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Friday, September 23, 2016
The Comeback starts TODAY!
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. I have no excuse for spending 6 1/2 years there. It's never too late to become what you might have been. Everyone runs in a ditch sooner or later, but not everyone gets back on the road.
Posted at 01:48 pm by Wildolive
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Book Review...of Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard
Road DogsRoad Dogs by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A little slower to get going than typical Leonard, but as usual, it gets there eventually.  How do you know who the hero is when everyone is a villain, that seems like a hero?

View all my reviews
Posted at 03:25 pm by Wildolive
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Monday, August 13, 2012
Experience Hoarding...Family Fun...first draft
Family time over material things.

I am a questioner by nature.  When someone else espouses a position to be true and right, I immediately start an analysis.  In Rick Warren's follow up book to the immenseley successful "Purpose Driven Life" called "Better Together" he called out the popular notion of "quality time" in favor of the much simpler concept of "quantity time."  As a young father who was working two jobs, one of which included two hours of driving time each day, this called into question my quest to provide  comfort for my family through my work.

I began to recall my own childhood as the son of a very busy father.  Although my dad started college the same year I started kindergarten, what I remember most vividly about those days was not the long hours my dad was in class, but it was sharing the kitchen table with him completing our homework together.  Each summer we spent "vacation" at the lovely resort destination of Hillsborough, NC at a campground, while my dad worked on graduate studies nearby at Duke.  While he worked diligently at his studies, he made sure not to sacrifice time with his family.  This compromise made a three-year graduate program take nine years to complete, but taught me a lesson in what truly matters.

So while I have been enduring the ordeal of a professional catastrophe the past four months, I can take much pleasure in  the opportunities it gave me to spent much "quantity" time with my children.  I was able to attend school parties, soccer games, swim meets, birthday parties, and other "normal" rites of 21st century childhood.  Yet it also opened up avenues of creative activity that I would never have been able to even consider.  What follows are some examples.

Alex, my 11-year old daughter, always presents her craziest ideas to me because I'm most likely to say yes.  When she playfully asked if I could save her from her math teacher that day, I did just that by picking her up just after lunch and taking her along while I went to study at George Mason.  I also played a significant role in planning her "Hunger Games" party she hosted for a group of friends, by crafting trails criss-crossing our 7 wooded acres.  

Christian, my 9-year old son, and I spent a day at nearby Camp Red Arrow installing hinges on the access doors to the well pump.  He is very service minded and has provided many ideas to occupy our time cleaning, fixing and other sweat inducing endeavors.  It was a distinct pleasure to have been able to say yes.

Caleb, my youngest son, is as close to a time-warp picture of myself at age 7.   He is a never ending supply of "Dad can we ________?" possibilities, and I have made it a life mantra to find a way to say yes as often as possible.

I have turned my family into hoarders.  However, what we hold onto most tightly would never require us to rent a storage locker.  We hoard experiences which we recount on trips in the car to our next adventure.  Did I mention that we only have one television and no video game system.  Objects serve us best when they represent authentic experiences.  Without the time for those enriching experiences, our stuff simply points to opportunities lost.

Camp Red Arrow

Daniel Boone campground is gone...but Daniel is still there


Posted at 03:07 pm by Wildolive
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012
My current situation...in folk tale

Due to obvious circumstances I am not able to discuss in vivid, lurid detail the plight that has been thrust upon me.  So I have tried, with little success until now, to find a literary parallel to help better inform those who care about me.  So when people send me messages saying variations on, "What the heck is going on with you?", this is my reply.  Any more detail will have to come in person.  So fellow pigeons and bystanders, here is an excerpt from John Berendt's (most famous for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) book "The City of Falling Angels", chapter 10 pages 234-235. 


These lawyers know they can't prove their clients weren't negligent because they WERE negligent.  But if they can persuade the court that it was a case of arson, and if an arsonist can be found and convicted, then all charges of negligence are automatically dropped, by law.

"Are you suggesting that the experts have been pressured into changing their minds?"

De Luigi shrugged. "It's never that blatant.  It's more subtle than that."

