When Will Humans Learn?


Alien
Alien (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When Will Humans Ever Learn?

 

Flowers can thrive anywhere,

 

Even in a gun,

 

All it takes is love and peace,

 

And a little bit of sun,

 

 

 

Vivid colors continually spring,

 

From my heart,

 

And it’s love I feel,

 

Right from the start.

 

 

 

“Our country wants YOU! Use your game skills to get ahead. See a recruiter now!”  The man in the picture was pointing his finger directly at William.  William turned and entered the brightly lit office.

 

“Welcome, son!” a uniformed man boomed.  “I’ve got several openings.  What kind of games are you proficient in?  And at what levels? It seems most of the new recruits think they’re good but when it comes right down to it, they’re afraid to kill. Now, what about you, son?  Do you think you could kill a few intruders?  Remember, if they were bold enough to come to Earth and establish a base in section eight, then it won’t be long before they try to get us all.”

 

William smiled.  In his video games he had been blasting aliens, torturing enemies, destroying cities, and attacking women and children as far back as he could remember.  Seeing blood splattered or bodies fragmented only added to the excitement.  “I can handle any assignment,” he said proudly.  “What do I need to do to convince you?”

 

The recruiter escorted him into a noisy room filled with other young men and women.  They were focused, trying to eliminate green skinned aliens before they, themselves, were eliminated.  William joined in, proceeding from one level to the next.  One by one the other recruits dropped out, their skills not proficient enough to keep them in the game.  Though they weren’t allowed to fight on, they stood and watched with interest until only William and one girl, Roxanne, remained. William and Roxanne continued to advance, ruthlessly destroying city after city.  As William and Roxanne began the last level their audience began chanting, “Kill! Kill! Kill them all!”

 

The recruiter bellowed, “That’s enough! I want everyone out!  William and Roxanne, you will stay. Both of you have proven your skills.  You’ll be shipping out at 0500.  I’ve received word that there is troop movement in section eight.  We are sending our best to monitor and destroy any hostiles.  Any questions? “

 

William and Roxanne shook their heads.  “No, Sir!” they chorused.

 

At 0800 both were already watching aliens and checking game controls.  Roxanne said quietly, “These controls are just a heavy duty version of the ones at the recruitment center.  This will be easy.  We’ll be able to blast them off the planet.”

 

For a few minutes the aliens simply moved closer together.  Then slowly they began expanding outward across the flat desert in a large perfect circle.

 

William watched, waiting for orders to begin firing.  He reported what he saw as the aliens advanced.  The large rifles they carried looked deadly but they could not compare to the firepower at William’s command.  The circle continued to grow.

 

“Fire a warning shot!” an officer barked.

 

Roxanne and William fired at the same time. The ground shook next to the advancing aliens but they continued to step forward.  Several aliens raised their guns and fired.

 

“Shoot to kill!” the officer shouted.

 

William and Roxanne selected targets and fired.  Both were shocked when the aliens did not fall.  Alien rifles were firing again.  This time William zeroed in to see the targets of alien rifles.  Instead of carnage and dying victims, flowers bloomed.  The aliens fired round after round and flowers sprouted in the dry desert sand.

 

“Kill! Kill!” The officer screamed hysterically.

 

As the gamers blasted away with deadly accuracy Roxanne and William noticed a strange thing.  Instead of aliens being destroyed, there were more.  At first it was puzzling but then William remembered a fact from a science class.  Like fishermen had discovered when they tried to kill starfish by cutting them into small pieces, each piece of alien that had been blown apart grew into a new body.

 

Although the officer continued to scream orders to kill, William and Roxanne quit firing.  They could not destroy the intruders with violence because violence fed into the aliens’ energy.  As efficient as William and Roxanne were with their weapons, the numbers of the aliens would have increased drastically.

 

Alien rifles continued to fire.  Flowers were flying everywhere, growing where they landed.  In addition, as aliens came close they handed flowers to humans.  If flowers were rejected, fighting ensued.  If accepted, there was peace.

 

After seeing the results of violence, William decided he would try peace and love.  If he was brave enough to embrace an alien, an alien might disappear.   At first Roxanne thought William was insane to hug an alien.  As violence increased and consequently as the numbers of aliens grew she realized the aliens would take over the world and crowd humans out.  Soon she began to see promise in William’s theory.

 

William and Roxanne began hugging aliens.  At first nothing happened.  Then one of the aliens began shaking and soon disappeared completely.  With difficulty they tried convincing others that the way of peace and flowers was best.  Some humans insisted humans must be destroyed by killing each and every one.  Those who saw the value of peace countered the violence with extra love.

