Wednesday, December 5, 2012


             As a kid loss didn’t mean much to me.  Most things that we lost could be replaced, or if you enlisted the aid of Mom, found.  The items I lost weren’t all that important really and as I look back on my childhood I never really wanted for anything.  I had a close family.  A ‘Leave it to Beaver’ family that I rebelled against with every ounce of my strength in my teenage years but it also meant that our grandparents were a regular part of our family gatherings.  It meant trips to see our grandparents on a pretty regular basis.  Those trips were always trips filled with fun and exciting new things to do and see…and good snacks.  It meant eating Grandpa’s cookies and watching baseball on the TV or a Laker’s game.  It meant reading a really awesome coffee table book about the history of the NFL.  It meant playing Star Trek on the back porch of Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  It meant going and hanging out with them for the evening while Mom and Dad went back to Disneyland to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland.  It also meant seeing my Aunt Betty, my Uncle Dave and playing with cousins.  I also got my first star wars vehicle toys there, a very cool white tie fighter and Darth Vader’s tie fighter!!  We played with Gi-Joe figures on the giant (at the time at least) rock fireplace.  It meant dinners gathered around the table on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays and during family reunions.  It meant Family!

                Last week my Grandma passed away at the age of 90.  She lived a good long life.  She had a loving husband, two great kids, seven or eight grandkids, and four great grand kids who she got to know and hang out with on several occasions.  Grandma became GG when my kids were born but to me and to my brother she will always be Grandma.  She was the last of my grandparents to pass away and I miss them all but she was the last and for some reason it’s really sticking with me.  She was the last connection to a forgotten time.  She saw so much in her time. Most of the modern conveniences that we know today didn’t exist when she was born.  No computers, no cell phones, no TV, no 8 tracks/cassette tapes/CD’s/DVD’s/Blu-Ray’s.   She adapted to it all.

                I’ve spent a lot of time over the years thinking about what I want people to say about me when I pass on and I’ve gotten really fancy with it and I’ve written long personal mission statements that have directed me through life based on those ideas.  In the end I just want to be remembered as a good person who tried his best for his family and his kids.  Grandma embodied all of this and maybe that is her legacy to pass on to future generations.  She was a good honest person and she raised good honest children who in turn raised good and honest kids.  I am trying to do the same now.  Grandma loved us unconditionally, even when we managed to break something every. Time. We. Visited.  She made us meals and let us watch TV when we ate them.  I loved her like I love my own parents.  I’ve loved all of my grandparents like I love my parents. 

                I miss my grandparents.  I miss my Grandma.  She was an awesome Grandma and in the end that pretty much sums it up.  I love you Grandma, you will forever be in our hearts and the hearts of our children. 

R.I.P. Frances Wilson!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Captain Cole to the Rescue...

                I hate cities.
                They’re loud, and entirely too crowded for my taste.  Give me the wide open spaces of the Colonies and Rim Territories.
                I slide into a spot at a local bar between two patrons in garish costumes.  Too many people, wearing to many brilliant colors and the latest in fashion make my head hurt.  I order a shot of the bars finest and slug it down.  It burns pleasantly on its way down.
                “Ten credits and I’ll tell you your fortune.” Her voice is soothing and sweet.  Low and almost unnoticed in humanities roar, I turn towards her as she sidles up beside me.  There’s a twinkle in her eye.
                “Gypsy Queen looks good on you Jax” I say.
                The diminutive brunette shrugs, “They’re not looking for a gypsy” she says tossing a thumb over one shoulder.
                There are two guys in suits, all business and decidedly government, moving systematically through the crowd. 
                “What’d you do this time Jax?”
                She holds her palms up with mock surrender.  “Nothing, I swear.  The information was free, open to the public.  I just shared it with a few of my friends.”
                “Which friends?”
                She shrugs, “Friends that pay better than you Cole.”
                “Can’t help it if you’re a greedy girl.”
                She casts a glance over her shoulder and then looks back at me, “I need help Charlie.”
                There are two of them and they’re only a few bar patrons away.  They haven’t recognized Jax but they will.  They have implants, I can tell from the dark shades that seem to melt into skin.  A computer facial match will beat any disguise Jax comes up with.  I should ignore this but we’ve got a past and she was a good partner once.  Instead I stick my nose in matters it doesn’t belong in and say, “Come on.”
                I push her away from the bar and towards the exit, but my luck, never great to begin with, doesn’t keep us hidden for long as one of the suited goons glances up and tags us with a visual match.  “Halt!” he yells.
                “Go, we’ve been tagged.”
                I can only hope they don’t get a shot of me.  I have a file but not a big enough for them to actively hunt me.  We exit the bar and run smack dab into more pedestrians.
                I hate cities.
                It’s a constant struggle to push through the crowd.  Behind us I know no one is getting in the way of the suits.  It’s just not smart to get in the governments way.
                I grab Jax and we duck down a small alley between two food stands.  It dead ends.
                “Now what genius?”
                I push her towards a waist high pile of trash.  I kick it away revealing a sealed door in the floor.   Port cities are huge and multi-leveled.  If you knew they worked you could get around fairly easily. I reach down and spin the handle.  The hatch pops up revealing a ladder.
                She does.
                I follow her down and seal the hatch behind us.  They’ll know what we’re doing and where we’re going but time’s now on our side.  We bust out of the alley and into pedestrians.  Pushing and shoving we run down the open air corridor, take a left, a right, and then another left.
                “There” I say pointing.
                We swing to our left and keep up a sprint that takes us past several occupied landing pads.
                “Go Jax, she’s unlocked.”
                I skid to a halt, spin with pistol in hand.  I snap off two shots, aimed high because I’m not a fan of innocent bystanders dying.  The twin suits duck behind cover.  I’m up and running again.
                The Domino’s on the last pad on the right.  Jax is already up the ramp and disappearing inside.  As I arrive the ramp is rising and I leap up onto it and sprint through my ship to the cock-pit.  With the main drives on stand-by I crank up the transfer coils and drop into my chair.  I point at the seat next to me and Jax drops into it.
                “Just like old times” she says with a laugh.
                I shake my head.  I bring up the Domino’s thrusters and we lift off the landing struts and into the air.  I end any ground pursuit with a blast from the chin mounted gatling.  Docking control is screaming at me and I know fighters will be scrambled soon.
                “Where are you going?”
                “To hide.”
                We shoot into the city and I swoop us in and around tall buildings that reach for the heavens.  We dive under bridges arcing through the air and joining one building with another.  We tear through traffic lanes designed for small air cars and not my FTL capable freighter.  We probably cause more than one accident but the mayhem we leave behind should keep authorities busy and fighters off our tail until I can find an out of the way place to set down.
               “Why aren’t you getting off the planet?” Jax asks.  Her voice a little shaky
                “There’s an entire fleet up there now on high alert.”
                I shut down all active scanners and drop down into the mists of Lowtown.  I switch off the running lights and we slip into the perpetual fog that the cities  forty-seven percent  live under.  I pull up a map on a side monitor and find what I’m looking for.  An abandoned landing pad looms out of the fog.  I swing the Domino around, kill the main drives and settle onto the ground beneath it with thrusters.
                “Now we sit here?” Jax asked
                 Free and clear the time being.  I know the suits will be hard pressed to find us down in Lowtown and after a day or two we will be able to blast clear of Alpha Prime without half the fleet on red alert and actively scanning for us.
                I turn to Jax, “So, seriously, what did you do this time?”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A letter to whoever wants to read it...

