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Posts Tagged ‘Story’

I just finished a John Gresham short story about a lawyer who gets fed up practicing law, rips off a few clients and runs off to a tropical paradise and lives happily ever after. While I like Gresham, he is no Sheldon Siegel. Once a week I trundle the two miles to the outskirts of hell, where the English language bookstore is located, to check for Sheldon’s latest publication. While his mystery and courtroom scenes are great, it is the latest doings of his main characters Mike and Rosie that I look forward to. They are more real to me than my life here.

Two of my favorite authors are Sheldon Siegel and William Kotzwinkle. At least Sheldon Siegel sounds like and author. Kotzwinkle sounds like a character in Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

Speaking of Pee Wee, I am waiting for a revival of Pee Wee Herman and Soupy Sales’ great performances. In case you do not recall (or are not old enough to recall) one of Soupy’s more memorable bits was to tell his juvenile audience to go into mommy and daddy’s room while they were asleep and go into daddy’s pants, take out his wallet, extract a dollar and mail it to Soupy. While most 5 to 10-year-olds got the joke, their parents had Soupy thrown off television.

Pee Wee, on the other hand, is the metaphor for our generation, a happy life in a children’s playhouse exposed in the dark theater of history. Pee Wee’s comeback was in one of my all time favorite movies “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the original) where he plays a vampire’s assistant. You should see it. There are memorable performances in it by Rutger Hauer as the chief Vampire and Donald Sutherland as Buffy’s instructor in vampire slaying.

One of my ex-clients, Danny Elfman, the oscar winning musician, got his start in movies by writing the theme songs for the Pee Wee playhouse movies. Danny told me once that he was an “Artist,” not a doped up guitar player. I wonder if Willie Nelson considers himself and artist.

Danny’s brother Rick was also a client. Rick is the director of some of the worst movies ever made. Movies so bad that they appear in the cult movie section of video stores. Movies so bad they use a pseudonym for the director’s name. He directed such classics as “Forbidden Zone,” “Shrunken Heads,” “Streets of Rage” (Wherein he uses the pseudonym of “Aristide Pierre Laffite Sumatra of the Ton Ton Macoute”) and “Modern Vampires.”

The last of which, I made my film acting debut in a walk-on role and crossed off item one of my bucket list. The movie was about a war in Los Angeles between the Vampires and the Mafia, one of the last movies in which Rod Steiger appeared (and justly so). I of course played a Mafia Don who, in my one scene, holds open the trunk of a black limousine into which my two mafia henchman, dump the “Queen of the Vampires”(played by Kim Cattrell in one of her earliest and most regretted roles) tightly wrapped in strings of garlic to keep her comatose (I kid you not). Sic Transit Gloria.

Ciao…

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One day while at my sister’s house in Mendocino recovering from an illness, I decided I felt well enough to spend the afternoon out on the deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As I sat bundled up on a bright red Adirondack Chair, my mind wandered into contemplating stories that I might write someday or not.

Feeling a little better the next day, I drove to Ft. Bragg, a somewhat larger town than Mendocino up the coast a few miles. I parked the car and went for a walk along Ten Mile Dunes, a California State Park containing huge sand dunes and a long broad beach. I liked walking there along the beach because I rarely ran into other hikers and enjoyed the solitude. Becoming tired, I sat on a flattened grass tussock with my walking stick propped on my knees and stared at the ocean. The fog had moved in shrouding the place in pearlescent mist, the ocean placid and dark. I noticed a seal or sea lion playing in the waves not far off shore. It seemed almost like it was performing a dance of some sort. I smiled, delighted by its exuberance. It stopped its play for a moment and stared at me with a liquid dark eye. I waved and it plunged back into the surf.

Then, I saw a shadow and a fin of what I thought was a shark rippling through the waters heading toward the seal. I jumped up, ran across the sand and shouted, “Look out! Get away!” I even threw my beloved walking stick at the shadow in the hope it would drive it away. The exertion of getting so quickly to my feet brought back the fainting spells I had been suffering recently. The world started to go black. I began to spasm as I fought the sudden loss of muscle control. I felt terrible, not because of the panic of losing control of my body but because I knew I could not help to save the seal. I settled back on my haunches onto the wet sand and passed out.

