Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

What do you want to be for Halloween, son? A jihadist?

Oh wait. These kids are Iranian. They don't celebrate Halloween there, do they?


One of the three 2005 cds I've bought is System of a Down's _Mezmerize_. Good music. Much vigor. Their lyrics, though, are nonsensical, trite, and naive. I'll skip the discussion of the nonsensical because, well, I like nonsense. But as for trite and naive lyrics? Can't stand 'em. The leadoff song, "B.Y.O.B.," oft repeats two questions:

"Why do they always send the poor?
Why don't presidents fight the war?"

I always want to yell at my stereo at this point. . . Do they really expect a president to be on the front line in battle, gun in hand, getting shot at, getting killed? For any new job, there's a learning curve. If we kept having to replace the president every few weeks because the old one was dead, the Oval Office would never get anything done! We only have one president, but we have a whole bunch of soldiers. Every life is important and invaluable in and of itself, but some people are indeed worth more than others when it comes to replacement costs.

As for the "poor" question, need I point out that there are many, many more poor people in our country than there are rich people? Didn't think so. But why does anybody join our volunteer military? Some do it out of honor/patriotism/loyalty, and some do it because it looks like a worthwhile career/life choice. How many rich people do you think fall into the latter category? No, they're too busy becoming lawyers and dentists and other money-making schemes to be enticed by the wages our soldiers earn.

So why don't the poor aim to become lawyers and dentists, too? That's the real question System of a Down should be asking. I'm positive there's plenty of the poor who do have high ambitions, and some do become lawyers and dentists. But how many of them don't even get an AA? How many of them don't even go to a technical college? How many drop out of high school? A lot higher percentage than over in the rich crowd, I'd wager.

And why is this? I point my finger at the parents. The redneck/inner-city culture has a severe shortfall when it comes to parental expectations and overall responsibility. And that's what System of a Down should really be ranting about in their songs.


Hihi-hidi-hidi-whurdidjid. Two and one-half badgers, please! Hi-yi-yi-yi-yi! [Bash my head against a pillar.] No, I'll eat them here. Whap! An-dingling! Wha-hoo-hoo! An-da-an-shoo-an-shoo. [Head-butt the pillar twice.] Ah, that's better. Maybe now I can WIN SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE SOUTH MOLDAVIAN PEOPLE! Nick-noo-nick- noo-nick-ank [Assault the pillar with my head thrice.] Ah, I think I'm OK now.

No headache. Breakfast soup is sitting well. A little weak feeling, actually. But OK.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.5.6 - Vata

Pí‘oro handed me the car keys. I wore my slippers––hardly appropriate footwear for driving. He shouldn’t have closed the door in Tamé’s face. I shuffled across the entryway. A door closed behind me––the garage door in the kitchen.

A loud thump in the hallway. I stopped, halfway to the door, and turned around. “Bhanar dear, let Tamé in, please.”

The kind boy leapt up as I headed for the hallway. Had Pí‘oro merely bumped into the wall? But it shook the floor too much for that. He must have tripped. But he didn’t say anything, not even a grunt. I hurried.

Bhanar reached the corner ahead of me and did a doubletake down the hall. “Pí‘oro!” He lunged out of sight. Sıpa‘ı loped after him.

What happened to Pí‘oro? My mind raced with my old heart. A heart attack? A stroke? Was he already dead?

“He is breathing?”

My husband’s large body splayed on the carpet, facedown. Bhanar knelt at his head. The dog licked my husband’s face. A handgun stuck out the back of Pí‘oro’s pants.


The child put two fingers to Pí‘oro’s throat, waited an eternity. Finally, “Yes.”

I let go a lungful of air. But it still might be a stroke. “Take him to the chapel.”

Bhanar grabbed the gun, checked the safety, stuck it in his shorts’ pocket. “To the what?”

Sunday, October 30, 2005


For the first time since I was a kid, I threw up this morning. I must have a virus. Maybe not, though. No fever. Headache, nausea.

I made a conscious decision to puke. About a half hour of roiling guts after eating and I just decided that it was either stay in agony or kneel before the toilet.

Chili looks, smells, and tastes the same on the way back up. Maybe a little runnier, I suppose.

Afraid to eat anything now.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.5.5 - Pí‘oro

It was Tamé, scowling in the heat that flowed in from outside, hot breath on my face.

“Good morning, Pí‘oro. Sorry to bother you.” He tried looking past me. I stepped carefully to block. He met my eyes again. “You’re obviously busy, but can I get you to move a couple cars so I can tow the one in the garage?”

Not trouble at all. The police would be here soon, though. “Sure. No problem.” Maybe I could get Vata and just drive away. But our lives were here.

Tamé grinned awkwardly. “Great.”

Behind me, Vata asked, “Who is it, dearest?”

I turned. The kids were where I left them. “Tamé. He’s come to get Zhíno’s car for the sheriff.”

“But I need you guys to move the Huírupho and probably the van, too.”

To Tamé, I said, “We won’t be a minute.” I started closing the door. “Air-conditioning.” The latch clicked shut. To Vata, “Here, move the car. I’ll get the keys for the van.” As I walked past, I handed my wife the car keys from my pocket.

Halfway down the hall, my chest shattered. My brains exploded in my skull. The floor hit my face. Flames engulfed my legs and I tried to crawl away, but I had no arms. Waves of insane agony crashed against my consciousness, almost overwhelming me, pulling me under. Pain. Nothing but pain in every cell of my body, every molecule, every atom. I was pain. And then I was nothingness.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Duck your head!

Tonight is Mars's closest approach to Earth. Not as close as two years ago, but still a big orange fireball in the night sky. At midnight, it should be just about straight overhead. Very bright.

That's if you're lucky enough not to have clouds. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 2.5.4 - Zhíno

Alone. Rock. Fires encircling. The warm hand of a god. Comfort. Running free through the open plains. Hiding in my burrow. Soaring through the air high above the forest. I was at peace. I was one with the world––the worlds. Every human, every horse, every buffalo, every giraffe, every snake, every jellyfish, I could feel them all. I could be them all. I was them all.

