What Line?

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Where do you draw the line?

Between the group you’re in 

And the group who’s sin?

I really want to know. 

I am curious in that way. 

But some are far less curious than I. 

And that is a good thing I say.

Why?

Because if everyone were equally curious 

We might all die of the same untested plant

Or seek to glide from cliffs like a hawk

It could be awk

Ward 

Don’t you see? Perhaps I rant. 

But I really want to know: 



Where do you draw the line?

Who is in your clan?

And not okay for travel ban?

And who’s so far outside

You think it good they died?

Here’s a thought you might suppose

The larger your circle you care about 

The larger the family you have.

So I am more than a little curious to know:



Where do you draw the line?

Imagine if every living thing on earth 

Drew a circle as large as earth

Herself and we would all be 

Family. 

So I really want to know: 

Where do you draw the line? 

What does it do to the way they look at you

When you draw a line? 

What does it do to you 

When they draw a line?


What if time were not a straight unbending line?

What if, instead, we create the world that is yet to be?

What if, instead, we filled a future world with love

And beauty. 

So again, I am curious:

Why do you draw a line? 

——— 

Dance of Billions

Listen you can hear the echoes

Somehow

The Forest

You must remember this

The jewels of November

Castles Made of Sand

Hot Dog!

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Hog Dog

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“Stupid crappy mutt! She smells like butt! What the hell were you thinking? To get a dog so stinking!” 

Steve undid the leash and threw it into his catch-all corner. “Do you know what she was trying to eat out there? Do you?! Poop! It’s goop! Who wanted a dog? You! And now I’m walking her to pee? Me! I don’t care how sick you supposedly are. You take her!” 

While Steve towered and glowered, the dog cowered in the corner and emitted a quiet “woof, woof.” 

Mary sighed. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to get sick. She’s a dog. Vet said she doesn’t yet know any better.” 

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Mary’s attempts to placate Steve touched a gentle part of him inside. A part he gated and hated. As always, it made him angrier. “I don’t need a damned dog! I have you!I work hard all day to put a roof over your head. Roof! Roof! Last month, she tried to eat that poison philanderer plant. She’ll put anything in her mangy mouth. If she doesn’t stop eating turds, mark my words! I’ll make you cook her for dinner!” 

Mary waited for Steve’s rant to ebb. “I read on the web today about a dog who ate corn cobs. Surgeon had to cut him open. You’d think dogs would know what was good for them, but apparently, they don’t.” 

“Naturally I’m right! I’m bright. She’s just one more bitch too stupid to know what’s good for her! Reminder: last week, I bought a meat grinder for her food.” 

“Thank you, Steve. I’m sure I’ll be able to make really good use of that. And, it will save money on dog chow. And how!” 

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Steve sneered and growled and uttered something unintelligible. 

The puppy chanced a growl of her own. Steve ignored it. Instead he snarled at Mary. “What in the Holy Name of Hell are you watching now?” 

Mary replied, “A movie. Almost over. Do you … ?”

Steve barked, “Another damned True Crime Docudrama? Jesus, Mary. Turn on the real news!” 

Mary bit her lip and then obeyed; flipped on White Nation. She shook her head. She couldn’t get over how ugly the man being interviewed was. She wondered again why so many seemed to adore him. She had long ago learned not to share her opinion. Steve was absolutely certain White Nation News was the one source to be believed. He’d thrown her entire inheritance into a “sure-fire” White Nation get rich quick scheme. Hadn’t panned out as planned. Steve’s addiction to “Tricks to Get Rich Quick”  showed no signs of relief. Not satisfied with enough, he remained sure the next scheme would make him wealthy beyond belief. 

Mary saw something dark and evil behind the interviewee’s dead eyes and painted orange face. But Steve was dead sure he was America’s salvation, or at least White America, the “Real” America, as Steve liked to say, not the “gay, black, liberal, smart-ass, immigrant, foreigners trying to take over the country.”

Steve leaned forward, face glowing blood red. Mary glanced over; saw it as lit by the TV. Steve, eyes ever glued to the tube, barked another order: “Beer Here!” 

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Mary gathered her strength. No matter how she explained it, Steve couldn’t conceive of “Long COVID.” He didn’t really believe in COVID; he thought it all a hoax invented by liberal folks. That’s what his favorite podcasts claimed. Yet he bought ivermectin, “just in case.” 