I was about to ask De Luigi what kind of subtlety he had in mind when a woman sitting at the table next to us gasped.  A seagull had landed in the midst of a cluster of pigeons pecking at bread crumbs and had seized one of the pigeons by the beak.  The pigeon was flapping and wriggling, trying to free itself from the much bigger seagull. In short order,the seagull had the pigeon pinned to the pavement and was jabbing its chest with its long, sharp beak.  After a few moments, it pulled out a bloody morsel the size of a large grape -- the pigeon's heart, no doubt -- juggled it in its beak, and swallowed it.

The seagull left the dead pigeon lying on the paving stones and strutted toward the edge of the San Barnaba Canal. (omitted) The other pigeons, having flown away in panic during the attack, fluttered back and resumed pecking at the bread crumbs only a few feet away from the seagull, sensing perhaps that its appetite had been satisfied.  The woman at the next table shuddered and turned away. De Luigi chuckled silently.

"There you have it," he said, "acted out before your eyes.  An allegory: the strong versus the weak.  It's always the same.  The powerful always win, and the weak always come back to be victims all over again." He laughed.

(from The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, copyright 2005, Penguin Press, New York City)


Feel free to comment, but I leave you with a couple of questions.

Have you ever seen tiny black birds harassing a hawk who was near their nest? 

I wonder how many times that pigeon was among the fleeing group who were just satisfied that they weren't the victim...on that day anyway?

What if pigeons behaved more like little black birds?

 

 

Posted at 12:30 pm by Wildolive
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010
In response to...

My good friend Gordon Meriwether's column from the Culpeper Star-Exponent 10/14


Bullies and the further adventures of my bleeding heart friend missing the point.

In response to the column on bullying this week, on all but one point I agree.  Making a law against bullying would be akin to making a law against bad breath.  Both bullying and bad breath are accepted as undesirable, even by the people who exhibit such faults.  Natural law has already singled out bullying as an unacceptable means of behavior of an individual in a community.  Laws exist to identify boundaries where they are ill defined.  Bullying is not ill defined.  Bullying is when an individual holds another in such contempt that abusing them becomes a means of entertainment or thoughtless advancement of a personal agenda.

Where my lovingly liberal friend again veers too far to the left (like my ’87 Honda Accord used to before I discovered a slightly bent frame) is when he identifies the tea party movement as bullies.  There is no doubt, Gordon sees the world as tilted toward eight o’clock  so here in the radical center, we just see some issues differently.  I can say that we remain friends because we are both committed to the same outcome (love your neighbor would sum it up I think), so it’s just method we don’t agree on.  In this case, however, my friend is just plain wrong.

In brotherly love, I must call out my friend.  I simply can not allow him to remain so woefully uninformed, and in public, in black and white newsprint  no less.  

What is bullying?  We must make sure that we are discussing the same concept.  An attempt to demonstrate real or perceived power through actions directed toward another who lacks real or perceived power.  This is most often associated with perceived physical power, as in the case of the middle school bruiser.  Bullying is also exemplified in those who hold real power, either physical or hierarchical, exemplified by the micromanaging boss or gang thug.  Bullying is overt demonstration of power on someone who is not in a position to resist.   The bully makes a show of power because  he or she can.

The question remains,  why would anyone with power behave in this manner?  Why would they feel the need to make such a demonstration.?  Why would someone in power or with power need to use someone powerless as a living visual prompt?  Some ascertain that the seeds of bullying lies in insecurity.  The bully is trying to convince themselves of power.  The victim is but a prop.  While that certainly could be the case, I don’t believe that to always be true. 

The underlying  root of bullying is contempt.  Holding other people in such little regard that they cease to matter as another human.  Other people exist as but a means to the bullies personal gain.  Another person’s value, to the bully, is in what they can do for them.  In the case of the overbearing boss, the  sense of mistrust is palpable.  The bully boss, either implicitly or explicitly states that no one in the company is as capable as him, so everyone needs to just keep their ideas to themselves and do what they are told.  This attitude betrays a poisonous contempt for the people around.

