Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Walking Hunters

Again, a true story. I thought of it as I was preparing to step out on my own hunt on this long weekend. Perhaps when I return, I will be fortunate enough to share with you my wife's amazing ability to skillet fry quail. Add some fried potatoes and some homemade cream gravy, and we're talking about something worth writing home about. Without further adieu, I present to you my next offering.
The old Ranch House on an icy cold morning.
It was the best photo I could find.
The Walking Hunters
I grew up in the country in West Texas on a cattle ranch. Every fall, we were besieged by would-be hunters who wanted a free place to enjoy their sport. My father was constantly heading off trespassers who claimed to have permission from the owner to hunt. Well, my father was the only one who could grant permission, and seldom did he allow anyone access to the land.
One particular day, he was hounded by phone calls of people wanting to pay us a visit. To each person the answer was the same—no. Well, around 2 o'clock that afternoon, we came across a vehicle parked in the middle of our ranch road, about 2 miles from our house. My father fought his temper and decided that he should try a more diplomatic response in order to impress on the hunters the importance of integrity and honesty.

He pulled off their hubcaps and removed all the lug-nuts save one on each of the tires. With the lug-nuts gone, the vehicle couldn’t be driven anywhere, as the wheels would come off. He then wrote a note to the owner that said, “If you want your lug-nuts back, you can find them at the house.” He then drew a map where “X” marked the spot.

Three hours later, an angry and weary mob of four was making their way down the long dirt road to our home. My father was waiting for them on the porch—and in the shade—I might add. By the time the rag tag hunters walked all day hunting and then walked another two miles in the heat… well, they were nearly exhausted. They had worked themselves into a lather with anger and threats of what they would do to that “so in so, what stole our lugs.” They were so worn down by the time they reached us that most of the starch had been taken out of their shirts.

Oh, they were mad all right, but one look from my father told them all they needed to know—now’s not the time to start something.

He’d backed them into a corner and won the battle long before it ever began. If we had waited there by that vehicle in the pasture, then we were in for a show down. He taught me that patience and creative discipline could outsmart brawn and anger. Those men had to apologize to my father before he would return their lug-nuts. If they didn’t cooperate with him, then they faced a much longer 17 mile walk to the nearest town. The story got out about the walking hunters and we started getting fewer inquiries about hunting. It seems the master plan was indeed borne from a master.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A True Story

I want to do something unexpected.

In the light of our new presidential race, (this will be a stretch, so bear with me), I thought of this old article. This story is also a tribute to our soldiers. For many years, our Army faced a daunting enemy in a war that seemed impossible to win. Here is the story of one soldier who paid the ulitimate price so that others might life free. It's a true story.

I wrote this article many years ago for the Texas Highways magazine, but it was never published. I now offer it to you.

An American Hero

On April 5, 1849, Captain Randolph Marcy left Fort Smith, Arkansas with 4 officers, 76 enlisted men, a doctor, a guide from the Delaware Nation, and around 2,000 emigrants bound for Santa Fe and ultimately the gold fields of California. They arrived 85 days latter and Captain Marcy prepared for his return trip. While in Santa Fe, Marcy learned of a trail that ran from El Paso to California that would be more direct than his previous northerly route. He enlisted a Comanche guide named Manuel who knew the country from Dona Ana, New Mexico to what is now Big Spring, Texas. They made camp on October 3 at the immense reservoir where the water came from the rocks. On October 5, Manuel left Marcy to return along the trail to New Mexico. They set up camp on October 6 approximately 8 miles south of present day Snyder in Scurry County. Marcy was ill and decided to maintain their camp for one more day, a decision that would forever haunt him.

After lunch, on October 6th, Lt. Harrison went to scout Deep Creek only two miles from their camp site. Night came but Harrison failed to return. Thinking that he might be lost, they fired a cannon hoping that he would hear it and return to camp. At dawn, they fired the cannon again but Harrison was still missing. Marcy sent scouts in all directions. Lt. Updegraff and a scout named Black Beaver followed Harrison’s tracks for a mile and a half past Deep Creek. The tracks left behind told the story.

Harrison was met by a party of Indians and joined them riding south. Marcy then sent Lt. Sackett and the dragoons to follow and retrieve Lt. Harrison. They found his naked and scalped body two miles later, just a mile north of present day Dunn in Scurry County in a ravine among some rocks. Marcy moved his camp three miles to the East. By this time, it was too dark to see the trail so they put off pursuit until morning.

A wagon was sent for the body. They dismantled a wagon bed and fashion a coffin for Harrison. His body was smeared with coal tar and packed in charcoal. The box was sealed with coal tar to be hauled to Fort Smith.

Lt. Sackett and the dragoons followed the trail 15 miles. Along the way, they found a saddle and a pair of moccasins that Black Beaver identified as Kiowa. Their horses were too exhausted to continue, so they stopped for the night. Sackett’s party returned to camp on October 9 without engaging the enemy.

Lieutenant Montgomery Pike Harrison was buried with full military honors at Fort Smith upon their return. Harrison was a brother to Benjamin Harrison, who would later become president of the United States in 1889, and grandson to President William Henry Harrison, who died in office eight years earlier. He was also the grandson of the famous explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike, after whom Pike’s Peak in Colorado was named.

Monday, December 17, 2007


This story is self evident, so I'll let it speak for itself.


Bret Simmons walked into the room and held the door open for Doctor Hal Reed then gingerly shut it behind them. He stood breathless for a moment, “This is very impressive. I have never seen such an elaborate laboratory.”

Simmons smiled graciously. “Thank you, Dr. Reed, coming from a man of your esteem, your words mean a great deal. We are looking forward to working with you.”

“About that,” began Dr. Reed, “what exactly did you want from me?”

“I wanted to hire you to make something.” He paused for effect, “Something big.” When he said “big” his voice grew in awe.

“You were so secretive; I hardly knew what to think.”

“Yes, that is why I paid you so handsomely.”

“Handsomely? I should think so. With the money you paid me, I will be able to continue my research for years to come. You were most generous.”

Simmons waved him off, “think nothing of it. I have followed your research on the beginning moments of evolution for quite some time.”

“You flatter me, of course.”

“None sense.” Simmons cut to the chase, “ I assume that you are a fellow atheist.”
Dr. Reed looked down at his feet. “Well, let’s say this: I am eagerly seeking to prove there is no God.”

“Very well,” Simmons mused. “You may say it however you please, just so that you succeed.” His voice grew irrational. “These…idiotic…religionists just won’t shut up! That’s why I paid you so dearly, out of my pocket, and paid you in advance.”

“Well then, what is our business here?” Dr. Reed seemed eager.

Simmons motioned to a conference table across the room and they took seats around it. “I want you to make the greatest scientific discovery of all time. Moreover, I want you to get full credit for it. I want you to make something, anything, out of nothing.” He clasped his hands together in delight.

Reed leaned forward, “I beg your pardon?”

“I want you to make something out of nothing.” He was matter of fact.

“But,” Dr. Reed stuttered, “How? With what?”

He shrugged, “I don’t care. Just create something.”

“What do you expect me to use?”

“Nothing. Something from nothing.” He repeated.

“I must have something to start with. All matter must have basic building blocks.”

“Like atoms?” asked Simmons.

“Yes, atoms would do nicely for a start.” Reed wasn’t sure if he should laugh.

“Oh no, that won’t do at all,” dismissed Simmons. “You must do it with nothing.”

“But I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I don’t know how.” He was sincere.

“But you are a scientist.”


“You are a Big Bang theorist. Surely you must know something about it.”

Dr. Reed’s pride was injured. “Well, of course I do. I am the leading researcher on evolutionary models.”

“That is why I hired you. You are the best.”

Reed shrugged, “But I can’t do this.”

“What do you mean?”

“No one can do what you are asking. It’s not humanly possible.”

Simmons was cross. “Don’t even start that, Doctor. That’s why we must succeed.”

“Why? I’m not sure I follow you.”

“We must prove the Creationists wrong.”


“If they are right then that means I am wrong. It means that there is a God. Do this and prove them wrong.”

Reed shook his head in disbelief. “But I have nothing to start with.”

“There was nothing before the Big Bang,” bantered Simmons.

Dr. Reed swallowed, “Well, there could have been. I mean, there could have been some swirling gasses.”

Simmons leaned forward, “Okay, where did the gasses come from?”

Reed threw up his hands, “I don’t know! Maybe from a previous Big Bang.”

“How’s that?”

“Well,” Reed’s eyes widened, “I surmise that the entire universe is in a great cycle, a long, continuous cycle of beginning and end.”

“Okay, go on…”

“You see, the universe expands into substance and contracts into nothing, leaving only swirling gasses. Then it starts all over again.”

“Okay. What causes the gasses to swirl? I mean, in the absence of solar winds to stir them, or gravity to pull them, what starts the swirling?”

Reed shrugged, “I don’t know.”

Simmons was incredulous. “You don’t know? How is that possible?”

“Actually,” he looked down at his feet. “I might be leaning toward a creator.”

“What?” Simmons shrieked. “But you said…”

“Well, consider it.” He waved a hand in the air and dismissed Simmons concerns. “What about this building?”

“What about it?”

“Where did it come from?”

“Huh? I had to build it.”

“Exactly!” Simmons blank stare probed him to elaborate. “If there is a creation, there must be a creator.”

“A creator?” Simmons was starting to panic.

“Of course. Think of the Mona Lisa.”

“The Mona Lisa…” Simmons repeated.

“Do you think that paint just fell onto a canvas? No, she has a design. There must be a designer.”

