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

Monday, December 29, 2008

A strange and dark tale as told by Sheriff Hawthorne.

Anyone who has read any of my posts in the past, knows that I really don't hold back when I am writing. Whether is it my opinion, my ideas and thoughts on recovery issues or these little forays into Muskrat Flats - my little fictitious, Utopian James Thurber and Garrison Keillor meet Hunter Thompson and his Attorney in a Dark Alley, kind of place, I have a tendency to not hold back, just let it out.

One of my readers, contacted me and challenged me to write some Vampire erotica. It sounded interesting, challenging and fun. Vampires are all the rage these days why not. I even let them pick the name of the Vampire.

This is a ribald, graphic, erotic story. If you are offended by lesbians, vampires, kinky married couples, drunk horny opportunistic sheriffs, Odd Fellows, Blueberry muffins, cigars, carnies, displays of supernatural power, S&M, domination, voyeurism, creative erotic descriptions of bizarre bloody vampire sex ... you might not want to read beyond this point.

Okay? Got it? No nasty comments, no restraining orders, no coming to my work and throwing holy water at me. No smiling at me and looking at me like I should be locked up ... you should have made that determination long ago.

If you are reading on Myspace, follow the link to a less discriminating Website ... One that will not shut down your account for questionable pictures such as a mushroom which looks like a butt, even though they constantly have ads featuring videos of trashy little tarts in my hometown who want to "meet" me.

Here is your last Chance. If this type of literature offends you follow this link


It has been a busy week in Muskrat Flats. Once again, the kitchen at the Odd Fellows Hall is in full swing. Paul and Donnie, the dishwashers are taking care of all of the loose ends - everything from daily sanitation and upkeep to moving equipment and getting the catering supplies restocked and organized. All of this is happening under the direction of Sid Bartleby and his partner in crime who recently re-assumed his position at the top of the kitchen echelon, after a long hiatus, Moe Eckstein.

There were hundreds of pounds of blueberry muffin batter to be made for the Christmas Festival at the Farm Museum and Archive. That and gallons upon gallons of hot cider pressed from the apples grown in the Farm Museum's orchards, to be mulled and sold to the bundled up masses as they snuggle under blankets for warmth as their horse drawn sleigh rides take them through the panoramic tableaux of 19th century Muskrat Flats. The Farm Museum is decked with wreaths and swags fashioned from all sorts of conifers. These are accented with red and green bows, silver and gold. The sleigh riders will take in the wonder of carefully carved, luminaria displaying glowing snowflakes moving ever so gently in the calm winter wind as they sit on the peaks of freshly shoveled snow, lining the sleigh route.

Over at the Farm Museum’s main building, Jenny Smith, also known as Sveltlana by her husband and friends, was going through the archive room. There, in a back closet filled with file boxes, she found a dusty mess, and could not help but to tend to it, even though she had more important things to do.

There were schedules to be written, pamphlets to be printed and one of her most recent tasks, keeping her new assistant, Gina, focused and busy with all of these tasks, in addition to keeping her in the Gift Shop, when she was not stocking shelves and ringing customers and away from the Blacksmith shop where she would rather watch Kurt Bartleby further tone his muscular arms and torso. Yes, it is winter but he still finds a reason to take his shirt off when he is ensnared in production mode and Gina is around.

Sveltie was clearing out the file boxes and sweeping out the closet in the back of the old Victorian Style Rail Road Station. She finally removed most of the dust with the broom, before she attacked the remaining dust with the shop vac.

She was vacuuming a corner when something startling happened. One of the floor boards was sucked up by the vacuum cleaner exposing a shallow space hidden beneath the floor boards. She then removed the next board and found an ornate box which looked like it had to have been made with mahogany. On the top of the octagonal shaped box were the letters SCH III Esq., in mother of pearl inlay.

Sveltie gasped! A secret box? Sheriff Hawthorne’s? She called Jerry, her husband and director of the Farm Museum and Archive, telling him what she had just found. He came right over. Together they admired the workmanship of the box.

"What do you think Jerry?" She asked.

"I think we should open it, don't you want to?" Yes, she nodded with wide eyed enthusiasm.

He took the box to one of the lighted work tables. He grabbed a pair of cotton gloves and some brushes. He brushed off the outside of the box, revealing the wondrous luster of the finished wood and its rich dark parquet patterned tones.

Jerry carefully removed the documents which had remained untouched for presumably the better part of 120 years.

Ten of the documents were the eviction notices Sheriff Hawthorne had collected from the Silverstein Brothers’ land grab scheme which was foiled when Hawthorne faked his own death and left a trust, which paid off the debts of the downtrodden Flatlanders. Underneath those was some Confederate currency which was in very good shape, and a leather bound writing tablet … its leather tab sealed shut with wax. Jerry's heart began pumping. Sveltana leaned placing her hand on Jerry’s back, gently scratching and tickling him with her fingernails.

"Open it." She demanded. Jerry looked at her and quickly obliged her demand. He grabbed an exact-o knife and carefully sliced through the brittle wax seal. He slowly opened the cover. On the first page in writing Jerry immediately recognized as Hawthorne's meticulous cursive, was the title.

The Strangest Story Ever …

Jerry gazed at the writing and seemed slightly unfocused and taken aback at what he saw. He was creeped out. He began to speak to his wife,

"Sveltie, this looks like it is written in …"

"Blood!" she blurted, completing his thought.

He gazed at the odd rust colored cursive and questioned - Why would Hawthorne do such a thing, such a ghastly act? He was sure it was blood, and how he wished he had been wrong.

Jerry adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat as he prepared to read aloud. Jenny loved his voice it was so deep and sexy. He looked at her and she squinted and smiled.

Underneath the title, Hawthorne had written the word “Disclaimer.” Followed by a short explanation.

Jerry began.

“The conclusion of my days on this earth is near. I have lived a full and rich life have traveled the world. I have had many unique, interesting and soul fulfilling experiences. I have led a hedonistic life, a Bacchanal existence driven by a lip for the drink with the eyes, hands and mouth which craved the exotic. Anything which could satiate these senses was fair game and in demand - especially food, art and literature, and the comforts of a warm feminine form. I am positive I have entered this world too early, as some of my thoughts, desires and experiences far exceed what is considered the norm or even acceptable in any God fearing land.

With that said, I am about to relate a tale told to me by a young woman along with an accounting of what I actually witnessed myself.

I had met this young lass, Astrid, when I was in my 40th year. Thirty nine years later, just last week, the same young woman had come calling. She had not aged a day since she last sat in my office half a lifetime ago. It is she who provided the blood with which I have written this detailed accounting of the tale which launched a most bizarre and supernatural chain of events in Muskrat Flats, a tale which began on that warm August eve almost four decades ago.

This tale is the truth, it is dirty, it is lecherous, it is an affront to anything we hold pure and decent. It is a tale of supreme decadence and a shadow world of which I surely caught just a brief glimpse. This tale it is not intended to be read by anyone during my lifetime. I daresay that if it is read, posthumously, which It probably will be since I did such a half assed job of hiding this box, I may be deemed a heretic and my grave and good name desecrated. I fear for the very existence of Muskrat Flats if this is read, which is I why I pray that whomever finds this tablet and reads is contents, has the best interests of Muskrat Flats in their hearts. As graphic and fantastic as this tale is, I cannot go to my grave without documenting this experience.


Samuel Coleman Hawthorne III

May 29, 1899.

Jerry and Jenny looked at each other, flabbergasted.

Once again Jerry focused on the rust colored cursive adorning the page.

“In August of 1850, The carnival came to Muskrat Flats. Naturally, being the Sheriff of this town it was within my duties to make sure that the proper permits and fees and taxes are levied. As nightfall came I made my way through the carnival, a young woman caught my eye. She had exotic features, long blond hair, almost tomboyish in looks and stature, but very feminine. She was very pretty and I knew I wanted to spend some “quality” time with her.

I struck up a conversation. Her name was Astrid. She was interested in art. I told her about some of the impressionist paintings I had accumulated. She wanted to see them.

While we were talking, she introduced me to Isabella the Infamous, the carnie with whom she worked. Isabella was a fortune teller or Mystic. She had a legendary reputation for being able to see people’s secrets. Isabella went to lounge on a chair near their tent.

She kept looking in our direction as we spoke. She appeared to be about 30 years old, stunningly beautiful with short black hair, and a light caramel colored complexion. Her eyes were dark and calculating with thin precisely manicured brows. She was dressed in casual attire wearing faded denims and a tight pull over shirt which accented her slender but shapely body. As she sat in a chair about twenty feet away from us, she gazed upon us as if she could see right through me. As if I had unwillingly revealed to her the lecherous intentions I had in mind for her assistant. Isabella sat in a wicker lounge adorned with multicolored tapestries, smoking a fine cigar. Her piercing stare was unsettling.

Most of the carnies had set up in their encampment, a ramshackle traveling caravan of worn and tattered coaches and wagons. As trail wearied and weathered as they seemed, they displayed bright and colorful banners advertising the various acts, Freaks and games of chance. From what I gathered, Isabella was the Star of the show and the biggest draw. She continued to gaze upon Astrid and myself as we flirted. She spoke.

“Astrid, it is time! You and the Sheriff can discuss your artistic interests tomorrow during the day while I get my rest.”

Isabella stared straight at me again with that intense, hypnotic eye contact. She was beautiful, but I desired Astrid. I generally don’t submit easily to these whimsical infatuations but Astrid held such an allure for me. I couldn’t explain it at the time.

“Astrid, please bring my cloak and my bag to the hotel, I will catch up in a minute.”

“The hotel. Very nice accommodations, My lady. But I would expect no less from such a beautiful flower, obviously the star of the show.” Isabella held out her hand and I kissed it. Holding her hand was electric. I had never encountered such unsettling but desirable women before.”

