Crows Soixante

•October 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The cold wind blew in off the Narragansett Bay. I sat sipping hot coffee and staring blankly in to the dark October sky. Insomnia and insanity had been constant companions since…well for quite some time now.They had progressed rapidly since my daughter’s death last summer, and the divorce.
A man should never ask “what next” for fear that he may well find out. That night is when I noticed the return of the Crows.

It was 3 am. The pitch black night, cut only by the porch light and a large cloud covered fall moon. I saw them from my back deck. They were lined up on the barbed wire fence that separated my land from the old Landry place. They are ugly fucking things, their blood red eyes visible in the dark.

Normal people would think little of it. Bird’s roost, they would say. I on the other hand left normal behind years ago. I had followed the curse of the Crows for quite some time now. As a matter of fact, it were now my career. I lost interest in the job with the Providence Journal, and the bean counter editor now running the news desk. He was a contrite little bastard by the name of Michael Corbin. He gave me the creeps, educated at Brown with an air of arrogance that followed him. He knew little of the news business, and even less about the temperament of a writer. I left shortly after the divorce.
That is when I began writing a book on the Crow phenomenon. I assure you my writings will not be found in the Audubon field guide of North American birds.

I had done months of research, both on crows/death, as well as Vodka Martinis. I was as it turned out, seemingly in a race to destroy myself, Or solve the mystery of why they followed me, why they exposed me to death.
That or to spend what equity I had in the house and exhaust my 401k before ending it all awash in vodka.

My close friends and family had known of the Michael Crowe story, my families brush with a serial killer. My research had found my experiences were not unique. I had come across many accounts of others who felt haunted by the birds as well. If one were to look more closely at mass death or killings, overlooked by most reporters and witnesses, (who were most likely in shock with the horrid events before them.) was the remarkable recurring presence of the crow. Time and time again, I found people whose memories were probed could later make a connection.
What I still did not understand is why they roost near death, Why warn me? It is not as though I could do a thing, except this, so I began my book, I had no idea where it was leading, or where the book could possibly end.

A little research showed that not only were my daughter’s premonitions about the bad birds accurate, I have documented that in earlier writings, but that indeed I seemed to be the chosen one. The American Crow is not normally found this close to the coast. Their only real predators were the Owl,and the Seagull. Both were prevalent in this part of Rhode Island. My house sat less than one hundred yards from the bay.Scientifically speaking, they should not be here. Yet they were. But I had no idea what they were doing here, or trying to tell me.

Once I accepted the notion, I began to document everything. And my Vodka Martini intake increased along with my knowledge.

I watched carefully through the Insomnia and Martini induced fog, I could see their numbers increasing each night over the last month. I could see their blood red eyes staring at me. They roosted in the oak outback; they covered the barbed wire fence.

This made my blood run cold. As the month of October progressed, the Crows began to leave me blood offerings or some would tell me, warning signs of things to come. I only know they disturbed me.

I would awake in the morning and as my coffee brewed, walk out to the deck. During daylight hours,the crows were nowhere to be found. But on my deck a fresh kill. At first it began as field mice. I attributed them to my daughter Amy’s old cat, who I had inherited after her death. After a week of increasing numbers of Crows roosting, and awakening to as many as 50 mice in various states of decapitation on my deck, I began to believe. There were a total of 62 kills. They stopped suddenly.

I came down the next day to make coffee, flipped on the news to Prov channel 10.I watched carefully, as a live news crew covered an exhumation of a crime scene in North Providence. A crime scene in North Providence was not an uncommon event; it was the hub of Mafia related activity in the city. It were the name and the story that caught my attention.

I listened intently as the reporter described my former editor Michael Corbin as the suspect. I witnessed him handcuffed and taken away via sky chopper 10.

I did a Google search to try to learn more, I realized fully how little I knew about the temperament of Newspaper editors. I always considered most to be no good bastards, but this was beyond even my expectation. The search turned up this gem that also made my blood run cold.

CORBIN: From an Old French and Middle English byname
composed of the word corb, “crow, raven,” and a diminutive suffix,
hence “little crow” or “little raven.”

