Thursday, May 30, 2013

So... (Ch. 29 *1st draft* - Pres. Morowitz tackles the terrorists)

Ruth Rose clamped her tongue in her teeth, biting until she felt pain and until the pain squelched the hysteria giggling up from her gut at the spectacle of President Geoffrey Abercrombie Morowitz seated across from her on Marine One, the H-42 Chinook helicopter bound for Camp David.
Legs more dominant than they had any business being, knees bulging through faded jeans so near she heard the denim stretching, shins and thighs so long they formed something geometric-looking that made her think of an overturned oil derrick, at the peak of which perched this narrow, forlorn face, distant and tiny in perspective and framed between an unkempt thatch of mouse-gray hair and a crumpled, foreshortened robin's-egg-blue polo shirt. Only when they moved, when the president spoke, did Ruth notice the thin, bone-white arms waving like the antennae of an albino grasshopper. No wonder the cartoonists had such fun with this physically unfortunate politician, portraying him the more grotesque in caricature as his popularity plummeted with the populace. It was almost a blessing, she mused, that in his case the shrinking in size of his editorial depictions diminished somewhat the graphic affront of their visual pilloryings.
We're off!” Morowitz announced over the revving whine of Marine One's twin General Electric engines and its rotors' accelerating whupwhupwhup as they lifted the twelve-ton machine from the American Enterprises helipad. The president, his face wearing an expression that mitigated its perpetual near-grimace with a half-smile, rotated his head slightly to acknowledge the three other passengers, across the aisle. Rose watched the others as they met his gaze. It occurred to her that despite his uncomfortably odd physical appearance Morowitz enjoyed a certain magnetism, which the camera lens never seemed to catch but which came through in person. A natural grace to his movements, she guessed, all the more noticeable for its incongruence with his body's architecture. The voice helped too, she knew. Resonating urbane masculine confidence, it served him well in every forum.
He said something now that completely undid that vocal persona, although coming after what had transpired the past two days the reversal was no surprise to his guests.
I feel strange now, you know?” He was looking at Ruth when he said this, but he let his eyes drift past her toward the narrow cockpit door when he continued, in a tone less distinct, as if thinking aloud. “I mean, I can't go back now, can I. Not really.”
Ruth waited for anything else he might say. Instead, he sighed deeply and turned to the window next to his seat, brushing back the blue curtain and peering into the cotton clouds. Al Geddes did a half-shrug when Ruth caught his eye. He'd played devil's advocate all along, from the moment she told him what Morowitz wanted.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


The instant you remember
with enough focus to awaken its power
to embrace you
and all around you
with arms so warm,
so forgiving,
the muscles in your neck and shoulders
unwind in celebration.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

So... (excerpt - Ch 28)

