Geronimo

These are Geronimo’s own words as dictated to S. M. Barrett in 1905.

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I, Geronimo, was born in Nodoyohn Canyon, Arizona, June 1829.

In that country which lies around the head waters of the Gila River, I was reared. This range was our fatherland; among these mountains our wigwams were hidden; the scattered valleys contained our fields; the boundless prairies, stretching away on every side, were our pastures; the rocky caverns were our burying places.

I was fourth in a family of eight children, four boys and four girls. Of that family, only myself, my brother, Porico, and my sister, Nahdaste , are yet alive. We are held as prisoners of war in this Military Reservation.

As a babe I rolled on the dirt floor of my father’s tepee, hung in my tsoch at my mother’s back, or suspended from the bough of a tree. I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds, and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes.

When a child, my mother taught me the legends of our people; taught me of the sun and sky, the moon and stars, the clouds and storms. She also taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom, and protection. We never prayed against any person, but if we had aught against any individual we ourselves took vengeance. We were taught that Usen does not care for the petty quarrels of men.

My father had often told me of the brave deeds of our warriors, of the pleasures of the chase, and the glories of the warpath.

With my brothers and sisters I played about my father’s home. Sometimes we played at hide-and-seek among the rocks and pines; sometimes we loitered in the shade of the cottonwood trees or sought the shudock while our parents worked in the field. Sometimes we played that we were warriors. We would practice stealing upon some object that represented an enemy, and in our childish imitation often perform the feats of war. Sometimes we would hide away from our mother to see if she could find us, and often when thus concealed, go to sleep and perhaps remain hidden for many hours.

When we were old enough to be of real service, we went to the field with our parents: not to play, but to toil. When the crops were to be planted we broke the ground with wooden hoes. We planted the corn in straight rows, the beans among the corn, and the melons and pumpkins in irregular order over the field. We cultivated these crops as there was need.

Our field usually contained about two acres of ground. The fields were never fenced. It was common for many families to cultivate land in the same valley and share the burden of protecting the growing crops from destruction by the ponies of the tribe, or by deer and other wild animals.

Melons were gathered as they were consumed. In the autumn pumpkins and beans were gathered and placed in bags or baskets; ears of corn were tied together by the husks, and then the harvest was carried on the backs of ponies up to our homes. Here the corn was shelled, and all the harvest stored away in caves or other secluded places to be used in winter.

We never fed corn to our ponies, but if we kept them up in the wintertime we gave them fodder to eat. We had no cattle or other domestic animals except our dogs and ponies.

We did not cultivate tobacco, but found it growing wild. This we cut and cured in autumn, but if the supply ran out, the leaves from the stalks left standing served our purpose. All Indians    smoked, men and women. No boy was allowed to smoke until he had hunted alone and killed large game, wolves and bears. Unmarried women were not prohibited from smoking, but were considered immodest if they did so. Nearly all matrons smoked.

Besides grinding the corn for bread, we sometimes crushed it and soaked it, and after it had fermented, made from this juice a tiswin, which had the power of intoxication, and was very highly prized by the Indians. This work was done by the squaws and children. When berries or nuts were to be gathered the small children and the squaws would go in parties to hunt them, and sometimes stay all day. When they went any great distance from camp they took ponies to carry the baskets.

I frequently went with these parties, and upon one of these excursions a woman named Chokole got lost from the party and was riding her pony through a thicket in search of her friends. Her little dog was following as she slowly made her way through the thick underbrush and pine trees. All at once a grizzly bear rose in her path and attacked the pony. She jumped off, and her pony escaped, but the bear attacked her, so she fought him the best she could with her knife. Her little dog, by snapping at the bear’s heels and distracting his attention from the woman, enabled her for some time to keep pretty well out of his reach. Finally the grizzly struck her over the head, tearing off almost her whole scalp. She fell, but did not lose consciousness, and while prostrate struck him four good licks with her knife, and he retreated. After he had gone she replaced her torn scalp and bound it up as best she could, then she turned deathly sick and had to lie down. That night her pony came into camp with his load of nuts and berries, but no rider. The Indians hunted for her, but did not find her until the second day. They carried her home, and under the treatment of their Medicine Men all her wounds were healed.

The Indians knew what herbs to use for Medicine, how to prepare them, and how to give the Medicine. This they had been taught by Usen in the beginning, and each succeeding generation had men who were skilled in the art of healing.

In gathering the herbs, in preparing them, and in administering the Medicine, as much faith was held in prayer as in the actual effect of the Medicine. Usually about eight persons worked together in make Medicine, and there were forms of prayer and incantations to attend each stage of the process. Four attended to the incantations, and four to the preparation of the herbs.

Some of the Indians were skilled in cutting out bullets, arrowheads, and other missiles with which warriors were wounded. I myself have done much of this, using a common dirk or butcher knife.