Névazhíno floated/sat/stood in front of me in the field/clouds/ocean. A forked tongue flicked from His beak and He quietly asked, “Which are you?”

“I am. . .” It took me awhile to remember. “A human being.” Yes, that was it.

He lowered His head, arched up His back, stuck out His quills. “No. Are you the sacrifice or the recipient?”

Sacrifice? Recipient? I could barely remember my species––human, right?––and He wanted me to know if I was a sacrifice or not? I was enjoying myself far too much in these forests and lakes to want to end my life, however. “Recipient.”

Névazhíno rattled His tail and snorted through His huge nostrils. “Where is the sacrifice?”

I looked around. Nobody else was in sight, just air and waves and empty tunnels. “I do not know.”

“Then I shall find someone.” The god swam away, His wings pumping.

I sighed with contentment and returned to my desert growing thick with leafy plants.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.5.3 - Fírí

The doorbell rang. The big gun didn’t look big in Pí‘oro’s hand. “Nobody move Nobody say anything.” The gun pointed at the floor near the kneeling Bhanar. A dark-brown dog came from behind the old man, wagging its tail. “Sıpa‘ı, sit.” It did, whimpering.

The doorbell rang again.

I hissed, “They ain’t going to go away. They know someone’s here. We have three––four cars outside.” And if it was Gogzhuè’s goons, they’d be kicking in the door any second, guns blazing. And Pí‘oro would shoot back and I’d be killed in the crossfire. Sweat broke out all over my body.

Pí‘oro grimaced and cursed silently. “Stay here,” he ordered and strode past me toward the front door. “Coming,” he called, untucking his shirt and hiding the gun at the back of his belt.

Bhanar looked up at me, bloody rags in his hands. “Don’t worry. I called the police.”

My lungs stopped. The police. They’d arrest Zhíno and me too, probably. Once they found out the truth, I’d be in prison for ages. Until I was old. “What the hell were you thinking?”

Pí‘oro yelled, “Shut up, you two,” and then opened the door.

Bhanar whispered, “I know you love Zhíno, butt he killed a policeman. They would find him sometime.”

Outside the front door stood a middle-aged man in overalls and a mesh cap. Not one of the thugs. I sighed, then froze. “Oh shit.” The towtruck driver.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.5.2 - Tamé

My air-conditioning was busted. I had the cab windows open, but that just meant it was hot and windy. I couldn’t even hear the radio. Not a cloud in the sky, but that’s not much of a surprise for South Saírédí. This place gets hotter than Pétíso’s waiting room.

I checked the address. 5430. That must be it up ahead, on the left. Nothing else in sight beyond. I turned my towtruck up the long driveway. Three vehicles waited in the sun: an old Vurıno minivan, a pickup with busted windows, and a new Huírupho sedan.

I stopped behind the van, checked my clipboard again. License plate LéPíKuRaNéTí. Not the van, not the truck. I didn’t remember the Kılímıs having this many cars.

I opened the cab door and stepped down, taking the clipboard with me. The sun instantly started baking me. “Go away, Píríuso,” I muttered and tugged my hat brim.

Another car drove past on the road behind me, but other than that, the place was silent––nothing but an all-too-soft breeze and the crunch of my shoes on the gravel.

I rounded the van. The Huírupho had the wrong plate. Another car in the garage, an older model. Bingo. LéPíKuRaNéTí. How did they expect me to get it out of here with not one, but two cars blocking it? I visually measured the gaps on either side of the new tan car. Not enough room. I shook my head and walked up the cement path to the front door.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.5.1 - Bhanar

Pí‘oro gripped the handgun. He was serious. “I must go,” I told the policeman. I hung up the phone, almost missing the hook. Whatever the Kılímıs were doing, it was illegal. Unlicensed slaughtering of animals. Of pets. The dog, Sıpa‘ı, thumped his tail on the floor, watching us. My knees wobbled.

“Calm down, son. Everything will be all right.” Pí‘oro’s eyes darted to Sıpa‘ı, the blood, the groceries on the counter. He lied. “Why don’t you clean up the blood like a good boy.” The overweight man released the gun and gestured to the crimson spill.

I nodded and lunged for the rags. The police were coming. Everything would be fine once they arrived, that was certain. They’d take Zhíno away. They’d probably arrest the Kılímıs, too. And I’d be finally free of this madness. College was going to be a breeze after this. I laughed as I pushed the rags around on the table, collecting the blood.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, nothing.” I knelt to clean the floor.

Fírí stormed in, demanded, “Nar, come with me. We got to rescue Zhíno.”

Rescue? Did she think I was insane, too? I shook my head.

She glanced at Pí‘oro. Loudly, shrilly, she repeated, “We got to rescue Zhíno.”

“Wait a minute, missy,” the old man growled. He removed the gun from his belt. “Nobody’s going nowhere.”

The doorbell rang.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.4.5 - Vata

Fírí fled the room, tracking dirt down the hallway carpet. I sighed. Extra vacuuming, at the least.

I set the knife on the altar at Zhíno’s feet. Maybe I should go see what was keeping Pí‘oro. I couldn’t think what would take him so long to bring one of our dogs. Maybe he stopped to chat with the strange foreign boy. That would be just like him.

“Please raise your arms, dear.”

Zhíno did, with no flinches or grimaces, laying his injured arms on the rock above his head. I grasped the lower hem of his tshirt on either side and pulled it up his chest. It caught at his shoulders, but Zhíno sat up slightly and it came free. I carefully slipped the shirt past his bandages, even though I knew he felt no pain. He could still be damaged. I folded the torn and dirty shirt and set it on the shelf outside the circle.

Next were his shoes and socks, which did not smell pleasantly. I set them beside the shirt. Pí‘oro was inexcusably late. He should be doing this. I unzipped Zhíno’s trousers and removed them. The young man smiled peacefully. At least my husband’s tardiness caused no pain.

Last off came Zhíno’s boxers. I smirked. The larger they are in the mouth, the smaller they are in the pants. I folded the shorts and set them on the pile of clothing.

Zhíno might as well have been asleep.

