Friday, January 30, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - Regrets - 1/30/09

Skooter and I are off to North Carolina to meet my new granddaughter Sophie,

but this prompt, regrets, caught my eye and I had to make a comment, however brief and inconsequential, before we crank up the IPOD and drive north.

I do not have regrets. They are counterproductive. I know I have made lots of mistakes in my life but if I had it to do over again and did not make those particular blunders I would make others equally as grievous. No, it is better to look forward than dwell on the past.

There are certain things I would do differently. I would apply myself academically. I would be a better son, father, and friend. I would take the harder road versus the easy one. I would take better care of myself. I would ………….. Shit. I guess I do have regrets. Sonofabitch!!!!!!

Can you regret that you have regrets?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Three Word Wednesday - 55 Flash Fiction Friday - Caress, Jagged, Ruthless - 1/28/09

The prompts for Three Word Wednesday (caress, jagged, ruthless) conjured up a woman that every man has known. My initial jottings formed an exact 55 word image. That never happens. It usually takes a lot of wordsmithing. I left my first draft alone. I hope you enjoy it.

Her caress was both velvet and the jagged cut of a serrated blade.
A wound that would never heal.
Her love was equally ruthless and tender.
He now understood the close proximity of pleasure to pain.
He knew she was a succubus, but his soul ached for the sweet danger she brought into his life.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - Phantoms & Shadows - 1/25/09

I have been blogging for nearly two years. Writing here, usually in response to prompts supplied by various blog sites, has brought to light memories from the shadows of the disturbed recesses of my mind. I try to recount and record these stories before they once again become phantoms and slip back into the darkness. This week’s Sunday Scribbling instructions brought back memories of elementary school.

For nearly all of my 6 years of primary education, I attended Silver King School. It was located in a small gulch just east of Smelterville, Idaho. A creek flowed along beside the school and adjacent to the playground area. Sounds like an idyllic setting. However any image you have conjured of a trout filled, crystal clear, mountain stream flowing down the valley is premature. Upstream from the schoolhouse was plant that refined zinc. All of the waste created by that refinery was washed downstream to us. Zinc is a heavy metal, and though our bodies require a minimal amount of zinc for maximum performance, we do not require, nor can we tolerate the amounts that oozed from that creek. When I think of this water, lyrics from an old Chris Rhea song come immediately to mind:

“I'm standing by a river but the water doesn't flow
It boils with every poison you can think of.”

The water was a color that I am certain God never intended H2O to be. It was a grayish/green opalescent liquid. We did not routinely wade into the toxic waste, but from time to time one of our playground kickballs would sail over the chain-link fence and one of us would fetch it. There was one kid that had some kind of seizures and every so often we would find him walking down the stream. Someone would go retrieve him too. This creek feeds the Coeurd'Alene River which, in turn, issues into scenic Lake Coeure'Alene, where we swam, fished, and water skied.

Had that been the only environmental issue we faced, this writing would not have the impact on the reader that I had hoped for. The school was also in the shadow of huge smokestacks (first one, then a second was built) which belched the exhaust from the huge lead and silver refinery that was on a hillside just a few hundred yards east of the school.

We were so accustomed to the “smelter smoke” that we hardly even noticed except on the days it was particularly pungent. This was long before there was an EPA. The focus of the government in those days was mutually assured destruction of the Russians and not air quality. The air we breathed on a daily basis was more toxic than any Los Angeles has ever experienced. If there were air quality warnings in 1960, we would have never been allowed outside at all. The combination of the water and the air would have made Erin Brockovich throw up her hands and run for cover. The hillsides had been choked and were devoid of any vegetation. What did our lungs look like?

Our playground contained equipment that would be banned today. Corroded from the very air that we inhaled and corrupted from exposure to too many Idaho winters, we survived playing on it. A tetherball hung from a pole. We would beat the crap out of it but I don’t think we ever completed a game. It seemed the only rule was you couldn’t grab the rope. I do not even know if that was a legitimate game or just something we had in Idaho. It was featured in Napoleon Dynamite, a film that was a pretty accurate portrayal of Idaho life.

