Archive for the ‘creative writing’ Category

So, you want a few thoughts from me, OC ?  I really am the most colorful, I think, of this bunch that John allows to occupy his otherwise very empty mind, body and soul.

I’ve been having a lot of fun this year. As some of you know , I am more or less apolitical (E says that means non-political) and I don’t give a shit. But I will say this, President Trump is about the stupidest son-of-bitch that we’ve ever had as the leader of our country. I’m just telling you right up front how I feel. You see, I’m just telling you exactly how it is. I ain’t what you call wishy – washy. Some probably say that I am stupid for saying it that way. And you know what, so do I, but that’s just how I feel whether you agree or not, even if it isn’t true. I’m just telling you what I’m thinking right off the top of my head. Take it or leave it mother-fuckers.

Now before you get all burly and excited and threaten to beat me to a pulp for talking that way about your President, stop and think a minute! How I explained myself in that last paragraph is exactly what you stupid bastards said you liked about Trump.

You said “I like him because he tells it the way it is. He doesn’t mince words, he tells ya exactly what’s on his mind, right or wrong , whether you agree with him or not. I admire that about a man and a President”. If you love that about a man, you should love the hell out of me.

But truly, I gauge a man when I first meet him this one way and one way alone. And it is as simple as this, would I like working for a boss like him? Would he be an ass-hole to work for?

Come on you working stiffs out there that voted for him. How many bosses have you had that were like that ass-hole that you told to go fuck himself and you quit to find a better job? You voted for him as President? You need to wake up for Christ’s sake! He’s not going to do anything for you.

Shit, I could run for President.

Now, who brought the beer. Let’s have a drink and try to forget the mess you guys have made, then we’ll find that strip club a few blocks from here I want to check out.

OC

( I guess there isn’t much here that OC has said that I need to apologize for.  He just likes to tell it the way it is.    John)

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I was walking down the street last Thursday
and a dog with bright white teeth and a big smile
approached me from the right.
He said he enjoyed walking with humans and asked if he could join me.
I, a man of great tolerance, said OK, glad to have ya!
We had walked only a block or two and he starts sniffing the street light poles and fire hydrants.
And with that big smile on his face he raises his leg and pisses on one of the posts.
Shocked…. I said, “look, that is very embarrassing to me, to be walking with you and then
having you do that. people will think you are my dog and blame me for messing up the sidewalk.
And how can you do that with such a big smile on your face?”

He said, “Smile on my face? I’m not smiling, dogs don’t smile! I have an urinary infection!” Then he gave me the finger!

OC

Friday March 12, 2010

There’s an old fashion saying, “Home Is Where the Heart Is”. Perhaps I really didn’t appreciate the meaning of that until today.

After a two-week absence, spending all but two nights in hotels, I arrived at my own digs today. But the house was empty. As in, my wife was out-of-town. She is staying one more day with our children and grandchildren. As I reported yesterday, I was able to spend some family time with her and the kids Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. But I must regroup today and Saturday for a return trip to my project in Illinois on Sunday afternoon.

So now you may know what I’m talking about. I’m at my house but I’m not yet home. Home will arrive tomorrow in a red Prius with my wife. It’s funny because my wife believed home arrived today with me in a white Tundra. Home is a very complex concept that is sometimes hard to identify and keep track of. Although we were not in our house, we probably were more at home Thursday night at the middle school in Leavenworth attending Em’s band concert.

But we have been married many years and we have learned that we can adapt easily. I think you call it “rolling with the blows”. We have been very lucky to have raised our two children and now we get to watch our children as they raise their five and create homes for themselves.

Hopefully tomorrow after Marcia’s visit ends, their houses will be just a little bit less home without us. Just as ours through the years has become just a little bit less without them.

Such is the life of John

Captain! Sometimes the most important person is you!
You!….. you dizzled drapes dropper
You! …. you measly mound of moose melt
Get up and fight the sons of bitches!
Hit ’em in the face!
Kick ’em in the balls!
Fuck’em up!

Now wait a minute……..
Think about this
The last skull you cracked still isn’t healed.
And you lost your Secret Society of Greenwich Ring.
Oh! Those were the days!
There was beer, blood and Brylcreem
smeared all over everything.
Royal Fly-boys!…. the Bastards!

