Friday, April 28, 2006

People scare me.

One of my old posts is getting an ever-increasing number of hits on the Google Image search engine. I'm afraid it might soon surpass my _Restaurant at the End of the Universe_ movie post as the most searched page of mine. I know what you're thinking: it's the nude beach picture without anybody in it (or the beach that's not a nude beach but Google Image thinks it is), but you'd be wrong.

It's a _Green Desert_ chapter starting with a picture of Zhíno. (Well, not actually Zhíno, since he's just a character. It's a picture of some random model whose photo is on Corbis in the model-released, royalty-free section.)

I can't tell what people are doing photo searches for, since Sitemeter cuts off the end of the url (they only keep a certain number of characters) which is where Google Image keeps the search terms, but there are at least several searches to end at this same photo. I've seen "c" and "s" and "fu", which are just the beginnings of the words or phrases they were looking for.

And since that chapter begins with Zhíno cursing the most virulent string of invective I could reasonably produce without plagarizing the Lovett College cheer, I fear for what the searchers hope to find on my blog.

Oh well.


If I'm walking south to work in the morning and north to home in the afternoon, with the sun always on my left, do you think only half of my face will get tan? I'm not getting enough radiation at one time to get a burn, but I think it's enough to give me a bit of a tan. And if I do it all summer, two fifteen-minute doses of sun on the left side of my face and my left arm and nothing on my right, don't you think I'll be a bit off-balance, skin-color-wise, by September? Maybe I'll look like a Star Trek character. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 8.4.6 - Bhanar

“Sure. Let’s go.” The medic hopped out of the helicopter, his partner following close.

I shrugged off the blanket and jumped to the rocky sand. The helicopter blades rotated at a minimum. I ran crouched over, around the bushes. If Séara was dead, this was the moment. I saw the crashed helicopter. The standing cop held a flashlight pointed down. On the ground, Pí‘oro’s bloated corpse. Beside it, dwarfed by it, a policewoman. Dead.

My foot hit a rock and I stumbled, caught my footing again. Deep breath. Be strong. I walked forward. The medics lifted Pí‘oro onto a stretcher. Look at her. Her black uniform. Her beautiful–– Not her face. It wasn’t her. I laughed.

The cop stabbed my eyes with his flashlight. “What’s so funny, kid?”

I shook my head, still smiling. “I thought it was Séara.”

He was invisible behind the light. “No, not Séara. Deputy Sérıgí Sívıposoma.”

My smile vanished. Not Séara, but still a dead woman. Still a person who would have lived if not for Zhíno.

The medics lifted her onto another stretcher. One pointed at the handles, looking at me. “Grab an end.” He went back to Pí‘oro’s stretcher.

Right. I was helping them. I walked to the dead woman, the cop’s flashlight still uncomfortably on me. I knelt between the handles, my back to her, and grabbed ahold. The cone of light flicked around and disappeared as the cop grabbed the other end.

“On three,” he growled. “One, two, three.”

We lifted and began walking to the helicopter.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.4.5 - Vata

The young man released my arm and stepped toward the detective and the other two youngsters, who froze in tableau under Pí‘oro’s extra-bright lights.

Fírí blurted out, “They’re working with Bhanar, smuggling guns for that gangster, Gogzhuè.”

I glanced at the kid’s pickup, piled high with all sorts of boxes. He had pulled a gun out of there. And you never can trust foreigners.

“Stop right there, Raíngozé,” Sétıpímo rasped, one hand inside his suit, presumably on his gun.

Sévo took another step. “We can explain everything.”

The news crew had their camera rolling. I sidestepped toward them, out of Sétıpímo’s line of fire on young Sévo.

“Please explain, then.” The old detective coughed.

“Zhíno, no!” Sévo burst into a run.

A gunshot rang out. The horse screamed in fright, kicking his forelegs. Raíngozé waved his gun, diving for cover behind the cop car. Sétıpímo aimed at him and fired. Fírí ducked behind the car. Sétıpímo swiveled to point his gun our direction. Sévo skidded to a halt, empty hands outstretched. The horse jerked against the reins, nearly breaking the mirror off the door.

“Shoot him, Sévo!” cried Raíngozé from behind the police car.

I sent calming thoughts to the horse and he began to settle down.

Sévo didn’t go for his gun. Instead, the young man said, “Sir, I apologize for my associate.” He turned his head and barked, “Zhíno, put your gun on the ground and get your hands in the air.”

From in front of the police car, two empty hands emerged, slowly followed by the youth’s head, backlit by the floodlights. “I. . . I think she’s dead.”

Fírí was dead? My false accuser, my attacker, and yet I couldn’t smile.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Temple of Lettuce

The sandwich shop near my office (in the opposite direction from the Subway) loves to pile on the lettuce. True, they load up my roast beef sub with a lot of meat, too, but there's always a large portion of lettuce that falls out of the sandwich and is hardly missed in the overall sandwich experience.

The restaurant is named Sub Master, but to me it's always been the Temple of Lettuce.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.4.4 - Séara

Deputy Laparıpasamé breathed hard, brushed his hand through his dark hair. “Should we go back?”

Back to the crash site. Give up. Admit failure. I shook my head. “No. We must find Zhudıro.” Somehow.

Tépíto’s face fell and he started chewing a thumbnail, staring into the darkness. We’d be out here for Cycles before we found Zhudıro, and Tépíto knew that. But Zhudıro was my fault, my responsibility. I couldn’t let him kill any more people.

Bhanar. If the foreigner caught up with the fugitive, there was no way Bhanar would survive. I had let him run off and die. As good as shooting him myself. Pétíso take me now.

I rubbed my neck and groaned. I should hand in my badge, my gun. I should’ve been a teacher like Mom said. I was more harm than good out here.

Behind me, to the southwest, noises in the bushes, growing louder but still distant.

“Turn off your light,” I hissed. I clicked mine off, too, and we stood in darkness.

A person––or maybe an escaped farm animal––breaking through branches, getting closer but not directly at us. They’d pass us to the south, near the gully wall.

A cough. It was a person. A man, from the sound of it, breathing hard, running hard, not attempting stealth at all. I had to be Bhanar, running away from Zhudıro. I smiled, turned on my light, and jogged south to intercept him.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.4.3 - Fírí

I walked past the slow detective, stepping off the cement with my bad foot, then back onto the path. Bhanar’s pickup was blocked to the side by the deputy’s cruiser. And I wouldn’t be able to go back because of rocks and the news van. Maybe if I drove it forward, around the front of the police car.

“Hey, what are you doing with those keys?”

I turned, still moving slowly backwards toward the truck. Raíngozé left Sétıpímo and stalked towards me. I casually slipped the car keys in my pocket and looked innocent.

The flannel guy’s face snarled. “You better not be planning on stealing our boxes when you got us distracted here with this old lady.”

No, no,” I said, holding up my hands in surrender. Except that’s exactly what I planned to do. Wait a minute. Their boxes? “What boxes?” the detective whispered.

