Sunday, June 16, 2019

Marie's Temper, Thar She Blows

Part 16 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

It’s a constant wonder to me — I’m fascinated that I’ve lived so long — that you can die from nearly everything. I read the death news everyday and think, "Yeah, that could happen," meaning to myself. But one of the few things you can’t die from is holding your breath till you turn blue. One of our early fears. Because, as experience tells us, we always choose to breathe. Whether it’s choosing, that’s probably the wrong word; there’s some impetus toward breathing that takes over. And as far as I know, you can't even turn blue willfully. We’re built with an inborn awareness that breathing's good.

Something we certainly can do (and do do) is engage in persistently bad behavior and eventually die from it. For me the biggest problem is worry. I worry about everything and will probably die from it. But at least I'll be able to say I worried about it so much I saw it coming. A murderer leaps out from the bushes and kills you to steal your watch, I didn’t see that coming. But I've actually worried about it even though I don't have a watch. (The guy would settle for other stuff.) Anyway, I'm guilty of worrying too much about worrying too much. And if you pile up a string of worries about what you’re worried about you can see why it could be fatal.

This lady, Marie, the power that was overwhelmingly subtracting from her lifespan was a terrible temper. It’s fine with me that she’s dead, although I would've never said that to her face. Her temper was so terrible, she’d bite your head off if she heard such a thing. So what a relief now to say out loud, "Marie’s dead, and she brought it on herself!" Not suicide, of course, except the slow motion kind that a lot of us commit. Like me from worry. There are coping mechanisms that help, though, mostly reminding yourself that things always seem to work out, whatever the problem.

But with her temper, I don’t think there were coping mechanisms. Having a temper from hell is a thing you apparently have to accept, no refusals. It's ingrained. Picked up, probably, in childhood. The kid who stamps her feet and cries about every disappointment. That's the sort of thing you need to deal with at the time. Although I don’t know how. Reasoning with people with temper (or proto-temper) is often futile.

In childhood psychology, though, I’d guessing you would take away some of the disappointment by granting her wishes selectively. So she'd grow up knowing every wish fulfilled isn't how life works. And that to react with a bad, steaming bad temper is not helpful or appropriate.

But it's not my place today to conduct a full post-mortem on Marie. I’m sure the undertaker was up to his hips in worthless temper dripping out of her, but that’s a science too unpleasant to describe. We’ll just take our place on the other side of the curtain and say — temper or no temper — Marie is now dead, whatever the cause of death on the report, probably listed as a merely physical and not psychological thing, maybe brain implosion. A collapse of the head, now the size of a pea. Like a mine shaft shrinking inward from forceful molecular packing.

It certainly cleared the air for the rest of us. Now we can breathe freely instead of facing Marie's terrible wrath for every little thing. And that’s a good thing, coming not a moment too soon!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

If You're Poor, Stay Poor

Part 15 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

As I sketch out the sad story of Geoffrey, there's huge storms in the area. Lightning strikes everywhere, big bright bolts zapping the terrain and monster faces at the windows. It's frightening. It seriously might be Judgment Day! With demons unleashed, and I could be in for the shock of my life if I softball this blog post...

Could it be that my insights into the errors of society and the dictates of heaven above -- BOOM! Another Thunder-Boomy! -- are the only thing standing between You, Me, The Fence Post, Society's Judgment, and Breakfast? It definitely looks like it. And it's only 5:30. I just got up to pee, the lightning knocked out the toilet's electricity, so here I sit, stoved-up but typing.

I was actually half-expecting this, if truth be told. And, no, it's not all that idiot Geoffrey's fault, but there was a fault line that ran right through him, because it's when he started misbehaving that I had the distinct fear we were all in for trouble. This is a bad day. If the lightning hits this computer and I erupt in flames, I can't be held responsible for my mood.

But there's something going on, and while you might think it's "good clean fun," think again. Geoffrey's mistakes are a lesson for us all. He couldn't keep his hands on his money, his palatial estate, his clothes, his strictly heterosexual lifestyle, and other identifications. It's true, the message is: All variations, shades and flavors of "fluidity" are out! If you've got it, don't flaunt it! If you want it, stick with what you've got! Keep your seat, keep your place in line. The kind of storms we're getting today is part of it, and it's bad. I just heard on the news that Greenland slipped under the ice last night and is gone! If we're going to survive this, it'll take all of us hewing the straight and narrow, no more "fluidity."

Temptation always starts by looking around. And getting your identity screwed up to the point of not knowing who you really are. Say you're a round peg and you suddenly identify as a square screw, there's only so many times you can be pounded into a rectangular hole before it's screwed beyond repair. Geoffrey had it all ... and it's gone.

Instead of keeping the tried and true -- his destiny -- he allowed himself a sick drive and desire for more, for different. In his confusion, the whole swirl of our present-day mix-master of destinies, drives, and desires, sucked him in. Which probably did feel good in the short-term. But what of the consequences? His personal death! And now Greenland. Which really isn't gone. No, it sunk but it'll bob up somewhere. Let's say it comes up under Asia. The tidal waves will sink us all and Mount Everest will likely take out the moon. Any valuable paintings you have, get them to the attic!

It started just like that. A rich man dabbled in poverty. With identity confusion tossed in. He veered into full-time poor-enacting, got a taste for it and ended up losing everything. Then being actually poor, there was no one to help him and things went downhill, literally ... He rolled downhill in his barrel and crashed against the rocks. What could they do but heap his body on the charnel wagon and boil him down to make candles?

