Shaved Legs and All: LGBT Pogrom

Late night brain farts - By Mizeta Moon 

We march into eternity, constantly wondering who we are and why we’re here. For some, it’s love, others hate. Some money and the quest for more. Others find solace in tasting every moment while understanding they live in a tempest. Yin and yang are a conundrum. Light and dark, up, and down, an eternal dance. Reason and lack of it constantly staring each other in the face. It’s a roiling sea of peril and only by being vigilant and wise can we flourish and reach our potential.

 

Even if everyone stood in a line holding hands, we couldn’t stop the tide from flowing or the wind from blowing. As we aspire to change the world, we can’t escape the realignments of nature. Build we may, build we must, but in the end, we are overrun by rust, corrosion, erosion, and the sheer passage of time.

Breaking point - By Mizeta Moon 

The day of the school carnival was far from Henrietta’s finest. Her alarm didn’t work properly, her toast burnt, the kids were whiny and out of control, and on a day that she was running late the car wouldn’t start. While they waited for a taxi to take them to Winnetonka Elementary she discovered a run in her last decent pair of pantyhose, then her oldest daughter told her that she was going to run away from home if Henrietta didn’t buy her the latest iPhone. Fat chance of that on a teacher’s salary. Her own phone was years out of date and a fourth grader didn’t need to have a fifteen hundred dollar toy that she’d probably lose on the playground.

When they finally got to school and her kids were in their classrooms, she was chastised by the principal for keeping the ones she was paid to instruct waiting. She apologized profusely but secretly wanted to strangle him for being a pompous ass without sympathy for her misfortunes. When things finally settled down, she was able to focus on preparations for the carnival.

Besides stringing bunting and holiday lights in the gymnasium during nap time, one of her jobs was to set up a table and a goldfish bowl to hold raffle tickets. The attendees could win a big screen TV that had been donated by a local appliance store. Henrietta wished it weren’t against the rules for employees to participate in the drawing as her TV had wavy lines running through it and she could really use an upgrade. Finished with that chore, she sat at her desk wishing she had a bottle of vodka in the drawer and a one-way ticket to somewhere warm and sunny. While her ex took the kids for Christmas break, she could run naked on a sandy beach and make mad passionate love to a stranger.

Instead, she struggled through the rest of the day and was relieved when the carnival started, signaling the possibility of some fun. She and the kids shared ice cream and funnel cakes, then popped balloons with darts and played pin the tail on the donkey. A smile crept onto her face for a moment but quickly disappeared when the principal cornered her by the coat check and fondled her butt, saying he could make things easier for her in return for special favors. After that, she hardly remembered what happened and why she spent the night in jail.

They believed it when she told the cops she didn’t mean to flip out. It was just that she’d had enough and if she’d actually pummeled the principal with a Barbie doll that she yanked from a toddler’s hand she’d have to take their word for it. Evidently, her mother had to come for the kids and were taken away crying when she got arrested. Now her ex would have a valid argument for full-time custody. Waking up in a cell was embarrassing but she wasn’t sorry that the principal would get fried by the media for misconduct. After all, everyone has their breaking point and she’d obviously reached hers. When she was released and told that no charges were being filed, she was relieved but riding the bus home wearing rumpled clothes and tattered nylons added insult to injury.

Her traitorous car sat uncaring in the driveway as she unlocked the door and let herself in. What did it care that she’d face a disciplinary review and might lose her job? At least it was quiet in the house. The smell of burnt toast lingered but was easily ignored as she ran a hot bath, stripped, and slid in, holding the bottle of vodka she grabbed on her way through the kitchen. Drowning her sorrows wouldn’t change the fact that the kids would be home the next day and the alarm clock was still broken, but for the moment she could pretend she was watching the sunset on a tropical island. She still wished she’d won that big screen TV.   

