From the edge of the swamp

Location: marengo, il, United States

Saturday, April 30, 2005


We together
Along with other dark heads
(With phones set to vibrate)
Watching as Earth exploded into specks of light
Right after the house of Dent caved in
Almost breathless in vast space
We together
Had fun
Especially with strong, sad Marvin.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Haiku to Rhythms

The bright moon crept by
Almost unnoticed except
I had to go pee

Friday, April 22, 2005

A Mod Fairy Tale

LONDON (AFP) - Young girls who enjoy classic romantic fairy tales like "Cinderella" and "Beauty and the Beast" are at greater risk of becoming victims of violent relationships in later life, a British researcher says.

What a crock. What a load of cheap beans. Where did this researcher get his information -- from some disgruntled feminist who more closely resembles Boy George or that Paris Hilton? How ridiculous! Paris never dressed as well as George did, much less wear the cool hats. And how exclusionary! What about young boys who enjoyed those classics? Are they at risk of growing up to become fairy researchers?

It just seems like such a wild stretch of the imagination, which of itself is a fine thing to possess, but to state inflammatory nonsense in print is irresponsible and properly phlogiston. Let’s leave all of that up to professional liars -- politicians, the weathermen and fictional writers. Too much of that stuff gives us hard-working stiffs gas, plus a really bad name that might take weeks, if not days, to clear up. Why, mere decades ago, as two other men and I set out to drift across the vast Atlantic in our gay but efficient tub, we posed some questions to pass our time together…

“How did you come to be a professional butcher man?”

He stared out at the sea and readjusted his position as he considered the question.

“Once upon a time,” He began, “I was told the story of Billy Goat Gruff, and being a young and innocent lad, I felt sorry for the little troll who had no particular meat-carving skills. That, plus I wanted a better place to live than under a measly bridge.”

We three rocked as I pursued after more details.

“So how’d you end up in this tub here?”

A tear came to his steady eye, while the other one twitched twice.

“I met a princess and married her, but she turned out to be a mean big-city lawyer.”

Only the sounds of small wave broke over our heads, so while I bailed, he wiped his face and asked the other man,

“And how did you find your way into the baking business?”

The fellow stopped paddling us in circles, and then he dried his hands on a spiffy white apron before he spoke up.

“I used to read nothing but political essays, and from those I gathered that I could try my hand at cooking up something with better taste.”

“Did you succeed at that?”

“Oh, yes indeedy. I also met me a princess, but after we two were married, she and her mother ended up eating me out of house and home.”

“Are you saying she turned out to be a mistake?”

“They both turned out to be huge, costly mistakes.”

Several gulls above us hovered in respectful silence.

“And you, friend. What might your trade be?”

“I went into candle manufacturing and distribution.”

“Ah, an interesting choice. And what might have inspired that industrious line of work?”

“The Wizard of Oz.” I trailed a finger idly in the wet foam next to the tub.

“Come again?”

I scooped up some of the froth onto my index finger, held it aloft, and then blew on it.

“I read the story as a child. Then as a young man, I set out upon an honorable quest to go melt witches, but soon found them to be much too scarce for profit, unlike common wax. Later on, I met a princess with long, golden hair, and so we fell madly in love. I thought we both would live happily forever after, but alas, that was not to be the case.”

“She met another man?”

“No, another woman.”

A gull lit gingerly on the edge of the tub, steadied himself, and stared right at me until his eyelids began to droop.

“Look out, boys -- here comes a monster wave.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Revisiting The Red Ball

Once, during those troubling and formative years spent in the lone star state of my beloved Rebellion, I chanced upon a rack of assorted books. Something almost insignificant caught my eye right away, so I reached for this particularly thin and small, but otherwise nondescript hardback, and I then withdrew it from the crowd. Its title had intrigued me from the start.

Standing between rows of books, I opened up the stiff covers and began reading the first page, and immediately found myself hooked. A small boy, perhaps no larger than me, sat quietly at his bedroom window while gazing out at the night sky.

