Coffee Moon

Donny Diamond presses the remote’s power button. Across the room an 80 inch flatscreen flicks to life. A 3D rendering of a giant brick and glass building rotates on its screen.

“Diamond Plaza will be the linchpin of New Edgarton’s downtown revitalization, Mr. Mayor. I guarantee once it’s built, corporations from all over the world will flock there. Your tax base will triple…, maybe even quadruple.” Donny brushes his dyed, combed over, blond hair away from his forehead. “You’ll be the envy of every city in the country.”

“I don’t know Mr. Diamond, New Edgarton is an old city,” the mayor replies. “Our citizens are happy with the way the downtown looks. We have buildings by some of the finest architects of the last century. Stanford White, for example, his Carsters Salt building is considered one of the most beautiful on the east coast.”

“Yes, yes,” Diamond replies. “But it’s vacant isn’t it? Run down, too.” Donny shakes his head. “When you tear that and the rest of those old relics down, and build my Diamond Plaza, you’ll see everything I say is true.” He points at the mayor with his index finger. “You mark my words.”

The phone buzzes and a woman’s voice comes through the speaker. “Mr. Diamond, your four o’clock appointment is here.”

“Thanks Barbara,” Diamond gets up from behind his desk. “I’m sorry Mr. Mayor, that’s all the time I have. I tell you, you do this, and they’ll put your statue in the courthouse square.”

The mayor, an older man dressed in an off the rack brown suit, stands and shakes the developers hand. “I’m not sure if I want a statue, Mr. Diamond; and you’re wrong about the Carsters building. It isn’t vacant, Mrs. Marzanna has a new tenant for the ground floor. It’s a coffeehouse run by three sisters. Kávé Luna, I think they’re calling it.”

Donny smiles and drops the mayor’s hand. “Your honor, it’s going to take more than a coffeehouse to put your city on the map…Diamond Plaza, that’s what you need.” He opens the door, “I’ll call you…, maybe we can do lunch.”

He nudges the old man out and moves across the plush carpet to the office’s main entrance. When he opens it, a short thick man with bushy eyebrows rises from a hard looking chair. “Come in.” Diamond closes the door behind him, and sits at his desk. “So, ol’ lady Marzanna finally got some tenants. I thought you took care of that?”

Bushy Brow squirms. “They musta done it in the night, Boss. I was just as shocked as you ta see ‘um in there. It’s three girls, I think they’re sisters.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know they’re sisters.” Donny pulls a Fresca from a small refrigerator and pops the tab. “You need to get them out’a there, you understand?”

“Don’t worry, Boss. Me an Robert’ll pay ‘em a visit. Rough ‘em up a little. Maybe bust up the furniture.”

Diamond covers his ears, “I don’t want to know. Just get them out of there.”

“Yea, Boss. Sure, we’ll get ‘em out.” He hesitates.

Diamond takes a sip, “What? Why are you still here?”

“Why do you want to build in New Edgarton, Boss, it’s just a podunk little city?”

The developer chuckles, “A podunk little city that’s going to be the first stop on a new high speed train running between Boston and New York.” Diamond glances at his fingertips. “They don’t know it yet, but property in New Edgarton is going to be worth a a fortune.”

“You’re on on top o’things, aren’t ya Boss?”

Donny takes another sip, “Just get those girls out. I don’t want any complications.”

…………………….

The bell above the coffeehouse door jingles. Ariel sets her grocery bags on the counter and hangs her broad brimmed hat on a hook. “Cover up if you go out, the sun is still very bright .”

Marie starts removing things and taking them to the kitchen. “Claudia, I have the currents and butter for the scones. You get started on those. I’ll start making the sour cream twists and Focaccia bread.” She looks over her shoulder, “Why didn’t you tell us you used the last of everything? Now we’re behind.”

Ariel picks the bags up and hauls them to the pantry. “We’re always supposed to keep spare supplies, remember? How come you never restocked the pantry?”

Marie scoops flour into a scale. “Playing the blame game isn’t going to get us anywhere, Ariel. We need to hurry, your boyfriend George is going to be here in half an hour. You know how he likes his scones and butter.”

