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              It was a blustery weekend in Muskrat Flats. The wind was conducting a symphony as the poplars bordering the vineyard...

Friday, December 24, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude.

Attitude of Gratitude - That's what the bumper sticker said. It must have been twenty or more years ago when I first saw that sticker affixed to someone's vehicle. More than likely I was otherwise occupied. I was probably fretting about the commute from Amherst to Springfield and covering that distance without running into the Po Po, the Five-O, the Pigs, the Man or whatever libelous slur one can affix to describe my nemesis at the time. I was carrying precious cargo and needed to get back home unfettered so I could weigh and repackage the product, and quickly distribute it so I could sit down and enjoy my cut of the contraband in the peace and serenity of my living room, without having to look over my shoulder, with no one pointing their finger at me or judging me. Well ... there was one person who was doing that, my loving wife who finally decided enough was enough and cut me loose years later. She was no Saint in the relationship, that is for sure. But then again neither was I.

It is surprising that I noticed the bumper sticker at all, never mind what it said, considering the vast and extensive check list which was undoubtedly running through my head, at the time. The paranoid, and drug fueled fears, coupled with the very REAL fear of getting caught. Being the addict that I eventually found out that I was, my desire to use superseded any rational and lawful behavior that I was expected to exhibit, especially when it came to dealing with the ways and means and lengths I engaged in to do so. It would be years before the progression would set in and bring me to my knees.

This progression is a simple mathematical formula to which you must insert your own variables, because no two equations are the same. This formula is, however, very simple. - If you are an Addict/Alcoholic and you continue to use, things will eventually get worse.

If you are lucky you will not die. If you are lucky, you may end up in jail. If you are lucky you may end up institutionalized in a rehab, a detox, a long term residential program or a half way house. If you are very lucky you will end up in the rooms of 12-Step fellowship when someone just like you with a little more experience than you when it comes to staying clean and sober will take you under their wing and teach you a new way to live. Just like someone had taught them, and you will teach someone else one day. But you have to want it and you have to ask for help. There is actually a little bit of work involved.

If you are the luckiest person on the planet, you can just stop drinking and drugging one day, live your life to the fullest and actually come out on the other end a reasonably healthy and well adjusted individual. That doesn't happen to very many people. I personally know of two. More power to them.

It is in these rooms of recovery that I began to understand what an attitude of gratitude is and what that bumper sticker I had read so many years ago truly means.

Today I am grateful. I have had a few bumpy months with a lot of ups and some downs, recently, but I remain grateful.

As 2010 rapidly comes to a close I have begun to reflect on the year and what my experiences have been. I was going through some personal stuff a few days ago, I have been burning the candle at both ends and my meeting attendance has been down. Although I'm still involved and keeping centered in my recovery. Old behaviors still emerge. Fortunately today I have some tools to combat such dreadful times when my diseased brain starts telling me doing such and such with so and so, might be a good idea. One of those tools is calling my sponsor who suggested I write a gratitude list. So I did just that.

I am grateful to be alive. It can't get much simpler than that. There were times where my using put me very close to death on a regular basis. Though overdoses, blackouts while driving, nodding out while driving, walking into strange buildings in the middle of the night because, someone told me Pito on the second floor has got some good shit. I am amazed I didn't meet an early demise.

I am grateful for my loving family who stood by me no matter what, one of the grateful attitudes I strive to demonstrate every day. I will not pick up no matter what.

I am grateful for an ex-wife who understands and supports my struggle and is a good mother to my daughter.

I am grateful for my daughter who is funny, gregarious, talented, emphatic, honest, loyal and a damn good song writer. I hope she sticks with music. She has a natural talent people practice for years to discover.

I am grateful for my experiences on the road with the Grateful Dead and Phish and all of the other live music I have had the honor to have witnessed. It was during these experiences that I learned to self medicate taking recreational drug use to the new level of "lifestyle choice." A lifestyle I had to experience to take me to the next level of my addiction.

