HEY THERE, LONELY GIRL

The CLOUD CHAMBER

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HEY THERE, LONELY GIRL

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          I sat down finally on the corner of my bench in Brethren Park.  I hunched and lighted my last cigar.  I blew a cloud of smoke between my knees and onto the pathway.  I watched my smoke disturb the destiny of ants.

          “Don’t get old,” I croaked.  Brethren Park took no notice.  I was just waiting now.  I closed my eyes.  It was so quiet that I could hear the tremolo of the tinnitus in my ears and as I concentrated upon it I could imagine it engulfing my world in a shriek that no one else could hear.

          That’s when she sat down hard at the other corner of my bench.  She startled me.

          “I’m sorry,” she said glancing at me, “I can’t do anything right.”  She held her school books against her chest like a shield and…

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HUNTING FOR YOUR SKIN

The CLOUD CHAMBER

HUNTING FOR YOUR SKIN

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“Death is nothing at all … Nothing is past, nothing is lost

One brief moment and all will be as it was before

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.”

 – English theologian Henry Scott Holland

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        I am Judice.  It is a golden morning.  The upper-desert breeze is cool on my face and it whispers in my ear.  I hear a bird singing.  I take a deep breath.  Sitting so still is hard.  But I can see why those hairy guru weirdos like it.  You can see things you never noticed.  The desert is so delicate and sharp.

        Here he comes.  At this distance he looks like a bouncing ball!  He is golden with shades of grey like the morning desert all around him.  How funny.  He’s bouncing on all fours like a cartoon coyote.  He’s…

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THE CUTTERS LOUNGE

The CLOUD CHAMBER

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THE CUTTERS LOUNGE

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        Tonight is Swinging Dicks’Night at The Cutters Lounge cigar bar.  There are to be no women.  So why is The Katman’s daughter serving the ceremonial Clynelish 20-year old Scotch to Michael, Rick, David, and me?

        “My dad is running late.  He said to start with his recommended appetizers.”  She holds out a tray of New Havana cigars.

        Michael turns his head, blows a billow of smoke and converses with it.  “There aren’t supposed to be any … girls tonight.”

        Katie curls her lips at him, “Why?  That never stops you from scratching, farting, and belching.”

        Michael’s head whips back at her and he tries to give her his most foreboding stare of doom.  Katie turns and sways away to the counter out front, scratching her ass at him.

        Rick grins and pleads after her, “Everything out there…

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WALK THE YARD

The CLOUD CHAMBER

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WALK THE YARD

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          Hesutu was a man of the Native American Indian Miwok tribe.  Hesutu was known as “Mike” by those who had not lived in these lands 50,000 years.  Hesutu had killed a rival in a bar fight.  Hesutu now stood and faced his first day of Life Without Parole.  He began to walk in the exercise yard.  The gangs of white, black, and brown inmates had his scent already.

          A year ago Hesutu and his rival Honon had argued in the Molimo bar about the disputed Tribal Election to decide power over the Miwok Gold Resort and Casino.

          Honon, whose name means “bear”, pounded the bar, asking Hesutu, “Who then is rightfully Miwok?”

          Hesutu, whose name means “yellow jacket nest rising out of the ground”, replied bitterly, “You have expelled dozens of my friends from the tribe, saying they had…

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THE TWO FIGURINES

The CLOUD CHAMBER

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THE TWO FIGURINES

Dearest Alysa,

      I am sorry I haven’t written since beaucoup trop long.  It is so weird that we come to Paris together and then we end up seeing each other less than when we were at State.

      I’m at Les Deux Magots right now.  Remember our waiter Henri whom we nicknamed Ennui?  Yes, he’s still here and he’s my waiter.  I guess he embodies what all the tourists expect from a French waiter.  Pee Ess: I ordered the Sandwich saumon fumé de Norvège.  Remember?  LOL (Lox of Love?).

      You won’t believe this!  Remember Alex, our Teaching Assistant in Marine Biology lab?  Well, he’s in Paris and I just “ran into him” here.  It was so weird.  What’s it been?  10 years?

      I looked up to see him standing right by my table and he was holding 2 glasses of wine.  I…

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CONTROLLED BURN

The CLOUD CHAMBER

controlled burn

CONTROLLED BURN

        “My great grandfather took this picture in 1917 during the Great War,” confirmed Bälz Shluter, great grandson of the great Swiss banker Balderik Shluter. “These were some of the prisoners of war whose release he secured through his influence. These eight people became some of his Peace Makers.”

        I had agreed to meet Bälz Shluter in my hotel room. He quickly annoyed me by keeping his elegant lambskin gloves on. I asked, “Why should 1917 interest us at WikiLeaks?”

        He continued undaunted, “My great grandfather feared that trench warfare would spill into Switzerland. Earlier in the war it was clear that both the Allies and the Central Powers wanted Swiss neutrality, but my great grandfather saw that the Great War might burn out of control and consume even neutral Switzerland.”

        To feign interest I politely offered, “Those were hard times.”

        He turned…

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THE BEAST OF TIN CAN BEACH

The CLOUD CHAMBER

10 beast of tin can beach - crop1

 THE BEAST OF TIN CAN BEACH

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          Back then in 1956 we all called it Tin Can Beach.  It was a wilderness stretch of sand on the ocean side of the two-lane Pacific Coast Highway, California’s Highway One.  On the shoreward side of Pacific Coast Highway at that point there were tidal wetlands.  Tin Can Beach got its name from the no-man’s land of debris, mostly flattened crumpled rusted tin beverage cans that bordered the highway and extended onto the beach sand for several yards in a tinny tarmac.  It might as well have been a border of jagged cactus for it kept out most of the self-respecting beach-bound residents and tourists who just moved along farther south, past all the oil derricks lining the shoreward side of Huntington Beach, down to quaint Newport Beach and then finally on down to the little artist’s colony called Laguna…

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