Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We Are What We ^ 08

2008: The Year in Review P-U!

As 2008 is about to be flushed down the crapper, its stench will linger
... And 2009 will choke on the fumes.

The words, phrases, events and people that will be the legacy of 2008:
George W. Bush: Lameduck


the 18-month Presidential campaign

The Spitzer scandal ~~~ Hillary vs. Obama~~~

The Economy
Beijing Olympics

The Reverend
Jeremiah Wright

Michael Phelps

John Edward's $400 Hair cut
Bernanke Cuts Interest Rates

China: the Oppression of Tibet

John Edward's Affair

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin's Wardrobe


¦ Stock Market Crash ¦

AIG -□- Lehman Bros
Fannie Mae -□- Freddie Mac


Hillary: Secretary of State

Rod Blagojevich: For Sale - One Unused Senate Seat

Caroline Kennedy Crawls Out From Under a Rock

Weapons of Mass Destruction

When the 2009 New Years baby sees what Old Man 2008 leaves him -
he will shit his pants - then there will be a need for a

C ° H ° A ° N ° G ° E


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolute: A New Christmas Eve

I Hereby Absolve ...

I Hereby Dissolve ...

I Hereby Resolve ...

I, Hale McKay, being of sound? mind, do heretofore and hereby solemnly resolve, under duress and witness to the scrutiny of my peers, to make and to adhere to the following resolutions forthwith:

Resolution № 1:

... To cut back smoking to only two packs of cigarettes per day, and to limit such consumption to only after the cessation of sex.

Amendment 1-a: One pack ?

Amendment 1-b: One cigarette ?

Amendment 1-c: On the slim chance sex occurs.

Amendment 2: Cancel Resolution № 1 *¹
*¹(Note: Resolutions should not be onerous, difficult or impossible to achieve.)

I, Hale McKay, being of sound? mind, do heretofore and hereby solemnly resolve, under duress and witness to the scrutiny of my peers, to make and to adhere to the following resolutions forthwith:

Resolution № 2

... To make NO resolutions for the New Year.
*² (Note: By making this Resolution, i.e., Resolution № 2, to make NO resolutions, the success to adhere to said Resolution № 2 will be enhanced exponentially.)

The Christmas That Wasn't ... Yet

Have you ever felt like you were just simply struggling to get through life only to have life get in your way? (Raises hand.)

Due to forces beyond our control, Christmas of 2008 will not be an especially memorable or good one for our family, although future references to it will be prefaced by "Do you remember that Christmas when ..."

(Admittedly our misfortune in no way paralleled the lives of those in parts of New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine who for ten or more days before and after Christmas had to survive without electricity because of a massive ice storm.)

On the last weekend before Christmas we received on Friday evening into Saturday afternoon a foot of snow. Most of Saturday was spent clearing the driveway and sidewalk of the snow. If that wasn't enough of the white stuff, another storm moved in Sunday afternoon and dumped another 5 inches. It got worse. That snowfall turned over into 3 hours of sleet. Naturally the temperature was forecast to and did drop to below freezing.

It just so happened that both my wife and I, because of our work schedules, had earmarked that weekend for Christmas shopping. (If you're keeping score: weekend storms 2, Shopping 0.)

That left us with three shopping days before Christmas: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. NO problem! Right? WRONG! There was the certain issue again of work.

I lucked out when one of my clients canceled services for the day on Tuesday, thus freeing up the morning and early afternoon for me. My Christmas shopping was accomplished within those six hours. My wife wasn't so lucky and even had extra hours piled onto her schedule.

Then we learned that my daughter's husband was on call from Christmas Eve through the weekend. It is always possible that there would be no calls and he could be home. Since he works for the cable company and has to answer to problems involving phones, cable TV and the Internet, the prospect of staying home over the holiday was slim and none - and Slim left town.

Next, my daughter found out that her husband's parents would be spending Christmas at the nursing home with the mother-in-law's mother. Was that the final blow? No, of course not! My daughter's sister-in-law and her husband weren't going to be around either having committed to Christmas with his family.

There was only one thing left to do - cancel Christmas. Nah, that wouldn't do, but there was a workable solution - to postpone Christmas until New Year's Day, Jan 1, 2009. It was agreed to by everyone concerned. Thus is born a new holiday - New Christmas Day.

My wife has tomorrow, Tuesday, off. She'll be taking advantage of the time to do her own shopping.

So if on Thursday you happen to hear me say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy New Year," you won't think me daft. It'll be because we aren't celebrating Christmas - YET!

Oh yeah, did I mention that last Tuesday from the weight of the melting snow that the roof of our garage collapsed? (That's a story for another day. I think you'll understand that under the circumstances, I don't wish to get into the details of that issue now.)

So Happy Christmas and Merry New Year - Oh, you know what I mean.


Monday, December 29, 2008

The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray (10)

Part 10 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)

Would the Real Mr. Black
Please Stand Up

I was lying on the bed staring at the ceiling. I was still feeling uneasy about that song and how curious it was that two people would have it playing in their heads less than an hour apart. Her explanation that it reminded her of a man she once met was satisfactory enough, but when combined with other coincidences involving her I couldn't help but dwell on the odds.

I was trying to train one ear on the television set and the other on the police scanner. Susan was in the other bedroom getting dressed and it was just as well. She'd find out sooner or later, but for the moment I was relieved that she was not seeing our two smiling faces being aired as wanted fugitives.

My eyelids were getting heavy as the lack of sleep began to overtake me. The nap on the train had done little to provide my body with the rest it needed. My thoughts drifted to the recorded research of Michael and Michelle. Their bodies glistened with the perspiration of their intense sexual intercourse.

Before I fell into deep sleep I was looking into the face of the beautiful Michelle Gray. The device on my head was creating a tingling sensation within my brain. My lips parted to accept her probing tongue. She pulled back and I was looking into the eyes of ... Susan! I could feel her undulating, rising up and down on me. Then I suddenly found myself struggling to breathe, but no, I was gasping at the impending surge welling within me.

There was a sudden and wondrous sensation within my head. I could feel what she was feeling and the look in her eyes indicated she was experiencing the same thing from me. Our thoughts were interacting with one another. Then ... then there was an explosion of shared sensations from me/her and her/me. Our bodies tensed and trembled. Release was simultaneous and mutually shared. Incredibly we had both experienced two climaxes, our own as well as our partners'.

It was Michelle who gazed upon me as she rose. As we slipped apart I looked upon that spot where we had been coupled. Slightly to its left, high on her inner thigh was a stamp-sized tattoo of a butterfly.

