Insanity Restored

Sometimes more than anything I just need to get still. Those times when my heart races to the point I want to tear it from my chest. To call a halt to the adrenaline and fear cocktail blazing through my veins. To reclaim some sanity in the disturbing battle of the mind. Or maybe sometimes I just feel fucked. 

Writing has proved difficult lately. It’s been a year since I published a post. A year in which my world has done more than boomerang the sun. A good friend once said, “Strange men have strange days!” You weren’t wrong there Big Al. Way I see it – 365 of them is stranger than most of the other Wackos I know get to deal with.

Fighting the urge to piss and moan is a challenge. But who wants to read that shit never mind write it. Better to reach out to the clock, spin its hands backwards, and see what comes forward… My eyes focus on a paint spot on the ceiling. I surrender to the stillness and think of Adam cast out of Paradise over a stupid act of self-will. His subsequent obsession with self. How easy it is to forget our blessings and let gratitude slide right out of the garden gate. I wonder where he is now.

I was out of bed 4:30am each morning to walk a few yards from door to beach. Meditating to the sunrise before breakfast followed by a stroll on the sand. It was my staycation. A new hotel built on the seafront of my hometown. A small consolation for having canceled a bigger deal the year previous – a long haul to Detroit Michigan for the World Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous. Still the weather was good and it gave me space and time to write. Time to clear my head and destress from managing a chaotic caseload of chaotic offenders for months without a break. Months that others swanned around on furlough and other forms of unbelievable nonsense deemed acceptable during a Pandemic. Try fighting a murderous disease for over 50 years and see how many masks you wear during that process. Again I think of Adam and his self conscious obsession; we’ve all been hiding behind something as long as there’s been a fig leave in reach. I’m no different.

Just prior to this I took a bite from an apple better left on the tree. I got involved in an lust contest. Professionally speaking it was a conflict of interest. A part of me will forever be sick and this individual was happy to feed that sickness. I need to keep an eye on that shit in future. Avoiding the confessional box and respecting the person in question isn’t sharing their side of the shitshow I will leave it at that. Except to say that when I ended things she chucked some serious allegations in my direction. I suppose I should write inventory but fuck it. Why rehash what I already know? My intimate relationships with women have always been toxic. Guess I’m no different sober. At that point I was still some distance from my last drink but all that was about to change. The Sun continued to pull the planet once more round its orbit and what happened next blew my mind…

I attended a Child Protection Conference regarding my 14-year-old son. His mother had tried to strangle him; not for the first time. Local drug dealers were exploiting him. A history of abuse that I was ignorant of parades in front of me. A rage I’ve never managed to contain before exhausts me by the time it’s over. After the meeting I took the boy home with me. Nine months later he’s still here. 

The first of many nights sleeping on the sitting room floor found me restless and confused. Hard to believe I had been so blind to his struggles. I’d always kept him close but somehow fooled myself into believing things had been exaggerated, that they would blow over, or maybe I was just waiting for a bomb to drop. Either way left me nowhere to hide. Not a mask or a fig leave in sight.

The following day I made it into work to get hit with a double yellow card. Relegated to the sin bin. Suspended under investigation. This due to the previously mentioned allegations. Two different rooms on two consecutive days with two very different agendas. Both take on the look of a typhoon casualty. I float between two perfect storms and the old voice kicks in. Then I phoned my sponsor…

I sat and listened as he suggested all the right things. This someone who I had shared an honesty with, like never before or since, sat with me as I planned the next drunk. All the while feeding him bullshit as the old me claimed back the seat. Ten years ago I was so sick and tired of who I was that change was inevitable. In honest reflection I just swapped shadows. At that moment I realised I was just so sick and tired of missing the old me and the old life. Sentimental bull dust I know but it made perfect sense in the moment.

I got drunk that night firing up the progression. Kickstarting an obsession. At first it felt good. Then a little bad. Then it seemed to help me cope as the obstacles mounted up. Next thing I was nuts and my world shrivelled. 

Previous failed geographical solutions were forgot and I took the boy to London for a week. A welcome break and change of scenery sobered me up. Hitting familiar meetings in the Capital helped, along with interesting days of sightseeing and some raw conversations with a 14 year old who needed to be heard. 

Back home I defended myself against the allegations. Turning the tables I attacked. I fought hard and blew the accusations out of the water. The investigators stated all allegations were unproven but that I had risked the good name of the Service simply by entering into the relationship itself. I called bullshit alert on that one but after 4 months on suspension I was fired.

A new home increased vigour. I refurbed and decorated it top to toe in under a fortnight. A garden that’s more like a meadow kept me busy for a while. Family, old friends, and members of the Fellowship all kept showing up at the right time. Things settled for a while. Then the cracks appeared. The sins of the father pass forward apparently. As hard as I try to spare my son (a 14-year-old with more than his own fare share of issues) the benefit of my fuck ups, he is hell bent on making his own way. Some of it scares the shit out of me. Trusting God throughout this process suggests lightning really does strike twice. That’s a concept I find difficult to believe. Though I did once win all my money back at the roulette table after going on a run that started when the ball landed on zero. On two separate occasions. So who knows.

This been the first time I have shared a home with any one since I left his mother and I jump from control freak to people pleaser between each period of resentment. Letting go appears to be a recurring lesson these last ten years. You would of thought I’d have learned it by now.

Saying I’ve found things difficult during recent times would be the Mount Fucking Everest of understatements. There has been more than one period of drunkenness. Each one bringing a mental torture that transcends understanding. But there has been progress coupled with moments of real joy. Hope is alive in me. The one thing that always amazes me during any period of suffering is I get to see a mirror held up. Once all I saw was the pain in my own face; now I see others dealing with similar struggles and finding a way through. I find power in that. The way I understand God is in the people He puts in my path. And I thank Him constantly even for those who piss me off. If somebody didn’t attempt to ruin me then my son would have been taken into care and where would we go from there. Gratitude is indispensable. Without it I might as well say, “This isn’t good enough God.” I have so much to be grateful for but its funny how we always want more. Like an apple from another tree when we already had everything and more.

Community, Fellowship and a firm belief that its better to stand for something rather than just been against everything keeps me praying for the knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out. Whatever the fuck that is.

As for Adam… I know where he is now. With each and every one of us through all days until the last breath is drawn and we stop been so fucking self-centred and finally all make it home together. No masks. No fig leaves. Till then I get to mow a meadow and hopefully find some gratitude for another opportunity to practice letting go.

“Adam shall suffice to shadow me.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you.” – 1 Thess 5:18

“And you shall surely meet some of us as you trudge the road to happy destiny. May God bless you and keep you till then.” – BB Page 164

D&O in Fresno

The Gardener of Broadmoor

My old man is a legend. They will sing nursery rhymes about him in years to come. Some catchy tune to remind kids not to play with fire. A little ditty like… ‘Don’t fool with matches kids, Sparky might get ya. Atishoo atishoo we all burn down.’