Inside that schoolhouse, we received a quality education. Outside we were subjected to toxins, but inside we were exposed to music, art, and literature. Though I can’t recite what I had for lunch yesterday, I can recall from memory several poems that I learned nearly 50 years ago. Any aptitude I possessed for creative writing was nurtured inside that building. Though most of our parents, who were employed by the very company that was poisoning us, had not completed high school, many of us went on to earn advanced degrees. The foundation that I received at Silver King Elementary School prepared me for the future. Thank you Mrs.Woolum.

55 Flash Fiction Friday - Crime Scene - 1/23/09

If you haven't tried this, I highly recommend it. You write a story using only 55 words and link it to G-Man at 55 Flash Fiction Friday. It is a challenge to tell a story that is limited to 55 words. Here is mine for this week.

He found a battered body on the elevator. He bent to check. The memories of many CSI episodes screamed in his brain, “STOP!” He couldn’t leave his DNA or prints at the crime scene. He couldn’t call 911, he had no alibi. He sent the body up, wiped the call button clean, and went home.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - "Pilgrimage" - 1/18/09

This week’s Sunday Scribblings prompt is “Pilgrimage.” The following event came to mind:

I have driven across the United States several times. Well, nearly all the way across. I usually have driven back and forth from Idaho or Wyoming to the coast of South Carolina or Georgia. One way is between two thousand and twenty six hundred miles depending upon points of embarkation and debarkation. Though I love my country, the vast majority of it is pretty boring visually, particularly the Midwest. The only thing that rises above the horizon of corn is an occasional silo. It is topographically challenged.

So in order to break the monotony of interstate highway driving, I have sometimes ventured off the beaten path to visit a point of interest. I have seen the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas.

I have detoured to see professional and collegiate stadiums and Boot Hill in Dodge City Kansas.

I have visited the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois

and Carhenge (yep there is one) in Alliance, Nebraska,

But none of these were really planned, just a spur of the moment diversion. Sometimes just spotting and advertisement, "Prairie dog town, two miles."

On one of my trips south, I actually did make a major course change and embark on a pilgrimage of sorts. Along with reading, music, and film, sports are a major part of my life. Two of my all-time sports heroes, Larry Bird and Don Mattingly, are from Indiana. Larry is from French Lick (the name alone is worth a visit) and Donny Baseball is from Evanston. I am certain that some of my readers are alarmed that I would know that minutiae. People that know me will not be surprised at all. Anyway, Indiana is not on my normal intracontinental route. I am guessing that Indiana is not on anyone’s route, unless one races automobiles. I am probably the only person in history who has gone on a pilgrimage to Indiana.

So after I passed through St Louis (always a pleasure), instead of taking Interstate 57 South toward Paducah, Kentucky, I stayed on Interstate 64 and took it into Indiana. I visited French Lick first because I did not know what time the Larry Bird Museum might close. At the time, it was located in the lobby of a hotel, so I did not need to worry. French Lick was pretty much a hell-hole, but in the years since my visit they have built casinos and golf courses. If I lived in French Lick I would open up a massage parlor/ice cream shop. Happy endings for all.

But it was heartwarming to see how a small town (under 2,000 then) honors their favorite son. His image was everywhere. I come from a small town that has never really had anyone to honor. The only resident’s images are on the wall of the post office and sometimes offer a reward. Exploring French Lick, I was pretty sure that Larry got his looks from some selective in-breeding.

Then it was on to Evansville about 90 miles away, where I had dinner at Mattingly’s 23 Restaurant and met Don’s brother, Randy. At least, he said he was Don’s brother. It is possible that Evansville residents take turns hanging around the restaurant bar pretending to be Don’s brother, encouraging tourists to stay and have a few drinks. After hearing what a fan I was and that I was on a pilgrimage, Randy gave me an autographed photo of Don. At least, he said it was autographed by Don. It could have been autographed by any of the town’s Randys.