            It’s amazing to me how things can change with the drop of a hat…or maybe the slow descent of a hat since the Change was a very long drawn out process that nearly had me pulling hair out.  Still, the Change happened and now I’m settling in.  It’s been a good thing, nay, a great thing.  I’m content for the moment.  (probably won’t last long though, my contentment never seems to at least)  I’ve settled in at my new location and I’m falling into my groove.  It’s a nice laid back groove right now, partially because it’s that time of the year and partially because quite simply the area I’m responsible for is quite a bit smaller.  It’s nice to not be running around like a chicken with my head lopped off.  It’s nice to be able to take things at a leisurely pace at work and to shed the stress I was under before. 
            To be fair, the place I worked before wasn’t a bad place, I’d just grown a tad bit tired of it.  It was equal parts burn out from a busy summer and simply being there for to long.  The people were cool and even a majority of the users were ok, but the bad began to rear its ugly head in my conscience a little to often while the good hid behind a large boulder most of the time.  Here it’s different.  Or maybe ‘its’ not and I am.  The users, while still probably off their rockers, aren’t quite as, insert derogatory adverb here, and their questions aren’t quite so…oh I dunno…like pouring acid on an exposed nerve…yep that’s the ticket.

The Office View

            So for now I am content and happy.  My personal time is a little less all in one place now and so things like writing and even riding has sorta been placed on the back burner to be replaced with early morning runs and dates with the weights.  It’s not a bad way to mix things up but I do miss some of that bulky free time.  However, I am at home at night with the family and that’s been a pleasant change.  More time helping out in the house, getting children to do their homework and generally take some of the pressure off of the wife are things that were a large part of why I sought the change out in the first place.  We are not and never will be single-parents but the last 7 months has given us a taste of what it might/sorta/coulda been like to be one and I for one did not like it at all.  (I’m pretty sure the missus didn’t either) Kudos to those who are in that position for sticking it out and surviving though, you have my sympathies. 
In the end though it is still a job and there is still work that is required to do so that always sucks.  Making your hobby/interest your job is never advised in my opinion.  The whole love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life is…well…a crock o’shite.  It’s work and it sucks but the office isn’t bad and the work…if I have to work it’s not bad to do.  We’ll see if I’m still singing praises and doing the skippy-fan-dango in a few months when I’m shin deep in the cold white stuff but for now things are content and I feel like I’m in a pretty good place. Till next time folks keep the fires burning.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


           Life has an interesting way of really taking some left turns when you least expect it.  I start things and it seems like I can’t stick with them.  Sometimes I really wish I could just like one or two things and just stick with those things.  Forever!  When I sit back and look at all of the things I get enjoyment out of the list seems pretty exhausting…and expensive, just ask my wife.  Let’s see, there is riding, running, hiking, backpacking, camping, writing, guitar (or music in general), reading (books, magazines, comicbooks, graphic novels…you name it and I’ll probably read it), and photography just to name the ones that popped right into my mind.  What I’d like to know is why I can’t stick with them for the long haul or eliminate one or two altogether?

