On Dogs and Death

Both my dogs 8 and 10 died roughly within a year of each other, tragically and abruptly. Dante the old boy just two weeks ago. I think the cheap food from Wal-Mart, Old Roys, is what killed them, gave them cancer.

Cujo, the younger dog just quit walking one day. Then miraculously started walking again, and then stopped again. We watched him for several weeks deteriorating on our kitchen floor. I would wrap a towel under his back legs and carry him in and out the house. He’d piss and shit all over himself and me. Left me a hysterical, broken mess. Cried like a broken child daily. Finally I took him to the vet one sunny, beautiful spring day, hysterically crying. Like a Stone played on the radio, a devestating, yet significant synchronicity. The song had always struck me to my core, as terribly profound, and songer Chris Cornell had just comitted suicide.

Vet tech, based on my tear filled expression told me it must be my first one (it was). I wanted to spit in her face. Afterwards, I stood there awkwardly trying to compose myself to pay the fucking bill, the absurdity, a hundred some bucks to kill your dog.

Dante was fine until one day a couple weeks ago he just stopped eating, and then got super lethargic. Stupidly, we thought maybe he just had worms or something, so we took him to the vet. They did a bunch of tests, told us his kidneys were shutting down, were at near death levels. Gave him shots to maybe pep him up, took our money, said to call on Monday.

Oh, and this is so fucked up. Right before he went downhill, my wife decided to get a puppy. I have a deep, dangerous love for dogs, but after Cujo’s death I couldn’t imagine getting another one. Time had sort of softened that, but I still wasnt ready though. I punted on the issue, told my wife if she wanted one and was prepared to do the majority of work I was ok and could do my part.

We named him Cash, after Johnny, because he’s all black. He’s a Husky/Lab mix and has different colored eyes. We thought it would be good to introduce old dog and new dog, give old boy a buddy, get him moving again. Then he took that turn for the worst.

After the torture with Cujo we realized we couldnt let Dante suffer like that. That we had let it go on too long for our own sake. And if a dog cant be a dog there’s no point in keeping it going yada, fucking yada. He just got worse that week after the vet visit. And one night while I was petting him, he rested his head in my palm, and told me the way dogs do, that he was going and it was okay, and he loved me and was sorry, but resigned to it.

It’s so messed up to say in a sense, but that old boy was like the foundation of my whole adult life and family. My wife and I got him in the early years of our dating, and during an extra-rocky bit of that, it’s my irrational attachment to dogs which seemed to make separation an impossibility to me (I’ll spare you the tragic explanation of that for now). And now nine years later, three kids, all that life, he was saying it was time to go.

We were gonna go that Monday. I said I would take him, no problem, but really it’s so fucking awful, if she wanted to take the licking I wouldnt fight her on it. She said she would. That Sunday night was bad for him. I laid with him under the kitchen table, and held him, whispering it was okay, that he was okay. That he was a great boy, and I understood he had to go. And it seemed to relax him. Give him some rest.

That Monday morning my two older boys got on the bus to school. And my wife got our little one ready for pre-k and then was gonna call the vet and take him up there. But then he started shaking, cramping up, whimpered and cried. Tried to get up, adjust, but couldn’t. I held his head again in my hands, told him I loved him, and it was ok, just go ahead, go to your rest.

My wife and son scrambled around. And then he was gone. I sat there and touched his now souless body. Felt his heart beat petter out. Had the insane hope that maybe I could still feel it. Knew better of course and nurse wife confirmed. Eventually, I grabbed some more towels to clean up the puddle of piss and cover him up, so my wife could take the lil one to school.

Sat there for a few minutes, crying, laying my head on him. Then I went outside. It was another beautiful morning. An early winter crisp was present, but sunny and clear skies. This time I didnt resent the day for its beauty, but appreciated it while I dug a hole for him at the back of the property. There was something about that dirt, digging it, shoving my hands into it, bringing it up to my nose, smelling it, that didnt make it better, but some how made me understand…ashes to ashes, dust to dust, dirt to dirt.

The hole was dug by the time she got back. I carried his stinking, stiff corpse to the hole and awkwardly stuffed him in there, and we worked together covering him up. We planted a hazelnut tree on top, but some critter got it that night.