Small children wore very little clothing in winter and none in the summer. Women usually wore a primitive skirt, which consisted of a piece of cotton cloth fastened about the waist, and extending to the knees. Men wore breechcloths and moccasins. In winter they had shirts and legging in addition.

Frequently when the tribe was in camp a number of boys and girls, by agreement, would steal away and meet at a place several miles distant, where they could play all day free from tasks. They were never punished for these frolics; but if their hiding places were discovered they were ridiculed.

To celebrate each noted event, a feast and dance would be given. Perhaps only our own people, perhaps neighboring tribes would be invited. These festivities usually lasted for about four days. By day we feasted, by night under the direction of some chief we danced. The music for our dance was singing led by the warriors, and accompanied by beating the esadadedné. No words were sung only the tones. When the feasting and dancing were over we would have horse races, foot races, wrestling, jumping, and all sorts of games.

Among these games the most noted was the tribal game of Kah. It is played as follows: Four moccasins are placed about four feet apart in holes in the ground, dug in a row on one side of the camp, and on the opposite side a similar parallel row. At night a campfire is started between these two rows of moccasins, and the players are arranged on sides, one or any number on each side. The score is kept by a bundle of sticks, from which each side takes a stick for every point won. First one side takes the bone, puts up blankets between the four moccasins and the fire so that the opposing team cannot observe their movements, and then begin to sing the legends of creation. The side having the bone represents the feathered tribe, the opposite side represents the beasts. The players representing the birds do all the singing, and while singing hide the bone in one of the moccasins, then the blankets are thrown down. They continue to sing, but as soon as the blankets are thrown down, the chosen player from the opposing team, armed with a war club, comes to their side of the campfire and with his club strikes the moccasin in which he thinks the bone is hidden. If he strikes the right moccasin, his side gets the bone, and in turn represents the birds, while the opposing team must keep quiet and guess in turn. There are only four plays; three that lose and one that wins. When all the sticks are gone from the bundle the side having the largest number of sticks is counted winner.

This game is seldom played except as a gambling game, but for the purpose it is the most popular game known to the tribe. Usually the game lasts four or five hours. It is never played in daytime.

After the games are all finished the visitors say, We are satisfied, and the camp is broken up. I was always glad when the dances and feasts were announced. So were all the other young people.

Our life also had a religious side. We had no churches, no religious organizations, no Sabbath day, no holidays, and yet we worshiped. Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble to sing and pray; sometimes a smaller number, perhaps only two or three. The songs had a few words, but were not formal. The singer would occasionally put in such words as he wished instead of the usual tone sound. Sometimes we prayed in silence; sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us. At other times one would rise and speak to us of our duties to each other and to Usen. Our services were short.

When disease or pestilence abounded we were assembled and questioned by our leaders to ascertain what evil we had done, and how Usen could be satisfied. Sometimes sacrifice was deemed necessary. Sometimes the offending one was punished.

If any one off the Denéé had allowed his aged parents to suffer for food or shelter, if he had neglected or abused the sick, if he had profaned our religion, or had been unfaithful, he might be banished from the tribe.

The Denéé had no prisons as white men have. Instead of sending their criminals into prison they sent them out of their tribe. These faithless, cruel, lazy, or cowardly members of the tribe were excluded in such a manner that they could not join any other tribe. Neither could they have any protection from our unwritten tribal laws. Frequently these outlaw Indians banded together and committed depredations which were charged against the regular tribe. However, the life of an outlaw Indian was a hard lot, and their bands never became very large; besides, these bands frequently provoked the wrath of the tribe and secured their own destruction.

When I was about eight or ten years old I began to follow the chase, and to me this was never work.

Out on the prairies, which ran up to our mountain homes, wandered herds of deer, antelope, elk, and buffalo, to be slaughtered when we needed them.

Usually we hunted buffalo on horseback, killing them with arrows and spears. Their skins were used to make tepees and bedding; their flesh, to eat.

It required more skill to hunt the deer than any other animal. We never tried to approach a deer except against the wind. Frequently we would spend hours in stealing upon grazing deer. If they were in the open we would crawl long distances on the ground, keeping a weed or brush before us, so that our approach would not be noticed. Often we could kill several out of one herd before the others would run away. Their flesh was dried and packed in vessels, and would keep in this condition for many months. The hide of the deer soaked in water and ashes and the hair removed, and then the process of tanning continued until the buckskin was soft and pliable. Perhaps no other animal was more valuable to us than the deer.

In the forests and along the streams were many wild turkeys. These we would drive to the plains, then slowly ride up toward them until they were almost tired out. When they began to drop and hide we would ride in upon them and, by swinging from the side of our horses, catch them. If one started to fly we would ride swiftly under him and kill him with a short stick, or hunting club. In this way we could usually get as many wild turkeys as we could carry home on a horse.

