A place for thought.

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The House

“And this is just the beginning! Picture a four story tall Ferris wheel over there and a park for toddlers to play next to it, and past that oak tree a whole line of places to eat!”

“But it’s just a broken down old house. Is it safe to live in there? Are we going to live here?”

“I haven’t seen the inside, they said people were living there, squatters or something, they said they moved out. See that spot over there behind that old car body?   Picture a swimming pool that just kind of spreads all over that depression, with lounge chairs and shaded patios, drinks delivered to tables!”

“First, you haven’t seen inside the house? I can’t believe you spent our life savings on a house you haven’t seen inside!” and then softening a little, “we own all that land beyond the junked car?”

“Well, the old car marks the boundary of the house lot but I’m sure we could get that land for almost nothing!”

“How about the oak tree?”

“Well, no, not the oak tree, just the lot the house sits on, about five feet on each side. The back yard is huge, about fifty feet by seventy-five feet,” some of the excitement had gone out of his voice and his eyes no longer bugged with enthusiasm. “We could fix up the house some?” he asked, unsure.

“Let’s have a look inside,” she intended to make the best of this, no matter how bad it was.

“Yeah, I bet we could knock out some walls and make a great room out of the living room, you know, if it doesn’t have one already.”

“And maybe patch that big hole in the roof?”

“First thing, as soon as we get moved in!” the sparkle was back in his eyes. “We could get those roof tiles that are solar cells and get off the grid…”

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The Wall (Revisited)

A wall of solid, gray concrete stands before me.   Every sixteen inches in every direction darker gray three quarter inch dots in the concrete form a grid. Every twelve feet a three inch wide one and one half inch deep V has been formed into the concrete both vertically and horizontally.   Sixteen twelve foot squares filled with 68 evenly space slightly darker dots reach from the weed covered ground to blue sky. Roll upon roll of twelve-foot wide columns of concrete squares form the wall. I have been told the wall is twelve feet thick but I have only seen the side in front of me.   From my tower, a hundred and fifty feet from the wall and one hundred feet above the ground I can see another gray cement block tower, a duplicate of my own, two miles in the distance to the North and another tower stands two miles to the South. On clear mornings I can see towers beyond those, every two miles and just like mine: a one hundred foot tall, fifteen by fifteen foot rectangle, constructed without external steps and the only windows just a few feet from the top. The windows face North, East and South the builders had no interest in the West.   The windows turn dark brown in the bright sunlight, keeping the watchers cool and unseen. I scan slowly from right to left and from left to right. Straight ahead I see the center of the one hundred ninety two foot high mass of concrete. Looking up I see the top edge. Looking down the taller weeds that grow at the base of the wall, taller because the wall catches the rain. As I have been instructed to do most of my gaze follows the one hundred and twenty foot patch of cleared forest at the base of the wall. “Carefully scan the ground to the North, in front of your tower and to the South, a quick, occasional, glance along the top edge of the wall is all that is required. Keep your gaze moving at all times, stop to focus on a single item only when something feels out of the ordinary.” I have never heard of anyone or anything coming over, or under, the wall from the other side. I have heard of a few people trying to leave our side. I have no idea why. The Wall protects us from what is on the other side.

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How Much More Time?

“I just don’t see how we can let this go on for much longer,” the thought came from a wisp of intelligent nothingness and floated a thousand years before finding an answer.

“What difference does it make? It continues or it does not; does anything change?” The reply curled and darted across the expanse until within another eon of time it was received.

“It has importance to them,” the thought was almost urgent it pushed for hundreds of years across the span of nothingness at speeds faster than the light of suns only to be ignored as it spun before its intended audience.

“You should let this go, they are but a bit of imagination, they bother only themselves.” Another thousand or two years this response drifted – a thought without physical form but filled with pure substance.

Intelligence moved, not from here to there but closer to a point of relevance. “IT MUST BE STOPPED!”

The other was startled by the nearness, they had not spoken this way for a long, long time. The urgency was distasteful. He bounced off the thought and plummeted through space, shocked and disturbed. He refused to release ideas and became void.

The Intelligence waited.

The Other held no concepts other than his own existence and even that he held loosely.

The intelligence, in repentance, created a reply softly, “I should have never spoken. Forgive me.” The other felt a flood of power; pure existence until the two who thought and held intelligence became only one and they remember that they had always been just one. They thought as one, “I AM.” And than in fear He reminded himself, “You must never again speak.”

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Another Day?