I came in stripped my clothes off, showered. Went back to my bed and laid there. We made love later that morning. Desperate, needy love-making, like our relationship itself, something, anything, that could stop the hurt, but it never does. It just dulls it. Makes it manageable in the moment, but worse in the end.

I love goddamn dogs. Too much. Like women and the world itself. I would give up karmic evolution to go back to being a dog. To run, and play, fight and fuck, without reservation. To not over analyze. To be brave and loyal. To be one with the world. One with myself.

On Writing (My Only Refuge)

It’s been a spectacular month or so (life-time really). I’ve burned so many bridges recently. And at the end of it all, I’ve come back to what I’ve always known, that writing is my only hope. I wish I could say I felt bad for burning all those bridges, but the exact opposite is true. I felt more alive then I have felt in years. I found the flames beautiful, loved the sound of crashing concrete, huffed the smell as it rebounded back on me. And more then anything I loved that the people on the otherside finally looked alive, were moving again, scrambling, often with flashes of a sly lil smirk. Admittedly, that both infuriates and thrills me.

It infuriates because I wonder why didnt they just join me in the first place, if they wanted it like I did. And thrills for the same reason. The thing in me is in them. We will all dance joyfully at the bonfire at the end of the world.

About a month ago, I finally let loose on my absentee Father. Called him names, expressed my outrage and frustration with ranty blocks of texts. Decimated every excuse and rationalization he tried to roll out. My decades of analysis, in his absence, had over-prepared me in this feat. In the end, he was just a puddle of apologies. The only thing I felt bad about was that I didnt sponge that puddle up and incinerate it, that I let it crawl away and recoagulate. But the proverbial gloves are off and there’s something beyond liberating in that.

Now I hunt for new meat to chew on. But it’s hard to find. An old friend was delivered by God today, but he proved much softer and less substantive then he had always boasted. And his weak punting on the whole thing, only inflamed the spirit more. Which as the smoke settled, and I stood there under the black sky and the stars dangled, I was reminded that words are my only refuge.

Here I will make my stand. Scream into the great abyss, until that thing finally wakes up and addresses me directly. And finally I may have something to chew on.

Confession (On Catholicism and HealthCare)

The modern medical physical is an updated form of the Catholic sacrament of Confession. I went to a Catholic grade school and High School, with a brief sojourn freshman year at the public school.

That decision to jump schools was multifaceted. Priest, principal, and a guidance counselor attempted to press me about the sacrament of Confirmation, the ritual wherein a Catholic confirms their personal belief in the religion, and is official-official in the cult from then on, in the 8th grade. One of my proudest moments, was telling this gang to kick rocks. My true confirmation of Grace, I know now (and then I guess?).

My Mom was divorcing my step-Dad, and our poverty and her clear Jezebel spirit, I believe marked us with that gang. We’d been marked for a while though, I suppose, so it shouldn’t have been a suprise. And yet, it always is, isn’t it? This divorce was partly why I made the jump to public school too. Some self-inflected wound of immaturity, and commonsense. How would we afford to send me to the private school? I’d end up sneaking my way back to the Catholics (non-confirmed) through a “scholarship”‘ for the debate program Sophomore year. Note, the Catholics are great free-lancers.

Anyway, point is, I’d always sensed a lack of flavor, or should I say culture to the public school system, and really the gentile public in general. It seemed to lack a certain something to me, which I know now understand was its cultic, and occultic systems, and accoutrements. The singing and chanting, costumes, incense, drama, and the freak outs.

I realized today post-physical, while strumming my milestone-like Squire telecaster, that the modern check up really does have it origin in ancient ritual and spiritual/superstitious beliefs, just like them Catholics. The whole thing the pregame rituals, the signing in, the attendants, the silent (except for the background noise of the TV, which in these times is the equivalent of the bubbling brook), which allows reflection and excuse making, space for the coming cognitive dissonance, and morever the pre-pregame ritual, of the night and weeks before, what illnesses and ailments will one declare, or attempt to medigate with good behavior. The anxiety and anticipation of judgement. The inherent power relationship and the salvation that comes with it.

Your Doctor can only treat, what you acknowedge and admit. What you confess. We like this. It’s parental. The Dr. is a subsitute, for you and the thing on high, an intermediary. It’s interesting, because I still got that raging spirit to resist. Basically the only time I will go the Dr. are for these “Wellness”‘ check-ups for our insurance, which saves us 80bucks a month. My Dr. today was nice enough. A colleague of my wife, she had insured I would like his style and I did.

