Pondering Older Men (warning, dark and a bit disturbing)

Please don’t read this post. It is going into the Tales of Darkness series. It came to me out of the blue. I clicked the ‘write’ button and this story developed itself and after reading it a couple times I didn’t see any glaring errors so I hit ‘publish’ and it was off.

The thing is though, as the evening wore on I was drawn back to re-read it. Suddenly I realized; I am feeling a bit disturbed. It’s really quite an ugly story. I dunno, maybe you’ll like it. Whatever, You’ve been warned.

The light is filtered through dirty glass about 15 feet away, on the other side of the steel bars of my cage. There’s nothing to see but I climb as high as I can anyway. There is a small fenced courtyard with a basketball hoop. The buildings are placed as to offer no view.

A few days before, the keys clanged and the door opened, “OK, listen up. Grab your blanket, pillow, and mattress and follow me.” Six of us from maximum security shuffled down a bright hallway to a part of the facility I’d never seen. We passed a threshold with double fire doors and time went backwards 50 years. Gone were the bright yellows and oranges replaced with clear coated concrete and light or dark grey institution paint. One person per cage, 24-7 lock down with one hour exercise per day starting after 3 days. I found out it is what they all called the ‘Old Jail’.

I glanced at my good friend Gary who is an aging criminal defense attorney from California way. We are having coffee and donuts in the office common area. He was just telling me that if 10 people are randomly pulled from the street and accused of murder, 8 will go to prison for the murder. “Don’t they get pissed going to prison for something they didn’t do?” I asked, curious where this was going. He looked at me like I was stupid. “You gotta get over it. It’s better to go to prison for something you didn’t do than for something you did do. At least that way you’re innocent.”

It didn’t sit well but I could relate.

My mind went back to the good old days. 18 years old, mid summer was in full swing, and the fair was opening tonight! I got all dressed up and was wheeling past the Tastee Freeze toward the country music concert at the fair when my way was suddenly blocked by two Sheriff cars and another came up from behind. The terrified policeman went through his routine and I found myself in a detective’s car headed for the city. These two clowns were high fiving each other for solving the crime. “What crime Goddammit!?” The driver sneered and told me I’d find out when we got to the station.

There’s no way to express all the crazy shit that goes on in your head for the first six weeks or so. Every form of fear, overwhelming self pity, crying while visiting with the folks on the other side of security glass and wiping dry before returning to the cage.

The thing is, there’s nothing you can do. If you yell at the guards they smile while they beat you and keep asking if there is anything else you wanted to say. The other prisoners don’t want to hear it on account of their own problems. You get a few friends that visit then disappear. Then is the day when the guards laugh hysterically as they read out loud the ‘Dear John’ letter and then stuff it back in the envelope and push it through the bars. “You really fucked up getting the Sheriff’s daughter pregnant!” We had dated but hadn’t done it!

Lots of photos and interviews, visits with the public defender, and a criminal psychologist that keeps touching my leg and asking if I like older men.

“So what do these guys do?” I asked Gary. ‘Plead guilty” he said. “They will get 20 years if they lose in the trial or 2 years if they plead guilty”. “Happens all the time.” he said. “Some guys take their chances in court and sometimes they win. The trial will likely take longer than the 2 years of prison so it’s usually worth it. The system is criminal.”

I knew what he was talking about but I listened, acting amazed and horrified that such a thing could possibly be true here in the good ole USA.

I made the decision in a dinky attorney/prisoner room with a flickering florescent. I didn’t trust the dainty man who had been assigned to be my defense but I had no known options. “If we fight it we will most likely lose and you are looking at 14 years in State Prison. If you plead guilty, I think we can get you out of here in 3 months.” “Is there any guarantee? I mean what if they give me 14 years anyway?” “Well kid, sometime you gotta take your chances.”

A few more weeks went by……. I anguished. I didn’t do it… More self pity.. I was circling the drain. I finally made up my mind and called the public defender.

