The Neighbor

I’m watching the neighbor pull in from a week of hunting with his huge camping trailer. Damn he’s a great driver! He’s gotta back that thing in to a narrow driveway with a telephone pole on one side and his house on the other. I doesn’t help that my car is in the way. That car is ALWAYS  in the way on account that it doesn’t run.

Ughh!  This is getting boring, all that back and forth, back and forth.

Looks like he’s getting pissed. He is Mormon and I didn’t know they were allowed to get pissed. Maybe only when they think no one is looking. I don’t really blame him for getting pissed though considering that the power company replaced the telephone pole while he was gone and with my immobile car where it is, it really complicates things.

He keeps looking over here. Hey, I think he is coming to my house. I should probably put some pants on.

BANG BANG BANG.

“Hang on!!”

BANG BANG BANG.

“I’m coming Goddammit!” People are always in such a hurry!

“Hey Mike.”

“Hey Man, You think you could move your car? I’m having a little trouble with that thing always in the way.”

“Sure Mike, be glad to. I’ll do it right now. Lemme find my boots and get some one to help push it.”

“Thanks Man, sure appreciate it. Didn’t my wife come over here a couple of weeks ago and tell you to move it as how it kinda blocks access to our driveway?”

“Yes.”

(pause)

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“Why didn’t you move it then?”

“Cause I don’t do what women tell me to do.”

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A $500.00 Dollar Story

“Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you so much!” She hugged me again and pulled me in to kiss me on the cheek.

“OK. Bye-bye now.”

I turned to see my grand daughter smiling as she hurried towards me.

The flight was normal, boring actually. The lady sitting with me seemed distressed. I had just spent 3 days with a mentalist who offered me an experience, an experience I had spent $10,000 to have.

It failed.

“You’re the most dissociated son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met!” he exclaimed at my body. Hmm… I wondered, what the hell was that about?

The steep climb towards cruising altitude was over and my seatmate and I settled in for the long haul. “Travel much?” I asked.

She put on her ‘Big Person’ face and smiled. “No, not much. This is a special trip. Something just for me.” She quick-checked for approval which I timed perfectly.

Soon a fluid conversation flowed like life-long friends.

It is beautiful, I thought, how automatically our bodies twitch and move in a  perfect rhythm that maintained orbit. My mind moved into the stewardess and watched us from her perspective. In the background a disembodied hand in a white glove tracked the language patterns and worked out strategy on a dry-erase board in my mind.

I was occasionally distracted from my other thoughts by amiable sounds and movements my body made as the conversation continued. She chatted happily about raising kids, her job, her therapist.

That’s the third time she used the ‘I wish I had’ pattern, the subtle anger covered by a laugh. She is expressing grief but it’s carried by subtle self-hatred for missed opportunity.

But what kind of opportunity? She had more money than God so it wasn’t a financial opportunity.  I wasn’t really listening because I trust my mind to hear it for me. Why else would my body have ears, a mind, and a memory if it couldn’t use them.

Curious now. The dry-erase hand drew a curved line with an arrow and made a crazy repeated circle around the word ‘revenge!’ That doesn’t make sense. She has a wonderful life…. No, too wonderful…. Revenge? Hmm.. revenge. Huh? Oh, REVENGE!!!!

WAIT! Somethings not right. Suddenly I started listening to the recording in super speed. She’s not 48. She is in her mid 50’s. Her grief and anguish are real but misapplied.

There is a guy…. no, several. The numbers 5 and 7 flashed quickly. A perfect husband. She isn’t married. Must be a past husband. She married the perfect husband. What went wrong?

The Hand. It keeps drawing my Grand Daughter and writing $500.00. What the hell?

I was aware of my body’s posture shifting…. a little more… don’t over do it. There, like a preacher.. no, to creepy. Like a father. Yes, better. I love my body; very efficient.

“Um.. I wonder….” I interrupted her.

“What?”

“How long have you been divorced?”

“6 years.”

“Who initiated it?”

“He did.” Her face clouded and tears started. “And I’m still devastated! It’s all I can think about. It is ruining my life!” Other passengers were turning to look.

“How long were you planning to leave him before he finally left you?”

She looked stunned. “How DARE….” she slumped. “Nine years!” Now the REAL tears started. “I hated him! I hated him. He was too perfect and I should have felt lucky and everyone always told me how much they respected him. I did so many horrible things to him and he always forgave me. I wanted to leave him but he never gave me a reason.”