“No boxes,” I blurted and immediately cursed myself. The old man wasn’t that stupid. “Bhanar’s boxes. All his stuff.”

The detective stood and narrowed his eyes. I stepped back, around the front of the cop car. Raíngozé drifted my direction, his eyes on Sétıpímo.

The cop glanced between the two flannel guys. They worked for Gogzhuè. I was right the first time. Sétıpímo rasped, “Why did you and your friends come here today?” I could see the wheels churning in his brain. He’d figure it out.

Neither man answered. Raíngozé stepped back again. One hand on the car, I inched back, too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Freedom in the World

In which of the following countries would you rather live:

North Korea

These are the countries (and territories) ranked as the least-free places in the world by the Freedom House, with a maximum 7 score in both Political Rights and Civil Liberties. I guess the real question isn't whether you want to live there, but what should we do to improve democracy and freedoms in these lands?

Just so you know, the best countries (with a minimum 1 score in both categories) are:

Cape Verde
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Marshall Islands
New Zealand
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
San Marino
United Kingdom
United States
Puerto Rico

Green Desert - Chapter 8.4.2 - Bhanar

Still holding the blanket tight around me, I got to my feet. I stuck my head through the cockpit doorway. The pilot didn’t notice me. Huge headphones. I tapped his shoulder.

“Aaa!” He jumped in his seat, then twisted to look at me, removing his headphones from one ear. “What do you want?”

“When we have the police, we must chase Zhíno. This helicopter is the only chance. Or he will escape.” I wished I knew Sarıman better, to present a compelling argument.

The pilot curled his large lips. “Sorry, dude. I’m only allowed to go back to the hospital. Now if––”

Behind me, the paramedics carried in a body on a stretcher. Just a body. No head. The medics strapped it to a fold-down bed and leapt out again, leaving me alone with the corpse. The headless corpse.

I slumped against the bulkhead and slid to the floor. How the hell had that happened? Decapitated by the spinning blade? My stomach rose in my throat. I cinched my eyes, a hand over my mouth. No, be strong. Be the emperor. I inhaled deeply.

The paramedics returned with another dead cop––but no, this one lived. A white neck brace stiff against his chin. The medics strapped him to another bed, hooked him to a computer.

I swallowed. “Do you need any help?”

The nearer medic sized me up. I straightened my back.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.4.1 - Vata

That idiotic newsgirl thought that just because she was famous, she could take our horse. I tried to get a good look at her, but young Sévo blocked my view with his chest. It was times like this that made me want powers of destruction and not just healing.

Sévo jerked my elbow, nearly dragging me down the driveway.

Here I was, being arrested from my own home––not officially, yet, mind you––and that little bitch acted like I was a piece of dirt.

I glanced over past Sévo. The newsgirl stood at the back of the van, completely ignoring me, looking inside. As if my illegal apprehension wasn’t newsworthy.

“Hey, Irézí Sıvíhí,” I called. “They haven’t charged me with any crimes, but they’re taking me away anyhow.”

That got her attention. They snooty girl snapped her head at us. “Nıléké, why aren’t you getting this?”

“My batteries are dead.”

“Plug it in, you fucking idiot!”

The cameraman scrambled behind the van doors.

Sévo stopped, peering back at the detective, hoping for direction from that doddering fool. I smiled. A little old lady being arrested by a civilian on the evening news. How would that look?

Still in Sévo’s grasp, I turned around. Fírí held up her hands in front of her, warding off the second young man.

Sétıpímo whispered, “What boxes?”

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Blatant Age Discrimination

How old is too old to drive? 90? 85? 67? "Wait a minute," you say. "It should depend on the capabilities of the driver in question!" And indeed you would be correct. It should be that way. But the acting governor of Washington disagrees with you.

At last weekend's Daffodil Parade in Tacoma, Gregoire was planned to ride in a vintage car owned and driven by D.W. Brown, a 26-year veteran driver of the parade. But he was rejected by her office. The problem? He's 81 years old.

The governor's office was apparently concerned that an old person might have a heart attack or something. Because, you know, 40-year-olds never have heart attacks.

Mr. Brown joked about maybe suing the state for age discrimination. If I was a litiginous person, I'd definitely sue. The governor's office asked for names and birthdates of all drivers, not medical records or driving records (although, being the state, they probably had the driving records available to them).

The punchline? Gregoire walked the entire parade route.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.3.5 - Séara

No footprints ahead of me, but I kept on running. And Tépíto stayed right behind me, no questions asked. I couldn’t let Zhudıro escape.

But that’s exactly what I’d already done. He was gone. And I’d completely lost any trace of him. I had to keep on trying, keep on pretending to be in the hunt, but really, now, what hope did I have?

I ran between the trees and boulders, cutting left and right, heading constantly westward. But there was no point. I should turn around, go back to where I last saw footprints. But even those weren’t Zhudıro’s. They were Bhanar’s. I’d completely and totally lost the fugitive, if I ever had his trail at all.

And yet Deputy Laparıpasamé followed me. I only outranked him by a few months. Surely he knew we’d lost Zhudıro. Why didn’t Tépíto say anything?

The bushes and trees kept looming out of the darkness at us, an endless barrage of obstacles to our unattainable goal.

If Tépíto wasn’t going to say anything, I had to. I slowed to a stop, breathing deep to help slow my heart. I turned to my partner, careful to not shine my light in his face. In reflected light, though, I could still see his open mouth and furrowed, dark brow. He wiped his forehead with a sleeve. “What’s up?”

I sighed and winced. “We lost him.”

Monday, April 24, 2006


The good thing about having company over is that your house is clean and tidy for days afterwards. And all the compliments about my home sure didn't hurt!

But when the first people to show up apologize for being late, you know something's not right. It was a games night. We were supposed to play games. I said to show up at 7:00. The first arrivals were at 7:20. We probably started the first game at 7:45 when we had most people there. Two others arrived at 8:00. At 11:00, when everybody was leaving, one of the late arrivals started chatting about flags and wall paint, and all I could think was that if he wanted to chit-chat, he should've arrived at 7:00!! And while I would've normally enjoyed a conversation about flags, even under the circumstances, I didn't enjoy one with someone who professed to know all the flags but didn't recognize the Greek flag and thought the Irish flag looked a lot like the Narakan flag but with orange.

See the similarity? Granted, my Narakan flag is hung vertically, but still.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.3.4 - Fírí

I found the car keys before I started looking. They sat atop Bhanar’s wallet beside his duffel. I snatched them up and headed for the door. As soon as the cop and the flannel guys left, I’d get that pickup out of here, one way or another. I sort of knew where the drop-off point was. Hopefully that would be good enough for Gogzhuè.

I carefully closed the door behind me and looked up to see everyone standing stock still, their backs to me. And past them all, beside the baby-blue pickup, a black-haired girl walked a horse towards the news van. A cameraman appeared around the corner of the garage, his camera obviously off by its angle. Neither of them looked our way.