Mary sat up; nearly fainted; rose and traipsed to the fridge. Steve didn’t notice the Oxy capsule she emptied into his beer. She quietly placed his Bud on the end table. She fell back again in her chair, too exhausted to continue her Agatha Christie. She couldn’t stand White Nation News. From beginning to end, she thought it in bad taste; noxious and possibly poisonous. She tried to think back to an earlier time when Steve was nice. She couldn’t think of such a time. She decided maybe that was a good thing, under the circumstances. 

After a few doctored beers, Steve sprawled comatose. Although they had agreed to share dog duties, it was always Mary who fed her. 

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Until she had quit three days earlier.

Mary stopped the microwave before it beeped; shuffled over to the snoring Steve and poured the Pyrex beaker of hot bacon grease into his torn polka-dot boxer shorts. Hungry puppy didn’t even wait for it to cool before chowing down like a hungry hog. 

“Good dog!” Choking back tears, Mary whispered, “Good dog!” 

—————————

Coelacanth -1

Coelacanth – 2 

Coelacanth – 3

The Declaration of Interdependence

The Bill of Obligations: Article One

The Bill of Obligations: Article Two

Dick-Taters

Absolute is not just a Vodka

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

Such a Teeny, Tiny, Loser Man

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He’s such a teeny, tiny, loser man.

A baby in a man-sized orange suit.

When faced with how to place a travel ban

He always took the childish racist route. 

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A fortune bragged, inherited, then lost.

But not to worry, he’ll feign charity.

And when he loses, he lies at any cost.

The party dies but he just swallows pity.

His sportsmanship is mere insistent screams.

He cares for naught save lies he spews each day.

He is the champ of winning in his dreams. 

Knows naught of friendship, love, or learn or play.

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One day, the naked king will lie alone.

And live alone in tweet-space on his phone. 

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(I’m King! I’m King! Of Everything!)

Stoned Soup

Absolute is not just a vodka

Dick-Taters

RIP, GOP

Where does your loyalty lie?

What about the butter dish?

The stopping rule

The update problem

Siren Song

Essays on America: Wednesday

My Cousin Bobby

The Ailing King of Agitate

Donnie & Veterans Day Parade

Siren Song

Donnie’s Last Gift

Imagine all the People

Dance of Billions

The echoes of your actions

Ah wilderness

You must remember this

The forest

TV-Based Dog Training: Yes or No?

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I wonder whether anyone has experience they’d like to share in using Lassie movies as training devices for their own pooch. I am still learning to distinguish which of Sadie’s many barks means variously:

1. I have to go potty.

2. I *really* have to go potty!

3. I *really* have to go BIG potty!

4. I don’t really have to go potty and I really am bored and so maybe you’ll take me out to go potty so that I can: 

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3a. Find a poison mushroom to inhale before I even notice it’s there


3b. Bark at anything out of place such as a fallen leaf

3c. Pretend to be docile and then try to dislocate my shoulder when she sees a mosquito float by. Or a leaf. Or a hallucination. 

On the other hand, Lassie is capable of communicating with cunning, compassion, and coherence with the adults in her life. I grant you that theoretically, it might be that the adults on the show are much cleverer than I am. It’s a reasonable hypothesis, but no…if I had abandoned mine shafts and unused wells all over my farm, I’d make damn sure any kids knew they were not to go there! And, I wouldn’t cover over an unused well hole with a couple of loose two by fours either. For that and other tedious reasons, I don’t think the genius in the Lassie family lies with the humans. It is Lassie who has the title role and she is the one with outstanding skills. 

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Witness episode N+1:

Lassie gallops into the kitchen and skids to a stop right beside Gramps and barks:

“ARF! ARF!” 

“What’s that Lassie? What is it, girl?” 

“ROOF! ROOF!” 

“What? Something’s wrong with the roof?”

“BOW! WOW!” 

“I will not! Anyway, I already fed you.” 

Lassie, noticeably frustrated, circles twice and grabs a can-opener in her muzzle, sprints to the liquor cabinet and begins banging the can-opener into the lock. 

“What? You’re trying to jimmy the lock open? You want a drink?”

Lassie grabs one ear with her paw and barks.

“Oh! Sounds like ‘jimmy’! Oh! Let’s see…’Kimmy’, ‘dimmy’, ‘Limmy’, I don’t know girl. There aren’t many words that rhyme with ‘jimmy.’”