Wake Up!!

Whew! That reoccurring WWI dream again!
What time is it?
6 O’clock already!

I HATE Daylight Saving Time!!!

OC

(DST has that affect on some people. This is OC’s  twice annually modified rant about it. Brylcreem??  John   )

Let’s face it. There isn’t much to talk about while sitting here in a Northwestern Missouri Holiday Inn Express. I guess I can only talk about what I have here. Two Queens, a refrigerator, ground floor, near the exit. That’s my criteria. I like a choice of beds, use one of them to stack my coat and computers on, a solid floor and if the damn place catches on fire, I want a short unobstructed run or crash through the window out of here.

I definitely don’t want to talk about the 4 or 5 hours of restless sleep and endless info-commercials.

How many years have I been doing this?

6:00 seems to be the time for breakfast. Breakfast, round patties or dog sausage, powdered eggs (I think, sometimes they sort of gel together like a solid custard). They will be scrambled or formed into a tortilla shape.I haven’t figured them out, I don’t eat them. Biscuits and gravy seem to be a staple to eat first thing in the morning. Don’t biscuits and gravy sort of settle in your stomach and sit there all day? I have never figured that out, I don’t eat them.

Coffee is good. I mix my own, one half decaf, one half caffeinated, black. I never take a cup or a lid from the top of the stack. Can you imagine how many fingers have handled those? If I have to, I take each from at least three down. My advice, bring your own cup. The yogurt is surprisingly good, Yoplait Original, 99% fat-free, excellent. I usually stumble down the hall at 6, grab my coffee, 2 – 4 oz.cups of Yoplait and spoon, sit down close to the TV, realize it is permanently tuned to Fox News by the three Ditto heads that are sitting close to the biscuits and gravy, get up from the table in disgust, take my yogurt and coffee back to the room. Hopefully the management has subscribed to the weather channel.

Very interesting hotel, it is always warm and dry here, the showers are great, the cable or Sat signals are usually good and the floors always appear to be clean enough that I don’t feel like I have to wear my socks all the time.

I give this establishment 3 and a half stars.

Oh, just a tip, be nice, turn the air conditioning to high cool when you leave. Make sure it’s cool for the housekeeping staff, they work very hard. A hot room is their pet peeve.

Is that a Waffle House or IHOP I see down the street?

Such is the life of John.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them” – Hemingway

After his misfortune as a guest of the State of California and the U.S. Penal System, Orie found that he was no longer eligible for a lot of rights most of us have grown accustomed to. At that time in 1954, in most states he could not get a driver’s license, vote, hold a government job or even get a bank loan due to his felony history. He was obliged to be at the mercy of only those that were willing to take a chance on him. Those chances were most easily taken on the farms, fruit orchards and ranches of western Colorado. When Orie first came to the Grande Valley area he picked peaches in the orchards of Palisade and Fruita. He was able to work on the sugar-beet farms surrounding Delta. He stuck to the Bo ethic of always taking the worst jobs on the farm, always willing to work and as trust grew hopefully being moved to a job of more responsibility or if laid off a chance to be hired again.

In a couple of years this led to what he called a decent job as a farm hand on a large farm on the slopes leading to the Grand Mesa where the cattle were raised on the rich buffalo grasses of the leased government lands that encircled the area. He said he was on a horse 12 hours a day for 6 years straight tending to cattle and horses for the farm. He branded calves, castrated little bulls into steers and helped heifers birth their young. He separated cattle by their brand on the slopes of the Grand Mesa and rounded his farm’s animals up to take them to market after they’d put on a few hundred pounds. This all sounded an awful lot like working on a ranch as a cowboy to me but Orie never wanted to be called that. He explained that he and the other hands he worked with were more than that, cowboys were movie heroes, city slicker wannabees and worked on dude ranches.

He passionately said “Everything I wore as a farm hand had a purpose and if I didn’t need it I wouldn’t have carried it. The boot heels kept my feet from slipping through the stirrups, the spurs were to kick the shit out of a stubborn horse I’d drawn for the week, some horses I didn’t have to wear’em, the chaps was for keeping the oak brush from ripping my pants off and the goddamn hat kept the sun off my face and the rain from running down my neck. If I could have worn street shoes, loose pants and a fedora I would have.”

