He Let Go a Laugh

Those of you who have read my “official” bio know that I left home at an early age seeking adventure. And I had some luck in finding it. I’ve written about those adventures in these very pages. But now, I have a new one for you. I haven’t told it before because I get emotional when I think about it.

It was 1967, and at the tender age of seventeen, I was away from home for the first time. Home was Miami, Florida. During summer vacation between my junior and senior year in high school, I decided I wanted to see the world – or at least that part of the world bordered by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on the North American continent.

So, I stuck out my thumb to see where it would take me. As it turned out, it took me to many magical places and a few really scary places, but ultimately my thumb took me to a land of discovery. I met people from all walks of life. I spent time on Indian reservations, in hippie communes, riding the rails with hobos, in different jails jammed in with good and bad people. I hustled food at back doors of restaurants. I spent time with one or two millionaires;  one nice lady living on the Upper East Side of New York City comes to mind.

I had planned on being gone for only the summer, but it would be many years before I saw home again. In the lonely night, out on the side of the road, I’d gaze at the countless stars in the heavens as I waited to be picked up by my new best friend – my best friend as long as the ride lasted. I’d sleep on the side of that same road when too tired to go on. I froze standing in waist-deep snow in the Rocky Mountains. I surfed along the southern coast of California. I was robbed and thrown in jail in Mexico. I was banned from entering Canada, but snuck in anyway, hiding in plain sight in a carload of young Canadian women returning home after a night of drinking in America.

I picked blueberries at the Bay of Fundy, then got drunk on Moosehead Ale in a basement with an old-fashioned player piano. I was fed by more kind people than I can remember. I was once taken to a party where I drank wine and discussed the meaning of life with Andy Warhol. I slept in a warehouse in San Francisco where the Grateful Dead rehearsed. I did peyote with an apprentice Apache holy man in Arizona. I was chased through a fog-laden swamp by a mad man with a knife at three o’clock in the morning. I was shown more kindness than I deserved. I forged friendships that will last centuries even though I’ll never see those people again. I was bold. I cowered in fear. I walked in happiness. I ran with humanity writ large on that never-ending road. I came of age while still wet behind the ears.

So many memories.

But today I’m going to tell you about a special memory.

I was headed west, trying to make California. This was in the days before the interstate highway system was up and running. I was coming down from Chicago on Route 66. Just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, I got dumped on the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere. The guy I had been riding with was headed home. Home being a ranch down some godforsaken country road.

The only thing visible was an A & W Root Beer drive-in joint. You know, the kind they had back in the ’50s, carhops and all. What it was doing out there in the middle of nowhere, I have no idea. Maybe because it was on Highway 66, which, at that time, was a main road.

I was thirsty and the thought of a big frosted glass of root beer was something I could wrap my head around. But I had no money. In fact, I hadn’t eaten in about twelve hours, so I was also feeling a mite peckish.

Traffic was light, so I figured I’d take a break from hitchin’ and see what I could scrounge up over at the root beer place. Maybe someone would take pity on me and buy me a meal. If not, maybe I could wash a few dishes in exchange for a hamburger. Thus fortified, I’d get back on the road.

Well, no one offered to buy me a hamburger, and when I knocked on the back door and asked if I could do some work for a meal, I was told to hit the road, Jack. I took no offense and didn’t sweat it. I knew there would be a meal down the road, somewhere. There always was.

Seeing as how I was already behind the restaurant, I decided to kill a little time until the burning sun settled a bit in the west and things cooled down before I went back to hitchin’. I sat down in the shade of the building on an overturned plastic milk crate, blue in color it was. I was contemplating the enticing smell of cooked meat coming from the kitchen when someone said, “You hungry, kid?”

I looked over by the dumpster and saw an old man. He was bone thin. His dirty, raggedy clothes hung on him like they were two sizes too big. They weren’t, he was just so thin. On a second pass, I saw he wasn’t as old as I first thought. I later learned he was only forty-seven. But he did look a lot older. He was pulling something out of the dumpster.

“Well, kid, I asked you, are you hungry? You sure look like you’re hungry.”

I thought I’d hit it lucky. Here was a guy who was gonna buy me a hamburger. Thank you, Jesus! He kicked over a milk crate, sat down next to me, and rummaged around in the white paper bag he had taken from the dumpster. “There’s good pickins hereabouts and I don’t mind sharing with the less fortunate of God’s children.” He brought out a half-eaten hamburger and held it in my direction.

I was hungry, but not that hungry. “Um, no thank you, sir. I just ate,” I lied.

He shrugged and took a bite of the thing. With a full mouth, he asked, “What’s your name, kid?”

“They call me Billy.”

So there we sat, saying nothing. Out there in the Arizona desert, behind a hamburger joint. An old man and a kid. When he had finished his half a hamburger, I asked him his name.

“Harry,” was all he said. There were still some fries in the bag he was working on and they had all of his attention. When the last fry was only a memory, he wiped his hands on the bag and crumpled it up. He tried for a three pointer from where he sat, but the bag missed the dumpster by a mile. He laughed and got up and put the bag where it belonged before sitting back down.

So, there we sat, again saying nothing. I was starting to feel uncomfortable and was about to get up and leave when the back door flew open. The woman who had slammed the door in my face earlier screamed, “You bums get outta here before I call the police on you!”

