Harkening: The Returning

The rain had stopped by the time daylight came to the deep forest. In its place floated a heavy mist that danced among the treetops.

‘Lives in Woods’ crawl out of the hollow and stretched. He had slept wee despite being unable to lay down.

Embers still glowed lightly below the layer of ash in his fire pit. Instead of adding wood to the, ‘Lives in Woods’ stretched again, then proceeded to urinate on the blazes’ remains.

He quickly found two limbs and cut them from the tree, stripping them of any branches so they were bare. Crossing the skinnier ends of the limbs, he tied them together, then knitted his hemp rope back and forth between the branches.

Finally he carefully laid the wrapped remains on top of the rope, picked up the two ends that weren’t lashed together, and headed on to the trail. If he moved quickly, he could be back in town by nightfall.

‘Lives in Woods’ thought back to the night before, wondering still how the bones came to be inside the tree as they were. It surprised him when he realized the man was sitting upright, and that the skull was half hidden in a small ledge where it had rolled after death.

In the morning light, ‘Lives in Woods’  could see the bones were heavily yellowed, meaning they were old. Furthermore, the fact that the bones had not been dragged away by hungry beasts long ago, mystified him.

“Perhaps,” he pondered, “It is his clothing.”

After all the man’s hands bore remnants of gloves and a think layer of clothe, much like a burlap sack.  His feet also had the same kind of wrapping that covered what at one time had been boots.

And while the fire glowed, he again lifted and examined the square box. During this period, he sudden became aware of how simple it would be to open it as it had only two tiny latches that held it closed.

Though again tempted to open the box, he thought better of it, fearful he might let loose an unwanted spirit, like the ‘bleeding disease,’ that killed millions around the world, before ‘the new time’ began. “Best leave that to the Elders,” he concluded.

‘Lives in Woods’ took note of his surroundings, wanting to be able to find his way back if called upon. He was sure the Elders would want to see where the bones were found, so they could better understand why the man was in the tree’s hollow.

By the time the sun set, ‘Lives in Woods’ stood in front of the Elders lodging.

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Why I’m Voting for Chuck Allen

With two ‘Chuck Allen for Washoe County Sheriff’ signs in my front yard, it is hard not to tell who I intend to vote for in the upcoming election. I know, have work with and genuinely like Chuck and that helped me come to my decision.

But there is more.

While I do not know ‘Trooper Chuck’s’ opponent, Undersheriff Tim Kuzanek, I do know he has the misfortune of being endorsed by our current sheriff, Mike Haley, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini and Reno’s Mayor, Bob Cashell. This trio is problematic for me.

Last year the Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Haley wanted to “control access to assault weapons,” and “limit access to high-capacity magazines.” As for Cashell and Martini, they decided at the last-minute to endorse the ‘Sycophant of Searchlight,’ Harry Reid in his 2010 senate bid, thus helping to stick the U.S. with another six-years of ‘Pinky’s’ political treachery.

While I am able to forgive – I cannot bring myself to forget.

Harkening: The Ending

What has actually happened, none of us really know. We’ve been cut-off from all outside information for days now.

I jus’ know we are suffering the effects of an E-M-P – an electrical magnetic pulse.

It started while I was sitting at our computer, typing a story for my blog. I had the television on in the living room as I was listening to the Glenn Beck show.

Suddenly everything blanked out. At first it didn’t seem like a big deal, power outages happen and I figures NVEnergy would have the problem solved in an hour, if not in a few minutes.

I was so wrong.

My wife, Mary, was in town and when the power hadn’t returned after two-hours I decided to call her. I don’t really like having a cell-phone, but I keep one with me incase I need to get a hold of her, my son, or our friend Kay.

Unfortunately, my cell wasn’t working either. So I pulled the old ‘Princess’ phone out of our closet and plugged it into the phone jack since our other home phone’s operate on electrical power.

It didn’t work either. Then it dawned on me, her business phone operates on electricity too.

And even though I knew it wouldn’t work, I dialed Kyle’s cell-phone and then Kay’s. I had no way of knowing exactly where they were as Kyle was working for a temp agency and Kay was visiting family in Las Vegas.

Soon I became worried about Mary, scared for her safety and wondering where she was at since I was certain she had left her shop hours. So I grabbed my truck keys and with the intent of going to look for her, I tried to start my truck.

Oddly, it was dead. So I went next door and knocked, wondering if I might borrow one of their cars.

Bridgette told me Mike had not made it home and she hadn’t heard from him as of yet. She also tried to start her older model VW bug and it too, wouldn’t start.

