Archive for November, 2011

INVISIBLE I STAND

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

“Suppose that there were two magic rings that allowed a man to become invisible, and a just man put on one of them and an unjust man the other … No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point …  If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought by the on-lookers to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces …”

THE RING OF GYGES / From Plato’s Republic Book 2

 “If a man is cultured to the core, so what of his indiscretions.”

Lady Martha of Pepperdine 1768


The quaint township of Summerset was nestled in a quiet bungalow of trees 60 miles from the St. Martin City Center. Summerset was a rare jewel in the fast-paced modern world, its streets lined with trees and beautiful homes with neatly trimmed yards. Summerset was big enough to capture the metropolitan buzz of a big city, but small enough that everyone felt a sense of close-knit kinship. Every day the citizens of Summerset kindly nodded to each other as they shopped at the local grocery store, knowing full well that whatever the worries of the world, Summerset’s magic cover kept them protected from the harsh intrusion of poverty and crime.

Summerset was indeed a rich alcove. It harbored wealthy brokers, lawyers and digital entrepreneurs that won the lottery in the IPO game of capitalism. The township was all new money and gloried in the fact that everyone who earned their keep there was due to their tenacious work ethic, their belief in high-risk high-return business values and the spirit of rugged individualism, albeit with a glass of cool Napa Valley chardonnay in their hands.

The city’s founding fathers made sure to restrict franchise progress in any way. There was not one MacDonald’s, Jack In the Box, WalMart, Subway, 7-Eleven, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, or any other chain in the whole town. Every business independently owned and there were no exceptions. That doesn’t mean Summerset citizens wouldn’t take a short jaunt to Valdez Park for a day of shopping to stock up on Price Club bargains or stop at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Huntington for a new set of silk sheets. The fact of the matter was that Summerset citizens felt the need to keep their space enclosed from the traps of mass marketing mentality. They felt serenity in keeping the mundane at arm’s length.

Indeed, the topping on cake was Summerset’s fine culture. Culture was one of the top ranking rest and relaxation pastimes for the citizens of Summerset. The Summerset Art Gallery, the Summerset Theater Group, the Summerset Museum of Fine Art, and its annual Summerset Independent Film Festival were the heartbeat of the township. It was a joy to live in Summerset’s cultural coated lining of contemporary living. It made one feel a cut above the rest of the mundane world.

The music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was blaring out of Harrison’s speakers as he walked around his North Side condominium conducting an invisible orchestra with a glass of Sequoia Grove Cabernet swishing in the air. Harrison loved Baroque music and for him it was the perfect expression of a perfect world. For Harrison, Baroque gave order to the universe. It was playful in its exploration of melodic lines and harmonic progressions resting on bass line variations. He would listen to Vivaldi, Corelli, Purcell, Scarlatti, Bononcini, Handel and Bach for endless hours, caught up in a dream world of perfection and blissful harmony. The music completely fulfilled the joys of his heart and mind in a special and unique way.

Aside from his love of Baroque, Harrison especially loved his small town. He was a model citizen representing the cultural tastes of Summerset. He collected fine art from the local galleries, dined in the local four-star restaurants and knew each head chef by name as well as by their fine cuisine specialties. He loved classic literary legends such as Anton Chekov, Tolstoy and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as consuming his fair share of random essays in the New Yorker.

All in all, Harrison was brightly educated, highly intelligent, and handsome in a mild sort of way. Yet there was one very peculiar trait that Harrison harbored since he could remember.  He had a way of blending into the scene, literally becoming invisible to everyone around him.  Wherever his visage loomed it was as if he was never there. Everyone that knew Harrison loved him and cherished his involvement. They just didn’t notice his “there-ness”, he completely disappeared into thin air.  Eleanor Rockwooden, the chairwoman of the esteemed Summerset Independent Film Festival, once described Harrison, paraphrasing the famous words of Gertrud Stein, in her infamous statement to the executive committee: “Honestly, dearies, there is no ‘there’ there in Harrison, but a charming fellow nonetheless!”

In fact, Harrison would go to a Summerset cultural event, an art opening, a fundraiser, have delightful conversations and upon leaving he seemed to vanish without imparting the slightest impression on anyone in the room. Harrison was naturally imperceptible with an indistinguishable personality. This had been a life long ordeal. When he was younger, his invisible demeanor bothered him. He wanted to be popular, have a dozen girlfriends and create a raucous in English class. Instead, he walked through the halls unseen, overlooked and silent. Even when acted up in class no one seemed to notice. Harrison began to grapple with his private trait, becoming nervous that he might go through life as an arrow soaring through air with no trace of his presence left in the wake. Harrison pondered on his personality quirk for years. Then suddenly, without notice, swooping down on his being like a panther lying in wait, he inadvertently discovered the benefits a vapor-esque personality might provide.

It was a cold, winter weekend when one of his old college roommates invited him to an exclusive party in the fashionable West Bank of the St. Ballantine Hills. Jonathan Delacroix, the nouveau rich, software entrepreneur and chairman of the St. Ballantine Chamber Music Council, hosted the party. It was a lavish and wonderful event. Harrison enjoyed the St. Ballantine Baroque Chamber Ensemble, discussed modern literature trends with a fabulous woman lawyer who flirted with Harrison until her husband butted in. Slightly disgruntled, he turned to the reception table filled with exotic food and began devouring the Portobello Puff Hors d’oeuvres. Nevertheless, after a few hours Harrison began to feel his invisibility kick-in and decided to take a self-guided tour of the Delacroix grand mansion. He went from room to room gasping at the lavish beauty, the exquisite architectural designs and the graceful furnishings of each room.

He inadvertently turned down a half-hidden hallway and found himself staring at a beautiful mahogany beveled glass door.  He couldn’t help but open the door and step inside into what seemed to be a hidden room master bedroom. As he looked around the lavish furnishings, he was captivated by a beautiful walnut burl wood Tabitha jewelry box sitting on the dresser. He nonchalantly opened it as a mountain of precious diamond jewels stared back at him. He looked over his shoulder and heard people talking and milling in the main hallway, but as usual, no one seemed to notice him. His eyes became mesmerized by the sparkling diamonds as he began picking them up and twirling them in his hand like a pirate fondling his booty inside of his buried treasure chest.  Without a squeak, he began inserting the precious jewels into his pocket guided by an invisible force that he couldn’t control. An electric rush sizzled through his body as he walked out of the room. He gulped down the remnants of his wine and walked out the front door and into his car. After a few miles he stopped at a red light, patted his head as his brain flew into animated overdrive.

After a few days passed, he called his friend anticipating a shriek at the loss of the jewels.  Nothing! Weeks passed and not a word. Months passed and still not one whisper of the theft. Harrison decided to take the jewelry to an out-of-state broker. To his utter amazement, he found the diamonds worth over $2,500,000. Harrison asked the broker if he would like to buy them. The broker looked over his glasses and said he could give him $250,000 on the spot. The deal was consummated on the spot, and it only took a few minutes time for the broker to huddle over his safe. Soon, Harrison was smiling as he held out his palm as the broker snapped a procession of $100 bills onto the glass case. The broker thanked Harrison for his business as the deal seamlessly finalized. As he drove down the winding road, Harrison realized he had just discovered his life calling and celebrated by lifting both hands into the air while reverently thanking the heavens for his natural gift of camouflage

Each morning, twice a week, Harrison filled an elegant leather briefcase with a bundle of old insurance forms and a blank notepad. He dressed in new, Valentino 3-button, single-breasted suits, always clean-shaven with his hair slicked back by a thick pomade. He would get into his car and drive to a suburb miles away from Summerset. Once he arrived at his destination, he would drive through the sleepy streets until he found a nook that met his specifications. He would get out of the car, grab his briefcase and began walking door-to-door.

He knocked on each door pretending to sell insurance. It was an excellent cover. Of course, he knew that when someone answered they would refuse his outlandish offer, so he would politely say thank you and walk away as if no offense was taken. His eyes darted from one end of the street to the other, from window to window scanning the terrain for lurking eyeballs. Then he would inevitably hit upon a house with no one answering the door and no peering eyes clinging to his movements. He waited for a few seconds, knocked a second and third time to make sure no one was home. Assured, he would slip on his gloves, open the door with one of his master keys and begin his search. His sole objective was expensive jewelry and expensive jewelry only.