“OK. Lets do it.” My heart was pounding. I’d been in a cage for over 6 months now. I wanted this shit over. “You sure? Once we do this there isn’t any turning back.” “Yeah, let’s do it.” I took several deep breaths. I hoped to GOD that this defense attorney could make this happen. “Oh, just one more thing……” “What?” He fidgeted a bit. “We are going to need an excellent evaluation from the criminal psychologist. He wants to see you three times.” His eyes bored into me. “What?” I was trying to understand his sudden change in mannerism. “You are going to need an excellent evaluation.” He continued to look directly into my eyes. “Do…. you….. un-der-stand?”            He wasn’t blinking.

Oh shit, this can’t be real! Yes, it was starting to sink in.

“Yes. Yes, I understand.”

Make sure you do. He is a powerful man and you don’t want to mess this up.”

“Will anyone know?” I couldn’t swallow right. My throat was lumping. He looked at me directly for a few more seconds and then looked down. “I sorry.”

He shuffled some papers and pressed a buzzer button and his slight form was replaced by a guard.

Desperate days….  He needed and had 5 meetings rather than 3.

Some weeks after the guilty plea I waited for sentencing and no one would tell me anything. The judge asked questions of all involved and lectured me of the severity of the crime how irregular it is that such a minor sentence was requested. He locked eyes with the psychologist and continued.

“TIME SERVED PLUS 45 DAYS!” He banged his gavel.

The psychologist glanced my way and winked. I looked back at the judge and he spoke directly into my soul. “YOUNG MAN, I DON’T EVER WANT TO SEE YOU IN MY COURTROOM AGAIN!” I disappeared for 45 days.

A few months later I was visiting with an old girlfriend. She was caring for her new baby. It was a baby boy with a flat, broad nose that was a remarkable match to the man sitting next to her. We had both been dating her. He was a proud daddy!

The future shortened and the past grew and ancient men enjoy coffee and donuts.

As Gary talked, I remembered back to the day when I had used micro-phish to look up old news articles and had read in the court and legal section the day after sentencing. There was my mug-shot and a quarter page rant about an armed robber getting 45 days county jail and how unfair it was that I had gotten off so lightly.

So Gary headed off to do a plea bargain in court and I walked in the smokey sunshine back to my office. Though I will never know the experience of robbing someone at gunpoint, maybe Gary is right. Maybe it is better to be in jail for something you didn’t do than to be in jail for something you did. But….. There might be a third option…..

Do you like older men?

 

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Answers to (Some of) the Interesting Questions

I don’t know why people ask me these questions and assume they ask other people the same questions. Either way, I decided to answer some of the interesting ones here.

Kids DO say the darnedest things but it’s usually in answer to questions that adults ask. All questioners will be considered anonymous. All answers are to considered entertainment unless life experience dictates otherwise. But then, if life dictates, you already knew the answer, didn’t you.

Q: What should I do with my life.

A: How the hell should I know. It’s hard enough living my own. Do you really not know? Let’s assume you are serious. Here is my answer. If you want to kill people: Join the military. If you don’t want to kill people: Join the Mormons. Either will tell you what to do with your life for four or more years until you have the clarity to run your own life.

Q: I’m thinking about killing myself. What should I do? 

A: This is a tough one based on inexperience. So here goes.

You want to be careful in life-or-death actions. This long answer will assume Space Aliens do not exist. It also assumes that you don’t want to fuck up a perfectly well-intended suicide. Oh, And it assumes reincarnation.

Find at least 3 people who have successfully done it. All else is theory. Life-and-death, including suicide is NOT a time for trial and error unless you have VERY WELL-FOUNDED research by experts who have your best interest at heart as well as the best interest of a dream bigger than themselves, such as Deep Space and Deep Water.

The practical application of theory is mostly for the nonsense you experience in college, especially as you approach your P.H.D. Not for the beginning Self Killer.

So…. Find at least 3 people who have successfully committed suicide in a fully satisfying way and interview them. Put together a comprehensive plan. 

Wait, wait. Don’t ask someone who TRIED and failed. What do they know. No one wants to deal with the humiliation of failure in this endeavor so get your shit together.

Now, you might have to wait until you die to meet people who have succeeded in killing themselves and then in your next life, assuming you still want to die, you can execute your well planned objective.

 

Q: If you are religious, what religion do you prefer?

A: Ooooh.. This is a hard one. I love the Catholics because they are so devout. They have the answer to everything and are well established. Too much guilt for me though.

