It's the hour of midnight
And all is still
As i sit with the trees
On my Halloween hill
In shadowy night
By the standing stones
The fire burns low
With a blood-orange glow
Here in sight
Of an emerald sea
An owl takes flight
Swoops silent over me
And i listen to the leaves
Fall rustling to the ground
While the moon slips slowly
Behind a cloud
In the witching hour
In the dark, here alone
I feel the cold creeping
Deep into my bones
So i pile on logs
Stoking up the fire
Watching as the flames
Leap higher and higher
Then i warm my hands
And pick up my guitar
Play a simple song
To the moon and stars
And to the goodly spirits
Of the long lost dead
Till they come to me, for the company
And their voices fill my head
Endymion 31st Oct 2008
Fri 31 Oct, 2008 06:12 pm
hey - it's now the 1st of November here
Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous celebrations at dawn, the most magically potent time of this festival is November Eve, the night of October 31st, known today of course, as Halloween.
Samhain (Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn) literally means “summer's end.” In Scotland and Ireland, Halloween is known as Oíche Shamhna, while in Wales it is Nos Calan Gaeaf, the eve of the winter's calend, or first. With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry of celebrations from Oct 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.
In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and byre. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods in pagan times. All the harvest must be gathered in -- barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples -- for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come. The endless horizons of summer gave way to a warm, dim and often smoky room; the symphony of summer sounds was replaced by a counterpoint of voices, young and old, human and animal.
In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year. The greatest assembly was the 'Feast of Tara,' focusing on the royal seat of the High King as the heart of the sacred land, the point of conception for the new year. In every household throughout the country, hearth-fires were extinguished. All waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year -- not at Tara, but at Tlachtga, a hill twelve miles to the north-west. It marked the burial-place of Tlachtga, daughter of the great druid Mogh Ruith, who may once have been a goddess in her own right in a former age.
At at all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the fire, and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane. As they received the flame that marked this time of beginnings, people surely felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come.
The Samhain fires continued to blaze down the centuries. In the 1860s the Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night, each surrounded by rings of dancing figures, a practice which continued up to the first World War. Young people and servants lit brands from the fire and ran around the fields and hedges of house and farm, while community leaders surrounded parish boundaries with a magic circle of light. Afterwards, ashes from the fires were sprinkled over the fields to protect them during the winter months -- and of course, they also improved the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the oncoming tide of winter darkness, keeping away cold, discomfort, and evil spirits long before electricity illumined our nights. When the last flame sank down, it was time to run as fast as you could for home, raising the cry, “The black sow without a tail take the hindmost!”
Even today, bonfires light up the skies in many parts of the British Isles and Ireland at this season, although in many areas of Britain their significance has been co-opted by Guy Fawkes Day, which falls on November 5th, and commemorates an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in the 17th century. In one Devonshire village, (*) the extraordinary sight of both men and women running through the streets with blazing tar barrels on their backs can still be seen! Whatever the reason, there will probably always be a human need to make fires against the winter’s dark.
* Every year on November 5th the Flaming Tar Barrels are carried through the streets of Ottery St mary to the delight of thousands of townsfolk and visitors.
The barrel rollers carry the barrels on their shoulders and protect their hands with dampened sacking. They run back and forth with the barrel until they can no longer stand the heat and then they pass it to the next person in line. The more experienced bearers achieve this by whirling the barrel around their heads until their successor is ready to accept it.
Some of the rollers are quite sedate, clearly experienced, travelling up and down amongst the crowd. Others are keen to prove their strength and race along, taking the crowd by surprise and scattering people in their wake. All end up sooty from head to foot. As I watched, one teenager's hair caught fire but was rapidly extinguished by his neighbour.
hey, Edgar... yeah - it is kinda like a beer festival with the barrel rolling thrown in. Seriously nutty - but very powerful somehow.
Sat 1 Nov, 2008 04:03 pm
The Three Trick-Or-Treaters
Three trick-or-treaters passing through an aged, unkempt graveyard. Moon full, casting stark shadows among statues and stones. Aggie, the biggest and oldest, wearing a Broomhilda cartoon witch mask, her black cape wrapped about her, pointed hat, treat bag dangling from a tiny broom. Next, stepping awkwardly, Teddy, in a bear suit, bulky, vision obscured by the fur about the eye-holes, oversize bag pinned at the clavicle. Finally, Timmy; tiny, in a ferocious vampire mask, huge black coat with sleeves rolled up, black bucket, rimmed with fake blood, to hold the candy he anticipates.