I can actually see why a guy would hate being richer than everyone else. I'm not dirt poor, and even me, my first uncomfortable thought meeting someone who is is, "I hope I can squeeze by this guy without him asking me for something." And if he does I pull the old card, “No speak English," till I’m out of sight, then cuss him a blue streak, the lousy SOB, in perfect English. Geoffrey’s story isn’t based on me, in case you’re wondering. I don’t know how people accumulate.

Part of Geoffrey’s thing was he was an only child. That’s great for keeping the inheritance to yourself, but bad for a kid's identity. But there he was, alone with a bunch of stuffy adults, forbidding him to play with poor honyocks like I could do freely. So right there we have a fluidity issue. People used to have more kids, now they might have one. See what's happening? Get busy, have more kids ... yesterday!

And definitely be happy with what you have, folks. If you've haven't got anything, be happy without it. The rest of us are depending on you to keep your place. Inert is the new uppity, value it.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dancing Girls, Horde Mongoling

Part 14 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I'm usually intrigued by people who get into reenacting things. Or intrigued about them is probably more accurate, wondering what's wrong with them. But it's still kind of cool. Of course I don’t do it. Just in my imagination on a smaller scale -- everyone does that. You see someone especially lovely, handsome, whatever, and mentally reenact their honeymoon, say, with you in it. That’s normal stuff. We go out to eat and she insists on paying for everything, good stuff, too, steaks the size of my back...

Then there's obviously things that'd be stupid to reenact. I go grocery shopping every week, usually on Monday. I do the whole thing, picking a cart doesn't wobble my arm to sleep, avoiding people as I go through the aisles, looking for things and getting used to where they keep them, etc., and finding a line for checkout that doesn’t have a dozen people in it. But I never reenact grocery shopping later in the week just for something to do...

There's war reenactors, and who knows what all, various historic things like maybe the Lincoln assassination, the pursuit for John Wilkes Oswald, and everything that goes with it, his back story, posing with the rifle in his backyard, nearly defecting to Russia, and the barn burning. And there's other reenactors, like the Titanic. And lesser known shipwrecks, the Minnow, carving a shortwave radio from a coconut, etc.

Here’s one I never heard of, Palace Intrigue reenacting, including a cast of thousands, dancing girls, clowns, regents, kings, queens, jacks, aces, harps, and buildings the size of palaces. Enough floor space to be a sea of glass. See the circle of dancing girls (crouched), that's the actual center of the piece. There’s another row beyond them of flute players, trumpeters, dancing girls clothed and nude, jacks jacking in the corner, and sellers of purple crying out, “Sale today, one day only, half off all purple!” A big deal for royalty.

Maybe I've never heard of it because it doesn't happen... Wouldn't it be too big? If so, this would have to be some kind of wormhole, time machine, or whatever... With the actual people coming back, appearing at random... The real historical scene reborn! With a time portal, an actual historical scene could be witnessed just as it was, and all the intrigue and relationships. You could be there a few seconds and maybe it'd seem like years. Or you'd blink or step away and it'd return to its original stream. Very awesome.

OK, if it's the real thing, there'd have to be life and death issues afoot. My imagination of intrigue always just scratches the surface, but in fascinating ways. With one of the biggest and most unfortunate problems back then being elephant stampedes. That'd be tough to look up and see elephants stampeding at you and causing commotion. Followed by Mongol hordes, anxious to make their mark in the world and not afraid of a bad reputation. Then flames bringing the walls tumbling down, the curtains evaporating in an upward inferno -- quite the disaster, but a potential wienie roast for survivors.

Most of the folks you see in our royal setting died that day. Which seems sad, but of course it's no big deal. 1) Most of them were rotten people, rotten to the core; and; 2) They were from so long ago -- centuries -- that they would’ve been dead of something else anyway. This at least gave them something interesting to do between deaths. One bad thing would be the people of their time wondering where they went. But, again, what can you do?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Power-Hungry, Crazy Ambition

Part 13 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I'm sort of a fan of big ambition. But I admire it from afar, since my own ambition -- while it exists in seed-form doesn't always sprout. Because I'm picky; anything I do, I want to be the first. Anything else and It's been done to death. If I can't come up with a fresh take on a thing, why bother? No one likes an imitator. Go big or go home, or just stay home. Maybe eat a big meal, wait a few hours, then go big.

So without big follow-through I'm a guy with just a little drive. I'm no Dr. Frankenstein, for example, who wanted to bring people back from the dead or piece together one guy out of multiple bodies. But his problem was like the guy in the graphic -- the danger of messing around with lightning. Thinking, "No pain, no gain," then proceeding, "If that's how it's done, that's how it's done. Gotta do what you gotta do. Let's get it in one take. If I'm gonna get knocked on my ass, I only wanna do it once..."

In Frankenstein, his book and movie, lightning reanimates a corpse and they basically live happily ever after. Yes, they had a few problems. A little girl was unfortunately frightened, but nothing terrible, about the same as if she turned over a rock and saw a spider.

But in the graphic, it's a different guy -- we're calling him Samson -- with big ambition, who undergoes the pain involved in achieving it. Because grabbing lightning is dangerous; it either kills or heals you. With a big payoff in Power, Force, Strength, and Endurance if you beat the odds.