Elsewhere in the house, I heard yelling. Fírí’s screech, Pí‘oro’s rumble. I sighed. Zhíno could wait. I headed for the door.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.4.4 - Pí‘oro

The foreign kid told the police, “That is the correct address.” His gaze bounced between me and Sıpa‘ı, the dog. “For Zhíno?” he whined.

“Yes, for Zhíno.” I slapped my thigh twice. “Sıpa‘ı, come here.” To Bhanar, “To heal him.”

The dark-brown dog trotted over to me.

To the phone, Bhanar said, “Nothing. But. . . Curious things are happening here.”

What did he mean, curious? “Hang up the phone.” We didn’t need the sheriff snooping around. Sacrificing animals was illegal, even if the gods listened. I stepped around Sıpa‘ı and the table. “Hang up the phone, Bhanar.”

He stared at me dumbly. I pointed at the phone holder on the wall. “Hang it up.”

“Something with dogs.” He caught my eye. “And rabbits.”

I grabbed the phone, still at his ear. The kid yanked it free. “Let go!”

“Give me that!” The kid said too much already, aroused their suspicion.

“No, not you,” Bhanar said to the phone as he twisted away from me. “It is. . .”

My hand was on the old semiautomatic. The kid saw it.

“I must go.” And he hung up the phone, slamming it onto the holder. His hands shook.

“Just calm down, son. Everything will be all right.” But with the police coming, I knew that was a lie.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Today is the 463rd birthday of Emma Revel Howland, grandmother of John Howland, who fell off the Mayflower. Well, actually, the 1542 part is truth, but the October 28 part is just the product of a random-number generator. Oh well. Happy birthday, Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma!

Green Desert - Chapter 2.4.3 - Zhíno

I was at peace, floating on this magical flat rock. No pain. No agony. No troubles.

“Get up, Zhíno! We’re leaving.” Fírí, overemotional like normal. She yanked on my left shoulder.

I stayed glued to the comforting rock.

“Get up!” She yanked again, then tugged my feet.

I held firm. “No. Do as she says, Fírí. This is . . . unbelievable.”

Fírí paused. “What the hell did you give him?”

Vata calmly replied, “Nothing, dear. Merely being in the lingering shadow of Névazhíno’s presence is enough to calm most people.

Calm was an understatement. I was downright mellow, on clouds, the world a fog.

“Then why the fuck ain’t I calm?”

Vata sighed. “I do not know. Last night, He seemed to have an effect on you.”

“Fírí, leave,” I whispered.

“What?” She spun on me.

“You are a beautiful person, inside and out. You are concerned for me. Don’t be. The pain is gone. Do as she says.” I breathed in the cellar-cool air. “Do as she says.”

Fírí backed away, feet scuffing dirt.

I murmured, “It will be all right, dear.”

Rustle of cloth, bare feet slapping dirt, stomping on a wood step. Fírí ran away. Hopefully she would understand.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

You Should Be a Girl Scout for Halloween!

You Should Be a Girl Scout for Halloween!


Recipe for Something-or-Another:

In a deep rectangular tupperware-type dish, mix about so-much seashell pasta, just-about-like-that calrose rice, and water filled up to right-about-there. Microwave at 50% power for 15 minutes (or, for hotter ovens, 30% power for 18 minutes). Stir in 8 oz frozen peas (unsalted). Add sriracha hot sauce to taste. Enjoy!

Green Desert - Chapter 2.4.2 - Fírí

The flame-lit room was painted brown with red and black religious symbols and wavy stripes all over. Symbols of Névazhíno, the God of Animals. This was a private temple. In the center of the circle of fire, my boyfriend lay on a strangely familiar rock slab, staring up at the soot-covered ceiling.

“Dear?” Vata ordered, “Come in.”

I descended the smooth wood steps, past Vata’s slippers––the insides of which were the same dusty orange as the dirt floor. What kind of people were these, to have a secret temple in their house? Zealots. Cultists.

“Remove his clothes, dear.”

My eyes jerked to Vata, but she stared over my shoulder at the doorway. “His clothes?” The flickering fires matched my dream. So did the altar. So did the intricately carved knife held with both Vata’s hands.

“Yes. It works better that way.”

They’d done this to me last night. They must have. I had fallen and injured myself. And this crazy old couple had stripped me naked and. . . “What kind of perverts are you, taking off my clothes when I was unconscious, doing disgusting things––violating me, raping me!” Blood pounded in my ears, behind my eyes. I moved towards Vata. She raised the knife slightly. I stopped.

Quietly, she said, “That is not the truth. You know the truth.”

“Why do you keep saying that?” I spun away, the dirt grinding the balls of my foot. “Get up, Zhíno. We’re leaving.” I grabbed his good shoulder, tried to lift him.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.4.1 - Bhanar

I found old-looking towels in one of the drawers, but as I turned back to the mess of blood, my eyes paused on the phone. Silence. Zhíno was pacified. I should call the cops.

I tossed the rags on the pool of blood and grabbed the receiver off the wall. A preset button was labeled “Police.” I smiled. Convenient.

“Sheriff’s,” greeted a tenor.

“He is back. We have him.” My heart raced.

“Who is this?” he asked. “Who do you have?”

I took a deep breath. “My name is Bhanar Narak. At the house of Pí‘oro Kılímı. Last night’s gun fight. Zhíno Zhudırı. He came back.”

“Hold on one moment.” I heard rustling and then muffled voices.

The screen door squeaked. Claws clicked on linoleum. “Who are you calling?” Pí‘oro and a leashless dog. Chocolate lab but with longer hair, a fluffy tail wagging.

“The police.” The dog smelled my hand, let me scratch his head.

“Oh.” Pí‘oro nodded sideways. Zhíno’s handgun stuck out from the belt of his khakis.

The guy on the phone said, “I found the file. 5430 East Crater Road? We’ll dispatch a deputy.”

“He has a gun. I do not know the address.” To Pí‘oro, I asked, “Why the dog?”

“5430 East Crater Road,” replied the old man. “He’s for Zhíno.”

“That’s the correct address.” I stared at Pí‘oro. What did he mean? “For Zhíno?”

