Saturday, November 21, 2009

When You Get The Urge

When you get the urge to, "Do something!" to help United States Service Members, I have a suggestion.

Send your Care Package to:

Col. James R. Griffith
Chaplain U.S. Army
Cheif of Pastoral Services
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
Wounded Warrior Medical Management Center
CMR 402
APO AE 09180

When you think of a Medevac (Medical Evacuation) you may think of Blackhawk helicopters swooping into a live fire zone or a F.O.B. (Forward Operating Base) and whisking away wounded wariors.

That happens all to often but the scene isn't always replete with the thunder and gore of a Hollywood movie.

Also, that may be just the first step.

A MEDEVAC could stem from an illness that the base hospital isn't equiped to diagnose or treat.

What happens then, when the wounds are too severe or the illness is out of the realm of local hands?

The next leg of that MEDEVAC may land at Ramstein Airbase and care continued at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

L.R.M.C. is a huge nine wing hospital with, I imagine, all of the services one could imagine.

One service you might not think about, I didn't, is the Chaplains Closet.

Think about it. You get MEDEVACed with nothing but the clothes and gear on your back. You land in Germany and get treated. Let's say that you are ambulatory. Maybe even out an patient.

Now what? You're stuck in the clothes that you left the field in. It's doubtful that you have shampoo, a toothbrush, socks, clean underwear, clothes, etc.

All you (and everyone within sniffing distance of you) want is a hot shower, clean clothes and a bed.

If you're lucky, HN2 Ramon will lead you to the Chaplains Closet, hand you a small duffell bag and get you set up.

I began to have respiratory trouble the day I arrived in theater. Immediately upon arrival, I hyperventilated. I figured, big deal, nerves, new place, big dose of the unknown, etc, etc, etc.

It happened several more times until I finally lost count after a couple of weeks.

Then I got what we called the Dirt Flu. I think I told you about it. The air is lousy with dust and burning trash and diesel fumes and Jet Fuel fumes and who knows what else.

I began to get shorter and shorter of breath. Another bout of funk settled into my head and lungs. Just laying down closed off my airflow. Even bending over to tie my shoes or fuel an auxilary tank knocked the wind out of me.

The sudden losses of O2 would bring about a state of panic that I'd struggle to keep in check long enough to get a whisp of air into my lungs.

The worst part is waking up in the pitch black of my little bunk space and gasping for air completely disoriented.

Several nights ago I was walking back from dinner, metering my breath with my steps, muttering about MAYBE going to the camp clinic, LATER.

When I came to the right turn that would take me to the pick-up point for my ride to work, I kept walking, straight to the clinic.

A young Doctor asked what was wrong and I gasped, "I can't breath." He took me seriously. Less than five minutes later he said, "Get in the truck, we're going to the hospital."

I say several nights ago because I'm not really sure when it was. It's all kind of blurry.

We went to the ER, Exams, IV, Meds, Xrays, CAT Scans, to a Ward, Vitals checked every four hours, more Meds, Night?, Day?, visitors?, questions, KC-135, flight to Ramstein, L.R.M.C....

Now, it's Sunday morning. I'm in a little hotel in Landstuhl. I have an appointment of sorts for Monday morning. The last Doctor I talked to said that he anticipates pronouncing me "Fit to Fly" but to where and how?

I expect that I'll be on some sort of flight Home Monday or Tuesday.

When I know, you'll know.

Just remember, "When you get the urge..."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back on line!!!

So, let's try a couple of lines...


"Hello Mutha
hello Fatha
here I am in
Doha, Qatar

How'd I get here
and where am I going?
Don't ask me 'cause
I not be knowing..."

No? Not so much?
How about...

"The Whole Lotta Nada
now coming to you from
a non-existant airbase
in an undisclosed country.
Land of the sand
Camel Spiders
and War Fighters..."


"Off the reservation"?

"Down Range"?

"I've lost my fucking mind!"?
We may be onto something THERE!!!

OK, ok, ok...

I do have to be a little nutZ.

I rolled out of Brightledge on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Headed to San Antonio Int'l Airport. Dropped the Camaro at Avis Rental. Boarded a CRJ, in 1st Class. Didn't even realize a CRJ HAD a 1st Class.

Sometime after dark we landed Washington Dulles. It had been nearly 20 years since I'd been there so a quick and easy terminal change was welcome.

The Qatar Air gate was easy as well and the Virgin Airways lounge was close by. Why does free beer seem to taste better?

Then, things went to full blown, "WOW!!!"

As jaded as I am it takes a real punch for an airplane to impress me. Lemme tell ya what, the Boeing 777 Dreamliner did it.

In no time I was sipping champagne in a seat with more settings than I could imagine.

The whole thing was a little unreal.

I was strapped into a piece of soon to be airborne sculpture. All set for a Trans-Atlantic night. About to get the first stamp in a freshly renewed passport. And, it was a one way ticket.

Nothing unusual about that right?