It would be fascinating to watch Samson do it. With me standing far back in safety. He's got a huge ego, he's too big for his britches and not afraid to show it. He's stomping 'round the ring like a professional wrestler. He's cursing all heavenly powers, lightning bolts are going off everywhere. His grandma rolls up in a motorized wheelchair and shakes her cane at him, telling him to stop. A bolt of lightning strikes his head and he channels it out his arm toward her, blowing her across the arena. It's a mess, but there's no stopping him. Unfettered ambition!

He reaches his hand up and knows this terrible enterprise is the same as stealing fire. He has a grasp on several bolts. But he needs as large a dose as he can get, so he's got the bolts and he's wringing them dry, with prodigious quantities of Power, Force, Strength, and Endurance spilling everywhere. Someone brings in a huge funnel and bucket. But there's no telling what happens if it's all carelessly combined.

What should he do? You mess up, there's no Take 2. Grandma lies dead on the floor, he sees no use in stopping short of complete ambition and fulfillment. "Bring it down!" he commands, with the heavens responding in an enormous eruption. He gets the sense he can do all things. This is uncharted territory. But what happens is, If you have that much force flowing through you -- and all of it being carelessly combined, no isolation -- you are literally blown to smithereens and immediately declared dead, even in the absence of recognizable pieces of a human body.

So Samson's death is a death we can all celebrate. Anyone that bad ass who succeeded would've raised the bar way too high for the rest of us. We don't want a guy like him around. We want to get dates, too. Had he succeeded, he would've been proverbial, and every time anyone said, "Go for it," and you were afraid, they'd compare you in a negative way to him. Now as it is, he's the failure, and those who avoid such stupid ambition are seen as having enough sense to come in out of the rain.

Good riddance, Samson, and the same goes for your idiot grandma! Thought you were better than us, huh?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Terribly Bad Explosive Temper

Part 12 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Here's some sad hotheads, Helen and McClellan, who in the end couldn't stand each other but never really broke up, perhaps going for some dubious award. We hear such stories occasionally but never expected it of someone we actually knew.

Of course I would've preferred they got along perfectly. The way it was at first for Helen and McClellan. Feeling up each other all the time. Bragging how they were made for each other. The only dinner guests I've had french-kiss at the dinner table. But it was a fairly wanton restaurant, the waitresses with their outfit down to here and shorts tucked in, a little wedged in back, a cute look.

For years they said McClellan completed her and Helen him. And everywhere Helen went, McClellan was sure to go. If McClellan ordered butterscotch tutti frutti, Helen chimed in, “Make it a deuce!” If Helen put a log on the fire, McClellan had a chainsaw near and ran out to fetch a single stick at the very least. Neither thought he was better than her, and her idea was just the opposite but the same. And each had a beautiful voice for lowly yodeling when the magic moment arrived. I overheard this singing down the hall a couple times, gladdening my heart. Only ruined by the squeaky bed springs; by itself it would've made a great ringtone.

How tough it was, then, to have them suddenly at loggerheads. It just started, no one knew why. They just bumped heads over every trivial nothing, and their hearts were beaten and battered in unnecessary struggles to the point of threatening one other, with his or her voice in full-throated derisive minor chords: “You go your way, I’ll go mine!” Countered with, “I will go my way, you go yours!” A tough read for anyone who knew them, his devotion, her devotion, and the devotion they had in common. Like two halves of your heart -- opposite sides -- shriveling up and dying.

And now more bad news. They're gone. And I don't know which I’ll miss more. McClellan was a friend. We were friends from our youth. Then there was my friendship with Helen, which started out me trying to avoid her as much as possible to keep McClellan's jealousy under control. But it turned out Helen was the most jealous, because I was more naturally drawn to McClellan as old friends. And boy to boy friendship action shouldn't have been an issue, because it's easy to be a friend without there being anything more. I wouldn’t cross that boundary for love or money, as crazy as Helen turned out to be.

But now it’s all gone by the boards. The days of what-ifs have passed. The time for finger-pointing’s still here but to no profit. Nothing, absolutely zero net unless it’d just be one of life’s lessons worth learning. That if you’ve got a couple of hotheads, it doesn’t matter what “love” they have for each other, they're going to eventually explode, and there’s always the danger that they'll both be foolishly annihilated.

It started out like nothing. But built from there. Each surreptitiously, completely on the sly, neither one suspecting, and their friends suspecting nothing, managing to accumulate an arsenal. And they studied up on homemade bombs. Someone should’ve known! Then rented out adjacent abandoned malls, such a huge unexpected undertaking that they could do it in plain sight without anyone realizing. Then coincidentally, without synchronization, each lured the other to their respective mall and each ... [if only I could've stopped it] .... plunged the plunger.

Yes, it happened, leaving a hole in our state the size of Wyoming, making the news. So now, after so much mushy romance, they’re dead and gone… Finis, done, outta here, BOOM! I have huge regrets. Seeing how mismatched they turned out to be, I myself probably should've killed McClellan and gone after Helen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Electric Chairs and Wart Removal

Part 11 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

In all my studies and firsthand experience with Death, I’ve never heard one person admit that he or she deserved to die. And we're not talking saints, but people who are clearly bad, their offenses running from pernicious littering all the way up to pigheadedness of the most stubborn type. Whatever the offense, they cling to the false claim that they deserve immortality. 

