Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Haiku about a Haiku

Today, I am posting a haiku about writing a haiku. How's that for irony, or is is coincidence, or juxtaposition? Maybe my daily haiku will become deeper, more meaningful as I get the hang of this style of poetry.

Anyway, here it is for your reading pleasure.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Daily Haiku

So, I've decided to test the waters and try to create a new Haiku every day until further notice.  A grand undertaking considering my history with consistent blogging. I thought it appropriate that my first effort should be about typewriters and in typecast form.

Here goes:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 23

The excerpt today begins a new chapter. New characters will be introduced in the coming weeks.

"I see you like to ride in class," Alexis said jokingly, as Frost opened the passenger-side door of his truck for her. The door springs creaked and something made a sort of metallic popping noise as he forced it open.
"Hey, don't knock it," he said. "It gets me from A to B."
She crawled into the middle of the bench seat and Becky sat beside her. Frost jumped in the driver's side and shut the door with a hollow thump. They drove the short distance down South Boulevard to an all-night diner, the light from the big yellow square-lettered sign diffused through the truck's dirty windshield as they pulled into a parking spot. Frost ran ahead and held the door open for them.
"Such a gentleman," Becky said, as the two girls tried to squeeze through the door at the same time.
"It's just the way my momma raised me," Frost said to Becky, but he looked at Alexis, winking at her as she walked through the door of the diner.
They found a booth and Frost again waited until her and Becky sat on one side before he slid into the seat on the other side. She ordered a half-stack of pancakes and coffee, and Frost followed suit, ordering the same thing, right down to the coffee. Becky ordered some kind of mega-special with three eggs, a full-stack of pancakes, three slices of bacon, and grits.
"Where do you put it all," Alexis asked, as Becky handed her menu back to the server.
"Dancing is hard work," Becky said. "Burns a lot of calories moving around that stage, climbing up and down that pole."
Frost shook his head in agreement. Lexi thought about it. It made sense. Becky's workday must've been like a six-hour marathon of aerobics. No wonder she was so skinny. The food arrived quickly, and when the server asked, Frost motioned for her to keep the coffee coming. They fell into silence as they ate their food. The only noise was the occasional grunt from Becky as she stuffed food into her mouth with a fork in one hand, and a spoon in the other.
Alexis stole a glance at Frost to watch him eat whenever she thought he wasn't looking. He was a quiet eater, very deliberate, and well mannered. His upbringing was clearly better than his current circumstances. His biceps stretched the material on his shirt each time he brought the fork to his mouth, and it sent a little thrill through her. She found his reserved power somehow alluring and sexy. She looked away when he caught her looking at him a few times. On the other hand, maybe she caught him looking at her. Either way, she felt she was getting to know him almost without words.
Frost finished his food, but Becky was still going at it. In fact, she asked to eat the food Frost left on his plate. Alexis caught him glancing over at Becky, then back at her with a strange look on his face, and she nearly blew coffee through her nose trying not to laugh. She thought she even heard a little chuckle out of Frost, the first since she'd met him. She wanted to know more about him, but she didn't want to have to reveal too much of herself. Not yet, anyway.
"So, Frost," She said. "Do you do anything else in your spare time, besides roughing up hoodlums?"
"I used to, but now, that's what I do—rough up hoodlums."
Alexis shook her head. She wanted to ask him more, but was afraid it might lead to questions about her. But she'd opened the gate with her question, and she could tell, when he brought his coffee cup slowly down to the table, staring at her, he was about to force her hand.
"What about you, Paulina?" he said. "I know you're new here. Where are you from?"
"Florida," was the first thing that came to mind. "Just moved up from Panama City."
he looked at her as if he could see right through her lie. He was probably thinking of some way to catch her in the lie, maybe not then, some trap he'd set for her to fall into later. She was a terrible liar, always had been, and now she wished she did not have to lie, and despised Leonidas even more for putting her in this position.
"What made you decide to move from Panama City to Montgomery?" Frost brought his coffee cup to his lips, pausing to look over the rim of the cup at her.
"I don't know. It's just where I ended up." She wasn't going to last long under this kind of interrogation. She figured changing the subject might help. "What about you," she said, blurting out the first thing that came to mind. "Have you always lived in Montgomery?"
"Born and raised here," he put his cup down. "Did a stint with the Army, but had to quit that gig to help my sick mother."
"How is she now?"
Frost fell silent, looking down at his napkin. Alexis thought she saw tears welling up in his eyes, but he played it off, trying to make it look like he had a sneeze coming on, or something.
"His mother passed about six months ago," Becky said in a low voice, as she reached over and placed her hand over Frost's big mitts.
"I'm so sorry."
He looked up at her and said, "It's okay. It's just that she was the last of my family. She was a good person, but she got the cancer. It tore her up. She tried to hide it from me, but I could tell when I talked to her on the phone, she was really sick."
Becky glanced over to Alexis, nodded, and moved her hands to her lap. Alexis reached for his hands, and he allowed her to take them in hers, or rather, lay her tiny hands on top of his big mitts. He smiled at her, and continued.
"It started affecting me on missions, so I was told to go take care of her."
"They kicked you out of the Army because of your sick mom?"
"No," he said. "The job I was in, I wasn't really in the Army anymore. It's hard to explain. They gave me the option to come back after things were settled, but I couldn't"
"Why not," she asked, wondering what could have happened to make him live a life as a bounty hunter after doing something obviously more important for the government.
"My mom was sick for a long time. The last few months, she was in hospice care. She didn't have enough insurance to cover it all, and the bills piled up."
"Wouldn't the Army help with that?"
"Well, like I said, I was technically out of the Army, and besides, their insurance doesn't extend to parents. I realized after she died, if I went back in my old job, I wouldn't make enough to pay off her medical bills and burial costs."
"You make that much as a bounty hunter?"
"Recovery agents can make as much as they want, as long as they're willing to accept the risk."
"Yeah," Becky added. "And plus, rumor has it, Frost's the best around."
Alexis noticed Frost made no response to Becky's comment. He fell silent until they all finished their coffee. Afterward, he drove them home, dropping off Becky first. She, surprisingly, lived in a small row house along South Boulevard. As soon as Alexis told him she lived at the Woods RV Park, he needed no other directions. He didn't speak until they were turning down the gravel road in the back of the RV Park where the trailers lined its length.
"Which trailer are you in?"
She told him it was the last one on the left. It was so quiet in the cab of the truck, Alexis heard the gravel and sand moving under the tires as Frost brought the truck to a stop in front of her rental. He got out and ran around the front of the truck to open her door.
"You working again tonight?" Frost asked, as she stepped out of the truck.
"Yep," she said. "I'm working every night I can."
"Maybe I'll see you there," he said.
She saw his eyes reflecting the moonlight. He looked sad, hurt, but he also looked like he wanted to say something. They stood, motionless for a moment, and then she reached up and kissed his cheek.
"Goodnight," he said, and ran back to the driver side of the truck, sliding quickly into the cab.
After he drove away, she stood at the front of her trailer for a moment, wondering why she kissed him. She wondered why he left so quickly. Maybe talking about his mother was not the best way to avoid talking about her own past.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Non-Post Post