It was Roger Chapman, in the process of shutting down the equipment, whose peripheral vision snagged his attention enough to turn his head enough to notice the president.
Sir! Er...Mr. President!” Chapman blurted, bringing Gladstone and Trueblood craning around in their chairs. Trueblood's lips formed the words “Mr. President”, while Gladstone merely stared, mouth hanging open.
President Geoffrey Morewitz was leaning against the wall just inside and beside the office door, arms folded across his narrow chest. His long yet oddly youthful face quickly mustered a dutiful smile, which nonetheless fell short of neutralizing the overall sense of haunted anxiety that seemed embedded in the musculature and nerve responses around his oversized eyes. Standing, even leaning, he looked taller than in photos where he was seated. This, because of the disproportionate lengths of his legs and abdomen, which caused unfriendly cartoonists to portray him as a daddy longlegs arachnid.
Both Chapman and Trueblood were stepping away from their chairs, gesturing for the president to sit, when Morewitz's sonorous, authoritative baritone voice froze all movement in the room.
Evening, fellas...or is it morning, heh heh? Guess I've lost track of the time.” Morewitz made no effort to move to either of the proffered chairs.
Good morning, Mr. President.” It was Trueblood whose presence of mind kicked in first. “Working late, sir?”
Yup, I was that. Seems like this job never ends. Anyway, I laid down on the couch for a little nap and then I heard you boys down here. Thought maybe you had a little poker game going...”
Our apologies, sir, we were unaware...”
That's OK, Mr...oh, yes, you're Mr. Trueblood. I've heard good things about you...
So, no poker game, it would appear, which must mean the rumors I caught wind of that something would be happening down in Virginia, at that cottage place, must have been true?”
Rumors...sir?” The squawk was Gladstone's.
That's right, Bart. I tried to check around, see if there was any connection to this administration...
You know, despite all the chatter in the media about this, that and the other, the FDA thus far has made no decision regarding this so-called Vulcana formula. Legally we have no right to take any action whatsoever against Wilde Labs. Yet.” He stared at the still-seated Gladstone, who finally struggled out of his chair and faced his boss.
Sir,” he said, breathing heavily, “I can assure you we had nothing to do with this. We heard the rumor, too. Probly the same one, Mr. President.”
Well, I appreciate that,” Bart. “Not that I think you would have done such a...thing without running it up the flagpole first. Do we have any idea who it is?”
WACKO, I had to guess.”
Yup, that'd be mine, too. You know, sometimes I wonder why we even have this government. Like we're just window dressing or something. Do we know how it came out?”
No idea, sir,” Gladstone said, shrugging, after shooting a quick glance at Trueblood and catching his eye. “Our...I mean the attackers appeared to have shot down one of their drones, but it was almost impossible to see what was going on there.” Morewitz nodded slowly, his eyes moving from Gladstone to Trueblood and then to Chapman, who stood behind his chair as if trapped.
All right then, gentlemen,” sounding conclusive and weary, “I think I'll go back to that couch. Catch a few more zzzs. Good work here.”
Afraid to speak after the president left, Gladstone waited until he and Trueblood were in Gladstone's office. There, Gladstone scribbled the words window dressing on a sheet of paper and handed it to Trueblood. Remembering Gladstone used the same expression in Secord's office before the battle started, Trueblood nodded and mouthed the word “bug” and pointed at the light fixture over Gladstone's desk. Gladstone nodded.
Wanna go grab a little breakfast?” he said.
The cafeteria open this early?”
I doubt it, but I'm hungry for some of Ma Brumfield's flapjacks. We can walk from here. Fresh air'll wake us up.” He winked.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So... (excerpt - Ch-27)

Randy Newgate learned shortly before 3 a.m. the attack on The Cottage was underway. He alerted Anthony Cromwell at The Cottage, Sean Seawell at Chesapeake and then beeped Geddes, slipped into some jeans and a mud-brown flannel shirt and hurried through the building to Geddes's apartment.

Anonymous,” he told his boss, “Just now. Cottage.”

Come in, Randy. Sit down. What the fuck's going on?” Geddes threw the covers off and sat up on the edge of the bed, groping for the switch on the nightstand lamp.

No time, Al. They're attacking. We need to get down to my office. We can talk on the way.” Newgate reached out a hand to help his boss stand, but Geddes ignored it, pushing himself up and off the mattress on his own.

The two Olympic-walked down the corridor. Geddes's white terrycloth bathrobe flapping around the brisk long strides suggested a surgeon hurrying to an operating room, with only the slap of flip flops on the linoleum dispelling the illusion.

Awright, who the fuck's attacking, and where?” he growled.

Mexican drug cartel. Not sure which family. Feds hired them, no doubt. Plausible denial bullshit.” The forced march bounced Newgate's voice up and down like a boy's in puberty. Thus the “bull” came out basso and the “shit” tenor. Geddes turned his head to look at Newgate, but neither man laughed.

Em arrived at Newgate's office-cum-war-room before Newgate had finished tuning the monitors to connect them with satellite feeds providing live aerial views of the combat zone. By the time the screens revealed anything useful, Geddes had the coffee machine steaming and a row of cups lined up next to it.

What do we have there? Drones? Robots? I don't see anything. Nothing's moving,” said Geddes, turning to the others after scanning the four flat screens and squinting closely at the flickering green images that transmitted infrared interpretations of heat-emitting objects.

Hummingbirds,” said Em, barely audibly, as she rubbed sleep from her eyes with the back of a hand under hair still wild from the pillow.

How many?”