            At the beginning of the year I was pretty gung-ho about writing and in fact from a writing stand point it was the most productive time of writing in my life but as with all things I found other things to interest me.  For a few months I kept a pretty good balance between the family, writing, and exercising.  April thru July was probably one of the best four months in a decade for me.  I was writing good stuff and getting it ‘out there’.  I lost about twenty-five pounds and just plain felt good.  In and around all of that I manufactured a pretty awesome move at work and advanced my career in a way I’m pretty downright proud of. 

            Slowly and almost without warning things slowly began to unravel.  My blog posts died a slow death and  since August 16th I’ve not posted a darn thing, lapsing into the typical Dead Blog syndrome.  I’ve gone from four work outs a week to maybe two a week.  I dropped soda and was very proud of it, but over the last few weeks I’ve had first one and then two until at one point last week I had four soda’s from fast food joints in two days!!!  (I even re-filled my soda last night at the Pizza joint)  I haven’t been on the bike in 3 weeks.  (My work outs have mostly been runs)

            I’m not a man who can easily wait for stuff.  It just isn’t something I’m not good at.  It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life.  I also can’t just enjoy the thing I have now.  I’m always ‘Looking to the future, to the past, never his mind on where he is, what he is doing.’ (that’s a paraphrase on a Yoda quote.) My job advancement has made me wait.  I’ve been waiting for nearly four months for it to happen.  I knew it was coming but I’ve had to wait for all of the moves that needed to be made to be made.  It’s been draining because for a long time at the beginning all I could do was day dream about the whole thing and I think it just totally tore me down mentally.  We could probably throw around the term depression pretty easily regarding the last few months.  So the other stuff.  The stuff that I need energy for and desire for have wavered and faltered. 

            I finally have a light at the end of the tunnel, however, and in roughly four weeks my plans and desires will see fruition for better or for worse.  I’m feeling a little lightness around the edges of my mind.  I’m on vacation as I type this and I’m hoping the 9 days off (now 8 days) will renew my spirit a bit and I can soldier on through the last three weeks in my current spot.  Now I’m hoping I can return to my former ways.  I’m hoping I can pick-up the scattered pieces of my hobbies and put them back together and continue on.  I’m hoping to take a few minutes to examine these pieces and pick out the good ones and maybe toss aside the bad ones.  The good news….I’ve really only gained about a pound through all of this so far.   I’ve not totally thrown away a healthy diet, just yet.  With the changes will come new hours and new schedules.  (sorry mom I’m still working weekends) and that will create new challenges that I’ve not had to face in many many years.  This will cause a new stress but it’ll be a new stress that I think I’ll be okay with.

            I’m hoping that means you’ll be seeing a bit more of me here on the blog with stories about my adventures and thoughts.  I’ve re-embraced my passion for photography so perhaps we’ll be seeing a few more posts with pictures.  And a nice conversation with a published author on twitter the other day has stoked my passion to write.  Not sure I’ve got any new and wonderful ideas for stories per se but it did spark this here confession….errr…post. (Hope you enjoyed it).  So without further ado I bid thee farewell but only until we meet again, which I hope will be soon.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Now what????

                I’m losing weight.  A lot of weight if I’m honest, and I’ll tell you what, it freaks me out!  It really does.  It means that my clothes fit and I may even need to drop a size in pant size.  Extra Large shirts now are suddenly fitting pretty darn good.  I look in the mirror and I’m not automatically disgusted with myself for letting go as I age.  All of these things are awesome and I’m proud of what I’ve done to this point. 

                So then, what scares me?

                Losing it all.  No seriously, almost a decade ago I was in the same situation.  I had started working out nearly every day with weights.  I was going to a gym and using my own stuff.  That same equipment is now rusting its way to a dump on the side of our house.  Those weights sit untouched, except to move them from house to house and room to room 360 days of the year.  I dropped down to 190 pounds at one point a decade ago.  It lasted five days.  Slowly, and over about a year or more, I gained weight.  I justified it but for some reason, unknown to me, I just stopped working out.  Oh I rode some here and there but we’re talking, at the most, 500 miles a year…at the most.  I was training in Aikido at the time and that was the one thing that probably kept me from ballooning up in a matter of days.  I went from eating super clean to eating pure crap inside of two weeks.  Did I sabotage myself?  Was I so negative about life in general that I created a self-fulfilling prophecy?  Was I only looking at the whole thing as an experiment, a diet, and not as a life change.  I don’t think so but honestly I’m not sure.

                This leads me to the here and now.  I’ve lost nearly 25 pounds since the beginning of April.  I’ve done it by eating better, portion control, dropping out soda, and exercising three to four days a week for 45 to 90 minutes at a time.  (mostly running & riding) I’m hovering around 210 pounds most days right now.  This was a short term goal but the real goal was to see myself under 200 pounds.  With the end of the year creeping up on us and the achieving of a goal around the corner I keep wondering if all of this is for naught.  Will I simply achieve my goal and then let go?  I hope not but I’m still not sure why I did it a decade ago.