You know how it goes. Take a good man, a hero, a firefighter and highlight his mistakes and defective personality, then paint a monster across the front page. It sells newspapers and crime magazines by the millions. They force feed the drivel that spews from the mouths of chat show hosts and news anchors alike. Cheap shit sells, like a Forbes 500 for psychos. Until the next sick fuck comes along, then it’s goodnight from me and don’t forget to switch off the gas. We all have obsessions. Mine was drink, his were flowers.

I take the steps two at a time and make the pavement as the bus roars past like a stray missile. I narrowly avoid a soaking as its wheels kick rainwater sideways over the kerb. It speeds onwards through the city that never sleeps. The time is 6.30am. I raise a Marlboro to my lips. 

“You hear the message kid?” 

“Sort of,” I reply. “You gotta stop sneaking up on me Hank.” He strikes a lighter. I pull on the cigarette and inhale deep. “Its disturbing for a man your age to be as light-footed as that.”

“Then how come you’re up and out so fast, the meeting hasn’t finished, what’s up?”

The decision between honest vulnerability or shovelling bulldust is comparable to the speed of light. Since it’s still dark and a blade wielding crack head might pop up at any time, I choose the latter.

“You ever sponsor a woman Hank?” 

He gives me a ‘what the fuck is this shit’ kinda look, then grabs the Marlboro from my fingers. 

“Anybody in Alcoholics Anonymous chuck that men for men women for women crap at ya is just aiming to keep all the pussy for themselves.” He exhales a full lung of smoke through his nostrils.

I reach out and take back the cigarette, “That’s not an answer Hank.”

“Yeah, once, it didn’t end well.”

“What happened?”

“I married her.” 

“I never knew you were married.”

“What’s with all the questions?”

“You started it.” 

Hank grins. The Sun throws golden beams across the horizon as a new day breaks. I feel the city groan and rumble from its stupor. This place will be swarming in no time. It never sleeps but it’s rarely awake. 

We loiter outside the ‘Light Seekers’ meeting on the edge of Harlem. Round these parts it’s AA for breakfast or closed drapes, Wild Turkey, and alcoholic roulette.

He smiles, “What’s eating you kid?”

“My old man,” I take another draw from the smoke. “He’s sick.”

“No shit,” he lets out a high pitch whistle. “I thought a jury signed off on that 20 years ago.”

I fight the urge to laugh and instead choke up. “I’m serious Hank, he’s dying. The old lady phoned. He won’t see the week out.”  

I hear noise from the church basement as the meeting comes to a close. Chatter turns into hugs as the group burst out into the city. Each to their own for another 24 hours. 

A lady of any age glances back at Hank. Possible looker in her day, now the styrofoam creases in her shoe soles match her forehead; a shell suite hides a figure whose glory days long went south. She mimics a ‘call me’ hand signal. Hank nods, hoping nobody notices.

“Thought you were married?”

He drops a quick squeeze that might be gentle, knowing half his strength, then as quick as it landed, his hand leaves my shoulder, “Like I said, it didn’t end well.” 

“In what way?” I ask.

“In a way that sometimes you just gotta let certain people die.”

My friend Hank, never let it be said that he slips a straight answer. Almost as effortless as he slipped blows in the ring before HBO punched his ticket and off he went to guzzle a fortune. Drank a six-figure sum in as many years while the hookers and the dealers gave salute on his way to the funny farm. He’s a better man for the experience and I would be lost in this place without him.

“I be out of town for a few days Hank.” I flick the cigarette into the last of the darkness. It ricochets off the blacktop, then drowns in the leftover rain. “I have unfinished business back home.”

The subway to JFK and the tube train from Heathrow melt into one like a giant transatlantic freak show linking both sides of the pond. The flight is mainly uneventful. I slip into sleep at takeoff and somehow incorporate the stewardesses tits into my dream before being shook awake by the clink of bottles.

“Would you like anything from the drinks trolley, sir?”

Prayer takes on a whole new meaning at 30,000 feet.

I exit the tube station to learn that he never made it through the night. The London Gazette runs the headline ‘Sparky’s last bonfire. Serial Killer to be cremated.’

Back home, mother feigns sympathy while brewing tea. She talks of the infant me: Riding on his shoulders, playing football in the park, toy fire engines and visits to the station, waiting up till he came home at night, leaping out of bed to greet him when he made it back from the night shift. How the allotment garden was his pride and joy, barred to anybody else but me. How I revelled in that honour. The smiles quickly fade to horror as she turns the conversation to those endless days of the trial. Those parasitic journalists and their flashbulbs lighting up the night and every dash to and from the house. 

“He had more than two sides you know,” she says while busying herself with the dishes.

I watch her at the sink washing up. Her hair has greyed since we last shared a room and somehow she seems smaller.

“How come, in what way?” I ask.

“In his ways.” She forces a smile, “and I only miss one of them.” Mum empties the draining board’s contents into a cupboard and takes a pack of cigarettes from her apron pocket. She looks ancient. “You got a light?” A silence fills the room and I can almost see her heart break.

“Why did you stay here mum, after everything that happened?”

“I don’t know son.” She takes a lighter from a drawer and offers me the cigarette packet. “Nowhere else to go, my plans were always here.” A tear trails down her cheek. “I wish they just left his fucking poxy garden alone.”

I want to scream at her. That garden was everything to him; more than the job, more than her, more than… more than drink was to me. Everything!

I feel her pain. I reach out and put my arms around her. I pull her in tight, “I love you mum.” She’s all bones.

The way I see it, you shouldn’t push people too far. Especially those out there giving it everything for the good of others. Those who see tragic things day and night. Those who need a place of safety to retreat to and embrace their demons. Those who appear to sleep easy when in reality dream darker than death. Those who have the one thing they need to cope with all that. One thing only. Like a garden. You shouldn’t push people like that too far. We didn’t need another fucking supermarket.

Dad was smart. He knew the investigation team would rule that the explosion at the planning department was arson. He knew the council official’s death would start a murder investigation. He knew blowing up the police station would lead them down a different track. The incendiary device that took out the investigation team trawling through the rubble at the cop shop was one thing. Injuring himself in the line of duty was another. Pure genius, a month spent in the hospital, his pension settled in full. An entire lifetime to tender that garden and watch those flowers bloom. Except then there was a new council official and the same old planning order. The garden was still going. The supermarket was still coming. Torching this prick with a flamethrower on his doorstep was definitely the spark that lit the flame. They convicted dad on 16 counts of murder by diminished responsibility. A psychiatrist testified to multiple personality disorder. It turns out that the personality that was in love with Lillys and Petunias also had intense homicidal tendencies. The press had a field day. Like I said… You shouldn’t push people too far.

We held the funeral service at Broadmoor. A private affair. Just mother and myself accompanied by a vicar and the hospital director. We scattered dad’s ashes over the garden on a little plot they had given him to grow flowers. The doctor described afterwards that the mural had been part of his therapy. A blazing supermarket and fire engines weaved into a botanical tapestry. Impressive. 