The night went by in a cozy blur. One glass of champagne a hot meal a cold beer a movie and I was out.

The sun was shining on an unfamiliar land when I woke. Then, we flew into another sunset.

That did seem a little odd. We landed in Doha at six p.m. local and it was already dark. Seemed odd.

I cleared customs and immigration and stepped out into a muggy darkness. There, a fellow stood with a sign full of names. All of them were crossed off except mine. That felt a little like an episode of "The Amazing Race" and I was the last to arrive.

We loaded up in an appropriatley black Suburban and sped off. Eventually we came to a check point. Our first stop of many requied to gain entry to the post.

We arrived at a building that turned out to be home for the next day or so.

Quarters were 8 man rooms with bunk beds and the requisite itchy green wool blankets. Turns out they're not wool anymore but they perfectly replicated the itchiness!

And good god was it COLD in there. Apparently that helps keep germs and bugs at bay. It was so cold I got up at 2 a.m. and went outside to a picnic table.

Anyway, a day and a half trapped on a strange base culiminated in a 10 p.m. Show for a 2 a.m. Go. (We were to show up for our connecting flight 3 hours ahead of the scheduled departure time: Show/ Go.)

Turns out that schedules mean shit. I think it was 4 a.m. before we launched.

OH, and that glorious flight on the Dreamliner. Yeah, forget about it. The second leg of the trip I was strapped into a side facing web seat in the back of a C130 with 70 or so of my newest closest friends and three pallets full of gear.

Gratefully, I can sleep sitting up.

The sun came up while I slept. The airplane landed. The ramp lowered enough for a forklift to get the pallets out and the Crew Chief said, "Get Out!"

We did and the C130 left.

Where am I? I'm right where the Crew Chief left me.

Its a dirty dusty dry hell that alternates between hotter 'n hell and colder 'n shit. The wind blows so hard it makes Texas seem tame. It's full of work and rules and no booze. In fact, that's Rule Number One: No Beer. "You will be denied the one thing that could make this 'Paradise' palatable."

Those of you that are actually reading may have noticed that I didn't answer the question. Well, I'm not certain but I think there is a rule that says I can't tell you. Like I said, I'm not sure but I'm gonna err on the side of caution for now.

So, "First Former Mrs Simpson", there ya have it. Your first installment of, "What it's like there." here.

Wherever the hell it is. I swear I saw Scissor Tailed Fly Catchers today so, I'm a little suspicious...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

So, While I'm At It...

"Fun With Melodrama"


The J.S. Bach "Fugue in D Minor" alarm on the Blackberry was punctuated with simultaneous lightning and thunder. The storm was right over head.

"Great. I've got an airplane to deploy in four hours. Where are my boots? Damnit!", in the baggage weight reduction act of Ft Benning, GA I shipped my rain boots 'Forward'.

The TV weather guessed the storm cell was small and moving fairly quickly but there were more to follow.

4:30 am, G. Tony rolled up to the airplane in his rented Dodge pickup. His size; height and bulk, allowed him to rent a full size rather than a standard size vehicle. We refer to those guys as "Mutants".

"Good of you to join us G. You're late."

"Aw shut up. I brought doughnuts."

"Fork 'em over."

"Let's get you guys in out of this rain."

Inside the Line Shack the scent of fresh pastry elicited; "Hey! Dog-nuts!", "They're still warm!", "Where's the coffee?"

G. Tony, "Is she preflighted and signed off, are the records on board, the parts, the Form 'F' done, are we ready?"

"Aw shut up. Who do you think you're dealing with?"

"Ok, ok, I know. I want to do one last engine run. You just stand fire guard and get me started then get out of the rain."

The rain fell steadily and the lightning and thunder continued to drift to the East and South. The King Air was sillouetted by the stadium style lights on the edge of the ramp. The ill planned drainage of the ramp began to mainfest itself in the form of a two inch deep lake spreading out over the acres and acres of concrete.

Winding his Mutant frame through the racks in the cabin, G. Tony eventually made his way into the pilots seat. The dim cockpit floodlight came on.

The rotating beacons, navigation lights and logo lights came on.

In the darkness, the sillouette and veil of rain the aircraft lighting accented the beautiful lines of the King Air.

I smiled under the wide brim of my hat, wrapped in my black duster rain coat, despite my deck shoes being soaked in the rising water. A shadowy King Air showing her colors in the dark will always make me smile.

A quick hand sign from the cockpit.

I pointed at the right hand engine, stuck two fingers up into the rain and flicked them just as quickly.


The big Dash 60 turboprop rolled to life.

I listened to the motor turn and the prop spin and the change in the sounds as the starter brought it up in speed and oil pressure. The increase in oil pressure began to change the pitch of the props and sound they made. I slapped at the rain drops as the PT6A-60 hit 20% RPM. Just then G. Tony pushed the fuel levers out of "Cut Off" and the big beast sucked in the foul nectar and PHWUMPED to life.

As the engine came on power l awaited a favorite part of wet launches.

