The Up-ending Sneeze

Boredom got the better of me and I decided to visit a book store to have a look around. I didn’t buy anything as my wife says ‘One more book and I’m gonna do more with it than throw it at you.’

I believe her.

“Not a bad-looking woman,” I thought as I passed a 40-something female in a nice black dress.  About that same time, she replaced the book she’d been looking at and rushed by.

A couple of strides later, she sneezed violently.  The woman, in mid-step, tripped and fell face-first to the floor.

I hurried over to offer my help.

My first act was to pull down her dress, which had slipped up, exposing her naked derriere. That’s when I realized she had tripped over her panties.

After getting her seated in a nearby chair, she slipped the panties from around her ankles and over her heels, asking, “Have you’ve ever sneezed your underwear off?”

“No,” I chuckled, “When I wear a kilt – I go commando.”

“Commando, good advice,” she smiled.

Jokingly, she held out the skimpy pink lace, “Don’t suppose you wanna a souvenir?”

“No thanks, my wife wouldn’t understand,” I laughed.

She grinned, “My husband wouldn’t either.”

Finally, having gathered her composure, she stuffed her errant panties into her purse, thanked me and headed for the doors, disappearing into the parking lot.


Dusty Road

Love the long dusty road,
Crunch of gravel
Beneath boot and hoof.
Come on friend, travel
Down that dusty road,
Where life awaits.

Thirty-year old tractor,
Fence posts, barbed wire,
Barking ranch dogs,
Kids doing chores.
Heifer, hawk, coyote
Down that long dusty road.

Barnes half-fallen,
Sun-weathered boards,
Bailing wire, nails.
Down that dusty road
Ancient trucks, old men,
Faint echo of the past.

Wash hanging on the line,
Breezes emotions stir.
Wife, mother, the soul.
Steady strums her broom,
Supper cooks on the stove,
Her lips thin, smile warm.

Dust drifts, trails behind,
Smoke from an altar,
Lifts high to God.
Travel the dusty road
Where spirit, soul meet
In gravel and dust.

Reheated Coffee

“i should be writing,” i keep telling myself. instead i sit here at my computer listening to the washing machine beat the crap out of the bed linen. stumped for a subject, something not political, i surrender to my baser needs and wander down my hallway to make myself a sandwich; bologna and pepper jack cheese on sourdough. while i’m at it, i reheat my coffee for a third time. it’s mornings like this that make me wonder if i should ask God once again what His plan is for me, but it’ll have to wait – the sheets –they’re done.

Bottoms Up

It was an early Monday morning, around three or so, when a man came into the air base’s emergency room, doubled over in pain. I was working the intake desk as well as assisting in medical situations when needed.

“I am so badly constipated, I can’t stand up,” he complained.

As I scribbled down his name, rank and other particulars, I asked, “How long’s this been going on?”

“Since early Saturday morning,” he grunted.

Immediately, I moved him into bay number one. There was no else in the ER admission area other than me, so I had to leave him and go back to the desk to call for the other on-duty medical technician and the lead nurse.

Within a couple of minutes, the pair arrived and proceeded to check the patient. Then one of them asked me, “Will you run him down to x-ray and set him up with some film?”

Swiftly, I rolled him down the hall to x-ray and handed him off to a technician with instructions and returned to my desk. A while later, the x-ray tech returned with the patient and handed me a large envelope that held the patient’s films.

“Weird,” is all he said as he turned down the hallway.

By this time I could tell there was something strange going on as the doctor, the nurse and the med-tech were talking in hushed tones while looking at the patient’s butt, which they’d positioned in the air, pillows tucked under his hips and stomach.

“Hey,” the doctor asked, “Bring me those x-rays, would’ya?”

In a matter of seconds he was looking at them. That’s when he exclaimed lowly, “What the fuck is that?”

Both the med-tech and nurse shrugged. However, I instantly knew what it was and without saying anything, sprinted down the hallway to x-ray to quickly check the machines. Neither the x-ray tech nor myself found anything out-of-order and I raced back to the ER.

“Uh, Doc, I checked both the x-ray machines and they’re clear,” I said before adding, “That’s a Michelob bottle.”

By this time, they knew it was bottle and that it was dangerously lodged deep inside his rectum. I realized that knowing the type of bottle was of no help to him or the patient, so I headed back to my desk.

About four minutes later, the patient screamed in agony. The doctor was trying to remove the bottle but the thing refused to budge.

