Thursday, December 8, 2011

Outside the Attic Window

The Old Dirt Road (Minnesota)


Lifting my head up, to take a hold of my coffee cup, then taking a sip, thoughts likened to caterpillars start crawling over the top of my brainstem, my cerebellum, it’s not an unusual happening for me. It is hard nowadays to hold onto thoughts—if I do not write them down, they are dead in only a few hours—a quiver in the brain says, by gosh, he is still alive. I reach out for that thought, touch it, now it gears up it lunges towards me, terrified it leaps down to my teeth and jaw and stomach, and I got to write it down before it falls over on its face, that’s how it is when you get old. It is like a penguin trying to rearrange his or her flippers, under normal conditions, this cannot be done,
It is mid September now, evening in my apartment, the white curtains are akin to shadows, which comes from the deep darkness behind them, day’s insanity is gone, I hope. A man in the evening does not notice all that much, it is normally—if not characteristically that is—time to settle down. It’s kind of when my impulses come to and through my mind too—producing my poetry (typically I say, not necessarily all the time, just more often than not—say:) such impulses come to my mind, come to be written down, come to be meditated on, see what trails those caterpillars left. Thoughts like the wind moves through my brain like branches growing everywhichway. Impulses, we have them: and they, these impulses, they want to live—they don’t want to be covered up, likened to what clouds do to the moon, especially in a poet, they even seem to have a will, don’t you agree? If you do, put them on the backs of the caterpillars. I heard one caterpillar say (once upon a time), “He’s sure taking a long time to die!” I forgive him he is long dead now. My brain waves are no longer coming out of his nostrils, he is more comfortable in death than he was swimming around in my head, I do believe. I think he fell off some cliff, and better for it.

Anyhow, I have this sudden sensation; it is half an inch under my optical lobe; a funny, if not stringy place to be. A wide-eyed reflection: death is like the sound of thunder—I have heard it and felt it, seen it, even endured it within my lifetime; I have flown around the whole planet. And it comes down to this—I should say, it comes back to this, to an old dirt road and an old attic window (and perhaps alongside of that was a dream, the dream of a pauper; you see, without dreams we remain, but mutts to the world around us…). The starfish of my youth you could say, and how slowly and evenly does this reflection move—develop in: my head, my soul—the spirit that talks to me—you know, that second self—but this starfish has a body of a dinosaur. You see a starfish can be a glacier too. My mind sweeps low and swift over this glacier, now the lamp is lit, and the full story to be told:

Once upon a time, there was a boy, he was no more than twelve years old, he was not at the time very intelligent, but he had good insight, intuition, perhaps foresight too. Also he had faith, more than a mustered seed, perchance more than a young man at his age needed; he often sat in his attic bedroom, sitting at the top of the stairs (often writing poetry, trying to figure out the stanza, and so forth), staring out the side window into his backyard—as if into nothingness. There was a big oak tree in front of the pantry, below him. The large oak tree, it extends up past his window, over the house like a giant umbrella; likened to a Titan guarding the house, and alongside the tree were two poles that concocted a clothesline, ropes extending from one end to the other, in rows. He would often help his mother unravel the bed sheets, stretching them from one corner to the other, putting those wooden clothespins onto the ends of the sheets—snapping them onto the clothesline, and in the middle of the sheets, securing them so the wind would not blow them to kingdom come. In the wintertime he’d run out to get those sheets, for his mother, they were like cardboard on the clothesline, nonetheless, it was a task assigned to him, and he’d do it wholeheartedly.
From that very same window, he would watch the changing of the leaves on the trees—season to season, year after year. Autumn to him was the best of the seasons, or the best part of fall, which was his season, he was an October boy, born on the 7th); and over across his grandfather’s property where he and his mother and brother lived together—kind of like an extended family type setting. Moreover, over across his grandfather’s property was a large empty lot. Once upon a time, it had held three other houses. Now long gone, perhaps a quarter century long gone—; now, this large space was dense with tall yellow and brown and thorny shrubbery it was hard to walk through, it was home to: rats and mince, quails, and a few pheasants, perhaps a snake or two, grasshoppers and ticks and all those sorts of insects.
After about five-years living there old man Brandt, who lived on the other side of the empty lot, and a few of the neighbourhood boys, got together and cleared out a section of the bared and unfilled lot for a baseball area. A diamond, as it is often referred to—and the young boy he helped by picking up rocks, and cutting those towering weeds with a sickle. That was the boy’s world, one big change in half a decade, but a good change.
The backyard extended to an old dirt road, which was used for buggies and wooden wagons of another period in time, perhaps twenty-five to thirty-five years prior to the boy’s moving into this neighbourhood, at ten years old, that would have been in 1957 or ’58, there about: horse driven, back in those 1920s, or earlier. Had you walked up this old dirt road—the very one he walked up pert near everyday during his formative years, the once wooden barns, that still stood solid and firm, reinforced with cemented foundations and stronger rafters within the last decade or so, were transformed into garages, for automobiles.
That of course was once upon a time, over a half century ago now. Last time the boy had walked that old dirt road—he was not a boy anymore, he had grown into a middle-aged man—or there about. It had not changed much, although the garages had made a new transformation. And the houses below the embankment, looking down were gone, as was his house; torn down a quarter a century before, to make a playground, and those old tall yellow and brown weeds that hid the rats and mice and all those other forms of hidden life, were gone.
He told his inner secret self, “Things keep changing…”
The old oak tree was gone from his backyard—roots and all, he noticed, said, “Yes,” in a whisper, in the crackling cool air the Indian summer, “yes, the very one I had gazed upon twenty-five years ago! The very one I climbed when grandpa was gone, as a kid.”
Funny he thought, contemplated, pondered on: ‘No kids around, not any houses for kids to come out of to be around either, nonetheless, a playground, how very mysterious…’
Now looking back, another fifteen years passed, the area converted into a kind of asphalt parking lot; where his house used to be which also consumed part of the playground. How they levelled it all out, he could not figure out, it was surely costly; he deliberated, especially, eating up part of the playground for this hollow, if not valueless cause. And where old man Brandt’s house used to be, and two other houses on the opposite side of where his grandfather’s house used to be, where the fence was and the clotheslines were, all gone. Now just empty spaces, nothing filling it up, open to the sky and rain. In addition, they had taken down the fence that made the playground look like a playground. Now it looked like an empty park. Better yet, an empty something that I cannot find the word for; again I say, nothing filling it up, just grass, plain old green grass—that someone came to cut, that no one ever saw. And alongside that, the asphalt parking lot that no one seemingly ever parked in—but still no homes and the children were still gone, and there was no more industry—of course that had left the area long ago. By gosh he said, “Who’s parking here?” it was empty. It was a hollow street, empty neighbourhood—no life to it.


“Things change every six months,” he told himself— “in styles and fads, and so forth, things like that. “Neighbourhoods, every half a decade or so; and people—well, we are just part of the ongoing cycle. Luckily, we get to see some of these changes, as we change too—; caterpillars do not get to see these changes, have these reflections. Perhaps they are luckier than we are, and better for it—I am not sure, I just appreciate life, it is a gift. I suppose all that will ever be left of me, left behind that is, that will bring a remembrance of me to someone—that will be the same, is that old dirt road. That in over sixty years of my lifetime, hasn’t changed one iota, that seems so familiar, it hasn’t changed in a hundred years I bet, and I suppose that will have to be my spokesman, my legacy. It will be the only thing left of me, that one can say: here, this path, he walked this path. Yes, I walked up it once upon a time, a long time ago, many times, and down it many times, it knows me, and I it, my soul, my youth, I can feel it under my heels—just thinking of it, and long after I’m gone it will still hold my memory.”

In Poetic Prose; No: 3067 (9-15-2011)

A Midwinter Soldier

[Sketches of Real life in the Old Army Boot Camp]

Soldiers’ First Day
(October, 1969)

I would learn in time, a Soldiers’ first day, is like every other day in Basic Training, one long, very long day. For me it would be thirteen weeks long. Dlsiluk

Diary Annotations
(Dennis Siluk reading his Diary)

The Bus

When we arrived at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Basic Training Camp, in the Fall of ’69, we were greeted (we, being, a number of us who had come from the Minneapolis, Minnesota Army Recruiting Station, now coming off the bus), greeted I say, by cynically sneering, and frankly hyper, drunk looking white sergeants, two of them, with a Forest Ranger’s type looking sombreros on their heads, I had my ninety pound duffle bag by my side.
My lip did something like a snicker back at them; my hand did something like a fist.
We were like a little wobbly, staggered train coming off the bus into camp, forming some kind of a zigzagged line in front of the bus. My captors faced me, two white sergeants; one perhaps in his mid twenties, the other in his mid thirties, one being a Buck Sergeant type sergeant, the other a Sergeant First Class sergeant, so I would learn these ranks within a few days, this being our first real day in the Army, thus, they faced us, I should say, stood in front of us, as we formed this jagged formation line of sorts.
Next, they encouraged us to obey them, as they treated us like criminals with beautiful smiles in-between their sneers: we were what they called ‘New fish.’
They grinned at us, and we grinned at each other trying to figure out what all the grinning was about, it would seem we were parroting them. Then the engine of the bus stopped, turned off, a loud silence seemed to pass over the bus, onto us, and encircle the two Drill Sergeants, as new gods of Caesar’s Army. They had warned us to be silent, and now without words, their manner was showing it. At this time the sun was coming down, as the two divine sergeants debated on if we should be allowed to eat dinner, while us new soldiers, smiled at one another appreciatively. They paused, looked about the area, and thus appeared the mess hall, I look down through the clutter of buildings, at it also, the mess hall door was open, although to be honest with you, I would have liked to have gone to sleep, I was tired.

(The Mess Hall) Now we were being escorted, if not a bit pushed down a dirt path between two rows of barracks part of our so called destiny—our new home city of hope, our temple of shadows where our philosophers were but two simple sergeants with bear hats on; and onto the Mess Hal we went.
I balanced my duffle bag on my shoulders, as they had instructed me to do, but many of the men couldn’t, they struggled with trying to do it, and gave up, it was too heavy, and so they dragged them, another peeve that would come out later with the two sergeants, they looked at us as little boys to be wrapped in blankets, and put to sleep, and when awaken, apparently we’d be killer soldiers. I always, well kind of always wanted to be a soldier, so why was I protesting? I really didn’t know, I mean being a soldier went back and forth in my mind many of times, but respect was my forte, and here there was a lack of it, and hence, resistance appeared to dominate my cerebellum, and I automatically went into a clandestine war with the Army.
Well, this was the first day, and it was evening, we were on the pathway, a few of us talking, mostly about them—the sergeants. And we learned quickly to say “Yes sir,” and “No sir,” until we got tired of it, and a few of us would say, ‘now what mamma!’ under or breaths, or with our eyes, or body movements, as if we were suckling babes, of course I was one of those, and in time that would get me in trouble. The sergeant said “—who said, ‘mamma?” and of course, not a word was spoken to claim the misdeed, or disrespect, they stared at each other as if the moment would not be forgotten, and it wasn’t we’d suffer later for it.

