Thursday, February 16, 2017

Betty Blue

It’s that time of year again. Regular readers know this is my “blue quarter.” My late wife Betty died of pneumonia on February 12, 2009, and our wedding anniversary would have been on April 8 of that year. Sandwiched in between is March 13, her birthday. These three months are my blue period. It gets a little easier as time tolls, but it never quite goes away. This year, I’d like to mark the events with an attempt at some “poetic prose.” (Forgive me, poets, everywhere.)
*****

Betty Blue

Shades of blue are ever important to my life
Hazy indigoed mountain silhouettes
Robin’s egg skies
Aegean oceans
Turquoise stones
Sapphire rings
Teal eyes

The death of my wife in 2009
Brought my “blue quarter”
The cold slate of February which took her away
Warm azure of March on the day of her birth
Somber cobalt of April, our anniversary
These are the shades of my “Betty blue,”
A different palette altogether

*****
Thank you for indulging me in my annual descent into depression. After eight years, it’s becoming easier, but I do tend to think of her more often over these three months, relishing what was good about our time together and suffering through the difficult twelve weeks of her end time.

I’d be pleased to hear from you at dtm1332@aol.com.

As always, thanks for being a reader.

Don


Next post: 6:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

FIDELIS, part two.

Readership looked pretty good last week. That’s encouraging.

Today, we get the second part of the story about Alice determined to land a hunky, handsome guy with the dodgy name of Fidelis Proctor Greenhouse. As Alice noted last week, the name might sound like a gaseous old windbag, but the physical being sure didn’t look the part. We begin as F. P. picks her up at her dorm for a night trip to a remote spot where light pollution isn’t bad. She’s baited him with a false interest in astronomy.
*****
Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
FIDELIS (Part 2)
F. P. sat looking relaxed in an overstuffed chair when I came downstairs at five-thirty sharp. He was as delicious as ever in canvas trousers with zipped and buttoned pockets everywhere but on his fly.He promptly sent me back upstairs for a heavier coat, gloves, and a stretch cap that would cover my ears.
His vehicle was a Jeep with bucket seats, so that put an end to my hope of snuggling on the drive. He monopolized the trip west on I-25 and south on State Road 14 by explaining that local astronomy clubs used the area where we were heading to watch meteor showers because the hills blocked most of the ambient light from the city.
“The best ones are the Perseids,” he said. “That’s the most popular shower because it appears in August of each year when the weather is nice. It produces a rate of 50 to 75 shower members per hour at the maximum.”
“Shower members? You mean shooting stars?”
“Actually, they’re particles released from a comet called 109P/Swift-Tuttle when it returns to the inner solar system. They’re called Perseids because they originate from the area of the sky near the constellation of Perseus.”
“So no shooting stars.”
“None of them are stars. If stars took off like meteors, it would create a helluva calamity. These are just small chunks of rock and ice that comets shed during travel.”
“Oh.”
“The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor showers of the year. And the most colorful. They come in December, usually starting before midnight. They’re cool.”
“I’d wager they’re cold.” My pitiful attempt at humor was lost on him.
The light was fading fast—along with my enthusiasm for the project—by the time we reached the parking area. After that, I followed him through the gathering gloom up hill after hill, through one grove of trees and across another meadow until he finally reached his destination, a large meadow rapidly becoming as dark as the closet back home where I used to lock my little brother.
By the aid of his flashlight—and the one he’d given me to light my way—we found a log to sit down on. About time. I was ready for a rest. And the log was perfect for snuggling.
My mistake. Instead of cuddling, I got a lecture on the Usids, the Orionids, the Lyrids, and a whole host of meteor showers. Apparently, they arrived on an established schedule to titillate astronomers and send them running to the darkest spots they can find.
Once he ground down on that subject, I gave him a little prompt to get him to put his arm around my shoulders.
“I’m cold.”
He jumped to his feet. “Let’s move around some. That’ll warm you up.” Then he took out a light laser and flashed it into the sky. It seemed to reach all the way to the stars. He moved it to point out the five stars making up the constellation called Cassiopeia.
I snorted through my nose. “Doesn’t look like a beautiful queen. Looks like a big stretched out M.”
“During the winter. But later in the year, it’ll turn on its back and look like a W.”
“It takes a bushel of imagination to turn that into a voluptuous woman.”
“I guess they had a bushel full back then.” He then pointed out each of her five stars, naming Schedar—which he said was sometimes spelled Shedar or Shedir—as the Alpha star. He droned on about how this was a circumpolar constellation. That meant, I gathered, it was visible from the northern hemisphere year-round, tumbling endlessly from an M to a W to whatever the hell it looked like when it was standing on its ends.
Romantic, Cassiopeia was not. At least to me. I was freezing my butt off in the blackest place on earth while the hunkiest man I could picture either in my dreams or in reality, wandered around prattling endlessly about stars and constellations and Greek and Roman mythology. Finally, I stopped dead in my tracks.
“I wanna go home.”
He turned, spearing me with his flashlight. “What?”
“I’m cold. I’m miserable, I don’t give a damn about astronomy, and I want to go home.”
I could see nothing except the bright light turned in my direction, but I imagined his eyes rendered wide and his mouth slack that someone actually said those words out loud. That prompted me to add the final nail to the coffin of my starry-eyed dreams.
“Fidelis Proctor Greenhouse, I don’t care if you are only twenty-year-old, you’re a gaseous old windbag without a clue to what’s going on around you.”
I guess I’m lucky he didn’t fade away into the night and abandon me to my fate. I had no idea which way was north or south. The only direction I could identify was up… where Queen Cassiopeia stared coldly down upon me. Was she disappointed, too?