 

Peace and love were not acceptable to some. They reasoned, If you hug someone you can’t hate them.  Consequently they will always be there, outside control.

 

If it hadn’t been for the flowers things would not have worked out.  The war would have continued.  As the flowers bloomed around the world, the blossoms changed the moods of many people.  Peace, for the time being, would reign supreme.  Humans learned that love conquers all, including violence, and flowers wake the senses and promote tranquility.

 

Aliens would eventually push outward again.  This time humans might greet them with flowers and hugs.  If so, humans on Earth still have a future. If aliens are greeted with violence, they might crowd humans into the sea.  When will humans ever learn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awkward Moments (part two)


 

Wobbler lure (fishing equipment)
Wobbler lure (fishing equipment) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Awkward Moments (part 2)

 

Sometimes letters to two are two too many.  I’d like to say I didn’t make mistakes in relationships, but if I did I would be lying.  I’ve made a multitude of mistakes.  When I was a rambunctious teenager I tried dating two girls from different towns.  “They would never find out,” I reasoned.  For awhile I was careful and the girls did not know about each other.

 

Because of my carelessness that changed and my carefully constructed world exploded.  After a full day at college, football practice, and homework, I stumbled through my front door tired and hungry.  After a quick meal, I decided to write a letter to Lucy before I went to work as an usher at the local theater. My words were beautiful and efficient and I finished ahead of schedule.  “Why not write a letter to Brenda as well?”  I asked myself.  “For once I’ll be ahead.”  That letter was finished quickly but I rushed, afraid I’d be late to work.  I wasn’t paying attention when I stuffed the letters into envelopes.

 

A few days later I received a phone call. Lucy’s angry voice greeted me.  I listened while she explained how much she was hurt when she received a letter meant for someone else.  It was an awkward conversation because I had no defense for my callous behavior.  Switching the letters was a mistake, but even worse  I was cheating by having another girlfriend. I shriveled up inside and said I was sorry. We closed our conversation with instructions never to see or speak to each other again.

 

I’m no genius but my math was telling me one girl was unaccounted for. I was dreading a second phone call, a letter, or lightning to strike me, something big and punishing.  Brenda called a few days later.  She was willing to forgive me. That shocked me more than Lucy’s angry call. We talked and talked.  Finally I admitted my guilt was overwhelming and I needed to get my act together before I could be in a relationship.  I told her I was deeply sorry I had hurt her.  Although we parted on friendly terms I never had contact with her again.

 

 

 

In my mind I can still see the fishhook dangling from his lip, his face pale, his eyes wide with terror.  A few minutes before we had been peacefully fishing, the small boat gliding into shallow coves and out of the deeper currents of the Feather River.   My partner, Tom, continued to get strike after strike while I watched, impatiently waiting for a fish to grab my lure.

 

I knew his technique.  He would guide the boat in at an angle, allowing him to cast across a wide area.  His lure was always the first to shoot out across relatively virgin areas.

 

I was determined that just once my lure would go first.  He turned into a small cove and got ready to cast.  I realized I was going to be further away so I brought my pole back a few more inches.  I snapped my pole forward but I didn’t see the lure fly by.  I turned around.  Tom was silent for a reason.  My lure had caught him, one barb hooked securely in his lower lip, and my slightest motion drew his lip forward.

 

I couldn’t leave the boat and equipment so I called his wife.  She took him to the emergency room while I took the fishing gear to his house.  I joined them later at the emergency room.  He still had the lure dangling from his lip and by now interns and nurses were posing for pictures with him.  If there had been cell phones the incident would have gone viral.

 

Although he was getting lots of attention he still didn’t look happy. At that moment I was glad we had been fishing rather than hunting.  He didn’t need a gun right then.

 

Finally a doctor came out with a pair of pliers and clipped the hook.  Nurses dabbed the area with antiseptic and the doctor told him he was free to go.  His lip healed quickly but he still had trouble speaking to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phillip Wolfe


 

English: Little Red Riding Hood
English: Little Red Riding Hood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Phillip Wolfe

 

The family that lived at the edge of the oak forest kept away from the town folks and rarely interacted with their neighbors.  One of the townsfolk might catch a glimpse of one of the children talking to forest animals or see the children climbing trees. Sometimes in passing conversation some peculiar circumstance might be mentioned but in general everyone thought it best to mind their own business.