Lassie barks: “ARF! ARF!”

“Lassie, are you sick or something girl?” 

Immediately, Lassie springs into the air and does a somersault onto her back and waves all four paws in the air. 

Gramps muses aloud. “The opposite of sick. Healthy? Something is healthy? No? Hale? Fine Fettle? Hardy?”

For each guess, Lassie barks a sharp short “No!” 

Gramps frowns and says, “Well, I don’t know what you’re trying to say, Lassie. I’ve got to get back to carving my pipe here.” 

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Lassie stands on her hind two legs and begins using ASL with her two front paws. However, she quickly notes the looks of bewilderment on the visage of Gramps and she rightly concludes that he still doesn’t know ASL, despite her admonitions. So, she begins again with the barking: “ARF! ARF!” 

Gramps says, “You’re not making any sense, Lassie. Timmy wouldn’t fall down a well. Why would he?”

“ARF! ARF! ARF!” 

Gramps frowns and tilts his head so fast he pulls his sternocleidomastoid. “What? He fell down the well just last week? No, he didn’t. That was two weeks ago. Last week, Timmy fell down an old mineshaft. Oh! Wait! Are you trying to tell me that Timmy fell down a well again!? Oh, no! Why didn’t you tell me?” 

Needless to say, Gramps calls the sheriff and after he arrives Gramps explains. The sheriff draws his gun and charges out toward one of the 17 abandoned wells at Gramps’s place. But Lassie begins barking — again!

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“ARF! ARF! WOOF! BOW!” 

The sheriff glares at Gramps and uses his best shoulder shrugging head tilt as though to say, “Well? You going to shut up the mutt or am I?” 

Gramps scratches several places; for instance, behind his ear. Then he says, “Lassie is simply pointing out that while a gun won’t help get Timmy out of the well, a long rope might.” 

“I knew that!” The sheriff speaks in a huff while Lassie merely rolls her eyes and winks at Gramps. Then, off Lassie scampers to the tool shed, picks the lock with a handy nearby roofing nail, nudges the door open, and scampers back with a long loop of strong rope. 

Soon, she leads them to one of the many abandoned wells. By the time Gramps and Sheriff catch up, Lassie has tied a loose bowline one one end of the rope and two half hitches around a sturdy nearby oak stump, tosses the bowline down to Timmy, and barks her orders to him. Gramps and Sheriff pull on the rope, and soon enough, Timmy, cold and wet but alive, politely thanks Sheriff and Gramps for pulling him out and then throws his skinny arms around Lassie. “Oh, Lassie! Thanks, girl, for saving me! You were right! I shouldn’t have tried to walk across the well on those rotten planks after all!”

Lassie merely rolls her eyes. 

———-

I’m not saying that if Sadie watched any one episode that she’d learn every skill all at once, but  over time, it might help. Right?

Assuming, of course, that I can ever get her to notice anything on the TV screen. I’m thinking of smearing bacon grease around the edges.

(Shadow says: “I’ll save Timmy!”)


Other stories — free, no ads

If Only…

Organizing the Crazytown Library

Coelacanth

As Gold as it Gets

Donnie’s Final Gift

Donnie Boy Watches a Veteran’s Day Parade

That Cold Walk Home

It was in his nature

How Did I Get Here?

Jennifer’s Invitation

The Lost Sapphire

The Touch of One Hand Clasping

Naughty Knots

A Horror Story

I Can’t Be Bothered

Tit for Tat

It Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy

Stoned Soup

Three Blind Mice

Gambit Disinclined

The Walkabout Diaries: How Beautiful and Green

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You must remember

How beautiful 

How precious

Once the world was

If it all goes rotten

It still must not be forgotten

How beautiful and green

How precious and clean

Once the world was

Write it down

Photograph it 

Paint it

Tell your children

And your children’s children

Sing a song

A catchy tune

Memorize and sing it often 

All may go and all too soon

But you

You must recall the sky of blue

The clean and crystal air

You must dare

Build it into every brick

Remind your cats and dogs

Sing it with the birds 

Buzz it with the bees

You must remember

How precious

How beautiful 

Once the world was 

Once the world was 

Teeming with the Great Tree of Life

Reaching its long branches into 

Rivers, Lakes, and Oceans

Even into caves and deserts

Even into arctic snow

And even though 

I know the Tree is greatly damaged

In the daze of neon

In the days of useless plastic 

And truth denied, elastic 

Even so, you must teach the others

Nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers

How once the world was

Precious and beautiful

You must be sure to remember

And to sing of it

Often and in many ways

Through the din of days

Paint it always 

Pictures in the sky of thought

Music in the bread of naught 

Some day

Long after you and I 

And all you know are dead and unburied 

Tree by leaf and leaf by rose

Someone needs to know

How beautiful

How precious 

How utterly alive 

Once the world was

 