Anyway, I felt good about my pilgrimage; even though I found out later that I was only 500 miles from the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.
You might think that is quite a haul but I once drove 830 miles from Darien, Georgia to O’Fallon, Illinois to have lunch with a woman, because she didn’t believe I would. I guess the joke was on you, Angie Buhrman. Never, test my inclination and resolve to do ridiculous things.

Friday, January 16, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - Supermarket Encounter -1/16/09

If you haven't tried this, I highly recommend it. You write a story using only 55 words and link it to 55 Flash Fiction Friday. Here is mine for this week.

Supermarket Encounter

Pushing his cart
She guiding hers
She fondling the produce
He admiring the meat

A glance in the basket
Single portions both
How can he eat that?
Is she a health freak?

Eyes meet
Uncomfortable smiles
Not his type
And he's not hers
She’s pretty old
He’s too fat
As they go home alone

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sunday Scribbling - "Organic" - 1/11/09

This week’s Sunday Scribblings is my 200th post. I wanted to do something special to commemorate this achievement, as it exceeds my talents and expectations by about 199 posts. I asked my son, Josh, if he could think of a Wainright story that must be told. He mentioned a few events and caveated his input by “no one is going to believe some of these.” He likened me to Forrest Gump. Admittedly, I have had some remarkable occurrences, many of which will never be documented. When I saw that the prompt was “organic”, the first thing that came to my mind was a story that only two people in the world know about. I am certain I will have a unique take on this prompt.

At 17, in the fall of 1970 I enrolled at the University of Idaho, to study I have no idea what. I was assigned a dorm room in Willis Sweet Hall in the Theophilus Tower. At eleven stories, it was the tallest building in the state of Idaho at the time. It was a brand new coed dorm. That is not as exciting as it sounds, the men had the bottom six floors and the women occupied the top five. However, the experiment must have failed because it was changed to an all-female dormitory in 1982. I probably share some responsibility for that change.

My roommate was Mike Craner from Saint Maries, Idaho. Mike was at the UofI on scholarship to wrestle. I was a walk-on baseball player. I made the team and played fall ball until academically disqualified after first semester grades were revealed. But that is another blog in itself. Mike and I immediately became close friends (which is not always the case with roomies). We were both very straight-laced and naïve. The whole campus was heavily involved in drug and alcohol consumption. We held out for a while, but soon decided we wanted to experiment.

We had a suite-mate who was a Native American from the Coeurd'Alene Indian reservation in Plummer, Idaho. He told us about peyote buttons. His tribe used them in ceremonies and was his drug of choice. The drawback was that they tasted horrible and made you sick. That was not appealing to first-time drug users. He said that we could get it in another form. It was called brown “organic” mescaline. It was ground up into capsules, thereby eliminating the nasty taste issue and resulting gag reflex. The word organic was a bit deceiving, because most poisons and addictive drugs are also organic. But, it still appealed to us. And I was an avid reader of Carlos Castenada. Unfortunately, the experience I relate here is much less spiritual than those recounted in his books.
Often, on the weekends, Mike and I would hitchhike to either St Maries or Kellogg. It was a lot shorter trip to St Maries, but often harder to get a ride, as Kellogg is on Interstate 90 and St Maries is out in the boonies. In those days, hitchhiking was a perfectly legitimate mode of travel (particularly for college freshmen, who had no car). Once home, we would have access to a parent’s car, which would give us access to girls. College guys returning to either small town was nearly as much of a draw to high school girls as a car radio to Amish girls. Even a guy as physically unappealing as I could get some play. On campus, we had to compete with guys with money, looks, and cars.

So we bought two hits of mescaline each and set out Friday night for whichever of our home towns we could catch a ride to. They were both basically in the same direction, at least initially. As soon as we put our thumbs out on the shoulder of Highway 95, we each swallowed a capsule. We were giddy with anticipation, as we had heard accounts of the incredible hallucinogenic effect of this wonder-drug. Traffic was light and no ride was immediately acquired. In addition, after 15 minutes (probably 5) we were getting no symphony of color from our mescaline. We had been swindled out of our ten dollars (things were cheap in 1970). Impatiently, I took the second capsule. Big mistake. Mike wisely decided to wait and see.