Luckily, she had picked their son up their son from school before the power went down. So she didn’t have that worry to contend with.

As I walked back to my front door, Tom from across the street hollered to me, asking, “Can you get your truck to start?”

“No,” I answered.

Quickly we were joined by Bob, who lives across from Tom on the corner and Gary who is my next door neighbor on the other side of me from Bridgette and Mike. We all compared our situations and found they were nearly exact.

Only Bob, who has an old 1927 coupe, could get his vehicle to start-up. It was at that moment that I realized what had happened and decided to voice my opinion.

“Can I borrow your coupe,” I asked Bob, “So I can go pick up my wife and perhaps find my son?”

Bob hesitated; he had to think about it, which I don’t blame him in the least. Finally, he handed me the keys.

Within 20 minutes I was driving through the streets of Sparks, which were littered with cars and trucks. I found the same thing on Kietzke as I headed towards Mill and Mary’s business.

By this time it was dark and devoid of people as I wheeled into the parking lot. I pulled in front of her shop and banged on the front door.

At first I figured she was no longer there, but then I saw her press her hands on the glass, cupping her face to see outside and into the darkness. I could see the fear in her face and her swollen, red eyes from crying.

Isolation can do this to a person, no matter how strong they might be.

She turned the key in the door and stepped out. We stood there hugging each other for at least a minute.

Soon we were dodging vehicles left in the roadway, abandoned where they died. We were on our way to Kyle’s mother’s home, where he lives.

Once parked in the driveway, I rushed to the door and banged on it. No one answered and I returned to the vehicle, puzzling over what to do.

Mary suggested we jus’ head home and I agreed. It took us no time to drive up into Bob’s driveway and park.

While Mary and I set ourselves to work right away, going into our back yard and digging a large hole. The ground is hard and by the time we finished, both our hands were raw and blistered.

The next morning, we lined the hole with the rocks we’ve had in our yard since we first moved here and which I’ve been too lazy to move or get rid of. Then we pulled our old metal ice chest out of the rafters and filled it with the frozen food from our freezer.

It took us less than half-an-hour to bury the hole with the hope of keeping the food from rotting. I knew that it might not work, so soon I might have to go out and find some fresh meat.

As we were covering the hole, it occurred to me that I might be able to communicate with someone beyond our neighborhood. I had forgotten that at one point I had studied to get my Ham radio license, and I still had much of that equipment, including a telegraph key.

Within an hour’s time, I had my crystal radio set out and I was working to tune it to anything, a voice, music, Morse code or even static. I found a voice, though faint and fading in and out, that told me what I had already suspected.

It was a worthless message, obviously pre-recorded and left to repeat in an endless-loop. Though it wasn’t what I had hoped for, it did bolster our spirits to know there was something out ‘there’ beyond jus’ us.

Harkening: The Finding

This series of five short-stories is based on reoccurring ‘night terrors’ I’ve been having for the past few months. The way I’m figuring it — maybe, jus’ maybe — if I write it down and share it then it’ll go away.

‘Lives in Woods’ looked up at the gray sky as droplets of rain fell on his face. He’d been hunting for a day and a half now and hadn’t seen one deer or elk.

“Perhaps, I’ve gone to high,” he thought.

He could tell that the light would soon be gone as it filtered through the giant trees. He decided to it would be a good idea to look for shelter before it grew too dark and he’d have to set up camp in the rain.

As he silently, but swiftly moved amid the high ferns, he looked for tracks, eaten ends of plants and a possible place to get in out of the rain. ‘Lives in Woods’ was even willing to use a dead-fall log to get in out of the chilling event of the wetness as it continued to fall.

It was jus’ off to his left that he saw what might be an even better place to hole up than under a log. He could see an opening in the base of a huge Redwood, that was hidden by a growth of ferns.

“Hopefully, there’s no bear inside,” he muttered as he worked his way to the tree.

He thrust his spear forward into the opening. There wasn’t a bear inside the hollowed out tree trunk as he had first feared – it would make a good shelter for the night.

After gathering wood, he knelt and began the task of creating fire. He used the ancient technique passed down through the generations of spinning the end of a stick in the notch or a board, which he carried in a bag that hung across his body.

Even though the weather was wet, his board and stick we dry and he made fast work of making a glowing ember. He quickly added it a bird’s nest he also had in his bag, found days ago and soon he’d built himself a fire by which to dry himself and stay warm.

It had been a long day, so after eating some jerked salmon, he moved to the back of the hollow and stretched out. As he lay there, he felt something, perhaps a rock, poke him in the back.