Jerry stopped reading and looked at his wife. She nudged him,

“Keep reading … this is fascinating.” He smiled a mischievous grin as she walked over to the doorway to the office and locked it.

“Isabella just looked at me with such confidence and self assuredness. She said,

“It was my pleasure to meet you Sheriff Hawthorne. Perhaps you will enjoy dinner and drinks at the Hotel with Astrid and I before we retire for the night. It will give you two a chance to get better acquainted, before your “date” tomorrow afternoon.”

I could feel an energy I still shudder to describe. It was as if she dared me to decline her invitation. However my libido was steering the ship on this voyage. I accepted Isabella’s invitation.”

“We dined and drank in the hotel, having a pleasant and lively conversation. It was apparent why Isabella was the star of the show. She didn’t smile much but was far from serious. She had a whimsical and infectious personality.”

She announced that they would be retiring to their accommodations, and bid me farewell. I am ashamed to admit that I would engage in such acts of treachery, but I slipped into the clandestine surveillance area I had built into the hotel, and went to an observation area behind the wall of their room. “

Sveltie gasped. Jerry Laughed.

“Oh my, what a cad.” She declared.

“Are you really surprised? Based upon what we already know about the guy?”

“No, not really.” Sveltie’s breathing had increased a bit she was getting aroused. She leaned into her husband as he continued to read, grazing his arm with one of her taut, erect nipples.

“Astrid had set up numerous candles in the room. She seemed nervous. Isabella walked into my view. She was stunning. She was wearing nothing but a long black see through cape woven from the finest silk. Her erect brown nipples seemed to be teased as the fabric brushed against her skin. Her pubic area was covered with a dark finely manicured patch of dark down. She stretched and twirled. As she did so, I swear I saw flashes of light fly out of her body. She twirled again spraying the room with another splash of light, bright radiant droplets of energy as bright and exotic as the finest cut, African diamond. She swayed over to Astrid, who was now nude and bowing at Isabella’s feet. Her long, sandy blond hair obscured her head which was obviously touching the floor.

“I apologize if I insulted you, Countess Isabella. I have never met such a man, he is different.”

“Yes, he is, I can see what attracts you to him. As I have said, you can have him, during the day, when I take my rest.”

Astrid, looked up and smiled. I love you. Mistress. Thank You so, Much.”

“You still desire me, young one?”

“Yes, of course I do.”

“Then why won’t you be with me?”

Astrid, became uncomfortable. It seemed as if a cloud of darkness tarnishing their conversation had begun to dissipate but returned instantly as Isabella asked this question.

Isabella reached down stroking Astrid’s blond mane as she spoke.

“You know I can take you whenever I want. I will take you … you are already mine and you know it. But I want you to want it. I want you to want ME.” She hissed these words seductively causing a queer state of arousal like I have never experienced.

“I can feed anywhere. Yet I choose to let you live, relishing you like an appetizer. Let me make you. Be one of us.”

While she spoke Isabella’s fingers stroked and tickled Astrid’s Flesh. I noticed her nails were like talons or daggers. Astrid responded by sighing deeply as Isabella ran her seemingly razor sharp nails against her flesh.

I saw goose bumps rise on Astrid’s flesh as Isabella’s hands tickled up from her flat stomach to her sides and the round sides of her small, taught breasts.

Isabella leaned down and hissed in her ear,

“I want you to want me.”

“I do, mistress I do.” Isabella’s hands continued to roam, grazing her back, back to her breasts. Astrid began to moan and whimper as Isabella used a little more pressure with her talons on Astrid’s cream colored flesh. She reached up and placed her hand on Isabella’s thigh.

“DID I SAY YOU COULD TOUCH ME? Ask me nicely perhaps I may allow it.”

Isabella moved around with her back to me. She had an elaborate black tattoo on the small of her back right above her amazingly round derriere. I experienced a sensation of feeling cold. I was disoriented and my thoughts were scattered. Isabella was whispering into Astrid’s ear as she continued to stroke, scratch and caress. Astrid muttered something - a faint and inaudible submissive squeak. Isabella smiled and leaned in her flesh pressing into Astrid’s back as her breathy voice filled her ear.

“What’s that, my dear? Harder?”

“Yes.” Astrid whispered. Isabella bent down one more time and whispered,

“Again,” Astrid replied.

“Yes Harder! HARDER!”

I watched as Isabella drew her hands across Astrid’s chest lightly tickling, not using the force her assistant desired. Astrid whimpered. Isabella let out a resonant otherworldly laugh which chilled me to my bones. Her hand moved down Astrid’s pale, smooth stomach and cupped the golden brown region between her long muscular legs.

“If you want it harder, I’ll give it to you, only if you want me. You don’t want me, do you? You try to touch me but you don’t want me?”

She cupped Astrid’s nether region with those nails dangerously close to her delicate areas, teasing and torturing … ever so slowly and seductively. I was riveted, being forced to wipe away a trickle of drool which escaped my mouth, with the monogrammed kerchief given to me by Samuel Clemens. Then Isabella Laughed that roaring, resonant laugh again. Astrid shuddered and twitched beneath the precision touch of her mistress. Wherever her hand traced a trail of excited pimpled flesh appeared.

“What do you think, Hawthorne would think if he saw you kneeling in front of me, begging?”

As she said this, Isabella turned her head and looked straight at me. With a leering smile on her face she said,

“What would he do if he were watching?”

“I want you, please, Countess Isabella, please?”

“Do I hear you correctly, child. You want me?”

“Yes, I do.”



Isabella gestured for her to get off of her knees. She once again began running her hands and talons across Astrid’s chest until she was just using one nail on each hand to graze against her. She circled Astrid’s breasts with the nails slowly working her way to the center, to her pink nipples. Astrid, was whimpering, experiencing a spasm of pleasure and writhing as she stood there. Isabella hooked her nail underneath Astrid’s aroused and taut nipple. I saw her breast rise as Isabella’s talon hooked into the wrinkled flesh. Isabella continued to lift causing her delicate skin to strain against her nails.

Astrid was crying. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, as she begged - whispering over and over.

“Harder, harder, harder, oh ohh , please, uuhhh, harder, harder.”

She gasped and began convulsing and let out a cry of ecstasy as I watched Isabella’s nail pierce straight through her nipple. Astrid’s hand moved between her own legs and began to move back and forth furiously. Her chest was bleeding.

Isabella, turned ever so slightly and looked at me again, as if the wall didn’t exist, and winked.

The blood flowed from Astrid’s nipples as Isabella removed her talons from Astrid’s flesh. She bent down and seductively licked up the blood. Sucking on Astrid’s nipples, alternately between running her tongue against trail of blood on her flesh , leaving traces of crimson and saliva. Isabella began to tickle Astrid’s tortured flesh, gently once again as she moved her pouty lips down her belly following the red droplets of blood.

Astrid stroked her fingers through Isabella’s short dark hair as Isabella began to flick her tongue against that delicious area between her legs which I so desired.”

Jerry undid his pants. By now, Sveltie had already removed her panties and he was sliding one of his fingers in and out of his wife’s drenched pussy. She was panting. She grabbed his cock and began pumping.” Her hand felt so good

She closed her eyes in ecstasy and hissed.


“As I sat there, fully aware, that Isabella knew I was watching, I sat awed as she ran her tongue against Astrid’s pink tender sex , pumping two fingers into her rhythmically. She devoured her assistant, her lover, and now her partner for eternity. Astrid had a furious orgasm as Isabella moved her head rhythmically between her long legs.

“Uhhh, ohh. Im ready. Do me, do it do it DO IT!”

She rubbed her thumb against Astrid’s maidenhead. Isabella turned to look at me one more time, this time, flashing a pair of sharp fangs as she smiled. The smile shrunk from her face, which became dark and serious. Astrid gasped again and exploded with pleasure as Isabella wildly sunk her fangs into the artery in Astrid’s thigh. Isabella let out a roar and licked her blood spattered lips. She placed her mouth once again on Astrid’s leg as she drank and feasted.

She drank for a minute and then rose, seemingly intoxicated and collapsed on the bed. Astrid kneeled and placed her head on Isabella’s thigh, as the Vampire lay there panting and gasping for breath. She grabbed a handful of Astrid’s hair and pulled her head into her dark mound, which she began to pleasure and adore. What happened next shocked me. Isabella tore at her own wrist with her fangs. Still holding onto Astrid’s hair, she lifted her head, so Astrid could see what she was doing. A stream of her blood began to flow dripping down and glistening her dark pubis. She pushed Astrid head down as she eagerly began to lap up the blood. Isabella moaned. Her body shook and once again the droplets of light projected from her body. They stopped. By stopping I mean motion stopped the were frozen in time for a moment. The light which emanated from her body then fell to the floor like rain, drenching Astrid. Isabella held her wrist to her mouth and said,

“Drink!” Astrid placed her mouth on her wrist and began to loudly suckle.

It was then that I made my exit. Feeling dark, confused, depraved.

Sveltie was grunting as Jerry removed his hand from between her legs. He put down the book. Sveltie got down on her knees and saw his raging aroused state, his body drooling with anticipation and excitement. He sighed as her warm mouth began to slide up and down his rigid flesh.

He could not believe what he had just read. Hawthorne’s description of Isabella and Astrid was so alarming and so hot. Were there really vampires in Muskrat Flats?

As Sveltie bobbed her head up and down he tried to picture Isabella with her dark honey colored skin, tattoos and dark features sliding her mouth up and down, bringing him closer to release with every stroke. He envisioned running his hands all over her smooth body. Cupping those lovely breasts, running his own tongue along her musky femininity. He pictured those dark eyes looking up at him, seeing that serious and stormy expression Hawthorne saw on her exotically featured face. He felt the tension increasing, he was close. He shut his eyes and saw Isabella’s eyes piercing into his. He began to gush and cried out …

“Bite Me!” He heard Sveltie snicker as she devoured his pulsing flesh.

