You said that I betrayed you
I can’t tell you what that did.
Once again I’d been defeated
By my impulsive id.
So I languish here within my soul
I ache in grievous pain.
While I watch that scene before me play
Again – and again – – and again.
What could I do to break the curse
What could I do to change
That sorrow filled face
Held together by grace
What could I do? . . . please what could I do?
I have mood swings every day
That have nothing to do with you.
I say and do things
I wish I’d never do.
Cloaked in colored garb.
I have mood swings every day
What more can I say?
And the devil played a lively tune
And the wise man danced along
And the tune was sharp and sweet and funny
And it’s rhythm very strong.
But the devil’s tunes
They are not free
And the time will come to pay.
And unless the wise man wise’s up
it’s not so far away.
It seems I do more of it in the winter, but regardless, as I get older I spend a lot of time day dreaming. I usually wake up about 5 am, make coffee and, being retired and having no place to go, sit in my chair in the dark drinking my coffee and dreaming about the past. A rather pleasant time, I might add.
Now I have been to a lot of places and done a lot of things, but the things and places have become mere backdrops, places to hold the faces and memories of the many people I have known and the friends I have made over the last 72 years that I have lived on this planet.
As I begin to think on a place and time the faces are soon to follow. These faces pop into my mind like a worn out jack-in-the-box. Crank the handle and up pops Joey Sirgo or Gunner Thompson, or Tommy One Nut, Pissball Pete or just plain Joe . . . . . (It’s amazing how many of these guys have slang names and how often that’s the only one I can remember.)
Then the fun begins as I sit and reminisce with these guys over all the exciting times we had together . . . and a few of the sad ones. Seems the good and the funny always float to the top first though. I have to dig a bit to get to the bad, so as I hate shoveling I mostly leave that part alone.
To all the girls I’ve loved before. I remember your eyes, the lift of your breasts and the swing of your hips, but my Band of Brothers meant far more to me than trying to figure you out ever did. You ladies have a special room in my heart, but not this one. This room is filled with bar girls, one night stands, and short time hookers.
The “old boys club” door is locked to the finer female. You wouldn’t like it in here anyways cause the room stinks of old cigar smoke, cordite, and bull shit and the floor is littered with trampled peanut shells, dried blood and dog hair. A place only one of my old friends could love.
I always figured when I got old I would be sitting in the park with the rest of the old goats like they did when I was a kid. Maybe the old project crowd still do that, I don’t know because I lost contact with them at 15 when I had to move.
Today I live a life of seclusion. I spend my days reading, or goofing on my computer or driving my wife crazy, but rarely if ever do I spend time with friends, cause although spread out over half the world, they are not here.
Once I was in a Portland City jail cell with the walls covered in graffiti. I found an empty spot and wrote my own little tale of woe, “I’ve been alone since birth, I’ll remain alone till death, then I’ll have a friend”. Kind of a downer, but how else would you feel being stuck in a two man cell with a guy coming down off heroin?
I do hope that quickly thought verse will prove itself to be true though cause I’m getting closer to D day each time I go to sleep at night and it would be really cool to wake up on the other side and see a large table of my friends gathered around it to greet me. (and my many favorite dogs lying under it)
Jesus and God would have to wait for a while then because first thing I want to do is drink some good Old Crow and hang out with the guys again for a season . . . or two.
I think Robert Service said it all about guys like us. Guys our women just can’t quite understand:
The Men Who Don’t Fit In
There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.
But . . . those of us who have walked this path would have it no other way.
I dive into my work
And swim away . . .
ice caps melt
Two scholars had spent the better part of the morning in a local Portland Starbucks arguing over Evolution versus Creationism. Getting nowhere, they decided to drive to Cannon Beach where an old sage named Chung Lee, who reputedly had the answers, lived.
After a pleasant one hour trip the two arrived at the old man’s shack. Spotting a lone figure sitting atop a nearby hill, they exited the car and climbed up to where the old sage sat facing out to sea. Upon their arrival the old man turned, directed his eyes upon them and asked, “Where’s the coffee?”