Bad guys?”

Newgate took over: “Our source says about two dozen for sure. There could be twice that many, and we don't know what kind of equipment they have.”

And all we have are three hummingbirds? That's some kinda drone, right? Helicopters?”

“Helicopters wouldn't last ten minutes up there," said Em. "These guys are sure to have missiles. They know what they're up against.”


So these are hummingbirds. Mechanical ones. Same size. Look the same. Can't tell 'em from the real ones right in front of you. They're rigged just like the bigger drones, only everything's miniaturized. Same surveillance capability and a tiny computer heart that reads, interprets and executes according to how it's been programmed.

We can call audibles from the ground, and can monitor them constantly, what they see and how they respond. But these little birdies do surprisingly well on their own.”

The laser gun?”

Again, same as the big birds, but proportionately sized. Same power, though, same capacity. I've put the new stun option in them, too. They'll be on stun until, or unless we need something more dramatic.”

Geddes was nodding his understanding as Em spoke. He waited for her to finish before offering a critical question: “You said we have only three?”

Should be enough,” she said. She turned her head, nodded several times at the ghostly faces in the room's reflected green lighting, and turned back to the monitors. Although nothing appeared to be happening on the screens, Em's attention to them had become so intensely focused it created a psychic magnetic field, drawing the others in the room to try to see what she seemed to see.

A blip of lighter green appeared from the upper left corner of one of the screens and began a slow crawl across the top.

What's that?” Newgate asked abruptly, breaking the trance despite his muted tone.

When no one else spoke, he started again, a little louder, ”That can't be a hummingbird...”

Em spoke without turning from the screens. “Decoy,” she tried to say, but managed only a whispery rasp. She tried again, this time putting out sounds that more resembled hoarse squeaks: “We have decoy drones to draw their fire. Help us locate their weapons.”

Are they armed?” Geddes asked.

“They're not really drones, Al. That would cost too much. These are more like aluminum box kites. They're 'armed' with standard lasers, which are almost impossible to distinguish from the weapon-grade kind, until you see nothing happens when they touch something. Oh, they'll blind you if they zap your eyes, just like any laser will. So there's that.

Also, these birds carry tanks of hydrogen gas, so when they're hit they put on quite a show.”

I trust they'll be far enough from The Cottage when that happens, so no one on the ground's in danger,” Geddes said.

That's the plan.”

Do we have any kind of backup plan?”

Sean has the troops in reserve, with the heavy armor. No stun feature in those yet. If he has to move in with them it'll be just like last time.” She said this last in a diminished voice that sounded almost timid.

Newgate: “So when does the show start, Em?”

Her eyes still locked on the monitors, she said, “The show, as you put it, started about five minutes ago.”

What?” The exclamation erupted simultaneously from Geddes and Newgate. As one, they leaned toward the screens, faces tightening with the same intensity as hers.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

One book to read before it's too late

Hell, you can tell just by its title it's too smartass for American high school literature classes. Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart. Published only three years ago it's way too soon for Super Sad to be deemed a classic, which would give it a fighting chance against enraged assaults by lawyer-bearing, church-driven parents determined to shield their little disciples from the kinds of books that might inspire *gasp* skepticism and critical thinking.

Problem is, by the time Super Sad is old enough to be the kind of classic where its title and author's first name can be dropped, with Shteyngart sitting up there next to Orwell and Huxley as iconic legends of social prophesy, it might be too late. At least one of Super Sad's predictions, that books will become dangerously unfashionable, has already almost come to pass.

Here's Terrence Rafferty's review, which ran in Slate shortly after the book came out. If you haven't read Super Sad yet, you best do so before book-reading is seen as socially inept. If you've already read it, there might still be time to read it again. It's one of the funniest, gloomiest social satires I have encountered. 

His Super Sad True Love Story truly is sad.