As this disrespectful dragging occurred—and continued, the older sergeant got what I’d call a devilish smile with eyes big as silver dollars, and thus, a few insults reached the ears of the many. That is when I got the smell of their strange cologne, and garlic breath.
Several faces (perhaps for the sake of sympathy, so I thought at first) looked out the barracks windows—“What time is it?” a voice said, and eyes looking in my direction, I saw corporal strips on the fellow. I didn’t look at my wrist; I think he wanted me to lose balance of my duffle bag for a laugh—and watch it fall.
“I said, what time it is soldier?” the same voice said, with the same eyes, a rougher tone to it this time, then it added a screaming quality “I’ll see you in the mess hall some time, Private…!” he left out what might follow, but he didn’t get the time. I remember thinking: you’d think we were in the middle of a war, or comedy play. I did say something back the second time, something I thought was funny, but not to him.

“All right, put down your gear, and take off your hats in the mess hall,” said the younger of the two drill sergeants, as we stood in front of the building.

I wasn’t hungry, I had eaten with the few friends I had met in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after getting off the plane, and going to a restaurant, we had a pay voucher for $30-dollars, which was a lot of grub, between four or five of us, or enough anyways for a healthy meal, and a small tip.

Hence, our divine hosts now were pushing us into the mess hall to eat again, seating us, and having us push down excessive portions of food, neither one listening to us, or in particular me, when I said I had just eaten,
“Eat anyways so you can’t say we didn’t feed you,” was the reply I kept getting from the old sergeant, and then the young one would copy him.
Layers of hats and coats fell on the chairs. And I looked about, and said mumbled to myself: here I am, and the sergeant looked at me again. There was no fear in me of him, perhaps there should have been, and he saw that.
As I put down several table spoons of whatever it was I was eating (and I think I was eating spaghetti), along with some bread and milk, I got thinking this is crazy, and looked for the kitchen window, the one I saw when I came in, the one with empty trays laying about it, and saw a square opening, window type opening, and saw some soldiers putting their trays through the hole—it was that same window I had saw when first entering the mess hall I concluded—so I got up, looked at the two sergeants that were looking at me—somewhat (not paying all that much attention really, and I guess not wanting a confrontation at this moment), the other forty solders still eating, the ones that got off the bus with me, I aimed my tray at the hole, like a rocket, and my temper went (the hole was some several feet away, and I tossed the tray and all the food on it, tossed it like a spaceship, and it landed perfectly on the other trays, gliding over them like a car gliding over ice, into that window I was just talking about, and I headed towards the door, to where my duffle bag would be waiting for me.

Wither the sergeants’ faces averted, I reached for my duffle bag, pulled it along side of me, lit up a cigarette, fumbled a little trying to light it in the light cool wind, and thought: this is going to be an everyday thing, an all day job, from this time on.
The sergeants were busy, still not looking at me, perhaps not caring either, my head bobbing somewhat with the cigarette, as I was thinking, ‘…what I am doing here.’

(Twilight) My reddish eyes and hair were becoming devouring, as I left the mess hall. I had gulped and swallowed what I could, and was feeling overly full, if not a tinge ill from the lack of sleep, and too much food. And now all this unnecessary control; whatever inspiration I had for the Army was now diminishing. I had an inborn taste for revenge almost.
I stood outside the small mess hall in a pig-like position waiting for our leaders, and the rest of the platoon, it was now twilight. I figured I did my best, though protesting in my own way.
I would notice later on that evening, tears in the eyes of a few soldiers, perhaps irritation in mine. The Army never bothered me per se, only the disrespect I was feeling, or received. I think bachelors are lucky in the Army, confinement less an issue for them, for married folks, to the contrary.
As I was saying, it was twilight, which now had vanished, and turned into dark or pure-night, a dark, heavy blue night—seemingly a deep midnight was approaching. My stomach heavy, and most of us now had come out of the trance like fog we had first found ourselves in, after getting off the bus, now in the barracks.
Digestion was settling, and they, the sergeants were settling us like prey into a lull. We were given our blankets and a pillow, with a few grunts of satisfaction, which we tossed back, we took their insults, and taking pain not to show our defeat, as we smiled at one another, wondering what was next.

(The barracks) Strange tongues, forty strange grins, bare hands, white, black and brown faces, and feet belonging to strangers, all among one another. Hands stretched out over the beds. This was a new experience for us all. The central figures, two sergeants now telling us
“…lights out in fifteen minutes….”
And another voice saying,
“…let’s hurry up and get a smoke!”
I looked about at the faces, disagreeable with curiosity, and then looked out the window with itching fingers to have a cold beer, and get on with the show.

Silhouette of a Soldier
((October, 1969) (Day Two))


(It is always the sound of the bugle that awakens one in the morning, called reveille, in the Army, the sound to make formation that begins the day, a signal that it is time to get out of bed, summoned to duty. And all one sees in the morning, in this case, as I prepared for the second day of duty with the many new shapes and outlines of military personnel in a camp; or so it seemed to me.)

Silhouettes, that is all they were to me when I first glanced out the window, 2nd day in the Army, soldiers rushing to get into a standing position in what was called a formation, under the autumn sky; the darkness of morning was lifting, an intense darkness it was, a haunting dark blue sky, extra ordinarily cold for a North Carolina morning, it seemed.
I had noticed in the distance, throughout the day, across a field, a club resided, Enlisted Men’s Club to be exact, so I was told: a bar in essence, or so it would be called in my old neighborhood, in St. Paul, Minnesota (called: ‘Donkeyland,’ by the police for its hardheaded drunks, that lived and died at two corner bars).

The EM Club

I was particularly thrilled to have discovered it so close by the group of basic training barracks (mine in particular); whereat, when our two Drill Sergeants, our escorts throughout the day were done with us, disembarking for the evening, but beforehand, let us know they’d return at 10:00 p.m., to insure lights were turned off, (which was to them, the very ‘last moment of light,’ to be seen within our barracks, lest we wanted to be disciplined, it was really a curfew in essence; in any case, disembarking for the evening, this would allow me to make acquaintance with the establishment, the EM club. In outcome, I felt a little at home now, likened to finding you are nearby a church, something familiar, if indeed I happened to be a priest, which of course I am not.
As I was saying, or about to say, at 10:00 p.m., would be the last moment of light to be seen within our barracks, and we stopped work at 7:00 p.m., a very full day; I had woke up at 4:00 a.m., not much sleep, I was stiff and cold and only half awake, in the morning, and now, in the evening, exhausted, I had my Army green fatigues on, and moved grimly without speaking to anyone, now after duty hours, after having a quick dinner at the mess hall, moved quickly over the field to where the EM club was, it was 8:15 p.m., when I arrived there, par excellence in my quick study of the matter, most all the new soldiers had no idea the club existed. Plus, they were too busy trying to be good soldiers, and I was the second oldest person in the platoon (I learned, the younger the easier one can be led).

As I walked across the field, I told myself, ‘You’ve never been in an EM club before.’ How true this was, but I knew bars well, was drinking in them since I was sixteen-years old, fighting in them, drinking in them, and getting sick in a few of them, most are the same, smelly, dingy, and alive or dead, plus, I told myself, ‘You will know in a short time, all you need to know about this bar.’ Hence, in a few minutes I was walking through the door of the club, yellow flares went off in my head, I acted like I belonged there, I always did when I walked into a bar, a strange bar for sure, I was at the time, just turning twenty-two years old.
The insides of the club were small, and formless, nothing special; mostly square, with figures moving about, to and fro, a crackle of conversations, going on everywhere, seemingly sadly suppressed, abnormal for a bar one could say, not lively at all. I was used to deliciously insane bars I suppose, but nonetheless, I was gulping down my first cold Army beer in no time flat.
Everyone seemed to be wrapped in ghostly Army Green, this was to be, I knew, an unearthly patch of the world, hereon, and forevermore, save, I remained in the Army. I leaned on the bar, drank down a second glass of cold mouthwatering beer, and stared into nothingness.

The Corporal

My elbows now on the bar, I got staring at and out the window, a mist had created a moisture onto the bar window, formed a fogginess on its glass; as I scanned the bar, everyone seemed like talking shadows all linked together around the bar, I recognized no one, especially no one from my platoon, that is, ‘D’ Company, 4th Platoon as they called it, called us. I thought briefly about Smiley, a Private like me, a year younger than I, and from the South, I think he said, Alabama, he was easy to talk to, liked to drink, a friend to be found I pondered, a worthy friend, most people I accepted as acquaintances, and only a few select would I categorize as associates.

“You’re the one?” I heard a voice say next to me, a statement-question I took it as, I turned to the stranger, and a Corporal sat about seven feet from my stool.
“You¬¬ were speaking to me?” I didn’t care if he had twenty strips on his arms, bar folks get a few drinks in them and try to command the world, this was neither the time nor place to play chief, and so I told myself.
“Yaw,” he said, to the clean shaven kid, couldn’t be over 19-years old I told myself, but he had a few more strips than I.
“What do you want?” I asked somewhat brusquely.
“You’re the one I asked for the time, yesterday, I work in the mess hall, and you could get in trouble for being here, because new soldiers, or new recruits, are not suppose to come here, you got a place down by the PX, and you can’t go to that until the second week you’ve been here.”
“So are you going to tell, or what?” I asked.
He laughed a bit, and then smiled, “It’s your head, not mine, if they chop it off, oh well.” And I bought him a beer. In time we’d get to know each other, and he’d even give me excuses to use in case I came back after 10:00 p.m., for he worked with the Colonel often, after duty hours I guess.