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Christmas area was open

I bought a Christmas tree yesterday. Artificial, of course. It's only four and a half feet tall, but that's enough for all my ornaments. Wouldn't want it overpowering my living room, either.

And I decorated it. I didn't put lights on it, though. That would be a bit much before Halloween...

Green Desert - Chapter 2.3.6 - Vata

The troubled young man had gone quite docile. I clucked my tongue. It’s always the same: the stronger they are on the outside, the weaker they are on the inside.

His girlfriend, though, was growing with impotent rage. “Is this rabbit blood?”

I couldn’t help but smile. She knew the truth––I could see it––and yet she refused to believe what her body told her.

I opened the chapel door and led Zhíno down the steps. My slippers slid off. It felt marvelous to be in contact with the soil once again, cool and firm on my wrinkled, gnarled feet.

“She wants to help,” Zhíno said.

I patted his elbow. “That’s right dear. Now please lie down.” I gestured to the altar, cut from solid rock into a perfect square, engraved continuously with Névazhíno’s ancient symbols––crossed circle and zigzag. The wholeness of the earth from which we all come and the spark of life that invigorates every soul––man and beast.

I picked the lighter fluid and the barbecue lighter off the shelf and went around the room, igniting all eight of the charcoal braziers.

Fírí stood gaping in the doorway.

“Please, dear, come inside and hold Zhíno’s hand.”

I returned the firestarters. Pí‘oro should have been there by now with the dog. What was taking him?

“Dear? Come in.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hillsboro gives me the willies.

'Nuff said.

Can't forget Seattle

I might as well finish off my voters' pamphlet and state my opinions on the Seattle races, even though the sum total of all Seattleites reading this blog is probably . . . one.

Seattle Mayor: Al Runte. He wants to rebuild the Alaska Way viaduct above ground and cancel public funding for Paul Allen's streetcar. And he's not the incumbent.

City Council seat 2: Paige Miller. Her opponent, the incumbent, is endorsed by all the big-name liberals.

City Council seat 4: Jan Drago. She may be the incumbent, but her opponent does not inspire confidence. Or maybe it's his support by the Teamsters. . .

City Council seat 6: Nick Licata. Oddly enough, neither candidate lists his endorsements. So I guess it comes down to Licata's opponent's poor use of all-caps.

City Council seat 8: Dwight Pelz. Both candidates chose a wide variety of text styles, including bold, underline, italics, and bold with underline; but only Pelz's opponent, the incumbent, uses all-caps--as well as bold italics all-caps with underline! Issues? The incumbent has been a champion for government handouts. Pelz has helped get Sound Transit fiscally viable.

Advisory Measure 1: No. Or rather, Hell no, if such an option existed on the ballot. Health care is not a basic human right.

Seattle School District Director: I never remember which of these I get to vote on. I don't think it's all of them. I got a campaign postcard from one candidate, so I'm guessing I'm in her district. Jane Fellner. The incumbent organized against charter schools.

Monorail Board seat 8: Beth Goldberg. Yes, I will hold the incumbent's words against her.

Monorail Board seat 9: Cleve Stockmeyer. The other guy wants to kill the project.

Monorail Proposition 1: Yes. Build something!

Monorail Proposition 2: Yes. Democracy good.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is Valentine's Day--on Mars. Love is in the thin, carbon-dioxide-dominant air. Ahh....

Happy Valentine's Day!

Green Desert - Chapter 2.3.5 - Zhíno

The old woman had me by my elbow, slowly guiding me down the dark-blue hallway. My wrist throbbed with the blood from undoing the bandage. But where was she taking me? Some sort of surgery room?

Dogs. She said dogs. They were going to drug me and chop me up and feed me to their dogs! I still had the big gun. I could. . . Who was I fucking kidding? This old girl couldn’t hurt a flea.

The hallway turned a corner. Several closed doors. She stopped by one on the inside of the house––probably a closet or a den. The old woman smiled at me––that same wickedly benign smile as before. I tensed. She was up to something. Her grip on my elbow stayed firm.

“Now now, dear. I only want to help you.”

Behind me, Fírí burst, “You can help us by telling us what the fuck is going on!” I turned my head to see Fírí waving her wadded sweatshirt. “What kind of game are you playing? Is this rabbit blood?”

The gray-haired woman pushed open the door. Darkness, lit only from the hall. Two wood steps down to a bare earth floor, dusty orange. She led me in.

Fírí yelled, “What the hell is this?”

The pain in my wrist disappeared. And from my right arm, too. It felt like I died. “Don’t worry,” I said. “She wants to help.”

“That’s right, dear. Now please lie down.” She patted a low table, seven feet square.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Big Heart

Backpacking trip to Big Heart Lake this (last) weekend. I haven't been there since I was eleven. Surprisingly enough, it didn't rain on us. Yay! I posted 27 photos at flickr, but I'll show you a few here, too.

The day started sunny and blue. Cold down in the valley, but hot once we climbed up into the sunlight. The place looked strange with the leaves on the ground instead of the on the trees. (I've been up this trail a few times before.)


Here we are, resting at the halfway point, Copper Lake. We saw our first clouds then, but they didn't bother us much. Sunscreen was liberally applied.

Copper Lake. Hardly any wind the entire weekend. Good reflection weather.

And finally we reached Big Heart Lake. About a half mile after I said, "We can't stop now. It's just around the corner."

We then set up camp, ate dinner, and sat around our campcandle late into the night. Mars was huge and orange. Moonrise was rather spectacular, too. But no pics of those, sorry. But we did find out who'd been attacked by chipmunks and who'd been attacked by roosters, so it wasn't a total waste.

Leisurely breakfast and packing up camp, and it was time to leave. Not enough daylight hours anymore. If we had this weather in August, we'd've had about three hours of potential swimming time at Big Heart Lake, but in October it was too cold. Darn axial tilt.

The first couple miles of trail, I'd been on earlier this year, when I led a dayhike to Malachite Lake. The river crossing near the trailhead was washed out back then and we had to walk along a couple logs. I thought "Hey, it's early in the season. They just haven't fixed it yet." But it was exactly the same this time around. The water level must've been lower this time, though, because a few people eschewed the logs and instead splashed through the bit of river, getting just their boots wet.