Gary Shteyngart might be too funny for his own good. His new novel, Super Sad True Love Story, is a spectacularly clever near-future dystopian satire, but it may actually disappoint admirers of his first two, more consistently hilarious, novels, The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan. At first, the book seems like Shteyngart business-as-usual as we delve into the diary of one Lenny Abramov, a pure exemplar of this writer's favorite species of comic protagonist: a self-deprecating Russian-American Jewish male, self-conscious about his appearance, uselessly well-educated, wry, passionate, neither old nor young, and helplessly prone to error.
Read the rest here: Super Sad True Love Story 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Ruth slid her ID badge twice past the scanner on the door to the pool room. When the lock failed to click open, she turned to Joan, “Try yours.”
The green light came on. Maybe it's the lock.” Joan nonetheless slid her badge, too. Same result. She tugged on the handle, rapped on the small, one-way window. A heavy metallic click interrupted her rapping and the steel door eased open to reveal the pate-shaved, acne-scarred head of a young man.
Hello, Miz President, Joan,” he rasped, “Sorry, I was on the other end of the pool.”
Both women jerked their heads back reflexively and turned their faces. “Don't give us your cold, Rodney!” Ruth said.
Rodney's face morphed quickly through degrees of surprise, welcoming delight and serious concern, settling finally on an amused smile. “No cold, ma'am. Just a little hoarse from calling time for Mr. Hendrian. He wears those earplugs you know.”
Ruth laughed. “Calling time? What's that for, Warren training for the Olympics?”
No, ma'am. Mr. Hendran says he's just trying to get in shape. he expecting you?”
Oh, yes. Maybe not right here, in the pool, but he's definitely expecting us.”
OK, then, I'll tell him you're here.”
No, that's OK, Rodney. We'll just surprise him. If you can excuse us?”
Yes, ma'am, of course.” He pushed the door all the way open and held it until the two women had entered. Before exiting, he turned toward the pool and shouted, “SEVENTEEN SIX! SEVENTEEN SIX! GOOD TIME!”
The plump body methodically splashing toward the opposite end of the pool, wagging head covered with a rubber skullcap, didn't register any response to the shouted words as they reverberated among the tiled walls and walkways. Before Hendrian reached the end of his lane, Ruth had stripped down to her panties and bra and slipped into the pool, and when he turned to start back she was swimming underwater straight toward him. They met when Hendrian had gotten about halfway back. With about ten feet between them, Ruth burst out of the water.
Hi, Warren!”
AGHH...AAAAIIIIEEEEEEEEEE...blublublublublubl ...” Hendrian went spastic, whitecapping the water as he rolled and upended, backwards with his head and chest underwater, legs and arms thrashing frantically. After a couple of seconds watching Hendrian struggle with no indication he was gaining control Ruth closed the gap, swam under his back and pushed him upright until he was standing on the pool floor, the water up to his armpits. She propped him up there while he continued to flail and splash. He shook his head like a spaniel after a bath, gagging, spitting and gasping for air.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Confederate John Singleton Mosby and two other scouts, riding behind Union lines along Virginia's Pamunkey River in the area of Hanover and King William counties, came upon a Union supply wagon, which they promptly captured.  Mosby left one man to guard the wagon and its team, and rode on with the other.  Further upriver, after discovering two Union supply schooners at dock, he sent the other scout back to inform Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, and rode on alone.

Mosby soon came upon a company of Pennsylvania cavalry, mounted and drawn up in a line across the road. 

Evening was drawing nigh and Mosby's horse had tired from the daylong ride.  He knew if he turned to flee, the Union riders could overtake him with their fresh mounts.  He pulled up at the crest of a hill, made a show of drawing his saber and turned in the saddle, waving it in the air as if beckoning followers.  "Come on, boys!" he shouted, "Come on!"

The Pennsylvania troopers executed a smart wheel-around and vanished in a cloud of dust down the road. 

