14 September 2018

Chicks Dig Me: The Life of Man Adored by Women


After a dental appointment I went to the bus stop. The wait was 12 minutes. If I waited there was a pretty young Latina college student who might have developed feelings for me. Ones I could not have in good conscience reciprocated. So I walked home. Poor kid missed out. She was wearing those tight yoga pants that a lot of young women use to try to lure me. I’m wise to their game. I’m a very happily married man and simply don’t allow comely lasses to tempt me into adultery. I’d just break their hearts anyway. I don’t know why young women throw themselves at me, but I learned long ago to accept it as a fact of life. I’m considerably older than most but I suppose that my obvious experience in the ways of love is attractive to women who tire of unsubtle, unsophisticated men their age pawing at them. I’ve also maintained my boyish good looks and smoldering sexuality. I’m a runner so am quite fit and this shows. I also have to surmise that women instinctually realize that I am a man of superior intelligence and great wit. My charm speaks for itself. My wife is well aware of the effect I have on women and has accepted it. She is proud of me and knows I’ll never stray (perhaps excepting a visit from Rihanna or Kristen Stewart).

It’s fair to ask if I’ve always been irresistible to the fairer sex and the answer is: indubitably. When I was quite young it was, the opposite of today as it was older females who were drawn to me. I remember as a toddler being pursued by seven and eight year old girls. This was not ideal for someone just out of diapers as my pursuers frightened me. By the time I was in kindergarten I was a man of the world and the constant attention I received from older girls was something I found flattering, plus I knew enough to act on their overtures. By the third grade I was getting attention from junior high girls and had a full social calendar. Being the catch that I was girls knew that they’d have to buy me dinner and bring me gifts if I were to consider them worthy of my increasingly precious time.

By the time I hit junior high school I was dating 17 and 18 year olds and even some university students who found the risk of impugning the morals of a child worth it for the chance to savor my presence. I struggled through high school, so preoccupied was I by fighting off the hordes of females of all ages who were competing for my affections. When I started excelling in soccer the numbers of my pursuers increase many fold and at our matches the sidelines were jammed with women lusting after me.

I escaped to another city for college hoping for a respite from love crazed females who saw me as the embodiment of masculine perfection. However a new town simply meant a new group of women seeking my companionship. At least in college I finally settled on dating women my own age. I tried a year abroad to relieve myself of the women swooning at my feet. But Europe proved much the same. British women, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Finnish, Danish, Italian, no matter what country, no matter where I turned no matter what I did there were women begging me for a date, a lock of my hair, a one-night stand all while pledging eternal devotion.

It was not until I married that I achieved relief. My eventual wife was one of my most ardent pursuers who literally punched, kicked and slapped her competition to get to me. I admired her determination and found that of all the thousands of women I’d been with, she was the most intelligent, compatible and beautiful. For once I was in love too.

Of course it hasn’t all been perfect since we married. Despite the prominence of my wedding ring and my advancing age there have been those many, many, many determined lasses who hope against hope that they can be the one to at last coax me into infidelity. It hasn’t worked yet.

If you’re wondering, no it has not been an easy life. You would think the constant attention of beautiful women would be heaven on earth, but a man needs rest, he needs time alone and once he is married he needs his sacred wedding vows respected. On the other hand having women forever falling head-over-heals for me has done wonders for my ego. Also, I had what one might call the pick of the litter and was able to find the perfect mate. She is a woman not only of eternal beauty but of strong character who realizes that tens of thousands of women are jealous of her. One can only speculate at how privileged she feels to be the one and only who lays claim to my heart.

I’ll have to close here, I’m being told its time for my medication. The doctors and nurses here are so nice. The females of whom all clearly have crushes on me.

09 September 2018

A Piece of My Heart on the Floor

Jenna and I in happier times
There was a piece of my heart lying there on the kitchen floor. Jenna had just cut it out executing this action with a nasty twist. I supposed it could be replaced some day but for the moment it felt like the damage was irreversible and permanent. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t move. I could only just barely breath.

Jenna was still there as if admiring the precision of her butchery. Her face was in a sympathetic frown, yet her arms were crossed creating a feeling of great distance between us. She was feigning concern for my well-being and one would assume probably felt a bit of guilt over the damage she had inflicted. I looked up at her and she’d never seemed so beautiful nor so ugly. I opened my mouth to speak but I could no more make an utterance than do a standing back flip.

“Is there something you want to say, Dirk? You can say whatever you need to. I’m listening.”

I could say whatever I needed to. How kind, how gracious, how thoughtful of her to grant me permission, to recognize my free will.

“Maybe, you want to talk later? I understand this is difficult.”

Difficult? She really acknowledged that this was “difficult?” Well it was for me, for her it seemed a rather simple matter. I wondered why she didn’t just stomp on that chunk of my heart that she had eviscerated. Why was she now being so superficially thoughtful?

My knees were weak, my body felt drained of blood, my fingers trembled. I was more zombie than man. The living dead, stuck in the same room as the murderer.

“Look, Dirk, would you prefer it if I left? We can talk later if you like. I’ll have to come back tomorrow to get the rest of my things. Promise me you’ll be okay.”

Jenna wanted a promise from me? She who had broken so many. And why would she care if I was “okay”? She was the one who had inflicted the damage.
I was growing weak at the knees so I sat down. I looked up at Jenna who was still looking beautiful/ugly, still frowning with fake sympathy and still keeping her arms folded.

“Please say something, Dirk.”

Oh, so she wanted me to say something. That was what SHE needed. I’d be doing her a big favor by talking. The guilt must have really wrapped itself around her. It’s coils and tentacles strangling what little conscience she had. I had half a mind to keep my big trap shut, that would really be doing a number on her. But at the same I wanted her gone and it seemed the only way to rid myself of her was by saying “something.” And so I did.

“Bye, Jenna.”

“Okay. That’s it? You don’t need to say anything else right now?”

I looked up Jenna and shook my head no.

“Fine,” she said flippantly, as if I was being a total asshole. “I’ll be going then.”

I sighed and looked down at the floor.

“I’ll probably come by fairly early tomorrow morning to get my things, if that’s okay.”

“Sure,” I muttered.

With a flash, obviously feeling released as a result of my finally speaking, Jenna was out the door.

It seemed an obvious time for me to break into huge sobbing fit. I cry fairly easily, especially for a man. But with a piece of my heart out I was totally beret of feeling other than a numbness, as if death was approaching and I was settling into it. So I sat there on a chair in the kitchen staring at the floor. It needed mopping, I noted. I also noted that I had never felt such hate for a person as I did now for Jenna. Nor, for that matter had I ever loved her as I did now. But surely the love would fade. So would the hate. In its place there would be a huge hole, right where she had ripped out that chunk of my heart.

For a minute or two I kidded myself that Jenna would be back, that it was all a mistake she’d made and any minute there she would be saying she was back for good and all. But in what was left of my heart I knew better.