Ariel blushes,“He’s not my boyfriend. He’s just a nice man that likes me.”

A cloud of flour poofs out of Claudia’s bowl. “I’m going as fast as I can, but you can’t rush these things. Remember what Mama used to say, ‘Haste makes waste.’”

“I know. I know.” Marie replies.

“I’m going out to set the sidewalk tables, light the lanterns and water the flowers,” says Ariel. “ Do you need anything before I go?” Neither sister replies, so she picks up a stack of red and yellow tablecloths and exits the shop. When she returns Claudia is rolling out the scones, and Marie twisting dough into strips and laying them on a greased baking sheet. The bell above the door jingles.

“Good evening, Ariel. You look lovely as usual.”

Ariel moves closer and kisses the newcomer on the cheek. “Oh George, you know how I love a man in uniform. Did you polish your badge?”

He looks down at his chest. “I didn’t think you’d notice.” She leads the constable to the corner table.

“I, ahh, need to use the facilities, if you know what I mean.”

Ariel nods, “Go ahead, honey. I think the scones’ll be done by the time you get back.”

“I can’t wait. They smell delicious.” He starts to walk away,”I don’t understand having a coffeehouse that’s only open at night…, but I’m glad you’re here.”

“All the other coffeehouse are open in the daytime,” replies Claudia, exiting the kitchen. She puts a plate with two steaming scones on the table beside a dish of butter. “We thought we’d cater to those who have to be out at night. You want an espresso too, don’t you, George?”

“Yeah, the usual please,” he opens the restroom door and steps inside.

A few minutes later the bell above the door jingles. Ariel glances up and sees two man. One has a thick neck and bushy eyebrows, the other is skinny with pimples. “Can I help you,” she asks with a smile. “We just took some fresh scones from the oven.”

Bushy Brows comes closer, grabs her arm, and puts a gun to her head. “Shut up, girl.” He gives pimples the eye. “Ok, bust the joint up.” The pimply man pulls a hatchet from under his coat and splits the seat of a chair in half. He does the same with the next.

Bushy Brows glares at the girls through the kitchen pass-through. “Don’t try anything, and your sister won’t get hurt.” He twists Ariel’s arm tighter. “I have a message for you ladies. You need close this place, and leave town. If you don’t, the next time we come back we won’t just break the furniture.” Pimples smashes another chair.

The washroom door opens and George has his gun drawn. “Drop your weapons!”

Mr. Bushy Brows pivots and shoots. George falls to the ground. Ariel pulls her arm from his grip and covers her ears. “Damn, that was loud.” Bushy Brows points his pistol at Ariel. She laughs. “Claudia, Marie, come and watch over these two. I need to check George.”

Bushy Brow’s eyes turn fierce. “You better knock it off if you know what’s good for you, girly girl.”

Ariel grabs the gun and lifts Bushy Brows up with one arm. “Where’s Pimples?”

“I have him,” answers Marie. Her eyes are bright red, and fangs protrude below her upper lip. “I bet he tastes bitter.”

Claudia appears beside Ariel. She looks up at Bushy Brow’s surprised face. “Don’t worry about this guy. She licks her lips, “I have a feeling he’s not going to be with us much longer.”

Ariel drops Bushy Brows and hurries to the fallen constable. “Find out who sent them, if you can,” she orders. “ After that, I don’t care what you do to them.”

“Oh, do we have to?” replies Marie.

Claudia runs her tongue up the side of Bushy Brow’s neck. “Ooo, he tastes like a B Positive. It’s been so long since I’ve had a fresh one.”

Ariel takes her cell phone out and dials 911. “Remember, try and find out who sent them.”

The two sisters grab the thugs by their throats and carry them into the back room. “Hello, yes there’s been a shooting. It’s at Kávé Luna, it’s on the ground floor of the Carsters building. Please hurry.” Ariel dips her finger in the constables blood and touches it to her tongue. She licks her lips and whispers, “I always knew you were a sweet one, Georgie.”