Working on something now. Sorry to be so anti-social but sometimes life just gets in the way of posting on my blog. Hold on folks, I'll be back in the world soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 22

Sam was washing glasses, trying to keep up with the busy night, when Knuckles left his table and came to the bar, leaning over it and motioning him close.
"Who's the new girl?"
"That's Paulina, our new waitress," Sam said, already suspecting Knuckles' motivation. "Why, did you have a problem with her?"
"No," Knuckles snorted. "No problem at all. In fact, I'd like to see more of her."
"What do you mean?" Sam knew exactly what he meant, and he didn't like it one bit.
"I mean, can she dance?"
"I didn't hire her to dance," Sam said. "I need a good waitress, and she's the best I've had in here in a long time."
"Why don't you take that stick of a girl, Becky, and put her on the floor taking orders, and put Paulina on the stage." Knuckles gestured toward Paulina, making a sweeping motion toward the stage. "That woman's got some meat on her bones." Knuckles chuckled, and his goons, who apparently knew what he was saying from their table near the stage, joined in, laughing in unison.
It was like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon, or an old-time gangster movie. Maybe that's where Knuckles and his gang got their playbook. Sam looked at Paulina as she worked her way from one table to the next. She moved with fluidity as if she'd been doing this for years, but he doubted she could dance. He looked over to the dance floor. Becky was throwing herself onto the pole, spinning around it and sinking slowly to the floor in the splits. She could dance, but she was no waitress. He'd lose business with Paulina on the stage. It'd be even worse with Becky on the floor. He grabbed a tumbler and shoved it over the bristles of the brush, stalling for time, hoping that Knuckles would suddenly burst out in laughter again, and tell him he was just kidding.
"Hey, I'm talking to you." Knuckles reached across the counter and poked at him, before squeezing a handful of his shirt into his hand.
He wasn't laughing.
"She's not a dancer," Sam said. "She's a good waitress, the best I've had in here in awhile, and it's only her second day." Besides, what would I do with Becky?"
"Becky's none of my concern," Knuckles poked his knuckles into Sam's chest with each word. "You tell Paulina she's gonna dance, and me and my boys here will tip her well if she does."
"What if she doesn't want to dance?" Sam already knew what Knuckles was going to say, but it didn't hurt to ask.
"If she won't dance, you'll fire her. If you don't fire her, I'll have your bar fired, if you know what I mean." Knuckles made a wide sweeping gesture with his arms. "Can you imagine this entire place reduced to ashes? What would you do then?"
"I'll do what I can." Sam stopped washing glasses, grabbing a towel instead, and squeezing it until his fingers hurt.
"You'll get her to dance, or I'll become very upset," Knuckles said as one of his goons sitting at his table flicked a lighter, bringing it to flame. "And I think you already know, bad things happen when someone makes me upset."
Knuckles turned, and walked out of the bar, his entourage standing up from the table and following behind him. Sam squeezed his towel again as Knuckles passed the table where Frost sat, and Frost looked up at him. He was relieved when Knuckles walked beyond Frost, paying him no attention. Sam figured Knuckles either didn't see him, or he didn't recognize the bounty hunter.
Sam knew exactly what kind of bad things happened when Knuckles was upset. He'd seen numerous bars and convenience stores along South Boulevard either burned to the ground or suddenly become without owners after doing something to upset Knuckles. He would not let that happen to his bar.
Frost wanted to jump up out of his seat and cuff Knuckles on the spot as he passed by his table, but he resisted. He had to be smart with this skip. This was the one that could finally get him back on track. Plus, the way he saw the bartender and Knuckles talking, and Knuckles gesturing to Paulina meant she might be involved in all of this somehow. He might gain an advantage if he could get close to her. Well, that, and her look, and her sassy, confident attitude intrigued him.
He waited at his table until the bar closed, nursing two more virgin rum and coke drinks until the last customer left the bar. The skinny dancer picked dollars and change off the small stage, and then disappeared through the kitchen door, probably putting some clothes on. Paulina was working through the tables, picking up empty glasses and bringing them to the bartender. He was busy washing the glasses by hand, as Paulina made a second sweep through the lounge cleaning tabletops.
"Sir, you're gonna have to leave, the bar's closing," the bartender yelled to him.
"If it's alright with you, I'm just waiting to talk to Paulina." Frost looked at Paulina as he yelled back to the bartender.
The bartender waved at Paulina, and yelled to her, "You know this man, Paulina?"
Paulina looked at the bartender, then back at him. Frost knew he was taking a chance. If she didn't want to talk to him, she could simply tell the bartender she didn't know him. This was it, do or die. He was either going to talk to her, or be persuaded to leave with all the subtlety of a shotgun shoved in his back. The dancer must have heard the yelling over the music, as she made an appearance from the kitchen door to watch.
"Yeah, he's okay, Sam," Paulina said, but she looked at Frost with a less than pleasant expression on her face.
She finished wiping down the tables and left her towel at the bar before walking to his table.
"So, what's the deal," Paulina said. "Did you wait around all night to remind me again how you saved my life?"
"Well, you have to admit, it didn't look like you had the upper-hand with Lefty."
She folded her arms, and made a 'Pfft' sound before saying, "I've been dealing with guys like Lefty all my life. It's no different than dealing with guys like you."
"Ouch, you got me," he said. "Look, I'm sure you can take care of yourself just fine. Maybe I misread the situation, but I was looking for Lefty and he nearly fell in my lap when I saw him in that alleyway with you. Please, accept my apologies, and sit with me?"
Paulina stood for a moment with her arms crossed before sitting down. "Apology accepted, but only under the condition that you stop bringing it up."
"I really think we got off on the wrong foot," Frost said. "Maybe an apology isn't enough. Let me make it up to you over coffee, or a late-night dinner."
"I could use a good cup of coffee." Paulina looked back toward the bar.
The bartender, and the dancer were standing next to each other, looking like they were doing their best to listen in.
"Okay, I'll go for coffee with you under one condition," Paulina said.
Frost looked at her, shaking his head. "You put conditions on everyone like this?" She shot him a blank look, as if she couldn't even conceive negotiating without someone bending to her conditions.
Her blank stare turned into a faint smile, and she continued stating her condition. "We take Becky with us. You can give us a ride home afterward. It's late after all, and two delicate flowers like us shouldn't be left alone in the dark with all those evil fingerless men out there." She snickered at her own joke.
"Okay, now you're just mocking me," Frost said. "Deal. Coffee and a ride home to make up for last night."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pearls of Wisdom

