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Archive for January, 2008

Cimarrón Nuclear

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 29, 2008

cimarronnewmexico.jpg Cimarrón obstensibly takes its name from the wild snow-fed river which begins there, in northeastern New Mexico, and flows 698 obstinate miles to the Arkansas River in Oklahoma, but cimarrón is also a Spanish word meaning wild, or willful.  It describes an unbroken animal or a wild man, or wild woman (cimarróna).  At one time it was applied to slaves who freed themselves (cimarrónes).

Charlie Morris saluted the first day of June, 1872 with a beer, although the sun had just recently risen over the nearby peaks. Joyce was still asleep upstairs. She and Charlie had been up late drinking, but he hadn’t been too tired to put Joyce to sleep with a smile. They had ridden down the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail from Raton to the St. James Hotel in Cimarrón three months ago. Joyce’s husband, Chunk Colbert, was a gambler, mean and vicious but seldom at home. Racing horses went well with his love of gambling, and his gun had often been used in anger. Which is why Charlie and Joyce had left town. They must have decided that a hundred miles was far enough away, or else passion simply overruled their common sense. Chunk found his wife missing when he returned one day, and he was able to find out where she had gone. On that same June morning that Charlie sat drinking a beer to clear his head, Chunk walked from the bright sunlight into the saloon in the St. James. When his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he saw Charlie Morris.
“Morris,” he said, in a voice that could stop a wild horse, “you got something that belongs to me.”
“What could that be?” Charlie asked, spilling beer on his fine grey vest.
“My wife!” Chunk said, and shot Charlie dead.

This was two years after Lucian Bonaparte Maxwell, son of an Irish emigrant from Dublin, sold most of his holdings in the largest individually owned piece of land in the United States, of which Cimarrón is a part, to three Englishman. The Maxwell Land Grant was originally obtained as a Mexican Land Grant by Charles Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda, for assisting the Mexican government’s attempt to exterminate the Indians in its “Northern Province.” Maxwell married Beaubien’s thirteen-year-old daughter. Almost two million acres that had been stolen from the Ute, Apache, and Comanche eventually ended up in Maxwell’s hands.
In all its sordid history of gunfights, murder, and land wars, and after the railroads had come and gone, and the gold rushes were over, Cimarrón endured. The gold and coal are gone, although the timber industry and the Philmont Scout Ranch breathe life into the area. People still struggle to survive, and some still dream of the old days of greed and wealth.

In 1977 a new schemer came to Cimarrón. Bill Dufess came with a luxurious double-wide, and a lot of spending money. He was soft-spoken, and, as representative of a new industry coming to town, he came, he said, “to stay.”
Alicia, as mayor pro tem, ran the town while the mayor was busy logging in the mountains. The rest of the time she ran her beauty shop, cutting and perming and dyeing. She worried about paying off the trailer she lived and worked in. As she teased Margarita’s hair, she thought about how tired she was. It was demanding running the shop on her own, but at least she could support herself and her kids. She hadn’t just rolled over and died, or gone on welfare when her husband ran off with with that Albuquerque woman. She had borrowed some money and started her own business. She stopped what she was doing for a moment to clean her glasses, and brush sweaty hair out of her face.

“Margarita, are you going to the matanza at that Dufess fellow’s place?”
“I haven’t decided, but I hear there’s a lot of free beer.”
“Oh, and everyone’s invited, everyone around here.”
“That’s about a thousand people! Does he really have enough food for everyone?”
“Well, his company does seem to have a lot of money. That new double wide trailer of his sure cost a lot of money.”
“What about that dump his company wants to put in, Alicia? Do you think it’s a good idea?”
“I don’t know. Mayor Burns said he thought it was a good idea before he left for the timber harvest, but I’m not sure this guy Dufess is on the up-and-up.
“I hear there won’t be any smell, or anything. It’s not like a regular depósito.”
“That’s because it’s for residuos nucleares.”
“Oh my! You don’t think it will blow up?”
“Margarita! Really! Just because the hands on your old watch glow in the dark doesn’t mean they’re going to blow up, does it?
“Well, I suppose not, but what has that…”
“The hands glow because they’re radioactivo.”
“Oh. Then I suppose it’ll be alright.”
“Maybe. There. All done. Take a look.”
“Oh, eso es bonita, Alicia. It’s just beautiful.”
“Thanks. I try my best.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Alicia. Are you sure you don’t mind waiting for your money?”
“I’m sure. Go on. I’ve still got to close up.”
Alicia closed out the register and put the money in the bank bag. “I’d better not forget to take this tomorrow,” she reminded herself, “I don’t want that trailer payment to bounce.” She swept the floor and took the trash out to the garbage. “I wonder,” she thought, “what radioactive garbage looks like?”

Alicia had promised her kids that she’d take them to Santa Fe to see the Star Trek movie. She was more than a little curious herself, so she closed the shop early one slow afternoon. She’d seen some of the T.V. shows back in the sixties.
“And they’re just making a movie now?” her son had asked.
“Es verdad, mi jito. From before you were born to now, it’s been a long time, no?”
“It’s my whole lifetime. Can we have popcorn?”
“Sure you can, Roberto. Now, go and get your sister for me. We have to get going.”
“Ana! Aaannaaa!”
“Roberto! If I wanted you to shout, I’d have done it myself. Now go and get her. Vamanos! We don’t want to be late.”
They drove in relative silence. Alicia had insisted that her kids bring along something to read, and they had contained their excitement fairly well, even though they didn’t get out of Cimarrón very often. The twisting, potholed road between there and Santa Fe distracted her attention from the red sun-burnt cliffs that poked into a blue porcelain sky.
As they neared the theater, Alicia could see people lined up all the way around the corner.
“Oh, no, kids, there’s a long line. Maybe we should have waited until it came to Taos.”
“That’s OK, Mom, we’ll get out and get the tickets. You go ahead and park the car. We’ll wait for you,” Roberto promised.
That kid, he’s something, Alicia thought as she walked back to the theater from a street three blocks away.
“Excuse me ma’am, would you sign our petition?” asked a balding man in torn blue jeans. He had a red bandanna tied in a tight ring around what was left of his long hair.
“One of those Taos hippies,” Alicia thought as he pushed a clipboard toward her. “I’m sorry, I don’t really have time now.”
“But it’s about nuclear waste, ma’am. Do you want them to bury nuclear waste in New Mexico? Do you want your kids to be exposed to radiation?”
“What? Where? Do you mean Cimarrón?”
“Uh, no ma’am. I’m talking about down in Carlsbad. The government plans to ship radioactive waste from all over the country, and the world, into New Mexico, and bury it in Carlsbad.”
“Listen, I really have to run. Is there a number I could call to find out more about this?”
“I think there’s a number on the petition. I don’t have any information myself, I’m just taking the petition around. Here, you can have one. There. There’s the number.”
“Thanks.”
The following week, Alicia called the number. It wasn’t a local number, it was in Albuquerque. “What the hell,” she decided, “maybe they have some good information.”
“STOP. This is Colin speaking.”
“Stop? Stop what?
“Stop the dump, that’s what. No, really it stands for Stop Threatening Our Planet. Could I help you?”
“Yes. Can you send me some information about nuclear waste?”
“Of course. Do you mean general information, or something technical?”
“Well, I suppose I need general information. There’s a company that’s planning to put a waste dump here and I need to know more about it. People have been coming into my beauty shop and asking me questions, and I don’t have the answers.”
“Are you calling from Carlsbad?”
“Oh, no. This is Alicia Seria, from Cimarrón. I’m the Mayor pro tem here.”
“The Mayor! Alicia, I’ll be glad to send you any information you need. Would you tell me more about this waste dump? This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
“Oh, good. I was afraid you were only concerned about Carlsbad.”
“No, not at all. We really don’t want radioactive waste traveling on New Mexico highways, or buried here.”
“From what I’ve seen of the roads around here, it wouldn’t be a good idea. Oh, by the way, I’m just the temporary mayor.”
Colin got all the information he could from Alicia. As soon as he hung up, he was back on the phone to alert the membership about this new problem. The next potluck meeting of STOP took place four days later. Charlie, one of the three coordinators, brushed bread crumbs out of his bushy red beard and called the meeting to order.
“Attention people. Most of us are finished eating, and we have some business to get to. Bring your drinks and deserts. Colin, you’re first on the agenda.” Nine people formed a ragged circle on the floor.
“Uh, well, as some of you know, we got a phone call from the mayor of Cimarrón. Apparently, a Texas company called Nuclear Futures wants to build a waste dump there.”
“Colin, I thought all the waste was supposed to go in one place?” asked Edith, the gray-headed professor’s wife.
“This is a private company, Edith. The Carlsbad site is a federal project. Nuclear Futures is planning a commercial dump. From what I, uh, understand, waste producers will pay them to accept their waste. And, listen to this, the waste will be in 55-gallon drums piled in shallow trenches and just covered over with dirt.”
“Wow. That’s pretty heavy,” said Ken, the cement factory unionist. “It sounds like another Love Canal in the making. What do the people in Cimarrón say about that?”
“Well, uh, the mayor, I mean, the acting mayor, told me that most people don’t know anything about the possible dangers. There’s this guy, Bill Dufess, who works for United Futures, who’s moved to Cimarrón. He says he’s planning to live there permanently, and he threw this big matanza last Saturday with all the food and beer people could want.”
“What does the Mayor say? Hey! what’s her name?” Charlie asked.
“Alicia Seria.”
“What does she want?”
“She’s afraid that this Dufess character is snowing people with all that beer and barbecue. She’s worried about the dump and she thinks people are afraid to question it.”
“What can we do?” Charlie asked.
“She’s asked us if some people could come up there with some information, and maybe debate this guy. I’ve already talked to George at the Albuquerque Resource Center and they have some movies we could take up there, and George wants to debate this Bill Dufess guy.”
“Won’t there be hearings?” asked the feminist-anarchist.
“No, none at all, Paula. George told me that New Mexico is the only state in the nation without some form of permitting and licensing for, uh, landfills.”
“I want to go up and meet Alicia and Dufess. Does anyone want to go with me?” Charlie asked. Three hands shot up.
“OK, let’s get together after the meeting and make arrangements. We’ll be able to report on what’s happening up there by the next meeting.”