In all the precious places

And in all the secret spaces

Tell at least two 

What you knew

How beautiful 

How precious 

Once the world was 

The Walkabout Diaries: Sunsets

The Walkabout Diaries: The Life of the Party

The Walkabout Diaries: Life will find a way

The Walkabout Diaries: Friends

The Walkabout Diaries: Mind Walk

The Walkabout Diaries: Bee Wise

Ah Wilderness

The Forest

Thirsty Thursday

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Water is life.

At least, most forms of life need water. Indeed, most forms of life are mostly made of water.

Water is some amazing stuff. It’s one of the few things that ordinary people in ordinary circumstances see in solid, liquid, and gaseous phases. One thing that’s unusual about water is that when it freezes, it expands. It also has a high “heat capacity.” This means that water takes a lot of heat energy, relative to most materials, to increase its temperature. It also means that, once heated, it takes a long time for the water to cool to the ambient temperature. It’s why land areas that are near the oceans tend to be more moderate in temperature than similar places inland.

A hundred miles inland from where I live is a place called “Palm Desert.” The average night temp in the coldest month is 41 degrees Fahrenheit while the average daytime temperature in the warmest month is 107 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a difference of 66 degrees! I live near San Diego, a few miles from the ocean. For San Diego, the average coldest temperature is 51 degrees and the average for the high is 77. That’s a difference of 26 degrees. Quite a difference. That difference is due to the high heat capacity of water.

Water is beautiful in many forms: rivers, springs, waterfalls, clouds, rainbows, dew, rainstorms, ocean waves are just a few of the many ways that water strikes us as beautiful.

A well-fed adult human can last weeks without food but only a few days without water. I wonder whether we also need the beauty of water. It shows that the region we’re in may be survivable. It also indicates there is other life as well nearby. Perhaps as a corollary to these, water may remind us as well that what is “out there” and beautiful to look at is also “in here” — inside us.

Water also plays with and transforms light. When water shows itself as droplets, as shown in the pictures here, it demonstrates two aspects of its nature: it adheres to other surfaces and it coheres to itself. A drop of water on a flower or leaf demonstrates its dual nature. This is also our own dual nature. We must play our part for a time as a separate droplet, but such a droplet does not keep that form forever. Each one of these water droplets has been part of a cloud, part of a river, part of an ocean. We too change. We too need to be coherent. But we also need to interact with and adhere, at least for a time, to aspects of our environment.

A drop of water does not obscure the form of the leaf or petal it finds itself on. Rather, the droplet enhances the form of the leaf or petal upon which it rests.

What about you?

The Walkabout Diaries: The life of the party

The Walkabout Diaries Mind Walk

The Walkabout Diaries Sunsets

The Walkabout Diaries Bee Wise

The Walkabout Diaries Friends

The Walkabout Diaries Life Will Find a Way

The Walkabout Diaries: Walk in the Park

The Walkabout Diaries A New Rose is a New Rose

The Walkabout Diaries: Racism is Absurd

The Walkabout Diaries Lest we Forget

Ice

Dance of Billions

Roar, Ocean, Roar

Coelacanth (3/3)

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2019: 

The den’s dark paneling reeked oppressively of cigar smoke. The room seemed decorated for intimidation rather than comfort. Keisha imagined what it must have been like for Lila to grow up surrounded by trophy cases filled with daddy’s accomplishments. Apart from trophies, the only other “personal touches” were the myriad mounted fish. She had agreed to follow Lila’s lead in their conversations with Mr. Jordan.

Lila, however, sipped sherry silently, focusing on putting precisely correct amounts of brie on every cracker. She seemed subdued, even cowed, by JJ. Keisha smiled as she realized that this obese, balding CEO with hairy forearms was now her father-in-law. She chuckled inwardly wondering how he’d take that news. Keisha pointed to one of the many mounted fish. “That’s an interesting one. Looks like something from the Age of Dinosaurs! Where did you snag that guy?” 