                I have an acquaintance I met through the mountain bike world and follow on Facebook.  She recently suffered an injury that has her riding a couch the past few weeks and probably for several more weeks into the future.  She’s lost all of her conditioning….all of it.  I feel really bad for her because she was at an elite level of racing.  I know she’ll get it back but at what cost to her body and her mental well-being?  I want to…nay…I need to stay away from losing it like that because I fear that if I were to let all of my meager conditioning go I’ll end up as a 350 pound man careening his way through his forties on a high speed date with my grave.  I do not want that.  Not at all, so how to keep it from happening?  My acquaintance can work her way back and use small feats as stepping stones that will ultimately lead to her first race and she’ll be able to build from there.  I won’t.  Why?  Because my work schedule doesn’t allow me to race…racing, for the most part, occurs on weekends.  I work weekends and most evenings during the week. 

                So if weight loss is your goal and you achieve your goal, what’s next?  This is the thing that scares me.  That nebulous no man’s land after you’ve achieved your goal.  It’s not something that will be happening tomorrow but it is something that is on the horizon, something that I’ll have to deal with at some point and in all honesty I’m not sure how to.  Trying new things, new sports, new activities will keep life fresh but will it be enough to keep the weight off, to keep my conditioning at a level that I’m comfortable with?  Seems like a no brainer really but I know from past experience that it’s not, I know just how quickly it can all come back; old habits, poor attitude, and that couch potato mentality.  It’s just not something I want to return to….and perhaps that desire to not return to it is enough this time around but I doubt it.  I am inherently lazy and will pick the easy path every time unless I’m truly putting some serious pressure on myself like I am right now.  I’ll sit in my chair and devour ice cream, oreos, and fast food all day while watching movies and sports if my little devil is in control.  So now it’s off to search for something…anything, really, that’ll keep that little bugger at bay and keep me on the ‘right’ track.  We’ll see how it goes and like always I’ll keep you, the reader, well informed of my journey. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012


                Tomorrow morning the kids start school.  I am somewhat at a loss regarding all of it.  Where did the summer go?  It started off so strong and has sort of fizzled out at the end.  They are ready, they’re bouncing off the walls and the twins at least are amped to be starting middle school.  Jackson is clueless to the woes that are about to assault him.  We’ve got the clothes shopping done, the shoes have been purchased and all the myriad of school supplies packed up.  All that’s left is to survive the nerves and inability to fall asleep tonight. 

                For me it’s a sad time.  It’s the ending of an era.  On Friday I took the twins to an orientation at their school and as I was dropping them off at the curb I noticed a strange mix of kids.  There were those, very much like the girls, who looked like they were just as ready for a fun time on the playground at recess and then there were those who looked like they were doing their best to bypass the whole middle school ‘experience’ and jump right into high school.  These kids were dressed in the latest fashion, with purses, fancy backpacks and cell phones to their ears.  It was then as I was driving away from the school that I realized by the middle of the school year my little girls will have been irreversibly altered.  It’s good for them, it’s even healthy…for the most part…but I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this.  They’ll survive.  We’ll survive, everyone does but I’m finding it very difficult to let my little girls go.  When I get them back next summer will they still be the same little girls?  Probably not and all I can do is pray that they haven’t changed so drastically that we won’t be able to hang out. 

                Lil J starts kindergarten tomorrow as well and I’m no less sad about this.  My little boy so full of wonder and with an imagination that rivals my own is about to be introduced to the System.  I think this will be less of culture shock for all involved in comparison to the Twins but I have to admit that I’m sort of suffering from a little empty nest syndrome.  The house is going to be empty.  There isn’t going to be anyone to play with or hang out with and I’m having a slightly difficult time with this.  Sure I’ll have time to work out and write a little more but darn it, who is going to help me grocery shop?  I’m not even going to have any reason to cruise through the toy section at Target.   

                I’m not really whining and I know there are positives as we travel forward as a family.  I just can’t help looking back on it all and feeling like we’re losing a little piece of ourselves.  Maybe it’s the innocence that’s being lost I’m not really sure but while I’m excited for all three of the kids I can’t help but feel a little sadness for us the parents as our children continue to grow.  So as this new weeks dawns upon us I’ll shed a little tear, raise my glass to a job well done by the whole family to get to this point and then step forward and embrace this new era with something between a smile and a grimace on my face.  Here’s to the future!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Charlie Cole rides again...