“Alicia, can you give me a trim? I want to get rid of all these split ends.”
“Be with you in just in second. What, Ana?”
“Mom, can I go over to Monica’s?”
“Did you finish your homework?”
“I finished it at school.”
“OK, jita, but don’t forget to be home in time for dinner.”
“I won’t. Bye, mom.”
“Now, let’s get to those split ends, Effie.”
“What do you think, Alicia? Do you think I should shorten it like yours?”
“Oh, no. Your hair’s much too pretty this way. I’ll just give you a trim, and a shampoo, and you’ll see, you’ll like it.”
“Thanks, Alicia. I trust you.”
“How’s your boy doing, Effie?”
“Oh, real good. I didn’t think he was ever going to pass the fifth grade, but he’s much better now. You know, they have to learn so much these days. Sometimes I don’t know how they manage at all.”
“Yeah, my Roberto knows more than I do, I think. Sometimes I look at his homework, and I can’t make any sense of it. By the way, Effie, what do you think of this waste dump Dufess’s company wants to put in here?”
“Well, Alicia, I hear you’re against it?”
“Oh, not really, not yet. I’m just not real sure. I’m afraid of what could happen if one of those trucks carrying the waste were to turn over. Remember when that propane truck crashed on the old highway? We almost had to evacuate the town then.
“What can you do, Alicia? If they want some old dump here, I don’t think there’s much we could do about it anyway.”
“Turn your head a little, Effie. And don’t you be so sure about that.”
“What are you up to, Alicia?”
“Well, Tony and Eloy were talking about having a big town meeting. I thought I might invite those people from Albuquerque to come up and debate Dufess publicly, and maybe show a movie or something like that.”
“People sure are talking about that dump since you started asking questions.”
“I just got so tired of hearing only one side of it. All those slide shows of Dufess’s. And all that beer and barbecue of his makes me think he’s trying to buy us, and I kind of wonder why. Come on over to the sink, so I can rinse your hair.”

“Can we hear a report from the people who went to Cimarrón? Colin?”
“Oh, I talk too much all the time. Why don’t we let Charlie tell you about it?
“Charlie?”
“OK, sure. We met at that guy Bill Dufess’s trailer. He had this real slick slide show about the dump, about how safe it would be, and how people would benefit. It was real convincing.”
“How many people were there?”
“Not very many, Paula. Most of the townspeople had seen the slides already. But Alicia was there, and this one guy who’s all for it, and there were a couple of people who just watched, and didn’t say anything.”
“So what was accomplished?”
“Not much, but Alicia did say that some people are planning a town meeting, and we’re invited to come and present our information.”
“That’s great Charlie! You know, since New Mexico is hosting the Desert Alliance meeting next month, do you think it would be alright to have the meeting in Cimarrón? That way we could maybe combine our meeting with the town meeting. It would be a real good way for the people in Cimarrón to find out what’s happening in Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. And I think the Alliance members would like to see Cimarrón.”
“Paula! That’s a great idea. What does everyone else think?”

Everyone thought it was a great idea, so Charlie asked his lover, Rosa, if she would go too. She said no, she didn’t want to go, and that she had things to do that weekend. Charlie didn’t like that. He and Rosa hadn’t done much together lately. She had her writing and he had his STOP meetings. They both held the same opinions of nuclear waste, but Rosa had her own ideas about what was important, and that was editing an anti-nuclear newsletter. Charlie felt that the petition drive that had been going on for the past few months was too important to abandon, so they had found themselves alone at separate meetings. Well, I’ll just have to go by myself then, he decided. Damn! This isn’t how I thought it would be when I moved here. I was going to start a family, and Rosa and I were going to make the world a better place for them. And she still doesn’t want kids yet. Can’t say I blame her, I don’t make much money fixing sidewalks and block walls at the University. Charlie didn’t have too much time to talk to Rosa, and convince her to go. He was spending nearly every night at the STOP office trying to coordinate things for the meeting in Cimarrón. He thought about Joyce, in Nevada. She was a lot of fun to talk with at that first Alliance meeting in Colorado. Too bad we only talked. I’d better write to her.

As busy as Alicia was, she arranged most of it. She convinced the town council to let the Desert Alliance use the community center. “Some of those anti-nuclear kids could even sleep there. And Tom and Sheryl have offered a couple rooms at their motel. I hope those people in Albuquerque bring their projector. I’ve been telling people that we’re going to have movies. That should get ’em here.” She knew that the out-of-towners would bring their own food, but she had still convinced Margarita, Effie, and a few others to bring a dish for the town meeting.
Outside Alicia’s trailer, it was snowing. “They’d better bring warm clothes,” she thought. “I’ll get John at the store to donate some coffee and tea. Oh! And I’d better remember some sugar and milk too. This is exciting! I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’ll bet we can stop these Nuclear Futures people.”

Two carloads of people, armed with a movie projector, maps, leaflets, and pamphlets, left Albuquerque on a clear sunny morning for battle in Cimarrón. The first car left before dawn. Charlie drove the second car, which gave him an excuse to sleep a couple hours more. He didn’t talk much on the long drive up North, he was thinking about Joyce. He knew she was coming, and Rosa had insisted on staying home. From Joyce’s reply to his letter, Charlie felt that the possibility of sharing a bed or a sleeping bag with her were pretty good. It would help make this weekend more interesting, he thought. There’s probably no way we can stop that Nuclear Futures company. Shit. Two years we’ve been fighting that waste project in Carlsbad, and we’re no closer to stopping it. All those damn hearings are such a damned waste of time. We’ve got twenty thousand signatures on petitions, and all the polls show that the majority in the state are against it, and still the feds won’t listen. The Governor said he would stop it when he was running for office, but now the federal boys have made it a dump for military waste. National Security, my ass.

As Charlie pulled onto I-25, to head north, Alicia was already open for business, hoping to finish early so that she would be available to greet people and get things set up. She had an early appointment with Ruth Mondragon, so she turned the heat up to warm the front room beauty parlor. She had fed the kids, and they were already watching Saturday morning T.V. in her bedroom. With a cup of coffee in her hand, she sat down by the phone to call people and remind them about tomorrow’s meeting. She had managed to get five calls done when Ruth arrived.
“Buenos dias, Alicia!”
“Well, good morning to you too, Ruth. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“I sure would. It’s cold out there.”
As she was finishing Ruth’s perm, the phone rang.
“Morning Alicia. Cold enough for you?”
“Hi Cicero, what’s up? I hope we won’t be getting any snow today?”
“No, not as far as I’ve heard. Reason I called was to let you know that there’s some people parked outside my store. I think they’re the people you’re expecting.”
“Oh my goodness. Are they here so early? Thanks, Cicero. I’ll see you tonight. Bye.”
Ruth started to get up. “What’s the matter, Alicia? Is something wrong?”
“No, don’t get up. But could you do me a favor, Ruth? Would you take this key with you when you leave and open up the hall? And tell people I’ll be by soon, and that I’ll be bringing coffee?”
“Si, claro! I’m as much against this crazy dump as you are.”
“Thanks, Ruth. Well, let’s get you finished. I didn’t know you felt that way, Ruth. Didn’t I see you laughing with Dufess at his barbecue?”
“O Alicia, I’ve never been one to turn down free food. But I’ll tell you one thing, I sure was surprised to see where they intend to dig those trenches.”
“Here, let’s rinse you off. Why’s that, Ruth?”
“Why, that area floods. It’s been a while, but I remember a time about twenty years ago when two whole feet of topsoil washed off of there and it made a mess it took weeks to clean up.”
“Is that a fact?”
“It sure is. And that viejo of mine told me that his abuelo used to have a house over there years before that, but it got washed away.”
“No kidding? His grandfather lost his house there?”
“Verdad.”