There were many rabbits in our range, and we also hunted them on horseback. Our horses were trained to follow the rabbit at full speed, and as they approached them we would swing from one side of the horse and strike the rabbit with our hunting club. If he was too far away we would throw the stick and kill him. This was great sport when we were boys, but as warriors we seldom hunted small game.

There were many fish in the streams, but as we did not eat them, we did not try to catch or kill them. Small boys sometimes threw stones at them or shot at them for practice with their bows and arrows. Usen did not intend snakes, frogs, or fishes to be eaten. I have never eaten of them.

There were many eagles in the mountains. These we hunted for their feathers. It required great skill to steal upon an eagle, for besides having sharp eyes, he is wise and never stops at any place where he does not have a good view of the surrounding country.

I have killed many bears with a spear, but was never injured in a fight with one. I have killed several mountain lions with arrows, and one with a spear. Both bears and mountain lions are good for food and valuable for their skin. When we killed them we carried them home on our horses. We often made quivers for our arrows from the skin of the mountain lion. These were very pretty and very durable.

During my minority we had never seen a missionary or a priest. We had never seen a white man. Thus quietly lived the Bedonkohe.

In the summer of 1858, being at peace with the Mexican towns as well as with all the neighboring Indian tribes, we went south into Old Mexico to trade. Our whole tribe went through Sonora toward Casa Grande, our destination, but just before reaching that place we stopped at another Mexican town called by the Indians Kaskiyeh. Here we stayed for several days, camping outside the city. Every day we would go into town to trade, leaving our camp under the protection of a small guard so that our arms, supplies, and women and children would not be disturbed during our absence.

Late one afternoon when returning from town we were met by a few women and children who told us that Mexican troops from some other town had attacked our camp, killed all the warriors of the guard, captured all our ponies, secured our arms, destroyed our supplies, and killed many of our women and children. Quickly we separated, concealing ourselves as best we could until nightfall, when we assembled at our appointed place of rendezvous, a thicket by the river. Silently we stole in one by one: sentinels were placed, and, when all were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and my three small children were among the slain. There were no lights in camp, so without being noticed I silently turned away and stood by the river. How long I stood there I do not know, but when I saw the warriors arranging for a council I took my place.

That night I did not give my vote for or against any measure; but it was decided that as there were only eighty warriors left, and as we were without arms or supplies, and were furthermore surrounded by the Mexicans far inside their own territory, we could not hope to fight successfully. So our chief, Mangus-Colorado, gave the order to start at once in perfect silence for our homes in Arizona, leaving the dead upon the field.

I stood until all had passed, hardly knowing what I would do. I had no weapon, nor did I hardly wish to fight, neither did I contemplate recovering the bodies of my loved ones, for that was forbidden. I did not pray, nor did I resolve to do anything in particular, for I had no purpose left. I finally followed the tribe silently, keeping just within hearing distance of the soft noise of the feet of the retreating Denéé.

The next morning some of the Indians killed a small amount of game and we halted long enough for the tribe to cook and eat, when the march was resumed. I had killed no game, and did not eat. During the first march as well as while we were camped at this place I spoke to no one and no one spoke to me, there was nothing to say.

For two days and three nights we were on forced marches, stopping only for meals, then we made a camp near the Mexican border, where we rested two days. Here I took some food and talked with the other Indians who had lost in the massacre, but none had lost as I had, for I had lost all.

Within a few days we arrived at our own settlement. There were the decorations that Alope had made, and there were the playthings of our little ones. I burned them all, even our tepee. I also burned my mother’s tepee and destroyed all her property.

I was never again contented in our quiet home. True, I could visit my father’s grave, but I had vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troopers who had wronged me, and whenever I came near his grave, or saw anything to remind me of former happy days my heart would ache for revenge upon Mexico.

As soon as we had again collected some arms and supplies Mangus-Colorado, our chief, called a council and found that all our warriors were willing to take the warpath against Mexico. I was appointed to solicit the aid of other tribes in this war.

When I went to the Chokonen, Cochise, their chief, called a council at early dawn. Silently the warriors assembled at an open place in a mountain dell and took their seats on the ground, arranged in rows according to their ranks. Silently they sat smoking. At a signal from the chief I arose and presented my cause as follows:

“Kinsman, you have heard what the Mexicans have recently done without cause. You are my relatives, uncles, cousins, brothers. We are men the same as the Mexicans are, we can do to them what they have done to us. Let us go forward and trail them, I will lead you to their city; we will attack them in their homes. I will fight in the front of the battle. I only ask you to follow me to avenge this wrong done by these Mexicans, will you come? It is well, you will all come.

Remember the rule in war, men may return or they may be killed. If any of these young men are killed I want no blame from their kinsmen, for they themselves have chosen to go. If I am killed no one need mourn for me. My people have all been killed in that country, and I, too, will die if need be.”