Vata’s shrill voice filled the night. “What do you think you’re doing on my horse?”

The tan girl dismounted and tied the reins to the van’s mirror. She stared at the old woman over the trunk of the police car, where my suitcase was. “Your horse? I found it tied to a tree in the desert.”

“Don’t give me none of that, missy. I recognize––”

“Ladies!” Sévo stepped between them. “Mrs. Kılímí, forget your horse. You’re under arrest. Get in the car.” He gestured down the driveway.

I started down the cement path. My left heel sparked with pain on every step. To Raíngozé’s back, I said, “Help Sétıpímo to his car, please. Some of us can’t wait around all night.”

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Green Desert - Chapter 8.3.3 - Bhanar

Sturdy hands held my shoulders, pulled me away from the open doorway and the whistling air. I pulled the scratchy blanket tight around me and watched the desert fly past.

Zhíno escaped. We left him back there, free. Umo dead, Lango probably too. And the cops who’d forced Zhíno to double back. All dead. All because of that ugly bastard. That bastard who shouldn’t live to see the light of day, but would. He’d escape, steal a car, and disappear into the night. No one would ever see him again.

The helicopter stopped its forward motion and hovered, turned ninety degrees. In its spotlight, I clearly saw the wreckage of the police helicopter, twisted and destroyed. Beside it, four prone bodies and one standing man, the only one reacting to the blown sand.

The ground rose up to meet us, settling gently under the skids. Clumps of brush blocked my view of the crash site. The paramedics jumped out, stretchers in hand. They, too, disappeared. The helicopter blades slowed.

Zhíno. I had to convince them to go after Zhíno. Now that we had cops. . . I frowned. I hadn’t seen Séara. She wasn’t one of the dead, surely? How’d she die? Zhíno hadn’t had time to sneak back. More mobsters? I drew in deep breaths, struggling to control myself. Even if Séara was dead, I head to get Zhíno––even more so, now. Like Zhíanoso said: Act like the emperor. Calm under pressure. Keep your head. Be a man.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The carnival is open!

But stay away, kiddies. It's evil and dangerous. Mwa-ha-ha.


New Year's Day
Elvis Presley's Birthday
Coming-of-Age Day
Clean-Off-Your-Desk Day
Holy Day of Vítí
Ben Franklin's Birthday
Unhappiest Day
Australia Day
Seed Swap Day

Groundhog Day
Chinese New Year's Day
Naraka Day
Waitangi Day
Holy Day of Néhété
Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day (Martian)
Presidents' Day
Holy Day of Nazhoro
Invasive Weeds Awareness Week
Narakan National Anthem Day
Mardi Gras
Holy Day of Vuzhí
Holy Day of Vuzhí (Martian)
Leap Day

Texas Independence Day
Girl Scouts Week
Johnny Appleseed Day
Jet Lag Day
Holy Day of Hérazha
Vernal Equinox
Vernal Equinox (Martian)
Holy Day of Sozho
Feast of Zhaké

April Fools Day
Holy Day of Rézhíní
Arbor Day (Washington)
Thomas Jefferson's Birthday
Tax Day
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Day (Martian)
Patriots Day
Holy Day of Rakazhazhíní
San Jacinto Day
St. George's Day
Feast of Vasataté

May Day
Cinco De Mayo
Mothers Day
Holy Day of Sívorí
Mount St. Helens Day
Holy Day of Sorosotuzho
Towel Day

Donut Day
Holy Day of Névazhíno
Flag Day
Fathers Day
Summer Solstice
Happiest Day
Holy Day of Zhíanoso
Feast of Hérazhahívo
Feast of Píríuso
My Birthday
Our Wedding Anniversary

Chunlin's Birthday
Independence Day (Observed)
Independence Day
Viking 1 Lander Day (Martian)
Feast of Hívo
Apollo 11 Day
Holy Day of Zhoro
Cheesecake Day

Elvis Week
Indian Independence Day
Feast of Kara
Feast of Rívorí
Holy Day of Rívorí (Martian)
Holy Day of Nanímo (Martian)

Brazilian Independence Day
My Parents' Wedding Anniversary

Patriot Day
Feast of Korutuzho
Central American Independence Day
Birthday of Seth, son of Adam
Feast ff Nuvíní
Autumnal Equinox
Feast of Huro
Feast of Huro (Martian)
Rosh Hashanah
Jim and Bexley Lister's Birthday

Holy Day of Tarénara
Day of German Unity
Canadian Thanksgiving
Columbus Day (Observed)
Columbus Day
Mariner 7 Day (Martian)
Boss' Day
Holy Day of Ríhíví
Feast of Rékaré
United Nations Day
Emma Revel Howland's Birthday

Feast of No
Election Day
Methuselah's Birthday
200th Day of the King's Return from the Eastern Continent
Feast of Rana
Veterans Day
Corrugated Cardboard Day
Thanksgiving Friday

Feast of Hívuítoví
Réní-Mamurd's Birthday
Lucia Day
Bill of Rights Day
Feast of Pétíso
Winter Solstice
Christmas Eve Eve
Christmas Eve
Third Day of Christmas
Sarıman New Year's Festival (Martian)
Narakan New Year's Day
Feast of Kérasa
Holy Day of Voro

Ten Different Shades of Gray

Is there a jigsaw puzzle that's entirely an overcast sky? Just gray clouds on gray clouds? 'Cause that would be hard. And depressing. Hm... Would it be more depressing to put it together on a sunny day or a rainy day?

Happy San Jacinto Day!

170 years ago today, General Houston decisively beat Santa Anna's Mexican forces, thus assuring Texas independence.

Here's the inscription from the San Jacinto Monument near the city that bears General Houston's name:

"Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American Nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty."

Go Texas!

Green Desert - Chapter 8.3.2 - Vata

In custody but not officially arrested yet, I shuffled down the concrete path. My hands were sticky with Népí’s blood. I’d lost the race to hide her carcass. And now I was going to jail, apparently for a crime I never committed.

Rape. From where in Sívorí’s cosmos did that girl obtain the idea that I and Pí‘oro raped her? The very concept was absurd, and ridiculous upon further consideration. But what else could I do?
The young man, Sévo, stopped near the end of the path, his grip on my upper arm halting me as well.

“Which is your car, sir?”

The entire driveway down to the road was lit up like daylight thanks to Pí‘oro’s special floodlights. Four vehicles in the driveway and even more parked along the road. Never had I seen as many cars at our house.

“Behind the news van,” he rasped. “It’s unmarked.”

I looked back at Sétıpímo.

“Let’s go, Mrs. Kılímí.” Sévo tugged my arm.

“Shouldn’t you arrest me sooner rather than later?”

“Yes, yes. Sévo, stop.” The detective coughed, grimacing from the pain. I truly should not have tried to kill him. But Névazhíno, why did You abandon me? Why did You leave me without Your perfect guidance?