……………………

Donny Diamond steps out of the elevator and three attractive young ladies walk over to him. “Oh, Mr. Diamond,” says the taller of the three. “Can we have just a few minutes of your time?”

The real estate developer pauses. His eyes rove over them. “Oh, I’m sorry ladies. It’s a bad time, how about tomorrow?”

“Oh, that’s too late,” replies the middle girl. “It has to be tonight.”

The smallest of the three moves so close she’s nearly touching and looks up into his eyes. “Please.”

Diamond smiles. “I guess I can spare a few minutes. Let’s go back to my office.”

Ariel waits for the elevator door to close and licks the developer behind his ear.

“Well,” says Donny Diamond with a big smile. “It looks like things are going to get interesting.”

Ariel shows her fangs. “Guess what girls, he tastes like an AB Negative.” The sister’s eyes glow red, Donny Diamond screams, but there’s no one there to hear.

……………………

The coffeehouse doorbell jingles.

“It’s nice to see you out and about George.” Ariel walks up and kisses him on the cheek. “How are you doing?”

“Fine.” He looks into her eyes. “Can we go outside and talk?”

“Sure. Hey Marie and Claudia, I’m going outside with George.”

The bell jingles and they step out into the quiet Autumn night. “You wanted to see me, honey?”

George pulls out a chair from an orange cloth covered table. “I don’t remember much about the day I was shot. What happened to those two men?”

Ariel sits and pretends to think. “I’m not sure Georgie. I guess after they shot you, they just ran away.”

He sits across from her, “They just ran away?”

Ariel nods. “Yeah Georgie, they just ran away.”

The bell jingles and Claudia comes out carrying a tray with two coffee cups, a plate of scones and a butter dish. “I thought you might like these,” she smiles and hurries back inside.

George looked down at his cup. “Claudia put a moon in the espresso’s crema.”

“Yeah, we’re doing that all the time, now. It’s kind of our trademark.”

“A moon in your coffee?”

“No, silly.” Ariel shakes her head, “It’s a coffee moon. That’s what Kávé Luna, means. Coffee Moon.”

“I still can’t believe you and your sisters own a coffeehouse that’s only open at night. I sure hope things go well for you.”

Ariel lifts her cup. “Don’t worry about us, honey. You’d be surprised how many of our customers only come out after the sun sets.”

Zoe’s Backyard Treasure

Zoe was bored. She stretched, stuck her head through the doggy door and looked out into the backyard.

“Hey Zumie, “ she said. “Ya want to go bark at the fence?”

Zumie looked at her with sleepy eyes. “Is someone walking by?”

“No, I just thought it might be fun.”

“It’s more fun if someone’s walking by, I think we should wait.”

Zoe nudged Dudley with her nose. “Do you want to go outside and play?”

“Maybe after I take a nap, Zoe. Now, I’m just too tired.”

Zoe looked at Emma, the oldest dachshund. She usually didn’t like to play. Besides, she was asleep. She patted Daisy on the paw, “Hey Daisy, do you want to go outside and play?”

Daisy nodded, “Sure Zoe, what do you want to do?”

“Let’s go dig a hole.”

“That sounds like fun. Where should we dig it?” Daisy asked.

“Let’s dig it behind the Garden Shed. That way the big man and lady won’t see it.”

Daisy smiled, “That’s perfect.”

Daisy and Zoe ran to the Garden Shed and sniffed around until they found a spot that smelled just right. They started scratching at the dirt and soon had a very nice hole. “Boy Daisy,” said Zoe. “This is sure a neat hole. We should pretend we’re pirates digging for treasure.”

“That’s a great idea,” Daisy replied. “That makes it more exciting.”

The two dogs continued to dig until Daisy called out, “Hey Zoe, I found a bone.”

“Me too, Daisy. A nice big one. It’s just like finding a real pirate treasure.”

Zoe and Daisy carried their bones out into the warm grass and gnawed and chewed until Dudley and Zumie walked up.

“Those sure look like nice bones,” said Dudley.

“Yeah,” agreed Zumie. “They look delicious.”