I returned to my own settlement, reported this success to my chieftain, and immediately departed to the southward into the land of the Nedni. Their chief, Whoa, heard me without comment, but he immediately issued orders for a council, and when all were ready gave a sign that I might speak. I addressed them as I had addressed the Chokonen tribe, and they also promised to help us.

It was in the summer of 1859, almost a year from the date of the massacre of Kaskiyeh, that these three tribes were assembled on the Mexican border to go upon the warpath. Their faces were painted, the war bands fastened upon their brows their long scalp-locks ready for the hand and knife of the warrior who would overcome them. Their families had been hidden away in a mountain rendezvous near the Mexican border. With these families a guard was posted, and a number of places of rendezvous designated in case the camp should be disturbed.

When all were ready the chieftains gave command to go forward. None of us were mounted and each warrior wore moccasins and also a cloth wrapped about his loins. This cloth could be spread over him when he slept, and when on the march would be ample protection as clothing. In battle, if the fight was hard, we did not wish much clothing. Each warrior carried three days’ rations, but as we often killed game while on the march, we seldom were without food.

We traveled in three divisions: the Bedonheko led by Mangus-Colorado, the Chokonen by Cochise, and the Nedni by Whoa; however, there was no regular order inside the separate tribes. We usually marched about fourteen hours per day, making three stops for meals, and traveling forty to forty-five miles a day.

I acted as guide into Mexico, and we followed the river courses and mountain ranges because we could better thereby keep our movements concealed. We entered Sonora and went southward past Quitaro, Nacozari, and many smaller settlements.

When we were almost at Arispe we camped, and eight men rode out from the city to parley with us. These we captured, killed, and scalped. This was to draw the troops from the city, and the next day they came. The skirmishing lasted all day without a general engagement, but just at night we captured their supply train, so we had plenty of provisions and some more guns.

That night we posted sentinels and did not move our camp, but rested quietly all night, for we expected heavy work the next day. Early the next morning the warriors were assembled to pray, not for help, but that they might have health and avoid ambush or deceptions by the enemy.

As we had anticipated, about ten o’clock in the morning the whole Mexican force came out. There were two companies of cavalry and two of infantry. I recognized the cavalry as the soldiers who had killed my people at Kaskiyeh. This I told to the chieftains, and they said that I might direct the battle.

I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to prove worthy of the trust. I arranged the Indians in a hollow circle near the river, and the Mexicans drew their infantry up in two lines, with the cavalry in reserve. We were in the timber, and they advanced until within about four hundred yards, when they halted and opened fire. Soon I led a charge against them, at the same time sending some braves to attack the rear. In all the battle I thought of my murdered mother, wife, and babies; of my father’s grave and my vow of vengeance, and I fought with fury. Many fell by my hand, and constantly I led the advance. Many braves were killed the battle lasted about two hours.

At the last four Indians were alone in the center of the field, myself and three other warriors. Our arrows were all gone, our spears broken off in the bodies of dead enemies. We had only our hands and knives with which to fight, but all who had stood against us were dead. Then two armed soldiers came upon us from another part of the field. They shot down two of our men and we, the remaining two, fled toward our own warriors. My companion was struck down by a saber, but I reached our warriors, seized a spear, and turned. The one who pursued me missed his aim and fell by my spear. With his saber I met the trooper who had killed my companion and we grappled and fell. I killed him with my knife and quickly rose over his body, brandishing his saber, seeking for other troopers to kill. There were none. But the Denéé had seen. Over the bloody field, covered with the bodies of Mexicans, rang the fierce Denéé war-whoop.

Still covered with the blood of my enemies, still holding my conquering weapon, still hot with the joy of battle, victory, and vengeance, I was surrounded by the Denéé braves and made war chief of all the Denéé. Then I gave orders for scalping the slain.

I could not call back my loved ones, I could not bring back the dead Denéé, but I could rejoice in this revenge. The Denéé had avenged the massacre of Kaskiyeh.

 

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Danny Introduces a Friend…

Danny finally wrote something that we can agree on.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Good morning, everybody.

It is I, your favorite dog, Danny the Dog.

I thought I’d do something a little different this month and not complain about my human, Andrew.

He was very pleased to hear that news and even gave me an extra turkey slice this morning.

Right now he’s out celebrating his good fortune, which means I’ll have to bail him out of the drunk tank later this evening.

But enough about him.

Today, I want to talk about my new friend.

Her name is Aoibha Walsh. Aoibha is an Irish name and it’s pronounced Ava.

I’m told “BH” is pronounced like a “V” in Irish Gaelic.

Anyway, she is a pretty little Irish lass who is eleven years old.

She has a dog by the name of Bailey—here’s a picture of him.

I guess he’s okay if you like dogs.