Now, does this sound like the tea party movement?  Actually this idea sounds a lot more like our condescending, and dismissive Democratic leadership in Congress and our “always the smartest guy in any room” President.  Now let me be clear (so all you idiots will understand…says Obama), our previous Republican congress and President also fit neatly under that dictionary entry. 

The tea party’s ringing bell message has been and remains that government has stopped listening to the people.   Like mad King George and his taxes, our government siphons money from regular folks to fund their own quest for, and expansion of power.

Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama are classic bullies.  In Bob Woodward’s new book on Obama, the famed Watergate reporter states that “President Obama clearly believes that he is always the smartest person in the room…any room.”   Another bullying moment from a Democrat was California Senator Barbara Boxer’s dressing down of a 4-star Army general for calling her “ma’am” with “you can call me Senator.”  The elitists now in control of our national government are most contemptuous toward main street Americans when they explain the overwhelming rejection of their agenda as a problem of messaging. Bill Maher and his constant belittling of Christians as “mentally deranged”, and Vice-President Biden’s assertion that the White House policies were unpopular because they were too complex for most people to understand are but two of innumerable examples of the bullies on the left.   I won’t even start on the bullies in the media.   The motto of today’s Democrat Party should be, “If you were smarter,  you would love us.”

 No, my neo-Marxist friend, it’s actually a very clear understanding of the policies forced upon the country (for our own good…I’m sure) by Mr. Obama and congress, that have led the majority of Americans to reject them.    

To be sure, there are bullies leaning toward five o’clock too.  Beyond the obvious names like Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, who employ the same contemptuous tone, there are the bloggers and talk radio lightweights who sing their Ode to Ronald Reagan in the key of loud.   Conservatives get stuck on the idea that democracy works for us so therefore it must work for everyone else, reminiscent of the crusades.  Pursuit of profit to the point of exploitation, and a foreign policy that seems to start with, “all the rest of you need to learn to speak English” smack of a bullying attitude as well, but remember, a bully must have power.

In 1994, in response to the over reaching of the Clinton administration and a sense of disenfranchisement (remember Clinton was elected in 1992 with less than 40% of Americans voting for him), Republicans were swept into office riding the pages of the Contract with America.  Reagan’s political progeny declared that our nation would get, line item vetoes, term limits and balanced budgets.  The death of “politics as usual” was touted from AM radios everywhere. 

The dot.com bubble came and our “conservative” congress celebrated with new entitlement programs, a war in Iraq (Afghanistan and 9/11 I get), no changes to ailing programs like Social Security and Medicare, and even a new prescription benefit to speed up the national bankruptcy.  In simplest terms, there were no real changes in how things are done. 

Therefore, the country gave up the dream and inexplicably elected Democrats hoping they would be more fiscally responsible.  (laugh track…actually a poll in ’06 said that 56% of Americans believed that Democrats were more likely to lower taxes…louder laugh track)  The big comeback was 2006 and the “I’m not Bush” primary election led directly to the mythical  2008, Barack Obama election.  (I still contend that America elected a man that does not exist.  Most people were simply voting for the vague idea of Hope and Change.  Without realizing that the change he was talking about was mind-boggling spending programs and European style socialism…how’s that working out in Paris these days?  No more retiring at 29!)

With each swing further left and then further back right we experience the centrifugal nature of our two-party system.   Centrifugal means, from the Latin, “to flee from the center.”  Who are the people in the center?  A simple distribution would tell you that the center would include the overwhelming majority of citizens in any voting district.  Ours is supposedly a representative democracy.  Who remains to represent those people in the center?  As I have stated in many a retort of a Meriwether position, the answer to that question is clearly no one.

So tell me now my friend.  When you hear the shouting voices of the tea party, are you hearing a bully?  Or are you hearing the bully’s victims finally standing up and saying.  WE HAVE TAKEN ALL THAT WE ARE GOING TO TAKE!

 The Republicans are the party of NO.  The Democrats are the party of YES, oh wait, what was the question?  While the tea party is the party of ENOUGH! 