The water, inches deep and just inches below the tip of the propeller arc began to dance.

Another quick motion from inside and another quick reply and the #1 engine began to sound off.

The big engines turning. Oil pressure and temperature stable. G. Tony pushed the throttle levers forward, out of idle.

'There they are!', my grin widened as water spouts formed under the prop arcs. As the power increased the little vorticies danced violently.

I watched and listened as the engines were put through the various checks; Feather, Auto-Feather, Auto-Ignition...

'Reverse!' I could see G. Tony laughing as the pitch change redirected the rain towards me. "You Bastard!", I laughed back.

I heard the motors responding to Max Power, 'Uh, G. We're not supposed to go past 80%...much less 104%!"

Up they came. The nose of the airplane dropped suddenly like a nose guard in a goal line stand as the powerful engines pushed the piston of the nose gear down on the nitrogen and hydraulic fluid inside it.

Even inanimate objects responded to the King Air. Golf carts, service carts and trash cans began to 'flee' from (in) the prop and turbine blast

The throttle levers came back to idle. Oil temperature and pressure stabilized. The twin tornadoes beneath the props calmed.

WHAFfff. The fuel levers went into cut-off and the vorticies flattened. And, the airplane was ready to deploy.

More of the maintenance crew had arrived and were scarfing down warm doughnuts.

I have been called a great number of things in 47 years but what I heard that morning made me laugh out loud.

"Mike Scott!!!", it was big Doc Brock, "Look at you. Ya got yer hat and yer black duster! Where's yer brief case and flip flops?"

"Best I can do is soggy deck shoes Doc so quit it."

Those 'in the know' laughed at the reference to an old friend.

7:30 Go Time. The airplane was ready. Maintenance was ready.

As usual we were waiting on the 'Drivers'. "Bus Drivers", "Yoke Actuators", "Trained Monkeys" (after all they leave peanuts all over the cockpit, write on the windows with grease pencils, and, who was the first "American" to Pilot a space craft? "Ham". Look it up.)

Familiar rental cars appeared on the ramp.

Presumably sober pilots climbed out. They chatted nervously amongst themselves and with us.

They were "Deploying", "Going Forward", "See ya 'Over There'". And that's a long trip in a King Air.

The sun was tearing a crease in the clouds. The rain had let up and the lightning had passed.

Finally, all aboard and the airstair door closed.

The rotating beacons twitched to life and the PT6's came to life.

The vorticies reformed.

The taxi light illuminated.

I gave the signal and the King Air began to taxi forward.

I motioned her towards the runway.

And another bird of war departed, bound for turmoil.

The End

Another Random Collision

So, if you can imagine, I went over to the bar for a bite to eat and a beer.

There was a fairly large party with tables pushed up together in the middle of the room.

I noticed that this one guy seemed to tower over the rest of the party. Turns out he was sitting on a bar stool.

After a bit the party began to break up. Some of them left and others bellied up to the bar.

Bar Stool Guy was talking.

Pretty quickly I figured out where he works. I asked and he confirmed.

He kept talking.

He didn't look familiar.

His voice wasn't particularly familiar but it was his cadence that triggered a mental defrag on my part.

Eventually I interrupted him again and asked, "So you're an A&P?"

"Why yes. Yes I am."

"Where'd you go to school?"

"Texas Aero Tech."

"Really. You remember Sharkey?"

You'd a thought he'd been hit by a bolt of lightning. He actually shuddered and his eyes kinda popped. (I'm sure I did too.)

At that instant we both stood, pointed at one another and called each other by name.

One millisecond earlier I couldn't have told you his name.

We not only went to the same school and graduated together but had been room mates for a while.

Hadn't seen each other in 21, TWENTY-ONE years.

"Hello Cousin!"

Wednesday afternoon I went to the Security Shack with my Leadman. We dropped off three new names for site visits.

One of the names rang that faint bell.

Soon, another bell began to 'tink' in the dim distance.

Name and place but no harmony.

Thursday afternoon the phone rang. I answered, "This is David."

"Hey Dave!"

"Hey "Puddin'" what's up?"

"I've got three guys here in my office. They're headed your way tomorrow. Need anything? I'll have them hand carry it out to ya."

"Hmmm, no. We're good."

"Ya sure?"

"Sure! Hey, do you know this boy "Man Hands"?"

"No. He's standing right here though."

"Ask him if GR-15 means anything to him?"

"He says, "No.""

"Hmm. Did he work for BASI in Germany?"


In the background, "Who is that?"

"Ask him if he ever went to Germany to fix an airplane that his cousin broke?"

"Who the hell is that?" "Man Hands" was getting agitated.

"Ya want me to tell him who you are or do ya wanna let him sweat?"

"Puddin', I'll leave that up to you."

Puddin' put him on the phone.

"Who the f*&;k is this?!"

"Oh, I ain't done with ya yet big boy. Back home, do you have a great big ol' coffee table picture book fulla Harleys?"