Food for thought as far as I'm concerned. In its absurdity. We should merely shake our head in disbelief and in the next few moments flip the switch. Bye bye. Or if they got an unjust reprieve, appeal it immediately, then with the likelihood that things are again stalled, hope fervently that all-consuming Nature quickly performs its perfect will. The best of both worlds.

I sometimes think about my own looming demise and wonder how I’ll face it. Probably like other problems, like in 2nd grade when I had to have a wart removed from my thumb. Pull in a few deep breaths, shed a few tears, and brace myself with all the peace I can find. Since then, no matter how terrible things are, I tell myself, “See, that wasn’t so bad.”

I don’t have all the facts about the guy in the electric chair. But it's something serious; they don’t use chairs like that for wart removal. It's the sort of chair they use when you "get the chair," an execution. They execute you, then the executor of your estate parcels out whatever arsenal you’ve amassed, or furniture. When you’re up for the electric chair it’s for something terrible. Making your life story: “My Terrible Horrible Miserable Despicable Unnameable Not Very Nice Crimes Against Humanity,” subtitled, “I Got The Electric Chair and They Wouldn't Even Charge My Phone.”

My favorite part of this one is the unshakeable devotion of the friends. It’d be great to have friends like that if you ever faced the chair. The rest of the world hates your filthy guts — I’m as supportive as anyone you’ve ever met and I hate you — but Ben and Frank think you’re OK. Look how they hold your hat in a sentimental way, like you're there and the three amigos are again a thing. You hear the encouraging promise that they'll carry on without you as best they can. Maybe your hat will be in a museum even if your body is thrown to the rest of Death Row to mangle. But there's not much encouragement when you remember the full story. It’s despicable.

Still, it's something! Wish I had that kind of friends. His head no longer in his hat, their hands showing a brave face through it all. One's gold, one's pink, the lonely blue hat carries on without a head. I just shed a tear, choked up by that innocent hat's uncertain future. Whatever the guy did to deserve the death penalty, it's too bad. But there’s no way to turn the clock back and have your happy hat.

We hear his loyal friends calling to him from the waiting room: “Stay Strong! We Believe In You! We’ll Take Care of Your Hat Till You Get Back!” It’s the last absurd bit that gives the greatest agony. Because he's already wearing a different hat, a metal beanie, not his own blue felt. "Give it up, guys, I got what I deserved," the condemned man finally calls out, a virtually impossible admission. To which the rest of us, speaking ill of you even in life, say, "Got that right!" The metallic bonnet starts in with a subtle tingling, followed by the most massive jolt of voltage.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Neglectful In Negligee

No. 10 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I don’t care who you are, a two-bit hustling chick on the sidewalk or Mrs. Worthington herself (!), the self-absorbed heiress killed a few years ago, it pays to maintain at least a passing awareness of your surroundings. You're looking in a mirror at your great beauty, maybe also think, "How am I going to maintain my beauty if an idiot rushes in with a knife?"

We know well these days -- I've known it since the time I peed my pants in 4th grade -- anything can happen to anyone at any time. I like the example of chipmunks, which you don’t see very often. There's a good reason for that; they had the good sense to move to the wilderness for self preservation. When we used to see them they were constantly on the lookout. Are any predators nearby? They’d duck in their hole. Kids passing through? Down they went. Sometimes I find myself a little neglectful. I’m walking the dog and there’s a close call, someone squealing their tires around the corner too fast and they just miss me. But usually I'm very alert, like a chipmunk.

When Mrs. Worthington was killed, no judge or jury could ask her if she was in any way to blame. No, of course not, she would've said, it was all the fault of the gardener and his fool dog. But, really? Fool dog, idiot gardener? Is that right? I don’t think so. Yes, Corky could’ve left the dog home that day. But hindsight’s like assholes, and if you’ve ever stood behind a dog with its tail up, you know that’s true. And even if you're smarter than Corky, accidents still happen. I take my dog out and I don’t know what might happen. But at a minimum we don’t dawdle.

So look at her: Mrs. Worthington was obviously a snooty woman very self-absorbed and hence a sitting duck. It wasn't a priority, she didn't have it on her list to monitor her surroundings. Big mistake! Because being aware of your surroundings is not a contradiction of dedicated self-absorption. Just the opposite. Self-absorption demands awareness of your surroundings for purposes of validation. You’re Number One and you're going to stay that way! If riff raff's anywhere near, your mind focuses on all looming threats. But look, she even had a rear view mirror and didn't use it for her survival. Maybe she wouldn't have seen the dog, but that big lunk Corky's always big enough to detect.

So here he comes with a knife, chasing his dog! It’s Oswald all over! The threat was obvious, even the barest bones laziest half-assed security plan pieced together by blind morons or monkeys hanging upside down could've seen at a glance the security threat he posed. But no! Then there’s Corky and his dog. Corky had the right idea, chase down a security threat with his knife. He may have failed but he was still better than the entire Secret Service of the United States of America. Just not good enough to keep the dog from clawing its way up Mrs. Worthington’s gown. And the fact that he stabbed her to death, that was pure mindlessness...

Mrs. Worthington, alas, is gone. Stupid high society dunce, wasn't she? Should’ve been watching better...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Down In Front, Idiot!