Rescue or punishment? - By Mizeta Moon 

It had been a horrible trip so far. Multiple breakdowns caused a huge financial drain as well as frazzling my nerves. Every time I left a garage thinking I was going to be okay, it turned out to be wishful thinking. Within a few miles something else would go wrong, leaving me stranded again. This time I could see a motel sign about half a mile away, so at least I wouldn’t have to sleep in my car while waiting for a tow truck. When I’d called AAA, they informed me it would be the next morning before anyone would be available. Tired and disappointed, I grabbed my overnight bag, locked the car, and started walking.

The motel was called Lulu’s Oasis but it looked like a slumlord’s dream castle. Three palm trees lined a cracked, pothole riddled driveway ending at the entrance of a building badly in need of rehab or demolition. Lulu turned out to be about eighty, with a heavily wrinkled face and a head of white hair wrapped in pink plastic rollers. Her bathrobe looked like she never washed it. As I filled out a coffee stained registration form, she told me I could have her best room. Two beds, a mini-fridge, and over the air TV (which turned out to be an old black and white from the fifties) and a shower instead of a tub. I would have gone elsewhere but the nearest town was five miles away, and like I said, I was tired and cranky and had to meet the tow driver in the morning. I asked if there were others staying there but she told me it was the off season. Fancy that. The only travelers frequenting her establishment had to be in dire straits, like me.

When Lulu handed me my key, she caressed the back of my hand and stated that I might be more comfortable in her bed but that totally creeped me out. Later, I realized she was right about the comfort level since the beds were lumpy and smelled like pee in my ‘deluxe’ room. The shower spewed lukewarm rusty water that left me feeling less clean than when I stepped in. All in all, I was badly in need of the bottle of tequila I always keep in my overnight bag in case of emergency. I had to drink straight from the bottle as the only glass in the room was nearly opaque from mineral crusting and had a dead fly in the bottom. Needless to say, I drank too much tequila trying to blot out the nightmare situation my disaster prone vehicle subjected me to. I got so drunk that reruns of the Jack Benny show made me laugh out loud.

I finally passed out on the floor. That little bit of sleep was a welcome respite but I woke up with a splitting headache and my whole body ached. I pulled on a fresh pair of panties and got dressed, wishing I could go to Denny’s and get breakfast instead of munching a battered NUTRIGRAIN bar lurking at the bottom of my bag. Fortunately, Lulu wasn’t in the office when I dropped off the key and started walking back to my ride. I didn’t want to admit that I probably would have been more comfortable if I’d taken her offer of a cuddle. The tow truck driver turned out to be a redneck yahoo that offered me a free tow if I would have sex with him, but I would have pushed the car to the garage instead of surrendering to his sleazy caresses. As it was, I had to pay him an exorbitant fee for what was supposed to be a free tow or he would leave me stranded. Threatening to complain to AAA made him laugh since he was the only tow driver for nearly a hundred miles.

I finally got home but the trip wasn’t without further incident. Another breakdown. A friendlier tow. But still, more exasperation. Instead of selling my car to a junk dealer, I beat the hell out of it with a sledgehammer, then set it on fire. Yesterday I bought a new car, and hopefully it will perform well, but nothing can erase the memory of Lulu inviting me to discover what was under her robe.         

Shopping - By Mizeta Moon 

My car died while I was out shopping for fairy dust. Fortunately, I was only a block away from BradCo, so it wasn’t overly tiring to walk there in my sequined high heels. If it had been raining, I’d really be screwed since those shoes can’t handle being dipped in an icy puddle. Anyway, just before I got to BradCo a man in a long black coat peeled his back off a wall and started moving in my direction. The stranger looked dangerous so I clutched my purse tightly, hoping that wasn’t what he was after, since he was obviously aiming for me. Situations like that were why I was shopping for a new supply of fairy dust. With a healthy sprinkle of that magical stuff all trouble disappears and the world is a smiley place. Since I was out, this stranger could darken my day.

