Another Typical Newsday…

A few days ago, I found myself starkly taken aback at my response to hearing that Donald Trump had tested positive for Covid-19.

I was absolutely elated. I felt like I had just driven a silver stake into Dracula’s chest. I could imagine him slowly choking to death on a bright red ventilator that said MAGA across the mouthpiece.

And shortly after that, and very much to my surprise… a wave of good old-fashioned Catholic guilt. It felt so genuinely alien to honestly wish that much harm to come to another human. I could not resolve it.

And then, he claimed to have ” learned a lot ” about the virus.

I found myself actually thinking that the experience had changed him. And that things would begin to get better. Because he had ” learned a lot.” I found a sense of Christian charity to be much easier to live with.

A few days later, and he had managed to entrap Secret Service guys in a van so he could stage a drive-by for his own edification, and used his premature departure from Walter Reed as a huge cheap-ass reality- show stunt, a despicable and genuinely disturbed video for his ” campaign.”

My personal belief is that he is so psychotically insecure that he must try to dominate every news cycle to constantly feed his inner deeply damaged and disturbed four-year old.

So… I find my sense of Christian charity once again trampled into dust. I am back to imagining that red ventilator again.

And now, to speak of the real reason that I wanted to write today, now that we have fed the little monster. And that I only learned of this today purely by accident, because there’s never any room in a news cycle for anything else. There’s never any air left for anything else.

Today… Eddie Van Halen died at age 65 from throat cancer, which he had been struggling with for some time.

Eddie was a phenomenally talented guitar player, who at a very young age somewhat casually turned the world on its ear.

If memory serves, the first Van Halen album was released in 1978. It was a huge success. It featured a showcase piece for Eddie called ” Eruption”, and it caused an awful lot of guitar players ‘ heads to spin around like Linda Blair rehearsing for the Exorcist. Although this also caused a bit of a business boom for chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons. Also a surge in sales of cassette decks and blank tape, because we/ they all needed a copy to take home and study for several years. Decades, in some cases..and a half century for a select few of us.

At first, no one could figure out how he did it. After some years, most of us had figured out how he did it to some extent, but still couldn’t do it ourselves.

Some of us never did. But we can now blame the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. That’s my story, and I have no choice now but to stick to it. It’s not true, but most people are too polite to question it.

And then there were the videos. This did after all happen just at the outset of the MTV years. Van Halen videos always featured Eddie, of course, with Eddie always looking right into the camera with that boyish, supremely confidant smirky grin, as if to say ” yes, I am actually having more fun than you can even imagine” and ” go ahead and try this at home, you’re not going to get it right anyway”.

And he was quite correct in that assumption.

On my Boss Katana modeling amp, there is a sample called ” the brown sound.” This is referring to Eddie’s general guitar tone, and players have been trying to emulate that sound forever. It’s a pretty convincing sample. Every time I have tried using it, I can’t help but picture that smirky grin…we both have always known that I’m not going to get it. And that’s just as it should be.

Rheumatoid arthritis, don’t you know.


Something Wicked This Way Comes…

Only one disparaging comment to make today concerning our DBDIC ( drunken bus driver in charge) I recalled something today from the first morning after the election in 2016…I was at my desk at work, watching people file in as they always did. Some were crestfallen and thunderstruck (as was I ) and some were barely able to contain their glee. It was like watching a scene from The Sound Of Music, except the Nazis found the little kids this time and they were all being loaded onto trains.

I clearly remember sitting there and actually saying out loud to myself… ” He’s going to get a lot of people killed” and of course having no clear idea how he would go about it. I would have reasonably expected a nuclear standoff with Iran or North Korea with an outside bet on China. Maybe an asassination attempt on Pelosi and Schumer…

If only he would have read his PDBs in the morning and consequently had a clue about the virus…actually, he had had a full briefing from Obama’s people, and of course disregarded it. He knew. He knew.

Last I checked…138,000 dead. And counting.

And it looks like we’ll be counting for a while yet.

I have to go now. In a few minutes, his niece Mary is going to shred his ass on the Rachel Maddow show. Apparently entertainment becomes somewhat twisted when one has been quarantined for way too long…

Published in: on July 16, 2020 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  


Warning; this is a political rant, from a characteristically non- political guy.

Apologies for being away for so long. I have had a lot going on ( reason, not excuse) and now have been in quarantine for 7 weeks. I tend to watch rioting on MSNBC a lot ( our new national sport?) and I just cannot figure out the scoring. No one seems to be winning….but I damn sure know who’s losing.

Everyone. Everywhere.

All due to our beloved Law and Order “president”, Donald F. Trump.

( F. for Fuckstick…a derogatory term for dildo, which is in turn a derogatory term for … well, you know. ( insert Steely Dan reference here, if you’re old enough)

At his fascist photo op the other day, I wish someone would have handed him a Koran, or maybe Webster’s Dictionary. He wouldn’t have bothered to check. He doesn’t bother to read things…like the two months of daily briefings that he ignored while thousands of people were already dying of Covid-19. He probably figured they were mostly Democrats anyway.

And that doesn’t mean to imply that he gives a damn about his base, either. He only needs them for one more day.

It is absolutely horrifying to contemplate that approximately 40% of the citizenry in the US still buy into the torrent of deception that spews from that ugly, intolerant, mysogonistic, racist, and supremely entitled orange mouth. How can they not know that he despises them too?

” Entitled” really says it all. He has absolutely no sense of responsibility. He has never had to be responsible, why would he start now?

I wish Ivanka would have snapped at the photo op, pulled a claw hammer out of her $1540 hand bag and started clubbing him with it. Just to get even for the probable years of sexual assault. What, you don’t think she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement? But she was likely only 12…

And poor Melania, the First Hostage. Doesn’t it look like she’s trying to Morse- code SOS with her eyes? But she’s spelling it wrong…SAS…SAS…Where is Spellcheck when you actually need it?

I have led a relatively comfortable existence. But I haven’t really contributed anything that actually stuck or made much difference. So… in the spirit of civil disobedience, I’d like to try sneaking up behind the Wartime President while he’s misreading from his teleprompter wielding a 3-piece box of KFC and try to stuff it into his lying entitled mouth. Potatoes, cole slaw, everything. And plug it all in with a biscuit, or maybe that little chocolate cake they have sometimes. I”m pretty sure that Secret Service will take their time stopping me…I hear tell they’re pretty sick and tired of paying rent. Hell, I’ll bring KFC for the whole team if they’ll just give me five minutes. Regular AND crispy.

I may have just opened myself up an FBI file. There, you see? Not all that useless after all. Depends on whether anybody actually reads obscure blog postings or not. I’m betting ” not.” We can be quite sure that He Who Compares Himself To Lincoln And Winston Churchill certainly will not be.

But what about Jared?

Published in: on June 4, 2020 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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No, not that…

To musicians, inclining wannabes and used-to-bes, GAS stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

Of which I recently got, and recently succumbed to.

It all started with me poking around in the toy store where I have absolutely no business being. I am officially retired, and only play my resonator for a few hours a year, maybe, and mainly because I really like the variant tones from different slides ( brass, kiln-fired ceramics, glass, etc. ) Hadn’t seen one of my electrics in five or six years.

But I still like to peruse the online stores just to see what new toys are out, and if anything ever really changes. Most of the time, I could only clearly identify about half the stuff that appears in a Sweetwater catalog. Or why someone sitting at a laptop would want convincing sample programs of instruments he doesn’t know how to play, to misuse in ways he doesn’t understand, to create synthesis that convinces no one.

Anyway… and then… an ad appeared for a small Marshall combo amp.

The DSL40CST.  40 watts of Marshall driving a Celestion 12′ speaker.

( There is a secret musician joke in that last sentence. If you need to, please watch ‘This Is Spinal Tap”, and I envy you if you have never seen it. It is phenomenal, and almost completely true. Stonehenge Forever…) And although I’ve known many a drummer with emotional issues and prone to dramatic outbursts, I’ve never actually seen one explode. Only in the figurative.

When I saw the ad for this amp, I was flooded with fond memories of playing my Les Paul through my 1974 JMP 50w MKII into my fawn 4×12 cabinet, and how that is more fun than anything else on this planet. And if a 40w combo could get me a little of that back… just a touch…well worth $699, you would agree. So GAS happened, and I began diverting funds from anywhere to support the endeavor. Girl Scout cookies… eating, not selling… while I tried to figure out how to divert mortgage funds to a better cause. And if I looked a little more convincing in a Girl Scout smock, I would have been out there pushing Thin Mints. Smocks are a little tight, and don’t typically run in XXXXX size…

And finally the day came…time to place the order.

I called Sweetwater, got a guy named Dennis, and explained my GAS attack. I was almost done… just seconds away… and I suddenly had to get all mature on him.

I asked him if he were a guitar guy…yes, he was…I asked him if he’d ever tried this amp…yes, he had, as soon as it arrived…did he like it?…fucking awesome, he said…well, not entirely in those words, he was after all on a monitored sales call. But the sentiment was quite loud and clear.

And did he think it was still too much Marshall for in the house, I said. Even at the 20-watt half- power setting?

Yes, probably, says Dennis. After all, a Marshall is always a Marshall. But it’s way quieter than a 100-watt stack.

Damn it, I thought to myself. Am I about to purchase a great little amp that can live out in the garage with my great big amp? That I don’t even use there because I’m a considerate goddamn neighbor?

Fucking maturity. What I was really hoping was that I could somehow revert to one of my many totally immature former selves and gleefully indulge in some modernized Marshall folklore. Fuck the neighbors. I hate them anyway.

And then Dennis, possibly sensing that it might be slipping away, earned his phone rep wings. I commented that I really knew all that the whole time, and there’s no real substitute for a killer tube amp.

Hold on, there, says he. That’s not the case any more. We just got a new one in that would surprise the hell out of any tube junkie. And you never have to replace tubes…

Ten minutes later, and I bought a Boss Katana 100w head. 5 amp models to build on, 15 effects onboard, a variable power output down to 0.5 watts, and a 5- in. speaker built in so you can practice very modestly. It has a matching 2×12 cabinet that I may get later, but it can easily drive a 4×12. Plus a nice set of AKG headphones, and I’m good for a while. You also get software access to any of 58 Boss effects pedals, so you can completely rebuild the effects chain if you like.

And Dennis says this is a really simple example of a modern amp…

So far, I like it a lot. I can’t quite get the software working yet, not Roland’s strong suit, or mine either.Goddamned BIN files.

And the last bit to consider…I have been out of practice for so very long now…that I really do kind of suck at this. I have a lot of work to do.My audience consists mainly of my dog Bentley ( a Morkie, the cutest thing ever) and I can sense his disappointment. He barks plaintively and piles all his toys at my feet…as if to say…please, this is all I have, just stop, for God’ sake, stop the madness…

So apparently, I play guitar again. I guess that makes me…a used-to-be-hope-to-be…

Cat Escapes Bag…

Well, then.

A ways back, I put up a post about, and how much fun I had poking around in the dustbin of my family history, such as it is.

That trend has continued, and I have found much more stuff since then. But there also have been setbacks. Inexplicable setbacks.

For instance, I have two branches of aunts/uncles/cousins that don’t seem to exist. And yet, I can verify their existence because I was there, and knew them as a child. So I am forced to possibly conclude that:

  • My parents inexplicably lied in great detail about them
  • is riddled with errors
  • They did in fact exist, but went to great lengths to avoid the authorities, especially census- takers
  • I might have made a mistake in my family tree somehow ( as unlikely as that seems, with me being almost infallible…yet, I must remain objective…)
  • Maybe they really existed, and I am just a figment of their imaginations ( I like that, it easily explains away any shortcomings of mine…not to say there are any, but… )

And to really complicate matters, I received a DNA kit as a Christmas gift. Didn’t see that coming at all. So I spit in the tube like the Nigerian girl on TV says to do, and sent it off to the Geneaology Elves in the mountains.

There must be an awful lot of freaking elves out there.

The results got back yesterday.

Were I better at using WordPress, I would simply insert an emoji here. The yellow one with eyes wide open and mouth agape.

I sort of expected the percentage results- 86% Irish, trace amounts of 6 others. Been there, knew that. But I didn’t know about the interactive map.

The one that shows where your DNA genome matches ever started from, and where they ever went. And when. And shows little icons of people to click on along the way when written records ever started being kept.

That’s how I confirmed James and Ellen Duggan, both born app. 1800, married around 1820, emigrated by 1840. Both buried in St. Patrick’s cemetery in Pawtucket RI. My 3rd great-grandparents.

Now I have to go find them.

But wait…there’s more.

They are just the earliest written records.

The earliest genome matches go back to 1700…from France. ( insert frightened emoji here) Not frightened, really. More like unsettled. I may not be as Irish as I have always been led to believe.

But then again, Mom and Dad may have been lying about those cousins too, so…

So the earliest indication is that they went from France to Canada, settling around the St. Lawrence seaway. They were fur trappers, roughly around the time of the French and Indian war.

They lost the war with Britain, and were driven out of Canada. To all over the Northeastern states ( sorry…colonies, then)

And so the next plateau ( ooh, look, I know a French word ) will be to find a trace of how that all happened and how the Irish cousins and French trappers ever got together. Somebody went way outside the lines.

And I just got an Ancestry email from a French guy  who has built a tree to almost 40,000 people and invites me to investigate away. Seeing as how we’re cousins and all.

That, as the saying goes, is a lot of fur trappers.

The journey continues. The emoji says it all.


Published in: on January 30, 2018 at 2:42 pm  Comments (5)  


Jeez, I am really getting tired of this…Tom, now Malcolm… Jack Bruce…Mitchell and Redding… Johnny Winter…etc…

I remember very distinctly studying a practice cassette tape  for a band I was in around 1980-81. One of the songs on the tape was AC/DC doing ” It’s A Long Way To The Top”.

The song was ( is ) incredibly straightforward and starkly simple, as are all AC/DC songs.

Being a token hot guitar player in the 80s, I was not terribly impressed by this song, and was not very familiar with this band at the time. I listened along, presuming the all- pervasive format of two verses, obligatory guitar solo, one more verse and out.

Man, what a surprise. Two verses and then… bagpipes. Lots of them. And then, bagpipes doing trade-offs with Angus’ guitar. Then another verse, and out. And bagpipes along the way.

It was lucky for me that I was home alone, because I actually stood up and cheered. Very out of character.

And then listened to it again about 6000 times.

This was the first time that the notion of ” no guitar solo” ever presented itself to me, and it was a revelation. And this from a two- guitar hard rock band. It changed me.

They were sometimes very raunchy and politically incorrect, sometimes joyously anthemic, always fun to watch. Malcolm’s chord riffs played on an old Gretsch through a mountain of Marshall amps. Angus running around like a possessed schoolboy… well, he actually is a possessed schoolboy. But those great gigantic chord riffs from Malcolm…

Should you ever find yourself doubting Malcolm’s power, just try taking a walk through a graveyard while playing ” You Shook Me” on your portable whatever. Hear that scratching sound? That’s the sound of deceased girls clawing their way to the surface, because they absolutely must dance whenever they hear it. So be ready for that. They will not be denied…

Thanks for everything, Malcolm. Have a safe journey over.Malcolm-gear-650x304 (1).jpg


Into The Great Wide Open…

A world without Tom Petty.
How can there be no Tom Petty?? There has to be a Tom Petty. There can not be a no Tom Petty. There must always be a Tom Petty.
Almost five decades of filling a very particular musical need in the American music landscape, and all the better for having created the need to begin with.
Like the Beatles, Stones, Springsteen… you invent a musical world that only you can occupy. Timeless, classic, and eternal.
Tom was not a great singer…didn’t need to be. Not a great guitarist, either. Didn’t need that at all. Tom was a phenomenal songwriter. And like Lennon and McCartney, Dylan, Bruce, etc, had a very memorable voice. Once you heard it, you knew it. And once you ever heard a superbly crafted Heartbreakers song, it was stuck in your head for all time.
And I feel really badly for the Heartbreakers. They’ve been gigging forever, and now they can’t. Any more. Maybe not ever.
Just maybe, way down the road, they might do something with another guy fronting the band, like Paul Rodgers fronting Queen. It would have to be done respectfully, reverently, almost religiously. And just like Rodgers and Queen, no matter how good it actually was, it could never be the same, and never be right. But it sure would be nice to see those old Vox amps in line again and hear those jangly Rickenbacker guitars. Maybe, someday.