Harrison never ransacked a home. In fact, it would be difficult for anyone who lived there to know they had been burglarized. Since the pieces were small and usually in a hidden place, it might take weeks, if ever, to realize something was missing. He never took obvious things such as DVD’s, TV’s, computers or anything that would sound an immediate alarm. Upon leaving he would gentle shut the door and walk away as if nothing happened.

Harrison was not a greedy man and would call it a day when his briefcase was amply filled just below the brim. Sometimes he worked for an hour or sometimes up to three hours to accomplish his task, never more.

Contented with his days’ work, Harrison would drive to the heart of the City’s financial district and park in the alley behind Alejandro’s Bar and Grill. Three martini executive lunches, experienced gold digger’s lying in wait to nab their prey and some of the greatest food in the city made Alejandro’s the most popular and exiting place to mix business with pleasure at noontide.  Alejandro was Harrison’s fence.

Upon Harrison’s arrival, Alejandro would usher him into his small office in the back. Once there the jewels ceremoniously poured onto the table. Alejandro pulled out his magnifying loupe and meticulously examined the cache with spurts of “oh’s and ah’s”. Harrison never disappointed when it came to high quality goods. Alejandro would open his safe, pull out a wad of 100’s and hand them to Harrison. There was rarely a disagreement between them. The exchange had occurred so many times over the years it had taken on overtones of a haloed religious ritual and any indiscretion viewed as a sacrilege.

After the exchange was completed, Alejandro would slap two shot glasses on the desk, pour a shot of the rare and expensive 1926 Macallan Blended Whiskey in each, both of them would toast and slurp the shot down in one gulp celebrating the ghost that created their mutual prosperity.

After his daily drop-off at Alejandro’s, Harrison would drive back home to Summerset with a Cheshiresmile and a need for rest. He would turn on his stereo, open a bottle of his finest wine, down a few glasses and let a slow droopy calm cascade over his body as he relished the liquid buzz in his head. He neatly hung-up his suit and put on kakis, a t-shirt and his well-worn sandals. As he rested serenely on his bed, his juiced-jittered nerves slapping slightly at his brain, he would feel a sense of accomplishment. He was a model citizen, invisible to the world, making a good living in a small upscale town, a supporter of the arts.

He lifted his glass and shouted, “Invisible I stand.”

He was soon asleep as the familiar cadence of Bach played in the background. It was no surprise that no one noticed.

A WRANGLER’S ROAD TRIP

Posted: November 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

It was a night of holding hands, smooching, enchiladas and beer. It was time to go home, but tonight it would be a side trip up the back road to take the new Wrangler for a spin. The highway whirred quietly underneath as the Wrangler hit full stride. The Wrangler began to smile as it began is four-wheel gallop down the winding back road.

The moon lit the roadway ahead. The road twisted and turned, topped with a smooth tarmac surface. The backcountry exposed its browns and greens, roadway and trees, broken grounds and rolling hills. The Wrangler shook itself loose as its engine began to purr in anticipation of  the the open road ahead. The road narrowed to one lane, then opened up again on the next curve. The stereo pounding Match Box 20 at top volume. The Wrangler’s smile widened on each curve as the magic of the night began to follow our trail.

It stretched into full stride, head down, shoulders high, and its pounding strength becoming more powerful on each curve. Civilization had disappeared behind the raw curtain of nature, thankfully forgotten for the moment behind the churn of the Wrangler’s engine. Its reverberating speaker’s blared unabashedly into the night.

Magic stretched its arms in full circle, standing on the canvas roof, bellowing in bau-relief, its echo bouncing off our souls, the hills, the concrete road and the blue-black sky. Magic mystically sprinkled its dust on the Wrangler’s head. The Wrangler smiled. It would not be distracted as it continued its bulldozer push up the mountain. It swerved with the road, grinning like a Cheshire cat, sparks flying from her soul, body swaying on each turn.

The road didn’t seem to end; the Wrangler didn’t seem to tire.  Magic continued its tiptoe dance with the moon. The trees and hillside swing with the rhythm of song.

Finally in the distance, a clump of city lights began to emerge. Modern culture began sprouting into existence. Magic politely sat down and the Wrangler kneeled into an eloquent demeanor, its eyes gleaming at the night. The town gorged on our back road aura. Then suddenly, the Wrangler  morphed into the  sleek cunning demeanor of preying black panther stealthily staring straight ahead as it inched toward the lighted gates of town. Magic gave a final wink and wave as it vanished into the cascading darkness of the dark lonely back road. We turned to witness Main Street’s  franchise boogie crowd applauded our return to civilization.

THE EVANSTON A-LIST

Posted: November 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

It had only taken three bottles of 1983 Offley Porto Boa Vista Vintage from Portugalto convert Mary Wellington into a complete waste of human aptitude. Everyone was flailing around her knowing their roles in the 3rd Act of the Play as the waited  for the inevitable disruption and the pathetic contortions of a phobic wonton woman. They were not disappointed.

Mary began wailing at the top of her lungs. “They are rotten, they are all rotten. Get them out of my house.” She swallowed another glassful of Port in one gulp. Mary’s eye make-up smeared down her cheeks casting the darkened persona of an aberrant misanthrope.

Madeline, her best friend tried to comfort her. “There, there Mary, we have booted those rascals out on their ears. They can’t hurt you anymore.” Madeline gulped her 2004 Rutherford Ranch Estate Cabernet quietly as she nodded to the guests surrounding her.

The guests lifted their wine glasses in assurance, knowing that the little white lie would make things better and the party would continue. With Mary Wellington calm, the expensive wines would flow freely and all would be well. The Brie de Meaux stuffed with truffles and Comté paired well with the 2001 Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico, as Mary Wellington continued to grip her face in agony.

“I want Charleston here right now. Get him here right now,” she screamed at the top of her lungs. Charleston was her husband of 18 years. As usual, he grimaced with embarrassment. He became intimately familiar with Mary’s party behavior and like everyone else knew his lines well. The drinking clique acquiesced quietly to his request for calm. They sipped their wines and munched their fine cheese and crackers in complacent communal harmony.

“Now, now Mary, you are going to be alright. We have taken those bad guys out of here and put them in jail where they belong.” Charleston’s eyes rolled back into his head as he looked around at the sympathetic circle of friends knowing that she would have to sign the caterer’s check before she conked out. It was the most difficult part of the evening. Mary Wellington’s money was crucial in allowing the party’s to continue. No one dared interfere.

Mary Wellington was a spoiled, beautiful, late middle-aged woman, well-heeled, old-money aristocrat with a need to be the center of attention. Freud would have misdiagnosed her condition as psychosomatic maladaptive repression. Most everyone that knew her dubbed it pathetically neurotic or as Sherman Henderson referred to it as “self-centered bratism”. She mistreated everyone around her, clamored for attention in a pitiable way, reeking of a mental stench that fogged every move she made.

What made Mary Wellington tolerable was the fact that she had money. No, she had a boatload of money and liked to throw parties, very expensive parties, with very expensive accoutrements. She created the “Social A-List” of Evanston County. No one of any social standing would dare miss a Mary Wellington party.

Over the years, Charleston became a cheerless wreck of a man, lost in a delirium of hopelessness and despair. His heart fluttered helplessly, his hands shook violently aided by $100 bottles of Glenmorangie 18 Scotch funded by the deep pockets of Mary’s trust fund.

A noted psychologist, who witnessed one of Mary Wellington’s desperate episodes, wrote about her in one of his articles.

“Mary X’s behavior is symbolic of a gross narcissism that doesn’t allow anyone in their world except themselves. If there were a cure for this parasitic ailment, it would lead to world peace. Our modern technological society has inadvertently created the Mary X’s of the world, and our civilization suffers as a result. God help us all.”

Mary Wellington continued to host cocktail parties and people continued to come to them knowing there would be a dreaded show of misaligned behavior mixed with excellent wines and cheeses. They knew being on the Social A-List of Evanston County was more important than Mary’s shenanigans, so tolerance was the order of the day. One of her devoted and life-long friends, Alfred Cummins created a toast for those special occasions:  “Long Live the Queen of Cognitive Dissonance. Long Live the Social A-List.”

THEN IS NOW

Posted: November 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Kay Morgan by Marcus Gloger - Black catsuit & citroen survolt -

The bombing of the Desert Rock Towne Center rocked the minds and souls of the town’s people. Forty-two people were dead, 400 injured. Near the center of the blast lay the charred bodies of Jason Reardon, Natalie Kurston and a valet attendant. The war was to finally arrive on the desert scene.

