THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXII

It was hard to imagine, much less witness, that everything my wife, daughter and I owned could be fit into the interior spaces of a 1966 GTO. Nothing was attached or tied on the outside. I’d been raised in a Coast Guard family where the frequent moves were paid for by...
Fourth of July, 2021

Fourth of July, 2021

Thoughts on July Fourth, 2021 If you do not have power in a democracy, or in any other structure of cultural gathering, then you damn well better have the potential to get power and to be able to transmit the image of that potential to others around you. On this 4th...
The Crumbling System…

The Crumbling System…

Where is the logic and why is the might, the huge and world-shaking might, of the United States of America so fractured and rendered powerless and little more than useless in emergency situations? Where was the body of investigative forces that should have gone...
The Cowardly Lion,  Chapter XXI.

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XXI.

The crowd was stirred up for the coming run, as Danny Ongais climbed into the GTO and belted up. Mickey and his helpers, many more than had been around before, gathered behind the car and pushed it to a place just a few feet from the starting line. The near-identical...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XX

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XX

I walked into the room, turned, and handed the orders to my wife, tossing the useless envelope it’d come in onto the couch located across our small living room. “Hand-delivered by a Naval messenger,” I said, not knowing what else to say, my mind already beginning to...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIX

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIX

I was surprised by the obvious difference in the way I was received at the gas station from previous visits. I knew it was the uniform, as well as the Saran treatment that kept me from looking like a weakened Hunchback of Notre Dame creature. Mickey’s friends, those...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XVIII

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XVIII

The trip to Yerba Buena Island wasn’t remarkable in any way, except for the fact that I remained entranced with the passing scenes of difference and beauty that the entire San Francisco basin always offered. Pat drove her low-powered Pontiac to the parking lot and I...
THE COWARDLY LION.  Chapter XVII

THE COWARDLY LION. Chapter XVII

I walked outside the office and onto the gravel trail leading up to the parking lot I’d come down from earlier in the day. I heard a motorcycle start up behind me. I stopped and turned. The motorcycle drove slowly up to me on the gravel. I stepped off to one side....
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XVI

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XVI

Getting a full Marine Corps Class-A green uniform together took more work than I expected. My report date was for the next day, as there were no free or lull days in Marine Corps life. I had been determined to be available for duty and ordered to my duty station....
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XV

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XV

My wife drove Mickey’s 442, since she wouldn’t let me drive, as we made our way to Highway 280, then 80 across the Bay Bridge, onto 580 to head back south to where the hospital was set back on Mountain Boulevard some distance from the MacArthur Freeway. “Why do all...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XIV

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XIV

I’d been home for a week before my first contact came in from Oak Knoll, but it wasn’t from the medical side. It was from Johannson, the Marine Corps liaison officer both Mary and I’d dealt with when I was in the ward with the other prisoners. The call came in at...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIII

The .45 was in the box it’d come in when the commanding general of the base at Quantico had awarded it to me. My wife had put it up, and as far back on the top shelf of our bedroom closet, as she could. She and Pat had taken Julie to the shopping center for some...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XII

My daughter was a very definitive curly blond thing that was simply delightful at every point of her five-month existence, and for some unknown reason, in spite of my shattered condition, colostomy bag, and scant physical presence, she found me to be the apple of her...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XI

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XI

There was no delay, no time given, no quarter extended by my body, nor begged for by my mind.  I’d never detoxed before, although the pain had become an old bad friend.  The codeine tablets in my nearby metal drawer, twenty-three of them, got me through the night and...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter X

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter X

The flight was nothing more or less than a disjointed series of buzzing noises, vibrations, and brief bouncing bouts where my plastic cocoon swayed out a few inches from the metal bulkhead, and then gently smacked back into it. I was aware, but unaware, both at the...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IX

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IX

I watched Japanese television. I didn’t understand almost any of it, but Shoot had clued me in, early on, that the Japanese had no qualms about showing bare female breasts on their regular programming. That part of Japanese television was okay. Rory had come and gone...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VIII

I was awakened by the pain and by the noises being emitted from within my room. I stared over at the figures of Pus, Kathy and Barbara, gathered together as they worked to set up an additional bed and get all the connections correct. Barbara was the first to notice...
Genuflection, an Arch Patton Adventure

Genuflection, an Arch Patton Adventure

The mission was over and there was nothing to be done for it. New orders would find him no matter where he went or what he did. His control didn’t care and would never inquire. But there was to be no celebration of wine in Paris or guzzling of beer along the banks of...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VII

THE COWARDLY LIONChapter Seven I went on my Sippy diet a few days later, while also being proud of myself for not giving in to the morphine shots coming every three hours instead of every four. General Masters visited all the time, and even went to the extra effort of...
The Duke, Part Thirty-Nine

The Duke, Part Thirty-Nine

The Duke Part XXXIX The Blue Island waited, quietly tucked in between two other buildings, all three linked together instead of having any space between them at all.  A small neon sign in the front window indicated that it was open, although, upon getting close,...
The Thanksgiving Bear