“It must’ve sucked in a part of his bowel,” the doctor said, “But I’ll be damned if I know how we’ll get it loose without surgery.”

The doctor looked at me and directed, “Call the OR and see how fast they can get a suite prepped.”

Without saying anything, I picked up the phone and dialed. After arranging an operating room, I let the doctor know.

“Good,” he said.

Then, as if it were an after-thought, he turned back to me and asked, “You got any ideas about how we can extract that thing without major surgery?”

Shaking my head ‘yes,’ I answered with a question, “How about drilling a couple of holes in the bottle?”

It was as if a beam of sunlight struck the doctor as his face lit up, exclaiming, “A dentist’s drill!”

Within minutes, there was a mobile drilling unit being set up in the bay. Shortly afterwards came the irritating squeal of the drill bit being pressed into the brown glass.

There was an audible sound of air being released as the doctor drilled a second hole into the bottle, followed by a horrendously awful smell. Then, without much warning, the bottle became a missile, launching across the room, blasting a hole into the drywall.

A minute or so later, the patient was on his way to the operating ward. As he disappeared around the corner and because this wasn’t an ordinary situation and required some investigating, the doctor ordered me to call the Air Police.

The following week, after reporting for duty, with the same doctor, nurse and medical technician, I asked, “So what became of the guy with the bottle up his ass?”

The doctor looked around and then motioned us to move closer as he explained, “I’m told he admitted to doping two women and having sex with them. The two women in turn, doped him and in revenge for what he did to them, they shoved the bottle up his ass.”

We all quietly chuckled, but it was no laughing matter; the Air Force eventually kicked all three out of the service.

The Sled King

We had only recently moved to Klamath, California in 1964, coming from Mather Air Force Base, in Sacramento. My family arrived following the devastating tsunami that slammed into the North Coast, but before the massive flooding caused by endless days of rain along the coast and foot-after-foot of snowfall in the mountains.

It was either late November or very early December when my folks got permission to cross the Klamath River, via ferry to go see family in Humboldt County.  One had to get permission for personal travel then because of all the damage to the roadways throughout the area.

During this visit, I recall stopping at my grandparent’s home on Rohnerville Road in Fortuna, before heading further south to my cousin’s home in the Compton Heights area. We ended up spending the night at my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Adam’s house, sleeping in the back bedroom with our male cousins.

At some point during the weekend we all packed up – I say ‘all’ to include my aunt and uncle, my cousins Dan, Pam, Steve and Kathy, my folks, my brother Adam and me – and headed for the snowy hills of Mad River.  Uncle Luke, Aunt Daisy and their kids, also my cousins, followed along behind us.

Somewhere along the way, my dad must’ve bragged about how he grew up in the snows of Iowa as a boy and Uncle Adam got tired of it and challenged him. This ‘challenge’ involved Uncle Adam dragging Dad behind Adam’s jeep while my dad laid atop a vehicle’s hood, turned make-shift sled.

As the story goes – and I heard it a few times while sitting at my aunt and uncle’s dinner table – Uncle Adam gunned the Jeep around one corner to the next, trying his best to knock his brother-in-law off the hood. I do recall seeing Dad slide up an embankment and as he came down to the roadway, flipping over under the sled, only to disappear off the road on the other side, which was a downhill slope, to finally coming back onto the snow-covered roadway in the upright position.

Gladly, the situation didn’t last too long as Uncle Adam lost control of the Jeep and ended up crashing it off the side of the road. We kids, crammed in the back, scrambled out and up the embankment, while my Aunt Barbara gave Adam hell for being such an ‘ass.’

Soon afterwards, Uncle Luke and his posse arrived, and together, my dad and both uncle’s set about hauling the Jeep back up onto the roadway. Once done, my dad got into Luke’s vehicle because it had a heater as Dad was ‘soaking wet and half-frozen to the bone.’

We continued on with our enjoyable family outing, save for the hell Aunt Barbara continued to give Uncle Adam, while we kid’s sat there, listening as the snow disappeared beneath the Jeep. Later, we concluded, and Uncle Adam had to concede, that Dad was the ‘undisputed sledding King,’ as he never came off the hood.


hard times create strong men
should they stand beside you
respect them —
strong men make good seasons

good seasons bring on softness
softness develops weak men
protect them —
when they stand behind you

weak men beget hard times
should they stand against you
defeat them —
hard times make strong men