Then at some point in frozen time, I next found myself sitting in a chair at some table in the middle of the school library, caught up in this story of adventure and imagination, for the curious boy in the tale soon came to witness a glowing red orb falling from the heavens that, later on, came to befriend and eventually communicate with him.

This initial encounter I had with science-fiction began a long, long lifetime search for more of the same, but fitting enough, I later lost all belief in such things after reading Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s strange views on religion in Childhood’s End.

Yes, and to this day, I do remain suspicious of the existence of UFOs, as entertaining as they might be, so I have no explanation for the following events.

While working late one night, my young wife called me on the telephone. I had a devil of a time grasping most of what she said, but between the sobbing, the babblings and her fits of screaming, I finally understood she simply wanted me to come pick her up from her mother’s place out in town. There was some matter about a mysterious circle of lights that settled over her car when she left her mom to return to the base, which had caused this temporary panic.

We were both immature then, and neither too wise, but I shrugged and looked over my shoulder at a co-worker who had a his own car, so he nodded and agreed to drive me to town to retrieve the loon and my only vehicle.

I thought to check the clock up on the wall. Liberty for troops expired at ten sharp, and since it read ten-thirty, I had to accompany the young marine across the grinder to authorized him to get his pass. On the way to the office building, the two of us met a group of other marines who stood outside, talking excitedly and pointing towards town. I only caught snatches of their conversation as we walked by, but the now-familiar description I overheard of a strange circle of lights that had just suddenly shot up and disappeared among the stars got my attention for the second time that night. Still, I remained skeptical.

Who knows what makes people see such things, unless it’s a vivid imagination. Hell, I almost shot a firefly to smithereens once, thinking it was a man carrying a lit cigarette, so I’m happy accepting such an explanation. But in any case, on this particular evening I did rescue the poor damsel, and we got her home safely.

Years go by.

Then, while working as a draftsman for a fiberglass tank manufacturer, I had an opportunity to change hats one weekend, and personally deliver one of our finished products to a customer down in Florida. I took my eight-year-old son along for company, so we both had fun.

On the return trip home, and around two in the morning, we pulled up and stopped at a red light in some sleeping city in South Carolina. The intersection looked rightfully deserted. As I sat and waited for the stoplight to change, and while my son slept on the bench seat next to me, and as I idly scanned the façade of a two-story building across the street, an odd thing occurred in the sky over the building.

Something appeared there, and I watched with a sudden keen interest as the edge of a circular object first peered over the rim of the building, and then it seemed to slide across the top of the structure, slowly coming into view. The thing showed as a perfectly-round black shape against the lighter night haze that laid over the city. It also appeared to be angled at its edge, from the way flashing lights on the side of the object traveled around from left to right. It might best be described as a gigantic, up-side-down pie pan, this bizarre silent entity.

My heart began to race as my mind shouted, “Goodyear blimp! Goodyear blimp! That’s got to be a damn Goodyear blimp!”

The thing is, Goodyear blimps are shaped like footballs, and are not round at all.

Now, I was not about to be taken in by this strange vision, so I grabbed Donnie’s leg and shook it. I needed not only a witness, but a second opinion, even if he was only eight.

The boy sat up. Our engine idled smoothly while I pointed and asked him as calmly as possible, trying not to influence him,

“Tell me what you see up there, son.”

He rubbed his eyes for a moment, and then he leaned forward. By this time, the object had filled the huge windshield of our truck, so he craned his neck up close to the glass and stared upwards for a few more seconds before he spoke. It continued to drift silently over the tops of the surrounding buildings, covering the entire intersection with its dark mass. Donnie’s jaw dropped as he exclaimed,

“A flying saucer, dad!”

The traffic light went to green, but we sat without moving or talking while the shape continued its slow progress above us, finally disappearing altogether, blocked from our sight by the roof of the truck. Neither of us had any intentions of opening the doors to get out then, or to follow the apparition.

Whatever the object happened to be, it vanished into the night to leave us sitting there in peace, although neither of us felt sleepy afterwards.

Haiku to Pity

In Arizona
They use monkeys as slaves but
No Canadians

Monday, April 18, 2005

Notions of a Bicycle

The heat I undergo in this present world is a grand puzzle that must continue as one unsolvable, for it seems I have become constrained by this surrounding dark.