 

In summary, Gordon sees the tea party and Fox News as bullies because they stand in opposition to people that hold a different view than he does.  While my conservative friend David, sees MSNBC and Joy Behar as bullies when they disparage views that he holds.  The tea party, in its purest sense (without being co-opted by opportunistic Republicans trying to ride the wave back into bullydom) is as inclusive a political movement as there has been in the US since the American Revolution.  The message is not complicated.  Our forefathers did not defy, depart and defeat the British crown only to establish another system of government that holds them in contempt.  This country was of, by and for WE, the people.    Remember what happened to those bullies?  The tea party isn’t over November 2. 
Posted at 08:45 pm by Wildolive
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Poem comments from you
OK, if everyone would do me this small favor.  I have written this poem and now would love some feedback, interpretation and a title would probably be nice also.

I wrote this with a very particular event in mind.  I will buy anyone their drink of choice at the Raven's Nest if you can guess it.
Posted at 10:15 am by Wildolive
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Poetry prompt from Writer's Digest
Untitled so far

Orange and blue screams
Comfort

Yet, I peer from my prison
Through antiseptic sheers
Recycled breeze from the norther mauve box
I cry, via wireless, cybermessage in a bottle
Hope
Yet
Reply holds at unclicked
Information incoming, information outgoing
Train motors east, plane soars west
No connection, near missing
Missing
Bare, my body and soul
Naked, resigned to fulfill this sentence
In purity of birth, to the end

Click
Connection is made
Flood of release
Hide me
Cover me
Connection is broken
Relief

Posted at 10:05 am by Wildolive
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Poetry prompt from Writer's Digest
Untitled so far

Orange and blue screams
Comfort

Yet, I peer from my prison
Through antiseptic sheers
Recycled breeze from the norther mauve box
I cry, via wireless, cybermessage in a bottle
Hope
Yet
Reply holds at unclicked
Information incoming, information outgoing
Train motors east, plane soars west
No connection, near missing
Missing
Bare, my body and soul
Naked, resigned to fulfill this sentence
In purity of birth, to the end

Click
Connection is made
Flood of release
Hide me
Cover me
Connection is broken
Relief

Posted at 10:05 am by Wildolive
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Friday, May 28, 2010
Justice and Mercy, Fair and Equal

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (NKJV)

 

If I have had a conversation with you in the past two weeks this subject has probably arisen.  It has been my obsession, to some extent, and is driving a larger philosophical journey for me. 

So God requires us to do JUSTLY in addition to loving MERCY. 

Here is my paraphrase, with some direct quotation, of the concept of fairness, using Webster.com and its synonyms tool.  Fairness, I would contend, is the closest approximation in the English language to a word that best illustrates the Micah 6:8 equation:  do justice + love mercy (walk humbly with God) = What YHWH requires of people.

Fairness means free from favor toward either or any side and implies an elimination of one's own feelings, prejudices, and desires so as to acheive a proper balance of conflicting interests (the result possibly being inequality)

Equitable implies a less rigorous standard than just and usually suggests simply equal treatment of all concerned (the result possibly being unfair)
fair. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved May 28, 2010, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fair

In our wonderful two party system of government, you may have noticed a Centrifugal force (from Latin  centrum "center" and fugere "to flee") as the left and right flee from the center in their view of most issues. 

Some, as Danny Smith contends in his article, may see this as a symptom of a litigational culture that sees ever interaction and issue as in need of balance.  I see it as simply doing justice OR loving mercy rather than both as God would have.

Fair and Equal are Rarely the Sameby Danny J. Smith courtesy of The Exceptional Children's Assistance Center

I will be exploring this concept more so I would love your feedback.  Is this why political solutions are doomed to fail whatever the issue?


 

 

Posted at 10:06 am by Wildolive
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Thursday, May 27, 2010
Joe told me that I need to write more...

so I'm going to.  I'm going to post the first chapter of the novel I'm working on.  It may not actually be the first chapter chronologically, but it's the first one that I've done.  This is a thirdish draft so comment away.

