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...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LIX

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LIX

I sat on the couch, facing the television console, Julie on my left but not snuggled up to my side as she had proven herself to be not that kind of little person. Mrs. Beasley, however, was pulled close into her left side and Bozo made believe he was watching...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book II, Chapter LVIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Book II, Chapter LVIII

Richard and I didn’t speak again. When the staff car piloted by him arrived in the compound parking lot, the Staff Sergeant was appropriately waiting only a few feet from the outer wall doors He opened the back door to the car before I could let myself out, and then...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LVII

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LVII

The single word “unseeable” ate at my foundations. Instinctively, I knew that word had nothing to do with nuclear power or any of what went on at the plant. The word didn’t refer, by definition, to something being unable to be seen because it was too secret to be...
The Tribe, From the Wilderness

The Tribe, From the Wilderness

THE TRIBE From the Wilderness by James Strauss   Alexandre Dumas, in one of his grand sweeping romance novels of all time, created the phrase “one for all and all for one.”  The phrase referred to the combined friendship and focused attitudes of four...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LVI

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LVI

I couldn’t sleep, but that was nothing new since the Nam. The doctors at the VA said that nobody could stay awake for days and nights on end but my time in the valley and then the nights and days after coming home had disproven that, not that my word about such things...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LV

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LV

Earlier in the day the weather had been so very Southern California that I hadn’t noticed it, as I ran around arranging everything I would need for the mission. However, when I was ‘installing’ the Bronco, once again, in between the giant beach cleaning machines at...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LIV

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LIV

The tapes were proving to be a nightmare, not just because the job was boring and delicate but also because of the time. There was the beach patrol issue to be dealt with, as I was on at four in the afternoon and no real way out of not spending six hours, or so doing...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LIII

I lay in bed, my body wanting to fall into a restful and restorative sleep, but my mind was having none of that. In closing my eyes, I wasn’t taken back into combat, which happened only rarely and never when I was so tired. No, it was Gularte’s words about a possible...
The Death of the Future, From the Wilderness

The Death of the Future, From the Wilderness

From The Wilderness THE DEATH OF THE FUTURE By James Strauss   In one of the first ‘From the Wilderness’ articles written more than a year ago, I made a prediction that the forces opposed to both electric vehicles and automatic driving would face nearly overwhelming...
Death From Above, From The Wilderness

Death From Above, From The Wilderness

FROM THE WILDERNESS Death From Above By James Strauss The Internet can be a terribly accurate but often unresearched data base for things many people never think to research.  One of those things involves death by pilot suicide.  For example, between 2011 and 2021,...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LII

THE COWARDLY LION, Book Two, Chapter LII

I made no attempt to rise to my feet, as I lay next to the lapping water on the slanted ramp. The reddish dirty bag rope dangled from my right hand. When I’d been out in the pier-end restaurant with Shawna, neither she nor any of the members of the Dwarfs, really had...
THE COWARDLY LION, Book II, Chapter LI

THE COWARDLY LION, Book II, Chapter LI

I realized just how different Bob Elwell was, as I sat out at the end of the pier considering the coming dive. The simplicity of his plan, versus the overwhelming complexity of my own, amazed me. I’d given my plan only about a fifty percent chance of succeeding since...