The two became puzzled. “Sir, One said. We were told you could help us with the greatest philosophical dilemma of our age . . . perhaps even give us some insight into the theories of which we are about to speak.”
“Yes, of course.” Chung Lee answered. “But go now, next time you come, bring me a cup of Starbucks coffee, then we will speak of your theories.”
The following morning the two checked out of their motel at the crack of dawn and returned to the hill. This time one carried a large cup of Starbucks coffee. After greetings, he handed the old sage the cardboard tray. Both sat in the sand and opened their portfolios, each anticipating a quick and decisive victory.
Chung Lee, while sipping his coffee quickly went over each theory, handed the papers back, looked out to sea and finished the coffee before beginning to speak.
“The two theories are mere disciplines, and although seemingly opposing views, upon deeper reflection are one and the same. The difference lies in your interpretation and in your desire to understand the mystery. But alas, the mystery cannot be contained within a theory, so you are both beating your learned heads against a brick wall.”
Going on he said. “Each theory is merely a doorway, and being so can never explain the goings on within the room. You need theory to find the doorway, but once opened this very same discipline becomes your stumbling block. Theory will never reveal truth, only the pathway to it.
The two looked at each other, excused themselves and walked back to the car.
“This is a wise man?” One asked the other. “”He sends us for coffee, then he comes up with this gibberish?”
“Yes, it is strange,” answered Two. “Yet his reputation is such that there has to be something we are missing. Let’s give him a chance to prove himself.”
The two went back to where the old man was sitting. “Sir, excuse us, but neither one of us understands. What are we missing?”
The old man held up the empty cup. “This cup will always contain a mystery, but as you smell of it, sip of it, and enjoy the taste of it, you one day realize you don’t really care HOW Starbucks made such a good cup of coffee, you are just glad they did. And thanks be to the mystery, as long as there are people like you seeking to understand it, I will never have to worry about getting my morning cup of coffee.”
The old man dismissed them with a smile and returned his gaze to the sea.
Introducing (my alter ego) Gus McCrae and Lonesome Dove!! (quotes from my favorite all time movie) . . .
[Gus refuses to have his leg amputated knowing he will die if he doesn’t]
Woodrow Call: What do you want legs for anyway? You don’t like to do nothing but sit on the porch and drink whiskey!
Gus McCrae: I like to kick a pig every once in a while. How would I do that?
Gus McCrae: I know it, and you know it. Darn, you’re stubborn! No wonder women don’t like you. Reach in that drawer there, find me something to write on. I want to leave a couple notes to Lori and Clara.
Woodrow Call: [hands Gus paper and pen] You want me to do anything about those Indians that shot you?
Gus McCrae: We got no call to be vengeful, they didn’t invite us here.
Gus McCrae: [writing] It’s a dangerous business, writing to two women at the same time. I’m so light-headed I can hardly remember which one’s which. Now this one, this one’s for Lori. And this one here, my God…
Woodrow Call: You want me to help you with that?
Gus McCrae: What would you know to say to a woman?
[falls asleep writing]
Woodrow Call: [places hand on Gus’s chest] Augustus.
Gus McCrae: [Looks up] My God, Woodrow. It has been quite a party, ain’t it?
Woodrow Call: Yes, sir.
Pea Eye Parker: [Indians have attacked Gus & Pea, on a scouting expedition, wounding both] They’re gonna try sneakin’ up on us in the dark, ain’t they Gus?
Gus McCrae: be takin’ a chance if they do, couple of sharp-shooters like us
Pea Eye Parker: I ain’t no sharp-shooter. I usually miss if I ain’t got time to take careful aim
Gus McCrae: ‘y god but it’s depressin’ to talk to you, Pea
Pea Eye Parker: What Indians is it we’re fightin’ anyway?
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: They didn’t introduce themselves.
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: Hope you didn’t throw my leg away. I may wanna make a walkin’ stick out of the bone.
Woodrow F. Call: [Gus staggers out of a whorehouse drunk] I wonder if the Comanche realize how easy it would be to kill you at a time like this.