*****
So there you have it. Alice now knows why no one ever has a second date with Fidelis Proctor Greenhouse. Let me know what you think of the story at dontravis21@gmail.com. Keep on reading, guys.

Don


Next post: 6:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

FIDELIS, a short story in two parts

It’s good to be back on the Internet with my dontravis.com blog. Readership hasn’t built back to where it was when they shut me off on the 3rd of January, so tell everyone you know that I’m back.

This week we get a two-part short story told from a young woman’s point of view. Now folks, I don’t know the first thing about a college-age woman’s way of thinking, but I don’t think I mangled it too badly. So here we go. This one’s “name-centric,” too… as was Pheobe.
*****
FIDELIS
Courtesy of Wikipedia commons
Fidelis Proctor Greenhouse. Sounds like a gaseous old windbag, doesn’t he? He’s not. He’s a dreadful sexy, way handsome senior here at Loma Linda College. Beyond description. Black hair. Green eyes. Pouty lips. And as proportionally perfect as the Taj Mahal. And his skin! My Lord, I’d give up ice cream for a smooth, tawny complexion like his. The strange thing is that he doesn’t seem to date much.
“I’m going to land that,” I said to my friend Mindy as we stood on the front steps of the campus library when he strode by talking to a couple of other guys.
“You mean F. P. Greenhouse? Tell me you aren't serious, Alice," she said with raised eyebrows.
I nodded. “Yep. That’s the one.”
“Girlfriend, he’s poison. Everybody knows that.”
“I don’t. You saying he’s violent or something? He’s cruel? Stands up his dates? Drinks too much? He’s gay? What?”
“All I know is nobody who goes out with him once ever goes out with him again.”
Well, I will. You wait and see.”


It wasn’t easy. I found where he hid out in the library stacks to study and casually took a chair at the same table and laid out a big book called The Astronomy of the Bible: An Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical References of Holy Scripture by somebody named Maunder. I picked that one because I heard he had a rad interest in the subject… astronomy, that is. He noticed the book right away.
“You into astronomy or the bible?”
I smiled, exchanged introductions, and launched into my planned program of attack. “Both I guess. But astronomy’s the new interest. I saw a program on TV about it last night. Piqued my interest, I guess.”
He tapped my book with a forefinger. “Well, you picked a good reference.”
“I’ve never noticed anything about constellations in the bible before.”
“You’re kidding. They’re all over the place. Creation of the sky, the sun and the moon preside, creation’s vastness… all in Genesis. The Bethlehem Star in Numbers and Matthew. A warning against worshiping the sun and the moon in Deuteronomy, Dark stars in Job. References go on and on.”
“Wow, you know a lot about the bible.” I curled a blond tress around my forefinger. I’d seen it done on TV once, and it looked like a good “come-on.”
He laughed, revealing double rows of white teeth. “I know a lot about astronomy. Not so much about the bible, I’m afraid.”
I moved into stage two of my plan. “I’m so dumb about astrology. Everyone looks at the night sky and says there’s Orion and Aquarius and Cassiopia.”
“Cassiopeia”, he corrected. “The vain queen of Greek mythology who liked to brag about her beauty. She was the mother of Andromeda. And Andromeda’s a whole galaxy.”
“Anyway, when I look up at the stars, I just see a whole bunch, some bigger than others, some colored a little differently, but I sure don’t see shapes.”
“It takes a little imagination, I guess,” F. P. said.
“And a little instruction.”
Lo and behold—as my mother would say—he came right back and bit. “I can show you some of them.”
“Great. When?”
“I-I don’t know. Tonight? It’s supposed to be clear. Have to drive out to a place down off Highway 14 where most of the light pollution’s blocked.”
“I don’t mind a trip down Highway 14.”
He brightened. “Really? How about I pick you up around four-thirty? We want to be in place before it gets dark. Sundown will be around five-thirty, and we’ll have to do some walking to get to the top from the parking lot.”
“I guess so.” I hadn’t planned on that much of my day being devoted to star gazing. But if it got F. P. into my clutches, it was a good investment of time.
“Sure.” I told him to pick me up at my dorm and prepared to leave.
           “I’ll bring a spare flashlight,” he volunteered as I made my way through the stacks back into the main library.