Dwight

The Brotherhood of the Welding Helmet

By: S. Dwight Parker

 

 

What lies before is my attempt to craft a story.  Not just any story, but MY story.  In my scattered comings and goings it has become clear that people enjoy a good story.  Philosophers, theologians, kings and barons may all blather of methods to change the world yet all the systematic theology, volumes of enlightened prose, rousing speeches, or patented systems in existence succeeds, most often, do nothing but rock the masses to sleep. While even the obligatory what I did this summer selection will perk up the attention of an bystander, if only for a moment.  While a sordid or suspenseful yarn can gather even the most exhausted of the muddy sticks.  My story begins. 

As in any good story, a significant chunk is somewhat embellished.  In actuality, only the most persistent of observers would recognize the events in this selection as anything but a completely original work of fiction. Some is fact, some is mythology and the rest falls somewhere between a Roger Clemens misremembrance and complete bullshit. More precisely the events described are semi-factual.  I was there for most, and knew well those there for the rest, and the statute of limitations saves us all.

Names of places were changed for no good reason and the names of people were so that my ass wouldnt be kicked or sued as some incidents tend toward the unsavory. With such an extensive disclaimer you may think I doth protesteth too much.  Possibly.

The New Testament, tells of a man born blind.  Jesuss disciples asked why the man was born with such an affliction. They debated that either the man himself had sinned or that his father and mother had.  As Jesus did often when a question missed the point, his reply was not an answer.  In this instance, Jesus spit upon the ground and with his fingers made mud from the dirt. He then plastered the mans eyes with it.  Jesus then told the man to go down to the pool of Siloam and wash in the waters there.  When the mud fell from his eyelids, the man born blind was able to see for the first time.

I am not the son of my fathers sin.  I am not a brother of perdition.  I am a creature of the created.  An image of the artist, the source of all metaphors, the muse of all poets, the essence of melody and rhyme.  Somehow, it was I who started the fire.  In my soul exists the trinity of contrition. Reality, Responsibility and Right.  For everything done in darkness will one day be brought into the light.  The sunll come out tomorrow, betcher bottom dollar that tomorrow theyll be sun. I was blind but now I see.

Like I told that cop and the dumbass reporter, we were all there that night. Now thats not something that you could say many nights in those days.  Hell, there wudnt but five of us that worked there all total even if you counted Jean who didnt do nothing but fill out ledgers and cut checks. But by the grace of God and the damn New York Yankees, we were all there.

I was working the evening shift, three til closing. Jean was hustling to get her ledgerin done in time for her appointment with Tom Selleck in Wranglers for some boot scootin.  We were on-site and available for no one in particular so we tuned into baseball while waiting to be needed.

That damn Darryl Strawberry swung a bat exactly the way that my little league coach would make us run laps for. But when Darryls shoulder dipped and the bat head dove toward the earth it was poetry.  The sweetest swing in the game which at times looked like something from a Ben Hogan instructional had rolled into Baltimore to oppose the Birds.  No cable necessary, the game came through sharp and clear on the rabbit ears.  Darryl came up while I was taking a piss and smacked one so far to leftfield that the ball one hopped that brick warehouse at Camden Yards.  Jean laughed as I ran out of the john still buckling my belt only in time to catch the end of the final replay.  A harbinger of a night of unfortunates.

The work wasnt hard, but I never liked being at the shop alone until closing.  Closing alone was the reason I bought the pistol. The old man was paranoid as hell that Id get some wild hair and OK corral some crackhead.  It wasnt no Dirty Harry hand cannon, hell, I didnt have that kind of money and I knew that a mammoth handgun like that only worked in the movies.  Mine was a .22 magnum revolver.  A little kid may have thought it was a toy. It  looked like a Hop-along Cassidy 6 oclock movie original.  Fake bone handle and a steel barrel that was just too skinny. I kept it in the box with the price sticker still on the side. Wills Guns, Your 2nd Amendment specialists.

Besides the Yankees and Os the night was dead.  There was work in the bay, but the parts hadnt come in time, so those automobile repairs would wait until the old man returned to his money pit at the crack of dark.

We never sold gas at night.  All of those little mini marts had popped up like mushrooms after a spring rain. We could fix just about anything wrong with any kind of vehicle.  We had two gas pumps out front.  There was an RC cola machine on the sidewalk by the office door, and a gumball machine filled with cashews by the counter. If your needs ran a little more into the exotic on this side of town.  Lets say somebodys thinking that a hot dog might go well with that RC, or preferred honey roasted peanuts in a plastic sleeve to a palm full of cashews and salt then those high fallutin tastes would require that business to be conducted elsewhere. 