Simmons stood up, and then sat down again. “So what are you saying?”

“Someone, not God, created the universe.”

“Who else has the power to create a universe if not God?” Simmons face turned red. “Not that God has the power, but…oh, you know what I mean.”

“Aliens,” Reed said smugly.

“Oh brother.” Simmons groaned.

“Yes! Can’t you see? Aliens created our universe.”

“With what?”

“Swirling gasses.”

“Back to the gas again.” He placed a hand on his chest and groaned. “Then where did the aliens come from?”

“I haven't gotten that far.”

“But, just a few months ago you were certain that there was no creator.”

“Yes, yes, I know. But that just doesn’t make sense. Logically, I can’t make any sense out of it. To think that all of this evolved out of nothing?” He stood and walked to the window. “Take just the sun alone--why imagine it! One million Earths would fit inside of it. And to think, by chance it was 93,000,000 miles from Earth. Any closer and we would burn up. Any farther and we would freeze. And it’s not even a big star; it’s just a smaller average star.

“The sun evaporates seawater, which causes clouds to form. The clouds are driven by the wind and rise to heights taller than mountains, giving the rain needed to sustain life, and purifying the air at the same time. That couldn’t happen by chance.” He observed Simmons rubbing his chest and moaning. “And to think that chance created the human heart. And chance formed the ribs within a human body in the womb? And the human mind, with its unending complex thoughts and desires? Could chance have made all of this? It makes you think.”

Simmons had enough. “But, I…”

“Yes of course! The eye!” Reed was excited. “It has over 43,000,000 nerve endings in it. We can’t even make one nerve cell, much less a functioning human eye.”

“But we evolved slowly.”

Reed shot back at him, “Did we? At what point did our blind nerve cells work in concert to create sight? At what point did our lungs develop the capacity to process oxygen? Can you imagine how awkward the stage was between breathing atmosphere and breathing with gills? At what point did both a male and a female coexist long enough to copulate? I don’t think so, Mr. Simmons!” Reed was parading around as if on a crusade.

Simmons was absolute. “That’s all fine, but I am not prepared to believe in God.”

“Ah yes, God. Me neither. If there is a God, and He is the Creator, then we would be created also, implying that we might be accountable to Him. I am not ready to believe in Him, either. I like my life just as it is.”

“Fascinating.” Simmons mused. “How, then, did the Earth come to be?”

“Aliens.” Dr. Reed nodded in satisfaction, quite proud of himself.

“Aliens?” Simmons paused. “That seems hard to believe, too. After all, they had to come from somewhere also.”

“Perhaps, but the alternative is rather unpleasant.”

“So, then,” Simmons committed, “Aliens?”

“Aliens.” Dr. Reed nodded in approval.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


While I'm in the mood for poetry, here's another token to the season of giving:


When logs glow warm in the fire
And Mama in a rocker sows
Children yawn, begin to tire
Slide warm socks over toes
With cider brewing in a pot
And sugar cookies are still hot
Drink it in
Little ones
These are memories that smile

When the coals burn deep red
And twinkling lights flicker low
Children reluctant to go to bed
Until they’ve seen new snow
Eager for the early morn
The hallowed birth to adorn
Drink it in
Little ones
These are memories that smile

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Christmas Poem

We've finally arrived at that special season of mysterious joy and excited wonder. My children are beside themselves with the excitement of the holidays. Unfortunately, they will grow up and the excitement will slowly fade. But, for now they are having the time of their lives! I dearly enjoy this Christmas season, mostly because of having children in that house. They love to shake packages and try to see through wrapping, but it doesn't work for them; their 4400 powers haven't yet emerged. I want my family to make certain we don't get lost in the "extra" things that are happening around us. We must remember the reason for the season.

The Christmas Poem

The rocking chair squeaks
By the morning fire
The house was tense
With Christmas desire

Mom with her quilting
And I with my pen
Awaited our children
In the warmth of the den

For Christmas has come
In the house we now dwell
The home was alive
With scents and smells

Our Christmas turkey
Is roasting nearby
The counters are lined
With many new pies

Hot coco bubbles
Away on the stove
The pleasure of children
Its purpose alone

Then comes a stirring
From up above
Our children approach
To share in the love

Their eyes are alive
With cherished delight
Their feet how they danced
On the stairs of their flight

Small giggles come forth
As they rush to the den
Our family's complete
Let Christmas begin

My daughter sat near
My son in my lap
I opened my Bible
God's present unwrapped

We read the beginning
Of our Christmas joy
And of our Savior
The King born a boy

We then thank God
For the gift He gave
That forgave us our sins
And our souls did save

With our thanks complete
Having told our tales
We hand out presents
And turn to ourselves

We gave a doll house
To our little girl
And a new baby doll
Whose hair was in curls

Our son's great desire
Is to learn to fish
We gave him a pole
And granted his wish

For this family now
Joy is complete
To share Christmas memories
Is always so sweet

But the shame of a baby
Come to save all men
Gave us a gift
To live free from sin

For giving has nothing
To do with gifts

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Excerpt from "When Love Calls"

Any one care for a peek? Here's an excerpt from Chapter 5, When Love Calls:

Lilly looked up to see Rees making his way across the long oval dining room floor and waved to him with small, elegant gestures. As she expected, he was in a tuxedo and was incredibly handsome. Everything was perfect. He had a smile that would shake a woman in her soul, and he smiled at her as he sat down. Immediately, the waiter was at the table and pouring him a glass of wine. Lilly allowed the waiter to refill her glass, which she had denied him continually until her date arrived.
“Have you been here long?” he asked.

“No, only a few minutes. Is that the tuxedo you bought the other day?”

“How did you know that?” He seemed defensive.

“Well, you told me on the phone the other day that you were out shopping for a new suit.”

“No, I do all my shopping on line.”

She frowned. “But I could hear the city noises on your phone.”

He was defensive now. “I don’t ever leave my home unless something big comes up. I have to stay in front of my computer all the time, or else I will miss the big deals.” He held up his hand and snapped his fingers, “Tick, tick, I have to be ready to jump when the market moves.”

She sighed. “It all sounds very difficult and important.”

“Well, it’s more than the average investor could handle.” He tried to appear uninterested in their conversation, but it was about him and he loved himself greatly. “I found a hot new stock today.”

“Oh?” she feigned interest. Her father had served as the CEO of three different fortune 500 companies and she had heard these speeches many times before.

“Yes, it’s a small company out of Texas that produces natural gas. It’s called Terax Energy and their stock is so affordable, it’s almost like stealing money; it’s like robbing a bank.”

“I’m glad that you found them.” She sipped her wine and watched him as he glanced over the menu.

“Why did we come here? It seems beneath us.”

Lilly exhaled noisily. “It’s an upscale restaurant, not some burger joint.”

“It might be upscale, but it isn’t the level of attention that I can afford.”

Lilly was more than irritated at his crass remark. “This is one of my favorite places to eat. Especially for breakfast. They have a poached egg plate that is served on top of a crab and potato cake that's to die for.”

“A potato and crab cake? For breakfast?”

“Well, it’s more of a hash than a cake, but it’s wonderful. I’m sure that you’ve seen them before, as much experience as you have in dining.” She grinned within herself as she set him up for a situation that forced him to answer in a manner that he required.

“Oh, of course. I just prefer a continental breakfast.” He stared at his menu as if unimpressed.

“They also serve a pancake with white chocolate and blueberries.”

“I seem to enjoy crepes better than pancakes, don’t you agree?”

Lilly smiled and thought, oh, this is going to be fun! For she immediately perceived that he was a fraud. Rees had probably gotten fired from a menial middle management position at some stock firm and decided to day-trade rather than go back to management. He probably had nothing of the fortune that he portrayed and was desperate for people to think that he came from old money. What made the situation even funnier was that he imagined that Lilly was the type of woman that would help him promote that image. She had mentioned a home in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco and he assumed she was a woman of great wealth. Actually, she had a grandfather in Chicago that willed his home to her father, and she had a grandmother that left her home in San Francisco with Lilly’s mother after she died. The family maintained the homes out of sentimental value and because it provided housing for Lilly when she was working away from Boston. She was not extremely wealthy, although her family did well for themselves; she was not rich by any regard.
She was a mischievous soul and she decided to torment poor Rees, who was living a lie that he was desperate to keep. Besides, she knew that she would never see him again. She had no interest in a man that would lie in order to impress her. “Speaking of fine dining, I’m certain that you must have stayed at the Fletschhorn Hotel in Switzerland.”

“Humph,” he was again disinterested. “I usually stay at the Waldorf when overseas.”

“Are you sure that you haven’t stayed there? It’s a well known secret among those with social standing. Why, they have a champagne breakfast, which is an incredible continental breakfast, which better suits your tastes. I’m certain that you would remember the evening meals there.”

“Hmm, did you say Switzerland?” He furrowed his brow in thought. “Let me think, it’s been so long since I’ve summered in Europe. The Fletschhorn, you say?” He frowned. “Yes, it seems that I spent a night there on my way to Budapest.”

She had to contain her grin, for he dropped the word Budapest in such a way that she would be compelled to ask about that and leave the present conversation alone. “Oh, you’re being modest. You and I both know that there is a minimum two-night stay there at the hotel. And their evening six-course meal is extravagant. I love the fresh air up there.”

“Isn’t that the small place up in the mountains? I might remember a little more now.”

Snap! The trap sprang and he was committed to being a world traveler. “Well, I know a little more about you now.” She gazed at him with adoring eyes; “You have a great vision for incredible things if you deem the Fletschhorn small. I must travel with you across Europe sometime; I can imagine that you really know how to live.”