She went on for awhile but I was hypnotized at how different her body language is when she is honest. Honesty is so rare.

The Hand is trying to get my attention. $500.00!!! We are descending.

“So you aren’t grieving because you are divorced; you are grieving because he left you instead of you leaving him. Is that right?”

“Yes but, how did..”

The plane is landing and the Hand keeps writing $500.00.

“Who are the 7 men of which 2 are different than the rest?” She gasped. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“You had 7 affairs. What was different about the other two. Its OK. It was a long time ago.” I coached.

I was running out of time and I needed $500.00.

“I fell in love with one and got caught with the other.” Amazing how different she is when she is honest! Twice in 3 and 1/2 hours! Might be a new record.

“Listen, I don’t have a lot of time and the plane is about to land and my grand daughter is needing money and I think I know something that will make you feel a lot better.  Do you have $500.00?”

“What??” “DO.. YOU.. HAVE.. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS?”

“Yes but..” “Give me five hundred dollars and I will tell you something that will change your life.”

I watched her body move hesitantly and with confused uncertainty as she counted out 5 crisp one hundred dollar bills. The Hand just gave a thumbs up. OH! I just felt something! What was that? I think it is… Hmm.. I lost it! That mentalist was right. It is possible to feel emotions if I really concentrate on it.

“Well??” she demanded. “What are you going to tell me?” I must have drifted off. My grand daughter had just arrived at the airport.

“Your husband. He got religion. When did he get religion? I’m guessing about 10-15 months before he filed for divorce,” She did some calculating. “Yes!! About a year!”

“Get a private detective and check out the preacher.”

“OH MY GOD!! Him and the preacher???”

“Shut up and listen!” Passengers are starting to stand for unloading. “Your husband is a good strong man but not the kind to leave his wife. Even a horrible woman like you. Someone had to put him up to it and YOU are going to take that someone DOWN!”

Another mind changing gears! Humans!

“There is a woman involved, kind of a self-righteous bitch, probably plays the organ, and a young man.”

“Oh my God! Are they involved in something?”

“Shut up! And NO. They are good, kind, caring people who DON’T deserve the hell you are going to dish out. YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE THEM FEEL….. THEY WILL FEEL.. EVERY HORRIBLE FEELING.. EVERY HORRIBLE FEELING YOU WISH UPON THEM. UNTIL YOUR VENGEANCE IS SATISFIED. YOU WILL…. FEEL SATISFIED!!”

Something of me entered a vacant spot in her psyche. I waited smiling…. Ah! She accepted….

“What will happen to them?” She looked small and fearful.

“That is up to you,.. you poor, scorned, grieving, sad woman. May your God bless you always and may YOUR WILL BE DONE.”

My body was up to something… More light pouring in… Must be my pupils. She stared with a horrified look into my eyes as my throat formed a metered whisper: I HOPE YOU ARE NEVER COLD…… OR WET…. OR HUNGRY…. My body felt all three simultaneously.

I stumbled slightly and my body felt slightly sick. I hate it when I re-enter the body. I have just pulled 15 years of pain from her life.

She looked 10 years younger, refreshed, confused, hopeful….. and a bit feral. “Thank you so much.” She kissed me and I walked towards my grand daughter.

“Who is that Grandpa?”

“Just some lady on the plane. Good to see you!”

“I love you Grandpa!”

After greetings we headed towards baggage claim. “Here you go Sweetheart.” I handed her the envelope with $500.00.

She gasped. “Grandpa! How did you know? My husband just called on the way here and said that the sofa we wanted was $500.00 more than we could afford!”

“Well, I guess it is your lucky day Sweetheart.”

3 perfectly good lives ruined trying to be someone else’s moral compass!! Sucks to be them.

 

 

 

6 and 1/2 Hours in Seattle

An older lady caned her way eagerly towards me. “What was he like?” she asked. “The Governor?”

“Where?” I asked.

“Why, that man you were just visiting with is the Governor.”

“That soft, pudgy guy I was just sitting with?”

She paused… “He’s our State Governor!!!”

“Oh, I thought he was an attorney for National Public Radio. I don’t think he’s all there.” She glared and walked away.