Tom Petty is gone. My God.

Do You Know These People??

There have been a ton of ads this year from for DNA testing and new sign-ons. A two- week free trial is very enticing, and you’ll soon discover that you are a direct- line descendant of George Washington!

Most, like myself , probably figured they could find what they were looking for pretty quickly and get it done before the two weeks was up. Then, just to contact the modern-day Washingtons and schedule a big re-union barbecue.

Yeah, right. I now have a year-long subscription and a family tree that has 658 members and counting. Thoroughly addicted. No sign of George Washington, though.

I am of Irish ancestry, and have been not totally surprised to find the bloodline to be quite pure back to the late 1700s. Most migrated in the decades following the Famine in the 1840s, but I have found direct descendants back to 1760. Curious as to why they would have migrated so early on. I’ve even found a spelling variation on my last name that is French and dates to 1601, and now it’s just a matter of figuring out how that happened.

This kind of research allows answers to a great many questions, and raises countless new ones. The main challenge is to find the time to sort through it all. You would be amazed at the amount of pure data that prescribers are presented with, and you quickly realize that a two-week trial is like giving an alchoholic just a small bottle of Jack Daniels.

It ain’t happening. You’ll either abandon it very quickly or start signing on for the full-tilt ride and a DNA test.

I have resisted the DNA test, although it’s on sale right now for 69.95. I don’t think I can handle the truth. I’m frightened enough of what I’ve found so far. Here are a few excerpts-

  • I have a descendant whose name is on the  gigantic Civil War monument in downtown Providence (Rhode Island). He served in the 3rd RI Cavalry and was killed in action in Lousiana in 1864. ( I’m born, raised and have lived here most of my adult life, and never knew that. Kind of cool.)
  • On the other hand, we have a deserter from the 2nd RI Infantry; he bolted as soon as they got paid, and probably went on to enlist in other regiments to collect the sign-on bonuses.
  • A distant great-uncle from Somerville MA who fell out a third-story window and impaled himself on a picket fence.
  • A much closer great- uncle who was divorced ( huge no-no for Irish Catholics, especially in the 1800s) and then, shortly thereafter, lay down in the path of an oncoming train ( an even bigger no-no )
  • A great-aunt who after having raised several kids in turn-of the-century East Providence, spent the last month of her life in a small Catholic hospital in Burlington, Vermont. In 1932, this must have seemed like being shipped to Siberia…these people tended to stay within a ten-mile radius of where they were born. She was listed as having uterine cancer, and I suspect that the societal response of the time was to banish the gravely ill to what they saw as a nether region out of a sense of superstitious terror. No offense to Burlington, I’ve been there and thought it was spectacular. But I didn’t have to spend two weeks on dirt roads to get there…

One remarkable aspect of all this has been the difficulty of sorting out all the varied Irish descendants. First of all , there is apparently a very short list of names available for newly born Irish kids. You would very likely be named after a parent, and especially so with Irish mothers…much more so than on the paternal side. So the only difference between the six Alices or Patricks you’ve recently discovered may be just a middle initial, or a birth date. And that’s if anyone bothered to mention that. Ancestry gives you full access to census records, which help tremendously with those small but critical details. They also allow users to connect to others involved in ancestry searches that are looking for some of the same people, and you can tie right in to whatever they might have already accomplished. That’s how I discovered photos of a Catholic nun who I now recall sitting on the lap of when I was about four years old…my great-aunt Sister Assumpta. Would never have remembered that of my own accord.

So, it’s all been very engaging, and very illuminating. Heartily recommended.

Come on, give it a shot… I’ll bet you can find all your stuff in under two weeks…


Patrick McKenna and his children








Published in: on September 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm  Comments (2)  

Chapter 38

Traffic on 95 North was not in my favor, but with a little luck and healthy disregard for the rules of the road, I figure I can just make roll call. Normally I kinda hate being late, especially to a meeting where I can’t get in un-noticed.  Even though Lt Giancarlo’s text said to report directly to him, (…at least I think that’s what it meant!),  I’m still an everyday patrol cop and that means be in the Squad Room  7:00 am sharp and listen to Sgt Flerherty tell all of us how to do our jobs safely and how it’s our duty to the citizens of the city of Providence and blah, blah.

I glanced at my phone and the text still showed: ‘Come in… G’    I started to grin,  goddamn! this just might be my shot at trading in my same olds for some real police work! Just gots to get to the station, and make that transition.

The Providence Police Department is located directly over the Providence Fire Station. Combining essential city services into one location seemed like a great idea in the late 1950s, when the biggest public safety issues were:  a) the next hurricane and b) keeping up with the dead gangster calls from Federal Hill. Square grey granite, the front of the building had an unlikely  splash of red  from the four overhead doors for the various  trucks and fire engines.  The police department was on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The Squad Room was on the 2nd floor, a 12 x 14 (probably big enough for the entire Department when the place was built) room furnished in ‘Elementary Modern’ school desks, (the kind with the solid plastic desk top that looked kinda like an apostrophe? )… now that I think about it, the room looks like most 1950s classrooms, right down to the greenish floor tile. Every day, before each shift, special assignments, notes, new APBs and general schedule bullshit was announced, gripes were solicited and we were all sent out on the street.  I’ve only been on the force 3 years, but my least favorite part of the job was these daily meetings, mostly because the old veteran cops, who for the most part thrived on the shift meeting, it gave ’em a chance to be ‘wise old timers’…  always plenty of advice for rookies, which to them was anyone who joined the force after Carter was President. Sgt Flerherty seemed to encourage this, sort of a ‘bad cop, worse cop‘ approach to management. He’d stand at the front of the room and listen to some of the most arrant nonsense come from these guys and would only interrupt if it looked like someone was getting pissed off enough to start something, then he’d say, ‘gentlemen!! save that shit for the street!’  At least until the ladies started to show up in uniform. Then even he had to change. And, while most cops hate change, a career Shift Supervisor like Flerherty abhorred change. He knew that women are totally suited to police work… in administration or, if especially gifted, maybe back-up Dispatcher. Beat cop? With a gun? On patrol? no, no and ‘faith ‘n begorra’ no!!  Story has it that it was a young cop on the rise back in the late 80s who managed to help Flerherty to accept modern police work.  That kind of help is as likely to breed resentment as it is gratitude.

“Campbell! it says here that  you’re off today’s roster, you’ve been re-assigned to Lt Giancarlo up in the Detective Division.” Sgt. Flerherty seemed more put out by the change to his patrol  schedule than anything else.  He ran the pre-shift meetings like a male nun, eyes glinting behind wire-rimmed glasses, looking for any deviation from ‘the right way to start a shift’.

Your uniform looks like you slept in it!  I’ll not be having any of my men disgracing the uniform, so get yourself a little more presentable before you go up to see them plainclothes,” the scorn in his voice when saying ‘plainclothes‘, spoke volumes about the career that Flerherty had worked to achieve. ‘The real cops,‘ as he always concluded the pre-shift meetings, ‘…are them out there not hiding behind fancy clothes and un-marked cars. Get out there and do your duty.

Flerherty made a check mark on his clipboard and without another word, started passing out the day’s shift assignments. The laughing started at the back of the squad room, where the old timers always sat.  I figured I had just enough time to change back to my civies and be only moderately late, so I ignored them.  As I walked up to the front of the room, Henries leaned over and whispered to his partner, Jacobson, “What do they call a 3 year patrol cop in plainclothes?” I stopped, the muscles tightening in my shoulders, which for me is never a good sign unless I’m about to subdue a prisoner or bust up a bar fight. As I started to turn, I felt a hand grab my right wrist.  Jackie Carleone, a 7 year veteran, and my training supervisor when I started,  looked up and shook her head. I smiled at her and continued up to the front of the room, past Flerherty, who was so engrossed in something on his podium that he didn’t look up.  As I got to the door, I  looked back, flipped off the back of the room, in the general direction of Henries and Jacobson.  Jackie was studying something on the desk in front of her, the movement of her shoulders the only give-away to her laughter.

A quick change into my comfortable dress clothes and I was heading up the staircase to the 3rd floor.


Where the fuck have you been?!” the voice came out of an open office door at the far end of the room. From where I stood, I could see the open work space with the standard green metal desks, made even older looking by the computer monitors on each of the six desks, four of which were occupied. The Chief of Detective’s office was clearly marked by the wall of frosted glass windows that divided his office from the rest of the room. It’s occupant, Lt Robert Giancarlo didn’t bother getting up from his desk, “My note to your Sargent said to send you up here as soon as you got in!

Sorry, I stopped to change out of my uniform” I projected my voice so he’d hear me in the his office,  but was more interested in the 4 Detectives at their desks in the main office area. Not sleeping for 24 hours tended to simulate my throw-shit-at-people reflex and so, I figured a little of the humble-new-guy apology might not be such a bad thing.  But no one seemed interested and so I kept walking past them and into the private office of Lt Robert Giancarlo, Head of the Providence Police Department Detective Division.



Chapter 37…

She was taking it in pretty well. I had to admire the self- control. Video footage of Jenn arguing with her daughter, probably over the boyfriend that only showed up when Jenn was out. Jenn arguing with the ex. The ex showing up when no one else was there and fervently searching for…what, exactly? That part was just sticky, gooey, creepy weird. He didn’t seem to find anything, but still kept glancing around as if he expected to be caught any second. If he could have come to know his wife a little better, he would probably have guessed at the camera system that now had documented his failure. And why did he even have a key to this place?

And he wasn’t alone in his endeavors. There was plenty of footage of the hooded guy who ran down the stairs and out the other day when I first got there- but he knew the cameras were there. Because he always kept his back to the cameras, even when going from room to room. And the hood was always in place. He had been there twice before in the last three weeks at least- that was all the recording the DVR could hold.

There sure are a lot of people rooting around in Jenn’s house. And they all seem to know when everyone else is there or not, which is extremely weird. I’ll bet they’re all after the same thing…

What the hell are they all looking for? And the only one who doesn’t seem to be looking is Janice.

And Bobby’s there, too. Arguing with Jenn, much as he had just done recently with Janice. Except she didn’t lose it, she actually clocked him right upside the head. He pushed her back into a kitchen counter, but didn’t take it any further. I wonder if he knows that Jenn has a license to carry.

Janice had another coffee, with a little Bailey’s to help it along. I just had the Bailey’s. Too much caffeine is often detrimental to my overall boyish charm and professional effectiveness.

” So with all that finally out in the open, feel up to a bit of a walk after breakfast? I haven’t been out on the wall in ages. Hate to see all that romantic imagery gone to waste.”

” It’s still going to waste, pal. But I’ll go with you anyway.”

“Ow. I guess nobody’s getting to your heart through your stomach…must be another entrance…”

Ow. As in OWW. She stabbed me in the shoulder with her breakfast fork.

Nothing stands out on Fifth Ave in Narragansett quite as much as a black Chevy Malibu with a uniform cop sitting in it, trying to be nonchalant. With FOP stickers on the bumper, for God’s sake. Why is it always a black Chevy Malibu? Just rent a freaking Hyundai once in a while. A white one.

We walked on the other side towards him, and as we came abreast, the car moved off quickly. It had been idling.

A uniform cop, not in a cruiser, just hanging out.


” Hey, did you recognize that guy just now? In the car?”

” What guy?”

And that, folks, is why it’s always a black Chevy Malibu.

” So how long do you think they’ve been tailing you?”

Chapter 36

Don’t let the girl out of your sight‘, the text from Lt Giancarlo came up as I checked my phone, in the hope that I would find new instructions. 8 hours on stakeout, when the suspect goes into a house and doesn’t leave, is not the most challenging of police work.

Paying your dues’, I thought as I tried to stretch out my legs, the sun just beginning to show on the horizon, visible between the houses that lined the beach. Still in uniform after 3 years on the force, I didn’t ask questions when I got the text last night in the last hour of my shift. Competition for the next opening in the plainclothes squad was way too stiff to pass up on a chance to make the Chief of Detectives happy. So what if the guys in the squad room joked about,  ‘conflict of interest’ or ‘compromised jurisdiction’,  if he wanted this girl followed, I wasn’t gonna ask questions. I sat in my car and tried to figure how I was going to get some sleep before reporting for the 12 to 8 shift. At least she had a visitor show up at… 6:17 am, (checking my notes), that’ll give me something to report and maybe make an impression. Lt. Giancarlo’s reputation for rewarding those that helped him was almost as impressive as the stories about what he does to those that disappoint him. All the more reason to spend the night in a car, my full surveillance report in 7 characters. Maybe there’ll be a fire or a tidal wave.

The phone vibrated  on the dashboard….I caught it as it tried to hop onto the console. Another text. ‘Come in… G

I almost hit the A7 that appeared out of nowhere  as I pulled out into the lane of travel, heading back to the Station House.

Published in: on August 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Flag Rant…

I’ve been thinking on this for a while, actually. And since this is my little forum here, I’m going to use it to vent a few things, ala Dennis Miller.

I really used to like Dennis Miller, back in the SNL days, back in the Rant days. Before he re-invented himself with Bush- style self-serving Republicanism as a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11.

We all had knee-jerk reactions to 9/11, but to suddenly switch over to addressing your angst and anger at the Democrats and liberals is just weird. There are real and terrible enemies out there, and we need to be able to form up together to address those threats. We can play politics later if we need to. First, we will ultimately have to form an alliance with other civilized countries to completely and utterly eradicate terrorism.

As in exterminate. Terrorists are well beyond the pale, and miles outside of the lines of anyone’s rules of engagement.

If you actually believe that you have a God- given right to rape, pillage and murder your way across the planet, you do not deserve justice of any sort. You need a bullet in the forehead.

Anyway. That’s not even the rant I had in mind when I started.

But speaking of mind-fuck stupid terrorists, that moron who did the damage in Charleston at the A.M.E. church so recently needs to leave the planet very soon. He’ll likely get a life sentence instead, though,  so that the good citizens of South Carolina can spend tons of money keeping his ignorant ass alive in prison. Bullet’s cheaper.

What really bothers me is the damage he did to the Confederate flag. All by his ignorant fucking self.

That flag has been hijacked and misused several times. Biker gangs, the KKK, and now the Boy Fucking Wonder.

It is simply the flag that a great many Americans fought and died under. Back when strong state governments were the accepted norm, and the idea of a stronger Federal government was considered to be totally left- wing. They weren’t called Radical Republicans for nothing…

Yes, it could be aligned with racism. But so could the US flag. George McClellan threatened Lincoln that if he released the Emancipation Proclamation, he would resign and take his entire staff with him. He would fight for the Union, but not to free slaves.

The entire world was racist back then. It was the main lens that people perceived one another with. The English hated the French, the French hated the Spanish, the Indians hated the settlers. Indian tribes hated one another. North hated South. Almost everybody despised the Irish, and everybody hated the Africans. The world was pretty damned dismal.

But we have evolved. That’s what it’s all for in the end…

If modern people actually knew Civil War history at all, they’d be really upset, because the unlaundered truth is often much uglier than they’ll ever know. Fort Pillow…the Crater…Lawrence, Kansas… the New York draft riots…but there’s also the 54th Massachusetts, and Frederick Douglas. And…the 21st Mississippi ( talk about a flag story ), and the CSS Hunley.

But we are led to believe… that the Yankees were totally the good guys, and the Confederates were all bad. Sorry, but no. Not even close.

We also prefer to believe that the colonists during the Revolution were all American patriots, and the British were all bad guys.

Nope. Sorry. It was actually about a 50/50 split with the colonists. And the War of 1812 was actually much closer. The British almost got us that time.

Just imagine what that would have looked like.

Evolution is often a bitterly painful process.