“Well, I do the best I can.” He glanced around. “Where is that waiter? These posh restaurants seldom offer good service.”

Lilly now realized how ridiculous, even pathetic Rees was. A moment ago he was upset that the restaurant wasn’t up to his standards, now it was “posh.” “Oh, I don’t know, I have always been treated very special here.” Then she dove in for more, “You mentioned being treated special, at the Fletschhorn, well, you’ve seen their wine cellar.”

“Of course. It was adequate.”

“I should say so! Their cellar is stocked with over 20,000 bottles of the finest in Europe.” She paused while he squirmed. “How big is your wine cellar?”

His face turned red and he pulled at his collar. “I don’t keep much stock here at Chicago. Now my home in Budapest, that is where I keep the best.” Again, he was baiting her to chase rabbits.

She could not contain her smile, but she masked it with a flirtatious question. “When are you going to invite me to spend some time at your home here in Chicago? I’ve heard that it is more than adequate and quite luxurious.”

“Do you mind if we talk about something else? I’m very hungry and the waiter seems to be on a smoking break.”

“Oh darling, you’re being impatient. You’ve only been here a few minutes and you know that these nicer places like to give you plenty of time to relax and enjoy your meal.”

“Well, it’s been a long day. It makes me miss my villa in Budapest.”

Lilly was merciless. “We could stop by your estate in Chicago after we go to the theater, if you like. I would love to spend an evening serenading you on the grand piano.”

“What makes you think I have a grand piano?”

“Oh, I’m no fool. I see a man who loves music hidden inside of your tuxedo. Besides, I’ve heard someone mention your home and piano before.”

“Who would have mentioned me?”

“Well, the last person I heard that mentioned your name was the mayor.”

That got his attention. “The mayor? Of Chicago?”

“Of course! I knew then that you were a man with connections. Besides, I heard about the sizable donation that you made to the Cook County Hospital. Very impressive.”

He shrugged. “Well, I do what I can.” He glanced at his hands nobly, “I can’t be a surgeon, but I can give the surgeons what they need to do their job.”

“Oh, how impressive. I love a compassionate man. The mayor was a bit reluctant to reveal just how much you donated, but he said that it was very generous. Do you mind telling me?”

“Well…” He was scrambling and looking for anything to rescue him. But, the temptation to be important enough for the mayor to mention was too much, and he hung himself. “I don’t like to brag.”

“Oh, you can tell me. I like a man with money. Was it more than a million?”

“As I said, I don’t like to brag.”

She pushed him a step further. “It was more than a million! Well, of course, to you, that’s nothing, I'm sure,” she said as a matter of fact. When he continued to squirm she said, “Please, tell me, how much did you donate?”

“It wouldn’t be proper to tell you.”

“So, you really did make a donation?”

“Well, I…” Suddenly his hand shot into his pocket and he pulled out his cell phone and quickly said, “Hello?” Lilly suppressed a victorious smile when he quietly whispered, “I have to take this. It’s business, you know.” Then he pretended to speak quietly into the phone about P and E ratios with a client.

Lilly reached into her purse and pressed redial on her cell phone without removing it from the purse. Suddenly, Rees’ phone chirped and fluttered, and he found himself holding his cell phone and looking like the fool he was. He glanced at the caller ID and saw that it was Lilly. He frowned and sat back down and said, “How did you know?”

“You were too perfect.” Then she decided to play with him some more, “So, what are you? A conman?”

“No, I'm a day trader.”

“Oh? Do you live alone?”

“And I live with my mom, okay?”

Lilly laughed at him and said, “I would have gone out with a day-trader that lives with his mom, under certain circumstances.” Then she became serious. “But you lied to me, and that is unconscionable and unacceptable. You may settle the bill and find another date to the theater.” With that, she rose from her chair and elegantly walked, no, glided across the room and disappeared through the exit without even looking back.

For more information:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Demand a Ring

Anyone care for a soapbox? I happen to have one, and I'm willing to share mine...

Demand a Ring

I have noticed that many men and women co-habitat today. Co-habitation is nothing more than a polite way of saying that they are “shacking up”. Why do you suppose that our moral standard has been so degraded that we no longer hold marriage to be important? Scholars and theologians can drown in the depth of that quandary and still fall short of an answer that will satisfy all. My greatest concern in the dilemma about men and women living together outside of marriage is that women must consider themselves worthless in order to do so. Contrary to my nature, I won’t implore a theological emphasis on this discussion, as I can make an adequate argument without the mention of Bible or God.

America has a rich heritage of protecting what is valuable. Patriots throughout our history have willingly suffered, bled, and died to protect our values, beliefs, and valuables. Most of us would be willing to place our values and beliefs above the valuables of our country, and I would be one of them, unless the valuables I mention are our greatest resource – our people. America is what it is today because of the people that live here, not because of what we own or where we are located. America is a great nation because great men and women live here and are totally invested into the betterment of our way of life.

Yet, we are falling short of the mark. If our greatest resource is truly our people, then we have a tremendous miscommunication from the top of our social and moral structure, right down to the lowliest of our citizens. Allow me to be blunt. America’s women are selling themselves short by sleeping with a man they aren’t either married to or going to marry.

Our churches are supposed to be the beacon of what is right and what is wrong, as even non-church goers will admit. Traditionally, churches were the moral compass for our society, continually pointing to what we deemed morally right. After the social and sexual revolutions of the twentieth centuries, our moral compass became fixed on political correctness and gender equality, and failed to point to the traditional values that sustained our nation for almost two hundred years. One of the by products of that moral revolution was the social approval of sexual carelessness. By carelessness, I don’t simply refer to recklessness, although that argument has merit, I mean the lack of care or concern for sexual conduct. The motto, “If it feels good, do it” became our national anthem and we no longer point accusing fingers at a man that failed to make it home after a date, or at the woman that opened her bed to him. Being married became antiquarian and simply stuffy old fashionedness.

I’ve been chasing this rabbit long enough, so I will come to the point. Why should a man get married to a woman when he can get all he wants from her without that stifling commitment? What does a man want from a relationship with a woman? I will leave each reader to determine his own answer, but I think it is safe to say that the average man seeks a sexual relationship first, and love or companionship second. In our not so distant history, the marriage bed was sacred and sexual relationships were reserved for marriage. Despite what Hollywood would have us believe, the majority of Americans were conservative and morally upright. Only in the last few decades have liberal moral interpretations become vogue. I am not referring to Republican or Democrat, rather, I am referring to conservative family values, not political ideals.

If a woman willingly gives her body to the man she is with, why would he be motivated to commit to marriage? While in our recent past, marriage was the only way to sexually know a proper young lady, all one has to do now is be available. I can’t tell you how often a woman will flirt with me at a store or on the phone. I am often weary of talking to a woman and looking at her in the eye, because she misinterprets my intentions and assumes that if I am looking at her eyes that I want to “get to know her better.” I get the distinct impression that I am expected to have sexual interest in every woman that I meet.

I am angry when I realize that women have stepped down from a place of respect in our community and have taken on the role of a sex object. What self-esteem can a woman express when she makes herself available to the selfish gratifications of a man that is not committed to her? After he decides to move on to another relationship, what is this woman to believe about herself? Why is she not to feel used or abused?

I do assert that sexual activity outside of marriage is abusive. The gift of virginity can only be given to one man. Shouldn’t that man be the one that is committed to that woman for life? Why should a woman make herself vulnerable to a man only to have him refuse to marry her or commit to her. So many times, the man will promise to be faithful to her or to marry her someday, but tomorrow never comes and a precious woman wastes her life while waiting on a man who will not respect her enough to not abuse her. I am sorry when I realize how many women invest into a man that continually finds an excuse or perpetually delays on a commitment.

Women are special. They have a tendency to give out physically in order to receive love. Men are special. They have a tendency to give out love in order to receive physically. All too often, women give out a lot more than they receive. After all, a man gets what he wants without having to commit that love that the woman so deeply craves. He simply has to pretend to love her to fulfill his part of the bargain. The woman is the one who settles for the scraps, when she is the one holding all the valuables. When a woman withheld her physical body for the marriage bed, a man had reason to invest emotional commitment to his love. There was a mutual desire that was managed through discipline and respect that was consummated in a safe and wholesome manner. Now, when a woman gives her body to man that is not committed to her, when he leaves, she is left to deal with the emotional and physical repercussions. When before, the man was committed to his wife through the marriage bond and she could safely invest into him.

When a woman agrees to live with a man that will not marry her, she is being abused by him. I can find no plainer language. The man is abusive of her. It is wrong to sexually invest into someone that you are not committed to for life.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Men and Their Hats

I have a feeling that ya'll are growing weary of my stories, so I'll switch gears a little and try something different. How about a random musing?

Men and Their Hats

I have noticed that men no longer remove their hats when they enter a home or a building. I would wager that their own father or mother would slap the hat off their head to remind them of their rude gesture. For years, it was the standard. Men removed their hats when sitting at the diner table or when entering the church. Of course, there were places where hat removal was unnecessary, such as a bar, or a cattle auction. In fact, a man might be laughed at if he took off his hat in a bar—he might be called a sissy. However, when he set down to supper at Grandma’s house, the hat was hanging on a rack somewhere.