I opened my eyes with a start. I was staring at a ceiling. I eased myself onto my elbows. It had been a dream, one hell of dream! I froze, realizing that Susan was asleep lying beside me. She was still wearing only the towel. The towel was open below, exposing that place I'd visited in my dream. I leaned forward slowly so as not to disturb her with the sudden shifting of my weight upon the bed.

I was looking down upon the sandy curls of her pubic hair. I followed the smooth contours of the cleft where the hair ended and mentally traced a path onto her inner thigh. The towel was suddenly pulled over her exposed nether area.

"Did you get a good enough look?" she scolded. She bolted from the bed and pressed the towel tight against her body. She stood by the door and glared at me.

My face flushed and I stuttered, "Susan, it's ... not what ... it appears to be. You've got to believe me." I swung my legs until I was sitting on the edge of the bed.

In spite of her anger she started to giggle. "I thought you said we weren't going to mess up the sheets!" She pointed down at my pants.

"Oh shit!" I exclaimed in shame. I thrust my hand over the obviously large darkened stain on the crotch area of my pants.

She covered her mouth in an attempt to stifle a fit of laughter. "Serves you right for staring at my crotch, Benjamin Bering!" She frowned and continued, "Aren't you a little old to be having wet dreams?"

"Susan, please," I said with my head lowered. "I was looking for something ..."

The anger returned to her demeanor. "Looking for what? To see if I had crabs or something?" She turned and stormed from the room.

"No, a butterfly," I shouted after her.

She reappeared in the doorway, "You saw it? How could you have know about that?"

"Uh, no. I couldn't see it. The way you were lying it was probably hidden by the crease in the skin where your legs meets ..." I let the words of that sentence tail off. I looked at her and said, "You mean ... there really is a butterfly tattoo there?"

"Ben, how could you have possibly even thought that I had a tattoo there?" She situated the edge of the towel tight against herself so that only her inner thigh would be exposed to me. She raised her leg and placed her foot on my knee. "You see it? It's on my inner thigh. It can't be seen when I'm standing or sitting."

I patted her leg and she returned her foot to the floor. "I don't know how to explain it or to make any sense out of it, Susan. I saw the butterfly tattoo in ... my dream." I glanced up at her and then turned my head and said, "You and I were ... well, we were having sex."

She eased herself onto the bed next to me and said, "Gee. I'm flattered. I don't think any man has ever had a wet dream about me before." She stood up in front of me and let the towel fall to the floor. "If you wanted me that badly, why didn't you ask?" She placed a knee on the mattress and started to push me onto my back.

I stood up and pulled her close. "Oh yes, I do want you," I whispered before pressing my lips against hers. With our lips still touching I said, "but like I said before, this isn't the time or place." I spun her around by the shoulders and patted her back side, "Now go get dressed. After I shower and shave, we have to get back to Boston. I don't think it wise to wait until tomorrow. We need to have a long talk with Michael Black."

An hour later we were heading north on the train. I glanced at her seated across from me. She hadn't said a word since the cab had dropped us off at the station. I shook my head bemused that she appeared to be actually sulking. She finally broke her silence and pointing at the small leather book I'd been carrying around asked, "What's with that book anyway? That title, I Am, Therefore I'm Not, what's up with that? It's close to that Descarte quote."

I leaned forward with my elbows on my knees and replied, "You mean, 'I Think, Therefore I Am', I'm sure. It is a ripoff of his quote. I guess you could say it is my mantra. I am the man you see before you, but I'm not the man I want you to see. I'm here, but I'm not where I want to be. Does that make any sense to you?"

She studied my face for a moment and said, "Yes. Yes, it does. You have goals but you have not achieved them." She smiled, "You exist, but you're not recognized. I like it." She got up and sat next to me. She rested her head on my shoulder and added, "So, when are you going to start writing this book?"

I laughed and kissed her forehead, "You saw right through all that crap, didn't you?"

I could see the skyline of Boston in the distance. I handed the cell phone to Susan and asked her to contact Mr. Black and to inform him that he should expect company within the hour.

After she'd ended the call I realized that Susan needed to be brought up to speed. It was evident to me that she had only been a gofer in the whole affair. She knew absolutely nothing about the work of Michael and Michelle. She knew that someone was after us, but she had no idea why. There moments of amazed looks upon her face as she learned of the very nature of their research. For the most part she took it all in stride. By the time we'd pulled into South Station she had agree to act ignorant of the facts as well as my suspicions.

Michael's reception of us was much colder than it had been during my first visit with him. He led us into a small dining room and asked us to sit. The table was covered with several bags of food that had been recently delivered.

"I'm sure you must be hungry after all that has transpired," he said. "So I took the liberty of having some sandwiches and meals sent here. I wasn't sure of what either of you might like or dislike, so I ordered a little of everything." He sat down opposite me and waved his hand over the spread. "Don't worry about what you cannot eat. I'll have it sent down to the Pine Street Inn for the homeless."

Susan didn't hesitate to dig in, revealing that she was both hungry and that she had quite an appetite. As for me I just picked at a plate of fried scallops and fries, all the time studying our host. Making no attempt to hide the fact that I was watching him, I was looking for the things that were different about him. As I had suspected, there were differences in his mannerisms. I paid close attention as he ate from a plate of fish and chips, opened a can of beer and stirred the sugar into a cup of tea.

After we had eaten and had retired to the living room I said to him, "Michael, did you quit smoking since i was last here?"

"What? I've never smoked a day of my ..." he said and stopped not finishing the sentence. He looked at me for a moment and turned away.

"Never?" I said, "That's funny, the last time you were chain smoking." I could see a worried look come to his features. I wasn't about to let him off the hook. "You know, I noticed something else too."

"Ummm ... What was that, Mr. Bering?" He was getting nervous and shifted his weight in the chair.

"Unless you are ambidextrous, Michael," I said and paused for effect, "The last time ... I could have sworn you were left-handed. Tell me, am I wrong?"

He said nothing but rose from the chair and walked a short distance from the sofa. He finally spoke, "I'm sure your memory must be a little off."

I stood up and pointed at him, "Look, we've already established that you aren't really Michael Black." I was taken aback by a confused look on his face. I walked up to him and said, "Well, I'll be ... I am right, aren't I?"

"I don't know what you mean," he said. Beads of perspiration were forming upon his furrowed brow. "Right about what?"

I looked over at Susan on the sofa. She had been quiet listening to my exchange with the man. She had been turning her head back and forth between the two of us. She was more confused than our host appeared to be.