I make the call from Heathrow. “How did it go kid?” He says.

“It didn’t end well Hank.”

“In what way?”

I look back from the phone booth towards a waste bin. Just a moment earlier, I had used a cheap burner phone to dial another number. I dropped it into the trash when the call rang to voicemail. A TV news crew stood outside a supermarket on the other side of London. They broadcast a live interview with the manager. Somewhere a phone rang. The ringtone was a siren from a fire engine. The news anchor’s face a little annoyed as it kept ringing. Nobody knew where the sound came from. The following silence lasted little more than a second. The explosion shook the earth across the capital.

From the departure lounge, I saw smoke stretch up from the horizon. The tannoy barked, “This is the last call for the flight to JFK.”

I turn my attention back to the payphone, “In a way that sometimes you just gotta let certain people die Hank.”

I end the call and board the plane. You see, my old man was a legend. They will sing nursery rhymes about him in the not too distant future; reminding kids not to play with fire, and how it’s wise not to push people too far.

Outside the Box

Back in June 2017 I published a post named “Seeker of Experience.” It started with a quote from a friend I’ve never met. It went something like this…

“I seek experience. I no longer seek faith or belief, I seek experience. When I find experience, faith and belief take care of themselves. I urge you to seek experience” – Peter M from New Jersey speaking at the Primary Purpose weekend at Camp Hill Pennsylvania 2004.

When I wrote that post I was embarking on a new adventure. I was moving from homeless services into addiction services. It was a big step at the time. I had been safe and supported. It had been my first and only ever sober job up to that point. I had been guided and allowed to make mistakes. I loved the work and had grown immeasurably. I was comfortable. And still, there I was, walking away. I ended that post with a declaration of faith. And I’ve needed it. The journey since has been both arduous and exhilarating rolled into one.

I recall back to 2015:  That drive up the Pocano Mountains. At the top finding a white wood church with a picket fence; a room full of old timers who had travelled the length and breadth of the United States to attend a celebration of one of their own. Myself questioning how I got there while knowing in the depth of my being that I was exactly where I was meant to be. I recall the last speaker that night and how he blew me away. An old man with a history reaching back to the original one hundred. His laughter and parting statement after I approached him outside in the carpark… “Good luck kid.”

I had earlier listened to him speak about how he would “Rather see a sermon than hear a sermon.” His words as he described how the man in question that night had inspired him by his actions for over four decades. Words that have inspired me through periods of struggle and adversity many times. Times when I was close to throwing in the towel and returning to the me of old. I am not the man I used to be. Im grateful for that, but also grateful to the old me. He got me here. I look back to the start of this spiritual journey that I exchanged for a life that had failed. A life that was extremely eventful and not without excitement, all be it in a very sick and twisted way. A life with a lot of dangers I still find hard to believe I survived. I look back to the start and can almost hear the old me as I found a seat in a room that would save my life, “Ok I got us here, I’m done, your turn. Good luck kid.” And off I went seeking experience without the slightest understanding of what I was doing and what it was I was seeking. And like the drive up the Pocona Mountains that night in Pennsylvania –  the road got narrower.

For the last couple of months Ive been awake to the sensation of experiencing a feeling of intense freedom. That is what I want to share in this post. Two years ago I moved from addiction services into working for the criminal justice system. Again, it was a leap out of the comfort zone. I had a year under my belt when the pandemic hit. A year where I had adopted the role of utter beginner. An apprentice. Then I found myself alone with it all under endless days of intense pressure. I was stressed and exhausted. At the end of the first lockdown I took a train south to spend a few much needed days with an American friend from the Fellowship that I had met on a zoom meeting. He spoke of Proverbs and I found myself skipping through them; again seeking without realising. This is my experience…

I stumbled on Proverbs 3:5-6 and have meditated on it through this period that alerted the world that nothing, absolutely nothing, is under control. 

It goes like this –

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart

At first this seemed like no explanation was needed. All it asked was to muster with all my personal strength every ounce of trust I could gather and put it into something I cant see or touch.  Then I decided I would take this into meditation and ask the question “What does this mean?” A question I would resist answering. Slowly over time the answers came.

With all your heart stopped meaning with all my strength and was replaced with all the things that are in my heart: All my hopes, All my fears, All my resentments and prejudices, All my wants and needs, All my loves. All the things I mistakenly call Mine! 

Exactly what is mine? My Kids? Are they mine? I certainly don’t view myself as a possession of my parents, so the answer must be no! I’m their father, but does that make them Mine? Parents and friends? They are definitely people in my life that I love, but there are a lot of people I love that are now in the graveyard. So again I needed to ask just where exactly are we attached.

My Life, is it mine? If it is then surely I decide when it begins and when it ends. So again, No.

My Job? Somebody else will decide when I’m no longer needed there. Even if it kept me going until retirement, one day, sooner or later I will go home and not return. If that day is sooner then who’s going to pay the rent? Which brings me to my apartment, is it mine? Not without the rent money it isn’t. My sobriety and sanity? I already tried to get those by myself and don’t need to explain how that worked out; just see –  Shitshow. The list goes on. 

The Buddhists have a saying: “You only loose what you cling to.” I don’t want to loose the good things in my heart and I cant force the bad things in there to leave either. But I can see the gift in both. Both make me who I am. And if I am prepared to accept a gift then I must trust who is giving it. So who is that…

And lean not on your own understanding

At first I thought this was talking about not relying on self-sufficiency. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says in the chapter We Agnostics “God is either everything or He is nothing, what was our choice to be?” 

Thats a hard one. I simply cant believe that the known and unknown Universe burst out of nothing, is heading nowhere and will disintegrate into nothingness. That takes a special kind of closed mind that is beyond my ability. But everything, what does that even mean? I have equally less ability to understand the word everything. The most brilliant minds on the planet both past and present are limited in this department. We don’t know what it is we don’t know. Even geniuses are limited in their intelligence to a degree that is so small its immeasurable when it comes to this equation. 

In the book of Job God says to Job “Where were you when I laid the Earths foundations, have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep, who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”

But still, admitting that I am limited in understanding does not stop me questioning. And then it was obvious: Everything that I see, Everything that I feel, Everything that I experience, Everything that makes me laugh and cry, Everything is constantly changing. Do not lean on it, Do not attach to any belief. Including how I understand a Power Greater than myself, or God if you will. How can I even pretend to understand something that is incomprehensible. Something I can’t see or touch. Like Job I was not there when the foundations were laid. But laid they were. So I agree to roll with a changeable understanding. If God is everything then that includes all of us, that in itself is good enough for me and so much better than a Michelangelo portrait on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I value the experience and opinions of others nowadays (even those individuals I don’t particularly like) but I know better than to try to put God in a box.

In all your ways acknowledge Him

In a childish type of way I mistakenly thought this was about types of ways to greet and say hello. That was my first thought. Then it dawned on me. In all your ways. The journey itself. If God is everything then everywhere I’ve been, everything I’ve done, He’s been right there with me. That solves a few things that have puzzled me. I have no idea how I’m still here. Leaving aside the drink and drug experiment of over 30 years, where I proceeded on a self destruct mission that others would of and some did perish in; I can recall many times when I walked away thinking “I should be dead.” Ive been stabbed with a bottle 2 inches from my carotid artery, shot at, on the edge of the blast range of an exploding grenade, found myself in a minefield in the dead of night, car crashes that involved somersaults and crawling out while the machine was on its roof, and pulled out of a river at 6 years old after giving up the panic struggle and accepted I had, at such a young age, breathed my last breath. This is not a comprehensive list. But much more than these is the unexpected triumphs. Times when I felt my back against the wall absolutely convinced there was no way out and I was truly beat this time. Then the unexpected showed up with no planning or preparation on my part. I guess we’ve all experienced those moments. Funny thing is they became more regular when I started expecting them. Wherever you go expect miracles and  acknowledge Him.

And He will make straight all your paths

By the time I was taking this into meditation I could see the message. It’s come full circle. It’s back to trust. You see, most of the paths we tread are in our head. Our little plans and designs. Our wants and our needs. Our lust and envy. Our resentments and our fears. All the blockbuster mental movies where we play the star of the show. All the shit that gets us tangled up. All the nonsense that means nothing to nobody except ourselves. Our self importance. Where we get to take ourselves way to seriously ignoring the fact we are all going to be dead soon. Regardless how long you keep going, nobody gets out alive.

Then I can see it: All the things I call Mine, All my Understanding (or not) of life, the world, others, and my ever changing Beliefs, All my Experiences to date – none of them need me. And the real beauty of it is –  I need none of them either.  Everything is unfolding exactly as it should be. As it is. Creation is an ongoing process. It didn’t end with a Bang. To know that and to be a part of that, wherever that leads, brings an intense sense of freedom.

On the back of all this I found myself on a walk along the seafront. It was 6.30am and the sun was just rising in the sky. The weather looked in for an amazing day. There were few people out and about at that time, a few joggers and some dog walkers. And a guy sat on a bench. I noticed him at the exact same instant that I saw the can of cider in his hand. Strongbow, my all time favourite breakfast. He had another 3 cans at his feet. I saw the pain in his eyes along with that sense of ease and comfort the morning drink always brings. The voice started straight up in my head. Obsession. One so subtle and so powerful. The shockwave shimmered through my body and I was tempted on the spot by the old me that will forever sit in the wings waiting for another turn. I kept on walking but the voice kept on talking. Ive came to believe that I always had and always needed a Power Greater than myself to run the show. Only difference now is I get to choose which one. I text my recovery brother and he responded straight back with a phone call. We laughed at the powerful insanity of this disease and spoke in awe of a Greater Power that pulled us back from the abyss. The rest of the day was a breeze.

The only zen you find at the top of the mountain is the zen you carried up there with you.” – Shunryu Suzuki.

“We found the Great Reality deep down within ourselves. It is only in this last analysis where He may be found“ – A Vision for You, Big Book.

“Pursue what is meaningful not what is expedient.” – Jordan Peterson.

D&O in Fresno


What is that noise?

“Get me out!”

Where am I? What’s that banging?

“Ya can’t keep me here, wake up!”

My head throbs. The night light cuts through my eyelids. I’m wet. I drag myself up onto one elbow. It almost slips off the shelf. A thin blue plastic mattress holds my weight. Its wet, too.

There’s a kid stood next to the door. “Who the fuck are you?” I say.

“Who the fuck do you think?” He turns and continues to assault the cell door. “This is your mess, get us fucking out of here.”

“My mess, how?” I scan the old familiar surroundings.

“You should have brayed the bitch.”

“Who?” I ask.

“Mary, who else?” He laughs.

Memory banks fire up as it floods back in. Fuck’s sake, not again!

I remember shouting through her letter box, wrestling with the new bloke. Out in the street, neighbours fully present, digging a key bumper to bumper along his paintwork.

Head still throbbing.

“And him, that goon with the motor, look what he’s done to your face.”

Stroking my cheekbone, yep, it’s sore alright.

A burst of energy. Depressed adrenaline. Quickly covering the nine feet as I hit the buzzer. A moment or two passes before the hatch drops.

A partial face, mainly lips, “Sleep well, did we?”

“What’s there a kid doing in here?”

He laughs, “It be pink elephants next sunshine, needing a little drink are we?” His wrist flicks back and forth in glass guzzling imitation. “No need to act the loon, the desk Sargent will see you soon enough.” He slams the hatch, “You be out before the pubs open.” His parting shot echoes through the steel door.

“Another fine mess,” I say out loud to nobody in particular.

“What about me?” Says the kid.

I look him up and down. Real enough. Look’s almost familiar. I head back to the bench and drop down hard onto my backside. And finally, it comes to me; after all this time, it makes perfect sense. The drink, the drugs, violence, sick sex, every conflict and disturbance. The separation and isolation. All him!

“I know who you are,” I say.

A tear carves a channel down his cheek, “Really?” He replies. “At last, so tell me where from?”

Furious, Im up pacing the confines. I hurl words that cut; reminded of every train crash disaster, I give him both barrels, sparing nothing.

Finished, I slump down to the cold floor, exhausted.

“I should never have listened to you,” I sob uncontrollably.

He stares impassively. A child. His turn; a wordless response, living pictures in my head. I see the laughter and the love, curiosity and innocence, a connection and direction.

“Where from?” He repeats.

“You’ve alway been here.”

He nods, “Right from the beginning, when God walked you out of the void.” He looks up at the ceiling and spins round a full circle, “Im the guide He assigned.”

“Then why all the fucking mess?” I shout.

The night light flickers, buzzing, before shrouding the room with darkness. I see two kids. Laughing. Playing. I sense something wrong. An evil. A temptation. One kid senses it too. He moves towards it, entranced. I want to scream at him to wait, stop, don’t follow it, something’s wrong. He won’t listen, can’t see the danger.

“You had to chase after them, didn’t you?”

“What! Who?” I shout.

He shrugs his shoulders and says, “All of them, every experience, every situation good and bad, you wanted it all.” He laughs out loud, “It was a buzz when they wanted you, but how’d it feel when they ditched you for something new?”

“You encouraged it,” I reply.

“Not so,” he laughs. Heading back towards the door, he knocks gently on the steel plate, “You made me their prisoner. I foretold the outcome.”

“What type of guide is that,” I ask, curling my knees up to my chest, burying my head.

“Mysterious ways type of guide that’s what. I don’t get to ask and neither do you. There was only one bite of the apple, but always two choices.” He sits down next to me and the night light buzzes its way back to life. The door unlocks. “Lets go Rocky,” says the cop. “Time to leave.”

Sunlight stings my eyes as I exit the police station. The kid reaches up and takes my hand.

“Pub then is it?” he says.

Shaking my head as I reply, “What with them crazy bastards, all that performing, no thanks.”

He smiles and squeezes my hand, “Hows about an ice cream?”

Yeah… that sounds good to me.

“And them, what about them?”

“I dunno, maybe its time we learned to love ourselves first and leave others to live their own lives.”

“Ah that type of knowledge is worth a fall,” he states, “Onwards, you lead the way.”


“Certainly,” he laughs, “You’ve earned it.”

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” ~ Bob Marley

“Take off the E and let it Go” ~ Unknown

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me” ~ Matt – 25:36

D&O in Fresno

Circadian Fall

I sit at the table, order a scotch and light a smoke. The barman knows me, “don’t be calling me son again, mister! Whiskey is it?” The room half full. Deadbeats and alkys line the walls. They search for anything to wake them from their shitkicking existence. A sudden surge of pleasure is all that’s needed to make them forget. As for me? I’m only here to see her. My need is for her to recognise me, to remember how it was, before it all went separate.

The light fades while the curtain goes back. A tree stands centre stage caught in the spotlight. Drums beat, and she makes her way out in front of the crowd; naked as the first time I laid eyes on her. This nest of losers stare silently spellbound. The dance enchants and seduces them. They drool as she rolls herself around the tree, the snake slides down; it stares into her eyes.

“Looking for anybody in particular?” A huge black guy leans on the chair to my left, “Bubba Pimp, I know everything there is to know about the whoring business.” He nods towards a dark corner of the room where some scantly clad twenty something fakes a smile and strokes her crotch. I turn my attention back to the stage, “how much for her?”

Im going to tell you a story; before I forget. You see, a Man can live a whole day in a story, a lifetime, many lives, to make one story, and then forget. Climb out of bed to a history he can’t remember. Thrown into a day he neither foretold nor requested. And that’s how my story goes. How it plays out, each and every day…

A room. It seems familiar…but the girl? I don’t recall. Naked. Skin soft and warm, her breath light. She rolls away, lost in some dream. Instinctively I grab the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Each morning the same struggle. I wonder how I ended up here, managing this hotel – ‘Paradise City’. its beautiful gardens buried deep in some stinking concrete jungle. I smile at the passing guests. My skull thick with whiskey; constantly they bark requests as the mind’s eye shows me things I was never meant to know. Eventually the darkness lands. With a flash I’m gone, out the door, pulse racing with an urge to see her.

I trudge uptown brandishing the stick at the swarm of oncoming human traffic. The city bursts skywards. Giant advertising screens flash baseball stars and sportswear.

“Fucks your problem?” screams some fat cunt in linen pants and a fedora.

“I come in peace, son.”

“Ain’t your son shitbag, watch where ya walking next time. Fucking cripple!”

Without breaking stride or looking back I wonder at how many times Ive heard this and smile. The night air warm and sticky; taxi cabs blare horns, the smell of hotdogs drift from the street vendors. I push on.

La temptation’ Gentleman’s club and Bubba Pimp is in full pitch, a girl on each arm. The crowd of losers holla at the show, throwing twenty bucks a pop. The snakes tongue flicks at her snatch as she writhes on the stage.

“You couldn’t afford that one,” he says.

“Oh, I’ve paid for it.” I laugh, “many times over.”

The snake rises to attention then dips back down flicking its tongue across her nipple. The audience goes wild. My heartbeat reaches critical as fingers tighten round the stick. Urge turns to rage. I’m up and out of the chair stick held high. The reptile turns it head. It taunts me. I see my reflection in its eyes. Teeth grind, my chest thuds and I swing heavy. The branch from an ancient tree shatters its skull. The bums go psycho.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” pleads Eva “Why don’t you just leave us alone?”

“Axel, son of man, pleased to meet ya.”

“You’re not the son!”

“What ya talking about?”

“Don’t you remember? You didn’t want us.” She points at the snake, “you’re not the son… he is!”

The serpent disappears, a half-eaten apple takes its place.

A voice shouts across the room, “you’re not the fucking son!”

“Not the son, not the son, not the son…” Faces chant, charging towards me. Stale whiskey and body odour rise with the heat; a nightmare scenario.

“Bitch” I shout, raising the stick towards the oncoming human traffic.

“Not the son, not the son…”

Blows reign in. I’m on the floor. I feel the snake slide against my leg. It’s soft and warm. I hear my breath gently moving in and out. The taste of whiskey sour in my mouth. Instinctively I reach out, grabbing the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Guests at the hotel come and go, forever needing something. They are always asking for help. I tire of smiling at them and take a walk in the garden. My buckled legs ache and the damp shirt clings to my skin. It will be dark soon, almost dark enough to see her again. I sense an urge and it begins to rise…

“If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more ” ~ Jules Renard.

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude” ~ Henry J.M Nouwen.

“You don’t know my mind, you don’t know my kind. Dark necessities are part of my design” ~ Red hot chili peppers.

D&O in Fresno


Flash Fiction Series…

A reflection beams back from the Crome; the scene mirrored in a visor. Chinstrap loose, pushing the helmet up to suck in air, the shell drops back down into place. Time check: half an hour has passed. Helmet feels heavy, breath sharp, a look round, the space closing in.
Walls gleam, nothing unusual, an average lift.
Thirty minutes trapped. Boxed in tight, nowhere to go. “We are still here Sir,” says a voice through the speaker. “Are you ok?”
The reply curt, “yes.”
Head butts the wall; no force, just a tap. The voice of the responder again, “won’t be long now Sir.” “Ok.”
The conference will be due to end shortly. A need to get out and away before the main speaker is missed. A busy city like London, not uncommon for people to be late. Soon the questions will start. They will come looking.

Hurry the fuck up

Sweating; it’s close like a coffin, helmet tight, uncomfortable. A glance up at the camera. Still broke, smashed before pressing the alarm. The visor stays down.

Fucking feet ache

A wiggle of the toes, a look at the phone… still no signal. “Sir, the engineer has arrived.” That voice again, an irritating tone. “Won’t take much longer,” she says. “He will need to set up, then winch the lift to the rooftop.”
Gun removed from the waistband, gets into position.


“Is it definitely just you in the elevator?” says the speaker, “the hotel CCTV shows two people entering.” A corpse sits behind, the wall above painted in blood. The silencer fastens into place as the door peels back. A workman stood there, mouth open, his face in terror. An employee screams. Two shots fired. The gunman steps out onto the roof and moves towards the fire escape.

On the street crowds exit the hotel. The motorbike starts first time. It speeds off. The call connects in the helmet, “Go ahead.”
“Mr Yakanawi will not be speaking at this years conference Sir.”
“Very well Julie,” the reply. “Payment will be received in the usual fashion.”


Tell it as it was – Flash Fiction

So we are in NYC right, and all we have done for 3 days is drink. That and walk. We spend this one afternoon cracking jokes with the hotel barmaid. We bring the laughs; she pours the drinks. This girl is hot stuff; her eyes sparkle as she giggles. I’m erect.
Jimmy is hammered. He flips a drink, trips over his feet, says enough is enough and heads back to the room for a siesta. I’m happy for him to do so. It gives me a clear chance at the girl.
The charm rolls from my tongue like pure magic; she’s loving it. I’m almost in the end zone when suddenly there’s a tap on my shoulder. I turn to see this black hulk. He stares at me, “you a guest at this hotel Sir?” Hotel security, reports of a disturbance on the 5th floor.

Instinctively I know this involves broken brains. He has a track record of fuck-ups. The bouncer accompanies me to the elevator. We exit to find a half dozen Yanks stood over my friend, he’s laid out flat in the corridor, key card in his hand.
“I know CPR,” screams some fuckwit as he dashes to the scene. The guest medic gets down into position as my tolerance packs up and leaves. I stick the boot into Jimmy’s ribs, “no heart attack here, just a drunken clown.” Somehow they don’t get the British humour, unlike the barmaid.
I toe poke my friend in the temple. Somebody shrieks. I smell a lawsuit in the air.
“Let’s get him inside,” says the doorman as he scoops him up. I grab the key card. The hulk throws Jimmy face down on the bed.
“Shows over folks,” I slam the door towards their gawping faces.

Downstairs at the bar I slide back into the flow; beer and best chat up lines. “Is your friend ok,” she asks.
No he’s not, in fact now I think of it, he never was.
“Sir, I need to speak with you again.” It’s the hulk. “Your friend Sir, he’s wandering the corridor naked now.”

I’m no longer erect…

Jimmy, eh?


D&O in Fresno


Road to Realisation

Sleep Diver Part 5 (Final)

Road to Realisation – Texas


Outside the small town of Realisation, Texas – A gunfight takes place. Two cars stand on either side of the road, their occupants shoot frantically at each other.

On the backseat of one is a suitcase containing $100,000.

One of the shooters is hit in the chest…

“You care for a drink White Man?”

“As a matter of fact Chief,” I reply, “yes I do.”

“Sorry, looks like we’re all out.”

“Aint that a shame,” I splutter. “Tell me old man, you God?”

“Hell no, though I know of Him.”

“The Devil?”

“Acquainted, but again no.”

“Then who?” I ask.

“Isn’t that obvious?”

“Maybe to you.”

“I’m everything you cant let go of Eli.” He pauses. “I’m the weight around your neck.”

Blood trickles from my mouth; I cough and more of the stuff bursts forward. It feels like I’m choking.

“I had a strange dream Chief.” I struggle to breathe, “you were in it.”

“I know,” he says.

“The girl, the runner… the boss.” I gurgle, “all in this dream.”

“You only loose what you cling to.”

“There were others, some guy at a table.”

“Let me go Cryl.” He smiles.

I’ve never felt this cold before. “I’m dying?”

“Sleep Eli, dive into the sleep. Dive in deep.”

A phone call…

“The mark escaped Ma’am, I’m afraid we lost them.”


“Theres one more thing… Cryl, he got hit. He’s gone!”

“The money?”

“Sorry Miss Lou.”

“Ok Stan, thats slightly unfortunate. Clean up then come home.”

El Paso – Mexican side

A car speeds towards a crossroads. Dust rises from its wheels. A black Sedan is parked at the junction, its heavily armed passengers lean back on the vehicle smoking cigarettes. The car pulls along side.

“Señor Dan.”


“I hope your journey was a pleasant one.”

“We made it.”

“You have my money?”

The suitcase sits on Marcie’s knee. She holds it tight. Dan takes it from her and passes it through the open window, “Its all there.”

“Well done my friend.” He opens the case, takes out a bunch of notes and drops them into Dan’s lap. “Buy your lady friend a sombrero.” He laughs. “Welcome to Mexico.”

A Diner. Upper West Side, Manhattan

“Hey handsome,” says the waitress. “You want more coffee?”

“No thank you.” He looks at the empty seat across the table, “I just take the check.”

“You been stood up again?”

The Kitchen Table Man gives her $20, “It happens.”

“You’re a regular finder of lost children ain’t ya!” she says.

“Somebody’s gotta do it.”

“Maybe they show up later.”

She walks back towards the cash register as he says, “he’ll get another go; we all get another go.”

A little beach somewhere in California – The sky paints crimson again; this time its Sunrise. Exhausted, I wade through the water and crawl across the sand to the trailer.

Inside I find an old woman stood at the cooker, “Good morning Eli, how would you like your eggs?”

“Easy over, with some home fries,” I reply.

“Salt and Tabasco?”

“You know me too well,” I say, still not certain who she is.

“Indeed I do.” She laughs.

“Eva.” I begin to remember, “Lou.”

“That’s me sugar, sometimes ‘Shawn’.”

“Eva Lou –”

“Eat your breakfast Eli.” She puts the plate in front of me, it smells delicious. I feel a warm glow come over me. It feels good.

“Where next?” she asks.

“I get another go?”

“Sure do, still plenty left.”

“Home fries?”

“Experiences,” she says.

It all starts to come back. Different places; different times. The sensation washes over me like a Déjà vu.

“How many left?”

“A few…billion.” She cracks some more eggs into the frying pan. She looks a lot older than the Chief.

“Is there any reason for any of this?”

“What, you mean for living every life that ever lives?” She smiles, her eyes are so friendly, her skin so wrinkled.

“Gonna take a while.”

“You have a better idea on how to walk through eternity?” She scoops an egg from the pan and catapults it onto my plate.

“I get to choose?”

“Hmmm… you can suggest.”

“Somewhere warm.”


“A little too close I think, hows about Hawaii?” I’m starting to like the sound of this.

“Pearl Harbour 1941 looks interesting.” She begins to chuckle.

“Really.” I say, “I get to experience everything?”

She leans forward and runs her hand through my hair. “No Eli, I do.”


“One day your life will flash before your eyes; make sure its a show worth watching.” – Unknown.

“When we reach out to what is unknown to us, we let go of the notion that we can control what we experience.” – Ken McLeod

“We’re all just asleep, dreaming that we’re awake.” – Unknown.

The journey is the reward.

— Taoist proverb

D&O in Fresno

Down the Rabbit Hole

Sleep Diver part- 4  ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’.

Lou’s Place – NJ

I walk through the door into a darkly lit foyer. An old man sits at the counter.

“Didn’t I warn you to stay away from those Preachers!” he squawks.

“Grandpa??” Horror kicks in.

“I ain’t ya Grandpa Sonny.” His face changes.

“What is this place?”

“Members only,” he says. “You got an invite?”

I pull the card from my pocket, “just this.”

Without looking at it he says, “Ok go on in.”

A curtain pulls back… Lights flash; the music’s almost deafening. I step forward and into the Club. From behind I hear my grandfathers voice… “A lively bender is only a good mans fault Eli, don’t you ever forget that.” His laughter trails off as I make my way to the bar.

“Usual Sir?” Asks the Barman.

“And what would that be?”