Aoibha also has a cat and some kind…

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Maryanne’s Weekend

What I’m posting today is an email that I sent to two of my friends about seven years ago. It was just an email, but it read like a short story. That spurred me on to do some more writing and before I knew it, here I am asking you to read about my misspent youth (again). By the way, every word is true (unfortunately). And please forgive my syntax, tense mistakes, and all the rest. It was my first effort and I’m too indolent to go in and change anything.

 

Dear Ben & Rick,

Mount St. Helens blew its top, the Liberty City riots, and this story all took place between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning of that fateful weekend of 1980. There must have been something in the air.

First, a little background: You guys remember my old office and the kind of neighborhood in which it was located. Well, I decided to relocate to a little bit better area. So we moved a mile or two east on 79th street. But we were east of Biscayne Boulevard and that made all the difference in the world. Or so I thought at the time.

Our new offices were in a strip shopping center. You know, about ten stores set up for retail businesses. However, this place was a little different; it had offices at each end to act as anchors. Our set up was two stories and had large, mirrored windows you could see out, but not in. They were massive, about twenty feet high and ran across the entire front. They come into the story later.

In this layout was a “dance studio” two doors down from me. It was owned by a beautiful Jamaican lady. There was not one wrong thing about her. Long hair, glowing brown skin, and curves most women would kill for at that age … she was twenty-five. Her name was Maryanne. And to top it off, she drove a brand new black Corvette. Maryanne got my attention.

I don’t remember how our relationship got started, but before long, I found myself going over there to hang out in the afternoons, if she had no customers. I must digress for a moment to disabuse you of the idea that this may have been a dance studio in any way, shape, or form. The only person who danced in that dance studio was Maryanne or one of the girls who worked for her. The customers, who were all male, sat in beanbag chairs and observed the girls dancing to music supplied by a boom box (at least that’s where I remember the music coming from). As to what these men did while a girl was dancing, I’ll leave to your vivid imaginations, but the girls were never touched.

There’s one other thing you need to know. Maryanne and I were not in love, it was pure sex. One weekend, we drove her car to Key West, and the first night there, at a bar, I saw a girl I was very interested in. So I suggested to Maryanne that she should see what she could dig up for herself, which she happily set about doing. I went home with the local talent and spent the night with her. The next morning, Maryanne and I met up and continued our weekend, no questions asked. That was the type of relationship we had. I tell you this because it is pertinent to the story.

Now the fun begins. It’s Friday afternoon, just before Mt. St. Helens and Liberty City blow up. I’m on my houseboat doing a little housework. (In those days I still did things of that sort.) Maryanne jumps on board—unannounced I might add—with her sheets flapping in the wind. (Sailor talk for very drunk.)

She wasn’t too bad, but you know what Quaaludes were like. She wants to have sex “Right now!” You guys, because you know me, might not believe this, but I said no. Probably the first and only time in my life I’ve done anything of that sort. I expected her to take it like a man, turn around, and walk out. But, boy was I wrong! She said, and I quote, “When I tell a man to fuck me, he better well do it, and fast!”

If she had given me a few sniffles instead, you guys wouldn’t be reading this sordid tale. But no, she gets butch and throws a left hook, which connects and pisses me off. She was a petite little thing, so I wrapped my arms around her, picked her up, and carried her to the dock where she was gently deposited and told to be a good little girl and go home.

As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it. But remember it’s only Friday afternoon and this drama didn’t have the National Guard throwing me to the ground and pressing five shotguns into the flesh of my back, with one resting on my head, telling me if I moved one muscle I’d have my “fuckin’ head blown off” until Sunday morning. Dear, dear Maryanne made it a most interesting weekend. I preferred our Key West get-a-way much better. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After she struts down the dock in an angry huff, I turn my attention to more serious matters—that evening’s debauchery. A few docks over lived a guy that reminded me of you, Rick. He had been in a serious motorcycle accident and had just got out of his body cast. His boat hosted a never-ending party that included the fabled Dancing Girls. Never had I seen such depravity, and I was right in the middle of it most nights. No … I cannot lie to you guys. I was in the middle of it every night. What happened on that boat is a story for another time. But going over there that night saved my life. By the way, Rick, it was the body cast and not the depravity that reminded me of you.

As I’m walking home the next morning from that boat of ill repute, a neighbor informs me that there were two guys hiding in some bushes the night before waiting for me to pass by. Some people in the marina noticed them after a while and called the police. They had guns and one of them shouted that he was going to kill that son-of a-bitch (me) for insulting his wife.

Maryanne, as it turned out, was married. Who knew? I learned later that she had gone home to her husband and gave him an edited version of what had happened, leaving out her wanting to go to bed part. I also learned that her husband’s original plan was to walk right to my houseboat, knock on the door, and shoot me point blank as I answered said door. That is why they were hiding in the shrubbery, and why I am still here to tell this tale of woe. I was not at home when he knocked on my door—I was two docks over enjoying the hospitality of my dear crippled and crazy friend.