The guy said, “That’s our cue. Let’s hit the pavement, kid.”

I wished he’d stop calling me kid.

As we walked back down to the highway, he asked where I was headed.

“I’m going to California. Where are you headed?”

“The same. You hitchin’?” he asked.

“It’s the only way I know how to get there,” I answered.

He smiled a sad smile before he said, “Those days are over for me. Ain’t nobody gonna pick me up, lookin’ the way I do. When I first hit the road – probably before you were even born – I did a lot of hitchin’. It was easy back then. The war had just ended and everybody loved everybody. The whole dang country was one big happy family.”

When we got to the side of the highway, I hesitated. I didn’t want to stick out my thumb with him standing there. He was right. No one was going to stop for an old dirty bum like him. A young clean-cut kid like me, yes … but him, no. But then I noticed something special about him. I had finally looked him in the eyes and saw the clearest, bluest eyes I think I ever did see. They were kind eyes, knowing eyes. There was a twinkle in them that bespoke mischief, that bespoke a depth of knowledge, that spoke of things I could only hope to know.

I can’t explain it, but all of a sudden, I wanted to travel a few miles with this man. This man I had just met. His clothes were old and grimy, but he was clean. He didn’t smell bad. He was probably cleaner than I was. We could hitch together. It would take longer for two people to get a ride, but a ride would eventually come. They always did.

“You wanna hitch together for a while?” I asked.

He looked surprised. “Mighty nice of you to ask, but I got my own way of getting around. You ever hop a freight?”

I hadn’t, but I’d always wanted to. I had romanticized jumping on a freight train and letting it take me to wherever it was headed. “No, sir, I haven’t. Don’t really know how I’d go about it. A few weeks back, up in Peoria, I came across an idle train and climbed into an open boxcar. It was funny … I sat there for two hours and that damn train never moved an inch. I finally gave up and went back to the road and stuck out my thumb.”

He pointed across the street. We were standing on sort of a rise. That’s where the road was, but down in a little valley, about two miles away, there stood one of the longest freight trains I ever saw just hanging out there in the middle of the desert. “You see that?” he said. “That’s what I’m taking out to the land of sunshine and oranges. And it’s gonna be leaving soon, so I best be on my way. It was nice meeting you, kid.”

I let him take a few steps, then said, “Mind if I tag along?”

He stopped in his tracks and turned to me. With a smile that almost knocked me down, he said, “I’d consider it an honor, Bill.”

At least he didn’t call me kid.

That’s how I came to know Harry. Now I’m gonna tell you how he changed my life forever. How he showed me the Way, the Tao. Because of Harry, I don’t think I’ve had more than a few moments – total – of anxiety or sadness in the last half century. I’m not counting the times I’ve been in love, because being in love will always throw you a curve. But my life in general has been one of contentment, peace, and happiness. It didn’t matter if I was rich (which I later became) or poor (which I became subsequent to being rich) or middle of the road (which I am now), I never lost my pivot. All thanks to Harry. We caught that train and many more. We traveled together for five months before we split up.

Harry’s story came to me in bits and pieces as we sat in hobo jungles, as we rode the rails. As we walked in the rain, as we worked side by side digging ditches as day laborers. As we stole coins from fountains so we could buy a can of tuna fish to make it through one more day. As we bailed hay on remote farms. As we picked oranges in solemn and capacious groves. As we crisscrossed this great big land of ours.

I’ll tell it in the first person … as I heard it. Harry was a teacher alright and God bless him.

Harry speaking:

“I had just turned twenty-one when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. I was driving a truck back then, saving up to get married. Her name was June and I sure was in love with her. But my country needed me, so we decided to put off getting married until I came home.

“I was down to the recruitment center bright and early the next morning, along with about a thousand other guys. The line snaked all the way around the block and then some. I ended up in the infantry. I don’t really talk about the war all that much. We did what we had to do and that was it. Some of us made it back in one piece and some didn’t. I never allowed myself to get close to any of the guys because you never knew who’d stll be around the next day.

“But I will tell you this much, Bill. The single biggest thing I ever did in my life was having a small part in liberating Dachau. You know, the concentration camp. The camp was bad enough, but a half mile from the camp, we came upon a slew of railroad cars standing locked and idle. Even before we busted open the doors, we knew what we’d find inside.

“The cars had been built to take German troops to the front. They were designed to carry forty men. But inside each car we discovered hundreds of dead Jews. Hundreds! We later found out they had been locked in those cars for three weeks with no food or water. I can still smell the stench of dead flesh to this day.

“After seeing that, it would be an understatement to say we weren’t feeling too kindly towards the members of the SS we had captured. Our officers looked the other way when a few of us put forty-five of the SS motherfuckers up against a wall and made short work of them.

“It was a little after that, that I got my ‘Dear John’ letter. June had met some guy with a college deferment. She said by the time I received the letter they’d already be married, so there would be no sense in my writing back. I gotta tell you, I took it hard. But what are ya going to do?

“After VE Day, they sent us home on those overcrowded troop ships. There was hardly enough room to sit down. But we didn’t care. We were going home. I was a bit apprehensive. I had no family waiting for me, and without the thought of marrying June, I didn’t know what I’d do.

