Beach Encounter


Harbor House Cedar Key


My Dearest Dulcina;

It is hard to believe that it has been six months since we met on the white sands of the Cape Sable beaches. The first day I saw you I watched as you provocatively stretched your lithe body on your blanket in the sand, and later when you walked by with your two small daughters, the fragrance of your perfume captured my attention.Your little girls are so charming and there can be no doubt where their golden blonde hair and crystal blue eyes come from; they look like miniature porcelain dolls; miniatures of you, my love.
I have been unable to sleep. I lie awake at night, thinking of you and that last enchanting evening we shared while walking our dogs on the beach; when we sat at the water’s edge, digging our toes in the sand while we watched the water break along the shore and how the stars sparkled and danced in your eyes; when we talked about our dreams and our lives and how unfulfilled we had become and how we let it happen. We both knew it was fate that had us find each other that euphoric night, as our dogs scampered along the sandy beach.
When we stood to go and our shoulders touched, you glanced at me and your eyes penetrated my soul. You smiled; how quickly my lips descended upon yours and your body surrendered to my trespassing hands and the soft thrust of my tongue. How we both wanted more but…

The letter arrived that morning. Her heart fluttered as she read it and her knees weakened. She had to sit down. She too had been unable to get that evening out of her mind. Was it the allurement of the moment, the musky smell of his masculinity as he drew her into him while they stood, alone, under the stars? Many times over the past few months while she worked alone, cleaning the house, she contemplated what it would be like to give herself to this handsome stranger. Was it merely a lonely woman, lusting for something that was missing in her life, or was it more? Could it be more?
She couldn’t deny the response of her body when he touched her and how quickly she yielded to his demanding kiss, wanting more.
He enclosed a key, a key to his motel room. He told her he was in town on business and that he would be there for the next week.
She clutched it to her chest. Should she go? Dare she go? She couldn’t believe how nervous she had become. If they had been alone on that beach, how far would that first kiss and touch have gone?
Something stirred in her. She had to find out. She would go. If he wasn’t there when she got to the room, she would wait for him. She would buy a new negligee and underwear, sexy underwear.
Her husband and girls were at a father-daughter function with the church youth group and wouldn’t be back until the next evening. She was alone. She needed someone; someone to hold her, make her feel wanted; make her feel special.
She drove into the motel parking lot and parked in front of the door with the same number that was on the plastic key holder he sent her. There was a new BMW convertible parked next to the room. It must be his, she thought, as she climbed out of her car. The sky was dark foreboding, threatening to open up with a heavy rain; at odds with that magical evening on the beach.
She inserted the key and was about to turn the door handle when the door flew open. There he was, standing there, shirtless in tight blue jeans, the muscles rippling on his flat stomach. Her heart fluttered, her knees became weak again. He was intoxicating. She wanted him and was so glad she came. This was going to be special. Something she could remember for the rest of her life. He gently pulled her into the room and closed the door behind her. He took her purse and placed on the table next to the bed and turned her around. He pressed his body into hers and kissed her hard on the mouth. She felt herself giving into the desire of her body, the lust that had been building up for months; since that first kiss and loving embrace on the warm Florida beach so many months ago. He pulled back and she opened her eyes and gazed at him. She was startled. His eyes were calm but his stare was hard and his mouth was compressed and turned down at the corners. Something was different. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and a cold chill washed over her. Was this the man she thought she could give herself too? Immediately she knew she had made a mistake. She had to get out of there. She turned to leave. But he reached out for her; he grabbed her arm and threw her back in the room. The back of her legs hit the bed and she fell.
She looked up as he stood over her, her breasts rapidly rising and falling. She began to shake. He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He grabbed her wrists and wrapped them in plastic straps, the kind the police use to restrain criminals. He climbed on the bed and straddled her body. He reached up and took a roll of tape from the bed stand and tore off a piece. He smiled down at her as he put the tape over her mouth. He shook his head as a muffled scream escaped her mouth. He pulled out a knife from the right front pocket of his jeans. He placed the point at the hollow in her throat. Fear covered her face. A small speck of blood bubbled up where he penetrated the skin. He turned the blade and cut down the front of her blouse, ripping it away from her body, exposing her black lacy bra. Next, he hooked the blade of the knife under the front of the bra and pulled it up, snapping the fabric away, exposing her small breasts. She noticed his breathing had become shallow and rapid, his eyes glazed over. It was at that moment she knew what her fate was going to be. She thought of her husband, Mitchell, and her betrayal of his love and trust. She thought of her two little girls and prayed that they would know better and not succumb to the weakness of lust and desire like she did; to be more careful and watchful. Who was going to take care of them; answer their questions as they reached puberty? “Oh Mitchell, I’m so sorry.”
She began to cry and then scream as the knife cut through her neck, severing her carotid artery. Her last thought was, “I wonder who is watching his dog?”