A two- term black president, overall pretty successful. And Hillary picking up speed. A progressive from Vermont on her heels, and Elizabeth Warren lurking in the bushes. Donald Trump! Donald is a dream come true for standup comedians… years and years of material… but he’s not entirely wrong on everything. He just doesn’t know how to talk.

What a great country this is…

But… we Americans prefer what little history we do know to be completely revised. Or better yet, completely non-existent.

So, in closing, just remember the only practical bit of advice that ever came from a history professor ( and I don’t know who said it), and I’m paraphrasing here…

If you didn’t learn your history lesson the first time, it will be back to bite you in the ass real soon…

Just watch what it does to Donald Trump over the next few weeks.

Thanks. Rant’s over.

Empty chair…

An old friend passed away today. From cancer.

Phil Moulton, a member of our old 21st Mississippi re-enacting company; better known as Pvt. Moulton.

He was from Southbridge and Holliston, Ma. He was a Harley enthusiast, and was a biker in the good sense. He and his brother Dan both left the 21st together, so as to have more time for riding.

I recall many a summer and fall night spent around the 21st’s campfire, many a mock battle, hundreds of company drills…and Dan and Phil are a permanent part of that landscape. They wouldn’t sleep in camp, not in a tent. They would appear in the early morning mist, for all the world looking as if they had slept under a bush.

Because they had. Ratty, dirty, unkempt. Hungry. Wet, mostly.

But those C.S. Richmond muskets were in perfect working order. Always.

Not that they came into camp for breakfast. They might chew on an old hardtack biscuit from their haversacks, or some apples they found in the woods. Some days, you might be able to slide them a pancake or two, maybe some bacon.

In re-enactor-speak, they were known as ” hardcore.” Authentic to a fault. As opposed to ” farbie”, the term for guys who had dry-cleaned uniforms, coolers of beer,  and frozen pizza warming on their fire grate. ” Farbie”, from ” far be it for me to criticize”…

Great days, those 21st Miss days with the Moultons, and everyone else. Some of the best ever.

Have a safe journey across the river, Private Moulton. As General Jackson said, we’ll all rest in the shade of the trees when we get there.


Published in: on May 21, 2015 at 9:29 pm  Comments (2)  

Chapter 35

(Thursday Afternoon September 13, 2015 2:40 pm)

“I don’t care if it’s the Queen of fuckin England, no calls means no calls. You know better than that, Hazel!”

Dr Clark Arthur turned in his desk chair, to face the telephone on his desk, the better to project his displeasure at the proximate source of the interruption. Feeling the unstable pleasure that follows an outburst of self-indulgence, the newest full professor at Harvard Law swiveled his chair in the opposite direction, to face his laptop, which was sitting on a TV dinner stand in front and to the right of the ceiling-to-floor window overlooking the courtyard.
‘Shit’, he muttered, ‘this day keeps getting better and better. Now I have one pissed-off secretary and, of the few women who remain a factor in my life, Hazel I can least afford to push away.’

“So. That would be, ‘Dr Arthur is currently unavailable, please feel free to call in about an hour, or, if you would prefer I can take your name and number and he will return the call.’ Correct?”, clearly and without a hint of sarcasm, came the voice of his secretary of 20 years.
Smiling now, Clark wondered for the 100th time how he managed to get so lucky with certain women in his life. Hazel has been his admin since his days with the Public Defender’s Office in Providence. She chose to move north when her marriage began to go south. His wife Catherine, who liked Hazel from the first day she was assigned to her husband’s staff, often referred to her as his work spouse.
Leaning forward in the desk chair, he replied, “That does seem to capture some of the nuance of my preferred message. Thank you, Hazel

You’re entirely welcome, Dr. Arthur, will you be needing me for anything further this afternoon? I’ve a doctor’s appointment at 3:30 and would like to leave a little early.”

“By all means, Hazel. The only reason I came in today was to get a headstart on the mail that’s been piling up during the last 2 weeks, you take off, I’ll manage just fine.”

With a barely noticeable hesitation, Clark, caught his good humor fading, looked around at his office, noting the paper glacier of un-opened un-answered and, for most part, un-solicited correspondence that, although contained by the In-tray on the right edge of his desk, was clearly beginning to scour the surrounding area, pushing on the photos scattered along the top edge of the desk blotter. Hearing the outer office door open, called out, “No problem at all. If I get into trouble with the Department Chair, I know your cell number, that and I can refuse to answer the door.” Her brief laughter was his reward.
Fine. You have a 4 o’clock appointment with your newest grad student and don’t forget, pick up Una at the dog groomers and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Clark could hear the outer office door shut, even as he leaned back in his chair, hoping that something in the Quadrangle below his office would provide a delay in tackling the pile of mail on his desk. Life outside went on un-eventfully, students walked into buildings, couples leaned together in earnest conversation and a squirrel sat on a limb, unimpressed.

Fifteen minutes later… Clark leaned back in his chair. On his desk were three stacks of mail. To the right side of the desk were packages and the larger envelopes that included: a galley proof from his editor, a bound galley of a new book by a friend that he promised to write a review, a FedEx box that he hoped contained the Seth Thomas Ship’s Clock that he ordered as a gift for his son’s 33rd birthday next week and among the periodicals were copies of the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Law Review. On the left side, not coincidently the side nearest the door to the Outer Office and Hazel, was the stack of obvious junk and/or solicitation mail and packages. In front of him were 3 letters (two were typed and one handwritten, looking all the world like a quill pen written address) and 2 square greeting card looking envelopes.

Glancing at the clock and seeing that he had only an hour before his last appointment of the day, Clark decided to have one last cup of coffee before opening his personal mail. There being only the 5 pieces, there should leave plenty of time to prepare for his meeting with Lisa, his newest Grad student.
Hazel? Where do you keep the…” Clark stepped through the door to the outer office speaking but caught himself, remembering that she was taking the afternoon off.

The Outer Office, decorated in early Ivy League had the requisite leather sofa and two wingback chairs on the right side of the rectangular space, separated from the reception/administrative area in the middle of the room by a fish tank. The fish tank (sans fish) was in the office on the day that Dean Crombey gave Clark the tour of the faculty office suites. Thinking back, Clark recalls commenting on the fish tank and getting a reply to the effect that ‘most people find fish tanks relaxing’. Other than Grad Students, visitors and occasional alumnae, the seating area saw little traffic and even less demand for a relaxing aquarium. On the opposite end of the room was a door that opened onto a small kitchen, bath and storage room, which is where Clark kept the coffee maker. Hazel brought in a Keurig machine but left the Mr Coffee coffee maker, with off-white flowers, embossed on the handle alone. She never used it, but always keeping the coffee filter full of coffee, needing only to have water added.
Pouring the water into the opening in the top of the coffee maker, Clark smiled at the thought of Hazel. A very attractive woman, with eyes that possessed an alertness that, were you the object of scrutiny, could be make you feel very uncomfortable or very very good.

She began working as Clark’s secretary 15 years prior, during his time at the Public Defender’s Office in Providence. His decision to leave and accept the faculty position was not made easier given the move up to Cambridge, leaving Hazel behind in Providence was not something Clark liked to think about, however, her marriage, never overly sound, broke up and she surprised him by asking, on the day that he was packing to leave, if there was a place for her in his faculty position. His reply, ‘yes’ and she moved to Cambridge to work for him. Hazel expressed a very rare feeling of uncertainty, when she asked if he thought she would be of any value in a faculty administration position, Clark responded, “Well, you’ll be managing the office of newest tenured Law professor at a well respected university, given the intensity of the Departmental politics and the background of the students, nary a parent willing to tolerate anything but the highest of grades for their offspring. I believe you’ll be every bit as valued as you have been here among the out-of-work drug dealers, politicians and working girls, at Harvard University.

They both laughed.

Waiting for the water-into-coffee miracle to occur, (“this is my blood, drink of it, good to the last drop, hey boys?!), Clark glanced over at Hazel’s desk and immediately wished he had stayed staring at the Mr Coffee. Stuck in the triangular corner of the desk blotter, a half of a business card was visible ‘ …D. Freidman MD and (below that) …ncology’
Resisting the urge to look closer, Clark poured his favorite cup (“the Winner of the Ugliest Mug of the Year a record 3 Decades running” Hazel would remark at every opportunity), and returned to his desk. The day outside remained preternaturally clear, colors of the turning leaves almost garish in the afternoon light.

Sitting back down at his desk, Clark pulled the 5 pieces of ‘not-junk, not-business’ pile of vacation mail closer and using his favorite ‘letter opener’ (a steak knife that somehow ended up on his desk when he becoming managing attorney at the Public Defender’s office. Despite the best efforts of nearly everyone in the office to convince him that it really was not an appropriate choice for a practicing attorney. Well, everyone with the exception of Hazel, who would smile and say nothing), he opened the first letter.

Much as I would rather tell you this in person, I find that writing a letter not only helps me expresses myself better, it vastly increases the chances of my saying this to you….’

Without a thought, Clark folded the sheet of paper, put it back in the envelope, spun in his chair and flipped the switch on his shredder and, without thought, reflection or anything that might anchor an emotional response, slipped the envelop in and turned back to his desk.

The hand written letter was next. On closer examination it did, in fact, have the look of a old-fashioned quill pen. The return address was, Rumford RI. Opening the letter, he read,

Mr. Arthur,
It’s been at least 10 years since we met, I was the detective on the case where the Brown University co-ed was charged with manslaughter. You were successful in preventing an innocent young women from going to jail and I would like to think I played a role in justice being served. (I found ways of electing testimony from the victim’s friend.) Politics and the influence of politicians on the police and judicial system in a small State like Rhode Island are not always best dealt with inside the Court rooms.
I have a case that I would ask for your help.
Please call me.

(Thursday Late Afternoon September 13 2015 3:50pm)

“Hello? Dr Arthur?

Lisa Stromley, 2nd year graduate student, (concentration in Corporate Law), requested Clark as her Faculty Advisor against the advice not only of her Father ( Harvard ’85 ) but her on-again, off-again fiancee Stephen (Yale ’14), both of whom were of the opinion that Clark Arthur had lost something with the death of his wife that extended beyond his personal life and into his professional life. His decision to leave his position as General Counsel at a Fortune 500 to work for the Public Defender’s Office in Providence RI was cited as proof that he was not the best choice for her Faculty Advisor. She felt otherwise, but would not give voice to her reasons, judging it better to simply not discuss her decision, this both from respect for the imposing personality of her father and the tendency towards insecurity on the part of her fiancee.

Published in: on May 17, 2015 at 6:04 pm  Comments (1)  

Chapter 34…

Cooking has always been one of the few things I do that actually seems to impress people, especially women.

I think it allows them to perceive what they see as a domestic feminine side to me that actually isn’t there.

Well, maybe a little. I just have never understood the concept of comfort food. Isn’t it all comfort food?

We could all just chew on dry dog food ( or the human equivalent, known as Fritos ) and stay alive, you know. But French Onion Soup has history, and you should always indulge a little when you indulge a little. Food is just so damned good.

So I actually followed her instructions. Got the groceries, drove to the address in Narragansett. Nice area.

Also threw a ball peen hammer in the bag so I could knock this girl upside the head if she didn’t start talking soon.

Because those security cameras had all kinds of stuff on the DVR. Both sisters, Jenn’s daughter, Jenn’s daughter’s boyfriend, Fucking Bobby, another guy who I presumed was Jenn’s ex- husband, and another guy who I couldn’ t place at all.

But I knew someone who could. So I made her some scrambled eggs with sauteed bacon and scallions, cornbread from scratch, mixed some pineapple juice with orange and split it with seltzer water. Eight O’ Clock  coffee ground from beans. ( Have Grinder, Will Travel.) Sweet potato home fries with a spot of maple syrup and brown sugared butter that goes with the cornbread nicely, too.

Pretty damned good. And for my client too, based on her finishing everything and then trying to chew the blue flowers off her Pfaltzgraff plate.  I served her seconds, and put a copy of the greatest hits of the security footage down beside her plate. I had already made a few extra copies.

” Let me get you another coffee. You’re not going to like this much. But it’ll be OK. As far as the legal ramifications go, I know a guy.”


Chapter 33

What the…I wriggled out from under the New England Patriots blanket I kept on the back of the couch. Hmm…soft, warm. I could lay here for…oh shit! What time is it? What day is it? I’m asking like there’s someone here to answer me. G zus.

Ow! How many times do I have to stub my toe on that damned coffee table! Coffee. Need it. There’d better be some in the cupboard. Bingo! Laughing, I couldn’t help myself. I started singing the old commercial – “Maxwell House, Good to the last…” oh shit! Roger! I forgot about him completely!

Where’d I put my phone? I hate when I leave stuff in strange places…where?…found it. Under the couch pillow. Exactly where I intentionally put it. Yeah, right. I really need to spend more time here. Then, I’d have some routines and I’d automatically know where I might have put stuff.

I stared at the phone. Thought for sure there would be at least one message from Roger. I gave him my number before we left his office. I’m certain of it….

And why do I think he should be calling me? Who hires a PD, takes him to her sister’s house, the scene of an apparent kidnapping, has a knock down, drag out with the cop dispatched to the scene and then runs out of the house, effectively stranding the guy without warning?! Wow. Saying it out loud, it does sound bad. Rude. And…odd. Better call him.

How am I going to explain why Bobby showing up yesterday was kind of weird? How do I tell him what I didn’t tell him but should have? How do I tell him I found Jenn’s journal. By accident. I found it, read it and…well, there’s stuff in there I’m still digesting. Stuff about Bobby. Her Bobby. My Bobby. Nope, he’s not going to like this one bit. Withholding evidence. Brilliant. What was I thinking?

Come on Roger. Pick up. ring, ring, ring… I know this guy didn’t have a hot date last night. Come on, pick up the damn phone! Do not make me leave a voice mail.


“Roger. It’s Janice. We need to talk. Now. Take down this address.”

“Uh, Janice? You know what time it is? Wait! Not really asking you. It’s freaking 6:00 am!”

“Duh, Rog. I know. I told you. We need to talk. Stop off on your way, pick up some eggs, milk and bread and I’ll tell you over breakfast. And butter. I need some butter.”

“You’re kidding, right? Tell me I’m dreaming. Tell me my latest client didn’t just order me to do her grocery shopping and make a home delivery all before 7:00 am the morning after she ditched me at her missing sister’s house.”

“See you in an hour big guy.”

Just as I looked at the clock, I heard the sound of a car pulling into the driveway around back. Not 5 minutes later, a knock on the door.

“A little after 7:00 am. Pretty good PI Guy. You made it in just over an hour. And you got real butter! Wait…what are these?”

“Like we say in the biz, it’s your dime payin’ for the time. These, my dear, are scones. Surprised you don’t know that. You being a fancy, jet setting attorney and all.”

“Hmph. They look different from the ones I’ve had. In England.” I grinned widely.

Roger looked up, smiled. He can take it like he can dish it. Good. He’s going to get an earful as soon as breakfast gets underway. Hell, why wait…”Listen, Roger. I mentioned there was something I needed to tell you.”

“And you will, but not before you tell me where you keep your cooking utensils – saute pans and…plates. Plates would be good.”

“You’re cooking breakfast?” I asked incredulously.

“I didn’t buy this fancy spread hoping you knew how to cook Ms. DiFranco. I know I can cook. So yeah, in answer to your question, I’m cooking breakfast. Now step aside before I put you aside.”






Behind the veil?…


That’s what it always comes to.

I work for a very large security company. I occasionally have to work extra shifts to fill in for some of my fellow officers who are…let’s just say…somewhat less than responsible.

And when I ‘m driving in to cover someone’s grandmother being abducted by aliens..again…third time this week…

I generally stop at a local donut shop called Honeydew Donuts. ( This is Rhode Island, and every other storefront on any given street is now, or soon will be, a donut shop.)

I’m awfully predictable. I always glance through the donut case with every intention of trying something new, but, alas…

A large dark roast ( cream, one sugar), corn muffin, newspaper. Every time.