If you made it this far, now would be a good time to start ...

Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Till The Morning Comes

'Till the morning comes, it'll do you fine.
Till the morning comes, like a highway sign
Showing you the way, leaving no doubt.
Of the way on in or the way back out."

Muskrat Flats is an odd place these days. Perhaps it is a good thing that there are so many Odd Fellows in the town proper.

Sure there is always much more going on in Muskrat Flats than we let on here. There is the section of town which is enclosed by three sets of train tracks, Silverstein's Triangle, or the Silver Triangle we call it.

There you will find poverty, drugs and lower rents. It is a hard concept for the residents of the Silver Triangle to accept ... no matter where they go in their neighborhood, they are perpetually on the other side of the tracks. The Silver Triangle is where 20 year old Kurt Bartleby, Sid and Iva's son, went yesterday afternoon.

Now, it is not what you think, Kurt is a good kid, he wasn't heading to the triangle for reasons that others may. He was going to check in on his mentor, Jim Benoit - Benwah as we have come to know him.

You see, Benwah had not shown up for work in the smithy shop at the Farm Museum in a couple of days. Kurt had some items to make to repair one of the yokes they used for the oxen who would be pulling the sleighs at the Holiday Festival. He was unsure how to proceed and knew his master could steer him in the right direction.

When he got to Benwah's door, a foul odor hit him. It was much too foul to have simply been some un-discarded pizza boxes or garbage. He immediately got on the phone and dialed 911, unwilling to enter the apartment, even though he had a key.

When the authorities entered the apartment they found Benwah's bloated body in a swarm of flies, flanked by a bottle of of whiskey, an empty prescription bottle of Ambien and a syringe sicking out of his arm.

Gomer and Moe Eckstein sat at the wooden table underneath the impressionist style painting of Sheriff Hawthorne done by one the ex-patriate artists he brought back to Muskrat Flats from Paris, after the elaborate charade which preceded his miraculous resurrection.

They were joined by Jeff Nelson, the owner of Wake of the Flood plumbing. Jeff was crying as he traced the outline of the tattoo on his forearm. The tattoo was three links of a chain with the letters FLT centered within each of the three links. Friendship, Love and Truth - three principles held dear by the fellows and gals who gather in the warm wood paneled room at the corners of Petersen and McKernan Streets.

Gomer read aloud as his father held his hand.

"To Whom It May Concern - I was born 20 minutes late ... so they say. All of my life I have been

racing to catch up

and regain

that precious one third of an hour.

A lot can be accomplished in 20 minutes. Sometimes it can drag on forever when I am bored and unoccupied. Other times I feel that I am on the verge of letting that 20 minutes slip away, further setting me back as I traverse this infinite, endless trek we call life.

It seems like I am 20 minutes late for everything these days. Work, appointments, I was even late for a meeting because I had 20 minutes to kill and fell asleep (passed out) for 30. I was 20 minutes late for the last meeting of the Flatlanders. I was supposed to be piping when they cut the Haggis. I was twenty minutes late when I caused that accident in Dana.

When I say I've been 20 minutes late all of my life that is an exaggeration. There was a time in my life when I was either on time, or early, obsessively so. You could set your watch by me If I was supposed to be somewhere at Noon I was there.

You hear idioms and phrases tossed around about time every day. Time is money, time is of the essence, no time to lose. Good Times, Bad Times. Time to get down to Brass Tacks. Wow Brass tacks. I'm not making sense anymore. I guess the pills are starting to work. Got finish this little task soon, otherwise I may wake up.

I'm finding it harder and harder to go on. I know these problems may seem insignificant. They tell me that I need to listen and that God is going to tell me what "his will" is for me today. The last thing I need is one more voice in my head.

Believe me when I tell you this. I deserve what I am about to get. Hopefully God has forgiven me for what happened in Dana, when I killed that lady and her little boy. I was late and I was drinking and drugging.

I deserve what I am about to get, but I also deserve to sleep peacefully, if it is forever, so be it.

Don't replace me at the Museum. Kurt is a good kid and a skillful blacksmith. He will do a far better job than I ever did or could. I leave him my set of pipes.

I'm sorry if I disappointed anyone. I'm sure if some of you were here to tell me there is another option I might believe it ... for a little while, but, I just can't see any other way. "

James Benoit

Sid and Iva were at the next table listening intently as they each held one of Kurt's hands.

Jeff wiped his eyes.

"Why didn't he call me?"

"Comon Jeff you can't say that." Gomer retorted.

"Sonny is Right, Jeff. This was written by a man who had made up his mind."

"That is pretty clear." Jeff said.

Small talk ensued and they had a few good laughs remembering some of Benwah's more hilarious moments, such as the one at the last Silver Days celebration when he got caught on the railroad tie, and crashed into the table full of pipes, as he stumbled after freeing himself. As you may recall the weight of his body tightened one of the bags which let out an awful whine as the pipes snapped upward, cracking Benwah right in the face.

Jeff and Gomer walked out the parking lot lingering and moving along rather slowly. Across McKernan St., in the park Coley Blackstone was flying kites with a group of ten young children from the day care center across the way. They were laughing and running around with not a care in the world, oblivious to such matters as a sick and suffering addict willingly taking his own life as a means to end his pain, rather than doing the work and recovering a life which he would never have the opportunity to discover wasn't so bad. Coley was instructing about five of the children on the finer points of kite flying, in the mild December weather. The rest of the children were with their teachers playing fetch with Coley's dog, Chubby, and a plastic banana.

"So, You gonna be alright?" Gomer asked.

"Yeah, it just sucks, you can't help someone who doesn't really want it ... You gonna be alright, he was your last remaining sponsee brother."

Gomer laughed.

"Yeah, about that. Kind of like a Spinal Tap drummer slash Grateful Dead Keyboard player kind of thing, your sponsees are dropping like flies. I'm the last one, huh?"

"You are it my brother. When word gets out amongst the so called anonymous, I doubt I will get asked to be a sponsor anytime soon."

"It's okay, we've got each other and we've got a network. Don't beat yourself up brother."

"I won't." Jeff replied. "How's Miranda?"

"She's doing very well. We talk to each other every day. She's my kind of freak. She promised me that if she ever got bitten by a vampire, she would bite me first."

"Oh, yeah? Thanks for sharing." Jeff smiled. Gomer pulled back his ponytail and began to clean his half moon sunglasses.

"I'm going to see her next month. The Satans are doing a small tour starting in LA on January 9th then we go up to Big Sur - a private party on Thursday the 15th in Sacramento, down to Palo Alto and we end up in San Francisco on Saturday night. Then she is coming back with me for about two weeks ... If I'm not in jail of course, my next court date is in a about a week."

"Oh, yeah, that's right." The hugged and bid each other farewell.

In the blacksmith shop Sid and Iva's eyes were shrouded by dark protective lenses as were Kurt's. He held up the glowing wrought iron bracket which would attach the reigns to the yoke. The yoke was made in two parts attached together by three chain links, each of which, Sid noticed had been adorned with the symbolic letters FLT. Kurt inspected the glowing iron. Sweat ran down from his forehead mingling with his tears. He placed the piece on the anvil and lightly tapped it a few times. His parents watched intently, proudly hugging each other as they watched their son plunge the bracket into a bucket of water.

Kurt was well on his way to a rich and fulfilling life. He didn't have to wear a suit, or sit at a desk. Although his college major had been finance, he chose a different path. He loved Musktrat Flats and doubted he would ever move away.

He looked out the window as the new girl from the gift shop was making her way in his direction. She had just moved here wanting to work with Sveltie in the Winery. For now, she was in the gift shop, but she would get her crack at the vineyards in the spring. She walked in to the Smithy shop. Kurt took off his glasses and toweled off his face. She was holding a bag and smiling at him.

"Hi, Gina."

"Hi Kurt." She nodded and smiled to Sid and Iva.

"I heard about what happened. I figured you might need a break."

"Thanks, Gina, that's sweet." She handed him a coffee. He uncapped it and began to put in the sugar and cream she handed him.

"I brought you some of these blueberry muffins, They are the best I've ever had." Sid and Iva looked at each other and smiled. Kurt noticed this as well. He smiled a sly grin at his parents.

"Yes, they are, Gina, they are legendary in these parts." Sid and Iva waved, and said goodbye, slipping out the door. As they looked back through the window they saw that Kurt was showing Gina the bracket he was working on. She looked at him admiringly.

Yes, tragedy came to Muskrat Flats this week, We lost a good man. Sid and Iva weren't worried about their son, They knew he would do just fine. He was heading into a bright and shining future and it looked like he may have found someone who would like nothing better than to walk along that road by his side.

Yes, tragedy struck a chord this week, but the music of Friendship Love and Trust will always overpower that dissonant chord tragedy has to offer. All you have to do is listen, even if you do have to sift through a few extra voices in your head to hear it.

Just for Today and hopefully for years to come, Kurt Bartleby will have to look pretty damn hard to find a reason to be ...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A) Jails. B) Institutions. C) Death. D) All of the Above.

Here I am again. The countdown has begun. I always start at the Magic number Eight. Then I start subtracting. Since it is 10:30 PM, that means the number has dwindled to Six and a half hours left to sleep, before I have to get up and do it all over again.

Lately, I have frittered away this number until it has reached Five, which really means 4:45 or even 4:30, since I doubt that these racing thoughts, these burning desires, delusions paranoid, or otherwise will quiet themselves in a mere 15-20 minutes.

I doubt that I will ease into the abyss of nothingness so quickly that once again, I may escape into that wonderful world of unconsciousness.