“Feeling inadequate (because of June and her college man), I tried college under the GI Bill, but that didn’t work out. And after what I’d seen in Europe, I couldn’t go back to driving a truck. Besides, I was having trouble sleeping and living day to day. So, one day, I up and said, ‘The hell with it’ and hit the road. Like you’re doing, Bill. That was about eighteen years ago and I haven’t stopped ramblin’ since. At first I always thought things would be better in the next town, the next city, down the road, over the horizon … anywhere but where I was at. It took me a few years to figure out that any happiness to be had, had to come from within me. Not from something outside me.

“That revelation set me free. Until recently, until I became so disreputable looking, I would interact with those people I met along the road. People like you, Bill. I’ve talked with people from all walks of life. I’ve gotten to know some of them quite well. I knew of their fears, their loves, their likes, their hopes and dreams. Everyone has dreams. Except maybe me, at this stage of my life. And I’m sure a kid like you has more dreams than I can imagine. But my point is, I’ve learnt something from everyone I met. If they were good people, I learned goodness from them. If they were bad people, I learned how not to be. But at the same time, I always tried to see a flicker of goodness even in the worst of ’em. And most of the time I do. I think if I had it to do over again with those SS guards I might even see some good in them. I’m sure they loved their wives and children and love is always good.

“What you gotta know, Bill, I’m as free as the breeze, and so are you … right now. But if you’re not careful, it may not last. Material things don’t matter. The only thing that matters is your state of mind. Fighting and clawing for more and more is bad for your soul, bad for your inner self. Look at me. I’ve got nothing. I’ve seen evil up close. I’ve seen the worse – the very worse – one human being can do to another human being. I eat out of trash cans. In winter I’m constantly cold. I’m hungry more often than not. People look at me and turn away, embarrassed by my poverty. But I’ll tell you this, I consider myself the richest man on Earth. Howard Hughes, on his best day, can’t buy what I have.

“You know what will give you true happiness? Doing for others. Not that you have to go big and start a soup kitchen or anything like that. Although that wouldn’t be bad. Small kindnesses add up. I know you have no coin on you now. But later in life you most likely will. When you see a man with his hand out, dip into your pocket. Not for change, but for something heavy. Why not blow his mind. Isn’t that what you kids are saying nowadays? Why not blow his mind and turn over a twenty. And don’t hesitate because he might spend it on booze. If he does, it’s because he needs it. Who are we to judge a man’s needs.

“That short time I was in college, I didn’t learn much. But I did pick up a book once that I found on a bus bench and it kinda opened my eyes about things. It was called the Tao Te Ching, meaning ‘The Way of Integrity’. It’s supposed to be the Chinese Bible. Anyway, I read it and that led me to another book called the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu Bible. In English that means The Song of God. My two big take-a-ways from those books were: ‘Always without desire be.’ And that death is like our soul shedding an old overcoat, namely our body. After a while, after we’ve had a little rest and time to reflect on our recent life, we’ll come back to Earth with a new body and we’ll get going on a whole new adventure, a new life.

“So, I guess because of those two books, I ain’t got much desire for material things and I got no fear of death. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking how could two lousy books change me so much? Well, it wasn’t just the books. It was what I had seen overseas. And what I’ve seen during my years on the road. You’ll understand what I’m talking about if you spend any time at all out here meeting people, like I have. Because the more people you meet, the more you’ll see God. God’s in all of us. Look at the mess I am. But God’s light shines from my eyes just like His light shines from your eyes, Bill.”

• • • • •

Hey, it’s me again … Billy. Harry told me some more things, but what I wrote above covers the important stuff. As I’ve said, I hung with Harry for five months. And what I want to say is that Harry wasn’t all words. He also walked the walk. I can’t tell you how many times I saw him give the last of his food to someone as hungry as he was. How he reached into his pocket and gave up his last dollar to someone he felt needed it more than he did.

Harry was getting weaker by the day, but wouldn’t tell me what was wrong with him. Finally, he got so weak we had to get off the road. We were in Texas at the time.

In the 1930s, during the depression, every town and city had a hobo jungle, usually on its outskirts. However, by the late ’60s, there weren’t that many left. But Harry knew them all and we’d camp in one if we found ourselves anywhere in the vicinity. So that’s where we headed, to the one just outside of Lubbock.

There weren’t that many hobos around anymore, so we had the place to ourselves. I got Harry situated and then hitched into town to buy some supplies. Luckily for us, we had a few bucks. We had just worked two days for a rancher outside of Norman, Oklahoma. By then, I was taking care of Harry. I did all the work while he sat in the shade of an old oak tree. I never let on to the rancher that Harry was too sick to work. I just had to work doubly hard and collect the pay for the both of us.

I picked up a loaf of bread, a pack of baloney, a gallon of water, and a fifth of bourbon. Hanging with Harry had taught me that we didn’t need much more than that.

When I got back to the camp, Harry was in bad shape. He couldn’t even eat anything. I asked him what was wrong but he just smiled at me. That pissed me off. I demanded he tell me what the hell was wrong with him. It was then that he finally fessed up.