 Part 9 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I won't give precise details about the neighborhood I grew up in. Except there were certain female creatures of approximately my age and species known for beating up boys. Not often, you couldn’t find a schedule for their attacks, and there was very little evidence left when the job was done. But it did happen. I was this close to the clubhouse one particular day and came this close myself to dying.

I believe the basic problem then came from the unfortunate fad of giving your kids a clubhouse. If I had kids, knowing what I knew then, they'd never get a clubhouse. And if I heard of clubhouses in the neighborhood, that'd be places my kids wouldn’t be playing. Because I wouldn’t want to see anyone beaten beyond recognition. That’s a good reason! Or for that matter, beatings less severe. One, it can do something to their self image (minor); 2) It can mean certain death, since bruises are nothing other than coagulated blood, that, if it reaches whatever brain they might have could be an aneurysm!

But I do remember a group of boys lead like prisoners to the worst switching of their lives in a clubhouse. The girls had knives and not only had cut switches off trees but had them honed. And no doubt they learned from one another the worst switching techniques before luring them to their near-death experience. I went out of my way to avoid everything about it. I once was in one of the clubhouses and heard girls coming, and but for a fire diversion — tossing a match into a pile of leaves and burning down half the town — I’d be dead today.

Now, let's take a look at our fiddler friend. He looks a lot like our Fiddler on the Roof friend from the movies, if memory serves. He's got a sort of an ethnic headpiece, not an attractive adornment in my opinion, feet like a platypus, a devil-may-care grin, and excellent fiddling technique. But something must be wrong with his hearing. Because those blocked from seeing the dancing girls were catcalling him — nicely at first — to be more considerate of their view.

Then going by the caption, it sounds like someone even called out, asking nicely but with a little more oomph, “Down in front, Idiot!” I don’t like that kind of talk, really, since you can get more honey — how’s that go? The sweeter you are the more people will like you? No, you can catch more bees with honey than with a net? The point is, If you deal with people gently you’re more able to manipulate their behavior, bend it to your will, than if you’re too direct and mean, coming on too strong. Plus bees.

Well, I think they had the right idea. Because the dancing girls, like dancing girls everywhere, also want to be seen. Their legs start just above the toes and go all the way to the promised land, next is the hips and everything above that. Dancing girls, professional women, never know if there’s a great agent in the audience with the keys to the kingdom of show biz looking to feature them in a Las Vegas revue or maybe even a feature film, a Hollywood tycoon.

Whatever they were thinking, things got hairy fast when the fiddler was accidentally kicked, fell and hurt his leg and had to be removed stage left. There’s no telling what all happened then. No one could match one foot with any particular bruise. Then the coagulation. And the problem really might have included sandbags as the dancers averred. You can trip over a few sandbags and buy the farm. Which still doesn't explain the fists. And possibly switches, clubs, and at the farthest extremity (only rumored) a battering ram, now missing.

We may never learn what the range of murder weapons included. We do know Moshe is no longer with us. And until Central Casting comes up with another Fiddler on the Roof guy, one with some good judgment, at least an iota of sense, they're using a CD of fiddling music -- an improvement in my opinion since everyone can now see the girls. And with the improved view, a few of the ladies have indeed been cast in Hollywood, some old time crime films, murder, mayhem, the whole shebang. More power to them!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A Bolt From The Blue

Part 8 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Old Pa Murphy was in the field on a sunny hot spring day, closely attended by his dog (not pictured), working the horse up and down the rows. And just so no one has a heart attack from suspense, Pa died that day.

Pa was very used to the heat and work, so one day was like any other. He was used to the exercise, the field and everything to avoid, a little ledge at the edge, a big rock, etc. The horse was also used to every nuance of land and of man, Pa’s whoas and giddyups. You might say man and horse were pretty much equal, with the dog also in the mix, also knowing the ins and outs of the house, giving him a leg up.

You really get used to tilling the land when it’s always the same old field. You know exactly how long it’s going to take, where you’ll be when it strikes noon, and where the shadows will be. Some things you just know. Pa thought, “At 3:30 I’ll be pulling off my boots, stretching out.” He had it down to precise seconds.

I like to plan my day, too. But as a friend of the Murphy’s I can say my life hasn’t been as tough. Whatever field plowing there is to do, someone else does it. You go up and down the road and each of those squares of land is some other guy’s. Mrs. Clary has a hired hand to plow her place since Butch died. Because what can you do? Fields don’t stop for anyone. They’re either going to sprout up with weeds or crop, whichever takes hold first.

So it was just another day for Pa Murphy — he was thankful for it, that wasn’t a problem — one in a sequence of days and a span of life that would likely go on the same till Judgment Day. And if not, there’s always a place in the church cemetery for residents of the area. The country's nice. I should move there. I have a place in the Big City, but the neighbors aren’t quite like the Murphys or Clarys. My neighbor confronted me here one day, telling me in strangely harsh tones, “You stay over there and I’ll stay over here!” indicating the property line. We haven’t spoken since.

Well, I’m no fan of the neighbor guy, but the country's not heaven on earth either. So let’s just get to it, the suspense is killing me. But it ain’t killing me as much as it did Pa Murphy. Sweet, tender, Pa Murphy. People said, What’s going to become of Ma? It’ll be just like the Clarys, she’d have a few more expenses getting a handyman, but it was still easier than me having Big City neighbors.