I sat in the kitchen for what I guess was about an hour before I finally got up and I only did so because mother nature had called. I relieved myself, splashed my face and got ready for bed. A bed I would be entering and waking up in alone. Alone for the first time in four years.
That’s how long Jenna and I had been together. We had been so happy — or so I thought. Quarrels were few and far between and never serious. Much more frequent was love making, drives in the country, visits with friends, dinner at gourmet restaurants, long quiet evenings together talking or just reading or listening to the radio. I never thought for a second it would end. Yet it did all of a sudden, in one night.

A long affair with a professor, the professor got a divorce, the professor proposed, she said yes, all this under my nose, my stupid nose. How matter-of-factly Jenna told me all of this as if recounting a day at work. Yes, she apologized, acknowledged that it was a shock, claimed she hadn’t been happy with me the past year and was surprised I hadn’t seen the signs. Well I hadn’t. Hadn’t seen a thing. No signs. Not to me. She’d seemed happy enough and yes she’d been out of the house more but she was working on her Phd, I  thought she was doing research, not having an affair with a married man.

Live and learn.

The next day was bad. The day after a little better. And so on. Better by degrees each day but the hole in my heart remained and though the pain lessened it was still a consistent presence

Two weeks after Jenna left me the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The day after that I enlisted in the army. Here I was teaching three classes in English Literature, on the tenure track, probably not too many years from being a full professor and I was going off to war. I’d never have done it if Jenna hadn’t sliced open my heart. But I was damaged goods and there was little that could happen to me in war that would feel as bad as what that woman had done to me. The war would be my escape. My house was full of memories and so was virtually every restaurant in town and every friend I saw. Jenna permeated everything. The army, especially with a war going on, was the only antidote I could envision. An escape. To others I was being patriotic, noble, serving my country. But I realized that I was running away

Basic training is over as I write this and I’m headed to the Pacific. I’m a grunt, an infantryman and I’m ready for action. Maybe I’ll win a medal, maybe I’ll get killed by a sniper, maybe a leg will be blown off and maybe I’ll be taken prisoner and maybe I won’t see much action at all. Right now I don’t care. I’m going to accept my fate. If I come out of the war alive and in one piece I’ll…well, I don’t know really. That’s a ways off. Right now I’m a solider and I don’t know what’s next but whatever it is, I’m ready.

05 September 2018

Ben in the Afterlife; The Pesky Visits of a Dearly Departed



PART ONE

(This part was written last week, October 17, 2017.)

That gall durn Ben Slipowitz keeps pestering me. Sure he was the best damn friend a fella ever had but he’s been dead for 10 damn months. Why the hell can’t he leave me alone? Most every night, usually about nine o’clock he starts banging on the ceiling. I look up and there’s this dark mist with an outline of ole Ben’s face in it, soze I know it’s him. He winks at me too. Then he swoops and swirls around the cabin sometimes making this, I guess you’d say, cackling sound. After a few minutes everything gets quiet and then I see him plain as day sitting in a chair by the fireplace with his old hunting jacket on, the one with the blood stain when he cut himself skinning a rabbit. He’ll look over at me, smile from one darned ear to the other then he’s gone. Who needs that kind of aggravation?

Ben and I hunted and fished together for a good fifty years, since we was kids. Well we fished that long, we gave up hunting a few years back. Ben, why he got tired of all the work that went into hunting compared with fishing and me I just lost my taste for killing mammals. Sometimes another friend or my oldest boy or one of my cousins visiting from the city would join us, but most of the time it was just the two of us. Ben died of a whopper of a heart attack just under a year ago. Was tying his shoes right here in the cabin when all of a sudden like he stood up, put one hand to his chest and looked straight up with his mouth wide open in a silent scream. Then he dropped like a dang rock and hit the floor with a thud. Yeah I saw it all right and knew without a doubt he was goner when he fell. I checked for a pulse just the same and there was nothing doing. Dead just like that, 67 years old, same age as me. I aim to go on living a lot more years though don’t know that Ill make it if Ben don’t stop visiting me from the spirit world or wherever the hell he’s supposed to be. Damn him.

Ben had never married and was an orphan so I was his only family to speak of. I got divorced from my darling Rebecca four years ago. Once our kids growed up and left home all she and I did was argue. She’d always wanted to do one thing and I’d always want to do the other. Worse, she brought up every bad habit I ever had and raked me over the damn coals about everything. Nothin’ I did was ever right anymore and I supposedly wasn’t good enough for her. I half think Rebecca just went off her nut the way she talked. Anyway I was the one who suggested the divorce. I could tell the old battle axe was surprised but her pride made her agree to it and before the papers were even filed she went off and moved in with her spinster sister over in Cabook County where I guess she spends her time talking about what I no good bum I was — or am. Hell, I don’t care. Like I said the kids are grown, Tom is big wheel in the real estate biz, Lorna is nurse and the littlest one, Jim is a fashion designer. Yup he’s a queer. The signs were all there when he was a kid, never did take to outdoor actives which is pretty much all I do. Real mama’s boy that one. Oh hell, I don’t care, he’s still my boy and I still love him and always will. I just don’t like to think about what he and what he calls his partner do when the lights are out.

I sold the house when Rebecca left and moved permanent into our cabin, it’s right down by where Lake Tahoma and Big Frog River meet. I still fish pretty regular — hell, who am I kidding, I damn near fish everyday — and many a meal I eat is fresh perch or trout or salmon or whitefish or whatever the hell I happen to catch. My life’s pretty good. I got all the nature a fella could desire which is good for long walks and now I got a satellite dish for the TV so that can keep me company along with all the books I never got around to reading when I was working full time at the mill which I did for 40 years. Mostly its detective stuff and biographies of great men although I don’t know how damn great some of the people I read about are. Most any person who lived long enough to be worth writing about has done his share of bad things. Hell I’m the first to admit that I ain’t exactly been an angel myself. Don’t believe me ask Rebecca, she’ll give you an earful.

Yeah sure I’m lonesome a lot of the time. I spent so damn many years with the guys at the mill and with a house full of kids and Rebecca that I’m used to other folks. I go into town now and again like for shopping and sometimes stop at McGinity’s for a beer or six but most days it’s just me and of course that gall darn ghost. I reckon it’s about time I got back to writing about Ben in the afterlife, cause that’s far and away more interesting than me babbling on about my Rebecca — who ain’t mine no more — or the kids or my solitary life.
More than once, hell more than a dozen times, I’ve asked Ben jus’ what the hell he wants out of me. I’ve asked that question in as many different ways as I can come up with but it don’t matter no how cause that son of a bitch don’t answer. I told ya what he does do and none of it entails him talking to me let alone explaining hisself.

The first time he “visited” less than a week after he died, it scared the bejeezus out of me. I thought for a second that I’d gone stark raving loco. I didn’t sleep a wink that whole night. The next night he came I was a little less scared but I still damn near soiled myself and still hardly got any shut eye. As he started coming regular I got a bit more used to it until by and by I came to get irritated by the whole show. Pretty much the same dang thing every night. Sometimes there’d be more thumping and other times he sit longer and other times the top of his head would float away while he was sittin’ there. That was downright spooky the first time, but like everything else I got used to it. What I can’t get used to is the whole idea of it. What’s he after? Is this what I have to look forward — more like dread — for the rest of my days?