I am grateful for the writers I have read extensively over the course of the years. Writers like Hemingway, William Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey, Stephen King and Charles Bukowski. Writers who painted a romantic picture of drug use, drunks, junkies and hustlers. They painted a panoramic landscape where their shortfalls and hindrances were fodder for their craft. They described idyllic bohemian spaces where they could hide in the shadows where they could do their thing artistically fueled by the liquids, pills and powders and crystals which enabled them to repeatedly leave it all on the field before they had the opportunity to come back and do it again. Some had better results than others. Hemingway and Hunter Thomson took the easy way out ... if putting a gun in your mouth can be considered - easy.

The erroneous notions I concocted regarding the relationship between drugs and art and how drugs facilitate the artistic process were validated as I devoured the works of these guys. Delusional adoration of these writers allowed me to spiral downward as quickly I did when stronger and more addictive drugs became part of my daily regimen. Their well documented exploits gave me the license to do what I did and increased the rate at which my disease progressed causing me to find the desperation and willingness to change my life.

I am grateful for the gifts I have been given. My artistic abilities come natural to me. Through art and music and writing, I have been able to express myself in ways that I had never imagined.

Through the flame working, I have found a niche through the Continuum Memorial Glass series. This series involves me putting cremated remains into art glass marbles and pendants. I am making permanent heirloom quality pieces of art with which you can memorialize and celebrate the lives your loved ones. It wasn't until a few days ago when I had the opportunity to make one of these pieces with the ashes of someone I actually knew who died the previous week. I got incredibly emotional during the process. It hit me as to how very special it is having the opportunity ability and willingness to do what I am doing. How my work can affect the family members who are left behind. This truly is a gift. With perseverance, and a little marketing, art and music could easily turn into that one way ticket out of the production kitchen which I have been looking for. The funny thing is, I kind of fell into it when a friend of mine had the most odd request for his brother's ashes. Without advertising and through word of mouth, it is starting to happen. 2011 will be the year to see what will happen if I do advertise and market these gifts.

I am grateful for all of the people I have met along the way who have helped me in my recovery.

I am grateful in so many different ways that I could go on much longer. But it is Christmas Eve, I worked a very long day already making way too much food for way too many people. It is time that I wrap this up so I can go and enjoy some time with my family.

2010 was a very interesting year indeed. I found out a lot about myself. I found out a few things that I do want. I found out that I am really a lot more driven than I had previously thought. My entrepreneurial spirit, although dormant if not suppressed for a few years is bubbling back to the surface. I am aching to climb to the top of the highest mountain and shout to the world that I am ready and I am willing. I want to sing with all my heart and no fear. I want to tell the world I am the person you have been looking for all of your life. I will make a difference. I will follow through. I will be everything I ever wanted to be. There is nothing stopping me.

With all my love, hope in my heart and an attitude of gratitude, I find myself once again ...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats.

Merry Christmas.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sitting Here In Limbo, Waiting for the Dice To Roll Part II ...The Reality TV Version

It has been a very busy summer in Muskrat Flats. So busy, that I am chagrined to see that I have not posted any thing since Valentine's day.

It has been a while since I have been to Muskrat Flats, so long that the Town Meeting decided to re-route traffic to the downtown area to encourage more shopping and pedestrian traffic along Petersen Street. One would think that a benevolent organization such as the Odd Fellows would have more pull with the Town Meeting folk, and yes there was some resistance, but the 90 day trial run of having Petersen Street run one way in a westerly direction beginning at the intersection of McKernan Street is in effect.

This means that the club members are now forced to drive an extra couple of blocks to catch Petersen at Firglade, in order to turn left into their parking lot where in the past they simply had to turn right at the intersection. Minor details. Some members actually support the change.

Moe Eckstein and Sid Bartleby however - not so much. They had a nice session kvetching about the change. They do hold the principles of Friendship Love and Truth near and dear to their hearts, but let's face it, they are old and need something to bitch about and this time it was finding resistance to their proposition that a "curb cut" be allowed on McKernan Street to allow for direct access to the Odd Fellow's parking lot. For some reason, these days it is easier to get a liquor license in Muskrat Flats than it is to get the Town Meeting and the DPW to agree to a new curb cut.