Life is short, goddammit. Take a walk on the wild side for once, maybe try a jelly donut, or a Boston Cream.

Anyway. It comes to $5.28.

Except this last time…

My employer supplies uniforms for all employees. For most of us it’s a requirement. And those who work outdoor patrols are issued a very serviceable winter coat, the same issue that police officers use. Ours has only a company logo on the right sleeve, but are otherwise unmarked. I don’t do any outdoor patrols, being just far enough up the food chain to be exempt; but am also the apple of the account manager’s eye, and get all the cool uniform stuff anyway, including the state police coat.

So. The other day, I’m going to cover another Saturday afternoon abduction call-out, and glancing at the donut case again. And wearing the spiffy new coat.

As usual, the total is $5.28, and I offer my ATM card to the ridiculously helpful counter girl.

She doesn’t take it. She wishes me a good day and goes back to work.

I stand politely waiting for someone to take my ATM. I catch her eye… she smiles, and steps up to take the next order. I’m now in the way. My transaction is apparently complete.

I take my stuff, and somewhat sheepishly move towards the door, and out. Wondering if this is an example of early- onset Alzheimers’? Can you actually forget stuff as it is still happening?

No. In the car and leaving, and I realize that it had to be the coat. Because I looked like a cop at a glance?

I feel as if I’ve seen a glimpse of something that mere citizens can only suspect. Free stuff in donut shops. This probably dates back to pre- Revolutionary days. There were donuts back then, right? ( Note to self- Google ” donut history” for possible new post )

And how far does this go? Does this only apply to donuts? We can only guess at the repercussions. Hamburgers? Pizza? With any toppings you want? Except anchovies… small salted fish floating in tomato sauce…revolting. I should use my new coat for the forces of good, and arrest people who get anchovies on pizza. Or have them removed and held as evidence in an ongoing investigation. ( Note to self- Google ” anchovy history” as part of ongoing investigation ) And… if they’re not on pizza, what the hell else can you do with anchovies?

And purely as part of the ongoing investigation, I’ll next wear my new coat to go pick up some Chinese…after all, they’re only two doors down from Honeydew.

Call it Investigative Journalism. I suppose that’s what Cranston PD calls it.




Chapter 32…

In the annals of romantic imagery, I’m sure many a poet has made reference to that most seldom- seen and  yet most highly coveted of all; the classically sculpted feminine hand cast against a field of azure blue, flipping the bird out of a car window as it drives off into the sunset… was it Sandburg, or Robert Frost? Not exactly Venus on the clamshell, but pretty damned romantic for North Smithfield.

Actually, I have always aligned myself with the lunatic fringe that claims it to have been a scallop shell, and not a clamshell at all. What Greco- Roman female would be seen arising from a clam, or given the local fauna, a quahog, for God’s sake. Any respectable chowder chef would attest to the inherent difficulties, and to several pertinent related facts; clam chowder is made from quahogs, not clams; Venus insisted on a scallop shell, being much lighter, easier to work with, and much more iridescent. Many lesser-known Greco- Roman models conceded to working with quahogs, mainly because Venus’ lawyer quickly filed a patent on the use of the scallop shell image.

He is also part owner of George’s and a few day boats out of Galilee. This is widely known as synchronicity.

I had the place to myself. My client and the investigating detective both drove off in different directions, swept up in what appeared to be truly spectacular hissy fits. He almost forgot that he had a couple of uniform guys with him, and they barely made it back to the cruiser before Fucking Bobby pulled away. Too bad. I might have shared a cab with them, maybe found out some about Bobby’s recent activities. But for now… I stood in the middle of Jenn’s house, wondering if this were actually a crime scene or not.

I decided to take another look for cameras, and hopefully find what I really needed…a computer that would have the IP address that I needed to access the playback software.

I found a desktop in her daughter’s bedroom, and spent a nervous half-hour trying commonly used passwords. Jenn12345 did the trick. I got the IP address, and called a cab. I locked the front door behind me, hoping that whoever came along next had a key. There had already been more people in and out of here today than Port Authority. I had found a total of six cameras, strategically placed so that most of the house traffic would be accounted for. I considered wiping some prints on the way out, but thought it would be better to have to explain why I was there rather than lose all the other prints that would be found along with mine.

And finally, back to the office, after paying for the cabbie’s kids’ first year of Brown University. We don’t need no stinking scholarships. Roland had apparently taken no messages, opting instead to sleep the morning away with his head stuck under his forepaw. I wished again that I could do that myself, but anatomy simply does not allow for it.

I had time in the cab to ponder some extremely odd phenomena, like why my client had bolted, where she may have gone, and why the local cop was acting so very strangely. And where the hell had he gone, leaving someone unattended in Jenn’s house?

He had really shown little interest in the missing sister, and I realized after the fact… he had not shown any interest in the physical setting whatsoever, as if he already knew the layout of the premises. Second nature. I had obviously wandered into the middle of some ugly, messy road- kill personal stuff… but I was invited. Actually, hired is the correct term. But again…who hires a PD and then takes off like that? I often quip that I’ve seen everything, but this was just weird. And she did have Jenn’s phone… I would really liked to have seen the call records. Why didn’t she show me that first?

Maybe I’ll ask her about that, once I ever find her again.

From my perspective, I suddenly realized that maybe I had two missing sisters on my hands?

The software loaded slowly, as it always does. Several error messages about bad addresses per usual, and then…voila. Not just six… ten cameras. Jenn had this place covered like it really was Port Authority.

Three weeks of back footage, and the only area that didn’t have any coverage was the bathroom. Thank God for small favors.

Time to put on the tea kettle and make a call to see if Caserta’s delivers. I hoped that this would turn out to be a very boring movie. For the most part.

Roland the Professional Lap Cat assumed the position, Caserta’s was twenty minutes out, and I pitched in to it.



Chapter 31

It felt like someone was holding me under water. My lungs screamed wildly for air, my last breath washed away under a wave of emotional turbulance. I felt the panic rising. Reaching desperately for the front door, I grabbed the handle. One turn, one push… returned to the banks of of the sane. Or so I hoped.

It felt good to get out of the house. Away from a crime scene, the crime scene. Did I really just say that? Life sure can get fucked up fast. Bobby… arrogant, secretive and at times, God help me, scary. How could I forget so quickly?

Half running, half walking, I got into the car just as Bobby swung open the front door. Please don’t let him follow me! Fumbling in my purse, I pulled the keys out and had the engine running just as he came sprinting down the driveway. I gave him the finger, as a visual to go with the sound of screeching tires.

Shifting gears, my brain fixated on the odds, that of all the cops on the N. Smithfield police force, Bobby would answer Roger’s 911 call. Did one of his cop buddies at the station recognize the address and call him?

They say good habits die hard. I feel bad I left Roger stranded, but it’s better to be the driver than the driven. Delia, tells me I’m a control freak. Maybe she’s right, but there’s nothing wrong with being able to leave a place when you want to leave. And right now, I was in a hurry to hit the highway.

The sky was quickly turning a toasty, burnt orange. If traffic’s not too heavy, I can make it to Narragansett in an hour. All I want right now is to… oh man, haven’t heard this song in forever… “gonna take a freight train down to the station, don’t care where it goes… gonna climb a mountain, jump off nobody gonna know, … can’t you see”…  I reached over, turned it up.

295 South stretched out before me. The right music, open road – better than all the hooch in the world. I’m always grateful when I get the opportunity to drive to business meetings. It doesn’t happen often. Record labels, their attorneys, their clients, not the most patient people when it comes to negotiating and signing contracts.

Feeling the home stretch. Just a few more miles. Instead of taking the highway, I decided to take the scenic, coastal route. Hanging a left at the Tower, the Hannah Robinson Tower, I shifted the car into neutral and let gravity wind me down Bridgetown Road.

Less than five minutes later I was on Rt. 1A. Driving parallel to the coast, it was now a straight shot to Narragansett and Ocean Road. The sun had long since set when I pulled in to the crushed shell driveway. I parked around back. In this neighborhood, appearances are everything. Opening the car door, the smell of ocean and salt and seaweed filled my nostrils. I breathed in deeply. The tide was going out.


Chapter 30…

I’m too old for this.

And getting older by the second. While the ranting continues from downstairs, I stand here desperately trying to determine how I can trace these cameras back to their source, and getting a little panicky about it. They have to be wondering what the hell I’m doing up here by now.

And then realize that I’m literally standing right in front of the damned answer. Hiding right in plain sight, as they say.

 There’s a 24- in. LED screen in the corner of the room, as a lot of bedrooms have, with a cable box on the shelf underneath it. And another cable box underneath that. Most people wouldn’t give this a second glance. It’s just another gizmo plugged into somebody’s TV.

Except this gizmo is an old GE Triplex DVR designed for security use. I’ve spent years wrestling with the damned thing, being widely used in general security applications. An operator’s manual obviously written by three blind, drunken Chinese engineers locked in a closet. I  can now clearly remember Jenn telling me years ago that she wanted to get one from her dad’s PI company to be able to track Aunt Mary’s nocturnal weirdness. She was  apparently busy hoarding canned goods, almost filling the garage with them. We joked at Aunt Mary’s expense, too, that she would be fully prepared for the Apocalypse. Because one needs to be able to offer the Four Horsemen a decent home-cooked meal, and Del Monte Creamed Corn is the perfect sidedish.

If only I could remember to follow the bread crumb trail. No, no…I stand here staring at a piece of equipment that I’m quite familiar with, wondering why it’s here at all. In the home of an ex- security account manager… who’s father ran a PI agency… that she got licensed through…

The bread crumbs are the size of golf balls nowadays. I am too damned old for this.

Next  row of crumbs… get the TV remote, get to the GE submenu, get the IP address to the DVR, and get the freak out of Dodge. Because I’ve still got the GE software suite on my laptop back at the office, from six years ago. Once a packrat…applies to software, too.

Thank you, Jesus. A breakthrough, finally. I just knew there would be one around here somewhere.

With a bit more luck, I’ll be able to watch this whole thing unfold in relative comfort back at the office. Just grab a six-pack of Guiness Blonde and some Orville Redenbacher on the way. This ‘ll be over in no time. And no, I will not share this information with the police presence downstairs. I have a strong hunch that ol’ Bobby is going to be all over this DVR.

And now to get back to Providence. Problematic, having ridden up here with someone who could still well prove to be up to her knees in this.

Way, way too old. Need rest. Need computer. Need faithful cat in attendance.

And, next time, try not to rely on possible suspects for transportation, dumbass.


Chapter 29

Really, Bobby? What is wrong with you?”

“I need to know. Who was she seeing? I know she was seeing someone.”

“And how do you know that? And why do you want to know? Tell me Bobby”

“Uh, gee, Miss “my shit don’t stink”, I happen to be conducting an investigation. As part of that investigation, I ask questions. Just trying to put a picture together. It wouldn’t be the first time an ex-lover went over the edge.”

“Then you’d better not take yourself out of the running”.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know what it means Bobby. It means you never got over Jenn. You couldn’t stand that she shot you down. Not once but twice! Then, to put a little icing on the cake, her little sister turned around one day and did the same thing.”

“Don’t flatter yourself Jan. I got over you faster than a one night stand.”

“Classy, Bobby. Real classy. Should we take it outside? Huh? Away from curious co-workers, my private detective? Who, by the way, is upstairs no doubt doing all the things you should be doing.”

“I get it. Now I’m the total loser, bad guy. Watch many romance movies Janice? What’s next? You fall in love with the private dick, go off into the sunset and live happily ever after?”

“Get over yourself Bobby. I just want to find out what happened to my sister. I want to find Jenn. I want everything back to the way it was. You and me….we can do this some other time. How “bout you man up and we figure this shit out?”

“God, you could always piss me off Jan!”

“And stop calling me “Jan”. You know I never liked you calling me “Jan”.”

“Fine. Let’s call it a truce. I just want to go over it one more time. Give me the timeline from when you last saw Jenn to when you discovered her missing, her car in the driveway, the guy in the grey hoodie…the whole kittenkaboodle. Tell me when and how you contacted Roger and what the two of you have come up with so far. Anything and everything. I have to know it all.”

“You always were a tenacious son of a bitch Bobby. Got to give you that.”

Chapter 28…

“Gee, no I didn’t, Sherlock. I was just asking her why her bag was ringing when I called Jenn’s cell.’ Course, that could totally be a coincidence. Maybe you didn’t hear that while you were upstairs destroying the integrity of a potential crime scene. And you want to know what, now? About her love life? Really, Bob? There’s a direct threat to Jenn written on Jenn’s own bedroom wall, and you’re going to focus on what? How about this, Bob…you stay here and harass her little sister, and I’ll just go have a look upstairs. Maybe take a photo or two. Be back in a flash.”

The message had been scrawled in what looked like a sort of hurried fashion. Well, yeah…what did I expect? Calligraphy? In some sort of reddish lipstick…the letters all slanted upwards to the right, so almost certainly right- handed. So possibly there’s a tube-like container around, and it just might have a good fingerprint on it.

“Hey, guys, anyone spot something like a lipstick tube around the floor here, maybe? This doesn’t look like a marker or a Sharpie or anything.”

” Yeah, there was a tube of lipstick under the bed table. Bobby picked it up.”

Of course he did.

“Is it in evidence now?”

” No, we’ve just been poking around. Don’t really know what to call this yet.”

So someone scrawls the message, and drops the tube when they’re done? Maybe they were upset or agitated, and didn’t realize how dumb that was. Or maybe just the opposite. Or maybe just a big diversion. I would bet that the hoodie guy probably wrote this, which means he’s very directly involved…and if he had been interrupted when we pulled up, what the hell else had been going on?

” Has anyone checked the rest of the house? This may not be all there is.”

” Yeah, we’re just going to. Kind of a strange morning here.”

They went down the hallway toward the other upstairs rooms.

I stood looking at the message, and shot five or six photos on the phone. By stepping back, I realized that the guy who wrote this was probably about my height. There was a kind of evenness to the color of the lettering. He didn’t have to reach too far up or down to do it. A little frantic, but effortless.

I could hear voices coming up from the stairwell. Bobby was being aggressive again, and Janice’s voice seemed strained. Whatever was going on there…it sounded like it was completely between them. It didn’t have a tone that was about this missing sister thing at all. It was miles away from this…but could still be part of it. But the detective wasn’t acting much like one, and the concerned sister wasn’t acting all that concerned. Or, closer to the truth…very overly concerned…about something.

And Bobby probably grabbed the lipstick tube. Some kind of detective there.

I walked towards the top of the stairs, and the conversation changed from diffracted tonality to actual words.

And as I stood there deciding if I would give in to eavesdrop or not ( yes I would ), I  noticed something up in the corner of the living room.

Son of a bitch. A  tiny little security camera.

I had to smile. Even though I hadn’t talked to her in years, leopards don’t ever change their spots. Jenn was a tequila- drinking ninety- mile-an- hour rock and roll girl, but also a dedicated mom and absolute stone cold professional. And she might be in trouble right now, maybe in real danger, maybe even dead.

But she would leave a trail of bread crumbs. Hell, Jenn would leave a trail of club sandwich quarters by comparison. You just had to learn where to look. And if I had accidentally discovered one camera, there were almost certainly others.

I decided that I would certainly not mention this to Bobby. He showed every sign of being a terminal idiot, and did not deserve to know. I just couldn’t trust him. And he obviously didn’t know they were there, or he wouldn’t be downstairs right know trying to beat the stuffing out of Jenn’s sister. Figuratively, I hoped. Be she sounded like she was getting mad.

I found another camera discretely hidden behind two pair of sunglasses hanging on the corner of the dresser mirror. And I knew that I didn’t necessarily have to find all of them; I just had to trace one back to where they recorded to.

And yes, that was definitely an agitated and angry female voice wafting up the stairs.




The Winter People…

Apologies for being so late on the next chapter, but I have a viable excuse.

I’ve been reading. A lot.

I’ve been reading for the enjoyment, of course. Just for that sense of immersion into someone else’s universe.

But nowadays, I read so as to observe the way other writers seem to assemble stuff. If I can see into their process with a little more depth, I’m thinking it would help me with mine.