"Would the real Mr. Black please stand up!" I said raising my voice a decibel or two. "Not only are you not Michael Black, you're not even the same Michael Black that I met with that night. Just who are you?"

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "All right. I think you know the answer to that question, but you want to hear it from my own mouth. I've been carrying on this charade because I didn't know who I could or could not trust."

I interjected, "You can trust me ... and Susan!"

He nodded, "I hope so. I need to be able to trust somebody. It's been a nightmare trying to hide this secret. It's been a larger, more terrifying nightmare to be trapped outside of my own body ... To be a woman trapped in a man's body!"

(To be continued Friday, 1/2/09 in part 11 Michelle Gray in the Flesh .)


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Liquid Tears

I've written and posted tributes to recently deceased celebrities on several occasions. It's not hard to do, for their lives were an open book.

However, before now, I've never attempted to pay such a tribute to a normal down-to-earth person, especially a fellow blogger. I'm finding it difficult to do.

Suzanne Horne, known to those of us who regularly read her blog, Liquid Illuzion, as Liquid, passed away on Christmas Eve. Liquid tears are flowing for her.

How can I pay tribute in prose to someone I know, but don't really know? Well, I believe that if you read someone's blog long enough you'll find that is an open window into their life. A little bit of a blogger is revealed through their words, and reflects who they are.

From her picture above, it is easy to see that on the outside she was a beautiful woman. It is from her writings that I was able to see she was as equally beautiful inside. If you are unfamiliar with her you can either take my word for it, or better still, click on the link above and see for yourself.

She was a wonderful photographer and examples of that skill can be seen in many of her posts. She was also adept at writing poetry, which is also abundantly represented in her posts.

I am finding myself troubled by that word "was." The word is so ... final. Yet, she was admired and had many blog friends, and this is evident by the 95 Followers, of which I am one, on her sidebar. The word was diminishes when I realize that there are many who will remember her, and you can count me among that number as well.

She used to leave comments on my weekend posts. They usually said something like:
"Thanks for the laughs. I needed that."

"I come here on the weekends when I need to smile. You've never let me down. Thanks so much."

"Your humor makes my mornings easier to handle."

At the top of my sidebar to the right you will see a photograph of an ice cube with a bow. As the caption says, it is a gift to us:

Here's a little
gift for you each!
Think of me when you add a little more ice to your holiday drinks,
'Cause I'm right there with ya!

Suzanne, perhaps it was prophetic when you wrote that. I shall use those words as a fitting epitaph to you. Salute!

I hope that, if even a small way, this tribute is fitting.


Friday, December 26, 2008

The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray (9)

Part 9 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)

Where Is Ms Gray?

The road is long,
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where,
Who knows where...

Sometimes out of the blue the lyrics to a song will pop into my head. Such was the case as we were disembarking from the commuter train in Franklin. The opening words of the Hollies' He Ain't Heavy seemed appropriate enough given our plight.

The road had been long, and there had indeed been many winding turns. I shook my head, resigning myself to the fact that I had no idea where it would all end. Hell, I wasn't even sure where it had all begun. For reasons I couldn't explain, I was becoming more and more convinced that the proverbial snowball had been rolling down the hill long before it had crossed my path.

Then there was my traveling companion, Susan. Since my arms were full balancing the book atop my police scanner I had asked her to hail us a cab. I watched the wiggle of her hips as she moved a few steps ahead of me in attempt to flag one. What was it about her anyway? I silently cursed and recused myself of merely being a horny divorcee finding himself in the company of an attractive young woman nearly half his age.

Perhaps it was a combination of my comfort level in her company as well as my attraction to her, but I found myself all but ignoring the course of events that had placed us together. Was it by chance that she had shown up at my apartment after it had been ransacked? Was it a coincidence that she had been there when I arrived home?

Fifteen minutes later the cab turned into one of the several culs-de-sac in the wooded area of the town's outer fringes. When the driver shut off the meter Susan reached forward and handed him a twenty dollar bill and said, "Keep the change, sir." Seeing my curious look she shrugged and said, "You paid for the train tickets. It's only right that I should pay for the taxi." She then winked and added, "Besides, it was your change from the fifty for the train tickets."

Rosie's house was the center one of three houses located in the well groomed cul-de-sac. At the front door I knelt down and reached behind a large Rhododendron plant. I showed Susan the stone I had produced before turning it over to reveal a small metal plate. "Voila!" I said as I removed the key hidden behind the plate.

Susan was looking about admiring Rosie's taste in decor while I plugged the scanner into an outlet. She was watching me and asked, "Can your scanner pick up Boston frequencies from here?"

I shook my head and replied, "Not really, but sometimes if the atmospheric conditions are just right it will. I'm more interested in monitoring the police traffic here in Franklin."

"Why?" she implored, a worried look coming over her.

I stood up and faced her and said firmly, "These people have unlimited and far reaching resources, Susan. If they really want to find us, and I believe they do, sooner or later they will. Maybe they are posing as the FBI, I don't know, but who else could've tipped off the police and sent them to my apartment building while we were there ... at the scene of a murder ... in my apartment? I'm speculating of course, but how was it that the police were cordoning off the Globe Building at about the same time we got there?"

She became overcome with fear and moved to the sofa across the room. "Ben, just who are they? What do they want with us? What did they want with Billy?" She began to sob, "Are they going to kill us too?"

I sat down beside her and allowed her to seek comfort in my arms. "Not if I can help it. We do have an advantage, albeit a slight one, in that we know they are coming. Your friend Billy ... my neighbor Jim ... Stu, my boss ... they were caught unawares."

"I don't understand, Ben. Why are they after us?" she asked fighting back her tears. "What's so important about Michael Black and Michelle Gray? It's their research isn't it?"

I nodded in affirmation and said, "They already have their research. Now they are looking to eliminate all extraneous knowledge of that research, no matter how insignificant that knowledge may be."

"But I don't know anything about their work," she said.

"That may be true, Susan," I said, "but they don't know that. Remember, both you and Billy had a hand in delivering me to that meeting with our friend, Mr. Black. They could have very easily seen me getting into that cab that night. They might have observed you dropping me off at Mr. Black's residence also."

She looked into my face, "Who are they?"

"I can't say for certain. I can only guess they are working for some clandestine branch of the government with close ties to an equally nameless military faction."

I stood up and offered my hand for her to follow. "Come, we need to freshen up and get some rest. Tomorrow we go see our Mr. Black. I'm sure he can answer our questions," I said smiling at her in attempt to put her at ease. "There is an answer to one question that I'll have to have, even if I have to squeeze it from him."

