Born in the USA

I was born in a little town in Idaho. I’m a 3rd or 4th generation American depending what side of the family you look at. My mother’s people were from Austria, my father’s from Ireland, then Canada. Everyone on the North American continent is an immigrant unless you an indigenous person. My relatives just happened to get here before there were real stringent regulations.

My wife is a Naturalized Citizen. She came here on a Work Visa. She followed all the rules, got her green card, paid thousands of dollars and eventually became a US Citizen. I wish everyone could get to know someone who is a Naturalized Citizen. Maybe then all the malarkey about illegal aliens would finely be dealt with.

Right now we rely on illegal aliens to do our dirty work. They have no protection under our laws, are paid less than the going wage and are trapped in a world of silence. They can’t complain to anyone or they’re out of here. All of this is part of a “wink, wink” economy. Everyone knows it exists, but nobody admits it.

If the truth were told, representatives from our Federal Government would tell you I’m right. Their maids, pool cleaners and gardeners are probably not legal citizens and they’re well aware of it. They pay them less, and work them harder with no repercussions, unless they get caught.

We don’t need a wall. We need to overhaul out Immigration Laws and Agency so we let more hardworking, taxpaying people into our country. Until we do the illegal immigrant circus will never leave town, and the clowns in Washington DC will never quit honking their horns of divisiveness.

I’ve got mine, and that’s all I care about.

My wife doesn’t understand how come I get upset. What’s happening in the United States really bothers me. I don’t care if unemployment is low, and the stock market is high. They don’t matter, we are destroying our future. I’ll use the Republic of Nauru as an example.

*Nauru (pronounced NAH-roo) is the world’s smallest and most isolated republic. The island has an area of eight square miles, about a third the size of Manhattan, and it is so remote that the nearest island of any size is hundreds of miles away. But Nauru generates wealth that might make a few oil-rich potentates envious.

*Thanks in part to what was left behind by the sea birds that have sought refuge here over hundreds of thousands of years, this island’s 7,500 people are among the richest in the world, at least on paper, because of phosphate mines that bring in tens of millions of dollars a year.

*The phosphate, the product of fossilized bird guano and a primeval stew of marine microorganisms, is exported as fertilizer, most of it to Australia, Nauru’s former ruler.

*Inch for inch, Nauru is the most environmentally ravaged nation on earth. So much of the island has been devoured by strip-mining begun 90 years ago that Nauruans face the prospect that they may have to abandon their bleak, depleted home.

This is what we’re doing to ourselves. We’re being short sighted. We’re treating or allies badly. We’re treating our neighbors like they’re out to get us. We’re borrowing, and spending so much money we’re dooming our children and grandchildren to staggering deficits. We may make a few more dollars now. But we’re destroying ourselves doing it. Prosperity now, desolation and hopelessness later.

Nobody seems to care. That’s why I get upset.

*A Pacific Island Nation Is Stripped of Everything


I’ll post them Anyway

I don’t think this is the right place for my stories. Facebook isn’t either. I get these ideas and I need to write them out. It all started when I got my first iPad. It’s my favorite way to write. I wrote two, over 400 page books using an iPad. If you’re interested in writing I’d try using one. Get Windows for iPad, it’ll make editing easier in the future.

Anyway, I’m proud of the short stories I write, but nobody much reads them. I think I’m going to collect them and put them in a book. I’ll write a few more too. Maybe someday when I’m dead and gone someone will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. That’s the worst think about writing. You can’t make anybody read what you wrote.

The Shadow Man

His life, or what passed for it had encompassed three tree covered acres of gravestones and monuments. He was the Watchman of the Night, the Guardian of the Dead. He hadn’t chosen the job, but it was his. They were good neighbors, the resting souls. Quiet, and didn’t ask questions.

How did he get there? He hadn’t been sure. According to any law written by God, or man, he should be in Hell. But he wasn’t. He was here at Redemption Park Cemetery. A restless spirit surrounded by hundreds resting in peace. It hadn’t always been this way, once there’d been Becky.

Was it a cruel trick of fate, or divine intervention, he wasn’t sure of which. Somehow he’d been interred in the same consecrated ground as she. The killer, and his victim, together forever. It was a sacrilege the ground couldn’t abide and it squeezed him from his grave like pus from a boil. Dooming him to wander the stone walled enclosure, unwelcome but unable to leave.