I poured my coffee out and made a pitcher of Martinis.

Later that week, the body count pulled from Corbins basement was confirmed at 62. I finished my book that week .

I am moving to Florida. I plan to write about osprey and alligators.

I am assured there are no Crows.

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A Lucky Strike

•October 22, 2011 • 1 Comment

They met one another at the “Lucky Strike”, where they used to bowl. Fifty years later it seems very apropos.

This is the story of “Mister and Lady” two special people in our lives, and whose marriage we celebrate today.

In a world of constant change, one often full of strife. It is a rarity that for fifty years they have been man and wife. For all my days upon this earth, they have always been partners, lovers and friends.

It would be easy to write about events and dates that filled their lives, but perhaps more important is to share how much they are loved and how they have inspired.

A half century of life, down roads from Deslodge to Durham and places in between. They raised a wonderful family their children extensions of themselves, and cousins I will love all my days.

A gaggle of Grandchildren, each special in their own unique way, all are loved the same way. There can be no better legacy one could leave.

Throughout life’s events good or bad, they are the first there to help or to celebrate as situations required.When one defines family, it is everything they represent.

For those of us that know them and love them, without a doubt they were heaven sent.

We cherish Wayne’s wicked grin, the ornery boils within. A sense of humor expressed in few words but a keen wit,shared often to Patty’s chagrin.

I can close my eyes and hear her cackle when she laughs, a sound more precious than a king’s ransom.

For in all of life, a sense of humor, love and laughter have and will carry us all far.Like so many things they have shared, another valuable lesson to be learned.

And it seems all that is left to say, is thank you for sharing your love with us all these days. And though the prose is short, please know it is from the heart. We wish you a happy anniversary, and by the grace of god Fifty more.

Occupy Wall Street

•October 15, 2011 • 1 Comment

A brief history lesson on protests and movements of citizenry throughout the ages should sound alarms.

In my life, I have witnessed a few. They never end well in the short term, but may cause change and long term benefits.But first there must be pain.

I watch as people take to the streets all over this country to assemble and protest our governments failed policies, but mostly its failed politicians.They have been bought and sold, they have in turn done the same to the constituents they swore to represent. But power won’t change quickly, it never does, from the dictators and tyrants throughout history we learn this lesson.

There will be those who wave the flag and tell us we live in a democracy. We used to, that too has been compromised with the ability of corporations and money to operate unfettered in politics. Currently the major political parties spend more time fundraising and positioning for the next election cycle than they do governing. The money must come out of politics in order to foster real change and promote an active democracy. Term limits would be another fine idea to assure the elected representation is fair.

The odds of the current power structure relinquishing this control will be zero without a movement like Occupy Wall Street. Now comes the pain…..

Americans are being beaten, pepper sprayed and injured by police for protesting on our public streets, in our public parks. Voting rights are being stripped away systematically by the Republican party, the party most likely to benefit from keeping the present power structure and deregulated banking /financial industry as it is. Next someone will be killed.

Aside from the now visible public outcry and display, there is an unseen casualty of life and loss.

The biggest casulty being belief and hope in our country and the future. When you lose that, you have nothing left to lose.

I myself, I am one of the 99%. Now comes the pain……

The Shadows of a Dream

•October 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

The routine would be the same today he thought. Even though he knew nothing else would ever be the same.

He had his coffee on the deck, his breakfast with the kids. Kissed the wife and and left for work at the same time he always did.

He took the same route downtown. A trip he had made for nearly twenty years. It felt familiar which was comforting, but strange knowing it would be his last trip.

He had thought of retirement for several years, now the day was upon him, and it seemed surreal. There were the many health issues to consider, as well as the desire to end the constant travel. Perhaps enjoy seeing his kids grow up and take a bigger role in their lives.  The pluses far outweighed the drawbacks and he had convinced himself it were time.

Sure there were the many things he knew well he would miss.The feeling of being a part of an organization, knowing you belong. After all he had reached the pinnacle of a career many only dream of.

As he pulled his car off the highway, he navigated the busy downtown streets bustling with activity; he knew he would miss the excitement of the city as well. He would miss the many landmarks, the crowds of people walking, the smells on an early summer evening; yes he would miss all of it.