Arizona Ranger

He set up camp under a stand of Mesquite trees, gathering as many crooked shaped Mesquite beans as he could stuff in his saddle bag. They were durable and would store for years. Both he and his horse lived on them when he ran out of hardtack and oats while riding across the eastern New Mexico territory. He might need them again at some later date.

Coyotes like the beans and he saw three lurking in the darkness, staying outside the light cast from his campfire. He pulled out his rifle and fired off a round in the air, scattering them into the night. He respected Coyotes and wouldn’t harm one if he could help it.

The lonesome cry of a Coyote in the distance brought back memories from his youth when his grandfather, his mother’s father and a Comanche warrior, would tell him stories that were handed down from one Comanche generation to the next regarding the special powers of the Coyote. His favorite was about Clever Coyote who got the buffalo back from the monster who stole them. The monster stole the buffalo so he would have enough food to last forever.

Clever Coyote called all the people and all the animals together to figure out what they could do. No one had an idea. They were too afraid of the monster to think at all, but Clever Coyote figured out a way to get the buffalo away from the monster and that is why the Comanche say it is Coyote to whom they owe the buffalo and they give thanks to clever Coyote. The Comanche say if it had not been for the smart head and warm heart of one little dog, the Coyote, that horrible monster would have kept all the buffalo for himself forever.

He thought of his grandfather, a wizened and withered old man, still believing that story. He closed his eyes and fell asleep with a smile on his lips as pleasant memories of his childhood and his grandfather passed through his memory.

He woke to a raw wind blowing across his exposed face. The cold from the ground penetrated his back. He stretched out his six-foot frame to remove the kinks before reaching under his blanket to grab his boots. He let out a grunt as he slipped them on. He threw back the canvas bedding and stood up. He looked around before slipping into his shirt; pinned on the left chest was the silver Arizona Ranger badge with the word Sergeant engraved at the bottom. Next, he pulled up his suspenders and walked behind the stand of Mesquite trees and unbuttoned his fly and relieved himself. When he finished, he buttoned up and walked back to his bedroll and rolled it up. He placed his hat on his head and strapped on his gun belt holding his single action Colt .45 revolver. He tucked his Bowie knife into his right boot then he pulled on his white duster to keep the morning chill at bay. He reached into his saddle bag and pulled out his coffee pot and a package that contained what was left of the coffee grounds he purchased the previous week before he left Brushy Creek. He walked down to the stream and filled the pot with water. He noticed his buckskin horse grazing contentedly along the riverbank. The horse softly neighed as he watched the ranger drawing water.

He walked back to his campsite and grabbed a stick and stirred the ashes of what was left of the campfire. There were a few coals that glowed a bright red. He gathered up some twigs and leaves and started to rekindle the fire. Once he had it blazing, he placed a flat rock in the center and put what remained of the coffee in the pot and deposited it on the rock. He removed some hardtack from his saddle bag and bit a mouthful off and started to chew. He wouldn’t have a full meal until that evening. He had a long way to go before he reached his destination and he couldn’t waste time cooking a breakfast. Hardtack and coffee would have to do.

The coffee started to boil out the spout of the pot so the ranger grabbed a stick and removed it from the fire. He grabbed his tin cup and filled it with the steaming black liquid. The first swallow sent a jolt through the ranger’s body, clearing the cobwebs in his head that were left over from his deep sleep. A soft wind blew in from the North, causing the nearby Mesquite to softly bend and its leaves to gently caress one another. He could smell the rain in the air. If a heavy downpour was coming, it would make his coming ride difficult and dangerous as he had to negotiate Guadalupe Pea, known as Signal Peak, which was challenging enough when the ground was hard and dry; it became treacherous when wet. Before he reached it, he would be traveling through the northern part of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. The desert had plenty of Yuccas and agaves, Creosote Bushes and Tarbush, Prickly Pears and Mesquite. He knew he would find some grasses along the way so he could let his horse graze; time would dictate how long. He poured the rest of his coffee on the fire and kicked over the hot coals. It was time to go. He was looking for a man, a bad man.