Jason Reardon was born in Desert Rock, and never found a reason to leave. He spent a few weeks here and there in some of the big cities, but they couldn’t hold Jason’s interest. He was quiet and unassuming, growing up in the middle of the bell curve and enjoying every minute of it. He played sports, but never excelled in them. His body was naturally rugged, more genetically inspired than motivationally dedicated. Jason opened an auto shop in a very large building near the east side of town. He spent the better part of his adult career creating both a business and that became the most modern state-of-the-art auto shop imaginable.

Desert Rock was a growing metropolis located right smack dab in the middle of the Arizona desert. It had become a refuge from the bombings plaguing major cities throughout the world. For some reason, Desert Rock and a few other towns like it escaped the carnage of the war. There was no explanation for it, except possibly, blowing Desert Rock off the map would never make it on the World News Network.

People from the major cities began to find their way into Desert Rock about 10 years after the bombings had started. It was almost by accident at first. Desert Rock was an abandoned real estate development site started over a hundred years earlier, when building codes, sewage and other amenities were not part of the growth program. The development failed in the business sense, but at least 70 people managed to hang on until the migration began. Then, almost by chance, a city couple driving past Desert Rock noticed a withered billboard advertising the give-away prices of the homes. The billboard and the prices were dozens of years old and forgotten. No one had bothered to take it down. The couple bought a home on the spot, sold their city home and used the excess capital to fix up their home and the surrounding area.

As the couple began to brag to their city friends, more couples started to make the move. It avalanched from there. The first pioneers to Desert Rock were called immigrants, a historical twist to the classic notion of the term. It seems one of the original 70 inhabitants of Desert Rock saw the people coming from the big cities as foreigners migrating to a new land, even though most of them were all United State citizens. It was a historical pun, but the term stuck.

Eventually when the bombing started to spread, Desert Rock boomed. It was a safe haven, and that was good enough for everyone concerned.

In the beginning, the war’s main fronts were mainly in the Middle East and Africa. Historians now look back and categorize them as purely religious wars: extremist Muslims waging jihad against devil Christians and Jews; in turn, Christians and Jews waging war on terrorist killers. The basic idea on both sides was to maintain a fundamentalist view of their respective cultures. In hindsight, few people understood how similar the adversaries were in character, combining traditional political conservatism with archaic religious zeal. That soon changed, as bombing became a romantic means of changing ideologies in a global society.

The first spillover into “social devastation for devastation sake” began with a militant Hispanic group, calling themselves El Cholos Para La Libertad or simply El Cholos. Their leadership, fueled by their toughest members inside high-security prisons, began a crusade against upper-middle class America. Hispanic labor had completely saturated the lower working class of the economy, serving low paid workers in a rather affluent society. This pissed off the El Cholos. In searching for a way to avenge their fellow compadres, they decided to indiscriminately bomb upper-middle class suburbia without a hint of remorse.

Interestingly, the violence did not target whites only, but every ethnic group that embraced upper middle class standards. This was not an ethnic revenge; it was not an economic war either. It wasn’t a war based on class equality, or equal access to social opportunity. Their efforts were not aimed at Marxist restructuring of power for laborers. There was no objective, no want list, no demands, just death.  The El Cholos never gained anything in the process. The US Homeland Security Forces wiped them out within two years. Still, this event triggered an emerging trend of violence.

In Ohio, a group of six high school teenagers bombed a high school football game killing over 1,000 people. Their rationale for the bombing: They wanted more soft drink choices in the cafeteria. In court documents disclosed a few years later, one of the teenager’s statements noted: “It was fun, it was cool, it was way better than any computer game we’ve every played.” This event created the fad for bombings.

Soon after the Ohio high school bombing, seventeen Meredith Junior College students bombed a dorm hall as part of a fraternity initiation. They were caught, convicted and sentenced to death. The fad became real. Bombing became an urban symbol of cheating death at the hands of the state and grew from there. A few years later, bombing was part of the city landscape.

 Jason Reardon’s special skill was digital auto mechanics. Car mechanics no longer involved adjusting and replacing mechanical parts. Although cars still had moving parts, the bulk of a car was a vast assortment of digital nodes networked into the body and engine of the car. A typical car used over 2,500 microprocessors, and millions of small software programs keeping everything in check. Every aspect of the car was controlled by small digital components: the engine, doors, exhaust, the entertainment centers, navigational systems, steering, brakes and transmission. Every element of the car was powered by a constantly balancing set of intricate digital circuitry designed to maximize performance, reduce wear, and ultimately to remove any control from the driver, except for turning the steering wheel in the desired direction.

At 42, Jason created one of the best digital auto shops in the South Western United States with his arcane ability to diagnosis and calibrate a vast assortment of digital malfunctions. The basis of his success was ensuring updated software, coding patches to manufacturer’s specification, and ensuring seamless driving operation with good, fast and responsive customer service. Auto manufacturers loved him.

His shop was large, with a cross hatch of independent mechanics keeping the shop a fashionable hangout. If the truth be told, the independents were merely glorified software engineers, since most of their day was spent writing code from manufacturer’s specification updates. The old-time mechanical repairs virtually disappeared, since digital precision kept the cars from falling apart, regardless of the driver’s ineptitude; although one of the independents actually did mechanical work since, at rare times, a physical part needed to be replaced.

History provides the modern age with the clearest vision of the present. With the filter of history we can look back with 20-20 hindsight and assess the foibles of our ancestors, resting assured our modern world would never be so dim witted. It was difficult to imagine that once upon a time, women couldn’t drive a car in Saudi Arabia, or black slaves were held bondage on Southern cotton farms, or Chinese immigrants were paid $1 a day for building the railroads of the Old West. History is a perfect arm-chair coach, but it lacks human sentiment. It’s like imagining living through the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It can’t be done. Essentially history is an emotional iceberg when it comes to human tragedy. We look upon the events of history as folklore, stories of human rights and wrongs, of character and cracks.  History is always a good story, but its tragedies or success never hit our current-event nerve.

History’s lesson was not lost in the battle between the sexes. Women’s rights had waxed and waned over the past hundred years.  In the never ending cycle of history, men dominated for a phase, and then women dominated for a phase, and back and forth, ad nauseum. Although gender confrontation and dominance did have its time on the world stage, over the years it became a tiresome ritual that frankly bored the modern appetite. Women were women, and men were men. They had always played a this-for-that game of ping-pong, sometimes the women winning, sometimes the men.

Over the millenniums of human civilization, some things never changed in the relationship between men and women. Men seemed to eat a lot, lacked emotional sensitivity, farted without remorse and forgot to shave on weekends. Women endlessly painted themselves, obsessed over clothes, enjoyed lunch salads and generally sought harmony rather than conflict. And, when they wanted man to do something for them they innately unpack their effete cello: that high, whiny voice, the swaying body movements, the flutter of the eyes, the “forget everything I’ve said or done up to this point” glance, followed by, “Oh, Yoo Hoooo, Barton, or Fred, or Milton, (it didn’t matter), would you do something for little ol’me.” It’s like the sound of nails scratching against a blackboard.

Jason was acutely sensitive to the “I Want” whine”, as he called it. It seemed his professions, as many fix-it professions were particularly infested with the “I Want” whine. For some reason, women felt that men who fixed things automatically became surrogate husbands, or mules, or donkeys or brute force movers.  It was an occupational hazard.

One day, by a sheer accident of nature, in a single moment of synchronized convergence, a sixth sense reaction shifted the layers of dogmatic tradition. Jason had discovered the meaning of the American contract, the quid pro quo of human interaction. This for that, something for something, a promise for a promise plus consideration, the fair exchange of value for promised actions. Lawyers have been making billions of dollars for thousands of years, based on the understanding that all law is really a contract at it roots. Criminal law is a contract between the citizen and the governing state. Financial gain or loss is merely a function of a business contract played out to its greatest extent boundary in a real-time arena.

The contract between a man and a woman functions exactly the same:  each gets something from the other person, and each gives something to the other person. That’s archeological balance. Exploitation is when the art of mutual giving breaks down, and one person decides to run off with the goods, no recompense, no remuneration. That’s bad business for everyone.

At the moment of his inspiration, Jason decided then and there to make this universal yin and yang, the give and take between a man and woman his all abiding law. This sovereign principle of truth would govern his life at the most basic level until his death. Little did he know how prophetic he was.

