Chapter 3 Why Murphy Works in a Bureaucracy

“Murphy—why do you still work here?” Gregson asked.

“It pays the bills—why else?”

“I thought you wanted to get-out, on your own?”

“I can’t say no to good benefits.”

“But what about a good life?”

“I’m not like you, Gregson—I need a safety net, especially in this line of work.”

“Tell me about it…”

“Well, I called you in because I suspect those crimes in Canada are committed by a creative psychopath.”

Gregson walked into Murphy’s office. “So, this is where a man can end up, if he dots all his I’s and crosses all his T’s…?”

“No—anybody can do that—it’s the first lesson learned in a bureaucracy—turn in your substandard paperwork with all the right punctuation. To get where I’m at, you have to make important people feel even more important.”

“How do you do that?”

“I’d rather not say. What I was going to tell you, was…”

“Sir, would you like some coffee and a doughnut?” A hot red-head asked.

She had a delicious chest—only partially covered by her tight black blouse.

“I’ll take two,” Gregson said.

“Intelligent choice—I’ll be right back.”

“Now I know why you stay here, you dog—it’s the food and the service,” Gregson said. He watched her pants disappear. “Too bad women feel empowered today.”

“Yeah,” Murphy sighed. “Back to what I was saying… What the news doesn’t know is that each one of these murders is unique.”

“Unique?”

“First off—they were all killed within 50 miles of civilization, in the Canadian wilderness. Second, they were all creative killings.”

“Creative? –Is the killer displaying their victims?”

“No—it’s the method of killing—as if there are multiple murderers.”

“How can that be?”

“A killing club, of some sort.”

“Like a gun club?”

“Yeah—wannabees, who want to hunt on the weekend, maybe.”

“Hunting human beings…” Gregson mused. “I guess, I can see the attraction. Most men have never been in a fight—let alone killed anybody. Who are the victims?”

“Some of them are homeless, with military experience—others, are unemployed lawyers.”

“But even a bad lawyer should be able to get government work.”

“You would think…”

“So, the murder victims were offered money?”

“It’s a theory. A lot of people want to kill lawyers. Three victims were shot with a high-caliber hunting rifle, two, got a bolt in the back with a crossbow, and one, was killed with a knife—”

“Your coffee sir, and your doughnuts… Can I ask your name?”

“Gregson.”

“Are you a friend of the Director’s?” She extended her fingers, painted in red polish.

“We’re friends.”

“Any friend of his, is a friend of mine. He’s helping me with my career.”

“Really?” Gregson said.

“Okay—Tanya—that’s all…”

“Call, if you need anything…”

“How do you live with yourself?” Gregson asked.

“I don’t have a choice.”

Frank, a good Friend

I’ve been in this funk, where I don’t want to talk to people

and I play golf by myself

and the guys in the pro shop think I’m strange

but I don’t care

because it allows me to pretend, I’m someone else

and pretending, is an art, most people lose, after the ages of 11 or 12

and I’ve been pretending, my whole life.

I think about who I would like to be

and

my thoughts,

without company,

go unnoticed, the way they should be.

I don’t know what I would do, without my thoughts, just them and me.

And when I turned the corner, to the back 9, I met a guy, worthy of interrupting…

Most guys, are like gophers, that stand at attention, and say the same things, but I wish they would just go underground.

It was Frank.

Last time I played with him, he could bare walk. He’s 81, but that’s not the reason. He likes to drink beer and talk.

“You want some company?” He asked.

“Oh—I don’t know…” I said.

“Some guys don’t,” Frank offered.

“Let’s play together.” I checked into the pro shop. “I’m playing with Frank!”

“God help you,” the young guy said.

Frank teed-off and knocked it into the sand trap. He threw his club to the ground. “Christ!”

I teed-off and smacked it down the fairway.

“That’s one hell of a shot,” he said. “Check out my Shirt!” I make Liberals Cry. “I wear my politics on my sleeve,” Frank laughed.

“Where’d you get that?” I asked.

“The internet—where else?”

“I didn’t know you old guys knew how to use the internet.”