It started raining about a half-hour after we got back on the highway. Big dinner in Gold Bar. I've eaten three times at the Mountain View Diner (east end of town). The chicken-fried steak, montreal burger, and big bird sandwich are all very good. They'd probably taste good even not immediately after a hike. Vegetarian choices were kinda slim, I noticed. So eat meat.

United Nations Day!!

Happy UN Day! Now get out there and protest something!!

Green Desert - Chapter 2.3.4 - Fírí

I quickly handed the gun to Pí‘oro. It fit in his hand like he was born with it.

Vata just stared at Zhíno’s bleeding arm for almost a minute. I could barely glance at it before the bile rose in my throat. Bhanar tried to soak up the spilling blood with napkins, with little success.

Finally Zhíno got fed up. “Aren’t you going to do something?”

Vata ignored him. “I think this will take a cat. Perhaps a dog.”

“Don’t look at me,” said her husband. “I’m just the helper. It’s your show.”

What were they talking about? Cats, dogs, shows? It must’ve been code for types of injuries or something. Severity. Maybe out here in Sarıma they taught first aid a little different. Like color-coding on keypads. Easier to learn with animal names.

The old woman shrugged. “It’s been awhile since the injury, and we have his other arm, too. Better do a dog.”

Pí‘oro nodded and headed out the squeaky back door. Vata rewrapped the wrist with the bloody cloth and started leading a passive Zhíno away. “Could you clean up the blood, dear? Thank you.”

I started looking around for towels, but she added, “Fírí, come with me.” Cleanup was the foreign kid’s job.

As she led Zhíno across the living room, my boyfriend whispered to me, “What’s going on?”

“Don’t look at me.” But then I glanced down at my blood-stained sweatshirt in my hand. The truth. The knife. The rabbit.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Night and Day

The Census Bureau has calculated daytime populations of cities. Which King County city do you think has the highest night-to-day increase? Seattle? Bellevue? Redmond? Nope. Tukwila.

That's right, that skinny gerrymander of a city down on the Duwamish. Unofficial slogan: "Tukwila--you know, Southcenter." 136% increase in population due to commuting (not counting shopping!).

Redmond also more than doubles in size, with a 103% increase. Bellevue only has a 40% increase and Seattle a 28% increase. But that 28% is the third highest increase for cities over 500,000 residents (after Washington and and Boston).

The highest in the whole state is Fife, at 199%. It triples in size every day. After Tukwila and Redmond come Issaquah (74%), Woodinville (72%), McChord AFB (70%), Gig Harbor (66%), and DuPont (64%). I bet you thought most of those were bedroom communities! The real bedroom communities are Brier (-48%), Newcastle (-43%), West Richland (-41%), and Lake Forest Park (-40%).

The national
winner is Lake Buena Vista, Florida, with a daily increase of 192,238%. Yeah, I typed that right. Sixteen people live there, but 30,768 people work there. Egads.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.3.3 - Bhanar

Zhíno laughed and lowered both his guns. I could get him easy now, even without Pí‘oro’s help, but I didn’t think I had to, anymore. Vata gently took his left arm and removed the gun. I held out my hand, but Vata absentmindedly handed the gun to Fírí. The blonde held it like a dead skunk.

Zhíno still smiled as the old woman guided him to the table. A dog barked out back, but the other animals didn’t join in. I pulled Fírí’s placemat with its plate and glasses to the center of the table. Vata obviously knew what she was doing as she unwrapped the sodden improvised bandage and held Zhíno’s forearm to the table. She didn’t poke or prod, but merely studied my handiwork from different angles. Red, shiny globs of flesh.

Fírí and Pí‘oro crowed close, but didn’t block the light from the screen door or the window above the sink. Zhíno’s grin gradually faded back to his usual snarl. Blood pooled on the wood tabletop.

“Your radius is broken in several pieces. Fragments are missing. No major arteries severed.” Vata clucked her tongue.

The blood crept to the edge of the table, held there a moment, then poured onto the linoleum, splattering.

“Aren’t you going to do something?” Zhíno sounded desperate.

I used paper napkins to prevent the blood from staining the placemats. Vata blocked me from reaching the other side of the pool.

Vata looked up at Pí‘oro, one eyebrow lowered and lips pressed firm. “I think this will take a cat. Perhaps a dog.”

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Human dander

Are you allergic to cat dander? Well, who would have guessed: cats may be allergic to you, too.

Xs and Os, King County edition

I'm glad I voted the Democrat ballot in the primary, just so I could have a voice in electing Bob Ferguson over what's-her-name. Come November, I'll vote against Ferguson, but that's a futile gesture. Here are some more futile (and almost-futile) vote choices for county elections:

King County Executive: David Irons, because he's not a Democrat.

King County Sheriff: Greg Schmidt, because Sims appointed Rahr.

Port of Seattle Commissioner 1: John Creighton, because the other guy is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Ron Sims, and the AFL-CIO.

Port of Seattle Commissioner 3: Llyod Hara, because the other guy is endorsed by multiple unions.

Port of Seattle Commissioner 4: Jack Jolley, even though he is endorsed by the Sierra Club, because the incumbent is endorsed by multiple unions and I don't like voting for incumbents if can help it.

King County Proposition 1: No, because it's a new tax and if it actually works, King County will become a magnet for military personnel looking for handouts.

irrational pet peeve du jour

The standard spelling of "marshal" has one L, not two. Thank you very much.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.3.2 - Zhíno

Fírí stood all cute-like with her right hand in her sweatpants pocket, her left on her hip clutching her favorite purple sweatshirt. She wore one of her tight white tshirts that showed a bit of skin––a lot less than whatever the hell she was doing last night. She smiled almost a laugh. How was I supposed to keep up a good anger when she went and did that? I tried to focus on my throbbing arm to keep my blood boiling.

Behind me, the old fool coughed and said, “Why don’t you call your friends and tell them you’re running late?”

Friends? What kind of idiot was this douchebag? I stuck the cop’s gun in his face again. “Shut up and stay out of this, dumbfuck.”

