Insanity, He Thinks

John Noonan was drunk. He was very drunk. You couldn’t say that he was gloriously drunk because after twenty years of drinking and scribbling electrical circuit designs on yellow pads for I.B.M, drunk was what he did to feel normal. Drunk was what it felt to be alive. And there was little that was glorious about that.

And he was drunk, and alone, that night and still awake. And hungry. So he piled charcoal, the whole bag, on the grill and doused the black heap with lighter fluid. “The secret to a good fire,” he slurred to no one (for there was no one there), “is to soak the fuckers down good.” He squeezed the can and lighter fluid sprayed like his words, “goooooooood.”

He could already taste the steaks as he struck a match. Yellow flame danced to life, staggering him back as appraised his work. “Not going to be big enough,” he muttered and stumbled into the house. In the living room, he scooped up three logs from the wood box in the corner. He staggered back to the porch and dropped them in a billow of dark smoke on the withering flames. “Unacceptable.” He jostled the logs, coaxing, but all he did was snuff out the last yellow tongue of flame.

His engineer’s mind worked the problem as he scratched his chin and swayed in an imaginary breeze. He opened his eyes wide and stepped into the garage then back again in a  moment with a red can of gasoline.  He grinned with satisfaction as he tipped the can and a slurge of gasoline rained down on the grill. Angry vapor boiled in the air but nothing. “Fucker,” he said and rained down more gasoline. Still nothing. He struck another match and things got fuzzy.

The boiling vapors exploded and a six-foot fire ball engulfed him. He lurched back but the fire wrapped searing fingers around him. His eyes were burned. He gasped and filled his lungs with fire. He jerked his head back violently. Through a translucent haze he saw his shirt, more clear in his mind than in his scarred eyes. The shirt his wife had given him the Christmas she left, the one with the tiny paisley pattern, the one his son teased him about. “Too cool for an IBM-er. You’re no hippy subversive, old man,” his son said before he too left.

He remembered then realized – in one reeling instant of lucidity – the last thing he would ever understand. He stumbled into the kitchen, weirdly relieved that the shirt was not on fire. His steaks would go uneaten.


Weakness Joined to Cunning


Julia knew it all too well. It was Nature’s way that people’s hearts were often both “faint” and “feint” in equal measure. She knew it on the boardwalk as she felt him slip her mother’s silver spoon bracelet from her wrist and tuck it away in his jacket pocket. She felt it as he leaned in and whispered in her ear, “Make a wish. Wish for anything. Anything can come true.” It was in his breath, cool smoke slowly boiling in time to the breakers on the beach. A shiver ran down her spine.

She knew it again after the investigation. She knew it like she’d been kicked. He got one hundred dollars for the bracelet. Enough to buy a single brown, plasticized envelope, one last fix.

Julia knows it now yet refuses to grieve a “hippie forever dying!” Still she loves him in a way that makes her understand uniquely how heroin was the only thing that quieted the shouting in his mind, that muted for a time the cacophony of cancerous discord in his body. The only thing in the end that was able to bring him any peace. He embraced the spreading haze and Julia knew it.





Fourth of July Stories


A little boy was working with daddy and then he fell and hurt himself and his name was J. W.



Once upon a time a little girl named mommy was playing her music and then she went to bed and in the morning she played with Legos and then she went back to bed and in the morning she played more music and lived happily ever after.




Allman Brothers Band

This song has always been in my heart.

Melissa – The Allman Brothers Band

Crossroads, seem to come and go, yeah.

The gypsy flies from coast to coast


Knowing many, loving none,

Bearing sorrow havin’ fun,

But back home he’ll always run

To sweet Melissa… mmm…


Freight train, each car looks the same, all the same.

And no one knows the Gypsy’s name


No one hears his lonely sighs,

There are no blankets where he lies.

In all his deepest dreams the Gypsy flies

with sweet Melissa… mmm…


Again the morning’s come,

Again he’s on the run,

Sunbeams shining through his hair,

Appearing not to have a care.

Well, pick up your gear and Gypsy roll on, roll on.


Crossroads, will you ever let him go? (Lord, Lord)

Will you hide the dead man’s ghost,

Or will he lie, beneath the clay,

or will his spirit float away?


But I know that he won’t stay without Melissa.


Yes I know that he won’t stay without Melissa.