“I never feast on time travelers,” the Count told his future guests, when he invited them to dinner.

“They leave a funny aftertaste.”


The Joads, 2018

He can’t believe what’s happened to the land of ‘milk and honey,’ a nickname his Grandpa Tom used to call California. But ever higher taxes have taken their toll.

Junior no longer owns what remained of the farm that’s been in his family since the 1930’s and he’s packed everything onto the only possession left, their truck.  Slowly, he eases the overloaded vehicle from the gas pump onto southbound Highway 99.

As he does, Junior tries to comfort his wife, who is as attached to Tulare as anyone. “It’ll be alright, I promise.”

Sallisaw, Oklahoma is still some 15-hundred miles distant.

Raven and Fox Make the Redwood Tree

“Come, gather ‘round kids,” Grandpa called. “Your mama says you got time for one more story before bed.”

Nine children scramble for a spot closest to the old man’s rocking chair; the best seat in the house when he’s not in it. They are immediately quiet as they wait for him to begin.

“In the age before men,” Grandpa started, “the Great Spirit finished painting the sky, placing the stars and hanging the Sun and the Moon at opposite ends from each other, and placing Mother Earth in between.”

Mother Earth was unhappy. She believed that because she was not decorated like Brother Sun or Cousin Moon, that she was in fact ugly.

The Great Spirit listen to her plea and took pity on her. So he planted white trees in her, which pleased her very much.

However, Raven and Fox were up to no good. They were looking to play a joke on Mother Earth.

So the two spent the next two-weeks dancing, singing and making bad medicine. When they finished, Raven flew to the top of each white tree, pouring the bad medicine on the branches, poisoning each tree, while Fox did the same around the stumps.

Soon the beautiful white trees the Great Spirit had made for Mother Earth went from shiny, smooth bark and glittering leaves to a dull red bark and branches covered in sharp needles. The bark grew hard and thick with deep grooves and bumps, while the needles turned a dark green and the trees grew to towering giants.

Ashamed, Mother Earth cried, and the more she cried, the greater the trees grew and she wished them to be gone. But Great Spirit had other plans.

He called them beautiful, foiling Fox and Raven’s cruel joke, convincing Mother Earth that she possessed a rare beauty in the trees that he now called, ‘Redwoods.’ Being wise, the Great Spirit also created more white trees calling them ‘Ghost Redwoods’ to fool Raven and Fox should they ever decide to play another joke on Mother Earth.

“Since then Ghost Redwoods have stood side-by-side in the forest with their much taller brothers, guarding against any possible bad medicine the two old jokesters could come up with,” Grandpa finished.

He pulled out his pipe, filled it with tobacco and lit it as his grand-children each gave him a kiss and hug goodnight. He had jus’ enough time for a few puffs of the corn-cob before he had to go to bed himself.

Choke-holds and Hate-crimes

Originally, I wanted to title this piece, “Shit Cops Say,” but it’s still a bit to serious for that yet…

As I was exiting a store late yesterday morning, I saw a young man beating on a frail older man. Later, I learned that the man is 79-years-old, five-eleven and 160 pounds, while the younger, at five-eight and 190 to 200 pounds, is only 15-years-old.

After yelling at the teen to ‘stop,’ which he didn’t, his mother started yelling at me, “Don’t hurt him, he’s special needs.”

Three times I told her to either stop her son or I would. Each time she failed and informed me again about him being ‘special needs.’

By this time the man was in the fetal position, bleeding from the nose and mouth, his dentures (both upper and lower) where broken, teeth and pink-plastic scattered everywhere and he had a nasty laceration to back and top of his head. Furthermore the store’s security members weren’t willing to doing anything to halt what was happening.

So…I did.

Since the kid was on top of the man, I dropped on top of the kid, placing him a Judo choke-hold known as ‘shime-waza.’ It took less than 30 seconds to ‘put him to sleep,’ a euphemism for cutting-off both the flow of blood and oxygen to his brain until he passed out.

In pulling him off the man, I dropped onto my back, so the kid was on top of me. As I was doing this, the kid’s mom tried to kick me, but I rolled into her causing her to kick the kid in the stomach.

Within minutes, deputies arrives along with an ambulance. While I was filling out a report, the mother was doing her level best to get the deputies to arrest me ‘for beating up’ her son.

Both the man and the boy had to be transported to the hospital. The man for his blood injuries, the kid because he was unconscious.

Now the incident goes to the DA for further review and possible charges because as the lead detective stated,  “While the kid attacked an ‘elderly person,’ you used a ‘deadly force technique’ on a ‘disabled person, which might be a ‘hate-crime.’ We’ll have to see.’”

Somedays, you jus’ can’t win.


The cabin looked as if built from miniature logs and moss, blown up to scale and dropped in the middle of the Redwood forest. Joey thought he’d found his heaven as he searched the deep woods around it.

“Perfect,” he smiled as he pushed the door open to reveal an empty single room interior.

Joey found his retreat, a place where he didn’t have to argue his ‘flat earth’ theories, could live off the grid, enjoying the fruits of his labor. Yet, he couldn’t see the eye’s that watched him as he settled into the terrarium garden she made realistic.

Bernice Conklin, 1933-2018

Unfortunately, I didn’t know Aunt Bernie, as my wife and her family calls her, as well as I would have like to, but I do find it important to acknowledge her life. She’s the wife of E.G. Conklin, the older brother of Mary’s dad, Don.

What I do know about her is that she was a brilliant, intelligent tough-as-nails woman, who taught high school mathematics for many years within the San Diego School District. In fact that’s where she and Uncle E.G. first met.

She was possibly the only person with enough sand to put up with the crustiness of an old retired U.S. Navy Chief like E.G. When everyone was ducking and dodging his straight forward talk, she was in there tossing it back at him.

Aunt Bernie passed away on April 18th, after living with Alzheimer’s for the last few years. And while I know she was born July 23, 1933, and that her father was Ernest William Boland, that is about all I know of her 84-years on this earth.

God bless you, Aunt Bernie and rest in peace.


After reading writer H.R.R. Gorman’s story ‘Food Should be Silent,’ I got a touch of inspiration — albeit closer to home…

If my hand’s weren’t so full, I would plug my ears. The squealing of the Dungeness crab is nearly more than I can take.

It’s so loud that even the dogs  heard them from outside. The crab’s hideous pealing sent them into a frenzy of barking and hopping around in an extreme state of canine excitement.

My wife, in the back room, wants to know what in the hell I did to set them off. I refuse to explain because she’s already pissed that I brought live crab into the house.

I’m so damn glad I can’t hear cauliflower scream.