Then Fírí chimed in, “He has a point, baby. They’ll call off the hounds if we––“

“Shut up, bitch.” She could be a real moron sometimes. Did she think Gogzhuè and his henchmen were just sitting around by the phone like some sad-ass stood-up date?

“Can I see your arm, dear?” The old woman held out her hands and shuffled towards me, her face blank like a zombie.

“Get back!” I pointed my left-hand gun at her face, almost losing the weapon in the process. My wrist grated and shrieked. My fingers were sticks of putty.

The hag pursed her lips and snapped, “Before you drip blood all over my carpet, let me look at your arm.” She suddenly smiled, all pleasant and evil. “Dear.”

I chuckled. Here was a real woman, who could control her emotions. Not like Fírí at all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Can I vote "maybe"?

I got my Voters' Pamphlet in the mail last night. And, of course, I immediately sat down and read through it, circling everything I liked, crossing out everything I didn't like, and scribbling vigorously over Ron Sims's campaign blurb.

So, for those of you in Washington State, let me take a moment to share my opinions.

Initiative 900: Yes. Audits of government good.
Initiative 901: No. All-invasive government bad.
Initiative 330: Yes. Trial lawyers bad.
Initiative 336: No. Trial lawyers bad.
Senate Resolution 8207: Yes. City judges all equal.
Initiative 912: Yes. No. Maybe.

And here's the rub. Taxes are bad, but building things is good. True, the state hasn't done everything it should be doing with the money it currently takes, but does anybody really believe that the state will be able to accomplish more with less money? And it's not as if they aren't fixing roads. They're getting things done. Like Highway 522. But taxes are bad....

Green Desert - Chapter 2.3.1 - Fírí

Zhíno pointed his gun towards me with his bandaged hand. “Give me the fucking keys, bitch.” His eyes glinted a dark smile. His shoulders swayed with bravado. He was just acting.

I snarled, “No. One way or another, I’m keeping the keys.” Either with him or without him, I’d leave in five minutes. “You’re not ditching me here, that’s for damn sure.” I couldn’t hold the angry face any longer. I grinned.

Zhíno lowered the gun and Vata moved sideways, out from between us, not looking at me. My crazy boyfriend whined, “But we already missed the delivery time. If we don’t get there pronto, they’re going to hunt us down and kill us.” Well, kill him, anyhow. I didn’t think they knew I existed. It was all Zhíno’s plan. It was all Zhíno’s dream. He pouted like a puppy dog. “You don’t drive fast enough.”

I fingered the keys in my pocket. Should I go get my suitcase or should I just run out the door now? I wanted to leave that instant, but I needed my shoes. All of them.

Pí‘oro cleared his throat. “Why don’t you call your friends and tell them you’re running late?”

Zhíno spun on the old man, jabbing his gun. “Shut up and stay out of this, dumbfuck.”

I stepped forwards. “He has a point, baby. They’ll call off the hounds if we––”

“Shut up, bitch.”

I sighed. Zhíno was a real stubborn jackass sometimes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Mr. Kılímı

Pí‘oro's blog finally got comments! Yay for him!

Just more proof that abusing your readers gets results. It's certainly worked for me in the past.

I must keep writing.

Sure, you recognize these characters:

But how about these:

I'm so far ahead in writing Green Desert that I just want to hurry up and get to posting about the characters that are running through my head now. But I guess it can wait...

Oh, and don't worry. The others are still the main characters.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.2.5 - Bhanar

Zhíno’s left hand held the gun pointed my direction. There was no way he could pull the trigger, with that broken, bloody wrist. I could make a move. I could do something. I could push the table at him, tackle him, wrest the big gun out of his right hand. Or I could make a break for the screen door.

Fírí and Vata came back. Zhíno spun to look at them, but held the guns generally on me and Pí‘oro. “Fírí, give me the keys!”

“No,” she spat.

Why not? Just give them to him and get the crazy idiot out of here.

Zhíno pointed his left-hand gun at Fírí, still in the living room. I could just barely see her through the doorway. “Give me the fucking keys, bitch.”

Now I was completely unguarded. I could do anything. And what were the odds that he’d hit me if he quickly swung his gun around and fired? I’m sure I could get close enough to him that he wouldn’t even get the gun between us. He’d shoot the ceiling as I slammed him against the wall.

“No. One way or another, I’m keeping the keys. You’re not ditching me here, that’s for damn sure.”

I stared at the smiling half of Fírí’s face I could see. Whose side was she on, anyway?

Zhíno lowered his left hand, almost dropping the gun. His right hand pointed somewhere between me and Pí‘oro. We could both take him together. Zhíno wasn’t even thinking about us anymore. I should signal Pí‘oro. We could do this.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.2.4 - Zhíno

I gave the door a hard kick, right beside the knob, but the Pétíso-damned thing didn’t fly open like it was supposed to and I fell backwards into a shelf full of nails and wrenches and shit like I wasn’t supposed to. Shrapnel of pain overwhelmed me. Bones grated on bones.

“Fucking Pétíso-damned fucking fuck.” I grabbed a plastic jar of screws off my lap and hurled it against the wall. The damn thing stayed shut. I got up, picked up the guns, tucked one under my excruciating left arm and one in my left hand, then turned the knob. As the door opened, I quickly grabbed the big police gun with my right hand and stepped into an ugly-ass-green kitchen.

A chubby, balding old man gaped at me. Rifleboy sat at the table, eggs on his chin.

“All right, shitheads. No sudden moves or I start shooting.”

The old guy stuck up his hands and stepped away from me. The kid froze to his seat.

“Give me the keys.” Blood pounded in my head.

“Wh-what keys?” The old man bumped into the counter.

“My fucking car keys, that’s what keys, dumbass.” I waved the big gun in his face, ignoring the pain in my upper arm, twirling the handgun in circles that his gray eyes followed like a racecar fan.

“. . . my body for needle marks?” Fírí!

I kept the cop’s gun on the old man as I turned towards her voice. She walked behind a little old woman.

“Fírí, give me the keys!”

Green Desert - Chapter 2.2.3 - Fírí

“You can help me by telling me where the blood came from.” Was this old hag being obstinate on purpose, or was this normal for her?