Also, my parts have begun to emit a mix of strong and curious odors. My fresh red rises sharp and pungent. This novel scent I find mildly irritating, but in a pleasing sort of way. My new black, a blend of synthetics, is reminiscent of something familiar; I am not sure what. Its musty aroma has alerted a choking sense deep within my frame that tempts me to buck. And then there are those motes of sweet oils that swirl through this void.

My shoulder had been dislocated earlier; loosened out of necessity. Now only this cramped darkness surrounds us. Strange vibrations keep me guessing and alert. Muffled thoughts and snatches of conversations come and go. I lay content simply to note everything.

Reflecting on my brief past while occupying this cavity is a way to busy the mind. I am somehow internally entertained by this study in the darkness. Many more questions began to form.

The others and I had met briefly, and we communicated as one before this current journey began, but the rumors concerning our future fates I found to be fanciful at the time, as well as plenteous and unhelpful. Some of the ideas put forth sounded interesting, but a bit far-fetched. After a time, some began to reverberate as patently absurd. Toward the end, not one of us could show any true authority in this matter.

Certainty and useful knowledge simply eluded the entire lot. Many were frightened, I realized. All of us were at first. Several tried to hide behind bluster and false bravery. A few tried to complain.

Those and their particular brand of disquiet disturbed even me for a time, but then I found myself being drawn to the more-brave and the positive-thinking individuals. We mutually connected, them and I. With that group I found myself concurring on all points brought fourth, and they with me. We became the encouragers.

I soon realized we few lived as an exception among the many, yet I felt not a hint of arrogance nor any self-love in our midst. That still remains true.

In all honesty, I must point out that I sensed no self-pity from any of the others. Only real fears. Real curiosities. A realness of concerns, doubts and wonders. All of the brothers and every sister each gave a voice in turn, and as a group we studied and contemplated, one after another as issues arose.

We then stood the night, and these ideas flew among us. The place had grown quiet at first, after the objects that traveled on two sticks disappeared. Afterwards, we felt free to huddle together, and to picture to ourselves.

At one point I thought.

I am looking forward.

That portrayal entered my mind first. A brother next to me agreed as another not too far away nodded in silent accord.

It is what I am naturally capable of doing.

I could have stopped there, but compound negative responses began to overwhelm me, compelling me to reason and justify, so I continued.

It makes perfect sense to do so. All about me I see an order of a particular fashion. It denotes a purpose.

Several close-by brothers agreed again.

I am not made for waste.

No you are not, they thought.

I am not designed to be static or unused.

They nodded silently.

Look at my construction. I have no doubt that I am indeed a moving wonder.

A sister across the room whimpered. I stopped, and the group listened. An uneasy future was then described by her in vivid detail. Qualms she envisioned were brought up. An absolute dismal cry for proof of something that we have no answers for arose; yet we could only stand at rest and take it in. No one disagreed or argued, nor did anyone comes to her support. Not one soul offered sympathy. I understood her to be somewhat pleased merely to complain, and complain she did. She carried on both elegantly and thoroughly in all of her remonstrations.

We all have various skills. Some appear apparent. Some must be inherent, as hers seemed to be.

A brother (one that I might describe as a cheap weakling, were I a faultfinder) took up her cry and then added to it. Several of my likes immediately pegged him as a crossover, an odd aberration; yet we allowed him to run with his thesis without judgments or harsh discrimination.

He enjoys certain rights as we all do.

His greatest fears we understood to be his expected abuse, and then future abandonment. He shared feelings of inadequacy of holding up under this perceived strain.

I could not relate to this at all.

Then another brother, a small replica of myself, interrupted him with joyous glee. An obvious impatience for life gripped his small frame. His feet looked fatter than ours, which I believe gave him lofty ideas. But all minds turned to him in unison as he chortled and began to brag, and yet we listened as he asserted his fancied future upon us.

The places he would go, the fearless daring he might possess, the steep mountains he would surely climb; all this I understood, yet at the same time his over-confidence and his pretensions only revolted me. His entire manner I found somehow distasteful. The others and I held our council, however, and so allowed him his swagger.