Charlie turned his collar up against the cold damp of a Cimarrón morning as he got out of the car, and asked Colin: “Where are we supposed to go?”
“I don’t know, exactly. There’s some cars over there by that store. Pull up close, let’s see if we know anyone.”
A foggy window was rolled down.
“Colin! Charlie!”
“Hi Jim, you beat us here. What’s happening?”
“Well, I don’t know. I’ve been here about thirty or forty minutes. Got a cup of coffee from the store here.”
“Anyone come with you?”
“Yeah, there’s three more of us from Colorado here.”
Another car drove up.
“Hi guys.”
“Hi Ken.”
“Hey, I just came from the hall where the meeting will be. Someone unlocked the door, and she said that Alicia is bringing some hot chocolate and coffee, and we should meet her there.”
Charle helped Alicia start the coffee and hot water on a table by the door of the church hall.
“How are things going, Alicia?”
“Real good. If the weather doesn’t get too bad, I think we’ll have a good crowd tomorrow. A lot of people have promised to come.”
“Is Dufess coming?”
“Oh, yes, he said he’ll be here. And he’s bringing a film of his own, just for balance.”
“Oh, no.”
“It’s alright, that was the only way the town council would approve. They thought it was only fair, since there’s going to be a debate.”
“Well, that makes sense. I suppose it’ll work out. We’ve got the projector. I’ll be showing the movies. Anything I can do?”
“No, not a thing. You go ahead and join people.”
“Charlie took a cup of chocolate and walked into the large hall. Leaning against the stage was a familiar figure. Actually, the figure was not as familiar as the face. It’s Joyce! “Hi Joyce,” he called. She didn’t look the same. I know it’s been six months since I’ve seen her, but still, either she’s gotten a lot fatter, or she’s pregnant, he thought. He crossed the hall and hugged her, gently.

“Joyce, it’s nice to see you here.”

“It’s nice to see you too.”

“No, not just that. I mean, I was thinking about you all the way up here, hoping you’d be here.”

“You know, I was thinking about you too.”

“You were?”

“Well, yeah, ever since that time we went to that meeting in Coloado.”

“I remember. We stayed up half the night talking.”

Joyce looked away amoment, then said, “I got turned on that night.”

“Well,” Charlie said, searching for words.

“Well, yourself. I’d want to talk to you when we get a chance. I didn’t come all the way from Nevada just for this meeting, you know.”

“You look different.”

“Well, yeah. I’m pregnant.”

“No shit. That surprises me.”

“Yeah, it was a surprise to us too. We hadn’t planned it. Harry always said he didn’t want to have children, and I thought about an abortion, but now that I’m pregnant, he seems to like the idea.”

“Uh, oh, here comes Harry, he follows me everywhere. I don’t know when, but we’ll talk. Harry, this is my contact in the Desert Alliance that I’ve told you about.”

“Glad to meet you, Charlie. Joyce has told me a lot about you.”

Charlie shook Harry’s hand. He was very thin, but quite strong. Must be a vegetarian, he thought. “About me?” he asked.

“About STOP, mostly, and about Albuquerque. You send her a lot of information about what’s going on around here. It’s a lot more than we’ve been able to do about underground testing in Nevada.”

“Maybe you should think about moving here, Harry.”

“That’s not a bad idea, maybe we should.”

“Now why did I say that?” Charlie wondered.

Later, when everyone had arrived, Alicia announced that there were rooms at the Blue Sky Motel that were available for some people, but the rest would have to stay in the hall, itself. Charlie opted for the hall. He wanted to stay where the most people were, and he had brought his sleeping bag. After a day-long meeting with the Desert Alliance members, he had packed up his paperwork and gone to bed while the others were drinking at the bar. He didn’t feel very sociable, and besides, he didn’t drink.
As he was dressing the next morning, Joyce found him alone in the back room where he and a few others had slept.
“I guess I overslept.”
“I’ll say, everyone is already up. They’re having breakfast.”
“Where did you stay last night?”
“Harry and I stayed at the motel. Ooh, that bed felt sooo good.”
“It’s nice to see you.”
“I’m glad I found you. I didn’t know if we would ever be able to be alone.” Joyce moved closer to Charlie, looking at him, watching his eyes.

“Me either, ” Charlie said, and ran his hands through Joyce’s long hair. His hands felt hot.

“Hmmm, maybe we don’t really need to talk,” Joyce said, pushing her head against Charlie’s hand. He kissed her lips, and then her neck. Joyce put her arms around him, and pressed against him.
“Mmm,” Charlie said.

“You said it,” Joyce answered while she took off her coat.
Charlie ran his hands over her nipples and around her breasts.
“Whew! It’s getting hot,” Joyce said, as she took off her flannel shirt. Charlie responded by removing his shirt.
“Maybe we’d better not waste any time,” Joyce suggested, “We don’t know when someone might come in.”
“Are you sure it’s OK? Joyce? We won’t,” pointing to her stomach, “bother that?”
“Oh, no. The doctor told me I can have sex, but Harry hasn’t wanted to since I started to show.”
Charlie stripped off the rest off his clothes, and helped Joyce off with her pants.
“Just be gentle, Charlie.”
He was. Joyce moaned softly as her body warmed to Charlie’s touch, and Charlie felt fire play across his skin. A little milk came from Joyce’s nipples. He liked that. They slipped sideways through time in the realm of pleasure, until the last gentle spasms subsided and they lay peacefully embraced.
“Well, that was nice,” Joyce said, slowly and huskily, “but we seem to have made of mess of someone’s sleeping bag.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Charlie laughed, “It belonged to Rosa’s ex husband.”
“We’d better get dressed. Do you want to go for a walk?”
“Sure. Let’s get out of here.”
Half a block away, they ran right into Harry.
“There you are. I’ve been wondering what happened to you two.”
“Oh, we’ve been walking around, looking at the town, and we got to talking,” Joyce answered lightly, smiling.
“Well, I’m glad you two got a chance to talk. Do you want to head over to the motel?”
“Why?”
“You know the owners, Tom and Sheryl?”
“Yeah?”
“Well, their son just got in. He’s the editor of a Texas paper. He’d like to talk to a few of us so he can write a story.”
“All right! Let’s go.”

Alicia was worried about the meeting. She kept calling people to remind them, but the snow that had fallen the night before was making it difficult for people to travel the old roads in the community that surrounded the town. Finally there were about forty people, and they had polished off most of the food, so she introduced the speakers to everyone, and then they watched the films. Afterwards she had each person, George, from the Albuquerque Resource Center, and Bill Dufess, from Nuclear Futures, give a presentation. A few people left, but Alicia spoke to each of them before they did. George talked about the dangers of radiation leaching away from the dump, and Dufess spoke of the economic benefits that Cimarrón would derive from the increased truck traffic. He was trying to drive home a point about the safety of the project when Ruth Mondragon interrupted him.
“What about the flooding, Dufess?
“Yeah, what about that?” someone else interjected.
He looked confused. “I don’t understand, what flooding?”
“Every time the river overflows, that strip of land is under water.”
“This is the first I’d heard of it. The land is dry, and we searched the records and didn’t find any evidence of flooding.”
“How far back did you go?” Ruth wanted to know.
“We searched back twenty years.”
“Well, about twenty, maybe twenty-five years ago, we had one hell of flood here,” Ruth’s husband added. “And that wasn’t the first one, how do you know that won’t happen again?”
“Yeah,” Margarita spoke up, “how do we know that radioactive junk won’t come floating through town some day?”
Dufess smiled. “I’ll certainly look into it. But, you needn’t worry, the waste will certainly not leak out of there.”
“We’ve heard that before,” Joyce added.
“You’re all worried about nothing,” came a new voice. “I think this here dump’s gonna be good for business.” It was Mr. Lambe, from the diner. “Why, most people around here support this thing. There’s only a few crybabies against it.”

“You just say that because you stand to make a few bucks, Max,” Ruth told him.

“What, what’s wrong with that?” Lambe shouted out. “We could all use the money.”

“But what if it’s not safe?” Alicia asked.

“Yeah, ” someone shouted from the back. A chorus of “Yeahs” followed.

“Now listen, everyone,” Dufess broke in. I can guarantee you this is safe. Not only that, but I’ve spoken with Mr. Lambe, and other members of the business community here, and everyone agrees that this would be a good thing for Cimarrón financially.”

“Maybe it would,” Tom Hilton said, “but its not a good idea.” Tom had moved to Cimarrón in 1959, trying to resurrect the old hotel. “That’s where the old town was,” he said, “That’s Cimarrón’s history over there. The Maxwell mansion was there. The Yellow Front Saloon. The Cimarrón News and Press, where Clay Allison roped the press and dragged it into the river. Hell, Kit Carson hung out there. Billy the Kid was a friend of Maxwell’s son. Wyatt and Morgan Earp met Doc Holliday there. There’s a lot of history there. I don’t think we should turn it into a dump.”

Alicia said, “I think we ought to start a petition, and find out how many people really want that dump here.”

“You got it!” Ruth, on her feet, yelled out.
Everyone wanted to help Alicia draft a petition for Cimarrón. George offered his ideas, and other people wanted to use STOP’s petition.
“Why can’t we just say, ‘We don’t want a nuclear waste dump in Cimarrón’?” Alicia wanted to know.
“Or anywhere else in New Mexico,” Ruth suggested.
“OK, that’s it,” Alicia agreed. “Now let’s get some copies made up.”
“We’ll do that,” Charlie offered. If you’ll write it down, I’ll take it with me, type it, and send you a bunch of copies.”