From the book If the Woodsman is Late 

Monday, May 13, 2013

When the buck stops

I saw surprise distort Albert's face when he appeared in the doorway that separated his office from what he called “the big office”. He was holding the morning mail pouch, which he ordinarily carries to my working office across the oval room where I sit now.
Good morning Albert,” I said. My voice came out unusually light, almost cheerful. I found myself giving him the smile I usually save for the public.
Good morning, ma'am,” he said, after quickly composing himself. He added, “You're here early.”
I held the smile and nodded. “I am. This is an important day and I just felt like getting a head start.”
Yes, ma'am, I left a note on your...other desk that the ambassador has taken ill and won't be in this morning as scheduled.”
Oh? Well, that's just as well. Gives me more time to prepare.” He set the mail pouch on the corner of the Truman Desk, bowed slightly and hesitated. I knew he was concerned about my haggard appearance, but I had no desire to tell him what was wrong and he knew better than to ask. “Thanks, Albert,” I said, and he bowed again and returned to his office.
The stress I've been feeling the previous couple of weeks has been unprecedented, ever since the second call came in. This call had no video, but I dreaded it as I had dreaded nothing else. The call came after breakfast as I walked from our living quarters down to the West Wing. I recognized the unique ring tone that had heralded the first call, the trumpet flourishes that introduce Hail to the Chief.
The first call had come on Inauguration Day as my husband and I were getting ready for bed. There was a short video and the text message: “Congratulations! We'll be in touch.”
Bill was in the bathroom. The video ended before he came out. I didn't tell him, partly because I didn't wish to spoil the moment and also because I was unable to save the images. There was no evidence of what I had just seen.
The video was old. Its colors were faded and marked by scratches and the other signs of deterioration incurred by film over time. What the video depicted was a familiar scene, one I had seen many times over the years, filmed by a man named Abraham Zapruder. The only difference was this film had been shot from a higher elevation and at a considerable distance from where Zapruder was standing. This was looking down from what we know as The Grassy Knoll.
I decided not to tell anyone about the call, sensing intuitively it was not a prank, that the video was real and represented a conspiracy so enduring and complex I knew I couldn't trust anybody with what I'd seen. I served the next two years with a darkness on my heart. I avoided the Oval Office except when absolutely necessary, feeling its mockery of the neutered office it represented. Finally two years later came the moment of truth.
In an Oval Office ceremony later today I am to sign the most controversial piece of legislation of my presidency thus far. It's the health care reform bill we should have gotten in 2010. It passed Congress by the slimmest of margins. It could not withstand a veto. The second phone call informed me a veto was expected. My constituents will disown me if I do so. I would sooner die.

Nov. 22, 1963

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The day Gert had my back

My dad began morphing into Kasper Guttman at the Selective Service office in Portage, Wis.   We'd driven there to appeal a notice I received lifting my student draft deferment after I flunked out of college for the third time.  The notice said I'd be re-classified 1-A unless I could persuade the local draft board otherwise.

It was spring 1963. U.S. military involvement in Vietnam was growing. Our role was still classified as advisory, but more and more American troops and war materials were showing up in that distant land every day. I was more annoyed than worried.  I didn't especially want to be a soldier, but the prospect of adventure had a vague attraction.  My dad was dead set against my being drafted.

We'd talked a little about my strategy on the hour-long drive from Columbus. Were I enrolled in a community college I might get to keep my deferment. Trouble was, I was tired of school.  I had lousy study habits.  I had graduated with honors from high school, but it was a small school and the coursework wasn't rigorous. I hadn't developed enough self-discipline to cope with the independence, academic demands and social distractions of a major university. Maybe I could handle a smaller college, something more like my high school.

Are you enrolled?” The woman behind the desk was the only person in the small office. Her hair was gray, but she was no sweet, cheek-pinching grandma. No smile, no friendly greeting, flat voice. All business, this bureaucrat.


My dad took over. “Not yet,” he said, “But he intends to apply as soon as possible.” There was some question as to whether my academic status might prevent me from enrolling in any college. We hadn't looked into that yet.

The woman's eyes never left mine. She asked another question or two, and each time my dad responded before I could say a word. Finally, she turned from me and addressed my dad. “Who is the applicant here, you or him?” She motioned with her head back at me, her voice arched with sarcasm.

Our little session was over.  My dad abruptly stood. “Thank you,” he snapped, then, to me, “Let's go.” We did.