The Jews have the best stories. I love the way a Rabbi can answer ANY question with a story. Again, too much guilt for me.

The Adventist are very reverent. I like that. They need to stop lying about money, stop their compulsive gambling with the money people give them and REALLY need to clean out the pedophile population in their organization. Also, too much guilt for me.

Jehovah Witness are probably OK. I know a few and they are really nice. I don’t care for the quality of their pamphlets. Kinda grainy.

Hindu and Buddhist are GREAT! Too complicated though. Plus, who wants to glue a red button to their forehead every morning?

Mormon. I think I would be Mormon because they will help you move. Plus they have  this thing about forgiving people. I can piss them off and they have to forgive me.

****I grouped these. *****

Q: Are you psychic? Do you believe in psychics? Why does it seem like you can read my mind? How do you always seem to know what I’m about to do? How come when I ask you a question, you answer a different one and it makes me mad until a few weeks later I realize what you had said was what I was trying to learn; how do you do that?

A: First, get a hold of Scott. He will get you started.

Here is the thing though. You are not your mind or body. Nor are you your personality. So considering that we speak the same language, go to the same schools, drive on the same side of the street, and on and on, we have very similar patterns of life. Cause and effect is predictable in much of life.

Add to the above that if I listen to you, I will hear you. The phrase “Pat is pregnant” tells me a LOT about Pat.

For instance: Pat is a female, is of age, active, starting to look like she ate a baby, seeing the doctor regularly,  she will fart every time she stands up starting about 7 months, she rubs her tummy, starts obsessing about baby names, and on and on.

So if that simple phrase tells me that much, how much will I hear if you tell me about your new kitten.

So no. I’m not psychic. I just pay attention.

Also, I spent about 6 years watching as much Netflix type movie channels to learn about other ways of life, expression, and opinions to fill in the blanks from not having enough lifetimes to live it myself.

At some point it all boils down to life patterns. If Pat is pregnant then these other patterns will likely follow. So if you do or tell me something, then you are also telling me your life patterns as well and confirming my own. If you lie or try to evade, you will likely do it the same way everyone else does so it will expose even more truth and at much deeper levels. So frankly, the more dishonest you are the better I will understand you.

The only tricky part about humanity is honesty. It is so rare and unexpected that it is hard to isolate and study. Even the best documentaries about truth spend the whole time discussing dishonesty. So like that saying goes: If you want to deceive someone, Tell the truth.

Q:I’ve seen photos or heard of you being in the oddest places. What’s that about?

A:It’s a Forrest Gump thing. I just kind of end up places and meeting people and doing things. It just happens.

If you have read about the eneagram, not sure I spelled that right, you might remember reading about the personality that is referred to as a 3. That is a clear examination of my basic uncontrolled personality. Those not a 3 tend to consciously despise the 3 but when not thinking about it will tend to love the 3.

Think about magical shape-shifters. That is my natural, unmodified personality, warts and all. It raises the chances that I will be in expected and unexpected places and situations. 

 

Q: I’m always so sure I have to suffer to get results in my life until you make me laugh about it and then it just starts happening without the pain. How does that keep happening?

A: Pain is more of a fetish than a problem. People will get a boo boo and bitch for 3 weeks about it but will pay $1000 extra for pain when they hire an escort. I don’t get it.

Life will consistently deliver small doses of discomfort to assure that even the most comfortable have something to complain about. We don’t need to plan that into out schedule.

Plan a life of pleasure and Pay Extra for Pain.

 

Q: I saw a picture of someone who looks like you driving a politician some years back. He was a young guy. Was that you?

A: Very possible. Forrest Gump thing.

 

I have 62 more on the list but I have company coming.

Screaming all the Way

My Aunt instantly corrected me. “You weren’t screaming. You were quiet as a mouse and that’s what was so scary.” “No Auntie, I was screaming the whole way.” “No sir, you weren’t. You laid in the back of the car, white. You were WHITE…….Like you were already dead!

I must have been in my mid thirties when my aunt and I were visiting at my grandparent’s home. We were flipping through family memories when she mentioned a farm accident that became part of family lore.

I was recently out of 3 cornered britches (as diapers were called in our neck of the woods) and all available hands were cleaning the tractor building. I was too young to be of any help so I pretty much just had to stay out of the way and out of trouble.