I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people. I don’t know if that guy was the Governor or not, but if he is, the kind folks of Washington ought to get their valves adjusted and some new spark plugs. That guy was a bit slow. Then again who am I to judge coming down from the hills and all.

A lively conversation started between a young woman and the man to her right until he got up and left. I was watching the goings on across the way and was aware that a fat black guy was noisily offering directions to all who stopped at his kiosk. While observing, a lady who was trying to read the inbound/outbound turned to me. “Can you help me sir?”

“Are you needing flight assistance?”

“Yes.”

“See that black guy over there? I think he is the guy to ask.” She thanked me kindly and scurried off as the young gal hissed, “That’s racist!”

“What would you have said?”

“I would have said ‘that guy’.”

“Which one?”

“That… over there…. (There were guys everywhere.) Oh…..  maybe it was OK. You’re not racist.”

“Glad to have your approval. You’re not from here.”

“I’m from New Hampshire. How did you know?”

“You are clearly female.”

“That’s sexist!”

“Look for yourself.” She looked around. “The women here ARE a bit manly aren’t they.” I nodded.

“How do you know they are women?” I asked, smirking. She glanced around again and suppressed a laugh. “I see your point.”

“Oh well, you called that black guy a guy so you are sexist too. I suppose we are even.”

We had a nice chat and I learned she was looking for a Guru and had found one in Seattle. I’m pretty sure there is a plane full of people heading for New Hampshire right this minute that have found a guru there. What ever floats your boat, I suppose.

She stood up. “I’ve gotta go and figure out when and where my friends are supposed to arrive.”

“Maybe you ought to go ask that black guy.” I offered. She shook her head in resignation.

The airport bar looks interesting. Nah. I don’t want a drink.

A healthy, athletic, black gal sat near me. “Those seats are more comfy.” I offered. She moved over and thanked me. 10 minutes passed and she said “Is everyone from here as friendly as you?”

“I dunno. Give or take I guess. Where are you from?”

“Los Angeles.”

“Are people friendly there?”

“Oh no. It made me nervous that you spoke to me cause I’m not used to that but then I remembered that I’m here to have different experiences.”

“Glad I could be a different experience.”

“So are you from around here?” she asked.

“I live a few hours East.”

“I’m sure glad you people from this area are so nice!”

“Thank you. Enjoy your visit.”

I pondered what she meant by ‘you people’ and found it curious that Denver is 3 hours and 5 minutes East of here and she considered a few hours East to mean ‘from this area’.

Maybe I should check out the bar.

A young couple asked if they could sit at my table so they could watch the walkway from the perfect view my table offered. “Sure, Why not?” Two whiskeys later they had told me enough I could have sold them into slavery.

“And I just got my PhD” she bubbled “and if all goes well Jimmy will have his in 3 months!”

“Sounds real nice. Have the two of you considered getting an education?”

She looked startled then laughed. “You almost got me!” They patted each other reassuringly. “We’ll be fine now with our degree behind us.” He smiled lovingly at her.

“A PhD will only get you so far in life. You kids really ought to consider getting an education.” I smiled inwardly sipping my drink. They looked uncomfortably back and forth and agreed that they had to go.

If society stays as it is, they will be fine. If we turn cannibal, I’m gonna get fat while they go extinct.

As they hurried away, a wrinkled soul from the last century smiled at me and asked if she could rest her tired feet and soon we had built great rapport. “Young man, you are quite a surprise!”

She leaned in and asked me if I would be in the area long enough to visit some sights and maybe enjoy a favorite pastime or two. Her hand reached to hold mine and her eyes twinkled merrily.

I bet she was a real looker 55 years ago.

I haven’t been called a ‘young man’ for quite some time and I realized there was a 35 year-old living in that wrinkled body.

Nice!

Very compelling…. I smiled at her. “You know though,” I teased, “in 30 years your proposal will be considered sexual harassment.”

“I know.” Her eyes sparkling. “Shall we get to it then?”

We were interrupted by a security officer. “Ma’am, is this man bothering you?”

“Oh no! He is wonderful company!”

I stood up. “You know, I gotta go anyway. Pleased to meet you Miss.”

The Rent-A-Cop followed me. “Excuse me sir. We had a complaint that you were rude to a couple.”

“I’m rude to a lot of people. The flight should be here in about 45 minutes and I’ll be gone.”