Moe and Sid sat at their usual table under the gilded framed portrait of Sheriff Hawthorne. Moe was eyeballing the Jack-a-lope which had recently been returned to them by the taxidermist.

Moe really didn't like the taxidermy guy. He felt bad for this guy's neighbors. His front lawn was decorated as if it were a summer rental cottage at Cape Cod, rife with seashore kitsch. His lawn - wasn't even a lawn. It was littered with driftwood, mounted fish and wooden lobster pots, much more of an eyesore than appropriate lawn ornaments, in Moe's opinion.

The landscape was void of any greenery other than a few scrub bushes, perhaps they were ill looking arborvitaes which had od'd on the calcium from the sun bleached broken oyster shells lining his walkway and scattered through out the yard.

The inside of the house was equally creepy. The interior very much resembled the motif of the front yard. Displayed prominently in a glass hutch were scrimshaw etched walrus tusks and whale's teeth. The walls were adorned with muzzle loading pistols, more mounted fish and dusty paint by numbers quality portraits of canvas masted tall ships perched atop white capped waves in a turbulent blackened ocean set below a foreboding gray and stormy sky. The house was a very dark and morbid place. All except for the living room.

There, Moe walked into an equally alarming display of multicolored pastel miniature ceramic kittens. There were thousands of them in various poses displayed on lemon oil polished furniture lined with lace doilies from Brugge, in Belgium. The kittens were on the mantle piece, window frames, inside shadow boxes. They adorned any flat surface in the room.

The entire time Moe was dealing with Sam the Taxidermy Man, his wife, Mimi, the curator of the manic ceramic kitten circus, was fixated on the computer screen, seemingly in a bidding war for more feline figurines on eBay. Moe thought he heard a muffled curse escape from her lips as she was outbid in one auction she was following.

He couldn't get out of that place soon enough. Standing in the house, he felt his spirit begin to decay and atrophy. Moe was startled as Mimi actually spoke to him as he was leaving. Without peeling her eyes away from the screen, she spoke, handing Moe a sheet of paper the printer had just spit out.

"Jack-a-lopes are a dime a dozen on eBay, cheaper than he's charging you ..."

"Jesus, MIMI!!" Sam barked.

Moe became invisible as they began to banter back and forth. He deftly slunk out of the house hearing the ensuing ruckus fade away as he made his way to the car and escaped, thinking to himself,

"I can't even imagine what the fuck they have tied up in their basement. But I'm sure it's something and it ain't right."

As Moe and Sid sat under the painting of Sheriff Hawthorne, Gomer- Moe's son, was whooping it up a few tables away with the kitchen workers Paulie and Donnie. They were watching the video of the botched re-enactment of Sheriff Hawthorne's hanging. Gomer was playing the part of Sheriff Hawthorne at the Silver Days celebration a few years ago, when the Hanging went horribly wrong. It didn't go as wrong as it could have considering he was still sitting here in the warmth of the wood paneled banquet room at the Odd Fellows Hall.

Another nonsensical conversation started to brew between Paulie and Donnie. This conversation would end up taking all day if not weeks or months. Gomer wondered who was going to throw the monkey wrench into the giddy repartee which would launch this conversation to the level of being revisited time and time again?

"What do you call those guys ... the one's in Tibet that guide you up the mountain?" Donnie asked.

"Are you talking about Sherpas?" Paul responded.

"Yeah, that's it, like in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those dudes are bad ass! Imagine doing that every day? It so dangerous."

"There are more dangerous things out there," Paulie shot back. Gomer began to grin, he could feel it coming.

"What do you think is a more dangerous sport than Mountain climbing in Tibet?" Donnie asked.

Paulie stroked his goatee for a moment and replied,

"How about swimming from Florida to Cuba?" Gomer laughed.

"Who the fuck would want to swim from Florida to Cuba? Don't you mean the other way around, Cuba to Florida?"