              This is just a little didy I wrote the other day.  I like to look at it as though I'm sketching with words.  It's too long to be flash fiction and not long enough to be just about anything else.  Think of it as a writer sketching as an artist might while sitting idly drinking a coffee at the local Starbucks.  This is me preacticing the craft I suppose and I liked it enough to post it up for all of ya all to read.  Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing. 
                My name is Charlie Cole and I have no idea how I got into this miss.
                I’d been forced to make planet fall a few days earlier, a bad power transfer coil caused by a hastily made FTL jump due to an unusual interest in my cargo by a pair of Confederate Corvettes.  I was able to drop jump but only barely and I think I lost a filling on the ride in-system.  The only system available was sector 62549 by Confederate terms, the ass end of nowhere by my terms.  Luckily, or maybe not, there were two settlements on the smallest planet of the system.  They were the prototypical Rim worlds; backwards and decidedly low tech.  It was one of the charms of the Rim, at least to folks like me.  It was, however, in my current state of disrepair, a significant inconvenience. 
                That had been two days ago.  My cargo, hot as it was, still sat in the hold waiting for delivery to, a by now, very upset man by the name of Clarice Star.  Mr. Star was not a man you wanted upset with you.  It just wasn’t good for business, or your continued existence.  Of course neither  were the three guns I had pointed at my back.
                “Now gentlemen, I believe what we have here is a little disagreement.  Are guns really necessary?”
                “They are when you cheat us of our money and our women”
                So there it was, a pickle of a situation contrived of boredom, my skill at cards and the desire of the local women to try something different.  It wasn’t my fault.  Honestly.  I finished my shot of what the locals liked to call Scotch and raised my hands in the air.  I turned slowly, very slowly.
                The three men facing me were the local country bumpkins.  One’s shotgun still had its safety on and the other two were so nervous the barrels of their guns were bobbing in time with their rapid pulse.  They wore what every man seemed to wear in this backwater town; brown and lots of it.  Brown homespun pants, or coveralls in the instance of two of these fine upstanding young men, and brown button down shirts.  Two wore hats, I knew to cover their bald spots, and the other wore his hair long and stringy.  They were not the finest representatives of the male species or of proper hygiene.
                I leaned back a little on the bar and propped my elbows there.  “Now boys how have I cheated you out of your money?”
                “You’s gots to have cards up your sleeves.  No ones that lucky” their leader said.
                “Now Porkins,” he bristled at that and tightened his grip on the shotgun but I continued, “It seems to me that I might not be as lucky as you are just plain bad at cards.”
                Probably not the right thing to say, the safety on the shotgun clicked off.
                “Boy, I have a mind to put a hole in you right here and now” he said.
                I nodded.  “I reckon you might but I’m curious, which girls have I taken from you?”
                The boy, well I suppose out here he was a man but he’d seen all of probably fifteen winters, known as Tommy grimaced.  I waited and noticed the bar patrons had moved back and created a semi-circle around us, I caught the eye of a particularly stunning young woman. She smiled demurely and I winked.  Tommy noticed and nearly growled.
                “Ella and she’s mine” Tommy said as he looked at the woman I had just winked at.  He stepped forward and brought the barrel of his gun to my forehead.  A little spittle appeared at the corner of his thin lips when he said, “You stay away from her.”
                “Doesn’t Ella get any say in this?”
                In response he pushed the barrel of the gun harder into my skull.  We were so close I could count the stands of peach fuzz beginning to stand out on his chin.  How cute, this boy was turning into a man in front of my very eyes.
                The revolver had only two shots in it and he’d have to pull the trigger three times before the first one fired.  I smiled.  He growled.  I’ll give the boy credit, what he lacked in brain speed he more than made up for in physical speed.  He whipped the barrel of the pistol around to cold cock me and he nearly got me with all that young energy of his. I stepped forward and closed the little distance between us and rammed an open hand up into his jaw just above his throat.  It actually lifted him up on his toes a moment before he came crashing down to his knees with a squeal of pain.  On his way down I grabbed his wrist and twisted it wickedly to the side.  He screamed as a tendon popped and dropped the gun.  I released him and caught the pistol by the barrel before it hit the ground.
                I looked up as Porkins raised the shotgun to his shoulder.  I unlocked the revolvers cylinder and let the bullets fall to the wooden floor.  I raised my hands in mock surrender, the pistol now hanging on a finger by the trigger guard.
                “Whoa now gentleman, I’m not trying to start trouble.  Just came in here to enjoy a drink before I check to see if my shipment arrived on that last transport.  No need for trouble.”
                Tommy cradled his injured wrist and scrambled back towards Porkins and the other boy.
                At that moment the doors to the saloon swung open.  Stark sunlight lit up the dark wooden interior for a moment, illuminating the stains on the floor and the overall ragged condition of all the furniture.  A tall rangy man wearing a black wide brimmed hat strolled in.  He was not what you called a dangerous looking fellow but more than made up for it with narrow eyes that would’ve looked far more suitable on some bird-of-prey than on a man built like him.  The crowd parted for him.
                He glanced at me and frowned like I was the boy always getting into trouble.  He looked at Porkins. 
                “Son, put down that scatter-gun.  If you shoot him with that it’ll take Winslow a week to clean up the mess.”
                “We wouldn’t wanna be causing Winslow trouble” I agreed.
                The Sheriff fixed me with that stare and I closed my mouth.  He held out a hand and I tossed him the gun.
                “What’s this all about Sam?”
                The third man, who had been almost hiding behind the bulk of Porkins, stepped forward.  He puffed himself up and hooked thumbs into the suspenders of his coveralls.  I stifled a laugh but couldn’t keep the smile off my face.  I noticed Ella in her slim form fitting dress smiling as well and winked at her.  Probably shouldn’t have done that.
                Porkins stepped forward, ignoring the Sheriff, and cocked back the hammers on the double barrel gut buster.  “You stop that cowboy, you aint beddin any of these here girls ‘specially Ella-May.  You just leave them alone.”
                I glanced at the Sheriff who grimaced and then stepped between me and the barrel of the gun.  With one finger he reached up and pointed the gun away from us.  I sighed a bit.  There was a hushed silence in the room, everyone waiting for the Sheriff to declare his judgment.
                “Porkins put the gun away” he said.
                “But he tried to rape poor Ella” Porkins said.
                The Sheriff glanced at me and I shook my head.  He looked over at Ella who looked away, a red cast to her cheeks, blonde bangs slipping down to cover her eyes.  The Sheriff sighed, grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and twisted.  Porkins released it and let the Sheriff have it.
                “Porkins,” the Sheriff said with a sigh, “go home son.”
                Porkins looked at Tommy and then at Winslow and then at the floor.  He shuffled his bulk towards the door and then stopped, looked at me and said, “Don’t let me catch you with any of these here girls Cole or the Sheriff won’t be able to help you next time.”
                I decided it was best to keep my mouth shut.  The Sheriff seemed relieved at my newly found discretion.  He turned back to Tommy and Sam.  “I’ll need your guns for the night boys.  You can pick them up from my office in the morning.”
                Sullenly they handed over their weapons and then they too shuffled towards the door.  Luckily for us all they had no parting words.  Keeping my mouth shut once had been pure will power, a second time would’ve been impossible.  The Sheriff turned towards the crowd and with a glance broke them up, he turned back to me.
                “Too much to hope you might be leaving tonight?”
                “What’s on that transport?
                “Not what you need,” he glanced at my pistol hung low on my left hip, “Any chance you’d be giving that up.”
                I shook my head.  “Buy you a drink?”
                He nodded wearily and stepped up to the bar.  The bartender served us a mug of beer.
                “You always this much of a pain in the ass Cole?”
                “Sheriff, I’m actually trying to behave myself.”
                The Sheriff chuckled and downed his beer.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