Horse’s Hoofs and Old Soldiers
(November, 1969; Week Two in Basic Training)


In the barracks it was chilly. The Drill Sergeants smelled worse. I knew my smell, so I affirmed it wasn’t me, and why be polite, sometimes I just held my nose, kind of letting anyone, perhaps someone know, what they didn’t want to know, about their body smell, there was this one particular soldier in our platoon that even smelled worse than the Drill Sergeants.
In any case, these were long days in back of me and in front of me, long days running, and longer than normal long was today’s running, I had to run around a field three times, two miles each lap, six miles complete, in some specified time, can’t remember it exactly today. I took a number of salt tablets as I ran; some of the men were eating chocolate, to keep their energy up. I quickly learned running was part of the Army, like the trunk of an elephant’s nose.
Yes indeed, running is part of a soldiers life, I told myself, after two weeks (about to go into the third), running every day, sometimes with our M14 rifles held over our heads, sometimes carrying our duffle bags full of cloths, and now, today, around in circles. The voice beside me said, “China, China…” a Chinese man, small in stature, who wanted to be an American. In time we would become good friends, and go onto Advance Training together in Alabama, but at this particular moment, it was of course unknown (we would become friends for six-months between Basic Training and Advance Training, and when we got our assignments, after finishing Advance Training, he’d be sent to Vietnam, I suppose because he could speak Chinese and English well, and I would go to Augsburg, Germany, and thereafter, go to Vietnam, Smiley would also head on to Vietnam after his Advance Infantry Training). China, He had come to San Francisco, from China, got drafted into the United States Army, given the choice to join, or return to China, but the offer of citizenship was too great to pass up, so he allowed himself to be drafted into the US Army. He was here on a visit of some kind, originally.
The two divine Drill Sergeants were standing on the side of the circle as I passed them, going on and into my third circle, anger on their faces; they only smiled when you obeyed them. Smiley was right in back of me, my friend from Alabama. It was a warm mid-morning, an insane day to be exact, and I was still somewhat drowsy from drinking at the club the night before, my brain that is, had gotten drunk the night before, as usual, and was paying for it now (a second time). And here were all these bodies running, running the length of the field, and China, keeping up with all (all his 110-pounds); many of the men just dropped to the ground, passed out from heat exhaustion. But us three kept going. It was the whole company today, all four platoons, perhaps 160-men in total.
One man came along by my side, said: “I say, where we are?” and he dropped to the ground, just like that, and as he dropped I said, “In hell…!”

I think the Drill Sergeant, the older one, was faint and felt almost dead from exhaustion this heated day, he had run around the circled in field but once for us, to show he could; I stopped a few times, my hat had fallen off my head for the 3rd time, “Get moving,” he yelled, the old fart couldn’t do it himself, but expected me, I gave him one of his same old grimaces back.
The third stop somehow allowed me to catch my wind and I started back up after a brief swallow of air into my stomach, Smiley, had stopped, was resting on the side now, couldn’t go any further, I think cramps did him in; next, I got back into my running posture and finished the third circle. Perhaps there were about twenty of us, ready to go into a forth, but the Drill Sergeant, told us to stop, and like the others I rested, found the few select people I liked from our platoon, Smiley among them, and China. We all grunted a bit. Moreover, the young sergeant, came up to us and said, “Well,” he then stroked his chin, adding (I merely looked at him with a smirk) “Get down Siluk and do fifty pushups,” for being cocky I suppose, and to show the rest of the group how out of shape I was. I said, “Fifty, is that all!” And I did the fifty in a few minutes, got back up, and he said again, “Get down and do fifty more!” And I did, and I got up and said, “I will make note of this…” implying, the necessary sum that he could make me do was at its point, one hundred, and I was not afraid of him, consequently, if he wanted me to do more, I could legally defy him, this he did not want, nor no unsuspected challenges he couldn’t win.

Horse’s Hoofs

I didn’t make any friends this day of course, and felt a little under the horses hoofs, several of the platoon faces, recruits like me, felt I was a trouble maker (for them I suppose I was). And this got back to the Captain, whom would confront me in time on this very issue, in another two weeks to be exact. It was mid November, and we heard we’d be going home for a Christmas leave, and have to return to basic training to finish it, thereafter. One of the soldiers would not have enough money to go home, and we all pitched in from the platoon and made that possible, but I’m getting ahead of myself again.
The young Drill Sergeant led us to the front of the barracks, and had us do several exercises, he said it was because there was a soldier with a bad attitude in the platoon, and all would have to suffer from that. The older sergeant vaguely looking at me from afar, but I read his lips, “Siluk, you again!”
“Squat, crouch, and walk around the barracks,” commanded the young sergeant. This was not only humiliating for the platoon, because we looked like ducks, but tiresome, therefore, I got a few unfriendly faces, and whispers like: Siluk, stop causing trouble, straighten up…and so forth and so on. And I simply went, or said “Quack, quack…” to all this—aloud!
“Who said that? “Asked the young drill sergeant, then he walked along side of me…”It’s you again, I know it’s you Siluk, another walk around the barracks,” he announced, and then I whispered to the guys, “Ok, ok…I’ll shut up ((but I couldn’t help it, I did it a second time, then I shut up)( for now))”
After it was all done (the duck walk), most everyone collapsed comfortably on their beds, while the drill sergeants adjusted their smirks.
Enormous pomposity was shown in the two drill sergeants, and displayed around me, or perhaps I was the only one that saw these expressions, gestures, everyone else was too busy being nervous about what was next. It was going onto the third week of November that the Captain had called me into his office, and I asked him why he sent for me and he said, “Just wanted to see who you were,” and he kept an educated serious face about the matter, and dismissed me, yet I knew something was coming.

For the most part, I was in a new world, and having a hard time devouring the customs, the inexpressible nuance of the pretense they expected out of me, willingly—to appreciate their fine work in sculpturing a soldier out of a neighborhood bum. My uncouthness was not appreciated either.

That night, the night that followed the duck-walk, Smiley was to meet me at the EM Club, it was the end of the second week, and we were allowed now, to buy freely at the PX, and go to the Company Recruits club to drink, 3.2 Beer, that is, beer that tasted like water. But I was already into the EM Club, and drank there—strong beer. They, the Drill Sergeants had actually escorted us that first day to the PX, like tourists.
I gave Smiley a discussion on my EM club drinking, and told him to meet me there this evening, around eight or nine o’clock; our bed time now was 10:30, lights off, or the last moment for lights, at 11:00 p.m., weekends, lights off at 12:00 midnight, and now bed check, being 11:00 p.m., life was improving.
As I waited for Smiley, I thought about what the older Drill Sergeant had told the platoon, that next week there was going to be a show for us, the 82nd Airborne, whom was stationed there, would jump out of airplanes, parachuting down to where we would be sitting. I told myself, only birds and their droppings fall out of the sky, and thus, let it be at that. But when the day came, the old sergeant asked me, sitting on a hill, “Go down there and join up, Siluk!” And I said, “I’m not a bird…!” And he kicked me, and I rolled down the hill, and waved to him, from that position. Another peeve he had with me.


There was a young female, German girl unmarried woman, who was the waitress at the EM club, a daughter I expect to one of the higher ranking sergeants on base; she spoke with a broken English pronunciation but could speak clear clean German, perhaps twenty-one, or younger; possibly a second marriage I thought between an older sergeant and German woman. Anyhow, she was dangerously appetizing I thought, I never did chat with her, a long chat that is, other than, a hello and goodbye, I figured I was under observation at the club (and a few young bucks were always around her at the bar when she finished serving her drinks), and as long as I kept to my own, they left me alone, and should I try to get a date with her, they would expose me as a recruit, I was sure of that, and I’d have to go to the main drinking hall, with the rest of my Company.
She was lean, perhaps five foot three inches tall, lovely in many ways, and friendly, and customers liked her. She wore tight dresses, benignant in a way, with breasts that bulged slightly out of her blouse, and had small hands, dark hair—penetrating eyes.

Army Beer Hall
(December, 1970; Week Five in Basic

I had gone to the beer hall this first Saturday evening after returning to Basic Training Camp, from Christmas leave. The Captain was there, I had heard he showed up now and then, but not often, and this was perhaps my third time in the beer hall myself, I preferred the EM Club to the hall, more sedate. For me it was really the first time I saw him here, a sharp consciousness of being stared at absorbed me, made me look the other way. He was still gazing at me when I turned around, thus, it was me he was curious about—so I validated, some kind of strained expectancy, I expect, like a month ago when he stared at me in his office, like a rat in a cage. More like a psychological pondering, trying to figure me out for the butchering that was going to take place. I paid little heed though, at first, just inquisitive to his prying mannerisms.
After about ten-minutes of this, I asked myself, ‘What is he waiting for?’ I was becoming irritable, ‘what does he expect of me now: to sing the National Anthem for him personally?’ I stood silently a tinge guarded now, as if this was an entirely obvious reaction, as he approached me.
“We’ve both been away for a while, Christmas vacation, I’ve wanted to talk to you before you left, but…well it just didn’t work out, I’m a bit surprised you’re back, and so glad I found you here this evening, Private Siluk.” He said in a seriously low and cordial tone, almost a mumble.
At about this time, I was waiting for the punch, the Sunday punch that normally comes with such surprises; you know, someone says a few good words, to get you off guard, off balance, and then bang.

The Captain

(I gazed mutely at him.) The Captain stood now alongside of me, as I leaned back, somewhat comfortable against a pillar in the old WWII beer hall. He said, sincerely said, yet kind of in an official manner, something I never expected to hear, never even saw it coming:
“You make me look like the worst Company Commander in the whole of Basic Training Camps, Private Siluk. My comrades laugh and make jokes about how you belittle the Army, and its training and our Sergeants… (then he grabbed two beers on the counter, laid down thirty cents, and gave one to me, the other for him, then continued:) as I was saying, about to say, you do not make me look good in front of my peers. To the contrary, and I’ve thought about this a while, on what to do with you, you are always borderline, actually you would make a good soldier, if you wanted to, it seems you do not want to though (he looked at me deeply and sincerely into my eyes) what did I ever do to you?” He asked.
“Nothing,” I said.
“Well then, unintentionally, you are making me look like the worse commander at Fort Bragg for nothing? I never drafted you, the Government did, yet it seems you are taking your anger out on me, my Company!”