 

Mr. Wolfe and his wife took two walks per day, one at daybreak and the other just after the sun set and stars were beginning to pop out of the dark canopy of night.   Some of the townspeople suggested that Mrs. Wolfe was an artist and Mr. Wolfe was a writer but no one bothered to ask or do any research.   The guesses were true and they were well known in some circles. Mr. Wolfe was also a character actor appearing in many minor roles.  In the big city their names were occasionally mentioned in the society pages but in their small town they were just normal people with abnormal children.

 

Mr. Wolfe owned a mom and pop mini mart five miles from their house and a mini storage facility next to town.  Although many said the Wolfe family was rich the family was careful with their money and bought forest land which they donated to the U.S. Forest Service.

 

Things didn’t always go well for the family. Because the children had ongoing problems in school, Mrs. Wolfe, after teaching three years, decided to stay home and take care of the three boys and one daughter.

 

In their younger years the four children were hard to describe.  They seemed to blend in with every kind of scenery or scene.  When class pictures were taken the Wolfe children never were in focus or were hidden just out of the picture.  Newcomers to the area might ask, “Where’s Johnny? Or where is Abigail?”

 

After a few days the newcomers didn’t ask anymore because the regulars would simply turn away glassy-eyed and ignore the question.  It was said that Johnny and Abigail could hide in shadows or cracks in the walls.  Of course that was nonsense, or at least it couldn’t be proven.

 

The two younger brothers, Justin and Phillip, were even harder to explain and even harder to ignore.  Their movements were quick and their voices too loud for indoor activities and the Wolfe house couldn’t contain their restless activity.

 

Outdoors the children were at home, especially when they were in shady areas or partial darkness. When twilight drew near and nocturnal animals were shuffling about, the two boys became restless, energized and alert.  On nights when the full moon swallowed up the sky, the two younger brothers roamed the countryside, and went racing about, carefree and wild.

 

Both smiled constantly, but if they felt threatened or saw someone bullied, their demeanor changed.  The smiles changed to snarls and the fight was on. On several separate occasions bullies challenged Phillip and Justin but the battles were always short.  A whirl of motion here, a snap and a growl, and the bullies were on their backs, pleading for mercy.  Although it didn’t last long, peace reigned for awhile.

 

When they were in their twenties they appeared suave and sophisticated. All of them had been exposed to stage and cinema and were anxious to see if the thespian life was their calling.

 

Johnny and Abigail took small parts hoping the roles would expand.  Justin and Phillip were not sure they wanted to be actors so they held back.

 

Justin learned a lot about himself while protecting others.  After the first time he had come to someone’s defense, Justin wanted to be a deputy keeping law and order.  In his opinion every person deserved equal treatment.

 

Phillip, the most unusual of the four, had special qualities.  Everyone believed he had ESP because he had the uncanny ability to look at someone and know his next move.  It was thought that Phillip could track any animal across rocky terrain or across bodies if water.  Phillip knew his abilities but he let people think his powers were unlimited.

 

Once, during search party training exercises, Phillip demonstrated what he could do.  It was recorded on film by a deputy and verified by several others.

 

“Philip bent low to the ground, took a quick sniff, tilted his head back and howled, long and blood-curdling.  He then proceeded to track a mountain lion to its den.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Wolfe family had long been fans of the Theatre and claimed they had several well-known relatives, one of the most notable being Virginia Wolfe.  Abigail had taken voice lessons and seemed destined to be a star but bright lights frightened her.  Even after therapy she seemed blinded and unsure of herself.  She was the first Wolfe to face disappointment in acting.

 

Johnny, the next in line, was accused of pawing several leading ladies.  His chance to become a leading man was diminished. He was ruled out of future productions and became the second disappointment.

 

Justin seemed a shoo-in for the role of a leading man.  Handsome and well-liked, Justin wanted to be the hero and win the lady’s heart.  However, in his first role the leading man was a villain. In Little Red Riding Hood Justin wanted to transform the wolf into a good Wolfe.  His request was turned down and he dropped out of acting to begin a career in law enforcement.

 

 

 

Phillip finally tried out for a part.  He wasn’t trying to make it big, but merely get his foot in the door.  He learned his lines quickly and easily.  Becoming too involved was his major concern.  Could he actually lose a stage fight or give up a fair maiden?  It was difficult but he managed to stay out of trouble.