"What question is that, Ben?"

"The location of one key player in this drama ... Just where is Ms Gray?"

It's the Same Old Song

I led Susan to the back of the house and opened a door. "This is Rosie's bedroom," I said extending my arm for her to enter. "You and Rosie are about the same size. In the closet you should find something to change into. To my right is the bathroom. Towels and face cloths are on the shelf above the toilet." Over my shoulder I said, "I'll clean up and shave after you."

I stepped into the small spare bedroom and sat down on the edge of the single bed. I picked up the TV remote, and once I had finally found the power button I pointed it at the nineteen inch set. I pushed the power button several times but the TV didn't respond. My reflection in the black screen was peering back at me. I glanced at the wall socket and saw that the set was unplugged.

I then remembered that I had to make some phone calls. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the cell phone I'd purchased at South Station. I punched into a number and waited for an answer. On the third ring a woman's voice said, "Hello?"

"Rosie, it's Ben. I'm at your place right now. I have a girl with me ..." I groaned inwardly. I knew I shouldn't have been so forthright.

"What?" she demanded. "Ben, we agreed that my place was not be used as a bachelor's pad."

"Rosie!" I snapped back at her. "It's not like that. She's in trouble ... Both of us are in trouble. I cannot give you any details. It's not safe."

The line was silent for a moment or two before she finally spoke, "I'll bet. Ben, does this have something to do with that story you were working on?"

"Huh?" I replied weakly. "What made you ask that?"

"A couple of strange men, probably Feds judging by their expensive looking suits, were here asking about you. They said you'd had a disagreement with your boss over a story you were writing." She paused and I could hear her breathing, "Ben, you didn't really beat up Stu ... Did you?"

"Rosie, you know me better than that." I let out a relieved sigh, "Stu ... Is he okay?"

"It was just on the news. His condition is guarded. And Ben, the news report said that the police consider you a person of interest."

"Damn!" I exclaimed. "Those suits are making a point loud and clear for my benefit." I was drumming the fingers of my free hand on my knee, a nervous habit of mine that never seemed to accomplish anything but to remind me that I was in a tight spot. "Rosie, I'd better hang up. I don't know for sure, but your phone might be tapped. I'll be in touch."

"Wait a minute, Ben," she shouted. "Where are you, which place? My house or my summer place up in Hampton Beach?"

"Rosie, you know I'd never bring a girl to your house," I replied. God bless Rosie, I thought. She was on the ball. If the call was being monitored her quick thinking might have sent them sixty miles north in the wrong direction. If they were to take the bait, then the diversion of their resources just might buy us time to slip back into Boston. "Besides, it's more romantic up here in front of the fireplace."

"Ben, spare me the details," she said with obvious sarcasm in her voice. "Ben! Ben, are you close to the television? You'd better check out channel 7 right now." I rushed to the set and plugged it in and waited for the picture to appear. "One more thing, Ben," she said, "If you mess up those sheets, you'd damn well better change the bed! I'll talk to you later. Goodbye."

I stared at the phone with a sneer. "If we mess up the sheets? Ha! Rosie you are quite the comedian," I said aloud.

"Are we going to be messing up the sheets?" Susan's voice startled me and I began to turn beet red. She was standing in the doorway, towels wrapped about her head and body.

"No. That was Rosie ... Of course not! She was making a joke," I stammered. My tongue was failing to operate as it should. "I have no intentions ..." I turned my eyes to the television screen. "Besides this isn't the time or place..." I shook my head and thought, 'Shit. Why did I say that?'

She giggled and said, "Hmmm, that sounded like a promise to me."

I raised my hand in a scolding manner, "Susan ..."

She turned and said, "I think I'll go get dressed."

Relieved I declared, "Thank you!"

I banished all of the innuendos into the back of my brain and tried to concentrate on a press conference being held by the State's Attorney General. She was standing at dais facing twenty or so reporters of both the print and broadcast media.
"Before I take your questions, let me first recap the details of our investigation at this point in time. Mr. Benjamin Bering, a well known investigative reporter for the Globe, is only a person of interest with whom we want to question in regards to the assault against the paper's Editor-In-Chief, Mr. Stu Jankowski. There is a possible connection, let me repeat, a possible connection to the homicide victim found in the apartment of Mr. Bering. The identity of that victim is being withheld at this time pending notification of family. There is a buzz among some of the reporters gathered here that a baseball bat found in Mr. Jankowski's office was the same instrument that was used on the homicide victim in Mr. Bering's apartment. At this time I cannot deny or confirm that. Said baseball bat is in the hands of forensics as we speak. Okay, I take some questions now. Please, one of you at a time."
I turned off the television and stared at the fading images. My baseball bat? My tormentors were being very thorough. I had been holding that bat, smacking it in my hand. My fingerprints, fresh fingerprints were all over it. In the short time it had taken us to flee my apartment and get to the Globe Building, they had used it on Stu in his office? The sons of bitches had all but convicted me.

I cocked my head and listened. From the other bedroom I could hear Susan. She was humming and the tune was all too familiar. I slipped into the hallway and listened to her through the closed door.

I threw open the door and barged into the bedroom. She was naked with her back to me. "What are you doing?" she screeched.

I turned abruptly until my back was facing her. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ... see you ... nude. Honest ..."

My eyes happened to train upon a wall mirror. I swallowed and tried, but failed to turn my eyes from the mirror. She had turned and was moving in my direction. There was no attempt on her part to cover any parts of her exposed charms. Her arms remained by her side. She stopped and bent down for one the towels on the floor. She stood up and clutched the towel against her body. "Ben, did you change your mind about messing up those sheets?" she asked.

"No, of course not!" I asserted. "It was just ... I heard you ... That thing you were humming ..." I moved for the doorway and as I pulled the door shut I cleared my throat in nervous embarrassment, "What was that song?"

Had it been that long? Had it been so long since I'd been with a woman that I didn't know how to act in the company of one, especially a naked one? She must have been thinking that I was a certified pervert. Who could blame her?

I heard the door open behind me. "Ben, if it's that important ... it was an old song, from the sixties I believe." She began to hum again and then started to sing, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother...."

I froze. My face must have turned ghost-white.

(To be continued on Monday 12/29, Will the Real Mr. Black Please Stand Up


Thursday, December 25, 2008


Twas late the night before Christmas and all the whiles,
The only ones stirring were those of us called blogophiles.

The young ones were fast asleep awaiting the man in red,
But I was wide awake, with a blog idea stuck in my head.