The man stopped in front of me and made it impossible to reach the door of the store, so I clicked to a halt and prepared for the worst. When his hand came out of his pocket, I expected to see a big gun or knife but that wasn’t the case. He was holding a business card and a coupon of some sort. Though relieved, I was still wary. What did he want?

“Allow me to introduce myself.” He said with a disarming smile. “I represent Passions Unlimited. We sell exotic lingerie to BradCo and other outlets but we also have a pop up event going on at the moment that you might enjoy. I couldn’t help but notice your beautiful legs and thought you would be a great model for our Super Sparkle fishnet stockings.” He waved the card and coupon, expecting me to reach for them but I wasn’t buying in that easily. When I tried to step past him, he moved to block me again. Now I was getting angry instead of being worried.

“Please move,” I said peevishly. “I need to do my shopping then get back to work. Thank you for the compliment but I already have a great supply of stockings and some other naughty things I’ve purchased from BradCo. Now that I think about it, the label did say Passions Unlimited, but why are you soliciting on the street instead of inside the store?”

The stranger shrugged his shoulders and smiled sheepishly. “My ex wife is the store manager and won’t let me in. Every customer I can steal helps my sales and cuts into hers. Two weeks ago she stopped ordering from us and my boss says that I’m going to be fired if I don’t bring in ten new customers a day.” The agony on his face softened my resolve but I still needed fairy dust. Suddenly, I had a brain flash.

“I think I can help you if you’ll let me pass,” I said. “Wait five minutes, then follow me in,” He moved, and I stepped into the biggest purveyor of oddities in the universe. Flying carpets, talking dogs, invisible clothing, you name it, BradCo has it. So, I grabbed a ten pound box of Super Charmed fairy dust, then asked the clerk if I could speak to the manager. When she came, I opened the box and sprinkled a handful of dust on her. As you know, the hypnotic effect is immediate and makes one susceptible to suggestion. What I whispered in her ear led to a romantic reunion a few minutes later. Even though I didn’t really need them, I bought two pairs of fishnets, then added a bag of Macic Car Cure before heading back to my crippled ride and dosing it liberally. The rest of the day went well due to my sprinkling pinches of dust on anyone who looked grumpy at work. I thought about sprinkling some on the boss and asking for a raise but remembered he always wore HypnoGard clothing so it would be pointless. I even got home just before it rained so my shoes stayed beautiful and dry. Sometimes, things work out well and we are rescued from the brink of disaster. Next time I go to BradCo I’m going to buy the fifty pound bag of dust since tragedy and heartbreak constantly lurk around the corner and I want to be prepared for any and everything.        

The stoker - By Mizeta Moon 

A belching smokestack filling the sky with coal smoke was the center of his world for years as he stoked roaring furnaces smelting ore into steel. His back was strong, and his arms bulged with muscles capable of scooping shovelfuls for hours without tiring. Sweat dripping from his brow as he fed the inferno was a symbol of the pride he took in his work. Lately however, what started as a sudden urge had become an increasing desire for change. Consequently, one payday morning he told the bossman he wouldn’t return as he’d made up his mind the night before that it was time to move on. Midday found him bidding adieu to his landlady and packing his few belongings into a sturdy valise and a canvas duffel. Evening came while he stood on a wooden platform waiting for a train. As the wheels clattered through the night, he slumbered on a bench in the third class car.

When he reached St. Louis, he treated himself to a hearty meal and a pint of whiskey before going round to the hiring hall. Aimless drifting would deplete his resources so working his way along his new path was mandatory. There was ample work for a physically strong man such as he. Barge loader, deckhand, warehouseman, or stoker on a paddle wheeler plying the Mississippi. There was also an opening as a fireman on the railroad if he wanted to go west. Life going up and down the river seemed to be yet another routine existence so he applied at the switching yards and was hired immediately.