So now I do the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I go to my debauched friend and tell him the story. He wants in on the fun, but he can only hobble around, so he offers me one of his many guns for self-protection. Being the genius that I am, I take a 9mm automatic. All of a sudden, I’m Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson.

It’s now Saturday, and that night I go night-clubbing with the 9mm in my back pocket, ready for action (what an A-Hole!). Well, I’m not attacked and make it home unscathed. About the time I got home, Mt. St. Helens was blowing her top, Liberty City was just getting a good burn going, and Maryanne was setting events in motion whose end result would culminate with me in the Dade County jail.

I get a few hours sleep and I am just getting up when my brother Mike bursts in and says, “What’s with your crazy girlfriend?” He goes on to tell me he had gone to the office that Sunday morn to get a little work out of the way. But as he exited his car, two guys assaulted him, hitting him over the head with the butt of a rifle, breaking the stock. The only thing that saved him was Maryanne yelling, “That’s not him, that’s not him!” He goes on to tell me that every window in our place has been smashed. You’ve heard the expression “He saw red,” well, I really did see red. It must have been the stress of the last couple of days, coupled with what happened to Mike (and my windows).

I reach for the gun as I’m telling Mike to come with me. We get into my car and off I go on a mission of vengeance and in a cloud of self-righteousness. We were there in less than five minutes and I slide my car sideways as though I’m Magnum PI. My plan is to use it as a shield. As the car comes to a rest, I pop out; draw the gun and start shooting straight into Maryanne’s studio (the bullet holes are still in the aluminum framing of the door to this day).

Well, ol’ Dirty Harry gets off two shots when my “friends” stick their heads out to see what’s going on. I take carful aim for the first guy, putting my thumb over the top of the gun. Up to that point, I had been firing one-handed. But now, I’m holding the gun with two hands like I see them do in the movies. I take careful aim at the motherfucker, pull the trigger, and almost severed my thumb (still got the scar), and the gun jams. No one told me automatics slide back with every shot. By the way, after my first shot, Mike said, “Are you nuts!” and walked (or ran) away. I was too busy to notice his means of staying out of jail that day.

So there I am. My thumb is dangling by a piece of bone, my gun won’t shoot anymore, and my targets are coming out with guns drawn. So what’s a hero to do in such a situation but run. I go around to the back of the building—there’s a house there—and I start knocking on the door screaming that they are going to kill me and please let me in. Amazingly, I’m let in. Two minutes later, the National Guard and about fifty local cops show up and drag me from the house. The riots are only blocks away, so I guess it wasn’t any bother on their part to run down the street and apprehend another crazy. Especially one that is armed and dangerous!

Well, as I’ve said before, I was thrown to the ground—the five shotguns on my back and a sixth on the back of my head, etc… etc…

Jail was interesting. I was the only white guy in there that day. They had arrested so many people because of the riot, we had twenty guys in a holding cell made for two or three at the most. And did I mention I was the only white guy? My fellow cellmates, at first, paid me no heed. They were too busy recounting to one another the exploits that landed them in our merry little conclave. But after about twenty minutes, things quieted down and one by one they turned their faces to me—Whitey. And believe me, there was no love lost in even one of those faces.

Presently, one young fellow spoke up and asked what I was in for. I looked at him, took a moment to answer to make sure I had everyone’s attention, and then said, “I just killed two people.” With that, they, as one living organism, shuffled away from me and I heard a voice in the back say: “I’ll take my TV rap” (he was in for looting). The rest of my cell mates wholeheartedly concurred. After that exchange, I was left to my own devices.

Ten hours later, I was allowed my phone call. I called a customer of mine, a bail bondsman. He told me I was getting him out of the sack with the sweetest little thing, but he came. Remember the streets were closed and there was a curfew. But somehow he got there and got me sprung. I then called good old Henry, who also got through the police lines—somehow.

As Henry and I made our way home that evening, Mt. St. Helens was calming down, the flames of Liberty City were now nothing more than embers; and my relationship with Maryanne had undergone a profound change. It had been quite a weekend.

The final outcome was this. The charges were pretty serious, so I took no chances and hired Roy Black (the guy who defended William Smith, the Kennedy who was charged with rape in Palm Beach, but this was years before that). I gave Roy $5000.00 cash (this was before money-laundering laws) for a retainer. After the preliminary when we knew which way the wind was blowing, we would then discuss his fee. So we went to court to ascertain my fate. When they called my case, the complainant’s name was called: Maryanne Jones. The judge looks up and says, “Is this the same Maryanne Jones that is in here every other week?” His clerk says it is indeed. To which the entire courtroom breaks out in laughter. It seems she was rather well known in judicial circles. Even the judge cracked a smile as he said, “Case dismissed.” That was $5000.00 well spent!