She shook her head sadly. “My dear, it was your––”

A person-hitting-the-wall clunk interrupted Vata. She immediately tilted her head to listen. No other sounds came from across the house, but she turned––so slow that her pleated skirt didn’t flare out at all––and began shuffling down the hall.

“It was what?” I followed her, holding the sweatshirt in front of me with one hand. “It was my blood? If it was my blood, where’d it come from? I’m not injured.”

But Vata just kept walking, her slippers rubbing the carpet with each step.

“Answer me!”

“Be calm, my dear. Outer peace begets inner peace.” After a pause, the irritating woman added, “You know the truth.”

“Truth? The only truth I know is that I have no injuries and my shirt is covered in blood that you’re saying is mine. Do I need to check my body for needle marks?”

We turned in the living room toward the kitchen and there was Zhíno, looking as crazy as ever, a gun in each hand. Why couldn’t he just knock like a normal person?

He spotted me. “Fírí, give me the keys!”

Green Desert - Chapter 2.2.2 - Bhanar

“Are you leaving, too?” I couldn’t tell if the old man would be happy or sad either way.

I shook my head. “I need to fix Mé‘ısí first. Does that Tamé have a car repair shop, too?” I figured in a small town like this, only the autobody shop would have a towtruck.

Pí‘oro frowned. “Mé‘ısí’s your pickup, right?”

I nodded. “Yes. I bought her when I was seven––before I had a permit.”

“Tamé’s going to be plenty busy, what with all the damage Fírí’s boyfriend caused, but I’m––”

A loud thump shook the door to the garage, followed by curses, thuds, and the clattering of falling stuff. Zhíno.

“Where is my rifle?” Had the police confiscated it? I couldn’t remember.

Pí‘oro stopped halfway to the doorknob. His brow furrowed like I was a dolt. “In its case, in your truck, in my driveway, I reckon. At least that’s where you stuck it last night.”

The doorknob turned and flew open to reveal a grinning and bandaged Zhíno, waving two handguns like a bad movie. “All right, shitheads. No sudden moves or I start shooting.”

I stayed seated. Pí‘oro raised his hands to shoulder-height. Zhíno’s left hand could barely grip its gun––Zhíno almost dropped it with each random wave. My stomach felt very heavy, my feet even heavier.

“Give me the keys.”

Green Desert - Chapter 2.2.1 - Zhíno

My left wrist hurt like a motherfucker and my right shoulder wasn’t much better. The torn-tshirt bandage on my wrist was almost completely soaked through with blood. I needed medical attention. But the police knew that.

The piece-of-shit Vurıno minivan sputtered on the slight rise and I figured I’d have to get out and walk, but the engine stubbornly kept going. Why couldn’t I have found another car like that RZ-7 I’d almost got last night?

I saw the house, the long driveway, the blue pickup, all at the edge of the brush-and-boulder-covered orange desert. My car was gone. The pricks must’ve towed it. I turned the van up the driveway. Maybe these people knew where it was towed. Maybe the knew where Fírí and rifleboy went. I laughed. Rifleboy was still here. He wouldn’t have left his truck. Unless he got arrested. That would serve him right, the bastard.

I stopped the Vurıno, put the engine out of its misery, and stepped down to the gravel. The garage door stood open. A beige sedan blocked my view inside, but that sure looked like––it was. Un-fucking-believable. My car was still there!

I jogged up to it. The trunk was closed. Keys. Fírí had the keys. They couldn’t have gotten it in here without the keys, which meant the bitch was here. I licked my teeth. This might just be fun.

I ran back to the beater van and got my gun and the cop’s. It was showtime.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Green Desert - Chapter 2.1.6 - Fírí

“Don’t worry. I was just leaving.” I spun on my bare heel and walked out of the room.

Behind me, the old woman feebly said, “But dear. . .”

She hadn’t even asked if I was vegetarian. She just expected me to eat meat. Welcome to Hicksville, population clueless and backwards. What did I expect? You ain’t in Narakamíníkı anymore, baby.

I threw open the bedroom door. I’d left it open. On the newly-made bed sat my jeans, sweatshirt, socks, panties––folded and stacked. I picked them up. Clean. I flipped open my suitcase and tossed the clothes inside, but stopped before shutting it. The burgundy sweatshirt had a dark patch––a stain. I unfurled the shirt and held it out with both hands. Several dark blobs in a tie-dye sort of pattern. Blood? My forehead, my elbows––not even a scratch. But the stain was reddish. I held it up to the light and to my eye, scratched it with a chipped-paint nail. But that did nothing.

“I’m terribly sorry.” I turned my head. Vata stood in the doorway, hands clasped in front of her red skirt. “I was unable to remove the stain. Blood sets very fast, you know.”

I glanced at the sweatshirt. “But where’d the blood come from?”

The gray-haired woman smiled, accentuating her wrinkles. “We will not turn you in to the police. Please do not leave so quickly. You had a traumatic experience. You need to rest and recuperate. We only want to help you however possible.”

Good news!

Who would have guessed? Hunger isn't necessary: UN sees no need for hunger.

Which is good, because I'm hungry right now.

Happy Boss' Day...

Did you get your boss anything today? Yeah, me neither.

A little word on plurals and possessives apostrophes, then. Never use an apostrophe for a plural. Not even when discussing the 1840s or "Ps and Qs." When writing a possessive of a word ending in S, add an apostrophe and another S: bus's. But don't add an S if it's a plural ending in S: buses'. If the word ends in two Ss, the possessive is just an apostrophe: boss'. Never put three Ss in a row. That would just look silly and it's not like you pronounce three Ss. But if you have more than one boss, I suppose you should write it as Bosses' Day.

Thank you and good night.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.1.5 - Bhanar

I shouldn’t have been there. I shouldn’t have been in that kitchen, that house, that town. I shouldn’t have been on that road. I’d been going west when I should’ve been going east. I missed the turn. Idiot. And Mé‘ısí all busted up, too. Pétíso-damned idiot. I mopped up the last bits of egg with my toast. I really should’ve stayed on the freeway.

“Why aren’t you eating, dear?”