Photo Credit:

Was looking through some of my writing today. I sometimes peruse old stuff or tap away at one of my old manual typewriters for inspiration. Anyway, I came across some quickly written poems and realized some of them were not that bad.

At some point in the recent past I had this flash of a dream to be a street poet. Okay, so my poetry is rather terrible but I do have the ability to whip out a quip rather quickly on one of my old crotchety typewriters.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll decide to show up at some local event with a little table and chair, and sell poems while you wait. I imagine (in fact, I've already purchased some small frames) that I would have a long line waiting to buy a quick poem using a customer's subject or prompt.

I set out to practice this and came up with some decent work and some truly terrible words I destroyed immediately. I gave myself a subject and five minutes to come up with a short poem using my typewriter and trying not to make mistakes. Here is an example of the  results.


Tomorrow is yesterday
Not yet past.

Time, it replicates
From first to last.

And when we look back
And when it's all done.

We'll know that the battle
Fought today
Is tomorrow's battle won.

So, remember the days
And dream of the morrow.

Hold on to your dreams
And forget your sorrows.

For, tomorrow is yesterday
Not yet past.

Okay, probably not the best in the world but it fit on a 4 x 6 card so I consider it a success. Within this process, I also came up with a couple of little sayings that I'm sure will become standards in the future-probably so far in the future that the author will be known simply as "anonymous."

Past is the teacher
Future; the test.

Or, this one: 

The greatest light draws the deepest shadow.

Sure, the last one is a little ironic but, hey, irony flows from me like water flowing through a three foot hole in a six foot boat. Really though, exercises like this are a great way to get yourself writing when motivation is low. I'm sure that someday soon, you'll see me at some local festival tapping out poems at five dollars a pop. It might not make me rich but I'm sure it would make me some new friends.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Bit of Europe in a Small Town

I was out and about in Daleville the other day at lunchtime and found this new restaurant. Well, if you want to be technical, it is an imbiss or schnell imbiss, which is a fast serve restaurant in Germany. I suppose an imbiss might be more similar to a street vendor in New York City than an establishment like Mcdonald's.

As many of you know, I occasionally post about this small town of Daleville. Now you know, it is not a fictional town at all, rather a small community just outside a military post. Yes, Daleville Dan is often talking about real situations-good or bad-although fictionalized.

Anyway, since I've spent some time in Germany (stationed on two separate occasions while serving in the military) I have some experience with German street cuisine. This new establishment gave me a sense of authenticity while inside and brought back fond memories of stopping for a quick bite while shopping in some quaint German town. I remember looking forward to Wednesdays when the Henchenwagon (chicken truck) would roll through the small town outside my military post. Many of us would hurry off the post at lunch so we could buy their specialty; a half chicken with a big cone of fries. Yes, I know it was really just rotisserie chicken, but it was special. With this in mind, I'll try to give a review of sorts and offer that everyone should try this particular new place or, if one is available, give one in your own town a chance.

First off, the food.

