounce of breath) listen to me sergeant I am going to compromise your position, you better kill me if you don’t want me to talk about what really happened in this town!”

I wasn’t totally done when Mustacho walked up to me and pointed his rifle at me, our rescue troops could be heard near by, “Sergeant I think Harvinger is in great pain.”

The sergeant tried to get the bullets away from me, and it was unfortunate for both of us. I think the boys made it out ok but in war there is never anyway to know.