It could happen…

And just finished reading ” The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon. It’s a classic- flavored ghost story, intertwined with a murder mystery. If I had it in mind, I would probably try writing the one, and then the other… never considering that the two could be done at once. But there you have it. A two-dimensional guy sees in two dimensions. He’s heard about a possible third dimension, but it’s seems very remote to him. He struggles with the concept continually, and may yet achieve a breakthrough. But we must be patient.

Another analogy… as a kid, I remember learning to write in school. Everything was done with yellow lined paper to keep the lines and size of the letters in general order, all written with impossibly oversized pencils. But somewhere in the 5th- 6th grade, you graduated to an ink pen. They were black with a silver band in the center and wrote in blue ink. Kids were charged with not losing/ breaking/ eating them, or using them as weapons. Although we could just as well  have used the pencils as weapons, but that never occurred to us…because the idea was never presented as such. But apparently the pens were considered lethal.

Of course, most kids in the class were stained with blue ink most of the time.

That’s seems like where I am as a writer. Blue ink is everywhere, and I don’t yet know how it happens, or what can ever be done about it.

So reading stuff like” The Winter People” illuminates the blue ink, but doesn’t help much overall. A ghost story, and a murder mystery, told from three different character perspectives at once. By the time you figure that much out, you’re so far in that you can’t read fast enough. And the ending takes a completely unexpected turn. Masterful. Superb.

There’s no blue ink on Jennifer McMahon. At all.

Next chapter will be along shortly, as soon as I can get the taste of blue ink out of my mouth.

Chapter 27

I don’t want to open my eyes. This is nice. I still hear Roger’s voice. In the distance. Damn, that man can talk. Think I’ll just lay here for a bit. He probably thinks I’m passed out. Who am I to disappoint? His voice gradually took on the quality of white noise. Relaxation…like the gentle ebb and flow of ocean waves upon the ….

I felt the breeze off the ocean, damp from the sea mist. My hair was a mess. All wind blown. We’d met about an hour before dusk. I owned a small condo one street over from the beach. A weekend getaway… A knock at the door. In minutes we were walking

It was late August. And the time of day for holdouts. Snuggled deep in their blankets, dreading the departure from a lazy day at the shore. You’ve spent hours sitting on the sand, walking the waterline, bodysurfing the waves…yeah, that’s what it’s about.

Neither one of us wanted to be the first to talk. As yet unspoken “breakup” was in the air. In spite of it, tonight there was something different.  We were lighter together. Peaceful and relaxed, we walked the entire length of the beach. We held hands off and on. Teased each other like first time lovers. So obvious. The end was near. But not tonight.

This night was about reminiscing. We talked about everything. We ventured to places we never explored. But it didn’t matter. Not now. Now we were walking the walk of dissolution. The walk of reflection and acceptance. Me and Bobby? Done. Over and out. Sometimes, it’s just not right.

“I dare you to walk down this beach, all the way back… topless”.

I laughed. “You’re funny, you know?” I pulled the sleeveless lavender tank top over my head.

“You mean like this?”

Bobby smiled. A smile so wide I had to reach over and touch his face. I looked into his eyes. Why could I never quite break through?


“What?! After the night we just had? What the fuck do you mean you think we should go our separate ways? What the fuck does that mean?!

“Calm down Bobby. You heard me. How can I be any clearer?”

“Any clearer?! Are you listening to yourself Janice? You do realize we’re not in a Courtroom, right?”

“Fuck you Bobby. Fuck you. Maybe you ought to get used to feeling like you’re in a Courtroom ‘cuz the way it looks to me, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in one.” 

“Is that what this is all about? You’re pissed because I didn’t tell you about the investigation?”

“Damn right I’m pissed. Internal Affairs is conducting an investigation of brutality charges against my boyfriend and gee, that’s something I wouldn’t want to know about?! I shouldn’t be pissed because the man I’ve been sleeping with for the last year is keeping secrets from me?! Big secrets. You didn’t think I ought to know about that!? What else haven’t you told me Bobby?”

“I don’t need this shit. I don’t need it from IA and I sure as hell don’t need it from you Janice. I’m outta here. Have a nice….”

 “I don’t need your shit, Roger. That’s what I’m asking you. Did you or didn’t you ask her about Jenn’s love life?”

“What? What did you say Bobby? You asking about my love life?” I opened my eyes reluctantly.




Chapter 26…

The Patron did just the trick. Hopefully, she was picturing herself on a tropical beach somewhere, hopefully with a guy who didn’t make her look like she actually ate a tennis ball. She was relaxed.

Good. Gives me some time to think. Really really need that. Time to assess what we’ve got so far.

a) Jenn supposedly missing, sister Janice goes looking for a private detective…not the police.

b) Sister not exactly forthcoming with information. And yet hired me. Why hedge stuff from the guy who’s on your side?

c) In a world where even little kids have phones, no one in this thing has called anyone else in this thing. That’s Jenn, her sister, her daughter, her ex- husband, several ex- boyfriends….and not to omit good old Bobby. Who used to be involved with Jenn. And apparently Janice too. Hence all the tennis ball references. Great… a family tree with no freaking branches on it.

d) Did Janice know about Jenn, et cetera? Talk about motive. Everybody in this thing has a motive. Going to have to look at all of them.

e) So that means that the cop at the top of the stairs is the probable bad guy, so far. If that’s true, then he’s likely ruining evidence as he goes along. And the prophetic writing on the wall… left by the hoodie guy who just ran out?… the one who the investigating detective seems totally disinterested in? Or maybe someone who was here much earlier…Janice? Ex-husband? Good Old Bobby? Maybe even Jenn, for all I know. Maybe even daughter Kendra, before she went to school this morning. What the hell is really going on here?

I have the sinking feeling that I’m being used as a cover by someone. Probably Janice. But why?

Time to think outside the box a little. Time to climb out of the box altogether.

Time to make something unexpected happen. Poke around a little.

I called Jenn’s old cell number, still in my list from years ago. Maybe we can find Jenn by just asking her where the hell she is.

And just then…wouldn’t you know? Another phone started ringing. It was coming from Janice’s little black patent-leather handbag.


Chapter 25

Like the sound of a fog horn in the distance, I could hear Bobby barking orders to his men – “dammit O’Malley! don’t be movin’ the furniture until DiMartini’s taken all his pictures!” And just like the swell of sea fog spreading over deserted beach, his voice receded as I realized I was being gently led downstairs.

“If memory serves me correctly young lady, your sister has a fairly decent stash of hooch somewhere in…bingo!”

Still lingering and lost in a haze of shock and disbelief at the scene upstairs, I watched PI Guy reach into a cabinet in the corner of Jenn’s dining room and pull out a silver bottle. I found my way to the couch in the living room, sat down. Feeling the oversized cushions reaching for my back, I suddenly felt really tired. The kind of tired you feel after driving an 800 mile marathon road trip with only one stop. No. No resistance. I gave in to the comfort of those cushions and let my body ease back into their soft embrace, eyes closing.

“This will do quite nicely.” Reluctantly, I opened my eyes. Roger was standing over me, silver bottle in one hand, shot glass in the other. “Nothing like a good shot of tequila to clear the cobwebs, right? Am I right?”

Was he doing his best to lighten the mood? Distract me? Prisoner to the moment, I semi-smiled and said “Sure”.

Noticing the bottle he was holding and watching him expertly fill the glass, my smile grew a little bigger. Jenn’s parties were legendary. Everything top shelf, liquor not withstanding. It was all or nothing with my sister. “Live for today!” she’d say. “It’s all that matters!”

This day was getting way too surreal. I hadn’t even noticed Roger was still talking. “…and did you know Patrón has nine different lines of tequila? They’ve even got a tequila-chocolate-coffee blend, Patrón XO Cafe Dark Cocoa. Wild, isn’t it?” I shook my head slowly, side to side, up and down, as if I’d already had a few shots under my belt.

“Hm….think I’ve heard something about it….”

The first one went down without protest. A little surprising considering it was early afternoon and the “any time is a good time” days are long time residents in the “memory motel” of my youth. Who in God’s name invited Mr. Dali to this party….

Roger’s voice was a buzzing in the background. What was really keeping my attention was the rumble and commotion upstairs. Of policmen looking for clues and tagging evidence. As much as I tried, I couldn’t pretend it was the sound of pre-teen girls practicing the latest dance moves. In spite of impending and certain inebriation, hell, maybe because of it, my brain went to my niece Kendra’s 13th birthday party.

My niece had begged her mom to let her do something big.  “You only turn 13 once Mom!”, she’d say. Jenn had feigned serious contemplation over her daughter’s request for weeks. In the end? Kendra invited 20 of her “closest friends” to a weekend long slumber/dance party. Damn. I never had a party even come close to that. Hell, never even had a 13th birthday party.

(this is some kinda smooth tequila) My private revery continued…I’d been working in London the 3 months prior to Kendra’s birthday. Business being business, it became pretty clear it wouldn’t be concluded before the big day. Contracts and negotiations don’t recognize milestone life events. Publicity appearances don’t wait for a more convenient time. But I didn’t want to, nor would I, miss my niece celebrate her official first day as a teenager. I took the red eye out of London, surprised the crap out of everyone and had the best time I can remember with Jenn, Kendra and 20 of Kendra’s “closest friends”.

“Hey, History Man. I love that you’re so knowledgable about what we’re drinking and all, but can you give me a minute? You know. To chill?”

I extended my arm. “Hit me again big man. Hit me again”.



Chapter 24

Finally, a return on all those BodyCombat classes I took at my Gold’s Gym. I’m not talking Shaun T here, just your regular old, mixed martial arts kinda workout. It’s what got me up the stairs twice as fast as my PI Guy. Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

As I hung a quick left at the top of the stairs, barely dodging an ill placed laundry basket of humongous proportions (Sis is no Martha Stewart in the homekeeping department) I stopped dead in my tracks just outside of Jenn’s bedroom. Fuck. Yeah…no kidding we needed to see this. What sick ass motherfucker….?! Amazing what a little adrenalin will do for one’s vocabulary. As if on cue, Roger just as vehemently vocalized pretty much what I was thinking. Just as he finished…

“What the hell did I tell you! You two were supposed to stay downstairs. Not up here contaminating evidence, messing with my crime scene.”

“Excuse me Bobby?! Your crime scene? Jenn’s my sister and in case you forgot this is my private investigator. I have every right to be here. (I refrained from adding “you pompous ass”) In fact, we were here first. We’re the ones who called you!  Why don’t you take it down a notch and try not to get your panties in a bunch.”

“Don’t start with me Janice. Don’t start.”

“Yo! Bob. Don’t mean to interrupt your love fest, but we got some serious shit to deal with. Why don’t you and Janice save it for a late night dinner or something. Me, I want to find out who the hell did this. The sooner we do that, the sooner we find Jenn.”

The “this” was huge, red lettering scrawled at eye level across Jenn’s vanilla colored walls. It read:


I looked at Bobby who was looking at me with his cop’s eye. Sad. He and I had a thing once. Close. Now? I wasn’t feeling the connection. The one that had always been there. Had he changed? Or maybe it was me. Maybe I had changed. Where did the trust go? Does all the good of the past eventually get eaten by the mediocrity of the day to day?

Suddenly, I was feeling it. The weight of the pressure. Of waking up to the day when my sister’s past became my present. It was almost unbearable. Almost. For all the outward Molly Ringwald Breakfast Club, on the inside I was Linda Hamilton in Terminator. Building her arsenal. There’s never been anyone I could truly lean on. Never been anyone to see, really see when I needed a shoulder. Fuck it. It is what it is.

“Um… Janice? What’s going on in there?”  Roger. My newly hired well meaning, self serving, funny, smartass private detective was now standing 2 inches from my face. “You good? Listen. I need you to take a closer look at this. Maybe you recognize the writing? Is there anyone you can think of capable of doing this? Anyone who might have a reason to do this? A jilted ex lover of Jenn’s with a few screws loose?  I really need you to think.”

“Yeah, and I need a drink.”


Good morning.

Finally…a September morning that genuinely feels like a September morning. The heat and humidity have left the premises, the sky is a perfect blue, and we can shut off the AC unit(s) that consume (s) most of my meager income. At least for now.

August here in New England was actually quite mild. No one’s complaining, but the Big Global Weather Pattern did circle back around for a last- minute reminder. I’m a Fall guy, not a Summer guy. The leaves are showing the first signs of turning.

I think I might acknowledge this weather shift  today with a drive out to River Bend Farm in Uxbridge, Mass. Miles and miles of hiking trails in and around the beautifully repurposed Blackstone River canal. A site once extensively used by the local re-enactment community, I’ve spent many a fall morning playing an elaborate military chess game in these woods. A great many fond memories.

I’d also like to take a moment to offer a few words of appreciation to the ( to date ) 41 subscribers to the Rag. I have never purposefully done anything to increase or garner additional readership, which means that all of you are here of your own accord. I tremendously honor and appeciate that, and would not have it any other way. Thank you for taking the time, especially in a world that offers so very many distractions.

The detective novel is going a bit slowly at the moment. I hope to have it revived and proceeding forward again shortly. At last look, a third active character had been introduced,  a police detective with possibly ulterior motives. If any of you 41 readers feel so inclined, you are invited to offer something of your own to the project. Just post your entry as a comment to the current chapter. If it works in the context, I’ll post it as is. If not, I’ll explain why it didn’t quite get there. It’s fun, in a uniquely terrifying way.

And special thanks also to Girlieontheedge for her excellent development of Janice. Hope there’s more to follow.

And once again, thanks for checking in.

I’m off to the hiking trails, hopefully.



Chapter 23…

You know that funny awkward feeling thing when a whole roomful of people are all surprised at once, and no one knows what just happened?

Yeah, that.

He really tried to act as if seeing me was the surprise, and he sort of overplayed that.  So did I. Fair enough.

This was the guy who used to do PD stakeouts with Jenn in her old days, and showed up to take her out to lunch now and then.

I half expected him to show up on this anyway, but not quite this fast. What, only one plainclothes guy on the payroll in North Smithfield?And usually, plainclothes guys don’t even respond to 911’s. The uniforms take those. That means he heard it coming in, and suddenly decided to do someone else’s job.

So, that’s weird.

But that was nothing compared to Janice. She looked like she just swallowed a tennis ball.

You know that funny awkward feeling when two people are forced to acknowledge each other, but would obviously rather die a horrible death?

Yeah, that.

Not necessarily weird, just complicated. Exactly what this little scenario needed.

So how did he know that she knew that Jenn knew, and when exactly did they all know that, and maybe they never knew it, and found something out just now. And  whatever the hell that is, what’s that got to do with anything anyway?

Oh, yeah, right again. That’s my  job.

Except now maybe it’s his job too. But my job was definitely focused on Jenn, so I decided to let them field one another uncomfortably, and godspeed.  If there was anything pertinent there, it might just surface in the next few minutes. Might be helpful.

The questions were taking her back a few steps. Further than they ought to, I thought. And he was being oddly aggressive in his style, too. Almost trying to overwhelm her. To keep her from answering anything at all? Why?

I decided right there that I absolutely did not like this guy. This was a very inappropriate way to gather facts at a 911 call. He seemed to have come in the door with a few presumptions. Very unprofessional. Very personal. Why?

As if being called “Bobby” when you’re in your mid-forties wasn’t bad enough. I found myself hoping that she might throw up on his shoes, too.  Maybe dislodge the tennis ball and watch it bounce off his forehead.

It was fun to visualize, at least.

The poor thing. She really was having a miserable go of it.

So…seeing as how professionalism had already gone out the window, I decided to pitch in. I interrupted him.

” Bobby, excuse me, but what the hell, man? She called me. She’s worried about her sister. She’s  looking for Jenn. And maybe her daughter, too. And… a guy just ran down the stairs and out the front door a few minutes ago. Probably six foot, 200 lbs., grey hoodie on. See him down the street on the way in, maybe? He would have been the one trying to run at sixty miles an hour. As opposed to the other guys in grey hoodies just doing twenty.”