"Whatever ... it's still dangerous." Paulie asserted.

"How is it more dangerous than climbing say, Mount Everest?"

"Well, you could drown ..."

"You could fall off the Mountain ..." Donnie shot back.

"You could get a really bad sunburn ... "

"You could freeze to death!"

"You get get stung by a bunch of jelly fish or eaten by a shark..." Paulie replied.

Donnie had that look in his eye,

"You could get sodomized by a Yeti!"

What!? You fucking moron, who gets sodomized by a Yeti?! Nobody!"

"How do you know? You could. You don't see very many Yeti which probably means there aren't very many female yeti for procreation purposes.."

"First of all, animals mate, God fearing humans procreate. There aren't any fucking yetis that are going to sodomize you."

"Yeti ... It is pluralized Yeti." Donnie continued, "Well, like I just said there probably aren't very many female YETI so the male Yeti are probably really horny, looking for nice warm young white boy like you ..."

Gomer was beside himself. All of the sudden he heard Sid shout out for them to take it in the kitchen. They left Gomer at his table as they were bickering and slapping at each other on their way to the kitchen. On they way Donnie dropped his apron and bent over to pick it up. When he did, Paul reached between his legs, grabbed his balls, and in a cartoon voice said,

"YETI" Donnie shrieked and began laughing, he said,

"I can't believe you did that, you fucking homo ..." And they disappeared into the back.

Gomer just sat there, staring at his computer screen, shaking his head. His phone chimed, he looked at the screen.

"Miranda Klein Text"

He slid his thumb across the screen to open the message. It was a picture taken in a slightly fogged bathroom mirror of Miranda nude. Gomer smiled and read the text.

"in SF It is 56 degrees and Foggy. I steamed up the mirror just thinking about you, lover."

Gomer giggled. Nobody noticed ... but it was a text giggle, nonetheless. He was so lucky to be experiencing one of life's simplest pleasures ... That feeling - knowing that somewhere out there, someone cares enough about you to let you know they are thinking about you.

A new way of communicating, and flirting, and falling in love.

He had felt the same way in the past without the modern technology. Just passing notes in school, or opening a love letter in College. He started to answer the text thinking about how very lucky he is.

He remembered how he felt that day after Valentine's Day, when Miranda met him in Mountain View. Her electrifying kisses, the warmth of her touch. The pressure of her hand holding his. He longed for her touch right now. But it didn't matter. she was thinking about him.

He hit the send button on the glowing screen of his iPhone.

Somewhere in San Francisco, in the bathroom of a renovated three floor Victorian house somewhere between Mission and Guerrero, a cell phone chimed -

followed by a giggle.


This one didn't turn out the way I had thought or intended. Sometimes I think my writing, and by that I mean my style and how it flows out of my mind is more of a curse than a gift. It is a gift I will continue to accept, because sometimes you and by you I really mean me, just don't know how things are going to turn out - especially when you (see above) are absolutely sure they will turn out in your favor. Still not a good enough reason to be ...

Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.

Go in Peace!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sitting Here In Limbo, Waiting For The Dice To Roll

It has been a very quiet week in Muskrat Flats. The usual mayhem we have grown accustomed to experiencing as we interact with folks from the Flats seemed to be on hiatus for the week. Some of that probably has to do with the fact that Gomer had been out of town most of the week and had not been present to either instigate or fuel one of the loud and public dramas for which he and his father have become famous.

Perhaps it had something to do with Valentine's Day. Sveltie and her crew at the Muskrat Flats Farm and Agricultural Museum Greenhouse had their hands full. The first weeks of February are always hectic for her. This is a good thing. Sveltie, AKA Mrs. Jenny Smith, wife of the museum director, Jerry, are the two workhorses that keep the Muskrat Flats Farm and Agricultural Museum in the black with their selfless service to keeping the raw frontier energy which fueled the development and growth of Muskrat Flats, in the first place.