Last week I drove into town and went to the library where I checked out everything I could find about the afterlife and what they call seances and mediums and anything else that was halfway serious about visitors from the graveyard. I’m still pouring through some of this stuff but so far haven’t learned nothin’ that I can apply to my situation. It does seem that Ben may be stuck going from this world to the next but that’s just a theory. I’ve thought about having someone over to the cabin hoping that Ben will do one of his “performances” and that I can at least talk about it to another human being. Thing is I don’t know whether to warn them or not. If I don’t it might scare a person half to death and if I do they might think I’m loony, especially if Ben takes that night off.

Ben lived most of his life in a small house just down the road a piece from our place. Course he lived alone. He worked at the lumberyard which was right by the mill so we saw each other every day. On weekends and vacations we’d head down to the cabin, which is only a half hour ride from town and like I say sometimes we’d have company. Ben always seemed like a happy guy, always ready with a joke or a story and a pretty good listener too. No one had a bad word so say about Ben, least of all me. Up until he started haunting me I regarded him as as fine a man as has walked the earth. Oh there was nothing special about him, no great talent, he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but a nicer person you’d never meet. That was while he was alive, though. Right now I’m dealing with his spirit and he’s become goddamned aggravating.

PART TWO

(This part was written today, October 25, 2017, a week after I wrote the first part.)

I’m finally shed of Ben, least I think so, it’s been five days since he showed up last and he’d never before missed more than one day. What happened was this. The night after I wrote the first part of this story (and it’s a true one, I swear to God) I was sittin’ in my rocking chair by the fire reading one of those books on the afterlife with stories of ghosts and what not. To tell ya the truth I was having a deuce of a time making heads nor tails of most of what I was reading. Some of it just seemed damned silly and other books were full of scientific mumbo jumbo that I could’t understand to save my life. Anyway I’m getting kind of intrigued by this one story in a book by this fella who investigated ghost sightings when damn Ben shows up banging away at the ceiling. It was one interruption too many.

“Goddamn it, Ben!” I hollered, “you need to stop with this right now. You got no call to interrupt me every dang evening. I’ve been patient but this has gone too darn far. You hear me?”

Next thing there’s Ben again sitting in the chair on the opposite side of the fireplace from where I’m sittin’. Only this time he ain’t grinning. Instead he’s got a sadder looking face than you ever did see. In fact, it looks like he’s got some sort of afterlife tears streaming down his face.

“Now don’t get all weepy on me, Ben. That’s no better than the way you usually are. I’m sorry you’re dead but I can’t do nothin’ about it and I’ve got a right to live my life.”

Then Ben’s ghost looks right at me, more like he’s staring, and he mouths something, a word that seems like “shout.”

“You sayin’ not to shout at you? Is that it?”

Ben shakes his head no and mouths the word again. This time I take it for “out.”

“You saying ‘out’? Is that it?”

Ben nodded his head yes.

Suddenly it came to mind that Ben died right here in this cabin and maybe for some reason his spirit was stuck here and he wanted to get out. I walked over the front door, looked back at Ben and then swung the door open. I nodded my head towards the outdoors. The next thing I know this mist in the shape of Ben is flying past me and out the door. I look outside and the mist is hovering in the air about 40 feet over the ground. It seems to be smiling.

“You takin’ off now, Ben?”

The mist seems to nod its head yes and then breaks into the biggest gall durn smile you ever did see. Next he flies back and forth this way and that, up high, down low, doin’ summersaults and back flips like I kid diving into the lake on the first day of Summer vacation. Finally he paused for a few seconds and it was pretty clear he was looking down at me. I got the feeling this was goodbye. I gave him a good hard look and waved and said, “goodbye Ben, I loved you, you were a great friend.”

He hovered another few seconds and then disappeared into thin air.
I went back into the cabin and balled my eyes out. I hadn’t cried like that since I was little kid. I’ll tell you, it felt good. When I was done sobbing and had blown my nose and splashed my face I poured myself a tall glass of whiskey and sat staring at the fireplace, I had a good fire going. At one point I thought I saw Ben’s face in the fire but I’d been dozing on and off and it had been a pretty tall glass of whiskey so I don’t put much account to it.

It was late when I went to bed and I slept better than I have in years. When I woke up the next morning I had a huge appetite so I made eggs, ham, flapjacks and toast and ate every bit of it. Then I had a powerful hankering to do some fishing, which I did. I sat by the river with my pole in the water and goddamn I never caught so many fish in my life. The whole time I could feel Ben’s presence beside me and I tell ya that it was a great comfort. I miss the son of a bitch.

28 August 2018

An Espresso, Sugar a Conversation, A Proposition


“Why do you always bring me sugar with my espresso? Everyday I come here for breakfast and everyday when I finish eating I order an espresso and everyday you bring me the espresso and sugar, yet I never, ever put sugar in my espresso and you know this because you usually sit with me while I drink it.”

“Is this something for you to get upset about? Is it really such a big deal. So don’t use the sugar, my putting the sugar on the table doesn’t hurt you one bit.”

“Okay, so it’s not a big deal but I just don’t understand why you always put the sugar on the table. Why?”

“It’s just a habit. Whenever I serve coffee to anyone I automatically bring the sugar. I’m supposed to.”

“Even to me who doesn’t use the sugar.”

“I still don’t get why this is such a big deal. What do you care?”

“It just bothers me is all.”

“Why should such a little thing bother you? Haven’t you got other cares in the world? Why be bothered about something that doesn’t put you out in the slightest?”

“It’s a waste of your time. Maybe I just don’t like seeing you waste your time.”

“Okay, if it’ll make you feel any better I won't bring the sugar to your table next time you order an espresso.”

“Now I’m sorry I made such a big deal out of it.”

“After all that now you decide you’re sorry about making such a big deal out of it. Geez, you’re hard to figure.”

“I guess I’m getting crotchety in my old age.”

“Old age? You’re not that old.”

“I’m a good two dozen years older than you.”

“The heck you are. I’m 32.”

“Well I’m 60, so there you have it?”

“In a pig’s eye you’re 60. I’d have trouble believing you’re 50.”

“You want me to whip out my driver’s license?”

“As long as that’s the only thing you whip out.”

“When have I ever done the slightest thing that suggested that I’m a dirty old man?”

“I’m just teasin’ ya, but I do see the way you look at my ass when I walk away.”

“Wait a second, how can you tell if someone is looking at your ass if you’re walking away?”

“See that mirror over there?”

“Geez I’m busted. Well in my defense you’ve got a nice one.”

“I suppose that’s a compliment.”

“Of course it is. There’s nothing wrong with suggesting you’ve got a cute ass, it’s not as if I don’t enjoy talking to you and don’t enjoy your intellect.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re a very bright person and I always like talking to you. Why do you think I tip you so well?”