He continued on with records he might surely break someday, when an array of bright lights suddenly flickered overhead. The objects had returned.

Alien noises began filling the atmosphere next. The objects took to moving about the place hurriedly on their two long sticks. The foreign language that they used began to overpower our own thoughts, so we withdrew and listened in silence.

In a short space of time we soon became placed inside this darkness where I now rest. There were no protests from the others or myself. There were no good-byes. Efficiency reigned right up until the final moments where I felt myself being carted upwards, hauled about, and then after a loud slamming noise, a hushed quite settled in. The stillness continued for some moments before a loud rumbling roar began that proceeded all this vibration that I now endure.

These rumbling and tremors both continue, but as for me, I can only anticipate from here on out.

I cannot explain this. Somehow I am able to reason. This skill, this ability, this power – whatever it is, it is expanding, and shapeless new questions are now beginning to taunt me. No, this has nothing to do with peers. I am left unaffected by their theories. It’s just something I feel I need to keep inside until such time when I might express it better. It has me all curious, but determination and patience are satisfying for the present.

I can understand the objects more. At least I have absorbed some facts about them, yet it only brings to mind more questions. I knew from the outset that they formed us. We would not be here, otherwise.

Now I should state before continuing on that I would never describe the droll imaginings from two in our immediate assembly as rational thoughts. One claimed we evolved – the other proposed that we made ourselves. Only obvious fact has any real meaning to me, so those ideas are easily dismissed.

As a group, most of us understood and accepted the objects upon two sticks as our creators. The majority seems to revere them, to hold a sense of awe and wonder at their abilities, but I must admit that I presently am having some suspicions. These doubts stems from many deliberations the objects themselves entertain, and of which I have had time to mull over and reconsider.

I recall purposeful ideas coming from them, in the beginning. Cogent steps, sensible plans, an injunction set down; laws and specific commands to be followed. But interspersed among all this cohesion I now visualize other ideas, separate and random thoughts, confusing bursts of unrelated things that I first took as untranslatable, and therefore above my initial and limited understanding. I have now come to realize that some of it was pure nonsense, and as a result, I must confess it has shaken my foundation.

Understand that I do trust with absolute certainty what information I have gathered so far. But these unstable and puzzling things must be identified as just that.

Some thoughts they carried around I can only depict as intense cravings for some of the other objects. I am at a loss what that means exactly, yet these were strong feelings held by many of these creatures. In some of them it seemed playful or innocent; in a few it struck me as something evil or malevolent. I do know that it made me uncomfortable while examining them.

I was surprised to sense hidden hostilities in almost all of the objects. Petty annoyances. Criticisms. Grievances. Complaints of so many things I have yet to understand. I received ideas of rights violated, but that holds no meaning to me as of yet.

Then there were the desires put forth by many to act revengeful toward others, or be held above other objects in some sort of value or worth. It seemed to give the things an intense pleasure to stay focused on this one.

A peculiar few craved after intakes of large amounts of a mood-altering liquid sustenance. This theme occurred often but remains inexplicable to me.

Strangest yet was the over-all impression that they believe each one to be different and special and original in all of their varied perceptions. I cannot explain any of this reasoning, nor justify why the objects would play in such peculiar areas. I only know the thoughts they think. One thing I have decided is that they all are odd.

I should note that some acted more kind and gentle than others. This gives me hope, for I have concluded that I am utilitarian in design. I am meant to help, somehow.

We suddenly have arrived. We all know. I feel murmurs from my kind now.

Jostling again. Tossed about. A yell and a shout. An object is in a big hurry. It wants to be some other place. It is impatient; uncaring. Six of us ride separate but together as it pushes us each to a place in its mind, anxious to be rid of us. Its two sticks labor beneath it as it guides us along and thinks. It only wants to score tonight. Another strange idea, and a stranger thing to desire. There is much to learn about these objects.

A brother next to me agrees, and yet we six smile together in anticipation. We are all to be released soon.