I found the bread rolls, called brotchen, were fresh and doughy on the inside while remaining crisp on the outside. The brotchen was just as I remembered it from years past. The Bratwurst (some are calling this place the bratwurst brothers) was also very authentic and delicious. If memory serves, they offered seven different kinds of wurst (or sausage) from the Nuremberger to a white sausage. I had the Nuremberger lunch plate with potatoes (called bratkartoffeln) and a drink. The food was worth the price.

Sadly, I did not get pictures of the food or the inside of the establishment so you'll just have to imagine juicy sausage so fresh off the grill that steam makes its way through the spoonful of mustard, all encased in a hearty bread roll.

On the positive, the cut and fried potatoes were fresh and hearty with just the right amount of browning. I certainly would have liked to have the option of ordering french fries (called pommes frittes) in one of those conical paper containers. As with German tradition, they did offer mayonaise for the potatoes.

The atmosphere.

As one is driving by, this new place may look somewhat like the average roadside lunchtime eatery in this small military town but the sign on the front of the building caught my eye-a simple sign that told customers what they should expect to see inside-bratwurst. This is how I remember many of the signs while in Germany. We used to walk all over town trying to find the most obscure, out of the way, hole in the wall place because they always had the best food and service. I once found a gyro shop far from the market center and halfway up a hill in Schwabish Hall, Germany. It was owned by a Turkish immigrant and his gyro's were the best I've had, before or since then.

Inside, I found posters on the walls of different imbisses throughout Germany and round tables painted in Germany national colors that were so tall one could stand at them or sit in the high chairs provided. Also, along the walls, I found the typical shelves with chairs for extra seating. The atmosphere inside was inviting, authentic, and functional.

If there were anything I might say that was less than positive, it would have to be a general lack of air conditioning inside the building. While it was not entirely uncomfortable, the single portable AC unit was clearly struggling to beat back the oppressive noon day heat associated with the south. I'm sure this is something that is easily remedied. Maybe I just happened by the day their AC was on the fritz.

I would like to state that I was not asked to do this review and I ask forgiveness to the owners after-the-fact for this impromptu review. Overall, I was impressed by this new establishment and encourage locals, visitors, and aficionados to give them a try for lunch. I'll certainly be back again.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 21

As soon as Frost walked into the Pink Pony, he saw Knuckles and a few of his thugs, sitting at a table in front of the stage. Knuckles had his hand raised, waving it in the air, as he nodded an "over here" look to the waitress at the bar. Frost immediately recognized her. She was the woman he'd rescued from Lefty the night before, although she had made it clear to him, she didn't see it that way.
He'd thought about her, off and on, all day. Not obsessive thoughts, just little snippets of how she looked, standing in the dark alley the night before. He could have sworn he'd seen a flash of light in her eyes, like the reflection in a dog's eyes at night. No, he wasn't obsessed, just intrigued. Nevertheless, he had to get those thoughts out of his mind, stay focused, especially with his biggest skip ever sitting at a table right in front of him.
He found a seat near the door, sat down, and watched as the woman he met last night brought a round of drinks to Knuckles' table. She didn't collect any money from them, which meant he and his gang ran a tab at the bar, or had some influence over the bar owner. He filed the information away mentally, and realized that he wouldn't be able to grab Knuckles in the bar, unless he was ready to make an escape in a hail of gunfire.
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
No, he was under-armed and under-protected for that kind of extraction. Knuckles made some kind of grotesque groping gesture as the waitress walked away, and his table erupted in forced laughter.
Yeah, I'm gonna enjoy taking this bozo down.
He waited until the waitress finished making her rounds, and then caught her attention with a wave. She nodded and put up a finger as she started toward his table. He could tell she recognized him from the night before, but she gave no indication of gratitude, or distrust of him. She must have had her waitress game face on because he just couldn't read her, and he was usually pretty good at reading people.
"What'll ya' have," she said as she reached his table, giving no indication or gesture that she gave any thought to his rescuing her.
"For starters, how about your name?" Frost stared her down, waiting for a response.
"How about I take your drink order first, then we can talk about names."
She just stood there with that look on her face that women has when trying to appear cute and smug at the same time; big bulging eyes, duck lips. She was not going to give in.
"Okay, drink order first," Frost said. "I'll have a rum and coke please, hold the rum."
She turned without as much as a smile or look, stopping to take orders at a few other tables on her way to the bar. Frost watched her as she filled her tray with drinks, dropping them off at each table with a smile and brief conversation. Her gestures were abbreviated, her laughter excessive, but the customers liked her, handing her tips in bills, rather than change.
He also kept an eye on Knuckles and the men sitting at the table with him. He would have to play this one smart, make sure he stayed back long enough to catch Knuckles alone. Taking in Knuckles would be the biggest haul he'd brought in yet. He could pay off the rest of his mother's bills with the skip money, maybe even have a enough left over to get a better truck.
The waitress made it back to his table. It was obvious she was taking her time getting back to him. As soon as she put his drink on the table, he pulled a wrinkled ten dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to her. She started to dig in her apron pockets for change but he held up his hand to stop her.
"Keep the change," he told her, as he placed the bill in her hand. "Looks like you're earning your keep tonight."
"The drink was only two dollars," she said as she reached back into her pockets. "Your tip's too much."
"Tell you what," he countered. "My name's Frost. You probably remember me from last—"
"I know who you are," she said, before he could finish. "You're Frost. Nobody seems to know your first name but I've been told you’re a local bounty hunter, and unwarranted hero to women who don't need saving."
"Ouch, that's harsh," he said. "Seems you know who I am, but I don't even know your name. Keep the rest of the money as your tip, but at least tell me your name."
She just stood there, looking at him for a moment before responding.
"Paulina," she said. "But don't think I told you my name for the tip. I just figured since I know your name, you should at least know mine. With that, she turned away, and went to another table.
Frost watched her for a while, trying not to be too obvious, just to see if she looked back at him.
She didn't.
Knuckles got up from his table, with his goons following closely behind him. He went to the bar and motioned for the bartender to talk to him. Frost watched as he leaned over the bar, talking to the bartender. Knuckles looked back a few times, gesturing toward Paulina. The bartender looked like he was becoming agitated, but Knuckles blatantly reached over the bar, taking a handful of the bartender's shirt in his hand. Knuckles clearly had some kind of personal agenda, some kind of personal plans for Paulina.
A weakness for the new girl. Something I could use to distract him and bring him in.