I'd watched videos, 'Die Hards' and 'Crocodile Dundees,'
And the missus was calling me, wearing only her undies;

She tried to keep me off the Net and away from the tellie
She wiggled and she giggled and held up the jar of Jelly.

Faster than reindeer upon the keys did my fingers dance
Ere she was out of sight she said, "You had your chance."

'Twill be the morn of Christmas when I awaken as a grouch
Coz I spent the night a-tossin' 'n a-turnin' on the couch.

The Allure of Mistletoe

...And who do suppose the blonde above was talking to?

"Ho-Ho the mistletoe ..."

If you thought the above video was suggestive and sexy ... wait until you see the following ...

(Blog author not responsible for lascivious thoughts of readers.)

No matter where you're from,
No matter how you say it,
No matter how you express it:

Joyeux Noel
Buon Natale

Feliz Navidad

Kala Christougen
Mele Kalikimaka
Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Feliz Natal
Meri Kurisumasu ~ Nollaig Shona
Gajan Kristnaskon

...And of course,

Peace be with you. May we never forget the true meaning of Christmas.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho-Ho-Ho Hum Christmas

One thing is assured around here, we're going to have a snow-covered white Christmas. The snow that fell between the afternoon of Friday the 12th and Saturday morning buried the Boston area with an average of 14 inches. It took me from 11am until 3 in the afternoon to clean out my driveway and the front and back stairs.

It was disheartening to hear the meteorologists tell us that Sunday afternoon we could expect another 5 to 6 inches which would in turn switch over to rain and then sleet. Alas, their forecasts hit the nail on the head.

I ran a special sale last week on snowmen. Sales have been slow however, so slow that I haven't sold a single one yet. As such, I am now running a 2 for 1 sale this week. That's right, two snowmen for the price of one. So far, I still haven't had any sales.

Come on people! How often can you buy one of anything and get another one free?

These snowmen (some assembly required) are one of a kind. No two are alike. Each one is made from only the finest quality snow, and is guaranteed to be 100% pure New England snow.

Bring your boxes, buckets, or barrels - any container you want and fill them to overflowing if you wish. Got a truck? Fill your truck bed! Our helpful staff will even supply the shovels.

Come on down. Bring the kids. Bring the whole family. Don't forget your grandmas, you know they cannot turn away from a bargain.

Our snowmen come in easy to assemble kits. All you need to complete your very own snowman are a button nose, two eyes made out of coal and a corncob pipe. If you find one, an old silk hat will add an air of sophistication to your snowman.

Folks, maybe you don't like your typical white snowmen? I am prepared to sell customized snowmen to those of you with a flare for fashion. For the first time ever, I have set aside one corner of the display yard with you in mind. Specially trained dogs in the neighborhood have dyed the snow an alluring shade of yellow. I call these snowmen the "Lemon Line."

Alas and alack, it looks like that tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I'm going to have to try to give them away for free!

I have to face the facts. It's not that people don't want to buy my snowmen. Their budgets apparently won't allow them to purchase extravagant goods these days.

It's certainly not looking promising for the Snowman Industry this year. Snowman futures on the floors of the Mercantile Exchanges are at an all time low. Myself and other snow farmers and snowman manufacturers are faced with protesting Washington. If they are going to throw around billions of dollars to bail out the financial institutions and the auto makers, then they need to take a look at the small businesses.

It has been rumored that even the toy makers, like Saint Nick Enterprises, North Pole Toys 'R' Us, and Claus' Closet are considering bankruptcy procedures.

Kris Kringle, in a press conference recently announced that his lap will be retired. He will bring in his daughter Cristine Kringle to handle lap duties; taking children's wishes and also offering lap dances to kids' fathers.

Yes, the economic woes of our country are having a terrible trickle-down effect on all of us. Christmas this year is going to be stressful for a lot of poor souls this year.

With the elves unable to purchase the raw materials to add to Rudolph's feed bag, he won't get the necessary nutrients to power his shiny red nose. That would mean that the other reindeer would have to be fitted with battery-operated lights on their antlers. There will then be a shortage of batteries, which in turn will force Cristine Kringle to charge more for her services.

Trickle-down effect indeed! Now I ask you, how am I going to afford a lap dance?


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Joking Around the Christmas Tree

Christmas Golf

Four old timers were playing their weekly game of golf, and one remarked how nice it would be to wake up on Christmas morning, roll out of bed and without an argument Go directly to the golf course, meet his buddies and play a round.

His buddies all chimed in and said, "Let's do it! We'll make it a priority; figure out a way and meet here early, Christmas morning."

Months later, that special morning arrives, and there they are on the golf course. The first guy says, "Boy this game cost me a fortune! I bought my wife such a diamond ring that she can't take her eyes off it."

The second guy says, "I spent a ton too. My wife is at home planning the cruise I gave her. She was up to her eyeballs in brochures."

The third guy says "Well my wife is at home admiring her new car, reading the manual."

They all turned to the last guy in the group who is staring at them like they have lost their minds.

"I can't believe you all went to such expense for this golf game. I slapped my wife on the butt and said, 'Well babe, Merry Christmas! It's a great morning for sex or golf,' and she said, 'You'll need a sweater...'"

A Man In Uniform

A little girl plopped up on Santa's lap. Santa asks the little girl, "Well little girl, what are you wanting this year for Christmas?"

In response the girl says "Santa, I want a Barbie and A G.I. Joe."

Bewildered Santa says "Doesn't Barbie come with Ken?"

The girl replies, "No Santa, she fakes it with Ken."

Here Comes Santa Claus

One evening before Christmas after a long day in the toy shop, Santa Claus was enjoying a soothing hot shower. Because he was very strict about remaining faithful to his wife, he occasionally felt the need to seek self-release.

That night was one of those occasions. So it was he succumbed to the urge to exercise his right wrist. Just as he reached a climax, there was a sudden flash of light. At the window he saw a photographer ready to take another picture just as his "Santa-seed" was flying through the air.

Quicky covering himself Santa said, "Hold on a minute, you can't print that! You'll destroy my reputation to all the kids who look up to me."

"This is my winning lottery ticket," said the photographer. "I'll be financially secure for life."

So Santa offered to buy the camera. After lots of negotiation, they eventually arrived at a price of two million dollars.

Santa then dried himself off, dressed, and headed off to the house with his new camera in hand. He met his wife at the door, who spotted the camera. "That looks like a really good camera," she said. "How much did it cost you?"

"Two million dollars," Santa said to her.