I used to live on the steppes of that Mountainous terrain known as unconsciousness. I existed in the Flats. That lonesome prairie between the foothills leading up to the jagged cliffs and rocks, and the life breeding lush and fertile valley down below.

These Flats, unlike that Utopian locale Muskrat Flats, where Friendship, Love and Truth, the links in the chain which bind the so many members of the Odd Fellows to each other and their community, are a barren place. A place void of feelings and emotions. I used to relish the notion of idly spending my time in this zone lamenting the labors and pains associated with life with the likes of Kerouac, Burroughs and Bukowski. Living like a zombie as I nodded and swayed through my halcyon heroin induced stupor, occasionally rousing myself enough to attend to that errant itch on my nose or behind my neck.

It doesn't seem to me to be a coincidence that the higher you get when you have a "good nod going on" is much like climbing a mountain. You get less oxygen, the cliffs are a little more jagged and dangerous. If you get too high, you will suffocate. If you fall, it is a long an painful fall. Every twitch and every tumble brings another unpleasant sensation. Some think that if you are lucky, you will get impaled on some sedentary shale protruding like a spire out of the side of the mountain.

If you are really lucky you will tumble all of the way down and land on the banks of the river, underneath the lush canopy of a weeping willow protecting you from the sun and the rain as you begin to breathe again. Perhaps you'll even have a drink of fresh water. If you are lucky.

It has been an alarming week, for me. I have had many ups. Fellowship and fun with those who matter to me most, generous gifts from friends and family - nothing flashy or gaudy just utilitarian items which make a difference in your life or just simple pampering. A shave and a hair cut, the luxury of being wrapped in a cocoon while getting my face exfoliated, moisturized and massaged, then bathed in a misty cloud of warm steam, before the process is repeated once again. Things I never would have thought would make a damn bit of difference when I was using. But they do.

I have written before that I have tasted the nectar of the forbidden flower, not in a Roman Polanski kind of way, mind you. I have lingered at the fence surrounding that crimson dotted poppy field. I have felt the daggers pierce my skin again and again, holding onto me for dear life. As if I were the necessary component for some morbid brand of symbiosis. Like that flower needed me to exist. The daggers have left scars and discolorations both physical and psychological, which remain hard to explain away.

Now, I have tasted the nectar of the flower of Freedom. Freedom from active addiction, The Freedom to ask for help; to listen for inspiration: to understand that a power greater than myself has been guiding me ... all along. It is just more apparent these days as I begin to notice where I fit into the grand scheme of things - how I can make a difference. I'm sure it was his will not mine that I lay in that chair for an hour loving life and all it has to offer as soft fingers danced across my face and around my eye sockets. The ladies running the show even told me how smooth my skin is ... I know, it is their job to tell me that, Just like the awe the Gypsy tailor down the street demonstrated as she assessed a new suit my friend brought in to be altered. "that's a nice-a suit." she said. Of course it was.

In spite of all of these good things. I felt like using this morning. I could smell it, I could taste it. It was fresh in my mind as I awoke from a vivid technicolor dream where I found a stash and didn't hesitate to inject it. When I have those dreams, I do get high, trust me. And it fucks me up when I awake.

So, needles to say I had a bitch of a day. I burned the gravy and had to make a new batch. When dealing with the fallout and triage from the previously seared pot I spilled a little on the floor. Between the color, and the finely chopped veggies contained within, it looked like a puddle of vomit.

Thank God, for the little things in life, because seeing that puddle of gravy on the floor made me laugh my ass off.

I didn't get high. I didn't obsess about the feeling. I said a prayer and took five minutes to meditate. The laughter helped. And the feeling passed.

When they say Jails, Institutions and Death, it is no joke. I have been feeling funky since I found out that an addict I know, overdosed on Thanksgiving. He hadn't had enough and had to try to climb that mountain one more time. He didn't end up on the banks of the river. He got so high that he ran out of oxygen. Now he is free. Sad, but True.

In spite of knowing all of this, the idea, the tought that I may be able to use and get away with it, still presents itself as an option.

I've been writing for an hour. The magic number is 5 hours and 30 minutes of sleep available to me before I have to get up and do a massive catering order on top of my usual duties.

Perhaps I keep doing this to myself so I can make it until Midnight where I can tell myself, once again, I made it, another day clean.

Now that, my friends, is some Freedom I can get on board with.

I'm going to go and change my profile heading right now, because nobody should be feeling sad and discontent when they are ...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Sometimes I Feel, Like I've Been Tied to the Whipping Post"

Thanksgiving has come and gone in Muskrat Flats and once again there was much activity at the corner of Petersen and McKernan Streets. The Odd Fellows Hosted their annual free Thanksgiving Dinner with all of the trimmings, feeding about 1,500 residents of the Flats and the outlying areas. There were free shuttle buses going to shelters in Dana and Prescott.

The banquet hall was warm with the glow of votive candles, with bursts of orange and brown decorations and ornately carved luminaria. The warmth was accentuated by shiny glazed bread cornucopias filled with fresh hand fruit and colorful gourds, the savory aromas of roasting turkey and sausage stuffing, the sweetness of roasted butternut squash, pumpkin pies, and of course Iva Bartleby's blueberry muffins.

The meal was paid for by the various fundraisers the Odd Fellows had hosted during the course of the year, particularly the Labor Day Bike Run and the concessions at the Silver Days Celebration and the Fall Festival at the Farm Museum.

This year was the first time that the formerly annual anonymous donation of $2000 toward the production of the meal, officially came from the Coleman Blackstone Foundation. This foundation, set up recently, with the mission statement of facilitating the rehabilitation of the homeless through arts and music programs in conjunction with mental health, drug and alcohol counseling. Coley Blackstone, Muskrat Flats' wealthiest resident, who himself lived as a homeless man as he grappled for years with untreated mental illness, was actually on hand and volunteering for the event.

Coley was the judge for the Annual Checkers Tournament. Surprisingly, the tourney was won this year by a kid named Matt Derose, a 14 year-old with Down's syndrome, who turned out to be something of a checkers prodigy. There were snickers from the peanut gallery early on in the competition as he would enthusiastically shout in a special needs kind of way,

"King Me!"

These snickers quickly turned to cheers as he dominated the competition and the onlookers shared in his enthusiasm by shouting along with him as he marched on to victory.

Moe Eckstein was looking at the front page of the Muskrat Flats Telegraph. The lead story was about the Odd Fellows Annual Turkey Dinner. This was accompanied by a picture of Coley Blackstone, holding up a beaming Matt Derose's hand in Victory as his other hand hoisted the Winner's Cup above his head.

Moe Eckstein had just sat down, with his coffee and muffins, after having gone for a brisk walk, that morning. He had stopped his chemo therapy weeks ago and was feeling healthier than he had felt in a long time. The doctors were happy with is alarming progress. Sid Bartelby was sitting across from Moe.

"Whaddya make of this guy, Coley?"

"Eh, what's to make? He is pure Muskrat Flats. No doubt that he is a chip off of the Hawthorne block. He was a misguided kid who is starting to make a better life for himself and the people around him."

"Yeah, but he is nuts." Sid said as he continued to scan his copy of the Telegraph.

"I thought that was a prerequisite for being a resident of the Flats." Moe quipped. Sid chuckled.

"Comon, Sid look around you, look at your past, look at mine … this town has always attracted a rare breed. Some of us - a little crazier than others, but I love it."

"Yeah, you're right, I shouldn't judge." Sid replied.

"That's right. I don't know if I would want people to meet some of the creatures who live in my forest, and that is a hard thing for a writer to say," as Moe tapped his skull.

"Oh, shit!" Sid cried. "page four, Moe. Speaking of creatures in your forest…"

Moe turned to page Four and read the headline.

Local Musician Jailed After On Stage Prank Goes Awry.

Dana - There was a near riot at the Dana Arts Center as local musician Gomer Shabbos aka Gomer Eckstein and Rabbi Robert Feldman from the Ark of the Covenant Synagogue in neighboring Baptist Lake were jailed after an onstage scuffle, Wednesday night, causing the crowd of 2500 onlookers to head home earlier than they had anticipated.

"Shit, that's the Rabbi that confronted him after the Labor Day Bike Run, show." Moe read on.

Eckstein who is the leader of the hardcore Klezemer band, Gomer Shabbos and the Hook Nosed Satans, had his performance interrupted when the Rabbi jumped on stage and attacked Eckstein. In the scuffle Both Eckstein and Rabbi Feldman assaulted Officer Seamus O'Neil who was trying to contain the violence. Both were charged with assault on a police officer. Feldman was charged with inciting a riot. Both were released on their personal recognizance.

The Hook Nosed Satans had just performed the tune "Satanic Seitan" a song Eckstein describes as "a diatribe revealing the evils of vegetarianism … it is a satire like most of my songs."

Eckstein sighed and wondered aloud,

"Why do people have to take themselves so seriously? It was just a joke."

The ruckus occurred in the second set. As drummer Joel Birnbaum kept the beat, Hook Nosed Satans guitarist Seth Brockmeyer and fiddler, Jerry Green brought onto the stage a young woman dressed in hippie garb whom Shabbos described as "a vegetarian I caught washing a lump of wheat gluten on a rock down by the river."

The Satans held down the "vegetarian," played by renowned San Francisco poster artist, Miranda Klein, as Shabbos dressed in all black with dark glasses and white face make up wildly whipped Klein with a cat-o-nine tails he had dramatically fashioned, onstage, from strips of raw bacon. The crowd responded wildly.

The diorama ended with Klein bowing to Shabbos swearing her allegiance to him and consecrating her vow by taking a big bite out of a "Fresser" or overstuffed, Kosher Corned Beef Sandwich.

It was at this point in the show, the Rabbi jumped on stage reportedly shouting in Hebrew and attacked Shabbos.

"Mumar le hak'is" the term my father shouted at Eckstein is a Hebrew term for a defiant lawbreaker or heretic," Explained Feldman's son, Josh.