Most of Jason’s customers were men, not that they cherished their cars, or even cared about digital enhancements. It’s like a man who doesn’t care about football. Yet, he would cut off his right arm instead of admit it in front of a bunch of guys in a sports bar. Most of the time, that’s what it’s like with car repairs. Guys never even think of whining or smiling or curtseying at the shop. But, they do pretend to know about the relationship between heat resistance and capacitance to the main CAN switch on the frame, or the number of milliohms required to run the interior light array. Jason always nodded in agreement, enthusiastically listening to every word as if they were unveiling a hidden formula that thousands of technical experts had overlooked. Jason would pat them on their back saying, “Wow, I would have never thought about that. That’ll be one of the first things I check. I’m sure glad you were around to give me that astute advice.” No one ever got the joke.

But, with women, Jason merely embraced the enigma he had uncovered. He saw the natural beauty in human relationships; he bear-hugged the chance to play in the “Big Game” of gender croquet, and began to put his bewildering understanding of the human contract into play with the universal “woman-customer”. Let the games begin.

Jason began slowly. “Oh, Jason, would you do me a favor?” There it was, the familiar “I Want” whine”.

“Why of course not Melanie. What would you like me to do?”

“Would you look at my plasma screen, it seems to cut in and out when I’m taking the kids to practice?”

“Why, that sounds like it’s in need of a new Glatimere Screen driver. I can download that for you in no time. Excuse me, Melanie, would you mind getting me a burger, fries and root beer over at the Desert Rock Diner. I’m starving, and I bet by the time you got back, your screen is not going to cause you or your kids the slightest problem. Uh, could you make that a double burger, extra large fries, and, oh, instead of root beer, could you get me an extra large chocolate shake?”

Jason got his lunch and Melanie got a working TV for her kids. Both sides win, no one loses, and life goes on beating a happy heartbeat.

Late one winter afternoon Jason was reading the newspaper on his screen. Four more bombings, 322 dead, five executions, one group plotting to overthrow the JFG Financial Group, another group wanting rebate rejections automatically put before the World Court, all daily occurrences in major cities throughout the world. The terrorist wars were 63 years old, spreading through-out the globe, and especially into the United States. Thousands died in suicide bombings. Jason never knew a day without war. They raged since before he was born, and had become a silent backdrop to his everyday life. As long as it stayed in the big cities, he was satisfied to remain deaf, dumb and blind to the destruction.

Spring was beginning to stretch out it arms, fanning the warm air of the sun’s deepening heat. Flower buds peaked out of their bramble bush homes, while desert birds, lizards, and jack rabbits vaulted to attention. Spring sang its perennial song of rebirth. Standing tall, it knuckled winter’s cold hands underground; victorious in gaining its seasonal championship.

Jason was snappy on this particular morning. There was no particular reason for feeling good, just a good man’s sense of working hard and appreciating it. His back ached a little, but not like it did in the middle of winter. In a moment, Jason’s world would transform into a one-way ticket to oblivion.

A black Lemintra TurboZ3q convertible suddenly swung into the shop’s driveway. The brakes screeched to a stop. Jason could make out a silhouetted figure stepping out of the car, legs first, then a tall and graceful, slender figure followed, with movements that emulated the morning breeze. As the feline shape drew closer, a beautiful woman emerged with a Rodin-esque sculptured face, straight, shoulder length black hair, pearl white skin and dark green eyes. Poetry held her hand as eloquence swept through her bones epitomizing artistic expression. Jason was mesmerized.

He saw a striking but very serious woman in front of him. Her exotic demeanor pelted his poise leaving him dazed. She looked around 35 years old, but peppered with an old-soul worldliness that bonded with the inelasticity of concrete.

“Hello.” The mesmerizing figure reached out to shake Jason’s hand. “My name is Natalie Kurston. A friend of mine said you could fix my car. There seems to be something wrong with the acceleration when I shift into 6th gear.”

“That’s a beautiful car, Miss.”

“Please call me Natalie. Can you fix it?”

“Sure, fuel node probably needs a Formander Delta T-2065 upgrade, and I may have to write a patch to the specs and review the Malenthall Manufacturing specs. It might take a few days but I don’t see any problem.”

For once, he waited for the “I Want” whine to start. It never came. This made his wheels spin in digital reverse. She didn’t even crack a smile, but remained stoic, assessing the situation with arctic determination. She pulled out her phone, hit a few keys and then spoke a few mumbling words in staccato cadence. After hanging up she turned back to Jason with a death grip look.

“Okay, that will be perfect,” she said, as if resolving a small claims debt in court. “I’m new here, and want to get things settled as soon as possible.”

It seemed Natalie was one of the newest arrivals from New York; an immigrant who had enough of the trembling nights of the city and wanted to move to a safe haven.

“How long have you been in town?” Jason was biding his time to let the game germinate.

“Only a few weeks, a friend told me about Desert Rock.”

Jason was able to squeeze out of her some simple biographical facts:  that she came from New York, that she worked for a major technology corporation selling enterprise systems to Fortune 500 companies. She traveled from one major city to another, always in the silhouette of the war and came to Desert Rock to realize a new dream.

A few minutes later a car stopped on the street outside the shop, a brand new blue Nevk coupe with tinted windows. Jason couldn’t see the driver, but noticed that Natalie abruptly turned around and got into the car without even a whimper or whine. Jason was flabbergasted.

As Jason stood flatfooted, he stared at the open shop door. Jason mused, “What happened? Natalie never compromised, never lifted a single high-pitched note, not even a peep of a squeal.”

Jason found himself bewitched by Natalie. She was different, strange, foreboding. Jason was breaking his own rules. He wanted to play this game with Natalie on different terms; no quid pro quo, just pure “male chases woman” rules with no holds barred. He let himself become magnetized by Natalie’s aloof temperament. Jason pulled up a nearby stool and plopped his head into his open hands. Natalie never moved from her inner focus, buttressed in a charismatic mantra of intrigue. Natalie was a “must-have” for Jason.

Natalie came back into the next day to pick up her car. She was slightly nervous and her hands shook. It seemed to Jason that nervous jitters were part of the assimilation process from moving from a big city to Desert Rock. Nevertheless, he couldn’t get over the fact that she didn’t once ask for a favor, a reduced price, an advantage in her repair bills. He blatantly began to flirt with her, attempted to bait her into a conversation other than her car. He was standing on his hands and she wasn’t clapping.

Natalie paid the bill, coldly and silently, and walked toward her car as she fumbled for her keys in her purse. As she reached her door, she stopped and turned abruptly back to Jason looking directly into his eyes. “I need to have an adjustment made to the trunk of my car in the next few days. Do you think you can fit it in your schedule?”

“Ah ha! Finally, she comes home to roost,” thought Jason to himself. “Certainly. What seems to be the problem?”

“The auto-open remote is not working,” she replied.

“You bet.” Jason was standing at full attention.

“I be back in a few days,” she replied.

She turned, got into the car and drove away without as much as a hint of flirtation.

Jason began to feel agitated as he waited nervously for Natalie’s return to the shop. He rehearsed a thousand different lines to break the ice. He polished his boots, spit shined his belt buckle, even stopped playing the game during Natalie’s absence.

This went on for four days until on a Friday morning she drove into the shop. It was a crisp morning, sunny and starting to get hot fast. Jason was tinkering with some new Golathian FET specs from Jarna Jeeps when his ears perked up at the sound of the Lemintra engine.

Natalie was immaculately dressed in a black business suit, white silk shirt, black leather high heels and matching leather black purse. As she came into view, Jason could see her lips, stoic and still, glossed with mild ruby, concentrated and alert, accented with light blue mascara that highlighted her dark green eyes. Her white skin blushed with a tint of rouge on her cheeks while her body flowed out of her car with an angular grace of a paragon jewel. She swayed wind-like towards Jason. “As I mentioned the other day, my remote does not open my trunk any longer. How long will it take to fix it?” Her voice was pleasant, professional yet showed no sign of withering into the familiar coquette samba.

“I’ll have it done by noon.” A thousand nanoseconds passed slowly as Jason blurted out, “Look, this isn’t going to be that complicated to fix. I can download the upgrade, install it, re-scramble the encryption codes and have it ready for you in no time. Would you mind if I buy you lunch when you come to pick up your car. You’re new in town, and maybe I can give you some hints on the highs and the lows of Desert Rock’s inner circle.” He had broken all his own rules. He knew it, but for some reason he did not care.

Natalie looked at him, her body shuttered as if shaking off desert dust, thought silently for a moment, then looked directly into Jason’s eyes and answered, “I’ll tell you what, I have something to do this afternoon but I’ll take you up on your offer for a lunch date tomorrow, if that works out for you?”