I do not know how long I sat there hunched over, but the next thing I became aware of was a hand on my arm pulling me up and someone saying, “Are you OK mister.” The darkness receded. I looked for the seal in the water or for blood but saw neither. I then noticed the person holding my arm, she was a slight young woman, short not slender having that soft layer of fatty tissue that can round off the hard edges of a woman’s body. I guess she was beautiful in her own way. She looked slightly Asian or Amerindian, perhaps Intuit. She seemed to be about 30 years old and wore what appeared to be leather clothing, a light fawn color. Her hair was thick dark brown that hung down in wet strings below her shoulders.

As she took my hand, a sudden warmth flowed through me. I felt much better. Better than I had felt for quite some time now. She said, “Thank you for what you tried to do,” and handed me back my walking stick .

She accompanied me back to my car. Holding my arm to help my balance should I become dizzy again.

I drove her to her house and spent several hours there talking, having a simple dinner of cheese fruit and wine.

We saw each other every day thereafter. One evening about a week after we first met I learned she was a Selkie. Although I was not surprised that there was something strange about her, I was incredulous that she believed she was one of these legendary creatures.

She explained that many years ago the Selkies, recognizing the threat from the far more populous and aggressive Humans, like many of the spirit creatures, decided to hide among us rather than fleeing deeper into nature. Although Selkies were extremely long-lived, they still could be killed. So, they tried to live wherever they could avoid becoming the objects of violence. She, for example, lived in the isolated house on the banks of the Navarro River in which we now sat as the darkness gathered. She chose it because she could secretly slip into the water whenever she wanted and change into her Selkie self.

The Selkie elders, worried about the long-term welfare of their tribe at the very beginning, presciently established an investment program that over the past 400 years made the few remaining Selkies quite wealthy, despite their usually modest living arrangements.

There are many things I could tell about those first few days after we met and thereafter, but that is for another time. I should mention, however, that one day I asked her why she, a young woman, was so interested in a friendship with me, an old man. After mentioning her gratitude for my actions on the beach when we first met, she added that she also saw I was one of the spirit ones.

It seems, many years ago, in the Apennines of Italy and especially near Mt Vergine there lived a group of mountain and forest spirits. When not in their human shape, they cavorted among the peaks as large black bears. With the movement into the mountains by men, they knew their times were ending. So they bred with humans when they could and their sons and daughters lived among them eventually forgetting what they were.

After a lengthy process, she enabled me to reassume my identity. Unfortunately, in my human form, I would always be an old man. Nonetheless, I began traveling to the tundra of Alaska where I built a tiny remote cabin. There I would change into my bear form. I loved standing up on my hind legs, feet planted in the muck, front paws flapping at my sides, and roaring my head off at the other bears in the area. I had to be careful, though. I could mix it up all right, but one of the massive paws of those big boys and girls could tear your head off. I also liked getting drunk on the spring berries and rolling around in the mud. Sometimes, I would spend most of the day standing ankle deep in a crashing stream batting salmon onto the banks. That was fun.

I hated hunters, though. Not all hunters. I ignored the other hermits living in the wilderness hunting for food. Trophy hunters, however, would enrage me. Sometimes I would bring a rifle with me. If I discover hunters lurking about, I would resume my human shape, hunt them in turn, and kill them. Now and then, in my human shape I would join up with the hunters and just when they would get ready to shoot a bear or an elk, I would turn back into a bear grab them and throw them off a cliff or something like that. I liked to see the fear in their eyes. Once, I came upon hunters who had just killed a magnificent elk. I grabbed them, one in each arm. I called a herd of elk over and allowed some of the bigger and stronger bucks to drive their antlers into them and carry them off screaming and bloody into the woods.

I also hated that in my bear shape I was addicted to honey. I despised sitting there with a silly grin on my mouth stoned on honey, all sticky with honey covering my paws, snout, and fur while angry bees crawled all over me. I’d then fall asleep and wake up all groggy and promise myself I would never do it again.

I felt my sister shake my arm. “Hey,” she said. “It is getting late. You have been sitting here dozing all afternoon. It’s time you come inside.”

A few days later, feeling better, I decided to visit 10 Mile Dunes the site of the Selkie story I dreamed about. The parking lot was a bit of a hike from the dunes and the beach, but I managed to shamble along the path and across the dunes to the kelp littered beach. I walked along the beach searching for a tussock on which to sit. I did not find one. But I did find some suitable rocks beside a spooky sculpture someone made out of a kelp stalk.

The mist was not quite so pearlescent as in my story, the ocean not so placid and dark. Nevertheless, I sat there on the rock stared out at the waves and waited. I wanted to see if a seal would appear dancing in the waves. I know, silly — but being silly is a prerogative of the very old and the very young.