Frank smiled. I could tell he was thinking of a good comeback.

“The thing is… you try to point out how stupid a liberal is, and they never want to talk to you again,” Frank said.

“Imagine that.”

We kept playing and my golf game got worse and worse and Frank felt somewhat responsible.

“I’m sorry I’m distracting you with my politics,” he said.

“It’s good to play with distraction, right?”

“Well… not even the pros have somebody like me to follow them around. Like I was saying—my wife tries to convince her coworkers they’re wrong, but they don’t bite. They assume she gets her information from FOX News…”

“Well, where does she get her information from?” I asked.

“From me—who else?”

I laughed. We kept playing—

I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anybody, but Frank is one of those guys, you can never say “No” to.

He has a talent for friendship.

I’m horrible with names, but I remembered his…

He’s somebody, I’ll never forget.

The End

Night of the Vampire

Mr. Lions turned-up the rock-n-roll, pulling a silver six-gun from his holster.

The lyrics, “I’m on a highway to hell,” Blared into the silence, like fingernails scraping across a chalkboard.

The vampires were dancing to the music like disco, while Lions shot them, as if they were fish in a barrel. The steam from their expiring bodies, was creating a mist in the air, as thick as fog. Suddenly, the lyrics transitioned into, “Breaking the Law…Breaking the Law.”

It was impossible to see or hear, anything, and the hands kept slapping the sides of the house.

Then flames shot into the field like a dragon.

“He’s got a flamethrower,” I said.

“Left over from the Korean War?” Maddie asked.

“No—I think it’s the one he uses to tar-proof his houses with.”

Cackling was heard over the demonic screams. “It takes a meaner monster,” I said. “And Mr. Lions loves to kill.”

As if the dragon choked, the flames dissipated and the slapping stopped.

“He must’ve killed them all,” I said.

“Then, where is Mr. Lions?” Maddie asked.

In response, there was knocking at the door.

“Should I open it?”

“Vampires don’t knock,” Maddie said.

I opened it.

Lions stood there, in his full glory. I didn’t know, that men reach their peak, at certain times in their lives, and the downhill journey, forces them to walk away from their glory. Lions had it again, like a stunning confidence, and I understood him, for the first time.

“Every last one of those beasts is dead,” he said triumphantly. “Be careful to venture into the mist—you don’t want to breath-in a vampire—it’s worse than smoking—it’ll steal your soul.”

“But you’ve been breathing-in the vampire toxin this whole time.”

“Sure,” Lions said. “But I’ve been wearing my Korean War gas mask. Strange—I think there might be a hole in it.”

At that moment, I noticed his eyes—the windows to his soul, full of hell.

“Quick Maddie, hand me the stake!”

“What are you doing?” Lions asked.

But before he could say another word, I jammed it into his heart, and he keeled over, sinking beneath the soil—a vampire.

“Quick—close the door!” Maddie said. “We don’t want to breathe that stuff in.”

We waited, until daylight. I thought the dawn would never come—and with the sunrise, the fog burned away.

“It’s safe,” I said.

“How are we going to explain this?” Maddie asked.

“We don’t.”

“What about the cursed gold?”

“We burry it.”

“But it’s gold!” Maddie said.

“I know it’s gold, but it will steal your soul.”

We walked to Brad’s house and buried him with his treasure.

Shortly, thereafter, he went missing, just like the pet posters, and Maddie and I never talked about the vampires, again. I married her, but we left the shame in silence, like buried gold or skeletons in the closet.

The End

Origami Unfolding

In the starry night, we sleep, and dream

and during the day, we go about our business

as usual.

Dreams tell us who we should be

and the day, sheds a light, on our reality.

I hear them, constantly “Living the Dream.”

But are they, really?

Those people who never wake-up, sleep-walking with wild dreams

They don’t say much

The ones who talk, complain, because they don’t feel their dreams will ever come true.