*****
It seems Alice has hooked F. P. Can she reel him in and land him? Let me know what you think at dontravis21@gmail.com. Keep on reading, guys.

Don


Next post will be at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Back on the Air with a short story called “Phoebe”

On January 3, my site went off the air because Google said I failed to renew. Renew? Who knew? I received no requests or warnings, so I blundered blithely on until they pulled the plug. Getting reinstated wasn’t easy, I can tell you. I had to call on St. Larry (whom regular readers have met before) to perform his magic. It took until today, Jan 30 for him to get the reinstatement.

At any rate, I hope not too many people have given up on me and will find the site again. So here we go with another short story.

*****
PHOEBE
Phoebe… what a savage name. It rolls off the tongue and evokes images of a rad curvy Greek titan with lustrous blonde hair and sky blue eyes. One of Saturn’s moons got dubbed with that name. You know, after her. Of course, Phoebe’s also a longhorn beetle, but I don’t ever mention that.
A name shared by poets and musicians, actresses and artists, playwrights and screenwriters, Phoebe also served as the given name of the first female U. S. Marshal in America. I know. I looked it up in my Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
The Phoebe in my life wasn’t up to those standards… yet. Of course, we’re still in high school so she has some growing to do. Okay, she’s a little vanilla, but she’ll develop into her name. Then too, she’s a brunette with brown eyes, but they’re nice brown eyes. Can’t quite claim she’s voluptuous. Still, I can look down the road and picture how she’ll be… when she gets there. Yeah, my Phoebe will do just fine.
Except she’s not really my Phoebe. We’ve been buds for years. Sat beside one another in more classes than I can count. Been to the same fleekin' parties together. But not … together. I sus she thinks on me like fam. That was going to change. Today. I asked her to meet me in the park after school and snuck out of my last class a little early to swing by the drug store for two strawberry milkshakes. That’s her dime… you know, favorite.
By the time I entered the park, she already sat at a picnic table reading and scratching the back of her head. Probably chilling on a romance novel. Bad. Nobody around.
Phoebe closed the book, which turned out to be our geometry text, and accepted the milkshake I offered. She took a big slug before speaking. “What’s up?”
“Does something have to be up?” I dissembled. This was harder than I imagined. We’d exchanged thousands of words—maybe millions—but none like the ones I wanted to say.
She blinked. “Not every day you ask me to meet you in the park. You need help with one of your classes?” She took another deep draw on the straw.
I smiled and shook my head. My egghead Phoebe. She set the grading curve in her classes so high the jocks bleeped her. But I managed to keep up. “Nope. Acing my classes.”
She plopped the book down on the concrete table and crossed her hands on top of the text. They were kinda broad and stubby. Another sign she’d fill out when her day came. “Okay, what?” she asked.
“We haven’t collected any down time together lately.”
“We studied for the biology test for two hours not more’n three days ago.” She raised her hands and slapped them back down on the book. “And we test quizzed one another on geometry yesterday. What else do you want?”
“Well. You know, some personal time.”
“Personal time? Since when do we need personal time, Boris Whiznant?” She stopped talking, and I endured a piercing stare from those brown orbs. “Are you getting funny ideas?”
I slipped off the table where I’d been perched and took the bench opposite her. “Funny ideas?”
“We’ve known each other since the fifth grade. We’re buddies. Pals. Study freaks. You gonna mess that all up?”
“H-how?” I stammered.
“OMG, you are! By getting mushy, that’s how.”
“I don’t want to be pals. Buddies. I want—” I had to stop and gulp air “—to go out with you.”
“Go out with me?” Her big mouth dropped open. I thought for a minute she was going to kek. “You mean like hashtag BF, GF?”
I reared back and said it like a man. “Yeah, exactly like that. I want you to be my girlfriend.”
I could have taken it if she had keked—you know laughed aloud. Instead, she threw dark shade at me like I was something gross lying on the table, got to her feet, and collected her textbook, pausing long enough to slurp down the rest of the shake. “I can’t even.”
“How come, Phoebe? Lay it one me.”
She shrugged her wide shoulders, another reason why she’d be—
“How do you chill with someone named Boris? Boris for crying out loud. You can’t make a cute pet handle out of Boris. You can call John, Johnny. Tim, Timmie. But Borie is boring. Borisee sounds like a German lake. Can’t shorten it. Bor is a wild pig. Can’t use the second syllable, either. Is is a part of the verb ‘to be.’ And Isie? Yuk!” She made a rude sound through her nose. “I just can’t.” She edged out from between the concrete bench and table, finished the dregs of her milkshake, and walked away.
I stood and yelled after her. “You can’t go out with me because of my name? Because of my name?”
I plopped back down on the hard concrete and rested my head in my hands. Unbelievable. Just because of my name. How shallow can you get?