                They say that change is good and I agree but it’s also a bit scary.  No, I take that back it’s seriously scary but it’s also invigorating.  It can give us a new perspective on the same ol’ life.  It can stretch our safety zone and mold us into a new, and hopefully, better person.  Last week I spoke of standing on the precipice and looking out over the possibilities.  Today, I am still on that precipice but I have a more focused view of one particular area and a strong desire to head in that direction. 

                So, as some of you know, I tried for a promotion but fell just a tad short.  I didn’t fall short because of anything I did or didn’t do.  It was a good decision by management because the person who did get the promotion has been doing the work of said position on an interim basis for around a year.  It would have been highly unfair to promote me over her and would’ve probably caused all kinds of unhappy feelings with the staff.  It would’ve been a difficult position to come into and be successful with those kind of ill feelings.   I did, however, get a very nice consolation prize in a transfer that I requested about a month ago.  Not only did I get the transfer but the area manager was so impressed with my interview that he came to me and asked if I was interested and I will essentially get my own little area within the district.  It’s pretty much everything I asked for and wanted.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about my new supervisor and am looking forward to getting to work with her.

                So in a month or two (we need to fill my position and another in my current location before I can move) I will be working out of an entirely new area.  There are down sides but what job doesn’t have a few of those?  There will be a longer drive and more gas and no raise.  I’ll be working up at around 5500 feet so there will be snow in the winter and the drive will be a bit treacherous.  I will need to spend some money on garments that can be worn under the uniform to stay warm and there will be a host of duties that others have done for me (because it’s their job) that I will now have to complete.  It’ll mean I’m going to find myself in some pretty uncomfortable positions but I’ve found that those positions really mold you into a new person and then really breaks the mold.  It is a supremely uncomfortable position to be in…standing there not knowing exactly what to do with a bunch of people standing around expecting you to know what to do and then to do it…but I have found over the last six years that I like it…or at least respond in a positive manner most times. 

                Of course there will also be really awesome things as well, a longer drive, working in the snow, new gear, new things to learn and new people to meet.  It’ll be sort of like hitting the reset button and that is a very nice and fun thing to get to do every now and again.

                So this summer dawned with some stress and some changes that the family had to endure and work through.  It was a bit bumpy but we managed and have come through it stronger.  As summer ends we’ll be going through more changes and we’ll be stronger for it.  I think my work hours in the winter might be a bit more reasonable and while I’ll still have to work weekends I might be able to enjoy the holidays a bit more and I may actually get to be home in the evenings on a more regular basis which will be worth the drive and the gas all by itself.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my wife for her support and encouragement in this and all of the endeavors I’ve pursued over the years.  She takes the brunt of these kinds of things and she does so with a smile, most of the time, because she knows it’s what I want.  So here’s to new adventures and expanding the mind!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I've got this...

                I find it fascinating when we teeter on the precipice of something new.  It’s a heady mix of exhilaration and fear that brings life into pinpoint focus.  It is almost intoxicating.  There is so much wonder and curiosity.  Can I do it?  Will they let me?  Will I fail?  All of these questions and more darting around and chasing each other’s tails through your mind.  It’s these moments that really make us live our lives.  That moment before soaring success or crushing defeat that lifts a person above themselves and shows them a third alternative that is filled with endless possibilities. 

                So I suppose most of my faithful readers are wondering what is making me wax poetic about the possibilities of our futures.  Let me keep you in the dark no longer.  Tomorrow I interview for a promotion.  It’s a promotion I think I deserve (but then who doesn’t think that when they’re in line for one), it’s a promotion that I’ve been spending the past three years really preparing for and the last six years desiring.  I’ve taken some bumps along the way and I’ve made some mistakes all of which have made me stronger and wiser (what bumps and mistakes don’t).  As I woke this morning starting my prep for the big event tomorrow at 9:45 am PST I’ve begun shaping answers to phantom questions.  Readying myself to put voice to the hidden (or not so hidden if you happen to be married or related to me) confidence that resides, like a small ball of flame, at the core of who I am. 

