Happy Independence Day!

Photo: The American Flag of the United States ...

Mostly happy, anyway.

For us, things’ll be a little … quieter than usual.

My wife and kids love fireworks.  Me, I can do without ‘em.  They mean crowds, jerks, noise, stench and lack of ability to enjoy myself.  Most of the time, this isn’t a problem – last year, for instance, it was easy enough to just sit on a blanket in an area which wasn’t too crowded and watch people trickle in.  The kids did their best to be patient waiting for the show.  And there’s always the jackass who can’t turn off his headlights when he’s gathering his crap from the car so everyone’s shielding their eyes, yelling at him to turn off the lights, they can’t see.  That last chump is sure to show up twenty minutes in to a forty-five minute show.  And he’ll want to leave early too, crowing to his wife while they waddle with arms full of chairs, blankets, thermoses, sunscreen, and beach totes made of flexible straw, about how smart they were to wait for traffic to die down before they showed up, and how smart they are to leave before rush for the road.  He’ll pronounce it rudd, too.  And he’ll lift the straw panama hat from his gleaming pate combed over with three mouse-gray hairs and chuckle while he scratches his shining scalp.  Every step is more of a side-to-side shuffle, with his legs swinging in front of him to provide locomotion, and when his elephantine ankles and flip-flop clad duck-wide feet strike the ground his thick, meaty jowls will tumble and churn.

Then there’s the old guy, the one who was old when Montezuma was a child, who sits in a banded nylon lawn chair wrapped in a woolen blanket shot through with moth holes and cigarette burns; the fringe hangs off the ends in dreadlock dusty frays like tattered old rope.  He’s got a ratty old baseball cap on, with unidentifiable logos from some forgotten company extinct before Tyrannosaurus roamed the Earth.  His pencil thin ankles vanish into battered canvas sneakers the color of dust bunnies, spindly and riddled with spider veins and scrawling hooked white hairs.  He’s dragging an apparatus with him, an oxygen tank on wheels, and there’s an unfiltered cigarette hanging from between the gnarled twigs of two knobby, nicotine-stained fingers.  He goes into long, spastic fits of coughing which cause his entire torso to lock, and the duration of the lock determines the duration of the cough.  The conversation of his fellow trailer-trash dwellers – family of some extended variety or other, of varying and declining degrees of inbred hickitude – have learned to speak around his coughs.  They start a sentence and pause while his gives a long, drawn-out spasm – haaaaaaackhackhackhckchck!! – then resume the sentence for another couple of words while he’s gulping in wheezing gasps of air, clutching at his chicken-waddled neck with arthritic, bent fingers, before launching an even longer spastic fit – haaaaaaaaaaaaaackhaaaackhaaaackhaackhackhackhckhck!! – then they go back to their conversation again while the cycle continues.  Eventually the wafting cobwebs of hair on his liver-spotted head stop waving with the effort, and there’s a huge guttural snorting hock, then a wad of yellowish-green pus-like matter flies into the ever-growing pile beside him.  A few gulps on the oxygen mask, light another smoke, and back to the sparklies.  They ask him questions, his spawn and kin – “Yew aw raht thar, gran-da?” – and the scarecrow mutters in a surprisingly deep rumble with a stiff-necked nod.

Then the morons who think it’s all right to set off their own fireworks …  you know, right there on the lawn where you and about eighty other families are watching the fireworks show.  There’s the sulfuric stink of the fuse, the hissing whiz as the little cardboard stump bursts into yellow, green or magenta sparks and flames, spewing blue smoke like a Wisconsin Chevy, and the amused and amazed laughter of the brain-dead.  A couple of minutes later, while the bombs are still bursting in air, and without dropping either the can of Budweiser from their hand or the Marlboro from their lips, another one goes off, this time flying over the parking lot – and all the dozens and dozens of cars parked there – and pops into a billion shards of hot cinder which rain down on your clear coat and open sunroofs to light gently on your leather upholstery.  The cackle of the uneducated and unthinking, and someone will eventually cry out “OUCH!  Day-um!  I’m bernt!”