” Thanks, rent-a-cop, we’ re all set.”

What I wouldn’t give for a tennis ball. A lethal weapon, when inserted into a sinus cavity.

We stared at each other for a few seconds, determining what the ultimate cost of this might be. Or at least I was. Bobby was probably trying to recall if he’d had Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Puffs for breakfast.

” Frosted Flakes, Bob. Definitely. They’re greeattt.”

” What did you just say?”


” Fucking weirdo. Just stay out of the way.”

And just as I was about to dig in just a little deeper, a voice from the top of the stairs.

” Hey Bobby, you’re going to want to see this.”

He looked at the both of us. ” You just stay right here a minute. Don’t move.” And took the stairs two at a time.

Janice and I glanced quickly at one another, and immediately started up the stairs behind him. So much for the integrity of a potential crime scene. But not to worry.

Fucking Bobby was all set with that.

Chapter 22

Oh boy…just my luck…

“Bobby! It’s been a long time man. How’s it going?”

I stood frozen, hoping my jaw wasn’t really hanging open. You know the saying “its’ a small world?” I watched Bobby Giancarlo stride up the driveway. All 6′ 2″.  3  years later, he was still gorgeous, still giving me those butterfly feelings in the pit of my stomach. Just a little, but damn! they were there just the same. Only now, my ex lover is here, at Jenn’s house, on official business. Never in my wildest dreams could I have thought that would or could ever happen.

Roger already had his hand extended – guys don’t hug – and was shaking Bobby’s hand.

“Roger. Been good. Can’t complain. You know, same ole same ole.”

“Janice”. He said my name. Not as a question, as a statement. Almost curtly. And definitely not in the way I was once used to him saying my name. In his soft baritone. In his “after sex” voice – commanding and gentle, playful and affectionate all at the same time. In the afterglow, when the both of us would  lay there thinking “let’s just lie here tangled up in a world that’s all good”….No, no afterglow happening here.

“Hi Bobby”.

Bobby turned to the other detectives and gave them instructions to go through the house room by room. I couldn’t ignore the sudden flash of arousal. Damn bad timing, shake it off! This is serious shit. And no doubt going to get worse before it gets better. I resisted the urge to hit speedial on my phone. Resisted the urge to call my attorney to come rescue me. Besides, I knew Delia was in LA. No help there.

“So who wants to go first?” Roger and I looked at each other. I could see lingering surprise in his face after he realized that I also knew Bobby. And I’m pretty sure he could tell that it hadn’t been in a casual kind of way. You didn’t need to be a private detective to figure that one out.

“Janice is missing Bobby. I hired Roger to help me find her.”

“Why didn’t you call the police if you thought she was missing?” So Bobby. Get right to the point Bobby. Don’t beat around the bush Bobby. And why not. He was just doing his job.

Go figure – one of those well avoided moments of truth, had pulled up to 735 Leona Dr. and stepped out of a black Crown Vic (thanks a lot Karma, thanks a lot). Now my PI was most likely going to hear a tale that on face value is a little on the, shall we say, dramatic side. The Spenster is no doubt going to get an earful. He’ll hear a story and think “uh, oh. DQ”. Which is so not me. Was never me until I met Bobby. Let her rip Karma. Let her rip.

Shifting my feet as much as my eyes, I realized a part of me was hoping not to scare away my newly acquired, and now, not so Private Investigator. I don’t know exactly why, but I didn’t want Roger to leave with a bad taste in his mouth. Not before he heard the whole story. My story. A story he was now apparently waiting for me to begin. Except the part I know he’s waiting for is the part of the story that will come out after we find Jenn. The part that really matters. The part that will come “later”. If there is a “later”. Right now I had to recount everything that happened up until and since I realized my sister had gone missing.

“Is that everything Janice? You haven’t left anything out? Do you have any idea why someone would trash Jenn’s house? Why someone would steal her car? Do you know if she was into anything illegal? Did she piss someone off? Did she hook up with the wrong guy? A criminal? There. There it was. I could hear it in Bobby’s voice. The accusation, the distrust. They call it “transference” in shrinkspeak. When you unconsciously, almost accusingly, attribute qualities of one person to someone else. Without cause or justification, without being based on fact. Bobby was surely “transferring” a whole lot of shit right now and only I knew where it was coming from.

This is going to be one long-assed day.


Brief Intermission…

Just a quick break in the story to deliver some sad news….

Johnny Winter passed away yesterday while touring in Europe.

Johnny’s first album for Columbia Records in 1969 still sits in my car’s cd changer. Has been in my regular rotation one way or another for 45 years.

I spent much time in my youth trying to figure out how Johnny did what he did. ( Spoiler alert; thumbpick, no flatpick ) Those lightning- fast blues runs that weren’t all sloppy and disorganized, the way everyone else’s were. Clean and articulate, but with just enough drive and grit to …well…totally re-direct the evolvement of blues guitar.

That’s what he did. And sang like holy hell, too.

A few years back, I added a resonator guitar to my toybox, pushed everything else to one side, and for two years concentrated on learning to play slide. Spent about a year working on Johnny’s ” Dallas.” Got closer, learned a lot, but ultimately had to admit that even a well- meaning moderately talented guy like me can always look in the limo windows, tap on the glass and wave, but those doors ain’t ever going to open up. I just don’t have that…thing…that magical energy, the drive, the soul. I can feel it, coming from a guy like Johnny, and that gives some people the illusion that they could get there too.

Not in this lifetime, Sparky. Just accept it and move on. I can break down and analyze every note Johnny ever played, but that is actually a different subject altogether.

Johnny had that exemplary quality. Has it still. And most people don’t.

But they can listen, and feel it too, through a guy like Johnny Winter. That’s really what he was here for.

So,  in closing, I would just like to register a formal thank you.

To Johnny Winter, for living a hard life that also drew out that incredible depth of soul. And made American blues all the better for it.

And for all of us.

 Special thanks to Denise (aka Janice DiFranco) from Girlieontheedge for posting two excellent Johnny cuts in the comments below. Check them out, and you’ll be a fan, too.

Rest in Peace, John.




Chapter 21…

In this kind of work, it sometimes becomes difficult to keep a professional perspective and a personal one at a proper distance. Because once they become entwined, you’ve lost your necessary control.

Terrific, Sherlock. Too late for that now. That’s what happens when a fool rushes in. Spenser and Hawk would have snagged that guy before he even cleared the bottom of the stairs, Jenn would have been home inside an hour. Susan would have met them for brunch on Boylston Street,  and they’d be walking the dog around the Clamshell.

But because I knew Jenn, I thought I could cut through some of those always- necessary qualifying steps. And because I was approached by her sister, I presumed that she was being straightforward.

And now, stood in a huge mess and could safely presume that I was being played by someone. But not sure by who, or why, where, what, when, or how.

Nice . Glad to be of help. I should have stayed in contract security, where I could be taking a nap in the corner of a public library somewhere.

Well, anyway… back to the problem at hand.


Tuesday night, she said. So now we have a time-frame to work from- the ” when.”  And very shortly, all the others would fall into place. Because I’m sure that the plainclothes guy would get to all that rather quickly.

Like I should have.

We could have covered all this in my office over a nice cup of Eight O’Clock and a cruller. That’s why one has  an office to begin with…provided that one doesn’t rush ahead and lose all semblance of order.

She wanted me to trust her. She had that deer- in -the- headlights look about her that meant she really needed time. If I had set this up right, she would have had it.

I decided to go with it. If she was playing me, then I could fill in a few blanks just by watching how she responded to the plainclothes guy. But I would back her up if I could. After all, she hadn’t done anything wrong, and neither had I.

We were just trying to find Jenn.

The door opened…and I knew that I had seen this guy somewhere. And he looked like he was thinking the same.

He said hello to Janice, as if he knew her too. The uniforms went upstairs.

Such a small town, Rhode Island…

This guy had come to take Jenn out to lunch once, back in the day. Old friends, she had said.

And what the hell did that mean? Would that factor in to this, too?

When one has lost control, one needs to retrieve it. And the best thing to do right now would be to shut the hell up and let this thing unfold a little bit.

I nodded…and waited.




Chapter 20

Shit! He called the North Smithfield cops already? What private eye goes and calls the cops that fast?! I’m not prepared for that. I’m not prepared for anything right now. I need time. To think. I just need a little more time to put some things together. Sort…things out.

A half turn, I looked up. “Roger?” His eyes were fixed on mine with a look that was…new. A look that said “Honey, I want to believe you but – I’m having second thoughts”. I knew at that moment, could tell just by looking at him, that I was now standing in the shadow of doubt. Doubt cast by a man who, only a few short hours ago, was making me laugh extolling the virtues and raison d’etre of Allie’s donuts.

“Have you seen The Maltese Falcon?”, I asked suddenly.

Without the blink of an eye, he answered, “What decent private eye hasn’t? It’s a classic. I know all the classics”. Strangely, I believed him. Believed he did. Know the classics. It’s not often I quote lines from movies but at that exact moment I was feeling every bit an anguished Brigid O’Shaughnessy. It’s not as if I set out to memorize lines from movies but sometimes words just stick. Stick to your brain like fuzz on velcro. Like a songbite you can’t stop humming.

As his gaze became more intent, I heard my own voice, Brigid’s voice say, “The lie was in the way I said it, not at all in what I said.”

Wtf! I don’t know why I said that. It’s not as if we were on the set of The Maltese Falcon Redux. For sure, the man looking at me now like suspect numero uno, is no Sam Spade. In spite of that? I half expected him to reply“There’s not time for that school girl act…both of us sitting under the gallows…why did you…if you get a good break you’ll be out of the Tehachapi in 20 years and you can come back to me then”. This tall, private detective, looking all Colombo, acting Spenser for Hire, was waiting for me to cough up some answers.

Through a thickening fog of puzzlement, I heard him say “You’ll have to face the cops alone Janice. Tell them your story. Unless you talk to me. Give me something.”

I needed to make a decision. And quickly. I looked into brown eyes. I knew, from the moment I walked through the door of Spade, Spenser and Coyne, I could trust this guy. The question is, can I make him feel the same way about me?

“There are things I haven’t told you. Will you trust me Roger? Will you cover for me when the police get here?” The moment of truth. Will the PI “send me over” or will he trust his gut?

“Well?”, he asked.

“I talked to Jenn on Tuesday night.”



Chapter 19…

” Janice, there are a few things I have to  know before the cavalry arrives. We only have a few minutes. You said that you were here earlier, and that Jenn’s car was here…exactly what time was that? And, did you see or talk to anyone then? You really have to start giving me something to work with.”

From the look in her eyes, you could fairly watch the calculations running through her mind.

She had gone into the house by herself. I shouldn’t have let that happen. And before I had a chance to react, she moved towards the threat, not away from it.

” Did you know the guy who ran outside, Janice? Were you expecting someone to be here?”

No response. Still calculating.

But why?

I had come across something like this once before…people need  quick help, but don’t want to involve the police. So they try a private detective first. It’s a good cover, especially if there’s a deeper motive that they want to conceal.

Should have run to at least get a glance at that guy. Should have checked the upper floor, too. I don’t have any idea what might be going on there.

But then again…this girl is acting very… suspicious?

Police en route…girl not talking…suspect got clean away…stupid errors.

Should have waited to call them, give the girl time to gather herself. Now I need to know things, and there’s no time.

This adorable film-noir starlet was going to have to start filling in some gaps…right about now.

” Janice, they’re going to be here any minute. You can tell me, or tell them. You’ll have to anyway, so give me a clue here.”

The North Smithfield guys weren’t exactly the cast of Criminal Minds, but they’d put this together quick enough. Hell, the Boy Scouts could see this coming.

Nothing. Still calculating. Figuring, as an old friend would have said. Her actions right now seemed so similar, you’d think they were related. Figure that, Spenser.

“Janice, for Christ’s sake, give me something. You were here earlier, OK…did you go inside? Do you have keys? Was the house locked? Who else has access to Jenn’s car? Was the car even here? ”


What the hell was this? What had I walked myself into?

I initially had two suspects to ponder… the guy who took Jenn’s car ( providing that it was actually ever here) and the guy who just ran out. And now… I realized that I had better add one more. This girl wasn’t really acting overwhelmed…she was beginning to act involved.

So the list quickly flushes out to three…and was about to go to four, including me. Dammit.

The North Smithfield guys would have to put me in the mix too, if they were on their game. So they would be asking me a lot of the questions that I had already been asking her.

I wondered now what she would  actually tell those guys. And hoped that she didn’t necessarily expect me to cover for her. Not that that was out of the question, but I really couldn’t see any connection to that right now. She simply hadn’t told me anything yet. But regardless, I certainly wouldn’t throw her under the bus without good cause.

And…I knew that Jenn’s daughter Kendra lived here too. Where was she in all this?

School had gotten out a week ago, so we could be looking at a missing mother- and possibly a missing fifteen-year old to boot. And Janice hadn’t yet mentioned a word about any of that.

Of course, she was still calculating. Figuring.

Even as the two cruisers pulled up. One with two uniform guys, and a black Crown Victoria.

The first order of business would be to get them to check the rest of the house first. At least secure that perimeter… and try not to make any more rookie bonehead mistakes.

Like having a drawn weapon when they came in. I holstered it. Prudent. And thought again that I called them too soon. I wasn’t much better prepared for this than she was.

And Janice? Something huge going on in there. I wondered again who she might decide to share it with.

She was startled when they knocked loudly at the door.

So was I.


Chapter 18

I couldn’t help it. Roger’s voice faded, now a droning in the background. White noise. As soon as he said that, as soon as he said “I’m thinking Jenn was into something that might have been a bit over her head”, I swear I felt as if I could puke again. Man, what a sucky day this has been….”and shadows run from themselves”. Don’t ask  me why my brain goes to lyrics in times like these.

The drone of Roger’s voice was now supplanted by Cream and Eric Clapton singing about a white room with black curtains by the station. Funny. I was the younger sister yet I had a lot more on the musical ball than Jenn. She, queen of what we used to call the “Top 40”.  Not that I didn’t like the “popular” stuff. Hell, I like music from any era if it strikes a chord. No pun intended. For me, music is like the air we breath. Always, there’s a musical association to life, especially the big things….

“Earth to Janice, earth to Janice”. Shit! Lost in my own head again! I turned to see my private eye standing beside me, snapping his fingers.

“Hey, buddy, I’m not a dog. Don’t be snapping your fingers at me”.  Man, I hate that shit. Guys always seem to do that. They think you’re ignoring them, they want your attention, so they start snapping their fingers. What’s up with that? I chuckled to myself….I could give him some training….

“Just got off the phone with the North Smithfield police department. They’re going to send someone over. We just made this official. You know you’re going to have to go over the story with them now, right? Anything more you want to tell me – something you’ve remembered…forgotten to tell me?”

Wow. Couldn’t believe Roger was being so obvious in his lack of complete trust in me. Yeah, I know we just met. And maybe I hadn’t been totally up front with him but surely he could see in my eyes I had told him nothing but the truth. My gut trusted him, but I wasn’t quite ready to get all down and dirty about my older sister. It’s not my place to be opening someone else’s skeleton closet.




Chapter 17

“You’ve got to be kidding me….” I looked at Roger who was now standing with his weapon drawn. I’d never even noticed he’d pulled his gun. Quick on the draw. Good quality to have in a situation like this. First point to the private detective.

Roger stood totally still, motioning me to be quiet. Holding up his left hand for me to stay where I was, he moved closer to the answering machine. I heard it! Someone was still on the other end of the line. Not leaving a message. After about the 10 longest seconds of my life, we both heard a soft click. The line went dead.

“Can’t you star 69 that or something?” I asked impatiently. “Who the hell was that?! That was no wrong number.” Roger was looking pretty intense, a little “wound”. Tighter than a drum my mom would say. Staring at him, I was suddenly seeing Julia Roberts – he had that same vein running down the middle of his forehead. Yeah, he was definitely on edge. Walking into Jenn’s house and finding it trashed – didn’t see that one coming.

