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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Life together, then apart

INMATES –Good story

Chapter one: All work and no play Start of a new book on ironic situations

Like many popular and entertaining stories, a vicarious peek at two anonymous lives is further proof that life is indeed stranger than fiction.  Life’s twilight zone of reality conspired with fate; testing a newly-wed couple’s avowal of love, events twisted their matrimonial expedition into a test of devoted loyalty shredded by legal wolves, psychological band-aids and ambiguous advice from friends and family.  Standard reactions, trite remarks and the drastic ways of the world played with truth and justice.  Ultimately, only personal intuition and the benefit of the doubt can provide the emotional faith we need to maintain honest relationships slanted by life’s more unexpected events.

 

Toronto, East End.

Zach Forrest was happy; over the last year, he’d studied hard to earn five full credits towards his four-year Honors degree.  Receiving his third year’s high marks in June, he noticed he still needed two credits from a turbulent second year that almost ended his academic dream.  Planning ahead, he chose to work part-time and take two summer school courses to fix his second year blunder; school was over with two weeks left in August—earning a 4.25 GPA.  The credits fulfilled gave him a Bachelor’s degree; one more year of full-time study earned him an Honor’s B.A. in English, with a minor in communications technology.

There was definitely a spring in his step as he walked up the driveway to his parent’s large two-story house in popular suburbia.  With the A+ transcripts from summer school, he could show his father he’d now outperformed his successful PhD cousin, a well-financed product of the elite Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto.  His father’s brother Bud consistently bragged about his marriage to the daughter of a large printing company’s millionaire owner.  ‘Bab’s Hunt, now Bab’s Forrest, was a well-heeled product of exclusive Women’s colleges and private schools, and instantly became the darling daughter of Grandma Forrest, a strong and elegant lady who had pursued a life of wealth her entire life.  Grandma declined babysitting help for them, but jumped to look after his cousin.  Along with family approval, his older cousin enjoyed the finest education a family could find.  Tom received but also gave; after the prestigious Upper Canada College, he distinguished himself with U of T’s football team, and helped kids on canoe trips…carving out a successful path into the top echelon’s of Ontario’s Education Board.  He served on the Board of Education for Toronto, working his way to the top-principle for Ontario’s High School system.  Success and power gave him the tools he needed to enact significant changes to the School Board; his loving and caring nature made him a man newspapers loved to profile, while his genuine passion for education made him Zach’s well-respected mentor who showed honest respect for his academic achievements, something he humbly noted surpassed his own G.P.A.  They shared many evenings of literary discussion at Grandmother’s cottage, a beautiful slice of the wilderness purchased by Tom.  Zach respected his cousin for the principles and goals he considered more valuable than money…ensuring all children had a proper childhood, and received an ample education.

Ironically, Zach had grown up around a lot of rich family and friends; he’d heard many stories about people with money, and was familiar with odd behavior by rich relatives.  His mom’s father’s brother was quite the character, and Zach’s favorite uncle.  Around 6 or 7, his family would visit them in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.  Uncle Joe had a house on a cliff that overlooked the Beaver River, a railroad line at the bottom.  Zach stayed in a bedroom that faced the river, and he would always associate these family visits with endless trains on the river track.  The trains were so long he’d fall asleep to the sound of trains, and wake up to the sound of a train.  Uncle Joe would insist that these trains were often over ten miles in length, an adult answer that little Zach accepted as truth.  During the day, Zach’s frequent source of amusement was placing pennies on the track and having the train squash them like a pat of butter.  When older, he understood Uncle Joe was the biggest kidder in the family.  It was a busy track, and common for two or three trains to pass nightly.  When Uncle Joe finally passed away, he donated five houses and all his worldly goods to his church…a cousin who owned an antique store took a van down and loaded it with anything he could find, insisting there wasn’t “much of anything” in the large house we always stayed at.  Right…I heard he took a big moving van to collect furniture.

Uncle Joe always treated us to McDonald’s burgers and fries; like a magnanimous king, Uncle Joe would say, “Order as many as you want.”  To a kid, this sounded like a dream.  The idea of generosity endured until he began to understand the value of money.  This was the sixties, and a McDonald’s hamburger was .15 cents, .20 for a cheeseburger.  We would stuff ourselves for under a dollar.

What was really great was the assorted stores, especially the comic book store…they had everything.  He’d take the five or ten dollar windfall he’d saved up and merrily visit different stores that didn’t exist in Canada.  Making money was an early talent for Zack.  In Toronto, a sneaky way to make money was to buy a bunch of McIntosh apples, polish them like jewels, then place them in a tissue decorated fruit basket with a paper-wrapped money can.  Wearing his cub scout uniform, he’d use his bike to go to a distant neighborhood, knock on doors, and say he was collecting for UNICEF, a special collection because the Scout’s apple day was usually a few months away.  He earned more money than Christmas or his birthday.  Zach always felt cheated on his birthday…a fluke of fate decreed that his brother was born on the same day, three years ahead of him.  That meant only one large birthday party.  A friend of his had five siblings, and he’d brag about getting birthday cake all year round, and smaller gifts from relatives that felt guilty only giving to the birthday boy or girl.

That trick was quickly overshadowed: when he got a paper route, he learned how to earn steady cash.  If short on papers, he could just take as many papers as he needed from open honesty boxes.  His route was mainly in the subdivision he lived in, with 7 customers across a main street.  After a few collection days, he began to tell his supervisor some of the distant customers cancelled their subscription, something that happened quite often.  He still delivered and collected, taking the extra papers from the distribution boxes, keeping all the money he collected every two weeks…like a steady paycheck.  Fifteen bucks every two weeks was a gold mine for a kid.  A regular financier with a bank account, he quickly earned over $100 dollars, and became the local shyster…loans up to ten dollars, a dollar a week interest.  If he thought they were dodging him, he’d give a big guy two bucks to scare the hell out of them.  They paid.  When his account started to rise, keeping hundreds in the bank was a problem; maintaining an explainable balance, he hid the rest.  Kids didn’t usually have a few hundred in cash…a good reason to keep it safely stashed.  As he got older, selling pot was a good income, but he had real jobs to explain cash, get a car, and float several bank accounts to spread his wealth.

As he got older, the trips to visit Uncle Joe became financially lucrative.  He loved comics, and felt collections were important and should be well looked after.  America had a lot more comic books than Canada, and he knew which could fetch much higher prices than Canada.  As time passed, that impeccable collection of comics was money in the bank; he always wanted to keep several first editions, and to collect the first twenty comics of every popular figure.  When prices rose, he sold his collection of popular and hard to find first editions. His number #1-20 series of Batman, Superman, The Hulk and many more produced a huge windfall; his pristine copy of Adventure Comic’s #13 brought in $25,000, a more battered version went for $8,000.  Fortunately, he sold them in 1997, well after he was divorced

Toronto, 1987  The wife problems were growing.

Visiting his parent’s place, Zach could tell no one was home.  He fished the spare key from under the cushion of the rear chair…a hiding spot he’d always warned his parents was an open invitation to anyone with half a brain to search for a key…opened the basement door and returned the key.  Stepping into the house, he noticed the door from the kitchen that led to the basement stairs was closed, something his mother would never do unless she was in a hurry.  A memory from high school popped into his mind to make him laugh.  He’d come home late one night and tried to sneak downstairs to his basement room.  All of a sudden, his mother popped out from behind the door and thrust a freshly lit match in his face.  He blew it out while laughing.  Confused and amused at the inane behavior, he had more laughs when he discovered the rationale behind his mother’s thinking.  She’d read some drug pamphlet that said you could tell if someone was high on LSD by looking at their pupils.  The whole folly was her great plan to see his pupils and discover whether he was taking acid.  When slightly back in control, he told his mother he was drunk, and that anyone out on a dark night would have enlarged pupils because eyes become enlarged to let in as much light as they could.  Before heading downstairs to fall into bed, he told his mom the best way to find out if he was on acid was to simply ask him…at seventeen, he didn’t care what his mother knew, and the absurdity of her behavior was something he wanted to put an end to…if she’d do something that stupid to find out about his drug use, she was becoming dangerous.  Two years later, the continued insanity of his home forced him into his first apartment, a much easier life than living in a borderline nut house.  Four years after that, he was married and living in his wife’s aunt’s house…she was in a nursing home, but didn’t want her house sold until she passed away.  Zach saw it as another act of stupidity; they could have bought the house for $60,000 when they first moved in…eight years later, it sold for $170,000…the main reason for their separation and eventual divorce.