"Yeah...", the dim bell had begun to toll.

"I know you do. I gave it to you for Christmas!"


It had been Christmas 1994(?).

A crew of four had been sent to fix an airplane. One of the guys daughter fell gravely ill back home. He left and another sheetmetal tech was sent in from Germany.

As if my running into "Man Hands" after all these years wasn't enough...

One night in Korea the crew was all at the club and "Man Hands" met the pilot that wrecked the plane in the first place. They are distant cousins.

This story was twisted from the very beginning!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Near Misses

In the same vein as "& Degrees of Separation", we have near misses.

In the last couple of weeks I've had a couple of conversations that led to connections previously missed.

"Eagle Pass" was wearing a Texas A&M ball cap and said that his kids were bugging him to attend A&M. I asked where he was from, he replied, "Eagle Pass but I live in San Antonio."

"Really, where'bouts?"

"A little town North of San Antonio. On I35 between San Antonio and Austin."


"Yeah. Know it?"

"Sure. Where in Selma?"

"1604 and I35."

"Just South of the horse track?"


"Behind Ruben's?"

"That's it!"

"Ya know the big house on top of that hill?"


"Yup. That's my Brother's house!"

I met "Sling-Blade". (Not his call sign just a tag I've hung on him.) The course of getting acquainted usually leads to the question, "So, where all have you been in your career?"

That led to an unmentionable repair station in San Antonio, TX...

"No kiddin'? When?"


"What line? DC-9's, 73's and 75's."

"No shit?! Me too."

"Yeah, I was there when that kid got killed in the T/R (Thrust Reverser)."

"I knew him. In passing."

"I was on the same crew."

"So was I, for a while."

Later in the week I met Lewis/Clarke...

"We were sitting in the club at NAS2 (Sigonella, Sicily) when we heard gun fire. A LOT of it!"

"OH, YEAH! Little car?"

"Yeah, blue!"

"Station wagon!"

"With bullet holes about this F*%&ng Big!"


"Lot's of 'em!!!"

These moments make me wonder: How many connections have I missed? How many more will follow? Where will they lead? Where might they have led?

"Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?"

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How many degrees?

They say there are seven degrees of separation between all of us.
(Something like that.)

Not in this business!

A couple of weeks ago I met a pilot in Mississippi. I'll call him Goldwater. I ran into him the other night in Texas.

Goldwater introduced me to another pilot friend of his that had come to town to visit Goldwater and a mutual friend of theirs.
(With me so far?)

So, as is customary, the three of us were drinking beer, doing shots and telling lies.

Visiting friend says, "blah blah yadda yadda Mombasa..."

"Mombasa? When were you in Mombasa?"


"Hmm, really."

"Why? Were you there? When?"

"Yeah, '92. 'Provide Comfort'."

"What were you doing?"

"Maintenance on Priority Air Transport."

"No shit. Then you know pilots D and B."

"Hell, yes. I was sitting right seat when D blew the engine of off the R/H wing!"

"Sonofabitch! That was you?"

"That was me!"

"Bill's here in town. He's the guy we were telling you about. I've got his number."

Next thing I know he hands me the phone. I hear B, "Hello?"

Now, I haven't talked to B in 17 years. What the hell am I gonna say? He doesn't know that he's being featured on a bar room version of this is your life. He has no idea who is on the other end of the phone...

"B, just which Tom Clancy novel were you reading when D blew up the engine?"

"DAVID!!!!!!!!! Where the hell are you?"

I had lunch today with one of three people on the planet that were 'There' that day.

"There we were. 18,000 feet over the plains of Africa..."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Choose Your Unit Of Measure

318 Cubic Inches, 750 CC's, 24 Ft?
They all add up to fun.

"Maggie, somewhere in Texas enroute
to San Antonio."

"Maggie, The Dodge and
The Mobile Command Post"

The Dodge and I have been around the
block. Five or six years and one hundred 
thousand miles worth.

Last Spring I bought the little trailer.
24' of self sufficiency. It was a cozy spot.
Sure, after a while it felt a touch tight.
Cramped even. But, it was paid for. All

When The Architect got his new Harley
Maggie became a Legacy.

Last 4th of July weekend I left the OKAY 
City with a one way plane ticket.
(Man, the whole idea of a one way ticket 
out of there felt great!)

When I threw my leg over her and hit the
button it was "Love At First Feel".

Rolling out of the driveway, of course,
"Back In Black" pounded in my head.

It HAD been toooooooo long and I was
damn glad to be back in the saddle. 

I hadn't owned a 'bike in nearly 20 years.

The Architect was, understandably,
nervous. He DID put me through my

As we rode, he instructed, advised and

As he did, I thought about some of the 
crazy shit I had done on a 'bike in 
the past.

That Saturday we rode up to Gruene Hall.
I knew I had graduated when he bought
the first round.

Three days later, 480 miles. Cruisin' 
and grinning. (Despite the destination. 
The OKAY City.)