*****
Hope you recognize some of the current teen slang. It almost left me behind… and I wrote it! At any rate, let me know what you think at dontravis21@gmail.com.

Keep on reading, guys. I always look forward to hearing from you.

See you next week.

Don


Next post will be at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, putting us back on schedule.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

PI Clients Are Not Always Pleasant (A reprint)


 I chose to reprint the following from near the beginning of Chapter 1 of THE BISTI BUSINESS for this week’s post because DSP Publications will be releasing this book before long.

In the scene, BJ is working late one evening when he receives a phone call from an individual looking for his son who—together with his traveling companion Dana Norville—is overdue from a vacation trip to the great state of New Mexico. The passage makes plain that confidential investigators occasionally end up dealing with clients they don’t personally like and, just as in any other profession, come face to face with bigotry on occasions. It also points out that PIs generally prefer to deal with attorneys as clients because lawyers realize what the rest of us do not. PI’s are information gatherers, not detectives who go around solving crimes… except in fiction… such as in THE BISTI BUSINESS, for example. The scene also allows me to highlight some New Mexico history. Enjoy.

*****
Cover by Mary Fanning
THE BISTI BUSINESS

“How about Norville?”
“That bastard’s a dyed-in-the-wool pansy, and he’s contaminating my son.”
I bit my tongue at the sophomoric outburst. “For your information, Mr. Alfano, I’m pretty ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ myself. I think you need to call someone else.”
“Now wait a minute.” Anthony Alfano obviously was not accustomed to getting the brush-off. “I know all about you. And except for that—nonsense—you’ve got a good reputation. You can move in both the straight world and the gay world. You’re the one I want. Find my son, Vinson, and send him home to his mother and me.”
“It’s Mr. Vinson.” Might as well set the bigoted SOB straight right at the beginning.
“All right, Mr. Vinson, score one for you. Are you sure you’re gay? You don’t sound it.”
“Does your son?”
“No, but—”
“But in your dreams he’s not twisted, right? How about Norville? Am I looking for a flaming queen?”
“Of course, not. Lando wouldn’t hang out with someone like that. No, I’ve got to admit, looking at Dana Norville, you wouldn’t suspect.”
“Then how can you be certain?”
“I did a quick background check on Norville when the two of them started bumming around together, and the guy was clean. But when they…uh, got close, I took another look and found the man Norville had been shacking up with before he latched onto my son.”
“Very well, Mr. Alfano, I’ll look into the matter. I’ll do it for Orlando and Dana, but you’re going to be footing the bills.”
He promised to have his secretary in California call Hazel tomorrow with the credit card information for my retainer and to provide anything else we requested. I asked him to email color photos of the two men. If they were as close as he believed, there would be a few around somewhere. He also gave me his son’s cell and pager numbers.
After hanging up, I tapped my desk blotter with a gold and onyx letter opener fashioned into a miniature Toledo blade. I sighed aloud. The Alfano case had all the hallmarks of developing into a nightmare. Working for attorneys was easier; they understood the process. Private individuals had a warped idea of what a PI did, which was nothing more or less than gathering information. But I was committed, so I might as well make the best of it.
I returned to the visual meditation of the landscape outside my window. As nature’s glow dimmed, man-made lights came alive: amber lampposts, white fluorescents, flamboyant neons, yellow vehicle headlights reflecting off wet pavement, and far in the distance a tiny spot moving slowly across the sky—one of the aerial trams hauling patrons up Sandia Peak’s rugged western escarpment to the restaurant atop the mountain.
By leaning forward, I caught the faint, rosy underbelly of a western cloudbank, the lingering legacy of a dead sunset. Was that what had drawn Orando and Dana to the Land of Enchantment? Spectacular scenery and surreal sunsets? Or was it our rich heritage of Indian and Hispanic art? The two were history majors, and Albuquerque had a long history. It was approaching its 300th birthday, while Santa Fe and many of the nearby Indian Pueblos had longer lifelines.