So, you can imagine my deep, stabbing disappointment to discover this year’s festivities have been canceled due to lack of funds.

Maybe next year.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend, everyone.


All original content copyright DarcKnyt, 2009
ALL Rights Reserved



National Mentoring Month logo, designed by Mil...

When I was young, I had a friend who spent a lot of time teaching me the fine art of being a boy.  As we grew older, he taught me more about being a man.  The problem was, he lived a long way away from us and I hardly ever saw him.  My father wasn’t the best source of that kind of information, though I’m sure I must have gleaned something from him too.  So, I had few if any strong male role models in my life.

As I look at my son, I realize I’m a lot more like my father than my friend.  I have no idea how to teach a young boy to be a man.  I don’t know if I even know what that is.  I have to try and figure out how to teach him about honor, honesty, caring, balance, responsibility, and myriad other topics about which I know diddly-squat.  So he’s already starting out with a strike or two against him.

As I continue to wish upon a star for a miracle to salvage my “career” situation, I realize I still, even to this day, seek a mentoring relationship with people for whom I work.  I’ve done it almost everywhere – almost – I’ve ever worked.  I hope that somehow one of them will take me under their wing and teach me the “ropes” of … something.  Anything.  But the fact is, I’m not a young lad anymore who someone wants under their wing, and the idea of doing that with a man fast approaching middle age probably creeps people out.  Then I can’t figure out why I don’t get job offers.  Heh.

I guess all my life I’ve wanted a mentor.  Someone who would not just work with me and give me instructions, but teach me, show me something – a trade, a craft, the way the job should be done – and become that missing role model in my life.  The world is harsh and expects us to stand on our own two feet even if we’re not shown how to do that.  It’s like swimming in many respects – no one cares how you learned to get across the pool, only that you did.  If you don’t know how to do that no one cares whether or not you drown.  And being taught to do it right saves a lot of energy, time, and lives.  It certainly would’ve saved mine.

But I don’t know if anyone gets mentored anymore.  Does an old vet in some industry, craft or trade take a young buck and teach him the right way, the wrong way, the best way?  Is there anyone out there doing that, going through things day by day, step by step, making sure the protégé gets it, is able to do it, and can be turned loose into the field without fear of embarrassment, harm or failure?  Does that ever happen anymore?  Are apprentices treated that way?  Is there a bond, a friendship or paternal (or I suppose maternal, depending on what we’re talking about) relationship forged between the two, or is it just two guys working together and that’s it?

I’ve never known.  I’ve always wanted to.

What about you?  Did you have good, solid role models in your life to guide you, steer you the right way, make you straight and true as you fly through life?


Where Do You Come From?

Barbed wire

A post borrowed from my new friend and blog bud mapelba.  I thought it was an awesome blog post, so I figured I’d respond by doing my version of the topic.  This isn’t HER post — it’s my answer to hers.  Pay her a visit if you haven’t yet; you won’t be sorry.


I come from suburbs full of hypocrisy and old mafia ties degraded to an embarrassing point.  From a mother who lived her life in the bottom of a bottle and father who managed to sire children despite lacking testicles or a spine.  I come from a place of lake visits, Spanish moss and gravel and cool nights lulled by lapping waves and calling nocturnal birds.  From a place where children are seen and not heard, and where being heard is dealt with by fist and flying leather.  From a place where I’m told I’m stupid daily, will never amount to anything, will never be anything but a failure.  I come from a place where neighbors whisper behind their hands and you’re the weird kid, threatened by adults too cowardly to threaten your father and where your father hears of the threats and does nothing.  I come from a place where it was still all right to spank the kids in school, where teachers could raise their hand to their students to keep them in line, and it wasn’t illegal or abusive or considered in poor taste.  I come from hot delta winds howling day in, day out, whipping dried ragweed and grasses yellowed by dry, long summers.  I come from where winter means rain and green hills, where cows lowed in the hillside, where the rolling seismic mountains tumbled down to the Standard Oil refinery tanks laid out in rows at the end of a gravel drive.  I come from where barbed wire fences strung between leaning posts lace around the dying farms and ranches, fast fading as the world moves on and leaves the sleepy bedroom community behind.