The world became fascinating as he stoked the fires of a huffing beast surging through pristine grasslands, stately forests, and seemingly endless plains. The rhythm of his shovel merged with the hisses, roars, and steel on steel screeches into a symphony that filled his soul with joy. Idle moments found him clinging to the guard rail, watching their ascent over rolling hills, or crossing rivers on trestles built by similar men, toiling to build a nation. Omaha Nebraska was the hub for trains turning south into desert lands or continuing west into the mountains. He had a week to decide during a layover that found him resting rather than cavorting with gamblers and whores who were ubiquitous at every stop along the way. Saving money would afford him a better life wherever he ultimately landed.

The siren song of the west kept calling. Answering its enticement led to him experiencing the splendor of Oregon’s high desert before steaming into the absolute majesty of the Cascades and the Columbia Gorge. Snowcapped peaks rising into cerulean skies. Evergreens waving in the wind. Herds of elk observing their passing with little concern. Indians using fishing wheels to harvest glistening salmon from the broad shouldered river. His excitement rose as he began to realize this land could become his home. Rock climbing could be fun. Boating on silvery lakes. Hiking trails on misty mornings where moss and ferns created a special magic. The smell of wet bark, leaves, and flowers blending into a perfume to stimulate the senses.

For the next few years he was stationed in Portland. Traveling to the spectacular coast and the boundless beauty of the ocean, hauling lumber through the lush Willamette valley, and occasionally going long haul back to Omaha. Though the work was hard he relished every moment as something wonderful lay around every bend. His free time was spent exploring any twisting lane or footpath that beckoned or drinking beer with fellow pioneers. When it came time to retire, he was financially comfortable so he bought a small house in Hood River next to the tracks with a view of the river. There, he could sit on his porch, listening to the transition from steam to electric and diesel locomotives while hawks and eagles soared and the unceasing Columbia carved its path to the sea. When he died, the townsfolk buried him on a hill overlooking the town to give him an eternal view of the beauty he cherished. It was just reward for his labor.              

Trash town - by Mizeta Moon 

Ominous clouds on the horizon made me want to find shelter. The radio said there was a high possibility of a tornado and I had no desire to be swept away by one. My gas gauge was near the bottom and the spare can in the trunk was only half-full, so when I saw lights about a mile ahead, that seemed to be the best option for refuge. The lights turned out to be coming from a bunch of ramshackle buildings that had probably been built by a company for its workers as they were nearly identical. Some in better shape than others, but all tawdry and worn. It was hard to believe anyone could live in such squalid conditions, but hopefully, someone did and would let me in to weather the storm.

There was no response at the first three doors I knocked on. I thought about just letting myself in but if someone came home and found me in their abode there could be a violent confrontation so I kept moving. At the fourth shack the door creaked open and I found myself facing a slattern woman in a moth-eaten robe. Her cheeks were heavily rouged and a half-burnt cigarette dangled from carmine lips. When she pushed back her tousled grey hair, I noted that her fingernails were caked with dirt. The odor of burnt coffee radiated from inside as she pushed the door open wider. When she smiled, it revealed a yellowed row of crooked teeth.

“What can I do for you stranger? Looking for company?” I cringed at the thought.

“Storm coming. Need a dry place till it passes. Any of these places unoccupied?”

She tugged at the bodice of her robe, then pointed to the hut next door. “Nobody living there. Course, you could sit with me a while. I don’t bite.”

I thought about declining but found myself increasingly curious about this place and its inhabitants. She stood aside as I nodded and stepped forward, looking over my shoulder at the gathering momentum of the storm. The place was cleaner than I expected, furnished with an eclectic mix of furniture and a jumble of knick-knacks and hotel lobby art. She offered me coffee as I settled on a club chair, but I said no, expecting it to taste worse than it smelled. 