“They are,” Zoe replied. “We were playing pirates, and we found a treasure.”

Zumie and Dudley looked at each other. “The next time Zoe asks me to play, I’m going to say yes,” said Zumie.

“Me too,” agreed Dudley. “Now, where’s that hole, Zoe? Maybe if I dig deeper I can find more treasure.”

“Do you mind if I join you, Dudley?”

“That would be great, Zumie. It will be a lot easier to dig if there are two of us.”

Zoe was proud of herself for finding such a nice bone. As she chewed, she noticed Emma walk out the doggy door and lay down in the warm grass. It’s too bad Emma is so old. She thought. Emma can’t dig holes anymore, she’ll never be able to find a neat treasure like I did. Then Zoe had an idea. She picked up her bone and carried it over to Emma.

“Here Emma,” she said. “I know you can’t dig holes anymore, so I thought I’d share my bone with you.” Emma just looked at her. Oh, that’s right, Emma can’t hear. Zoe pushed the bone closer and said in a loud bark. “It’s for you.”

“Thank you little dog,” replied Emma. “It looks delicious.”

Zoe nodded and walked back to Daisy.

“Why did you give Emma your bone?”

“I thought she needed it more than I did,” Zoe replied. “Besides, I can always go dig up another.”

“Why don’t we share my bone?” suggested Daisy. “I’m sure it’s big enough for both of us.”

“Really?” exclaimed Zoe.

“Yes,” Daisy replied. “Some treasures are better if you share them.”

The End

Science, Your Health and the Virgin Mary

When I was a small boy my uncle visited the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Lourdes France. A girl named, Bernadette Soubirous, began seeing visions of a young lady there on February 11, 1858. The lady eventually identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The Virgin Mary.

On February 25, Bernadette said the apparition asked her to dig in the ground and drink from the spring she found there. This made her disheveled and some of her supporters were dismayed, but this act revealed the stream that soon became a focal point for pilgrimages. Although it was muddy at first, the stream became increasingly clean. As word spread, this water was given to medical patients of all kinds, and many reports of miraculous cures followed.

My uncle brought bottles of this water home for his family members. We kept ours in the refrigerator. I don’t remember ever drinking the water, although I’m pretty sure mom might have given us little spoonfuls if we were really sick. I bring this up because I went to a Stem Cell Center presentation yesterday evening. It was the first time I’d been out of the house in days because of the flu.

The very first thing the presenter talked about were ‘expectations.’ How important our positive outlook, and beliefs were to our physical, mental and economic lives. This is true, but hardly something I expected to encounter in a supposed medical information presentation. I could see the presenter reading the crowd. Tailoring his presentation to the people gathered. Feeding on their distrust of “Big Pharma” the FDA and a medical system that wants to keep you sick. There are millions who believe this. People against vaccinations who believe in chiropractic adjustments for colds and flu.

It is a belief system. Like a religion. You can find facts that will absolutely prove you are right. While another can find facts to prove you are absolutely wrong. You believe what you choose. Why is unproven Stem Cell Therapy more valid than drinking Holy Water from Lourdes? The water is safer, scientifically proven to work with 60 documented miracles, countless testimonials of success and much less expensive. You can buy a bottle blessed in Lourdes on Amazon for $8.99 with free shipping.

The Stem Cell Center presenter even mentioned God. Saying, and I paraphrase, ‘God made our bodies to heal themselves.’ Of course this is true. Any child who’s ever had a booboo can attest to its validity. But I guarantee I have more faith in God than the Stem Cell Center. $8.99 for a bottle of water with a 161 year track record of safe, scientifically proven effectiveness vs. thousands of dollars for unproven Stem cells. Which would you choose?

Why Do We Need More Stereotypical Males?

Very few things get me as upset as some ignorant man posting on Facebook that we need more ignorant men. The post starts out saying, The masculine America male is a dying breed. We have been told for far to long that violence isn’t the answer. It goes on to say that males now, have to wear skinny jeans and shave their chests. What about smoking cigarettes without a filter, drinking your coffee black and writing your name in the snow with your piss? Aren’t those important too?