Pretty soon, Alicia a few others had taken the petition around to every door in Cimarrón. Charlie called from Albuquerque to find out how it was going, and if she needed any help.
“Thanks Charlie, but it’s going great. We’ve got over seven hundred signatures, and there’s a photographer from the Santa Fe paper who’s going to come by and take a picture of us with all the names.”
“Wow! That’s really great, Alicia.”
“I’ll send you a copy of the paper when we get it.”

Two months after the story appeared in the papers, Nuclear Futures cancelled their plans to build the first commercial nuclear garbage dump in New Mexico. radioactive-trench.gif

“Ruthie, did you hear that Bill Dufess is moving?”
“I’m not surprised.”
“And he said he wanted to live here, whether or not the dump went in.”
“Alicia, I think we ought to have a party, to celebrate.”
“Let’s do it tonight. I’ll supply Tequila.”
“And I’ll bring Tony and Eloy. You call Rita and Effie.”
“Bueno.”
“Bueno bye.”

Six months later, Alicia was elected Mayor.

Charlie got a letter from Joyce. She was in New Hampshire. She’d been arrested at a sit-in protesting the building of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. Although she’d been well treated, she’d lost her baby when she’d gotten out of jail. She and Harry were going to get married. They’d decided to try for another child, and thought it best to get married first. Charlie and Rosa were invited, but they didn’t go. He stayed home because Rosa didn’t want to go. She couldn’t. She had a date, although Charlie didn’t know it yet.

© 1989 – 2010 rtmulcahy

Black Jack Ketchum, Clay Allison, Pat Garrett, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Kit Carson, and Zane Grey all either visited, worked, lived – or, in some cases, died – in Cimarrón.

Posted in fiction, Life, love, relationships, sex, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cops, Priests, and Altar Boy Scouts

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 29, 2008

badpriest.jpg (me in costume, years ago)

I wanted to be a priest. Yeah, a god-damned priest. Why? Well, for one thing, they have a good break in life. They don’t pay taxes, and they have an easy life. All they do is give sermons and repeat the same old shit all the time.

Just because I said that, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t religious. You couldn’t have paid me enough to miss Mass on Sunday – a mortal sin. I didn’t want to go to hell. elevationofhost.jpg I was an altar boy too, serving God in the cold, damp fucking early mornings before school. I should have become a priest. I was primed for it. After eight years of Catholic schools I was ready to believe that God saw everything I did, knew everything I thought. I didn’t dare hurt Him by sinning. My classmates didn’t like my attitude. I was a true believer, and they weren’t. Of course, much of that was my reaction to their thinking of me as an idiot, so I had to have something that made me better than them, if I wasn’t ever going to be their equal.

I could see them laughing at my perfect, good-little-Catholic-boy responses to the nuns’ prompts in class. A good example is the story I wrote in fifth or sixth grade. We’d been told to write something about winter. Could have been about snow, and sledding, and snowball fights, and snowmen, and fun. Instead, I wrote a sermon. It was only a paper to be turned in, but I wrote a reminder to everyone to think of Jesus being born into that cold winter snow, much like the storms that were so terrible we couldn’t even go outside in them. I was proud of it. I was a religious Sambo, grinning and jiving that Jesus stuff, hoping to impress people with my virtuous love of God. A goody two-shoes in the extreme. Better than other people, with the correct relationship with God. Hah! It worked too well. The nun read it to the entire class. I’ve always been an idiot.

Father Kirsch didn’t think I was perfect. He kicked me out of “the altar boys” for talking and clowning around in line while we waited for his sorry late ass to show up at May Day procession rehearsal. talking-in-line.jpg He made us line up in twos, and stand that way until he got there. Since he was late, I was bored. When authority figures weren’t actually in the room, my virtue seemed to evaporate. Kirsch outdid everyone in the self-righteous department. He stormed and fumed about our performance, whether by the altar or on the street. He fired me right then and there, the moment he walked in, since I wasn’t standing there perfectly quiet and still. I was horrified. I cried on my way home. I couldn’t tell my parents about it. My dad had been a deacon himself for years, and had taught altars boys himself at a different church before we had moved, before we were old enough to be in ‘it’. Serving Mass was a kind of calling, akin to being called to the priesthood. You took it seriously, and, like everything else my parents told me to do, there was no such thing as refusing. For weeks I pretended to go to rehearsals. I walked down to the church and even looked in. I hung around the shrubbery until they were almost through and went home. My parents didn’t ask me where I’d been. Why would I lie about that? Eventually someone told them, and I was back serving Mass again, for awhile. Serving Mass under Kirsch was stressful however. Once I missed my cue to ring the bells, without which no one in the pews knew when to stand or kneel. Horrified, I missed the next one too. One rings them three times during the raising of the host, three times during the raising of the wine. That day it was once, then three. I could hear the confusion in the pews, but I never heard a word about that one.

I was also a boy scout – uniform and all. boy_scout_with_oath.jpg Weird that that organization finds so many ways to get money from parents, money mine could ill afford to part with when six other kids needed basic necessities too. Poorer kids didn’t join at all. All that crap: manual, merit badge books, field trips, uniform, compass, knife, and camping fees and gear too. There were times when I had to wear my uniform to class. Green was at least different than the tan shirt and brown pants I had to wear every other day of the school year, with the iron-on patches on my elbows and knees. I wore my knife on my belt. That was a odd thing to get away with, but when you’re a “boy scout” you are also close to perfect: trustworthy (people depend on you), loyal (to family, leaders, school and nation), helpful (without pay or reward), friendly (a friend to all), courteous (good manners), kind (strength in gentleness), obedient (obeys the law), cheerful (whistle while you work), thrifty (save), brave (can face danger), clean (in body and mind), and reverent (to God, and faithfully). So, there I was, on my way home one day, all gussied up in my starched shirt and badly creased pants (I had to iron my own clothes). I stopped by the drugstore where I read comics. Some of my classmates were hanging out there.

“Hey, pretty boy.” “Are you a good little scout?” “That’s a nice bandanna you’ve got there.” “Can I try it on? I want to tie my hair up.” Rough crowd. Even white Catholic boys have gangs, toughs and petty thieves. These guys regularly stole from the store. I was told a story once about being chased by cops down the alley, with gunshot warnings. These guys were 13 and 14. Like I said, tough neighborhood, of sorts. However, enough was enough. I saw red. boy-scouts-bigotry-e.jpg I was a boy scout, brave and all that, so I pulled my knife out and waved it at them. “Come on,” I told ’em, come and get me. Here I am. ” Of course, they backed away. They laughed too, but they weren’t smiling as I moved toward them. No one else in that school could possibly have carried a knife. I’m surprised they even let the Scouts carry one. I was insane, and waving a knife. And it was sharp too – I always made sure of that. I probably had a whetstone in my pocket. Even Maranelli backed off.

Maranelli was one of the tough ones. One time, a couple years later, walking home late one night, I got jumped. Two guys grabbed me from behind. I was surprised how strong they were, and how firmly I was held. I wasn’t optimistic until the third guy came around in front, saying, “Got any money?’ I recognized Maranelli. He recognized me too. “Hi Frank,” I said. He told the other two to let me go. “He’s OK,” he said. We didn’t say much else. Didn’t really know each other outside of grade school, and I was already in high school by then, downtown, away from there.

It’s a good thing I didn’t stick around that neighborhood, considering those kind of career choices. I was, as I said, a good boy – oldest of seven, responsible, the ‘good’ example. Washed dishes, mowed the lawn, picked weeds, scrubbed floors, babysat. Didn’t talk back. Studied. Went to Church on Sundays. Went to Monday night religion classes after eighth grade since I was in a public school then. Still. Still, I had been in trouble enough. Used to swipe candy bars on a regular basis, especially Kit Kats. kitkat.jpg Mmm, chocolate. My parents weren’t about to buy crap like that except at Easter. Since I’d read the whole Science Fiction and fantasy section of the local library, I took paperbacks from the same store too. I had a whole library of purloined paperbacks at home. A nearby toy store had lost several model cars to me and my brother. Somehow, I always forgot to confess such things on Saturday. Really. Never entered my mind while I was in the confessional. I had a routine, and I followed it. It was supposed to be instructional, but I used my littlest boy voice, and the priests rarely asked questions.

Got caught stealing a couple times only. The first time, the toy store owner just called my dad. He made me and my brother wait in his office. I ditched the razor blade there. I’d been using it to neatly open the clear plastic coverings on the packages. I stuffed it into the corrugations of a cardboard box. fluting.jpg The owner was no dummy. His desk was locked. He did come in and search us. Looked all around the office too, even in the trash can, but nobody would think to rip apart all the cardboard on a box for a razor blade. He thought we had knives. I told him the packages were already cut. My dad took us home, read us the riot act. I don’t remember the punishment for that one. He told us the story about how he had been caught stealing and his dad had left welts all over his legs for that. Leather straps or a belt were not an uncommon punishment for us, but never that severe.