Sétıpímo stopped, staring past me. I turned and saw a young woman riding our stallion, Arıparapé.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.3.1 - Séara

Rocks tried to trip me. Branches attempted to slap me to the ground. But I avoided them all, jumping and ducking as I ran. Tépíto kept pace behind me.

Hold the flashlight steady. Watch your footing. Watch your head. Keep running. And eventually, you’ll find the fugitive.

I thought the trail was easy to follow, but suddenly it petered out. I hacked through the brush, pushing forwards. Branches grabbed my feet, held me nearly to a standstill.

“Is this the right way?” Tépíto fended off every branch I escaped.

“It must be.” I kept struggling forwards, my light not reaching the ground or that light not reaching back up to my eyes. I stumbled over a rock, the bushes catching my weight. This couldn’t be the right way. I got my feet under me. But there weren’t any other options. Just straight forward. I kept hacking and pushing.

Unless we missed a turn in the dark.

I pressed forward, whacking the finger-thick branches with my hefty flashlight.

“Do you want me to . . . ?” Tépíto offered semi-gallantly.

I fell forward, no resistance, and hit the dirt hard. I kicked my feet free from the thicket and shone the light around. No trail. No footprints. But easier going than what we just did.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Where's that dirt road go?

Fran and Barry should give Eric and Jeremy some map-reading lessons.

But after the race, of course.

Another Carnival Update

Chandira says she smelled a strong almond odor last night outside the office. Therefore, the carnival people are capturing children and poisoning them with cyanide. The movie trailers and city inspection crews are just fronts for their nefarious deeds.


Breathe deep, for today is the Holy Day of Rakazhazhíní, Goddess of Clean Air!

(. . . Ain't those Narakans silly? Goddess of Clean Air? What were they thinking? Next thing you tell me, there'll be a God of Controlable Fire.)

Green Desert - Chapter 8.2.6 - Fírí

Sévo stood in the entry to the living room, holding Vata’s arm, their backs to me. I tried to squeeze between him and the wall, but there wasn’t room. He shot me a dark look and turned his eyes to the kitchen.

“Sir, what should I do with Mrs. Kılímí?”

From the green kitchen emerged the old detective, a macabre scarf red-and-white tight around his neck. “Put her in my car,” he whispered.

Light-haired Raíngozé appeared behind him. “But what about the ambulance?” He gestured to the phone.

“I’m okay to drive.” Sétıpímo’s voice was raspy and powerless, despite the authority the cop tried to impart.

“Just get her in jail,” I commanded. “I’ll wait for the ambulance. The cop’s not the only injured one here, after all.”

Sévo ignored me. “But sir, your neck.”

Sétıpímo pointed sharply to the front door.

“Okay, okay.” The flannel-wearing man stepped back, almost stomping my injured toe. “Come on, Mrs. Kılímí.”

The old woman let herself be led to the front door, her head hanging low. Sévo opened the door and Vata shuffled outside. Sétıpímo and Raíngozé tromped past me. The old bitch was captured for good.

The boxes. I couldn’t just wait here for the ambulance. Bhanar’s truck had a broken windshield, but it still drove. Where were his keys? I limped over to his open bag on the coffee table.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.2.5 - Bhanar

“He is getting away!” I tried to get to my feet, but strong hands held me down.

“We’re sorry, but we can’t let you chase him. It’s not safe.”

Zhíno’s form disappeared into the darkness. I sank back down, leaning against one of the medics. Gone again. In my grasp, in my sight, and that bastard managed to slip away once more. Tenth time today, it felt like.

The paramedics murmured some jargon to each other. The man at my side turned his heavily-shadowed face to me. “Can you walk? Or should we bring a stretcher?”

“Walk.” Of course I could walk. Now that Zhíno escaped, they’re letting me stand up and walk. Now that it’s too late.

The man behind me grabbed my armpits and boosted me up. I stood there for a moment. The ground seemed stable underfoot. Nothing wobbled in my vision. I walked for the helicopter, the two paramedics close on each side, but not touching me.

The helicopter started its blades rotating again and a chill wind hit my body. A full shiver wracked down my spine, stuttering my breath.

One of the paramedics hugged my shoulders, guiding me under the spinning blades, through the dusty breeze. I shivered again.
They sat me in the open door and hopped in themselves. A blanket wrapped around my shoulders and pulled my back. The ground fell away.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On this day. . .

On this day, two hundred and some odd years ago, Paul Revere spotted the British troops and rode -- rode like the wind, verily! -- to alert the courageous colonists. In Lexington and Concord and that whole general area, April 19 had a lot of guns going off, and they were pointed at people. Luckily they weren't the best of guns, so only a small percentage actually hit anybody, but it was still very dangerous.

The colonists didn't like standing up in rows to be targets for the British troops, so the sneaky devils hid in the bushes and shot at their soldiers as they marched bravely down the road in retreat. It was just a few short weeks later that Paul Revere released his first album, _Like Long Hair_, and the eponymous single which launched his career.

Never forget this honorable man. Paul Revere still rides today! And he does shows at the Emerald Queen Casino!

Green Desert - Chapter 8.2.4 - Séara

The moonlight quickly disappeared as I entered the trees. I took my flashlight from my belt, switched it on, and began picking my way down the loose-soil trail.

Someone approached behind me. I shone my light up the slope. The black-uniformed man held his hand over his eyes, but it was obviously Tépíto.

“Come on.” It would be good to have Deputy Laparıpasamé at my side. “Careful on the slippery gravel.”

I started down the trail again, hearing Tépíto follow. I held my light low to the ground, throwing every rock and pebble into sharp relief. Leafy trees danced with every move of my hand. My own shadow––from Tépíto’s flashlight––danced a crazy rhythm of its own.

The ground leveled out. Left or right? A few kilometers to the left was the Pívo Highway. But did Zhudıro know that? Probably not. But it was downhill. When in doubt, flow downhill.

I turned left. Tépíto followed at a safe distance.

A faint trail led through the boulders and trees. Recently used––footprints. Several pairs. I knelt down, adjusting my light to several angles, maximizing the shadows. Men’s shoes. And bare feet. Bhanar and the two suits. If they were truly on Zhudıro’s trail, I had no chance of reaching the fugitive first.

I started jogging anyway.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Carnival Update

They've loaded the Honey Buckets onto a truck. Hopefully they're empty since some are at odd angles. It seems the carnival's over before it started. Either that or they only leased the portapotties for one week and now the leaser has come to collect them.

And one of their semitrucks was on fire a short while ago. Perhaps it had a generator inside. Billows of white smoke, a guy running around with an extinguisher.

Plenty of official red jackets over there now, like they're the crew running the place. But that doesn't mean anything. They were there last week, too. A jumbo trailer is pulling up. It has six entrances on one side. Maybe Tom was right when he said it was a movie set...