What about violence being the answer? I’ll get to the important points of shaving our chests and the skinny jeans later. But back to violence. Sure, sometimes you need to stand up for yourself. Usually, it’s to some other stereotypical male who wants to act tough, or look big in the eyes of his friends. Alcohol is generally involved. But it takes two to fight so I would just shake my head and walk away.

Of course I’m above average in height and weight and it didn’t happen often. Maybe I looked like too much trouble. I know a man bigger than I am, stronger too. He never got into fights either. He said it looked like it might happen once, but he grabbed the guy in the crook of his arm and said: “Really?” the guy changed his mind. Oh, this man was trained as a baker and is a very loving husband and father.

I think the idea of being a man comes from where you live. If you live someplace rural, a man might need to buck bales, chop wood, fix an engine, carry a knife, butcher a hog and shoot a gun. However, there are plenty of women who can do these same things. So, I don’t think these skills necessarily make you a man,they just make you competent for your environment.

The point I’m trying to make is that being a stereotypical male doesn’t make you a man. Here are some things that do. They pertain to women as well. Raise your children. Be a good example, and discipline them when they need it. Be the kind of person who can make a deal on a handshake. Be honest, stick to your word. Do what’s right, even if it isn’t easy. Stand up for the weak and vulnerable. Put your family’s needs before your own. I believe these are more important than knowing how to whittle and spit.

Oh, and as far as shaving your chest and wearing skinny jeans, I’ll leave those decisions entirely up to you.

The Cardiff Giant, the Border Wall and Trump

*The phrase “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Is attributed to American author and social critic H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) but not found exactly verbatim in his published works, so the source and original form of this expression are not known with absolute certainty. A nearly-verbatim paraphrase of: “No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”Appeared in Mencken’s ‘Notes on Journalism’, in the Chicago Tribune on September 19th, 1926.

The phrase: “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute” is commonly attributed to P.T. Barnum. However, many of his contemporaries say he never actually said it. A man called R. J. Brown asserted that it actually originated with a banker named David Hannum. It was in reference to one of Barnum’s hoaxes: a replica of the Cardiff Giant.

The Cardiff Giant was the creation of a New York tobacconist named George Hull. Hull, an atheist, decided to create the giant after an argument at a Methodist revival meeting about Genesis 6:4 which stated that there were giants who once lived on Earth. Hull hired men to quarry out a 10-foot-4.5-inch-long (3.2 m) block of gypsum in Fort Dodge, Iowa, telling them it was intended for a monument to Abraham Lincoln in New York. He shipped the block to Chicago, where he hired Edward Burghardt, a German stonecutter, to carve it into the likeness of a man and swore him to secrecy.

Various stains and acids were used to make the giant appear to be old and weathered, and the giant’s surface was beaten with steel knitting needles embedded in a board to simulate pores. During November 1868, Hull transported the giant by railroad to the farm of his cousin, William Newell. By then, he had spent $2,600 for the hoax (nearly equivalent to $48,000 in 2017, adjusted for inflation).

Nearly a year later, Newell hired Gideon Emmons and Henry Nichols, ostensibly to dig a well, and on October 16, 1869 they found the giant. One of the men reportedly exclaimed, “I declare, some old Indian has been buried here!” Newell set up a tent over the giant and charged 25 cents for people who wanted to see it. Two days later he increased the price to 50 cents. People came by the wagonload.

Archaeological scholars pronounced the giant a fake, and some geologists even noticed that there was no good reason to try to dig a well in the exact spot the giant had been found. Yale paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh termed it “a most decided humbug”. Some theologians and preachers, however, defended its authenticity.

Eventually, Hull sold his part-interest for $23,000 (equivalent to $456,000 in 2018) to a syndicate of five men headed by David Hannum. They moved it to Syracuse, New York, for exhibition. The giant drew such crowds that showman P. T. Barnum offered $50,000 for the giant. When the syndicate refused, he hired a man to model the giant’s shape covertly in wax and create a plaster replica. He displayed his giant in New York, claiming that his was the real giant, and the Cardiff Giant was a fake.