“I always thought the tips were on account of my ass. And don’t think I don’t notice you sneaking a peak at my tits when I bend over to serve you.”

“Well how the hell can I not see them? They’re practically in my face.”

“Not that you mind.”

“Not that I mind, indeed.”

“Haven’t you dated since your wife died?”

“Couple of times, but I didn’t enjoy it. There was no spark and it was too much work getting to know someone from scratch. I could do it when I was young, but I haven’t the energy.”

“I know what you mean. It’s been hard for me to get back in the dating scene since my divorce. I guess I just don’t trust men anymore.”

“You can trust me.”

“Like you said, you’re a couple of centuries older than I am.”

“I said a couple of dozen years!”

“Still, that’s a pretty big gap.”

“You might like an older man.”

“Are you flirting with me?”

“Hell, just about all I do is flirt with you. Hadn’t you noticed?”

“There’s different kind of flirting. What you’ve done before was just for fun, this time it seems you're trying to get something out of it.”

“You can’t blame a fella for trying.”

“Well, I’m flattered.”

“Maybe I can put a character based on you in my next novel.”

“Not sure how I feel about that. But wait, are you saying you’d do that so I’d sleep with you?”

“Now don’t get all worked up, I’m just having fun. Besides, I wasn’t thinking of sleeping.”



“I’ll be you weren’t.”

“How about a one-night stand?”


“I believe you’re serious.”

“If you say 'yes' then I’m dead serious, if you say 'no' then I was just fooling around.”

“Hmm, I do have to say you’re in pretty good shape.”

“For a man of my age?”

“I’d say for a man of a certain age, you look ten years younger.”

“Nice.”

“But that’s still a lot older than me.”

“Age is just a number.”

“You’ve got a point there.”

“So really I never thought of this before, but why don’t we, well, start off with dinner some night, how about that?”

“And I suppose that I’m the dessert?”

“Depends on how you look at it, maybe I’m the dessert.”

“I’ve always thought you were a wit.”

“That’s just one of my strong suits.”



“I suppose another is your prowess in the bedroom.”

“Well, I don’t like to brag.”

“No, I’m sure you don’t.”

“So whattaya say? Dinner and a nightcap at my place? I have a really nice apartment.”

“I should hope you do, you being a big time author.”

“I don’t know that I’m big time. Whatever I am as a writer it’s only enough to make me middle class.”

“Just that, huh?”



“Maybe upper middle class.”

“Maybe.”

“So are you thinking about it?”

“Look, you don’t have to buy me dinner. How about I just come up to your place some night and chat and we see where the evening takes us.”

“I’m loving this conversation. I’m sure glad it’s slow here today.”

“Yeah I bet you are. But I need the tips.”

“Okay so you want to come over tonight?”

“Sure, my calendar is open. But no promises.”

“Hey I’ll be happy just to spend time with you somewhere besides in this restaurant. Anything else that happens is a bonus.”

“Bonus, huh? Well we’ll just have to see if you earn that bonus Mr. Novelist.”

“You are a sexy woman.”

“By the way, your espresso is getting cold.”

“Needs more sugar.”

“Funny.”

24 August 2018

I Get News of a Fortune Coming My Way and Respond to the Glad Tidings


Today I received the following email. For some strange reason it wound up in my spam folder. I have included my response below.

Edward Williams Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 2:32 AM
Reply-To: Edward Williams
Dear Beneficiary,

It's my pleasure to inform you that after our Board of Directors meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we have concluded to release your Overdue Inheritance Funds Worth US$4.5 Million via our service western union Remittance.

Moreover based on our agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs you will be receiving US$5,000 on a daily basis until your total payments Worth US$4.5 Million is completely transferred.
YOUR FUNDS TRANSACTION DETAILS
MTCN#______859-638-0981 

Sender’s First Name:__Nuel

Sender’s Last Name:___Richard

Amount sent:___$5000

Meanwhile you are required to provide the below details accordingly:
1) Your Full Name: 
2) Your Full Address:    
3) Phone Number:

Furthermore you are required to send US$150 which will enable our authority the Ministry of Finance signs the Funds Release Order We are waiting for your urgent respond to enable us commence with this project.

Yours in Service
Agent Edward Williams
General Manager western union

Dear Ed, What a pleasure to receive your email and discover that I am soon to be a wealthy man. I can't tell you how happy this makes me (mainly because it doesn't). But before I receive this largesse I have a few questions. Why did you misspell both "official" and "western" in your email address? Or have there been changes in the spellings of these words that I am unaware of? Or did you really mean officail? Maybe this is a new word? And perhaps werstern is a new word too.

It must have been a thrill for you to meet with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However you neglected to mention which country this high mucky muck represents. Narnia? Freedonia? Prussia? Also, I'm curious as to how you decided that I am the rightful heir to this fortune. I have no wealthy relatives that I am aware of. Did a former student of mine go on to a successful life of crime and was said student inspired on this path by my class and did this student want to reward his or her inspiration? Perhaps it was a death bed wish after being plugged full of lead by a rival. The mind reels at the possibilities.

You say that I am required to send my full name. Don't you know it? Surely this is a mistake. You have to know who I am if it has been decided that I am the one due these millions of bucks. I'll assume that it's an oversight and not an indication that this is a sham.

So I'm required to send $150 to get the ball rolling. How bout this instead: you deduct it from my first $5,000 payment. Hell, given how much I've got coming my way why not double it, take $300, consider it a little something for you and your family.

Once again, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to cashing your checks and to the answers to my questions above. Let me know where you kids are holed up and as I'll be jet-setting round with all my dough I'll pop in and take you to lunch. It's a promise.

Your pal,
Richard

P.S. This is on the level, isn't it?

13 August 2018

Take A Knee for Racial Justice



Imagine being black and standing for the national anthem and looking “proudly” at the American flag. A flag that waved and an anthem that was played when your ancestors were being kidnapped in Africa and brought over to this country in chains. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors were being sold on auction blocks, worked in fields, whipped, raped and denied decent quarters, good food and an education. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors suffered under the oppressive Black Codes, the Jim Crow laws and the arbitrary and cruel injustice of the lynch mobs. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors were denied equality in housing, schools, transportation and entertainment. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors were subjected to fire hoses, batons, and angry dogs when they dared march and protest for equality. Imagine standing for that anthem. Yet they did, because despite it all they saw hope and opportunity and progress and believed in their future. But when some young black brothers in the National Football League grew weary of a criminal justice system and law enforcement officers who denied them their civil rights and made a mockery of their hard won freedoms, refused to stand for the anthem, they were vilified. Their leader, Colin Kapernick was blackballed from the NFL.

In the antebellum south, slave owners and overseers would “break” young black men and women. Those who stood up to them and refused to yield were beaten and whipped until they were compliant. Today there resides in the White House a racist president who wants to see black NFL players who refuse to stand for the flag and the anthem, broken. He wants them suspended. He calls them names like “son-of-a-bitches.” This man wants to deny them their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech, he wants their NFL “owners” to punish them. He wants them broken. He wants them subjugated.