He parked in his reserved spot and made the short walk. The security guard waved hello, as he had for all his years here. He was nearly overcome with emotion thinking of all the people from the basement to the front office. They had all been good to him over the years, and to a degree he owed each one for being a part of his success.

He had requested that there be no big going away party or event in his honor, and he had garnered enough respect that his wishes were to be observed. He was thankful for that, as he wasn’t certain he would hold up well emotionally. He never cared for the limelight, he preferred to simply be a solid part of the team. He fit in, did his job and went home. It was simply the way he was raised.

As the day unfolded he went through the motions of doing his job as he always had. Another solid but unspectacular performance. He was thankful, the only hoopla, a tip of the cap for those who called out to him to say goodbye. He received a hug from the kid who he had trained to take his place. He endured the requisite kidding from friends about his life of golf and travel that awaited him.

He sat quietly and waited for most of the crowd and his coworkers to clear out and go home. He stared at the field that had been his office. The lights were off,he watched as the shadows of the afternoon sky were overcome by nightfall. He would miss the view, the green grass, and the high sky.

He turned and made the walk down the long corridor to empty his locker. He looked back one more time.

The only sound,the clacking of the old right fielders spikes on the corridors concrete floor. This is the pay-off you get, hanging on through the thousands of games through the decades.You get these windows of pure joy. They don’t last long, but then again.they last a lifetime.

Bring On The Night

•October 3, 2011 • 2 Comments

Sleep eludes me, often I lie awake late at night, or I wake far too early in the morning. A feeling like anxiety blankets me, and the thoughts come.
They are never frightening; they feel like an incomplete conversation that nags at the mind.

There are thoughts of good and bad times, but mostly a longing, a void in my heart. The things I wish I had said, perhaps an occasional regret for the things I did say. One creates their own haunting, just as we as humans create our own hell here on earth. There are no rattling chains, no aberrations of sight.

I think of them as the ghosts of my soul. They visit me often in these sleepless hours. They are all the loved ones I miss and admired.

There is my step father, who was my own personal Hemmingway.I think of my grandmother, who was my link to any spiritual thoughts. Thinking of them brings me comfort in troubled times.

I have many thoughts of my younger brother, who had a big heart and in the end a weak mind. I wonder how I could have reached him, and I feel guilt for being angry at him.

There are of course,the thoughts of my daughter. Who was a young girl that would now be a young lady. I miss seeing her grow and bloom. Ok, if I am haunted it is by the fact that she would now be both driving and dating.

People don’t like to discuss death, as though talking about it disturbs the ghosts or spirits. What it does is disturbs our ability to shield ourselves from our own grief and longing for things we no longer have.

I used to grieve by the calendar; it haunted me with birthdays, anniversaries, and a whole series of firsts. The first Christmas etc. Seems the older I get, the more the calendar became impossible to keep. There were too many additions, too many dates. By the same token other people looked at the calendar to measure how long I might grieve. And the days went by and filled up many calendars. No one can predict, or limit these feelings. I see other family members and friends struggle with this as well.

The old saying “Time heals all wounds” is a falsehood. I finally realized these thoughts were not something I wanted healed. No, actually these thoughts of those I love are how I stay connected. Even though all that remains is how we live our lives.

Through these thoughts, they will forever be with me all the days of my life. Bring on the night.

No Class Warfare

•September 26, 2011 • 2 Comments

I watched the old red truck pull up to the pump. Held
together by rust and countless bumper stickers, its bed looking barely stable enough to contain the empty beer cans and plastic Wal-Mart bags it held.

The driver, his face weathered far beyond his years. A shoulder length mullet hair cut put my estimation of his age at mid-thirties. He was shirtless on a crisp fall day, either believing he were above the normal accepted behaviors of society, or seeking a spat with the retail clerks who are sworn to uphold ‘No Shirt, No Shoe’s, No Service.’ He walked with a swagger as if looking for someone to challenge him..