*****

The Zozobra Incident was released by DSP this past November. Bisti, along with The City of Rocks will be published in 2017. The novels feature the adventures of BJ Vinson and his partner, Paul Barton.

Keep on reading, guys. I always look forward to hearing from you at dontravis21@gmail.com.

See you next week.

Don

New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A CHRISTMAS GIFT

I seem to be favoring short fiction nowadays, so will continue the trend. Hope you get some pleasure out of my Christmas gift to you.
*****
Courtesy of
www.freeimages.com
A CHRISTMAS GIFT
The sound of a laboring engine drew Mitch Hills to the front porch of his log cabin. You could hear a motor a mile off in this high New Mexico mountain valley. Unusual to catch one on a Christmas morning at the tail end of the fiercest snowstorm they’d had in the last ten winters. Wasn’t anybody up in this country this time of year. Most of the six cabins spread out over twenty square miles were owned by summer folk. Lived down in Albuquerque or Santa Fe or Las Cruces most of the year. He and Hank Gillis were the only ones to winter over. Mitch’d get the snowmobile from the outbuilding before the new year rolled around and go have a drink with the old son of a bitch. They always visited at least a couple of times before the weather broke and the pantywaists came drifting back in.
Truth be known, he liked it that way. Didn’t miss having folks to talk to. Except for today. He missed company at Christmas time. Didn’t know why this day was different, but it was. All his people were gone now. His wife Chrissy lost to cancer nearly eight years back. His boy, William, went over to the Gulf War and came back in a box. Rested over in Santa Fe at the National Cemetery now. Brother gone. Sisters both dead. A couple of nephews and nieces he’d never met and didn’t care to. Neighbors were all there was, and now they’d headed for lower ground.
The vehicle was close now, working its way through an unplowed, snow-clogged road on the high side of a copse of pine and spruce sheltering the rear of his cabin. The front opened out onto a meadow broken by a year-round creek that would rise until it almost reached his front porch when the spring runoff came. The driver of that car wouldn’t even see his rooftop as he passed. Of course, unless he was snow-blind, he’d catch sight of the fireplace smoke.
The engine quit pulling so hard as the car slowed on the approach to Mitch’s turnoff. Sure enough, he heard the squish of tires as they turned right and angled down the hill on virgin snow. Hands in his parka’s pockets, Mitch drew in the crisp, clear mountain air as he watched a Jeep Wagoneer make its slow way down the road and turn into his place. It came to a stop near the foot of his steps and disgorged a young man. After the car door banged shut, the world was totally silent for a moment as Mitch regarded the stranger. Oh well, it was somebody to talk to, wasn’t it?
“Come on in and have a cup of coffee,” he called.
“That would be welcome,” the man answered in lightly accented tones as he approached with hand outstretched.
Mitch noted the firm grip and a touch of foreign features on a handsome countenance. Dark hair, burnt chocolate eyes, a brownish cast to the skin that didn’t come from a sun tan. Good, strong teeth in a broad smile. Probably somewhere around twenty-three… -four.
“Thank you for your hospitality,” the stranger said. “Something warm would be appreciated.”
“Coffee’s as hot as you can stand it. Go on inside.” Mitch held the screen door open. “My name’s Mitch Hills.”
“I am Will Salah. At least, my mum and most of my friends call me Will.”
Mitch poured two mugs and indicated cream and sugar on the table. The stranger waved them away. Good. This Will fellow took his coffee like a man. Mitch led the way to two easy chairs in the sitting area of the open space that served as kitchen, dining, and front room. Because of the overcast, the light from the big window was muted, but it was comfortable without the need for a lamp. Flames dancing in the fireplace turned the room rosy.