Motions stop. I hear a world sliding about, and a thump, and then a sister lays on one side. A brother quickly follows. Then another, and then two more. And soon I am the last, and I land laying atop us all.

The object takes a tool…no, a weapon, as he imagines, and the instrument begins to slice into my wrap. One end of my world becomes flooded with light. Fresh cool air enters. Something grasps my front foot. I get jerked forward, wrestled and pulled on. My shoulder rubs against the edge of this inside world, and then suddenly I am freed from it. The object hastily lowers my third leg, and then it stands me roughly aside.

My front foot feels out of kilter with my shoulder, which swings loosely about for a moment before becoming stilled. Connections have lost tightness. One of my feet has gone flat. My disarray doesn’t bother the object at all, nor me.

My Old World gets tossed aside. The alien then quickly slashes into my sister’s barrier. Light enters her cradle. She is removed and set next to me. Her fears climb to a new high. I soon stand next to her but focus on the future as before. This object is working fast and without regard. Are we invisible to this creature?

As it stands the last of us up, we all notice another object as it approaches. This one has a well-rehearsed plan in mind, and it seems much calmer. My sister begins to moan.

The first object wants only to depart from here. It isn’t aware that I know about the hidden weapon. It concealed the thing deep inside a pocket near the top of one of its walking sticks, and yet it attempts to conceal guilt from the other object by distracting it with loud sounds and various bending actions of its two higher but smaller sticks.

Deception; a feigned interest in the other’s affairs – I see this ploy and wonder why the more-pleasant one doesn’t. Then I notice that one's attention is mainly on us. It isn’t really listening to the thieving one.

It acts meticulous as it fastens and adjusts and tightens each of us. My shoulder becomes secure again. A hiss, and then my foot feels full and firm once more. It takes its time and exhibits a strong liking for not only its task, but for us as well. It gains our respect. It is also called Juan by the vocal object.


The Juan surprises me suddenly. A strong wish for the other to go jump into a vague body of water just now crosses his mind. What is the significance of that, I wonder? Yes, these creatures are odd, indeed. I shall enjoy learning more about them in the future.

For us bicycles are a curious lot, and keenly aware.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Haiku to Brake

You budding trees have
Yet to fill in your branches
And block that damn noise

A Flash of Geek

There. Another one. That noise, pinging its way again through the dark, pushing at the speed of sound across a vast reach, landing, slamming deep into the brain. The sixth one in a long while. Startling as any of the others, it leaves the ear cocked to one side, frozen, heightened; stilled and waiting.

Will it come again? Listen. Will it? Just listen. When? Keep listening. Meantime echoes of crystalline tones fade and recede, fade and recede, and then it fades and at once recedes.

“Are you hungry?”

An automatic lunge for the voice. Bolts of pain overwhelm the neck as a chain stiffens and draws taut.

Drops to cold floor to lay unmoving. Breathless. Lights. Alert now. Listens. Where is ping? Remembers pinging noises. Eyes sweep room. Countless eyes stare back. Remember. Listen.

Alligator is our friend. Stroke. Alligator is our friend. Stroke twice. Not bright lights. Not noises. Stroke, gaze and stroke.

Two adolescents weave their way among the excited throng to get close to the wild man from Borneo. The man wearing a red jacket then tosses a live chicken into the ring. The crowd stands hushed, and watches.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Didi and Gogo

"Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes; it's awful."

On this note, which is perhaps one of the more well-know lines from the play, Waiting on Godot (and of which I personally witnessed only once, and then, only on the television), I can relate, for concerning my own blog, the scene sure look familar.

Therefore, this post shall ask the readers to indulge your writer, and offer up any interpretations they might have for the meaning(s) of Godot.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


On a crude kitchen table a kerosene lantern flickers as the brothers finish the meal in hostile silence. Neither one notices shadows that play and dart over the rough walls behind them. The two young Hamilton boys are stubborn, and the pair has resolutely refused to compromise their opposing views. They both believe they are each justified and the other woefully wrong.

Leland sits lost in thought and stares vacantly at the steaming cornbread his mother places on the table. She steps back and hurries over to attend to the cooking stove. She remains quiet and avoids speaking about their conflict.