“Well, partner, I reckon it’s my time. I didn’t tell you, but I have a cancer. It’s in my pancreas. Just before we met up, I went to the VA Hospital in St. Louis. They gave me the good news. Said I had six months to live. Looks like they hit it right on the money.”

I was beside myself. I jumped up and said, “I’m gonna find a phone and call for an ambulance! You sit tight until I get back.”

Harry weakly held up his right hand. “Please sit down for a moment. There’s something I want to say.”

“Just say it because I gotta get going.”

Harry shook his head. “Please, Bill, sit down. This is important.”

I started to argue with him, but the look in his eyes changed my mind real fast. I sat down in front of him and said, “Okay, Harry. What is it?” I was short with him and instantly regretted it.

He had been sitting on a log, but now he slid to the ground and leaned his back against it. He then looked me directly in the eyes and said, “You know, travelin’ around with you these last few months has been the best time of my life. I knew I was dying and even though I don’t fear death, I was a little nervous that I would have to go it alone. Then you came along.”

“Harry. This is stupid. We have to get you to a hospital.”

“No we don’t, Bill. I don’t want to die in a damn hospital. Look about you. There’s green trees here, and soon the stars will be out. I wanna die looking at God’s beautiful creation. What’s in a hospital but four white walls and a ceiling that keeps me from seeing the stars. My time has run out as it does for all men. I’ll just be shedding an old overcoat for a body of light. The pain will be gone and I’ll be hopping a train to a new location. But this time I’ll be riding in a Pullman Car with red velvet seats and sipping fine, imported champagne. But I’m worried about you, Bill. How are you gonna take it?”

I had calmed down some. He was making sense about the hospital and all. But I didn’t want to lose him. He was my best friend. We had been through so much together and he had taught me so much. I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I started to cry.

“I don’t want to lose you,” I sobbed.

Harry patted my shoulder and let me cry out. When I had myself under control, he said, “Believe me, I know how you feel. But I gotta go. The pain has become unbearable. I’m gonna miss you, too. But we’ll see each other again. You’re young. I’ll probably be back with a new body before you know it. I’m sure we’ll know each other if we meet up. Keep checking people’s eyes. You’ll know me. Now down to business. I can feel the time is close. Have you ever seen a dead man before?”

I almost started crying again, but I bucked up and said, “No, I haven’t.”

He laughed and said, “Well, it’s about time you did. Dying is part of life and if you’re afraid of dying, then you’re afraid of life. If you don’t mind, I’d like it if you stayed with me until it’s over. Then I want you to get up and just walk away. Leave my body where it lies. It won’t mean anything to you and even less to me. Can you do that for me?”

By then, I had gotten my emotions under control. If that’s what he wanted. If that was his dying wish, then I’d be strong.

“Sure, Harry. Whatever you say.”

“Good. Did you get the bourbon like I asked?”

“Yup. Got it right here.”

“Well, break it out. Let’s do some serious drinking.”

We sat there passing the bottle back and forth. There was no more talk of death. We reminisced and took turns bringing up different “situations” we had gotten ourselves into and how we had to high step to get out of those same situations. With every pass of the bottle, Harry’s smile grew. I thought I was helping him face death. But I later realized he was doing it all for me.

I brought up the time we got drunk in a small town and had to spend the night in jail where we met quite a character. The old bird told the funniest stories. I had just finished repeating one of his stories when Harry let go a laugh … and died. There was one swig left. I hefted the bottle and said, “Here’s to you, Harry. Thanks for everything.”

I downed the last of the booze, rose on unsteady legs, and walked to the highway not shedding a tear. I stuck out my thumb and hitched into a new life. One without Harry.

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia was my girl, she was my love. Georgia was taken from me. She is not of this earth anymore. Georgia awaits me in heaven.

Georgia was taken from me last spring as she crossed a street. She was killed by a drunk driver. Winter is now coming on and the murderer has still not faced justice. He has money and a very good lawyer. His trial has been postponed repeatedly.

He may have money and a good lawyer, but I have my granddaddy’s Colt .45. I have decided to be judge, jury, and executioner. I have waited long enough for justice.

He goes out to the clubs every night. He does not drive now. He has a Cuban drive him in his big fancy car; the same car that took my Georgia.

It will be tonight.

As I wait in the alley for the murderer to emerge from the newest, hottest club on Miami Beach, I think of Georgia.

My Georgia was only nineteen when we met. She was in Miami visiting a friend, and the friend suggested that she see Fort Lauderdale before she went home. I was at the bar in The Elbow Room, sitting on my usual stool, when they walked in. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but that night I had my doubts.

I sat there and looked on as a few guys hit on Georgia and her friend. They all walked away empty-handed. Normally, I wouldn’t have made a move, but something drew me to Georgia. She was full of life. If I could see someone’s aura, I’m sure hers would have been a light blue. A loving and pure soul was she.

To make a long and loving story shorter, I sweet-talked her phone number out of her. At that point, all I wanted was to get laid. But that was before I fell in love with my Georgia.

I called the next day. We went sailing on my boat. I told her to bring her friend along so that she would feel safe. The three of us sailed the bay and then ate a picnic lunch on Elliot Key. As we sailed back, the sun was setting into a fiery western sky .

We hit Dinner Key just as it got full dark. By then I was in love.