Hat wearing is a type of business card in today’s world. The hat a man wears tells something about who he is. If he is a hunter, he might wear a camouflage hat, the kind with elastic straps for extra shotgun shells. A fisherman might wear a hat with extra weights and hooks buried deep into the fabric. An athlete might wear a ball cap, something light and manageable, when speed is necessary. A cowboy must have a large brimmed hat that is fit to protect him from the elements such as the sun or rain. If you explore caves, a cowboy hat will only get in the way. This man needs a hat with a light mounted on it, to free his hands for climbing. A sailor wants something that is water resistant. A fireman wants something heat resistant, while a soldier wants something hard enough to dispel fragments and explosions. A hat gives definition to the type of man wearing it. You never see a football player going onto the field with a sunbonnet strapped to his chin.

When you consider everything that a hat represents, you have a better idea of what is happening inside a man’s thoughts and actions. A hat is his sign to America that he is someone and he knows it, and man is not likely to take off his hat for just any reason. There is an old saying, “The only man you have to take your hat off for is the barber.” What does this tell you? A hat is a symbol of strength to the bearer, and you really shouldn’t mess with anyone’s hat, unless you are prepared to fight over it.

Ever wonder why a man tips his hat to the ladies? Tipping your hat is the same thing as “tipping” the man that you are, a tremendous and heartfelt show of respect, and a way of recognizing the grace and beauty of a woman. Now days, men don’t tip their hats to each other, and I certainly don’t want them to start.

Another appropriate place for hat removal is in a church. Removing your hat in church is a sign of respect and surrender to God. I always question the depth of a man who refuses to remove his covering in a church sanctuary. What is going on in his heart if he won’t respect God? A man should also take off his hat in respect to the country. I have seen men place their hats over their hearts during the national anthem, and rightfully so! Nothing angers me more than to see a man with a cap perched on top of his head while the Star Spangled Banner proudly boasts of our nation’s grand existence.

Men, there are times to hide your ugly hair—or lack thereof—under your hat, and times not to. If you are in a theater, take your hat off so everyone else can see the screen. Take your hat off in church; show God the respect He has rightfully earned. Tip your hat to the ladies; women are the embodiment of all that is good in our society, and it is appropriate to respond in such a fashion. Most of all, remove your hat at the diner table. If for no other reason than it’s what your mamma told you to do, and its good old-fashioned manners.

As always, my opinion is subject to revision.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canine Witness

In light of Thanksgiving, I'd like to share a special story with you. This is the very first short story in my repriotour, reprotar, er... collection of short stories. To the best of my memory, I think it was written sometime around 1985. I share this with you because it is my reason to give thanks--well, one of many. My writing career would never have started had it not been for this story. I wrote it for a contest (I didn't win. In fact, I received last place), and it ignited a passion within me to continue. Therefore, I'm thankful for slow starts and second chances.

I'd also like to welcome my dear friends, the Tanners and the Lees to my blog. May your camel's give mild as long as you live!

Another quick thanks: I'm thankful to God for sparing my wife of some very troubling heart problems. Even though she had to endure an angiogram, we had good results! Thanks for your prayers!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Canine Witness

My name is Duke, and I’m not your ordinary writer. As a matter of fact, I reckon I’m the only dog that can read or write. That’s right, folks, I’m a dog, of the canine species, and I have one heck of a story to tell.

It all started about two weeks ago when Ida May came home from church. She was happy! Ida isn’t one given to happiness; she’s lived an uncommon hard life.
I imagine that the hardest thing she’s done was to put up with Ralph. Ralph is her husband and her drunk. I’ve seen him slug a bottle as early as sunrise and stay sluggish until nightfall when he would get nasty drunk. Between times, he owns a ranch.

Yes sir, she came home happy. That night as Ida was fixin’ dinner, she was singing. (Now mind you, I’m not allowed in the house, but I can see through the screen door.) Her singing was beginning to iratate…irrotate…well, to get under Ralph’s skin. He asked her what her problem was, and she looked up and asked, “what problem?” He asked if she would stop singing, so she started humming. Ralph jumped up and stomped into the bedroom and slammed the door, amidst a string of cussin’ and carryin’ on. She just smiled and kept on humming.

One day as I patrolled the barnyard, a feller came sneaking up to the house. I was the only one at home, so I set out to see what he was about. He snuck up the back steps and was prying at the outside door. He got it open and stepped inside, but didn’t shut the door all the way. So, I stuck my nose in the crack and pushed her open enough to look in. I saw him rumagin…romagin…or whatever, through the house.

Right about then, Ida came home from town and saw the door open. Now Ida isn’t one to trifle with, being as tough as she is, and I didn’t envy that feller at all. She headed for the door and the man heard her coming, so he ducked under the bed: only his feet were sticking out. Ida went through the door, saw the feet, went into the bedroom, and shut the door behind her. I heard her lock it.

I ducked and ran around to the other side of the house and jumped on a log in front of the bedroom window. Slowly, I peered in. She was leaning against the door and was staring at the feet. She had a real peculiar look on her face. I gawked at her intently, trying to figure out what she would do. I saw a look of fire and brimstone slap her between the eyes and she gave all her attention to the closet.

About this time, I got so excited that I fell off the log. I got back up quick like, and saw that she was holding a shotgun in her hands. Believe you me, she can use that thing. Once, I was chasing an armadillo around under the house, we where only playing under there, but Ida May came busting out of the house with that scatter gun and put its name to good use. Lucky thing it was loaded with bird shot…

Well, anyway, the fellow under the bed figures that he is pretty well hidden and he stayed real quiet, but he should have looked at his whole card, which would be his feet in this case.

Ida May tilted her gun towards the bed and said in a real smooth voice, “Mister, I’m not a woman that’s given to violence, but you’re lyin’ in a spot at which I am about to shoot.” Boy, the dust flew as he came out from under that bed.

He stood up straight and stared at the business end of her gun. Quietly she said, “Mister, I don’t know who you are, but you’re not getting out of here until you get saved.” Then she sat the shotgun down out of his reach. You know? I’m not real sure what getting saved is, but I think it’s when you run and slide into home plate in a baseball game. But, I might be wrong.

Right around there, Babe, the family milk cow, came around the corner. She has always had it in for me since the time I tried to milk her. I’d seen Ralph do it and get pretty good results, so I thought I would try. When I woke up, I found my way out of that tree and took precautions to stay out of that cow’s way.

Well, that cow saw me and lowered her horns and I decided to check under the house for snakes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what happened in that room next. But I could hear her talking to him for over an hour, and once I heard him crying when she mentioned that he was in danger of God’s holy judgment. Shortly, he left the house with that same sweet look on his face that Ida now has.

You should have seen Ralph’s face that night when she told him what happened. As Ida told the story, his face turned an awful blue color. The farther the story went, the bluer his face got until he looked a lot like the pair of gloves that Ida washes the dishes with. When she got to the part about getting saved, he got up and stormed into the bedroom.

Ida sat looking at that closed door with tears in her eyes. She picked up the Bible sitting next to her, thumbed her way into it, read a moment, and put it down. Sitting by the screen door, I could hear her rocking back and forth.

She began to pray, quietly at first, and then louder. “Lord, I know that you are my God. I want so much for Ralph to know you like I do. Please show him that you are the Supreme Ruler of the heavens and Earth. Please show him that all of us have sinned against a holy God, and that because we did that, we are condemned to die and go to hell. Please show him that Jesus died on the cross in our place, and rose again on the third day, because death couldn’t defeat Him. Now all we have to do is acknowledge that He is Lord, and that we are sinners in danger of judgment from Him, and that in order to escape the judgment, we only have to repent of our sins and turn our hearts over to him. I ask you to come and minister to him right now.”

Suddenly, I saw a light coming from the crack below the bedroom door. I ran around to the log and looked into the window. There appeared to be…well…a whole bunch of angelic beings singing praises to God, standing around in the room. Ralph, lying on his bed, began to cry, lightly at first, and then harder and harder. He would sob and gasp for breath, wailing loudly.

Ida May came into the room and slowly the angles began to fade from my sight. Ralph looked up at Ida and said, “I just had a dream. I saw Jesus hanging violently from the cross. The nails were ripping huge holes into his hands. Pain and agony were all over his face. He looked directly at me and said, ‘I did this for you because I love you. Was it all in vain?’”

As a created being, I recognize who God is. I only wish that I could have been a human, so that I could have a chance to be saved also. I know that my story seems a little impossible to believe. As a matter of fact, it took me over two years before I had the nerve to tell it.

Ralph is now a recovered alcoholic, and a Sunday school teacher at the Baptist Church in town. I sure do hate to end this story, but Babe is looking me over from across the barnyard and I imagin, imadgin, well, I reckon that I’d better skedaddle.

Dedicated to John Erickson, author of Hank the Cowdog.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Excerpt from "Justice," The Novel

These few lines come from a novel I'd written many years ago about a small town in West Texas named, Justice.

“...Last night I dreamt that there was a woman who started painting with water colors under a tree. She was painting a squirrel that was gathering nuts. Although the painting started exceptionally well, it developed problems because the squirrel kept moving around. Before long, she had made quite a mess of her painting. However, being persistent, she kept trying to cover her mistakes. Soon she was to the point of tears and cried out, ‘God, hurry and help me fix this before that rain cloud comes’. Shortly, drops started to fall and she became desperate for God to help her fix her horrible painting. When it started sprinkling heavier, she became mad and yelled at God, ‘Why couldn’t You help me, just this once?’ In utter despair, she threw the painting out in the grass and sat under a tree crying. After a time the storm passed. Soaked to the bone, she went out to reclaim her disaster. To her delight, the rain had completely washed the canvass clean. Then she heard God’s voice, ‘You asked me for help, now I’ve given you a clean start.’”

