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)  


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)  

Hi There…

Well, jeez. Haven’t been here in about 76 years. Seems like I became less than enamored with blogging for quite some time. It just suddenly seemed so…self-indulgent?

Plus, I’ve had other things to be self- involved with. I’m a really self-indulgent guy at heart, and certainly no one-trick pony. I’m a very well-rounded self-indulgent pain in the ass to a wide variety of citizenry. Just ask ’em. They’ll likely say something nice about me initially, but with that sardonic ” you know and I know” smirk that can only mean one thing.

And what is that, you ask?

I certainly don’t know. Not a shred of a clue. I’m way too self-whatever to take notice,  and cannot afford to sacrifice any ” me-time ” to an endeavor like that.

So… Mr. SI Poster Boy 2017 ( Self-Indulgent, not Sports Illustrated ) was online just this morning, invested in an odd little pastime that I’ve been toying with lately.

I’ve been perusing old Sears catalogs. Also some JC Penney and Montgomery Ward. I began by looking for an old guitar that I had as a kid in 1965 that my dad bought for me.

It was a Kay Vanguard that cost 69.95 with a vinyl cardboard case. They’re sometimes on EBay for roughly 700-800. This was my first electric guitar ( a very, very big deal ). My guitar teacher at the time made me re-string it with very heavy-gauge flat-wound strings, and it was all but impossible to play. Like trying to play ” Day Tripper” on a tennis racquet.

I never found it in the Sears catalogs. Turns out that my dad got it at a local retailer called Apex. Mine had two pickups, and the Sears version had only one, for 34.95.

Lest I forget to mention it; in the 60s’, the world was absolutely overrun with cheap, mass- produced mostly Japanese- made guitars. The British Invasion was at full speed, and any self- indulgent kid worth his salt was hammering their parents for a guitar. Any guitar.

So anyway. Back to the Sears catalog thing.

I fully get that this is an odd thing to do. But here’s why I really like it.

It was a pretty big event every year when the Sears catalog arrived in the mail, mainly because it meant that Christmas was on the horizon. Kids could start plotting and planning how to manipulate their parents into getting the cool stuff from the catalog. It probably didn’t work out all that often, but it was great to spend many hours going through the catalog. Very ” A Christmas Story”.

The catalogs themselves are/ were very distinctly recognizable. The very lightweight paper that still managed to print well, the layouts, colors, fonts… all went into creating the approximately 8-lb paper brick that would crash onto the front porch when tossed unceremoniously by a near-suicidal letter carrier. The catalog release was one of the biggest events in the USPS business year. Untold hundreds of thousands of them delivered by hand.

But the very coolest thing was the smell. They had a very distinct odor. To this day, I would bet very heavily on my ability to recognize a Sears catalog purely by scent in a blind test. And when I’m going through those old catalogs on a website… I swear that I can smell them. The imagery somehow triggers a smell memory. That’s why I like doing it. So that I can indulge in that small and barely discernable hallucination.

I suppose it’s because I’m actually dying, and this is just random electrical impulses firing off in my brain as I go. That’s OK, it’s still just fun. Or maybe I’m discovering a whole new uncharted level of self- indulgence. In that case, please feel free to try this at home…


While perusing today, I found what has to be one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen.

On page 233 of the 1946 Sears catalog, I found an ad promoting the apparently common idea at the time….that fur trappers could mail their raw pelts to Sears and receive not only fair market value for them, but use that value towards their Sears account if they wanted to. Sears would supply all necessary mailing materials and labeling…. so you could get the cool stuff in the catalog.

With the local Sears outlet here actually recently announcing its closing….maybe I should print that ad out and take it to the store with some road kill. Slap it up onto the counter and tell them I want to make a payment…







Published in: on August 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm  Comments (4)  

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  
Tags: , ,

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)  

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.