The Thanksgiving Bear

THANKSGIVING BEAR By James Strauss The cut was two and a half miles wide. That’s what the data beamed down from the satellite told Straight when he’d first checked two years before. The short distance across the cut was vital because the tide was fast, hard, vicious,...
The Duke, Part Thirty-Eight

The Duke, Part Thirty-Eight

THE DUKE Part XXXVIII Darren followed Star into the home, expecting a party atmosphere, or to hear Elvis singing off in some corner of the living room like had been the case the previous time he’d met him. But there was none of that. Instead, once he made the turn...
The Duke, Part Thirty-Seven

The Duke, Part Thirty-Seven

THE DUKE Part XXXVII Darren stopped at the wall, waited a few seconds before leaping up, and then, once atop the wall, sat down on a projecting rock instead of jumping over the wire and down to the other side. He had to think the whole thing through, as best he could....
The Duke, Part Thirty-Six

The Duke, Part Thirty-Six

THE DUKE Part XXXVI Darren walked toward his home, wanting nothing more than a hot shower to remove the nearly ingrained aroma of cooked meat and shellfish following his shift at the Cannon Club. The waitresses had been stunned by the fifty dollar tip the Colonel...
The Duke, Part Thirty-Five

The Duke, Part Thirty-Five

THE DUKE Part XXXV In the short time that it took for the Duke to isolate and pull Star aside, and Judy and her sister were treated like they didn’t exist on the planet, Darren considered what had happened, and what had almost happened.  His mind ran at light speed,...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VI

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VI

THE COWARDLY LION Chapter VI Shoot appeared from seeming nowhere.  I hadn’t noticed the doors swinging at all. He helped my brother back to a vertical position and gave him a towel, and then went to work cleaning up the mess on the floor. “So sorry,” my brother said...
The Duke, Part Thirty-Four

The Duke, Part Thirty-Four

THE DUKE Part XXXIV   Darren hadn’t even seen Judy since the very first discussion he’d had with Mrs. Levy and he instantly regretted that their first encounter would be in such an exposed and potentially embarrassing place and situation.  He decided that, since there...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter V

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter V

THE COWARDLY LION Chapter Five There was night and day in the I.C.U., only the night was brought about by merely dimming the existent lighting enough so that the pain drug clock could barely be seen. Visitors did not come at night. Doctors only came if emergency care...
The Duke, Part Thirty-Three

The Duke, Part Thirty-Three

THE DUKE Part XXXIII Jimmy and Darren climbed the steps onto the small long lanai that ran out from the center of the main building, and a low white fence made of what looked like narrow bowling pins.  There were Koa wood chairs, of the most expensive sort, lined...
The Duke, Part Thirty-Two

The Duke, Part Thirty-Two

THE DUKE Part XXXII Darren staggered out from the breakfast, his face so white that Henrietta ran after him to make sure he was okay. “You Haole boy, but you okay,” she said when he stopped briefly to respond to the grip she had on his left forearm.  “Your mom...
The Duke, Part Thirty-One

The Duke, Part Thirty-One

THE DUKE Part XXXI   Jimmy’s usual parking place was available, without any cars in the slots in front of or behind it.  No parallel parking was necessary.  Jimmy pulled right in, slightly sliding the rear end almost into contact with the curb before stopping. Darren...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IV

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IV

The room was silent, as the three colonels shifted and arranged papers in their laps. The major held up a single sheet of thick paper and began to read, as the staff sergeant readied her hands over a small electronic device that sat on the tiny top shelf of her...
The Duke, Part Thirty

The Duke, Part Thirty

THE DUKE Part XXX The night’s work was one of intent busy work, Darren running back and forth to the kitchen from all dining positions out on the open floor.  A small musical group played on the small stage set behind the open-air dance floor.  Darren avoided the...
The Duke, Part Twenty-Nine

The Duke, Part Twenty-Nine

THE DUKE Part XXIX Work at the club was different.  Darren could sense it as soon as he walked in.  The waitresses did not look at him or talk to him.  It was like he was not there at all. Normally, their chatter was all over the place, since there were, as yet, no...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter III

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter III

I.C.U. was nothing more or less than a long single room with three beds in it. There were no windows, no television set, but, I noted as I was wheeled in, there was the ubiquitous large clock mounted on the wall over the doubled doors that had split down the center to...
The Duke, Part Twenty-Eight

The Duke, Part Twenty-Eight

THE DUKE Part XXVIII Darren slunk down in the back seat of the Corvair, bracing his arms and legs against the jerky half-wild movements of the car’s body as Jimmy drove even wilder than normal.  Star seemed highly entertained by the dangerous driving exercise,...
The Duke, Part Twenty-Seven