Fírí’d only barely touched her hashbrowns––and nothing else. She looked guilty, eyes averted from Vata.

I gestured at her plate with my fork. “My stomach’s still got room.”

Fírí handed me her food. “Sure. Here.”

I didn’t know why shoe wasn’t eating and I didn’t really care. The rabbit was kind of stringy, but I didn’t cook it and I didn’t pay for it so I wasn’t complaining. Vata frowned, but went back to the dishes.

Somewhere in the house, a motor started. The garage door. Fírí watched at me as I took a mouthful of eggs covered in ketchup. She grimaced distastefully. I guess I wasn’t a proper-enough eater for her. She pushed her chair away from the table and stood.

“Thank you, Mrs. Kılímı, for your hospitality. It’s much more than anyone could possibly expect after causing you the trouble we’ve done. But I––”

Between her and Vata, a door that I thought was the pantry opened and Pí‘oro entered, removing his cap. He set two bags of groceries on the counter and smiled at Fírí. “Could you please remove your car from my garage? Tamé will be here this morning to tow it to the station. Until then, I think it can remain safely outside.”

Saturday, October 15, 2005

There's still time for hiking!

Dayhike to Snow Lake today. Chilly and cloudy and a little bit rainy. But Snow Lake is a good destination for that sort of thing. You get the clouds rolling up from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie valley and pouring out over the lake. Dozens of people on the trail. Over fifty cars at the trailhead.


Here's Catherine and Matthew, the only two people on the hike with me. Catherine organized it, but I was the one who suggested Snow Lake. She says this is the sixth time she's hiked this year and every time it's rained on her.

Viewpoint rock! We arrived right when a guy was getting out of his bivy sack. He'd slept right there at the viewpoint.

We went down to the lake, ate a snack at the lunch rock. Bluejays and camp robbers were very interested in what food we might have had.

The creek crossing. See the rain. Feel the rain. But don't mind the rain.

Green Desert - Chapter 2.1.4 - Fírí

Our plates had strips of fried rabbit, a large pile of scrambled eggs, a larger pile of hashbrowns that I hadn’t even seen Vata cook, and a slice of toast. Orange juice, milk, jam, butter, and ketchup quickly followed. “Eat up, dears!”

“Are you not joining us?” asked Bhanar.

“No, no. I ate breakfast two hours ago. Eat up.” She turned her back and started washing dishes.

I drank almost half the juice in one gulp, then clunked the glass down. Ugh. Concentrate.
Bhanar dug right into his food, shoving rabbit and egg and potato in his mouth all together. I picked up my fork and stabbed some hashbrowns from near the edge of the plate. Hot, greasy, bland. I globbed ketchup on them.

As I ate, my brain started to work. I had to get out of there. I didn’t think the cops had caught Zhíno. Bhanar had complained loudly last night about that. That meant my insane boyfriend would be back. The car was here. I’d hid it in the garage after Pí‘oro left––so the cops wouldn’t tow it and get my fingerprints off the guns––but as soon as I blew town, I didn’t care what happened to it. Zhíno, though––Zhíno would be killed if he didn’t get it back.

“Why aren’t you eating, dear?” Vata’s hands held a sudsy bowl over the sink. Her brow furrowed.

I looked at my plate, meat and eggs untouched.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Green Desert - Chapter 1

1.1.1 - Fírí
1.1.2 - Bhanar
1.1.3 - Fírí
1.1.4 - Bhanar
1.1.5 - Fírí
1.2.1 - Pí‘oro
1.2.2 - Bhanar
1.2.3 - Fírí
1.2.4 - Pí‘oro
1.2.5 - Bhanar
1.2.6 - Fírí
1.3.1 - Pí‘oro
1.3.2 - Zhíno
1.3.3 - Bhanar
1.3.4 - Fírí
1.3.5 - Pí‘oro
1.4.1 - Zhíno
1.4.2 - Bhanar
1.4.3 - Fírí
1.4.4 - Pí‘oro
1.4.5 - Zhíno
1.4.6 - Vata
1.5.1 - Bhanar
1.5.2 - Fírí
1.5.3 - Pí‘oro
1.5.4 - Zhíno
1.5.5 - Vata

on to Chapter 2!

Right War, Wrong Reason

So the southern states hold up the constitution and say it gives them the right to secede, and the North better get their armies out of the South. The federal government replies, "No it doesn't," and refuses to leave. So the South starts shooting.

What a stupid way to settle a constitutional disagreement.

Shouldn't they have consulted the Supreme Court? It's the court's job, after all, to settle disputes of this nature. There's no need to resort to violence. We had a political process in place and they all threw it out the window so they could go get some rebs/yanks.

Maybe it's a good thing the liberals don't have guns. If they did, a new civil war would be a fair fight. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 2.1.3 - Bhanar

“Rabbit.” The old woman chuckled, the tassels on her vest dancing. Yellow blouse, flowing red skirt. She looked like a farmhand seventy years out of date.

Rabbit? No wonder I didn’t recognize the smell. “Um. . . Is rabbit a usual breakfast in Sarıma?”

Fírí snorted a laugh. Vata shook her head while she continued to push the meat around with a spatula. “No. Nor in this house. But we will not waste Névazhíno’s gifts.” The God of Animals. With her free hand, Vata grabbed an egg, cracked it on the edge of the pan, and poured it alongside the cooking meat.

“Do you need any help?”

She added two more eggs to the pan, scooping the rabbit onto a plate. “No thanks, dear. Go ahead and sit down.”

Four chairs. I took the seat to Fírí’s left, facing Vata. Fírí looked at me––studied me. She had blue eyes, pale skin, her hair drawn back in a ponytail.

“Where are you from, kid?”

I bristled at the “kid,” but I tried to hide it. I mean, she was only four years older than me. Who was she to talk to me like that? “Zhuphío, Kètnít.”

She flashed a stunning smile. “Where are you moving to?” She’d seen my full truck.

“I will be going to college in Morízhoso‘ono.” Classes didn’t start until the middle of next month. I still needed to find an apartment.

“Then why were you headed west?”

“Here you go,” said Vata, setting a steaming full plate in front of each of us.