(In the mid 1960s a young boxer named Cassius Clay won the heavyweight boxing championship. This was fine with white America, especially since he had beaten another black man, Sonny Liston. But when Clay became a Muslim and changed his name to Muhammad Ali, the white American establishment recoiled. Then when Ali, on religious and moral grounds, refused to be drafted into the US army, they’d had enough. They thought they could break him by taking away his championship. They were wrong. After two and half years in boxing exile the courts ruled in his favor, Ali did not have to join the army and was finally able to box again. He eventually regained the championship.)

African Americans are currently incarcerated at a rate five times higher than that for whites. Prisons are the new slave plantations. It starts earlier with African Americans suspended and expelled from public schools at a rate three times higher than white students. When I was teaching in a public school I was told that the goal with “challenging students” as they were euphemistically called, was to get them enough days of suspension so that the district could move for expulsion. Then those students would go to another district were the cycle would be repeated. School budgets are slashed yearly eliminating programs that could help at risk students. Not that there is equality in schools. Just compare an inner city school with one in rich suburban areas. The difference is striking. Meanwhile money for prisons is plentiful.

Then there are the police — those charged with serving and “protecting” the citizenry are part of 21st century version of the lynch mob. According to an analysis of 2015 police killings by the Guardian. Racial minorities made up about 37.4 percent of the general population in the US and 46.6 percent of armed and unarmed victims, but they made up 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police.

How can anyone, white or black, NOT join in symbolic protests against both the overt and institutionalized racism that plagues this country?

Of course our bigot-in-chief, like many others, wishes that black athletes would find other means of expressing their discontent. You know, in a way that no one has to actually see it. I can think of no better way to call attention to this nation’s ills than refusing to stand for a song and a flag that to many have stood for so much that is wrong with this country.

I urge all Americans with a conscience to take a knee until there is real progress in addressing the bigotry that still infests this country and that horrible racist is driven out of the presidency. Power to the people.

04 August 2018

A Group of 9th Grade Boys Have a Chat Early in the School Year



“That assembly was retarded.”

“God Jake, you totally can’t say that.”

“What, why?”

“Declan is right, dude. You’re not supposed to call anything retarded.”

“Or anyone.”

“Why not? What if some dude is retarded?”

“First of all, it’s offensive, people who are retarded don’t like it.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? Retarded people don’t care what you call them.”

“Goddamnit Jake, yes they do. Just cause they’re retarded doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings.”

“But mostly it's the families of people who are retarded that don’t like the word being used. It’s too negative.”

“Negative? Shit, it’s what they are.”

“It doesn’t matter, man. You cannot use the word.”

“Well fucking great, what are you supposed to call retarded people?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Isn’t something like people with special needs?”

“What kind of horseshit is that? Special needs, gimme a break.”

“Actually I think special needs is for people with disabilities.”

“Being retarded is a disability.’

“No, for people with physical ones.”

“Ones what?"



“Disabilities, ass wipe.”

“You don’t have to get all crude about it.”



“No, I think I do because you’re getting on everybody’s nerves.”

“Yeah but look none of you have said what we’re supposed to call retarded people. I mean okay, I get we don’t call them that but will someone give me a substitute word?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Okay, here’s what I found on the internet and it matches what Mr. Kadeski said in Science class last year. ‘Intellectually and developmentally disabled’ is one there’s also ‘cognitive disability’ ‘intellectual disability’ and ‘developmental disability.’”

“Okay, okay, I’ll got with developmentally disabled. I just don’t see why these names have to be so damn long. Retarded was one short word. Now everything is like two or three long words.”

“Actually, I know what you mean. My dad said that when he was a kid black people were called negroes and it wasn’t considered like a bad word like the n word is. Then at some point it changed to African American. He also said something about people from Asia all being called orients or something.”

“Oriental.”



“What’s wrong with Oriental? Jesus why do names for people have to change?”


“I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with Oriental. Declan, you want to look that one up too?”

“I’m on it….Ya know, I’m not finding a reason. People seem just to not like it but it was never used, like ‘retarded' is as a negative term.”

“That’s so fucked up. Some people just decide its offensive without saying why and now we can’t use it?”

“Do you really want to use it, Jake? Do you really need to?”

“No, of course not, Allan, but I don’t like all these words being taken away for no good reason.”

“Some of them are taken away for good reason, they’ve been used to hurt people. People are offended by them.”

“Maybe people shouldn’t get so easily offended. Maybe they should realize that they’re just words.”

“So if I call you a fucking asshole is that's ‘just words.’”

“C’mon, Declan you know that’s different, those are words that are meant to hurt people. Oriental isn’t meant to hurt anyone, neither is retarded.”

“Okay I see what you’re saying but still people should be able to tell other people what they do and don’t wanna be called.”

“So what if I don’t want to be called ‘white’?” What if a whole bunch of us decide that ‘white’ is offensive. Will non-white people stop using it?”

“It depends, do you have a good reason — do you have any reason — for saying white is offensive?”

“First of all its a bad description. Paper is white, our skin is not white, it’s as close to pink as it is to white.”

“That’s a decent point.”

“Plus the way some African Americans use the word ‘white’ like we’re all bad, ya know how they’ll say shit like, ‘you white people always be doing this or saying that.’”

“Okay Jake but listen are a lot of white people really complaining about the word?”

“No, but maybe they should be. Maybe —- .”

“What word would you want to be used instead of white?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Okay, I admit I don't know, but there’s gotta be another word that’s better.”

“You think of it Jake and let us know.”

“Maybe you like caucasian better.”

“I could think of worse.”

“So you seriously want to go with caucasian? Such a weird word.”

“Doesn’t it come from some mountains in Russia or something? Declan, check it out.”

“I’m on it….Yup, there are mountains and they border Europe and Asia. In Russia and a few other countries.”

“So how do you get caucasian as a name for white people out of that?”

“I’m looking right now…..Well I’m a little shaky and how it relates to the mountains — although maybe because the original white people came from the area. Anyway, it’s like negroid and mongoloid ‘cause it refers to a race of people.”

“I don’t like the idea of being referred to as a caucasian.”

“Me either.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Have you ever heard European-American? There’s some bullshit there.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well you’re lumping all these people together from totally different places. Like you Allan, you’re family is from Sweden and Michael Tomaso’s parents came from Italy and I’m like part English, Irish and French and yet we’re all just European American.”

“What about African American? There are like 50 countries in Africa.”

“Yeah but black people here don’t usually know where their ancestors come from, I mean like which country, they just know that they come from the continent.”

“Sometimes I think all this hyphenating is just bullshit.”

“It can be, but if your family is all from one place like Japan then being Japanese-American makes sense.”

“I ‘spose, but why can’t we all just be Americans?”

