Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SNHU MFA Summer Residency (Part 4): Rise and Shine ... and a TK bipartisan rant


First, the last installment of our SNHU Summer Residency readings ... Ken Butler’s wonderful tale of the morning after our dance party on the island of Shutter. A TK bipartisan political rant follows Ken’s terrific story.

Rise and Shine

Oh, yes, the party last night. Of course I remember it. It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. Well, not the very first thing. The very first thing was the realization that I was in bed fully dressed. I usually retire each evening in shorts, my silk-pajama days long gone, along with the pajamas. But this morning I was between the sheets in sneakers, jeans and a Polo shirt. I immediately took note of the fact that I don’t own a Polo shirt.

I painfully opened my eyes, curious as to why, prior to bed, I would have used apple cider vinegar instead of Visine. Or a tile-caulking substance to brush my teeth. I needed a drink of water so desperately, I actually said the word “drink” aloud, like a helpless child or a lost prospector. It came out with the “d” replaced by an “h” – “hrink -- hrink.” I kept a plastic pitcher of water, always filled, close to my bed. It was not there. I never reached the point of pondering where it was as I suddenly realized that this was not my room. It was not the arrangement of furniture, as the cells at this end of the compound were pretty identical, but I would never have owned a “Hello Kitty” beach-towel. Nor the other personal items set neatly around the unit. I was now occupied with hoping that the dried blood-stains on the pillow were not mine, either. This was not as alarming as it sounds. Clearly no one had lopped off an arm. The rust-colored dribble two inches from my vinegar eyes was more along the lines of a cut lip, but my lips, at least, seemed intact.

I lay there motionless, pretending I was dead. I was doing a passable job, when suddenly, the air outside my space burst forth with the sound of harmonized voices, unnervingly close. They were singing a song set to the tune of ”The Camptown Ladies,” but some clever soul had penned new lyrics about rising and shining and upping and at’emming,, doo-dah, doo-dah. I needs must rise, I thought. I rose unsteadily to my feet, with an ax-split canteloupe for a head, and stumbled into the blessedly private bathroom, bless you, Lord, bless you. My cowardice compelled me to splash my face with cold water before facing the mirror.

The reflection was not too bad. My rosy sun-tan covered the green flesh-tone, and my raw, pink eyes would relax behind dark glasses. I particularly admired the small and tasteful gold loop in my right ear-lobe. I should mention at this point that I do not wear an earring.

There are some situations too extreme for panic, like an approaching freight-train. I stared at my blood-caked, swollen ear with the calm clarity of a mescaline high. The happy chorus moved on happily, and I thought it best that I vacate this room before the three bears came home. I made the bed with the sure and steady moves of Katherine Hepburn in her final years. I opened the door and peered cautiously down the porch in both directions, confirming there was no one normal around, and walked briskly to my actual room, like a shoplifter making for an exit.

On the way, I formulated a theory about the earring. One of my residency buddies was a big, bald, bearded, burly bastard named Beal who looked like a bouncer in a biker bar. (I am partial to alliteration.) He wore Harley caps and Gypsy Joker tee shirts, but in fact he sold wicker. It seemed likely he had bestowed the piercing upon me, which conjured up disquieting feelings of my consensual but now regretful violation. I also remembered he had fallen backwards off the porch. I could not recall if he had gotten back up again.

One was not allowed to swim in the chill Atlantic so early without a life-guard on duty, but surely one could wade in up to one’s knees and go soak one’s head if one were in crapulous straits, as this one was.

I stumbled to the pebble-carpeted beach like Hart Crane heading for his last dip, removed my sneakers, rolled up my pant-legs and waded in. When I had reached a workable depth, I submerged my head, holding my breath as long as I could. While I was under, I decided not to find the owner of the polo shirt, as this might lead to unpleasantness. I whipped my head up from the icy salt water like some model in Jamaica, and turned to walk back. An old man in a straw hat and baggy shorts gave me a quick glance and said, “You must be one o’ them writah fellas.”

Kenneth Butler
Star Island, NH
August, 2010

A TK Bipartisan Beef ...
Okay, the ugly one says, “So where’s my end?” After the $700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street, I’m wondering where my share of the profits from my investment are being kept. For one thing, I’m unemployed these days and can use a little spike in income. For another thing, I’m feeling a little bit more ripped off than I did originally; seeing how they not only recovered on my dime, they had record earnings.