I felt awkward, not sure what to say. He did not say it loud, but said it firmly, with almost hurt in his face. I knew I was taking it out on the platoon, but there are four platoons to a company, and I didn’t feel I was taking it out on all of them, but he assured me I was, because they rated all four platoons to see which one was the worst and best, and then rated the companies, which were four also, to a Battalion, and I was in the 10th Battalion, 1st BDE (Brigade) this I knew already, and I knew we were the worse of the worse. But I never put two and two together that it was me making the platoon look bad, I passed all the physical and written tests, but it was based on more I guess than that.
“I never said it was your fault, Captain,” I responded; as we both walked easily and leisurely a few steps, both thinking. He perhaps had it all figured out, how he would present this to me, it was too cleaver to have had it just pop out of his head at the moment it did, for he added this,
“I’ll make you a deal, you have got two years of this life to deal with, it’s going to be a rough road for everyone involved, even you, everyone you meet. (Smiley walks by, I smiled at him, let him know all was well; the Captain became silent until he passed, then continued), as I was saying, you have a lot of time to fight with everyone, and that is not a good way to live. Here is what I will do for you, or propose. At midnight tonight, I will have two MPs pick you up at the barracks, everyone will be sleeping, and they will take you to the bus station, and not report you’re missing for twenty-four hours, enough time to get to Canada, if that is where you wish to go. You can be out of the country before the AWOL notice goes into effect. Or you can stay here, and please stop making trouble for me (he made this personal)?”

He was I think waiting for an answer, one I never gave him, couldn’t give him, at the moment, so I simply walked away, as he said, “They’ll be out by your barracks at midnight.”
Well, I was there in the morning, as if nothing had been said, standing in formation, as always, reveille (my wakeup call), and I’m not sure if the Captain saw me or not, but that was the last time I had saw him, face to face; although off in the distance I saw him here and there. He did one thing if anything, he threw it back on me, I had to make the decision, not him, thus, his conscious was free, and back in those days, it wasn’t hard for an officer to get revenge if he indeed wanted to, and it wasn’t hard for a trouble maker like me I suppose to cause friction for the Army on a continues scale, so perhaps he gave both of us, the Army and me, an ounce of respect, to straighten things out, or let time do it the hard way, for both of us. For the most part, I behaved myself, but not completely. And in time I would turn out to be a good soldier, and awarded a number of medals to prove it. Yes, this was really just the beginning.

The Fighting Irish
(January, 1970; Week Six in Basic Training)

I came from a Russian extended family, on my mother’s side,
But I was half Irish, on my father’s side…

In the days and weeks to follow—every muscle throughout my body would be aching, head spinning; yet I was not worn down like most of the troops, perhaps I had a lot of training in San Francisco, and back in St Paul, Minnesota in karate, and my body was somewhat hardened, ready for this kind of training. Face to face with the Drill Sergeants, I halfway straightened my attitude out, we, or maybe just I, somewhat came to an understanding, willingly obedient, yet at night I still came in soggy drunk, hanging onto whatever I could.
On the top bunk, of the bunk bed I was assigned to, and sleeping on (in the enormous room we lived in, the bunk beds accommodated 44-soldiers, bed all in two rows, eleven to each side, one soldier on top, one on the bottom, old WWII vintage, wooden and square framed, slanted roofed barracks, and going toward the double doors, to the right, it lead out into the courtyard, just beyond the doors, straight ahead, was the latrine. The windows in the building were wide, on both sides of the wooden structure, several to each side; the outside painted white, the inside pale white and green; as I was about to say, a southern boy slept on the top bunk, he didn’t seem to like me, or get along with me all that well, just gave me sneers like the Sergeants often did, he didn’t like me coming into the barracks drunk and coming in so late, I felt it was none of his business, he wasn’t my sergeant, nor my parent. He was a strict soldier, and our attitudes conflicted, ferocity of rectangular emotion around him, so I named it, then it was just bitterness, and he decided to confront me on this drinking issue one evening, just before lights out.
I came in, it was perhaps a few minutes before ´Light’s out!’ and he grabbed me by my shirt (about my height, and weight), said:
“It’s two-minutes to lights out, and here you are walking in half drunk.” He was correct in his observation.
“Oh,” I said, adding “…is that so…!” and broke his arm from my shirt, downward, and a second later, took my palm and pushed him against the wall. He was stunned I had broken his arm hold so easily, I had him almost pinned against the wall. Then I grabbed his shaving cream and squirted it all over him, not sure why, but it was the closest thing to my free hands now, but perhaps to shame him or belittle him in front of the onlookers, whom were the soldiers now in their bunks now. Then I stepped back into a fighting stance, and egged him on. I did not want to beat him without him having another chance to strike me, it didn’t seem right. I mean I could have killed him right there, had I wanted to, his open posture was almost an invitation for a slaughter, but only a professional fighter could have seen that. I had just come from San Francisco and Studied Karate under the guidance of the greatest Karate instructor of my day (1968-69), Gosei Yamaguchi, thus, having two years in warlike arts in fighting; I was ready.
His instinct was good, he backed down, and I never pushed anyone beyond that point, the point of no return, never put anyone in a corner I always told myself, give him a little room to get out, it could save a lot of trouble. That was always inbreed in me, not sure of the why or how it, who put it there that is.
My thoughts at the time were: why does this wooden man, one I can break so easily confront me like this. The following morning he was standing outside, with two friends, and I came up to him and said,
“Do you want to finish it…?” and added, “let me show you this” and before he could say a word, or blink an eye, I had thrown several punches and a back kick (not to show off but to show him I no longer was going to play with him), and I pulled my punches lest I break his nose or jaw or something. After the demonstration, his eyes bulged out, and he just said, “You’re a trained fighter, it would be crazy to fight with you,” and walked away, I really think he simply thought I was crazy.


KP and Potatoes, Army life
(January, 1970; Week Seven in Basic Training)

(Kitchen Police) KP

KP, or call it Kitchen Police, Kitchen Duty, or whatever, but back in my basic training, back in 1970, ever soldier did it. I was woken up this one morning of my seventh week in training, it was a Sunday, and someone wanted to go to church, so guess who they picked for kitchen duty, me. I wasn’t supposed to have it; I had had it three times before, and was suppose to have been done with it. But the Army never works that way, they just keep putting straws on the camel’s back until he drops, or says something to stop it, and I was not everyone’s favorite soldier, so I just accepted it, I was close to going onto the next stage, advance training in Alabama, or Ranger training in California, and jungle training in Washington somewhere down the line. So I figured another day on KP would not hurt. Yet at the time I didn’t know my next duty station for sure. I didn’t even know if they were going to pass me, I mean, they could have fixed it for me to stay around a while longer if they hated me so much here and thus make me suffer, you know, torment me with another eight weeks of this boy scout like training as I had felt it was, yet on the other hand I’m quite sure they were more than ready to get rid of me. They had done it I heard, but they would not do it to me. Although I’m getting ahead of myself, it is of no consequence to the story here and beyond, or at this point.
“Soldier, get up, you got KP!” said the young sergeant, my drill sergeant, at 4:00 AM, with a smirk on his face. He was a vulture, “I already had it three times before!” I said.
“You got ten minutes…no more!” he added to his unsightly face. The Buck Sergeant stood outside, waited to see if I was coming, and I was, I rushed to and fro…and was on my way in ten minutes flat.
It was as if by me staying in the platoon touched off a high explosive inside the sergeant’s head, I think he would have liked me to have gone AWOL, run to Canada for his amusement (and to be honest I thought about it a few times and figured I’d think more on it later, when I got my thirty-day leave). As I walked outside, onto the dirt road in front of the barracks, and then on down the dirt road, and across the black asphalt road—that went the opposite way, to the Mess Hall, he looked a bit gloomy, I was turning out to be a soldier indeed, and he wasn’t sure if he liked that, and neither was I.

It was a long day, or would be. First came the dishes, then the pots and pans, and then the potatoes, yes, I hated doing the potatoes, not because it was hard, nothing in the Army is that hard, it was boring, and they had an automatic potato peeler right behind me, staring at my back side, as I sat on the steps in back of the mess hall, peeling potatoes the old fashion way, with a knife, slowly, and a big pot for the skins of the potatoes and one for the potatoes. I think it was based on not wanting us to have something to do, rather than nothing to do and the automatic peeler would only do the job quicker and allow us to have free time. Oh well, it was all part of the show I told myself. And it gave me time to think on many things.

(I thought about Maria Garcia, a young woman I was seeing and had met while on Christmas leave, back in St. Paul, this past December).
She had a kid, and we’d drink a lot together, and she always seemed to be having family, friends, people in general over to her house, a Mexican thing I think, or Spanish thing, more the company the better; whereas for me being the gringo, I was not used to this, and had I suppose less of a family life in that I didn’t have so many people around, more of a loner, a quieter life. But it was nice meeting everyone. She was cute, short, black thick hair, a nice shape on her, and somewhat of a decent lover. And I never told her I was in the Army, and on my last day of leave, I simply left, that as it was, I got up one morning, had my orders to go, and left, never even made a phone call, had I, I would not have known what to say anyhow

On my three hundred and forty-forth potato, I got thinking about Sergeant Wolf, a black sergeant, drill sergeant that is. How he’d smoke, solemnly smoke them cigarettes, right to its end. He was there among the other Drill Sergeants often, talking, he was from ‘C’ platoon, I think he liked me, because I made him look good, and our sergeants bad; they always had bets, betting on this and that: saying there platoon was better, and I think my drill sergeants lost many bets. He had a fleshless neck, almost none at all, and a head of an absurd largeness; a stooping body like an ape, and hands that were almost touching the ground when he walked. He was the Judo and Karate instructor; I could have taught the man something, but for what time we had, it was good enough. I think at times his prerogative was to out show me, but whatever he showed, or demonstrated, I could do better, he had a horrible agility, dull small eyes, clean-shaven. He darted here and there it seemed, like a spider, stupidly I often found myself looking at him. I wouldn’t miss him, I told myself.
Yes indeed many thoughts were going through my mind this day, this twelve hour day: I remembered the three Generals, the second or third day I had been in boot camp, Smiley, I and Bruce were sitting down in the clothing supply area waiting to get sized up for our dress greens, and here comes three generals, I didn’t really know a general from a captain, but one had three stars on his shoulders. “How they treating you soldier?” he asked me, I didn’t get up, and simply said, “So, so, I guess,” he smiled, and said something else, and I never saluted him, nor stood at attention, that was a peeve with my young drill sergeant, but he got over it, after warning me, should it happen again, I’d be severely reprimanded; the General saw the sergeant was upset, and told him in so many wards: give him a break.
The other thing that came to mind in my daydreaming was the old sergeants appearance, my drill sergeant, when I say old, I do not really mean, old, old, but for a drill sergeant, old: he had a square jaw, like me, but was a few inches taller, not much, a rough looking face, as if he had been around a bit, small eyes, half closed all the time, or seemingly so. At times he was vigorous and at times a cold pathetic look gravitated all over his face to his forehead. He was what many called, a Red Neck, perhaps thirty-seven years old, but he was a vulture nonetheless.