After about a half an hour, I got bored. As I slowly rose from my rock, I noticed something light brown twisting among the waves. “Oh my God,” I thought. “I don’t believe this sort of shit.” I tottered toward the water. My heart beating so hard it was almost painful. Alas, when I looked again, it was gone — probably just a piece of kelp torn from its mooring and tossed about by the waves. As I slowly walked back along the beach, I stopped for a moment, looked out at the ocean, and shouted, “Selkie” — not too loud because I would be too embarrassed if anyone heard me — Also, I felt stupid. But after, I shouted I felt a lot better. I don’t know why.

Back in the car, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if people who lived adventuresome lives could live one last adventure when they get old — this time with the supernatural.” They could, of course, always make it up. That would be almost as good, I think.

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North of the Tehachapi Mountains in California’s coastal range resembles a washboard dipped into the Pacific Ocean washtub. The western face of first ridge dip’s down on to a narrow strip of land before falling away into the ocean. Except for foraging for fish and mollusks during certain periods of the years, native Americans tended to avoid settling here. The Spanish and later Mexican settlers as well as the early Anglos avoided it also except for a few fishing communities and lumber ports. Not so the modern Californians, they huddle together on this slight, cold and foggy strip of land in numbers far greater than the land can support ostensibly for the perceived benefits of the view of the somber grey Pacific Ocean and the bracing weather.

From Humboldt County on the north through to the mountains of the Big Sur, a large valley lies just inland of the first ridge, a semi arid paradise, cool in the summers from the brisk breezes off the ocean flooding into the valley through the gaps in the ridges, and warm in the winter due to the moderating waters of the ocean and the blocking, by the valley’s western ridges, of the frigid winter winds sweeping down from the Sierras and across the great Central Valley. Here lies the Bay of San Francisco, eastern Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to the North and to the South eastern San Mateo County, Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley and San Jose and it continues south until it disappears into the Salinas River Valley watershed.

In prehistoric times gigantic mammals roamed the area we call California and this happy valley until driven into extinction by the immigrant homo-sapiens from the North-eastern Asia. These immigrants, later referred to as indigenous Americans or Indians, then settled down into a relatively low impact semi-paradiasical existence until the Spanish arrived with their Missions, horses and cattle. The Missions, through overwork and disease, quickly cleansed the valley of the earlier settlers, while the huge herds of free range horses and cattle irrevocably altered the fauna. Here modern Californians chose to live in great numbers even though the valley lacked the resources to support them.

Following the denuding of the hills and valleys of this part of the coastal range by the imported ruminants, great hoards of a practically useless shiny yellow metal called gold was discovered in the Sierra foothills. This useless metal was highly desired by the light-skinned people living east of the Sierra, far more valuable to them then glass beads and seashells were to the native Peoples. So valuable in fact that unlike the native people’s pursuit of valuable feathers and baubles they were willing to kill who ever stood in their way to posses it. As a result vast numbers of these pale skinned immigrants flooded into California across the seemingly almost impassable mountains and by boat across the infinite sea. They came from the boondocks, farms and slums of East Coast America and Europe with greed on their minds and mayhem in their hearts. In quick succession these newcomers tore down the hills to get at the gold, eliminated the remainder of the indians and took the land from the Mexican successors to the Spanish settlers.

Many of them settled in Yerba Buena (later San Francisco) where they disembarked and the surrounding area of this coastal valley. As a result of the depredations by the miners in the foothills the great bay and delta turned brown and changed from deep clear waters, tule and salt marshes to vast mud flats.

In order to provide homes, buildings and energy for these new immigrants and even more wealth for those most advantaged by the mines, the great coastal redwood forests were cut down. Also, to provide water, transportation and supplies to these new immigrants water was brought in great pipelines from the Sierra’s where it was plentiful to the coastal valley where it was not and ribbons of roads and rails spread out along the bay and the valley.

Eventually development of these most recent immigrants covered the land and crowded the shores of the greatly diminished bay, leaving less room for the new wealthy and fortunate to live as they believed their good fortune entitled them.

The next valley in the coastal range to the East of the San Francisco Bay valley remained largely the preserve large ranchos and the tiny towns servicing them except for in the passes that provided transportation corridors from the Bay to the Central Valley and beyond.