“You come wait with Tammy.”

Tammy was a security officer, a fat man with make-up. He came and sat with me for the ‘safety of Seattle’ and I could see his 5 o’clock shadow growing through his make-up. His hair on top was long and in a ponytail.

“So Tammy….” He glanced at me. “How long have you lived in Seattle?”

“You smell like booze. Have you been drinking?”

“Yup.”

So Tammy……. “You got a husband and kids?”

He ignored me.

I stared at him and wondered how he had survived.

“So Tammy…… How long have you been a cop?” He got up and waddled off to a chair further away.

A song started working into my head.

‘Twas an evening in October, I’ll confess I wasn’t sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
“You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,”
Then the pig got up and slowly waddled walked away.

The old lady spied me as she hurried by with the passenger she had been waiting for. “I hope to see you again if God willing!” she flirted. “So long.” I responded.

Soon I heard the announcement I was waiting for.

6 and 1/2 hours in Seattle is a LONG time.

Ricky (The Runner)

Uggh! My elbow found a sticky spot at the counter in Denny’s Cafe where I sat with a quiet man.

I hadn’t meant to befriend him, it happened naturally. He is young, maybe mid 40’s and barely has spark left in his eyes. Something is so familiar….. Where have I met him before?

An attractive woman walked past. She is slightly overweight, still in pajamas and horribly messy hair. Part of me wanted to judge. His eyes slid over her and slight sadness, was that sadness? yes, sadness… I think I saw sadness. And something familiar… “What do you think of that?” I asked. His eyes glanced for another instant. “Wadda you want to hear?”

Seemed final. I chewed on a bit of cranberry cooked in pancake batter. “What do you see?” He asked. I turned, looking into eyes that had died again. “I’m not sure, several things I think.” She was across and to my left, very pretty and a mess.

“I feel flannel sheets, it’s cool in the room and warm in bed. Nuzzling a warm neck and the light scent that is specifically female, warm and accepted.” I felt a little smug in my poetry. He’s not dead. I saw pain.

“Alright.” he said pushing his plate away and reaching for coffee. “I’ll play your fucking game.” An uneasy feeling slid up my spine and an unsettled tingle in my stomach. Ricky popped into my mind. This guy isn’t that young, I thought. I added 25 or 30 years. That’s better. I hadn’t paid so close attention but now I see his hair is stained. His face is young but his hands, mannerisms, and way of speaking are old.

His voice sounded dead now… “I see all the people who never lived, loved… Their parents died young, before they conceived.” I waited, sipping coffee. That was it.  Jesus. So much for poetry!

I spaced off for a few seconds while he spoke the words of prophets and I missed one of the best monologues the Gods ever delivered.

Ricky…

I met Ricky decades earlier… He was pale, gaunt.. He was a tiny man about 4’10”, had strait, long brown hair with self-cut bangs strait across the forehead. He was in a cot across from me and slept. Barely ate, barely drank, slept. Scratching and stretching, sweating… Teeth grinding. I wondered why he wasn’t in a hospital. Exactly one week. Then he gradually came to life.

Turns out this guy was a runner.

Remember that commercial that shows a young man running in slow motion, you know, like a track star or something, and the announcer is talking about youthful dreams and potential? In the end, a policeman catches and tackles the young man and the announcer says ‘No one dreams of being a criminal’.

Ricky was that kind of runner.

There is a difference though. The cops couldn’t catch Ricky. This guy was FAST. He’d run right between two cops and down the street. He was like a ’74 Pontiac out running the family dog. The cop that could catch Ricky on foot hasn’t been invented yet.

We played chess together and sort of became friends. He’d been out of the Pen for 8 months and was being charged with 96 burglaries. “Didja do it?” I asked. “No.” he said and slid his Bishop and took my Knight. Ahh…. Ahhh….*BULLSHIT* a guy sneezed. Ricky smashed that guy in the nose so fast and hard that none of us saw it coming.

A skinny black guy said “You better clean that shit up before someone thinks you been fightin’.” The guy went off and started cleaning the red that was all down his chin and shirt. “Buncha fuckin’ bullshit!” the guy whined.

