This sure posts some great true life articles. If you have the time, the brainspace at the end or the beginning of the day, get on his email list for his updates and articles. The Art of Non-Conformity
Today was payday. Payday’s require breakfast out, maybe even dinner. In small towns, you normally have limited choices for a meal out on Mondays. Generally “Bubba” keeps the café closed on Monday and Tuesdays, depending on whether the fish are biting. We are lucky in this small town because we have a Denny’s. We’ve made some sort impression with the wait staff, as soon as we hit the lobby, at least two servers at any given hour of the day jump to our side and seat us right away.
I paid little attention as I held the door open for three older gentlemen that hit the doors just a half a step ahead of my wife and me. One of our favorite servers Stephanie seated us, while the manager seated the three older gents a few tables away on our right. My build it yourself Slam was neither good nor bad, just easy. Biscuit and gravy, sausage links, scrambled eggs, iced tea. Gayle, my wonderful wife enjoyed her Slam breakfast fare. She added hash browns.
From where I was seated I looked directly at two of the gentlemen. The other’s back being to me. One man’s black ball cap was emblazoned with Viet Nam Veteran, with several small insignias and pins. The other man had his head turned slightly. I could only make out a large silver S on his black ball cap. At least to me, two obvious Vets. We ate. They ate. We talked. They talked. Eventually, the man with the silver S, turned his head enough and I read what was embroidered in silver thread, Silver Star.
I mentioned to Gayle that I wanted to pay for their breakfast. She said she had always wanted to buy a Vet breakfast. I said here is your chance to buy three heros a breakfast. However, they were finishing before we were, I added they might leave before we got a chance to grab the ticket. She jumped from her seat and away from her breakfast, and walked over to their table where the ticket laid in front of all three men. I watched as she snatched it away from them. They protested loudly. Gayle stood her ground. She informed them in no uncertain terms that we were buying them breakfast as a very small thank you for their service.
I gobbled up what I could choke down before I started crying. She handed me their ticket, I took our ticket and bolted for the register. My tears building up. I paid for both meals, and was about to make a clean getaway with a tear heading south. Gayle was wiping her eyes. Suddenly two of the three Vets were upon us, still protesting for paying for their breakfast.
One man reached out and said, “You should at least have a souvenir for your money.” He handed me a custom business card. The other Vet handed me an identical card. The third man was in the restroom.
We all exchanged one last round of thank you’s. I barely made it to my driver’s seat of the truck before I totally lost it. I was moved - greatly.
To sit in the company of greatness, selflessness is amazing. Yes, they were wearing their Vet regalia, yes three of them were wounded in combat. One was even a POW. But I feel like I had breakfast with four heros. Joe “China Boy” Lopez, Sr., Pablo J. Sanchez, the third man I did not get a name or a business card and my all time hero; Gayle M. Turpin, my wife.
I know sometimes it seems impossible to come up with change from the sofa to pay for a damn taco, but sometime in the future I hope everyone pays for a Vet’s meal, and enjoy a meal with your own hero.
Sitting here thinking of the world on the other side of the jail house window, it never occurred to me how telling a scary story to a couple of snot nosed kids would lead me here…
I took a few days off from work and headed for a special place sixty miles north of ’Frisco on the coast. Some salt air, screeching gulls, sand between my toes, a quick getaway from my claustrophobic one bedroom apartment the city. Get my psyche’ recharged. De-stress and maybe work on a story with no legs. The story, a fisherman swept overboard, lost at sea and found six months later in a bathroom wrapped in kelp. I thought location would lead to inspiration, never considered prison.
Walking along the wet sand of the Pacific coast, waiting for inspiration and a recharge. Bothersome unleashed dogs running wild--unattended brats, all playing and having a grand time and disrupting mine. After a bit I headed over the mountainous dunes to my meager campsite. I pitched my tent tight against the dunes--below the sea breeze, near a picnic table with a fire pit.
The first night--wonderful, a gentle campfire, a flask of thirty year old scotch, just me, the sand, muffled surf and stars.
About twenty-five yards away a mom, dad and two kids camped in an old faded red and white cab-over camper, sitting on an even older booger green colored pickup. I noticed them at a glance. I go camping for my own selfish reasons and one can assume others do likewise, not a crime.
Around noon on the second day the kids next door got bored and strayed from their campsite. My turn to get a visit from the brother and sister team.
“Whatcha doing?” The little girl demanded as she walked right to my picnic table and flopped down, her younger brother poking a stick around in my fire pit.
My writing journal open with pen in hand--writing. Not wanting to acknowledge the intrusion. Inspiration looming.
“Writing what?” Asked the freckle faced nose miner.
“A ghost story.”
“Oh those kinda stories don’t scare me. I watch those chop ’em up movies all the time… can’t scare me.”
“Really?” A unexpected challenge, I liked her style.
“Yup… betcha can’t scare me.”
“Betcha I can.”