The thing about tractor sheds is that there is a lot of interesting things in a shed and this particular day I was messing with the tread on the rear wheels that were leaning against a wall that had been removed from one of the tractors. See, to me the treads were huge and I figured that I could climb the tread if no one was looking.

Dad hollered at me to get away from the wheels so I did…. for awhile. Pretty soon he hollered again to GET AWAY. So I did……. for awhile. Well, charm ain’t always what we want it to be and in this case, third time was the charm.

Every story that moves along eventually has to have a plot point, you know, where everything is boring and then something happens that changes the course of the rest of the story. We’re getting close to that very plot point for this story.

As I’m writing this the memory is rich and real. Dust, smell of grease, rubber, it’s all living in my body waiting for a memory to resurrect them.

Well, I was doing fine, almost on top of the tire. Just a little more. Whoa, uh-oh, the tire started moving and I was sliding off, hoping dad wouldn’t see me……..

There was a WHUMMP and there was dust and a panoramic, black-and-white snap-shot of Dad and my aunt looking my way. This was bad! Daddy is gonna spank me. They came a-running and somehow lifted that tractor tire off me.

You know that feeling when you get punched really hard in the stomach? Or when you are shoveling snow and the shovel hits a crack while you are pushing it and it pokes you REALLY HARD in the gut so that all you can do is gasp and maybe cry if you’re a sissy or maybe puke? Kind of like that except that it hurt.

Being able to breath…….. God, I hope when you die… I hope it ain’t cause you got your breath knocked out. Some of it isn’t clear. I think my system might have shut off my mind for a while to focus on learning to breath. Can’t breath… it sucks!

Since I hadn’t gathered my thoughts, (they were scattered all over the warehouse floor) nor did I have any idea of dignity, I just laid around and screamed.

While I maintained a decent level of noise, everything else was just a bunch of busy. People running for phones and a bunch of serious big-people talk. I was too young to know what a hospital was but I do remember knowing I was gonna find out.

I’m not sure if we took the ’63 Rambler or if Auntie set me in back of her car, I just remember turning out of our lane onto the highway and she kept looking over the seat at me and saying stuff that I couldn’t hear over my screaming.

This was all before Smokey and the Bandit taught us all to drive and I really didn’t understand the concept of speeding but my older brother told me that Auntie was HAULING ASS!

The phone call had the Cheyenne hospital ready but when we Auntie hauled me in, there was a problem. They understood that it was my Dad that was smashed so they were ready to pronounce him DOA (dead on arrival) and move him down to the refrigerated drawer to keep him fresh untill the funeral. Evidently adults don’t usually survive that level of boot-stomping. Dad said it took a half hour to set up for me.

Auntie came and visited me every day for a week. She brought finger puppets and such. She asked the nurse “Is he OK? Why is he lying so still? Can he move around?” Turns out that when I first got there one of the nurses had told me to lie still. Being a little kid in that condition I took it to heart. The nurse assured her that I was fine and it is OK if I moved around. “You can move around sweetie, it’s OK.” She said I could move so I did. Later Auntie told me that the nurse was sorry that she said I could move!

Come to think of it, Auntie was pretty nice to me then. We haven’t been real close in the past 15 years or so. Maybe I’ll call her.

It took a week to make sure I wasn’t pooping blood and somehow little kid bones bend like grass before a wind so no bones got broke. The tires didn’t have the liquid ballast in them or I would have splattered. Good luck I guess.

Out of all the perhaps hundreds of times this memory was recalled or brought to me by family conversations I ALWAYS remembered screaming all the way. Now Auntie was telling me, “That’s what was so scary. You didn’t make a sound all the way to Cheyenne”. Now that put a different spin on the whole thing. How the hell could that be? Was all that noise just in my head?

Of course, the years don’t stop putting distance between us and the past so more thoughts arrive.

Sometimes now I wonder when petty misunderstandings happen and people don’t understand why no one hears them….. Maybe the screaming is just in their head. (Don’t say that to your wife. It’ll piss her off!)