Redemption Park was old. It was surrounded by a city. Most of its plots taken, most of its inhabitants forgotten. But not Becky, her grave was tended. It was the girl who did it. The girl who wore black. She would sit next to Becky’s ornate stone and write in her notebook, or draw on her sketch pad and smoke. She spoke to Becky like she was alive. Always leaving one perfect red rose. Maybe that’s why Becky’s spirit was free when all the others were encumbered. Maybe it was the girl who made her real?

He was nothing but a shadow. A thin gray outline of what was once a human being. While Becky, well Becky was as she’d been in life. Brown haired and fair. A perfect little girl of seven. He’d watch her play with the animals that emerged at sunset. Deer, rabbits and even the fox were her playmates. The cemetery their sanctuary, their protectors the dead. Unafraid and comfortable with her inhuman touch.

He was jealous of her. Jealous of her laughter. Jealous of how real she was. But tormented too. She was the reminder of what he’d done, and he the reason she was there. It had taken years before he could watch her. More years until he asked why. Why was she here? He was a killer, he deserved Hell. But she, she was an innocent child. Surely, she could move on.

It was the girl in black who settled the question. Not that she tried to, or even knew that there was one. It was her actions, her desperation that provided the answer, and Becky’s crying that held the key. He’d only heard it once before, the night he’d raped her. The night he strangled her to death.

He raced to the sound and found Becky kneeling over her. She lying still upon the young girl’s grave. The girl in black. The girl who spoke to her. The girl who kept Becky real. He was just a shadow. A shadow of a man. But there was enough, just barely enough of a man to recognize the writing on the girl’s notebook, and the label on the pills.

He rushed to the girls side and felt the closeness of death. Becky screamed, recoiling in terror at his ghostly appearance. His world suddenly went silent. He couldn’t bare it. The girl in black was Becky’s only hope for staying real. Once she was gone Becky would fade. It would be as if he’d condemned her to the grave for a second time.

“No,” he screamed to the silent stones and mute trees. “No,” to the stars and the moon and the sky. “No,” to the only being that was listening. It wasn’t a prayer, just a word. But somewhere in the vastness of space, and the infinity of time, Someone had been expecting it.

He was a shadow. Then he was a man. He picked up the silent girl from Becky’s grave. Outside the cemetery walls a city lived. Outside there was help. Outside there was hope. The ornate gate that had barred his escape opened before him, and the world of the living surrounded him. It wasn’t chance. He knew that now. It couldn’t have been. Help was too close. A hospital just across the street. He placed the girl by the Emergency Room door.

He was just a shadow, the shadow of a man perched on a vine covered stone on a neglected grave. A forgotten grave in a little visited section of Redemption Park Cemetery. Her appearance took him by surprise. She’d never come this way before. Becky had always stayed away. Now she was here.

“I can never forget what you did,” she said, in a voice much older than her years. “But that girl in black was my family. My great niece. The only one who visited me.” Becky looked at the man who’d saved her. The man made of shadow. “I can never forget what you did, but I can forgive you.”

I looked at the girl I’d killed, and fell to my knees. Unable to weep. Unworthy of her gift. Becky transfigured into a bright light. “The gate is open,” her last words…and was gone.

I am the Watchman of the Night, the Guardian of the Dead. I am the Shadow Man. I have been redeemed. I have been freed from my Hell. I have been forgiven of my sin.

Because I have Too

Why bother putting your thoughts into words when nobody reads them? I’m not special. I don’t have any magical insight into life. But I know one thing. Life is rich, and life is full of life.

As I was watering the container plants this morning I noticed a small black beetle walking across the concrete driveway. It scurried out in the open in what to us would have been an area larger than a dozen football fields. Noticeably alive as it moved on the flat gray surface.

This is the only place in the universe this could happen. No other planet has anything living that we know. Yet here we have life on life. We have so much life we call them pests and kill them by the millions. A minuscule insect, or rodent that on any other planet would be heralded as a miracle, here we destroy with impunity.

Life is more than breathing and procreation. At least for we humans. Life is our chance to live. To grow, create beauty, search for truth and love. It’s also fleeting. Bordered on each end by inability, and only cherished when its time grows short. But why bother? A dog has a more grounded feeling for life than we do. It does what it does. What a dog always does. We drift around like a ship lost at sea. Though we’re the only creature that can actually steer our own course.