Last night Chris Matthews was spinning his usual party talking points while forgetting a few key facts. The maven of Hardball suddenly wants both parties to come together and punish Wall Street with heavier taxes. He wants them to pay their “fair share” ... he wants Democrats to point out to America how it is Republicans who are speaking on behalf of Wall Street.

Interesting, I thought. I think I spent a little bit of blog space these last few Obama years on the $38 BILLION (ALWAYS ALL CAPS, BY THE WAY)tax break the Obama administration excused the same Wall Street firms he bailed out on our dime. Where was Chris when that was going on? Come to think of it, where was Chris when the profit earnings reached new records for the same bailed out companies and none of us (who did the bailing out) received a penny of those profits (never mind getting our jobs back)? Let’s not get into the fact that not only was Wall Street (Goldman, etc.) permitted to outsource American jobs before the bailout, they were permitted to continue doing so after they took our money.

Interesting, I thought, how a Democrat controlled Congress and Senate couldn’t work for the people who elected them and their Democratic President. They failed on national health insurance, they haven’t generated much employment while the biggest contributors to their campaign (Goldman Sachs) keeps reaching new highs in profits. They did manage to involve us in a third war (with a fourth on the backburner), but unemployment rates hover around 9%.

Interesting, I thought, how the only parties promising to protect the American worker is either socialist or communist. And since we can pretty much count on any government system going corrupt so long as we remain a capitalist economy, a very strong case for anarchism exists.

And for all the crying against the “evils” of socialism, corporate America sure seems to be benefitting from government handouts (the bailout that saved the rich being but one of the many perks corporate America gets to protect itself with).

Ralph Nader might get something done, but he’d have to be given a chance and both major parties aren’t about to let the rest of the country hear what anyone else has to say.

What we all know won’t help the American worker is either of the two major parties (Democratic or Republican). Those two couldn’t be more corrupt (literally, I think it’s impossible).

The Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann sideshows are just that--sideshows. A pair of lunatics, one scarier/crazier than the other; both ignorant as most rocks. The “Hope We Can Believe In” slogan has turned into a punching bag joke line. Hell, we’re still waiting for Obama to find “some comfortable shoes” so he can walk the picket lines in defense of collective bargaining (another campaign promise he went bust on).

“Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

As for the wars ... well, we seem to be involved in more now than ever before. So much for “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time ...”

Interesting, I think, how we all keep taking it. A Congressman sends pictures of his pecker over the internet, something any of us would be “fired for cause” for and thus precluded from receiving unemployment, but Anthony Weiner will have lifetime health benefits and a pension because he got to resign?

Interesting, I think, the idea of a pension. Teachers in Wisconsin average $42K were demonized by lunatics on the right anxious to blame them for bankrupting America. Did those same lunatics not have to participate in the bailout of Wall Street? We already know Democrats, except for those in the Wisconsin Senate, kept their safe distance from those protesting their right to collectively bargain. Party of the people? Really? Democratic loyalists can continue to kid themselves all they want. Holding back a vote for a third party (socialist, communist, green, libertarian, take your pick) from fear of a Republican President has produced yet another disaster (with a majority in both houses upon election, he turned into Obama the ineffective right quick, unless of course, you were one of Wall Street’s privileged).

All I know is I was working 7 days a week under the moron who insisted on tax breaks while going to war in two countries and deregulating us into a near depression. The eloquent one has overseen my 7 days a week turn into 0 days a week (a.k.a., unemployment). Turns out neither President was better than the other. Neither seems to have known enough to run a lemonade stand, never mind a country. Wall Street continues to flourish while the middle class gets beaten down at every turn. Do you really think there’s a difference between parties? Do you really think that oath of office has to do with protecting the constitution? Something tells me it should read the way it is: to protect and preserve corporate America at any and all costs to the taxpaying public.

It doesn’t get much more frustrating than it is today, although I’m sure this government (both parties) will find another way to screw all of us before the year is out. Maybe letting oil jump to $5.00 a gallon ... or charging the same for a gallon of milk.

The good news was New York FINALLY passed the gay marriage act ... so good for New York. It’s a bit ironic that in a land where all men are created equal, we’re still having to depend on legislation to grant equality. Then again, this country had little problem with slavery for a few hundred years ...

Like our motto says ... leave the political party, take the cannoli.