Jason stood frozen in front of her. “Yes, that works perfect for me, then tomorrow for lunch and today at noon for your car. Perfect.” He was ecstatic, although slightly disappointed over his dissipated will power.

The blue Nevk coupe pulled up in front of the shop, she stepped in without looking back.  Later that morning Natalie called Jason to tell him to leave her car in front of the shop with the keys under the mat. She would not be able to pick it up until later that night.

Early the next morning, Jason noticed Natalie’s car was gone as he expected, and promptly began preparing for his lunch date with her. He didn’t want to be a mechanic today, he wanted to be a man falling in love. “Wait,” he muttered to himself, “I can’t be falling in love. I don’t even know this woman. I know it’s some weird infatuation because she didn’t do the girl-dance.”

The hours and minutes ticked away slowly. He puttered around the shop, tried to play a game of pool, but couldn’t sink a ball if the corner pockets were the size of an open man hole on Main Street. Finally, he heard the roar of Natalie’s car pulling into the shop. Jason patted his hair down on both sides, breathed a deep sigh, stood up straight and began walking the full distance of the shop to meet her. She looked surprisingly happy, with a small glint of a smile, and the loss of the serious, iceberg-plagued stare that previously seemed glued to her face. She was wearing cowboy boots, a cowboy shirt and a pair of worn jeans. Her long black hair bounced on her shoulders as she walked to an invisible halfway point to meet him. Jason was overwhelmed how ravishingly beautiful she was.

“Well, I hope I am making a successful transition into desert life,” she shouted to Jason as she turned in a 360º circle to show off her Desert Rock western outfit.

“Well done, if I do say so myself, clapping his hands as if mimicking a standing ovation at the Desert Rock Theater. You look like you’ve lived here all your life.” Jason was happier than a gambler with four aces. “What would you like to eat?”

“I was hoping we could go down to the Desert Rock Center. People tell me its brimming full of people on a Saturday,” Natalie said curtseying while her arms spread an invisible dress into angel wings.

“You bet it’s crowded. It’s where everyone in this town goes on Saturday. It has everything, a farmer’s market, happy hour all day, restaurants galore and enough people to fill a desert valley. Good choice. Let’s go.” Jason rubbed his hands together and began heading for his car.

“Do you mind if I drive us in my car,” asked Natalie. “I want to find my way around this place, and, for me, there’s no better way than hands-on.”

As they pulled into the Desert Rock Center, Natalie drove directly to the valet parking in front of one of the restaurants. She waved to one of the valet attendant’s, in a way that was strangely familiar, as if she knew him.

“Is that a friend of yours?” asked Jason.

“No, I haven’t been around long enough to get to know anybody yet. But I hope that will change sooner than later.”

Natalie tossed a flirtatious glance at Jason. He was elated. The valet attendant moved the car into a VIP space by the restaurant, along a row of luxury cars, a stretch limousine … and the blue Nevk coupe.

“Hum,” thought Jason, “that’s strange, or maybe just a Russian Roulette coincidence.”

Natalie noticed his stare, put her arms around his waist and gave him a nudging hug. He forgot about the blue Nevk coupe.

After an hour of walking through the cascade of people, Natalie tucked her arm into Jason’s and said, “Let’s get something to eat, I’m famished. I saw just the place I wanted to go.” She led him to the outside tables of the restaurant where her car was parked. She picked out the table, and ordered two beers and a large tray of oysters without looking at the menu.

“How did you know they served oysters? That’s a rare dish in this town.” Jason was a little surprised. It was as if she had been there before.

“Are you kidding, this place reeks of oysters, it was a good guess.” Again, Jason was satisfied.

After more than a few beers, three large trays of oysters, and endless small talk, Natalie turned to Jason, lifted her glass of beer and toasted the afternoon.  She swung her hair back, leaned forward and began to tell Jason her story.

“You know, I’ve been in big cities all my life. I was raised with lots of money around me, always got everything I wanted, and through all that I could never find happiness. Nothing seemed to move me deep inside. It seemed as though all the nice things I received swam on the surface of my skin and never took the plunge into my soul. My brain gets plenty of food, my romantic life has always been full, my career is an unending success, doors fly open for me and I never have to wait in lines.”

Jason’s enchantment grew to the size of a fresh summer watermelon as she spoke.

“Then one day, I realized that a person only goes around the world once. That there’s only a short time to make a personal statement, a statement that counts, one left behind for others to remember. A person only has one chance to make a short trip into the world of celebrity to somewhere beyond the familiar; a bright star gazing into the lives of those you never met. I made that realization two years ago. Today is that special day when dreams trade places with reality.”

Jason buoyantly raised his hand to the waitress, circling it in the air. “Two more of everything.” The waitress nodded, as Jason leaned forward as if pulled by an invisible rope.

Natalie, breathed deeply, stretched out her arms as she dropped her head back looking up to the sky. “My whole life has lead up to this day, this hour, this exact point in time. A friend in New York moved to Desert Rock and told me all about it, especially how it was a haven from the bombings. I couldn’t imagine a place safe from fear. New York always seems to be ground zero for the fear, the loathing of waiting for an explosion, wondering if it was your time or not.”

The beer and oysters arrived. Jason moved things around the table like a roadie adjusting a microphone for a rock concert. He was riveted to Natalie’s story.

Natalie didn’t even glance at the food, but picked up the beer and drank half the glass, slamming the glass on the table. “I realized that to make a difference, to become recognized by a new group of people, I would have to bring them something they never knew, had not experienced, something creative and yet deathly real. Then it all came to me in a spark of divine inspiration. I called my friend and told him about my idea. He loved it and wanted to be part of it. I don’t think he wanted to be part of my dream as much as he wanted to be in love with me and feel love in return. I hope he’s not disappointed.”

She stopped for a moment, took a sip of beer, and continued, “You see, Jason, every man I have ever met falls head over heels in love with me, just like you’re doing now, like you did since the first moment you looked at me. I can sense when it happens in a man, because it’s happened a thousand times over. I know that wooly-eyed glare like the back of my hand. In a sense, you’re no different than the rest, except you happen to be here on my day of deliverance.”

Jason began to speak in his own defense, but Natalie put her finger to her lips. Jason fell silent.

“Let me continue Jason. Like you, every time a man would come in close contact with me, regardless of my intent, they began to relinquish their standards, their ideals, morals, wives, children, dreams just to be close to me. It never failed. At first, I was resentful, confused, rejecting. Then I realized it was all a matter of give and take, a small contract of life, a quid pro quo of getting something for giving something”.

“Wow, this is weird,” mumbled Jason. He didn’t know if he was experiencing a parallel universe in counterpoint syncopation, or a soul mate destined to be perpetually connected to his hip bone.

Natalie continued, “I didn’t mind giving a man a small glimpse of happiness, a smile to keep his motor purring, a touch of my hand to buttress his sense of manliness. Nevertheless, I wanted something in return. I wanted a mutual exchange. It didn’t matter what it was, just as long as it fulfilled a sense of mutual respectability.”

Jason started to twitch and move uncomfortably in his chair. He then grabbed his glass and slugged down a big gulp beer. He was feeling a swirling motion. Dizziness pulled up a chair beside him, grabbed his shoulder and patted him on the back.

Natalie continued, “That valet attendant over there is my friend from New York. I told you a small fib, but with the purpose of building up to a lofty finale.” Natalie waved at the valet attendant, and he waved back. “He loves me dearly, but I had to maintain my strict obedience to mutual exchange, just like I am doing with you Jason.”

Natalie stopped and looked around the restaurant. “Ah yes, another little fib. I’ve been here a dozen times with my friend planning my exit strategy. He was satisfied merely to be next to me.”

Jason looked around erratically, sensing the building of an unanticipated crescendo. He attempted to grasp the thematic high point, but was only able to glimpse a shadow exiting stage right.

“I came to you not wanting anything but my car fixed. I would have gone away happy if you would have fixed my car and left it at that. But, as a man, just like every other man, you couldn’t help but stamp your footprint on my being, my time, my soul, my existence. You had to steal some of me and could not leave well enough alone. So, I acquiesced, and in acquiescing wanted something in exchange. I took it without asking.”

Jason couldn’t move. His mind had become marmalade in a soothsayer’s continental breakfast.