“So….. How’d they finally catch you?” He sat staring at the chess board and the room was dead quiet. A guy next to me eating chips stopped chewing and let the chip soften in his mouth. The reader with the intense eyes stared at his book, waiting. Finally Ricky moved his Knight into position. “I was hiding in my mom’s house in her bedroom closet.” Quiet, level eyes casually locked on mine. I stared back for maybe 5 seconds and nodded.

Made sense. Donut men would have never caught him on the run.

“How’d they catch you?” “I was on the way to the fair and they set up a rolling blockade.” He nodded.

The man at Denny’s was waiting. “Well?” “I was just thinking that you reminded me of a guy I used to know as Ricky the Runner.” I told him. He stiffened. “I know the guy. What do you wanna do?” It wasn’t Ricky, it was a friend of his. I knew he looked familiar. A guy we called The Wrench.

“I don’t want nothing. Just a coincidence I guess. I gotta go.”

Suddenly the rod slid out of his spine and he shrank, instantly looking his full age and more. “I’m sick of hiding.” he said. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Oh fuck! I’d been here before, once in Montana. That time he guy had thought I was a hit man. This time, well, who the hell knows what this guy’s thinking. I’d nailed it and wish I hadn’t.

I signaled the waitress. “Can I get you some more coffee sweetie?” “No thanks. I want to pay for mine and my friend here.” I slid her a $50. “Keep the change.” “Thank you Sweetie and you boys have a good day.” She wiggled off with purpose.

He stared at me expectantly. “If I ever see you again I WILL NOT RECOGNIZE YOU.” I said quietly. “And I would appreciate the same courtesy.” He sagged again, even more; not weak, just tired. “OK.” was all he said. I headed for the door.

“WAIT!” I turned watching him walk towards me. My pulse quickened.

“How do you do it man, all the shit we did? How do you live with it?”

I was trying to formulate the right answer when a life of distrust, close calls, nightmares, violent encounters, and dark offerings flashed through my mind replaced by relief and gratitude.

Slowly I realized… Maybe for the first time in my whole life I really realized…… “Because………. Because…. Because I didn’t do it. That’s how I live with it. I didn’t do it.”

I didn’t leave immediately. I slipped around the corner and back into Denny’s through the entrance to the lounge. I watched The Wrench sip his coffee, and waited while he finished in the bathroom. He drove away in a blue sedan and I drove the opposite direction and watched my tail carefully.

I left New Mexico, crossed the mountains, and drove long hours. In little towns I circled the block and watched for familiar cars like a paranoid freak. 2 days later I was home.

I’ll admit being a bit paranoid for a few weeks and life went back to normal.

So The Wrench lived long enough to regret the lives never lived, the un-conceived, and his part in it.

I wonder what ever happened to Ricky the Runner.

Being American

A few hours ago I met the barrister in the hallway and greeted him. \

“Hi Gary” “Hi. How are ya?” “Not bad. I’m happy today.” “Well, you oughta be, you’ve got all that money and a Mercedes and all.” “Yeah that’s true. I’m an American so I have more of everything than I need.” “That’s for sure. We Americans are rich. I fucking hate Americans.” “Why do you hate Americans?” “Americans are assholes.” “Yeah, what’s your point?” “You know who I like? I like Canadians.” “I was just talking to a lady from Canada.” ‘Yeah, did you like her?” “I suppose. I don’t know the difference. They seem like people to me.” “No, they’re different. You never hear a Canadian say I’m Proud to be Canadian.”

That’s true, I thought. “You’re right, I haven’t.” I wanted to say ‘I don’t blame them’ but that would make me seem American.

I had a better idea. “I don’t say I’m proud to be American. I say I’m proud of myself and dammit everybody else ought to be proud of me too!”

“That’s what I’m talking about. Damned Americans! I ought to move to Canada.”

“Well Gary, if you move to Canada, you know, best of luck to you. I hear it’s nice there.”

Whatever. I don’t even know how to NOT be an asshole. I like being American.

 

 

Townie Guy

There is a Townie Guy that occasionally walks past my house. He has long blondish hair and a little facial hair un-purposefully grown. He walks kinda diminished, like the Japanese, he keeps his head bent slightly forward, and his arms don’t swing. I’m guessing  him to be in his late thirties, early forties.

He was walking past while I was scooping dog crap with a tiny shovel and I greeted him. “Howya doin’?”

“I don’t know.”

I paused for maybe 5 seconds…… I think I believe him.

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?