Gus McCrae: There ain’t no Comanche left, Woodrow. That’s the prime reason I’ve been getting drunk lately. The fact that you’ve refrained only underlines your lack of sensitivity.
Gus McCrae: I’d like to high tail it back to Austin and see Clara.
Woodrow F. Call: I’d like to sneak into Buffalo Hump’s camp and kill him. That’s my thinkin’. We’ll have to fihgt ’em sooner or later anyway.
Gus McCrae: You know, that’s the difference between you and me, Woodrow. I mostly think about love, you mostly think about war.
Gus McCrae: There is no remedy for mortality.
Gus McCrae: Only way to get better food around here is by shooting Bolivar. And another thing, Bol, I want you to quit whackin’ that dinner bell for supper. You can hit it at noon if you want to, but lay off doin’ it in the evenin’. See, a man with any sense at all can tell when it’s sundown, without you whackin’ that bell.
Bolivar: General Robert E. Lee freed the slaves. I can whack it if I want to.
Gus McCrae: It was Abe Lincoln that freed the slaves, Bol, not General Lee.
Pea Eye Parker: He didn’t free Mexicans, anyway, Bol. It was Americans he freed.
Gus McCrae: You’re in over your head, Pea. It was a bunch of Africans Abe Lincoln freed. No more American than Call here.
Woodrow Call: I’m American! By God!
Gus McCrae: You was born in Scotland, as I recall. You was still draggin’ on the tit when they brought you over here.
Woodrow Call: I reckon I’m as American as anyone from Tennessee.
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: [riding into San Antonio seeing hundreds of people] There’s durn people makin’ towns everywhere. And it’s our fault, too.
Woodrow F. Call: Our fault?
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: Well, we chased out the Indians, didn’t we? Hung all the good bandits. Did it ever occur to you that everything we done was a mistake? You and me done our work too well, Woodrow. Hell, we killed off all the people that made this country interesting to begin with, didn’t we?
Woodrow F. Call: You’re lucky they didn’t throw you in jail.
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: Well, it ain’t much of a crime whackin’ a surly bartender. I guess they may have forgot us though.
Woodrow F. Call: Why wouldn’t they forget us? We haven’t been around here in years.
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: No, the reason is we never got killed, that’s why they forgot us.
Woodrow F. Call: That is a dang foolish thing to say.
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: No it ain’t. If a thousand Comanches had cornered us in a gutter somewhere and wiped us out, like the Sioux just done Custer, why they’d remember us sure. Hell, they’d be writin’ songs about us for a hundred years.
Woodrow F. Call: Now there weren’t ever a thousand Comanches in the whole world, and you know it.
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: Well that ain’t the point, Woodrow!
Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae: If you want only one thing too much, it’s likely to turn out a disappointment. Now the only healthy way to live, as I see it, is to learn to like all the little every day things.
Gus McCrae: “It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.”
[referring to the Hat Creek Cattle Company sign]
Woodrow Call: …and if that ain’t bad enough you got all them Greek words on there, too.
Gus McCrae: I told you, Woodrow, a long time ago it ain’t Greek, it’s Latin.
Woodrow Call: Well what does it say in Latin?
[Gus blusters some gibberish]
Woodrow Call: For all you know it invites people to rob us.
Gus McCrae: Well the first man comes along that can read Latin is welcome to rob us, far as I’m concerned. I’d like a chance t’ shoot at a educated man once in my life.
Woodrow Call: [after burying Gus by the stream in Texas] Well, Gus; there you go. I guess this will teach me to be more careful about what I promise people in the future.
Woodrow Call: [after handing the gun to Newt] It is better to have that and not need it, then to need it and not have it.
Woodrow Call: [after beating a man nearly to death for hitting Newt he climbs on his horse and looks at the horrified towns people] I hate rude behavior in a man. I won’t tolerate it.
Gus McCrae: Here’s to the sunny slopes of long ago.
Gus McCrae: Lorie darlin’, life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.