It often seems, sometimes, that they inherited the energy demonstrated by the town's founder and first Sheriff, Samuel Coleman Hawthorne III. They are still influenced by Hawthorne's energy, sometimes even directly, which they both discovered, as the notorious prankster proved to them just about this time last year when one of his diaries surfaced and ended up in their hands.

Even though Sveltie was in the planning stages for the upcoming semesters for her Vintner Program, it was crunch time as far as getting together all of the orders and smoothly delivering all of the holiday flower orders to the lucky Valentines out there in Muskrat Flats.

Her assistant Gina had even recruited her boyfriend, Kurt out of the Blacksmith shop to help out as she tapped his organizational skills putting him in charge of setting up the staging area for the distribution, where he made sure all of the invoices and manifests meshed with the orders.

Kurt even had a hand in the production of the bouquets. Sveltie wondered if it was a good idea to have the two of them working together. It was hard enough to keep the two separated when Gina was working in the office and he was in the Smithy shop. But they did a fantastic job keeping it professional all except for one instance where she caught Gina copping a feel in the walk in refrigerator amongst the hundreds of multicolored roses, ferns and baby's breath.

Sveltie just mockingly suggested they get a room. But what could she really say to them as she began to really take an honest look at her own libido and the trouble it had gotten her into in the last few years? Even when she was "supposed to be working."

You see, Gomer wasn't the only person with whom she had dallied with outside of the relationship with her husband Jerry. She had her fun at some conferences as well. She had been a faithful doting wife for years until she first found out about one of her husband's drunken sexscapades.

It all began right in front of her one night. they were in a crowd of people at a concert. It wasn't entirely clear that they were together as a couple because they arrived separately. He had already been pretty tipsy when she arrived and was paying some attention to another woman, in the group, whom she did not know.

As he got drunker and drunker, he paid more attention to her until he made a move which which was reciprocated. Sveltie was pissed. He assured her the next day that nothing further was going to happen between them and he would not see her again.

Less than a week later, she knew that he had broken his promise as he began to avoid eye contact, and began acting differently toward her and stayed out drinking. She caught up with him on the way out of the house on a Saturday morning. He confessed to not only that conquest but to a couple of others as well. She listened, she cried, she told him that she would have to think about what he had told her.

She knew it was wrong the wrong decision, but she agreed to stick with him, she agreed that they were better off as a couple. However, she decided that she was not going to deprive herself of the experiences she so desired, but was giving up for a "selfish drunk,"
and proposed the addle pated don't ask don't tell policy when it came to such matters.

Looking back at her decision at the time, she had some regrets. Things seemed to be getting better between her and her husband, for a while, but she occasionally had that itch, that inexplicable desire to act out and seek love and comfort elsewhere. She regretted getting back together with Gomer, because she had begun to fall in love with him. She also suspected that Gomer's rekindling their romance from years ago, was responsible for his breaking up with Miranda or should it be said, her breaking up with him?

Yes there were tough times. But as of late, the last 3 months or so, Jerry had been living sober, he struggled with it, but he was giving it his best effort. Sveltie was lost in thought, when she heard someone clearing his throat.

Standing behind her was her husband, holding the huge bouquet that Gina had been working on for the last 45 minutes, trying to get it just right. After all she knew how special this one had to be.

Jerry stood there in his white suit, an unlit cigar in his mouth, complete with a broad rimmed hat and Sheriff Hawthorne's 1870 Smith and Wesson Model 3 American revolver strapped to his side. He dropped a small terry cloth towel on the ground, and placed upon it, one knee.

He had been in this position before, but then he had always been begging forgiveness. This time it was different. Jerry looked over his bifocals up at his wife as he held the roses out to her. She looked down into his hazel eyes and began to feel weak in the knees. She reached out to him taking the flowers and cradling them in her right arm held out her left hand to him. He leaned in and kissed her hand. He simply said, "Be mine." She stood with tears in her eyes again a repeat of similar circumstances in the past. This time she didn't have to compromise. She stood there elated, never wanting the moment to end, as he got up and kissed her. It was like a first kiss between two teenagers. It was a kiss which was electrifying. A kiss which made both Jenny and Jerry quake with anticipation. A kiss you never think is possible from two people in a long term relationship.