The second time, I was not so lucky. I’d stuffed some paperbacks under my jacket, but I’d done it so many times before that I actually forgot they were under my jacket as I reached for the door. The drugstore owner was pissed. He accused me of being with a gang; wanted to know which one. Told me that the gangs stole stuff for fun. Tried to convince him I wasn’t in a gang, didn’t know anyone in a gang. He had already called the cops though. 1967chev.jpg Too late for cuteness and innocence. The two cops put me in the back of the squad car and headed out; said they were taking me downtown to the station. I started crying. Seemed the best thing to do, and really, I was scared. I wanted them to know I was really sorry. I was really scared of jail, and scared of my dad when he found out. I started telling them not to tell my dad, begged ’em not to. Did my best to convince them that my dad would beat the hell out of me, and it was a possibility, after all. They didn’t turn at the light. They went on across the main street, up the hill and down the many blocks I walked each day. Took me home. My dad was at his second job. My mom came downstairs with two kids in her arms and two more screaming bloody murder upstairs. Cowards left me there. They left faster than I had imagined. Maybe they knew my mom’s dad, who’d been a Baltimore cop for a long time. bpdpatch.jpg My mom told ’em, “His dad will take care of him.” Dad probably would have too, except he didn’t touch me anymore since I’d knocked him down and tried, really tried, to kick his teeth in. He was still stronger than me, after all, but that had made him proud somehow. He’s spent years trying to convince me not to turn the other cheek to bullies, to stand up for myself, and not take abuse. So I did. He started slapping my head back and forth. I knocked him down. He wasn’t expecting it. But he smiled the whole time, that time, and never hit me again.  We talked this time, and that was it. He yelled some, as I recall, but we both knew he wasn’t going to hit me.

Posted in crime, faith, family, humor, Life, My Life, rambling, religion, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Coffee Trash

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 27, 2008

OK, I’ll admit that I like coffee. No, this isn’t the first line of my therapy. I just like coffee. I like it leaded or unleaded, with caffeine or without. I enjoy drinking it. I like the flavor and mix of roasted bean extract flavored with raw sugar crystals and cow juice. I have access to an espresso cart at work, and I have developed an appreciation for espresso, but a single or even a double shot doesn’t give me much to sip on. I like Americano coffees. Hot water and two shots of espresso at work jump starts my day. On Sunday mornings I amble across the street to the Flying Star. It serves great coffee – far better than Starbucks, or any fast food restaurant or gas station convenience store. I have a favorite now; I order an Americano with four shots of espresso. The funny thing about espresso is that it doesn’t have the jolt of caffeine you’d expect, nor the bitterness of brewed coffee. It actually tastes good. So, to paraphrase a song lyric: my mind begins to wonder. I walk through Flying Star’s little parking lot every Sunday morning, and what do I always see but empty take out coffee cups. Not strange, you say? pigs-ina-poke-nr1.gif People are pigs, you say? Well, amazed to discover: the discarded coffee cups are not from Flying Star! Most are from Starbucks, with their characteristic green logo, some are from 7-Eleven, and some from Circle- K. It boggles my mind. There are no other coffee shops of any kind within miles. People have to have brought these cups with them on their way to Flying Star. Now that raises a lot of questions in my trivia-obsessed brain.

Do people need a coffee with them in order to drive to Flying Star? If they like Flying Star coffee, why buy coffee elsewhere before they get there? Are people that addicted to the caffeine that they have to buy one on the road on their way to a cafe? Why drop the cups in the parking lot? If they are going in to the Flying Star Cafe, why not dispose of the empties there, or just outside the door in the highly visible trash can? Why drop these cups in the parking lot at all? It’s a mystery to me. Flying Star coffee is highly rated around town, so I can’t understand why people are drinking coffee elsewhere, and then coming to this Cafe? Why would people drop their cups in the parking lot anyway?

cigs.jpg The only thing I can come up with is that these are smokers, or former smokers, or that they have tapped into that same mentality. Smokers used to drop matches and butts everywhere, higgedly-piggedly, although I rarely see a used match anymore. Occasionally I’ll see a discarded, far more ubiquitous disposable lighter. One of the problems associated with smokers is that they simply drop their spent butts wherever they happen to be, sometimes putting them out, sometimes not. If a building policy forbids smoking inside, then piles of tobacco droppings are certain to be found spread around the door like guano. Smokers seem to have adopted the crime mentality that permeates many people’s brains; it is the mentality of the law-abiding citizen who breaks a law or moral code, and comes to accept the label of criminal. Once you’re a criminal already, then why care about anything? How else to explain the careless way smokers throw matches, cigarette butts, and cigar butts out of car windows, over their shoulder, on simply down at their feet? It is the behaviour of brain-addled addicts, to be sure, but addicts who have no sense of social responsibility. Enter our new, more socially-acceptable addiction: coffee. Along with the habit comes the old habits: toss, drop, ignore.

Cigarette butts were bad enough. Now it’s styrofoam cups littering the sidewalks, cups.jpg and all the parking lots of our schools and workplaces. It is a shameful product of minds that cannot accept responsibility for their own actions; that cannot see their actions as bad. I imagine the attitude is, “It’s not my driveway, my house, my sidewalk, so why should it matter?”

Why have we become such trashy people? Is it simply another sign of civilization in decline? The attitude used to be: “Out of sight, out of mind.” It gave us leave to dispose of things we called trash, even people, because we didn’t see it anymore. Now, we have, “Out of mind, out of sight.” If we don’t mind, it don’t matter. How long before nothing matters anymore? Sad.

Posted in Life, madness, My Life, opinion, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, Writing | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

BLOODROCK

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 23, 2008

malpais_lava.jpg

8am. Saturday morning. Phone. Ringing.
Hi! It’s Mark I’ve got a truck
taking the lava rocks to Mt. Taylor today
wanna come?

Three years Mark collected these rocks
just a few each trip
he’d drive 70 miles to see May
she lives near Grants on Oso Ridge.

The rocks are bad luck, May Lee said
don’t mix East flow with West flow
if you do if you do
Enemy of the People may return.

In the Navajo story of creation
the Twins slew the monster –
the one who troubled the People
his blood is black hard sharp.

Landscapers create rock gardens
Mark decorated his land
delineated his agriculture
with lavaculture.

Jesús fell his friend Jesús

fell off the wagon fell down
face onto sharp rocks
blood on the rocks.

Mark remembered the tale of the flow
the respect of Navajo for myth
Mark respects tradition
guilt guilt guilty

Love on the rocks too

Could his rocks be cursed?
bad blood between him and May
“Get out” “I’m leaving”

He decided to put things right
return the rock to its home
to the dead lava lake
oh and maybe May would come?

Heavy rocks
four strong men leather gloves
wheelbarrow rented flatbed
We panted the truck canted.

We drove to Mt. Taylor
(stopped to pee and gas the truck
12 dollars twelve gallons.
or three gallons a-piss).

To the mountain whose blood we carried
unloaded our burden
tossed right, threw left, dumped back
and May helped too.

A black lake of cold liquid rock

old pools glass-smooth sharp
whirls and eddies
frozen in time by the sacred mountain.

A few hundred pounds next to the flow
prodigal shards of blood of the beast
returned to their home
wasteland of unfriendly stone.

Our mission done, we played in the snow
the sky darkened rumbled
flashes split the air
time to go.

Lunch at El Cafecito
green chile stew pie and ice cream
the sky opened water poured
drove 60 miles home

the windows leaked.

Posted in humor, Life, love, madness, poem, poetry, relationships, Uncategorized, World, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Painting for Her

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 21, 2008

2,215 words

It’s easy to die in The Big Apple. nycstreet.jpg Asphalt flows like taffy under the weight of gridlocked traffic. gridlock.jpg In winter, the black taffy hardens, ripples, and cracks. Gargantuan trucks and buses rumble along the scarred, warped surface. Taxis buzz around like hornets, cutting in and out of lanes, indifferent to all. A city bus in front of me belched a thick cloud of inky smoke, so I zipped out from behind it to pass. I heard the hiss of an air brake over my left shoulder. As I turned to look, the sun was eclipsed by the biggest trash truck I’d ever seen. It pulled up alongside me and pinned me against the bus. My ten-speed was trapped, wedged between tons of unyielding steel. Traffic was backed up, as usual, so I sat in the semidarkness waiting for something to happen. I didn’t get off — hell, that bike was my livelihood. Fortunately, when the light changed, the trash truck angled left, so I escaped. I was lucky that day. I rode those streets in the winter of 1976.
New York mornings are bitterly cold. Damp ocean winds blow across the island, picking up excess moisture from all the rivers and bays. It felt as though the cold seeped its way through my skin, past muscle, and into bone. I left for work early, one such grey, windy morning. A package in the large red pouch across my shoulders — a late pickup from the previous day — banged against my side. steam.jpg Steam seeped from manhole covers. My breath formed a cloud around my face. Ice formed on my mustache, and I felt the damp cold penetrating my beard.