He acknowledged that in my case, it was basically just a hello, but that the point of this check-up was maybe to catch a guy in his mid-thirties (me! that crafty fox!), who veins are starting to chunk up with platelets, and get them on something to help them out, before he’s fifty and dead. I smiled with him, nodded along in agreement. When he was done I said, “well hate to a throw a wrench in your plans there Sir, but I was planning on not doing those labs today. Be honest with ya, just not in the mood to be poked or proded.”

These are the moments that give my spirit an invaluable tingle, the moment when that curtain gets pulled back on Oz, busting those lights on mid-ritiual, sitting there right in the middle of confession, staring that priest in the eye, and saying hey man what about all these other religions, what about all of them that never heard of Christ?

The Dr. smiled said Oh, Ok. I explained it wasn’t I’d never do it. And I’d done it before. Actually had high levels, but then I tightened up diet and stuff, and my levels were fine. And really truth was, nothing in them numbers could make me anymore serious about my own health, body, then I already was. So not today. I’d prefer not.

It was all good. He still hit me with the stethoscope, checked my throat glands, pressed on my stomach, squeezed my ankles. Indignities I endured, with small amounts of discomfort. As usual ritual tricked me into confessing a patch of eczema on my leg, but I recovered with the reflection that it was all good, and that eczema was basically an umbrella term for fuck-all, and if they weren’t going to chop it off, I’d prolly be all right. By the end, he thanked me for an interesting conversation and visit.

6-30-18 On The Rooster,

Kept hearing a cockle-doodle-doo (more like oaoaoaoaaaahhh) from chicken island. I ulimately ordered pre-sexed chicks because it was cheaper without the extra couple roosters, and also because we were attempting to take it step by step so the process ofndealing with brooding and pontential baby chicks all the time seemed a little too much this year. We had to get the electric fences up, build a chicken tractor, move the first twelve out, and later intergrate the two generations.

I chose a heritage breed called the Speckled Sussex. I’m really like how the birds look, like Jackson Pollock spent a weekend being ornery with em. I was thinking a rooster was afoot, so I had started staring at them a bit more. One of their bright, irredescent blue-green oil-sheens, caught my attention. There were other signs of a cock, Gallus Domesticus, an erect and bright red comb, overall size, a classical strut. These noticeable detail were improved and confirmed via the internets.

I discovered that a rooster will have more pointed feathers, while a hens are rounded at the end. The male will also have a bushier neck. And of course sharper and larger back claws, spurs.

To discover if an egg has been fertalized one must take a strong light beside it and determine whether it is clear or opaque. I did, but it was hard to tell what from what. Except for one, where it gone cloudier, and there the primitive first place a single lil red dot of cell swirled.

The rooster offeres a real-world introductory dialogue about love-making with the children. The love touch. Male and Female. Like Mom and Dad. Like You.

I wish you could have seen my sunset last night. Perspective through the bubbling hills of the horizon, it wore a crown as it set. Endless beams to infinity. Champagne hues, oranges and blues, golden-yellow, saucer center, sort of like an egg…

6-20-18 On Chickens, The Rain, 1997 Honda Odyssey, Stephen King Netherworlds

If I don’t get out early enough to feed the chickens, they start coming out of the electric fence. We must be grounding out somewhere, but all the fiddling hasn’t seemed to fix it. They all sneak back in though, once the food is out, but having 30-some chickens squawking at ya, chasing you around the yard every morning can be anxiety inducing.

There’s been a bit of civil strife in chicken land. Early in spring, we moved the original dozen chickens out to the field, in a chicken tractor, to let the twenty-or-so teenage birds have the coop. Eventually the new chicks were big enough, and it was hot enough, so it seemed best to bring them together in the coop, which was shadier and easier to do all the chores together at once.

The OG girls were happy to be home, but not happy with what they deemed to be the squatters in their spot. I had to play rooster to the bunch during some early feedings, to discourage pecking. Some general state of equilibrium had set it, I believed. Yet some on both sides, show signs of tussling, nicks in their crops and such.