It wasn't only roses and a kiss Jerry gave Sveltie on that crisp Sunday afternoon in February. He gave her only what he had to offer at the moment. He couldn't take away the pain he caused her, he couldn't remove the embarrassment. He couldn't undo the harm he had done over the years, the harm to her, his friends and most of all himself. He couldn't undo his affairs or the pain he caused her which led her to think acting out the same way was the answer to her pain.

What Jerry had given her that afternoon was the man she had fallen in love with so many years ago. He gave her a little glimpse of peace. And he never wanted to take that away from her ever again, no matter what.

Gomer sat in a small restaurant in Mountain View, California.

He had been in the place one time before when he was on tour with the band PRY in the late summer and early fall. It was called Taquiera La Bamba. Gomer had been on tour for about 5 weeks and was getting sick of the back stage offerings. He really just needed a change of scenery. So he hopped on a mountain bike and ventured out into the California landscape surrounding the amphitheater.

That afternoon, he went to the Museum of Computer History and a few blocks away found La Bamba. What really drew him into the restaurant in the first place was the exterior look of the place. It reminded him of Muskrat Flats, simple as that.

It was Valentine's Day, and Gomer's heart was heavy with anticipation. He sat at an empty table eyeballing the food his neighbor at the table to his left was relishing. It was plate of Carne Asada, with a big basket of chips and some fresh green guacamole and a pile of freshly slipped cilantro leaves. The food was swarming his senses - it looked so good. His stomach rumbled.

He had been reading his blog, he checked his email a couple of times and checked the front of his iPhone for the time. Fifteen more minutes he thought.

He was caught up reading something else on the internet when there was a commotion at the table next to him. The woman eating the Carne Asada had been joined by another woman about her age. They were both about 26 years old. The woman at the table had brunette hair, a lip ring and a small scar on her cheek. Other than the scar, she was very pretty, nicely dressed. Perhaps on a break from work.

Her recent companion on the other hand, seemed like she would have been a resident of the Iron Triangle in Muskrat Flats. She was a white girl, wearing pajama bottoms, fuzzy slippers, braless in an Ecko hoodie. She was blonde, had too many rings on her fingers and had a broken front tooth.

"Oy!" Gomer thought to himself, as he sized her up. His interest was peaked and he began to eavesdrop as he pretended to fiddle with his phone.

"Hey Sherry, what going on?" The brunette asked. "I haven't seen you in 6 months."

"Yeah, I know, I've been busy, How have you been, Donna? I saw your car so I figured I'd stop by."

"Things are good, I got a promotion a couple of weeks ago. A new office, bonus, the whole nine."

"That's great! I wish I could say the same."

"Aww that's too bad, are you working still?"

"Yeah, I like it there and the bosses are cool, but I had to cut back a bit, got too be too much, and then having to go home and deal with my kids."

"Did you know my sister moved in with me about a month ago?" Gomer listened intently. Donna began to rant.

"That little whore, I can't believe her. So, she moves in with me, All she does is sit up on the couch all day. Smoking cigarettes, which I pay for. I pay for the food, I pay for the diapers, I do everything."

"Wow, I thought you guys were tight, what happened?" Sherry asked.

"The little whore had a kid with my man ..." Gomer exhaled a limp muffled laugh.

"And you let her move in?"

"Well I had to, my mom is still on methadone, so she is useless. And can you believe she stole my son's birthday away from him. She had her little bastard on my son's birthday." She continued, without seeming to take a breath.

"We had a birthday party last week, which again I paid for, did she lift a finger to do anything for her kid? I even bought the presents, the cake, the decorations ... Everything is going fine and then my ex shows up.

He begins to start some shit with her, then they are screaming at each other, her son is crying, and then my son freaks out and starts trying to take his helmet off ..."

Gomer had to get up and go to the bathroom at that point where he laughed until he thought he would puke.

His phone chimed. He looked down at the screen, It was a text message from his Father.