Another song to quote

Where is the one that will mourn me when I’m gone
Who will pour water on my bed of dirt
Who will breathe fire on my neck at night

I heard someone say there’s a chance that I will meet her
I could be Persephone and she Demeter
Pull me from the underground that I call home

I heard someone say
That she's honest and good
Heard someone say
That she's honest and good
Heard someone say
That she's honest and good

Her name is no one
No one
No one
Her name is no one
No one
No one

-"No One"
Ever hopeful, I am. I am!

Green Desert - Chapter 8.2.3 - Fírí

Sévo glared at me, hand extended.

“Fine!” I chucked the knife behind me. It clattered against something and fell to the dirt. I grabbed Vata’s shoulder. “Let’s go, you old bitch.”

Her face still sagged. Sévo put his gun away, still eyeing me.

“What are you looking at me for? She’s the evil one here. The rapist.”

“Come on, Mrs. Kılímí.” He stepped forwards, knocked my hand away, and gently guided Vata towards the door.

Okay. I wouldn’t kill her. I’d wait for the trial. I’d get her put away for the rest of her life. Which in her case would only be a few years. Pétíso! I really wanted to kill her now. Why’d Sévo have to stop me? Why’d he have to show up with that gun? I should’ve just killed her anyway. He wouldn’t’ve shot me. Not a goody-two-shoes like Sévo. Dammit!

I limped across the chapel to the hallway. Let those three handle Vata. I still had to get the boxes to Gogzhuè. Somehow. Drive off in Bhanar’s truck? Gogzhuè’s goons wouldn’t still be at the meeting point, surely. Not a day after the fact. I hobbled down the hall.

But if I waited for the goons to show up, they’d just kill me, no questions asked. Dammit. I was screwed.

I should’ve just killed that old hag.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.2.2 - Bhanar

Suddenly I was airborne, the world spinning past, and the ground hit me hard. The shaking stopped but not the Thunka!-Thunka!-Thunka!

I raised my head. Back in the desert. Night. Scattered clumps of bushes. A spotlight danced around the terrain. Thunka!-Thunka!-Thunka! Zhíno raced away from me, wearing Umo’s jacket, shoes, and my shorts. I glanced down at myself. Naked except for my briefs.

“Pétíso damn that bastard.”

Thunka!-Thunka! A helicopter circled above me, alternating its spotlight between me, Zhíno, and the surrounding desert. Another police helicopter?

But as it landed, I saw its red-and-white markings state it was from a hospital. Which meant they wouldn’t go after Zhíno. Which meant Zhíno was getting away.

I pushed myself to my feet, took one step, and promptly fell over. The ground wasn’t stable. I didn’t have my balance. I sat up, trying to orient myself.

Two men jumped out of the helicopter, landing in crouched positions, and ran towards me.

“No!” I called. “Go after Zhíno!” I pointed towards the bastard.
But they ignored my words, kneeling beside me. “Don’t worry. We’ll help you out.”

“You can help me by getting Zhíno.” I jabbed my finger again.
The paramedic took my wrist. “We’re not cops, sir. We don’t have guns.”

Monday, April 17, 2006

LEED Tacoma pistol

Usually I have an idea what people are thinking when they type in their search terms to Google and arrive at my blog.

"Restaurant at the End of the Universe movie," "nudebeach," and "handcuff bracelets" are all fairly self-explanatory.

But could anybody explain to me what a North-Sound visitor meant when he asked for "LEED Tacoma pistol"?

The carnival is a big tease.

Oddly enough, the carnival still hasn't opened for business. What are they waiting for?

Green Desert - Chapter 8.2.1 - Séara

Two fellow deputies lay dead on the sand beside the helicopter, no sheets to cover their mangled bodies. Mr. Kılímo, equally dead, lay beside them. The only difference being that he wasn’t a deputy and that I killed him.

Several meters away, Míkoízo, Tépíto, and I sat beside the sleeping Sharıgo. He’d woken up temporarily and moved his legs, so we’d felt okay to move him out of the cockpit. He drifted away shortly after we laid him out, though. We very well might’ve paralyzed him. Three dead, one paralyzed, and three of us sat on our asses waiting for the hospital helicopter to arrive. And Zhudıro ran free, somewhere in the night, with apparently Bhanar and those two suits chasing him. At least I thought that’s where they went. Maybe they went back to the Kılímos’ house. Either way, Zhudıro had escaped. From me.

“I have to go after him.” I’d said it before.

Míkoízo sighed.

Tépíto replied, “We should stay here. Wait till morning. There’s no way to find him now. He could have gone anywhere.”

No, not anywhere. The gully. He had to have gone in the gully. “But––”

“No buts!” snapped the pilot. “I’ve had enough of this from––”

“Yes, buts.” I stood up. “Give me your handcuffs.” I held out my hand to Tépíto, staring down at the dark-haired man with what I hoped was a determined gaze.

Tépíto reached for his belt, eyes locked with me. “Good luck.” I took the cuffs from his outstretched hand.

“Don’t do this, Nulıpésha,” Míkoízo commanded.

I ran for the gully.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.1.5 - Fírí

Vata stepped away from me, bumped into the altar. Her face sagged, heavy wrinkles pulling it down. “Please,” she whispered, “I only ever wanted to help. We never wanted to hurt anybody.”

I held the ceremonial knife between us, its bloody tip pointed at the old woman. Sétıpímo’s blood mixed with cow blood. “You sure have a funny way of helping.” I stepped towards her, smiling. “I, however, never said I wanted to help anybody.”

The old woman cowered against the stone altar. “Please. We didn’t rape you.”

I could kill her right there. Stab her in the heart. Or better, slit her throat. And watch her blood flow from her veins all over her fancy yellow blouse. Watch her life fade from her pale, soulless eyes. I stepped forward.

Vata whispered, “Please.” Her body shook with fear.

I grinned. Fear of me. Let’s see how she likes it. I raised the knife.

A man shouted, “Fírí!”

I turned to look. Sévo, gun pointed now at me.

“But they raped me! They tried to rape Zhíno! They slaughtered innocent animals!”

The flannel man trod slowly down the steps, gun steady. “And she will face justice for her evil deeds.” He began across the dirt floor. “But this is not right. You cannot fight evil with evil.” He stopped two meters away, beside a flaming brazier. “A court of law will punish her, not you.” He extended one hand.

Friday, April 14, 2006

roll call

Anybody from the Philadelphia/New Jersey area?


No? All right, then. Nevermind...

93 years of bowling

An Indiana man says he's been bowling for the past 93 years, ever since he was seven years old. He has a 151 average, which would be a killer score in my league. I think my average is around 120. Actually, the bowling league just ended.

We were in the playoffs, but lost our first game by a measly 12 pins. The team that won the championship was a team that we beat two games to zip last week. In our second game last night (ostensibly for third place), we got to play our favourite team, Captain Drunkard and the Scurvy Dogs, so none of us were really concentrating on our bowling. I even got out a six-pound ball for a few frames (I typically use a fourteen or a twelve). The finger holes were so small that I had to put my index finger in the thumb hole and my pinky finger in one of the two finger holes.