Americans have always been fascinated by ghosts towns. A town often becomes a ghost town because its economy fails, or due to some form of disaster. Ghost towns exist in America from Montana to the southern tip of Florida.
One town, Middle of Nowhere, Texas, located in the middle of nowhere, is where Texas Ranger legend, known as Ranger Mike, is headed. He is looking for a femme fatale named Kitty Leroy, wanted for murder. But, when Ranger Mike arrives in the Middle of Nowhere, he encounters more than he bargained for. Could it be that ghosts actually exist?
I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so can’t rest easy in its grave, and has to go about that way every night grieving.
— Mark Twain

The sky was empty of birds and clouds. The sun beat down on the small town in the middle of nowhere. Tumbleweeds blew across the dry rutted street. The town hadn’t seen rain in months and everything was dried up. The streets were deserted as if the town was forgotten.
The tall stranger rode in from the East; the sun scorched his eyes. The wind bit at his raw and sunburned face. A stubble of beard ran from ear to ear; the lines around his mouth etched a story of a desolate and rough life.There was no sadness, no anger, and no emotion.
He shifted in his saddle and squinted into the afternoon sun. A film of water covered his coal black, hardened eyes, reflecting the light from the fading sun. His long scraggly hair hung in greasy strands from under his sweat-stained hat. His horse, a brown and white paint, was covered with dust. They had been riding for four days.
The stranger gazed to his left and right as he rode down the deserted street. The town was eerily quiet. Nothing moved, not even a stray cur.
A face suddenly appeared at the window of Maude’s Saloon and Hotel; but just as quickly, it was gone.
He dismounted and tied his horse to the post in front of Maude’s, the only hotel in town. A town named Middle Of Nowhere, because it is located in the middle of nowhere. The air suddenly stilled as if it was tense with nerves for what was to come and seemed to suck even the sound of his footfalls into the nothingness of the street. He stopped, and in the distance came hoofbeats of horses; getting closer, louder, he turned but saw nothing.
The wind picked up and whipped the white duster around his legs. He pushed it back, exposing the pearl handles of his two Colt .45 Peacemaker’s, each perched on a hip in a shiny black holster, adorned with silver conches, fashioned from silver dollars by a little señorita he spent time with down in San Antonio in ‘58. He removed his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow with a red bandana.
He turned and gazed at the sheriff’s office and the General Store; both were deserted. He removed his duster and folded it over his saddle, securing it with his quirt. The Texas Ranger Star pinned to his chest, shimmered in the late afternoon sun. He untied his saddle bags and threw them over his shoulder before removing his rifle, a Henry Repeater, from the leather scabbard on the side of his saddle. The smooth metal glimmered in the sun. He reached down and loosened the saddle’s latigo, allowing his horse to expand his belly and drink of the warm water in the trough in front of him. The stranger entered Maude’s. He walked to the check in counter and ran his finger across the surface; it was covered in a carpet of dust. A pen sat in a dry inkwell and next to it was a small stack of the most beautifully embossed notepaper he ever laid eyes on. He turned around. He felt a chill in the air, a shimmer of mist, something.
He noticed the curtains rustle as if blown by the wind, but there was no wind. The curtains were made of a delicate white lace, embroidered and fringed in crimson cloth, covered with cobwebs, and yellowed from the constant exposure to the hot West Texas sun. The fixtures were expensive and lavish. Dust covered the lampshades, chairs, tables, and divan, as well as the burgundy and gold inlaid Persian rug on the floor.
He laid his saddlebags and Henry Repeater on the counter and rang the bell. There was no response. He didn’t expect one.