Fiddling with a small sliver poking out of the picnic table top, those small young eyes looking from under her eye lids, “Go ahead--try.”
I thought for a minute, maybe three minutes. “Did you see those signs posted looking for the two lost kids?”
“My mom and dad showed them to us and told us to be very careful.”
“Good advice good parents.”
“I know.” Such a brat.
“They found those two kids this morning.”
“Yes they did.”
“Right here in the campground.”
Her breathing tightened, her little red hair covered head snapped around to see exact spot the kids were found.
“They found them dead--been dead awhile.”
“Where did they find them?”
“You see those blue plastic toilets over there?”
She took another look. “Yep.”
“They found them down inside with the poop and stuff.”
“No way. They wouldn’t fit down that hole.”
“That’s where they found them. Have you been up there and used the potty?”
“Yep. I didn’t see no kids.”
“Then you remember how bad it smells in there.”
“Yep it smells really bad.”
“That’s why it smells so bad. Those kids had been down in there for a few days… rotting, with people going potty on them all the time. Rotten bodies really really stink!”
“Your story doesn’t scare me at all.” Looking over her shoulder at the blue plastic toilets and then to her brother. “Come on Tommy we have to go eat lunch.”
“So I didn’t scare you?”
“Nah. Bye” She grabbed little Tommy by the arm and ran to their camper where her parents laid out lunch on their picnic table.
The rest of the day uneventful and pleasant. Another walk along the cold slip sliding Pacific ocean. A refill of my flask. More inspired writing and another peaceful relaxing campfire. I crawled into my tent around three a.m. I happened to notice all of the lights in the camper still on, nothing to me, I hit the sleeping bag.
I told the cops it was 8:30 am when my stomach rumbled to life and out the tent I came, time for some bacon and eggs. I noticed the camper next door with the hood open on his color challenged pickup. His eyes met mine and he made a beeline for me.
“Hey!” His voice going up and octave with each step.
I wanted him closer.
“Good morning.” Not ready for anybody’s attitude.
“What the hell did you tell my daughter yesterday?” Squaring off towards me.
“What?” A thirty year old scotch fog dulled my response.
“What the hell did you tell my daughter? She was up all night… she left all the damn lights on in the camper and drained the batteries!”
“Do you need a jump start?”
“No! I need you to tell me what the hell you told her!”
“You’re a sick son of a bitch.”
“And your point is?”
“You should stay away from kids!” Pointing a finger in my face.
“Let me make a note of that--okay.”
He cussed a blue streak as he turned and walked away, no biggie, he wasn’t the first person I pissed off and certain not to be the last.
The dead batteries twisted him off something awful. He walked the half a mile the ranger station to call for a tow truck and complained to the ranger about my chop ‘em up story I was challenged to tell.
A sharp dressed park ranger complete with a cute Smokey the Bear hat pulled into my campsite.
“Good morning Mr. Ranger.” My inner fog lifting.
“Good morning. Seems these folks next to you have a complaint about some inappropriate behavior with you and their daughter.”
I explained the entire situation all over again, he seemed amused. He agreed I put the brat in her place, but advised me to avoid such storytelling in the future. Not a problem Mr. Ranger man.
The tow truck arrived, jump started the Job family RV and off they went complete with a coughing and sputtering engine.
Wanting to work off the bacon and eggs I hit the beach. One more night and back to the apartment and the job, part time animal control officer for San Francisco county.
My muse hit me on the beach and hurried my pace to my journal. As I crested the dunes, a mob of law enforcement officers surrounding the blue plastic toilets on the hill across from my campsite. Yellow crime tape fluttering in the breeze blowing in off the azure waters of the Pacific.
The cops found the two missing brats in the bottom of the blue plastic toilets.
My defense throughout the trial regardless of my current occupation--I was incapable of hurting the tiniest of God’s creatures. I sit here now, inspiration in full bloom, no crappy apartment, no more euthanizing strays, talking to my new friends, a fly on the wall, whispering to a couple of ants on the cold concrete floor. A cockroach was a buddy of mine for the first few months, but he moved on… I would never hurt any of these little critters. I even told the judge, “I wouldn’t even hurt a fly. “
But boys and girls, let me tell you that’s another story.
Book number two of the Vivika Stryker Mystery series is with the editor now. I hope to get it back and start the re-writes in the next three or so weeks.
Book number three, The Roswell Hustle is damn near finished! I'm at page 227 tonight. Whew...
And... book number four has revealed itself to me, in a good way. :) Should be starting it sometime before the end of the year.
In other news... we sold our house in Antlers, Oklahoma on July 1st, and purchased another RV and we are currently in the RV and on the ground in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico! The desert is wonderful.
Gayle, Peanut and Korina are all doing quite well and loving the desert as much as I am.
I plan on adding more and more content and what have you to this Blog as the weeks roll on. I will also be adding excerpts from the novels from time to time as well as some short stories, and maybe a poem or two.