Routines are interesting, how they build up so much momentum. I realize that every morning, that it’s my unavoidable habit of feeding them, after they’ve run out, that ultimately reinforces the unwanted behavior. And then I’m able to step back and say, what’s really the harm? Rather, could I calm down in the moment? Let go of the absurd resentment of a creature foraging for their food. And just allow myself to let the moment be as it is.

They stop yelling when the food is finally distributed. They’re eating good on kitchen scrapes, cabbage Leaves, and all the weeds and things they can forage, or are tossed into them, so I know the morning swarm is unwarranted anxiety. I’ve developed the ability to identify a number of wild edibles, dandelions (easy one), nettles, lamb’s quartets, purslane, etc, and the chickens tear through all stuff too.

Two days of rain have it way cooled down, an ideal late stage spring day. And instead of watering, I got to weed one of two large raspberry patches, 50 new plants total, that we just started this spring. I collected and spread compost for those and some pepper plants, while Britney and the kids burned our papers. There was a moment there, with the orange fire coming out the side of the barrel and the setting blue sky, I thought to myself, this is paradise. I couldn’t ask for anything else. I don’t deserve this. Grace made this.

Stayed cloudy til dark. All those blues and whites. Dark spots of the storm. Swirling whites cloud, thick lines of the painter’s brush.

The skies went that ominous grey-green last Thursday. Got caught out in it, picking the boys up from reading group at the library. Our 1997 Honda Odyssey, is an archeological phenomena. Mostly Mechanically reliable, yet defrost remains one of its greatest flaws. The rain, hail and four anxious breathers had us in a thick, Stephen King-like netherworld, at sixty out on the deep country highway. Had to demand the oldest boys shirt, which he struggled with in the thick milieu. Making it to our turn somehow, we found our gravel road deteriorating with thick rivers in the ditches, rolling with glorious and destructive tan water. This rain is everything. Even in the danger zone, we were grateful.

2-8-18 (a brief sketch of self, on the failure of language, and irony, reluctantly released, too much slip showing)

And it’s all just words, empty phrases and utterances. A man struggling not to drown, is what a writer (person?) is. But all that verbal flailing seems to be the core of the problem. All these extra words are just bad techniques which have to be abandoned in the next attempt. Just an endless sowing of existential angst, a tone which escalates in feverish pitch, but never hits that ceiling, never climaxes.

I’ve been learning Spanish. Do it on duo-lingo on my phone. It’s fun and I can just tear through the exercises, the same strength and weakness of intuitive ability at play. . You can feel the shared history of words from the morphing collective feel of them. Peace, Paz, Pax, Pace.

You know about the Tower of Babel? Ah, fuck it. Point I was going to make was about how language fails us at its critical task, namely talking to one another. Because there’s always this gap of language and inner psychology, that obscures shared understanding. You don’t know what the words mean, objectively or subjectively to the other person, or really to yourself either.

What attracted me to words early on has soured and now often repulses. I was trying to figure “it” out. The whole pie, in and out, and the words were a safe and more importantly available way to get at the thing. But now they’ve not satiated, yet left their remnants, and they’ve warped the vessel.

Not broken, note, just warped. To the point they can just pour and pour and fill and fill, and the original hexagonal spout, from having been turned so many times, has worn round and in the flood it can be hard to find and grip it. What’s worse (better?) is you’ve grown amphibious, developed gills and you can make it work underwater, but other can’t, and they start to pull away for air.

8-30-16 (Reflections on Dreams, Goals, Executive Function)

My kids are really the coolest thing ever. I don’t brag about them much. Not good when you got a banshee tracking ya. You learn it’s good to be humble. Hell, be down right superstitious. That’s a good word, isn’t it? Knocking on wood, that’s one I got heavy. Can’t make any self-positive prediction of the future without knocking on some real wood. Keep your filthy jokes to yourself.

I don’t want to rant, whine, add to the din as it were. I think that’s why I haven’t posted much here lately, this impulse to go on a rant, and be negative is too strong. I’m tired of it. Tired of talking and analyzing. Tired of thinking. There’s this overgrown path in my front yard. A couple of crazy invasive tree, limb things grew like twenty feet high. The forest of these invasive saplings provided the perfect frame for this crazy beautiful vine thing, so we just let it all go wild. I realized though that maybe it was blocking my afternoon sun, casting a shade on the pepper patch. I liked the privacy it offered, an organic hedge blocking the view of the neighbors, but then I have a hard time keeping tack of my kids in the jungle, and the hedge is just another giant thing they can hid in. Also, I want to reclaim the space for the garden too, so for the last couple days I hacked it up, shoved it into the compost bin. I loved that, just hacking and chopping, thinking minimally, sweating, doing work. That’s how I feel like handling things.