Just outside the office, loudly enough so the woman could hear him through the glass door, my dad told me not to worry, that he had some kind of legal leverage over one of the draft board members. A slap in the face couldn't have hurt me more than those words. I was stunned, but not so much that I couldn't feel the unfamiliar emotion that was born at that moment somewhere inside my heart. It started as a spark of disbelief and quickly burst into disillusionment. Despite the frailties I had come to see in my dad – and there was a fair bill of particulars, considering his lawyerly self-loathing arrogance – my sense of his personal honor had never been in doubt. Seeing him now in a Sydney Greenstreet role, the kind of wheeling dealing villain who did what he had to do to get what he wanted no matter how foul or who might get hurt, The Maltese Falcon's Kasper Guttman, was my first unsentimental glimpse of the man I had once wanted to be.

We drove home in silence. Next day I told my mother I was going to enlist in the Army. That evening, my dad tried to talk me out of it, hurling the usual clichés about throwing my life away and how dare I do this to them. I didn't budge. Then he played his trump card.

You realize you're killing your mother with this, don't you? Your mother is dying a little every minute because of this.” 

My anger was more controlled than I believe it had ever been. It was hard and cold and determined. I looked at my mother, who sat in a separate chair next to his.

Are you, Gert? Are you dying a little every minute because I've decided to join the Army?” Our eyes locked. Ordinarily she'd have glanced at her husband before answering a question so clearly defiant of his authority. Instead she smiled, shook her head slightly and murmured, “No.”

Lloyd & Gert, R.I.P.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Doubting Dylan

Do not go raging into that bleak night,
Old age should know frustration's not the way;
Float, float when all about you's losing light.

Wise men at their end know it be quite
Demeaning to our dignity to bray,
Do not embarrass others with your fright.

Bad men blame the universe with spite
For taking their proud fantasies away,
Float, float when all about you's losing light.

Dreamers at last see what's wrong and right,
And know that what they wanted would not stay,
Do not embarrass others with your fright.

Brave men, dying, who're forced to quit the fight,
Realize then there's nothing left to say,
Float, float when all about you's losing light.

And you, my friend, with verbiage so bright,
Remind me now as darkness comes my way:
Do not embarrass others with your fright.
Float, float when all about you's losing light.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review of Dead Man's Gun and Other Western Stories by Ed Gorman

Of all the valuable stories in this collection "The Face" alone is worth many times more than the $2.99 you commit to download the book. Many times more. It is a masterpiece of craft, sensibility and sheer artistry. If you are uncomfortable with the image of the revolver pointing out from the cover of "Dead Man's Gun", you may find solace in regarding it as a symbol of the cruel, true and timeless poetry "The Face" will fire into the depths of your heart. For this price, every high school history and English teacher in the country can afford to download it in the classroom, and every high school student should be assigned to read it. There need be no test given afterward. "The Face" will stay with them the rest of their lives, as it will with their teachers and with you, as it will with me. This I can guarantee without fear of contradiction by any who have read this brief, profound, elegant, haunting story, no matter their religion, their politics or their station in life.

I came to "The Face" because I am a longtime admirer of its author, Ed Gorman, a prolific, masterful spinner of tales in almost every genre imaginable. This book contains the first of his western stories I've read, and although westerns are not ordinarily my cup of tea those in "Dead Man's Gun" are no less entertaining and enlightening than his mysteries and political thrillers - my preferred genres. "The Face", in fact, falls outside all three of these categories. It's a story from the American Civil War, as told by a Confederate battlefield surgeon. I'm something of a Civil War buff, having grown up in the Midwest and lived most of my adult life in Virginia. I do not exaggerate when I say "The Face" is the most sublime, horrifying and memorable Civil War story I have read. It may well be the most powerful anti-war story ever published. I would not be at all surprised to learn that many if not most as they read "The Face" will hear in their minds and hearts, as did I, the hallowed strains of that old plantation gospel song, "Down by the Riverside" with its achingly hopeful refrain, "Ain't gonna study war no more." 
Click to order

Sacrifice (excerpt)