It takes a special person to live their dreams

They lie beneath the great oak tree, and look through its limbs

at the setting sun

where yellow light, shines through green

far away, from words, that don’t mean anything

The magician, changes his form

with his origami imagination

He is never a blank piece of paper

stacked into piles

and thrown away, without grace

The wonderous ways

triumph

in time

and the old, are too old

to walk that way

So, the young man, picks-up the old man

and walks a bit farther…

Children are looking for something new

and when they visit the past

they can pick-up

the magic there

origami

unfolding

where the wrinkles, in that paper

are the lines, of carefully folded time.

Nowhere to Run

“There’s going to be more of them…” I said, and then, out of the woods, walked the vampires—more than four of them—dozens.

“What do we do?” Brad asked. “There’s nowhere to run.”

“The house,” I said.

“But it’s occupied.”

“Bring your sticks—it’s the only safe place.”

Brad knocked…

“Vampires don’t have manners—we’d better just enter,” Maddie suggested.

When we got inside, a vampire had a tall glass in one hand, and its fangs ready.

I gave it the spear, and it died.

The next swiped at me with its long fingernails—yellow, they were, as if they belonged to a smoker. She got her claws into me, when Maddie gave her the wooden spear, and the vampiress melted into the carpet, like a microwaved chimichanga.

The last one, had its back turned to us. It could’ve been meditating, but I knew it wasn’t, because vampires are the opposite of spiritual.

It turned around—all mouth and disgusting breath—jumping onto Brad, and sinking her teeth into his carotid artery, like an alcoholic at a Kegger party.

Maddie jammed her stick into the back of its head—and the creature went brain dead—it hissed, like air deflating from a flat tire.

Brad turned vampire. I had to kill him. It was the hardest thing to do—murdering my best friend, but his soul would be safe. I jammed my spear into his heart, and he expired.

I thought it was the end. The vampires were knocking on the sides of the house, when a searchlight lit-up the field and the voice of Mr. Lions came over the megaphone with a roar.

“This is my war, and I’m going to win!”

To be continued…

Vampire Eyes

Peeking through the bushes at those corpses, walking around, and not talking to each other, was unnerving. They looked like death, which meant, they were thirsty. It made me wonder about women who wear lots of makeup. Were they dangerous?

Then, those red eyes, looked out, into the night, and saw me, which made my heart stop beating. They weren’t laser eyes or drunk bloodshot eyes, but the eyes of hell—a close cousin of the demon, that latches onto you, and takes over your spirit. I was feeling light-headed, like I might pass-out, and then I realized, I was holding my breath.

“We should get out of here,” Brad suggested.

“I don’t know why we’re still hanging around,” Maddie said.

“Because, you and I both know, those vampires are going to kill everyone we love, unless we do something about it.”

“Well, what can we do?” Brad asked.

“Shove a stake through their hearts.”

“All of them?”

“All of them,” I said.

Brad began to break branches off the tree. I handed my pocketknife to him, and we began to sharpen spears.

Maddie just looked at us, like we were nuts.

“Those things saw us… Don’t you think we should get out of here?”

“We have to finish what I started,” Brad said.

“Hey, do you feel something funny?” Maddie asked.

“It just got colder—much colder,” I said.

“The moon disappeared. Where did it go? It was there.” Brad was pointing at empty space, when a white head bobbed back and forth across the field. It had teeth and a red mouth.

“Is that stick ready?” I asked.

Brad threw it at the vampire and stuck the thing in the chest. Immediately, its flesh sizzled and drizzled, into the field.

To be continued…

A Reason to Write

This is my favorite part…

At every time in a man’s life

he must have a reason

and then the hurdles come

and many don’t jump over them

because they can’t with the same reasons they started with.

The man who keeps coming up with new reasons

is the man who keeps going

You know that you have something

when you find excuses to do it

until the voices in the world

are drown-out by the ones in your head.

It’s a noble kind of schizophrenia

calling your name.

I was asked what I was going to do this weekend

by one of my colleagues at work, and I said…

“A bit of writing.”

and my answer was met with scorn—

he was hoping for something more glamorous, I guess.

There are decades

where we lie dormant

until

a spark, sets-off a forest fire

that “Yes, this is what I want to do.”

and

“This is who,

I am.”

Beautiful, Ignition, really.