Absent mindedly, ‘Lives in Woods’ reach under himself and dug at the object. He pulled it free from the compressed earth and looked at it.

It didn’t look like a rock at all. He studied it some more, turning it over again and again.

“Bone,” he concluded.

Rolling over and getting to his knees, he probed the area on which he’d been resting. To his shock he found another bone, this one long and slender.

Next to it was another long, bone, about the same length, yet thicker. That lead up to what ‘Lives in Woods’ knew to be a human thigh bone.

Before long, he had uncovered a nearly complete skeleton. While others of his people would have run away, terrified of such a thing, ‘Lives in Woods’ knew he must collect all that he could and return with them to town.

Along with the bones, he also pulled from the ground a large square object, made of a material he didn’t recognize. It looked to be wrapped at one time inside pieces of clothe that had long since rotted away.

It was hard to see through the square, like a heavily fogged over afternoon, yet he could tell it held something inside it. What it could be, he didn’t know, and he felt it best not to investigate it any further.

“I’ll let the Elders do that,” he thought.

Then much to his surprise, he noticed an object leaning in a crevasse of the tree trunk. It was long and made of metal, with a wood handle.

‘Lives in Woods’ knew it a gun when he saw one, though he never held one before. He gathered these items too and wrapped them all in a piece of deer skin he had planned to use to keep warm with.

In the morning, at first light, he would rig a travois and return to town.  ‘Lives in Woods’ was certain he had found one of the ‘Last Peoples.’

Poor Monica’s Dilemma

It occurred to me as I listened to Monica Lewinsky speak about her sexual escapades with former President and current Democratic rock-star Bill Clinton. In her talk, she blamed the Internet, Matt Drudge and the media with bullying her.

But not once did I hear her during her monologue, take true responsibility for her actions. After all she said she was 22-years-old at the time and therefore old enough to know better.

Nor did she blame Bill Clinton for what happened to her. As for Bill, I never thought it was about sex – rather it was all about power and then in the end it was about lying to Congress.

Three Books

Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, “was unable to name three books that influenced his life…and blamed his lack of an answer on being ‘brain-dead,’ reports the Washington Free Beacon. The same thing happened to Sarah Palin when asked what newspapers or magazines she reads, “Umm – all of them.”

If put on the spot, very few of us could name three books that have truly influenced our lives. In fact, I doubt most of us could honestly claim that the Bible has been a real influence, since many of us have yet to study it’s content fully save for a few verses here and there.

It took me about ten minutes to think my list of three books. And I believe I read them all before I was nine years old.

The first one was given to me by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Helen Puls. Called “The Puppycat,” it was first published in 1953 by Nora Sanderson and Eileen Mayo and centers on a pet that was half-dog and half-cat.

I say it influenced me because it’s the first book I read on my own.

Next is “Goops and How to be them,” by Gelett Burgess. Described as “rude creatures devoid of beauty and grace,” and each Goop adventure in the book is a lesson on ‘good manners.’

First gone to press in 1900, I found the rhymes fun to read even though I was tongue-tied as a kid. For instance:

“The Goops they lick their fingers,
And the Goops they lick their knives,
They spill their broth on the table-cloth–
Oh, they lead disgusting lives.”

(Now maybe Kyle will understand when as a little boy he made a mess, I’d call him a ‘Goop.’)

Finally, I enjoyed “Catcher with the Glass Arm,” written by Matt Christopher in 1964. I begged Mom to let me order it from some fundraiser we were having at school.

‘Glass arm,’ is more than jus’ a baseball story to me – it’s a template for building good character. The story builds upon good sportsmanship, adapting to situations, hard work and never giving up.

Raking Leaves

As I continue to watch the leaves drop from the trees, I’m reminded of a book given to me by our neighbor and my sisters’ God-mother, Margaret Keating, when I was 16 years old. Printed in 1903, it contained hundreds of Haiku and assorted short stories.

A few years later, it disappeared, stolen by former landlord. Anyway, one story I remember was about ‘raking leaves,’ and though I can only paraphrase the original story, it went something like this:

A young student was in charge of a garden, where he meticulously raked up all the dry autumn leaves. As he worked, his teacher watched him with interest. 

When he finished, the student stood back to admire his work, calling out to his teacher, “Isn’t it beautiful?”  

“Almost,” replied the teacher.

The student watched as his teacher walked to the tree, grabbed its trunk and shook it, showering leaves all over the once raked garden. The teacher then walked back to where the student stood, unable to speak and said, “Now, it’s beautiful.”

With leaves scattered around our backyard, I told Mary the story. She then brought me back to reality.

“Nice story,” she smiled as she handed me a rake.