Mitch was hit by the thought it was almost like having William… his William sitting opposite him. A shudder of sadness wracked him momentarily. He shook it off with a sip of the hot, bitter coffee. “What you doing up in the mountains in the middle of a snowstorm?”
“It seems to have quit now,” came the answer.
“It was still going when you set out, I’ll bet.
“Shortcutting between Cuba and Los Alamos.” It almost sounded like a question, not an answer.
“Not in this weather, you won’t. Few miles down the road you drop into Wild Onion Canyon, and the road down that grade’s hair-raising when it’s dry and dusty. You try it in this weather, and you’ll take the short way down.”
“I think that’s what Mr. Gillis was trying to tell me when I stopped at his place. He told me you could give me a better reading of the situation.”
“Well, that’s my reading. Turn around and go back to Cuba.”
“Thank you. That sounds like good advice.”
His heart skittering at the thought he might chase off the opportunity for some decent conversation, Mitch added. “Can probably scare up a meal to reinforce that coffee before you take off.”
“Kind of you, sir. I haven’t eaten since this morning, so a meal would be welcome.”
“Have some good venison stew on the stove. Let me heat it up. Warmed over cornbread and a hunk of sweet onion will probably make it passable.”
Once that was underway, a rich, inviting aroma flooded the room. Mitch sat back down. “There’s some Salahs that own a ranch up north. You from that bunch?”
“No, sir,” the young man said, his head held at a familiar tilt.
The eye doctor used to say a little bit of astigmatism caused his son to hold his head that way. Mich swallowed hard to drive away gathering ghosts. That could be William sitting over there in the gloom. Same six-foot frame. Weight about the same. One sixty… one seventy.
“Where you from?”
“Originally from Kuwait. I have been at university in Chicago for the past two years.”
Flutters hit Mitch’s stomach. “K-Kuwait? That’s where my son died. He was named William, too. He….” Mitch paused to take in a breath. “He was over in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Killed in a scud attack on February 25, 1991.”
“Yes, in the attack on the 14th Quartermaster Detachment’s barracks at Dhahran in Saudi Arabia.”
Mitch gasped. “How did you know?”
“My mother Mariam was living there at the time. My family had been exiled from Kuwait by the Iraqi invasion.”
“M-Miriam? My son wrote me about a woman by that name. A young woman from Kuwait City.”
“I am not here by accident, Mr. Hills.” The young man set his coffee mug on a table beside him in such a familiar gesture that Mitch’s heart stuttered. “I am that same Miriam’s son.”
Mitch closed his eyes and managed to speak despite the hope clogging his throat. “And your father?”
“My father was your son. Your William. I am your grandson.”
Mitch lifted his lids and drank in the evidence his eyes provided. His son sat there. Except it was the seed of his son. Almost afraid to speak lest he somehow fracture this precious Christmas gift, he simply whispered.
“Welcome home, son.”

*****

It’s hard to imagine that happening, but I suspect it occurs more often than we realize. I can just see Will arriving in Albuquerque with nothing but a name and address and finding that his grandfather no longer lives at that address. A neighbor who knew the old man starts him on a journey to unfamiliar mountains in the middle of a snowstorm. The only other man who remains in his cabin over the winter steers the young man in the right direction, and Will at long last faces his blood kin.

In a personal note, let me say my younger son served in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Desert Farewell. He came back a changed man. He helped dig out the 40 or so fellow soldiers killed and 100 injured in that scud attack on the barracks in Dhahran.

Please feel free to contact me at dontravis21@gmail.com. As usual, thanks for being readers.