“Because a lot of people are proud of their heritage and they want to be identified that way.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Hey, speaking of ‘identifying’ can you believe Marcus not wanting to be called by he or him because he’s — what he say he was?”

“Gender neutral.”

“What the fuck kind of crazy bullshit is that?”

“Marcus doesn’t feel like a man or a woman — yet.”

“Jesus, do you think that he’s going to turn himself into a woman, like have his dick cut off.”

“I don’t know, man, I don’t even like to think about it.”

“Hey, check it out, what about that dude Chris I hear he’s — ”

“If you mean Chris who wears the red jacket all the time he’s not a dude, man, that’s a chick.”

“No way.”

“Yeah, Declan is right, she’s a Christine, not a Christopher.’

“She must totally be a lesbian.”

“Ya think?”

“Well, Becky McAllister came out as lesbian in like the seventh grade.”

“Yeah that was no surprise.”

“And no loss.”

“Isn’t Peter Wright gay?”

“Yeah, he’s told a few people.”

“I’m cool with it. I mean thinking about the sex they do is totally gross but as long as they’re not bothering me….”

“Jake, dude, like some gay guy is going to hit on you.”

“Well it could happen.”

“I’m pretty sure that they only hit on people they know are gay.”

“How can they tell?”

“You’ve heard of having gaydar, right? Well they have it ten times stronger than any straight person ever could.”

“My mom said we’re lucky because when she was going to school, like nobody was out of the closet. Like you’d practically get killed if you came out.”

“Yeah, I guess that would suck.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“I’m gonna get a girlfriend this year.”

“Me too. I’m tired of the kind of pretending like we did back in middle school where a guy and a girl say they’re a couple or are going together but they never do anything.”

“I know, I was going with Jenny McCall for a few months in 8th grade and all we ever did was talk on the phone, text and hang together at school dances. I think we kissed like twice.”

“Declan, you still going with Annie.”

“Yeah, I guess for awhile.”

“You two ever make out yet?”

“Yeah a lot of times.”

“Get any further.”

“If I did I wouldn’t tell you.”

“He hasn’t.”

“I’m ready to get laid.”

“Dude, me too and that’s all I want to do. I don’t want or need a girlfriend to do that.”

“So, Jake, you sayin’ you’re going to be a player.”

“Exactly.”

“Shit, it’s nearly five o’clock, I gotta go, my parents are going to kill me.”

“Yeah I should be getting home too.”

“Good talk everybody. See ya.”

“Bye.”

“Later.”

“Fucking first period P.E. tomorrow, see you there.”









31 July 2018

Sometimes a Stroll Down Memory Lane Takes You Into a Small Room Where You're Really High and a Maniac With a Huge Knife is Keeping You Captive (A Reprised and Revised Post From the Past)



I will occasionally be re-posting old writings on this blog, such as the piece below. In all cases I will have revised and polished the post. This one is from four years ago and is one of the posts I've labeled under the "favorite posts" category. I also now include an introduction.

A few years ago I wrote down my recollections of an evening that had somehow, despite the circumstances, remained fresh in my mind many years later. Recently I decided to “jazz it up” a bit without changing or exaggerating the facts of the evening. In other words, the following is not strictly speaking fiction, but it is, if I may be so bold, a good story.

It really should have been a clue.

You’re in a small room with a friend and two bad guys. A transaction for cocaine has just been completed. You’ve got the the slick well spoken bad guy named Ray who you think you met once before but aren’t really sure in part because you’re already seriously high. Then there’s the other guy. He’s what you would call a crazy motherfucker. There’s no doubt that he’s done time. He’s huge, well over 6’4’ and made of muscles. He could squash your head with his hands. He is not a smart man just a dangerous one. The don’t-give-a-fuck type. He’s liable to do anything at anytime, you can never know. Worse, he’s got a knife in his hand. A very sharp hunting knife with which he could take off your hand with two whacks, maybe one. You’re also pretty sure he’s got a gun. So there’s that.

You’re with Jake who you don’t know that well, just gotten high with several times and you’ve come along on this deal as a favor and so that you can get some free blow. Jake is nervous. It’s his money. Jake is all bravado among friends but in a situation like this he’s your neighbor’s kitten.

The coke and money have been exchanged. It’s time to book. But this monstrous asshole doesn’t want anyone going anywhere just yet. “This ain’t like no regular guys in suits business. We sit, we talk we have a drink we get to know each other a little first. Maybe we find we wanna do business again.” Ray, the dealer, he just sits and nods to this like whatever. Why this man mountain is dictating terms you don’t know because slick-haired Ray is the man doing the selling.

So big dummy pulls out this bottle of tequila. And then four glasses. Not just small shot glasses either. Like regular drinking glasses. Now you can’t even remember where the fuck you are. Oakland maybe. Jake drove. More like weaved. And you’re in this tiny room in these wooden straight backed chairs with one big window looking out on a parking lot. The table is metal. You sit next to Jake and across from Crazy. “What the fuck is this place?” You wonder and realize how fucking high you are and that’s not a good thing right now. Or its the best. Being sober in this place in these circumstances could induce a ten megaton panic attack. Meanwhile Jake is very nervous and you wonder if this is going to make things worse or is he nervous because he knows what’s coming. Does everyone know the denouement but you? Is everyone in on something that you know nothing about? Is that behemoth going to slice your balls off? Why the fuck did you think that, of all things?

You keep trying not to think about dying or even getting hurt. But you’re feeling trapped in this room with some big maniac who has a hunting knife and probably a gun. Like what the fuck did I do to deserve this? Oh yeah I came along on a drug deal, dummy. See because is not you it’s me. Or was me.


The big palooka pours the tequila. “To life!” he says and I know as he upends his glass down his gullet that I’ve got to make a game effort to drink as much of the tequila in my glass as I possibly can in one swallow.

I do.

Glasses hit the table hard. The soft burn works its way up from my stomach. A few seconds later my head jimmy jacks around and I feel god damned good. Then I kind of shake my head and I’m still in the room and so is the leviathan and so I don’t feel so peachy keen after all.

“We really need to get going,” Jake says, his voice coming from some other galaxy.

I endorse this notion and start to get up. The big ape puts a paw on my shoulder and slams me back down. “There’s no fucking rush!” he shouts. Oh hell, now he’s angry. I shiver. But that passes quickly too. The behemoth smiles.

Ray says “calm down, Snake, take it easy. No need to shout, the boys ain’t goin’ anywhere yet. Right boys?”

We nod but all I can think is: Snake? Seriously? That’s when I notice the snake tattoo on the goliath’s arm. It just seems too fucking obvious. Snake? I’d laugh if I didn’t feel like I was in a Twilight Zone episode gone wrong. Yeah, his name may seem funny but his size and strength are no joke. Me I'm about 5'7" and as an ex athlete I'm in decent shape but don't match up so well against Snake. As for Jake, he's my size only really skinny and doesn't look like he ever so much as played checkers let alone lifted a weight. So the two of us together are over matched by Snake. By a long ways.