"We believe that Gomer Eckstein has turned his back on the Jewish Tradition and is using the very essence of his band, The Hook Nosed Satans, an ethnic slur and abomination against the Jewish community, in and of itself, to ridicule and undermine the community.. Even his stage persona, Gomer Shabbos, is a mockery of Shomer Shabbos our Sabbath." Josh Feldman continued.

Eckstein, a Muskrat Flats resident and son of famed Beat Writer Moe Eckstein, made national news last Fall as his Ebay account was shut down after he offered two items for auction - a hypodermic needle purportedly used by Sex Pistol's bassist, Sid Vicious. And, a microphone, Eckstein had obtained from former Murder Junkie, Chicken John, which he claimed was inserted into long deceased punk rock bad boy, GG Allin's, rectum.

Messages left at Rabbi Feldman's residence were not immediately returned.

"What I do is Art. Everyone may not like it, but I have the right to do what I want on stage. I would consider what I do as Frank Zappa meets Rob Zombie at a Fiddler on the Roof retrospective."

"Asking me to change the content or direction of this project would be like going up to Claude Monet and saying, "I really like this painting, but can I have one like it with a little more blue and green so it will match my living room?" ... Some people may not see what I do as art, but I've got a lot open minded fans out there, decent people, Obama voters, who want to see me keep doing whatever it is that I do." Eckstein said outside of the Dana Police headquarters.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for December 6th for both cases.

Sid raised his eyebrows at Moe. Moe clicked his tongue against his teeth and chuckled.

"Oh, Sonny Boy, what have you gotten yourself into this time?" He asked no one.

"I tell him to pick his battles, but it looks like the Rabbi has picked the battle this time."

"We'll have to see how this one plays out." Sid said.

Moe sighed. He took off his glasses and cleaned them on his t-shirt. He placed them back on his nose and looked at Sid.

"I love that kid, my friend. He is a piece of work, but he is my piece of work." Sid smiled and looked up.

"Speaking of the Satan …" Moe turned around and Gomer was approaching him with his arm wrapped around the waist of a gorgeous young lady. She was clutching a copy of Moe's first book. Green Jello and Rust Stained Toilet Tanks.

"Dad, Sid, I want you to meet Miranda." She looked at Gomer and then smiled expectantly to Moe.

"Miranda? Word on the streets is that you like corned beef sandwiches."

Sid, Gomer and Miranda laughed as Sid swatted Gomer playfully on the shoulder with the newspaper. Moe looked at her, she looked at Gomer. Gomer looked somewhat chagrined, as he wanted to tell his Dad what had happened first hand.

Moe broke into a big smile and hugged his Sonny Boy. He then hugged Miranda. "It is a pleasure to meet you, young lady. I'm glad you didn't get arrested after your first gig with this hoodlum. Maybe you can keep him out of trouble?" She handed the book to him and said,

"Mr. Eckstein I'm a big fan of yours."

"Please call me, Moe."

He took the book out of her hand and admired it, it was a first edition. He took a sharpie out of his pocket. He wrote inside the cover,

"To Miranda, It is a pleasure to meet you. Remember, don't ever try to flush the green Jello."

Sid came over with two cups of coffee and some muffins in a card board j-tray and asked,

"So, Miranda, do you like blueberry muffins, these are the best."

"I know, I've been reading about them for months, I've been waiting to try them." Moe looked at Gomer as she said this, Gomer raised his eyebrows and smiled.

They all sat down at the wooden table under the watchful eye of Sheriff Hawthorne. Moe began to read the newspaper article to Gomer. Sid winked at Iva, his wife, across the room, who was smiling at Gomer. Jerry and Sveltie along with Jeff Nelson began to wander over to the table

Gomer was overjoyed. It would take a pretty big reason to get him out of his seat never mind back on the road.

This was where he longed to be, with his father, a beautiful woman by his side, surrounded by dear friends in the familiar warmth of the Odd Fellows Hall at the corners of Petersen and McKernan Streets.

Much like Gomer, Just For Today, I can't think of one damned reason to be …

Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks and Praises

About Ten years ago, when I will still happily married, happily stoned and happily running my own business into the ground, I went to the State Fair. It was a mid week night, perhaps a Thursday.

My wife and I got a baby sitter for our wee little one, and headed out for the evening. Things did not look promising as there were dark storm clouds looming in the horizon and were quickly headed our way. By the time we hit the Fair, it was pouring rain. That cold, unrelenting September rain that can do nothing but reinforce that summer is indeed over, and it is time to start gathering your fruits and berries for the long winter.

We could have postponed our outing to another day, It was actually in the high 70s and sunny the next day, but we had a reason for being there, playing for free at the outdoor stage were the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

The band was hot, Duke Robillard was great. There were about 300 people there and they played their asses off. About three quarters of the way through the set, We had had enough of the foul weather and we decided to leave, much like many of the other concert goers had decided to do as well

As we approached the entrance there was a guy on the bleachers, all liquored up, heckling the retreating crowds.

"You guys are crazy, don't you know what you are missing?!" He would shout as if someone were going to grab him by the arm and make him miss the rest of the set. There was fear and incredulity in his voice. How could these assholes actually leave?, was the incredulous message he was trying to hammer home. As far as the Fear, I can Identify.

I know what it means to have 300, 50, 15 people in the audience as I watch a talented group of musicians with all of the promise in the world, drift into a cloud ... a cloud which will surely obscure their live performances, their body of work hurtling them into anonymity as quickly as Hunter S. Thompson's ashes were launched into the stratosphere packed into an elaborate fireworks display.

All of the sudden you may find yourself experiencing flashes of recognition, a fond and distant memory which will take over your thoughts and cause you to ask,

"What ever did happen to those guys?... They were good"

I can identify with that guy at the Fab T-birds show. I am incredulous that people are not flocking to see bands like the Drunk Stuntmen. When they played at Black Eyed Sally's in the summer time, it was a nightmare. There were about 15 people in the audience, five of which were there specifically to see the band. There was a sloppy drunk from Canada, who almost started a fire by knocking over a linen covered table along with its burning votive candles. He ended the night barefoot and lying on his back on the vacant dance floor. The bar back was hammered and the contact person was a raving anti-social freak.

That is a lot of shit to put up with for a meal, for which they wanted to charge the band due to the sparse attendance. The club upstairs was so packed the patrons were coming downstairs to use the bathrooms.

I can identify with that guy at the Fab T-birds show as he desperately tried to cling on to a feeling - a good feeling which he obviously wanted to share. Unfortunately he was doing a poor job of conveying the message as his enthusiasm was clouded by the fact that he was so drunk.

In the rooms of a 12-step fellowship it is suggested that you identify, not compare. As a dear friend, who is sober, but does not participate in a 12-step fellowship pointed out,

"Sometimes you can compare and Save."

He knows a little bit about what happens in those rooms, the rooms where the Anonymous sequester themselves for many hours during the week. He possesses wisdom and a healthy outlook which I admire. In a lot of ways he has more recovery than some folks I know with over a decade of living life without drugs or alcohol.

He knows about how we spend hours in those rooms, hours which could be spent with our families, working on a soul fulfilling project or hobby, or even at a job, hours which could be deliciously spent in the arms of a new found love. I am learning to live and enjoy life with the greatest of luxuries all ... hours of nothing to do but sit quietly and meditate.

And listen.

I don't have to say, "I'm sorry, what?" When I am listening.

I have listened to my disease in the past. Listening to me say it is okay to get high, that I deserve it. I can get away with it. If I am cool, no one will ever know. I know that voice is bullshit. I am an addict and have proven this point to myself, time and time again.

I have listened to my friends confirm these erroneous notions and let me know how they justify their using of drugs and alcohol.

Identify don't compare means, listening to another and thinking that your disease is just that much less insidious than the diesease of another.

I am thankful that I have people like you who look forward to what I am going to write next. I am thankful that Muskrat Flats is a thriving community, albeit a fictitious one, but one that is vibrant enough to facilitate the creative process.

I am thankful for Music. Thankful for both the ability to play and the so many great musicians out there I enjoy seeing and hearing live.

I am thankful that my glassblowing skills are improving, as another glass artist in my karass pointed out, becoming "more refined." Thanks to all of you who have supported my endeavors in this department, contributing to my studio at the Indian Orchard Mills becoming a living and breathing destination.

I am thankful that on a Monday before a Friday payday, I have $40 dollars in my checking account. My bills are paid, I've got gas at both the studio and in my car and my child support is paid.

I am thankful for my daughter, Rayna. She is a bright shining beacon in my life. I am thankful that I am available to her these days, spiritually, physically and financially. She is growing up a talented, bright, and empathic young lady with a great sense of humor whose possibilites for a rich and rewarding adulthood are limitless.

I am thankful that I did not wake up dopesick. That I did not have to jeopardize my life and freedom, just one more time, for a $6 dollar bag of death.

I am thankful that today, I can still remember the last time I got high and pray that I never forget.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Today I'm going slow it down a little bit and listen to that voice in my head, guiding me to a better place, a place where I don't have to speed things up so I can be ...

Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Tonight I would be thankful, Lord, for any dream at all ..."

Gomer ascended the steps out of the Embarcadero BART Station onto Market St. He peered down to the waterfront and saw the clock tower. He hoisted his sack onto his good shoulder, the other one was still a little sore from when he hit the ground when the rope unraveled during the reenactment of Sheriff Hawthorne's staged hanging, at the fall festival. At least the sun burned maple didn't drop a branch on him in the process. The rope simply let go and he was sent tumbling.