"Two million dollars!" said the Mrs. Claus. "They must have seen you coming."

Yule Log

An elderly woman went to see her doctor complaining of indigestion and severe cramps. She was having a large Christmas party and was hopeful that he could provide a cure or some relief.

In response to his initial questions regarding her appetite, what she was eating and regularity, she responded, "My appetite is fine. I eat only small portions and only those foods on the diet you put me on, Doctor. As for regularity, I have a normal bowel movement every morning at 8:15, like clockwork."

The doctor decided to run a series of tests; blood work, an MRI, X-rays, etc.

After the results of the tests were ready and he had studied them, he called the lady and asked her to come in to his office.

"I found the problem," he said to her. "You have three rather large tape worms in your digestive system."

"Oh dear," she gasped. "What can you do about them?"

He handed her a slip of paper and said, "Have this prescription filled. It's a mixture that you add to a glass of water. I want you to have three glasses of it, once every four hours. The solution will kill and dissolve the worms by tomorrow afternoon."

The doctors words were heard inside the woman's body by the three tapeworms.

"Did you hear that?" said the first worm. "What should we do?"

"I'm going to hide behind the heart," said the second.

The third said, "And I'll hide behind the liver."

The first thought for a moment and said, "You guys can hide if you want. But as for me, I'm gonna take that 8:15 out of here!"


Monday, December 22, 2008

The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray (8)

Part 8 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)

Meeting of the Minds

By sticking to the backstreets Susan and I had managed to slip underground into the subway system. From there we were able to make it to South Station without seeing another police officer. I handed her a fifty dollar bill and sent her to the ticket window to purchase two one-way tickets to the town of Franklin. In the meantime, I visited a gift shop and purchased one of those pay-as-you-go cell phones which was fully charged and included sixty minutes of air time.

Once we were on the train I plopped down into one of the bench-like leather seats and motioned to Susan to take the other one so that we would be facing each other. I handed her the plastic bag containing the phone I'd purchased and asked, "Would you mind setting this up? I'm not too tech savvy, if you know what I mean."

"I don't mind," she replied, a faint smile appearing at the corners of her mouth. "Mr. Bering ... Ben ... why Franklin? What's down there?"

"A friend's house," I answered. "I stay there sometimes when I want to get away. The house is empty Monday through Thursday. My friend only works at a diner on the weekends. We've had that arrangement for years. Then there's the added bonus that I can keep an eye on the property for her."

"Her?" she asked. "I see ..."

"No! It's nothing like that all," I asserted. "Rosie is my ex-wife's sister. I'll call her when we get to the house and let her know we are there." I was relieved that she seemed to accept it, although I wasn't sure why I felt I needed to defend myself.

I picked up my feet and put them on the seat next to her and pressed my head against the headrest. "Look, I haven't had any sleep in almost thirty hours. This might be the only chance I have to catch a few Z's for a while. Wake me when we arrive at the Franklin station." I glanced in her direction and whispered, "Please?"

As I was drifting off and before sleep set in I tried to reconstruct what had been happening to me ever since I had opened that e-mail. It seemed so long ago. Perhaps there was something I was forgetting, something that may have seemed unimportant. My thoughts drifted to my meeting with Mr. Black at his apartment. There were his and Michelle's research ... The government's interest ... The steamy videos ...
I paced the floor in front of my enigmatic host, Mr. Black. By his own confession Michael Black, however, was not Michael Black. I glanced at him on one of my passes and decided that his true identity wasn't really important at that moment. I'd come to the conclusion that the less I knew, the less I had to worry about my continued good health.

"Tell me," I said standing still, my arms crossed against my chest, "Besides your true identity, what else are you not telling me? What are you holding back?"

"Nothing," he responded. "Well,...Except for what's on the final disc."

I nodded, "I figured that if you disregarded Mr. X's directives, kept some of the discs and are discussing your work with me, then you must have also conducted some more tests, if for no other reason than to pick up where you left off when the Professor buzzed your door."

"Yes," he nodded, "there was a continuation of our tests. There were several more tests. We had to be certain that our findings were substantiated. We also wanted copies for proof of our work as well as the results. We didn't want the government, or whoever they were, to take our work and leave us with nothing."

"...Therefore underwriting your own life insurance policies, eh?" I directed at him.

"What? What do you mean?" he implored wide eyed.

"Don't play the naive undergrad with me, Michael. You must have realized that if they knew you'd made copies, or even suspected that you had, they would want them! Leave us face it, without the possibility of you having copies of those files ... both of you are expendable." I began pacing before him again while I continued, "Of course, they wouldn't want word of your research being made public, would they? If I were to agree to write up your story, would I not be placing myself in their cross hairs?"

"Ben, aren't you being a little dramatic? You don't really think the government would kill innocent people? Do you?" He produced a cigarette from his shirt pocket, lit it and asked again, "Well, do you?"

"Let me put it this way," I answered, "I believe that our government should be seen and not heard." I returned to the sofa and glanced back at him and said, "You said there was another disc?"

The video began as the previous one had, with the naked couple outfitting each other with the sensory device upon their heads. They checked and double checked all the connections and then positioned themselves on the cot. As before, he lie on his back and she straddled him. It took only a few minutes for their actions to reach a frenzied state.

The woman paused for a moment and stared down at the supine man beneath her. "Yes. Yes it does feel good, Michael."

Stunned, he looked up at her. "You ... you heard ... read what I was thinking? Just exactly what did I say ... er, think?"

She relaxed atop him and leaned forward until her lips touched his. "You said ... You were thinking ... 'Damn, Michelle. That feels so good!' ... Your words ... were loud in my head as if you actually spoke them."

She slowly raised her hips and then lowered them. She giggled and repeated the process several more times. She whispered, "What am I thinking right now?"

He looked up at her and grinning replied, "Why, thank you. You said in your thoughts, 'What a nice penis he has.' A man always like to hear that."

Her face became flushed and she said to him, "I didn't think the word penis. Now shut up and think dirty to me."

The couple on the screen froze. Michael smiled as he looked upon the puzzled look on my face. "You must have a comment. Ben?"

"You don't expect me to believe that you and she were actually 'hearing' or reading the thoughts of the other? It's not possible," I uttered before lapsing into troubling thoughts. "I was skeptical, as it was, about your claims that you were able to sense or to feel emotions. Now, I'm faced with the possibility of ... telepathy?"

"I assure you, Ben, that is exactly what happened to us," he said spreading his arms before me. "...And it wasn't an isolated effect. We repeated the experiment several times that evening. The more intense the emotional signals within our brains, the easier it was for us to communicate to the other ... without speaking!"