With the parents away, Zach helped himself to lunch.  Opening a cupboard to get a glass, he noticed several new prescription bottles.  Out of habit, he checked the labels and contents.  Bingo…one had ten milligram Valiums.  He popped some and put another ten in his pocket…the script was two months old and never touched…his parents weren’t the drug-taking type.  After lunch, he cleaned up and headed back to their High Park home.  By the time the bus came, the pills had started to kick in, and Zach felt great…he finished the work for a basic B.A. with an A average, and he had two weeks of summer left before he started his final year in September.  The merry bunch of pills in his stomach were now mixing with his bloodstream and sending party signals to his brain; he got off the streetcar three blocks from home and grabbed a bottle of vodka.  By the time he arrived home, his normal walking abilities were somewhat scrambled; not quite a full stagger, but definitely a little too much to the left, matched by a few errant steps to the right.  He was feeling the Valiums, and he felt somewhat blasted…too blasted to realize that mixing booze with the Valiums would soon put him outside the realm of normal behavior.

After four drinks, his wife arrived.  Now in a playful mood, he thought this would be a good time to play a few jokes.  Unfortunately, he’d watched the Shining last night, and it ran through his head…Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the deranged caretaker seemed like an easy act to imitate, and good for a few laughs.

While she was in the kitchen, Zach began repeating the news of his recent academic success, and added the lines all work and no play make jack a dull boy.  Something about the performance must have worked, as she soon ran upstairs.  Still thinking this was all a rousing good joke, he grabbed the large chef’s knife and began using it to help him crawl up the stairs, all the time repeating the Jack’s a good boy phrase and “Johnny’s here.”  When he reached the top, Susan darted by and headed out the door.  This reaction proved the joke was successful, and Zach returned to the kitchen for another drink…and a couple more Valiums.  Apart from a major struggle with gravity, the booze and pill combination seemed to give a good buzz.  Zach took the drink into the living room and gratefully secured himself in a solid chair and began to channel surf on the TV.

They had a duplex, and Zach heard a loud knock on his neighbor’s door and decided to have a peak.  Two policemen were there, talking to his neighbor.  This seemed like an interesting situation, so he opened the door and joined the conversation.  Once he started to talk, he realized his mistake: they were there to speak with him.  The overly protective and snotty British neighbors two houses down had insisted on calling the police over his impersonation of Jack Nicholson…explaining it away as a joke didn’t work out too well.  The police confiscated their expensive chef’s knife as evidence, and he was soon on his way to jail.  So much for the two-week vacation he was making plans for…until this got by the court system, his future was jail.

Although no physical contact was made, he was charged with domestic abuse; remanded until his preliminary court date, he was shipped off to the West Detention Center, a new jail he’d never experienced, with new rules of conduct he’d have to learn the hard way.

After a quick court appearance for bail, the instant denial meant he had to wait until the preliminary hearing, two weeks away…two weeks for a practical joke that went awry.  Instead of enjoying the last two weeks of sunny August at the cottage, he was in jail.  Zach knew the strict response was due to those overly uptight English neighbors.  The jail time came from his previous convictions, but not one of those convictions included any violent behavior.  For domestic abuse cases, all subjects were separated, and jail certainly made it a deliberate situation.  Two weeks wasn’t a long time, but any time in jail can sometimes produce complications that make every day a test of endurance, and a fight for survival.  Since this was the West End, he was heading into home ground for a far worse enemy…Bo.

Bo was the younger brother of his friend Stevie.  Stevie was a pal from his Drugstore Cowboy days, and a master at forging scripts who rarely got caught.  He was so exceptional, when he was caught by a convoluted comedy of errors, a dedicated Crown Attorney convinced a Judge that catching Stevie for a fake script was unlikely; he argued they should consider the hundreds of prescriptions they didn’t catch, and to sentence him accordingly.  After showing samples of real and fake scripts, the Crown showed the fake script from Stevie; even the inexperienced Judge could tell it looked more like the real scripts he’d seen, and accepted the Crown’s argument that hundreds of Stevie’s scripts were probably filed all over Toronto, and that his pen-work could be considered a dangerous tool that contributed to the raging problem of illegal pharmaceutical drugs all across Toronto.  Stevie got a deuce less for one prescription; the usual penalty was 30 days up to 6 months.

When Stevie got out he went back to passing his perfect looking scripts: what made his so special was the flamboyant and flowing signature he added…so perfect, they looked like the signer had years of signing his name behind him, hence the swirling loops and stylistic perfection that made them look so real.  While cashing one with my friend Wolf in tow, the pharmacist was probably spooked by Wolf’s six inch knife scar across his chin and tried to get the doctor on the phone.  It was after six o’clock, so there was no way to get the doctor to verify the script.  Wolf got so incensed he walked behind the counter, pushed the cowering pharmacist out of the way, and grabbed a bottle of Percodans and a jug of Novahistex D.H., then ran out of the store.  Stevie encouraged him by yelling “way to go Wolf,” a comment that would be repeated later to help identify Wolf in a court of law.  Wolf had grabbed exactly what they wanted: Wolf liked his Percodans, and Stevie liked his juice.  It was pitch dark out in November, and they headed down into a ravine behind the store and began to imbibe.  Wolf could easily count how many pills he was taking, but sipping narcotic cough syrup from a large 80-ounce bottle was impossible to get right.  The only way to measure would be by filling the large cap, but most of us would just eye-ball the level in the bottle and aim for four ounces.  The Hydrocodone content in the juice made four ounces a good and steady high, while twice that would have you staggering around…when you got up to around ten, you’re reaching that deadly overdose quantity.  Whatever happened to Stevie will never be known, but from Wolf’s story, they got separated, and when Wolf finally found him, he was laying face down in the pond…quite dead.  We all assumed Stevie took too much, couldn’t walk straight because he was nodding out on his feet, and happened to fall face down in the water and fell asleep.  Either way, everyone blamed Wolf for his death, as people thought he should have kept an eye on him; that’s the stone cold sober, light of day outlook, but reality added enough screw ups to make it just another regrettable drug overdose.  Stevie probably guzzled enough to send him near the edge, and I’m sure Wolf gobbled enough Percodan to put him in the same shape.  I once ate 23 Percodans in the back of a cop car to avoid possession charges, so I know what that many Perc’s can do to your normal five senses.  The fact that they were so stoned they got separated made me cut Wolf a little slack, but since I know the difference between a near overdose on both drugs, I think Wolf should have paid more attention to Stevie, as he was no doubt a stumbling, half-asleep, partially mobile wreck that was trying to shake of a near overdose.  They should have hid the drugs, written down the location, and took a cab to the nearest hospital.  Overdosing is an occupational hazard for all Drugstore Cowboys, but when one of us gets taken, we all analyze what went wrong, and if you had a partner there, the ultimate responsibility is on their shoulders…unless, of course, they’re in a hospital emergency ward or intensive care for an extended coma.  Everyone blamed Wolf…and since he was one of my best friends, Stevie’s brother Bo didn’t like me too much, and also tacked on a black-out consequence for which I was totally innocent.  He blamed me for getting pinched on some job he did months before…back when Stevie was still alive to drive him around and dump him on whatever babysitters he could find.

 

Bo wasn’t the best person to get high with; he either took too much or couldn’t handle what he did take.  That made him a mumbling, staggering burn-out that you couldn’t talk to that also had a tendency to break anything that was remotely fragile.  You basically had to keep a constant eye on him unless he passed out.  He also had a problem talking, if you could call incoherent mumbling communication.  It was this tendency to talk that got him busted for the hospital job that earned him 18-months in Cement City…the not so nice, over ninety-five year old Provincial Reformatory in Guelph, Ontario.  It was an old-fashioned jail with bars everywhere, poured cement walls and hallways, a self-contained linen factory that made all the socks and blankets for Ontario jails, various shops, a massive laundry for the three to four hundred inmates, plus an industrial sized kitchen that used over thirty inmates to peel, cook and wash dishes.

Guelph was a working jail, not like the more modern Brampton OCI, or Ontario Correctional Institute; OCI was considered a treatment center, with five different units that specialized in assorted psychological problems…drugs mostly, but they took in some real crazies.  Gratuitous violence would land you in the hole pending an immediate transfer…usually to Cement City.  Unit three was for both long-term offenders and child molesters…no one wanted to get stuck there, but some actually cool dudes were unlucky enough to live with the only jail-house life form lower than rats…diddlers and rapists.  The no violence restriction made them feel safe, and since they considered these guys bona fide nut cases, they took them in from all over the province unless they were also in for murder or extreme violence.