He looked around and took a deep breath. He loved San Francisco. He had a few days to kill so he decided to stay in town, after all, life shouldn't just be centered around work. He eyeballed someone across the street who caught his eye. How weird, It was the kid who was frantically dancing in front of him at the show last night. The Hook Nosed Satans played on a double bill in a warehouse in Oakland, the previous night. There were about 2,000 people there. And from the sounds of it many were there to see him. The party was hosted by a bunch of Burning Man folks who had some of their large contraptions on hand for additional entertainment.

The kid was wearing the same clothes as he had been the night before. Gomer doubted he had slept at all, considering how on the edge the kid seemed during the show. Gomer kept an eye on the kid from the side of the stage during the intermission between the opening band and the Satans and decided he was harmless. He sure as shit was into the music. Still, Gomer hoped he was not to be recognized now that it was daylight and he was in his civvies.

He looked drastically different from the guy who would stand on stage in all black with a long black cloak, combat boots and a porkie pie hat. His stage persona, Gomer Shabbos, looked as hard and ethnic as the music he presented. His long, dark, wavy hair was often unrestrained and he wore dark, half moon spectacles as he stepped and gyrated his way through the set often waving his clarinet around as if it were a baton, as he was directing the band. The Hook Nosed Satans kept the groove, thumping along beside him as he growled out some of the crowd's favorite tunes. Now, as he traversed the foggy streets of San Francisco, he was simply Gomer.

He did some shopping at the farmer's market, and headed back to the Embarcadero station to hop on the Muni. As he was walking along Market street, he envisioned fleeting glimpses of what the Barbary coast looked like back in the day when Sheriff Hawthorne made his way out west to wine and dine his idol, Mark Twain.

Shortly after he hopped the train, he was on Mission St. He was humming the Jerry Garcia song, Mission in the Rain as he strolled in a light down pour, taking it all in. To his left was a brick wall which was colorfully adorned with a Mexican mural.

He found the spot he was looking for, a coffee shop he and his father had been to many times before. He stepped out of the cool foggy drizzle and into the heady warmth of the shop. He looked at the pastry case as he ordered his brew, a dark roast which was so strong and rich which no amount of cream was capable of lightening up. As he poured over the pastries he heard his father saying in his head,

"The look good, but they are nothing like Iva's Blueberry Muffins."

Gomer missed his dad, he hoped he was doing well. Gomer found a seat in the crowded shop. He was powering up his his laptop as an unmistakable sitar riff, courtesy of George Harrison filled his ears. He heard the opening lyric for the song. "Each day rolls on by ..." He looked up as he waited for the computer to fire up, and waited and waited while contemplating what if he put a klezemer twist on the song. It would be a good cover he thought. a good song for the middle of the second set, one where they could stretch out a bit.

He sipped his coffee. Whew! Rocket fuel, not like they make the coffee at the Oddfellow's, that's for sure. He gazed over the rim of his cup, shifting in his seat as a cute blonde, perhaps a few years older than he, made michievous eye contact and smiled in his direction. He nodded and smiled back. There was progress on the screen.

He opened up his word processing program and began to read something he had been working on. It was a semi auto biographical account of the circumstances leading up to his arrest and eventual surrender to the lifestyle of recovery.

"We were in the South end of Dana, it was about three o'clock in the afternoon. My nose was starting to run, my stomach ached and I was having difficulty keeping my eyes open. The dope sickness was getting worse. I began to drift away when I was startled by my companion, a Puerto Rican chick named Iris. She shouted loudly in Spanish into the phone and then switched to English,

"Hold on, hold on .... JOSE! Hold on." She nudged me and motioned for me to take what was in her hand.

"You're falling alseep, you need a hit." She handed me a glass tube opaquely clouded with brownish funky resin, her thumb over one end concealing the precious cargo. I slightly stumbled. She pulled back.

"Don't drop this brick, motherfucker!" She said as she motioned once more for me to take the pipe. I took a deep hit and held it in.

I felt the crack searing through my brain. it sounded like a fleet of helicopters were heading in my direction. I began to float a little bit. I exhaled and felt the rush overcome me.

Iris went back to her conversation. I began to feel a little nauseated. The copter blades kept whirring, then began to subside, I wasn't going to puke, not this time. I was startled again as Iris held the phone in front of her and barked.

"Jose, JOSE ... Escuchame! I'M SICK, MOTHERFUCKER! I NEED TO GET OFF E! She then simmered her tone down pleading.

"Jose, por favor. What? Five minutes, bless you." She hung up.

"Fucking Dominican fuck ... the niggah sez he wants to go to the gym first. Give me the stem ..." I didn't realize I was still gripping it in my hand. Her phone rang again. She looked at the screen, rolled her eyes and flipped it open, muttering,

"I am not, motherfucking well ...WHAT?!" She listened.

"Where you is?" She waited for a response. She began shaking her head.

"NO, no ... we were there twenty minutes ago. Where were you? ... Huh? I told you to meet us outside the house." She listened again, shaking her head.

"Smoking a brick ... save you a hit? Shit. If you was where you s'posed to be at you be smokin' a brick, too." She listened.

"Yeah, I've got more ... what you mean you don't have any money, well, go get some." I looked over at Iris and she was handing me the pipe back. She pointed to the phone and whirled her finger around her ear doing the international crazy symbol.

"What do you mean what are you gonna do? Go out and suck a dick, get $40 dollars." there was more silence.

"You don't have to do anything just go stand outside on the street, someone will pick you up. We'll be there in 25 minutes." As she hung up the phone she was unrolling her window and guy in a sweat suit rolled up to the car, she hopped out and was back in seconds.

"Let's get go ... Give me your needle, we need to get off E ..."

Gomer heard someone clear their throat. He looked up, it was the woman who had smiled at him a few minutes ago. She was holding a poster which advertised the show last night.

"You're Gomer, right?"

"Yes." He flipped the laptop down, slightly embarrassed by what he was just reading.

She handed Gomer the poster with a sharpie.

"You're from Muskrat Flats, huh?"

"Yeah, have you ever been there?"

"No, but I'd like to. You guys totally rocked last night."

"Wow, this is one of the posters from the show last night? I've never seen it!"

"I know, I made it, I'm an artist."

"Very nice, can we use this, uh ..."

"Miranda, my name is Miranda. Of Course you can Gomer, I'd be honored."

He signed the poster.

"I've got to go, maybe we will meet again when I come to the Flats?"

"Yes, that would be great, my friends run the Farm museum, we can show you around."

"Yeah, I'll email you ... I love blueberry muffins. I want to try the ones you are always writing about."

She smiled and walked away, looking over her shoulder for one last glance as she did so. Gomer simply sat there stunned, even speechless.

He was amazed at the experience he just had. He thanked his higher power and he thanked Jerry. Why else other than his affection for that song would he be in the Mission, in the Rain?

He let out a deep sigh of satisfaction and smiled. San Francisco, great music, beautiful women, love at first sight. Can there ever be a better reason for ...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats?

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Ooh that Smell." Part 2

Sid Bartleby and Moe Eckstein were waiting anxiously. Sid was standing and Moe was in a wheelchair. He was a little on the weak side but his spirits were soaring. He was able to get up and move around without too much pain, but occasionally he would get a jolt. His doctors said the treatment was working but he should keep the wheelchair in case he felt too weak to move around. Those days were becoming increasingly few.

Sid looked down at his smiling friend. He caught an unmistakable whiff of a freshly baked blueberry muffin as someone walked by balancing one of those folding cardboard carry boxes he only knew as "J trays", full of them. J trays, at least that is what the paper goods salesman wrote down whenever he ordered them.

Moe caught a whiff of the muffins as well, reminding him that he was actually hungry, and had one of his own balancing on his lap. He made eye contact with Iva Bartleby at the Odd Fellows table who was once again selling these legendary morsels.

Iva was wearing a frontier style outfit which was handed down from when her husband's Great Grandmother, Edna opened the Muskrat Flats General store, a business which is still family owned, thriving, and of course celebrating its anniversary during the Fall Festival.

Moe inhaled the rich aroma of the muffins but was caught short as he briefly detected an unpleasant smell in the air. It smelled almost like rotting fish. He looked around wondering what the hell it was. He watched as the crowd began to gather outside the Saloon.

Sveltlana Smith and her husband Jeremiah were situated inside the old Double Life Saloon. Jerry was dressed in his authentic western wear, cowboy boots, chaps, faded denims, a leather vest and of course, his Colt revolver strapped to his side. He was checking out the front window of the saloon which, now functioned as the cafe and dining area for visitors of the Farm Museum and Agricultural Archive. He looked over at his wife who was dressed in a corseted Victorian style dress which proudly displayed her enticing breasts. She walked outside briefly to make sure the foam rubber mat on the ground outside the window was deftly concealed by some hay bales. As she exited the saloon Jeff heard tawdry hoots, and whistles of appreciation from the growing crowd. She waved to the crowd and went back inside.

"Looks good,"

Jeff said as he looked over at his seductively attired wife. A special woman she was. She was bending over repositioning one of the hay bales inside the building, giving it a final push. Looking up, she caught her husband lustfully eyeballing her cleavage.

"You know Jeff, you should consider yourself lucky, did you hear that crowd when I went outside?"

"Oh, trust me, I heard the crowd, I know how lucky I am." He put his arms around her waist pulling her in for a hug, gazing into her eyes. As their pelvic regions met she could feel some movement down there. Coyly he prompted,

"Why don't you tell me how lucky I am?" She wiggled her hips a little and squeezed in closer.

"I don't know many women in the Flats who have the willingness to dress up as Sheriff Hawthorne's Favorite prostitute for the Fall Festival ... I think you are enjoying this role playing just a little too much, cowboy. Better put that gun away." She winked.

"Well, Celeste, it is a seller's market these days, you'll will have to charge me accordingly later on." Jeff felt a little rush as he flashed forward to the evening when he began to untie that corset, slowly and playfully unwrapping his sexy wife like a Christmas present. She giggled as he rubbed into her.