“We have another round!” Snake proclaims. At this rate I’m going to pass out before we get to the car and Jake is going to have none chance of driving.

Thankfully Snake doesn’t fill the glasses all the way this time. Maybe half way. At Snake’s insistence we drink to life again. I wonder how much is left in mine. There’s conversation now and I’m part of it. But my consciousness is deep in my brain and all the words are echoing and I don’t know exactly what I’m saying and sure as shit don’t know what anyone else is saying. But I see myself there. Talking nervously about some shit. I wonder for a second if Snake maybe will kill us and take the money back. If so is he just fucking with us now? But Snake is telling us what fine men we are. How cool and stand up we are how he likes us and feels we're trustworthy. We're like real men. "You're not a couple of pussies like I thought you'd be." Gee thanks, I think and can't imagine how we've earned such praise. Meanwhile he keeps fiddling with that knife. He loves the sucker. And Ray over there sitting as cool as you please seemingly bored by it all. Will he save us if Snake turns on us or let him slice us to bits? Ray just doesn't seem to care what happens. He's on a whole other high where earthly matters are of no concern.

Jake has to pee. Ray leads him to a toilet and I’m left in the tiny room with Snake. I wonder what Snake does for fun. I wonder if he has a girl. I wonder about his parents. I wonder what Snake was like as a little kid and if he’s killed anyone and if he finished high school and if he plays the violin. I don’t know why I wonder about the violin. Maybe because I’m an idiot. I have to be an idiot to be here.

Snake talks the whole time. No idea what he said. The single light in the room glistens on his perfectly bald head. I decide that Snake is a complete moron and that it sucks worse than anything that I’m totally in his power. I think back to earlier in the day when I had my first sweet little innocent beer and how that’s escalated to me being here and then for a second I remember that the coke we sampled was prime stuff and how maybe it would have been better for my sake if it wasn’t. Shit.

Ray and Jake come back. Jake looks really scared. Or is that my imagination or the tequila or what I was drinking earlier in the evening when I was safe in sound in Kip’s waiting for Jake and thinking that going to a coke buy was no big deal?  Of course the coke we sampled when we got here is playing a part in my paranoia. Not as much as Snake’s knife, but still.


“I don’t feel so good.” Jake says.

“You mean like your stomach?” I ask. Now I’m worried on another level. There are levels of worry I’m dealing with. Along with outright paranoia and mild concern and pure terror and stark raving fear. It is raving, boys.

“Maybe we should go,” I say.

“Stay!” Snake hollers.

Ray says: “You ain’t gonna be sick in here are you?”

Jake looks in his lap and shakes his head no.

I have no fucking idea what’s going to happen next.

“This’ll help,” says Snake and pulls out — from where I don’t see — the biggest blunt I’d ever seen.

“This shit’s for real, man. Panama Red.” He proclaims.

Ray closes his eyes and nods like there's mellow jazz playing in his brain.

Panama Red is some nasty weed. It has much more of a kick than regular grass. We’re fucking in for it now, I think. Snake lights the fucker up and we’re all toking away following Snake’s lead by taking deep long drags.

Now my head is all over the place bee bopping around the room. He stabs me with that knife I won’t feel a thing. But I’m scared shitless just the same. I detest Snake with every fiber of my being and like him like an old friend. I’m hopelessly devoted to Snake because the only way out of this room is to make nice with him. Fucking Stockholm Syndrome.  God, or whatever is out there, let me out of this and I’ll finish my goddamned masters degree. Be a boy scout all the way.

Now Ray is babbling like a maniac. On and on about women. I want to go home. I want out. My sphincter is inhaling and exhaling and has a life of its own and I’m not 100% sure its still part of my body. Jake looks so far out of it that I doubt he can ever be brought back to Earth from whatever part of the solar system his brain is occupying.

I fantasize about snatching Snake’s knife and cutting his throat. I fantasize about a field of daisies. I fantasize that I can fly out of this room and wish to god I could. My mind is watching me as if from a far. I can’t tell if my right hand is still part of my body. I look at it in wonder. At least Snake hasn’t cut it off.

Snake. He is the worst human being in the world. And when he reaches over and hugs me and holds my head in the crook of his arm I am willing to do anything he asks. Because I’d have to. I’m totally enraged and servile and a baby rabbit in a tiger’s maw. Help me, god or whatever.

He releases me and it feels like a reprieve but I also he realize he can grab me again and this time twist. But then…

“Man I gotta go. I need to find me some bitches.” The speaker is Snake he has just stood up and this feels like the happiest moment of my life. The volatile behemoth has suddenly remembered the farer sex and wants to defile some poor woman.  My relief is indescribable but is tempered by the feeling that he may insist we join him or he may change his mind or he may kill us before he leaves or maybe Ray is going to shoot us. Who knows?

Snake has been standing all of about 30 seconds when he collapses into a heap on the floor. Just like that. Out cold.

“That motherfucker could never hold his shit,” Ray says. “You put any amount of booze and weed in him and the big asshole folds up like a cheap tent. Shee-it.” Ray stares at him with disgust.

“I better get Jake home, he’s about to go himself,” I say. Ray barely looks at us as we go out the door.  I keep expecting a bullet in the back as we walk out into the cool night. We’re in the industrial part of Oakland. It takes us 20 minutes to find where we parked even though it’s just half a block away from the tiny room that I spent an hour of hell in. We are in a panic the whole time. Jake constantly seems about to cry and I want to squat and shit right there. Out of bald faced fear.

I don’t know how the hell Jake drove us back to Berkeley. But he did. So what did we do? We went up to Kip’s and drank until closing time. Because of course, insanity.  And man I still had another four years of drinking and using ahead of me. Imagine that.

26 July 2018

An Allegorical Tale of Teaching Middle School: The Bizarre Story of a Teacher Gone Awry


Bob Winkleman had been a middle school teacher for 21 years at Gatsby Middle School in Great Neck on Long Island. For the last four of those years he had also maintained a blog. Mostly he wrote about movies and TV shows, but occasionally wrote a short story. Very few people were aware of his blog. Winkleman did nothing to promote it and only ever mentioned to a few friends and family. However one day he wrote a blog post in which he joked about having shot and killed a student. A parent of one of his students happened to see it. (In the same post he also made great sport of a fellow teacher who he'd had sharp disagreements with and didn't even bother to change her name.) The parent was outraged and notified the school principal. Not satisfied with the principal's initial response the parent contacted a member of the school board. The school board member in turn alerted the school district's superintendent who notified the principal who this time took notice. The blog post was eventually read by everyone on the school board as well as many of the top administrators in the district office, not to mention Gatsby's principal. The parent also contacted the local newspaper which published parts of the blog post and wrote a scathing editorial as to how wholly inappropriate the blog post was.