You know, I suppose I should put a link in here so that one might go and purchase the story. Here's the Amazon link. This link is for the kindle ebook but it is also available as a paperback, others to follow: Lexi's Run

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Clinton, Trump, and the Zombie Apocalypse

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While Americans scramble around to determine who they will vote for this election season, I (and many others that know the truth of the coming zombie apocalypse) have a very different criteria for choosing a candidate.

In this post I will attempt to determine how each of these candidates might help or hinder the ability of our nation's populace to survive during the coming zombie apocalypse. First off, I will set some parameters for this exercise. I think it would be unfair to throw a zombie outbreak on either of these candidates right off so I will base this evaluation on the assumption that the candidates will be in their second term of office. This gives each of them the opportunity to put forth some of the plans in which they currently pontificate. I'll cover each candidate in a future scenario, using their current views and plans as a basis for a possible future for America and the world.

First up, Hillary Clinton.

It's spring of 2021 as Clinton settles into her second term as President. The last four years have been rough, to say the least. The economy has remained anemic and the financial markets have survived several near collapses despite the fed finally giving in to pressure and lowering the interest rate into negative territory two years ago. Clinton was unable to institute her full suite of new taxes on the rich and blames a hostile and mostly Republican Congress. Instead, she, like her predecessor, relied on the power of the pen to push forward with new regulations for corporate fiscal responsibility, instituting harsh penalties for those corporations not adhering to the guidelines of "social responsibility to the underprivileged." Many larger corporations moved their headquarters and operations offshore despite suffering heavy penalties for doing so. In many cases, these penalties proved to be less costly than adhering to the many new regulations mandating that they "give back" large portions of their profits to the government in an effort to provide reparations for those in society disenfranchised by their greedy profit-centered activities.

On the upside, Clinton's plan for universal health care has come to fruition. After the total collapse of the health insurance program instituted by her predecessor, America nearly tumbled over the brink of civil war as the last of the private insurance companies pulled out of the program or failed. Suddenly, Americans -- young or old, rich or poor -- had nowhere to go for their health insurance needs. For a short time, concierge doctors became popular and fees where reasonable but the system did not work proportionately and those that didn't have the ability to pay were left out. As congress argued over how best to solve the problem, crowds gathered around hospitals of major cities. After the third major hospital was burned to the ground, Clinton issued an executive order mandating federal health care. Everyone knew it was completely illegal to do such a thing but arguments lost their importance when the riots and violence stopped. Of course, when the government took on the responsibility of providing health care for all its citizens, the deficit skyrocketed, nearly doubling to 36 trillion dollars.

One might wonder how she managed to get re-elected with all the problems of our nation nearing the end of her first term. For one, nationalized health care was seen as a great accomplishment despite the financial cost to our nation. And, although she was not able to accomplish her plans of free college and terrorist attacks became more frequent and violent within the United States, she promised, that with a friendlier congress, she would be able to make this happen in her second term. Also, it would be important to note that, toward the end of Barack Obama's second term, he had secretly communicated with HHS and the FDA, resulting in reclassification of Marijuana into a schedule three drug. Studies on medical use and addictive qualities (both physical and psychological) began immediately. When the first studies came forth with their findings, Clinton realized that the plant, and all its derivatives could easily be declassified altogether. But, instead of allowing this declassification, she buried the information and instituted strict controls governing the growing and selling of the plant. Although there were many questions as to how growing permits were issued, the practice did result in an increase to the government coffers. Many believe that her actions in this area helped to stave off a deeper recession while others claimed she hadn't done enough.

Nonetheless, her reelection bid was nearly brought to complete halt when information was discovered within emails of the head of Health and Human Services that threatened to expose Clinton for burying their findings on the marijuana studies. The department head was subpoenaed but just the day before his scheduled interview with congress, he was found dead at his vacation property with three shots to the back of his head. Despite the fact that a weapon was never recovered and the investigation involved three separate agencies, it was ruled a suicide.

It was at the beginning of her second term when the outbreak started. The problem wasn't discovered for nearly six months as the occasional report of cannibalistic attacks was drowned among daily riots, terror attacks, and racial tensions in every major city. It wasn't until a small crowd rioting and looting over a court decision to limit SNAP benefits was gruesomely attacked by an even larger crowd of the dead. This event was broadcast on live television and there was no way for the White House Press Secretary to explain it away as drug-related or some vast right-wing conspiracy.

Fear rose quickly within the United States and people began to form into militias and gathered into small communities in order to combat this seemingly random outbreak. The large cities were hit the hardest. The concentration of people in such cities and strict gun legislation in the larger populated areas made it difficult, if not impossible, for local police to combat the growing threat alone. Rural areas were a little better off. While many of these areas held no shortage of guns, they soon found themselves with a shortage of ammunition. One of the first things Clinton did when she entered office in January of 2017 was to begin her push to congress for stricter (what she termed, "common sense") gun laws. The congress was not buying it and managed to block all of her efforts-even those that were, otherwise, reasonable. Failing to get anything done through congress, she resorted to instituting stricter controls on ammunition manufacturers. In addition, she increased the amount of ammunition required by agencies within the government, making ammunition increasingly difficult and more expensive to obtain by the populace. This effort did drive down the number of gun-related crimes and shootings but there was strong evidence to suggest that incidences of violent theft actually increased as criminals and gangs moved to the suburbs to claim ammunition previously bought by other citizens.