                Right this minute as I type this, failure is not an option.  I know it’s a possibility but it’s not an option I’m willing to think about because this is something I want.  Nay, this is something I honestly need.  New places, new people, new experiences….the thought of these alone are enough to overwhelm and make me giddy like a young me on Christmas morning walking into the living room and finding the Millennium Falcon toy  waiting for me.  I’m ready for this and I think the District I work for needs me to be in this position.  They just don’t know it yet….but they will by 10:30am tomorrow morning.  I’ve got this!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

We're too Old to Play...FlashFic #4

           It was a wet day but then it was Oregon, it always rained.  The hour was late but it hardly mattered to Paul.  He’d just finished his shift at the mill and the tavern called to him.  He strode down the damp street, his shift at the saw-mill finished for the day.  The smell of sawdust comforted him as did the scent of the pine forest around him.  He loved it here.  He loved the weather, the woods, the people, this was home and he was happy.  He smiled at passer-byes and even winked at one woman who smiled demurely back at him.

            “Evening Paul” she’d said.

            He was thrilled she knew his name.  She was a beauty.  Blonde hair framed a narrow face and wide eyes.  They’d been friends when they were kids.  She out grew him but he always felt a familiar stirring when he saw her.  As she passed his smile dimmed to a frown at the childhood memory she stirred. 

It was late evening then, the two of them alone in the forest, her eyes meeting his and the stinging words, “We too old to play together anymore Paul.”

His step slowed, but the tavern loomed large and a frosty glass of beer called his name.  He opened the door and stepped into the warm, welcoming bar.  A huge cheer met him as he entered.  Paul smiled and spread his arms wide.  He sauntered through the throng of well-wishers and stepped up to the bar.  The bartender slid a tall frosty glass of Paul’s favorite brew to him.  Paul eyed it with greed and offered a faded five dollar bill to the man.

            “Oh no, not today Paul, not after what you did.”

            Paul nodded his thanks and turned to the other patrons.  With a huge smile Paul downed the contents of the tall mug in one fell swoop.  The others cheered.  Here Paul felt at home.  At one with those around him, it was a feeling he’d missed as a child hoping from one foster home to another. 

            A man stepped forward.  “We’re all mighty grateful for getting us those raises.”

            “Everyone deserved them Ed.”

            There was a cheer and the night rushed onward.

            It was late.  It was dark.  It was raining.  Paul staggered down the sidewalk towards his small apartment, his head a haze of too much drink and merriment.  Despite this he saw in his mind’s eye, as he staggered down the street, the blonde came to mind.  Ella-Jane’s mean spirited words stung his gut and he was thirteen all over again.  Fresh anger lit a dying ember inside his heart.  He growled low and weaved down a street not his own. 

            After wandering for what seemed like hours Paul stopped and stood in front of a small cottage.  He eyes were down cast, his hands clenched at his side.  He’d show her they could still play.  He stalked now, the drunkenness nearly forgotten, a dark anger propelling him forward.  He barely broke stride as he kicked the door in and ducked his head to enter the small one bedroom home of Ella-Jane.  Paul found her in that room, groggy from sleep, eyes wide with fear as he towered over her.  With make-up removed she was not as pretty as he remembered, her hair not quite as blonde.  He grinned at her.  She held the sheets up near her chin.  Her lips moved but no sound came from them.  Fear gripped her. 

            With a massive hand Paul yanked Ella-Jane from her bed by her hair and pulled her through the house.  She squealed in pain and gripped his wrist trying to ease the pressure.

            “Paul!  Paul!”

            He didn’t hear her, he only heard, “We’re too old to play anymore Paul.”

            He took her through the door.  He felt her try to walk but she tripped over her nightgown, she tried to scream but no one heard her.  While dragging her around the house they passed a pile of wood.  A well-worn long handled axe leaned against the stack.  He grabbed it without breaking stride.  The forest embraced them.  He felt her hair between his fingers and the smooth worn handle of the axe in the other.  As he walked he began muttering, “We’re not too old, we’re not too old.”  The thick wet forest swallowed them quickly.  Ella-Jane screamed but he knew no one could hear her. 

            Then they stopped.

            Paul dropped Ella-Jane.  She sobbed, her legs scratched, her hair disheveled and torn.  She looked up at the towering beast of a man and muttered, “Why?”

            “We’re not too old, we’re not too old” he repeated.

            There was a growl a few feet away, a giant of a wolf sauntered from the forest, black fur slick with rain.  It was the largest Wolf Ella-Jane had ever seen.  She screamed again until her voice broke.  She looked up as he towered over her, the axe held in both hands, a grin splitting his features, his eyes narrowed, dark hair plastered to his head. 

            There was a flash of lightening, Paul stepped forward, axe raised high.  It came down with blinding speed with a thick slap in a stump Ella-Jane didn’t even realize she was leaning against.  She squealed and tried to get away but slipped in the mud.  Paul knelt next to her.