A mentor of mine used to talk about people ‘acting out’ instead of communicating. I thought of ‘acting out’ as a euphemism for being childish. Now I wonder if he was saying that people have a feeling and they ‘act out’ the feeling instead of communicating and they assume everyone else is hearing the message. (Couldn’t you see by my expression that something is wrong?)

Anyway, I’m starting to wander off.

See you next time.

Tales of Darkness 1

Continued from The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Ghosts, spirits, demons, horrifying dreams. They are guardians of the gateway.

Remember the Great Story of the Garden of Eden? You must not eat of this fruit unless you desire knowledge. The knowledge of Good and Evil.

Witches and witchcraft, supernatural disasters, ordinary disasters blamed on the supernatural.

Well-meaning warnings based on ignorance and superstition abound, preventing most from becoming curious and keep the curious from searching deeper. Deeper into the meaningful.

Some of us looked…. at death…. and felt fear. And looked again, deeper. The fear fell away with understanding only to be replaced with a new fear, a different fear, or both. Eventually and often with Great Terror… look now and you’ll remember a time. You know terror now, don’t you, but one time the Great Terror fell away and …… nothing. Understanding. That fear is gone. The first time is disorienting, an anomaly. Don’t worry, it will happen again.

Don’t get too smug though, understanding doesn’t necessarily make a person any better, just different.

This happens in an evening or over a 25 year span. You don’t really keep track, but.. you do, don’t you. Some part of you. Until…. you start looking for fear, to understand. Understanding feels good. It’s addictive. You need more fear to understand more. We get some version of what we think about and the feelings of fear intensify. You begin to cycle faster, you recognize the cycle don’t you. You’ve seen it before in your life or someone else’s, until… you stop fearing fear. Or it starts driving you mad. Oh, it’s good to    Stop fearing fear.

I wish it was this quick. Nope. Like Hercules drinking from the Cup of the Giants that kept refilling itself because it was attached to a huge lake, you will face thousands of fears you don’t even know exist within you. Your moments will be swirling with depression, fear, anxiety and worry, interrupted only by sex, TV, sleep, books, and more sex and fantasies of suicide. You will get discouraged, you will give up hundreds if not thousands of times, you will walk The Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Early along the way you will begin to question, maybe because it’s funny, then over time more seriously. Easy now… it will suck you in. Then maybe in anger, or genuine curiosity. Careful, those questions are dangerous. Those questions bring attention. Those questions entertain the drunk, stoned, and bored. Those who have given up the quest become uncomfortable, concerned, afraid, angry.

Those who have read about people who question try to analyze and declare your mental illness, and, failing that, they will try to find others like you that they can study to make themselves famous for ‘discovering’ a new ‘illness’. These weaklings NEED you to be a victim to help them feel strong. They feel the pull of the darkness. They want it but they feel afraid so they send you. They judge you for your uncertainty while stoned on their delusions of shared echo-chamber smartness that is lewd, reckless, and stupid backed up by a degree.

Careful… don’t look into the dark. What you find might remove your fear forever. Or, maybe you will choose instead to give up, keep your fears, and instead travel church to church as a paid guest speaker, calling upon all to heed your warning, STAY AWAY FROM WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! Maybe you’ll become a therapist longing for the bravery of the souls who come to you for answers. You don’t have answers though do you, so you ask “how does that make you feel?” and “Are you taking your medication?”

But then, you meet a person here and there who has been here and there. They understand, they encourage. You’ve finally found someone that sees your world. And maybe you are THEIR someone who understands.

It gets lonely as only the most drunk or the most stoned are interesting or interested.

I would encourage you to look away, if that makes you happy. Sure, why not? I always cringe when I see some poor soul circling the drain like a washrag in the toilet. They’ve got a shit storm ahead of them. They’re not likely to make it. There’s no clear map. They’ll eventually become more insistent in their search for answers and for help. All will try to drag them away from their dark obsessions or medicate them. If properly medicated a soul will lose its highs and lows. Try to be a ‘good boy or girl’. Get back to work and STAY MEDICATED.

I can only wish an early death for that poor soul caught forever in human purgatory.