Let’s call him, Dwight Earl; (his name proudly stenciled on the door of the old truck) he flicked the filter less Camel to the concrete before inserting the nozzle in his tank. A long string of obscenities followed as he attempted to fit the nozzle emissions bib in position to pump his gas.

“God dammed Obama.” He muttered as the pump continued to click off and on.  Obviously the bib had not been retrofit for a 79 Chevy step side pickup. An understandable frustration, but I was quite certain the President had little to do with engineering the bib.

“Son of a Bitch gas went up again, those bastard Muslim friends of his get richer!”I assumed he was also referring to that  “God dammed Obama.” And not the British energy conglomerate BP, whose station we were both gassing up in. And I was fairly certain he was unaware that speculators on Wall Street have a bigger effect on gas prices at the pump than even the enormously profitable British conglomerate. And ironically the price of gas had dropped within the last several days. Perhaps it was more bravado for an audience of none, I was not impressed, nor  am I the guy that will cheer you’re right wing views shared aloud.

“Damn it I forgot my octane booster when we were at Wal-Mart.” I heard him scream at the sheepish lady in the front seat of the old truck. She was busy corralling the three little faces that peered out under the gun rack and a “protect our second amendment rights” sticker in the back window of the old truck.

She fought with one child to clean his snotty little nose,which was running profusely as he coughed.

“God dammed EPA” Dwight Earl muttered as he decried the poor engine performance of his truck, sans unleaded fuel. I wondered what effect his child’s respiratory system would be in if he added lead to the unfiltered Camel smoke in the cab of that truck? I speculated why the little ones were not in school or even day care at this time of day,likely it was the result of reductions in early childhood education grants our school district no longer received. That explained using the Wal-Mart for a source of daycare, entertainment, as well as a handy place to find lead substitutes for his engine.

I listened intently as he continued to complain through the closed window to a woman who I suspected had long ago learned to tune him out. She looked worn out and a very tired thirty something. Sad blue eyes, that seemed to accept rather than fight her fate. “My damn Rim is bent from the pothole, with all the taxes I pay, I shouldn’t have this problem.”  He had just come one block west of the new I-64, a massive two year project beautifully executed as a joint project by MoDot with matching federal infrastructure funds. I began to suspect he just enjoyed bitching.

I was thankful he completed filling his gas tank, and walked inside to pay the cashier. He had the young snot faced tot in tow.

It took all the patience I could muster to keep my mouth shut. It seems complaining and unhappiness is everywhere now days. Understandably, people are frustrated by the economy. I get it, but I cannot comprehend how they so easily place misguided blame. I suppose I’m no better in my frustration and anxiety over the state of the country, I just express it differently.

I closed my fuel hatch and walked inside to pay the cashier. A glimpse at the back of the old truck revealed a Tea Party bumper sticker and several hateful, albeit cleverly crafted blame Obama bumper stickers.

I stood behind him and his young son in line. He was toting a 12 pack of beer, but snapped at the child who wanted a caramel apple from the strategically placed display. This rebuke caused an eruption of tears, followed shortly thereafter by more runny snot from the tot’s nostrils. Which begat more loud mouthed yelling from Dwight Earl. As though the crying children were the irritant in the store!

I stood in line as he exchanged pleasantries with the cashier; it came in the form of complaints about the Construction site across the road being a union shop. The need to place blame for the plight of the country and the middle class needs a villain, clearly the Tea Party was fulfilling this need for the man by supplying liberal suspects.

As I seethed silently in anger and disgust, I was reminded of a quote by Thomas Paine.

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.”

I wondered to myself how life would turn out for all of us,and especially his three little kids. God bless and may god help us all, for I fail to see how tax cuts and budget reductions will help this. Why then do the classes in our society, support people and policies that are counter to their own well-being, as well as those of the country? It seems our national discourse,is now one of anger and selfishness. I’m as guilty as the next guy,but realize or research where the problems lie.

I waited my turn, paid for my gas, and bought 3 caramel apples. I slipped them in the bed of the pickup with the beer cans and his Wal-Mart bags, and watched as he drove away. In the end, if there is no class, we are left with only warfare.

Protected: Beneath A Harvest Moon

•September 20, 2011 • Enter your password to view comments.

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