Within a few minutes we were both experiencing our first trip. It was a very cold night but I was comfortable since the sky was now on fire. I told Mike that I would stop the next car with my mind. I concentrated mightily. Coincidentally, the next car did pick us up. We were both pretty impressed by my psychokinetic abilities. The ride only carried us as far as Potlatch (less than 20 miles). That was a shame as I could actually see the music coming from the radio of the pastor and his wife that had picked us up. At that point, Led Zeppelin and Perry Como sounded the exact same to me. I could rock out to anything. Elevator music would sound like Hendrix.

We got another ride fairly quickly (though my estimation of time was severely flawed. It could have been five minutes or twenty four hours.) If you are still reading, bear with me. This post is much longer than my normal blog, but it is my 200th.

We often met interesting people hitchhiking. But this particular night we thumbed two rides that were among the most memorable. A guy picked us up in a Volkswagen Beetle that had an arrow sticking out of the driver’s side door. He explained to us that he and his wife had an argument and she came after him with her hunting bow. I know, you are thinking that this was a hallucination. The drug affected my perceptions but did not create alternate realities. His car glowed and had an aura around it but the arrow was indeed there.

As the night continued, the intensity of my trip increased. I could feel my heart beat at a furious pace and hear the blood rushing through my veins. Every sound was magnified, colors enhanced, and it was my impression that everyone we met could tell we were high. I could see the knowing look in their eyes.

Our final ride into St Maries was with two very drunk guys in a Cadillac. The driver spent much of the drive turned around talking to us. It seemed he was driving about the speed of the Starship Enterprise just before it accelerates into Warp Factor 5 (he may have been driving 35) and his inattention terrified me. The hard rock was cranked up but I could understand every word they spoke because comic strip balloons provided closed-captioning for the reality impaired. They offered us beers, which we took out of courtesy, but beer would have no affect on me that night. We stopped for the drunk guys to pee and I am not certain whether I did or not. I think some electricity and fire bolts shot out of me, but that is all I am sure of. I am certain that it would have been impossible for me to have sex on mescaline. I could not feel anything in that region of my body whatsoever. I have heard a woman describe a saddle block procedure and I am pretty certain I was similarly anesthetized. I was fairly sure my genitalia were still attached, but I could not have sworn to it in a court of law. The juice freaks (that is what we called them in those days) dropped us safely off at Mike’s house and sometime that weekend we went to sleep. Mike drifted off about 10 hours before I did (or it could have been 30 minutes). I listened to the same LP for several hours, playing over and over and watched the television test pattern, never tiring of it. This is a test pattern. Yes, in those days television actually terminated their broadcast at midnight.

People not viewing it while amped up from a double dose of Organic Mescaline might have become bored with it. Not me. I watched it like it was a feature film about indians.
Mike and I both left school after that year. We partied ourselves out of academia. He stayed local, got married, and took over his dad’s logging operation and I got married and joined the Air Force. He was the best man at my wedding. I have lost track of him over the years, so I hope he gets a chance to read this. I know it would bring back some memories. The important thing is that I did not have any lasting effects from this experience. The important thing is that I didn't have any lasting effects from this experience. The important

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Granddaughter Arrives 1/3/09

This is Sophie Allen Wainright. A late Christmas present. Born early this morning. Bringing the total of my "known" grandchildren to 3. She was born a month early and is a tiny 5 pound bundle of joy. Carson and Maris are very impressed. I am sure this means an additional trip to Chuckee Freaking Cheese for me each year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Flash 55 - Happy New Year? - 1/2/09

That infernal ball was dropping in Times Square. He had nearly polished off a bottle of Dom. He hated champagne. Not as much as he despised New Year’s Eve. It had been an eternity since he had kissed anyone, midnight, or any other time. Counting down now. He kissed the business end of his Glock.