I made that round trip a couple of more
times and racked up a few thousand
miles all in all.

Now, 2009 has been one long road trip.

The Mobile Command Post wears a "For
Sale" sign.

My beloved Dodge is sold and gone.

Maggie is waiting for me to come a
ridin' until it's time for The Preacher
or The Master SGT to saddle up for a

Soon life will be all about catching 
flights, hotels n motels, rental cars and
working from site to site.


Now THAT'S livin'!!!

One Great Weekend

I can't get enough of these.

Cat Stevens plays over and over in my head.

"How long are you here for? Where are you going?
When will you be back?"

Simply hard questions.

As is any question you don't have an answer for.


I didn't start off to be wistful! 

I surprised my Eldest yesterday and got a Whole Lotta
smiles and hugs.

That's why ya can't slap this grin offa my face!

(OK, I realize that's not much of a grin in the photo. 
As was pointed out to me by The First Former Mrs!)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Itunes shuffle. I've wanted to jump into this game for a while now. So, here we go, the first Ten Songs on shuffle...

Peeping and Hiding
Lyme and Cybelle

La Ley

Crosby and Nash

Babylon Sister
Steely Dan

Musta Notta Gotta Lotta
Joe Ely

Tom Petty

The End of the End
Paul McCartney

I'll Be Here In The Morning
Townes Van Zandt

Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd

Gimme Shelter
The Rolling Stones

Not a bad listen!

30 Days on the Road

OKC- Greenville, TX- Lawton, OK- Ft Worth, TX- Greenville, TX- OKC

Finally made it back to our hangar after a fairly harrowing ride. Triple digit speeds along I35 heading North.

When you're faced with riding with a horny, homesick young wrench (that also misses his Mommy) you buy the ticket and take the ride.

I figure he got laid, got fed and got his laundry done yesterday. He'll be ready to hit the road again in a week or so.

Me, I'm ready now. With a little luck I'll be headed back out of this frigid wasteland by Tuesday. (As we careened North we watched the thermometer in the rear view drop steadily.)

Most of this trip was good.

It can be (very) frustrating working in different shops with different ways of doing things. Sometimes better ways, sometimes not. You just have to roll with it.

As much as it chokes me to say this, it's all in your attitude. Attitude was Grandads biggest pet peeve.

"I did what you told me Grandad."

"Yeah, but I didn't like your attitude when you did it."

Some people lack the Attitude Control the Road demands. They make it harder on themselves, creating little self fulfilling prophecies. They make it difficult on the rest of the crew in a variety of ways.

BUT, we got it done. Only one trip to the emergency room, one drunken scuffle in the parking lot and one crew mate hauling ass for home in the middle of the night.

And, we did manage to have a little fun along the way.

The Lee Street Bar and Grill in Greenville was cool. We made it over there for a few Wednesday night jams. The first night I saw this young guy tuning up in the hall way. I do mean young. He finally hit the stage with the house band and proceeded to blow me away. Composed, calm and cool. Right at home on stage. RIFFING Stevie Ray Vaughn. Playing and singing. He's been taking lessons and playing for four years...

He's TWELVE YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

His mother confided that the Kid thinks we drove down from OKC every Wednesday to hear him play. We played along.

One night I tipped the band and walked my tab. Oops. Went back the next day. Bartender says, "What can I get ya?"

"Uh, my tab."

He looked at me for a second, "Burger, fries and Miller Lite?"

"Uh, yes. There were Miller Lites involved."

They were cool about it. I was embarrassed and they knew it.

We tried to take in some blues. It was billed as a blues bar. $7.00 cover. "Who's playing?"

"A DJ."

"Never mind."

We did go back another time. We had to fill out membership cards. I listed my address as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and signed it Dr Hunter S. Thompson.

I got served.

We hit the Hangar Bar and Grill. It was billed as a grill. No food served.

Another cover charge paid for a decent Country Pop band. When they played that Cross Canadian Ragweed song, 'Boys From Oklahoma'...

I'd shout "BOOMER!!!"

Everyone would turn to look just in time to see/ hear Sally reply, "SOONER!!!"

We went back the last night. The turn out was so small that the band didn't even play. We played pool and played, "Let's get Sally drunk and watch him try to walk!" Cuervo and Patron flowed.

In Ft Worth I finally had chances to hit the Stockyards. In all of the years I lived in Dallas I never made it to Ft Worth.

Very cool.

Billy Bob's IS huge. That's the way it's billed, ''The Worlds Largest Honky Tonk''. 'The White Elephant' also cool. It's the bar used in the Walker Texas Ranger TV show. 'The Stockyard Saloon', 'The Star Cafe'; "For the best steak in Dallas go to Ft Worth".

The Road. Work hard, play hard. An 8 hour day was a short one. 10's were the norm and 12's not uncommon. Two guys even pulled a 20 hour shift. There were a few nights when we had to work nights, that stank.

Now, I'll drop off my laundry and be ready to roll come Tuesday. This looks like a solo trip which will be very nice. When you go with a crew, EVERYTHING is a committee decision. That gets old.