Teddy (grimly regarding the starkly drawn headstones and winged statues): “It’s scary.”
Aggie: “But when we get to the street on the other side, the houses will be big. We’ll get lots ‘n’ lots of treats.”
Timmy: “I ain’t a-scared. This vampire suit makes me tough. Any goblins take after me, they’ll be sorry.”
Timmy stuck his face up at them and snarled.
His friends nervously ignored him, looking ahead, anxious for the far street to appear. Until now, the moon had been their companion and their comfort. But now the trio entered into a vast cave of darkness, where that bright orb became hidden, behind mausoleums and dry leaves of overhanging trees. With a sense of foreboding the kids pressed onward. The air became eerily still. A sense of terror and dread began to stalk the children, and their steps quickened at every step. A presence, as of pure evil, closed on them, making the act of breathing impossible. In place of minds, the waifs experienced blackness. Yet, their young legs carried them on and into the open moonlight, as the cemetery boundary appeared. They came at last among the affluent houses, where decorations were lavish and homeowners’ stores of treats were legendary to children residing in the poorest neighborhoods.
The first house they encountered had but a dimly lit walk, leading to a huge porch behind two massive columns. Strands and curtains of phony spider web material, with oversize black widow figures were strung in the overhead, with bats dangling from black strings. Recorded howls and shrieks, punctuated with maniacal laughter, filled the air.
Aggie and Teddy and Timmy excitedly rushed the door, shouting, “Trick or treat --- Trick or treat --- Trick or treat.” Aggie punched at the doorbell, her treat bag at the ready.
At first, there was silence. But then the door began opening, with an agonized groaning sound. The expectant kids were taken aback at the sight of a grinning tall skinny man, his face painted with black rings about the eyes and blood red about the mouth. A logger’s chainsaw rattled and cut at the atmosphere between them.
“Treats, is it? Well, you better dance for them. Dance, I say.” Chainsaw slashing wildly.
Aggie poised on the walk, her little broomstick held high and pointing. “Alicrackers!” she shouted. “Chainsaw going dead.”
The chainsaw became silent. The skinny man began checking the saw, unaware the trick-or-treaters charged him, until very real bear teeth clamped on his calve. He kneeled, squealing with pain. Before he knew to fend against it, tiny fangs went in his neck. The little broom whacked the back of his head. The busy trio continued the assault until the man fell face forward to the paving. They hustled to the man’s store of treats, picking and choosing to their hearts’ content.
And so the trick-or-treating youngsters made the block, and were over-laden with Halloween goodies when they turned off the street to retrace their path across the old cemetery. They did not hesitate to pass through the patch of extreme darkness, nor to walk among the tombstones and statues, all the way to their home street.
Mother greeted them and expressed surprise at the amount and quality of their goods.
“We went to good houses,” Aggie said with satisfaction, pulling away the Broomhilda cartoon mask.
“Yeah,” Teddy agreed, struggling to get out of the bear suit.
“It was the best Halloween ever,” Timmy said, snarling through the mask.
I just woke up and found your story here - cool! - read it while sipping a cup of tea.
I love a story that ends with kids getting the better of their elders! (Must be my S.King upbring!) Nice one.
Our pagan rituals over here don't end until the 5th - so you're not late for me.
(I am a touch under the weather at the moment and on some medication to help me sleep - trouble is, i took too much and knocked myself out for bloody hours and hours - missed Lewis Hamilton winning the soddin F1 World Championship !! )
Mon 3 Nov, 2008 11:45 pm
Straw asked to pardon executed witches
Campaigners seek justice for men and women killed before introduction of 1735 Witchcraft Act
A petition calling for the posthumous pardon of women and men who were executed as witches in Britain will be presented to the justice secretary, Jack Straw, today.
Campaigners hope evidence of eight grave "miscarriages of justice" will persuade him to take action.
A copy of the petition will be sent to the Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill.
More than 400 people were put to death in England for alleged witchcraft and more than 2,000 were executed in Scotland before the 1735 Witchcraft Act put an end to the trials, the campaigners said.
