Freedom of Fantasy

Let reality fly away

but not suffer Icarus’s fate

like a morality play

meant to recriminate

freedom of fantasy

gives us wings

and virtual reality

that imagination brings

let our visions soar

with inspiration

and passion

to fuel fascination

and creativity

before the altar of curiosity

*****

One Day in an Alley

Stuart stumbled along in a nameless alley somewhere in America’s hinterlands while humming Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin.

As usual, he was as drunk as an English Lord. His dirty white t-shirt was partly covered by an unzippered green hoodie he found in a Salvation Army donor bin. An invisible cloud of cheap whiskey and beer clung to him as he staggered along on the uneven cobblestones. They were still slick from the rain that afternoon, and it took all of Stuart’s weakened will power to keep from repeatedly falling.

The thing about Stuart was he was a broken man. Once he had a family. But his wife and daughter died in a tragic carjacking one day. He went crazy from grief and lost his job, SUV, and house. All he wanted to do was drink alcohol and stay in a perpetual state of stupidity. He dropped out of life. He became such a pathetic figure other homeless people in the neighborhood avoided him. Social workers would give him food and try to get him help, but he refused to go into any programs, or commit to shelter rules. His tall lanky figure was a fixture in the city’s alleys and byways. An old injury to his left foot gave him an odd gait, making him recognizable from afar and in the dusk.

Stuart’s thoughts went no further than begging for money, or stealing from supermarkets and liquor stores. He’d been arrested for countless petty crimes, did county jail time and community service, and was always released to resume his miserable existence. Every day was Blursday for him.

All that changed one Afternoon.

It was two o’clock and the town hall bell chimed precisely on time. Stuart stopped and slowly opened his first bottle of Jim Beam for the day when he saw something that froze him, causing him to drop the precious bottle as he watched something very bad happening.

A man with a gun had stopped a car in the middle of the street and was violently pulling the woman driver out! A little girl screamed “Mommie! Something snapped in Stuart’s head and he ran as fast as his bad foot allowed, slamming into the carjacker with all of his force. The gun fell in the ensuing struggle and the woman broke free. The enraged car jacker pulled a knife and stabbed Stuart in the chest! Adrenaline running high, Stuart pulled it out and got the switchblade off his attacker and slashed him across the face with it. Suddenly police appeared and separated them. The car jacker was handcuffed and taken away. The last thing Stuart remembered was trying to staunch the blood flow and passing out.

The next day Stuart had two visitors at the hospital. When he opened his eyes the woman he saved was standing at the side of his bed with her young daughter. He could see the relief in their eyes as they could see he’d be all right.

My name is Beth and this is my daughter Trina. We’d like to be your friends if that’s okay?

A tear trickled down one of Stewart’s eyes and he was so choked up it took a minute to reply, “Yeah! That would be more than okay.”

The end

The Militia Murderer

It doesn’t matter when it started, but if you hold me to it, my new mission in life began after I got out of the Army’s Special Forces two years ago.

My name is John Sill and I’m still able to kill after 25 years of devoted service to my country. If there’s one thing that makes my blood boil it’s traitors. Let me be clear for you civilian types; if someone does anything to harm my country their life is forfeit.

When I found out that some ex-military members were organizing in illegal state militias that advocated overturning our duly democratic government, an igniter went off in my head and I began making plans.

I was an avid hunter before I went into the Army. Stalking prey was my way of recreation in the wilds of western Virginia. It produced such a tight focus of the here and now that I often lost track of time. The Army, thank you Uncle Sam, taught me how to track humans. It took a couple of years to determine who I would hunt. That changed when I met a guy who said he belonged to the Wolverine Militia in upper Michigan.

I spent a weekend closing Honkey Tonk bars with him in Nashville, along with a lot of other guys sporting quasi military patches and talking about their “units.” I do my best recon when pretending to be drunk or a “little slow.” At six-feet two inches and 240 pounds, I present a menacing profile with bulging biceps, scars over both eyes and my cheek, and fists the size of rump roasts. My piercing pale blue eyes have frozen more than one man in his tracks when trained on him in anger.

After countless shots of whiskey – I should point out here that no man has ever out drunk me – and mugs of beer and platoons of peanuts, I heard a lot of interesting conversations from the mostly wannabee military types who doted on actual veterans like they were emissaries of the God of War. The one recurring theme was they wanted to overthrow the government and my commanding chief. I spent that weekend memorizing names, cell phone numbers, and states with the biggest amount of militia compounds. That’s how I started with Pennsylvania, because there’s 28 seditious militias in the rural areas – more than even Michigan and Montana.

Started with what, you may wonder? Fair enough. The answer is declaring war on all the militia groups in America. I don’t expect to live long enough to fully achieve my mission but it’ll be interesting to see how many I do eliminate. I know I’ll never get rewarded for destroying the would be traitors. That’s okay. It’s not the way I want to go out with accolades from insincere politicians willing to forgive me for slaughtering an unknown number of enemies of the state. I don’t need parades. I’m a loner and I don’t like being anyone’s center of attention. You may fairly assume the reason for that.