The shells fell like rain throughout the night. We huddled together in the deepest corner of our mud-coated hut and listened to fragments hit the tin roof. With the rising of the sun silence fell. At first we refused to move from the place of our perceived protection, we waited until the sun was firmly in place before we even chanced speech.

I nudged Mattie who still pushed herself tightly again my side. “I think it’s over,” I whispered into her ear. I brushed her cheek with my lips as I spoke, she smelled of flowers alien to this battered place of refuge.

“Wait, just a little longer,” I could hear the tremble in her voice as she spoke the short sentence. She was afraid of what we might see.

“We should hurry, they might come back,” I just wanted to get away from this place of so much death.

“They won’t be back, not before nightfall, that’s their way, always at night. They break into your sleep; they steal your rest, and then move on to destroy someone else’s night,” her voice gained strength as she convinced herself. I knew what she said was true – they always came in the darkness. We huddled together until we both slept. I don’t know how long we lay there, in each other’s arms, but when we awoke the tin roof was radiating the heat of the day and we were covered with sweat.

“We must go now,” I said still in a whisper, while gently pushing on her shoulder.

“We must,” she said, fully awake and in full voice, there was no one to over hear our conversation now. We walked, hand in hand across the dark, one room, dirt floored hut. I pushed the flap that served as a door aside and we peered together out at the mid day world. The devastation was greater than I had imagined. The ground was completely covered with shells, Bonnet, Cockle, Scallop, Urchin, Conch, Whelk, Clam and Abalone. They crunched beneath our boots as we walked toward the shelled dirt road, jagged edges of the larger shells challenging our soles. The smell of decaying sea life overwhelmed us.


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“The way I see it is if we don’t start in the middle, if we have to include everything, well, it’s just going to take a long, long time – that’s all.”

“So how do I even know who I’m talking to right now? Are you tall, short, fat? Are you dull and lethargic sitting in an over-sized lounge chair or are you leaning against a chain link fence with sweat dripping off your face? I don’t even know if you’re a man or woman.”

“If I have something to say how does all that matter?”

“I’d like to know if you’re really cute or not?”

“This is a total waste of time. I’m not a bit cute. There, we’ve fleshed it all in. Do you feel much better?”

“Not better, I was hoping for cute but that’s not my whole life. So you’re an old fat guy smoking a cigar, a big ole cloud of smoke hanging over your head? I’d listen to a guy like that.”

“No, and that was quite a leap.”

“How about a name? Names tell a lot about a person.

“Around here names are given to babies before they are born or soon after; how is that going to tell you anything?”

“Humor me.”

“The name is Randolph, my friends call me Randy, you can call me Randy,” said Randy.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it Randy? Didn’t take much time. So, Randolph, you’re probably an older guy, in you sixties, you let people call you Randy so you’re a fairly nice guy although you do make sure to point out that your true name is Randolph…”

“You asked for my name, it’s Randolph so that’s what I told you!” Randy interrupted.

“Sorry, I was just making conversation.”

“I’m only fifty-five, people get named Randolph all the time. I know of babies named Randolph!” Randy continued.

“Again, sorry, Randy, names are just names; given to us when we are very young. So, you’re fifty-five and maybe just a little bit angry. What you wearing?”

“Wearing?” Randy overlooked the little bit angry and looked down at his tennis shoed feet; at his worn blue jeans, slight holes starting in both knees, an un-tucked perfectly white tee shirt, he pulled on the bill of his blue baseball cap. “I’m wearing black slacks, shinny black Wingtip shoes and a bulky, off white, wool sweater,” Randy said, remembering something a friend of his had worn to a party.

“Doesn’t do any good to lie, I can read the narration Randy.”

“Forgot,” Randy’s white face blushed red for a second, he felt the heat rise and ebb in his cheeks. For a moment he thought of leaving and squirmed a bit in his wooden chair.

“The Wingtips were a nice touch, everyone seems to wear tennis shoes now a days.”

“I had some in high school. They were quite the thing back then,” Randy was thinking about his first high school dance and a little bleached blonde girl with blue eyes and blue eye liner who had stolen his heart for several weeks. He wanted to share the story but he knew nothing about the person he conversed with. He paused and thought about how this had all begun. For all he knew he could be talking to that blue eyed girl right now. “So, tell me a little about yourself,” Randy said.