Army Life

I felt at times I was the side focus of the group of drill sergeants, they had beat the hell out of one of the soldiers for not adjusting and getting smart with them, which I really never did, I mean I never disrespected them verbally, I was simply not afraid of them, and they knew it. Moreover I was guarded I suppose, waiting for them to do it to me, or try. And they knew I was waiting, and I think my eyes warned them, be careful, you are treading on unknown ground, and somebody besides me will get hurt also. What I took to be men of honor, among our leaders, disappointment me somewhat, most were fine, but some were not. They had a job to do I know, and this is of course how I was feeling at the time: everyone with gaunt and hard eyes, with gloomy jobs, and often drunk before lights went out for us. The older drill sergeant, my drill sergeant couldn’t talk for two weeks, laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx). Not sure why I thought this was funny, but he couldn’t holler like he’d have liked to.

At the end of the day, I had a few aches and some numbness, my muscles danced, and my nerves—wiggled. Smiley came by once, said: “See yaw at the beer hall tonight…!” And Bruce and Allen would be with him. Both good old southern boys, as they called themselves. Allen was a large figure of a man with glasses and smart. I nodded my head ‘yes’ and kept on peeling those potatoes, and cutting them up.

Stalemate: Army Life
(January, 1970; Week Seven and a half in Basic Training)

We marched back and forth like children walking in formation to school, not half miles though, but four and five miles a day. No one had the right to resort to tears nor calmly and flatly refuse, a few I think wanted to, we had a fat boy in the group, and the sergeants run him ragged (by the time he left, he must had lost forty pounds, he was most grateful to his oppressors) didn’t even fight back, emotionally or physically. Most of the trainees just did what they were told, had to do, thought they had to do. I learned later on in time, one can hate the Army and love it at the same time. And then one becomes codependent on it, with it. This never took place at this stage of the game, but down the road of life it seemed to me to be enmeshed in what were called the lifers.
Most of the recruits just did what they were told, not creating any static, or disruptions. The first day they had asked if any of the soldiers were lawyers, or studying law in college, and a few raised their hands, and I never saw them again. Not sure if they got special treatment, or a special platoon, but I knew that if you were in college, the chances were you’d not be drafted until after you got out, or if you were married prior to 1965. I guess I felt, they felt, the rule makers of the country felt we (the others) were dispensable in comparison. Anyhow, as I was saying the men were almost on automatic control for the drill sergeants at this time, acting without thinking, like robots, what they wanted I suppose.
They seemed to have immune perversity while I often emanated an inner outrageousness for such control. I presume that is why a nation selects their youth, they are so vulnerable, gullible, and patriotism is high, and not reviewed for wrongness. When I select a church (or any organization) to belong to, I review its doctrine, its code, no matter what, listen to the preachers, if they preach the gospel fine, if they preach something that sounds like it, I need to do some thinking, more thinking, and deep thinking—do I want to belong to this or not, kind of thinking; it is a decision with me and myself, my life, the only thing I got here on earth.
People are deceiving; self-interest is stronger than going to Hell. A nation run by a lunatic is not wise to follow. And it is obvious from history: it is easier to enmesh the masses with a big lie, than the few with a small lie. Hitler, and all his kind in history have done so, and continue to do so, and have proven me right, and the blind follow the blind.
And so the battle between me and the Army was half over in boot camp, nothing was hard for me in the Basic Training world, wasteful perhaps, but not difficult. I was throwing time away, and they were throwing dollars my way, and travel, and training, and so we both got something out of it, the tax payers I’m not sure. And if I was going to save the world, this was a good place to start, or run from afterwards. It was now 1970, a new decade for me, an ultimatum had been settled, I accepted, this was better than the old stalemate I had back home for now, and found myself again in, while in the Army, and so I had to learn to bark like a dog to my masters, somewhat, and I would get my biscuit, and I did.

Beer Bash—At Fort Bragg!
(February, 1970; Week Eight in Basic Training)

I had learned, a Soldier’s first day in basic training, is like every other day, one very long day. For me it was thirteen weeks long. Dlsiluk

was motionless, it was Saturday, and we were all standing about in the bus station on base at Fort Bragg, checking out the billboard for our assignments. It was the end of the eighth week of training, and we had but a few days left, going into the ninth week, actually, my 13th week (counting the four weeks I had used up for Christmas leave) belonging to this Platoon of sorts. We all were checking to see where our orders were going to send us, for our new assignment. The Drill Sergeants were sitting in the smoking room, drinking and so forth, having a bash, training was over for the most part, but we had two days left, we had to use them to clear the base, sign papers, bring back our linen, and so forth and then we’d meet back here and take our buses to wherever.
Sergeant Wolf was collecting money, “How about you Private Siluk?” he asked (a little kinder than usual), as I’m reading my assignment…
“Well,” said the sergeant with his hat out.
“Collecting money for what?” I said, adding “is this another requirement?”
“So we can get drunk and forget all your faces, and all the work we had to do to get you recruits to be real soldiers.”
I just stared at him, and he walked away, went into the backroom with the door opened, and took a drink of his booze. Somehow I felt sorry for the men the Drill Sergeants, they really thought they were doing a good deed, they felt they deserved it, the change they were collecting, they all surely had some kind of vision, one I did not pick up on. I was in-between, the eclipse I suppose. So I walked into the backroom, “Want a drink…?” Staff Sergeant Wolf asked. We saw things a little differently I suppose, but that is the way life is, even in the Army, and they needed some kind of uniformity and it was over.


(A Short Play in one Act, and two Scenes)

Big Ace and Reno

(Or general idea behind the story)

The story “Escape” is much like the Author’s other works, biographical in many respects; it presents a version of his own life. In this case, an imaginative speculation about what might have taken place prior to his leaving Minnesota to go to San Francisco and what might have happened otherwise, had he not.
That is, had he not chosen to go to San Francisco, in 1968, as indicated in his previous book “Romancing San Francisco”? Moreover, had he not gone to Vietnam, as indicated in his book, “Where the Birds Don’t Sing.” In addition, had he not went onto college receiving two Doctorate Degrees, along with two undergraduate degrees? And seven Poet Laureate Awards; traveling the world over—to fifty-six countries, and forty-six of the fifty states, in the United States. What is more, had he not worked on his self-image—had he not taken as Robert Frost the poet’s idiom seriously, “The Road less Traveled,” then what?
It cast light on the significance for him on his neighborhood (which the police call ‘Donkeyland’), whose influence on his early life is obvious. He himself is perhaps was his own worse—if not only—protagonist. His estrangement from the world outside of the neighborhood, which consists of two neighborhood bars, a street called Cayuga, a cemetery along Jackson Street, called ‘Oakland’; a dozen or two dozen friends.
This story elaborates on one single night at one of the two bars, his central theme alcoholism or escape.
Making the decision he did, he in the process sobered up, wrote three books on the subject of Alcoholism, which he would not have done, had he not escaped the neighborhood, and became an international licensed drug counselor.
It is 1968, at this point, Chick Evens had been married to Barbara for fifteen months, she is now seeking a divorce, but Chick will not give it to her, he knows if he does, he’ll be drafted, and sent to Vietnam. He has a daughter named Darla, born in 1966; again authentic, but on his aesthetic, or visual theory, things could change, in that he ponders on a decision. In real life, Barbara had told Darla, his real father died, of course, this is not the real case, and she wants to marry another person.
Escape, in essence is essential theme; for those who have read much of the forty-five books the author has written, there is always truth interwoven into his dialogues, his narrations, thus, you see the author’s life as it really is today of how it might not have been had he chosen a different road in life.
He has an apartment on the east side of town (York Street), which again is authentic, he is twenty-years old, his brother Mike two years older, lives on Van Buren Street, with his two kids, and wife. He is a truck driver. Chick Evens is a kind of roustabout, better put, working for Swift Meats, in South Saint Paul, and becoming a chronic drunk, he isn’t at this moment in his life, anymore than a bum, as he mother once put it lightly. Perhaps more on the borderline of inspiring drinker, but he drinks almost every day, he likes beer, smokes three packs of cigarettes a day.
He has a girlfriend named Sandy Nelson; she’s sixteen years old, and a blond, tall, thin and nice looking, blue eyes, a sort of whore—or everyone’s girl, to get to the point. On the other hand, he had Sue Benton, sixteen years old, black hair girl dark eyes, very pretty, who wanted to be his exclusive girlfriend—so he was not lacking in female companionship, but she would not put out for him. Consequently, falling to the wayside; these girls will not show up in the Act, but it might be worthwhile knowing why he is not running after any girls during the Act. He also has a fake identification, and if questioned, he looks the legal age for drinking.
Therefore, now you know enough of the background of the story, to get into the story.
The tone to the story is haughty, if not portentous, in that it is slated on Chick’s self-importance. Perhaps you will get to know the author more, or better, knowing the most influential part of his youthful life, which drove him to escape the world he was in, was his neighborhood, and his dreams—although not fully developed yet. Escape is the objective, the author is trying to tell you, not everybody is successful in escaping, and how easy one may think it is, isn’t really so easy, that is if you don’t believe in it fully, and how one thing leads to another.
Had he not gone to San Francisco, and signed the divorce papers, he would not have gone to Vietnam, Germany, Italy, thus, not have written “A Romance in Augsburg,” or the 850-short stories, and 3200-poems and 1400 articles to date, along with forty-five books, or this One Act Play.