I tapped into the troubling thoughts that had been bouncing around in my head, "This research in the government's hands ... under military control ..." I rose and began to pace again. "The possibilities, the ramifications of all this ... It's very ... unsettling."

He raised the remote and said, "The next scene is our final test. It was after this, that we decided to contact you. You will see what happens when our equipment is calibrated too fine. You might say we that we nearly overdosed on the heightened emotional impulses."

"You can OD on a sexual climax? Whew. Didn't you see that coming."

He ignored my misguided pun. "By the time we were engaged in this test, we found that we were able to carry on a lengthy 'conversation.' In fact, we were discussing how we could stop Mr. X from usurping our work and all traces of it."

The couple on the video began to exhibit the expected spasms of simultaneous climax. The two of them cried out during what must been one incredible mutual release. There was a sudden flicker of the lights within the lab. The diodes on their headpieces were racing at a dizzying pace. The faces of both the man and woman seemed to be contorted as if they were in great pain. Somewhere off camera there was the crackling sound of overloaded circuitry. In the next moment Michelle fell backward, still linked with him. Their sweat drenched bodies lie still, their genitalia partially still engaged and their chests were rising and falling with labored breathing as they rested in spent exhaustion.

The TV screen went blank. Michael inhaled deeply on another cigarette and then cleared his throat. "Ben, Michelle and I remained in that position for over fifteen minutes," he said after pausing for my reactions. "You see, we were knocked unconscious. Our calibrations were too fine, apparently creating an intense feedback. We were out cold."

"Wow!" I exclaimed. "That sure does give credence to that old cliche', doesn't it?"

He looked at me his brow furrowed, "I'm almost afraid to ask. What cliche' might that be, Ben?"

"Well, it looked to me like you and Michelle were f**king each others' brains out!"
I opened my eyes with a start. My eyes came into focus on the green eyes of Susan who was tapping my shoulder. "The next stop is Franklin, Ben."

I sat up straight and stretched my arms. Despite the cobwebs of sleep I felt somewhat rejuvenated, fresh and alert. I nodded to her as she handed the cell phone to me. I studied her for a moment and thought how I would like to be about fifteen years younger. Susan was a very attractive woman. I panicked for a moment as I felt a strain in the front of my pants. In a self-conscious but defensive move I crossed my legs and diverted my eyes from her to the window.

If it wasn't enough that I'd become aroused by the videos I'd seen at Michael Black's apartment, I was more embarrassed to think that Susan might have seen me in that state while I was sleeping seated across from her. The train was slowing down as it neared the station. A short stay at Rosie's house would allow me some time to think about my next move. Once I had a plan, then and only then would it be time to pay a visit to Mr. Black.

(To be continued 12/26 with part 9, Where Is Ms Gray?)


Saturday, December 20, 2008

That's Snow Business!

Friday afternoon we were hit with our first major snow storm of the season. It was due to hit us some time after noon. Having canceled two of my jobs for the day, I completed the first one at 1:00 and pulled into my driveway at about the same time the first of the flakes started falling.

The weather reports had been calling for anywhere between 9 to 14 inches and that it would be falling at a rate of a half-inch per hour. The meteorologists were almost dead on! There is at least a foot of the white stuff out there.

I'll soon be firing up the snow blower, and I will most definitely use the electric starter!

From the drawing pad of my POODLE DOODLES comic strip I scanned the only three cartoons I had drawn featuring the winter time antics of "Missy." Laughing about a lot of snow is far more entertaining that trying to clean up after it.


Deep Snow

Haunted Snowman?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~a few jokes~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"All right, lady" said the bill collector, "how about the next installment on that couch?"

The lady shrugged and said, "Better than having to give you the money, I guess."

There was a man who wanted to get something for his wife, but no one would start the bidding.


While attending an engagement party given by his friends, the reformed player and his pals sat at the end of the bar and cast an eye over the assembled guests.

"You know," the groom-to-be declared to his best man, "I've slept with every girl here except for my sister and my fiancee."

"That's interesting," his best man replied. "Between the two of us, we've had them all."

Creeping around to the bedroom window, two private detectives finally caught their client's wife in bed with another man.

"Just as I suspected," said the first. "Let's go after him."

"Great idea," the other replied with lust in his eyes. "How soon do think he'll be finished?"

A woman walked into a convenience store and asked the clerk if they sold extra-large condoms.

He replied, "Yes, we do. Would you like to buy some?"

"No," she said, "but do you mind if I wait here until someone does?"

(If you missed the Friday installment of the on-going short story "The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray," you can find Part 7 Here. )


Friday, December 19, 2008

The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray (7)

Part 7 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)

I Am, Therefore I'm Not

I navigated through the debris on the floor to get to the telephone. When I heard a dial tone I began punching in a number. While it was ringing I whispered to Susan, "After this call, we have to get out of here."

"Are you calling the police?" she asked rubbing away the tears from her cheeks. She had calmed down but was still visibly distraught.

"No. I have to first talk to my editor, Stu Jankowski," I replied. "I have to make sure he is all right." To my chagrin his cell number kept ringing until the voice mail kicked in. "Stu? Ben. This is important. Meet me in the attic at 3:00 this afternoon." I disconnected the call and looked up at the ceiling. "Shit!" I exclaimed.

"What's wrong, Mr. Bering?" Susan asked.

"It's probably nothing, but Stu never lets his calls go to voice mail. I don't like it." I forced a weak smile and said to her, "It's Ben. Please call me Ben."

I walked over to an end table which lie tipped on its side by the sofa and picked up the police scanner that once resided upon it. From the small bookcase I grabbed a small leather bound tome bearing the title I Am, Therefore I'm Not. I looked about the main living area of my apartment; it was a sea of carnage. It would take me weeks to clean up the mess, but that would have to wait.

After plugging in the police scanner in the closest outlet to the door, I threw a few articles of clothing into a duffel bag and gathered some toiletries from the bathroom. I noticed that Susan was standing by the door to my bedroom. Her face was ashen and her mouth was covered by her trembling hand.

I called to her, "Susan?" She didn't answer, her eyes locked onto something behind the slightly ajar door. I moved to her side and peered inside my bedroom. I froze. There, just beyond the door was an unmoving human hand, a prominent U.S. Marines ring on the ring finger.

"My God!" I cried. "Jim. Jim?"