 While the storm battered the surprisingly resilient shack, she told me her story. Evidently, the county landfill was about a half-mile down the road. People that she called tumbleweeds drifted in and out, gleaning a meager living from the dump. Bits of food, clothing, trinkets, and treasures were rescued and reused. She’d lived there when it was a thriving company town whose employees ran a gravel quarry until the owner died and his heirs lost interest and closed it. Over the years she’d seen a lot of change. Drug dealers cooking and selling. Road tramps taking a break before moving on. Hookers setting up shop until the sheriff shut them down. The town’s greatest asset was a deep well providing a year-round supply of cool clean water to anyone willing to pump. The lights I’d seen in the twilight came from candles and lanterns as there was no power available. She created beautiful candles from scraps and made cigarette money by selling them in the town five miles away. Hearing there was a town was a relief as I could get fuel in the morning if the storm didn’t wreak havoc on it.

I didn’t sleep a lot but passed the night in comfort. In the morning, I was grateful for her hospitality and offered to take her into town and buy her some groceries. She declined, so I bought a few candles, which allowed her to maintain her dignity by not accepting charity. However, I did stop at the store after filling my tank. I knew I would never pass that way again so I drove back to Trash Town and left two cartons of smokes by her door along with a good bottle of wine. As we navigate life’s twists and turns, we never know who might be willing to provide shelter from the storms. 

Buried treasure. - By Mizeta Moon 

Daybreak revealed the outline of a sturdy sailing ship surrounded by swirling wisps of fog as it bobbed on surging waters of a large bay. The steady sound of creaking oars broke the stillness as four steely-armed men urged a longboat towards a stretch of sand nearly hidden by dark craggy rocks. In the prow stood a woman whose black ringlets were wrapped with a bright red scarf providing sharp contrast to her emerald eyes. People called her Lady Mercy because she seldom murdered to provide for her crew when they raided small villages along the coast. She was a legend who’d yet to feel the lash of punishment on her back due to being wily as well as courageous. People often bragged about being pillaged by her as if it was a blessing. This morning, the oarsmen were wondering why they were straining to reach shore when there was no village in sight but her smile said she had knowledge she’d yet to reveal, so they toiled without questioning aloud.

When the boat was secure beyond reach of incoming waves, she directed them to arm themselves with shovels and burlap bags while she unrolled a sheet of parchment that appeared to be a map. Nodding her head as if satisfied with what she saw, she tucked the document into the waistband of her britches, then bade them to gather round. “I know you would prefer to seek gold and jewels,” she said, “but today’s outgoing tide will provide us with treasure of a different sort. We’ll be muddy and tired by evening but tonight your tongues will relish providance beyond previous experience.” Pointing to a rock formation, she continued. “As the tide recedes, we’ll gather some of he finest mussels in the world from those boulders, then dig in the mud for a wealth of cockles, and several varieties of clams we’ll add to the crab your mates are trapping in our absence. We’ve looted and faced peril for some time and I feel we could use a banquet and a rest, so I procured this map from a squaw who knows this area well. The x marks the clam beds instead of where booty might be buried.”

At first, the men’s disappointment showed on their faces, and they grumbled, but as the mud flats came into view, they followed her lead and soon found themselves laughing as they splashed and romped, competing to see who might discover the greatest trove. Late afternoon found them resting on the beach, bags full, awaiting the incoming tide and their return to the ship. Clouds danced in a sunny sky while gulls screeched and soared above. Their arms were tired as they pulled mightily on the short journey back, but their hearts were gay and their minds untroubled. Lady Mercy stood in the prow, looking back at the wilderness they’d barely breached, wondering what lay beyond the green forested hills, knowing she’d never venture there, as the sea was her calling.

That night, stars blazed on a velvet background as the cookpot bubbled–filled with salmon, rockfish, and bass, along with shrimp and crab the crew reaped in their absence, to which they’d added their gleanings. Tots of rum burned their way to bellies soon filled with the bounty of the sea. A juice harp provided the tempo and their songs carried on a gentle breeze carrying scents of evergreen. Such magical moments were rare in a life spent navigating turgid waters and battling stormy weather, so their pleasure ran deep and filled their souls with contentment. Later, sleep brought dreams of new adventures that would further the legend of Lady Mercy and her stalwart crew. Come morning, there’d be sails to unfurl and an anchor to hoist, but for the moment, all was right with the world. 