JJ’s voice was harsh and raspy. Keisha decided he loved projecting pure virility. “That’s a coelacanth. They appeared about 400 million years ago. Paleontologists thought they died out 65 million years ago. Guess what? Coelacanth are still here, hiding deep below the surface. I caught that one off the coast of South Africa. Takes patience. Bring ‘em up too fast and they explode.” 

Keisha blinked. “Explode?! How do they taste?” 

JJ barked a laugh. “Like crap. No real value. Slimy. Tasteless. I caught it to prove who’s king of the food chain. Same in business. Win. Everything else is bullshit.”

JJ grabbed the remote and clicked on the wall-sized TV. “Watch the Patriots if you like. But set your alarms for five.”


Keisha shook her head. “No thanks. Lila’s going to show me her latest results.” Her father-in-law shook his head sadly. Keisha added. “It’s for work. We’re developing a textual analysis program.” 

JJ’s waved his hand dismissively and muttered, “FBI – glorified cops. Badge and gun. That’s all you need. Not a fit job for girls anyway.” 

Keisha bit her lip so hard, she nearly made it bleed, but kept her silence.

Once the pair were alone, Lila apologized for her father. Keisha shook her head. “It’s okay. You warned me. I thought you exaggerated. But no. Anyway, I’d love to see your results.” 

Keisha scanned them quickly. “Can you get me on the wireless here?”

“Sure. But why?” 

“Lila, I’m not sure. But — I’m sorry to say so, but I have a bad feeling about JJ. Do you mind if I access the records and apply your algorithms to his old police statements?” 

Lila frowned. “What? Why? Do you think…?” 

“I just think if we’re going out in a boat alone with the guy….” 

Lila snorted. “JJ’s my dad, for God’s sake. I know he’s a boor but … surely, you don’t think —“

Keisha shook her head. “Lila, I know he’s your dad. You always refer to him as JJ. Anyway, it won’t take long to run some tests. Think of it as practice. Maybe nothing will show up. Probably, nothing.”

Lila frowned again, “No, I’m telling you.” Here Lila broke off as a disturbing image loomed into her head.

Keisha spoke softly, “Lila? Are you okay? You literally like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Lila’s voice became flat. “Let’s run the tests.”

Being a CEO, JJ had excellent bandwidth wherever he went: home, limo, yacht. The algorithms spun their magic and trolled the text. By morning, they were exhausted but convinced. They also agreed that proving it in a court of law would be an entirely different matter. Textual analysis didn’t have decades of precedent like DNA testing. Convincing a DA to open up such an old case? Impossible without more direct evidence. 

Keisha said, “We need a plan.” Lila agreed.

———

The morning fog lifted. They were soon underway. The women leaned out into the salt spray which made rainbows in the rising sun. Meanwhile, JJ hunched in his dark, dank electronic cockpit below, searching his screens for signs of fish.

From below decks, over the slapping waves they heard JJ growling, “Where the hell are you, stupid fish?!” 


Keisha stared down into the cabin at the hulking back of her father-in-law. Once, he had been athletic. She wondered how athletic he might still be. 

Dark clouds loomed on the horizon. Lila reported, “Father! A storm’s coming!” 

She could see him shake his head. “No rain in the forecast. Just clouds. Doesn’t mean anything.” 

“Father. I have to talk with you.” 

JJ growled, “Nothing to say. We’re fishing!” 

Keisha had never heard Lila’s voice sound so cold as she said, “I remember what really happened to Trevor and mother. I saw you.” 

JJ laughed. “You were a girl! You don’t know what you saw. Anyway, nobody’ll believe you — especially after ten years of silence!”

Keisha said, “We have other evidence. We accessed your original statements to the police and ran them through our analysis programs. They are strongly indicative of fabrication and misdirection. We have your own words. It’s now admissible in court as textual evidence.” 

JJ screamed, “Bullshit! You don’t have any sexual evidence. I made sure of that. You don’t have anything that would stand up in court. I’m the biggest fish out here. Face it. I’m wealthy enough, powerful enough, and smart enough to get away with murder. So I did! It’s the way of the world, Lila! Time to grow up! No-one will believe you or your so-called colleague.” 

Keisha held up her cell phone. “Even with your confession streamed to our FBI colleagues?”  

JJ stammered, “But I’m … “

For the first time in her life, Lila interrupted and finished his sentence for him: “A coelacanth, dad, a coelacanth.” 