As a postscript, I subsequently spoke with Maryanne and she said she didn’t show up in court because she wasn’t a snitch. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it wouldn’t have mattered if she had been there or not.

Somehow, after that weekend, the romance kind of went out of our relationship, although we remained friendly.

On a serious note: My hands shake every time I think of how close I came to taking a human life. I have not touched a gun since, nor will I if I live to be 100.

Your friend,

Andrew

 

 

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Hot Love

She passed him every day. He was young, well built … and he was handsome. Just her type. She had tried everything to attract his attention. She had dressed provocatively, she had loitered, she had even taken a pratfall hoping he would come to her rescue, but some busybody stuck his big nose into her business by helping her up from the sidewalk where she lay waiting for Mr. Right to come to her aid.

In desperation, she came up with a plan. It centered on his profession. She would make some work for him and be there when he arrived. Then let him ignore her!

The plan was daring. A few blocks from where she saw him every day was an abandoned building; she would simply set fire to it and wait for her dream man to come to her.

You see, he was a firefighter. She walked past the firehouse daily, and that is where she saw the love of her life talking to his mates—paying her no mind.

The fire had spread fast and became larger than she had envisioned. But she stayed in place, awaiting her man. Finally he came. Now she could show herself at the window.

There he was—just below her—only a few feet away. His arms were reaching out to her and he was telling her to jump. You bet I’ll jump, big boy—catch me!

As she was in mid-air, and halfway to his waiting arms, she thought, “There must be an easier way to meet a man.”

SULLY AWARD COMPETITION NOW OPEN!

heylookawriterfellow

Will YOU be the lucky winner?

Last week on this blog I asked you a question: “Should I start a writing contest?”

I followed up my question with a promise: “If there is enough enthusiasm for a writing contest, I will start a writing contest.”

So. Was there enough enthusiasm for a writing contest?

Sort of!

And that’s good enough for me.

Welcome to the First Annual
Sully Award for Excellence in Writerishness!
(WOO!)

The (one and only) winner will receive a bunch of valuable prizes!

A $20 gift card to Starbucks, because writers need to wake up before writing.
A $10 gift card to iTunes, because writers need to be in the right mood while writing.
A $20 Gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can read after writing.
And, best of all, a beautiful SULLY AWARD CERTIFICATE, because great writers deserve great accolades. The certificate will look something like…

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I Once Had a Girl

I once had a girl. She was from Norway, but we met in New York City at a jazz club on the West Side. My friend Lane had dragged me there; he told me that the sax player would really send me. (I know, that is 60s lingo). I didn’t want to go because I was broke and I was embarrassed that Lane always picked up the check when we were out. But he persisted in asking, so I went with him that warm August night. It was a night that changed my life forever.

Lane and I were from upstate New York, we had been friends in high school. We were both going to be writers and write the Great American Novel. And here we were, Lane wrote copy for an ad agency and I wrote short stories that no one would buy.

I was twenty years old, and had just dropped out of college. I wanted to be a writer and I did not think college was the way to go about it. I thought the only way to be a writer was to write. So I headed for the big city, found myself a roach-infested apartment and opened my laptop. I got lucky and sold my first short story to a weekly newspaper. It was a free paper, but they did print fiction. They paid me all of twenty-five dollars for it.

After that, I figured it would be only a matter of time before I had The New Yorker knocking at my door wanting me to write my genius fiction for them, and if not the New Yorker, then at least the Village Voice. Well, things did not work out that way. Six months later, I had not sold another story. The newspaper that had bought my first story was long out of business as I contemplated my future. I was nearing the end of my savings and something would have to break soon or I would have to get a job. Something did break and her name was Karina.

Unbeknownst to me, Lane and his girlfriend, whose name was Sally, set me up with a blind date. When we got to the club, I saw Sally sitting at a table with a blonde girl. I immediately grabbed Lane’s arm and halted his progress toward the table. “What’s the deal?” I asked in a low voice. Then I added, “If Sally is trying to set me up again, I’m leaving. You know I don’t have any money to date.”

With a phony and shocked look on his face, Lane said, “No, no, it’s nothing like that. It’s just that the poor girl is in town and doesn’t know anyone. Sally’s mother and her mother were friends. Sally’s looking out after her, that’s all. Don’t worry; she’s not your date. And she’s got plenty of money; she can pay her own way.”

With a sigh and a shake of my head, I said, “Lay on, Macduff.”

We seated ourselves at the table and I was introduced to the blonde. Sally started right off yakking away, but I heard nothing she said. I was looking into the eyes of the blonde. They were green, the color of emeralds—they were sad eyes. She was good-looking in a not glamorous sort of way. There was something about her. Something that made me want to put my arms around her and tell her everything would all right. That night I fell in love, head over heels. To me, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. But it wasn’t her looks that got me. It was her soul. She looked vulnerable and she had those sad eyes. I know that’s a cliché, but that is what it was, plain and simple. I was hooked. Her name was Karina.