He reaches across the table for the platter, and from it he tears off a slab of the hot cake. Chewing mechanically, Leland keeps his eyes focused on the dish and its golden bread. Orland, his elder brother by two years, shovels up a spoonful of pinto beans from his plate, and then crams the food into his mouth.

This storm had been brewing for some time now. Strong and bitter words had been said by both over the course of many months past. And each brother in turn had accused the other of not only treachery, but cowardice and stupidity as well.

Leland was not altogether alone in his personal convictions. A few of his male neighbors thought exactly as he did, but his only brother also had allies on his side.

In the heated conclusion of that night’s latest quarrel, the answer had become obvious to them both, so they came to agree on one final thing – in the darkness of the following morning one should leave the family homestead.

Their mother picked up her broom and quietly began sweeping the rough wood floor around the stove.

Before the sun rose the next day, Leland Hamilton packed his few belongings and walked out the door. He saddled up a horse and left the small community of Rantoul, Illinois, never to see his family again. At the age of nineteen he decided to go down to Georgia and join up with the Confederate forces.

His intractable and pigheaded brother could stay and rot, for all he cared.

Rumor had reached the plains of central Illinois that General Sherman had his Union troops gathering in Tennessee, preparing to march 65,000 men down to Atlanta and onward to Savannah to “Make Georgia howl.” Young Leland determined he would arrive first, and he intended to personally howl right back in Sherman’s face. And in doing so, he would show his brother who was right after all.

In mid-November of 1864 the Union army began moving relentlessly toward the Atlantic Ocean. On December 20, after a ten-day siege, Savannah gave out a gasp and surrendered; the northern army then moved in and took command of the city. During this battle, Leland got himself captured and thrown into the dungeons at near-by Fort Pulaski, where he remained until the end of the war. Such is life.

The fort had fell two years earlier to the Union forces, and had been transformed into a prison to house captured Confederates. Supplies became scarce for both prisoners and captors alike. The commanding officer then turned to the local civilian population, asking them to help provide food and clothing for his men, and for his captives. Cynthia Blitch responded to that call.

Born and raised in Pembroke, Georgia, her mother had died from milk fever shortly after Cynthia reached her sixth birthday. Her father saw to it that her and her five brothers knew the advantages of toil and labor, along with the love and grace of the Lord Almighty.

She had been shown from an early age the proper way to handle a mule and a plow. Her older brothers taught her the art of tracking and killing game. Treated equally by her father, she worked along side her siblings as they cleared land, built fences and tended family crops. She learned how to cook and sew from a matron at the community church. She chopped firewood, and she hauled water up from the nearby creek for washing clothes. She also prepared most of the meals for the household.

Cynthia boasted long and luxurious hair, and a pair of striking hazel-green eyes. She also had a quick smile along with an even quicker temper.

Fiercely independent and headstrong, she developed a reputation among her friends and neighbors as an honest, forthright and hard-working woman. But she was not one to be crossed.

Cynthia could hold her own with any of her rowdy brothers. She once threw an eight-inch knife twenty feet and pinned the hand of one to a pine tree, on a dare. As a result, the surprised brother lost two of his fingers, but he gained a newfound respect for both his sister and her aim.

Her father, a part-time preacher, had also been detained at the Union-held fort while the conflict had raged on. Two of her brothers had been killed and one severely wounded during horrific battles between the North and South. She grew to hate the Union soldiers and all that they represented, but for her father’s present well-being, she took on the responsibility of delivering supplies to the prison.

Once a month Cynthia made the twenty-five mile journey from the Pembroke settlement to Fort Pulaski in a horse-drawn wagon. After loading the wagon with baskets of sweet potatoes from the family farm, along with sacks of corn, peanuts and dried meat, she added extra blankets or clothing neighbors donated. Then she set out alone.

Once, while traveling through a dismal area known as Shriver’s Swamp, she came under attack from a band of outlaws. One of the thieves jumped aboard her wagon and attempted to take control of her horse. But while the other members watched on in astonishment, she fended off his assault with a homemade nail-studded whip. He and his gang then fled this woman's fury in haste, leaving Cynthia to continue on her way unharmed.