Their bid to get justice for the victims follows an official pardon granted this year by the Swiss government to Anna Goeldi, who was beheaded in 1782 and is regarded as the last person executed as a witch in Europe.
The family behind the costume firm Angels came up with the idea for the petition and asked the historian Dr John Callow to collect some of the victims' stories.
Callow, the editor of Witchcraft and Magic in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Europe, said it was time to recognise the witch trials as "most dangerous and tragic" fabrications.
"Today we are well aware that these individuals were neither capable of harmful magic nor in league with the devil," he said.
"At the time, poverty was endemic, charity was breaking down and aggressive begging, accompanied by threats or curses, was common.
"Crops failed, butter failed to churn or cattle sickened and the blame was often settled on witches.
"Against such a background, judiciaries across the British Isles were compelled to act. The results were perjury and delusion on a grand scale, resulting in nothing less than legalised murder."
Notorious cases mentioned in the petition include that of Agnes Sampson, executed in East Lothian, Scotland, in 1591.
Considered a healer, she acted as midwife to the community of Nether Keith but became one of many Scottish women accused of witchcraft.
She initially resisted torture, even before King James VI of Scotland at Holyrood House, but finally confessed and was burned at the stake.
In another case, an 80-year-old clergyman, John Lowes, was forced to conduct his own funeral service before he was hanged in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in 1645.
The octogenarian was seen as too attached to the Catholic religion in a strongly Reformed area and was forced to walk for days and nights by the witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins until confessing.
Emma Angel, who is behind the campaign, said: "Though the law was changed hundreds of years ago and society moved on, the victims were never officially pardoned.
"The Swiss have led the way on this one and I really hope that we can encourage our government to follow suit."
This thread is for the short story writers out there to present new work, spontaneous flights of fancy, or works in progress. All genres and styles are welcome. The short story is one of my favorite literary forms, and I admire the compression it demands. Post away folks, I know there is plenty of mondo talent here.
How good to read cav's words again!
Lovely to see the thread lives on, too.
Miss seeing his Macca's clown avatar along with his posts, though ...
when i see you i know love
when i look away i forget
and when i look again i remember
to see you is to know love
to hold you is to know love
to be with you is to experience love
to love you is to know love is real
... and i cannot forget your love
I am the whisper in your ear,
the kiss on yourlips,
the quiver in your stomach
when you feel the passion of my touch.
I am the whisper in your ear a shout in your head.
You may not quiet me, but you know that I am always near your side.
I will join you in every battle, and comfort you in your time of need,
I and the angel of your spirit planted like a seed of precious love
in your heart,
I am sent to cherish and protect you for all days,
and love you for eternity.
A word of explanation, before I post this. I had every intention of making a book out of it. But, 911 shook me up so that I abandoned the whole thing. A few years later, I added another part, which I have got somewhere, but the impetus to turn a novel had died. I could not revive it.
Sun 4 Sep, 2011 11:53 am
It is evening of a long, trying Sunday. Driven by insomnia, driven by my acute isolation, I spend hours walking on the beach after sunset, toiling like a bug over the deep Long Beach sand. A toenail clipping hangs over my shoulder. I ramble on to Toenail Clipping, about bad teeth and bad food, complaining that the rent’s too high, or my blood pressure’s too low. He makes a good companion, this sliver that is the moon. He never talks and never gives with heavy sighs when I go on too long about a particular subject. I suppose it’s rather mean to call him “Toenail Clipping.” He doesn't mind. I call him anything; he sticks with dog-like loyalty. He just wants to hang. But, unlike a dog, he lacks the power to alert me should someone move up behind me.
I spin, alarmed, because I hear the padding footsteps of someone jogging toward me from the water’s edge. I freeze, weighing the situation for possible danger. We see a gangling figure of a male start to flail his arms as he plunges into the dry, soft sand. He gets in my face in the time it takes to slow and quit wind-milling those arms. By then it’s too late to throw up my hands to block him. He gets nose to nose and stands panting. I discern big square teeth, a great mustache, a swarthy grin. “I’ll be damned,” I tell Toenail Clipping; “it’s Doc Ramos.”