I’ve been on plenty of secret missions throughout Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe. I still hold shooting records for the M-16, AR-15, M1911 Colt pistol, and the Barret 50 Cal-American sniper rifle. I’ve taught hand-to-hand combat to Green Berets and Rangers. I never questioned my superiors. I was a team player when necessary, and a lone wolf when needed. I always preferred the later. Death and I are no strangers. The Grim Reaper follows me around like a puppy waiting to pounce on the souls of my kills. So, where was I? Oh yeah, Pennsylvania.

It was in November when I met Jerry Sigreid who was the commander of the PA Light Foot Militia at a gathering in Gettysburg. State militias were converging upon the hallowed ground because of a rumor. I quickly figured out most didn’t believe the rumor but it was a great opportunity to spend the weekend mingling and boasting about how bad they were. I couldn’t help smiling at times when I saw guys with fat guts hanging over tortured belts ready to burst under the strain. Everyone was packing semi-automatic rifles and wearing rag tag quasi military uniforms and parts of body armor. To me, they looked like a bunch of overgrown and overweight Boy Scouts at a Jamboree. I followed Commander Sigreid around as he greeted other unit commanders throughout the day. On my way back to the hotel room that I booked for the weekend – The Travels Lodge – I planned my first step to slaughtering the treasonous pigs who claimed they were true American patriots. Makes my blood boil just thinking about it. I slept well that night dreaming of the hunting ahead.

The next morning I grabbed my duffle bag and checked out of the motel and followed Commander Sigreid to his compound in the northern part of the state. His Jeep Ranger stayed under the speed limit as I followed in an old 1985 Ford pickup that I purchased while in Tennessee. I pondered about what made him believe that the Constitution granted citizens the power to take back the federal government by force or violence whenever they felt like it? For starters, his unit and all of the rest are illegal. They have no charter from the governor of the state to assemble. As a matter of fact, militias like Sigreids are listed as hate-groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I know this because it was part of my recon efforts. I wanted to know where they stood legally. They didn’t, and that made my mission even easier to perform. We drove for hours on rough country roads before coming to a dead end and a barricaded gate with armed guards. I wasn’t surprised, as I knew we were being followed by off road vehicles most of the way in. Anything less would have been a surprise. This group of losers were playing Army as best as they could. Sigreid stuck his head out of the window and hailed the guards with a password and signaled for me to follow him into the compound.

We parked next to a long wooden building that was surrounded by smaller outer buildings that looked like barracks. There was a dirt parade ground that had a tall pole with the American flag dancing in the breeze. We entered the tall building and startled a lounging guard at a desk who nervously jumped to attention and saluted Sigreid. He closed the door after we entered his private office at the end of a long hallway. I listened to him chatter for an hour as my eyes searched the room for clues to his life outside this fantasy world he’d created. Afterwards Sigreid called the guard in and ordered him to show me a room in the NCO barracks. The guard pointed out a building as we walked and stated it was the mess hall and dinner was an hour away. When we got to my room I slung my duffle bag down on a bed that was probably WW I vintage. The private room was at the end of the wooden barracks and the door was painted with a circular logo with PA Light Foot Militia in the center. I slept well until 2 a.m. when I got up for my first kill. It was too easy. I walked into the main compound to find the same guard from earlier sleeping in a chair and broke his neck with a simple twist. The bones snapping sounded like dried-out wood breaking.

The hunt had begun.

The End

Searching for Shangri-la

I was walking barefoot in a concrete jungle many years ago

lusting for a snickers bar in a place that didn’t snow

the intense summer heat

heated up the concrete

but didn’t it burn my feet

that were weathered like fine leather

made hard from living on the street

where I drifted like a rudderless boat

in a sea of humanity

trying to maintain my sanity

while searching

for shangri-la

****

Don’t Read This

whatever made you look at these lines of cobbled words

stitched together like a tapestry hanging from my imagination

waiting for eternal condemnation?

silly sentences strung out in a parade of useless information

stuck together with super glue and honey – a sweet creation

containing a hidden message that must be lurking near

between adjectives and verbs and visions of a good beer

there lies no motivation for sounding so insincere

it’s simply that

I’m glad you’re here!

***

The Last Castle

names of fallen warriors carved

below the castle on the sea wall

invaders all

finally after a century

the towering castle

did fall

past glories reduced to rubble

and human bones hidden

in a secret tunnel

stories told about the ancient ruins spread

across the mighty seas to foreign cities

claiming the castle was haunted by the walking dead

The ragged ramparts are covered with vines and weeds

voices cheering in a cold wind from the past

admiring the castle’s warriors breathtaking deeds

the once majestic towers still stand

a testimony to the castle’s builders

who came from another land

****

The Search For Knowledge

layered in luminescent luxury

rests

a library

inside the Tree of Knowledge

sheltering history

and many a mystery

going back to the dawn of time

when human’s searched for the sublime

but mistakenly equating brute

force to an education

seeking wisdom

in a politically divided nation

where ignorance

is as pervasive as cockroaches in cheap motels

while truth seekers

live through myriad hells

****

Loss of Empathy

No mercy in the Age of COVID planet wise

when empathy dies

each day with thousands of deaths becoming data

for bean-counters and politicians

on secret missions

hospitals full of victims dying alone

in an ICU zone

it becomes hard to bear

hearing about millions dying

and the survivor’s despair

and some who just don’t care

and have no empathy

to spare