However…. for the few who make it all the way….. you will NEVER be the same again. Life is just like it was before, but YOU’RE NOT. Napoleon Hill suggested that most men who do anything extraordinary with their lives don’t get started until 45-55 years of age. It takes about that long to clear the misunderstandings developed in early training, to clear your head of superstition and ignorance. If you are going for it, keep one foot nailed to the floor of sanity so that you are free to look at truth.

But.. talk as little and to as few as possible about the strains of truth you find. All except few will try to convince you that you are wrong, that you are crazy. Well maybe, but only until you’re not. If what you find is true and you seek truth, you’ll know. Keep at it and you will emerge unflappable, unsinkable. People with the greatest education will come to you for advice. You’ll have none but your best understanding of the compilations of shards of truth that you will package and offer with humble hope that it will lighten their load.

As I tell this long story I hope you look away and read something light-hearted and fanciful instead. If you read this you will see the path ahead, the path you’re on, the path behind you, or if you aren’t out frolicking with new-found freedom, you might read about the path you have successfully traveled and finished. Out the other side.

My question today is: When you emerge (an unlikely IF) will you help others? Oh, who gives a shit. The next entry of this series will get the train a-rollin’.

What the hell?!! Oh, the cat is wearing a green ribbon while leaping after a feather. It must be Saint Patrick’s Day.

Erin Go Bragh

Or as my Father-In-Law always would say ~ Erin Go Bra-Less….

 

 

 

Silent Death: The Drowning Girl

“HEY, HEY!”   I was shouting at my son. “Help that little girl!” The mighty Columbia River was silently culling it’s prey.

Water has always had a piece of my soul. The first time I found myself floundering was in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Head tipped back and toes barely touching the bottom as the next kid went down the slide, swam past me, and then another. Finally, gasping and knowing that I’d had a close one, my hands grasp the rough concrete edge of the pool.

The reservoir North of Casper also made several passes at me. Each time, trembling from exertion, wanting to cry, I promised myself not to go so far next time. Before I turned twelve, 2 of my friends met the Grim Reaper in that very water.

Turtle Creek reservoir in Kansas wanted young meat for the larger fish to nibble on in the depths under the frozen surface of winter and it drew me seductively past my abilities. Again, I made it passed death’s grasp.

Strangely and in my own mind I wondered how no one ever seemed to notice, no one seemed to care. Every single time was a little boy’s silent battle for life. Each close call caused a deep internal sobbing, less now from proximity to death and more that no one seemed to care. As a young child I became comfortably close to death in my casual thoughts. Dreams of death from falling was as common as any child but drowning haunted my dreams. Pictures of water, no mater how peaceful, gave fuel to a mind determined to slip thoughts of a slowly sinking victim giving their soul to Davey Jones.

It is the silence that haunted me the most. Was I wanting to die? Was I too lazy to call out? My dreams of drowning were so common that eventually I found myself enjoying the call. Drowning… what a nice way to die.

Later in life while canoeing I’d find myself half halfheartedly enjoying the capsize, wondering if this was my final ride. Smiling to myself sitting on the shore I’d talk quietly to the river. “Not this time my friend.”

Enter the Reader’s Digest. They had an article about drowning and how the drowning person falls silent, conserving energy and drowns passively among the other swimmers rather than the thrashing and screaming seen in movies. Yup, it’s just like that I thought. With pictures and description, the Reader’s Digest laid the most private of my near drowning experiences convincingly bare to the reader.

Some years later I was walking with the family along the river where families were splashing in the water and lounging on the grassy slope designed by U.S. Corp of Engineers. I walked out onto the dock with my wife and the dog and was coaxing the dog to jump off the dock to retrieve a stick.

Thank God for the Reader’s Digest! My eye spotted and brought my attention to the girl. I paused for a few seconds to confirm. I felt her posture, quiet then loud as the waves from passing boats covered her ears then off. “HEY, HEY!! Help her! I pointed directly at the girl. While my son was trying to comprehend my yelling, her dad lunged into the water and grabbed her up, pulling her out.

“What happened” he was asking. She collapsed crying into his arms and began the panic-relief sobbing that follows near death from drowning.

She was slowly and torturously drowning surrounded by friends and family. I wonder if she occasionally questions that no one seemed to care, why didn’t anyone notice? Well, maybe not. Someone did notice.

We walked on, her memory burned into my mind. I’ve had no drowning dreams since.