We talked and ignored both the music, and Lane and Sally. When Sally saw where things were going, she nudged Lane and said they had to go, but that we should stay. As they left, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lane hand some money to our waitress and point our way. He had made sure that I wouldn’t be embarrassed for lack of funds.

The music was really too loud to carry on a conversation, so I suggested that we go somewhere more conducive to getting to know one another. I had no hope that she felt toward me as I felt toward her, but I just couldn’t let her go out of my life until I knew everything about her.

We settled in at a Starbucks and talked until the early morning. Her parents were both dead and had left her relatively well off. She was in the States because she owned a cabin in North Carolina, up in the mountains, and she had come here to sell it. At twenty-two, she was two years older than I was. But that was okay with me; I liked older women. I prattled on about my writing and she said that she would like to read some of my stuff someday. Someday? I wanted her to read my stories right then and there. But I held my tongue.

As I walked her to her hotel, she slipped her arm through mine and we walked on in silence. My feet never once touched the ground.

We said goodnight in the lobby of her hotel. She looked at me with those big sad eyes. “Please, may I see you tomorrow and read some of your stories?” Now normally, I would let anyone read my stuff at the drop of a hat, even if I had to drop the hat myself. But in this instance, I was reluctant to say yes. I didn’t want her to see how I lived. I mean, she was staying at the Plaza, for God’s sake! After a momentary hesitation, I told her I could bring my laptop over the next day and that I would be proud to have her read a few of my stories. We set a time and I left. We shook hands—we did not kiss goodnight.

Well, the short of it is, she was as smitten with me as I was with her. Why I don’t know. She postponed her trip south and stayed in the city. We saw each other every day. Sally must have told her about my financial situation, because Karina always insisted we go someplace that cost no money. We hit the art galleries and the museums, among other venues. Central Park was our favorite. As we walked through the park, the sunshine would ripple in her yellow hair like waves upon a sparkling ocean. At the end of two weeks, we both knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

Karina liked my writing and told me I should be writing a full-length novel. Then, when that sold, I could put out a book of my short stories. No wonder that I loved her, she believed in me, more so than I believed in myself.

One day, a Sunday, as we lay on a blanket in the park holding hands (we still had not made love), Karina asserted herself. She told me in no uncertain terms that she was taking me to her cabin In North Carolina. She would cook and clean for me while I wrote my novel, and then when it sold, I could take care of her.

I told her that I would have to think on it. She stood and took my hand. I raised myself from the ground, and forgetting the blanket, we went back to the Plaza. We made long, slow love all that afternoon. And then again that night.

We hit the mountains of North Carolina as the leaves were changing. It was the perfect metaphor. Our lives were changing; we were melding into one entity.

As the snows came, I wrote and Karina loved me. I didn’t want to write. I wanted to make love to my girl, but she made sure I stayed at the computer at least six hours a day. The rest of the time I devoted to loving her.

As the snows melted and the leaves slowly returned to the trees, my book took form. Karina would read what I had written each day. She would correct my mistakes and give me input as to the characters and the plot. As I sat there in the evenings, seeing the firelight reflected in her eyes while she read my daily output, I fell in love with her all over again.

When spring was in full bloom, the book also bloomed. I had completed my version of the Great American Novel. I emailed my query letters to agents. Within a month, I had a signed contract. When summer came around, the book had been sold to a publisher and I had money in the bank. Now I could take care of my Karina. But it was not to be.

It was August once again, almost to the day that Karina and I first met. We were leaving the next day for New York. My agent had set up a meeting with my new editor. There was still work to be done. Writing the story is one thing, getting it out there is another. However, before leaving I wanted to buy something for my love. I went into town and bought Karina a ring. Nothing fancy, it was a simple band of gold. I was going to ask her to be my wife. I couldn’t wait to get back to the cabin, get down on one knee, and tell her of my love for her.

I saw the smoke long before I turned into the drive to our cabin. Then I saw the flames. I pulled the car to a stop, rushed to the cabin, and heard her screams. Those screams will never leave me.

“KARINA!” I shouted as I rushed the door.

When I pushed open the door, a blast of heat and flames knocked me on my ass. I got up; nothing short of hell was going to keep me out of that cabin. And that is exactly what kept me out . . . hell. I could not penetrate the flames. On my third attempt, the burns and resultant pain caused me to pass out. When I awoke, I was in a hospital’s burn ward.

Karina was gone and I was alone.

I sold the rights to my book to my agent. I couldn’t edit and work on it with anyone else now that Karina was gone. I took the money and bought a sailboat down in Miami. I had Karina painted on the sides in large letters the color of her eyes. I now sail the Caribbean, going from island to island, looking for nothing and finding nothing. I’m certainly not finding relief for the pain in my heart.

I once had a girl. Karina was her name.

 

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