I come from a family of weirdos allergic to alcohol who won’t stop drinking, from a family of people I met once, maybe twice before they died, whose names I can’t remember anymore.  I come from a place where guilt is used as a guidance mechanism and control mechanism.  I come from where hard times and stress means parents physically accosting one another.  I come from where your mother asks you to hit your father over the head with something heavy so he’ll stop holding her down, then she’ll get a knife and finish the job.  I come from a place where she pulls you around the corner of the house, away from your play in the backyard to tell you she’s going to commit suicide and to remember she loves you.  I come from a place where nothing is safe, no mood is happy because even when it is it could sour at a moment’s notice.  I come from a place of learning to recede into the background, trying to blend into the furniture, the walls, the crowd, the corner.  I come from a place where no one seems to understand why you’re not a social butterfly, why you’re not more outgoing, why you’re so shy.

I come from a place where books are the only escape, or drawing pictures.  I come from a place where loud music means drunken fighting again, where slurred speech is the norm, where lazy eyes and malicious glares are the expressions you’re most familiar with.  I come from a place where it’s not allowed for me to have friends visit, because that requires sobriety and by the time school was out it was anyone’s guess whether sober was true or not.  I come from a place where my imagination is the only haven, where lying is a way of life, a means of protection and a thing learned by example.  I come from a place where waking up to blood-spattered walls, floors and doors meant something happened while I slept and I didn’t necessarily want to know what it is, but my parents are gone and I’m in charge again, responsible until they get back, and I’m eight years old, with a three year old sibling.

I come from a place where a game of catch turns into a trip to the hospital and accusations and blame and an angry father.  I come from a place where everything is held against me, every grievance, every mistake, every misstep.  I come from a place where comparing you to others always leaves you coming up short, where everyone’s shown to be better than I am, where I never quite meet the expectations set for me.  I come from a place where all gifts came with strings attached, as a lien, a purchase of loyalty, obedience, or silence.  I come from a place where friends are only friends when it’s convenient for them, when I can provide them with what they need.  I come from a place where I had one friend most of my life and can’t today be sure he isn’t more loyal to them than to me.

I come from a place where I cannot win the approval of my parents no matter what I do, and where giving up becomes the only option, the only viable choice, the only way left to you.  I come from a place where God is the last resort, and never quite seems to come through when you need Him to.

That’s where I come from.  Being that I now write horror, it may have quite a bit more to do with my writing than I ever imagined it would.

Where do YOU come from?


All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.

Journey Back

Mount Diablo Foothills

The sun’s strong; I can feel the wind in my face when the windows go down, but it’s crisp and cool.  Must be either early spring or late autumn, and I don’t remember now which.  I remember the car, though.  It was my mom’s 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, fully loaded, power everything, cushy crushed velour seats and Landau top.  All white, a vision.  Her six cylinder power plant was revving up as we rocketed on toward Kirker Pass, just at the edge of Concord, CA’s rolling Diablo Range hills.

We’re all of 15 and 16 years old.  I’m driving; first with my license, so I suddenly became popular.  Those are the kinds of friends I had – got something they need?  You’re the best friend they’ve ever had.  When they can get it somewhere else, they will, drop you like a bad habit, never look back.  They’ll lie in your face and not blink, and when they’re caught lying, they shrug.  “Oh well.”  That’s their big expression for everything — “Oh well.”  They don’t say it with a trace of sympathy.  It’s a verbal slap.