Escape: the Story

(Act One, Scene One)

Jackie S. and Nancy E. come in by the front door of the Mt. Airy Bar, on Jackson and Sycamore Streets, Jackie being twenty-years old. When she was fifteen, she and Chick Evens had a thing going, nothing serious, a teenager’s lighthearted affair you might say. Nancy is going with one of the Lund boys by the name of Sammy. The bartender is Jose Garcia, Mexican, a strongly build forty-five year old man, robust.
Jackie slender, from the Native American Race, is wearing a well made and trimmed navy blue blouse, and jeans, she’s slim and cute; as for Nancy, more plain than cute, brown hair, is holding a large handbag. They sit at the corner of the bar, towards the front door; it is 7:00 p.m.
By the jukebox and in a booth near the bathrooms are Jerry Hino, and his brother Jim, and Jerry’s second wife, Betty. A year prior, when Jerry had gotten mad at Betty, he and Chick Evens took a trip to Omaha, Nebraska, Jerry to get away from her, and that in itself is another story.
Jerry is perhaps the same size in height as Chick, but a 100-pounds heavier, and fifteen years his senior. Jim is perhaps twenty-five, more or less, about the same height as Evens, and build. They are drinking beer and smoking, kind of to themselves. Don Gulf, has come in from the bar across the street and is talking to Jerry, they are friends, about the same age, he is married to Jackie’s sister, one of the several sisters of Jackie, he is the biggest drunk in the neighborhood. Once he tried to pick a fight with Chick, thinking he was screwing his wife, when it was John L., (John L., who went with Evens to California; Long Beach and then L.A. and came back to marry his long time girlfriend, Karen) Larry L’s cousin.

Jackie: the boys are sitting on the church steps drinking as usual. I suppose Doug expects me to be there, but he can wait. They didn’t see us anyhow.

Nancy E: No, they didn’t, I saw Sammy there and Chick, he wasn’t there as usual, you should go back with him, you always give him the eye, but end up with someone different, he treats you better than Doug.

Jose: What you girls having?

Jackie: tap beer, any kind.

Jackie: (Points to the clock.) I heard Chick was going to San Francisco; learn more of that Karate stuff, he’s been talking about that for the last year now, he’s still living on East Side of town, goes to that gym he calls a dojo.

Nancy E: (Sitting on the stool next to Jackie, trying to get comfortable.) He’ll never escape this neighborhood, no one does.

Jackie: He might, he’s different. I heard Sammy asked you to marry him, is that true?

Nancy E: O, yes. (She is hesitant, coughs, then laughs, trying to put it off, rather nervously.) I’m trying to put it off until I finish nursing school, I want to be an LPN; that’s in two years, but he doesn’t want to wait, he says he’ll pay for it, he makes good money like, Chick’s brother, Mike.

Jackie: (Sympathetically.) Rather nice, I think he means it, he’s nuts about you.

Jose: Look outside, it looks like rain. (Moving towards the window, leaving the horseshoe shaped bar.)

Jackie: Is Mr. Carbonell working tonight? (Who is the owner of the bar, and kind of a snob?)

Jose: He always works the nights. (He points to the window it is raining hard now.) He’s in the back room getting ready, with Doris, the waitress.

Jackie: Yea, we all know what he’s doing with Doris, both married, and whooping it up.

Jose: Shiii, be quiet, he’ll hear you.

Jackie: we all know he stays with her in the back of the bar half the night after the bar closes.

Nancy E: It shouldn’t be long now; the boys will be in here, or across the street at Bram’s soon, I saw Big Ace’s brother in there, Kenny, you know the skinny one Chick went with to Seattle; he’s back with his wife again.

Mr. Carbonell comes out of the backroom up to the bar front area of the bar, towards Jose, holding papers, he advances towards Jose.

Carbonell: I’ll be a while girls, I got to count the money, and make a transfer, so if you want a drink, order one now.

Allen J: I’ll take a Bud before your start your business. (He shouts, he’s on the other side of the bar by himself, he’s been drinking nearly as much as Chick Evens lately, also the same age as Chick, they are both buddies, Chick used to like his sister, Italian stock, but she’s too young, fourteen. Allen is a nice looking fellow, black hair, his father owns a little business on Cayuga Street, polishing, and putting plated chrome on bumpers and other parts of chrome on cars and motorcycles, Evens worked for his father for a season.)

Carbonell: get him a beer Jose, I’ll open the register.

Doug, Reno (or Steve L. the fat man of the neighborhood, who married Judy, a silent a quite woman) Mike E., Larry L., and Jennie, Jacky’s sister, Nancy D. and her boyfriend, David, along with Big Ace, and his sister Kathy—whom Chick used to date right after he dated Jackie S. And Sid M., a friend who often stopped at Chick’s high school to pick him up before he enter the door, so they could get drunk (Jerry S, six-foot six, 240 pounds, and as dumb as an ox) all walk through the swinging doors of the bar.

Jose: Welcome boys, you will have to wait a few minutes while Mr. Carbonell clears the register. Hope you don’t mind.

Allen: (Rises up, waves his hand, as if to say hello, he is not really one of the boys, but part of the neighborhood, and not much of a troublemaker.)

Mike E: You see my brother. (Looking at Allen)?

Allen: he could be across the street at Bram’s.

Mike E: I doubt it, he does not like the place. Jackie, you see him.

Jackie: No, why?

Mike E: (looks at Jose)

Jose: Do not disturb me, we are counting, he was here an hour ago, left.

Doug: (He takes a hand full of change out of his pocket, hands it to Jackie.) Order me a beer, and the rest of the guys something, I got to go take a piss. (On the way to the can, he slips a quarter into the jukebox, plays Elvis’ “It’s Now or Never,” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” and something by Johnny Cash. Bill K and his wife Judy walk into the bar at the sometime; Doug plays his last song, and heads on into the bathroom, waving his hands, a gesture of hello, at Jerry and Bill just before he opens the bathroom door.)

Mike E. You see my brother around, Bill?

Bill K: We were practicing karate earlier this afternoon in my backyard, I can’t say I have seen him since; he’ll be around though, he always is, why?

Mike E: He got some paper from the courthouse sent to my place, I think it’s his divorce papers from Barb, you know, his ex-wife.

Jack T: (One of Chick’s friends, comes through the door, hears what Mike said.) Divorce papers haw, he better not sign them he’ll be heading for Vietnam, I got my draft notice a week ago, I got to be going in three weeks. The bastards got me. Matter of fact, you see my brother Tom? (Tom is married to one of Jackie’s sisters, Trudy.)

Mike E: No. (All the other boys and the two girls, Jackie and Nancy, shake their heads no, but Allen, he’s not paying attention.)

Jack T: how about you goofball (Looking at Allen; Allen looks up surprised, Jack is a joker, and when drunk a loose cannon like his brother.) I’m just kidding, but how long you’ve been here?

Allen: I’ve been here a few hours, he never came in when I was here.

Doug: A letter haw?

Jackie: No shit, I bet he’s going to end up in Vietnam.

Mr. Carbonell: Okay boys, what’ll you have?

Doug: (Picking up his change.) Tap beer for everyone.

Allen: I don’t like tap beer!

Doug: Forget the big shot over there, tap beer isn’t good enough for him, asshole. (Allen just smiles, looks at Doug, he is a brawler.)

Carbonell hands each of his customers, which are really the neighborhood gang, all tap beer but Allen. The newspaper is on the bar, Big Ace pushes it towards Larry, and Larry the tough boxer of the neighborhood, tosses it in the basket behind the bar, knowing nobody in the bar reads anything, in particular, the neighborhood.

Carbonell: Please don’t do that Larry, I read the paper and Doris does after work.

Larry L. Horseshit, we all know what you do with Doris after hours. ((Everyone starts laughing, but Jose just keeps to his self and Carbonell leaves well enough alone.)(Bill and his wife Judy, are in one of the side booths, Doris brings them each a tap beer. She heard what Larry said, just produces a grim face. Jerry Hino is calling Doris over to place an order, there is a lot o noise, and Doris is hard of hearing, matter of fact year after year her hearing gets worse so it seems, one might think it’s from stress, with Mr. Carbonell…but who’s to say.))

Chick E: (Walks into the bar.)

Mike E: I had begun to think you’d never come in; haven’t seen you in a week.

Chick E: I’ve thought of that also, been thinking of going to San Francisco soon.

Mike E: You mean to see that karate expert from Japan?

Chick E: Yup!

Mike E: Still at the stockyards with ma?

Chick E: Yes, I see her almost every day there, she gives me a ride now and then, wakes me up, honks the horn until I get up, drives me crazy.

Mike E: Well anyhow, here, why do you have your paperwork sent to my house? (Chick takes the envelope, opens it up.)

Chick E: I never had it sent to your apartment; Barb must have, knowing I never seem to have a place of my own too long; blame her.

Jackie: What’s it say, divorce, you’ll end up going to Vietnam, Jack says so?

Chick E: I thought of that, but who cares anyhow, I wouldn’t mind it, be something different.

Mike E. What’s it say?

Chick E: Not much, something about “Inhuman Cruelty” for god sake, what on earth does that mean, she’s the one screwing everybody in town, I was at one of the east side bars a month ago, and a guy comes up to me, says ‘…is Barb E—her maiden name—is she your wife?’ I say ‘yes’, and he says ‘what a whore,’ and I told him, ‘why you telling me what I already know, it’s your problem if you don’t like her, why tell me?’ and he just looks at me like a dumb fool.

Jackie: You must have known it before. (He does not answer.) Didn’t you?

Chick E: No, I didn’t know anything. ((Jackie looks at him with a sad, and somewhat mystified face.)(Chick looks back at Jackie, knowing Doug beats the shit out of her, and she takes it, smiles slightly.))

Mike E and Jack T: What you going to do?

Chick E: It’s just paperwork, they can’t draft me until I go to court, or don’t go to court and let them do what they want to, and maybe the war will be over by then: isn’t that the case, isn’t it, or unless I sign it, and agree to it…something like that.

Jack T: Not quite, you don’t know what she’s thinking.

Chick E: Barb wants me to sign paperwork allowing someone else in the future to adopt my daughter, you know my daughter, Darla, if I sign it, and she’ll not go for a divorce I bet.

Laura M: (John St. Clair’s girlfriend had walked into the bar, John being the only brother to Jackie S., and overheard the conversation.) Go on and sign the damn paperwork, or you’ll never go to San Francisco, or in the Army, and end up staying here getting drunk everyday like you do, and dying early. ((Everyone looks at Laura; she is seventeen years old, Indian, very pretty, tall, and pregnant with John’s first child.)(She likes Chick, feels he has potential; she has read some of his early poetry.))

John S: (John leans forward, resting his elbows on the bar, he’s eighteen, his hands joined together) She makes sense, but for us guys, we like it here (looking at Laura).