 

On my first and only significant jail term, OCI was used as a classification center; I was transferred there from the Don jail and for me, it looked like a hotel.  Good food, freedom to move around, and bullet-proof glass instead of bars.  They didn’t issue jail clothes, but gave you hand-me-down street clothes that were often the worst colors or designs I’d ever seen; with a lot of psychiatrists moving around, they tried to make it more like a hospital than a jail: carpeted hallways, enclosed areas with benches, and recreation facilities like a music room, gym, weight room, art class, automotive shop and other things that gave you a chance to do something productive with your time.  There were strict rules against fighting and other common offenses, but it had a certain ambiance that didn’t feel like jail; I wanted in.  Visits were in a nicely furnished visiting room with couches and tables, and dark enough to get in some serious action if you were lucky enough to have a girlfriend.  Fortunately, I had a weekly visit from whomever I’d been seeing on the outside, and quickly learned visits with no glass separating you was a perfect set up for smuggling in dope.  Near the end of the visit, we’d get into some hot and heavy embraces; I put whatever package down my pants with extra-sticky tape, and head into the search room with a huge boner…sometimes so excited I was dribbling that pre-sex discharge of semen, a large wet mark visible on the khaki colored pants I usually wore, an obvious male reaction the male guards patting you down avoided like a plague.  I had some packages so large, there was still a lump after little Willie deflated from lack of stimuli.

 

It was also an unwritten rule that after a visit with your girlfriend, you’d be allowed to visit the washroom as soon as you returned to your unit, just so you could relieve the pent-up arousal with your hand.  My girlfriend would wear outfits that gave you a boner just looking at her…hey, we were in jail, remember?  The smuggled drugs won me many good friends…and all of them abided by my rules to keep it cool and never take enough to start staggering.  I’d seen a guy do that in Mimico; after a 3-day pass, he brought in a package I only got to see, and not to sample.  I laughed when we went to dinner; rules were strict, and you had to sit beside the guy in front of you and so on.  Strom got so stoned he got up and started walking around the tables to talk to whoever he felt like…a definite no-no.  In under two minutes he was hauled off to the cooler, and that nifty little package he was proudly showing off got flushed by the guards and earned him 3 weeks of solitaire on restricted diet…the awful meatloaf sandwich that wasn’t even meat.

 

Anyway, my first impressions of OCI aside, I didn’t get to stay, I earned Cement City.  I’d been in the Don for five months, and the doctors there gave me 10 mg. of Valium every four hours and 100 mg. of Seconal at night.  When I saw the doctor at OCI, I was in full-blown benzo withdrawal, and I asked if I could get my valiums or even just a taper down dose.  They considered that request for drugs a sign that I didn’t want to give up drugs, so I wasn’t suitable for OCI.  Ironically, my benzo withdrawals were so bad I was shaking and had a B.P. of 180 over 120; I pleaded my cause for a legitimate case of withdrawals that were so bad it could be considered cruel and unusual punishment to make me go through them without any help whatsoever.  After five days, I was shaking so bad I had a melt-down in the normal looking cafeteria and got hauled off to the institution’s hospital.  My vitals were all over the chart, but they still didn’t associate my condition with the fifty milligrams of valium I’d been taking while in the Don.  Their doctor had left for the day,  so they sent me to the local hospital; out of the pure blue sky I encountered a considerate and humane doctor.  I told her my story about the high dose of Valium I’d been on for over 4-months, and she was speechless when I told her the jail refused to give me anything.  She came up with some believable anxiety/neurological condition, started me on a week-long taper down program, and kept me in Brampton General for a week.  No restraints, almost unlimited visits and half-decent food was a God-send; after seven days I returned to the jail, and she discharged me with a two 5-mg. per day prescription.  Because she was a real street doctor, they followed her instructions, and I was finally allowed to cut down to a manageable dose when it ran out.  Needless to say, this didn’t help my case to prove I deserved to serve my time in their treatment program.  I applied for later consideration, and finally got to serve the last 3-months of my sentence there…a place much closer for my visitors to reach.  After 2-months at Guelph, OCI was like getting out of real jail and getting a bed in some low-class hotel…then again, anything was better than Cement City.

 

Guelph was where Bo did his entire 18-month sentence, so whoever he tried to blame his bust on was someone Bo really wanted revenge on.  Ironically, that sentence turned Bo from a dead beat, mentally deranged kid into a hardened criminal; time in the weight room increased his size, and the lack of drugs finally allowed him to speak coherently.  He actually made friends while he was in there…friends he no doubt entertained with his great theory on how he got busted.

 

Someone talked.  Cops don’t just show up at your door a few months after the fact unless they found something that connected you, or someone gave them a name.  Unfortunately, Bo talked to just about everyone about his big score on the hospital, and any one of those people could have turned him in.  He scored a large supply of strong, injectible opiates like morphine, Leritine, Dilaudid, and Demerol: for some reason, he liked the Demerol, something I usually turn my nose on.  Maybe a week after his score, my late friend Stevie stopped at my place and asked if I’d look after him for a few hours; I got paid with a few hits of Leritine, so I thought how hard can it be…after an hour, I wished I’d held out for a better payment.  A couple of friends dropped by, along with some guys I didn’t know; always one to babble, Bo starts telling them all about his big score, the only thing he had to talk about.  Later on, when Bo was counting off the suspects who could have named names, he didn’t consider the people he told at my place, and focused on the people he knew.  After Stevie’s death, I think he wanted to believe Wolf gave him up, but truth be told, he looked up to Wolf, and knew he’d never rat on anyone.  I think the same thing worked for me, but after his jail sentence toughened him up, he began to remember the people he knew he told, but totally forgot he told anyone who’d listen exactly what he did.  I also recall someone I know that got pinched and then got bail, an outcome I knew was fishy as he’d already earn two fail to appears, and if you have that on your record, you never get bail.  Was he the rat?  Possibly, but I know almost a dozen people who fit, so I doubt anyone will ever really know…it’s not something people usually share or brag about.

Knowing all this and knowing Bo spent a lot of time in the West, I had my wife to worry about, and the possibility Bo had spread my name around like it was mud.  Like some unexpected bolt of lightening, what saved me was also something that almost earned me a severe beating.  I hung up the one inmate phone on the unit while the biggest, toughest and naturally lethal guy on the range was talking to his girlfriend.  In my defense, phones on the units were a new feature since I’d last been in jail, and I didn’t know the etiquette or phone rules.  I saw the receiver dangling off the hook, watched it for five minutes, and when no one seemed to be using it, I tried calling the only person who could get me out…my wife.

It was a short call.  I returned to the game of cards I was in and considered my options.  I didn’t get a chance.  All of a sudden, this totally ripped, tattoo-covered mountain of a man instantly silenced the whole range by asking “Who hung up the phone?”

Well, I’m always someone that owns up to my actions.  I timidly stuck up my hand, and quietly confessed.  I did the right thing and walked over…just in case he wanted to end my feeble existence.  He was mad.  Turning around, talking to himself, he kept repeating “You don’t hang up the receiver if it’s off the hook.”  I was expected a vicious shot in the head at any moment, but meekly explain I hadn’t been in for a while and phones were new to me, and I didn’t know he was using it…I pleaded for my life by admitting my stupidity.  He asked how long I’d been out and how long I’d previously done…when he asked about my history, I had a faint glimmer of hope that I might live through this.  I told him how long I’d served, told him the frigging, low-life Parole board turned me down (something I was sure he could relate to), and how I’d managed to avoid the cops for two years.  My life had stopped flashing before my eyes, as I saw he wasn’t some dumb pile of muscle, and was perhaps putting on a show to make sure everyone on the range knew he was the Alpha male…dispute at your own risk.  He was still turning in circles, but I wasn’t seeing a punch come flying out as he pivoted.  Then he asked me what I was in for: that’s when I hoped he had problems with women, as I wasn’t about to lie about anything.  I said domestic dispute, but nothing happened, I didn’t touch her, and my wife only called the cops because two dick-head neighbors told her what to do.  A few seconds passed, and then he broke out laughing.  He finally mentioned what a bunch of bitches they can turn out to be, then grasped my should in a bear-like grip and said, “Don’t worry about it…just don’t hang up the phone if the receiver is dangling…it usually means someone’s gone for a piss or something and they’ll be right back.  I assured him I would never do something like that again.  That was my first meeting with Karl.

 

The next time I spoke with Karl, he’d just come back from a visit and I just happened to be standing by the barred door.  He saw me, and said, “So you know Wayne?”  I was too speechless to think of who he was talking about, but desperately wanting to please him I agreed.  I later learned he was my good buddy Wayne Daly’s uncle Karl…the family bank robber and Federal inmate.  After that, I got invited into Karl’s kingdom.  He was going back and forth to court a lot, and he got me put in his cell, to “Watch his stuff.”  Every week, if you had money, inmates were allowed to make purchase orders: real cigarettes, cigars, soap, nice shampoo, baby powder, pop and chip…mostly anything that you could get in a variety store except anything that could be a weapon.  They did allow fingernail clippers.  When people knew they were getting out on bail, they gave all their stuff to Karl before they went to court.  That act of homage created a massive collection of just about anything you could use to make jail a more civilized experience.  Making friends with Karl was a fluke, and my fear of running into any of Bo’s friends disappeared, as no one messed with anyone Karl knew, especially his cell mate.  I got a visit from Wayne a week later as he was already there to see Karl, and asked if I’d met him.  I told him the story and listened as he filled me in on his uncle Karl and some of the stuff he got involved with…he didn’t need guns to scare people, but he liked pulling them out during a robbery, a hobby that landed him in the big house several times.