For reasons obvious to me I knew there would be no response. I attempted to push the door aside but it wouldn't budge. There was something against it on the other side. In desperation, despite using my shoulder I was still unable to force it open. Finally I managed to move the door just enough to allow me to see the dresser mirror against the far wall. From the reflection I could see that Jim's electric wheel chair was wedged against the door.

I knelt down and extended my arm into the room. I recoiled slightly when my fingers came in contact with the cold flesh of his hand. I glanced back at Susan. She hadn't moved, her eyes still wide, her hand still across her mouth. I then repositioned myself until I was sitting with my feet planted against the door and my back against the wall. With all the strength I could muster I pushed with my feet until I could feel the faint pangs of an old hernia condition.

There was the sudden snap of wood as the door began to yield to the force I was exerting upon it. The screws holding the bottom hinge in place tore from the door frame. I surveyed the damaged door, in particular the lower third of its surface. I made a mental note that when I had a chance I needed to compose a letter to my landlord. It seems that the solid wood doors described in my lease agreement were instead hollow and covered with an oaken veneer.

I crawled inside and pulled myself onto my feet. I gazed down upon the prone figure before me. I could see the blood-soaked side of the man's head where he had been struck with something. I shook my head, made the sign of the cross, and uttered a silent prayer of respect for my neighbor. For a moment my eyes rested upon the terminus of his two legs, the lower half of which had been lost serving his country in the jungles of Vietnam. I knelt once more and began patting his pockets until I found and removed his set of keys.

I crawled out the bedroom and stood before Susan who seemed to be gaining control of herself as well as her senses. I placed my hands on her shoulders and gently shook her. "Susan. Are you with me?"

She nodded and turned away from the bedroom door. "Is he ... Is he dead?" she queried. "You knew him?"

I grabbed her hand and pulled her after me. "Yes and yes. He was my neighbor from across the hall."

I picked up the duffel bag and handed it to her. "Take this. I'll take the book and the scanner."

"Shouldn't we call 911? This ... needs to be reported." she said to me.

I didn't respond to her right away because my attention was drawn to the voices coming from the police scanner. I removed its plug from the wall and said, "We don't have to. It seems someone has already called it in."

I placed the leather book atop the scanner and cradled them in my arms. I could hear the sirens approaching outside, probably only two or three blocks distant. We had to get away from there. I grabbed her arm again and forcibly dragged her from the apartment.

At first she struggled. "...But the police are going to want to get statements from us, Mr. Bering," she protested.

"Susan," I said, "I have nothing but the highest regard for the law. But right now, I don't particularly relish a ride downtown wearing co-joined bracelets."

I could hear some of Boston's finest in the lobby below. I motioned to the girl, "We'd better take the back stairway. This way."

I was hoping that since the police were responding to a 911 call that they would not have deemed it necessary to cover the back entrance to the building. When we reached the door I grabbed Susan's arm and yanked her behind a concrete pillar.

"Damn it," I muttered. A lone police officer was approaching the door. I acted without thinking and thrust my shoulder against the door the same moment he was pulling it open. The door smashed into his face and he fell backward over the railing onto a pile of trash bags.

"Jesus Christ!" Susan exclaimed when she saw him lying there unmoving. "I think you hurt him bad!"

While herding her down the three concrete steps I cast a furtive glance at the fallen officer and quipped, "Yeah, I believe I broke his nose." I gently pushed her ahead and added, "He'll live. The others will see to him."

My mind was racing at light speed as I led us into a back alley four blocks from the apartment building. I needed to sit and think. I needed a safe place to hide out for an hour or so. I watched as Susan slumped to the ground against the stucco surface of a building. She was scared and rightfully so.

She finally spoke, "Ben, what in the hell is going on? Why did we run from the cops?"

I knelt down beside her and wanting to measure my words into a subtle response, I rubbed my neck and realized it was best that I lay it on the line. "Some government agency, which by the way officially doesn't exist, is after the work Michael Black and Michelle Gray were conducting. Apparently there are military applications for their findings." I paused and I could see that the gravity of our situation was not registering with her. "Look, these men are ruthless and they will stop at nothing - nothing - to achieve their goal."

She gasped and turned her face away from my gaze, "Even killing innocent people?" She ran a finger against her cheek. "Why Billy? What did he do to deserve to die? He never met them ... neither Michelle nor Michael." She stood up and brushed her hair from her face. "...And what about your neighbor? Why was he killed?"

I eased myself to my feet and sighed heavily. "Jim must have heard the commotion in my apartment when it was being turned upside down." My chin resting on my shoulder, some movement at the end of the alley caught my attention. I reached for her hand as I continued speaking, "He must have gone to my door while they were in there ... He must have thought he was looking out for me."

She must have sensed that it was time to move on. She fell in step with me as soon as I started walking. "Where are we going now?" she asked.

"To the Globe Building. One, to check on my boss Stu, and two, to retrieve my car from the parking lot. We aren't going far on foot," I replied.

"But won't the police be looking for you there?" she asked.

"It'll be the first place they look," I answered. "I'm hoping that they'll be tied up at my apartment before they put out an APB on me ... and you!"

She stopped dead in her tracks and shrieked, "Me? Why would they be looking for me, for God's sake?"

I faced her and said coldly, "If they knew about Billy, they know about you. Yes, they are after you too!" The fear returned to her face and her breathing was becoming heavy. "Think about it, Susan. Someone is following us ... watching us. Who do you suppose called the police to my apartment ... to the scene of a murder?"

She remained silent until I stopped by a tall stockade fence. The parking lot where my car was parked was just beyond the fence. I placed an eye over a knot hole in the wooden structure. I turned away and raised a finger to my lips. There was a lot of activity on the lot. There were four police cruisers, their lights flashing, surrounding and effectively blocking access to my car. Several officers were milling about it.

"Damn it!" I growled. "The place is crawling with police."

She heard it before me and remarked, "That's an ambulance siren. Is it going there, to your building?"

I peered through the knothole again. As the wail of the siren grew closer two of the officers were running the yellow barrier tape across the building entrances. My heart sank and I sat down on the grass by the fence. I was drained both mentally and physically. The loss of sleep was overtaking me. Susan knelt by my side and placed a hand on my arm.

"It's your boss, isn't it?" she asked. "The ambulance ... it's for him?"

I nodded, for I had reached the same conclusion. I got up and picked up the scanner and the book. I took a deep breath and exhaled long. "We are not safe out here on the streets. I know a place where we can go," I pointed at the fence with a thumb over my shoulder. "It'll take longer to get there without my car, but at least we can rest ... I can get a little shuteye."

(To be continued on Monday 12/22, part 8, Meeting of the Minds.)