For the last month or longer this vision of selling our city house and going full country became an obsession. The urge to run, to restart, to reclaim a “simpler” life had us hunting properties, and talking to realtors, bankers. When you’re poor everything becomes a numbers game, get the whole feeling of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that adds to the confusion. We began to realize that our current house is probably our one strong financial asset (as opposed to the crippling student-loan debt) and its didn’t really make sense gambling that on a country life, which would be a crazy amount of work and resources. We have a two year plan to get out of all credit card, and other short term debt. That was always a priority in our mind, but as we got right down to it, as in listing our house, we realized that it just wasn’t smart. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We have a life right now that works, pretty well. A place of employment that’s close, bills payed, school the boy likes, big enough yard and ability to urban homestead. Another huge point was the fact that staying on our current path allows us to put any extra funds towards fun activities and travel. That became the big final realization, it’s not about things, but about experiences.

Using my “executive function” that’s an idea and phrase I’ve been using frequently in my rants to Britney. Point being that as a parent, a leader of the family you have got to think in this emotionally detached, best outcomes approach. In the familial enterprise it’s not just your dreams or wants that matter. For some that probably reads obvious, but I think being part of the divorced kids generations the problem of egos and values was something I’ve had to give a lot of thought too. Moreover failures in both, are patterns I’m still really working hard to develop out of. Having honor, self-control, dignity, these almost feel like outdated, or even mean words. I think that’s a problem.

I got to stop it there. The force of the rant is just too strong, and the keys make it too easy. I think that’s the problem. The journal format works when you have to push all this drivel out by the force of your own hand. The technology takes the real work and punishment out of it. Thanks technology.

Interludes #20 (In which, we continue with the Post-Modern hackery)

“At least you got a chance,”a voice broke in, loud in my head.

It’s a horrible feeling, like having your brain sucked out through you’re belly button. Last thing I remembered I was laying beside a tree next to the river, in some farmers field, trying to stay awake. I ran for probably five, six hours, until I stopped seeing cars all together. Only thing I saw were cows and horses, things that didn’t say much.

I had to take it slower at times creeping through these back acres. You never quite knew who might be kicking about, checking on everything.

It got cold, real cold. Sky was so big, so dark. My breathe came out in smoky streams. I began to shiver, and panic. I saw what looked like an empty church sitting far off the road. There were no cars, grass was over grown. I found broken windows and a busted in door around back, so I snuck in there.

Everything was gone from the place. No pews, no crosses, just empty. I was going to go to sleep there, seemed like a safe place. I laid down and started to freak out. What in the hell was I doing? I started to berate the Muse, demanding an answer, to why she was doing all this to me. When she ignored me, I turned to the big guy, the sky daddy. Why was he allowing all this? Couldn’t he help me? Didn’t he care?

The church was so dark. The shadows seemed to hide an eternity. I felt like something was watching me, from the hallway. Super creepy sensation. Instinctively, I jump up felt like I was drunk, sick. I stumbled out and caught myself on a nail. My arm was warm and wet, so I know I was bleeding. I rushed out, falling twice in the hurry, not wanting to discover what was looking at me.

I ran for another hour, until I came upon a large oak tree and decided to sit down for a moment. I was freezing, holding my legs, making myself into a little ball. I realized I was going to freeze to death like this. Best thing I could think to do was pile a punch of leaves and stuff against me. This sort of worked, but the damp, dirty leaves added an air of desperation to the whole thing, and I suffered with the enormity of my mistake. Why had I run from the hospital like that?

My best bet was to turn around and head back, and get some professional help. Clearly, I had lost it. Of course, the fact that my face was pressed against a cold, concrete prison cell slab confirmed this in spades.

“At least you got a fucking chance,” the voice taunted again. “My timeline went nuclear on 9-11. Everyone one of them are dead over there. You understand that. I left them all that day. Not even a goddamn phone call. You remember your sister’s shitty, red Neon you were driving then? I crashed it somewhere outside St. Paul. Just looked like a big storm. All I had was a fucking pack of camels lights and a lighter, hidden under the front seat, so no one would find them. You remember doing that type of shit?”