Friday, November 9, 2007


In honor of Veteran's Day, I submit the following.


Artillery shells screamed overhead while explosions threw soil and rocks into the air. The ground was pock marked with the craters from spent munitions. Bodies from both armies lay scattered about, awkward and dangling, some still locked in the motions of a lost battle.

“MEDIC! MEDIC!” a terrified voice echoed in the darkness. When no reply came, the call was repeated in earnest, “MEDIC!”

A medic was kneeling, perched over the dying frame of a young soldier gasping greedily at his last breaths while moaning, “Mama” just before expiring. The medic rolled him back onto his stomach and responded to the panicked voice calling him. He found the young man lying in a crater clinging to a dismembered leg.

The young man gratefully acknowledged him, “Man, I thought you were hit, too. I’ve been calling you for five minutes now.” A shell exploded a few feet away, showering them with debris. The constant thumping of the tank mounted 50 Caliber was silenced as an anti-tank round lifted the Sherman violently off the ground. It slammed into the rocks and exploded, flinging shrapnel across the battlefield.

The medic involuntarily closed his eyes and ducked his head in response to the explosion. The young man struggled to sit up and see what was happening. “Lie still, Thompson. There is nothing more you can do out there.” At that, Thompson lay back and closed his eyes.

“How bad is it?” He swallowed.

“Bad enough.” The medic was seasoned. Very little surprised him anymore. His uniform bore the blood of two-dozen soldiers who had valiantly paid the highest price for freedom.

“Will I loose the leg?” Thompson still had not opened his eyes.

“You already have.” He spat tobacco on the ground and fumbled with a tourniquet.

Thompson smiled, “Not much on small talk, eh?”

“Too much to do.” He spat again.

“I knew that I already lost it.”

“Then why didja ask?”

“I was just trying to keep some of my sanity. Talking kind of helps.”

“Well, the worst is done, you can relax now.”

“Let me guess. I’ve lost a lot of blood…” His voice was getting weak and he never finished his sentence. The medic repositioned him and retightened his bandages. He then low crawled to the edge of the crater and peered over the top. The artillery had stopped and somewhere a .30 caliber machine gun fired sporadically. Smoke and fire enveloped the night air. No one was calling for him.

Silently, he stole through the darkness and rechecked every soldier, stopping a moment longer with Lieutenant Chandler. They were all dead. Only he and Thompson remained, and Thompson was fading fast. Another stray explosion belched flame and metal from the burning tank. He was alone. Where was the enemy?

Thompson awoke an hour later. As his eyes opened, a hand covered his mouth, cutting off his air supply. He began to struggle but was too weak to make a difference. He rolled his eyes and saw that the medic was trying to keep him quiet. When he relaxed, he could hear the sound of wandering feet and clanking metal. The medic had a pistol drawn and was gripping a grenade in his left hand. The pin was dangling in his right index finger. After a few breathless minutes, the footsteps faded into the trees and they were alone again. Slowly the pin was replaced and the grenade was hung on his belt.

“Who was that?” Whispered Thompson.


“Was he by himself?”

“Roger. Apparently, they lost as many people as we did. He is the only one I have seen, and he was wounded.”

“What’s our status? Who’s in charge?”

He spat tobacco. “You and me, kid. We’re all that’s left.”

Thompson swallowed, “Even the… Lieutenant?”

“Roger that.”

“So, he died anyway.” His voice trailed off.

He watched the kid for a moment before acknowledging him, “what you did was brave.”

“How’s that again?”

“You saved his life, pushing him off that mine.”

“But he’s…”


“Yeah. You said that he didn’t make it.”

“He was shot a few minutes later. Their ambush was effective.” He spat tobacco again and listened in the night for any dangers. “They had us pinned down between the mine field and the river. Those bastards! Yesterday that road was clear, now it’s mined.” He spat. “Man, I hate those Krouts!”

Thompson tried to move but didn’t have the strength. “It’s their job. That’s what they do. They steal freedom, we restore freedom.”

“What makes you so optimistic? You lost your leg to them.”

“Because I have faith.”

“In what? God?” He was sarcastic.

“For starters. But I also have faith in freedom and democracy.”

“Fat lot of good it’s doing you now. You’ll be lucky to live.”

“But I have lived.” Thompson glanced over at him. “We haven’t met.” He held up his hand.

“Davis. I was just assigned to your platoon today.”

“Yeah, we lost our medic a week ago. He bought one at Normandy.”

“I heard.”

Thompson lifted his head. “You got any water?” Davis threw him a canteen.
“Man, I hate to loose the Lieutenant.”

“He seemed like a swell fellow.”

“He was the tops, a real good ol boy.”

Davis looked away. “He was grateful, by the way.”


“He said to say thanks for saving his life.”

“Weren’t nothing to it. Just part of the job.”

Davis stared at him unbelieving. “How can you say that? You will probably die saving a dead man.”

“Real pleasant fellow to have around, aren’t you, Davis?”

He spat. “So it seems. No need to hide the fact of death.”

“I agree. I'm not afraid to die.”

“I believe you.”

Thompson tried to sit up then relaxed, “well why not? I’ve lived my life according to my faith in God. There is no fear in death for me.”

“No one wants to die.” Davis’ gaze stole into the darkness. “I can see it in their eyes. I watched two-dozen boys die tonight. None of them wanted it.”

“Shoot, I don’t want to die.”

“But you just said…”

“I said that I wasn’t scared to die.” He thought a moment. “I have a girl at home and I want to see her again.”

“Where is she from?”

Thompson’s grin lit his face, “She’s from my home town, Justice, Texas, population: none.”

Davis studied that a moment. “It’s too bad you won’t. See her, that is.”

“Maybe someday.” Thompson closed his eyes. Davis was quiet for a while. A faint glow emanated from the left over husk of the tank. All was quiet. Clouds were gathering and a cool breeze was blowing.

“Why would you do that?”

Thompson stirred. “Do what?”

“Throw yourself on a landmine. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Sure I did. It was my responsibility.”

“What?” He was taken aback.

He nodded, “Sure. The Lieutenant has a wife and children at home. I don’t. They needed him to get home to them. Besides, I live my life ready to die. It’s kind of natural for me, sort of.”

“But that’s just it, it’s not natural. You have a life also, and a right to live it.”

“However, the Lieutenant's life was more important than mine. He was trying to find the meaning to life; I had already found it.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“I’m not afraid to die.”

“So you said.”

Thompson’s voice grew faint. “It’s true. I would do the same for you…” He passed out. When he awoke, he was in a shallow trench.

“Just lie still. I tried to move you, but your wounds started to bleed again.”

“You should leave me here and try to save yourself.”

“You really expect me to leave you?”

“You said yourself that I was dying.”

“You are. But you’re not dead yet.”

“You mean that you believe that I could still be saved?” Thompson coughed.

Davis hissed at the sudden noise and peered over the edge of the trench. Once satisfied that they were still alone, he dug into his pocket and pulled out a plug of tobacco, biting off a large chunk before responding. “There is a little hope, but not much.”

“I am not afraid to die, and I believe that you could be saved. Go on and get out of here. It’s the same thing as me throwing myself on a grenade.”


“Then maybe you do understand why I saved the Lieutenant.”

“It ain't the same. He’s dead now.”

“God knew that he was going to die when I saved him.”

“But it was in vain. He is still dead.”

Thompson swallowed. “Yes, but he died knowing that he mattered to someone.”

“And you won’t.”

“I already knew it.” He was dizzy and started to drift. “Now be saved. Go…”

“Shh, I hear something.” Davis cocked his pistol. A footstep scrapped some gravel behind them and a soldier wearing a German helmet leapt at them. Davis sprang to his feet but the enemy grabbed him and threw him backward and he hit his head. Dazed, Davis lay stunned for a moment trying to get his eyes to focus. The German glanced at Thompson and perceived no threat from him. He pulled out his knife and advanced toward Davis.

Thompson grabbed a stick and miraculously managed to stand up on one foot. He leaned forward and fell into the enemy and knocked him to the ground. The enemy was already wounded, but found the strength to roll Thompson off him and thrust his knife into Thompson’s chest. Three bullets tore holes through the German’s shirt and he fell face first into the dirt. Davis rushed over to Thompson who was gurgling blood as he breathed. “You fool, why did you do that?”


“Damn you, I’m not, I tell you. I am not worth it.”

“But I won’t…be damned…not me…maybe not…you…either.” Suddenly, a light came into his eyes. “Oh my,” he said in astonishment. “I’m not afraid to die.” Then he died. Davis, being saved, stumbled out of the trench and started back to safety.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Decision Maker Finale

Isaac had stopped his presentation while the women were absent. “Are you ready to continue, Rose?” She nodded yes and the reporter stopped filling in for the down time and prepared to listen. “The day my wife and daughter were killed changed my life forever. I swore an oath to my God that I would find their murderers and bring them to justice. I have to admit, I don’t hold myself to my oath, because I came to realize that my God never existed. What kind of God would allow the holocaust to occur? Nevertheless, I am committed to stay my course. After many decades of searching, I have finally found my wife’s killers.” He pointed over at the Heinz brothers who were still kneeling on the floor.

Chief Gray pulled off his gag and asked, “Is that true? How can you be certain?”