Traffic was light. I raced along the streets, my feet spinning in smooth, even circles. Man, I felt great! I was sucking up oxygen, pumping it into my brain. My muscles were warming up. It was going to be a great day. Until. Until, without warning, the right side of my handlebars snapped off. I let go of it. With the brake and shifting cables still attached, it just hung there. I stared at it. Disbelief froze my brain. As I watched, the errant handlebar swung into the spokes of my tire. The bike jerked to a stop. I had time to think about how lucky I was to still be on the bike, but momentum caught up with me. I pitched over the handlebar, onto the street. It should have been painful, but I jumped right up — the street was far too cold for me to savor the moment right then — draped the handlebar over the center stem, and finished my delivery. Neither rain, nor hail, nor frozen street would stay this courier from his appointed rounds.
Of course, I didn’t work for the Post Office. I was a lot faster than that. As a bike messenger for Mobile Messenger Service, I delivered anything I could carry, from anywhere in Manhattan, to anywhere in Manhattan, the same day. For ten bucks extra, you got it in thirty minutes, guaranteed, a feat the Post Office couldn’t even touch. It was a popular service. I delivered letters and small packages to office buildings, including skyscrapers like the empire_state_building.jpg Empire State Building, and the World Trade Center. wtc-look-up.jpg Dark-suited men and women swarm those lobbies, frantic and impatient. When an elevator opens, the swarm attacks. It’s a crowded ride, but the express elevators take you fifty floors without stopping! I don’t think those dark swarms enjoyed it, but I had a great time: Beam me up — the life forms are hostile!

Bicycles are indispensable to the advertising folks on Madison Avenue too. They needed their commercials run to and from developing labs all day. I met one of ’em, the director of the Mr. Whipple (“Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin”) ads. I told him those were the worst commercials on TV, and his chin dropped. Hey, it’s for wiping shit off your ass. Who wants to hug it? 
Running around like that, in and out of offices, studios, and film labs, you never knew who you might run into. The dispatcher sent me to an apartment building for a pickup. Guy name of Plimpton invited me in. He was still getting some papers together, stuffing ’em in an envelope. He told me he was a writer; said he wrote about sports. He’d actually played with professional teams: baseball, football, and hockey, just to write about it. What a life a writer has.
One afternoon, after I’d finished delivering a letter to an office in Rockefeller Center, I called the dispatcher to see if there was a job waiting. There was. I had to get to the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and pick up a package. Funny thing was, there was no deliver-to address. I would get instructions at the museum. I’d never been to the Met, so I enjoyed the experience. pretzel_in_new_york.jpg It’s a huge place — takes up several city blocks, cutting off a lot of streets. There were hundreds of people clogging the sidewalk; and hot-dog carts, pretzel wagons, and balloon vendors competed for their attention. I u-locked my bike to a pole and ran up one hell of a lot of steps.
Inside, I collected a brown-paper-wrapped painting, and squeezed it into my bag. The delivery address was on 5th avenue, alongside Central Park. Faan-cy. Bunny M. was sending a painting to one J. K. Onassis. Now this was exciting. How many of those could there be? Better yet, she had to sign for it! 5thaveapartment.jpg The building was old, wrinkled with elaborately chiseled cornices. The doorman looked just as old. He made a phone call before he’d let me in that marbled lobby. hoteldoorman.jpg I was escorted to an elevator by a much younger, dark-haired dude in a starched white jacket. He looked like a cook. He got in, punched a button, and stood by the panel, staring into space. I stood by the door, eager for it to open. I felt like a cab at a traffic light, gunning my motor. We rode up a few floors, and it opened into a kitchen. My leg moved forward, but my foot didn’t touch down. I realized there was something across my chest, holding me back.
I turned my head. It was the guy in white. His arm felt like the steel bar of a subway turnstile when you forgot to put a coin in. I began to suspect he was neither a bellhop, nor a cook. His eyes were cold, with a steady glare. “I will take the package,” he said. His voice reinforced the threat in his eyes. “It has to be signed for,” I said, hopefully, and with as much authority as I could muster. “I will take care of it,” he insisted, in a tone that most people wouldn’t disobey, and “You stay here.” I wasn’t going to move from that spot.
He took my package, and my clipboard, and disappeared through a doorway on the right. I was disappointed, of course. I’d never meet the apartment’s famous occupant. I stuck my head out — there was no one around. I had let my excitement build up as the elevator crawled to this place. Now, I was reduced to standing in a little steel box. I saw through the kitchen doorway to a polished hardwood hall, hoping to see a figure there, hoping to see Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

I heard footsteps. They were too heavy for her. It was the chef/bellboy dude. But, behind him, she came. She looked heavier than I’d imagined, but it may have been the bulky sweater obscuring her figure. When she saw me, she stopped. “Oh!” she cried out. There was fear in her eyes. Perhaps it had always been there, ever since Dallas in ’63. She seemed to collect herself, and said, “I didn’t know he was right here.” “Sorry, ma’am. I shouldn’t have brought him up.” She smiled at me then, and the look of fear was obscured by the beauty of those eyes. “Thank you,” she said to me. “It’s my job, Ms. Onassis,” I said. “Nevertheless, I appreciate your promptness, and the care you took.” “You’re welcome,” I stammered, “You’re very welcome, of course, anyway.”
“Please come in,” she said. jackiekennedy.jpg
I stepped off the elevator. The door didn’t close behind me. “I just made some coffee. It’s so cold today. Would you like some? Oh, that’s silly of me. You probably must go on with your deliveries?” “No ma’am. I, I didn’t know where I was going when I was sent to the museum, so I don’t have any other stops to make until I call in.”
“Well, then, sit,” she insisted, with a smile I couldn’t have refused. “You too, Alex,” she directed at her protector? It was a command, and I enjoyed the worried look on his face. I suppose Secret Service agents are like that. I’d decided that’s who he had to be. The way his arm shot across my chest; that look in his eyes — no, this was no servant.
Jackie set out a plate of brownies. I was nervous. I stuffed half a brownie in my mouth. This was the woman married to President Kennedy. This was the woman in the car with him when his head was blown apart. This was the woman who scooped up some of his brain, and carried it in her cupped hands to the doctor. This was also the same woman who’d married a Greek millionaire. He was dead now too. Jackie was one of the rich and famous, and she was sitting right there across a table from me, talking to me. I gulped at my coffee to wash the brownie down, and burned my tongue.
“I do appreciate the care you took with my delivery. Did you know it was a painting?” “Well, it sure looked like one, ma’am,” I blurted out, slurring the “looked” into something like booked. “You mean it traveled like one?” she asked. “Uh, I don’t, Oh! I see. Yes, well, no, I mean, it looked like it could be from the shape of the package.” “Yes, it was from my friend Bunny. She knows I like Egyptian art, and she found a wonderful painting for me.”
“I’m sure glad it was me who got to bring it to you really am glad to meet you,” I rushed out. Pause. Silence. I finished my coffee, and two more brownies. Jackie looked kind of embarrassed by the combination of hero worship and sweat oozing from me. I needed to say something, anything. “Do you collect art, Ms. Onassis?” “Well, yes. I suppose I do. Would you like to see some?” “Sure! I mean, yes! of course, thank you, yes, I would.”
I followed her to another room off of that hallway I’d seen through the kitchen, Mr. Secret Service somehow always between us. There were small Egyptian statues, and paintings, as I expected, but also shelves full of books, books about Egypt. Egypt? Books always impressed me, more than anything else. books.jpg “I see you admire my books.” “Yes ma’am. Are they all about Egypt?” “Well, no, but I am fascinated by Egyptian literature, you know.” “No, I didn’t know that. I don’t really know what it is you do at all.”
“Are you a writer?”, she asked me. I laughed. “Um, no. Can’t say I am.” “Oh, OK,” she said, smiling, “I thought you might be a reporter or something.” “Oh, no. No ma’am”, I said. “I’m just a messenger.” “I suppose you think I take lazy cruises, sunning myself on exotic beaches, and living an easy life?” she asked. I imagined her in a bikini. I imagined her without a bikini. “Well, uh, the thought had crossed my mind,” I said. She laughed. Jackie had laughed at my little joke. I liked her. “Actually,” she said, still smiling, “I’m working right here in New York, just like you are. I work for a publishing house, Viking. Do you know it?” I didn’t know who published anything, so I had to say, “No.” “Well, no matter,” she replied, “It’s real work, something I’ve always wanted to get back to someday.”
It was hard to imagine her working. It was also hard to imagine leaving her. I wanted to spend the rest of the day just in her presence. I watched her lips moving. Her lips were temptingly moist. I felt warm. She was looking at me. I thought I saw a question in her stare. Suddenly I realized I’d lost track of what she was saying. “I do have work to get back to,” she said. “Me too,” I said, in a higher pitched voice than I expected. She slipped me a George, and thanked me again for being punctual and careful with her package. Alex took me back down on the elevator. I called in to Mobile Messenger from the lobby. “Where’ve you been, dude?” the dispatcher asked. “I’ll tell you when I get back — you won’t believe it,” I said. “Have you got anything for me?”

“Yeah. It’s a rush job. Can you make it to the Bowery in ten minutes?”  bowery.jpg “Sure.” But I didn’t.