He heard a scraping noise, like a chair being slid across the floor. He glanced to his right and saw a form that shimmered and waved, it appeared and vanished, there one moment, gone the next. It wasn’t ghostly, not transparent in any way or frightening. It was some kind of an apparition. He shook his head and turned and walked into the bar. Chairs had been stacked on all the tables; dust and dirt covered the bar and floor. In the middle of the bar, there was a mirror, framed in gold, hanging on the wall. Above it was a picture of a woman, covered in a gauzy dress, draped over her reclining body while sitting in a carriage being pulled by two stallions, one white, one black. It appeared like she was smiling at him. He tipped his hat and smiled back. The bar was long and made of mahogany. At one time it must have been polished to a splendid shine. A tarnished brass foot rail encircled the base of the bar. A row of dusty spittoons was spaced on the floor next to the bar. Along the ledge, towels used by the patrons to wipe the beer suds from their mustaches still hung. In the middle of the bar sat a half-empty bottle, alone and corked, with a glass next to it. He picked it up and pulled the cork with his teeth. The pop of the cork leaving the bottle echoed in the empty room. He put his nose to the bottle and inhaled. “Smells like tequila,” he mumbled and wiped the dirt off the top. He poured two fingers in the glass and held it up in a salute to the lady staring down at him. Did she just smile or was it his imagination? “I need to wash down some of that dust in my throat. I have been ridin’ for four days. Left Nogadoches last Friday. Come lookin’ for a lady; heard she was in the Middle Of Nowhere. I thought that was a joke the first time I heard it.” He chuckled. “Don’t look like she’s here. Looks like nobody’s here; just you and me. Well, here’s to your health, if it ain’t too late,” he said with a grim smile. He threw back the drink and shook his head. “Wow, I drunk some mighty strong stuff in my day, but you got something here, Miss, and it tastes very good. I might have me another; I hope you don’t mind?” he said, as he poured a generous portion into the glass. He threw it back and shook his head. “Damn, that’s mighty good. Tastes like Cactus Wine, tequila and peyote tea, Is that what I got me, Miss? Stuff can kill a snake.”
He poured another and lifted his glass to his nude lady friend, hanging on the wall.
Before he could throw it back, he heard a voice ask him, “What’s your name ranger and what are you doing in the Middle Of Nowhere?”
His hand dropped to his hip and he turned around; no one. He pulled out one of his Peacemakers and looked behind the tattered curtains in front of an elevated stage that was by the far wall behind him; nobody there. He returned to the bar and finished his drink.
“Musta been my imagination,” he said to the naked lady in the carriage over the bar. “Name’s Mike. They call me Ranger Mike. I come lookin’ for Kitty Leroy, one of the best poker players in the West. She also dances; started at the age of ten, they say. I heard she was sittin’ at one of them tables over there,” he said, pointing at the round tables in the corner with six chairs turned upside down on each of them.
“She’s from Michigan. Know where that is? No? Well, neither do I. She worked dance halls and saloons from Chicago to Houston before she supposedly ended up in the Middle Of Nowhere. Along the way, she picked up some other skills, specifically, I heard she’s savvy with a gun and knives. Heard she would shoot apples off her husband’s head. She got restless, I guess, and wanted to take her show on the road, so she headed for Texas and left her husband behind. By the time she was 20, they say she was the most popular entertainer in Dallas, but she gave up dancing to become a faro dealer and was knowed to bring knives and revolvers to the faro tables.”
“What did she do that makes you come lookin’ for her?”
“Killed a man, they say,” the tall Ranger answered as if the voice was coming from someone standing next to him at the bar, but there wasn’t anyone there. The stranger acted like it was as normal as could be, that he would be, talkin’ to a voice coming out of nowhere.
He swung around and looked over the empty bar again, his eyes squinting in the sunlight, slicing through the window.
The Ranger stared at the lady lounging in the horse carriage on the wall and said, “I think I better sit down. This here stuff is going to my head. Ain’t had much to eat but Pecos Strawberries for the past four days. That’s beans in case you don’t know.”
“I know what Pecos Strawberries are, cowboy,” the woman’s voice replied.
The tall Ranger shook his head and said, “This Cactus Wine is hittin’ on an empty plate.” He picked up the bottle and glass and went to the table in front of the stage. He took down a chair and was about to sit down when he heard a woman’s voice ask, “Mind if I join you? We won’t be gettin’ busy for another two hours and I sure am working up a thirst havin’ these two stallions pullin’ me around town. I sent out invitations to all the principal gentlemen of the city, including the tax collector, mayor, aldermen, judges of the county, and members of the legislature. A splendid band of music will be in attendance. I hope you will stay and join us.”
The tall stranger’s jaw dropped as he saw an apparition of a woman in a translucent and silky dress, step out of the picture and float to his table.
“Offer a woman a chair, cowboy?” she said.