“I decided that to make myself known, to become an influence on the world, I would bring something to this town that they never knew … fear. The same fear I experienced everyday of my life in New York. In a few minutes, everyone remaining alive in this town will know my name. In that same moment I will become a permanent fixture in their lives. Do you see the pun Jason? Don’t you see the cataclysmic layers: instant celebrity, influencing thousands of unknown people, changing history, the shift of a mindset from peace to fear, all in one split second in time?

Natalie dramatically faked a swoon as a Shakespearian actor emphasizing the punch line of a tragedy.  Jason had become cold and stoic. He couldn’t move a muscle, couldn’t smile or even coax an emotional twinge from his frayed mind.

Natalie continued, not swayed by Jason’s pale appearance. “Right now, at this very moment, we are at that point in time where the dream dies and reality takes its place. We are the only ones that can appreciate that moment, because we are the only ones who know it. This is a future moment happening right now. Don’t you get it Jason, then is now. In a few minutes, the present reality we are experiencing will be gone; the dream will have ended because it became reality. All of these stratums of reality, the multiplicity of cascading sheets of our world are about to morph, and shift, and sort, all in one small single point in time.”

Natalie stopped, brushed back Jason’s hair, sipped her beer and delicately lifted the last oyster into her mouth.

“Don’t you love the warping of time and space? Being in the future before it’s the future, knowing that the lines connecting us all will shift in an Einsteinium flash. That is a gigantic coup for me Jason. I hope you appreciate the aesthetic eloquence of the moment.”

Natalie’s eyes grew cold and calculating again. “Oh, one more thing Jason, I get the added bonus of keeping my ideals alive, my pact of mutual exchange. My friend gives me the opportunity to park my car in front of a large gathering of people and gets to die with me. You get the privilege of being my mechanic, my last confessor who also get to die with me. In exchange, I have given you my last moments on this planet. Gosh, I hope you appreciate that Jason.”

Natalie grabbed her purse from the next chair and pulled out her keys.

“You see, I needed the trunk wired to my remote so that my friend over there could rig a bomb in the trunk, so when I pushed this button a bomb would go off in front of all these people, something like this …”

Boom!

When the bomb in Natalie’s car exploded, it also triggered the one in the blue Nevk coupe. The center of the blast carved molten bodies in a perfect circle, as the wounded screamed on the outer peripheral of the blast. The survivors scattered like mice. Instantly, Desert Rock’s mindset changed. It had been invited to the world stage and ironically, charmingly, accepted its appearance at its debutante ball.

Within minutes of the bombing, an email arrived simultaneously at the Desert Rock Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Time Herald, the Desert Rock Courier and the FBI Offices in Washington DC. Natalie Kurston identified herself as the person responsible for the bombing and included a twelve page attachment explaining her reasoning.  A multi-department investigation into the bombings began a few days later, coordinated by the Director of Homeland Security.

As the investigation proceeded, newspaper accounts pointed the finger at Jason Reardon and the Valet Attendant as co-conspirators of the bombing. Evidentially, the valet attendant had left a diary in his room detailing the bombing plot. He took complete credit for the bombing, never mentioning Natalie’s name. Evidently, he felt spurned by Natalie and posthumously exacted his revenge. The last entries of the diary identified Jason Reardon as the person who helped him rig the trunk remote. The valet attendant had inadvertently scribbled Jason’s shop address on a note pad. Natalie Kurston was never considered part of the plot. In reviewing her file, investigators found an impeccable job record, excellent recommendations from business associates and clients, and soaring praise from high-profile men whose names were found in her address book found in her apartment. As investigators combed the evidence they felt Natalie Kurston was in all probability a patsy, set up by the two conspirators to take the fall. Her name was dropped from the investigation and never mentioned again.

The press eventually dubbed the bombings the “Jason Reardon Bombings”. Desert Rock embraced its new celebrity and relished its short recognition on the World News Network. TV reporters from all over the world gathered in Desert Rock for over two weeks after the bombings, and then vanished with a poof as if they had never been there. A university professor researching the history of bombings wrote what would become the official history concerning the Jason Reardon Bombing. Over the years it was studied in history classes throughout the world, along with the fall of the Roman Empire, World War’s I & II, the El Cholo bombings, the Meredith Fraternity convictions and the early 21st Century Religious Wars. They all made wonderful stories and provided great insight into the foibles and talents of modern civilization.

THE MYTH OF ETAN

Posted: November 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

The smell of dread bellowed in the air, engulfing the terrain with an ensnaring smile. Etan attempted to control his fear as his horse galloped with steadfast precision. Etan’s senses narrowed to a pinpoint accuracy. All he could hear was the ferocious thundering of the Tongamey’s approach sounding like a gigantic avalanche crunching everything in its path. The sky darkened, as Etan grew weary of his frantic retreat. He and Lohinito were the only remaining warriors left in his tribe. Just yesterday, the Tongamey massacred two hundred of his fellow Modeleno warriors in a deceptive ambush. Among the slain was Etan’s chieftain father, Konosko.

Earlier that month, the Tongamey, a malicious and war-bent neighboring tribe, called upon the Modeleno to join in the Tongamey’s annual La Guerra de la Montaña Festival. This annual affair pitted the best of the Tongamey’s youth against each other in a series of shockingly brutal combats, providing the winners a rite of passage into the Tongamey warrior cast. The grueling struggles seamlessly intertwined with celebrations of food, dancing and merry-making making the La Guerra de la Montaña Festival the height of the Tongamey year.

The Tongamey rarely invited outside tribes to the festivities and were very guarded about their tribal rituals. Konosko, the Modeleno head chief was surprised to get an invitation and at first was skeptical, although he reluctantly agreed to join the Tongamey.

The first day of the festival came and went without incident. However on the second night of the festival the Modeleno were deceived. A vicious hoard of Tongamey warriors pounced on the Modeleno warriors killing each one to the man, except for Etan and Lohinito. Etan and Lohinito left moments before the slaughter to water the horses and when they found one of the horses sick, they walked to the edge of the river for water. When they heard the screams of their fellow warriors, they instantly knew what had happened. Etan and Lohinito grabbed two horses and rode bareback to the hills as fast as the horses could run.

Etan sent Lohinito ahead to warn his people to escape to the mountains where they would be safe. After Lohinito was gone, Etan sat on his horse alone on a hillside. He was able to stay hidden from the Tongamey, in part because they did not know he escaped, and in part because of his intimate knowledge of the country’s terrain. He had spent his whole youth embracing the natural surroundings of his land, and now the familiarity was paying off.

The Tongamey forces were galloping toward the Modeleno village to impose a death sentence on its people. The Tongamey were noted for their greed and avarice and wanted the rich Modeleno’s lands with its abundant hunting grounds, fish filled rivers, bountiful deer and swarms of quail.

Etan gazed over the edge of the mountain cliff and saw the Tongamey hoard galloping their way towards him, his village and his land. The question in Etan’s mind was whether to remain and somehow fight the Tongamey or to escape to his people hiding in the mountains.

Although he had proven himself a mighty warrior in times of hunting and battle, the idea of one man fighting against a vast hoard of Tongamey warriors brought dread into his bones. He fell to the ground and then leaned his back against a protruding boulder, pondering on what to do next. He knew that escaping into the mountains with his people was suicide, and that a one-man army fighting alone against the Tongamey was insanity.

As the sun set over the mountain, the Tongamey hoard halted at the river’s bend where a large meadow, small brook and grazing land provided their horses with food, drink and rest. In camp, they could chart their final strategy to overtake the Modeleno land. They sat and laughed together knowing there was no need to rush headlong into slaughter without rest. Their swords would become heavy with savage butchery and they needed their strength. They toasted to their success and fell into a deep sleep on the dusty ground.

Etan decided to move to a higher point up the mountainside above the hoard and set-up a make shift camp. The sloping ridge and steady wind allowed him to set a small fire out of the enemy’s site. As Etan’s agitation calmed, he began to feel the need to resolve the despairing options in front of him. One thing his people had taught him was the necessity of meditation in the face of danger. They taught their children that the alignment of soul, spirit, body and mind with the Great Spirits of Heaven and Earth was the only way to find a path away from danger.

Etan delved into a deep meditation, closing his eyes to his inner being. His fear slowly began to thaw, and the darkness in his mind began to illuminate with calming light. He crawled his way into a deeper sanctum in his soul and rested there in warmth and comfort. He knew that if death knocked at his door it would find him in this sacred place.