My 1st 4th

My youngest recollection of the Fourth of July was when I was a small boy in Cottonwood, Idaho. It was just my older brother Joe and I then. My sisters Lori and Lisa were just babies and not old enough for fireworks. The only fireworks I remember from that time were Sparklers, Snakes and Whistling Pete’s. Dad lit the Snakes and Whistling Pete’s while it was still light, but saved the Sparklers until it was dark.

When it was dark enough. Or, Dad couldn’t stand us asking, is it dark enough yet one more time, he gave Joe and I each a sparkler. He lit mine with a match and told Joe to touch his to mine. Now, I could be wrong because I was probably less than four years old, but once his sparkler lit Joe dropped it because he was scared.

Dad wasn’t happy, and probably said something totally inappropriate, like calling him a baby. It was different times then. Self esteem must not have been invented. It didn’t take Joe long to catch on though, and he and I were soon waving the sparklers through the air making designs until they burned out.

That was pretty much it. “Is that all?” I asked Dad. I’d seen pictures of fireworks in books and knew there was more to the Fourth of July than a few Sparklers.

“Well, you could watch the fireworks show in Grangeville, they always have a big fireworks display.”

My eyes lit up. “Really?”

“Sure. Do you want to watch the show too, Joe?” I think Joe nodded.

I headed to our Chevrolet Corvair Station Wagon. You know, the car Ralph Nader said was unsafe at any speed.

“Where are you going?” Dad asked.

“Aren’t we going to Grangeville?”

“Oh, no. You can see them from the curb out front.”

“Really?” I was picturing some massive fireworks because Grangeville was a long way from Cottonwood.

Hold on a sec. I’ll Google it. It’s 15.4 miles. Anyway, I think Dad gave us each a bowl of popcorn and a plastic glass of water with an ice cube in it. He walked us out to the curb and pointed toward the grain elevators off in the distance. “You keep your eyes on that spot and you’ll see them.” He nodded and walked back to the house.

It would be hard to describe how small fireworks look from 15.4 miles away. Joe and I ate our popcorn, drank the ice water and walked back into the house. Now you know the story of the first Fourth of July I remember.

Hedwig and the Hound from Hell

Wind howls, and rain splatters against Hedwig van Sweiten’s bedroom window. She finishes braiding her long blond hair, and peers out into the stormy night. These are strange days. She walks back to her bed. The storm came up fast, too fast. It isn’t natural. Rain pours down so hard she can’t see any of the houses around her. She may as well be on some desolate sea coast rather than bustling 1743 Vienna.

Glass cracks and wood splinters, light from her lamp shudders against the wall. Hedy spins. The window is a jagged hole, and a huge wolf with glowing red eyes bounds toward her. Her hand flashes up and blocks it’s advance, she twirls and kicks it off to the side. The wolf slams into the wall and springs back. Hedy lands a blow against the side of its fanged head and knocks it to the ground. It’s stunned, but quickly springs to its feet and stares at her.

Hedy glares back. “Look, I’m done messing with you. Leave now and I won’t call my dogs.” She stares at the wolf with steady blue eyes. The giant wolf peers back with his glowing red ones. Its brows twitch and it explodes off the floor leaping for Hedy’s face. She catches it by the throat. “You asked for it.” She heaves the wolf back against the wall.

“Donner, Blitz.” Nails clatter against wood, and two miniature dachshunds run into the room. One is red with a white lightning shaped slash on it’s chest. The other, black and tan. Both come to her side. Her hand makes a sweeping gesture. “Get him out of here.” Donner and Blitz touch noses, their eyes glow blue, and they advance toward the giant beast.

The wolf seems unsure of the little dogs. They’re obviously over matched, but they’re fearless. Hedy sees it lick it’s lips. She turns her back, walks to her wardrobe and opens one of its doors. You, Mr. Wolf, are in for a surprise.

The little dogs walk forward, their gleaming blue eyes locked on the wolf’s red glowing ones. The wolf springs. Lightning arcs from Blitz’s jaws and the wolf lands against the wall with a thud. Hedy smells singed fur and smiles. Donner and Blitz move closer herding the confused giant toward the demolished window. The wolf backs away until it’s tail and haunches are sticking out the side of the building.

“Frein, daughter of a Baron, van Sweiten. Are you alright?” calls Sister Adelbert, a Benedictine Nun and Hedwig’s quasi chaperone through the gap in the door.