” …is someone watching us?” Instinctively, I was whispering in a voice so low I don’t think a dog could hear me. I got a “I don’t know” look from my new employee. We both stood where we were, not moving. Waiting. Listening. In spite of the strange phone call, neither one of us could be sure there wasn’t someone still in the house. Finally, Roger made a move towards the kitchen. As if connected by a string, I immediately followed suit. He was the one holding the gun afterall.

We found the kitchen in the same condition as the living room. Where once there was order on the counters, it was disaster. The Keurig was knocked to the floor, glass from the storage jars in jagged shards everywhere. Even the Coca Cola Bear cookie jar lay fatally broken on the pergo flooring. As we both surveyed the scene in stunned silence, that silence was suddenly broken by the sound of heavy, hard running from upstairs. Instinctively, I turned and ran out of the kitchen towards the living room. I got there  just as the front door slammed shut.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Roger was looking at me with eyes turned to lasers. I could almost feel the burn on my face. “Couldn’t help it. Instinct, ya know”.

“Listen” he said, “I think it’s time to call the cops. This is looking a little more complicated. And after we make that call you and I are going to have a more in depth conversation about your sister. I’m thinking Jenn was into something that might have been a bit over her head.



Chapter 16…

Geez. There goes another pair of 40- dollar JC Penney Jordans. I just can’t have anything nice, as my mom used to say. But I don’t recall anyone throwing up on her shoes. Probably me, I suppose. Oh, well.

” You know, I was totally buying the whole ‘ Lana Turner- film noir’ thing, but I think it’s safe to say you just shot that whole thing in the ass.  Given your delicate constitution, you probably keep  cleaning supplies and contractor bags in the trunk, so I’ll just grab one of those and cut some arm holes in it. Can I get you one too?”

” Sorry, I’m having a rough morning. You may very well have noticed. Many people might have, if they could only see past their donut obsession.”

Wryness…gone straight to unabashed sarcasm.

I have often had that effect on women. They just can’t help themselves, the poor things. Seething resentment was likely only a few minutes away.

” That is a perfectly healthy obsession, little miss. Not just donuts…Allie’s. Allie’s Donuts. Certainly, you’ ve had them. You weren’t raised in a cave, were you?”

” Please stop talking about food. Please.”

” Allie’s donuts are not food. Broccoli is food. Cauliflower is food. Cauliflower in the wrong hands could easily be a weapon. Allie’s donuts, by comparison, are the glue that holds Western society together. Chocolate crullers with a delicate whipped German chocolate filling…made by angelic creatures who only aspire to provide nutrients to mere mortals in a form they might recognize. And the icing is only to keep them from floating away altogether.”

” Well, you stay right here and use up all the oxygen you want, then. I’m going inside. I need to freshen up. And don’t you dare to come into Jenn’s house with those shoes on… sorry about that, by the way.”

” If there’s a garden hose around, I can make do with that.”

” Just around to the right there.”

I followed her in a few minutes later. She hadn’t seemed to react to my question about the car until I asked it…odd. Maybe she was lying about the car being there to begin with…or maybe had forgotten that she had said that it was there.

But if it had been here earlier…then someone had been here in the meantime.

Thinking that I shouldn’t have let her go in alone, I saw her standing in the middle of the living room. It had been completely trashed…shattered TV on the floor, framed photos broken, and sofa cushions that had been cut open.

She turned and started to speak, and I quickly motioned for her not to. Whoever did this might have taken the car if it was ever here, or might still be in the house. There may be more than one person involved in this, too.

I kept her attention while I slowly took my Springfield XDS .45 out of the shoulder holster- the only reason to wear a bulky jacket on a warm day. Released the safety and pointed it at the floor.

She didn’t even flinch.

Pretty damned ‘ film noir’, I thought to myself. Bogart would have liked this girl.

I was beginning to like her a little, too.

A phone rang, and she made a high- pitched panicky noise. My heart slammed into the top of my throat, finally dislodging that little bit of Allie’s cruller that had been stuck there for two hours now.

The phone call went to the cover message. It was the first time I had heard Jenn’s voice in over two years. And felt a touch of vertigo… it sounded so normal, so Jenn…

As I stood in her trashed house, with a drawn weapon, eyes locked on her panic- stricken sister.

Yes. She was definitely, absolutely having a rough morning.



Chapter 15

It was a good question. When last I’d been there, when I realized Jenn was missing, her red BMW Z4, her “baby”, had been sitting in the driveway. Like normal. Only I knew for a fact my sister would never have left the keys to “baby” dangling from the ignition.

“Maybe someone stole it?…wait! maybe she’s back and she ran an errand!” I turned to the man who was a cross between Columbo and Spenser for Hire, saw the look of “yeah, sure, that’s it” on his face, and quickly came back to reality. To the sick dread that had been steadily creeping and crawling all over my body since this mess began. Roger was staring at me, with that “oh you poor girl” look on his face.

When I’d gotten up this morning and looked out the window, I confirmed Bob Mitchum’s (no, really, that’s his name) weather forecast for most of the state. Sunny today with unseasonably warm temps and higher than normal humidity levels for this time of year. Damn if Bob hadn’t hit the bull’s eye.

Fall in New England usually appears gradually, slowly. It lessons it’s grip on the heat of summer little by little right up until the first week of October or so. That’s when you can sense the seasonal shift. Each day reluctantly relinquishing it’s hold until you find yourself switching out of shorts for long pants and the camisole for a sweater.

Glancing over to where Jenn’s car had been parked less than 24 hrs ago, I felt sweat forming tiny little beads at my hairline. I had that clammy feeling. The hot/cold sweat feeling that washes over you when you realize you have food poisoning. God, don’t let me throw up.

Why the hell did I put on stockings this morning. Really? Fool. Not so steady in the heels today huh sister? I walked over to the spot where Jenn’s car had been parked, did a slow 360 and said “how the fuck do I know?”

“Whoah, little lady! Calm down. Time out. You asked me for help, remember? Retainer or not, if you don’t want to go through with this tell me now. It won’t be the first time someone’s turned tail ‘cuz they didn’t have the stomach for it.”

That did it. No sooner had Roger finished his little speech and I was hurling. My new shoe god Guiseppe Zanotti would be happy to know I didn’t puke all over his glorious creation. Columbo for Hire wasn’t so lucky. At least replacing his shoes won’t cost a week’s salary.


Chapter 14…

” There’s a deposit? We haven’t mentioned it. Doesn’t matter right now, but thank you. Means Roland can step up to Pedigree for a while.”

” Before we look around, I have to tell you a few things first. Your fingerprints should be all over this place, and that’s normal. But mine shouldn’t be …so I’ll wear gloves while I’m here. This house may very well be part of an official investigation soon, and may actually be declared a crime scene. So at this point, I would suggest for us both to be very careful about what we touch. It could possibly complicate matters, and that might mean taking even longer to find Jenn. Does that make any sense?”

” Well I’m here almost every day, so no, it doesn’t really. But I’ll go your way. I’ll wear gloves too.”

” I’ll rely on you to point out anything that seems off, or tampered with. It shouldn’t take too long. I know you were here earlier, but we’re not looking for people now. Just look for anything that’s out of place.”

“All right, so let’s get to it.”

She seemed to be getting edgier by the minute. It was understandable. But it would be good to determine as soon as possible if this girl was clear of involvement in this. After all, no one, including her, had called the police yet. There was a reason for that…I just had to find out what it was.

Time to test the water. No time like the present. A stitch in time…

Couldn’t think of any more hackneyed sayings.

” Janice…before we even get out…I have to ask you something.”

” What? Can’t we please just go in?”

” Janice…where’s Jenn’s car?”

Chapter 13

Man, my head was starting to pound that slow, dull, throbbing pound. The one that comes from having had one too many expressos (as if anyone needs more than one). Extreme caffeine jolt. Like the man at the carnival barks: “Belted in? The ride down is gonna get bumpy!”

I know it’s his job, but Roger’s questions were starting to bug me. They shouldn’t. I mean, I was the one who went to him. It’s his job. And he knows Jenn. Well, a little anyway. Enough to know that me waiting a couple of days to check up on her shouldn’t appear “suspicious”. Whatever. I was prepared to be put on the suspect list before I walked into his office. Right. Like “sister” sounds better than “butler”.

Damn! Almost missed the exit. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to get to Aunt Mary’s/Jenn’s house. The car was now getting claustrophobic. Two people in a small metal box on wheels, looming questions and absolutely no answers. Thankfully, Aunt Mary didn’t live too far off Rt. 44. She was big on having access to the main arteries. “In case of emergencies” she’d say. Couldn’t argue with that. Here, one more turn…

I pulled into the driveway at 735 Leona Drive half expecting to see Jenn walk out the front door on her way somewhere. I smiled wryly to myself. She was always going somewhere. But not ever getting anywhere. I turned to Roger, looked him straight in the eye and said: “You. It’s your job. Tell me what’s happened to my sister. I’ve put down a healthy deposit. Give me my money’s worth”.

Chapter 12…

” So when did you see Jenn last?”

I felt a hesitancy, as if she had to take a deep breath to begin.

” Saw her on Tuesday afternoon. She asked if I could run Kendra over to her dad’s early because the chef guy was coming over to make her dinner.”

” Chef guy?”

” Vinnacio, Vincento, Vinnie-something. One of the guys she’s seen a lot of lately.”

” And now it’s Thursday. Why the wait?”

‘Tuesday’s a normal night out for her, then home with Kendra on Wednesdays. You don’t want to intrude, you know? But Kendra called me when she didn’t pick her up on time last night.”

That made sense. Jenn and Kendra’s dad still doing the every-other night thing with custody.

” So that’s three, then. People who know something’s not right. And no one’s called the cavalry in yet…have they?”

” Not yet, as far as I know. Still kind of hoping she just shows up. Maybe she’s already back.”

” Her phone?”

Not on, and that’s the weirdest thing right there. That’s how I know something’s wrong. Her phone is never off.”

” Have you spoken to anyone else at all about this? ”

” Just Kendra, and her dad. I just expect Jenn to be in control of it, whatever it is. I asked them to wait through the morning to see if she’d show up, and we’d go from there.”

” Do you think she might have gone straight to work?”

” No. She would check in with Kendra, at the least. And me. And I stopped there just before I found your office this morning. She works just a few blocks away, on Kennedy Plaza.”

” They must have found that odd. That you’d be there, looking for her.”

” The two owners weren’t even there, just the receptionist.”

” You must have found that odd.”

‘”Very. Jenn always said that those guys practically live there. ”

I found that to be somewhat odd.

Home health care. Jenn did payroll and scheduling for them, and left the security field thinking that managing nutjob visiting nurses would be an improvement over nutjob security guys. I had always hoped so, for her sake. But I doubted it.

We consultants tend to lean towards the cynical view. And are sometimes known to drown our disappointments in crullers, even the coconut-covered ones if need be.

Dark days indeed.

The Rt.44 exit off 295 was coming up fast. Next stop, North Smithfield.

Chapter 11

He was funny. A little rumply and none too neat but Jenn was right. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. But can he find my sister? Jenn was never big on details and when it came to the men in her life… Nothing. Nada. Nunca. Mouth shut tighter than a nun’s behind. This one though – P.I. Cruller– there’s more here than meets the eye. The witty repartee, the charming self deprecation… A lot more going on behind that Columbo routine.

We were coming up on Washington St. slowly, a lone Greyhound bus directly in front of us taking it’s sweet time deciding which way to turn. Which is how I felt this morning. Suspended in traffic, I suddenly found myself trying to remember the last time I’d been this side of the river. Many a year has passed since graduating Brown and even though I’d moved out of the city ages ago, I still loved it. The “East Side”.

The East Side of Providence surrounding Brown was always known as “college hill” with Thayer St. being a main drag. Back in the day, I’d spend weekend afternoons with friends walking in and out of the shops, lunch at Montana’s. Ah, the good old days. Gone now. Like my sister.

So much for reminiscing. Jenn was missing. She was missing for God’s sake! How does that happen? How does an older, seemingly more stable sibling go missing?

“I don’t know, Janice. Your sister is the most together person I know. At least on a professional level. The dating thing? That, I always thought a little….weird.”

Damn! Had I spoken out loud? I turned to Mr. Cruller (his last name did begin with a “C” afterall) and slowly nodded my head in agreement. Then I took a left onto W. Exchange St. headed towards the interstate.

Chapter 10…

” So do you need to stop for anything before we get on the highway? I see a few clean spots on your shoulder there.”
More wryness.
We consultants thrive on wryness. Snappy comebacks are stock in trade for us.
” No…but thanks for your… concern…”
Timing is everything with snappy comebacks. A just ever-so-slightly ascerbic tone, slight mid-sentence hesitation…and just a wisp of a sidelong glance. Devastating.
We consultants need to keep a semblance of control.

” So have you tried the new broccoli-and-cheese soup bowl at Panera? Your choice of rye or pumpernickel. I think you could use a little green right there, by the pocket.”
” Why, you poor emaciated little thing. I may have to buy you lunch when we’re done. There’s a Panera on 44 in the Home Depot plaza.”
” I know, I sort of live around there.”
“And it’s probably on the way. Exit 7?”
Another wry smile, and a telling silence.
” I just bought you lunch, didn’t I?”
” Nothing personal. I just hate crullers.”

Semblance of control…don’t leave home without it…

Chapter 9…

Smug satisfaction, beamed straight from the office window.
Slyly, I reached up to adjust my seat belt, and brushed the sugar off with my sleeve. Smooth. It takes a few years on the planet to be able to effortlessly extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing spot, and we consultants are uncannily resourceful.
” Hey, there’s a box of Kleenex in the glove compartment if you want to get that off your jacket.”
A wry smile, and a not particularly small measure of smug satisfaction from the driver’s seat. Maybe Roland had more of a foothold here than I thought.
I considered possibly switching to plain crullers, but only for a moment. Besides, I thought the sugar might go nicely with the Thai hot sauce stain that was already there. I got a tissue and dabbed a little, not being sure which one she was referring to.
” Thanks…I wouldn’t want to get powdered sugar on the carpeting. Or hot sauce…or barbecue…or weiner sauce from Haven Brothers…and look, on this arm I’ve got marinara from Marchetti’s.”
I got what I wanted. The wry smile turned into a laugh. A deep, comfortable, confident laugh that surprised me by sounding so much like her sister’s.
” What, nothing from Outback?”
” Girl, please. That’s a franchise. We consultants hold to a higher calling. ”
Actually not true at all. Outback serves an excellent broiled T-Bone with bleu cheese that I was quite fond of. But one should never reveal all to a potential client.
Another of those intoxicating laughs, and I couldn’t help but joining in.
And then, uncomfortable silence.
” We shouldn’t be having this much fun, I suppose.”
” No, that’s OK. No harm done. Feels good to relax a little. But I’m getting scared now. I’ve got to find her.”
“We will. Can I ask you a few things while we drive?”
” Yes, of course. I just don’t know where to begin.”
It was time to start piecing this thing together.
We took a right onto Dorrance and headed for 95 North.

Chapter 8…

Consultant, really. Amateur part-time consultant. Private detectives need a lot of licensing, mainly so that their actions will stand up in court if necessary. I’m just a citizen that happens to be pretty good at a few things, and manage to get paid for a couple of them. Although most of that goes towards 9- Lives and powdered crullers.
Janice was parked on Westminster by the Roundtop Church, and of course had a ticket on the car. There are only six or seven guys in Providence who don’t get tickets on their cars. Apparently the meter maid was unaffected by the pleated skirt and red high heels. Or maybe it was all the yellow curbing.
I glanced back towards my office window as I opened the car door. Roland was beaming his typically poignant metaphysic mix of love, hatred, territorial domination, and lunch in our general direction. And through a surprisingly clean window. We consultants maintain a high standard.
I beamed back a metaphysic message of love, hatred, territorial domination, and the smug satisfaction that comes from being in the passenger seat of a red Fiat two-seater with the ex- bosses’ sister. Hell, in Rhode Island, we were practically related.
” Ok, first can we start with the house itself? Has anyone else been there? And did you touch anything?”
” Well…yes, I did. Of course. She’s my sister. I was looking for…anything, really. I still have the car keys, and I locked it when I left.”
So…where the investigating would likely start from, there would already be several sets of prints. The trick would be to find the ones that didn’t belong. I would have to be careful not to add my own to the mix.
And having left Roland to guard the home front, I saw myself in the door mirror as she backed into traffic.
And there it was. Still there.
Powdered sugar.