“We weren’t playing at being a fuckin’ cowboy out there, we were workin’ our asses off.”.

He took me to a horse sale once and I met his old friends that he had worked with on the ranch ..er farm. I now know what real cowboys look like and a little about how they think. I’ve seen how broke down men can get from sitting in a saddle all day manhandling a 1500 pound horse and coaxing 900 pound cattle with a rope and a kick. I haven’t wanted to wear a pair of cowboys boots or a hat since.

During this time Orie did manage to raise a family. He had a wife, a boy and a girl. He never talked about his wife. I didn’t know what happened to her, I mentioned it once and it was the only time he totally ignored one of my questions. I met his son and daughter. All that I know is that in the early sixties she must not have been there. During that time is when his friend Ramone made him the offer to marry his daughter. Orie wouldn’t have done that for nothing either. He was somewhat of a business man and I’m sure money was changed hands for Orie to have taken on another wife. After the shooting and the eight months in the V.A. hospital, Orie simply wasn’t able to farm hand on a horse anymore. He was lucky to only need a cane, it was a wonder he wasn’t in a wheelchair.

Millions of chickens are eaten each week in this country. If you don’t know, trust me, you don’t want to know how those birds are processed from the cute Easter chickie to the neat plastic packages we pickup at the grocery store. The poultry processing plants and their methods are not pretty. They are loosely regulated and are the topic of state legislation each session. If we ever plan to eat a nice grilled chicken sandwich again then enough said about that. I say this because chickens were one of Orie Penny’s passions. And talking about the humane treatment of them cannot be avoided here.

Orie wasn’t interested in the eggs, the drumsticks or the quality of the white meat of the chicken. What he was interested in was down deeper in the bird, down in the guts, the intestinal fortitude of the males. He raised, groomed and trained fighting cocks. And he knew how to do it. His birds were sought after all over the western United States.

Now understand, I knew Orie in the early and mid- 70’s. Cock fighting was already illegal in most of the United States. Now it’s illegal in all 50. Louisiana just prohibited it a few years ago. It is not illegal to raise, train or sell fighting cocks in any state that I know of. Orie raised and trained them. I never saw any deals made or money changing hands pertaining to his chickens. That’s a note I want to make very clear here.

Now as I’ve said, Orie’s left hip was blown away and miraculously reconstructed well enough that he could walk with a cane and even ride his adopted pinto mustang horse for a few hours. But sadly the one thing he wanted to do most was being in the cockpit training and handling his latest prize rooster in a cock-fight. But he couldn’t do it because of the hip and energy required to handle a fighting rooster in a fight. This really needs explaining.

You see, a cock fight is to the death. When you enter your rooster into a match, there is a 100% chance one or both of the cocks are going to die due to the needle sharp gaffs that are tied to their legs over their spurs. To win the fight cleanly your rooster will place the gaff squarely through the opposing birds back. It can be very bloody or it can be very quick. It is very expensive in time and money to buy and train them. Huge amounts of money are hanging on each fight. Wagering is the main reason the fights are illegal, not for the welfare of the birds. Consequently each bird has a handler inside the ring during the match. To fight the birds you must have a good handler. After only a few weeks of knowing Orie, he had picked me to begin training as one. A handler has to be able to keep his mouth shut too. Orie was trusting me to do this for him. It has been over 40 years and I feel I am breaking his trust just writing this. So please, consider the next pages as fiction. You know, to totally confuse the reader, the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.

 

“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue, there’s just stuff people do.” Casy the Preacher – Grapes of Wrath.

As a guy travels around the country, working on different projects, working with different crews and spending a little time with different kinds of men with many experiences and backgrounds, you learn not to ask any questions of their past. They may be and probably are there because of a past that they are trying to forget or get away from. But eventually a man will voluntarily begin to talk, without being asked.

Over the most eye squinting whiskey that I’ve ever tasted, Orie started talking. It was a very short story. The words seemed to spill from his mouth, slowly draining from his skull. Words that had been festering in his head for years and pushing to get out. It started abruptly with ” San Quintin is a terrible place to be. Men have been in there for years and are just forgotten, no family, no friends, no nothin’! They are in there because they had nothin’ and when and if they leave they’ll have nothin’, nothin’ but their old underwear and socks under a new cheap suit. I spent five years there pounding stones for rock roads. And I left with nothin. I know.”