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Barstool Cowgirl

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 17, 2008

cowgirl.jpg She thought she was totally cool. I found her irresistible. Her jet-black hair caught my attention, and hell, wild women always attract me. The red dress and the sensuous way she was poured into it riveted my attention on her. I introduced myself, sitting down on the empty stool to her left, and flexed the muscles under my tattoo.  Roofing work gives me muscles and a nice tan.  The booze was insidiously working its way to my brain.  I said, “Did you see the sky turn scarlet at sunset?” sunset.jpg The long slow pull she took of her whiskey put the diamond on her finger in front of my face, long enough for me to take notice. “That’s a good one,” she said with a wink, and the words poured out slowly, friendly, “Yeah, I suppose you can sit here.”
This could get ugly, I thought. That ring sent streaks of light flashing through my retinas and bouncing around my brain while she talked. She kept asking questions and watching my reactions. She bought me another pint of stout. I’d been thinking of leaving, just saying good-bye and walking away, but I couldn’t refuse. She asked me what I’d read lately, and I had to confess that all I’d read lately were the channel listings in TV Guide. I didn’t know if “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was even a book. She rattled off the titles of half a dozen books: Tuesdays With Morrie, Sex and the City, The Bone Collector, The Perfect Storm, Night Train, before I recognized Killing Floor. I don’t know why, but I didn’t even try to fake it; I admitted I had bought it, but hadn’t read it. When would I have had time to read?
She asked me what I thought about putting a road through the petroglyphs. petroglyphs.jpg Did I think the Forest Service should log 600-year-old Ponderosa Pines in New Mexico? Did I think the new Governor had deliberately exceeded his authority in signing the Indian Gaming Compact? This is the hardest bar room mating ritual I’ve ever run across. I asked her if she’d ever watched Babylon-5 on TV, and she didn’t know what that was. I tried to explain the show. “Oh,” she said, “I don’t care for science fiction; it’s too predictable.”
Frankie, the bartender and a damn good tattoo artist, put a bowl of pretzels in front of us, and Carmen excused herself to go pee. I grabbed a fistful of pretzels, and watched her walk away, totally absorbed in her walk. There was confidence in the way she carried herself. Now’s my chance to leave, I thought, popping pretzels in my mouth. red_diamond.jpg That diamond ring on her finger mortified me. I thought about jealous husbands and tall boyfriends. I thought about fists and guns, and quietly slipping out of back doors. Did I really want to do this again? I gave it all too much thought, because she was already coming back. I heard her boots clicking on the wooden floor, and turned to see her adjusting her red cowgirl hat, hat.jpg angling it slightly over one eye. She had the other eye on me. Well, what the hell, I thought, I’m a weak man. I went fishing for compliments. I asked her if she liked my tattoo. “Yeah, I like it,” she said, “It reminds me of the one my husband has on his butt.” Well, there it was, the code word, husband, for “You’re barking up the wrong tree; don’t bother me,” but she certainly seemed available. I didn’t ask about the husband – perhaps I should have. If she wasn’t going to talk about him, then why should I? I wanted to keep my cool, pretend I didn’t care about husbands. The truth was, I didn’t really care about the whole institution of marriage; there was nothing sacred about it to me. I didn’t know anyone, including my parents, who was still married.

However, I did remember the tall blond guy in the pickup, pickup.jpg demanding to know if I was fucking his wife. I remembered the trucker waiting outside the bowling alley to avenge his dishonor. And I thought about the others, the guys who never knew that their wives or girlfriends fooled around, and with more than just me.

The band played a nice high energy electric country. I two-stepped with Carmen. We drank. We danced through two sets, and I asked her if she’d like to come home with me. “No,” she said, and, “I have to go,” she said, but, “Would you like to come to a party tomorrow night?” she said, finally. I told her I did, so she wrote down the party address on the back of a deposit slip from her checkbook. I stashed that paper with two addresses in my wallet, stuck it in between two twenties I knew I wouldn’t need until the next day, and walked her to her car. “Nice car!”, I said. mg.jpg It was a little green MG, low to the ground, dual carburetors, bucket seats. I was impressed. I kissed her before she got in. She wrapped her arms around me, and sucked my lip into her mouth. After just a few minutes of stuff like that, she poured herself into the seat. “I’ll see you tomorrow night,” she said, and the engine roared. She winked at me, and peeled out of the lot.

The party was rolling by the time I got there. I was late since I’d been at the bar all afternoon. The front door was open and I strolled in. Carmen saw me right away; she must have been watching the door. “Beer’s in the fridge,” she yelled at me, from the other side of the room. I didn’t know who her husband was, or where he was, so I just waved at her, and grabbed a mickeys.jpg Mickey’s wide-mouth off the shelf from behind the Jack Daniels. Hmm, cold Jack Daniels, I wonder whose that is? I didn’t have to wonder long, because Carmen was there before I could close the door. She grabbed that bottle and took a god-awful-long swig, and then sloshed some into a glass. She never said a word to me, just planted her lips, sticky with Jack Daniels, on mine. She tickled the base of my tongue and I forgot to breathe. My lips throbbed with waves of pleasure. My mind took a vacation. She squeezed her left arm under my right, and steered me somewhere. She pulled me into a room along the hallway from the kitchen, and closed the door. She snapped my buckle open, buckle.jpg and yanked on my pants. I pulled away from her a moment to unbutton my shirt, and her dress was off – fell off of her like it was made to do that. Well, I won’t bore you with the details, but when it was over, I was higher than a Carlsbad bat at sundown. It was hard to get dressed after that, what with all the kissing each others lips and other parts, but we finally managed it, and as we kissed again, there was a knock on the door. Carmen turned the light out.

Man, oh, man, that wasn’t a good idea, I was thinking. “Carmen, are you in there?” I heard a man ask. Carmen didn’t say anything. “He knows you’re in here,” I said. She turned the light back on, and the door opened. Sure enough, it was another tall one, blond, Aryan looking, at least six-foot-three. At five-eight, I’m impressed by that. He looked at Carmen, looked at me, spun on his left heel, and walked away. Carmen went after him. I went back to the party.

I danced a snappy Reggae tune with a pretty woman whose boyfriend glowered at me the whole time, then headed back to the kitchen, looking for something to eat. I found Carmen there. “We’re leaving,” she said. “Are you going to be alright?” I asked, feeling guilty, but admiring the way her clothes caressed her body. “Oh, it’ll be OK,” she said, “We have to go home and talk,” and she hurried out of the kitchen. I found a half-eaten green-chile-chicken enchilada casserole enchilada-casserole.jpg in the fridge, and wolfed the rest of that down like I hadn’t eaten in days. Actually, I probably hadn’t. The next night, I went back to the bar. Frankie poured me a Guinness as soon as he saw me. “Well, what happened partner?” he asked, “You left all of a sudden last night. Did you shack up with that pretty little filly you were with?” “Yeah, I did,” I said. “Well, how’s come you’re here now? You can’t be tired of her already?” he asked, winking, as he wiped the bar around my glass. So I told him the whole story, and he asked what I was going to do now.

“You know, Frankie, I think I’m going to have you ink some clothes onto that Elvis tattoo.”

© 1997, 2010

Posted in cowgirl, fiction, humor, Life, madness, marriage, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IF LOVE EXPECTS FOREVER

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 16, 2008

There’s more to love than romance and lust
more to love than sharing and caring
or kissing so looong you forget to breathe.
There’s more to love than even that.

I lost a love
a special love, comforting, relaxed
sensual, full of future,
an obliteration of all failures.

I hurt How to describe the pain?
I hurt everywhere all at once
my skin muscle bone
every cell in my body hurt.

I’d lost more than a lover
more than the comfort of her flesh
more than her presence in my life her beauty her wit
I’d lost more than a mate to share sorrow and joy

I’d lost more than the children we might have had
the feel of her swollen belly
the cry of our infant
the joy of teaching, nursing, nurturing
our children our children our children

I cried at first
pounding my hands on a floor wet with tears
I played with her gun carelessly left behind.
Shot a bullet into the desert it worked well.

no not that.
I imagined her return
believing our love would bring her back.

“I couldn’t hurt him,” she told me
She had to do what was best for her.

So she went to him

she didn’t talk, about us
she didn’t want to care.

I couldn’t live I couldn’t die

I was dead.

Radio, sweet music, had lost its power
The birds just screeched flowers only smelled
I couldn’t eat I couldn’t drink I couldn’t feel
No food no water no love
Too late too late too late.

“Our love is over,” my love told me.
“Men always want to hang on.
When it’s over it’s over.” It’s over.
“We’ll still be friends really.” Really?
Once we shared ideas
Now she’s too busy his politics her politics
my ideas are wrong, my friends mistaken.

Love is more than that
more than expectations
more than pain pain goes away.
Love is learning how to survive
day-to-day
and love again
no expectations now.

Losing love showed me my soul

I never knew I had one.