Clinton called upon local police and State's National Guard Units to help combat the ever-growing threat of this new outbreak. She made a plea to NATO and WHO to help but was refused as they were dealing with outbreaks worse than our own. For a while some success was found as congress commissioned a task force to capture and study people affected with this strange new disease. The task force managed to trace the origin of the disease to the Middle East and found it had been lying dormant for quite some time. Although the task force was able to find a possible origin of the disease, they found no possible vaccination or other method of combating the spread of the outbreak. They found that the first outbreaks actually occurred years before during the migration of refugees of these countries into Europe. In 2017, Clinton expanded America's refugee program, nearly doubling the amount accepted the previous year. To facilitate this expansion, vetting of refugees was diminished. Once within the borders of the United States, the refugees utilized a reformed immigration process to gain citizenship. The influx of refugees did not, as many believed, have an immediate effect on terror attacks. Nonetheless, by the third year of the program there was growing evidence to support such a claim.

At last, as it became clear that the entire population of America was being consumed by this outbreak, Clinton recalled all military forces, creating "safe zones" around military bases. When the citizens of America got word of this, anybody who had the means, uprooted their families and began the trek toward the nearest military base. Although the military had success for some time at keeping the outbreak at bay, at least near their military base, they were eventually overwhelmed with scared citizens trying to seek refuge within the shelter of the bases. There were several incidences where the military was forced to fire upon crowds that threatened to overtake base security as these crowds were themselves being literally consumed by those affected within their own group.

Despite the ever-increasing threat, Clinton would not authorize the military to use tactical nuclear weapons to destroy large pockets of infected. Oftentimes, security around military bases was diminished, as larger forces were required to guard shipments of ammunition and supplies. The first base to be overrun was Fort Benning, Georgia. As the infected overtook the headquarters, the commander requested artillery support on their location but was denied for fear of collateral damage. Clinton, even though she was clearly losing, insisted on providing a weekly radio message declaring progress in the fight against the infected. The radio messages ended suddenly in the winter of 2023. It is believed that Clinton, among others, sought refuge in a secured bunker location with many others considered the "global elite" with plans of remaining until the outbreak ran its course. Many survivors now sit around their small fires at night and tell stories of how one of those global elite members that made it inside the underground bunker was infected. The infection was not caught upon arrival and, within months, had infected the entire bunker. Many dream of someday finding that bunker and, with great malice, ridding it of its infected inhabitants. But for now anyway, most are just trying to survive the day.

And now, Donald Trump.

Trump was re-elected by a landslide against a second and final attempt to usurp him by Hillary Clinton. It was of no help to Clinton's case that during Trump's first term the nation saw economic growth rise to levels approaching five percent with real unemployment numbers dipping below four percent for ten of the previous 16 quarters. During her campaign, Clinton utilized the same tactics as her previous run of demonizing Trump for his personal decisions. Her one chance at winning the election came and went during some intense trade negotiations. China threatened a trade war, and when that failed, they hinted at calling in the chips on our debt they held. But Trump reminded them that we were their largest receiver of goods and their most reliable debtor, they quickly changed course and agreed to trade terms that were more equitable to the United States. It was that moment, in October of 2019, after the last debate, when most came to understand Clinton could not win.

However, Trump was not able to fulfill all of his campaign promises. He did manage to build the wall along the southern border but its construction was paid only in part by Mexico. Instead of outright payment, Trump insisted that America reclaimed the funding he needed from his renegotiation of NAFTA. Nonetheless, the wall was completed in record time and with a final cost of just over two billion taxpayer dollars.

One campaign promise kept by Trump was to repeal “Obamacare” although it did not happen within the first one hundred days of his Presidency. Congress argued over a replacement for nearly two years but finally settled on health saving plans with subsidies for those unemployed or otherwise unable to pay for healthcare services.

Unemployment was at an all-time low when Trump began his second term but America was not without discord. Those in the top one-percent of America’s financial elite remained so. Some gained and maintained even more wealth under the Trump administration than ever before. Those that previously made their fortunes by moving manufacturing offshore did not fare so well. Unions still posed the largest barrier to increasing manufacturing jobs as these kinds of businesses struggled to maintain reasonable prices for their goods while remaining competitive on the global market. The first Trump term saw a slight decrease in terror attacks but, with proposed changes to unemployment and government social programs in the last year of his first term, domestic terror and rioting took center-stage in many urban areas.

Nearly the entire year of 2021 was a blur of protests and riots as leaders of Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panther Organization joined forces in their quest for social justice. Trump had previously been holding a card up his sleeve and revealed it, in grand fashion, toward the end of 2022, quieting the opposition.

It is important to note that, during the last days of his term the previous President dropped a bombshell on the new President-elect, Donald Trump. In December of 2016, Barack Obama announced a change in the classification of marijuana from a schedule one to a schedule three drug. This presented a problem for the President-elect as his view on drugs and alcohol was one of total abstinence. Nonetheless, he held to his previous beliefs and mentioned in his first national address of 2017 that, although he had personal convictions against it, he would allow individual states to determine fines or punishment. He did allow federal and state research to be conducted the effects of marijuana as a drug as well as hemp for industrial and personal use.