“Why, why, yes, yes, of course; here, take mine.” He stood up and pulled out his chair for her and she sat down. “Are we going to share that glass or are you going to get me my own?” she smiled.
“Well, of course, where are the glasses?”
“Behind the bar,” she replied.
The tall Ranger found a dusty glass and was using one of the bar rags to clean it when he saw the figure of a man, walking on air, materialize out of nowhere; a man he knew quite well, another Texas Ranger, William Alexander Anderson Wallace, known as Big Foot Wallace, a rough and tumble frontiersman. They rode together with Captain Jack Hay’s Texas Rangers.
Wallace sat down next to the lady and turned with a far-reaching smile, Cheshire-cat like. Ranger Mike watched him, transfixed, waiting to see if he would speak. At last Big Foot Wallace opened his mouth, but instead of words, he set in motion a stream of thoughts from his mind to the Ranger’s; thoughts of days gone by.
“Crazy? I’m not crazy,” Ranger Mike said. But he couldn’t move his hands. His head was clear, no trace of the “madness” that he could tell; but he couldn’t budge. His back began to hurt from the top of his spine to his tail bone. His mouth was dry and his heart was pounding and felt like it was ready to explode, his eyes scanned left and right for signs of someone or something to make sense of all this.
What sort of hell am I in? I knowed Wallace and he was never one to repeat the same story twice; I was with him in Mexico when we participated in what was knowed as the “Black Bean Incident.” It was a lottery where 159 white and 17 black beans were drawn from a crock to determine which men would be executed. A black bean meant execution; a white bean meant prison. Wallace, always the non-conformist, drew a gray bean. The Mexican Officer in charge determined the bean to be white and Big Foot was spared death. We survived an 800-mile march to Perote prison in the state of Vera Cruz. Once Big Foot Wallace went without water for six days and then drank an entire gallon at once. We attempted to stop him, but he fought us off and collapsed in sleep. We never expected him to awaken but he did, the next day, refreshed and famished for the remainder of the mule meat he had been living on.
The last time I saw him was on Rattlesnake Ridge, outside of Austin. He went South and I went West. I sure as hell didn’t ‘spect ta see him sittin’ here.
“Why are you here, Big Foot? Lookin’ for revenge?”
“No, Ranger Mike, I’m here to see a friend.”
Ranger Mike heard laughter and voices coming from the hotel lobby. A group of “painted ladies” wearing make-up and dyed hair, floated into the bar. They wore brightly colored ruffled skirts that were scandalously short. Under the bell-shaped skirts, their legs were covered with net stockings, held up by garters; their boots were adorned with tassels. Their arms and shoulders were bare, their bodices cut low over their bosoms, and their dresses decorated with sequins and fringe. All were armed with pistols or jeweled daggers concealed in their boot tops or tucked between her breasts, in case they needed to keep boisterous cowboys in line.
One of the ladies with beautiful red hair, twisted into a bun on top of her head and held in place with red and white roses, sat down at the table next to Ranger Mike. She wore a shell pink chiffon gown, complete with sequins and seed pearls, imported from Paris.
“That’s one purty dress, madam,” Big Foot Wallace said.
“Why thank you; I was buried in this gown with much pomp and circumstance, the funeral parade was led by the Elks Band. They played the Death March and were escorted by four mounted policemen. Carriages followed filled with business men, girls from my house, “The Row,” and many miners from the camp. My casket was lavender and covered with red and white roses They buried me at the foot of Mt. Pisgah Cemetery at Cripple Creek Colorado. It was a lovely way to dispatch me.”
“They dispatched me in San Miguel Creek. That’s in Frio County,” Big Foot said. “I lived on prickly pear and red pepper and followed my own cow with a dog for a living and ain’t nobody played the Death March for me and I ain’t much for roses, ‘cept the Yellow Rose of Texas.”
“And what’s your name?” Pearl asked, looking coyly at the tall ranger sitting to her left.
“Folks call me Ranger Mike,” he replied.
“Well Ranger Mike, my name is Pearl de Vere. I come from Cripple Creek Colorado and I come here to have some fun. Wanna dance with me, Ranger Mike?”
Ranger Mike looked up and saw the full orchestra appear on the stage and all the painted ladies were dancing with cowboys. The judges and the mayor of the city, Middle of Nowhere, were also present and dancing. They were all floating across the dance floor while the orchestra played “The Yellow Rose of Texas”.
Big Foot Wallace was smiling and dancing with the lady from the picture over the bar.