Life on the range was a breeze after I met Karl.  The wife and I had made up on the phone, and she apologized for putting me in jail, and blamed it on those meddling English neighbors.  They were the ones who called the cops, she was just sitting in their living room with a beer.  My court date arrived, the Crown withdrew the charges and mentioned a reconciliation, and the cops gave us back the chef knife.  I was soon back home, popping less Valiums, and enjoying a Screwdriver with a moderate amount of alcohol.  I gave up the Jack Nicholson impressions.

School started, I bought my books, and got ready to finish my fourth year.  About a month into school, a friend of mine showed up with the contents of a pharmacy he’d just robbed.  Well, it’s always been hard for me to say no to certain drugs, and he had all the ones I knew and loved.  After two weeks, I was semi-strung out, mostly craving the buzz I knew so well.  Incredibly, my future would again change, turning into a secret hell that not too many people could imagine.  I’d return to jail, and have a face to face meeting with Bo.

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Worlds Apart

Few great men are willing to admit what many have suspected for years.  Humanity has mistakenly created a broken system.  A system that becomes more locked in place as time progresses, for the massive, collective bureaucracy across the globe is firmly entrenched; we are too far along for radical new systems of rule, but we can perhaps build a colony that focuses on the needs of the individual.  It is unlikely a new society can form inside the old, making radical departures from human goals…such change will probably take years and space colonies to try new ideas.  Many agree there are things that need to change, yet that change is controlled by the special interest groups that control our modern world.  Some operate in secret, most just operate.  It’s basically fun to poke around with new ideas that often clash with human history or even reality

We say we value freedom, yet all are slaves to mortgages, banks and dead end jobs.  Many are creative, but sadly denied a chance to show their talent.  Some long for the wilderness, but the act of living there turns into a police chase for trespassing. People strive to be unique…to show their own style, but the very clothes they’re forced to buy makes that statement for them.  Many love to study the stars but must do so without the expensive technology we drool over and worship like gods.  People long for true love, but end up spending fortunes on lawyers in divorce settlements.  We yearn for truth, but are told a bedtime story…the many brave people who pushed against this are still missing.  The entire population is lied to, manipulated, told what to do, and the great majority likes that…it makes life easier for them to understand.  We all want to understand life, yet are firmly denied the tools to research, to study, or to explore.  We are told where we can go, but many believe that Acceptance or approval by the powers that be is needed to perform any significant action, behavior or ritual.  Society is addicted to technology when they should be embracing what we once knew in the past…a secret few know, many seek, but the answers have turned to dust.  Trust the rocks of time…they move for no man, but speak to all mankind. This is a universal message to life….free the soul, inherit eternal bliss.  Sadly, this message is too mixed up in pop-ups, sliders and mindless tweets.

This might not be some research paper on behavior abnormalities, but it’s a look at life with new eyes that takes into account what we dream about, and what mankind is truly capable of achieving.  Imagine if we quickly mastered spaceflight and were able to commercialize vessels and ships that could reach other galaxies, other worlds.  What if we created little UFO like discs that operate like the UFO phenomenon we hear about all the time.  Two-man ships with one hell of a propulsion system…isn’t that what they are saying?  If tiny two-man ships explore our world, they would have to be ultimately quick, have access to a wormhole, or be based on some forward operating colony that’s fairly close.  Perhaps those towers on Venus indicate life below the surface…just like the other rumors about building complexes on other moons and even our own moon.  Seems like the questions are close by, but we need to get off the planet to see the truth; the last time humanity tried, it took the massive Saturn Five rocket to blast a tin can into space.  We need something a little more advanced than a tin-can…one of those classic saucers with the bubble-top would do nicely.  If they really have small, two-person ships that are about 12-14 feet in diameter, they’ve got to have a main base near-by…doesn’t seem possible to travel everywhere in such a small vehicle, but if the technology is there, it could work.  Traveling vast distances might not be as hard as we imagine…there might be tricks to jump where you want to go, or propulsion systems that have limitless drives.  If you exceed light, which is a given in this imagining, the whole physics of energy, mass and speed might be some mixed up ball of forces that merely needs a governing force to focus it where it needs to go.

If we could turn our spaceships like we do cars, our entire world would change.  It could happen within ten years, if the right incentives were there; but, would the power brokers that rule our lives allow the common man to buy a spacecraft and start exploring the universe.

*

Currently, our only true freedom of choice is which brand of chicken soup to buy.  Strolling through mega-malls packed with commercial trinkets for our amusements must be compared with any alternative lifestyle…we’ve created a monster, and that beast won’t be changed overnight, but some sort of change must occur…before boredom and lack of challenge sinks our entire ship.  It seems once the needs of the many were provided by men, we immediately began our hierarchical system of human grading.  We have a system where we must acquire enough money to buy what is needed in life, told what those needs are by massive brand power and advertising, and then provided to us by relentless industry and our stifling systems of government and education; are we living our true destiny?  Humanity has created a cookie cutter system that enslaves people before they are ready to decide what they want from life, or what life has to offer.

Our system dictates that people live in little boxes next to other little boxes, and claims the right to live in that little box makes you a slave that must work 45 years to pay for that life, then wants you to pay for rooms in retirement homes until you’re ready to die.  We have a system that denies us the liberty to do what we want unless we have enough money to stay away from that system…the chance to wander where we want.  Whatever we want to do has been already considered by great minds in our society, and those minds place limits on how far we can go…what we can try,…things that are too dangerous…substances that must be denied and made illegal…and the most telling of all, what we are allowed to believe.  Many individual civil rights began in someone’s mind, but ended up in a courtroom before they were granted the privileged to voice those beliefs.  Has our great civilization descended into constant litigation to regain the freedoms that belonged to every human being before the march of progress turned everything into one sophisticated system that basically boils down legal arguments?  Technology is having an great impact on an industrial system that is fed by people who no longer remember the simple things that were erased and considered unproductive to our modern world.  The terrible 1984 vision of a dystopian system that watches everyone struggle for the soothing and simplicity of a time when we as free as the birds.  That nightmare has already been surpassed by an even greater system, and there was no one to stop it or change the direction of society into more meaningful and spiritual pursuits.  Then again, we’ve lived like this for thousands of years, and unless technology opens new doors to explore, we’re still stuck with the human problems that seem to be our lot in life.

Unfortunately, that is how we are born and raised, and we have little choice in the matter.  We don’t have alternative lives for the very nature of humanity’s progress seems linked with a communal system of hierarchical destiny; we’re born into wealth or poverty, and the gaps are growing daily.

People have reasoned out how a different world would work…a world of brotherhood and unity, trust and sharing.  Unlocking power from the natural world, propulsion, power, and infinite possibility would be the norm, discovery and reverence would become our faith.  Always mistrusting others would end, and a new sense of being would begin.  Together as a united species, humans could finally go where no one has gone, and we would go in peace.  We would be welcomed as brothers, not feared as savages.  If you’ve ever felt like there was more to life than what we see and hear, you’ve sensed the truth…a fact that permeates the past, the present and the future, as they can be one.  This great unknown in life will remain unknown until society coalesces and sheds its coats of greed, selfish isolation, and world view of war.

 

If this system didn’t incarcerate people into lives of predetermined careers or apprenticeships of slavery, an open system without mandatory rules and regulations would arise.  Great minds argued long ago that man needed guidance…a government of rules and laws that instructed him on what he could or could not do, for any open society would result in anarchy.  Some said there would be a great war of all against all; people would steal from each other without laws to obey and policemen to enforce them.  These are all great arguments for a structured system that tames the wild beast, but what happens when you finally have an educated society longing for freedom.  Individuals can be self-taught after a basic education when young; Wikipedia spits out the answer to any question, so why fill our minds with facts and data deemed important by some other great mind.

Allow a natural education to begin…knowledge of the world.  Like-minded souls find each other…magnets and iron.  The Maya and Inca possessed great understanding of the world, the hidden power hidden beneath their feet, and secrets for escaping gravity…how this happened is now unkempt and overgrown.  Perhaps there was a universal knowledge of the past, abilities of the extra, paranormal mind; ESP can control many things, if you know how, or are guided into an awareness of the truth that remains in all.  Mechanical systems with no moving parts are powerful devices that channel and contain; with no wear and tear, they can operate endlessly.  Unless the power is understood, is remains magic; certain people have evolved, their natural abilities enhanced, and they are tired of restrictive rules that are stifling the human race.