"Jeff, someone will see." and without skipping a beat they heard,

"Hey you two, get a room before I turn the garden hose on the both of you." Gomer Eckstein strolled up wearing an all white suit and broad rimmed hat. His walrus mustache was neatly trimmed. He took off his hat and bowed.

"Hello, Sveltie. How's my favorite girl today?"

"You'll have to take a number. So far, this guy has been my only customer all day, he just keeps stuffing twenties up my dress every hour," she said as she lifted her skirt giving Gomer, her former high school sweetheart, a nice eyeful of her thigh surrounded with a red satin and lace garter which now held five 20 dollar bills.

Gomer blushed. Jerry laughed and got on the walkie talkie.

"Is everything all set outside the Sheriff's office?" He listened to a garbled response, which he aptly deciphered as a positive one. Jeff Nelson and his new sponsee Jim Benoit came in.

Jerry looked at them and nodded. He turned to Gomer and asked,

"Are you ready? Gomer cracked his knuckles and nodded.


The Fall Festival was a great success. Paulie and Donnie, the two dishwashers from the Odd Fellows hall had their hands full as they headed up the crew directing traffic in the overflowing parking lots. The blueberry muffins and cider doughnuts were selling like they were going out of style. The weather was crisp. It was a lovely cool day in the Flats. The trees offered a wondrous burst of color as their leaves shone radiantly in the afternoon sun.

The tourists, or leaf peepers as some called them, milled around the Farm Museum taking in the various demonstrations including one at the cooperage, the vineyard, and the tobacco barn. The Bartelby boy, did a fine job in the smithy shop as he demonstrated how to shoe a horse. People were having a wonderful time, They were spending money, which made the nervous vendors very happy. It seemed like an idyllic time ... all except for that occasional stench that would waft through the air.

"What is that?" a visitor from Prescott asked his wife as they strolled near the vineyards.

"I don't know but it is gross. Hey let's hurry up, it's time for the hanging." They joined the rest of the crowd, and headed over to Main St. They arrived just in time, as Gomer Eckstein came flying through the fake window of the Double Life Saloon. He landed squarely in the middle of the foam rubber mat which was obscured by the hay bales.

Jerry and Jeff scrambled out of the Saloon followed by Sveltie.

"Get him!" Jerry shouted. Sveltie Screamed

"No, He didn't do it, you have to believe me, I was there! He didn't DO IT?" Jeff Shouted.

"So, think we weren't going to find out about the Deal you made with the Silverstein Brothers?"

"Now hold on, It's not like that."

Jeff and Jerry grabbed Gomer who was vainly trying to dust off his white suit.

"Now, come on boys lets' go to my office we can talk about this."

Jeff shouted to one of the many who followed them out of the saloon,

"Grab that rope." The crowd hustled Gomer over to the maple tree outside Hawthorne"s office where he was pinned on the ground. Jeff slipped the fake noose around Gomer's neck, reaching under his coat to attach the real end of the rope to the harness he wore. Gomer whispered

"This better work, buddy!"

"Of cousre it will work, after all I don't want to lose my favorite sponsee." He tugged the rope violently. Gomer lifted off the ground a little bit as Jerry towered over him. He drew his army Colt pointed it at Gomer and demanded.

"On your feet Hawthorne!"

"Come on, now. I'm telling you it is not what you think." Jerry ignored his plea and turned to the crowd.

"Sheriff Coleman Hawthrone the Third. You are charged with unspeakable crimes. Embezzelment of town funds." The crowd Roared

"We can always get our money back but what you did ... making a deal with the Silversteins. Don't you understand that what they are trying to do will rip this town to shreds. We have a community here, we are not just a silver town. We are different. And it saddens me to think that all of the love we feel for this town and this community comes from the many hours we spent together as you shared your vision for what this town has become and what it it will continue to be in the future. It saddens me that you had to resort to these acts of treachery. What do you have to say for yourself?" Gomer looked out the crowd. He saw Sid and his father laughing their asses off. He was about to deliver his line when he caught a whiff of something. Whew!

"What do I have to say for myself? I had a bad day. I owed someone some money and had to make some real quick." He started laughing and winked at Sveltie.

"Okay that's it! On the the horse!" Gomer lifted himself up into the saddle of the horse which was situated under the large branch of the maple tree. Jerry shimmied up a ladder and tied the rope around the branch.

Gomer sat on the horse looking down at Sveltie who was pretending to cry and wail. He got a smile out of her as he winked again. He heard Jeff slap the horse's ass. The horse took off. Gomer dropped. He swung back and forth from the branch a few times, the harness was working, thank God. The crowd cheered and applauded at the fine performance.

Then, as always in Muskrat Flats, the unexpected happened. The rope unraveled and Gomer tumbled to the ground. Fortunately, Gomer's paratrooper training kicked in as he instinctively tucked and rolled as he hit the ground. The only problem was where he rolled to. It was then that Gomer discovered where that awful stench everyone had been smelling all day long had been coming from as he had just smeared his face in it.

There was a layer of slime on his face, there were flies and bugs everywhere. Gomer gagged a little as the smell of rotting flesh mixed with a pungent aroma which reminded him of a very ripe brie cheese filled his nostrils. He was on the ground eye to eye with these ...

"Good God, what the fuck!?"

Sveltie and Jerry Leaned forward. Sid and Moe came running forward. As usual there was a brief gasp from the crowd. But people began to laugh.

Sid bent over to get a closer look. Then he heard someone yell.

"There's more of the them over here!" People began to look around and noticed these bizarre fungus growing out of flower beds and areas that had been layered with mulch. The farm museum was infested with them. Moe asked,

"What do you think Sid?"

The crowd was zeroing in on the mushrooms.

"Uhh, I'm okay, in case anyone was wondering."

"Ah, Sonny!" Moe said turned to his son and offered him a hand. Moe knew he was alright. Gomer got up off the ground and Sveltie offered him a tissue to wipe the funk off of his face.

Sid looked down at the white stalk with the bulbous brown head and the queer looking white ring on top.It was slimy and crawling with insects. There were some reddish looking ones in the flower bed across the way. Disturbingly enough, they looked like uncircumcised penises.



"They call them stinkhorns. I have seen any of these in decades. They also call 'em dog's dicks.

"I guess the Mohelim didn't get to these yet, eh Dad? Better call the temple."

Moe laughed but whacked his son on the arm regardless.

"Are you alright sonny?"

"Eh, I'm fine just like hitting the ground in a parachute."

Sveltie was hugging Jerry.

"Those are the oddest looking things." She said. Sid looked over at his life long friend, Moe, and said,

"The way you leaped out of that chair, you look like you are ready to beat me in the 100 yard dash again."

"Yeah, Dad, you moved pretty quickly."

"I'm a little weak from the meds but the doctors say I'm getting better." He hugged Gomer who still had the noose around his neck.

"I love you Sonny, boy ... Hey, look I got a picture before the rope came undone. Gomer put his arm around his father's shoulder. Sid leaned in on the other side and they all peered at the photograph of him swinging from the mighty Maple tree.

Gomer just looked at his Dad and gave thanks that he was here just one more day. He looked around and saw all of his friends and loved ones. Jeff, his sponsor was coming in for a hug.

"You alright, Buddy?" Gomer was a little emotional and sniffed back a tear. He never thought that he could ever have such a wonderful life without the use of drugs He was grateful for waking up, He was grateful that even though the re-enactment went awry that he got out unscathed and more importantly he didn't accidently get hanged. He was thankful for the Odd Fellows and Jerry and Sveltie, all of the people who didn't turn their backs on him even though he turned his back on them when he was caught up in the grips of his addiction.

"You know Jeff, Today I beleive that I never have to get high again, I really beleive that."

"I know, my brother. Does that mean you are going to get rid of that joint in your ash tray?"

Gomer didn't answer.

As the day wound down, people got back into their cars and emptied the cluttered parking lot. Paul and Donnie carefully wheeled the donut machine down McKernan St., back to the Odd Fellows Hall, where the members busied themselves with clean up and organization.

Soon Muskrat Flats was once again quiet and people settled in for the eve. Jerry finally was where he longed to be. Slowly untying his sultry wife's costume. Gomer and Sid drove Moe back to his house, where he read from the manuscript he had been working on in the nursing home, as his guests listened intently.

Yes, life is good in Muskrat Flats these days. But until the stinkhorns disappear the and the stench of organic decaying funkiness continues to permeate the air, it is probably the best reason to get it in gear and start ...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Warning - This contains Explicit racial/ethnic content ... you Honky!

Hello Folks - You may be interested to note that this is being written from the Hartford Civic Center, er excuse me it is now the XL Center. It is in between the second and third periods of the season opener between the Hartford Wolfpack and our hometown Favorites the Springfield Falcons. The score is tied 3-3. Why I am here with my computer is irrelevant, but I am in a comfortable spot, the laptop is plugged in and I have a reasonable work space.

Between periods, I decided to take a walk around the perimeter of the arena. Something I had done many times before. Not necessarily at Hockey games, hockey games are a fun thing. Right now Christopher Walken is on the jumbotron asking for more cowbell . Ah yes, music sweet music.

As I strolled through the hallways of the former Civic Center, I began to reminisce. I was taken back 24 years … to 10-14-1984. I was strolling through these same hallways during the set break during a Grateful Dead concert. What a stark difference the hockey crowd is from that electrified crowd clogging the hallways so many years ago. It is funny how things change. In 1972, in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Hunter Thompson suggested to Democratic candidate George McGovern, and I'm paraphrasing here ... "If you want to win the election, have a picture of yourself taken sitting on a beach, drinking a beer, wearing a Grateful Dead shirt." Monday night, The Dead played a fundraiser for Presidential candidate Barack Obama.