About 30 years ago real-estate developers realized that there was a market for large so-called planned unit developments surrounding golf courses instead of natural open space, and decided these large ranchos in this until then rural valley would work just fine. So one day, on the eastern ridge or this valley an exclusive community centered on a golf course was built made up mostly of homes built to 3 or 4 standard designs except for on the highest points on the ridge. Here huge custom-built villas were built for the very wealthy.

In one of these custom-built homes located along the 17th fairway of the golf course, three men knelt, praying.

If one of the golfers playing along the 17th fairway looked up at the house above them they would be able to see through the sliding french doors that looked over the fairway the three kneeling men.

The oldest of the three men, bony and balding with liver spots showing through his wispy grey hair was outfitted in the garish clashing colors of the golfer, in this case a bright red polo shirt and violent yellow short pants. The tallest of the men looked to be in his mid thirties. He was quite tall and slender looking with the taut wiry muscles of a professional athlete. He was dressed in a deep blue Brioni jacket, white silk tee-shirt and dark pants. The third a man in his late forties or early fifties was dressed as though he had just returned to camp from hiking through the woods, canvas jacket, red and black checked Pendleton shirt and tan canvas pants tucked into a pair of hiking boots.

The old man was speaking his prayer:

“It is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must use strength to win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less. Jesus give us the strength of your power to achieve your kingdom on earth at this time so that we the elect can bring forth the end of times and share in your sovereignty forever. Amen.”

“Amen,” the other two mumbled. Then they all rose up off their knees and sat down. The oldster on an overstuffed arm-chair with a brown and yellow floral pattern. The other two sat on opposite ends of the large dark brown sofa situated at right angles to the chair.

After a few moments of silence, the wife of the older man quietly entered the room as though she were entering a church. The woman was quite thin, had greying brown hair and wore a relatively shapeless grey dress. She came in with a tray holding three tall glasses filled with ice and lemonade and set it on the low table in front of the men.

“Thank you my dear,” said the oldster.

“Yes, thank you Mrs Boone,” said the Brioni dressed man rising as she entered.

“Oh, please don’t get up for me. I know you all have important things to discuss. I thought you could use some refreshment.”

The third man neither rose nor said anything.

After Mrs. Boone left the room the older man said, “Charles, thank you for flying all this way to meet with us.”

“No problem Reverend Michael,” the outdoorsman responded. “I believe this meeting is now necessary. Anyway, thank you for the use of your jet. I will be returning to Alaska right after this meeting. I think it’s time I reappear from out of the wilderness.”

“What’s your story for the press,” asked the younger man?

“I will tell them I slipped and fell and struck my head and had a touch of amnesia and that I luckily found that cabin with enough provisions for me to nurse myself back to health and recover my wits.”

“Do you think that will work?”

“Yes, my disappearance I am afraid was not of much interest to the press so I think they will be satisfied with that especially when I also thank God for bestowing his divine providence on me.”

“Gods providence moves all things,” intoned Reverend Michael.

“I’d also like thank you Harry for taking time out from your duties as a Guardians of the Disciples to join us today. Your work is essential to rooting our the cancer of liberals and progressives that is killing our nation. Their lethal ideological radiation is poisoning us and our children and must be stopped.”

He glanced from one to the other then looked down for a moment then raised his head and continued, “This demonic which hunt by the liberals in congress and the administration must not interfere with our plans to pave the way for the second coming. We must stop them and even resort to violence if necessary. I know that you understand that and know what needs to be done.”

“Yes we do,” said Harry. “I and the other Guardians have worked hard to prepare ourselves for the struggle.”

“I know you have,” Reverend Michael responded.

He then shook his head slowly and continued, “God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality. We need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. ‘The wages of sin is death,’ as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures.”

He then slowly rose from his chair and said to them, “You both know what needs to be done. I will leave you to you planning.”

He stopped and smiled and said, “Congressman Reffo and Congressman Cantor are waiting for me at the first tee. Sadly one is member of the Catholic Church, ‘The Great Whore,’ ‘apostate church,’ and the other a Jew, one of those no longer spiritually alive whom God sent Hitler to hunt down in preparation for the second coming. But, they support much of our mission. Perhaps some-day God will see fit for them to see his light and leave their cult systems and join us.”

He then walked toward the door and when he reached it he turned and said with a serious expression on his face, “You know, of course, that golf is the devils own game.”

They all chuckled as he turned, opened the door, hesitated a moment and looking back over his shoulder said to the two men, “I also think it is time we rid ourselves of that abomination.” He then went out and closed the door.

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