 

It’s time to open the door and get some fresh air…time to open the curtains and see the sunshine.

 

As the old and wise Solomon noted, life is vanity and striving after wind.

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Vaults of Perception

We are all products of our own minds, yet we collectively participate in our private existence; in one way or another, humans all live similar lives, as we all live in an identical world.  Many contributors to certain lifestyles all “eat, drink, and be merry,” enjoying whatever personal traits allow them to embrace and enjoy, live and let live.

 

Endlessly orbiting, a world of dynamically engaging beauty, Earth is one of the preferred destinations in our galaxy.  A consideration of imagination, this is the outlook humanity takes to the cosmic view-port; without a full understanding of who or what could be nearby, our civilization adopts the arrogance of annotation, providing the history and screenplay for a short evolution of ten thousand years, barely enough time to learn to write, yet we claim a privilege we assume is ours because we are too short sighted to see beyond our atmosphere and peer into the true animation of the universe.

 

Our planet teems with life, yet we assume that life stops beyond planet Earth and doesn’t fill the entire cosmos with life.  Understanding the underpinnings of reality appears to miss the mark when our entire population is involved; over ninety percent of humans think the world is Coca-cola and Campbell’s soup; their outlook is hampered by an introspection that focuses on what’s personal and private…stifling the enlightenment that other’s see as the basis for serenity and wisdom.  The life of understanding and enlightenment involves a deep understand of the building blocks of existence, and how the thought processes of the initiated function and find what is important; an emotional love of all life is the prescription for cosmic consciousness, a fact that sadly only touches a small percentage of human beings.  The predictions of the pundits agree that a radical reduction in our population is necessary, and that the human existence will only flourish if contained by a one-world government…a system of life that is adopted by everyone on our planet, and a system that could be universal.  Ironically, until such awareness is achieved, that wisdom is only imagination and conjecture.  We need the science and technology to examine and understand how life, matter, biology and the elemental nature of our world fits into the grand design of creation.

 

Until our species has the ability to answer these questions we will remain in the dark about the light that animates the rest of the universe.  If we continue using systems that enslave the many to enrich the few, nothing great will be accomplished.  If humanity devotes all its mental prowess towards how to gain monetary and commercial wealth, it will never break the mould and achieve higher consciousness.  Until the tarnish that blots out awareness is eradicated, the doors of our perception will remain shut, and even the light that escapes the framework is a void we cannot detect nor sense.

 

 

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Death of FEAR

Many life forms face extinction, and are often relocated to save the species; it doesn’t matter what they are or where they are taken…they only need a safe haven.  Earth’s oceans have saved alien life, as these unique life forms find the conditions they need to thrive, and the intelligent race that dominates the planet doesn’t know WHAT hides in its oceans.

Rescuing dwindling populations of any life form is a noble task; with many distant planets supporting ocean life, our abundant waters have saved many alien species from certain annihilation; once transferred from their homes, they find exactly what they need to live…oxygenated water, heat from deep ocean vents, seclusion, absence of predators, plus various food supplies–from bacteria to animal, Earth’s sea vibrate with life.  The extreme range of unknown and strange creatures in our fecund seas is so vast, it takes humans a long time to discover new creatures, and science sees that discovery as a new and unknown life form, and never an alien life.  Humans always employ Occam’s razor, making every explanation the most simplistic and easily explained.  Connecting a bizarre extremophile or unusual creature with dozens of Unidentified Submerged Object reports, (U.S.O.s), is a leap of logic frowned upon by humanity’s empirically based scientists.  Always taught that the easiest answer is likely the truth, people we rely on for advanced explanations have become blinded by this tendency to seek the obvious and ignore the extraordinary.  Accordingly, unusual lights/objects in our skies are dismissed as swamp gas, the planet Venus, and other, more down to Earth interpretations of the aerial phenomenons we call UFO sightings.

In some cases, it seems like the U.S. Air Force goes above and beyond to rationally supply reasons for incredible sightings in our skies that most open-minded people recognize HAVE to be intelligently controlled space craft from an unknown location; whether that craft originates from a nearby base or some distant galaxy if unimportant.  What matters is that many of these sightings can only be caused by a mechanical object that was constructed with superior materials and knowledge…a capability which relies on physics we know nothing about.  Yes, we really are that stupid.

Anyway, species that could be erased from existence unless given protection…might end up on Earth…advanced visitors could drop in and monitor the transplant, never be detected by the supposedly “superior” race on the planet, and easily match conditions on other worlds.  It’s also possible

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Chapter Three

A new sci-fi book, out soon, at the end…

Antarctica: a lost land hiding frozen secrets, and a mystery that endures the test of time.

Anchored in a small bay off Marie Byrd Land, HMS Deceptor tugged at its sea anchor and rolled with the backwash from surrounding glacial walls.  Re-fitted at Portsmouth, Deceptor’s large radar dish augmented the Sea Viper air-defense system and SAMPSON multi-function radar, adding capacity for scientific and military missions.  The S1850M-3D long-range air surveillance radar could track up to 1,000 supersonic targets simultaneously.  Outfitted for a long mission, the ship could stay on station and provide necessary support for whatever might turn up.  Given the unknown nature of Antarctica’s recently discovered tunnel systems, the echoes of previous expeditions suggested many mysterious possibilities, and proposed equally strange sources for the bizarre and ineffable tales that were now part of Antarctica’s inexplicable past.  The 1943 WW II British sailor’s description of “Polar Men” had astounded intelligence at the time, but when confirmed a decade ago by American sources, it became classified beyond Top Secret.  Recent events heightened previously suppressed information and supported theories that were both strange and incomprehensible.  Survivors of Atlantis or some antediluvian race might explain an unknown race’s existence, but everything was pure speculation.  Ultimately, the rendezvous with England’s satellite was the main part of the mission…the rest was left to chance and circumstance, in case Antarctica showed what it was hiding.

Deep in the bowels of the ship, Theo Darby hung up the phone and closed his losing game of Texas hold-em poker.  Walking over to his partner, Chuck Arrington, borrowed from his father’s complex computer lab, he saw him scribbling in a spiral-ring notebook.  Theo asked, “What’s that…your secret autobiography?”

Chuck looked up with a patient smile.  “Oh yea of little faith… oh sing on my muse… ignore these Earthly morons corrupting and interrupting the purity of purely inspired creativity.”

Theo snickered…Chuck was always good for a few quips and one-liners.  “Sorry to intrude upon such lofty thoughts, oh great one, but our masters with money require our services.”  Noting the extensive lines of small but neat handwriting Chuck created, his curiosity was piqued: “Seriously dude, I’ve been on the computer ever since our lives and the ship were acutely in peril.  What is that…are you apologizing for the endless lies you prayed while we were in jeopardy of sinking?  Reminds me of a movie where this 15-year old kid got a job with the Rolling Stone, and was on a plane with this supposedly famous band…the plane spiraled out of control, and the group started confessing all kinds of crap…admitted who slept with whose girlfriend and other juicy tidbits.  The magazine printed it all, but the band denied it and made him look like a lying fool.  So, what secrets are you sharing with the world?”

Chuck gave him a serious stare, squared his shoulders, and adopted an academic tone: “Anecdotes on life…some samples of proper English…you know commas, grammar, and correct diction…a few verbs here, some adjectives there…it’s called writing.”

Theo smiled and replied, “How supercilious…is that a journal or something?   Since when did the literary bug hit you…did that scary ride release the scribbler in you, or are you hoping to be some tabloid first page?”

Theo got a quick guffaw.  Still using his professorial voice, Chuck said, “A sentence can take many forms…many arrangements; but, it usually only has one meaning.  Therefore, I am sharing my vast wisdom with the world, something I will expound upon in my next blog.”

Theo broke out laughing.  Giving Chuck a mock serious look, he replied in his own huffy voice; “Pardon me, oh wise one, I forgot about those annoying posts you take such pride in.  The problem with saying anything clever on the Internet is worthless…people don’t assume you wrote the post…they know how easy it is to look up catchy aphorisms of old, paraphrase them, and use them as your own.”

Chuck put his hand across his heart and said, “They still call that plagiarism you know…I’m sure the word must have come up after you handed in a remotely intelligent paper.”

Still smiling, Theo said, “Oh, you wound me to the quick…do you hone your sarcasm, or does it just come naturally…anyway, Shears called and said we’re in position.  It’s time to get that tracking gear active and get Deceiver on the line.”

Looking at his watch, he said, “And be snappy my man, we only have fifteen minutes before the perfect line of sight.  We didn’t sail through hell so you could update your blog or see penguins.  Get the dish aligned, and start the tracking software.”  Theo turned and went back to his station.  He had the data to control the on-board cameras on a flash drive; he only needed to boot the program and let it do all the work.