The 100-year old Indianan says he recently switched from a sixteen-pounder to a twelve so he doesn't get tired. He attributes his longeivity and health to bowling and clean living. "I try to not act too old."

If he had been on our team, we would've won the championship!

roll call

Is TofuttiCutie here?


No? All right, then. Nevermind...

Green Desert - Chapter 8.1.4 - Bhanar

I called Zhíanoso? How?

The fire god smirked. “Enough of this jibber-jabber. You need to get back to work.”

“But. . .”

“Wake up now.”

I sat up in bed, Zhíanoso gone. It was all a dream. No, He was real. I think. I threw the covers aside and stood on the soft, soft carpet. But the High God of Fire, the Creator of the Universe, He was my descendent? Not only was I dreaming, but my subconscious was conceited. Stupid subconscious.

The floor vibrated, a rhythmic shaking growing stronger. Earthquake! But we didn’t have earthquakes on Kètnít. Where was I? I ran for the door, missing the floor with almost every step, it bounced up and down so much.

My hand near the knob, the house shaking, I heard a familiar noise, offbeat with the earthquake, but nearly as violent. Thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka. The floor kept bouncing steady, but the deep bass noise grew louder. Thunka-Thunka-Thunka-Thunka. The earthquake hit me in the gut, shook my head. Thunka!-Thunka!-Thunka!-Thunka! A bright light stabbed my eyes, blinding me.

The deep beat rattled me. The earthquake rocked me. Darkness. I opened my eyes.

Feet. Running feet. Thunka!-Thunka! Umo’s shoes. No socks. Thunka!-Thunka! My feet? I bounced around, dangling upside down. Thunka!-Thunka! Dark desert flew by. The light hit again.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.1.3 - Fírí

“Shoot her!” I cried.

But Sévo lowered his weapon. Sétıpímo staggered to his feet, gaped at his blood-covered hands, his eyes huge.

I shoved past the criminal and rand down the steps. Vata stood with hands lowered, palms showing. The cop coughed as I hurried past him and bent down to snatch up the knife. The carved wood handle was slick with blood. I held it carefully as I backed up, my eyes on the old woman.

“I’m sorry,” she croaked.

“Sorry for what? Killing the cop or raping me?”

“He’s not dead.”

I spun to look at the detective. No, he wasn’t dead. His throat bled, but was mostly intact. To Sévo, he whispered, “Thank you.”

The dark-haired guy tucked his gun away under his flannel shirt. “Let’s get you some bandages. Zhíno, call an ambulance.”

I waved the knife at Vata. “They don’t have any bandages. There are some clean rags in the kitchen. The phone, too.”

Raíngozé disappeared down the hall. Sévo stepped down into the chapel and went to the old detective. “Are you okay?”

So maybe the flannel guys weren’t criminals after all. But why had they acted so strange when the cop questioned them? And who were their missing friends?

Sévo led Sétıpímo up into the hall, leaving me alone with Vata. I turned to the old hag with an evil glare.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The carnival is coming to town!


Across the street from my office, a carnival is setting up in the big, empty Northgate south parking lot. The odd thing is that the lot is already being used as a road-construction staging area! So we have all these dump trucks and machinery racing around right beside the carousel and mini-rollercoaster without so much as a chainlink fence between them. There's a little three-foot fence, but I don't know who that's supposed to protect.


Notice the half-built ferris wheel at the right. They've completed it now, with seats and everything. Just when we thought we'd have to hang onto the bars. . .


Today is Thomas Jefferson's 263rd birthday! Happy birthday, you old states-righter. Just say no to a strong central government!

But for me, April 13 makes me think of Apollo 13, since that was the day they were supposed to land. Go watch that movie. It's a good one. It's the last film with Tom Hanks I can stand to watch.

Green Desert - Chapter 8.1.2 - Bhanar

The High God of Fire laughed, fingers of flame flicking of His clothes as His body shimmied. “Oh yes, I exist. I’m your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson, after all.”

“My what?”

Zhíanoso grinned at me, somewhat condescendingly. Around his neck hung a large five-pointed jewel, red as a hot coal. Heat radiated from it. The necklace was power. The jewel was the Universe. If I had that ruby, I could do anything. I could put Zhíno and Lango and the rest of their gang in prison. I could bring Umo and Pí‘oro and all their other victims back to life. I could make Séara notice me. I could . . . be an emperor.


“What?” I frowned at Zhíanoso’s lowered eyebrow.

“Maybe in a couple years. You’re not ready for it yet.”

I shook my head. “But it would solve my problems.”

“And create a myriad of others.” He clicked His tongue. “No, you must first learn how to act like an emperor––how to be responsible, honorable, considerate, respectful.”

“But I am all that stuff!”

“And humble.” The god chuckled.

I scowled. “You’re telling me You brought me here just to give me a pep talk? Just to say ‘be a good person’? I’m in dire trouble and You’re not going to help me?”

“Hey, don’t be greedy. And I scowled. “You’re telling me You brought me here just to give me a pep talk? Just to say ‘be a good person’? I’m in dire trouble and You’re not going to help me?”

“Hey, don’t be greedy. And you called Me.”

Green Desert - Chapter 8.1.1 - Fírí

“The boxes are in the pickup,” I said quietly.

Sévo jerked his head towards the chapel. “What’s going on? We heard shouting.”

Didn’t they care about the boxes? Gogzhuè cared about those guns, right? And these two worked for Gogzhuè. Sévo raised his dark eyebrows at me.

Answer his question. “Vata has a knife to the cop’s throat. But I think he––”

Sévo shoved between me and the wall, Raíngozé following quickly. In three long strides, red flannel shirts flapping behind them, they got to the open doorway. I caught myself against the wall behind me.

“Mrs. Kılímí, drop the knife.”

I hobbled over to stand behind Sévo. The hag and Sétıpímo posed as I left them, Vata’s face raised to the ceiling. Sévo pointed a gun at them. I frowned. Where’d he have that hidden?

Sévo growled, “If you don’t drop the knife, I will shoot you.”

Vata looked down at us, mouth hanging open slightly.

Gentler, but still threatening, the flannel guy said, “So please, drop the knife.”

Blood stained the detective’s collar, a spreading splotch bigger than the knot of his tie. Vata’s jaw closed tight, her eyes narrowed, piercing all three of us in the doorway. She was going to do it. She was going to kill the cop. And Sévo would shoot her.