“I’m fine Sister,” Hedy answers, pulling on a blue ankle length dress with a white bodice. “There’s a giant wolf in here so don’t come in, Donner and Blitz are just getting rid of it.” She turns back to the wolf. “This is your last chance dog. Disappear now, or we’ll hunt you down and hand you back to Satan as a pelt.” The wolf’s eyes slowly shift from Hedy, to Donner, Blitz, and back again. Hedy raises an eyebrow and shakes her head but the wolf lunges at the two little dogs.

Blitz opens his mouth to bark. Lightning shoots from his jaws and the smell of ozone fills the air. Donner’s mouth opens and the roar of thunder hits the cursed cur like a solid wall of sound. It launches the astonished beast through the window’s opening and over the walls of the enclosed courtyard into the dark city.

“You can come in now Sister,” calls Hedy. “The wolf’s gone. Good boys,” she leans down and pets the dachshunds. Sister Adelbert enters dressed in her robe and tight fitting night cap.

“My goodness Frien van Sweiten, we’ve got to get this window blocked. All this rain will ruin your beautiful home.” She drags the heavy curtains across the opening and tries to keep them from billowing inward.

Hedy turns from her dressing table. “I expect the storm will calm now Sister. I think it was all for effect.” As Hedy speaks the curtains slowly stop billowing, the sound of the rain quiets. Sister pulls the heavy wool fabric to the side and peers through the gap.

“Yes, I believe you’re right, Frein van Sweiten. I’ll get this water cleaned up now and fetch the carpenters in the morning to have it repaired.” She looks up from the puddle. “Are you going out?”

“I’m afraid so,” Hedy replies. “Would you please fasten the buttons on the back of my dress. The boys and I have to find that wolf. I gave him the chance to go back to Hell on his own. Now, it looks like I’m going to have to deliver him to Satan in person.”

Hedy pulls her long braid to the side and Sister fastens her dress. “You think the wolf came from Hell?”

She nods her head. “Oh, I’m pretty certain of it Sister.” She sits and puts on a pair of ankle high black boots.

The nun bends and strokes the dogs. “You be safe my little puppies.” Donner and Blitz whimper softly and lick her fingers.

Hedy fastens her last boot, gathers a brown cloth bag, throws a blue hooded cloak over her shoulders and fastens it around her neck. “Come on boy’s. I want to catch that beast before he does anymore damage.” The little dachshunds walk away from the nun and heel at Hedy’s side.

“You take care Frein van Sweiten,” Sister directs. “You’re not invincible you know.”

“I know, Sister.” Hedy lights a candle from her bedside lamp and guides the dogs and nun through the dark house to the back door. “We should be back before dawn.”

“I’ll have this mess cleaned up and hot coffee and fresh rolls with butter when you get back. I’ll have breakfast for you puppies too.”

Hedy hands her the candle, opens the door and steps out into the night.

Sister watches from the doorway, candlelight flickering on her face. “God be with you, Frein van Sweiten.”

“Thank you, Sister. I promise we’ll be careful.” Hedy glances down at her dachshunds. “Ok boys, find that wolf.” The little dogs sniff the air, touch noses and run toward the courtyard’s open gate. Hedy pulls up the hood of her cloak and follows.

The downpour that foretold the wolf has slowed to a drizzle, and the wind calmed. Clouds race across the sky leaving gaps beams of moonlight burst through. Around her the city is quiet, and her mind wanders.

The angels are busy tonight. Angels swoop in like giant birds through the ocean of clouds. They perch on rooftops, and watch through windows as their charges sleep. Some soar skyward calmly guiding the newly deceased to their final judgement. While others, more or less drag souls to a reckoning with God that will surely lead to eternal damnation. Realizing to late they’ve wasted their lives.

To most fräulein, this would seem impossible. But to me it’s normal. Hedy thinks. It’s all I’ve ever known. How many 18 year old girls talk to God? Well, I guess anyone can talk to You, but how many do You answer back? She takes a few steps. And how many have a relic they wear around their neck that lets them see angels, or allows them to channel Your limitless power? It all started the day I was born with my Mother’s choice. Well, I guess I got to choose too. She sighs, and looks again at the cloudy sky and the angels watching over humanity. I’m definitely not a saint. . . I’m just the girl You chose to save the human race.