He went on to say, ” Tin Cup Tim was a friendly sort, sold pencils and pens out of a tin cup. Wouldn’t have hurt anybody. We were on a high speed freight, barreling through Iowa. The train came to a fast screeching stop. High speed Coast to Coasters don’t do that unless there’s trouble. Stuck my head out of the box and I saw silver passenger cars side railed ahead. It was the California Zephyr with her engines down. Our freighter was pickin’ her up for the pull West of Ottumwa. Tin Cup and I stayed put where we were in the boxcar. They broke the train at the rear of our car, side railed and hooked on to the Zephyr. First thing we know we are part of a passenger setup. Unspoken rule was for the Bo’s to stay off the Zephyrs and there we were stuck there.”

“Tin Cup got real worried about this, the Railroad Bulls on the passenger lines were mean sons of bitches and didn’t put up with Bo’s on their trains. The freights were no trouble, hell we were part of the crews, but the Zephyrs got your ass beat and then thrown into the next jail! A few miles out of Osceola and Tin Cup decides to bail out before the stop. But the train wasn’t slowing enough for him to jump. While his head was stickin out the door the Bull on the Zephyr must have caught a glimpse of him and before we knew it the Bull had swung up and around and was on his way into the car. Hell we were still going 70 or 80 mile an hour. Well Tin Cup started a scuffle with the Bull, they both lost their balance and fell out the door. The Bull was alright cuz I saw him land and get up but Tin Cup fell under the train. Must of been drug the two mile to the depot. His body parts were strung the whole way. It was right before school time in the morning. An arm and a foot were dropped right in front of some school kids at a crossing.”

Orie went on to say that he’d stepped off the train unnoticed at the Osceola depot and started walking down along side of Highway 69 and hitched a ride at a big intersection in town with a car going west on Highway 34. He hitched all the way to Omaha.

“I hopped a freight out of Omaha, figured I’d take her all the way out to Emeryville, California.”

Well the railroad took the Osceola incident very serious. They couldn’t have body parts falling off their trains in front of school kids. And so the railroad detectives hunted down Orie and caught up with him in California. He didn’t say how they identified him, probably the railroad Bull. He knew it would be the Bull’s word against his about what happened and that would be used against him.They got him convicted of murder of Tin Cup. San Quintin was taking a few Federal prisoners at the time and he ended up there. I think any crimes happening on the railroads were handled as federal offenses and you could end up anywhere. “Glad they didn’t pick me up in Iowa!” he said as he pulled back his old felt hat and downed another shot, “I could have ended up in Ft. Madison.”

Orie spent most of the time in prison forgotten like so many others. Doing hard labor while working on roads. But he said one day he received a letter from a woman that he had known before the war. They had planned to marry when he returned from overseas. They corresponded all of the time that he had served in Europe. When he returned and went to see her, he found that she had been married for two years and had one child and was pregnant with another. She had mentioned nothing about the marriage in any of her letters and said she couldn’t bring herself to tell him while he was at war. I’m sure this is what first fueled his wanderlust.

She had heard from a friend about Orie being in prison and just couldn’t believe he had done anything to deserve it. Her father was a well known attorney on the East coast. She ask her father to do something to help Orie. Her father somehow got Orie’s conviction reduced to manslaughter and he was released from prison with time served.

In 1954 Orie Penny was given a new lease on life.

Tuesday October 12, 2010
Chapter 1

Orie Penny was retired, well let’s say not working for anyone, I never knew which occupation he claimed, horse trader, farm hand cowboy or dealer in Colorado fighting roosters. At the time he made his money breeding fighting roosters and illegal cock fights. He was an averaged sized man, with a 3 day beard, rolled his own and still wore Levis and toe worn boots with stirrup scars around the instep. He didn’t call himself a cowboy, farm hand was good enough for him. Walked with a left legged limp because he had a painful rebuilt hip, reconstructed years ago before modern methods were perfected. He never told me how he hurt his hip but his daughter Anita told me the story late one night.