By mid-year of 2022, initial findings supported the complete declassification of marijuana and expressed a nearly endless list of possible uses for hemp. So, when the rioting and demonstrations made rounds through the news later that year, Trump was ready, announcing the total declassification of the plant during his November state of the union address. In this address, he also announced plans support urban centers with the development of urban hemp farms. He also urged states to support research and development of the cannabis plant for both industrial and medical uses. To support these efforts, a federal tax would be levied on the sale of marijuana for non-medical or recreational use. These funds would be used to support local education, employment, and research efforts.

By the end of 2023, twenty-thousand new businesses were funded and operating in some way dealing with cannabis. Nearly a hundred new products had made their way to market from shovel handles to shirts. But this win was short-lived. Following the reports of economic success were the early reports of seemingly cannibalistic attacks on individuals. As the attacks increased, rumors spread that this was some kind of new disease or infection. At the outset, it was realized that Trump was not equipped to deal with this quickly growing pandemic.

Over the next four months, politicians in the Capital downplayed the ever-increasing attacks. The politicians, and Trump, were force to come to terms with the severity of the outbreak when a news camera operator was attacked while filming. The whole thing was seen on live television from his gruesome death to his seaming reanimation moments later. This event made clear just how quickly this virus spread. It was the first time something so graphic and disheartening was caught on a live newscast. This event prompted an immediate response from the Whitehouse. Trump urged citizens to take up arms to defend themselves against this threat. He announced that he was seeking an emergency authorization from congress to place a mandate on ammunition manufacturers to increase production. He also asked for a temporary moratorium on the ban of lead, or any other material that could be made quickly and cheaply, in bullets.

Meantime, a commission was formed to fund research efforts. This research would include every facet of the outbreak from possible cures and vaccinations to best ways to defend against attacks or even kill more of these zombie attackers with limited resources. Another issue quicker came to the forefront when number of “zombie” affected started to grow exponentially and it was an issue without a quick resolution. Because of Trump’s strong ties to the NRA and a Republican majority Congress, gun sales actually decreased throughout his first term. With this decrease in gun sales manufacturers decreased their output and were left unable to ramp up production quick enough to stay ahead of the sudden need. Again, previous decisions proved valuable to the current situation.

One of the biggest issues face by gun manufactures was not finding steel (as America’s iron and steel production was up to a point where it had become a world supplier) rather, it was creating stocks and forestocks. One of the downsides to Trumps promise to negotiate fairer trade deals was that it sparked great animosity from former oil suppliers as we ramped up our oil production. Countries like Saudi Arabia also ramped up their production and dumped their oil on the market cheap. This created a barrier for some of our fledgling oil operations leaving us shorthanded on oil. This oil was needed for the production of rifle parts that were plastic or composite. Just when it seemed we’d lost, a young urban hemp farmer from Chicago offered an ingenious solution—make the gun parts out of compressed hemp just like the handle for garden tools. Production began immediately.

For a short time it seemed America would rid itself of the zombie problem but it came as no surprise that others in the world, including Europe and South America were not doing as well. As entire countries were lost to what was now being termed “the zombie apocalypse” America become more isolated in the ongoing battle. America was now in a war of attrition with no easy solution… and the zombies were winning. South America finally fell to the zombies in summer of 2024. By now, Americans were no longer concerned with the next election, cities struggled to make it through each day. Although martial law was never called most cities became militarized with militias and roving patrols.

By winter, zombies were gathering by the millions along the southern border and many feared the wall would not hold for long. Trump gathered all his military advisors together until they came up with a plan. The United States would conduct strategic air strikes over the zombies at the border to eliminate them for good. It took nearly six months to move entire border towns north into safe zones but, by August of 2025 the air campaign was ready to begin operations. It was a risky operation. The zombies were gathered at the wall with large concentrations in several locations. Everyone knew that dropping those bombs would destroy portions of the wall but, if something was not done soon, the zombies would breach the wall through sheer numbers.

The bombings worked for a time but by the end of 2026, the United States was out of bombs, and fuel. The zombies were still coming to the southern border. Although in smaller numbers, they now walked right through the large gaps in the wall and on to populations in the north. With the ongoing struggle for mere survival, utilities and infrastructure were all but forgotten. The power grids failed one by one and soon pockets of civilization were isolation from one another as the communication system ceased to operate.

Survivors now move in small groups, foraging what they can along the way. Nobody really lives anywhere. Even though Trump is remembered fondly and stories are occasionally told around small campfires, the entire idea of a Presidency, or even a government for that matter, are just distant memories-dreams of a time forgotten.

Okay so maybe my view of the zombie apocalypse is a little disheartening. I try to tell it like it is, or will be. One might notice my concentration on a single issue in this post-rescheduling of marijuana. While I do not advocate one way or the other on this subject, I’ve heard rumors and conjecture numerous times that our current President may reschedule this plant before he leaves office. For that reason, I wanted to include this extra speculation into my post. While I am unsure what use recreational marijuana might have in a situation like this, I tried to offer my positive beliefs on the industrial uses for hemp. This is something I am interested in from an agricultural aspect as it would be very inexpensive and easy to grow in just about any environment. Its industrial uses are almost endless.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 20