While Chuck aimed the dish, he fished around for the small drive.  He’d lost enough to form one massive hard drive, and previously tried that excuse at Oxford to cover a missing paper.  His arrogant and highbrow professor chortled, deigning to share the school’s policy; “At Oxford, the birthplace of honest gentlemen and scholars alike, we have been forced to compile a list of the most bizarre excuses for missing papers.  My personal favorite was a bomb blew apart an apartment during the Blitz, destroying the student’s paper, or having a paper get mixed up with bills of lading, thereby placing it on a tramp steamer on its way to China.  I see our modern age had conspired once again to offer even more ludicrous excuses.  Over my long and august teaching career, I often dream that just once, in all honesty and good manners, a student would rise to the occasion and be open and honest enough to merely state, ‘I’m sorry professor, I do not have your paper.  Due to my heavy workload, I was not inclined to finish it on time.’”

Theo remembered that encounter like yesterday, and was upset because the truth didn’t work.  He should have listened to his room-mate and lied…saying it was on a laptop that got stolen…a trite but popular excuse that almost every professor heard multiple times.   When sharing the incident, his father gave him some sage advice: “When the truth is inadequate, embellish, and improvise…if you retain part of the truth, it’s not entirely a lie.  If you honestly believe it’s not a lie, it’s not a lie.  But never tell anyone you elaborated the circumstances.  In political circles, I’ve had exemplary liars hold my eye and lie to my face.  I already knew the truth; only one ever apologized, and I never believe anything he says anymore.  Whatever you do, don’t get caught in a lie—your credibility vanishes.”  Theo took that to heart, but would never tell anyone: no one would believe him anymore, a sad consequence for being honest and admitting you twisted the truth…to your advantage.  He found the drive behind his coffee, a substance he always kept carefully away from his expensive computer.  Coffee soaked keyboards stick and suck…he’d ruined quite a few.  Add an expensive built-in trackball, and value escalated, so accountants whined.  The innocent accident excuse doesn’t make accountants happy.

As Theo inserted the stick and opened the UNIX root—Chuck hopped from station to station, calling out, “Deceiver due in ten minutes…make sure that burst transmission is ready to go.”  Deceiver was their private name for the new IR-33 satellite, a marvel equipped with panchromatic, 8-band, multi-spectral cameras that could penetrate the continent’s icy crust using a mix of high-power wavelengths…microwave, infrared, and X-ray.  They took the name from ‘Great Deceiver,’ a song by their favorite Progressive Rock band, King Crimson.

The satellite’s cameras penetrated most obstructions, their images translated into visible colors.   Totally in love with high tech, Chuck doted over the English marvel, studying dense tech manuals, specification charts, and complex studies on the light spectrum and relative wavelengths.  Deceiver was worth the effort.  Beyond state-of-the-art, the 8-band sensors meant each field was narrowly separated to a specific area of the electromagnetic spectrum.  It showed the visible to near infrared and X-ray range…hence the awesome description for a panchromatic, multi-spectral, multi-spatial, Over-bird class of satellite.

Chuck hurried about the lab, flipping switches and turning knobs; the powerful radio antennae atop the ship’s fore superstructure swiveled almost straight up, ready to upload commands to the approaching satellite.  Several minutes later, the satellite was in position, ready to receive directions.

The computer established a two-way link and began processing instructions.  Invisible yet powerful command waves shot into space, activating the satellite’s multi-spectral cameras that would relay precise images at heretofore unknown resolution and accuracy.  Banging his elbow on a sharp corner, Chuck sat down to rub it and curse, his eyes glued to computer simulations that showed a real time picture of the satellite, the ship’s dish and Antarctica’s western slope.  Focused on his throbbing arm, he subconsciously noted a problem far overhead, but pain from the misnamed funny-bone distracted his normally watchful eyes.  A growing red line would soon change the entire mission.

Theo was in the zone: focused and sure of what he was doing, this was what he’d been trained for: adjusting aperture settings, wavelengths, GPS coordinates…all the necessary instructions for the precise cameras aboard Deceiver.  They would have an unprecedented peek under the ice and snow covering the east side of the Transarctic mountain range bisecting the continent.  It was a location of interest, according to his father, Steadman Darby.  Throughout Britain’s classified community, a suggestion by Darby was as good as an order; with an impeccable record, no one questioned his sources or motives.  Those winners were unsullied by failure…a tip from him was like a Royal decree.  As the Royal document examiner, his orders were treated as one and the same.  Darby uncovered more secrets than any archeologist in history, but many of his astounding discoveries were eventually relegated to Top Secret files…solved, but generally forgotten.  It was the part of Darby’s job he loathed; shedding light on ancient secrets was why he searched for the truth.  On the other hand, his sister, Acacia Darby, was England’s most popular gossip columnist and never wasted a good source.  She could read upside down as fast as right side up, a talent Darby discovered after a delicate affair was splashed across the nation’s gossip sheets.  If in his office atop the headquarters for the Farae Group, he quickly learned to hide anything if his sister dropped in.

The Farae Group were intellectual warriors and British counterpart to the covert branches of America’s blackest of black operational networks, including the NSA, CIA and the infamous MIB…Men in Black.  They were in charge of the massive complex left over from WW II; massive underground tunnels allowed them to manufacture during the war, and was now the hiding place of extraterrestrial technology that England had discovered just before the war broke out.  Too busy fighting the Germans, the UFO they found sat around, waiting for engineers to have a go at reverse engineering.  Above MI-5 & 6, the Top Secret nature of their mandate had them working with intelligence agencies around the world, trading secrets, and answering only to the Crown and top echelon of the government.  Traditionally, they overtly shared information–covertly, America had rogue outfits that answered to no one, and believed themselves to be above regulations, standard operating procedures, and basic morality.  Many rival agencies did not like to do business with them, but the ultra Top Secret nature of their mandate had them maintain Earth in a new universal understanding; establishing our inter-stellar role included knowledge and technology far beyond what is routinely believed and discussed.    Their enemies simply disappeared, and they were always miles away from the scene…their operatives so dedicated death before dishonor was a slogan they lived by on a daily basis.  Darby’s group upheld political decorum, and always felt working with their rival agencies was like working with the devil…they also kept their secrets close to their vests…they knew all about America’s penchant for secrets and kept their own counsel.  Their attitude to the U.S. was trust, but always cut the deck.

High above the Machiavellian nature of human affairs, noiselessly coasting in the cold emptiness of space, the IR-33 satellite clicked and whirled silently as it received commands; high-resolution cameras focused on specific areas and began snapping photos.

Theo’s receiving link turned green and they began downloading sharp photos that provided a slice of the area like some hospital MRI.  The bedrock was clearly visible despite the mile-thick sheet of ice over top.  Sipping horrible coffee, he wished he’d brought a private stash from his uncle’s gourmet collection; when constantly swilling a brew for energy, taste mattered.

Transfixed by the new data, he imagined the continent millions of years ago, back in Pleistocene or earlier periods.  His uncle Darby suggested early Antarctica was the source of many ancient civilizations previously counted as myth…people he believed moved to South America, a warmer climate after ice covered Antarctica.  He bolstered the “Out of Africa” theory of early man with the notion Antarctica produced its own form of hominids.  The continent’s large size and isolated nature conspired to keep early civilizations remote and secret…creating a society that exceeded other populations in technology and learning.  When iced over, he theorized some left, yet some went down…deep within the continent’s core, living near geothermal hot springs and within an ecology we are unaware of to this date.  This idea was bolstered when the great explorer admiral Byrd landed on an exposed lake to take a temperature reading: 37-degrees…Celsius.  Darby theorized that warm water was part of a buried system of lakes in a separate and unknown ecosystem. Theo had always been torn between following his famous uncle into archaeology and history, or pursuing his love of cutting-edge technology: his solution was easy: study both.

Now receiving telemetry from the satellite, the ship gently rolled in a protected patch of sea between an ice-pack and the coast.  Overhead, the vacuum of space was beset with invisible fields of force; some known, others scientific mysteries.  One of those lines of force was gravity; it anchored satellites, moved planets, and pitched soft-balls of destruction: meteorites.  One of those rocky balls was now speeding towards Earth, its chance trajectory slamming it into the newly launched IR-33, causing a fatal spin.  The broadcast faltered and waned; the ship’s powerful radio commands now blanketed vacant space, their fortuitous wavelength awakening a sleeping sentinel that had watched over our planet for millennia.