As Gold as it Gets

True Believer

I can’t be bothered

Tit for tat

It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy

Donnie’s last gift

A horror story

If only.

Naughty knots

It was in his nature

Dance of Billions

Indigenous People’s Day

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Sonnet Sundays: Variations on the Form

A traditional sonnet has 14 lines of 5 iambic feet each. Each iambic foot has 2 syllables for a total of 140 syllables. This form gives the poem a “rectangular” look. But let’s suppose instead that we try a form that is triangular in form. That’s still an underspecified design constraint, but let’s try one that is 14 lines ending in a single two syllable foot. We will start with 28 syllables and each successive line will have two fewer syllables; thus, lines of: 28, 26, 24, etc. ending with 6, 4, 2.

Human auditory memory being what it is, 20 or more syllables is a long time to “wait for” or perceive a rhyme. I may put internal rhymes in some of these lines. Let’s see how it goes. 

As for topic, October 10th will be celebrated by some as “Columbus Day” and by others as “Indigenous People’s Day.” That tension seems like a good way to begin. 

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred ninety two; enslaved and killed for profit, fame: The Glory Game. 

Columbus knew the world was round; his sense of distance — not profound. He called the natives Indians (so wrong!)  

So wrong about so many things — the Europeans of his time; believed a King’s most holy name

Had rights conferred by God Himself alone to do just as they willed so killed with God’s own song.

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Enlightenment was yet to come. The ages then were still quite dumb. The Greed for Gold: 

A tale of lies and flies and platitudes; of guns and groundless attitudes. 

As ages passed, humanity began to see a bolder bold:

To learn what really is and implement beatitudes. 

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So now we see that wisdom isn’t always white.

And lies corrupt the hearts of all who live.

The path to wealth is paved with light.

To Love just means to give. 

Our star above

Says Love.

The Declaration of Interdependence

Dance of Billions

All for one None for most

The Crows and Me

Guernica

Siren song

Imagine all the people

Satire Slain

Coelacanth (2/3)

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2018: 

Room 22A. Lila inhaled deeply; glanced at her program guide and Rolex. Three pm. Her slot. No use putting it off.

Go on, Lila. It’s just a practice run, for God’s sake. 

The voice in her head was her father’s. Her cheeks reddened. His “encouraging” words always belittled. She heard another voice from inside the practice room— a warm voice. 

Lila turned the cool brass knob and pushed. At the podium stood a tall, athletic, young black woman with large penetrating eyes and shiny dreadlocks. She immediately smiled a large radiant grin at Lila.

“Hi! Come on in. I just finished. I’m Keisha. It’s my first professional talk as well. Don’t worry. I’ve warmed up the audience.” 

Lila glanced around at the empty chairs. “Audience? Ah.” She laughed. “Joke. I get it. I’m Lila. Nice to meet you. How did you…?” 

Keisha laughed warmly. “Hey, we’re both forensics experts for the FBI, right? You’re young. And, frankly, you look a little — terrified.” 

Lila strode up to the podium, unslung her backpack and retrieved her laptop. Her eyes swept the baseboard for the nearest outlet. 

Keisha spoke again, now imitating a Carnival Barker. “Come on up, young Lady! This podium’s got all the power cables, internet connections, and Karma you’ll ever need.” 

Lila laughed and held up her hand like a surgeon, “Power Cord!” 

Keisha immediately cottoned on to the game and held it out for her, repeating “Power Cord!”  Lila felt Keisha’s fingers lingering. So what?! This time, it was her own voice, strong & defiant.

Once Lila’s computer was connected; she relaxed and asked, “What’s your talk about, Keisha?” 

Keisha said, “I thought you’d never ask. The title is Syntactic and Rhetorical Cues to Guilt.

Keisha smiled and laughed her maddeningly warm laugh. “You come to my talk tomorrow and learn more. What’s yours about?” 

“I’ve been using statistical analysis of texts — rhetorical, syntactic, and lexicographical —  to predict criminal patterns. It’s just a start — but — it’s really promising. I’m building on the work of Hart at UT Austin and Foster at Vassar. So far as I know, this is the first application to criminology.” 

Lila studied Keisha’s face. What she read there was genuine admiration. 

Keisha smiled. “Oh! You’re Lila Jordan! We’re in the same session tomorrow! You know, maybe we could work together. If we could combine our two approaches, that would be awesome!”