Laura M: (Shyly, as not to embarrass John.) Yes, we like it here, because that is all we see in our minds. And it is my mind that attracts me to you John, and I love you, so I stay (she’s now receiving hesitating glances from John and everyone). Why do you think I come here John, because of you, but Chick has nobody, he can go and do and see whatever he wants? I don’t even see why he’s here.

John S: Why, we’ve known each other since childhood. We have to give our child a name. It’s you and I, it always has been (John is confused, he’s not as bright as Laura, he’s gulping down a beer) it’s not so bad here, is it?

Laura M: No. Otherwise I’d not be able to see you, and that I’d not be able to live with.

John S: Why then do you say all that.

Laura M: (Suddenly confused.) I had better go, I’m tired, and I don’t want to drink too much, the baby. (She looks at Chick for a moment, then turns quickly and leaves the bar. John shakes his head.)

Jackie S. What now? (She says to her brother, John S.) What now! (She says to Chick Evens.)

Chick E: I can’t say I want to go to San Francisco (With a tinge of intensity.) maybe she’s right, if I don’t sign those papers things will never work out. (Something in his soul, seems to be fighting him, perhaps pride, perhaps ridicule, perhaps drinking too much, or not having money to drink as much as he’d like to if he goes, if he takes on this new adventure of going to San Francisco, contrary to signing the paper, and unknowing what to expect.)

Roger L. comes into the bar, the same age as Doug, twenty-four, he works as a bartender on Rice Street at the Horseshoe Bar, also raised in the neighborhood. He is married to what is considered an outsider, someone not from the neighborhood, he joins Doug and Larry, leans on the bar. Roger used to live with his father and mother and brother Ron, across the streets from the Evens’, on Cayuga Street, a few years back. (Ron L., used to hang around the boys he’s now finishing up at a trade school, to be a Sheet Metal Worker—he seldom if ever comes around the bar anymore, he if anybody, escaped the bar scene, at least the neighborhood bar.)
Larry L., now puts in two quarters, five songs, old Elvis songs, “Hound Dog,” and a few others, people are dancing, Judy and Bill.

Roger L: Give me a bottle of Hamm’s beer!

Bill K: (Talks softly to Chick E, he is standing by Bill’s booth) Courage, it takes courage to leave the neighborhood. I went to Vietnam, ’65, as you know, it’s no picnic, but you’re tough, go to San Francisco, and Vietnam like Laura says, get out of here. You are never lonely anyhow, you like being by yourself, I can see that. (Chick is thinking, leans hard against the soft padding of the booth, averting Bill’s face; Judy raises, walks to the bathroom, allowing them to talk; Chick looks around for a moment. Crosses the bar, sits down by his brother.)

Mike E: You going to sign the paperwork?

Chick: I don’t even know. (He was kind of feeling: why so much interest in me? Was it he that was going to escape and they wanted to know; that they might lose something in their life? Did this for a moment separate him from them? He is kind of feeling, the third person. Did he have a secret held back from them that signing this paper was his answer either way? He looked about, people smiled maliciously. How would it look, life look forty years from now? He points towards the jukebox.) What do you want to hear?

Mike E: Jack Scott or Brenda Lee (He says with some reserve.)

Big Ace, to Larry: (He’s clapping his hands, singing ‘Twenty four black birds backed in a pie…’ over and over, he can’t remember the rest of the words. Big Ace has been buying booze for the boys since Chick was thirteen years old, when he had his first drink, and drunk.) I always knew he would go someday!

Chick knew everything would change after he signed the paper went to San Francisco. His life, his mind— musing now; in a very just thinking way about it brought him near to death, a coldness little by little filling his body. It made him see things differently. If he stayed in the neighborhood, it was finding a job, a woman to sleep with, a bottle of booze, a place to sleep, like the one he had now for $15-dollars a week, just a room with a bed. Half closing his eyes thinking, he opened up the envelope, pulled out the piece of paper, a pale reflection on his face, not saying a word. With dejected energy—he reread the letter, looked at his brother…

Chick E: It all can’t be that tragic (whatever it was, something new was gathering in Chick’s brain, perhaps he knew what he felt he always knew, had to do, that was the reason he did what he did, was going to do, and signed the paper). O, I’ll probably live through Vietnam, it’s all an adventure anyhow, die here on the streets, in the bar, or some other place, what is the difference. (Thus, he had signed the paper in front of his brother, calmly and bitterly, and ordered another beer.)

Act One, Scene Two

Behind the jukebox, where the two bathrooms are, alongside the bathrooms is a corridor, that leads to the back door of the bar, you can leave by that way, but you can’t come in that way, it leads to the street. The walls are plain, no paintings or anything. It is near closing of the same evening, now night. The bar is light lightly, softer music is being played, people are drunker up what they have left, gulping it down, resting their elbows on the bar, the bar closes at 1:00 p.m., the last call for drinks has been called already, and it is twenty-minutes to one.
Chick inhales his 57th cigarette for the day, slowly and then puts it out in a nearby ashtray. Then whipping his hands onto his trousers, he leans back, stretches his legs, and waits.

Carbonell: Let’s drink up, I want to close early.

Doris hurries about picking up empty glasses, and garbage here and there, from the booths, as Mr. Carbonell, is counting the cash in the register. After a few minutes, John L, and his wife Karin, who were at the bar across the street, come in. Followed by a few Hell Outcast motorcycle gang members, it’s still raining, John takes off his hat. John sees Chick, notices his cousin, Larry.

John L: hay man, do we have time to order a beer? (He is yelling at Carbonell, and looking at Chick at the bar with his brother.)

Carbonell: Why come in so late, you should have told me five minutes ago, its five minutes to one, it’s too late, and I’m closing up.

John L: (Is drunker than a skunk, and the bar is full.) Hell, everyone’s drinking, killing time, give me a dam beer! (Carbonell looks at his watch then at the three hoods in black motorcycle jackets from Hell’s Outcast. Figures if he says no, there will be trouble, but if he says okay, they will stay until two o’clock.)

Carbonell: Now I do not want any trouble here boys.

John L: (Laughs, uneasily. Picks up a chair and throws it at Chick, Mike, Larry and Jennie…) Have it on me! (He shouts, but Evens block the chair with his right forearm, and the chair falls short of herring anyone. Now the other three find empty stools and toss them about, Carbonell calls the police)

Chick E to Larry L: I think your cousin is mad. (Chick now is thinking, this is not his kind of life, he’s not sorry he’ll mail the letter off tomorrow, the letter he signed in front of his brother. Very coldly, he says :) Who wants to end up like that? (John knows he said something negative, but remains suspicious, and nearly passes out, one can hear the police siren in the background—John stares at Chick, he had beaten up his younger cousin a season ago for attempted rape on Sandy, and John has not forgotten that).

A short silence

Rapidly, everyone gets up, and escapes to their cars before the police come in and accuse them of being part of the mischief. Chick Evens puts John in the backseat of a Taxi, pays the taxi to get going, pushes John’s body down so the police cannot see him…and the next day, catches a train to San Francisco.


What happened to the boys and girls?

Roger L. died recently at the age of sixty-five, heart attack, at home in his sofa chair.
David, of cancer, died at the age of sixty-three or sixty-four. Allen died at the age of sixty-two; it would seem of alcohol use and a stressful body. David’s wife Nancy, her brother who hung around the neighborhood some, died at the age of fifty-nine of cancer.
Kathy S., died at the age of thirty-five, an accident.
Bill K., was electrocuted, working at a steel company in the neighborhood, one Chick Evens and most of the boys in the neighborhood worked at, at one time or another, he was perhaps in his mid to late thirties.
Mike E., married twice, divorced twice, with three children, was retired at 54, and at 66, went back to truck driving out of boredom.
Jackie did not marry Doug, but married a brother of Larry L., and divorced him a decade later, had one child.
Sammy and Nancy got married, moved out of the neighborhood, but not all that far.
Laura and John S., still live in the neighborhood, they have a few more kids, drinking as usual, at Bram’s; not much has changed for them except for getting older.
Reno, the fat boy of the neighborhood, Chick’s age and at one time good friend, became a drug addict, and died in prison before his 40th birthday; his wife ended up working at K-Mart.
Doug, started his own business, bought a truck, and last I heard was going to court on fraud.
Sid M. died in a car crash with two other friends, all drunk, at the age of twenty-one years old, they had stopped to pick up Chick to go to Hudson Wisconsin, to drink. Chick was with his new girlfriend, named Sharon S., whom he’ll never forget, who gave him a scar on his forehead, a remembrance right after he came back from San Francisco, for ditching her without notice; but had he went he’d be dead, so he can live with the scar.
Jim Hino, died before his thirty-fifth birthday, heart attack, trying to save up $100,000-dollars before his 40th birthday, he did save $60,000 for his wife Bubbles. He worked night and day at a battery company.
Jerry, died before his fiftieth birthday, sober, trying to put a transmission into his car, and it fell onto his chest, and killed him.
Betty died some eight-years later of alcoholism. She drank herself to death.
Don Gulf, died of a swollen biological system—cirrhosis of the liver, created by alcoholism; died before his forty-fifth birthday.
Ron L., is married, and has on his shelf, the first book Evens has ever written, dating back to 1981, one his mother gave to him, before she died. Ron has done well in life.
John L, moved out of the neighborhood, but visits the neighborhood boys whenever.
Sandy, never did show up much at the two corner bars, but hung out at one of Chick’s friends bars, and to this day still does, ‘The Born’s’ on Rice Street, in St. Paul, Minnesota, haggard like a dried up leaf; Jerry B., being Chick’s old friend from the late 1960s.

The Mt. Airy bar closes, and only Bram’s remains open to this day. Nevertheless, it has a new generation of followers, the children of the lost. As they say, from the cradle to the grave, they visit that bar, even Chick’s brother, now and then, hangs out there to this very day.
In the thirty years the author has been sober he has visited the bar twice. Just before, they closed the Mt. Airy. And Laura told him to get out of there before they talked him into drinking—Allen was there and so was John S., that he had been sober going on four years, and the boys would talk him into drinking sooner or later, Chick did up leave, not abruptly, but smoothly, as he had come in. And a visit to Bram’s some fifteen years ago, where he saw his old friend and guitar teacher, Sunny, who could out finger pick any player know at the time, to include Chet Atkins, he was playing lead guitar in that dingy bar. He had played with some pretty big bands in his day, Merle Haggard, if I recall right, some super country western star anyhow. He just could not stay out of the neighborhood.

(11-5-2-11) No: 833

The Repulsion of La Merced

(A Cthulhu Account!)