The flames leap higher

and eat

all my doubt

that grew along the road like weeds

where common cars

watch

in horror

at my passion raging

from horizon

to horizon

It’s love that talks to me at night

while I rest on my pillow.

I don’t have to work myself up

to write

It just keeps coming

despite the conditions

and I put it down

to sleep

like word-filled dreams.

So, talk to me…

I’ve been sending my stories to feminist book publishers

“Why?”

You might ask.

Entertainment, mostly.

The responses I get back are… well, to put it mildly—hostile

but I digress.

I respond, not in kind, but by being kind.

“The nicer ones say, “Your voice isn’t right for our magazines.”

I think my stories would do feminists some good. I don’t hate them, for their point of view

because

I already know what I think.

Listening, is a tasty treat that I eat.

The silence between syllables

is jazz

It makes me want to jump off a building

but when I don’t argue, they don’t know what to say

their radical records go around and around

with horrible scratches on them

If people would only talk to me, I would listen

We all have a life sentence

and we want to experience

the outside

where we have never been

There has never been a you or a me

throughout all of human history

So, talk to me…

I’m listening.

Lessons in Persistence

1.

If you swing a sharp ax at a big tree,

it’s going to fall down.

2.

If you swim upstream and don’t go anywhere,

you are going to get stronger.

3.

The seeds of success are found

in the stories you tell yourself.

4.

During the 6th grade reading race

I beat the entire class and the all-time record

for most pages read

I learned that persistence

is unusual

It might not ensure victory

but it will cause an individual to stand out

It was, and still is, my proudest moment

and have I completed a Doctorate Degree.

Character is Destiny!

5.

An individual can develop persistence

when quitting, hurts more

than losing.

6.

We value what we have to work hardest for.

7.

It isn’t the goal that matters,

but everything we had to do

to accomplish the goal.

8.

We are all defined by something.

If you never quit, you can never lose.

9.

When I look at winners and losers

I see what a person is willing to do.

Most people are unwilling to fail until they win.

10.

Failure is feedback

Success doesn’t tell you anything.

11.

How do I want to be remembered at the end of my life?

That I persisted in spite of all odds…

12.

People don’t understand persistence

because they all quit, eventually.

If you feel like you need success

to be successful (I call this assurance)

You are like most people.

Persistence is something else,

entirely.

It’s not a hobby

It can be hard to need a job

or to take a job

from a man or woman

who is less than you.

You work yourself up for an interview

learning about their organization, as if you care

trying to convince yourself that you do care

that somehow, your values, are their values

but they’re not.

So, this is just a con game

to get a regular paycheck

They con you, out of your time

and you con them, to make a living.

They always dress for their position

and you dress, for yours.

The difference is, you despise the clothes you have to put on

and they wear their suit, as if they are better than you

They drive a car

not to get from point A to point B

but to BE better than you.

Am I the only one who doesn’t want to interview?

I want to work hard, but I don’t want to be asked silly questions

from a panel of people who are pretending to be important.

They scrutinize

their applicants…

Did he respond appropriately?

It’s horrible to be appropriate,

but when there’s no other way to make a living—

what do you do?

These kinds of people

stoke my ego

“You are so smart…”

“But if I was smart, I wouldn’t be working here,” I don’t say.

I’m hoping that my intelligence makes a way

through their sea of crap

but I’ve probably bought their bullshit that confirms my self-opinion

“You are so smart,” they say. And now, I’m not much better than them.

I am like the exodus

and pharaoh is my female boss

who won’t let me go

“We have great benefits and you can’t make a living from your hobbies.”

I looked at her, suffering,

in her tight overweight-clothes

with her skinny soul that can’t be fed with food

I don’t have anything against fat females

I just saw, I am unsatisfied in my job in her YouTube feed, that isn’t feeding her

These unhappy underfed neurotic women, are always pretending to be

and if you genuinely are happy, they will hate you.

I am swimming across their sea

because it didn’t part for me

and so, my strength is leaving me.

Does God wish me, to remain in captivity—to be a slave to security?

I hope not.

I’ll keep swimming

because it’s not a hobby.