OK, just one more intermission, and then back to The Book. BTW, The Book is still open to collaboration, if anyone chooses. As long as your addition seems to advance the storyline downfield, and doesn’t just go sideways. No extraneous guitar solos, if you will.

Anyway. I am out of work these last two days, having recently had big burly men hold me down and extract an old wisdom tooth. And, I asked for it, and paid for it to boot. This proves that for as dumb as I was pre- extraction, I am now dumber still. And, I now have a total aversion to tools of all sorts. Especially vice grips.

So. Have been noodling all day, while the 24/7 Perpetual Television plays in the background. The View has been on, and I have just observed…that a scott is a scott is a scott. And that is a joy to behold.

I speak of Denis Leary. He’s out promoting something, and is doing all the talk shows. He is a scott of the first order.

And in stark comparison to the edgy, dangerous vibe you generally get from younger scotts, Denis is older, much more in control, relaxed, and an absolute master of All Things Scott.

All the tools are still there, and being used so skillfully that you anticipate his arrival, thoroughly enjoy his effortless dominance of the environment, hope that you might be the object of his skillful deployment of such, and find yourself wanting his visit to last even longer. He told a great story about meeting President Obama, and managed to sit beside Barbara Walters with his hand on her knee.

Flawless. Owned it completely, and gracefully relinquished control back to the View girls as he left.
Late last night, I watched him do the same on the Seth Meyers show. Seth is a roger of the first order, and had the good sense to play the support role, ceding the workspace to the clearly more experienced professional. Fabulous.

A good scott is a beautiful thing.

A Brief Intermission…

Just a short break from the steadily increasing ( Ha! )suspense of my first ( Ha!!! ) detective novel…
While I figure out what to do next…


In the real world, in my real job…I work for a giant multi- national corporate security firm. And one of my evolved functions at my particular job site over time has become…being the world’s oldest, crankiest, and ugliest front-desk receptionist. Certainly not the perky twenty- something attractive model-in-waiting that job applicants are always hoping for. No. Much closer to Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa, although admittedly a bit better organized.

So, the point being that I ‘ve seen job applicants of every shape and size make every conceivable mistake when arriving for their interview. Most people actually don’t make these errors, but you always remember the bad ones. So, I’ve compiled a Top- Five Mother- of- God You Can’t Be Serious List
for your perusal and entertainment. This is a direct result of having seen the absolute worst ever, just this past Monday.

5) Do not be late; and then park in a clearly marked fire lane, because that is apparently what fire lanes are there for…and supplement this with a ” whatever, I’m here now ” attitude. Bad Santa has the number of a local towing service, and after respectfully asking you to move your vehicle, will pull that trigger. And he remembers one particular applicant who replied with ” Why, what are you gonna do, tow my car?”

4) Ditto, for handicapped parking. Because Bad Santa is in position to have to watch people who truly need those spaces struggling to get to the building entrance because of you.

These above two have nothing to do with your actual appointment, and yet speak volumes about your chances. These are often the very people who have surprisingly short interviews…

Bad Santa recalls six people once interviewing for a very high- level Metlife position. All six perfectly qualified, and yet Bad Santa knew ” the guy” even as he arrived to sign in and be received. A magical quality, whatever that is…and somehow indescribable. The ” guy” was actually a mid- thirties woman from Bridgewater, New Jersey who is now a vice president, and has a nicely situated corner office. Flies home on the weekends.

3) Arrive at the correct address, with the correct contact information. Hard to believe, but yes. Many will arrive with no information at all, and have to wait while Bad Santa uses his considerable psychic powers to determine where they should actually be.

2) Do not arrive too early. Rather than make a positive first impression, this actually puts pressure on the interviewer to hurry through their schedule. Always seems to result in a short interview.

And the very best for last…yes, this actually happened. Bad Santa swears to it.

1) Do Not Bring Your Dog To Your Job Interview. Even if he is small enough to ride in your handbag. Even if you have a long and deeply self- involved story as to why you had to bring him with you. He is not a seeing- eye dog. And do not become argumentative when your respective employer insists on his leaving the premises. You have already destroyed your job prospects in the immediate sense, and will probably never understand why you have likely never been gainfully employed. But Fluffy sure is a cute little guy, isn’t he?

Well, there it is. Bad Santa thanks you for your indulgence. And now back to the surreal prospect of me being a private detective.

Chapter 7…

” And how’s Aunt Mary doing these days?” I felt a little apprehensive about the possible answers.

” She’s doing OK. Good and bad days, but not complaining too much.”

” That , I think, is a victory unto itself. Please give her my regards, although I didn’t ever actually meet her.”

“I will, but she might not have ever realized where the pants came from. Sorry, but it wasn’t that important who got them. As long as someone did her bidding.”

“Well, glad to have helped, anyway. But now, can you tell me what’s been going on? And in return, I’ll tell you very honestly if there’s any way I can help you. ”

” Yes, I need to tell someone this. No one knows I’m here…I just found the card in Jenn’s purse… and that’s the first thing. Where would she have gone without her purse? Or her phone, either.”

“Yes. I recall that…she used to walk in to work in the morning with a Bluetooth on. I hate those things. But Jenn without a phone…impossible. Where did you find them?”

” In her car, in the driveway. The doors weren’t locked.”

” Car keys?”

” In the ignition. And the house was locked.”

” Do you know if Kendra was home? She might have heard something.”

” No, it was last Tuesday, she was staying at her dad’s.” I remembered that…divorced parents alternating nights of custody. The main reason that Jenn used to go out so much. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

” And has this been reported yet?”

“No…but her friend the detective knows. He said he wanted a day or so to check a few things first.”

So Jenn had been missing for three days, and the only person supposedly doing anything about it was a police detective who was probably an on again/ off again love interest.

And… he’s also the one guy who would know how critical the first 24 hours are in abduction cases. And he wants to wait a few days…no red flags there…

” Janice…I can try a few things of my own here, but I’ll need just a few hours. And then I think you should report this right away. Can you spare enough time to give me a quick tour of North Smithfield?”

” Yes, I can do that. I’m parked over by PPAC.”

” Better if I drive. No one knows me or my car out in the country. That’s two zip codes from here, may as well be on the moon.”

So now there were two guys looking for Jenn…a real detective, albeit one with a boatload of motive…

And me. Amateur part-time sleuth.

Chapter 6….

There were essentially two ways to confirm this girl’s identity; I could take the direct approach, and ask for two forms of ID. Some people found that to be somewhat insulting, and it was generally not a good idea to imply a lack of trust so early on. So I opted to diffract the request by approaching it from another direction. I decided it would be a safe bet that I knew more about this girl’s family than she would have thought.

“Do Jenn and Kendra still live at Aunt Mary’s house?” I asked as I got up to open some 9-Lives for Roland. I could tell that he was impatient to have a quick bite and get right back to cat heaven. I sometimes thought that food and cat heaven were all he really cared about. Actually, I knew that was all he really cared about.

Jenn and Kendra had moved into Aunt Mary’s just after Jenn had started managing security at Metlife. Aunt Mary was in her eighties, and the family had found a reliable assisted -living facility for her to move into. But Jenn had to promise Aunt Mary that she would stay in the house until she got back from her adventure. Of course, no one else really expected her to return; that, and the pants.

” How do you know about Aunt Mary?” I had definitively seized her attention. Take that, Roland.
” I’m the guy who found the pants.”
” That was you??” You could see the dots connecting in her eyes.” You were quite the hero. Jenn told us all about it, and Aunt Mary never would have budged without the damned pants. That was really funny. ”

And there it was.This was definitely Jenn’s sister. She couldn’t possibly have responded to that otherwise.

Aunt Mary had refused to go without new pants. And there was only one kind she ever wore; elastic-waisted uniform pants like you would have in a marching band. God only knows why. And they had to have the piping down the sides.
Jenn had skipped out of work early on several occasions and scoured the planet looking for them to no avail. No one could find them. She finally gave up altogether, and said that Aunt Mary would be dragged off to her new home the next morning, pants or not. She couldn’t afford any more time to look.

I found the pants online at work with a few Google searches. Sometimes you just have to know what to ask for.

Aunt Mary wore her new pants proudly into her new apartment, Jenn moved in, and we joked about that for some time afterwards. And they were right; it was really funny.

So this was Jenn’s sister. Now to find out what exactly had been going on.

Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 5….

“We didn’t even know that you were a private detective. I found your name on the back of one of Jenn’s old Allied business cards that she gave to me a few years ago, when she was seeing a guy by the name of Richard Vinhatiero.”

My internal anxiety meter shot right into the red zone. I really hated when that happened. Never a good omen.

I had another of Jenn’s cards in my wallet to this day…and it had the very same name written on the back.

I had asked her at the time to write down the name of the guy who had frightened her so badly. I had promised her that I was not prying into her business, but that someone should know in case anything ever happened. That was such an unusual request to make of Jenn, who was typically supremely confident of herself. And that is precisely why I asked her. I was quite suprised when she readily complied.

For those few days, she had driven into work in a different car, parked in a different spot, wouldn’t take outside calls, and wouldn’t take her usual afternoon walk around the grounds.
She forwarded all her office calls out to me, and I was ordered not to even indicate on the phone that she was in the building. And, I used security cameras to track her back out to her car when she left.

To make matters a little extra sticky, she actually had another friend staying with her at her house for protection…the other Richard…the North Smithfield detective.

Of course, I couldn’t let on about any of that right now. I could scare her sister to death.

Anyway, I had no way to be sure if any of that would be pertinent. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t yet even presume that the person sitting with my cat on her lap was Jenn’s sister at all. I had some discrete fact- checking to do.

First rule of semi- professional detection; presume nothing, check everything.

With that said, Roland jumped down and went to check his dish again. You never know, someone may have crept in while he was in cat heaven with designs on increasing his cholesterol level.

GoodNews/ Good News…

For all of you guitar geeks out there…

I just found out about two new cds that I will aquire shortly.

Michael Schenker has a new MSG album out called ” Immortal.”

It is said to be his best in forty years. He’s been at it for fifty years… Yes, I know.

I keep re-checking the math to no avail- if you know of Michael Schenker then you’re likely older than dirt. As am I.

And a collaboration project between Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden fame and Richie Kotzen of Poison, Mr. Big and Winery Dogs (despised Poison, tolerated Mr. Big, loved Winery Dogs) I found this accidentally while perusing Rick Beato videos. The material is mature, soulful, aggressive, and kind of on the dark side. Just like me. On a good day.

Please check these out. There is some really good stuff out there, if you learn where to look. And in spite of Kanye West being a musical genius…

Published in: on July 3, 2021 at 11:01 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

No!! Bentley?! No!!

So. The other night I’m in a musical mood and find myself watching an old Jeff Beck video from Tokyo in 2014.

These are always fun to watch and I am always driven to want to amputate my fingers and mail them to the Mayo clinic, where they could be donated to a worthier cause than my sad forays into what was once called “fusion” . Lately, I’ve heard a new term being tossed about- ” rockjazz”. That must be an entirely new thing, because millenials would apparently rather be thrown screaming off the cliffs of Dover than admit interest in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. ( That has undoubtedly happened, but the Irish press keeps it under wraps thinking it would hurt tourism. Or, they could just blame the British).


Jeff is not a “great” guitar player. He ‘s not as fast or fluid as a lot of other people.He likely doesn’t care. He shouldn’t, if he does care.

No one can play like Jeff Beck. Because no one can think like Jeff Beck. He plays guitar, but thinks more like a conductor. It’s all about color, and tone, and texture. Everything is very carefully composed and assembled. Very extensively rehearsed. And always sounds  completely fresh, as if it is being improvised at that very moment.

Brilliant. And nearly impossible. Which explains all the fingers in manila envelopes that show up at the Mayo clinic. Hell, I barely use mine as it is. All I need is an index finger to push the stupid icons for my stupid apps on my stupid phone, and I could do that with a pencil in my teeth.

So, just as my mom apparently boxed and shipped many suppers I wouldn’t eat as a kid to deserving kids in China, so go all the fingers..? I once quipped that I would love to swap my meatloaf for some egg rolls and chow mein. I got popped in the ear for that. One simply should not offer one’s mother’s meatloaf in trade.

So anyway again.

Jeff has this wonderful simple thing he does with the vibrato/ whammy bar. He uses it to lower the pitch on the last note of a phrase, and it produces an almost spoken- sentence vocal quality. I love that. No guitar player has ever thought of that before.

 My faithful dog Bentley, however, does not. When this happens, he will pace nervously, make all manner of guttural throaty noises in response, and finally start to howl and bark. I’ve never known him to be so opinionated.
This can mean only one of two things.

Either my wonderful companion has a vehement dislike for Jeff Beck (unthinkable) or maybe it’s Fender Stratocasters in general. ( generally thinkable) We’ll try a bit of Hendrix or SRV to test that theory.

Or  maybe he just prefers my Les Paul- based approach ( somewhat thinkable ) Yeah, that’s probably it. 

Or…Maybe he doesn’t like my playing at all, and Jeff Beck has now  magically replaced me as alpha male in my own pack. With a simple turn of the whammy bar.( Highly probably thinkable)

In reflection, not the worst thing by far.

Could have been Yngwie…( totally unthinkable)

Speaking of… 

There is a video on YouTube of Yngwie supposedly playing Ravel’s Bolero with an orchestra and breaks in as soon as he can and starts running arpeggios until the conductor finally screams at him to stop.

As anyone would. ( perfectly thinkable)

New(er) Guy…

There are only two people on the planet who will get the reference that I’m about to make here. The absolute essence of obscurity.

So today at work, I am having my initial sit-down with yet another ex-police captain who has been brought onto our work site as a new security account manager. This makes three times that I have been overlooked for a promotion that I truly no longer care about, would no longer accept even if offered, from a company that I no longer have any particular regard for.

Disgruntled? Hell, yes.Just want to get in a few more years and fade into blissful obscurity.

I don’t see that happening now. This guy is a six- figure idiot. And I somehow have managed to hold onto the quaint notion that there shouldn’t be any such thing.This guy would have been better off being appointed an acting something or other for Trump.

So …. Who am I  to be so judgemental? You tell me.

He starts off by asking me…If I like my sneakers ( black, suitable business attire, as required in our post orders ).

Yes, thanks. Quite nice, as sneakers go, I say….??

That was his idea of an effective lead-in…. to start to explain why all of his shoes are custom-made and very expensive…( as I begin to wonder what any of this might have to do with my little slice of reality…or maybe even our jobs, God forbid…)

Apparently, many years of police work can result in bad backs and bad feet.

Okay, fine. And while I am hoping that there is something, anything even vaguely resembling a point to any of this in the near future… he pulls out his phone.

And promptly starts showing me very uncomfortably graphic photos of a foot procedure he had done recently. ( selfies??) Lots of them.

Mind you, I’ve only known this guy for about seven minutes.

And as I am trying to conjure up something in the way of a suitable reaction to wherever this is supposed to go?…a little voice in my head from several galaxies to my left says, and I quote… ” shit…look at his crooked feet… “

And I start to giggle, which in turn approaches actual laughter.

I, of course, can offer nothing in way of an explanation.

Seems that ex-police captains don’t care to be trifled with. He was somewhat offput by my callous reaction, and we will discuss this further on Tuesday after the MLK holiday.

And I still have no earthly idea what any of that had to do with anything at all. Should I have pulled out my old MRI of back injuries and bonded accordingly?

Got off on the wrong foot, as they say…

Tuesday at 0700 should be a real hoot. Maybe I’ll bring some dental X-rays for show and tell…

Published in: on January 19, 2019 at 4:17 am  Comments (1)