I first met Doc on the campus of Long Beach City College, with the initial attraction being that we both wanted the same girls. But, the politics caught us up. After only a few months we simply walked away from there, caught up in a quirky time. We were off to be two clowns playing the cosmic circus of the 60s - albeit clowns with sad overtones and urgent unfunny messages. We went East to base our operations in New York. There, we got tear-gassed and incarcerated, but life was grand and we did make our statement for brotherhood and ending the war. Along the way we blew a little pot, but prided ourselves on being clean otherwise. When the days of protest drew to a close we went our separate ways. He developed a passion for Mexico. I eased into the sediment here on the coast.
Doc draws me into an embrace. “I missed you, Denny the wizard,” he says through his teeth, looking into my eyes with eyes as black and bottomless as the holes of time.
“Me too,” I add stupidly.
We pause, each waiting to see where we go from here. Doc’s panting is slowly easing. He looks at me in an odd little way that says he’s heard of my doctor’s prognosis, but he doesn't know whether to mention it. I catch my gaze on the great ship that’s moored directly behind him. It’s the Queen Mary, secured as close to the shore as practically possible. I see pensive, patient Toenail Clipping high over the Queen Mary, waiting in vain for me to rejoin him. I slide my eyes into Doc’s sad stare, feeling a bit sorry for him. “Don’t worry, Doc; I’m holding stable. I've a few alternative programs to sample yet.”
Doc shakes his head. “You’re going to lick it.”
“Yep; I am. Let’s go to my place. I've got to piss.”
“Hang it out here.”
“We’ll go to my place.”
“You writing lately? I don’t see a new book in nearly three years.”
“I have pieces of books in boxes. Hell, I’m no good for work anymore. I’m living on savings and dribbling-in royalties. What brought you to Long Beach?”
“Looking for you, Denny the wizard; looking for you.”
“Until the first of February I lived in L.A. How did you know to come here?”
“I wrote to your brother to find out if you’re kicking. He told me how you've taken to always walking this beach.”
“After thirty years, you just came to visit?”
“Well -” Doc stops in his tracks and jambs a cheroot between his square teeth. He chips a wooden match with a thumbnail until it ignites. My eyes ride the flame to the cigar tip and down the shaft to Doc’s teeth. I notice how stained those teeth are, and that there is a chip out of one. When I last saw them they were still white and clean, in gums that held them as steady as posts in concrete. I note the creased face, the loosening jowl, and I realize, he has aged, same as me. We are both sixty-plus. Two old fucks with broken teeth. I clap his shoulder as he moves ahead again.
We scale a grade that peaks against the gray wall of a sidewalk. We gain that plateau with its high street-side curb and go left to cross Long Beach Boulevard at the intersection.
“So; how’s Mexico?”
Doc chews the cheroot, meditatively. “Painful; desperate; beautiful; maddening; inspiring - It’s very spiritual.”
Doc flips his smoke into some palmettos growing in front of a stucco building. The building’s outside lights go on. Despite what Doc has said, I privately conclude that it’s something more than a simple visit that brought him here.
Doc goes on about Mexico. “Me? I don’t work. I am like an itinerant preacher. I roam the country, talking about the same things I did during the protest days, only adapted. At first it was hard. They thought I was a lazy hippie. They didn't trust me. But I was running with Anglos so much I forgot how to be with my own people. So I told them that. I humbled myself to the most menial existence until they felt pity and began to like me. Now when I come to a town the poorest of the poor offers to share everything they have with me. There is so much need there. Sometimes I have to leave there and that’s the hardest part. I got to recharge the batteries, Denny.”
“Do the authorities bother you?”
“Oh, yeah. I spent ten months in jail. But they could never find me guilty of nothing. So, they let me out.”
“You’re the only one that hasn't changed, Doc.”
“That is where you are wrong. That’s a bunch of bull. You’re still the same. You just got disconnected.” Doc takes a turn in front of me and stops. “Do you have a car, Denny?”
“I have a Taurus wagon.”
“You know, you don’t look too good. How do you feel?”
“Aw, I’m all right. There’s a certain strain to being alone in this. But I’m okay. I’m strong.”
Doc digs in his shirt pocket, fishes out another cheroot and fiddles with it. It’s nearly too frazzled to be smoked.
“Doc; why are you really here?”
“Seriously - I have to get home, to be with Mama before she dies.”