    

Urban Tragedy - By Mizeta Moon 

Kids from broken homes

Wander city streets

Alone and cold, but hardened,

To the turmoil of the world.

Babies having babies,

Doing downers, taking speed.

Mommy doesn’t want them,

Daddy’s never home,

Now there’s nothing left,

But hit the streets to roam.

Lost souls in the night,

Little kids from broken homes.

No tears to cry, just want to die,

Love is something in a book,

They never learned to read.

Just turn and walk away,

Don’t take a second look.

Kids from broken homes,

Little hobos in the park,

Drinking beer and puking,

Beatings in the dark,

No one left to heal them,

And their broken souls.

Wasted little strangers,

Grandma used to know.

Dirty little mobsters,

Someone had to go.

Now the streets are full of,

Kids from broken homes.

Time

It’s all a race against time.

How long will my heart beat?

Lungs work?

Legs still move?

How long till my eyes no longer see,

And what is me,

Is but a fading memory?

We wither and pale,

Beneath the ravages of time,

And our own self abuse.

A constant inexorable treadmill,

Leading to the grave.

From whence we came,

To where we go,

Who knows the answer?

Only that it is so.

We live, and in so doing,

Are dying every moment. 

The New Girl - By Mizeta Moon 

The elevator stopped at the 97th floor and she got off. An arrow on the wall pointed the way to the regional office of the Undertakers Union so she strode towards it, stiletto heels clicking loudly on faux marble tiles. She hesitated a few seconds before turning the brass handle on the door, brushed imagined wrinkles from her dress, and smoothed her hair. When she entered, she was met by a stern-faced woman who radiated an aura of unchallengeable authority. The fact that she was ten minutes late for the interview was frostily noted. After apologizing, she took a seat by the woman’s desk and handed over her resume, nervousness increasing exponentially as the woman studied it intently. It seemed like an eternity before the woman cleared her throat and asked her why she wanted to be a mortician.

She explained that her friend Stephanie was always posting blurbs online about how fulfilling working with the survivors could be and her background in trauma therapy would come in handy in such situations. Yes, she understood that working with dead bodies could be disconcerting and wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but she wanted a career change that promised longevity since people died every day. The woman’s face showed that she had doubts but agreed to introduce her to the boss. They rose, then walked to a mahogany door that had Hiram J. Deepdigger–– Regional Director engraved on a gold metal placard. Just before knocking, the stern-faced woman looked her directly in the eye. “Are you sure you want this?” she whispered softly. “He hates having his time wasted.” Her nod of assent noted, they entered after a quiet rap on the door.

The office wasn’t what she expected, nor was the man. She expected someone in a severe suit with a somber disposition but Hiram, “call me Hiram” looked more like an old cowpoke in jeans and boots with a pink bandana around his neck. His office was littered with plastic coffins, rubber spiders, and a plethora of things suitable for a Halloween party. Hiram gave her a moment to take it all in before dismissing Ms. Dagger, then bidding her to take a seat after he removed a skeleton from it. They conversed about the job, its pitfalls, and rewards as he casually scanned her resume. He seemed more interested in her as a person than education and job experience, making it easy for her to laugh when he cracked wise about the patrons. When he agreed to her becoming an apprentice she was elated and promised to meet him at Wandering Hills Mortuary the next morning.