The horse was tired and halting. The sun beat down. Pa brought his sleeve up to wipe the sweat off his brow. “It’s a hot one,” he called to the horse, which rared back its head like it understood. It wasn’t a full minute later but Pa looked up toward the big blue sky and thought he saw a parting, an indescribable vision of something astir. When, amazingly, of all the things in all the world -- the Earth is fairly big -- a random piece of space junk arced across the sky and zipping down hit Pa Murphy right in the head, killing him! Pa's last thought was, "Could've been a fender from Skylab or maybe the dashboard of a Russian craft, headed this way at a good clip..." CLUNK! It was a big deal. The ambulance was there, stretching him out, boots, etc., and waiting for the slightest twitch. The horse and dog were fine, just singed tails.

A few years later the church went out for a christening service when the new folks moved in. Who named the field — they had an actual field-naming service — “Pa Murphy Memorial Space Junk Landing Site.” The authorities said that sucker came in at over 17,000 mph!

If there’s anything I can speak ill of Pa about, it’s this: 1) If it was hot out, he should've taken a break before that thing fell; 2) In the end, he had maybe five seconds, six at most. Instead of looking up at the sky like an idiot, he should've run for the hills.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Idiot Disses Tiger's Orange Coat

Part 7 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

Everyone's a critic these days. Take this guy, Richard. Before he died, he was pretty vocal with the attitude, "I make good money and have a good life, a life I'm proud of. I worked damned hard to carry a decent walking stick, these gloves are the envy of the world, and this nice coat, it's the nicest richest coat anyone's ever seen!" Then he's in the zoo and sees a tiger and thinks, "Nature, it's been done to death. Sure, you're a tiger, you have a majestic orange coat, big deal!"

These days we're very appreciative of animals. I've frankly always been in awe of the bigger animals, tigers, lions, etc. But of course I can see the point of a guy like this who's worked hard. His coat wasn't just default on his back but acquired through a good work ethic and following through to achieve various goals, to have a nice coat and gloves. Still, it's distasteful to be so vocal about it; I mean, why brag? Most of us work hard and have clothes to wear. Tigers have their own system, we have ours, there's no competition, no reason to be jealous or proud. And, frankly, no reason to even give it a second thought.
I hate to say how Richard died. Except it's pretty obvious. If anyone reading this is blown away at the fact that the tiger lashed out and killed him, don't be. That's nature's way. You get too close to the cage and you've got your fat lip full of nasty sass, nature has a way of leveling the playing field. Fangs, claws, muscles like steel, the ability to transfix its prey with eyes staring into one's depths, purring, then lashing out. Richard saw the bars and took false security from that barrier. Big mistake.

Maybe this isn't the time to compare coats and see whether Richard had a point. I honestly don't see a coat like his being that great. It looks way too thick. Yes, it'd feel good if it were 30 below, but that doesn't happen very often. In average temperatures, you'd roast in that coat. It's thicker than anything I'd like to wear. I can see myself immediately shedding it and maybe even giving it to Goodwill. Or throwing it away if I didn't want to drag it around. Summing up the point, I wouldn't be caught dead in a coat like that, unlike Richard.

His attitude puts me on the tiger's side. It doesn't matter if Richard wasn't "big" on orange coats. The tiger has the coat by nature. He can't help it. It's not a fashion statement, it's his body and natural color. Orange doesn't come and go in or out of style. It's like if we were all born with red hair. It wouldn't be extraordinary or noteworthy, that's just the way it'd be. That the tiger has an orange coat, what do you expect? (Although there are some with white coats.)

Richard didn't know we were watching him so closely. He stood there bold as bandits, a very assured pose, posh blue gloves, a walking stick like a javelin, and a derby hat custom-fitted to his assuredly noble head. The casualness of his demeanor betrayed not one whit of his nasty personality, which erupted putrid as anything can be, his filthy words showing a complete disregard for nature. To be succinct, I'm not personally ruing the judgment of fate against him.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Casual Stylish Sleazy Women

Part 6 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

That was Donny. Donny’s no longer with us.

The province of the word “Sleaze” to describe good-looking women is a matter of conjecture. But I think I know how it works. A site called Urban Dictionary has an example of its usage: “Man, that girl Ashlee a sleaze…” Which sounds very modern.

I first heard “sleaze” used this way in the early '70s with guys I worked with. They weren’t cosmopolitan or even remotely sophisticated concerning the latest lingo, let alone urban dialect. But we’d be on break downstairs, lying on some equipment with a good view of the sidewalk, looking up at people passing. For my co-workers, mostly one guy in particular, any old man walking by was a worm or wormy. Any physically attractive lady, going by the usual standards, was a sleaze or sleazy. Worm was a put-down, sleaze a great compliment.

OK, I’ve got that bit of archaeology out of my system. I hate my memory. There’s all kinds of useful things I could remember — the Preamble of the Constitution, Mom’s Recipe for Noodles — but, no! Still, it’s interesting to see the Urban Dictionary has it the same way, although the dates of that usage aren’t given. And I won't even wade into Wikipedia, because, really, who cares? Language comes out of people’s mouths, they got it somewhere, agreed to it, and if they say it meaning something particular, fine. If they say it and they’re killed, next time keep your damned mouth shut…

Seriously, look at this idiot. Donny’s obviously farther from Betty getting dressed than it appears in the picture since he’s using binoculars, but someone picked up on what was going on. And whether it happened right away, jumping him, or they waited till later at just the right time, I’m not a repository of everyone’s movements. My mission is not to sketch out precisely when they pulled him down an alley crying, or how fast he disappeared into one of those abandoned warehouses with no windows, or whether Betty had something to do with it — I really don’t see how she couldn’t have. All I’m doing is stating the basics of what happens when you say the wrong thing and when you get involved where you’re not wanted. In this case, a completely carnal case. Donny used his binoculars to see her getting dressed and/or undressed. He fell victim to the standard insatiable libido. If only he'd had brains like me, he would’ve gotten as much as an eyeful holds and run for home.