The Game is Afoot

It's a good thing I had to pee before we started up the hidden stairs to head into battle, because by the time I got back to the group waiting at the base of the stairs our plan was changing. And a good thing it was. Evidently Gladys was the one who brought up the likelihood Pink's life no longer was necessarily valuable to anyone but himself.
“Look at it this way,” she argued. “Nigeria wants him alive because he's the only one who knows how to make the enhanced Vulcana, which they want so they can blackmail the developed countries, the oligarchies. That was my job, to get him safely to Nigeria. You can bet Wilde Labs has no interest in the enhanced formula. Their only interest is profits. They think I can make the basic stuff, which is where the money is. They don't need Pink, long as they've got me.”
“What if they think you're dead?” This was Joan.
“A lot depends on how much Hendrian knows,” said Gladys. “He hired Chesapeake, but he might not know Elliot's dead. There's got to be some confusion in the ranks. The zombies are just kids. They don't know shit, except for the head zombie, who's probly Kelleher, their chief operations officer. This is their first field op. I can see Kelleher leading the team. I can see him taking Elliot down, too. Those two never got along.”
“What we need to know is whether Kelleher - if that's who it is - is more than a tactical commander,” said Joan. “If Elliot was the contact point with Hendrian, Kelleher might have killed the critical link in his chain of command. Those zombies may not know who to shoot and who to protect.”
“When in doubt, shoot. That's how we train,” said Ashmore.
“Lemme see if I got this right,” I said. “Our goal is to get to Hendrian without losing anybody. We think Hendrian's interested only in the basic formula, so he doesn't need Pink. All he needs is Gladys, unless he thinks Gladys is dead. Gladys, did the head zombie ever see you?”
“Not that I know of, Al. I got here before the zombies arrived. Came back dressed as a courier. Said I was from Wilde's main office. Nobody recognized me and I pretty much stayed in the lab until Elliot got here.”
“Hard to imagine anyone who knew you not recognizing you, Gladys,” I said.
“Well, thank you, Al, I'm sure, but I'm pretty good with disguises. I'll bet I could have fooled even Mr. Pinkerton.” She shot a grin Pink's way, which he ignored.
As our resolve began wavering I expected Pink to have second thoughts about volunteering to approach a zombie unarmed and attempt to wrestle him into position for a dart shot to an armpit from Cromwell. If he was reconsidering this audacity, he gave no sign, and instead pushed us closer to accepting the plan.
“Nobody knows what the fuck's going on. That's what I think,” Pink said, surprising me out of some intense wondering what alternatives we might have.
“They're just gamer punks. Maybe they've seen a photo of me and maybe of Gladys, but after what just happened all they're doing is trying to catch us and protect Hendrian. They're not gonna deliberately kill anybody, unless Hendrian tells them to. The leader killed Elliot because Elliot was acting crazy, it sounds like. The other zombie killed the other guy because the other guy shot him. The kid'd probly never been shot before. He panicked. That's what I think.”
“So you're still willing to do this, Pink?” I said.
“What else can we do? We keep blasting them with guns, they're gonna boil our guts with their killer rays. They're wearing armor, but it still hurts to get shot. It'll scare the shit out of them and piss them off.”
“Where do you want me in all of this?” asked Dr. Knoe.
Cromwell responded: “I'll need a little cover, because I'll be the only one with a gun. They see that and they're liable to shoot without thinking.”
“I'll be your cover, Tony,” said Gladys. We all turned to look at her. She was smiling. “These are teenage nerds, remember? Probly virgins.” She started disrobing. “I'll be flashing those boys like crazy, and they'll be too busy watching my little show to see anything else.”

First Sonnet (for slam challenge)

Shit, I guess I'm gonna hafta
Sit here, wrack my lobes and crafta
Sonnet for the first time only,
Or be lettered lost and lonely.

Sonnets silly are not favored,
Serious stuff is what is savored,
Yet my temperament finds follies
De rigueur to feed my jollies.

Nevermore shall I endeavor
Such an effort to be clever,
As prize of praise being faintly doled
Incentively doth leave me cold.

Yet tap the keyboard I can do
My faint praise I shall save for you.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Love Defined

Love heals.
Lovers know this from the start,
Yet they may not know with certainty
What love is.

Not that it matters especially
When they find the magic within the power
Of unfolding lust,
Of redemption,
Of unmitigated joy.

There's a mutual recognition
In the eye to eye surrendering
To trust,
To promise,
To the unimaginable other.

And when all is gone its memory remains
To wield the rage,
Reminding the heart
What love is.