My home base is Fort Lauderdale—about two hours up the Intercoastal Waterway.

I asked Georgia to sail up there with me and I would send her back to Miami in a cab. To my great surprise, she said yes. Her friend left us and I cast off from the dock.

Two hours later, in a cove off Dania Beach, we anchored and made love. The sweetest most loving love I have ever known. From that moment on, she was My Georgia.

She flew home, settled matters and came back to me. We had two years of love and life before she was taken from me. In that time, I learned how to love another human being. I learned of tenderness. I learned of love. And because of what was done to My Georgia, I will kill a man tonight.

It’s coming up on 2:00 a.m., about the time the killer heads for home with his conquest of the night.

I see them now, the three of them—the murderer, a girl, and the Cuban.

My quarry has his arm around the tall, skinny girl. She sways on her high heels. She wears a silver dress that reflects the pink and yellow neon lights of the bars they pass. He weaves as he walks. I hope and pray that he is not too drunk. I want him to know why he is going to die.

I step out of the shadows to block their path. I stand before them and tell the girl to hit the road. She hesitates, but when I raise the gun, she finds someplace else to be.  I then turn to the Cuban. “This ain’t your fight.”

He also hesitates. So I explain it to him, “In one minute, your boss will be dead. Do you want a piece of what is about to go down?” I reckon he didn’t because he shrugged and walked away.

Now it is just me and the murderer.

“This is for Georgia,” I say as I put a bullet into his shocked face. His blood and brains splatter onto the wall behind him. So simple to take a life. So very simple. I did it with a gun … he did it with a car.

I thought I would feel better killing the son-of-a-bitch. But you know what? It does not feel good to kill another human being … although I am glad I did it.

Now I’m waiting for the cops. I hear the sirens nearing. But I am not worried; I will not be here when they arrive.

With the barrel of the gun in my mouth, I think of My Georgia and tell her that I am on my way.

When I see the first cop car approach, I slowly squeeze the trigger.

Time to Move On

It’s the 12th of June and I am going to die. We all die at some point, but knowing your death is imminent kinda changes your complacency about the matter. But still, I’m at peace.

I haven’t had a home since shortly after I was laid off. At first, I slept in my car, but then I had to sell it. So, for the last five months I’ve been sleeping in back alleys and doorways. That’s why I was there and saw what I did.

It was getting late. I was on my way to a favored sleeping place. It had been a long day. It’s hard to find work when your clothes are dirty and you are just as dirty. At least I wasn’t hungry. I had found a cornucopia of food behind the Korean market down on 7th Street. It was in the dumpster. I had myself a nice salad once I discarded what was rotten from the head of lettuce. There was also a badly dented and out-of-date can of Vienna sausages. Thank God for pop-off lids. It was the first thing I had eaten all day.

Passing by that abandoned building over on Fairfax, I heard a small scared voice say, “Please don’t hurt me again.” There was a pleading in it that just broke my heart.

I went into the building and searched from room to room. Then I heard the scream. I rushed to where I thought it came from and blundered into a scene from hell. I beheld a man on his knees, bending over the body of a little blonde-haired girl. Blood was pooling on the floor around her head. The man held a knife in his hand—he was cutting off her clothes.

My only thought, not knowing the girl was already dead, was to save her. I jumped on the man’s back, and as he tried to throw me off, we fell, entangled, to the floor. He’d managed to hold onto the knife and slashed me once across my chest. But before he could have another go at me, I grabbed his wrist, and turning it inward, I fell on him. He was dead before we stopped rolling. The knife had pierced his heart.

Without a thought for him, I went to the girl. She was looking at me, her blue eyes wide open, but she did not see me. She was dead; he had slit her throat. I knelt down beside her and brushed the blonde hair from her pretty face. She couldn’t have been more than ten years old. Then I did something I hadn’t done in a long, long time … I cried. I cried for the girl and I cried for myself. I did not want to live in a world where something like this could happen.

“What the fuck!”

I looked up to see Teddy turn and bolt through the door. Teddy was someone I had met at the soup kitchen while waiting in line. He saw me drenched in blood and ran. I couldn’t blame him. I didn’t care what he thought. I closed the little girl’s eyes and then I prayed for her soul … and mine.

Teddy must have told the police what he had seen. I am surrounded by five cops. They all have their guns drawn. That’s rich. But it’s also opportune. I’m tired. I just want to move on. I stand and point the killer’s knife at the cops. The last thing I hear are the pops of five guns. The last thing I feel are the warm bullets as they pierce my flesh and take me off to a better world.

She Was Born

She was born a free spirit.

She was the most beautiful woman in all the world.

Her name was Maria.

She touched me . . . she loved me.

I was not worthy of her love.

But she loved me nonetheless.

Then one dark night she was taken from me.

It’s now early morning.

I awake because of the sound.

The scream.

The horror.

But dreams can fool you.

I am alone.

It was I who found her body.

Her dead eyes looked into mine, but she did not see me.

I beheld her broken body, but it was not the woman I had loved.

Her essence had fled to another part of the universe … to another realm

I retrieve my gun and go in search of the man who had killed her.

He’s where I knew him to be.

I raise the gun and stick the barrel into his ear.

His brains spray out.

His blood forms a red mist that floats in the air … for a brief moment.