Lila blurted out: “I’d love to work with you!”

“Great! I’ll let you practice! See you tomorrow. Maybe we can grab a bite before the afternoon session. Here’s a tip. When you start your talk, look out at the audience and imagine them all buck naked! I’ll be in the front row and I’m already hooked. I’m hungry to learn more about you and your work.” 

Keisha smiled again and strode down the aisle. Lila’s eyes lingered on Keisha.

The next morning, Lila decided to take Keisha’s advice. Although Lila’s eyes moved about the audience, she really focused her talk on her new friend. She enjoyed picturing her naked. 

Keisha suggested they order room service since her room had a view of the harbor. She ordered entrees and desserts for them to share in celebration of their successful presentations. Lila objected that she needed to lose weight. Keisha smiled and said, “You are perfect as you are. But if you want to lose weight, I have just the ticket. A blindfold picnic.” 

Lila’s breathing quickened. “What’s that?” 

“Close your eyes, Lila. Just leave everything to me. No talking. You just let me feed you. Just follow my orders.”



They missed the afternoon session and the next morning’s as well. Infatuation grew to passion and eventually, passion grew to love. Over the next few months, their relationship deepened. It seemed, for a time, to be perfect. 

Until the issue of marriage came up. 

Which led to the issue of “coming out.” 

Which led to the issue of “honesty.” 

The very strength of their love made their disagreement that much more difficult to bear. 

They said the same things repeatedly, with increasing heat but no more llight. Keisha found it impossible to understand Lila’s resistance to complete openness, explaining that it was the twenty-first century for God’s sake. Finally, even the Supreme Court recognized gay marriage. Keisha had known she was gay since she was twelve. Her parents had known and accepted her for who she was. 

Lila came from a different world. “You don’t understand, Keisha! My big shot CEO father JJ won’taccept my being gay! He’s the only family I have left. If I lose him too.…” 

The fifth time they argued, Keisha decided to take a different tack. “You’re right. I’m luckier than you. But just because my parents accepted me doesn’t mean everyone did. There’ll always be cruel people. We both know that. But the one who matters most to you is your dad. How about this? We get married. I go and meet JJ. I get to know him. We don’t start by telling him everything. Instead, we make it clear that we’re colleagues and friends. He’ll like me!” 

Lila considered. “Okay. It’s worth a try. Say! Have you ever been fishing?” 

“Fishing? Yeah, a few times. Uncle Stan showed me how to fly fish.” 

Lila laughed. “No, not like that. I’m talking about Deep Sea Fishing. Every year, my father takes time off for an extended fishing trip.”

Keisha blinked. “Really? I thought you said you never wanted to go boating again. Does he…?” 

Lila ground her teeth, “Father went back on the boat the next day! He even tried to get me to join him! Imagine! I’d just lost my mother and my brother. He said get aboard right away or I’d be afraid forever.” She sighed. “Maybe he’s right. Boats don’t bother him. Every year, he bugs me to join him and bring a colleague along — by which he means a potential husband so that I can leave the “Glorified Police Department” — his name for the FBI. Okay. Once we’re married, I’ll wait a few weeks and call father and tell him I’m bringing a colleague along on his next excursion. I will watch for the best moment to break the news. I’m still not convinced it will work, but maybe nothing will. He’s very set in his ways. Like with the boat. Even a tragic accident…”

Keisha tilted her head. “What’s wrong? You’re thinking back to that awful day?”

Lila nodded slowly. “Yeah. Kind of. I just — sometimes this horrible image flashes into my mind. I know it’s just my imagination. But still…”

Keisha took Lila’s hand. “Come here, love. I’m so sorry. Let’s just sit here side by side.” They sat and Keisha held her close in loving silence.


Dance of Billions

Life is a Dance

Take a Glance; Join the Dance

Family Matters 1

Family Matters 2

Family Matters 3

Is a dream

Walkabout Diaries: Friends

Walkabout Diaries: Sunsets

Walkabout Diaries: Life Will Find a Way

Coelacanth: Chapter 1/3

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2008: 

JJ loved the ocean. Out here, there was never any question about who was in charge. He glanced over at his son Trevor, fourteen, trolling astern. Port side, Trevor’s friend Billy seemed to have snagged something. JJ grinned. Opportunity knocks, he thought to himself. He scrambled down to help Billy. 