 

Around town, trouble seemed to haunt him. Usually he sat by himself, away from groups, just watching others and studying their mannerisms for future roles.  One night he drifted into a small bar located just off the main part of town.  He was sitting quietly on a stool sipping a margarita and listening to country songs.  The band was good but not great.  There was a change in rhythm and intensity when a lady with a bass guitar took charge. She was good.  Phillip was impressed as her fingers danced across the strings and the music came alive.  After a series of songs she stopped and beckoned to Phillip.

 

“I need a drink,” she said into the microphone.     She leaned her guitar against the wall and out of harm’s way.  “Are you going to buy this girl a drink?’ she asked as she sidled up to Phillip.  Her gray eyes watched closely, measuring his slightest reaction.

 

My pleasure,” he replied.  “Bartender, give the lady whatever she’s been drinking.  Just put it on my tab.”

 

He stood up and scooted his chair towards her.  “Have a seat and rest your weary bones.”

 

It was evident to Phillip that men rarely treated her like a lady.  She blushed and said, “I’m Kristine. I’m glad to meet you.”

 

Phillip got up slowly, extended his hand, and said dramatically, “I’m the Lone Wolfe, the only one fortunate enough to meet a beautiful lady like you.”

 

The bar was crowded and the room was warm.  There were only a handful of women and the men were frustrated and growing meaner by the minute.

 

“It’s hot in here,” she announced. “I need cool air.”  She fanned herself for effect and then started towards the door.  Glancing at Phillip she asked, “Well, are you coming or not?”

 

The situation was strange and Phillip knew instinctively that something was wrong.  The hair on the back of his neck had risen.  Still, he was curious if this was a set-up.

 

“Of course, darling.   It’s cool outside and the moon is full and beautiful.  It’s something to howl about.”

 

“You’re just too funny,” Kristine said. “Now tell me who you are and what brings you here tonight.”

 

“Phillip.  That’s my name.  I just wanted to hear a good band and relax. It was a bonus when I saw you.”

 

She led him to the parking lot before she said quietly, “I think you’re a narc.  We don’t like troublemakers around here.”  She wouldn’t be alone and confronting him like that.

 

A slight sound caught Phillip’s attention.  “I think we have company.”

 

In the shadows several men hurried towards them.   Phillip mentally noted five men, all large and muscular.

 

Kristine moved away from him.  “Goodbye, stranger.  You should have stayed in the country.”

 

Phillip moved swiftly at the edge of moonlight, becoming both shadow and reflection.  Phillip knocked the first two down easily with jabs to their throats.  He was too fast and elusive.  “Is this a ghost we’re trying to catch?” one man panted. He circled them, attacked, and destroyed their confidence.  In short order he left them huddled in the middle of the parking lot, whimpering and shivering.

 

Phillip strolled through the door and sat down.  He ordered a drink.  Kristine stared at him in surprise.

 

Phillip raised his glass.  “Here’s to you.  When your friends recover tell them that not everyone is a pushover.”

 

Phillip’s reputation as a fighter led him to new roles.  Before long he had several roles in martial arts films playing alongside Buck Morris and Mackie Shan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Write


"browned" gets a mention in the press!
“browned” gets a mention in the press! (Photo credit: mr brown)