He’s gone.

Good … very good.

But his death does not bring back my Maria.

Now I will join her.

The gun barrel feels right in my mouth.

I pull back the hammer.

My hand is on the trigger.

My mind is on Maria,

I squeeze the trigger.

I am no more … until my essence is reborn.

Maria will find me.

Love is like that.

Hard Love

Our love was a soft love because we made no demands on one another; our lovemaking was soft and sweet. She was soft and gentle, and she gave me her soft and gentle love.

*****

I’ve been on the dodge for two days now. There are men looking for me—who want to kill me.

It’s a long story, but anyway you look at it I am slated to die. The only thing that matters right now is that I get to Julie. I have to fade away, and I need her to go with me.

I was doing work for these guys and something went wrong. What went wrong is not important now. Just know they want me dead. However, my saving grace is that they do not know about Julie … yet.

I’m on my way to Julie … and I will be with her. We will live our lives together or I will be killed trying to reach her. They know my car, and men have been sent out to find me.

Julie lives off of Pico near the Sunset Strip. I drive by her apartment and see her car, she’s home.

I park a block away, and before getting out of my car, I slide the 9mm into my back pocket. Just as a precaution. My plan is to tell her to pack for an overnight trip. I’ll buy her whatever she needs or wants once we get to where we are going … if we get to where we are going.

I scan the neighborhood as I approach her building. All is clear.

She is happy to see me and I con her into thinking I am going to take her to the mountains for a two-day romantic holiday.

She has packed a bag that I am carrying and we are on the street when all hell breaks loose. The first bullet whizzes by my ear, the second hits me in the shoulder and spins me halfway around.

The first thing I do is push Julie to the ground, and then I pull my 9mm. There are three of them. The first is an easy target. He is only yards away; a bullet to his right eye takes care of him. The second is half hidden behind a Mercedes, it takes two shots and he is splayed on the street, his lifeblood flowing into the gutter.

The third assassin is running for his life; we are safe for now. But he fired at me when Julie was with me. He might have killed her and for that he must die. There are no pedestrians. I take my stance and take my time. When he is sighted, I squeeze the trigger. I do not wait for him to fall; I know that he is already dead.

I reach down and extend my hand to Julie lying on the pavement. When she is on her feet, I wipe the tears from her eyes and tell her that we have the rest of our lives to discuss what just happened, but right then we had to hightail it before the cops showed up. She didn’t ask any damn fool questions. Instead, she smiled at me, touched the blood seeping through my jacket, and said, “Let’s go.” That is one of the many reasons I love her.

That was three years ago. We are now living somewhere I do not care to mention. Our first child is on the way. Julie is so radiant. I found a job as a mechanic at a local repair shop and for the first time since I was a kid, I do not have to sleep with a gun under my pillow. We are very happy. Our love is no longer soft. It’s hard as granite, as hard as the earth upon which we stand. It is a hard love. A good love.

 

 

Jeanie

Jake

Here’s the follow-up to the Everything’s Jake story.

It’s two hours before dawn, moonlight shafts in through the open window. In a darkened corner, deep in the shadows, sits a woman. She has been sitting there for hours. She looks toward the bed. Lying on the bed is a man, a big man. The woman is crying, the man is snoring, and they are waiting. The man does not know that he is waiting … but he is.

What a mess I’ve made of things, thinks the woman. She recalls back five years when she was just a seventeen-year-old girl in Two Mule, Kansas. Back then her favorite saying was, “This may be Two Mule, but it’s a one-horse town as far as I’m concerned.”

Then the big man came to town; he was handsome in a rugged sort of way. Jeanie took one look at him and knew that he was her ticket to freedom. At that thought, Jeanie has to laugh. Freedom! I haven’t had a free day since I left home. But she did not know what was in store for her then. At the time, all she wanted was to get away, and Mac was only too happy to oblige her.

He told her he would take her to Chicago, maybe even New York. But when they left, in the middle of the night, they headed west. He told her he needed a grubstake and was going to do a little panning for gold. But Mac did his panning with a knife.

They would wander into a gold camp, set up his tent, and Mac would pretend to pan during the day, always out of sight of the others. What he did was mostly drink and sleep. However, at night as the men sat around the fire, he would ascertain the man with the biggest poke, as he listened to their talk.

After two or three days, when he had picked out his target, he would creep into the man’s tent as he slept, slit his throat, and take his dust. Then he and Jeanie would hightail it out there. When you traveled with Mac Conway, you were always leaving places in the middle of the night. And tonight, thought Jeanie, as she sat in her corner, will be no different. Mac, you’ll be leaving in the night, but not with me … not this time.

It wasn’t long before Jeanie cottoned to what Mac was doing. That didn’t bother her too much, but what stuck in her craw was the fact that Mac had no intention of taking her to Chicago or anywhere else but two-bit tank towns. That’s when she first ran away from him.

As he lay passed out, dead drunk, she had lifted his purse and what dust she could find. Her big mistake—if you don’t count her not killing him outright—was leaving his horse.

He had caught up with her pretty fast and gave her a good beating to teach her not to do anything like that again. He said, as he beat her, “You belong to me and if you ever leave me again, I’ll kill ya!” It was then that Jeanie knew she would need the help of a man if she was going to escape Mac.