Jeans boots clicked double-time across the concrete as she headed towards her gold Sunbird.  I waved as she twirled out onto Post Avenue and it was going to be the brotherhood and Darryl Strawberry until the lights flicked off at closing time.

I smelled burning tires.  Scorching rubber is a distinctive fragrance.  Similar in palor to the singed hair smell you get from too much lighter fluid on charcoal.  I knew what it was immediately, stood and started scanning to find the source. Without even realizing it, I had grabbed the Western Special. It was right there in my right hand my thumb on the hammer and my finger on the trigger.  I glanced down at the cylinder and counted one, two, three, cartridges. I hopped up from that army surplus steel desk chair the old man saved and cracked my knee real damn good on the underside.  Pain shot through my guts like a scythe.  I grabbed my knee and rubbed, cavemans Vicodin.

I looked out towards the service door and saw flames across the bay farthest away.  Fire was devouring a stack of discard tires loaded on pallets for the dump.  I eyeballed the fire extinguisher right between the old mans tool box and old refrigerator at the back corner of the garage.  I hustled over to that extinguisher with an intention to do the best I could to get things under control before I called the fire department. That plan and any cool focus left me the second I saw that the tower of flaming tires was starting the lean that was going to be a tumble and the landing area was going to be the old mans arc welder.  I could tell you that what ever chemistry was going to come from that recipe was something I was not going to hang around to know.

I blasted open the service door, through the office leaving the Yanks and Orioles to their own.  I staggered toward the gas pumps eliciting a ding-ding from the black rubber alarm hose. I dove behind the pay phone in front of my Camaro which was as far away as I could get from the building without standing in the street.  I reached around with my right hand and grabbed the phone receiver and pressed the nine, one and one buttons with my middle finger.

Emergency how can I help you?

Yes maam Im out at the Post Hills Exxon and weve got a fire.

Is there anyone in the building?

No maam, not anymore, but that fires burning pretty dang good theres some stuff in there thats probably gonna blow up so yall might want to hurry.

The windows of the repair bays blew out sending a shotgun blast of tempered glass toward me.  The old mans station was a ruin, before the first fireman slid down the brass pole.  They could break all response time records but the only job they were going to do was cool down the mess for the insurance adjuster.

I watched the flames lick the remains of the lift arms hypnotized by the curtains of heat.

            Hey fella I need you to put that pistol down. 

I startled from my trance just registering the police officer from the corner of my eye.  I could see his right index finger undoing the snap of his holster.  I put hands in the air then laid the pistol down beside me but my eyes were drawn back to the fire.

Whats your name?

Brodie Gayel, I work here, or used to anyway.

Tell me what happened Brodie?

I dont know what in hell just happened. We was watching the ballgame.  Jean left.  Strawberry hit another homerun in Baltimore.  Then I smelled burning tires.

How long ago was this?

I dont have no idea, a few minutes, what time is it now?

Its quarter to midnight.

I looked down at the cracked face of my watch, squinting in an effort to clear my view.

The game was in the sixth inning when Jean left.  The last thing she said to me was she needed to hurry to get to the bank by 8. Im sitting here looking at the shops burning to the ground at quarter to twelve.

Brodie come over with me to my car, and see if we can get this thing figured out.  Leave that gun there, Ill get it.

It was just like when Vanna turns over those ss ts and rs.  When it all clears up and you know.  I knew. All of this.  The fire, the glass, the cop, the gun.  This was all really happening.  And I had no idea of anything between Darryl Strawberrys second homerun and the smell of burning rubber. And I was walking over to a police cruiser to talk with an officer of the peace about a four hour hole in my consciousness.  And it was apparent that in that hole some dangerous shit went down. 

The old man is going to be so pissed.

Whos the old man?

My uncle, he owns the place.

Was there anyone else working with you tonight?

 

 

Posted at 12:30 pm by Wildolive
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