Initially unaware of the death in space, Theo happily viewed the images from space until the monitors suddenly flickered and died.  Checking the signal receiver, it blinked from green to red.  Perplexed, he checked the computer generated image based on the ships radar; it had showed the satellite, the ship and their position near the continent; staring at a rapidly changing image, he watched the satellite tumble off-course, heading for the lower exosphere in a burn-out trajectory.  Replaying the last few moments, he saw a red line streaking in from deep space, ending as it touched the satellite.  Something from space impacted their satellite, sending it spiraling into a fiery crash with our atmosphere.

Watching the replay again, Theo initially wondered if this was some satellite-killing technology, but the visual display clearly showed the incoming red line lead back into space.  It was a meteorite.  He yelled out for Chuck.  Still watching his station, the satellite link inexplicably turned green again.  Their radar signals latched on to something.  Chuck appeared, and leaned over his shoulder.

Theo told him what happened, but while they stared at the monitor, a patchwork of disjointed colors danced across the screen, fighting to form an image.  Chuck said, “Are you sure our bird is totally dead?”  Theo nodded and replayed the computer animation for him.  Chuck shook his head and said, “Then what the hell is sending that download?”  Watching the computer generated, real-time image, it showed the ship, the land, but empty space above them.  Their signal only covered a 100-mile circle over their head.  Playback clearly showed the IR-33 disintegrating into nothingness as it hit the atmosphere.  Chuck stammered, “If it’s not our bird, and a satellite is sending this, it must have total stealth capability…maybe it’s some secret American bird.”

Theo opened a classified satellite scheduling program and checked to see if any nation had something in orbit: nothing.  Picking up his iridium satellite phone, he plugged into another satellite network and called a restricted number.  He got NORAD on the line.  After a few moments of explaining who he was and why he needed to speak to a commanding officer, he was put through.  A Captain Milford answered.  Theo told him his name and his position with the British navy.  The Captain casually asked, “Any relation to Sir Darby?”

Theo smiled and said, “Yes sir…he’s my dad.”

That seemed to sit well with Captain Milford, who was instantly more enthusiastic and helpful; once he understood why Theo was calling, the Captain said he would check the global tracking board and see what was over Antarctica.  A minute later, he came back, and told Theo they had nothing over the South Pole.  Theo detected a different attitude and tone from the Captain, thanked him and promised he would say hi to his dad.

Theo looked at Chuck.  “According to NORAD, no one has anything in the area.  The nearest bird is 200 miles away.”  Chuck frowned, and chewed on his pencil.  Theo added, “It was funny though…the guy was really friendly and upbeat at first…he asked about dad, but when he got back on he seemed different…curt and all business…much less friendly…like he was suddenly in a hurry to go.”

Chuck shrugged, and said, “I don’t trust those guys…he could have been CIA, MIB, NSA, DEA or some other alphabetical association, all knee-deep in secrets, and wouldn’t share the time of day with a Brit.  You said Captain Milford?  I’d write that down…it would be a good idea to find out who he really is, or why he was at NORAD.  Once they shut up, getting information is a nightmare…they toss you around the system, and before you know it, you’re talking to the NYPD.  They’re acronym happy over there, instead of saying bomb, they say IED.  I just find it totally weird…think about it, on top of all the government triplets, they reduce anything they can to point form.  Theo said, “Yeah, that’s the old colony for you.  Anyway, I had the distinct impression he knew a lot more when he got back on the line than he was willing share.  Let’s see what we can find on our own…and see if we can tighten all radio signals…Laser burst only…with their global paranoia, I bet we raised a red flag and they’re probably snooping on us as we speak.”

Scowling at the computer screen, Chuck said, “I hear you…we don’t need Men in Black showing up, or MIB in Americanese.  They are  bad news, and have a tendency to take over anything they deem too important to share with the world.”

Both their instincts were dead on.  Back at NORAD, Theo’s call had kicked up a small hornet’s nest. Mentioning his father’s name got more results than he could have anticipated.  There was a U.S. spy satellite less than two hundred miles away, and Captain Milford had typed in over-ride commands to turn it south.  Nothing on low-band, but when he tightened the emissions to extreme high frequencies, he got a hit.  Using the specialized cameras aboard, he took several shots over Antarctica.  When he saw what they were inquiring about, he put a team on capturing every radio transmission in the area, and was flabbergasted that Black Knight was transmitting to the British ship.  As soon as he heard the name Darby, he knew something interesting was going on…that guy had solved more mysteries than Perry Mason.  Quickly placing a call to Langley, Virginia, Milford was soon speaking with an equally startled Deputy Director of the CIA, Mark Thornton.  The British had somehow achieved something they’d been trying to do for decades…activating Black Knight.  After talking to Thornton, Milford headed down to data acquisition to see what else they might have picked up.

Theo adjusted the radio receiver, and as they both stared in disbelief, the feed morphed into shapes and forms that became recognizable images…similar to Deceiver’s first shots, but with way more definition and from a different angle.  Whatever wavelength made them created masterpieces of color, well beyond the IR-33’s range.  And, instead of square pixels, small triangles were coalescing, producing precise shots that showed the continent’s core and stratified layers of rock forming the Transarctic foothills.  Theo heard a crunch as Chuck bit through his pencil, and added, “No way…this is wild.”  They both watched in shock as something even stranger flashed by…a buried pyramid of incredible precision.

Theo stared in shock, his hand frozen in mid-air reaching for his coffee.  Chuck bit another piece off his pencil.  Theo warned him about lead poisoning, but they were too shocked to trade barbs.  Dragging the image to another screen, he studied the screen, and recognized it as a Sierpinski triangle…mathematically perfect, it was a marvel of architectural skill…probably built eons ago and buried by millennia of compacted snow and thick glaciers.  Pointing this out to Chuck, he added, “Most known finds are architecturally correct but fatter…step pyramids or truncated stumps.  This is geometrically perfect…perhaps the model later pyramids were based on.  It was suggested the unknown architect for these buildings traveled around the world, as many similarities abound; the Pyramid of the Sun at Copan, and the Indonesian structures around Anchor Wat are too identical to suppose random construction.  Oh man, my father is going to go ape-shit.  We need to get this to him right away.”  Chuck nodded mutely…totally absorbed the picture perfect image, his brain trying to wrap around what they were seeing.

The photos were ten-times the pixel quality they were used to seeing.  Chuck pointed to the spectroscopy scope; Deceiver’s original pictures compared to the current feed; a flat line beside wide, lazy loops.  The IR-33’s shots were like blurry Polaroid’s in comparison.  Chuck summed up their feelings, saying, “Holy shit.”  Running around the lab like a jackrabbit, he started checking other instruments that helped them scan space amid the over-crowded NASA junk.  Theo could hear Chuck offering various observations in his wake: “No way…shit…and unbelievable.”  Sitting down at the other Internet-linked station, Theo could hear him typing in various commands.  Theo continued to watch the new feed; whatever was taking these shots used hyper-frequency waves…infrared and above, then converted them to reach the ship’s dish.  It somehow knew how to code its responses to match their equipment—weird.

Chuck finished typing; moments later, he walked over to Theo, a serious look on his face.  His words were slow and deliberate: “This might sound like X-file stuff, but I think I know why the Americans might have acted strangely.  We somehow cracked that ancient satellite no one admits is up there called the Black Knight.  It’s the only thing that fits.  Remember the legends of a 13,000 year old satellite they found in the 50’s…after the Russians launched Sputnik?  U.S. Space Command thought they launched two, but after further research, they realized there was no way they could have put something that big into orbit.  I think Grumman did some calculations for proof, but after that, the door was shut, windows boarded over, and conspiracy people have been camped out on the lawn ever since.  I think we scored a direct hit on the MUFON target range.  We should give them a call…if not, those MIB door slammers will shut us in and slap a padlock on the door.  Wanna get famous?”

Chuck gave Theo a long stare, and said, “This has been a mystery since its discovery, and would force us to re-write history.  Anyway, after later images from the Shuttle and other space missions, they clamped a lid on it all, as they think this is an ancient satellite of unknown origin and age.  This was supposed to emit faint low-level radio waves…the basis for the radio transmissions Nicolas Tesla claimed to receive—I think amateur HAM operators also claimed to receive weird transmissions.  There’s leaked NASA photos on the web, and the Black Knight looks totally alien, totally black like a stealth aircraft, and has unknown capabilities.  The black is considered a solar receiver, and there’s wings it spreads to get a major charge.  This is huge…we’re in contact with an alien satellite.  No kidding buddy, we might very well get a visit from those MIB.  You remember the stories…they apparently appear out of nowhere…precisely where they want to be.  White skin, red lips…emotionless drones…many think they’re aliens themselves.  I’d dare them to show up on Detector, as Shears has that tough bunch of SAS dudes on board, and I think they’d toss their sorry asses over the side into the freezing drink…this is sovereign British territory.”