“Whoa! You’ve got a big one! Better let me brace you.” For JJ, this part was well-rehearsed. He wrapped his strong right arm around Billy’s waist and gradually moved his body closer to the youngster’s backside. His left hand snaked around to guide the reel. “You have to play this guy! I’ll teach you. Follow my lead.” 

JJ shouted, “Look at that! A hammerhead! Nice job!” The trick was to keep the boy’s attention on the difficult and demanding task of bringing in a dangerous fish. Meanwhile, JJ sidled up more closely to Billy’s backside and slowly slid his right hand toward the boy’s crotch. There was always a chance one of these kids would tattle, but that only added to JJ’s excitement. If he played this gig right, the boy would also be aroused before he even knew what has happening. 

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“Hey! What are you doing mister Jordan?!” 

“Keep hold of the line, damn it!” JJ commanded. “Pay attention or you’ll lose him!”

“Bring him in yourself! Keep your hands off me! Pervert!” 

The boy tried to squirm away, but JJ still had enough of his collegiate strength to hold him fast. Billy twisted and slipped just as the shark dove deep pulling the boy overboard. 

JJ stared into the ocean and saw two other sharks, aroused by the chum and struggle, attack the boy. Trevor suddenly screamed in his ear. “What the hell did you do, father? Throw him a line for God’s sake!” 

JJ pulled Trevor away. “Look away, son! It’s too late. He’s gone! I told you boys shark fishing was no picnic. You’ve got to do as I say!” 

“Bullshit! I saw you! You were trying to put your hand down his pants! Is that why my friends never come back for a second fishing trip?” 

“You’re crazy! I tried to save him!” JJ screamed. 

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Trevor’s vision narrowed and he charged his father meaning him to deck him. 

Mister Jordan’s experience as a linebacker kicked in. He side-stepped and planted both hands on his son’s back, propelling him into the roiling ocean. The sharks starting tearing him to pieces as well. 

JJ’s wife Pollyann had now come up on deck. She uttered a primitive, unearthly growl. 

JJ pulled her back from the railing. “Don’t look! It’s too late. The boys are gone. They’re with God now. I tried to save them.”  

Mrs. Jordan struggling to speak. “I saw you push Trevor overboard! What the hell! You monster! I will make you rot in hell!” 

“Don’t speak to me like that!” JJ tried to think back. How much could she have seen? Where was Lila? Still below decks. If Pollyann dies, the whole company goes to me. 

Pollyann screamed, “Don’t speak to you like that?! You just killed our son! What the hell?” 

“Listen, Polly. He tried to jump overboard to save his friend. It was pointless. They’re sharks everywhere! Trevor’s a hero. I was trying to save him, but he wrenched away from me. I’m devastated too. Naturally. Come here, love. Come here.” 

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Pollyann narrowed her eyes. Had she misunderstood? She saw them struggle. It seemed like Trevor had charged him and JJ pushed him. She wanted to give her husband the benefit of the doubt. She shuffled back to him, trying to read his face. At last he held her tightly to him, comforting her. His hug tightened to a diaphragm-paralyzing bear hug. JJ didn’t relish the hassle of getting a new wife, but he saw no alternative. He chucked her over into the writhing sea. He watched the insatiable sharks destroy the last bit of damning evidence. He sighed. Damn. That was a close one, he thought. He turned back to see Lila staring at him. 

JJ acted the part of a devastated victim quite well; well enough to brainwash Lila and well enough to hoodwink the local cops who were predisposed toward JJ in any case. Many still remembered his stellar college career as a middle linebacker at State. Of course, that wouldn’t put them in a frame of mind to let go a killer. But it did put them in a frame of mind to give him the benefit of the doubt. Being white and apparently well-to-do enhanced his credibility. Lila knew none of this at the time. For her, the fact that the police believed her father made it seem more likely that she had hallucinated. After all, as JJ constantly reminded her, she was understandably perturbed and caught off guard, dazzled by coming into the bright light suddenly from below deck. “Besides,” JJ asked Lila, “why would I kill my own wife and son or even a young friend? What possible motive could I have?” 

Their Dead Shark Eyes

Dick-Taters

Gambit Disinclined

Poker Chip

Absolute is not just a vodka

Stoned Soup

Three Blind Mice

The Orange Man

Where does your loyalty lie?

My Cousin Bobby

Essays on America: Wednesday

Identity Theft

Labelism

Dance of Billions