I had no clue what the fuck was going on. I still really don’t. At first I thought it was just some figment of my own mind. As I woke up, I discerned it was coming from under the steel door, but it was still my voice, and sort of my memories. It was harder too, something sick and twisted in there, grumbly, gravely.

“Just kept walking you know? You remember when we took the trip to the boundaries water? Fourteen or fifteen. Best buddies, right? Mike and Sully, right? Boundary waters. You remember all the fun we had? Camping all night, roasting brats on the fire, going out on the fishing boat at night, smoking joints Sully smuggled in his backpack, being sort of ashamed and exhilarated that he had done that. All those stars? And how good it felt to be alone out there. Edge of the world. Well, I thought of that as I watched the nuclear winter approach from the East. I didn’t know until later, once the fucking spooks swooped me up, but the cyclical weather pattern had kept this thing at a tortoise crawl to the West, you understand?”

I was sitting up now. There was a small concrete bench there, which suggested the exact opposite of relaxation. “Survived for years out there like that. Can you imagine it? Nah you can’t. I won’t bore you.” He burst out in a hysterical laugh and screamed.

When he calmed down, he started again. “They found me on a rock, somewhere in North Dakota, who knows. It’s funny how all those titles and shit, end up meaning nothing. Everywhere was Shitsville, thats how I thought of it anyway. Found me under some rock in Shitsville. Came up on me all crazy, one stormy night. I thought they were aliens or demons at first. Giant fucking triangle floating in the sky–wasn’t the first time I had seen some crazy shit out there, but this was especially crazy cause it was totally real. The landed at the open base of the mountain. A tiny helicopter popped out of the top and flew right towards me. I was too scared to run, too scared to do anything. A man, first one I had seen in over a year, came repelling from the helicopter, as it hovered above. Without a word, man snapped this harness on me and then we were both floating through the air and up to the waiting triangle. Gave me all shorts of shots and shit. World went blank. Then I was over here. Fucked up, ain’t it? How they get you? Somewhere in Shitsville?”

Total panic overwhelmed me. I would lay there and imagine none of this was happening. The words just popped out though. “Out of bed.”

“Out of bed? Squatting somewhere? Holed up? What city? DC? Seattle? Heard that was bullshit? Know I shouldn’t have trusted that wino bitch? She said it was all gone. For real though, where were you holed up, in case they send me back to Shitsville?”

“Des Moines.” It just popped out. The miserable truth. I could feel myself walking right into this man’s anger.

“Des Moines?” He said, full of hurt and disbelief. “Fuck that. It’s gone. Long gone. Unless, fuck that. Don’t tell me that. Oh no, no, no, no. No. Fuck that.”

At this the man began to scream and cry. I could hear his heavy body as he slammed it against the floor, against the door. It was a wet sound like a drenched blanket being slapped against the concrete.

I yelled at him to stop, but he didn’t listen. With a final horrible sound of a watermelon being split in two, all went quiet, and that was it.

I laid there on the ground for a while, trying to make sense of what the man had said. And what did it mean that he talked about we? And us? As if “we” were the same person? That was impossible. Didn’t it make more sense, my paranoid mind began to push, that they had some actor in there, playing the part of myself from another dimension, which had meets its unfortunate apocalyptic fate? As a writer and a fan of Science Fiction I am well aware of the concept of other dimensions and alternative time lines, my own experiences in the La La Land have been proof enough, but still to hear yourself so clearly, and yet so differently, was a real challenge for my mind.

Honestly, I felt very tired, and sad, and helpless, so I resolved to just fall asleep there on the floor. A loud banging of a door snapped me right out of it, and caused me to scurry to a corner of the cell. The sound of a number of boots slamming down the corridor alarmed me. I heard the cell down the way from me open up, and the slimy streak of a leaking body being dragged across the floor. The was some muffled words, more stomping, until it was right outside my room.

I jumped up. Within instinct taking over, I realized it was time too fight. A slit in the door opened up. A pair of intense blue eyes stared at me, disseminating all my courage with one glare. “Mr. McMulin,” a soft masculine voice said. “I’m coming in. I want a word. Behave yourself or receive a sedative.” He raised a syringe to the viewing slot. “Understand? No more games.”