New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

JUST A LITTLE TOO PERFECT

Despite knowing that “perfect” is an absolute and not subject to degrees, I couldn’t resist the title. So forgive me. Hope you enjoy the little fable I concocted.
*****
JUST A LITTLE TOO PERFECT
What time was it!
I sat up and glanced at the clock on Luann’s bedside table. One fifty-five in the morning. Good Lord! I’d fallen asleep after she wore me out around midnight. What the hell would I tell my wife?
While scrambling around in the dark trying to separate my duds from Luann’s, I fabricated my yarn. I’d been at a bar. The Stoop. With two of my associates. Bart. Yeah, Bart was a barfly. And Christopher was a hanger-on.
I rushed into the kitchenette for a swig of bourbon to put alcohol on my breath before racing to my Lexus parked on a nearby street. My tires burned rubber on the way home, as I delicately balanced the need for speed with the need to avoid getting a ticket.
On the approach to the broad drive of my North Valley home, the perfect symmetry of the brick and stone edifice struck me anew. A perfect home. A perfect job. A perfect wife. A perfect life. Except something was off about it.
My accounting firm brought in someone from the outside to take over management when my boss retired rather than give the position to me. This perfect home suffered from aging plumbing and a structural fracture in two of the trusses supporting a heavy clay tile roof.
Helen, the beautiful, educated, cultured woman I married, was very good in dealing with people. A perfect mate for my profession. But all that beauty hid sharp talons capable of ripping the psyche as well as the flesh.
I entered the house through the garage to find Helen in a recliner reader absorbed in a New Mexico family saga novel called The Eagle’s Claw by local author Donald T. Morgan.
“Good book?” I asked, catching a whiff of the rosewater she usually wore.
“It holds my interest." She arched an eyebrow. "Aren’t we getting home a little late? Without even a telephone call.”
“Met some of the guys at The Stoop.” I spun my tale of lies, submitted to the inevitable questions, and considered myself lucky. Until I turned to walk away.
“What’s that caught in your belt?” Her voice hardened a little more with each deliberate word.
A chill ran down my back. With no idea what she was talking about, I stood glued to the carpet until she bounded out of the chair and snatched something that came free with a tug of my shorts. A pair of Luann’s pink, delicately laced panties. Oh, Lord! So much for carefully separating my clothing from hers.


Needless to say, my life was not so perfect any longer. Banished from the house, I now lived in a motel room. News of my marital problems spread after Helen’s divorce attorney interviewed Bart and Christopher about our non-existent night on the town. My problems affected my work. I’d be immersed in a client’s tax problem and find myself distracted by what had been my perfect life… before Pantygate.
After my new boss gave me a veiled warning about shaping up or shipping out, I woke to the fact that I might end up with nothing of that life left. Any divorce court in the land would award Helen the house and half my assets—there went the perfect house and the perfect wife. With my job in jeopardy, the rest of it could vanish, as well.
Frightened, I undertook a search for salvation—financial, not spiritual. Although I could probably use some of that, as well. I didn’t realize how desperate I was until I remembered Nick Shazinski.
We’d gone to school together back in the day but didn’t pal around. From the wrong side of town, Nick ran with a rough crowd. The local cops knew him well... even before we graduated. But we’d always gotten along in an arm’s-length sort of way.
I’d lost touch with him, but we reconnected one day in the office of a client named J. Butterfield Thomas, known to be the local mob’s preeminent attorney. My old friend did some of the lawyer's investigative work. Nick and I went to lunch a couple of times, and I even had him over to the house, mostly to see how my socially conscious wife would react. But Nick cleaned up well, and Helen seemed drawn to his rough side
I’d heard enough stories to suspect Nick might be the solution to my problem. So I put in a call to my old buddy to let him know I had a problem.
“I heard. You wanna talk it over?”
“Yes, but in private,” I said.
“My place or Butter’s office?”
“Somewhere we won’t be noticed. By anyone.”
“Oh ho. I get your drift. It’s that serious, huh?”
Uncomfortable over saying too much over the phone, I simply agreed.


An hour later, I nosed my Lexus into a big deserted warehouse on Commercial SE. Nick had chosen well. It didn’t appear anyone visited the premises often. As I got out of the car, Nick walked out of what had been the office when this was a functioning business.
“Thanks for meeting me.” I licked my lips and tasted fear. Could I go through with this?
“Problems, huh?”
“Big time. Ones that call for desperate measures.” I moved away to avoid looking at him as I spoke the fateful words. “I want to hire you. I brought $5,000 as a down payment.”
“Sorry, pal. But I already got a job. But thanks for the five grand bonus.”
My back prickling, my heart somewhere below my belly, I turned to find him screwing something long and chilling onto the end of a wicked-looking handgun.

*****

No-name wasn’t a very good individual, was he? Of course, Helen was likely cut from the same cloth. Hope you got a kick out of this one. Feel free to contact me at dontravis21@gmail.com. As usual, thanks for being readers.


New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.