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The drip hit right in the middle of her head, but she didn’t move. She stared straight ahea like nothing had happened. Her blue eyes sparkled with presence, darting around like trapped wild birds but her head was still as stone. Another drip, dead center once more, four seconds after the drip before, and the one before that, still her head did not acknowledge the drips’ existence. Her blonde hair had been carefully parted in the middle and the moisture formed a line between the two banks of hair, which after twenty seconds more (and five drips more), became a tiny, slow moving river that flowed to the front of her head and then quickly down her forehead. The river followed the bridge of her nose and then stalled at the tip, and waited. Now every four seconds the water on the tip of her nose would drip. A drip onto the center of her head, and then two seconds would pass, and a drip would fall off her nose, another two seconds and a drip would land centered on her head. A drip every two seconds now: one to the head, one off the nose, one to the head, one off the nose, and still she showed no concern. A full minute passed from the time the first drip fell from her nose, a second minute. Her eyes stopped darting and focused on me, watching her. She stared at me while I counted seconds between drips off her nose, always four.   Another minute passed. I felt a scream start to form at the base of my neck, something needed to be done, I moved from my chair and walked next to the table where she sat. Her blue eyes followed me.

“May I sit here?” I said with a wave at the chair across the small round table from her.

“Yes,” she said without moving her head. A drip fell from her nose.

“Are you okay?” I asked as soon as I had sat down.

“No,” she answered with a little more volume than was necessary.

“What’s wrong?” I asked using my best soft, non-threatening voice.

“I’m very mad!” she said keeping her jaw tight and talking from between her teeth.

“Would you tell me why?” I asked.

“Why should I tell you?” she demanded. A drip fell off her nose.

“I’m just concerned,” I answered. “Maybe there is something I could do to help.”

“There isn’t,” she said but her eyes started to water.

“Try me,” I pushed one more time planning to go back to my own table if she did not share.

“I’m mad because every four seconds a drip hits me on the top of the head and two seconds after the drip hits my head a drip falls off my nose. It’s not very pleasant,” she said all this without moving her jaws or her head.

“Why don’t you move out of the way of the drip?” I asked. “It’s what I would do.”

“I would rather the drip moved,” she said matter of factly. “I was here first.”

“It’s still raining outside. I don’t think the drip is going to go away for sometime now.”

“We’ll see,” She said. I stood and nodded a good bye. She did not nod or say anything but she did follow me with her sparkling blue eyes as I made my way back to my table. As I lowered myself onto my original chair a drip fell off her nose.

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A Place to Write

I like to write stories about sitting in Star Bucks. I’m sitting in Star Bucks. I only paid $2.15 to sit here. I may sit here for hours, so it just seems right to give them a plug now and then. Very quiet in here today, just a few people, mother with her baby (toddler, cute kid), a couple of people staring at “pads”. I don’t have a “pad”.   I have a “book”. A college kid doing his homework, he doesn’t look very happy about it. Someone at the register just said “actually” the answer was, “I totally get it”. I wish I had heard the question; bet there’s a story there. I’m sitting next to a runner. He comes in every morning after his run. He doesn’t smell. I think he used to be a professor at the college. I know him from somewhere. Once a month twenty or so runners meet here after their run. Some of them smell. They talk loud and brag about how far they ran. The guy sitting next to me doesn’t do that, he just reads. I talked to a homeless lady here once. She had a big army green duffel bag and many layers of colorful clothes. We talked for a while about “life on the road” which I know nothing about but a guy in one of my books spent a year on the road – so I can draw from him. She looked pretty basic; she really did live on the road. She didn’t smell. I don’t really understand how a person could live on the road and not smell – maybe I was upwind. Before she left she showed me her website on her I Pad Air. She sold head bands she made on the road. The site took Visa and PayPal. I didn’t make a purchase. There are different kinds of homelessness. A cute girl is in the line for a coffee. <Insert pause> People are in too much of a hurry now a days. They should take the time to sit and drink their coffee. It’s just not safe to drink and drive.   Back when I had regular employment I had drinking and driving down to an art form, just coffee, Styrofoam cups. When first learning a section of the plastic lid can be torn away to make it easier to drink and to keep the coffee from splashing; after a person gains some experience an open cup, without a lid at all, is better. A few more people show up, tea drinkers. One of the tea drinkers works for PG&E (at least she has the hat). The trash window just appeared. I hope it’s not a sign. I have the space bar setting on my “book” set too sensitively; sometimes my thumb drags across it and does things. So…this is a bust. If I knew where ideas came from I would go there. It’s a nice sunny day. I’m going to home and nail some pine boards together.