THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XXII

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XXII

I stood in shock, unable to say a word, my unblinking eyes staring up into glittering dark pupils in eyes that had never glittered before. He was too tall, and he was vaguely smiling as he held the door half open. People passed on both sides of us, using the other...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XXI

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XXI

The Sheraton Hotel was located a little more than half a mile from the airport. It was a huge building about twenty stories tall with a great, although empty lobby at our late hour of arrival. Before departure while still near the gate awaiting the call for economy...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XX

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XX

The seat in the Lear Jet was hypnotically comfortable and, as the pilot or pilots, since I could not see forward of the canvas between us, pushed the engine controls to maximum, I breathed deeply and went to sleep. The level of exhaustion I felt could not be held off...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XIX

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XIX

Matt pulled a folded-up package from one of the overly large breast pockets of his vest. The special photographer’s vest he’d gone on and on about earlier because of the new store on Del Mar in San Clemente called the Banana Republic. The place catered to men in what...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XVII

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XVII

I didn’t answer Mary’s question as I took a few seconds to consider its significance. Rick was a policyholder. Rick was the owner of the second-largest life insurance policy I’d ever sold. Three hundred thousand dollars was a lot of money, and the policy, being whole...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XVI

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XVI

When I got to the station and parked in the lot, I first noticed that Lieutenant Gate’s Marauder was parked in its special spot near the back door. The second thing I noticed, as I walked into the facility, was that Pat Bowman wasn’t at her desk. Gates was there when...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XV

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XV

The office inside the wooden ‘bank vault’ style door was more plush than Tom Thorkelson’s office in the Massachusetts Mutual Fashion Island location. The baby blue rug under my feet made it feel like I was standing in a couple of inches of mud while four towering...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XIV

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XIV

I’d met Matt aboard the C-130 on the way back from Albuquerque. We’d not truly bonded in any way except after sizing me up he uncharacteristically and very surprisingly threw himself in with me for whatever adventure he might be a part of. My being armed and speaking...
Musical Chairs, a Poem by James Strauss

Musical Chairs, a Poem by James Strauss

MUSICAL CHAIRS By James Strauss   I would be seen as running hard and fast, If I wasn’t running last. They tell me the key is to slow down, Holding out a bag of sand to pound.   If you want help go somewhere far, To some small town with a bar. You’re here...
The Sounds of Silence, a Poem by James Strauss

The Sounds of Silence, a Poem by James Strauss

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE A Poem          By James Strauss   I’m not the angel of my morning, And I don’t shave to the beat of any lyrics I ever think of, But I’m among those angels, Not to be helped nor to be harmed. At least not without some warning.   I’m no...
Feeding the Trees, a Poem by James Strauss

Feeding the Trees, a Poem by James Strauss

FEEDING THE TREES A Poem By James Strauss A little bitty piece of me Not that part with education, Just the part you can’t see, Of interest fun and erudition. They don’t really want it, So I’m forced to turn away To wait and quietly sit, Floating in silence to another...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XII

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XII

I opened the velvet-covered blue box and looked at the medal. There’d been no ‘pinning’ the medals to anyone’s chest, as I’d experienced in the Marine Corps. The medals and an eight-and-a-half by eleven blue plastic-covered certificates were handed out. The medal was...
CRICKET, The Dog Who Died of Trust

CRICKET, The Dog Who Died of Trust

CRICKET, THE DOG WHO DIED OF TRUST by James Strauss Kristie Noem does not live in Wisconsin. In fact, she doesn’t live anywhere near this state. She lives in a state of mentally troubled, morally broken, and mean-spirited existence. The geographic state is South...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XI

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter XI

Little Mardian stared over the top lip of his coffee cup, drawn most of the way up to take a sip. My tone and the “you’re not in Kansas anymore,” comment stopped his hand movement as well as widened his eyes. I was surprised that he was reacting at all, since the...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter X

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter X

Regret for my conscious decision to let the artifact lie in the shattered mess of the overhead heater on the garage floor grew, as I headed for home. Down deep I realized the motivation for such a potentially idiotic decision. I didn’t need any more complications or...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter IX

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter IX

Unlike the Jeep that’d been waiting for me when I flew in on the C-130 the security people would not let Tom’s Blazer out onto the tarmac. I got out, thanked him for helping me with my plan, and grabbed my bag and new briefcase. Tom had found a used Hartmann case of...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter VIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter VIII