She arrived at the appointed time. Hiram met her at the door, wearing a black Stetson and a fancy western shirt with rhinestones on the lapels. “Come in. Come in.” He said as he pushed the door open. He gave her a tour of the chapel, waiting areas, and offices before offering to show her the working part of the facility. He watched her facial expressions as they neared a body lying in a casket that was to be buried later that day. She was nervous but determined to excel at her new job, so she looked at the person like one would any inanimate object. Embalming and prepping was something she’d have to learn to be certified but her position as bereavement councilor would only require “hands on” infrequently. When they went to the prep area, the floor was littered with food wrappers, paper cups and signs of a party. “Who made this mess?” Hiram asked himself. “Sorry boss” a voice said from under a sheet draped over what she’d thought was a body. When the person sat up, she nearly peed her pants. The woman who emerged was introduced as the head embalmer. She explained to Hiram that she’d worked late, ordered food, and invited her husband to stop by for dinner. After he left, she was too tired to drive home and sacked out on the table. The thought crossed her mind that this was a staged event to test her but neither face looked culpable so she said nothing. On her way home she stopped at Dollar Tree to buy some décor for her new office. Good thing Halloween was just two weeks away.         

shattered - By Mizeta Moon 

The pond was nearly dry but the creatures living close by could still get a cool drink on a sweltering day. Shade from the trees was a comfort in such heat and a playful breeze was a welcome companion as he sat contemplating how to avoid disaster. He was tired from being at the all night protest that was to no avail, and now contractors would be rolling in and destroying this serene little corner of the world within hours. He was hoarse from chanting and his eyes still stung from teargas but he had to sit there one last time and commit its beauty to memory. This property had once belonged to his grandfather and both he and his father had occupied the small house there over the years before it burned down and they decided not to rebuild on the site. By then, grandad was gone, and his father was in hospice, so it seemed pointless to fight the county for a permit, knowing they were going to exercise imminent domain if he wouldn’t accept their offer to buy it. He refused to sell, so they stole the land from him.

So many people were migrating to the Northwest that roads and shopping centers were eating up land to provide for a burgeoning population. With the continued escalation of insufferable heat, tornados, and flooding in the East and Midwest, people were leaving those areas and starting over without considering the impact so much new construction would have on the environment. Everywhere he went, apartments were popping up like weeds. What the county had planned for his acreage was a hotel complex with a waterpark and shopping mall due its proximity to the freeway. He told the commissioners that he would give them the land if they’d leave it wild and designate it a park but that didn’t fly because one of them owned a big construction firm that would benefit from the huge contracts.

Tiredness made his eyes droop after a while, so he stretched out for a short nap while birds twittered in the trees and dragonflies flitted across the pond’s surface. Clouds scooted across the sky as his quiet breathing fell into sync with the life rhythm around him. He might have lain there for hours and woken refreshed but that was not to be. It was a distant droning at first, that soon became a roar as a diesel engine shattered the serenity. He could hear the shrieks of birds as trees fell and their homes were destroyed. Smashing, crashing, the machine approached without mercy. The caterpillar was huge and was packing a giant blade when it broke into the clearing and shoved a huge pile of dirt and debris into the pond. The driver wore goggles and gloves as dust swirled and black smoke poured from its exhaust.

Every manner of creatures ran frightened in all directions as the monster spread mayhem in its path. When the driver saw him sitting calmly under a tree that he planned to destroy, he waved at him to move but he shook his head in refusal. The driver scowled as he put the caterpillar in neutral, then climbed down from the cab and stomped toward him. They argued for a few moments but when he sat resolute the driver said “okay, buddy. You want to become part of the landscape, so be it.” When he climbed back aboard and reengaged the gears, the monster plowed its way forward. It was a very close call when he waited till the last second to roll out of its path and jump to his feet.

Later that evening, while he and his buddies were commiserating at the bar, a lifted pickup with giant tires flying a confederate flag skidded into the parking lot and disgorged four ‘good old boys’ who sauntered in like they owned the place. The sign on their truck said Swamp Water Construction. so this had to be the first crew to arrive. There was nothing to be gained by starting a fight but being polite to invaders wasn’t required. Everyone stood and filed out as the bartender shut everything down and told the men he was just closing. The only thing the locals could do from then on was refuse to intermingle or cooperate and slow everything down, thus making costs soar. Spoiling paradise wasn’t going to come cheap.