The Duke, Part Twenty-Seven

THE DUKE Part XXVII   Jimmy trotted toward the great concrete arch of the Natatorium while Darren hung back, moving slowly but steadily toward the couple.  The Duke was wearing his usual ‘uniform’ consisting of a white short-sleeved shirt, cotton trousers, and leather...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter II

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter II

I awoke in bits and pieces. I blinked my eyes up at the ceiling, which was made of some strange greenish plaster, with light bulbs swinging slightly from wires hanging vertically down. I realized, hazily, that I was in some sort of hard-roofed tent. I tried to move my...
The Duke, Part Twenty-Six

The Duke, Part Twenty-Six

THE DUKE Part XXVI   Darren went to the table and dutifully pulled out a chair and sat down, more than a bit worried that someone might come along and see him with Mrs. Levy dressed the way she was; or undressed the way she was. “I’ll throw something on, for the sake...
The Duke, Part XXV

The Duke, Part XXV

THE DUKE Part XXV   Sergeant Cross looked up at both he and Jimmy, but made no comment about why the other boy was there.  He simply waited, his tiny office filled by the three of them, two smallish chairs and the desk the sergeant sat behind.  There was no room for...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter I

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter I

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter I The words “stay with us” burned their way into my consciousness, as I fought to comprehend the awful condition of my body and even my state of existence on the planet. The words kept repeating, as I tried to see through a distorted return...
The Duke, Part Twenty-Four

The Duke, Part Twenty-Four

The Duke Part XXIV Johann Strauss, the composer of the Blue Danube Waltz, took over the next few minutes, as the three of them sat on top of the thick concrete slab that made up the protective roof of the closed and shuttered observation slit below.  All the WWII...
THE THIRTIETH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE THIRTIETH DAY, 30 Days Has September

I had the leg strength. I’d always had the legs. The records that had fallen to me in the obstacle course, running, and other military skills during officer candidate school and the Basic School had all been functions of lower body strength and agility. The glacis was...
Editorial, Mean-Spirited

Editorial, Mean-Spirited

Editorial August 4, 2020 The planet is in flux. It’s not just the USA, which is the last place one would have expected hysterical drama to shut down. No, the world is filled with it right now because of the Internet, the penetration of television news and radio...
The Duke, Part Twenty-Three

The Duke, Part Twenty-Three

THE DUKE Part XXIII  Darren went back inside and began the real work of getting the place ready, the kind he made himself do well but didn’t like at all. The work he loved was with the people, not doing the scut work before anyone arrived, although nothing would be...
The Duke, Part Twenty-Two

The Duke, Part Twenty-Two

THE DUKE Part XXII   The single thought that pervaded Darren’s mind, and kept him from worrying about what Sergeant Cross might say to his request to get confirmation and a date and time for the Elvis dinner, was about the weekend and what Jimmy had said....
The Duke, Part Twenty-One

The Duke, Part Twenty-One

THE DUKE Chapter XXI   Darren’s father was in a rage by the time he got home from work.  The rages were all founded upon the same squishy ground.  Bacardi Light was the name of the ground. “Who’s this Kahanamoku character?” his father had started with. Darren was a...
The Duke, Part Twenty

The Duke, Part Twenty

THE DUKE Part XX Jimmy blasted the Spyder up the flank of Diamond Head, the Corvair’s turbocharger emitting a pleasing jet engine whine until taking the corner onto 16th Avenue.  Seconds later Darren was home and Jimmy took off again. With its strange rear suspension...
The Duke, Part Nineteen

The Duke, Part Nineteen

THE DUKE Part XIX  Sandy Beach was called Sandy, but only by Haoles and tourists.  It was Sandies Beach to the locals, just like the wonderful Bellows Beach further around the shore, just beyond Waimanalo, was called Sherwood Forest to them.  The tourists who visited...
The Social Order, Editorial July 5, 2020

The Social Order, Editorial July 5, 2020

The Social Order, the Social Condition, and the meaning of ‘Social’ itself. The social definition is simple, whether determined by a dictionary in exotic detail or in seemingly understandable catch-phrases like ‘we are all in this together.’...
The Duke, Part Eighteen

The Duke, Part Eighteen

THE DUKE Part XVIII   Sunday took a long time in coming, as Darren lay in his bed, under a giant poster of the moon, carefully pinned to the wall above his head. The night had been long and filled with waking moments of terror. Terror that Jimmy might not make it back...
Coronavirus, COVID19, Reflection #82

Coronavirus, COVID19, Reflection #82

Journaling the Coronavirus (COVID19) Pandemic Reflection #82 Dateline: Lake Geneva June 27, 2020 Saturday morning, coming down. Lake Geneva is filled with people. There are no masks in sight, except for my own. There is social distancing but it’s down to about...
The Duke, Part Seventeen

The Duke, Part Seventeen

THE DUKE Part XVII It was difficult to get through the night, and then stay on to clean up the club after almost everyone else had left. Jimmy’s condition was unknown and Darren had no way to find out, except to go to Jimmy’s house and talk to his parents. Jimmy was...