© O’Maolchathaigh

Posted in Life, love, madness, My Life, poem, poetry, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do you think you could satisfy me?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 16, 2008

“Do you think you could satisfy me?” she asked. What a question! I had never dreamt someone would ever ask me that. It was certainly my intention, but I wasn’t going to say anything lame like, “I think so,” or anything along those lines. Who would say no? Perhaps she just meant to clarify the nature of our relationship. I’d only just met her, having stopped briefly in Manhattan, Kansas on a bicycle tour of the US. I first saw Marti talking to Bob as I came down the stairs of the community center that was putting up our little bike group. She looked up at me, and stopped talking. I took advantage of the moment to drink in her visage. She had a Mae West shape, if Mae West had been a brunette: curvy, substantial, intense. I liked her right away. I don’t however, interrupt people. Marti did that for me, asking, “Who is that?” Bob briefly introduced me as a member of the group. Of course, that would be obvious, deeply tanned as I was, wearing little more than sandals on the muscular legs sticking out of my cutoff jeans. 1976.jpg I left the two of them talking, thinking I would probably never meet the woman again. Yes, I was wrong.
She showed up at a dinner for the group later that day, sponsored by the community center. She was getting food, so I walked over to her, and started filling a plate for myself.

“So, what brought you tonight?” I asked. (I’m not a brilliant conversationalist)

“Bob invited me.”

“Are you staying for any of the workshops?” I asked.

“No. I can’t, really. I’ve got a lot of studying to do tonight.”

“That’s too bad. I was hoping to get together with you. I, I’m really interested in you.”

“I could tell.”

“When can we see each other?”

“I told you I’m real busy.”

“What about tomorrow?” I asked.

“I’m still really busy.” I was disappointed, and must have looked it, because she said, “Well, I do have a little free time.”

“When?”

“How about, say, one o’clock?”

“Sure! Where?”

“Would you mind meeting me at the Silver Mine? It’s a bar, if that’s alright?”

“I’ll be there.”

“OK,” she said, stuffing the last of her food in her mouth, “See you then.” She got up. “I’m sorry, but I really have to go now.”

I was disappointed. Did she really plan to show up? I wondered. Have I misread her?

I met her there outside that dark alcohol cave on that next gloriously sunny summer day. She seemed very nervous. She had dark glasses on. We went in. She said she didn’t really drink, but this was an out of the way place. She kept her glasses on. I asked her why she wanted to come there. She said she didn’t want anyone to see her. Why? She said it was a small town. Curious. We talked about life, pollution, and politics. I told bicycle stories. beer.jpg After we each drank a beer, and refilled our glasses, the conversation turned to casual sex. I love talking about sex, especially if that might make it happen. Marti asked if I believed in monogamy.

“Well, no,” I said. ” I think that if two people are attracted to each other, regardless of their other attachments, they should act on it.”

“Regardless of the consequences?”

“There are always consequences.”

“You know what I mean!”

I took a long sip of my beer and leaned back on the wooden bench. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no problem. I mean, as long as you take precautions – you know – to prevent pregnancy, or disease.”

“And you would be willing to take such precautions?”

“Of course!”

“Then I have another question.”

“Shoot.”

Marti leaned across the sticky formica table right up close to my face and asked that question. I wasn’t prepared for that question. What would anyone say to that, I thought, except, yes? But, who could know whether or not someone could be satisfied? Is she testing me? trying to see if I’m experienced? naive? or both? I told her: “Yes. I don’t see why not. But, why do you ask such a question?” I was not expecting anything like her answer.

“Because I don’t usually fuck men. My lover right now is a woman. Does that bother you?”

Thoughts caroomed from synapse to synapse through different banks of my memory, like the unrequited passion I’d felt for Bonnie, my best friend in college. She lived with her lover. We’d come close to having sex while stoned and drunk, but it had never happened. Marti’s sexual preference was no shock, but I felt like I’d been there before. “No,” I told her, “But, why do you want me then?”

“Well,” she said, “It’s been a long time since my last relationship with a man.” I was a little puzzled, but I accepted her story at face value. All the time, however, she was nervous, looking over her shoulder, and watching the door. The bar, I had discovered, was quite some distance from the University, and, from the looks of it, not frequented by students. “Do you live around here,” I asked.

“No, I live in the dorm,” she told me. I was impatient by then, so I said, “Well, let’s go.”

“No! I mean, not now. I, I have studying to do,” she said in a low voice, “Would you like to come over about seven?” She was smiling at me, nervously playing with her glass, and starting to get up. “Room 10,” she said, and stood up. I pushed the bench back to get up, but she said, “No. Why don’t you stay, and finish the beer?” We had ordered a pitcher. She turned and hustled out the door.

I hope I don’t just end up talking about sex with this woman, I thought.

I showed up at the dorm after dinner the next evening, and who is leaving the dorm but Bob? “Hey Bob, what are you doing around here?”

“Oh, hi Sean, he said, “I came to shower. They have plenty of hot water, soap and towels here.”

“Sounds great!” I said.

“Yeah, it is. Are you going for one?” he asked me.

“Of course. Catch ya later.” I said, leaving aside the reason why I might be there if I hadn’t known about the showers. Men are such doofuses. This was getting stranger. I knew Bob was here seeing Marti. Why hadn’t he said so? Why would he hide it? Was Marti up to something? Why the two men if she was gay? Were there other men too? I was very clear on why Marti wanted me to come by. Perhaps I was too late. I knocked on her door. No response. I knocked again. She answered. She opened the door, looked surprised to see me, and looked up and down the hallway, before pulling me in and locking the door.

“Why’d you do that?’ I asked.

“Well, we’re all pretty open here. People feel free to just wander in anytime.”

“Oh, yeah. I saw Bob leaving when I got here. Said he’d come for a shower.”

“You did? Yeah, he was here. There’s other showers, but I told him he could use mine.”

“That’s all?”

“He also wanted me to go out with him tonight.”

“What’d you say?”

“I told him I was too busy.”

“Hmmm. And how is your work going? Do you have time for me?”

“Of course, silly. I’ve been working all afternoon so that I’d have some free time.”

I smiled. I said, “Com’ere.” We kissed, for a delightfully long time. She pulled me onto the the bed. I kissed her face and neck and my hands roamed over her breasts and arms. I started to stroke her thigh and mound. She touched her hand to my crotch briefly. I guess she was checking to see if I was ready. Was I ever! She pushed me away then, gently, and got up. “Hold that thought,” she said, “I’ve got to do something.”

She popped into the tiny bathroom. She came out nude. I pulled my clothes off in an instant and joined her on the bed. I had brought my ‘precautions’ and started to unroll one. “No. Don’t. I already took care of it.”

“Then why did you ask…?” She put her finger on my lips. Sometimes I don’t know when to shut up. ” It doesn’t matter,” she said, “Fuck me.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Her body was taut but smooth. She was amazingly responsive and excitable. I’d never known a woman to seem so surprised when I entered her. She moaned right away. adventures_of_don_juan.gif I wasn’t all that much of a Don Juan, but she really, really, seemed to like it. I worried, for a moment, that her moans and yells would bring someone to the door. She seemed to enjoy every second, thrusting up at me, and rotating her hips. I didn’t ever want to stop, but eventually I had to, after the most intense orgasm I’d ever experienced. I decided that I would never need to get stoned ever again. This was way better, beyond compare.

We separated for a few minutes, to cool down in the hot July evening, and then I snuggled up to her, thinking about later, thinking about sleeping in a soft bed with a soft woman.

“Sean,” she said, “You can’t stay.”

“”Why?” I asked.

“Oh, Sean, I’d like you to, but it’s just not a good idea. I could get into serious trouble.”

“You’re a grown woman. Surely you can do as you want?”

“Not here, I’m afraid. This University is pretty liberal, but not that liberal. This isn’t California.” I felt myself take offense. “I’m not from California,” I said.

“Where are you from, anyway?”

“Baltimore, Maryland, originally.”

“Really! I’m from Annapolis – you know, the Naval Academy, and all that.”

“You a Navy brat?” I asked.

“Yeah, sure am. I’ll be going back there too.”

“When?”

“Well I still have to write my thesis. I’ll be doing some research in New York first, but I’ll be going home in December.” I started thinking I might want to head east. “Sometimes,” I said, “I think I’d like to live on the Eastern Shore. It’s so beautiful there. I’d like to get a boat so I could crab and fish and sail.”

“Have you been to Annapolis?” she asked me.

“Just briefly, when I was in the Scouts. It’s a nice looking place.”

“I’d love to show you around. You could even stay with me.”

“I’d like that.”

“I’ll send you my address and phone number in New York. Call me when you get to the coast.”

That was that. Unfortunately, my bicycle group was leaving town in the morning. We were on a schedule.

I saw her again, one night about a year or so later, when I happened to be in New York. We had written to each other a little, and she was very surprised to see me, but just as nervous as before. She indicated she was ‘with’ someone. I told her I had just wanted to see her. That seemed to make her even more nervous. She told me I could stay at her place overnight. She didn’t. Horndog that I was, I had been hopeful. She asked me not to answer the phone. I gave her a number where she could contact me next day. She rushed off. I never heard from her. She never wrote again either. Perhaps I hadn’t lived up to her image of me from that one encounter? That was OK, since I was in love with the woman I lived with in Albuquerque.

Posted in Bicycling, Life, My Life, relationships, sex, Travel, Writing | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

 
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