Theo frowned at Chuck and then nodded, deep in thought.  He knew the legend.  He also knew they were staring at definite proof—the images they received were beyond anything current technology could create.  Considering the sequence of events, the extremely powerful radio dish might have accidentally sent the right binary commands to activate this thing.  He ran through it one more time: they were in contact with their bird with strong, powerful narrow band transmissions…their bird got knocked out…if this legendary satellite had been near enough to pick up their commands, the alien bird would receive them, process them, and do exactly what they were witnessing…awesome pictures of the mountain range.  Black Knight was rumored to be in a Polar Orbit, and they were receiving incredible data.  This was crazy, but it might be real.  Sherlock Holmes once said: “After eliminating all clues, whatever’s left, no matter how crazy it might seem, has to be the answer.”  A good answer from a distinguished Englishman…the master of mystery, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle…thank you Mr. Doyle, thought Theo, it all adds up here.

He looked at Chuck and said, “Right on…if Black Knight responded to our commands, it must have activated cameras and sensors on board, and is showing us exactly what we asked for.  This is nuts, but it’s also the only explanation.  It can read our binary code.  NORAD confirmed there was nothing they knew of around here, but I’m starting to think you were right.  We can’t trust them.  If that’s got stealth technology, it would remain invisible to radar, but would show up if someone took a picture with a camera.  I think we’d better get Captain Shears down here; time for official navy B.S.  We’re a British warship, and this is our find…those MIB assholes don’t know Shears…he lives for this stuff.  My uncle will also flip when he sees what we found; he suspected there was something under the ice, but finding a huge pyramid complex is beyond imagination, and above suspicion.  Anyway, no one tells him what to do…I think the Queen might, but I’m not so sure.”

Chuck gave him a lopsided grin and said, “Yeah, I think this would qualify as something the big boys would want pour over and examine, but I bet when they get involved, this will never have happened.  It’ll become one of those ‘non-events’ that get shoved under the rug.  It will get that Top Secret rubber stamp, and no one will discover this amazing piece of human history.”

Theo nodded, deep in thought—he stood up and began rubbing his hands together like an wicked scientist.  “That’s why,” he said with an evil grin, “we’re going to record everything we’ve received from this new bird before we call him.  If we have the evidence, leak it over the Internet, the entire world will realize our history is more complicated than what they now teach.  Darby believes the truth should be shared, but he knows a lot of truth, and said some things need to be kept secret.  But…as Black Knight revolves around Earth, and many already know about it, this might get shared, and tell the world about certain things are not in our general historical timeline.  Amateur astronomers have followed this since the fifties, and the answers they’d collected would satisfy a curious public.  I’m going to upload this to my uncle’s private network…he’s got firewalls so thick a nuke would backfire.  And…since that bird recognizes our binary commands, I’m going to try and trigger a massive download.”  He gave Chuck a big wink.  Now hunched over his keyboard, typing furiously on his keyboard, Darby winked and smiled, his eyes blazing with determined intensity; “Oh Great Deceivers up above, what have you been hiding?”  He paused and added, “I think there’s some interference jamming the phones, if you know what I mean.”

Realizing the importance of their evidence, they both got busy and made duplicate files of everything.  After triggering an information download, he wondered what the 3.2 Terabytes might contain…images of Earth as it was ten thousand years ago.  Theo moved the computer imaging data to portable hard drives; small enough to conceal in a pocket, with a capacity to store over five Terabytes of data.  Once the data was duplicated, Theo called Shears.  Looking at the monitor’s crisp and startling images, Theo knew his uncle Darby would be enthusiastic with this level of proof…this was better than a smoking gun…this was the gun, the smoke, and the bullet.

© Dana Fitzgerald, IdEgo Creations, Burnaby, B.C.

artidan007@hotmail.com  (604) 436-3579

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Music is always changing–much of that change is due to revolutionary new technology to expand personal equipment.  Instruments dictate what you can play.  The electric guitar brought us sustained feedback…Hendrix-style string-bending, and stretched notes that linger and sigh.  Santana made his guitar cry, sigh or scream.  Drum sets now give a double bass punch to a single bass, thanks to the double pedal.  Setting up two bass drums is a hassle, and moving them from gig to gig was hard work.  Many drummers use home kits and road kits…the road version stripped down to the absolute bare necessities.

Drummers avoided overly-large drum kits, as they take up space and are heavy to move.  Unless you’re in a popular band with tons of roadies, set up, break-down and moving were up to the owner.  A double pedal revolutionized modern music by allowing double bass fills with a single drum…thanks to a double beat pedal.  It was invented much earlier, but the mechanics were terrible, and having two drums with top notch pedals gave you more freedom and better sound.  Ginger Baker owned them; his huge sound, and thrumming beats combined his talent with his kit.  His style is unique and historically captured forever.  Dave Weckl is a modern master drummer that hits every nuance his personalized kit can give…the buzz and punch send his sound above and through his work, and will remain a standard for drummers to reach.

With the advent of the double-bass pedal, drummers achieve the same sound as a double bass without lugging around that extra drum.  Drummers such as Gavin Harrison, for example, use the double bass drum to help fill in an old rudiment, giving it a modern pulse and feel.  Adding five-stroke rolls with bass drums, or two bass drum beats before a para-diddle/rat-a-tat, adds extra punch and blurpy riffs to songs like Bonnie the Cat by Porcupine Tree. Heavy metal drummers always enjoyed the power of a  double bass, and that double bass beat was mandatory to drive metal’s heavy punch, accentuate bass riffs and punch out songs with the blurp of a double bass.  The steady quarter-note beat of two bass drums pounding into your soul made metal forceful with a steady beat.

As a new generation of drummers learn with a double bass pedal, their styles revolve around that extra whammy…creating standard rudiments that become second nature while learning.  It’s like learning to juggle very young, building muscle memory and special styles only twin bass drums can add.  Older drummers sometimes have problems learning this new skill; a great jazz/rock drummer, Charlie Watts had trouble learning the cowbell beat in Honky Tonk Woman, while other classically trained drummers couldn’t master the quarter-note high-hat ride and half-note snare accents particular to disco.  It’s not easy to teach an old dog new tricks, especially when you’ve played a certain style your entire career.  Muscle memory demands certain actions; great and awesome for what they’re used to, switching out or playing left notes with your right hand can be challenging.  Through the 70’s, drummers used the right foot on the bass, the left on the hi-hat; altering to play R/L hand rudiments with your feet is troublesome.  A sword master using a broad sword for thirty years could have trouble switching to the Japanese Samurai’s technique with Katana long-blade swords.

For drummers that are great with their hands and feet on a standard set, integrating co-ordination and independence means practice…repetitive motions that are burned into your mind/muscles.  Drummers instinctively choose the way they hold their sticks for greater control…the military grip over the matched grip.  Buddy Rich was a master of the military grip…balancing a stick between the middle and index finger and using the wrist/thumb to control one-handed rolls.  A favorite with jazz drummers, rock drummers favored the matched grip…just holding them like a knife or gripping them with the whole hand.  Some consider the loose match grip as a means of delivering more power, but it’s entirely up the the artist.  The military grip gives more precise control over the left stick, notably for rolls and accents.  There was only one Buddy Rich, but how you hold the sticks is less important than the sound you coax out of the drum.  The tricks and sounds Buddy coaxed out of his drums was singular and unique; no one can play what he played, but much of that was his style…something worked out over endless practice time, and a style that would be hard to change…tossing in a double bass wasn’t necessary, but he had such talent it would have become another tool to give his technique flair and pizzazz beyond anything routine.  He had rhythm to burn.

Counting with your feet and your hands is a must for the progressive metal drummer, and mastering this style of playing is a must for providing a modern thump to a snappy song.  A standard drum fill could be “RL (bass) RLRRLL (snare/tom), or vice versa.  This punctuated fills and cross-overs with a thundering blurp that is short, catchy and musically attractive.  John Bonham perfected the RL snare and R bass note roll at extremely high speed, one of the many fills he was famous for; his bass drum foot was fast, but a double-pedal could have produced more trademark riffs young drummers study and emulate.  Perhaps holographic drums are the future, but the modern kit is punchy and able to pound a rhythm that almost seems super-human.

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Life Spirit Religion

Those three words are probably the reason for many sleepless nights and caused a lot of bloodshed.  If you want a good life, create a strong spirit, and study religion without taking someone else’s advice or opinion.  Read, search you heart, and decide your own future and make you own morals based on what you’ve learned by reading the Bible.  After so many people made money off the word of God, it’s hard to trust those people with absolute advice; finding the truth will be more rewarding, for you are asking God for an answer, and with an open heart, He will speak to you directly.  Once God has helped you see the truth, His spirit will burn in your heart, and you will feel the truth…what really matters and what you can do to increase and help that feeling.

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