Hannum sued Barnum for calling his giant a fake, but the judge told him to get his giant to swear on his own genuineness in court if he wanted a favorable injunction. On December 10, 1869, Hull confessed everything to the press, and on February 2, 1870 both giants were revealed as fakes in court; the judge also ruled that Barnum could not be sued for terming a fake giant a fake.

Barnum went on to exhibit his giant as one of the, ‘Greatest Hoaxes Ever’ and got people to pay to see it.

**Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border did not come from security analysts following years of study or through evidence that a wall would reduce illegal immigration. Amazingly, for something so central to the current U.S. president, the wall came about as a “mnemonic device” thought up by a pair of political consultants to remind Donald Trump to talk about illegal immigration.

In 2014, Trump’s plan to run for president moved into high gear. His political confidant was consultant Roger Stone. “Inside Trump’s circle, the power of illegal immigration to manipulate popular sentiment was readily apparent, and his advisers brainstormed methods for keeping their attention-addled boss on message,” writes Joshua Green, author of Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Nationalist Uprising. “They needed a trick, a mnemonic device. In the summer of 2014, they found one that clicked.”

Joshua Green had good access to Trump insiders, including Sam Nunberg, who worked with Stone. “Roger Stone and I came up with the idea of ‘the Wall,’ and we talked to Steve [Bannon] about it,” according to Nunberg. “It was to make sure he [Trump] talked about immigration.”

The concept of the Wall did not click right away with the candidate. “Initially, Trump seemed indifferent to the idea,” writes Green. “But in January 2015, he tried it out at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a presidential cattle call put on by David Bossie’s group, Citizens United. ‘One of his pledges was, ‘I will build a Wall,’ and the place just went nuts,’ said Nunberg. Warming to the concept, Trump waited a beat and then added a flourish that brought down the house. ‘Nobody,’ he said, ‘builds like Trump.’”

The Border Wall, and the Cardiff Giant are alike in two ways. Both were disparaged by the knowledgeable and learned as fake, or ineffectual. And both were viewed by a portion of the general public as genuine or essential. In both instances someone will, or did, make a lot of money; and in both instances the American public was left holding the bag.

*special thanks to Wikipedia

**Where The Idea For Donald Trump’s Wall Came From, Stuart Anderson, Forbes Magazine

What is true Strength?

I don’t think anyone who’s really thought about it thinks true strength has anything to do with being physically strong . This is from Wikipedia:

On 5 or 6 August 1942, German soldiers came to collect 192 orphans (there is some debate about the actual number: it may have been 196) and about one dozen staff members to transport them to the Treblinka extermination camp. Korczak had been offered sanctuary on the “Aryan side” by the Polish underground organization Żegota, but turned it down repeatedly, saying that he could not abandon his children. On 5 August, he again refused offers of sanctuary, insisting that he would go with the children.

The children were dressed in their best clothes, and each carried a blue knapsack and a favorite book or toy. Joshua Perle, an eyewitness, described the procession of Korczak and the children through the Ghetto to the Umschlagplatz (deportation point to the death camps):

Janusz Korczak was marching, his head bent forward, holding the hand of a child, without a hat, a leather belt around his waist, and wearing high boots. A few nurses were followed by two hundred children, dressed in clean and meticulously cared for clothes, as they were being carried to the altar.

Ghetto eyewitness, Joshua Perle[18]

Mr. Korczak didn’t exhibit any physical strength, yet he was undeniably strong. Maybe strength is how you treat others? Or, like Mr. Korczak standing up for your convictions. I also think being strong has to do with being kind and honest. Sincere, dependable and doing what’s right. Not for any reward, either on earth, or in Heaven, but because it is just.

I think true strength is innocent. But, it’s also harsh and doesn’t mince words. It’s fighting when you know you’ll loose. It’s sticking to your opinion when everyone else is against you. And admitting when you’re wrong.

I will end with this:

Anyone can give up; it is the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart, now that is true strength.”

 Chris Bradford, The Way of the Sword