On the way to Hartford I was driving through one of the busier intersections in Springfield. I saw something I had never seen before. Actually, the scene I have encountered I have seen many times in the past but the circumstances and the demographic were such a stark contrast, such a deviation from the norm, that I had to sit up and take notice.

I have to give a little back story before I share what awful comment popped out of my mouth when I first processed what I was witnessing. I can be a real sarcastic bastard sometimes. My best friends love me despite this character flaw. Usually a get groans of disappointment and some lighthearted admonishment. More often than not I get laughter. Just the other night , my friend Geoff responded to one of my wisecracks,

“You should be with Bill Maher.”

“Really, I would love to be on Bill Maher’s show, that would be great.”

“I didn’t mean that you should be on his show, you should be his personal court jester, he’d love you.”

I was born in 1964, too late to know where I was when JFK was murdered and too young to confidently say that I remembered RFK assassination. I do remember where I was when Harry Truman died, oddly enough. The point I’m trying to make is that I grew up in a world where I encountered racism, every day both in my neighborhood in the suburbs as well as at the Catholic grammar school I attended.

We called each other, Guineas, Kikes, Micks and Polacks. Everybody seemed to enjoy a good ethnic joke. The Chinese and Jews were cheap, Polacks were dumb, the Irish were drunks, Greeks owned pizza shops and black people smelled, so blind people could hate them too. I’m sorry it is the way it was, political correctness was a foreign concept back then.

Of course I don’t condone racism, I'm simply repeating what a bunch of ignorant 10 year-olds launched at each other 35 years ago.

As I grew older I realized that the world is an enormously more complex place than we thought it to be when we were running up and down the streets of my neighborhood on our Schwinn bicycles with our banana seats. I changed my attitude as I got older and saw what was really going on with civil rights. My feelings were mixed when I heard Uncle Morose (he was a funeral director) pointedly referring to a group of black men as “jungle bunnies.” My brother and I kind of snickered at the time, but later, my brother took the time to tell me how wrong our Uncle was in his thinking.

I am a pretty tolerant guy. I don’t have a problem with same sex marriage, interracial dating, mating or what have you. Love is love. So please forgive me when you read what came out of my mouth that afternoon. It is now three days later … The Falcons won 4-3. Nice comeback, eh?

I am going to vote for Barack Obama. I think he is the best qualified candidate for the job. He looks and sounds like a CEO. He is calm and smooth under pressure and obviously highly intelligent. I don’t buy the crap the McCain camp is trying to ream down our throats about Bill Ayers. Obama was 8 years old when the Weathermen were doing their thing. I guess McCain forgot about his own stint on the G. Gordon Liddy show. Remember him? The guy who masterminded the Watergate Break in? the Guy who suggested to his audience that if an ATF agent comes at you with the intention of taking away your firearms to violently resist and go for a “head shot, because he will be wearing a bullet proof vest.” This is the same guy who named targets at a shooting range Bill and Hillary. Nice company you are keeping there, Senator and you have the nerve to praise this potential terrorist and right wing loose screw?

McCain also has been quiet about Obama’s association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. An easy target if you ask me, and certainly a better one that Bill Ayers. If McCain took this route, to criticize Senator Obama with this association, It may be brought into the light that his running mate, Sarah Palin, used to attend a church where parishioners were known to speak in tongues. Rev. Wright may have said some inflammatory things, but at least you could understand what he was saying.

So here is the scenario I have been working toward. I was driving through Indian Orchard on the way to the Mills. There is a busy intersection near a bridge where a group of African American and Puerto Rican youths had fashioned signs in support of Barack Obama. Some looked official, some looked like the ones you plant in your front yard that had a stick attached to them with duct tape others, held by the girls, were handmade. It doesn’t get any more grass roots than this. They were wearing their baggy clothes, and their baseball hats sideways accented by multi-colored doo rags. The boys had their pants hanging down around their knees, as is the style of the day. And I couldn’t help it. The first words that came out of my mouth were,

“Good God, there’s a reason not to vote for Obama.”

What an asshole! I can hear the banjos playing Dixie in my head.

When I immediately thought about the situation, I asked for forgiveness from the guy upstairs, who with my luck is undoubtedly very dark skinned. I am glad no one heard me, which seems like a moot point since I just narked myself out to the whole world.

I began to think.

What an amazing time we live in. The very fact that these kids, most of whom are too young to vote, took it upon themselves to go out and let their voices be heard ended up leaving me feeling chagrined. Then I felt hope. I felt hope that my daughter was growing up so far away from a time when we would have turned fire hoses on these kids. I felt hope that these kids felt that it is not only their right, but their duty to go out and stand for a person in whom they believe. I feel hope that Americans my age from similar backgrounds can accept and embrace the ever changing landscape.

Back in the day people from all over the world, my Grandfather included, passed through Ellis Island with the hopes that they too could live the American Dream. These kids deserve that dream as well as do their children. We all deserve it.

BTW - Gomer says hi!

You can find me anxiously awaiting my next trip to the voting booth as I am …

Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.

Friday, October 3, 2008

"I see your silver shining town and I know I can't go there..."

I sat down with a friend to watch the Vice Presidential debate Thursday night. Yah, fer sure, you betcha I did, doggone it.

Yikes, may the God of my understanding Save us.

I had expectations for the debate. I had expected that Sarah Palin would be slick, polished and full of talking points, speaking in generalized themes. I was correct. I was not prepared for the "aw shucks" down home main street America folksy schtick which she was presenting. It was a new-killer performance, I tell you what. I can bet that most of the non-thinking morons who believe everything they see or hear from the Fox network want to not only drink a beer with Sarah Palin but finish off that six pack and engage her in a wet and steamy game of "Drill, baby,drill!"

In my opinion, she didn't really answer any questions posed to her. When I heard Gwen Ifill was to be the moderator, I expected the Governor to be stepping in front of the 70 MPH Fastball machine at the local batting cage. What Governor Palin faced was the 30 MPH softball machine. Ifill was completely lax in holding the Governor to the subject matter, allowing her to deliver line after line of impertinent rehearsed material. I don't believe she uttered one original thought throughout the debate. To think, the right wing pundits were crying foul when they learned of Ifill's role as the moderator of the debate.

Now I am sure they are rejoicing in Governor Palin's shameless invocation of memories of Ronald Regan with statements such as, "there he goes, again." Referring to the "shining city at the top of the hill." and extensively quoting Reagan in her closing remarks. I want to hear what SHE has to say. I've heard what Ronald Reagan had to say, and it was tripe back then.

Senator O'Biden (did anyone else catch that gaffe?) demonstrated why he is the best candidate for the job. He avoided attacking Governor Palin rather attacking John McCain's policies, his voting track record regarding finance reform, and portraying him as anything but the "maverick" he claims to be.

Senator Biden was succinct, displayed a clear command of facts, knowledge of foreign affairs and demonstrated why he is the better candidate to fill the shoes of V.P. Enough of that.

Before the debate my friend said,

"I still haven't read your latest blog. Are you going to keep doing the fiction stuff, cause I miss hearing about what is going on in your life."

What's going on my life? You want to hear about what's going on in my life? And this is the same guy who complains that I "can't keep it to less than 500 words."

You have read about my exploits at the 7-11 occasionally here and there. Well there have been a string of robberies at the 7-11 and it seems that they were all possibly done by the same person/people. The last two definitely were, same masks, same gun, same modus operandi. These morons were caught red handed.

I have been questioned recently by more than a few people regarding Muskrat Flats. Is it real? where is it? How was your trip? Is Gomer Eckstein a real person?

Muskrat Flats is a location mentioned in the Grateful Dead song Pride of Cucamonga.

It is a fictitious location in an un-named State somewhere in the US. We know that it has unique geographical features such as season changes, a River, a Wharf, all located on a peninsula in a valley, which also happens to have flat lands. Go figure. This story wrote itself for a while before it began to develop a character of its own. We know that is borders Cities and towns and neighborhoods such as West Side, Baptist Lake, Enfield, Prescott and Dana. The last three towns suggest it may be somewhere in Western Mass where the Swift and Ware Rivers meet.

Muskrat Flats is my little foray into a Walter Mitty like world. Escapist delusions of grandeur, perhaps, or more like an idyllic Lake Wobegon type of place with a little harder edge. Somehow I can't imagine Garrison Keillor getting on stage and starting out his monologue by stating,

"Reverend Inquvist, the pastor at the Lutheran church, here in town, went down the the methadone clinic the other day ..."

It just doesn't sound right, but it sure fits a situation which could occur in a place like Muskrat Flats.

So, yes it is mostly fiction with bits of reality thrown in. What can I say? It just happened. When I write I am just as amazed as anyone as to what the end result will be. I generally have an Idea of where I want to go with the story, but most of the best stuff just rolls out. People, places and things, (heh, get it?) may seem familiar to you, but they are people you meet every day, there are circumstances that one and ten people you know are probably dealing with as you read this. I'm just a little better at making my words, ideas and fantasies come to life, than the average bear.

Well, I think I have exceeded my 500 word limit again. I will keep up with a reporting on things going on in my life and my recovery.

For now, the residents of Muskrat Flats are gearing up for the Fall Festival at the Farm and Agriculture Museum. Jeremiah and his wife Jenny are bringing their work home in anticipation of next weekend's events. He is going over the demo schedule and she is bending black pvc tubing and making hula hoops.

Sid Bartleby's kid has only gotten kicked by one horse as he practices putting their shoes on.

Gomer is furiously working on writing his second step, in the meantime he is trying to reinforce the crumbling harness he is supposed to wear in the re-enactment of Sheriff Hawthorne's "hanging" with one of his more up to date and presumably safer parachute harnesses.

These characters have a pulse they are breathing and to me, and to some of you they seem so real that you question their existence. I want to find out what happens to them next, don't you?

Until then, you will once again find me ...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats.