“A Mr. Craig to see you, sir.”
“That’s just fine, Ms. Chase. Send him right in.”
“He will see you now, sir. Right this way.”
As the very tall and slender beauty stood up, I could see she was older than I thought but her great looks made any judgment of just how much almost impossible to tell. She was impeccably dressed and save for a heart-shaped locket, she wasn’t wearing any jewelry.
“That’s a nice locket”, I said.
“Thank you. I wish I could say it was unique”, as she gave me a weary grin and ushered me through the door.
The office was quite large and ornate as I expected. But what I wasn’t prepared for were the ceiling to floor windows that created a half-circle around the room looking out on the wastelands below. There were two lounge chairs in front of a very stately-looking desk, the requisite bookshelves adorning the walls on both sides, and a large broad-shouldered man standing behind the desk backward as he looked out on the horizon.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Pardon me?”
I heard what he said, but I didn’t quite understand why he said it.
“The view. It’s like a blank canvas just waiting for an artist to start creating a masterpiece.”
“If you say so, sir”, as I slid into one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in before.
“Do you know why you’re here, son?”
“Sir, I don’t even know where I am.”
“Don’t you?”, he remarked as he tilted his head slightly in my direction but not enough to give me a full profile of his face. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“A bright light.”
No, son. What do you remember before that?”, he insisted.
I thought hard for a moment. There was a searing pain to go along with that light, but only for a quick second. Thinking back to what happened before evoked images of large metal containers…and the ocean! At least, I’m pretty sure it was the ocean because there were very large ships moving along the water with dozens of those containers on them. A dock, that’s where and I had a clipboard in my hand.
“I was working on a dock?”
“That’s right, my boy!”, he said as he placed his thumbs under his suspenders as if he were actually proud of what I just said.
“So, I was a dockworker?”
At this point, he turned to face me. I should have been afraid of what I was seeing, of the face that was standing not five feet in front of me. But the smile that was carved into the bust of this monstrosity was so soothing as it beamed at me like I was a favored child, gave me a sense of calm I hadn’t felt.
“Son, saying you were just a dockworker is like saying Gacy was just a clown!”, as he bellowed this horrifically loud laugh that shook the windows. “My boy, what you pulled off on that dock is nothing short of magical!”
As he spoke, I began to remember small flashes of moments in my brain. But to my chagrin, it was not necessary because the windows were now filled with videos of me on the docks.
“Take a look at this! Here you are smuggling in a shipment of pure heroin, over here it’s refugees with a dozen terrorists thrown in for good measure, and here you are signing off on a shipment of young boys and girls bound for destinations unknown! Son, while working on that dock as ‘just a dockworker’, you single-handedly did more in one week than most evil bastards would ever do in a lifetime! I loved it!”
“Well, if I did such a great job, then how did I get here?”
Just then the windows went back to showing the ground below us spanning out as far as the eye could see with devastation and smoldering buildings that showed not one bit of life anywhere along the way.
“Bad luck, son. I mean, sooner or later you had to know it was going to come back to bite you in the ass! I mean, how could you have known that the last container you would ever sign for was filled with dirty bombs? Ironically, it was them terrorists you brought in that was supposed to get ‘em. But when that crane cable snapped…”
“So, I died?”
“Son, you didn’t just die. You set off World War 3! When that dock went up in smoke with most of San Francisco with it, your President bombed the Arabs that were backed by the Russians, who were backed by the Chinese, and HOO BOY! We had a party!”
Looking out now on the view, I could only imagine the millions that were dead because of me.
At this point, I just bowed my head into my hands. “So, what now?”
“What now?! Well, Hell! I want you to come work for me! But all official-like this time. Got your contract right there in front of you. It’s pretty straightforward language. No need for a lawyer, but I got plenty of ‘em I could refer to you if you like?”
“Work for you? What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to be one of my top Account Managers! I mean, if anyone can influence a few wayward souls on the easier path to take, it’d be you! Now all you have to do is place your right thumb down on that tiny little needle there on the desk. You gon’ feel a small piece of pain, but just for a sec. Hell, you’ve felt worse. Am I right?! Then, just press that thumb down on the bottom of that piece of paper and you and I will have a deal!”
“Do I have a choice?”, I asked already knowing that I wasn’t going to like the answer.
“Son, everybody has a choice. You chose many times to look the other way and line your pockets. All I’m asking you now is to choose to lead more my way or you could choose to spend the rest of your time with me regretting the choice you make now. What’s it going to be?”
Of course, I didn’t take too long to make up my mind. Better them than me, right? As I placed my thumb down on the pin, a stream of blood pooled into the silver receptacle attached to it. I then pressed my thumb onto the bottom of the long document in front of me that I was very sure was not in my favor in the long run.
Just then, he walked over and shook my hand.
“I’m proud of you, boy. And here, just as a token of my appreciation, I want you to have this to commemorate this occasion.”
As he reached down to the desk, he picked up the silver receptacle that I had just impaled my digit upon to seal this deal. He clasped it within his hands and as he opened them, there was an exact duplicate of the object that received a compliment for Ms. Chase. A silver heart-shaped locket.

Having gone to bed fairly early considering I don’t have to work tomorrow and after some vivid drinking-smoking-latenightfood dreams… I wake up.

Peeking over at the semi-hidden clock and only seeing 2 00’s and the slight curvature of the bottom of the second, I wonder to myself… “Wow, is it 6 or did I sleep until 8 with no alarm set?!”

As I feel a familiar push from within, I roll over to get up only to see that second number emerge as a taunting, but knowing 3:00.

Shuffling into my slippers, I meander to the bathroom and assume the first position while peering down into the dark. Suddenly, almost like an Edgar Allan Poe story, I hear a voice from deep within say… “You thought you slept all thru the entire night?!! Bless your heart!”

That was my bladder.

I think, therefore I am…

I drink, therefore I am dealing…

I regret, therefore I am dealing with…

I persist, therefore I am dealing with it…

I dream, therefore I am dealing with it subconsciously…

I wake, therefore I am dealing with it subconsciously successfully…

I want, therefore I am dealing with it subconsciously successfully alone…

I dream whenever I close my eyes for any significant length of time. It never ceases to amaze me. I quantum leap into some random situation and just play along until something happens. Last night was no different.

I’m in a small town. There aren’t very many tall buildings except for the insurance company, the police dept, the hotel and the hospital. I guess I work for the insurance company. It must be my first day as I’m being shown around the offices and being introduced to everyone. I’m shown to my cubicle. It’s my first day so there’s not very much for me to do. I’m given a puzzle of sorts to put together. It’s weird because the pieces are all black. Still, it won’t be very hard as the board is about 11 x 17 and the pieces aren’t very small. I figure it must be a noobie type of thing.

The day is over, and I’m invited to the bar after work. We are now at the bar and my crew is very lively for insurance folk. That’s cool. I’ve been known to tell a joke or two while drinking a few. The server is gorgeous and very familiar with the crew. There are a few other people in the bar/restaurant as well. I guess they’re all familiar with my crew too as nobody looks bothered or even surprised at the shenanigans. I sit at my table with my puzzle and finish it as I sip my beer. The crew is winding up and I look around at the neighboring tables. There are a few random groups here and there as well. There’s a couple across from me that are staring at each with the greatest amount of love I think I’ve ever seen. The man has a holstered gun on his hip and looks very much the part of the local constable. He catches my eyes and shoots me a smile.

The crew comes back down the aisle. They are putting their coats on to leave. One of the guys has a sandwich in his hand wrapped to go but the top is sticking out to allow for eating on the go. The female of the crew walks up, promptly places her mouth over the top of the bun and removes it with a very big bite. I think they are probably going somewhere together soon. Just at that moment, a guy comes running thru the aisle with another guy chasing right behind him. The second guy has the same holstered gun as the smiling constable. The constable, without moving anything more than his head and his lips, asks “You got him?” The second guy says, “Of course!”

I am running. The man in front of me is one of the local troublemakers and it’s just my luck that he starts shit on my shift. I just ran past my boss, so I have to make sure not to lose this asshole. He darts past a few cars and dips into alley. It’s well-lit so I don’t fret it too much. As he runs thru to the end, I’m thinking “This should be easy” as he now has nowhere to go. The alley stops at the back of a building with a locked door that he is pulling on but to no avail. Just as I get close to the guy, the door opens, and I’ve got 2 more assholes stepping out to greet me. The guy now with the courage of a punk with backup charges me. I sidestep the guy while lifting a knee into his mid-section for emphasis and toss him to the side. These other two won’t be so stupid. I’m not pulling my gun as I have no reason to kill anyone…yet.

The two ease up to flank me and the one to the left lunges to grab me as the one on the right does the same. I dip low and throw my shoulder into the left dude and spin him around to push against the right asshole. I thrust my shoulder deep into his ribs and push the two into the nearest wall. As the one behind is trying to grab forward, I bring my head up into the front guy’s jaw with enough force that he will lose a couple teeth and the guy behind will lose a bit of blood from the nose being smashed by the back of the head of the front guy. I now have a moment to breathe. But, of course, that’s when I hear a click from right as the first asshole has opened a knife. I turn to face him and notice my boss right behind him. The guy has no clue until he feels the brunt of a Billy club smashing down on his knife-hand and an arm now choking him very effectively.

“I thought you said you had it?”, says Boss. “I did. Did you see me pull my gun yet? Ok, then.”

We are at the station. The men are in the lockup and I’m getting a well-deserved cup of coffee while I notice the Boss’s family are here in his office with him. His wife is stunning and statuesque with no airs that she knows how fine she is while all at once being very comfortable in her skin. She’s holding onto their son who playing with a puzzle on the desk. It’s a weird puzzle because it seems to be all black. It’s not that big though, so the kid shouldn’t have too much trouble. He catches my look and shoots me the biggest, cutest grin. I return the smile.

Being a small town, we’re a small police force. So, we rotate overnight shifts, and the Boss takes his turn as well. The family looks like they came to stay with him tonight, so everyone hunkers down as the bunks are all in the same room. I had that late night cup of coffee and need to make a run to the bathroom as I pass the family on the way. In between the parents, the kid is still up and has his finished puzzle in his hands. As I pass by, he smiles and turns the puzzle around for me to see. In the dark, the black puzzle now has a picture. It is a beating heart that gets it movement from rocking it back and forth. The kid says, “I heart” as he beams that smile of his…but then it goes dim as he clutches his chest slightly. He tries hard to keep his smile as he seems to repeat “I heart” but it sounds to me like “I hurt”. I leap over to wake the Boss to alert him to the kid’s distress. Just as I reach out, the Boss grabs my hand in mid-air and looks at me,” Don’t do that.” The mother cradles the child closer in her arms and the Boss pulls them both close.

I am a nurse. I’m standing in a driveway with a clipboard in my hands. There are a couple of orderlies standing nearby as we wait for the cars to pull up. The first is the local sheriff. He’s with his wife and their son. I greet the parents as usual and as I look down, I get the best part of my day as their son gives me the biggest and brightest smile you could imagine. The orderlies grab their items from the car and the kid has his puzzle in his hands as they walk inside the hospital doors. Another car pulls up shortly afterwards as I make notes on my clipboard regarding the first family. This car has a pair of twins, boy and girl, dressed to the nines in a suit and dress, respectively. They both have cases with musical instruments…and their puzzles. The driver sets their luggage on the curb as another set of orderlies come out to assist. They twins greet me in the most fastidious way as they bow and curtsy but look at me like I should be jumping at that luggage myself. They walk inside as their car which of course is a luxury vehicle I will never have the chance to ride in…pulls away.

It’s a small town with not a lot of tall buildings except for the police dept. with a sheriff whose kid is suffering from a congenital heart disease. There’s an insurance company that covers all the costs for the hundreds of children that come to town for specialized care. There’s the hotel where the parents stay and there’s the hospital that has a ward dedicated to dealing with affairs of the heart.

I wake up with only one thought in mind:

Support St. Jude’s and your local children’s hospitals.




“What happens to a dream deferred?” (L. Hughes, “Harlem”)

I don’t know what happened, the 20’s were fun,

but the 30’s were a blur, the 40’s I just…gave up,

“Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?”

It feels like that, because I could no longer function…as a man,

as what society said was a Man, I was nobody’s provider,

the only security I gave to anyone was stopping a fight in a bar.

“Or fester like a sore—And then run?”

I ran…ran away to Indiana, left everything behind like a scared child,

beset by memories of mistakes made, loans unpaid,

Women I’d laid…but left disappointed

“Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?”

The smell of failure reeks thru everything you touch, puts you to sleep at night,

and when you wake up…you have a feeling of maybe today, but that quickly goes away,

because you are the same you.

“Maybe it just sags…like a heavy load.”

Pushing 322…and 52, yeah, they sag, and you think maybe if I got in shape,

things would be different! But…for who? You left everybody and everything behind,

and even when you tried…these Sistas ain’t trying to wait. For who? You?!

You gave up long ago. Now you wanna make a comeback, but on who’s back…do you think is going to carry your big ass while you figure it out?

Or does it explode?