Isaac nodded, “Finally, you say something that matters.” He walked over to the two old men. “The two killers had a special mark on their shoulders, a tattoo. Not just any tattoo, but the tattoo of the Nazi storm troopers, complete with swastika.” He pulled a knife from his boot and held the knife menacingly at them. Rose gasped as he grabbed their shirts and cut them from their bodies, exposing their backs. Each of them bore the tattoo of the Nazi storm troopers. The cameraman leaned forward and zoomed in on them.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the two of the three killers of my wife and daughter. One of them held their arms while another shot them. The Blitz Brothers.”

“But they are the Heinz brothers.” Chief Gray interjected.

“When they fled Europe after the Allies destroyed the 3rd Reich, they changed their names and started over. All along, you never knew that there were killers in your midst.”

Cato held up a hand, “You said that there were three. Who is the third?”

Isaac waved a dismissing hand at him, “Don’t concern yourself with that. I found the three of them hiding in Argentina, amongst all the Jewish refugees, trying to blend in with the very people they so hated. When I finally tracked them down, I found Ruben at Pan de Azucar, a small mountain village near Cordoba. After I presented my evidence to the village, they hung him in the tree on the square. That was in ten years ago. David and Adolph fled to the United States and have been in hiding until today.” He turned his attention to the chief, “I understand that you are friends with these killers?” Chief Gray swallowed hard, but couldn’t find an answer. “Don’t worry, Hans Goldbaum, I am not looking for you today.”

“Hans Goldbaum? Who is that?”

“Miss Kincaid, that is the real name of Chief Gray. He changed his name when he came to the United States. He was only a boy, but he aided the Germans by trading them information for food and lodging. He was one of the Jews who betrayed my family and our hiding place.”

Chief Gray had nothing to say. His face was ashen and for once, he was unable to speak. He was acutely aware that the TV camera was focused on him.

Cato spoke again, breaking the awkward silence. “So, what do you intend to do?”

“Oh, I intend to bring them to justice. They will meet with the death penalty today.” He walked over to the brothers and held up his pistol. “Do you have any last words?”

The Germans spoke to each other in Spanish and then spoke back to him in German. “Ah, so you choose to remain the swine you are. Very well, have it your way.” He pointed the gun at David’s head.

“Mr. Jacobs?”

The gun never wavered, “Yes, Mr. Cato, do you have something to say?”

“Well, I reckon that these two fellows are guilty, just like you said. What can I do to save them the death sentence?”

“Why would you want to spare them?”

“Because all of us have sinned. There isn’t any of us that could pick up a stone and cast it at these two. We are all guilty of the same thing.”

“You have murdered, Mr. Cato? I find that highly improbable.”

“Well, the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not commit murder,’ but Jesus said that if we hate anyone that we have committed murder in our hearts. I’ll bet that every person in this room has hated someone at some point in their lives, right?” He turned to the crowd, who sat dumbfounded. “What about you, Rose? Who have you hated?”

“The father of my baby.”

“What about you, Miss Kincaid?”

“Well, I hate all men.”

“Fair enough.”

“What about you, Mr. Cato?” Rose asked.

“I spent most of my time hating God.”

Isaac turned around, clearly surprised, “God? I thought you said you were at peace with God.”

“I am now. There was a time in my past that I hated God. A few years ago, I was a fifth generation rancher, right here in Texas. My family had owned the Cato Cattle Company, the 3C Ranch, every since Texas has been a state. They fought Indians and Mexicans to maintain it. Then they fought West Texas weather. My family’s blood and sweat bought and maintained that country. But a few years ago, when the droughts started, I lost everything. I lost my children’s inheritance and I lost the family legacy. I prayed everyday that God would intervene, but He didn’t. I believed in Him up to the day they served me with the foreclosure papers. What I didn’t know was that God was allowing a work of redemption to take place in my heart. You see, I just thought I was a Christian because I went to the Baptist church, but that wasn’t enough. Just like sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car. I had to find myself at the bottom to find redemption. I had nowhere else to go expect to God.”

“I assume that you have a point, Mr. Cato.”

“Well, sir. It seems to me that we have all committed murder in God’s sight. We are all guilty of breaking His law. We all deserve death. Including you, Isaac.”

“That may be, Mr. Cato, but I have lived my entire life expecting to kill these two gentlemen, and I fully intend to do so. Someone will die today.”

“Then I will take their place, just like Jesus took my place. Don’t you see? Jesus made it possible for us to be saved, because he paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I don’t know why God allowed the holocaust to happen. I just know that God was there. Sometimes He doesn’t make sense. Our ways aren’t His ways and our thoughts aren’t His thoughts. I can’t explain why bad things like wars and ethnic cleansings take place, except that we are all sinners, but I can tell you that God will forgive us of our sins. Even the Blitz Brothers, yourself included, Mr. Jacobs.”

“Oh, it’s much too late for me, Mr. Cato.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, sir. But it will be too late when you die of cancer. You are no better than those two murderers. You have committed the same crime. The only difference is that their crime hurt more people than yours. You are just as guilty as they are. And all of you need God’s forgiveness, just as I did.”

Isaac considered his words for a moment. Was it possible? He had given up on God so many years before, could it be that God hadn’t given up on him? There was so much hatred spilling its venom deep into his soul. Not only had he hated the Germans, he had also hated God, whom he held responsible for the demise of so many devout Jews. Where was God during the holocaust? “Mr. Cato, where was God during the holocaust? Why did He abandon us to death and destruction?”

“I don’t know. I’m not a theologian. What I do know is this, God was there. It’s hard to imagine, but it is true. It was bad enough as it was, can you imagine what it would have been like without Him? The holocaust wasn’t the first time that the Jews were persecuted. Remember what happened with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They also were burned alive, just not by the Nazis, but by a different regime, the Babylonians. Those three might have lived through it, but how many of their brethren were slaughtered by the Babylonians? What about the Egyptians? They also enslaved the Jews for their own selfish purposes. After all of these came the Romans. But God was there for them. I don’t have an answer for you, except that God will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“You make a most persuasive argument, Mr. Cato. Yet, I am not willing that these men should go free. What do you propose?”

“If they are guilty, then I don’t want them to go free either. If they are guilty, then they must stand and give an account of their lives. Even when we ask God for forgiveness, there are still consequences for our actions. Allow the law to bring these men to justice. Isaac, one day soon you will die, then you will face the Throne of Judgment. I am more concerned that when you are brought to justice before God that you are found innocent. The only way to do that is to repent of your sins and trust in the blood of Jesus and allow Him to forgive you.”

Silence encompassed the group, each of whom sat with their heads bowed deep in thought. The camera continued to record, but the reporter could not bring himself to break the silence. Isaac appeared to be struggling within himself, fighting for control. Yet, Cato’s words had burned deep within his heart, ripping the calluses off his seared conscience. For so many years, one desire consumed him – kill. Cato’s words rang true, vibrating through every tissue, into the core of his being.

Adolph Blitz sighed deeply and almost slumped to the floor, then righted himself and spoke softly, “I’m glad its over.”

David spoke harshly in his native tongue, but Adolph ignored his warning. “No, David, its over. I’m very tired of the nightmares. I want them to end. I’m tired of running.” He looked at Isaac, who still lorded over them, pistol drawn. “Mr. Jacobs, my apology is pitiful compared to my sins, but I still offer it. I was the one who held your wife that night. David shot her. Up to that point, I had not killed or seen anyone killed. But I realized that I was now a part of…. Somehow, I thought that I was serving God. But… I was wrong. I allowed anonymity to conceal my desire to be important, but it only created more thirst for power. Everyday, I remember my actions and everyday I wish to be forgiven. If only it was possible. Please kill me; I don’t deserve to live. That is all I have to say.”

Cato stood and walked over to Isaac. “Mr. Jacobs? It’s over. No one is going to die today.” He reached for the gun and carefully removed it from his non-responsive fingers. “Let the court decide their fate. After all, you still have to stand before God in judgment. I think you have enough to consider with your own guilt without playing Judge also.”

Isaac’s hands trembled as the hatred began to melt within him. He nodded at Cato, then, suddenly old, sat carefully in a chair and waited for the police to end his hostage situation.

The reporter kneeled down beside him, “Isaac? I promise that I will tell your story. I will be a voice for you; I will find a way to help you.”

Isaac smiled gratefully, “Thank you, but my life is over soon enough. For the first time, I now have to worry about my future.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Decision Maker Part II

“By the time the ethnic cleansings began to take place, it was too late for those of Jewish descent to escape to South America. Many of my family members fled Germany just ahead of the Nazis and settled in Argentina, in the mountains near Cordoba. However, I waited, trying to sell my business interests and…” His voice cracked and he wiped a tear from his eyes. “And it cost me everything.

“Our neighbors, who were Austrians, hid our family for many months, just like the stories of Anne Frank. However, their story did not come out so remarkably. The Nazis conducted a house-to-house search and discovered my family in the basement, hidden among the wines in the cellar. For their efforts at humanity, our neighbors were shot in their own driveway and we were led away in chains.

“As the storm troopers were dragging my children to a truck waiting nearby, my wife screamed out and grabbed for little Gretchen, who was so…small.” He stopped and blew his nose into a handkerchief. “I’m sorry, some wounds even time can’t heal. Let’s see, where was I? They shot my wife and little Gretchen. My children watched them die. Hydrant was so upset that she never spoke again. She would stare into the sky and she refused to eat. Not that they offered to feed her enough to stay alive. She was too small to survive life in a camp, all of them were. After a few months, I…” He stopped and gasped for air, as if he had run a marathon to get here. “I began to pray that God would allow my children to die, so that they might be spared such misery.” He glanced over at the hostages, the women were each clutching tissues. “I was separated from my children, but I could see them across the compound every morning as I reported for work. We could all hear our children as they cried out for us daily. Most of the older girls were to become sex slaves, while the older boys were simply shot or made to work. The younger were used for experiments and as…” his voice drifted and he never finished his thought.