I'm just glad to be back in my element for a while.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hey President Obama

Ya know what. I agree with you on one point.

It is not only "shameful" it's disgusting that the leaders of failed businesses come hat in hand for a bail out, from me.

Their business models are failures. Their managers inept. Their forward thinking went no farther than today.

Those same leaders and managers setting their own raises and bonuses and handwoven golden parachutes!

"Shameful" a much milder term than I would use. I wouldn't be shocked to hear that you called, "Bullshit!" just as I do.

Ya know, it kinda reminds me of the crew you just signed on to lead.

When was the last vote of the public to give a raise to the House or Senate? Been a while?

How long ago was there a session with 100% attendance and voting? Been a while?

Those people are Public Servants not Demi-Gods. Someone should remind them of that. Like, maybe their Leader. O' that would be you.

Realistically I know that you do not hold the power to implement my suggestions but you can get the ball rolling. Or, at least help.

Cut salaries.

Eliminate self regulated raises.

Require attendance. Or at least hold them accountable for their absences. (Junkets to Shangri La or Fact finding in the Alps don't count.)

Put them on a random drug and alcohol testing program.

Implement a 5 year ban on Servants becoming Lobbyists and vice versa.

Eliminate all one on one financial interaction between Servants and Lobbyists. Lunch? Dutch. Etc.

I could (and will) go on. The "Let's Bail Out Failed Businesses and Print More Money Package"? What are you thinking?!

I did not vote for you but you are my President. I do wish the best for you and yours (which now includes me and mine.) Start from the top down and let's get this thing back on track.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Western Inn Part Two

It's rude, crude and unedited. Still a lot of work to do but here it is...

What follows is a fictional account.

Any resemblance to places or people; living or dead is their own damn fault.

Rated R for Adult Language and Situations.

The Western Inn
7666 NW Route 66
Bethune, OK

... The office at the Western Inn was crowded with vending machines and stacks of new phone books. A thin plexiglass window sepreated the office from the waiting area with a door bell labled "Ring For 'Sevice'".

William George pressed the button and quickly released it as the tinny bell sounded from within the dwelling beyond the business areas.

A frail woman emerged from the tiny home beyond the office. "$45.00 a night."

With ten days until the first payday, a thin wallet and a bank balance in the red William George asked for a weekly rate.

"$185.00, plus tax."

He ponied up for a weeks rent figuring that he wouldn't freeze to death, at least not in the next seven days.

"Room 12 the last unit on the right."

Room 12. The last unit on the right. At least there would only be one neighbor at a time if at all. The lights were dim 40 watt bulbs. TV, bolted to the dresser. The toilet worked and there was hot water. (The bath tub could use all of the hot water it could get.) And the combination heat and air conditioner seemed to work.

'Home...", well, home for seven days at least. William George unloaded the Dodge, including the blanket and pillow that 'Mother' had sent along, "In case you have to sleep in the truck."

With every light on and the heat turned up to maximum William George climbed back into the Dodge.

Groceries. Enough coffee and bologna to last a week.

He laughed to himself, "I got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days..."

In the tiny 'historic' motel room he ate a sandwich, washed it down with a beer and fell asleep with the TV on.

The next morning, one day closer to payday, William George clocked in at 05:30 and joined James for coffee.

Day two would be more of the same, scrapping sealer from the rivets and seams. In a different situation it would have been a bit humiliating, twenty years in the business and stuck scraping crap like a fresh A&P School Graduate.

Not here. Not so in the one place in the world where his reputation was still intact. 'Look at that! These other guys are standing around and Wills' over there scrapping like a machine.' 'That's Will.'

One day welded to the next.

William, perched under or on top of one wing after another found a hobby- Who's next? Contractors that established themselves were invited to 'Go Direct' and become permanent employees.

The others dropped like flies.

After Mitch Runyan went 'direct' he confided in William George, "Man, we tell all of the new contractors, 'watch out for James and Will. They'll fire you in a hot flash!'"

"Me? I can't fire anyone!"

"Bullshit. You fired that kid from Canada."

"The hell I did. I TRIED to but Keenan wouldn't let me."

"Whatever. When he, with all seven months of his experience, was standing next to you scraping and whining and saying that if he didn't get better job assignments he was going to quit, we all knew he was G-O-N-E."

"I didn't do it."

Laughing, the retired Navy Chief walked away.

William George's days consisted of work and nights consisted of TV and beers in Room 12.

Neighbors came and went faster than contractors.

Some of each were one and the same, "Where are you staying man?"

"Around the corner. At the Western."

"How is it?"

"Cheap enough."

"Cool. Maybe we can hang out."

"No. I aint your newest bestest friend. I'm here to work. I have no social life 'cause I don't want one. I leave this town to those that want it. I don't want it and I don't want to hang out."

"MAN, Will is a dick!"