“What are you planning to do; hitchhike?”
“I got on the phone with Dale and Carl. They want us to stop on the way to see them.”
Dale and Carl. Our two running buddies from the days in New York. Now they both are married to twin sisters from Fresno and are living there. I don’t know that we have anything in common anymore.
“Us?” I shake my head. “Don’t count on me, Doc. I don’t go anywhere. Anyway, I can’t think when I got to piss.”
“Yeah; let’s get on to your place. Now I got to piss too.”
We approach from the driveway, coming up to the Taurus. It sits, dappled by a mercury light that shines from above through a chinaberry tree growing too close to the house. Heavy dust hides most of its sheen. It appears in the darkness to be black, but in fact it’s indigo. It’s so neglected looking because it is. Doc runs a hand across the hood, streaking the dirt. “I got here by bus,” he says, wiping the hand on his pants.
My house is old, with falling gingerbread, peeling paint and crumbly shingles on the low pitched a-frame roof. Too much rain and humidity are ruining all that wonderful craftsmanship. The landlord seems not to care. Inside, the house meets one’s expectations, if they are not high. The sheet vinyl floor shows wear where the sub floor is loose. Dirty beige walls , low ceiling, with a fan light that strains to exude a yellow glow. I’ve furnished with gaudy furniture and outlandish do-dads to counteract the depressing pall.
Doc quick strides ahead of me to get to the commode first, unzipping and pointing in a fluid motion so that an unrestrained stream begins to flow into the pot.
Crap! My bladder’s sides strain like a water balloon. “Hurry, Doc; I can’t wait any longer.”
Wordlessly, Doc keeps pissing.
“Doc - ****.”
I power walk through the kitchen. The doorknob rattles when I give it a violent turn. I throw the door open; then, in the fenced-in enclosure, where a barbecue pit is nearly lost in an overgrowth of weeds, and the nasty little mosquitoes whet their vampire noses, I hang it out. At last, the piss flows, to a chorus of warbling angels.
After, utterly calm, I’m zipping my fly, floating into the house. Doc’s rifling my books; says he’s looking for a road atlas. “I know the way, Doc. Just head out the Grapevine and keep going. By the time you get near, there are plenty of signs to guide you. And, I can get you to a safe place to hitch hike from.”
Doc leaves the books disheveled. He throws himself into the divine softness of the recliner, looking at me with eyes that proclaim his tiredness. “Denny, you big ******* wizard, you know you are going to do it. Each time you think of something else we waste more time. Get packed and les go.”
I move to the kitchen, stalling any further answer. At this point I’m really hungry. “Do you want something, Doc? I’m making myself a concoction of veggie juices. But I can fix you a juicy porterhouse. I’ve been saving that for something, but you’re welcome to it.”
“No, nothing. I don’t eat.”
“Organic carrot, spinach, apple and barley juice. One glass, three times a day. Since I’ve gotten used to this stuff, I actually look forward to it.”
There’s no reply. I return to the room, sipping a bit, seeing his sprawling form asleep in the recliner. “No wonder Doc’s being so quiet.” I pause in that naked moment to look upon my old friend, gratified that he’s come. I marvel that his mustache and hair are mostly black, while my own hair has blown away with the tumbleweeds. I smile. “Rest it; I’ll see you in the morning.”
After drinking my juice up a bit too quickly I find myself cleaning in the kitchen. Juicers are a real pain in the ass. As I put all the parts on the drainer and wipe up the counter, Doc begins to snore, becoming louder and louder. Amused, I stand in the doorway and watch him sleep. “I wish I could die like that.”
Then I spy the little packet of white powder, all but freed from his pocket. I continue to look on, now with moistening eyes, cursing the way life changes, where even the saints can’t remain saints. Suddenly weary, I go to the bedroom. Giving up seems the only option, as I lie on the bed with all my clothes on, shoes included.
A few hours later, Doc comes in and shakes the bed, not seeing that my eyes are still wide open. “Hey, ******* gringo.”
He shakes the bed again.
“Stop it, Doc.”
I look straight in his eyes with all the fury I can muster. But, I’m struck voiceless. Something in those black bottomless wells probes to the deepest core of my being; it fends away the anger, forces me to break off, teary eyed.
“You look like you’re struggling with some kind of emotional problem.”