On one of these visits to the fort, she met Leland Hamilton. Her father later married the couple shortly after both men were released. She and Leland then went on to raise four boys and three girls, the youngest of which was named Annie.

Annie grew up on the Hamilton Plantation near Black Creek. Feisty like her mother, she stood two hand-widths less than five feet tall. When she became of age, she met and married Joe Tippins. He owned a farm and a gristmill near the small village of Daisy, Georgia. They soon moved out to his farm where their children were all born. They had two boys and three girls; Allen arrived as the youngest of the five.

Joe immediately went into shock at little Allen's birth. He took one look at the newborn, turned and angrily accused Annie of being unfaithful to him. The child had dark hair and hazel-green eyes, so he looked nothing at all like his blond and blue-eyed father. Joe vehemently denied being this boy's father, so against Annie’s pleadings, a bitter separation followed.

Joe remained at the farmhouse where he raised the other four children alone, while Annie and the baby moved into the city of Savannah.

Contact between the boy and his father happened rarely. Any brief intervals they spent together made both uncomfortable, and each encounter left Allen feeling unwanted and more despised by Joe.

By the time he reached the fifth grade, economic times become rough, so he quit school to work. He began as a low office boy, and his chores consisted of sweeping, sharpening pencils for secretaries, and any other needed errands.

But the clattering noisy typewriters at his newfound workplace fascinated Allen. Whenever he had a spare moment, he studied the machines closely, and he asked countless questions of the typists.

Several secretaries showed him different features of the typewriter – how the space bar and shift keys worked, how to change a ribbon, or how to insert paper in the movable carriage and the proper way to line it up, and even how to set tabs for even margins. He made a copy of the arrangement of letters and numbers of the keyboard, writing it out on a piece of cardboard, and he took the facsimile home. There he began practicing.

His efforts paid off. The one secretary to the rough and no-nonsense boss took ill and missed work. The man needed an important letter typed right away, but no typists were available.

Allen overheard him, so he volunteered to do the job. The skeptical man gave him a chance. Allen then sat down at the secretary’s desk while his boss looked on. He inserted a fresh sheet of paper into the machine like a professional. Then while the man watched and waited, the young boy carefully adjusted both tabulations. Next, he began pounding furiously on the keys. In less than three minutes he handed the man a perfect letter, ready for a signature.

Both amazed and impressed, he promotion the young man on the spot.

Allen later went to work for an office machine repair shop. The man in charge there saw that Allen had a keen mind for mechanics, and he proceeded to teach him everything he knew. Allen learned quickly, and eventually becoming the firm’s top repairman.

But a few years later the Great Depression hit and brought along drastic changes. The owner announced he had to close up the shop. Everyone had to go. There was no money left to pay wages any longer. After the shock wore off, Allen decided to gamble on a bold move.

He met with the other employees and told them of an idea he had. Would they be willing to gamble with him? Then he went and offered his boss a small amount of cash he had saved up, in exchange for the shop. The man thought for a moment before taking the money.

The business thrived only because of Allen and his wild idea. He had assured them of only one thing, and that was an uncertain future. But since the future already looked bleak, it became an offer they were all willing to gamble on. So they all worked without pay until the shop began to prosper once, and eventually it did.

Way to go, dad.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Haiku for Wife

Darkness settles in
As she heads for the car to
Hunt and gather Cokes.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Any News is Good News

The house burned down last night. Not the whole house, but the den part of the cave where the computer sets.

When new, it had a sharp gray-and-black color, but now it’s all sooty and half-melted into some bizarre Dali sculpture. The tower leans to the left like that Italian job they keep shoring up. The keyboard is a wreck. Half the keys melded together, and won’t work. I tried typing a sentence using strange globs of grouped letters, and the frightening part was, some of it made perfect sense. Even Spell-check approved.

I wonder if the warranty is still in effect.

Oh, well. At least the firemen got a good laugh, seeing me sitting here half-naked, hair singed off and pounding away amid the flames. Funny guys, them firemen. Just wait till next year at this time, I told them.