"I told you, stay away from him. He'll fire you. Really though, he ain't a dick. He'll help you out and give you solid advice but he's real funny about who he lets close. Just don't piss him off. "

The Oklahoma winter melded into Oklahoma springtime.

William George figured there had to be an old adage about the weirdness that comes with blossoms and tornadoes because weirdness was hot on their heels.

As Mother Nature struggled, at times violently with her personalities, Spring fought for dominance.

Snow then rain then tornadoes then ice then blooms, blossoms and colors.

And, neighbors.

An older mechanic, came out from behind the desk and took his tool box out on the road. His gray hair and beard had immediately garnered him the nickname, “Kenny Rodgers”.

He was new to contracting. His attitude was fair and his experience deep but he was out of practice after years removed from the business of the hangar floor.

“Kenny Rodgers” took a room across the parking lot from William George and kept to himself.

One Friday afternoon a clatter outside drew William’s attention. A U-Haul truck was backed up to Room 11, next door.


Saturday after work William returned ‘home’. As he entered the parking lot he saw an older woman, pencil thin and gray blonde. She was wearing a flowery house coat and large fuzzy slippers. At and around her feet swirled an over weight Chihuahua.

‘Don’t make eye contact for chrissakes.’

It didn’t matter. Before William had switched the engine to ‘Off’ there she was at the drivers window.


“Hi! My name’s Sarah Jane.”, she thrust out her impossibly delicate hand.

William flashed his most insincere smile and briefly took the outstretched appendage, “William.”

The fat dog commenced her ‘talk to me talk to ME dance’, bouncing off of his shins. He looked down and groaned out loud.

“Oh, it’s OK. That’s my ‘Lola‘.” She lay heavily on the first syllable, Low-la.

“Hello Lola. Now go away.”

Door key at the ready, he retrieved the case of beer and groceries from the bed of the truck. Turning the key in the latch he heard the woman begin to speak as her Lola pressed her nose against the door jam.

A foot placed between the door jam and the dogs nose bought him exactly one foot of clearance as the dog pressed insistently. He raised his free hand, “I just got home from work. Nice to meet you Sarah Jane.”

He scooted the dog back (resisting the urge to punt the mutt), stepped inside and shut the door on the scene.

William put the groceries away and cracked the lid on a cold bottle of beer.

The weather was pleasant enough but there were storms building to the North and sliding slowly South. Unusual for springtime in Oklahoma. Traditionally spring storms built in the southwest and raced to the northwest.

Disappointed, he put grilling out on that first pleasant afternoon out of his plans and settled for a bologna sandwich, “Damn it.” He hoped Sunday’s weather would be “as advertised’ and the storms would hold off.

“Maybe she’ll be gone by then…”, it hit him, “The U-Haul… she’s never gonna leave!”

A loud exhaust diverted his attention. Not a finely tuned rumble but the boisterous cry of a neglected engine with a broken exhaust manifold.


He snuck a peek from behind the curtain.

Sarah Jane and Lola were greeting another neighbor. ‘Great.’, she’ll have someone else to befriend.

He noticed that “Kenny Rodgers” pick-up was not in its space, “I don’t blame you. I’d rather be somewhere else too!”

Just after dark, a key or a coin tapped softly at the door. It was a key, he was sure. And, he was certain it was Sarah Jane and Lola.

He cracked the door, “Yes?”

“Could I buy a beer from you?” and held out a quarter. It was a coin after all. Her key must have been in the pocket of that freakishly loud flowery house coat.

He pushed the door to and went to the fridge.

When he turned his back she pushed the door open letting herself and her Lola in. Lola bounded straight up onto the bed.

Turning back with two beers, “Get that dog offa my bed!”

“It’s OK she knows you.”

“No she doesn’t. Get her offa my bed.”

Sarah Jane retrieved her Lola but instead of taking the beer and her quarter that William refused and leaving…

She sat on the tiny couch. Perched right on top of the stack of books and magazines adjacent to William’s spot at the laptop computer that perched on the ice chest cum coffee table.

William groaned out loud and tried to perform deep tissue massage on his own forehead.

“Drink your beer silly.”

‘’She’s old and bored and lonely and loveless and friendless and virtually homeless William. You can’t relate to that William? You can’t understand that?’’

William sighed out loud, “Get up a minute.” He gathered the books and magazines and carefully restacked them on an unused corner of the bed.

He twisted the top from a bottle of ‘Flying Dog Amber Ale’ and plopped down beside her on the tiny couch.

She proceeded to tell her story- She’d been ‘somebody’ in the social circles of the OKAY City, her mother was wealthy but wouldn’t share, it was for her own good, she needed to make it on her own but she had recently been evicted from yet another apartment, she worked at a diner right down the street, she was she was on a list to get a townhouse right down the street around the corner across the street from the Mexican Grocery, “Can I have another beer?”


The war continued prevailing or failing, depending on who did the telling. The presidential campaign continued to fail, the candidates were pale examples of the same old guard, even with their change of race or their change of gender they were the same old same old. They touted change but they were still the same old same old. Any candidate that represented a real change was discounted or ignored by the press.