It was fourteen months before she found the right man; at least he seemed right at the time. Jake was full of talk of all the places he’d been. He said he was passing through town on his way to California where he was going to buy a ranch and raise cattle.

Once she had Jake picked out, she worked on him when Mac wasn’t around.

“You’re not afraid of him, are you?”

“No, of course not.”

“Then you’re the man for me. We can be one hundred miles gone before he even misses me. And don’t worry; he’ll be glad to be quit of me.”

However, after they left and word got around that Mac was looking for them, Jake started to go to pieces. He was always looking over his shoulder and saying things like, “How far back you reckon Mac is?” Or, “I don’t think we’d better stay here more than a day. Mac could be close by.” It was enough to drive a person crazy, thought Jeanie as she sat in her chair, in the corner, in the dark.

After eight months of Jake jumping at every bump in the night and loud noise during the day, she’d had enough of his frightened ways and started to play the piano player, no pun intended. Well … perhaps some pun intended.

The beautiful thing about Señor Piano Player was that he didn’t know of Mac, but Mac soon found out about him. When Mac finally caught up with her and the piano player, he didn’t beat her, he did not kill her, he simply told her she was responsible for the death of two men. He took great joy in telling her how Jake Tapper had died. So, two men were now dead and she was still with Mac.

If she was to get away, she would have to take care of things herself.

It was now a month later and they were in a new town. Mac came in every night roaring drunk. Some nights he would ravage her; other nights he’d just pass out. That is what gave her the idea.

She could have lifted his gun out of the holster as he slept. It was always hanging from the bedpost at night. And she could have pulled back the hammer, placed the barrel in his ear, and squeezed the trigger. But, that is not a woman’s way. And besides, she would most likely be hung for murder if she did it that way.

That afternoon, she had gone to McGuire’s Emporium and bought a bottle of laudanum, which is also known as tincture of opium. Before she left, she asked Mr. McGuire how much was safe to take.

“One tablespoon is alright, two if you are in a lot of pain.”

“How much is dangerous?”

“It depends on body weight.”

“What would happen if I drank half the bottle?”

“You would go to sleep and die.”

“Thank you, Mr. McGuire.”

“Good day, Jeanie. Say hello to Mac for me.”

Like everyone else in town, McGuire was fearful of Mac Conway.

Jeanie returned to the hotel, and before heading upstairs, stopped at the bar to buy a bottle of Mac’s favorite whiskey.

When she was alone in the confines of her room, she poured half the contents of the whiskey bottle into the wash basin. She then uncorked the laudanum and poured all of it into the bottle. Laudanum has a bitter taste. Jeanie was hoping Mac’s inebriation and the whiskey would mask the taste.

That night, Mac slammed opened the door when he returned, he was drunk as usual. As he reached for her, she said, “Hello, lover. Let’s have a drink first.”

Jeanie knew that Mac never declined an invitation for libation. She went to the table and poured a portion of the doctored liquid into a glass. Mac, as she knew he would, grabbed the bottle from her and took a healthy swallow. Well … it would have been a healthy swallow if not for the laudanum.

She was able to keep away from him until the bottle was empty, then she guided him to the bed where he sat for a moment, his head hung low, before he fell backwards and passed out.

That had been hours ago. Now Jeanie sat and waited—waited for the son-of-a-bitch to die. Just before sunrise, the snoring stopped. She hesitated for only a moment before going over to the bed. She had to know.

Yes, he was dead.

Before leaving the room, she went through his pockets and took anything of value. Then she went out to meet the rising sun.

John McCain

McCain

I am so sorry that John McCain is dead. I’m really sad, I mean really, really fuckin’ sad that he’s gone. I had one—just one—question I wanted to ask him. And now, I’ll never know the answer to that question. Fuck!

Hello, kind and gentle reader. It is I, Andrew Joyce. Once again, I have come to enrich your lives. Not that your lives need that much enriching, but I do what I can. Much like Jesus. Anyway, back to Mister … I mean, Senator McCain.

Recently, most of the nation has mourned his passing. And that’s cool … if you want to mourn a war criminal. Have any of you ever asked yourselves what ordnance McCain dropped while flying his missions over Vietnam?

He dropped burning gasoline on children playing in front of their huts. He dropped bombs on mothers carrying their babies. Then he flew back to the carrier, got himself a beer, and met his buddies in the ship’s movie theater to watch a first-run movie. May his soul rot in hell!

What was he defending? As I remember it, the Viet Cong were not storming Miami Beach. I was there, trying to get laid … to no avail.

Now, before you all get your panties in a twist, hear this. Yes, once he was shot down and refused release unless the rest of the POWs could go with him, speaks highly of the man. And I’m with you on that. But, if he dropped burning gasoline on your child, would you still think him a hero? I kinda doubt it. But maybe your kid’s a loser and the world would be better off without him or her. Too bad McCain ain’t around anymore to burn that loser kid of yours to death. But keep the faith. There are plenty more McCains out there.

I’m sorry … I’m getting off track here. Back to the motherfucker. Okay, he was young and believed the bullshit … or maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just felt like a hotshot, slinging off that deck, going out to rain down horror and death onto men, women, and children. Damn! I bet that beer tasted good when he got back to the ship.