Lexi woke early the next morning, despite falling into her lumpy bed just hours before. She spent the day walking a short distance along South Boulevard, visiting thrift stores, and buying some great retro clothes with her tip money from the night before. Throughout the day, her thoughts wandered incessantly back to the mystery man that showed up in the alleyway. On the one hand, she despised his flagrant chauvinism. He probably thought it was his place to save the defenseless damsel in distress. He probably even thought he was doing her a favor. On the other hand, he did get Lefty away from her, in a sense, saving Lefty, but he would never know that. But there was something deeper about him that intrigued her. Even in their brief meeting, she knew what kept him on her mind. His intense look held her, for that moment, like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car.
She felt a power in his dark eyes she'd only felt in the presence of her Grandfather. Not the kind of power commonly abused but a power he wielded with care and skill—a power hidden from the world. But he could not hide the power from her. Each time Alexis caught herself falling into thoughts of the man, she'd rummage through another rack of clothes, faster than before. She caught herself physically shaking at times, as if shedding him from her memory. She would probably never see him again, especially if he saw her first. The way she treated him the night before, he would likely run the other way and tell his friends to stay away from that mean bitch. Nonetheless, she felt a pull from him. Maybe just an intriguing tug but it was there, and it was undeniable.
By four in the afternoon, Alexis finally settled on a hamburger from a local fast food place before walking back into the dark cavern of the Pink Pony bar and grill. With last night's mystery man safely pushed into the back of her mind, like a pair of old shoes, shoved to the back of the closet, she decided to get an early start at the bar.
Sam was the only one in the bar, running glasses up and down on a scrubber before patting each one dry with a towel, and placing them in a straight row on the counter top. Sam looked up at her as she sat on a bar stool, the slightest hint of a scowl on his face.
"You're here early." He plunged another glass over the brush in the sink, not looking up at her.
"Not much to do here."
Sam huffed at her terse response but said nothing. He looked at her now, standing motionless, staring into her eyes with that scowl on his face. The silence became unbearable, and she was about to turn and walk away when he finally broke the silence.
"I had a talk with Becky last night."
"Yeah, about what?" she asked, although she had a good idea what they talked about.
"Seems you had a little run-in with Lefty last night."
"He followed me into the alley, but it was nothing I couldn't handle." Alexis tried to say as little as possible, although she didn't know why. Sam probably already knew everything there was to know.
"Becky told me Frost showed up and took him away."
"Yeah," she said. "But I still could've taken care of it myself."
"I don't doubt that, Paulina," Sam made Alexis do a mental double-take with his use of her fake name. "You just have to be careful. You gotta be careful with the customers... and Frost." He fell silent for a moment, running another couple tumblers through the wash before speaking again. "I know you have to defend your... your, honor against the kind of customers I get in here, but I don't want you driving them away either. You know what I mean?"
"Yes, I think I do." Alexis felt her face heat up as anger grew within her, her blood rising to a low simmer. "You want me to be nice to the thug customers, allowing them to run their eyes and greasy hands all over me, maybe even allow them to think I'm some kind of slut, while I gently and discreetly pull their hands off me. Am I right so far?"
Sam stood motionless for a moment. Alexis could nearly hear the gears turning as he likely tried to form some reasonable response.
"Something like that," Sam said, his voice already betraying his earlier conviction. "I mean, not the slut part though."
"So, you're telling me I should let these thug customers have their way until my virtue and morals take a back seat to your profits?"
"No, Paulina. It's not like that," He pleaded. "I would never ask you to sacrifice anything for my customers."
"Then what, exactly, do you want from me?"
"I don't know," he said. "I'm just under a lot of pressure here. I wanted this to be a good safe bar, but these people have kind of got me by the balls. They all report to their boss, and he's a powerful man around here. He could shut down my bar tomorrow or burn it to the ground if he wanted, leaving me with nothing."
"Can't you just go to the police?"
"He owns the police. At least most of the police on the south side. And then when I hear Frost showed up last night, it only makes matters worse."
Alexis wanted to ask him why he was against someone like Frost helping him get rid of his thug problem but early customers were filtering into the bar. One after another, customers slowly filled the tables, raising their hands and demanding drinks. It was a Friday night, and she assumed it would be busier than the night before, maybe even the busiest night of the week.
By ten o'clock, the bar was packed, nearly every table full. Customers near the stage reached forward to shove dollar bills into Becky's string bikini as she writhed up and down the dirty brass pole to tinny-sounding rock songs. A big barrel-chested man with curly red hair and an entourage of at least four equally barrel-chested men came through the door. Alexis watched as an entire table of customers quickly got up from their seats near the stage when the man and his group approached. They promptly took the other customer's seats. She gathered up a few empty glasses from the table as quickly as she could, and moved toward the bar, anxious to ask Sam about the new customers.
"Who's that guy," she said as she gave him the tray of empty glasses.
"That's the man I told you about earlier." Sam glanced past her to the table. "His name is Norman Taylor, but I'm sure he'd prefer you call him Mister Knuckles. He's the reason we all walk on eggshells around here."
"If he's so tough, why does he need all the bodyguards?"
"I'm sure he doesn't need them but he—" Sam stopped in mid sentence, looking to the front door. "Oh shit, this is not going to be good."
Alexis turned and saw the man from the night before, Frost, walking into the bar and looking directly at Knuckles.
The lights from the neon sign outside streamed through the door around him, making a halo around his entire body. His big brown bald head reflected the pink hues making his dark skin appear even darker. He was tall and thin but muscular, in a tight sinewy sort of way. He seemed to ooze confidence, strength, and raw sexual prowess from everywhere. Not that she had any experience with sexual prowess but she knew it when she saw it. She suddenly snapped out of her daze, conscious that she might actually be drooling, and turned to pick up her drinks as a distraction. Sam smiled at her but she pretended like she hadn't noticed. She quickly grabbed the notepad and pencil from her pocket, making a beeline to the table with the man Sam called "Knuckles".