The howl of a wolf echos in the darkness. Donner and Blitz start to run. Here I go again. Hedy races after the dachshunds past the House Under the Blue Bottle, her favorite coffee house. She runs through Vienna’s shadowy, narrow, rain soaked streets until the buildings around her open up into a large square. At it’s end, Saint Stephan’s Cathedral, it’s patterned roof, and huge jutting South spire hi-lighted in shifting moonbeams.

Lucifer walks from the shadows followed by the wolf from Hedy’s room. “I’ve been waiting.” His tone is cold and unemotional. “I couldn’t have made it more obvious. What took you so long?”

Hedy walks toward him. Her footfalls echoing off the silent buildings. She drops her hood and studies him. “Venus as the morning star. That’s what *Pfarrer Schaaf says your name means. You’re still handsome, just like I remember.” Satan’s hair and eyes are jet black. His hair straight and fastened with a tie. His clothing perfectly tailored. All black, except for a blazing red brocaded waistcoat. Hedy matches his gaze. “But then again, looks are so superficial.”

“You on the other hand are just big boned and ugly.” Lucifer answers. He circles her and the dogs. “Yet what you did to Azazel… he was one of my most formidable demons. Still…”

Hedy pivots to keep him in view. “Why are you here? Why did you send that mutt to my house?”

Lucifer smiles. “To lead you away from it.” He flicks a finger and reality pulls away like a curtain revealing Sister Adelbert trussed and hanging head down over the cobblestones. “I wanted to get the dear sister here, and it was so much easier with you out of the house.”

Hedy rushes forward but Lucifer stops her with a glance. “You’re not dealing with a mere underling now you worthless bag of flesh.” He sneers. “Give it to me, or Sister goes to Hell for all eternity.”

Hedy knows there is only one thing he could mean. The relic. The conduit that allows her to channel the power of God. “You can’t do that,” she answers. “You may have dominion over Hell, but only God decides who’s sent there.”

“Then you’ll just have to stop me.” Lucifer twists his hand and Sister groans.

Hedy raises her arm. In the past she’s been able to direct waves of power and light to destroy evil, now there is nothing. She’s helpless. She looks down at Donner and Blitz, they’re as unmoving as statues. Sister vomits, her body convulses. God? Hedy asks silently, no reply.

“I can do more,” Lucifer threatens. Focusing his cold black eyes on Hedy.

“No.” Hedy shakes her head. “No more, but I can’t give you the relic. Me. Take me in Sister’s place. I beg you.” She drops to her knees on the wet stones and looks at him imploringly.

“You won’t give me the relic?”

Her head bows, “No…I can’t.”

Lucifer walks to her and unties her cloak. “Then I’ll just take it myself.” He reaches toward it’s chain and a spark leaps to his fingers. He jerks away and Hedy slowly raises her eyes.

Lucifer’s brow furrows. Hedy’s eyes are pulsing with energy. “Your eyes? What’s wrong with your eyes?”

“There’s nothing wrong with my eyes.” She looks up to the Heavens, I just got the answer I was waiting for.” Hedy jumps to her feet and twitches her index finger. Lucifer flys across the square. The demon wolf leaps, but Donner and Blitz open their mouths and attack with lightning and thunder. The wolf falls to the ground in a smoking a heap. Lucifer jumps to his feet, turns to Sister and twists his hand. The Nun screams. Hedy lifts her arm, and a dark chasm opens at Satan’s feet.

“You! How can you do this?” screams the Prince of Darkness.

Hedy points to the wolf, it disappears into the void. She focuses on Lucifer. “It’s not just me.” Hedy feels the relic pulse. “Now get back to Hell where you belong.”

The scowl on Lucifer’s face is fierce. “This isn’t the end!” he screams as he vanishes into the void.

Hedy flicks her finger and the opening in the earth is gone. She rushes to Sister and kneels beside her. “Are you alright?”

She peers at Hedy with tired eyes. “I’ll never get used to this Frein van Sweiten. First it was Azazel, now it’s Satan himself. It’s never dull around you is it?”

“I told you it would be this way.”

“I know.” Sister pauses. Hedy helps her to her feet. “It certainly makes the battle between good and evil real, doesn’t it?”

“Yes it does, Sister. Now let’s go home, I think I need a good strong cup of coffee.”

The End

*Pfarrer Schaaf- A Benedictine priest who’s also Hedy’s tutor and mentor.