Found only in ancient manuscripts is the word ‘Cthulhu’ meaning ‘horror of horrors.’ A horror that numbs you, one that defies even Satan the Devil, the decipherment of the word can entangle both the pawn and the prey; it reduces human existence to a weak and stale plight. Thus, in this following story, one that is based on fact and considered by the author as historical fiction—in that he was not present, and nobody can put the whole story together completely. Hence, having to add or fill in the gaps, he has fictionalized with his imagination the areas of this account with his own descriptiveness, his own adjectives, that in which he feels belong to the story. This account takes place in November, of 2008, we will see a jealous mindless monster in motion, and the pawn will be devoured (names have been changed).

I will tell you of Naomi, She left Andahuaylas, Peru, in the Andes crossing into the Mantaro Valley and Huancayo, on November 3, 2008, on her way to La Merced, her troubles forgotten—for the most part— unknowing as she neared the city of La Merced, once there a jealousy and peril would engulf her life.
As she reached her destination (having taken a bus), La Merced, being in the central jungle of Peru, near Satipo, she went to find the domicile of her half-sister, and brother-in-law, to live with them as she sought work, in the fields, assuming she’d be welcomed wholeheartedly. Once she found the residence, she knocked on the door. A man slowly opened it—and with a long silent stare, a long parade of glimpses from heel of her feet to the top of her head, as if he was eyeing her every inch, she said “I am Naomi,” for a moment thinking perhaps he, Cesar, Laura’s husband had forgotten what she looked like. They had not seen one another for a number of years.
He had then asked her in—smiling, giving her a kiss on the cheek, as his mind and inners whirled with glittering visions of romance. His eyes read, it was not going to be the drab day (or days to follow), as he had expected. Life would soon change; she was to his liking, with nice features, and with a youthful attractive shape, even a tinge meek.
With the greetings over and little said, her half-sister brought Naomi to her private bedroom. Then as evening developed, while at the dinner table, Laura noticed her husband had taken the liberty of returning faint like glimpses toward her half-sister, although there was a misconception here, Naomi was not participating in this game—these glimpses were unnoticed by Naomi—for the most part, or not taken seriously. In addition, Laura’s husband continued this most serious game, nightly.

And so during the following week, Laura put on an invisible mask, to hide her jealousy, not that her half-sister was feeding into her husband’s scheme, but jealous manifestations of that illusion entangled her imagination to think so (but fundamentally it was not true).
It was during the second week, towards the end of it, that Laura could no longer bridge the gulf of evil she had created towards Naomi—the hatred that was boiling within her fiber—an awful blackness, layers of numbed blackness—the ‘Cthulhu’ kind. Her heart now pounding, pulsating like voodoo drums, an unstable mind unable to bridge the gap back to sanity, her spirit spinning, shaking her every bone for vengeance to stop this creature from subduing her husband, she had devised her plan—
Laura was now overcome, mad if not possessed. Moreover, seemingly obsessed with the picture she had drawn inside her brain. Along with an insecure ego, and fear of losing her husband; blood burning like lit firewood in a heath throughout her bobbling hot veins, pulling at her hair when alone in a private room, until the roots gave in, and dropped out, she was ready for her ‘Cthulhu’ misdeed. It would have seemed—to an onlooker, a spectator—she was more a product of a lost primitive race, a dim and long forgotten evolution.

Oh, far, far—far off was her mind this night, when she woke up in the wee hours, took a heavy handled slug hammer, red-eyed, with a slayers heart, the hammer swaying back and forth, as she crept into Naomi’s room. Causally she bent over the bed her half-sister lay sleeping in, lurking, laying in wait, with her distorted mind for the Cthulhu moment. Now staring at the face of her half-sister—mumbling quietly ‘banshee, she whore’, listening to her breathing, she lifted the hammer with one hand, as if it was a feather, as if she had found a hidden strength somewhere inside her body, for this very moment. Then with the other hand, she grabbed the wooden handle to secure it, to aim it perfectly over her head. She wanted to produce in her cerebellum an inane chaos, before she stepped into the horrifically primordial everlasting darkness, called death. It was as if a beast haunted her and that beast recognized the mark she was to strike, and like a great wind, she struck that mark: once on her younger sister’s forehead, the temple, the nose, she struck several times, bone breaking blows, and sent her into an outer darkness, yet she existed.
The following day she had died in the hospital. Yet, driven only by some restless whim, to show her half-sister, her slayer, she would not die instantly, against all cosmic laws—to leave a lasting remembrance for her half-sister—she remained in this world, one day longer—thereafter, like a crushed worm, she passed on.

Written 11-16-2008, after leaving La Merced, a few weeks later, the author was inspired by actual events turning up in newspaper reports of a killing that had taken place, thus following up on the murder, he was inspired to write the short story, “The Repulsion of La Merced”; if for anything, for posterity. Reedited and slightly revised for publication, 10-23-2011 dedicated to Nola and Sebastian.

The Chalice of Acopalca

(Things are not always as they seem)

He hadn’t expected to find so many townsfolk’s in the church—he had turned about and there they were. He knew morning services had already been held, and evening services would not be for hours yet; it was the dry season of this small Andean city of Peru, and early and late were the services, weddings on Saturdays only, and three services on Sundays.
For a moment he wondered if he did right. He squeezed into an empty pew not all that far away from the front of the chapel like alter—made out of logs of eucalyptus trees and planks put on top of the logs to even it out, the bag he was carrying, he laid gently down on the pew; the alter was lit up with a conflagration of candles, but the rest of the small chapel, was dimly lighted, and he was surprised to see among the group of several residences, the constable (or peace officer, police, the only police officer in the village) among the townsfolk’s, he was easily recognized. The priest was among them, grimed faced. They all moved slowly, saw the bag he had placed firmly on the pew—especially the constable.
You could smell a cloud of incense from of the candles seeping all the way down into the isles, circling the pews. The police officer was swinging a long rubber stick, one he used on defiant criminals. They had stopped in front of Manual Garcia—moved a few feet closer—looking upon him as some transfigured face, an outsider, which he wasn’t. He stood up as a man with unquestionable faith, which he was. The atmosphere in the chapel was gentler now, milder—but the police officer was harsh, not quite or as mild as the other faces among the group: darkness flooded his eye sockets, a great deal of blood seemed to fill his face, for that moment he seemed to want to persecute him right then and there, on the spot, “Let me see what’s in the bag,” he demanded. And Manual handed it over to him.
With fire in his eyes, he yelled “I figured so, you stole the Chalice from the church, it’s been missing since early this morning, right after mass, what are you doing here with it? What do you have to say for yourself?”
Everyone was waiting for his response, expecting one, as if it was an inquisition, and according to their changing faces, torture was how they were going to get to the truth of the matter, if indeed he pleaded innocent. But he never answered them, he never spoke one word.
“Actually,” said the priest, “we are not so cruel, as you might think, we just need an explanation.”
In most cases in such little towns, and villages in the High Andes, where there is little law enforcement, the rule of law is held within the hands of the community, handed out I should say by the majority of how they feel justice should be given to a culprit—: with thieves they are often given a beating or maiming them—shaming them in front of the whole town; with more sever crimes, even burning them to death is taken into consideration; it is not unusual—but it is on the other hand becoming less and less needed since the turn of the 21st Century, but Manual, had a good reputation. Nothing frightened him.

They had brought Manuel to the little square police station, that had only a small dark room for a cell, three feet by seven, no lights, a dirt floor, and a crib like mattress on it for him to sleep, and a bucket to do whatever he needed to do, it was his toilet—and since he’d not talk on the matter, they’d bring the matter up to the whole town to take a vote on just how they wanted to settle the matter, deal with this situation.
Suddenly, Helen Mayta, a school teacher, the only one in the township, seemingly standing next to the priest and police officer as the door to the little dirt floored jail was closed, had an idea—having been almost disengaged from the whole conversation with Manual and his capturers, trying to remember something. She had seen Jose Herrera at early mass this morning, the last one to leave she presupposed, since she was the second to last. A down and out drunk, who did odd jobs, caught trout in the nearby river stream, and sold them to the townsfolk’s for a bottle of beer, or coin they might have available.
She looked small and slender and filled with some kind of insight.
“Excuse me,” she told the priest and police officer, “I think there is more to this robbery than the eye can see, I beckon you to wait with your judgment until I come back.”
“Okay,” said the officer, not wanting to have attracted attention, several other folks were nearby, figuring if she had something on her mind, concerning this state of affairs, something is still better than nothing, because the crime did not fit Manual’s past behavioral patterns.

She hurried over to Jose’s hut, slipped through the door, it was unlocked and ajar, saw him sitting in a chair, drinking a beer. He saw her, stopped and turned around. She carefully examined his face, slowly pulled out a chair from his table, she was sure of finding out some information to this robbery. When she talked, she leaned toward him, right in front of him—eye to eye, nearly shoulder to shoulder.
“Jose, Manual is in jail because of the Chalice that was stolen this morning, what do you know about it?”
When she stopped talking, he turned away from her. “Go, leave me alone.” He exclaimed.
“I’ll follow you everywhere until you tell me what you know?” She announced without one iota of hesitation.
He quivered as if she had struck a bone inside his body, with a thorn, perhaps thinking: why on earth can’t she leave me alone. That is a drunk’s credo.
“He’s in great danger Jose, of being accused of a serious crime!” She howled, as if she had a wolf inside her.
“But I myself didn’t think there’d be so much trouble in bringing it back,” said Jose half turned away from her, embarrassed, or feeling guilty, he then paused. Then he turned back to her, now both alongside one another again, said: “In the chapel, the priest left the wooden box the Chalice is held in unlocked this morning, and I jumped over the ropes to the altar, and grabbed it, and Manuel, when he came over to visit me, saw it on my table, told me to bring it back, but I couldn’t, and he said he would. And so I let him, I didn’t think a ton of hostility would be created over this.”
“Yes, it led just to that, before he could put it back, he was caught with it, he hasn’t said anything to anyone about it, so if you don’t—do you see?”
“I know what they’ll do to me if I admit it,” said Jose.
“No we don’t, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I don’t dare go back there, but if I don’t, you’ll tell them and it’ll be worse for me.”
“You don’t know?” she explained.
He looked at her. What else was there to do, “You’ll come?” she questioned. Her facial expression inflexible, yet her eyes gentle. “Yes,” he said, “I’ll come.”

No: 833 (11-20-2011)