Winkleman tried to defend himself on first amendment grounds while also pointing out the post was satire and not to be taken literally. The teacher also enlisted the help of his union when it started to become evident that he was in for trouble. The union refused to help Winkleman saying that' "he'd gone too far." Winkleman was offered the opportunity to apologize for the blog post and delete it from his blog. He refused. Upon hearing of his refusal the superintendent set the wheels in motion for dismissal of the errant instructor. The problem the district had, and it was a small one, was that Winkleman had never previously been disciplined for any infractions during his over two decade career and had received mostly glowing performance evaluations. But school district administrators are a resourceful lot and when they want to remove a teacher they have, as the saying goes, their ways. The Great Neck Long Island School District was no exception. The superintendent for Human Resources cherry picked through Winkelman's past evaluations and took any negative comment and added them to a report was compiling. They also included any areas marked "needs improvement" and whether the concern had later been addressed or not, also added those to their report depicting said area as a glaring deficiency. The Superintendent for Human Resources had the principal do several spot evaluations of Winkleman with the strict instructions that he only record things that reflected negatively on Winkleman. In digging deeper into Winkleman's records he was utterly delighted to find that Winkleman had made a clerical error in administering a standardized tests two years ago that resulted in two tests having to be discounted; he cited this as an example of the teacher's gross incompetence. As a final flourish they made a meal out of Winkleman's refusal to take down the offending post, citing him for gross insubordination. Without the help of the union, Winkleman would have to hire an attorney if he wanted to fight to keep his job. On a teacher's salary with two kids to support that was out of the question so he resigned and looked for a teaching job elsewhere. No one would touch Winkleman after his by now highly-publicized case. Winkleman's wife threatened divorce. Despondent, on the verge of being fired, he issued an apology and took down the post. The district agreed to take him back but only as substitute teacher. The humiliated Bob Winkleman started the following school year as a sub, but after 21 years of having his own classroom he couldn't bear it. On Thanksgiving morning Winkleman walked into the Atlantic Ocean and was never seen again. His body was never found.

Below is the offending blog post.

An Allegorical Tale of Teaching Middle School
I am a middle school teacher. One day I shot a student in the face with a pistol. He was interrupting my lesson for about the fourth time that day and I’d had enough. So I reached into my holster, pulled out my .45 and fired a bullet right into his yakking fat face. The class was perfectly quiet for a few seconds then I went on with the lesson. As I recall I was talking about the Dred Scott case. It was part of a general unit on the various causes of the Civil War. Students were generally attendant when it came to topics related to slavery and the Civil War,  but this one kid couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

Okay I know what you’re thinking, something like how inappropriate this topic is given — among other things — the recent spate of school shootings in this country. But I’m just being honest here and after all the shooter was not some crazed kid but me, an adult, and a teacher at that. And it was no accidental discharge, I meant to shoot the little punk.

Needless to say I caught hell from the administration, a few parents complained and some of my teaching colleagues questioned my methods — though not to my face. However most of the faculty understood and applauded my willingness to take direct action. Students were fine with it. It was kind of cool to have a murder right there in the classroom (spoiler alert: the youngster expired, almost instantly, as a matter of fact).

Like I said a few parents expressed alarm, none more so than the parents of the deceased. They complained all the way to the school board. They even threatened to go to the police. Good luck with that, I remember thinking at the time. Anyway it all blew over soon enough and there was only occasionally any mention of it again. It did check off a negative box on my yearly evaluation, but I was otherwise such an exemplary teacher that my position with the school was just fine.

I haven’t shot a kid since. To tell you the truth I had a little bit of guilt about plugging a student and always figured that another notch on my belt would compound said guilt. Hell, if I’d continued offing students I might have eventually sunk into depression. As it is I’m fine. A few other teachers subsequently tried to duplicate my feat but none had the panache. A couple of them froze with the gun in their hand and students made fun of them after that. One only wounded a kid, another shot the wrong kid (that teacher was disciplined, three day suspension) and one turned the gun on himself. Suicide in front of a whole class is a bad look. It reflects poorly on the profession. But some managed it. Teacher by the name of Costigan went overboard and started shooting kids every few weeks. He quit teaching at the end of the school year although some say he was nudged out of the profession.

If you’ve read this far you’re probably thinking I’m just kidding and this is just some sick joke, one that you likely don’t find particularly funny. Hey, to each his or her own. I don’t think it’s funny at all and no I’m not kidding. Don’t you read the papers, or the internet? This is the world we live in. Let me here hasten to add that I get along swimmingly with the vast majority of my students as evidenced by just the one fatality. Sure there've been corporal punishments and I use the cat o’ nine tails on numerous occasions, bludgeoned (not to death, mind) some others, and cane quite a few more, but that's all part of the job. Middle school kids are a rough breed and need discipline. Some methods may seem extreme but only to those who’ve never faced a classroom full of young teens.

I’ll tell ya what I've never done: cuss in class. Nor would you ever hear me insult a student. No ethnic jokes of any sort parted my lips. I was quick to praise students and often offered rewards. I would throw pizza parties for good classes. Of course those parties were comprised of students watching me eat pizza but at least they didn’t have to do any work at the time.

I work with this one teacher named Zimmerman. She is a certified witch. We all look good compared to her. Zimmerman performs incarnations over a bubbling cauldron during class and always carries eye of newt with her. She in fact, bears a resemblance to the newt. Students hate her for a variety of reasons, one of which is she never bathes. Zimm (as she likes to be called) has an unseemly amount of facial hair for a woman and never shaves her legs which is an issue as she wears short skirts. Zimm slaps students for no reason at all and breathes on them which is probably a violation of the Geneva Convention because her breath smells like the inside of septic tank. I hear she's working on an administrative credential. She'll make a helluva principal.

The point being…well, to tell you the truth I forget the point, I’m just sharing a little bit of my experience as a middle school teacher which might be especially useful if you’re considering a career in education, particularly at that level. If you’re not sure whether you’d make a good teacher don’t worry, just teach for a few years and then go into administration. Those who can teach and those who can't, become school administrators. I think Stalin missed a bet by not becoming a principal. Charles Manson, he’d have been a heckuva vice principal.

So I’ve gotten off on tangents. But I really did shoot a kid in the fact while teaching about the Dred Scott decision. And I know the ether and the floating and the dynamic intersection of the beloved and the bedeviled in this my maiden voyage down the ultra path of human denouement. Blessings to all. 

Winkleman never explained how his story was an allegory, nor why he decided to eviscerate his colleague, Zimmerman (other than their mutual animus) and the last paragraph of the story has never made sense to anyone. But he insisted on his right to post the story on the blog, until, of course he faced the reality of being fired. Winkleman left no suicide note and while he was clearly despondent about his reduced status, there was never any indication that he was severely depressed, let alone suicidal. After his walk into the sea there were a spate of articles in local papers speculating about the demoted teacher which included musings by psychiatrists, both in relation to his strange blog post and his apparent suicide. But the fact was that no one could make heads nor tails of the man, especially given his sterling reputation prior to the notorious blog post.

A final note. A made for TV movie is in the works called, The Winkleman Story, and is preliminarily scheduled to debut in the Fall of 2019.