“Uncle Dan, what did you want to be when you grew up?” My nephew’s words tore into me, reminding me of people who had stood in my way urging me to do sane sensible things. “Go out into the world and get a real job!” “Do something useful.” “Working for a living is honorable.” Not one of my friends or relatives told me to follow my heart or pursue my dreams. In fact, one of them scoffed when I said, “I want to write poetry and short stories. I want to describe the world.” “There’s no money in writing,” he said. “It’s a waste of time,” said another. “Who has time to read?” My nephew looked at me curiously. He was still waiting for an answer. What could I tell him? I began as I believed I should, honest and straight forward. “I always wanted to be a writer and I waited until now to begin.” In the early evening Cicadas were saturating the air with a steady din and it continued even after the stars began poking through the black velvet sky. I’d listen and try to imagine a far away planet where strange creatures buzzed about giant cities. As the animal kingdom came to life small animals in desperate flight raced to stay ahead of their pursuers. The chasers were relentless. A scream, then silence. Another hunter had made a kill. The actions were out of sight and sudden, but I could imagine even the smallest details. My thoughts would drift back to space where my other world existed. My imagination was rife with possibilities. Were larger animals chasing smaller prey just like the ones I knew about, or did the smaller animals control the larger ones? My dreams were filled with stars and planets and my travels were swift. After hours of dreams, I would wake early in the morning. I would bounce out of bed, get dressed, and go outside ready to be immersed in new adventures. But sometimes my dreams didn’t stop on time. “Danny, wake up! You’re wasting time. There are animals to feed and chores to do.” My brother’s voice stirred me to action. A few minutes later the cows were contented again, eating oats and hay. The pigs were fed and after scattering corn for the chickens I went inside and cleaned up for school. I could hardly wait to tell my friends about the sounds of night and my imaginary planets. As part of our seventh grade English class Miss Brown often let us decide what we wanted to write about. Then she looked directly at me. “Nothing about planets and stars or stories about aliens or animals. Write about things you do during the day.” I wanted to protest but I knew Miss Brown would stand her ground. Many times she had told me, “Write about the things you know, not the things you imagine. Start over, Danny, and this time please follow directions.” After many attempts at describing real things, Miss Brown and I finally agreed upon a compromise. If I wrote and satisfied her requirements, I could write sci-fi and fantasy stories. In order to get my needs met I had to write more. Although my production increased, the quality of my writing didn’t. “Your writing isn’t good enough,” Miss Brown told me. “Don’t quit your day job.” At conference time she told my parents I daydreamed too much. “I don’t think he can be good enough to become a successful writer. Guide him towards the trades. That’s where the money is.” Throughout high school my teachers reminded me, “Very few authors became famous. Many of them suffered through bouts of depression. Some died young and others died poor. You have some potential but get a job that pays a steady income.” In college writing was on a collision course with literature. One professor ranted, “Read every story seven times and squeeze it for meaning. Otherwise you’ll never learn how to write.” Because of him and other like minded souls I decided that newspaper writing was the way to achieve success. But times were hard and over the next ten years several newspapers folded or consolidated for financial reasons. Jobs were hard to find and harder to keep. “Get out of the newspaper business,” a crusty old reporter barked. “Writing doesn’t pay very much but it steals your soul.” By then I had become an English teacher, although I still freelanced for small magazines. I continued to produce articles just for my vanity. I was not the only educator who dabbled with poetry or stories. Education was packed with aspiring writers with distinguished backgrounds. “You’re nothing special,” I was told. “Other writers are ten times better than you.” I joined writing groups but even there the news was grim. “If you submit your stories or novels to publishers, expect to get rejection slips. Even the famous authors were rejected enough to paper the walls of their houses.” Years passed and technology changed. Now older and wiser, I decided to write for fun and to entertain. If someone actually liked what I wrote, it would be good for my self-esteem. I became a blogger. There were a few followers but mostly I wrote for myself. I wrote stories and poetry but I didn’t really know how to entertain. I didn’t know how to add music and color. All I had was words. As I look back I still have not achieved my goals nor have I satisfied my soul. I still write because I want someone to understand that life is more than video games and TV. Perhaps I also write because I want to learn more before I die. As I write, my understanding becomes deeper and sharper but I think I’d have to be immortal in order to become a good writer. I still have so much to learn and so much to describe. Life is real. Life is earnest. Life is too short. I looked at my nephew. “I’m still growing up,” I said. “I’ve only changed on the outside.”

The Final Choice


It's Your Choice
It’s Your Choice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a slumber I shook myself,

Decided it was only a dream gone bad,

Yet such was the state of my mind,

I realized I could be going mad,

I searched for implements of destruction,

To protect myself should warriors come,

Anything that could be a weapon,

Would now be their warm welcome,

But what could mortal weapons do,

Against angels and spirits that flew?

 

The chief of the red angels laughed at me,

For what could a mere mortal do,

Around me sides were drawn,

All waited for the war to ensue,

The red angel chief pulled me to her side,

Then to her firm full breasts,

“I will keep you safe from harm,

Because you’re my special guest,”

Then she circled before her troops,

They rose in a mighty swarm,

In a mad rush they headed towards the light,

Before guards could call out an alarm,

There was no time that passed,

Yet time would not sit still,

Warriors charged and warriors fled,

But none were wounded or killed,

In the twinkling of an eye,

There was a changing of the tide,

And the light grew ever brighter,

As mortals had a chance to decide,

Greed, lust, hatred, and death,

Were soon put on the run,

And all the troubles of the past,

Were finished, over, and done,

Love, compassion, patience, and peace,

Shone brighter than the stars,

And the chief slunk away into the dark,

The loser of the spirit wars,

The virtuous captain of the light,

Thanked his followers with a calm low voice,

A new order built on love, trust, and hope,

Was welcomed because of their choice.

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