I left Butch’s trailer and headed back toward San Clemente, but not before stopping back at Straight Ahead just to see if Paul might have showed up since I’d been spending time with Butch. The place was open like it always was, but Paul was nowhere to be seen. I’d...
The Badly Needed Emetic, From the Wilderness

The Badly Needed Emetic, From the Wilderness

The Badly Needed Emetic By James Strauss   Most people don’t know that Ipecac can’t be purchased over the counter in the United States anymore. That syrup was plentiful for most of my life, as it was used as something that was ingested, usually by a child, that...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter VII

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter VII

Saturday morning came early, as I gently climbed out of bed, knowing Mary would awaken but not stir enough to let me know she was. I didn’t require nearly as much sleep after the Nam as I had in my younger years and also had some form of sleep apnea my wife took full...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter VI

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter VI

I walked to the front door of the modernistic throwback of some ranch-style, but not, home, noting that it had a screen door. The sweep of central air conditioning being installed around the country had just about put an end to such doors, at least as part of the...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter V

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter V

When I arrived at Galloways, it not being my usual pre-seven a.m. visiting time, the place was half full. Mike Manning sat at my table, so I walked right over and took the seat next to him, which was also usually the chair I occupied. “Want your chair?” he asked,...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter IV

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter IV

I drove the Volks down to the Dana Point Marina entrance and, after working my way through the ruts of dried mud, up to  Butch’s front door. It was closed, with a note taped to the handle: “If you sell vacuum cleaners or Encyclopedia Britannica’s then come right in.”...
THE GAME, poem by James Strauss

THE GAME, poem by James Strauss

The Game That I’m not really here at all,It’s not spring springing into fall,Forsaken they can’t do anything,No prayer not on this kind of wing.I would be afraid if I could,Can’t fear what I think’s too good,My judgment tied circling my soul,It’s me but I don’t...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter III

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter III

I didn’t remember whether any mention had been made by Richard about the Chevy having positraction. I learned that it did when Mary took off to head for the store. I watched the back end of the car disappear up Lobos Marinos until she took the corner heading north on...
THE BEAT OF THE DRUM, Poetry of James Strauss

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM, Poetry of James Strauss

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM By James Strauss The beat of the drum,Not just any drum.The drum of life’s backdropWhere the music of some,Brings us all to full stop,While listening near stunned.Whispering life’s hum,Not just any hum,The hum of awareness,Where the sound remains...
Into the Darkness, From The Wilderness

Into the Darkness, From The Wilderness

From The Wilderness INTO THE DARKNESS The Pandemic came and went, and of course, has lingered a bit over time.  It brought with it a response that caused a severe cloud to be dropped over all of social behavior, at least in the developed ‘first world’ countries like...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter II

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter II

I opened my eyes to see Mary sitting next to the bed I was lying in, leaning forward, her face only inches from my own. The bed was tilted so I looked a bit down at her worried expression. “Do you know where you are?” she asked, her expression serious and verbal...
Just Below Fright, a Poem by James Strauss

Just Below Fright, a Poem by James Strauss

JUST BELOW FRIGHT By James Strauss   I fought in sadly two wars, Shot twice one for each entry, Medals awarded for valor, Pinned on a wall like a sentry.   Fought with honor’s distinction, Back home they said I was brave, But the brave went on to extinction,...
Suitcase and a Trunk, a Poem by James Strauss

Suitcase and a Trunk, a Poem by James Strauss

SUITCASE AND A TRUNK By James Strauss There was no house, Not of the rising sun, There was a bloody blouse, With the proof of a gun, As the light from down south Lit up where there’d been none. Don’t stop believing, That there’s any place to go, Life’s not relieving,...
Praying in the Closet, a Poem by James Strauss

Praying in the Closet, a Poem by James Strauss

  PRAYING IN THE CLOSET By James Strauss The preachers say pay and I’ll be saved, By the time they’re done, it’s my soul that’s been paved How can I get it right with this God, Failing time after time to give me His nod. Yeah though I walk yet all I get is talk,...
THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter I

THE COWARDLY LION, Volume Four, Chapter I

The sun’s early light emerged from behind me as I faced out toward the large rolling Pacific swells that came in so innocently and inexorably to rise, form curls with white frothy water, and then smash themselves down on the sand as they approached the beach a quarter...
Field Stripping, a Poem by James Strauss

Field Stripping, a Poem by James Strauss

FIELD STRIPPING By James Strauss What does it take to try to stay sane, Living a culture where life’s a pain, I work at assembly of my trip, Like the Colt I often field strip. Only eight pieces counting the clip, Taking apart my heart does a blip, Boxes of ammo never...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXVII

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXVII

My time at night, before sleep and thankfully not during sleep, I thought about things that were occurring, and the less sense they made the more I couldn’t stop lying awake trying not to think about them. “I’m not that special,” I thought, lying there, not realizing...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXVI

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXVI

I woke up the morning after Christmas and eased out of bed. My wife made me believe she was still asleep, like she always did although any move on my part to depart the bed never failed to bring her back to life. I moved as silently as possible to get ready for the...
One More Chance, a Poem by  James Strauss

One More Chance, a Poem by James Strauss

ONE MORE CHANCE By James Strauss The harshness of life incarnate, Beaten dogs have more to say, But I remain unborn to wait, My thoughts here will go away.   Unreborn at the master’s gate, I wait for my worth’s assay, Thinking and feeling insensate, But knowing...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXV

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXV

It was Christmas Eve, although it wasn’t the eve of anything and I wondered, as usual, why the day, from early morning until the sun went down, was still referred to as the eve of Christmas when it was simply the day before. My thoughts turned to the single subject...
Old Beaten Leather, a Poem by James Strauss

Old Beaten Leather, a Poem by James Strauss

OLD BEATEN LEATHER By James Strauss I’ve never been there, But that’s just a lie, As I’ve been everywhere, Moving so not to die. The power of love, Song’s lyrics from hell, Clutching tight as a glove, Ringing pain like a bell. Winds are all laughing, Standing to meet...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXIV

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXIV

Joe Beard sat at Gularte’s kitchen/dining room/living room table, its top cleared and cleaned off as I’d never seen it before. He sat behind a gray plastic box that looked like a small suitcase except for its sharp edges and pointed corners. Joe looked across the top...
My Rising Sun, a poem by James Strauss

My Rising Sun, a poem by James Strauss

MY RISING SUN By James Strauss A depression it’s called, The size of Grand Canyon. Climbing a face on its wall, Fights lost to those I’ve won. The sun also rises, The name of some movie. My life dangling in sizes, Unseen down below me. I surge toward the top, My mind...
The Mandarin, a poem by James Strauss

The Mandarin, a poem by James Strauss

MANDARIN By James Strauss Chinatown speaks if you pay close attention In the heart of an island filled with contention The haoles are white but black by nickname, Tourists included but locals fair game. An island of flowers and music idyllic, English that’s spoken...
The Odds and Ends, a poem by James Strauss

The Odds and Ends, a poem by James Strauss

THE ODDS AND ENDS By James Strauss Beat for the contretemps, Make it your quarry, For living good sense, Is for the bored and the sorry. Play to the stands, Your bat’s only good, For hitting at fans, Cause time is like wood. We’re sailing bad weather, Our lives all a...
The Odds and Ends, a poem by James Strauss

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXIII

The morning came too soon, although ‘sleeping in’ like I’d loved to do when not at one of my jobs in college, had gone the way of the dinosaurs, lost somewhere down at the bottom of the A Shau Valley. That the valley’s name was known by no one, so never brought up by...
Beggars of God, poetry by James Strauss

Beggars of God, poetry by James Strauss

BEGGERS OF GOD By James Strauss It’s not that He doesn’t come, It’s that He doesn’t come as requested. The Lord’s therapy is one of action, Come down to a world of muted reaction. I ask him for things and resolutions, But often forget about decent definition....
Over the Falls, by James Strauss

Over the Falls, by James Strauss

OVER THE FALLS By James Strauss A surfer through life waits and seeks, Something afar for anything better, Through the flowing troughs and peaks, Tired of living this life not to the letter. Maybe the wind, surf and the sea, Will break with a crest of true meaning,...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXII

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXII

The ‘unseeable’ was coming home to roost, I now understood.  The artifact that was entrusted to me had something to do with San Onofre, the one ‘pod’ that had been taken out of service to become some sort of hyper-secret nearly impenetrable laboratory or meeting place...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXI

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LXI

The reels moved slowly, as I knelt by the bedside, transfixed by the words of the country’s sitting president. “My friend,” Nixon began, after another pause, saying the words in his strange way that nobody on earth I’d ever heard talked like, “will you guide me...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LX

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LX

I could not talk to Paul, nor my wife, nor anyone else I could think of except one. Richard. He, Cobb, and Hunt had been intertwined in some fashion I didn’t understand, but intertwined they were, at least in my analysis of their proximity at the harbor, their special...
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