The knife tumbled down, sparkling with firelight, landing discreetly on the dirt. Sétıpímo fell forwards, grabbing his throat.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Green Desert - Chapter 7

(back to Chapter 6)

7.1.1 - Fírí
7.1.2 - Bhanar
7.1.3 - Fírí
7.1.4 - Bhanar
7.1.5 - Fírí
7.1.6 - Bhanar
7.2.1 - Zhíno
7.2.2 - Fírí
7.2.3 - Bhanar
7.2.4 - Zhíno
7.2.5 - Fírí
7.3.1 - Bhanar
7.3.2 - Zhíno
7.3.3 - Fírí
7.3.4 - Bhanar
7.3.5 - Zhíno
7.3.6 - Fírí
7.4.1 - Bhanar
7.4.2 - Sétıpímo
7.4.3 - Zhíno
7.4.4 - Fírí
7.4.5 - Bhanar
7.5.1 - Sétıpímo
7.5.2 - Zhíno
7.5.3 - Fírí
7.5.4 - Bhanar
7.5.5 - Sétıpímo
7.5.6 - Zhíno

On to Chapter 8!

Hey Hey Hillary

I met my love Hillary at the local distillery.
She was leaning so languidly, on the window sillery.
And I was glued to my seat as I gazed at her feat.
Hey, Hey, Hillary. Hey, Hey, Hillary.

My heart was hijacked. My lips were gobsmacked.
Her hair was shimmering. My brain was simmering.
Then my blood began to boil. My desire would not be foiled.
Hey, Hey, Hillary. Hey, Hey, Hillary.

Hey, Hey, Hillary. Hey, Hey, Hillary.
Right then and there I made a vow.
I'm gonna make her mine somehow.
Hey, Hey, Hillary. Hey, Hey, Hillary.

My head was spinning like a top as I offered her a cough drop.
And as she placed it on her tongue, my stomach did a flip-flop.
When I invited her to dance, that was the start of our romance.

Hey, Hey, Hillary, Hey, Hey, Hillary.
And though it may sound strange to say.
I thank my god every day.
Hey, Hey, Hillary. Hey, Hey, Hillary.

-"Hey, Hey, Hillary"
Dean Friedman

Green Desert - Chapter 7.5.6 - Zhíno

Bhanar lay unconscious right in front of me, his head tilted on its side, mouth open. Not a cop, obviously. What happened to the cops? In the foreign kid’s hand, a gun. My gun. How the hell had he gotten my gun? I last had that . . . before I was healed. I probably could use another healing. I’d been ignoring the pain from all over my body––feet cut up, slashes and bashes and bruises all over, blood surely running free from a thousand dirt-filled wounds.

I grabbed my gun, set the flunky’s aside.

“Hey, Zhudıro. Where’d you go?”

Still lying on my stomach in the dirt, I looked backwards. Gogzhuè’s flunky’s white shirt stood out easily in the black woods. He moved––toward me, I think.


Three quick gunshots from above us and the white shirt dropped, the flunky screaming something awful. At least one cop left. I had to run, but stay hidden. Straight south, away from the gully rim, away from the cop. And hopefully whatever blocked his view of me continued to block his view.

I started sliding sideways, but stopped. Bhanar. I couldn’t just leave him here. The cops might miss him in the dark. I got him into this mess, and like the god said, I had to accept the blame.

Fuck the gods. I started crawling away, my naked body slithering over rocks and fallen branches.

Clothes. Bhanar had clothes.

Up on the rim, rocks and dirt trickled down the slope. Shit. I scrambled over to the kid, grabbed him up onto my shoulder, and booked down into the bushes and trees, running blind in the night.

Green Desert - Chapter 7.5.5 - Sétıpímo

“Do you believe me now?” snipped the girl before she left, abandoning me, leaving me alone with a crazy woman, a knife to my throat.

“Vata,” I whispered, “please.”

“O Névazhíno, please hear these words from Your humble servant.”

Oh, Vuzhí and Pétíso! “What do you want, Vata?”

She kept chanting. “You have forsaken me, but I still honor You. Please accept this offering as a token of my everlasting devotion.”

“Vata!” I hissed. The knife cut deeper, damn close to my carotid artery. She was past reason. I had to try religion. “This is sacrilege. Névazhíno honors all life. He abhors murder of any of His creatures, humans included.”

She kept murmuring, rocking back and forth slightly, the knife pushing me back in rhythm, my head pressed against Vata’s belly. Maybe I could push her backwards, fall with her, catch her knife hand. I started slowly raising my right hand.

Vata stopped rocking, tensed, the knife penetrating my larynx. “Stop.”

I stopped. My neck burned. No talking. No moving. Pain. No thinking. O Vuzhí, if You’ve ever granted me anything, please grant me safe passage from this situation. I beseech You!

“Mrs. Kılímí, drop the knife.” A man in the doorway, gun leveled at Vata’s head. One of Fírí’s guests. The other one and the blonde stood behind him, ruining his silhouette. “If you don’t drop the knife, I will shoot you. . . . So please, drop the knife.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why emigrate?

So why would anyone leave their home and sneak into a neighboring country? They must be pretty desperate. No job prospects at home and an enticing hope in the neighboring country. Anybody with a good job and stable life wouldn't do this. Only the poorest (but ones with initiative!) would attempt an illegal border crossing to better their lives.

This means that these illegal immigrants are not only poor in comparison to their new country, they're poor in comparison to their old country. And if the average person in the old country is poor by the new country's standards, well, you get the idea.

Illegal immigrants are a strain on the governments (federal, state, local) for this very reason: they're poor. They're usually uneducated with no hope of advancement. Rich and middle-class people contribute more to the government coffers than they use, but all poor people (natives and immigrants alike) use more than the contribute. But that's okay. Taxes are just a form of wealth redistribution, after all. We expect this kind of thing.

But when the system is flooded with millions of new poor people, the system isn't going to like it. Taxes for the rich and middle-class have to go up to compensate.

How do we fix it? As far as I can tell, the best way is to get the immigrant's old country up on an equal level with the new country so he has no cause to leave in the first place. But if the government is so corrupt at every level that "rule of law" has no meaning, how can we possibly make a wealthy nation out of a poor one?

Perhaps the rich country can annex the poor nation, disband the poor nation's government, replace it with a better system, and start the poor nation on the road to prosperity. It would take a generation or so, just to get the mindset of corruption replaced, but it would work. True, the rich country would have to pay to support the entire poor country, but if millions are sneaking across the border to be supported by the rich country, what difference does it make? At least the poor sods will be able to stay in their home towns.

Green Desert - Chapter 7.5.4 - Bhanar

Zhíno’s voice had been just behind those bushes. I crawled slowly forward, careful of twigs, careful to keep my gun barrel off the ground.

The bastard was silent. In the blackness, I couldn’t see more than a yard. Had he slipped away? Or was he hiding, listening for the cops? What had happened to the cops?

A dirty face. My head exploded.

Bright dots of colors bounced around in my skull, stabbing my brain, growing in intensity. Warm colors. Reds, browns, yellows, oranges.

The pain swirled away much quicker than it should have. The gully was gone. I was home. But I didn’t recognize the room. A very soft bed called out to me and I tucked myself in. A mattress of soothing flames.

I closed my eyes to sleep and saw Zhíanoso standing before me.