“You look like some kind of cholo.”
“If you want to talk I want to listen.”
“No; give me time to hit the shower. We can bust some lances later, in the car.”
“You’re not going to take me, are you, Denny?”
“Doc, I can’t.”
“Okay.” Doc’s restless hands move over the content of his shirt pocket. He darts his eyes away, but they can’t evade me.
“I can let you out on the Grapevine, or I can put you on a bus,” I tell him, regretfully.
“Or you could lend me the car!”
“Out of the question,” I reply firmly. “I’m driving to L. A. twice a month.”
“But, you could give me the keys.”
“Or I could tell you to keep on traveling the same way you got here.”
Without any kind of warning, Doc attacks, growling like a demented bear. The instant his over-sized hands wrap around my wrist and upper arm I cave. “All right, damn it. I’ll drive you.”
To my surprise, the assault continues. He slips his arm about my throat.
“Give me the keys.”
“A-augh - I can’t breathe.”
Doc turns my pocket inside out to wrangle away the keys. After, he flings me off to the side. I crash over a table, smashing a vase full of white flowers. His heels vanish out the door as I wrestle the table off of my chest. “Doc,” I plead, “don’t take my car.”
Getting myself up, I lurch outside.
The car engine revs and the lights go on. The back-up and brake lights work in unison as Doc positions the Taurus on the driveway. Once he rolls onto the street, I will have to consider reporting my car as stolen.
Inexplicably, he stops. The car shuts down.
I rush the passenger side and Doc obligingly unlocks the door. Scrambling in, as my ass hits the seat, I become aware there is a squad car parked near the driveway entrance. The cop face in the window is focused in this direction. Doc huddles, looking the way he did the first time we got arrested protesting, in 1965. “Let me guess,” I snarl venomously. “No license? A warrant? What are you guilty of?”
“Close your hole.”
“No. No, Doc. You practically stole my car. I want to know.”
“I’ll tell you later. ****. The cop’s turning in.”
In surreal slow motion, the squad car inches near. The cop gets out. A lanky figure, he approaches from the driver’s side, darting a flashlight about the interior of the Taurus.
“What’s going on?” he says politely.
Doc feigns innocence, becoming wide-eyed in the hard glare of the light. “Come again, officer?”
The cop, jiggling his flashlight, bends to speak directly into Doc’s face. “I saw the two of you running. Why did you come out of the house like that?”
“It’s his house,” Doc says to shift the focus on myself.
“It is my house, officer. We were having a disagreement, so my friend here ran away from me. He wasn't going anywhere, though; just teasing.”
The cop considers a moment, his intelligent brown eyes continually probing, registering, analyzing. “Should I call back-up? Any way they’re telling the truth?”
We hear his radio garble a short burst in cop language. The cop appears to ignore it. His curiosity about us remains unsatisfied. “Anyone inside the house?”
“No, sir. I could show you around. I have a photo of myself on the bureau and lots of personal papers at my desk.”
The cop radio spews a long unintelligible message. The cop turns off the flashlight. “You boys be careful.”
He strides to the cruiser and quickly backs it into the street. With flashing lights and blaring siren, he’s gone, leaving us stunned. I look at Doc, inquiringly. “Crazy ******. What are you going to do next?”
“Still driving out of here. Still giving you the same choices.”
“Can’t you see I’m sick? I can’t take care of myself on the road. If I give you the car, that makes for a too grueling experience to get into L.A. every two months.”
Doc explodes. “God damn it, I got to save my own self. At least you got a chance. If I don’t go now, I don’t got no chance.”
“I’ll never see my car again, will I, Doc?”
Doc restarts the engine. “I don’t know. We’ll see.”
As I reach for the door handle, he acts on impulse, putting it in gear and gunning it. The tires spew gravel all the way to the street, squealing, fishtailing the car across the pavement. We race to the stop sign, where Doc taps the brake pedal, then continues around the corner, not affording me the chance to get out.
He orchestrates the exit four blocks up the street.
Jamming the brake so hard the tires squeal, Doc orders me out at the light.
“There’s bullets on my trail,” he hollers out the window, as I stumble up to the sidewalk.
I turn to give him the finger. Instead I wave a farewell. “God damn ******,” I say into the wind, walking.