"Are You There, Sonny?"

"A text message from Mr. I can't stand people who fiddle with their phones in public? :)"

"Cut the Shit look at this." Gomer waited and his phone buzzed again.

Miranda Klein Text ...

His heart began to pump a little faster. His phone buzzed again. It was his father.

He looked down at the screen and tapped a picture he had sent. It was a close up picture of Jerry and Sveltie at the Odd Fellows Hall. His phone chimed again. He opened the message...

"Where r u?" He dashed off,

"El Bano, b right out." His phone buzzed again, it was Moe.

"You see the look in their eyes? That's what I used to see in yours when your were with Miranda."

"Can't talk now, Dad." He dashed off as he washed his hands and exited the bathroom. He didn't do anything in there other than have a good laugh and use his phone, but he didn't want to come out of the bathroom and touch Miranda's hand with one which obviously had not been in recent contact with water.

He walked out into the dining room and stopped in his tracks when he saw her. He was stunned by her beauty.

She saw the expression on his face and let slip a sly little smile. She held a couple of pages of paper in her hand. Which he could see had been highlighted in numerous places.

His email. "Oh No," he thought.

She got a serious expression on her face. and walked over to him. He was going in for a hug, but she held out her hand. When she detected from the coolness of his flesh that it had recently been washed she lingered long enough for him to lean down and kiss hers.

"I got your email, Gomer. Pretty intense stuff. If you truly feel this way about me, how could you have disappeared off the face of the planet like you did?"

Gomer just stood looking at her silently. He smiled.

"I thought I explained myself pretty well in the email." She picked it up and looked at it.

Yeah, I've read it a couple of dozen times. It is much more uplifting than your blog has been lately."

"Miranda, I made a mistake. I just couldn't face you. You are so sweet. I didn't think you could understand."

"What!!?? I told you when this was happening that you should take the time to figure it out. Did I have to be any clearer than that?"

"I know, I was a jack ass. Everyone was telling me what a fool I was for not calling you back. You were so sweet to me when you came to the PRY show at Shoreline. But I felt uncomfortable. Like I had betrayed you."

His phone buzzed. Gomer looked down

Moe Eckstein Text ...

"It's my Dad. He's doing well ..."

"I know, I spoke to him yesterday - told him I was coming. and that your traveling here to make up with me was not the "fool's errand" he described." Gomer smiled and shook his head.

"Are you, going to trust me, Gomer? Are you going to let me in?"

"You're taking me back?" He asked.

"No, Gomer, I'm not taking you back ..." His heart sunk and he began to tear up.

"I can't take you back because I never let you go. I love you."

She leaned in and for another moment that day, St. Valentine sent cupid out with his quiver of arrows piercing the hearts of two estranged lovers. Allowing for another moment one of those kisses that energize you but also leave you feeling as if you are teetering on the edge of unconsciousness.

Miranda looked into Gomer's eyes and saw that look that Moe had been talking about. She hugged him like she would never let him go. Gomer promised to himself that he would never let her go.

It was business as usual at La Bamba, Gomer and Miranda's conversation had gone relatively unnoticed. They could have been any number of lovers kissing on Valentine's day, just going through the motions because that is the proper thing to do.

Not so for them and not so for Jerry and Sveltie who were dancing in the warm glow of that wood paneled room at the corner or Petersen and McKernan Streets in Muskrat Flats proper. Everybody knew their business and was elated to see the progress that Jerry and Jenny had been making.

They were the finest examples of two people demonstrating the principles of Friendship, Love and Truth that anyone could find in Muskrat Flats that evening as they swayed under the impressionist painting of Sheriff Hawthorne at the Odd Fellows Valentine's Day Dance.

Moe's phone buzzed and he looked at the screen

Sonny Boy Text ...

Moe opened the message and all he saw was


Thanks for reading and Happy Valentine's Day. Call it my fond memories or my hopes for the very near future. But life is pretty damn good as I continue ...

Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.

Oh Yeah, Mountain View ... that was a shout out. Thanks for reading whoever you are.