Now I'm much older and know it doesn't really do you any good to see such sights. Look away! It's just a point of frustration, not glory, until you do everything right, 1, 2, 3, and end up going out for dinner. And you definitely need to keep "sleaze" words out of your vocabulary. Step it up, guys!

Whoever you are, just like Donny, there's someone with just the right mindset and drive -- hearing an apparent slur like that -- who could still actually kill you for it, which is impossible to live down. Donny's best course of action, if he'd had the chance, would’ve been to change clothes, toss the binoculars, and not be found again till he was on the other side of town. Like me, anytime I feel threatened somewhere, that’s one place I won’t go again till the cows come home or later. Till the donnybrooks run free of donnys.

But whatever, he's a dead schmuck, so here’s to you, Donny — fingering in the general direction of his grave — next time keep your stupid fat yap shut.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Pink Car, Collide!


Part 5 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I myself was in a traffic accident once -- I'm just the average guy --  so I know how they swing, drivers, and how it goes and some of the hazards of the road. In my case, I was an unimpeded non-threatened single driver simply running into a utility pole. No one was killed, but injured.

At the time I had no idea of the ins and outs of accidents or so-called accidents. Which upon greater experience I’ve come to discern as incidents arranged by malevolent forces. If I may be so bold as to categorize Death as a malevolent force, and I'm not sure that's wise. If I feel any tightening in my throat in the next few minutes I'll retract the statement. But just take a close look at the graphic for all the evidence you need. Death is right there in one of his distinctive costumes, replete with the scythe prop he often carries. Looking nicely eerie with no contrast between the cloak and his eerily stark white pallor. For all I know, he may have been invisible. Which gives more of the element of surprise and keeps bad press down to a minimum.

The main point is Death is clearly portrayed as present just prior to an accident, one that resulted in at least one fatality. Like my accident with the pole, the scene is from a time before airbags and even people regularly buckling up. I wasn’t buckled up. That far back, it was like the Wild West of Personal Behavior. We didn’t give one second of thought to the consequences of anything. I regularly played guitar while driving. Kids got cigarettes for their first birthday. We literally had a shotgun for an alarm clock. Kids died early then, sometimes before breakfast. And as for the more important problem of property damage, our house was nearly blown away merely from hitting the snooze button.

The scene presents itself, then, and thankfully a sketch artist was there: It starts off a pastoral scene, the world’s safest road, except … Where Death is, Death always follows. Someone was either not looking ahead or simply being wanton in her handling of the car. She floors it, apparently unaware it was a one-way road going the way she wasn't going. We don’t know every detail, but Death is obviously pulling the strings. She flips that cute little pink job around the corner, oblivious to danger, with one of the worst devil-may-care attitudes I believe I've ever seen so hideously displayed.

But I’d like to step back in time a minute or so. She left home, thinking to herself, “I’m in a massive hurry. I will cut every corner I can to get there in time. To hell with the danger! To hell with the lives of other innocent victims along the way! The road is mine, I will take my half out of the middle! Yes-sir-e-bob!” And she had a dumb way of nodding her head, bob-a-bob. So knowing her exact thoughts, I'm not at all sympathetic. With her attitude there was a definite bad end in the offing. The person of Death couldn't have arranged it more deviously. In this case he had the perfect foil, so unthinking, so uncaring.

Her name was Irene. As in the song “Goodnight Irene.” And she was killed outright, with the others injured really beyond recognition. Each family swore they weren't theirs. At least one party was happy for the Irene’s demise, Death himself, whistling this terrible sentiment: “Good night, Irene, you should've driven more responsibly, but I'll see you in my dreams!”

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Elevator's Fatal Last Plunge


Part 4 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

I’ve had some experience with old elevators. Not much, but it was memorable. I’m thinking of an elevator in a fleabag hotel from 1898 or something, with a rickety old man pushing the button for us and taking us to our room. The guy and antiquity of the place was like something from a time travel movie. This guy was strictly colonial, ages ago, and obviously the last remnant of a generation that now is a'moldering. You literally saw the floors slowly passing by.

It used to be common to have an elevator operator, and there’s still places that do that, Cuba comes to mind, most likely. They patch up cars from 50-70 years ago and keep them in decent shape, they probably do the same with elevators. I think of Cubans as connoisseurs of the past, mostly because of the old cars, but if they’re equally conserving of the bygone days of elevators, more power to them. And probably New York, I don't know.

The key thing is staying on top of the thing, right? It doesn't matter if it's Serial Number 0000001, if you keep it in good repair. You never want the cable rusted through, though, so everything needs to be checked maybe annually. Get up there and count the threads of metal. And if a few are sheared off or rusted through, get the fix-it guys pronto. Certainly my hotel was a miserable throwback in a miserable neighborhood and must have been completely demolished by now. Allow me to polish the apple of pride on my sweater that I had the foresight and good sense to stay that one night only. The operator there surely checked out on life soon after, but I have no idea if he took the plunge of death like this guy.