And the beat went on.

William George broke Lola from jumping on the bed. One quick punt put an end to that.

Sarah Jane drank beer and talked about her glory days.

William George watched the news or read a book or a magazine.

“Hillary Clinton is gonna save the world!”


“She has a plan!”

“Huh?! A plan?”

“Yeah! Hillary has a plan to save the world!”

“Huh?! What is it? What is ‘Billary’s’ plan to save the world?”

“Just watch TV.”

“Huh?! Hillary’s plan is to watch TV?”

“NO! Watch TeeVee!”

“Just watch Teevee!”

“No, you tell me. What is Hillary’s plan.”

“Watch Teevee!”

“Get the fuck outta here. You’re pissing me off.”

Then, Sarah Jane met a new fellow. She fell in love. She talked about how much money she would save if she moved in with the fellow. She went on and on about how wonderful it would be, saving money by moving in with the fellow.

It was all about money.

Mostly, her money. The dimes and dollars in her tip jar at the diner.

He proposed. She bought a ring. On credit. From a rent to own store.

Three days after she and her beaux met at the diner she tapped excitedly at Williams door.
“Look! Look at my ring! HE Proposed to me! We’re moving in! I’m going to save soooo much money!

“I think you missed the point.”

“No! No! You missed the point. I’m gonna save soooo much money.”

“OK, I missed the point.”

“Come over to my room. I want you to meet him!”

Hunter Thompson said, “When the going gets weird the weird go pro…” or something like that…
In the three months William had been holed up in the Western Inn, 1.1 miles from the hangar where he spent most of his time the weather had moved from winter to spring.

Warmth was overtaking cold. Leaves and grass were turning green.

Work had become a seven day a week roll. A rhythm.

In the world, wars continued. Progress was made or lost, depending on who did the telling. The never ending presidential campaign continued.

And there had been some odd occurrences at the Western Inn.

Odd knocks at odd hours of the night.

‘’Tap, tap, tap… at the door.

An older woman with a plastic shopping bag rapped at the door at two a.m.


“How much is a room here? My friend is in the office trying to get us a room.”

“I don’t know!”

“You wanna buy some hair clippers?”, she opened the bag.

“Do I look like I want to buy hair clippers? At two in the morning? Get the hell outta here!”’’

‘’Bang, bang, bang… at the door.

“What the hell do you want?!”

A young black man in hoodie, baggies and all the rest of the accouterment, “Take me to Taco Bell, it’s right down the street.”

“Get the fuck outta here!”’’

‘’Knock, knock, knock… at the door.

“What the… “Kenny Rodgers”? What’s up?”, William glanced over the old mans shoulder, “Where’s your truck?”

“Can you give me a ride to work?”

“Where’s your truck?”

“Can you give me a ride?”

“Yeah, sure, where’s your truck?”

“I spent the weekend in jail. Can you give me a ride or not?”

“Yeah, sure… I’ll get you to work. Sure…”


Though there is a certain social convention that states: When you meet someone you extend your right hand and smile warmly. You shake their hand firmly but not too firmly and certainly not limply…

There are certain realities that state emphatically: Some people are not to be trusted, no matter how polished their smile or their hand shake.

As was the case one Sunday afternoon.

William was grilling a steak. The tail gate of the Dodge was down and providing a perfect table in front of Room 12.

Mr. Busted Exhaust Manifold emerged from Room 9.

‘Dumbass, you made eye contact! Why did you…?’

“Hi! I’m Reid Green, in Room 9.”, he stuck out his hand. His hand shake was firm but not too firm and not limp.

William shook his hand, firmly but not to firm and pressed his index finger into the soft tissue at junction of ‘Room 9’s’ wrist bones while looking the man in the eyes.

“I’m a welder. We’re building a new prison.”

William nodded.

“I make good money but it’s a long drive to work and back.”

William nodded and turned the steak on the grill.

“What do you do? What was your name again?”

“William, I work on airplanes.”

“At Will Rogers?”

“No.”, William pointed towards the smaller airport 1.1 miles to the north.
William went inside to check the potato in the microwave.

“Hey, what kind of guitar is that?”

“Stratocaster.”, William closed the door.

“What do they pay you to work on ‘planes?”

“Not enough.”

“I make $12.00 an hour to weld up the new prison. It’s a long drive from here.”

“Good for you.”

“What do you make?”


“I almost didn’t get the job at the prison. I just got out. I’m a convicted felon.”

“Good for you.”

“How much do you make and hour?”

“My dinner is ready. Good luck with the job.” William double checked the locked truck and carried the steak inside Room 12.

The steak went down. The sun went down. The beer went down. Sated, William went down…
Somewhere in the night…


William bolted up in bed, looking for the ground…


Red and blue lights bled around the tightly drawn curtains.

'Looks like Mr. Prison Builder is going back to be a regular old prison resident.'