            “Don’t worry dearest, I won’t kill you.  We’re too old to play.”

            “We were kids Paul, I didn’t mean…”

            He held a finger to his lips, shook his head.

            He stood, turned and marched into the forest once more.  The wolf licked his hand as he passed. He stopped and ran a massive hand through the wolf’s fur.  Ella-Jane sighed, thought herself safe.  Her pulse slowed.  She struggled to her feet.  She glanced up as Paul disappeared into the forest.

            His voice a distant whisper, “She’s all yours Blue”

            The wolf, yellow eyes gleaming in the flash of lightning, growled, slobbered and jumped.  She screamed but no one heard her.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tommy and Me...

               Me and Tommy, we went aways back.  He hadn’t been like the regular boys even back then. It wasn’t Tommy who lay dead at my feet, the smell of death strong in the cramped low rent tenement but it was Tommy’s handiwork.  No doubt about it.  Good ol’ Chuck hadn’t deserved to go the way he’d been done in but then he’d not given Tommy much of an option.  We were all from the same neighborhood growing up.  Dad’s in prison, Moms worked too much and we sort of ended up just taking care of each other, not a gang really but maybe a brotherhood. 

                We were fifteen and drunk on a hot mid-summers day.  The heat was thick and wet and I remember the electricity had gone out.  Our little brothers played in the water popped from a fire hydrant.  We were too cool for that and bored and beginning to feel the after effects of being to young, drinking too much and being too hot.  We’d decided we needed more drink before the last twelve pack we’d pilfered from Chuck’s moms kitchen wore off.  Tommy’s mom had an old revolver we borrowed.  The three of us, we went marching down a few blocks and were punching each other in the arms, getting the guts up to do this thing.  A block away from our prey Chuck bowed out.  Looking back I think that moment is what made us the adults we’d become.  Tommy called him names, sent him to the sidewalk with a right hook to end all right hooks.  I stood by and watched.  Stunned.  Amazed and if I’m honest with myself now, scared of Tommy as he stood over a broken and bloody boy we once called friend.  Tommy looked at me with that demanding look like ‘what’re you gonna do now?’ I remember shrugging and laughing because I didn’t know what else to do.  Tommy and I went kept the quest alive.

                I had nerves and I was scared, aint too proud to admit it.  Tommy didn’t care, wasn’t scared, had no nerves.  He was on a quest, wrapped up in the moment, I guess.  We grabbed the beer, made a bee line to the door.  The clerk yelled at us.  It stopped Tommy in his tracks.  With the rusty pistol in hand, Tommy stepped up to the clerk and shoved the barrel into his mouth.  I can’t quite recall what the clerk looked like now but I remember the blood and teeth that lie in a puddle on the counter and the choked sobs of the clerk as he choked on the barrel of the gun.  Tommy opened the register drawer, and grabbed as much cash as he could fist.  He smiled at the clerk; pistol whipped him, and then shot him in the knee.  I think Tommy just wanted to see what it felt like to shoot someone.

                Then we ran.

                I drank my share of the beer as fast as I could mostly so I could forget what had just happened.  Tommy languished in it like it was his victory drink. 

The celebration hadn’t lasted long.  The NYPD did their job and picked a bunch of us up the next morning.  Tommy was an imposing figure, the Clerk picked him out with little hesitation.  Tommy did five years but remained a stand-up guy and left me out of it.  I moved on.  He didn’t.  When he got out, he kept a low profile, growing some dope here and there, selling it to the neighbors.

                The body of Chuck was at my feet and I knelt down to look at him more closely.  Chuck had never really recovered from the embarrassment of ‘chickening out’.  He turned to oxycotin to soothe his injured pride.  He started selling it, he owed money, borrowed from the wrong guy and then promised to rat that guy out.  I’d been paid twenty large to come down here, rough him up a bit, and get what was owed to the people who owned me.   

Chucky’s face was a mess but it was the gunshot to his chest that had done him in. I knew who did it as soon as I saw all of Chucky’s front teeth missing and the gun shot to his left knee. 

                The thought of Tommy with a gun and angry at me for hunting him down didn’t sit right with me.  I really didn’t want to go up against him.  He’d know now that my bosses wanted him.  He’d be dangerous, driven into a corner.  I thought about dropping it, getting out of town, but my bosses had a long reach and the thought of Tommy coming for me would haunt all the shadows.  It cleared things right up. 

                If Tommy had one weakness it was his Mom.  She’d had six kids but Tommy was the one she loved the most.  The one she still called her baby.  Tommy’s father had been her one and first true love.  He’d died in a mine accident when Tommy had been four.  Maybe if he’d stayed alive Tommy would’ve turned out different, maybe not.  I went to her place, it was the same place she’d lived when we were kids but then a lot of the old neighborhood was like that.  Her flat was old and worn, just like her.  She hadn’t wanted to rat out her baby but a few slaps and the flash of a gun had her calling him. 
                He showed up an hour later.  He walked in with that Tommy smirk on his face.  He had a pistol in his fist.  I had a cut down twelve gauge pointed at his chest.  He smiled, there was no mirth there.  He told me he didn’t think I was so chicken-shit that I’d use his mom to get to him.  It was in that lazy drawl he liked.  I told him I didn’t think I was so chicken-shit to use a twelve gauge on him.