Our poor deceased guy today, in the graphic, is Gus the elevator operator. What can we say about him? We hope he didn't leave a bunch of dependents. We hope his wife was set for life. We hope a lot of things. Like they say, running an elevator you have lots of ups and downs. I hope he had a lot more ups in his life, and that in the things he desired life always stopped on his floor. It bothers me to think of his last moments of terror when the thing plunged to the basement. If he only could've timed it just right, then jumped in the air just before it hit... If I could’ve given one piece of advice to the owner of the hotel, it would've been, They’re doing great these days things with escalators.

But back to the guy. Look at him there in his silly orange costume, a foolish smile on his face. He’s holding the door open because he likes the look of satisfied riders. They rode his elevator, two brave but foolhardy guys. They’re shaking hands and wishing each other a good day. As Gus closed the door, the cable down to its last frayed strand, he should've had the good sense to run as fast as he could. Pretty bad decision not to. Instead, he set his ignorant course to tempt fate one time too many. Leaving him to disengorge one last cry of terror, but what it was was lost to posterity. And who really cares what it was? We're never going to know. We only know it was completely in vain, a noise piercing the air and wasting everyone's time who tried to decipher it.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Don't Play Dice With Death

Part 3 of 30 -- Speaking Ill of The Dead

It's ridiculous. How anyone thinks they can play dice with Death and come out even. It's beyond me. Of course I respect Death and always avoid getting on his bad side, so believe me, some of this stuff you too can avoid. At least try! Don't just sit down for "a friendly game" or start wagering or you’ve already lost. Does Death come right out and tell you what you're in for? No, there's no full disclosure rules. To him it's sport and he gets his kicks at your expense. But I'll give you the only advice I know that does some good. That's resistance. Death usually moves on to someone else.

Most days I feel fairly free. I don't feel any huge compulsion in any regard. I'm consciously engaged, thinking on my own, sequentially thinking without troubles. But those who are dying, it's exactly like Death has them cornered, then they try to resist when it's too late. It's good to check yourself. What I do when thinking is I string a few random thoughts together and feel myself go on auto pilot, allowing myself a conscious/unconscious flurry of thoughts that leads nowhere in particular. I sense in that that my thinking is my own. But you can't settle on it, with your mind close to blank. You have to move back to ordinary thinking so you're not hijacked.

And that's it. Don't roll dice with Death, don't play games. Just walk away. Don’t play the game. Another bit of advice: Keep your calendar in a private place, especially if you have upcoming doctor appointments. Act healthy. Leave games for others, focusing on living a good life. I actually feel pretty well, so right now for me nothing's a threat. I'm not likely to have a heart attack right away. So things are pretty good.

Anyway, back to playing dice. I personally don't even know the rules for dice. It’s nothing I’ve ever played. I’ve rolled dice, like everyone. But just for games like Monopoly. Or to show myself, maybe, the way numbers work. There’s no particular sequence. Every number comes up at random as they turn in the air, roll across the table, and land. It's boring, not a "game" interesting enough to play.

But the guy in the bib overalls, Chester, has a sharp focus on the game at hand. He follows whatever the rules are, puts the dice in the can and shakes them to get a particularly good shake and then throws a completely unknown combination. Looking closely, he’s using three dice. So he has a lot of numbers to choose from, with each one apparently meaning something.

Obviously some numbers are more desirable than others, particularly in relation to what Death rolls. With his scythe at hand, he’s prepared to play the game and use it … if he wins. That seems fair. It’s not like he’s going out of turn and doesn’t have business in the vicinity. We have plenty of cemeteries around here, one big one just up the street. I go through there once in a while and look at the names and even pictures of people on their stones and the curious etchings. And you know what? About 90% have etched-in dice and a frown face! Now you know why.

Maybe that's where Chester got his concern. His old Dad died in 1975. His old Mom sometime too. Now he's throwing dice with Death himself and losing. Beads of sweat form on his brow, he starts to feel toasty under the arms, he might have to stand up and walk off the tightness in his overalls, which is really just the heat affecting fairly warm areas generated by the swinging and swaying of manhood still moist from a bath just this morning. Uncomfortable.

“Damn it,” Chester swears. “Damn it, not again!” he complains, with Death keeping a patient pose, a neutral display of equanimity, having all the time in the world. As if to say, “I’m in no hurry. I belong here. If anyone’s going away, it’s not me, no sir-ee-bob!”

At that moment Chester’s eyes are suddenly big as saucers. No one would ever think their eyes could be that big! But they're ginormous as he clutches his chest — heart attack! He cradles his head — aneurysm! He even grabs at his leg, what? Nasty bruise from bumping the bed frame! He prays, "Christ in Heaven, I’m dying here on three fronts!" That was Chester’s last thought, except for the sense in his heart that everything would still be OK. Suddenly he's found in angelic robes, his favorite overalls being replaced mystically just that fast, and he's adrift in the clouds, flapping his wings toward his heavenly home. That beautiful mystic sound clear and deliberate as a bell: "Flit, flit, flit."

Remember, friends, I'll never steer you wrong. But dice, those sons of bitches'll get you every time.