Orie agreed to marry an immigrant worker’s daughter because she was too old for the father to claim as a dependent and she was going to be deported. The father, being Orie’s best friend, asked him to marry her in name only with the understanding that the marriage could never be consummated and she was to be left alone and never live with him. After a few weeks, Orie, thinking consummation would be the honorable thing to do, made an advance at the young lady . The next morning he heard his friend Ramone yelling outside across the street. Orie went out to investigate the commotion  and Ramone jumped up out of the weeds in the bar-ditch and lowered a 30-06 on him. He shot him through the hip. After he fell, Orie got one round off into the weeds from his old Colt model 1901 .38 revolver that he had grabbed on his way out of the back porch. Of course, he didn’t hit anything but stopped Ramone from popping up his head and shooting anymore rounds. That pretty much disabled him and he couldn’t work riding long hours out on the ranch … err farm as he called it. He never did live with her and never did divorce the girl. She is still living in the States. Orie never pressed charges but Ramone and the rest of his family were deported because of the shooting.

I came to know Orie in the early 70’s. Needing work, I found myself in Western Colorado. I got a job on the construction crew building the cable TV  infrastructure through the area. At the time oil drilling was ramping up due to the oil shortages and embargoes and oil shale had just been discovered on the western slope of the Rockies. There was an minor oil boom going on in the area, which meant no housing available. Until I was able to find a home to rent, suitable for a wife and 2 kids, I was sleeping in a tent and showering at a KOA campgrounds. I met Orie through a friend I knew there. Orie and I hit it off well and he told me to move the tent to his backyard, he knew a lot of people in the area and would help me get a house to live in so I could send for my family. That really did help out.

Although his home had running water to his sink, he had no other indoor plumbing so I still needed a place to shower. He had about an acre of land with his old home. We worked together and fixed up a solar heated water tank and made an outdoor shower out near his rooster houses and horse shed. I can still hear the cackling of his chickens and the rustling sound of his adopted thick legged mustang pony as I slept out in the backyard on those starry nights.

I will tell more stories about Orie and the year I knew him. I might tell about his teaching me to handle fighting roosters in the ring. I would also like to tell about his time riding the rails during the 40’s and his five years in San Quintin prison literally pounding rocks into the roadbed building roads and why he was there. I’m telling this just to say that even men who people may think as the lowest of men may let you stand on their shoulders and give you a leg up. Orie did that for me and I really appreciated it.

DSS

Boys, you better mind your fishin’ poles
there’s no fish, only turtles in this here tank
Here let me help ya roll that cigarette
I don’t come here to fish
don’t like eatin’ them anyway
Spend half the time pickin’ out bones
Came here first 40 years ago
I brought her with me just 20 years back
we swam all naked together then
She bet me a silver dollar she could get to the other side first
I’ll bet she still has that silver dollar.
It’s never wrong to love a woman like that.

“Probably playin’ with it in her blue jean pocket.”

OC

“That’s the scene I remember in “The Last Picture Show”, as best as I can remember it.  I need to watch it again.  OC ”

 

 

The New Year is approaching. Damn, I’m glad I’ve almost made it another 366 days. Some days went quickly, some days dragged by. Time, a very relative thing. I wonder if time would even exist if there was no life in the universe. Time may only be a remnant of life itself. What difference does time make to a rock or gas or liquid? Life is the only thing that has an expiring life span. Whether made intelligent and conscious or only a one-celled microscopic plant or bug. Life is born and soon dies.

What difference does time make to a rock, it doesn’t give a shit how long it takes for it to be first spewed from the center of the earth until it is blown to hell and gone as a speck of sand. A billion, 2 billions years? So what, it’s just a fricking rock. I have, maybe if I’m lucky, 77.6 years. Then I’ll be blown to hell and gone as a speck of the star-dust that I was made from. Time is a very precious thing to me. I have a few short years, then I won’t care what fucking time it is either. And in maybe another billion years some of my atoms may also end up nothing more than a particle in some boulder stuck out in the middle of Utah somewhere. You’ve seen them, a big fucking rock balanced on the edge of a cliff, not giving a shit whether it will fall or not. That will be part me and you, out in the middle of a desert in Numbfrickin, Utah.

And we won’t care if it’s January, February, March or time for supper. Because our life will have gone by just a shade under 300,000,000 meters per second.

Happy New Year!

E.

(Again, I apologize for E’s frankness. He very seldom has an optimistic or even a poetic view of getting another year older.    John)