“Wild Turkey of course Sir, what else!” He pulls a bottle straight from under the counter and pours me a drink.

I’m on the verge of freaking out. “Do we know each other?”

“You know everybody here Mr Cryl.” He begins to laugh. At first warm, friendly, then it starts to change. Quickly it turns to hysterics, followed by an evil cackle as tears stream down his face. I throw my head back and down the whiskey.

“Another one Sir?” He stands calm, composed, no sign of the laughing freak show.

He refills my glass. I take a 20 from my wallet. “On the house Sir,” he says.

“Why would that be?”

“Its your party Mr Cryl.”

“Really?” I reply. “And whats with the Tux and Dixie Bow? Bit over the top for for a place like this.”

Smiling as he polishes a champagne flute, “Its a special occasion.” He nods towards the podium.

I lean on the bar and turn my head; the place begins to fill up. The lights flash to the beat of the music. I glimpse faces in the crowd. They somehow seem familiar.

Briefly I spot old Mr Henderson my high school english teacher. It cant be, surely he’s dead by now! A couple of the boys from my old army battalion. A dancer on the floor reminds me of a photo grandpa kept of my mother.

I’m brought out of shear disbelief with a firm slap on the shoulder.

“Eli old buddy, how you been?”

I turn and face, cant believe what I’m seeing, “Stan?” Total shock. “What the fuck you doing in Jersey?” I have to raise my voice above the drumbeat of the music.

“You think I would miss this?”

“We agreed, once the deal was done, never to meet again.”

“Yeah yeah Eli.” He slaps my shoulder a second time, “its good to see ya man, tell me, what did ya spend the hundred grand on?”

I cant take this in. My head swims. I need another drink.

“Cumon Eli, what you spend the money on?”

I look for the bar tender. Nowhere in sight.

“Invested it.”

“Oh Yeah.” He looks puzzled, “what in?”


Just then an announcement is piped through the PA System, “Ladies and Gentlemen the management would like to thank you for joining us tonight in our special celebration.”

The room goes dark. A spotlight shines on the ceiling then begins to dance around the walls.

“Drumroll Maestro please…”

The sound effects end with the noise of corks popping. The spotlight finally lands on me. What the fuck is going on here.

“… can we all show our appreciation for tonight’s guest of honour – Mr Eli Cryl.”

The lights go on. All eyes are on me. Glasses are raised and a rendition of ‘He’s a jolly good fellow’ bursts out across the room. Something feels very wrong. I’m about to turn heels and sprint for the door when the room darkens and the spotlight stops at the podium.

The music now sleek and seductive. She steps out from the shadows and onto the stage. I’m frozen in time, glued to the spot unable to blink… Marcie.

She begins to dance. I’m captivated, almost hypnotised. It seems as if she’s floating towards me, above the crowd. My heart pounds, but there’s something else. I struggle to think what, but theres something…

“Enjoying the show my friend?”

My head spins to the left. Its the Kitchen Table Man, laughing in my face. He’s drunk.

“Where’s my money?” shouts Louise Wishbourne, stood at my right.

The crowd all turn to me.

And then I realise what that something is. I’m cold. Very cold. Deathly cold.


The room goes silent. Again a second time, from behind… “Eli.” I turn to see Dan at the exit. Stood there with his arm around Marcie, “Where’s my rent?” He laughs. ”You’ll never catch me Buddy.” Its at this point the whole crowd dashes towards me… Screaming.

The terror is overwhelming and I begin to shoot. I fire rapidly as they snarl and grab at me. They just keep coming, I’m going under. And then…

…the glitch kicks in!

The buzzing fades. The sparks leave my eyes. I’m flat out on my back looking at the sky. The sun beats down on my skin. Its hot. The air is dry. I feel cold. Very cold. Gunfire echoes from either side…

A big old Indian stands above me. Looking down as he says, “care for a drink White Man?”

To be continued…

A Subway Train Named Sitting Bull

Sleep Diver‘ Part 3 – A Subway Train named Sitting Bull

The MTA is quiet; its late, the train almost empty. I sit back and remember how Afghan Dan first appeared on my radar. The call from New Jersey; an Afghan man skipping bail on a misdemeanour, did I want the mark?

I tracked him down to the Lone Star State. He put up one hell of a fight, then begged me to cut him loose, “no man you don’t know what’s going on! You gotta let me go man your killing me.”

We drove into an ambush on route to the Sheriffs Office. He took a gunshot wound to the chest. I got lucky; the slugs still in my shoulder. Two dead bad guys and a witness box. Some misdemeanour that was. We’ve been close ever since. Dan and the Kitchen Table Man, they’re all I’ve got.

The trains half full now. An old Indian sat opposite stares intently at me. He’s huge, a real chief sitting bull. Our eyes lock. The booze starts to ware off. I feel unnerved; possible situation brewing. Too big for a take down, but he’s old, real old, maybe wise to common sense…

“What’s up old man you loose ya squaw?” The Indian remains silent, “listen Chief this ain’t the cuckoos nest quit staring at me.”

Its as if he sees straight through me. Who knows, maybe he does.

“Jeez we got a live one here and it’s making me nervous!” I raise my voice while scanning either side of the train. His silence spooks me.

“I thought the L Train held the freak show at this hour.” None of the other passengers pay any attention.

The train stops at 116 & 8th. ‘Stand clear of the closing doors.

Using the interruption to save face; I look along the carriage. Its then that I see her, through the window, out on the platform… Marcie!

It can’t be, surely to God… how, where, what the fuck?

I’m up and on my feet, hearing myself shout her name ‘Marcie’ as I dash for the door.

Like a God damn limpet mine this fuckwit latches onto my wrist. His hand squeezes so tight it stops me dead in my tracks. He’s rooted solid; unmoving.

“Fork tongue White Man, speak slowly.” His eyes never leave mine.

“Let go Sitting Bull or I’ll unleash the fucking Cavalry!”

Again…‘Clear the closing doors!’ And he lets go. I burst forward, almost make it. The doors nip shut, my hand half a second behind.

She climbs the stairs as the train bolts off. “Marcie,” I scream.

Geronimo laughs as I bray on the glass.

My heart thuds through my chest, head spins, time seems to stop. His laughter pulls me back.

The train screeches into the next station.

“I be seeing you Cryl.”

“What did you just say mother fucker?”

He reaches inside his coat and pulls out a bottle: Mad Dog 20/20.

“I be seeing you Cryl,” he repeats, pushing the wine my way.

I walk the last nine blocks home and find the place a crime scene surrounded with yellow tape. A squad car parked up front; two cops on the sidewalk. Across the street in the shadows, leaning on the corner of a building… a figure. I recognise the shape.

“What happened?” I say as I get close.

He turns to walk away. I reach out and throw him back against the wall.

“What the fuck is going on Zorro?” My hands grab his collar, “don’t give me any of that ‘No Hablar Ingles’ bullshit.”

He smiles. Silver glints from his teeth as sparks fire up in my skull; the glitch in my consciousness – they flash behind my eyes; an electric buzz in my ears. My stomach turns, I begin to convulse then crash to the floor. His face hovers close above mine, “dulces sueños Señor Cryl.” He laughs as his fist slams into my jaw.

A trailer on the beach. I wake to sunlight and the sound of a radio. Eddie Grant jams away —“You left me with a problem. Now I know what its all about…

Expecting to see her cooking breakfast as I walk into the other room— “Do You feel my love..” and grab a beer from the fridge. She’s outside talking to someone. Her voice seems muffled, almost a whisper. I step out through the door and onto the sand. They pause, both look at me before scrambling into the car… her and Dan. The car speeds off —“Feel my love as I walk away.”

I turn to hear laughter coming from the sea. Louise Wishbourne wades through the water towards me. “Just me and you now Eli,” screaming as she dives at me, then the Glitch sparks up again.

My head pounds. I sit up. A half empty bottle on the nightstand. I grab the whiskey and take a swig. Last night comes flooding back. Downstairs is shot full of holes. This is fucked up.

The Cops found me out cold. I remember they ran a radio check, letting me in when my key fitted the lock. I grabbed a bottle on the way to the stairs… ‘That’s four now Dan’

The next night: a room behind the Beacon Theatre.

The Meeting ends…

‘Who you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here… please let it stay here!’

We grab a coffee from the street vendor. I drop a scotch in the mix as he turns to pay.

“What’s going on Eli?” he says, not trying to hide the concern.

“Not sure,” I reply. “Starting to wonder, maybe I’m loosing it.”

“Jails, Institutions and Death!” He swigs coffee.

“Marcie showed up yesterday.”

“What? How did that—”

“And Dans missing!”

Startled, he pauses, stares straight into me, “you better start at the beginning my friend. The truth Eli; the whole truth!”

I explain recent events: the booze, Miss Lou, Dan, the fucked up dreams and shocks to the skull, Marcie, Zorro, and the old native on the train.

When Im finished he just stands there quietly drinking coffee deep in thought.

“Tell me again, how you first meet Dan?”

“Old story.” I feel the hip flask in my pocket; that need for a drink, “why now?”

“Dunno, maybe I forgot, getting old, memory a bit fried.” He throws the coffee cup in a trash basket nearby. “Lets just say the booze blew a few amps,” He laughs, “whatever man just humour me.”

We walk west along 73rd Street towards Broadway.

“Ok.” I start, “I get to go play hide and seek with him down in Texas. Turns out he was in over his head; some dangerous characters, a heroin bust, nearly got us capped, he takes the stand, we live happily ever after.”

I pull out a pack of cigarettes offering him one as I light up.

“Yeah until the wicked witch shows up.” He takes the cigarette, “Whishbourne, what is it she wants?”

“Find a mark, what else!” I say.

“Exactly, what else, what about Dan?”

“Meaning what?” I snap.

“A drug bust brought you together. This ‘Miss Lou’ has him spooked, his place gets hit, he hails from the worlds largest exporter of heroin and—”

“Dans from the Bronx,” I interrupt. “His mother an Afghan, the old man a pipe hitting Negro doing 25 to life in Rykers Island.

“Yeah and he’s missing. Running scared by the sounds of it.” He stands on the cigarette.

“Right then my cell phone rings ‘ID withheld.’ I notice the tremor in my hand.

“Answer it,” he says.

“Mr Cryl?” Its Wishbourne.

“Yeah, listen lady I’ve been thinking, maybe I will pass on your offer of employment. The timing feels wrong.”

“Really Mr Cryl?” She sounds disinterested, “given your relationship to the mark, I would say the timing feels perfect.”

“Why you say that?” Sweat trickles down my brow.

“The man by the name of…” She pauses, “I believe you call him Afghan Dan!”

Brooklyn Bridge

By the time I make it to the centre of the bridge I’m soaked to the skin and a little pissed off. The flag above the brick arch barely noticeable, almost hidden under a cold mist. The Manhattan skyline burns bright as I power on towards Brooklyn. Cars zoom bellow. Its dark; midnight usually is.

I almost regret not taking the subway then remember why; I need to be sharp, its the only game in town. I cant risk the hustle of a late train over the river with some psycho playing for laughs.

Almost there now. I can see where the sidewalk slopes down into a stair case. The stone walls lead down onto Dock Street. “Meet me there Mr Cryl,” she had said, “and one other thing… Come alone.”

My hand goes to the right side pocket; I feel the gun through the trench mac. In the left pocket a hip flask. I stop, take a drink, go to return the flask then take another swig. Whiskey – the one constant through this shitstorm of life. I have a need to give it up, but not now. Now I need it more than ever.

I pause at the first step. Its dark. Silent. I head down slowly giving my eyes a moment to adjust, ‘Still scared of the dark Cryl’, the thought flashes through my mind.


I make it to the bottom. Nothing. I look around. Still nothing. The sound of cars fading into the distance, but here just an arch leading to an empty street… a ghost town.

I light a smoke and draw hard. Leaning into the wall, my head pushes back into the cold stone.

“Eli Cryl,” I hear from up the stairs.

“Come out come out wherever you are!” A shiver breaks through my body. I know that voice, know it very well. I make my way to the bottom step and there stood on the level, silhouetted, hood up, but unmistakably her… Marcie.

“Hey sugar tits, how you been?”

“Seriously Marcie?”

This isn’t like anything I ever imagined. “What you doing here baby, what the fucks going on?”

Another figure appears at the top of the stairs. He places an arm around her waist and a gun to the head. I see the sparkle in his smile. “Señor Cryl,” laughs Zorro.

“Don’t move Eli, we don’t have much time.”

“We as in all three?”

Zorro laughs some more.

“She wants you dead,” says Marcie.

“Most people do.” I feel a tear leave my eye. ”Where did you get to? You broke my heart leaving like that.” An anger starts to rise; I feel for the gun. Light bounces back from the Mexicans smile.

“Its over Señor.” I knew that fucker spoke english.

He screams, “its time to die Eli Cryl.”

I hear the gunshot ricochet off the stone as a side force rams me into the wall. I free the gun from my pocket and scramble onto one knee. I squeeze off a shot as Zorro disappears out of sight.

I look behind, see the Chief walking off into the darkness, towards Brooklyn.

“I be seeing you Cryl,” he says.

That glitch again. My mind paints sparks that fire deep into my brain. An electric buzz bursts through my ears. The skin on my forehead heats like coal, then quick as it came… its gone!

I vomit violently. Unable to focus; I reach out to the wall, balance almost fails me.

“Marcie,” I wail, sprinting up the stairs.

I see Zorro running, at least a hundred yards ahead. I consider taking aim. Whats the point? Hard shot any day of the week, with the rain in my eyes… Impossible.

Frantically my eyes search for Marcie. Nowhere to be seen. On the ground a card. I pick it up, a strip joint: ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ – New Jersey. On the back, written by hand ‘Lou’s Place.

To be continued…

D&O in Fresno