Woodrow Call: You ever get tired o’ loafin’ I reckon you can get a job waitin’ on tables.
Gus McCrae: Oh, I had a job waitin’ tables once. S’ on a riverboat. I wasn’t no older than Newt, there, but I hadda give it up.
Newt: How come?
Gus McCrae: Well I was, too young and pretty and the whores wouldn’t let me alone.
Gus McCrae: I’m just tryin’ to keep everything in balance, Woodrow. You do more work than you got to, so it’s my obligation to do less.
Gus McCrae: Well, I’m glad I ain’t scared to be lazy.
[while July Johnson helped Gus McCrae attack the bandits’ camp, July’s friends were murdered by Blue Duck]
July Johnson: It was my fault! Hell, you told me to stay.
Gus McCrae: I know I did, son. And I’m sure you wished you had. But yesterday’s gone, we can’t get it back. Now you go on with your digging.
Woodrow Call: [Call thinks Gus has died] Augustus.
Gus McCrae: [opens his eyes] By God, Woodrow; it’s been one hell of a party.
Woodrow Call: Well, Augustus is dead. Died from blood poisonin’ from them arrows them Indians shot in him. They cut off one of his legs, but the poison got in the other and he wouldn’t let ’em cut it off. Stubborn about it; that’s what killed him, bein’ stubborn.
Gus McCrae: Is that all you boys can think about; gettin’ to Ogallala and spendin’ your money on whores?
Jasper Fant: That’s all right for you, Gus; you got Lorena with you. What about the rest of us?
Gus McCrae: What’s good for me might not be good for the weak minded.
Newt: Gus, are you sure the Captain is my father?
Gus McCrae: Yep, he is.
Newt: He ain’t never mentioned it.
Gus McCrae: Well, Woodrow ain’t much of a mentioner.
Jake Spoon: A man that will talk to a pig ain’t no better than a farmer.
Gus McCrae: I expected you to own a bank or at least a whorehouse by now Jake. It seems life has been a disappointment to both of us.
Jake Spoon: That might be so, but by God, I ain’t never said a word to a pig.
Gus McCrae: It’s an accident she is even on this trip.
Clara Allen: I never noticed you having accidents with ugly girls.
When the king becomes so distant from his subjects that he forgets to feed their children,
The subjects will take notice.
When the king serves only his self interests and forgets his subjects interests,
The subjects will take notice.
When the king begins to sacrifice his subjects in order to save himself,
The subjects will take notice.
The subjects, when they’ve had enough, will rise up in rebellion,
The subjects will overthrow the king and kill him.
“Bang, bang, you’re dead!” Tommy yells from the thick woods bordering our back yard. “Bang, bang, you’re dead! Ha! I got you right between the eyes! You’re dead!”
Tommy’s laughter recedes.
“Bravo One, Bravo One, this is Delta, Over . . . Bravo One, this is Delta, over.” Again and again the same agitated voice. “Bravo one. Can you read me? Over.”
My pounding heartbeat all but silences the incessant static of the radio . . . I’m trying to find the handset lying somewhere to my side, trying to answer.
My ears are ringing. My eyes struggle to focus . . . roll over. Crawl away. Move!’
Blurred, ghost-like images move swiftly past . . . I struggle against the panic seeking to engulf me, close my eyes and attempt to merge with the mud I am lying in.
“Help me,” a voice moans to my left. I hear cursing to my front. The low cough of an AK shatters the stillness. Pleading screams followed by more shots, curses . . . more shots.
The shooting ends as quickly as it had started. A hushed silence falls over the scene as ghosts melt into the thick underbrush.
I try to roll over . . . to escape into the jungle before they return . . . but my legs have detached themselves from my brain and are doing a strange mud dance of their own.
I think of my dad, years ago, laughing as Buster the old coonhound runs in his sleep by the fireplace, “He’s chasing rabbits,” dad says to me. I watch old Buster run . . . and slowly fade away.
Tommy laughs at me lying beneath the oak tree playing dead and pokes me with the butt of his BB gun. “Gotcha, Jimmy. Ha! You’re dead.”