“They made us do meaningless work. We were made to move a mountain of dirt from one side of the compound to the other. The next day, we moved that same pile of dirt to its original site. The next day we repeated the cycle. This went on for months. After a few weeks, Alan Schmidt, an old rabbi, began to cry as he picked up his shovel. He couldn’t stand the meaningless task that he was forced to perform daily. He broke down and a guard shot him in the head. A few days latter, several men screamed out and made a mad, hopeless dash for the perimeter fence. They were also gunned down. This went on until the German scientists had observed our reactions enough to try a new experiment.” He stopped talking and looked deep into the camera. “Are you recording?”

The reporter nodded solemnly and replied, “We are live. Every house in America is watching you and listening to your story.”

“Excellent. Allow me to take a moment and reveal that I am working alone; no one is helping me orchestrate this event. Mr. Cato has chosen to help me keep the peace within our prison, but he is acting under my behest. In my custody, along with the chief and our news crew, I have eleven hostages, one of whom is pregnant. She will be released soon enough, along with most of those remaining.” He was silent for a moment as his hopeless eyes revealed that he was reliving a hell from many years past. “I watched my friends die every day. We were shot for eating breakfast. We were shot for not eating breakfast. Nothing could be done to ensure our survival. We were Jews, so they killed us. We were at their mercy.

“Do you remember the movie, Schindler’s List? That was a very sad movie for me to watch. I am so glad that those few were spared, but I am sorry that they had to live with the horror that they endured. The movie was accurate, but it was not graphic enough. You couldn’t smell the death that we smelt daily. We had no sanitation. We had no place for garbage. Sometimes, we would watch the scientists performing experiments on the dead before we were allowed to put them in the kilns for burning.

“My children died one by one, slowly starving to death. Those sweet, innocent…” he broke down and wept openly, wailing and mourning with pain unspeakable. “My children never had a chance to live. They were never given a chance to find out who they are. They might have been art lovers, or musicians. They might have been brilliant world leaders. They might have had families all their own and could have held their own children in their arms. Or sing to them as they fell asleep in the evening. Or to make a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a snowy morning…” he stopped to blow his nose. “But they were struck down before they ever had a chance to live. What kind of monster would destroy an innocent life, just for convenience?”

Rose lifted her hand and asked, “Excuse me, Isaac.”

Isaac, who had been speaking as if oblivious to the crowd at hand, seemed to return to the present with her question. “Yes, my dear?”

“I really need to find a bathroom. This little one is keeping me busy.” As she spoke, she rubbed her hand along her belly and seemed to be caressing her baby.

“Of course. Miss Kincaid, could you escort Rose to the lady’s room?”

Rose and Miss Kincaid were washing their hands and preparing to return to the scene of the crime. As they dried their hands, they both were loathsome to leave their sanctuary. “So, how far along are you?”

Rose looked up at the ceiling and tears welled in her eyes. “I am six months along.”

“Oh Dear, what’s the matter? Are you okay?”

“It’s just that, well… I don’t know what to do.” Rose held tissue to her face. “Miss, Kincaid, I…” she stopped speaking and began crying openly.

“Please, call me Marsha. What is it Rose? Is there something wrong with the baby?”

“No, its just that, well, I was raped six months ago. Every single day I think about the baby. Every day I think about, well, I think about…”

Marsha nodded sincerely, “You think about having an abortion, don’t you?” Rose nodded and started crying again. “Well, you certainly have the right to do so. It is your body and your choice.”

“But is it really? My choice?”

“Oh dear, of course it is. Women have suffered and sacrificed all over the world to ensure that you have the freedom to choose.”

“Have you ever?”

“Ever had an abortion?” Marsha stopped a moment and considered her answer. “I was fifteen. I was from a small town and it still wasn’t fully accepted for unwed mothers to have babies. I was scared and I made a decision.”

“What about your boyfriend?”

“He never knew. I never told him. In fact, I never told anyone, until now.”

“But what if your boyfriend had wanted to keep the baby?”

“It wasn’t his choice, it was mine.”

“But, it was his baby also.”

Marsha shook her head, “No, that’s not right. He wasn’t the one who had to carry it around with him all day. It was my choice alone.”

“But he was the baby’s father.”

“Look, Rose, its not a baby until its born. Until then its only a…”

“Lump of tissue?”


“Well, this lump of tissue is moving around and has a heart beat. How do I harden my heart enough to follow through with what I want to do?”

“You just remember the women who suffered and sacrificed to give you the choice.”

“And that was enough for you? You never thought about your baby again?”

Marsha hesitated, “Well, I thought about her, I mean, once in a while, but not much.”

“She was a girl?”

“It was tissue. Otherwise, I would have killed…” She fell to the floor and sobbed. “Oh my God! I killed my baby!” Rose gathered around her as she mourned the life that never was. After a few minutes, Marsha sat up and leaned into Rose. “I was always reminding myself that I was a strong woman and that I didn’t need anyone or anything. However, at night, I would hear a baby crying, in my dreams that is. I would see a new mother holding her child, smiling and playing. Now it is too late for me.”

Rose shook her head, “No, Marsha, you are still young enough to try again.”

Marsha bowed her head, “No, I can’t. The abortion left me unable to carry a baby. I can’t ever make up for my mistake.”

“Oh, Marsha, I am so sorry.” Together the women cried for a moment. “It was Isaac. He loved his children so much and he was so sorry that his kids were killed. I had decided to go to the clinic today. That is why I was here. I was making a withdraw to pay for the abortion. But he said that only a monster would kill a baby and never give it a chance to live, only for convenience. How selfish I would be to kill my baby just because I didn’t want it.”

Marsha stood up and stretched out her dress. “Well, Rose. You have a chance to make up for the wrong choice I made.” She helped Rose brush off her sweater. “Isaac made a very strong argument, didn’t he?” They walked back to their seats in the lobby and everyone wondered at their red, swollen eyes.

More to follow this weekend......

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Decision Maker Part I

This is one of my favorite short stories. I first had the idea for this story when visiting the area in Argentina mentioned in the story line. We visited a Jewish settlement of war refugees, who were dead set against tolerating any Nazi presence. I really want to develop this story line into a full length novel, and I've been tinkering with that idea for a little more than a year...

Before we start the story, thanks to all of you who made an appearance at the Chonda Pierce/Phillips, Craig, and Dean concert. We had a great time and a great turnout. I'll let you know when the next big event will be.

And now, without further adieu--

The Decision Maker

In a downtown bank, a gunman steps forward and takes the crowd hostage. The maneuver took only a matter of seconds to conclude as he fired a round into the ceiling, which immediately overwhelmed the stunned and scared security guard lounging by the water cooler in the corner by the vault. An alarm sounded, directly protesting the terrorist act, the gunman simply pointed to the guard who entered the code necessary to disable the blaring, violent noise.

He stepped forward and demanded that the hysterical crowd remain calm until all of his grievances could be addressed, as if the crowd would immediately return to hysterics once his concerns were settled. After a space of five seconds, the crowd stopped wailing and he had their attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Isaac Jacobs and I am not here to rob you, so please don’t do anything rash that will jeopardize you or your neighbor’s safety. You have become unwilling participants in a social experiment. However, after a few minutes of discomfort, I will gladly release you and you will leave unharmed. In a moment, the police will arrive, along with the media. I will address my concerns only after I have everyone’s full attention, as I don’t like to repeat myself more than necessary.

“As I mentioned before, I am not here to take your money or your valuables. I have a specific grievance that will be addressed shortly. Until then, please remain calm and try to make yourselves comfortable.” He walked along the length of the bank counting his hostages. “There are twenty-two of you present, including employees. I intended to act early, as the bank doors opened, to minimize the potential number of casualties. I tell you this so that you will be prepared to answer questions of the authorities after I am removed from power. There are only twenty-two of you present. Please remember that number. Only twenty-one of you will be leaving, as one of you will die in this incident.”

The crowd began to shift and mummer among themselves as the information of one casualty sunk in. Each prisoner began to wonder who would be the one unlucky victim until a man stepped forward. He was wearing a cowboy hat and appeared to be in his early fifties. “Sir? If I may?” He held up his hand until Isaac noticed him. “I would like to volunteer to be the one prisoner to die.” A gasp echoed through the crowd as this man gallantly surrendered his life to the madman. “I mean, I don’t really know these people, but I have lived a happy life and I am at peace with my God. After all, Jesus died for me; I am willing to die for others.”

Isaac nodded to the man. “I am very pleased to have your generous and unsolicited offer. Your character is to be commended. However, I have already selected my prey.” He redirected his attention to the entire crowd. “I now want all of you to step forward slowly and form a single file line, please stand about three feet apart.”

The first person to stand was a woman who appeared to be around forty years old, “I am the bank president, I am responsible for everything that happens here, and I will be the first.” She glanced over at the cowboy as if to tell him that his gallantry was wasted on a liberated woman. A line formed behind her until all twenty-two people stood in an orderly line. He examined the crowd and pointed to two elderly gentlemen in the middle. “I would like for the two of you to go last, if you please. That way I can determine how the events will unfold.” He watched as they complied with his orders and took their position at the back of the line. “Very good. Now, I want you to step forward one at a time, beginning with Mrs…. I am sorry, I don’t know your name.”

The bank president glared at him. “Misses Kincaid,” with special emphasis on misses.