Suddenly loud sounds made Etan open his eyes. There in front of him was a large pack of wolves descending into Etan’s small camp. They were strong and walked in steadfast steps, eyes glowing in the dark and their gaping mouths revealing large sharp teeth. A bright, glowing light shone above the packs heads. As he began to focus on the light, it transformed into twelve angelic warriors clothed in armor of gold with wings of cascading radiance. Their enormous bodies were pillars of strength, and their eyes glared with such force that transgression itself would faint from fear.

The wolves and the angels walked in unison, as indigenous mountain animals of every type moved forward with the exactitude of Truth. Ravens, snakes, eagles, birds of every type, deer, elk, boars, a pride of mountain lion, swarms of bees, and more animals hovered behind the wolves and angelic warriors. Etan intuitively gestured to the wolves a welcome with open arms. The angels and wolves drew close to Etan when the alpha wolf stepped forward and spoke.

“You are a brave soul Etan. In this moment where confusion reigns and self-preservation wants to overcome bravery, instead the Great Spirit designated you through duty to fight against the malicious Tongamey. There are times on Earth for statements of courage overcoming fear, allowing future generations to learn how to face and overcome adversity with their inherent strengthening of soul.

Your people always lived with us and honored the potency of heaven, earth and spirit in perfect harmony. We know that this invading army comes only to destroy and steal the richness of your heritage.

A battle line occurs at these critical points in time. The heaven born leader must fight the onslaught with vigor and courage. Yet, no person alone can avenge a malevolent enemy. A grain of sand cannot consider itself a beachfront nor can a single drop of rain claim to be a raging river. However, when all the forces combine in harmony, then rocks crumble, earth shakes and mountains move.”

The wolf continued. “Each malevolent mind nurtures a latent fear of shame. Evil does not squirm without remorse. The actor becomes susceptible to guilt, remorse and terror.”

Etan took a deep breath as he listened to the wolf tell his plan.

“Here is our strategy,” the wolf continued. “Our pack will encircle the meadows, along with the ravens, snakes and all the animals of the mountain. Then the angelic warriors of heaven will swoop down above their heads, causing horror and panic upon their sight. As they run into walls of contempt, they fall into oblivion.”

At that point, one of the angelic warriors flew in front of the speaking wolf with a huge conge in his hand. The alpha wolf continued, “You will take the conge to the top of the mountain and bang it each time you hear the ravens call out ‘it is time to cong your conge’. Maintain your stealth as we initiate our assault.”

With that, the alpha wolf moved back into the darkness along with his avenging army, vanishing invisibly into the landscape. Etan sat in silence for a long time holding the conge in his hands. Although his mind could not fathom the reality of what he just experienced, he knew that the forces that govern this planet joined to ensure the good heart survives in the midst of the overwhelming darkness of iniquity.

Within the hour, you could hear the howling of the wolves, and their fierce growls echoing from the valley below. The sound was terrifying. Soon after the ravens began to screech and taunt the camping warriors. Suddenly great gusts of wind hurled over the large camp, as the Angelic Warriors swarmed down armed with gigantic swords raised high above their heads. The whirling winds spilled the Tongamey’s pots and pans, toppled their tents and sent a horrendous uproar of sound through the camp. The frenzied horses began kicking and ripping themselves from their tethers. In a growing unison, a chorus of groaning men began to scream in confusion.

The ravens turned toward the mountain where Etan positioned himself and called out, “it is time to cong your conge”. With that, Etan struck the conge as hard as he could. The conge created an eerie, scary sound reverberating through the valley below. The Tongamey warriors began to lose their balance, falling and tripping over themselves.

Then hundreds of snakes poured into the camp, slithering among the men, biting them and causing them much pain. The wolves started to tear at the men on the periphery of the camp, ripping their limbs and shredding their bodies. Animals of all sorts pounced on the men, biting, tearing, scratching, and creating intolerable anguish in the scampering men.  They screamed with absolute terror as the orchestration of sounds, attacks and winds reached a shrilling crescendo.

Then suddenly there was silence. No sound emanated from the valley or the air, the snakes slithered away, the wolves departed and the other animals disappeared into the night. The winds died down. The Tongamey warriors patted themselves up and down, looking around in confusion and bewilderment. Men grabbed the fleeing horses and rode with furor away from the camp.

As the night fell into complete silence, Etan built a large fire and began to meditate deeply in his soul. He wanted to thank the heavens and the earth for what they had miraculously done.

Then Etan heard noises coming from out of the dark. Emerging from the night the pack of wolves, the angels, ravens and snakes moved slowly toward him and formed a semicircle around the fire. The alpha wolf came out as he did before and spoke, “The efforts of a common man cannot quell the dangers of the earth. Safety of your brood requires the safety of all that share your land. When they work in unison and harmony then the plan of the Great Spirit comes into play and all live long and well.”

With that, the conge gravitated upward into the hands of the angelic warrior who originally had given it to Etan. The snakes squirmed away, all the animals vanished, the ravens dispersed in every direction, and the wolves and angels turned and walked away.

When Etan returned to his empty village, he felt distressed by the possibilities that a great harm had fallen on his people. Suddenly he heard loud yells coming from the mountain. It was Lohinito yelling out his name. Following Lohinito were the villagers, safe and sound, although some shivered from the cold night.

They spent the next week in chanting, dancing, hugging and rejoicing. The wolves cried out in the night, the ravens cawed in the day. The sky winds blew and the rivers gave up a feast for the festival of thanksgiving and salvation.

Over the years, when the people would gather around the fire, Etan told the story of what happened to the warriors, his father, the wolves, angels, snakes, ravens and conges. He spoke of harmony of spirit, alignment with the Great Spirit and the forces of nature and heaven. He spoke of the challenge of death and the insurmountable insignificance of one human being. He explained how the multiplicity of influence gathered to strike fear into the heart of evil, and how he chose to meditate in the face of unfathomable danger. The people listened in awe at his tale and continue to listen to it up to this day as “The Myth of Etan”.

ALLIGATOR

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Spinning radically in my head, an alligator flips its tail onto the back of my eyeball. It must be an alligator because I cannot see a thing. It could have been the gin I drank last night, but that would be too obvious. Anyway, I have heard alligators are notorious for lingering in people’s minds after too much gin.

If my eyes could focus, I would be able to construct last evening’s roaring events. Then again, if my hands would concentrate on holding themselves still, I could scratch the top of my head to figure out where things went wrong and how an alligator slipped into my brain without me noticing it.

To make matters worse, Monday could not have arrived on a worse day. It could have been polite and waited until Tuesday or even Wednesday. I have always heard that Monday is not a very courteous day. Today I have confirmed its rudeness.

I need to wake out of my stupor and begin work. Nothing would please me more than to work. There is something deep inside of me telling me work would be good for me. Unfortunately, a dense fog is blocking out any sense of reality, so my body is unable to translate work’s sound into any suitable action. In fact, my body stands frozen in a snow packed tundra waiting for rescue. It may take a few days before that happens, since my mind is on vacation in Alberta right now.

My wife is talking to me this morning without realizing that her words go into my ears and drop directly to my toes. I hear their thud as they land and maybe a small wisp of air as they pass my brain. However, I cannot connect thoughts to their movement, although I am afraid she may hold me accountable later. I need her to understand that the alligator in my head is eating the meaning of her words as my toes become crammed with their debris. She will still yell at me, but I have a good excuse now that I have an alligator residing in my head.

It is noon. I have done nothing except write this. I started at 9:00 this morning. It has taken over three hours to write one page. I want to feel bad about my performance since feeling bad would be the responsible thing to do. Children are starving in Biafra and I am sitting at my desk drooling on myself. It is very pathetic to see a grown man slumped over a keyboard searching for the right key and missing nine times out of ten. However, since it is noon I can rest comfortably in the fact that the workday is half over and Tuesday will shortly come to my rescue. Fortunately, the alligator in my head will soon die of starvation since there is a limited supply of grey matter left to digest. My life will go back to normal and my wife will be happy again. Then I will read yesterday’s paper tomorrow to find out what happened today.

LID: A DESERT SHANTY TOWN

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Definition of: 1lid

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hlid; akin to Old High German hlit cover, and probably to Old English hlinian to lean

  • 1: a movable cover for the opening of a hollow container (as a vessel or box)
  • 2 : something that confines, limits, or suppresses as in “keep a lid on it”
  • 3 : the operculum in mosses
  • 4 : a slang term for a hat
  • 5 : a 1970’s term for an ounce of marijuana
  • 6 : a layer of skin that protects the eye as in Eyelid
  • 7 : representing the top extent boundary of containment as in “when one reaches the lid of the container, you have reached the final point of existence of that containment”.

