Sunday, March 16, 2014


The southeast wind was brushing against the front from the northwest. The atmosphere was devolving into a storm.

"You've never done anything for him".

Elden was incredulous.


"Never anything."

"So I was just a stain down your leg?"


Elden turned over.  Sleep might not come.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

and now

Vacation started yesterday at 2 p.m..

Camping come Monday.

Room with a view...

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Decided to go chase waterfalls. Fuck you TLC.

My luck

Stopped on the way home and purchased a lottery scratch off ticket. Scratched the laytex surface off to reveal a judgment lien against myself.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Friend

This horrible event unfolds like a
Flower in a winter hot house
With that sickly smell of
Death rising
To the nose too sweetly.

"See you in two weeks" you said
But of course you won't.

How many mornings my friend
Did you cook for me
And force my smile?

It lacerates.


Last Thursday at work I went down to the cafeteria to get breakfast as I have been doing for well over a decade. For the balance of that decade Charlie has been cooking me breakfast - mostly scrambled eggs and bacon, on occasion an omelette. When I saw Charlie that morning I told him that I would be away from the office for two weeks, one week in St. Petersburg for a civil trial and the second week camping.

He told me he'd see me in two weeks.

After arriving at the St. Petersburg courthouse today my phone blew up with texts from co-workers at my office. Charlie came to work this morning and then collapsed on the loading dock and died of an apparent heart attack.

I will miss my friend.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Hurt

My father was an auto mechanic. More specifically a brake and front end guy with his own shop- Brake King -for 30 plus years down on 4th Street in St. Petersburg. Back then, long before gentrification turned the local color into a strip of upper end coffee bars and haute couture clothing shops it was mostly hookers, drug addicts, old drunks and bikers who lived in and crawled up and down the area.

His garage was a two bay affair, with a small office, a back room where the grinder and grease bucket were kept and a front end pit installed behind the building, dug and cemented as I recall without the benefit of the required city permits. The place was an oven in the summer and an ice tray in the winter. My father labored there 10 or 14 hours a day turning drums and rotors, grinding brake pads and aligning car front ends. His forearms were like cords of wood from his work and the creases in his hands permanently stained from the grease and oil and grime. He busted his ass for the family.

On Fridays around lunchtime the small office with begin to fill up. Jimmy, who’d retired from the Coca Cola bottling plant, was a permanent fixture there. The Clark boys - Bobby and Steve- would come around. Bobby was principal at a local high school and Steve worked for the power company. Bob Ulrich, St. Pete’s mayor would show up. Forrest Booth, vice president of a plumbing company would come around. There were many others who would attend more or less often.

They’d sit around and swap stories and jokes and eventually someone would run down to Coney Island and bring back brown paper bags full of chili dogs or over to whatever pizza place was currently opened up the street for boxes of pies. My father would unlock the office Coke machine and everyone would sit down to eat. These were the men my father played softball and golf with on the weekends, the men he had attended the Baptist church with since the late 50’s when he’d moved to town from Tennessee with my mother.

In 1978 when I turned 16 my father gifted me with my first car, a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere. He’d picked it up for $50 and some brake work. It was white, with pushbutton gears in the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. He installed a new radiator and some blue strap on seat covers to hide the tortured, torn and sprung bench seats. He was proud as hell of the fact that his newly minted legal driver would have a car to drive to school.

I attended a private school. The pricey tuition was, like everything else in my life, a product of those front end jobs and turned rotors, of that sweat and grime. The student parking lot would fill up with BMW’s and Audi’s driven by the sons and daughters of doctors and lawyers. I went to school with the rich kids.

My mother had taken me to my father's shop on a Friday at noon in early February. I was out of school for the day to get my driver's license. I was 16. I was excited about going to the shop because there had been hints and portends of what was coming.
My father rolled up the door on one of the shop’s bays and handed me a set of key. The car sat there, newly waxed.

I was mortified. To a 16-year old with visions of Mustangs and restored GTO’s the Belvedere was a heap. I stood and stared at it. How could I possibly park this thing next to Bob Tilka’s GTO or Laura's 65 Mustang in the school parking lot?

I’m sure I didn’t look at my father’s face and I’m equally sure that he was looking at mine. My father could read me like a book and not being a stupid man must have realized immediately that I was disappointed beyond words.

I eventually sulked to the door and sat in the driver’s seat, the dash’s original AM only radio screaming “low class loser” at me.

My father leaned his head in the door and told me to be careful. I started the car, pushed in the “drive” button and eased on the gas and out of the garage bay.

In retrospect I believe my ungrateful response on that day hurt my father more intensely than any of the subsequent college bullshit I got involved with. I had been a selfish, ungrateful little prick, something his grace and self containment kept him from calling me in front of the men, his friends, who'd gathered there that day.

Later, of course, when Bob and Laura and the others piled into the Belvedere on Friday evenings to go find beer and drink on the beach, that day simply disappeared from my memory. My father and I never spoke of it and to my regret I can remember ever telling him thanks.

I drove the Belvedere until I went off to college. My father sold it for $100 and I would like to think that it’s still running today.

The shop is gone now, replaced by a two story glass office building with an upscale seafood restaurant just down the street. My dad is gone too, four years now.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fleeting Glory

Had an Attempted Murder in the Second degree trial yesterday.

The facts are these: two members of rival St. Petersburg gangs agree to meet on a Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. to fight in the side parking lot of Lundy Liquors. It’s all about street cred and disrespect and being a gangsta.

So the two guys meet at the appointed time, along with 25 or 30 of their closet friends. They spend several minutes posturing, tossing insults back and forth in this parking lot.

Eventually the two exchange a couple blows, then back off, then a few more blows. I couldn't help but be reminded of those wildlife videos I've seen or rams or deer locking horns then breaking off only to do it again.

At the point the defendant in my trial walks up to the scrum of folks milling about the fight. He isn’t involved at all - not part of either group - but decides to involve himself by approaching one of the combatants and throwing a punch.

The guy he hit turned and punched my defendant three times in quick succession. My defendant walks away from the fight. He crosses the street and comes back moments later with his tee shirt wrapped around his right hand.

The excellent high definition surveillance cameras at Lundy Liquors capture my defendant (from four separate angles) pulling the tee shirt from his hand reveal a semi automatic pistol. He begins firing into the crowd of people, hitting two. My defendant then leaves the scene.

(A quick aside: As my defendant starts firing, someone else attending the fight jumps into the back seat of a car, pulls out an AK47 and begins spraying the area with bullets but hits no one.)

The jury was out for a little less than two hours and came back finding him guilty as charged. The judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole under the 10/20/Life Firearm Act.

My defendant is 30 years old and, while I don’t have a copy of the mortality table handy, I would guess he’ll probably live another 50 years or so.

It’s stunning to me that adults spend their entire futures for “street cred” and “respect”. And it’s more stunning to me that my defendant would go all Wild West and just start blazing away with reckless disregard for the safety of others. The surveillance video clearly shows cars carrying uninvolved people driving down the road right next to the scene. There’s a bus stop nearby. Many people just trying to live their lives could have been injured or killed - collateral damage.

At sentencing my defendant didn't say a word. I guess his gangsta reputation is safely cemented.

Monday, March 3, 2014


If I could turn my words into something with substance they would only become a thing one wipes off the chin and then, rising,  flushes down the toilet with a push of the handle.

Shaking you gets no response. I can't even feel you breathing.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Preparing for the Open....

Apartment pitching practice on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Wonder what the losers are practicing today?
Kinda worn a spot....