They’ve been a clique since first grade, maybe before.  They all went to the same grade school for all eight years of it.  St. Peter Martyr Elementary School, in a shit-ass run-down area of town on the verge of being a slum and too dumb to admit it.  Across the main road there’s a neighborhood now you’d call cracktown, if such a drug existed then.  I met those “friends” when I was in sixth grade, and went to the school for the first time.

So we were supposed to be “friends”.  But I guess I didn’t pay my tenure enough, because I wasn’t the one they wanted to spend time with unless there was no one else.  They preferred each other’s company to mine.  But when I got my license first … well, then I was the central person they wanted contact with.

The story’s simple.  They’re like kids of any other time.  They like to get booze, because they’re not supposed to have it, and they like to get weed or crank because they’re able to, and they like to spend their weekend nights cruising around with each other in somebody’s car, getting stoned or wired or drunk.  Or all three.  And there we are, my “friends” and me, hurtling up toward Kirker Pass on the gentler slope leading to it, with our book bags and our shit-don’t-stink attitudes and our immortality and invincibility locked into our heads.

I’m pressing on the gas and gaining speed, launching the Olds toward the ever-rising grade that would eventually rise almost 900 feet in less than five miles.  We get a good enough head of steam going up this western slope, and we’ll make it to the top fine.  If not … well, the Pass is a car killer.

We’re hurtling along and we’re screwing around the way teenage boys do, behaving badly, being jackasses basically, and we’re on the last flat before the vicious grade starts.  We’re loud, the music’s louder, and we’re swigging our afternoon sugar fix of Cokes and Sprites in cans.  We’re going maybe fifty, racing toward sixty, and I’m greasing the ball bearing in my ankle for the lead foot to start dropping.  The gas pedal sinks and the RPM roars.  I’m moving fast.  What do we see ahead?

A man, walking off the side of the road, just strolling northeast, beyond the gravel shoulder.

I don’t know what possessed us.

To Be Continued

All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.

Friday Nothingness

drawing illustrating the process of synaptic t...
Image via Wikipedia

Whisper sweet nothings to me.

‘Cause that’s what I got for today.  Nothin’.

For the most part, things are status quo.  Nothing’s changed for better or worse in our situation.  That’s not great, but it could be worse.  If there are any major developments, I’ll let you know.

Another friend of mine lost his job today.  The really sickening part of his whole deal, though, is that it’s “family” who fired him.  Specifically, his brother-in-law.  My friend’s mother convinced him to go to work for her company, and promised increases in pay, and 40% ownership of the company, over the next several years.  Instead, he’s gotten a consistent round of pay-cuts and today, while his sister was away in Florida, the brother-in-law pulled the trigger, said they couldn’t keep him onboard any longer, and that’s that.  Based on all the promises he got from his mother, he has, in the last couple of years, bought a house pretty far in the sticks, found out he’s got high blood pressure and had to begin a medication regimen to treat it, and started school again online.  He’s losing his health benefits and like so, so many of us, he can’t afford the COBRA option; he’s also losing about $3600 a year in car expenses.  And all that debt – the mortgage especially – is hovering right over his head.  If you’re the praying kind, please remember my friend in your prayers.  I know he’d appreciate it.

Meanwhile I find two kinds of job openings: Those which pay sufficiently for me to make a living, and those for which I am qualified.  Never the twain shall meet, either.  Never.  I’m still pluggin’, but it ain’t lookin’ good.  Good ol’ Hopey McChange – with all that hope and change going around, I’m sure things’re gonna flip real soon here.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please forgive the ramblings of a part-time madman.)

The kids are great.  Thanks for asking.  I’m loving this time.  Really, I am.  It means so much to be with them for so much of the day.

Well, I go nothin’, like I said.  Maybe I’ll post again later if something interesting strikes the neuralnetwork and a synapse or two closes.  Don’t hold your breath, though.

Any plans for the weekend?  Shout out, holla back, and all that crap.

Have a good weekend if I don’t talk to you before.

God bless each and every one o’ you lugs,