POINT IN TIME

Birth defines a very specific and important point in time.

At the moment of birth a larger, more encompassing time spectrum of a life is defined. Birth classifies the social context and content of a life. It characterizes a location, an era, astrological signs, nationality, birthrights, social class, an economic status between rich and poor. That moment of birth depicts the array of social tools and influences available during a lifetime.

The time span of personal duration is approximately 70 years ± 70 years. That means you can die at birth or live an exceptionally long life. Most people’s fate falls somewhere safely on the bell curve. Kids die on the streets, middle-aged men die of heart attacks, and the very old of natural causes. Still, the life span any given individual rarely exceeds 140 years. The personal time span is very flexible between points “A” and “Z”, yet very stringent on stage exits and curtain calls.

THE DESERT

The hot sun fried the tumbleweed’s pursuit over the desert sand. The lizard spiked its tongue in the air snapping the fly into its mouth. The nearby cactus stood frozen, landscaping the vicinity with serene, landlocked foliage. The desert terrain was endless. It skirted on the edge of civilization’s influence with the power of a deity.

The desert survived the wars. Stoically it stood outside the reverence of the world defiantly burning its own tattoos onto its guest’s arms. The desert was unafraid of uncertainty’s proliferation. Crispy death hung close to the hot sand. Human water-tanks empty rapidly onto the desert’s sandy brown floor. Breath is a gift striving to live in the desert.

NUCLEAR GRAMMAR

The nuclear explosion anticipated to hit America finally happened. It was a shock to everyone. Thousands died, but more importantly, the mindset of the American citizen fundamentally changed. American’s had finally become part of the destructive global terra firma occurring throughout the world.

Destruction had become a daily experience. People were numbed to the causality statistics: 300,000 dead, 5,000,000 wounded, dozens of cities burned, more reported dead, more undisclosed wounded. It never stopped. In fact, America had five nuclear explosions over a twelve-year period. All over the globe, from every faction, devastation had become a horrid fact.

LID

Lid was a shanty desert town that housed a peculiar sort of person. Most were intelligent, because in modern times most people were educated. They were from the gifted class of knowledge, secular, achievement oriented without the classic association of guilt. They abhorred mediocrity and lawlessness. They were confident of their capacities, and worked hard at their individual pursuits. Vast majorities of them were financially successful, but still feeling  a compulsion to work outside the constraints of classic society.

Middle class did not mean the center of the bell curve to the people of LID. It meant conscience, non-acquiescence to a bureaucratic life. LID had become a statement of its own. Living in LID was the living testament of detaching from an unaware and ever aging dogmatic society. It was a badge of honor to live LID, because it cared for its own sense of right and wrong.

MATEO JOVAN

The desert sun reaches its zenith as Mateo slowly lifted his canteen, filling his mouth with cold water. He scanned the desert-etched province, knowing that his humanity was in the beginning stages of redefining itself. Mateo Jovan was a sandy, weathered man. His tanned skin reflected his days in the desert, endlessly walking through the sand listening to the echoes of its surroundings. He was glad to be in LID. He could be isolated, yet still have a sense of belonging with a small but comfortable world. Mateo Jovan was an isolated man in his later years. He had come to distrust and shy away from the normal aspects of society. Parties, social gatherings and political events seemed shallow to Mateo.

His innate talents were abundant, but he pushed himself outside the envelope for his own cause. He was an autodidactic, a self-learner. He would start on a project and in a short time was able to speak about the contents like a college professor. He did not see it as strange. He just liked to learn in that way.

He understood that his irreverence to social norms kept him from becoming successful in the normal way, as a doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief. Still, what drove Mateo was not a sense of accomplishment, self-realization or even Wisdom. He was beginning to enjoy the simple sounds of a complex and chaotic world, the fact that one man can make a difference in a crowded noisy room.

BIG CITY PEACE

Midway through the wars, people cascaded to the big cities. It was safe in the big cities. The social rules re-sculpted a delicate balance among the clashing interests, finally finding peace from constant destruction.

The paradigm for calming social order came from an isolated, innovative group borrowed in LID. They started as a group of engineers working on a government subsidized nano-technology project. The initial group of people was highly successful, but culturally deprived in the desert. They convinced friends to come to LID and make it a home. In turn, the engineers promised to create technologies that optimized the Internet and communications transfer to make their inhabitance mimic life in a city.

They would be able to work, communicate with customers, buy on line and at the same time create a more intelligent, cross-ideologically based community. They would share impressions in the arts and sciences and simultaneously maintain good old fashion family values and community living. What started as a good real estate investment, a better way to live and a means of keeping each other sane became a way of life.

At first, the experiment was small but lovable. Then a friend told a friend, and that friend told a friend. As civilization began to arrive, the desert acquiesced by expanding to meet their needs as long the encroachers respected the desert’s hubris.

As time progressed, everyone at one time or another would get together at the Cactus Bristle, a small, make shift pub in the front of one of the original experiment buildings. People would bring a plant, picture or a skull they had found in the desert. They framed pictures and started decorating the walls. Soon it had the air of a true Western saloon. The Cactus Bristle never did have a bar tender, and it certainly did not make money. There was a monthly fee set up for the beer and whiskey runs, each member paid the fee and was allowed free access to the inventory. People served themselves and each other. Those who did not like to drink as much as the others could qualify as a “lightweight” and get a 10% deduction in fees. Only two people ever applied, and none took the offer.

The Cactus Bristle ended up as an excellent cultural center. It was not a rough and tumble bar. In fact, no one ever thought of fighting. They were out in the middle of nowhere. They took a lot of time and effort to get people into LID. Fighting seemed counterproductive to the effort. They were more interested in the exchange of ideas, talking, keeping their brains awake. They did not ignore the world, but they did not embrace it either. They talked of the wars in a broader sense: a study in humanity, cognition in crisis, principles of social interaction. From this group came the innovation that changed the social world.

CACTUS BRISTLE

The Cactus Bristle gang focused on the principles of conflict and combined axioms of human creativity, a dash of physics, chemistry, epistemology, some creative writing and a sense that humanity was worth saving. What they discovered is that people were not influenced by principles, such as the difference between democracy and communism, Judaism versus Islam, or even rich versus poor. They found people did not generally comprehend or like abstract principles. All people wanted was a place they called their own, a good job, and the ability to make life decisions with ample access to television.

Yes, give a person a studio apartment, a TV, allow them to work, add the freedom to pick a personal politic and you have peace at the personal level, the street level, the apartment building level. It was not the notion a democratic state democracy, or even an ideological construct that swayed their hearts. It was simply constructing a simple, safe, comforting neighborhood to live in.

The system started to work in high conflict crowed cities.

With governments all over the world running out of money, the policy stated to take affect. It worked in reality. There was no official policies enacted, people just naturally started adapting to a new lifestyle. Peace was better than war, since at a personal level, the most important level, there were more than enough problems to face and solve.

Global interests focusing on world hunger discovered means of farming the deserts of the world by applying advancements in reproductive biotechnology, robotic machinery and the innovations in civil engineering to move the fresh waters from the North and South Poles into arid agricultural regions with minimal costs. Capital investments where shared among the interests, and so were the profits.

THE CERTAINTY OF DEATH IN TIME

If you are reading this right now, you will be dead in 140 years. An old world will have given way to a new world. It has happened a billion times on earth, and a billion times a billion times a billion on the scale of the Universe. You are living in your personal life span, your sphere of influence in life. You are free to work with the world’s tools during your life span, some existent, others to be discovered in your future.

Yet, human nature is very myopic about its existence. It very much wants to think their current reality is the absolute reality. To a certain extent, they are right. The span of approximately 70 years ± 70 years, and the contextual reality of that individual is absolute. They do not conceive of anything different. They can understand the change occurring within their life span, yet fail to grasp the before and the after.

A POINT IN TIME

We have always seen birth as a moment of creation, a new beginning, something that sketches new palettes of understanding from a fresh stream of an unmarked mind. Learning knowledge from the past, innovatively applying it to a new set of circumstances is the differentiating hallmark of the human being.

At the moment of your birth, a fixed continuum of development occurs, some miraculous, revolutionary, others mundane. Yet, the aspects that influence your life unconditionally define the context and conditions in which you live.

A POINT IN TIME

A desert snake slowly chomps on its daily catch. Wind attempts its late afternoon wisp. The sun tires as it begins its descent. Mateo stands of the porch of the Cactus Bristle swirling a bottle of beer along an invisible axis.

There is a place for a good day.