I didn’t say a word. The slot was closed and the door was slid open. The man was tall, skinny, and sinewy. His face was set in lines of intensity. His dark brown hair, was greased and plastered to his head. He wore an Orange and Yellow Hawaiian shit, with short shorts. His legs were thin and pale, wobbly perfect like al dente spaghetti noodles. “Hello Mr. McMulin. You may call me Mr Black. I will be something like you’re contact person from now on, understand what I mean by that? Contact person? Over here. In what you so childishly call La La Land. Aaru. Elysium. Caelum. Nirvana. Asgard. Those are what people of the past called it. In more beautiful and civil times. La La land has its own beauty, doesn’t? Simple. Pleasurable to say. Somehow it manages to convey the true nature of this place. Mr McMulin, I am going to give it to you straight, okay?

nodded. “I don’t need this, do I?” He asked, gesturing towards his hand holding the syringe.

“No.”

“Good, good,” he said, handing it to a guard who stepped forward. They crowded the door way and hall. There was nothing I could do but listen.

He sat down on the concrete bench. “You have children, right Mr McMulin?”

“Yes, I do, and I love them very much.”

“Of course, Mr McMulin, of course. Now these children I am sure there have been times, when you have been frustrated by their messiness? The thousandth time you scrubbed the table of breakfast syrup, or when you found that patch of crayon art on the wall, or the thousandth shitty diaper, some moment like that, you must have felt precisely how I feel right now. I feel hopeless Mr McMulin. Would you like to know why?”

“Yes.”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you Mr McMulin,” he said, pointing at me. “I am disappointed with you. You have everything over there, don’t you? A wife that still lets you hump, occasionally, three kids, three meals a day, and what do you do with it all? Piss it right down the drain! And for what? This shit? Me? Doesn’t make any sense!”

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“No, you don’t, you’re right. I don’t know what sort of alliances you have made in all this, though I have my suspicions. That bitch is no good. I hope it’s not her. That would be bad for you Mr McMulin. You don’t look like an Artist though. Not enough courage. Are you an Artist?”

What sort of question is that? My mind struggled to see what answer this crazy man wanted? I always thought in a real shake down situation like this that I would have the heart not to roll on anyone, especially myself, but now I couldn’t even begin to think how to front to Mr. Black.

“Yes,” I said. “I think so. But I didn’t make an “alliance” or whatever with that woman. She just showed up one day, I don’t know. It was weird.”

He looked at me like I just pissed my pants. I have never seen anger, hate and malice roll of someone like Mr Black. That’s when I knew I had made a bad mistake. “So it is the Woman of Many Names and Faces. I suspected as much. Well, easy in, easy out, they say. This is regrettable Mr McMulin. Truly regrettable.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I really am. I don’t really understand all this. I didn’t make any pacts with her. She just showed up and started torturing me.”

“Did you play music for her?”

“Yes,”

“Dear God,”

“But not very well,”

“She judged you harshly?”

“Very,”

“Goddammit!” He broke his composure, with a blistering rogue.

“I’m sorry,” I pleaded. “I had no clue what was going on. I’m so sorry. I just want this all to end.”

“Indeed Mr McMulin, indeed.” He said, through clenched teeth. “That is what I am here for, to clean up all your little messes. Now I have one more question. You have joined this woman in a walk through the Holy Forest of Remissions?”

“Yes,” I said, ashamed, knowing he was talking about the Pine Dust Forgetting Forrest.
There was a skin piercing tsk from Mr. Black, as he turned for the door. “This is all very bad Mr. McMulin. And exactly what I had suspected. Termination will be my recommendation.”

“Termination will be your recommendation?” I yelled after him. “What does that mean?”

“Deletion. Ending. Abortion. Conclusion. Discontinuance. Stopping. Elimination. Termination.” He yelled over his shoulder as he walked out of the cell.

Snippets #42

David Ovason-The Secret Architecture of our Nation’s Capital

In the wood engraving used by George Oliver to illustrate his encyclopedia of Masonry (opposite) the funerary symbolism is much in evidence. Not only does the Saturn-like image of Death play with the hair of the young maiden, in the manner of the cruel reaper of the medieval Dance of Death, but, as she reads the book (the memorial of Master Mason in the early mythology of the Masonic Brotherhood, Hiram Abif), she holds high the cassia leaves. (184)