“Yes, of course, Miss Kincaid.” He nodded politely to her and addressed the crowd. “What I want you to do is rather unpleasant, but important, if I am able to ensure your safety. Please don’t argue with me or misinterpret my intentions. This is simply a matter of safety. Okay now, beginning with Miss Kincaid, I want each of you to step forward and undress down to your delicates and place your clothes on this table.” He touched the top of the table and rapped on it once for good measure.

The crowd balked at such a ridiculous instruction until Isaac waved his gun in their faces. “I want to remind you that, even though I am a gentleman by nature, I am a now a fugitive by definition. I do hold a weapon for a specific purpose.”

The cowboy held up his hand. “Sir?”

Isaac immediately recognized him, “Please, what is it?”

“Well, it seems to me that no gentleman would force these women to take off their clothes in front of this crowd or yourself. Not to mention the fact that a gentleman would not take a crowd hostage at gunpoint.”

“Thank you for your observation, Mr.?”


“Thank you for your observation, Mr. Cato. However, you are at a distinct disadvantage of not realizing my motivations. With time, I will correct that problem. However, for now, I don’t have the means or resources to allow these women the luxury of modesty. I am afraid that you will all have to look away to ensure what privacy that might afford. Now, Miss Kincaid, I am sure that a liberated woman such as you will be the first to step forward and be processed. Unless you prefer Mr. Cato to be first.”

“I am sure that I will manage,” she sighed and stepped forward. She quickly undressed and placed her clothing on the table in front of Isaac.

“If you would please step back until I can examine your clothing to ensure that you don’t hold a weapon.” He picked through her skirt and blouse. Once satisfied that she was unarmed, he instructed her to turn a full circle with her arms outstretched. Isaac never looked at her vulnerable body in a vulgar or lustful manner, and returned her clothing, designating a place for her to stand against a wall, completely segregated from the unsearched crowd. After she was dressed he asked, “I would think that the police would have responded by now. It has been at least five minutes.” As he spoke, the sirens were heard approaching. “Good! Now hurry up, I will be very busy in a moment.” He pointed at Cato, who pulled off his boots and stopped moving.

“Mr. Cato, are you so modest that you risk your own life, or are you simply proud and stubborn?”

Cato shrugged, “Actually, I am just a cowboy. As any other good cowboy, I have a pistol in my belt. I just didn’t want to surprise you and have someone get hurt.”

“Very good, sir. I applaud your thoughtfulness. Please retrieve your weapon and place it on the table and back away until I have recovered it.” Cato did as he was instructed and continued to undress. The crowd silently grinned at him as he revealed his heart covered boxer shorts. He blushed and hurried to the corner to get dressed.

Isaac processed five people without comment until a young woman stepped forward and began to undress. “Just a moment young lady. The police will be calling any second and I must speak with them post haste.” Almost on cue, the phone in the lobby rang and Isaac instructed Mr. Cato to answer. He spoke long enough to identify himself as a hostage and handed the phone to Isaac.

“This is Isaac Jacobs. I am responsible for the activities taking place. I assure you that no harm will come to these hostages. Once the media has fully responded, please return this call and I will discuss our situation. Until then, please rest assured that everything is under control here.” He hung up the phone and addressed the young woman. “Okay, please continue.”

She hesitated and glanced out the window at the activities on the street. Realization came to Isaac and he nodded. “Yes, of course you are right. Mr. Cato, would you please close the blinds and allow us more privacy? I am sure that we don’t want a sniper to shoot into the windows and accidentally kill a hostage. You can rest assured that the media won’t be filming your undressing.”

He gave full attention to the young woman while she undressed. “You are pregnant? How far along are you?”

“Six months tomorrow.” She looked at the floor.

“I am sure that you must be proud. Is it a boy or a girl?”

“I don’t want to know.” She never looked at him while he talked to her.

“Keeping it a surprise? Well, that was how we did things when my little ones where born. Of course, in the 1940’s we had no choice.” He laughed at his joke and ushered her to the searched wall. He searched ten more hostages until the phone rang again. Mr. Cato walked over and answered after Isaac pointed to him. He politely handed the phone over.

“This is Isaac Jacobs, with whom am I speaking? Okay, Chief Gray, am I right to assume that you have never handled a hostage situation before…? Yes, it will be my first time also. However, I have planned this scenario many times and I am fully convinced that no one will be injured unnecessarily, if no one gets careless or anxious…. Yes, I am holding twenty-two hostages…. No one has been injured yet…. I am now conducting a search for weapons. When I am finished, I will call you and we will discuss this situation.” He hung up the phone. “Mr. Cato? Would you please get a chair for this young lady who is pregnant, what is your name?”

“Rose.” She spoke softly without looking up. Mr. Cato complied and carried a chair to Rose. She sat down gratefully. He searched his prisoners until the last two elderly men stood in front of him. He stripped them down but did not return their clothing. Instead, he made them stand together and ordered them to remove their t-shirts, revealing a tattoo on both of their right shoulders. Isaac instructed them to kneel and approached them from behind. Their tattoos where identical.

He left them kneeling and picked up the phone, dialing Chief Gray. “This is Isaac Jacobs. Here is our situation; I want you to allow one representative of the various media groups to accompany you or your designated officer. If possible, please select the representative for Fox News, as they are the most reputable of those that are available. I want them ready to record our negotiations and document everything that happens. In exchange, I will release half of my hostages. If you or anyone enters this bank with a weapon, I will randomly kill a hostage and the person holding the weapon…. Yes, I will release them as your party approaches the entryway.”

True to his word, Isaac released eleven hostages as the entourage approached the bank. As they exited the building, Chief Gray excitedly motioned them to run to safety, as if the hostages had no clue what they were supposed to do. The chief stared musingly at the security guard running past him. His pistol had been replaced into his holster. After determining that the former hostages where safe, Chief Gray resumed his march to meet with Isaac Jacobs. When he entered the lobby, he was shocked to see his life long friends, David and Adolph Heinz naked and kneeling on the floor.

“Please come in, my name is Isaac Jacobs, and these are my hostages. I assume that you are Chief Gray.” He smiled warmly at them and motioned them to stand along the wall with the other hostages. “You gentlemen may set up your equipment over there. Mr. Cato, would you please find some chairs for the rest of our guests?” He watched carefully as Mr. Cato collected chairs from the entire bank lobby.

While the chairs were gathered, Chief Gray spoke, “Mr. Jacobs, you have placed us all in a very irregular situation…”

“Chief, please!” Isaac interrupted. “If you would wait for a moment, I will explain everything once we are all settled.” They watched as the chairs were gathered and everyone was seated, except for Isaac, who paced in front of them as if contemplating his next move. As soon as the news crew was in place, Isaac prepared to continue, but Chief Gray burst out, “Mr. Jacobs, I insist that you surrender immediately. You can’t possibly expect to live through this if you…”

“Chief, please! Am I going to be forced to gag you in order for you to maintain your silence?” The hostages glared at the chief in disapproval of his outburst. Isaac had behaved properly and had shown no aggressive tendencies. He had managed to gain their cautious trust for the moment. He sighed deeply as if troubled to answer the charges put forth by Chief Gray. “For your information, shortly after I committed to my present course of action, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I have cancer in my lymph nodes. I am afraid that I will die shortly, regardless of our outcome today.

“Now, where was I? Oh yes, at the beginning. What a proper start. I was born in Germany in 1913, shortly before the Great War. My father was killed in action along the Marne River while combating American infantrymen…”

“Surely you can’t hold us personally responsible for actions that took place before the majority of us were born.”

Isaac glanced over at Cato, who nodded and pulled a bandana out of his vest pocket. “Sorry, Chief, but I am afraid that you’re going to get us all killed because you can’t seem to shut up and listen. Now, I don’t intend to tie your hands, but I’m going to gag you. Do us all a favor and listen for a while.” The chief swallowed hard, but submitted to the cowboy. The hostages nodded in approval.

Isaac continued, “No, chief, I do not hold you responsible for my father’s death. My father died protecting his country’s right to be sovereign, however misguided it might have been. I married at an early age and had my first child, a girl, in 1930. My wife, Hilda, named her Hydrant. She was the joy of my life and we loved to fly kites together in the park, along with her brothers and sisters. In all, we had five children, Wolfgang, Manfred, William, and Gretchen, in that order. Gretchen was born in 1935, shortly before the 3rd Reich rose to power in Germany.” As he spoke, he glanced over at the Heinz brothers, who were staring at the floor.

“By the time the ethnic cleansings began to take place, it was too late for those of Jewish descent to escape to South America. Many of my family members fled Germany just ahead of the Nazis and settled in Argentina, in the mountains near Cordoba. However, I waited, trying to sell my business interests and…” His voice cracked and he wiped a tear from his eyes. “And it cost me everything."

To Be Continued

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Airplane Mechanic Humor

Sometimes after we deal with dense, heavy issues, it's good to unwind a little and laugh a lot. So, I'm going to offer you material that is not written by me. I can almost hear the clapping from here..

For those of you that live close to Snyder, Texas area, which is roughly halfway between Abilene, Texas and Midland, Texas---I'm going to be doing a book signing at the Chonda Pierce/Phillips, Craig, and Dean Concert this Thursday (10/25). I would love to see my Texas friends if you could come by and say hello. For more info on the book signing, see my website:

Anyway, here is some light reading material....

Airplane mechanic humor

Remember it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one. Reassurance for those of us who fly routinely in our jobs.

After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a "gripe sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.

By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.


P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to: straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last..................

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.