Believe it or not, I give him a pass for all that shit. I wouldn’t want to stand in front of Jesus and try to explain it … but that’s his problem. My problem is trying to get you guys to know what a motherfuckin’ warmonger he was.

John McCain never met a war he didn’t love. And if there was no war, he’d try his damndest to get our country into one. The guy was frothing at the mouth to start a war. What the fuck was the matter with that guy? And if you don’t believe me, go check out his record as a senator. (I wanted to say: If you don’t believe me, then go fuck yourself. But my editor said I had to be nice. So I won’t say it.)

Alright, in closing … the world is a whole lot better off without people like McCain. And you want to know why? It’s high time that we stopped killing one another so “defense contractors” can make billions. It’s high time that we stopped letting other people, i.e., the assholes in congress, tell us what the fear du jour is. I have enough trouble with the soup du jour at my local beanery.

I’ll leave you with the words of a master (paraphrased, of course). I like this guy. He wasn’t perfect, but he had one or two good ideas. Now, once again, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the son-of-a-bitch say something like this: Love every goddamn motherfucker on this planet like you’d love yourself or did I just imagine that?

McCain, metaphorically speaking, wanted to kill everyone … every goddamn motherfucking person that disagreed with the Exceptional U.S. of Fuckin’ A. If they didn’t suck our collective cock, he wanted to kill ’em.

Jesus was cool … “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Love … not fear … will get us into that kingdom.

John McCain, you better hope Jesus and his Old Man live up to their reputation regarding mercy. Because if any motherfucker (besides me) ever needed to be sent straight to hell, you’re the one.

Andrew Joyce signing off. I got shit to do and I really should not have taken the time to post this rant. But I wanted to piss ya all off. I was bored. I mean, what the fuck is the internet for, if not for porn and pissing people off?

Andrew Joyce

September 3, 2018 (and on his way to hell)

 

A Time to Die

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My so-called friends tell me that I should not write about dying. That it is morbid. But you know what I say? I say fuck it. I want to die. I want to go on to the next adventure.

We are not our bodies, we cannot be harmed. I have lived many lives in the physical. When off the physical I am God. I am not male or female, I have no body. I am God! I am a part of God as we all are. And as a part of God . . .  as God himself, I can deign who lives and who dies.

Mister Finn has to die. Mister Finn has lived far too long. Mister Finn is an abomination . . . Mister Finn has to die.

Mister Finn took my sister. Mister Finn defiled her. Mister Finn will die this night . . . as I will.

I await him with the knife in my hand. I await the warm blood that will be let loose . . . that will flow onto me. I wait with death in my soul, in my being. And in my hand. I will dispatch Mister Finn . . . sweet death this night. Sweet death for us both.

His throat is slit. He is bleeding out his life.

Now me.

Now it is time to rejoin the Godhead.

I am God!

The destroyer of words. A destroyer of men! I am God . . . I am God!

I am pitiful.

She Was Born

Sally

She was born a free spirit. She was the most beautiful woman in the world. She loved me and I loved her.

Her name was Maria . . . her soul was . . . her soul told my soul that I was worthy of her love.

She touched me . . .

She loved me . . .

Then she was taken from me.

It was a still morning. The sun was beneath the horizon. I awoke because of the sound. The scream. The horror.

Without thinking, I ran to where I thought the screams originated. But dreams can fool you.

I was alone. And she was dead.

It doesn’t matter. We all die. We are all born with a death sentence.

Her body lay before me.

Her eyes looked into mine.

But she saw naught.

She . . .

was dead.

She was my love and she was dead.

And the man that killed her was my brother.

Now he must die.

I loved her.

But as I looked at her broken body . . .

I knew that was not her . . .

Her essence . . . had fled to another part of the universe

I retrieved my gun and went in search of my brother.

He was where I knew him to be.

I raised the gun and stuck the barrel into his ear.

His brains sprayed out

His blood formed a red mist.

He was gone.

But his death did not bring my Maria back.

Now I will join her.

The gun barrel

Feels right

It is in my mouth

I pull the hammer back

My hand is on the trigger.

My mind is on Maria

My finger squeezes the trigger.

Josie

fashion-model-young-woman-country-style-18735119

I have  no alibi, not that I need one.

They were three men, three men who did not matter.

It was late last night and I had a thirst. I was out for beer.

All I wanted was to slake my thirst. Instead, I took three lives.

Do you think I set out to kill?

As I came out of the store, they surrounded me. One had a knife . . . one told me to empty my pockets.

Sometimes I get weary . . .  and last night I got very weary.

Someone was going to die in the next few minutes. And I didn’t care if it was me.

All I wanted was some fucking beer. But death might be just as sweet. I am tired . . . tired of living.

Her name was Josie … it’s been a while. She visits me in the night. I cannot live with her specter no more. I loved her so much.

The big one made a move. Then I made a move. Before he knew it, I had the knife out of his hand and into his throat. Then I got pissed off. The other two died quickly.

No beer for me this night.

The cops are coming.

Josie, open the gates for me. I miss you so much.

The first cop car arrives. I stand and point my hand at him.

The bullets he gives me are warm.

Josie I am coming to you.

I love you so much.