“Hello,” I greeted the High God of Fire.

He scratched His ruddy goatee, an impish grin plastered on His face. “Good evening. Come here often?”

I looked around. No ground, no air, no water. Just fire. “Um. . .”

“Never mind.” He flicked His hand between us. “What are you doing? Sneaking around in the dark, trying to shoot someone dead? That’s hardly honorable behavior for an emperor. Respect your lineage! King Furoíso, King So‘osolopo, Emperor Zéhé!” He shrugged. “Okay, maybe not So‘osolopo.”

“I. . .” I cleared my head. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t think You really existed.”

Monday, April 10, 2006

My glasses smell of woodsmoke.

A campfire/backyard-fire-pit is quite nice when you're there, but the next morning when you walk past your laundry basket, the smoky smell is quite overpowering. And now I realize that my glasses smell of smoke, too.

Paul & Kelley from the bowling team hosted dinner last night. They'd bought a mobile fire pit on legs, which was quite nifty since we had to move it out from under the low-hanging apple tree.

Green Desert - Chapter 7.5.3 - Fírí

“She’s a fucking liar!” I stepped down onto the wood stairs, my hand still on the doorjamb. How could the old bitch say things like that? She couldn’t expect him to believe her.

Detective Sétıpímo walked towards Vata, one slow step after another. I had to go talk to Sévo and Raíngozé. Forget her lies.

“You want the knife, dear? I’ll give you the knife.” Vata lunged at the old man.

He grabbed her wrist, spun. But the tiny old woman held onto the knife and overpowered him, knocking him to his knees, twisting and getting behind him, the blade suddenly jerking towards his throat. She paused with the edge indenting his skin. Blood trickled down his flabby neck. The cop froze, wide-eyed, hands out.

“Don’t move and perhaps I won’t sacrifice you,” Vata rasped, her knife hand shaking. Her other hand gripped the cop’s shoulder, bunching his tweed jacket.

I stepped backwards, up the stairs.

Sétıpímo’s eyes begged me to help him. But what could I do? If I made a move, she’d slit his throat. It was up to him. I had my own life to worry about. The flannel guys wouldn’t wait forever before they got violent. I stepped back into the hallway. To the detective, I said, “Do you believe me now?” I turned down the hall, pushing off the doorjamb.

I limped across the soft carpet. No screams or gurgles of death behind me. Good. I turned the corner and yelped. Sévo and Raíngozé leaned against the wall, looking at me.

Green Desert - Chapter 7.5.2 - Zhíno

I took a few more shots up the hill before I realized the cops weren’t returning fire. I stopped, listening.

“Did we get them?” asked Gogzhuè’s flunky.

“Shut up! I’m listening.”

“I could just shoot you.” In the dark, I couldn’t see where his gun pointed.

“You want the guns, don’t you? Now shut up.”

Thankfully, he did. I slowed my breathing. Up above, leaves rustled. But that was the wind, not people.

Why had I mixed up with people like this? Dumb fuckers who shot at cops the first chance they got. It was all too good to be true: Drive to Rívorí, deliver these guns and explosives, we’ll give you some land out in the high desert. Enough land so I wouldn’t be bothered. A greenhouse for the marijuana. A field of poppies. Cash crops. But it wasn’t going to happen anymore. Fuck. What was I going to do now?

The flunky hissed, “Do you hear anything? I don’t hear anything.”

I hadn’t been listening. Damn. Close by, a rustling in the bushes. Just a few meters away. Had the cops snuck down the cliff in the dark?

I dropped flat on the ground and slithered towards the noise, quieter than he was. Should I shoot him? I already had one cop’s blood on my hands. If I killed another, it was the electric chair for sure. But I couldn’t let him shoot me, either.

I slowly circled around a bush.

A half-meter away, a face. I swung my gun.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

hiking in the snow and rain

I was going to post some pictures, but Flickr is broken. )-:

Oh wait. I can add them directly in Blogger, but I just can't control the size. . .

Oh, nope. It looks like the whole internet is busted.

Hm. . . Picture, if you will, a frozen lake. Around that lake are trees and rocky mountains and snow and snow and --

Ah ha! Blogger finally loaded the picture!

This is Heather Lake, with an arm of Mt Pilchuck behind. We heard avalanches from several directions. Hillary says she saw an avalanche, but she also said she saw a bear across the lake that was actually a little tree. . . (-:

It rained the whole time we were on the trail. Some trees block the rain better than others. We found a nice one to admire the lake and mountains from.

Hey! Flickr finally started working again.

The other half of the lake:
07-HeatherHillary The snow level was around 2200', just in case you were curious.

A stump down in the not-snowy section of trail:

Green Desert - Chapter 7.5.1 - Sétıpímo

The young blonde screeched, “They kill rabbits, dogs! Look what she’s done to that cow!”

Indeed, the hind legs of a mutilated cow lay on the ground behind Vata. Guts spilled out near her dirty, bare feet. That was a felony right there. But what was this business about the God of Animals?

“In what way does killing animals honor Névazhíno?”

The white-haired woman gestured to the altar with the bloody knife. “They are His animals. We gave their energy back to Him, in exchange for His healing force.”

I shook my head. It didn’t work that way. “So you healed Zhudıro’s, very well. And when Deputy Nulıpésha arrived, what happened?”

Fírí slowly headed for the door, as if she didn’t think I’d notice.

Vata scowled, her wrinkles deep and dark in the torchlight. “He and Fírí kidnapped my husband and took him to the gully.”

“That’s a fucking lie!” Fírí shouted from the doorway. “Zhíno was comatose!”

Vata shook the knife towards the girl, towards me. “Watch your language! You and he are together on everything. You killed that patrolman as much as he did!”

I held out my hands. “Calm down.” I stepped forwards. “Give me the knife.”

Behind me, Miss Parızada yelled, “She’s a fucking liar.”

Vata looked at the knife, still raised between us. She breathed hard.

I stepped towards her again, hand outreached. “Please.”

“You want the knife, dear? I’ll give you the knife.”

Friday, April 07, 2006

He's insane, but at least it's free

An Ohio chiropractor is in trouble with the state over his claims that he can reach back in time to the moment of injury and cure patients. The state board has declared that he is "unable to practice chiropractic according to acceptable and prevailing standards of care due to mental illness, specifically, Delusional Disorder, Grandiose Type."

Well, at least they have a name for it.

He calls his treatment "Bahlaqeem," which according to him "is a made-up word and . . . has no known meaning except for this intended purpose. It does, however, have a soothing vibrational influence and contains the very special number of nine letters."

Well, at least he has a name for it.

But I really don't see why the state board is complaining. His first consultation is free and all subsequent treatments are satisfaction-guaranteed or your money back. It's not like he's swindling people if he tears up their checks when they say it didn't work.

So what if he has delusions of granduer? A 90% satifaction rate isn't bad at all. . . . Unless you consider the price.