Suddenly, the music stopped and everyone on the dance floor turned and looked at the door as five cowboys entered and encircled Big Foot Wallace. The lady he was dancing with faded away and the rest of the dancers shimmered away in a smokey mist. The five cowboys were close to Big Foot in height. They called him names, but then they pushed him and the leader poked him in the chest. Big Foot held it back as long as he could, his veins swelled, he smiled; it didn’t reach his eyes. It appeared he was waiting to explode; then he did.
Big Foot grabbed the hand that poked him and bent it back to the cowboy’s chin while punching him in the stomach at the same time. One cowboy grabbed Big Foot’s left arm. Big Foot whirled and landed a blow solidly on his jaw, right below his eye. He went down. Two of the other three held Big Foot’s arms while another cowboy hit him in the stomach twice. Big Foot kicked the cowboy solidly in the midsection, knocking the breath out of him. He bent over but didn’t fall. When Big Foot kicked the cowboy in the gut, he pushed the others back and they all went down.
Ranger Mike stood up and entered the fray. One of the cowboy’s was on all fours, and Ranger Mike kicked at his chin and landed a hard one on his head. The other cowboy was up and ran at him to tackle him. He stiff-armed the cowboy and pushed him to the ground. While they were regaining their balances, he pulled out his guns. He turned and he saw Big Foot Wallace standing there, smiling.
“Thanks for the hep, pardoner,” Big Foot said, as he held up two of the cowboy’s who were still knocked out.
Ranger Mike nodded and turned and came face to face with the cowboy that he stiff-armed. He had pulled his gun and was pointing it at Ranger Mike’s gut. The cowboy’s eyes were hard-rimmed and fixed like they’d rusted into place. Ranger Mike could not see the whites of his eyes nor the vessels that flowed through them.They contained a greater darkness then any night Ranger Mike had witnessed. His fingers curled tightly around the triggers. He smiled and then he fired. So did the cowboy. The gunshots cracked in the air as loud as thunder. The cowboy dropped to the floor.
Ranger Mike looked at the cowboy lying dead on the floor. There was no spark left in the cowboy’s eye, the blood pool darkened around the stain on his shirt and spread from his stomach to the floor. The cowboy lay as lifeless as a cadaver and just as pallid.
Ranger Mike’s pulse was thready and his hands were shaking so badly, his guns slipped out and landed softly on the body, before falling to the wooden floor. But Ranger Mike was no longer watching the guns. Or even the body. He was watching his own pale hands, covered with scarlet blood, his blood, oozing from the wound in his gut, deep and warm.The pain throbbed. It felt like someone had their hand in there, squeezing his organs as hard as they could. When it waned he could move and he stumbled, when it returned he could only hold still and breathe, breathe slow and deep until it passed. There was no blood anywhere but on his hands and his abdomen which turned purple and lumpy where it should be smooth. Every step felt like a bomb exploding in his innards.
His breathing was ragged, loose hair fell over his features that contorted with pain. Silently he crumbled.
The next thing Ranger Mike saw was Big Foot Wallace bending over him. He wasn’t illusory, or frightening. He was like spectral, ghostlike. His skin was as brown as acorns and his plain black cotton pants were held up with black suspenders and his ranger star was pinned on a stained white undershirt. His beat up hat was pushed back from his face. He held out his hand toward Ranger Mike in a gesture of friendship. “Come along now, Ranger Mike, it is time for us to go. Captain John Coffee Hays needs our help fightin’ that Mexican General, Adrian Woll, down San Antonio way.”
Ranger Mike smiled and nodded. He looked down and saw that his gut was no longer bloodied. The pain he felt had turned to an unpleasant warmth and then disappeared. His body then elevated from the floor and floated out the door with Big Foot Wallace. They mounted their horses and rode south, toward San Antonio, traveling to meet up with Captain Hays and his contingency of Texas Rangers.

Young Boys, Baseball and Horses

It was 1949, and like everything in that era, I remember things in black and white, because they were.
They said we were moving to Milwaukee. Where was Milwaukee? My brother and I never heard of Milwaukee. My older brother, Gary, was born in Philadelphia. I was born in Wisconsin Rapids and the first four years of my life we lived at 1940 Gaynor Avenue in Wisconsin Rapids on the second floor of my father’s parent’s house. They converted their upstairs into an apartment for my mother, my older brother and myself, while our dad was away during the war. What more could a kid want, right? Live with your parents and have your grandparents living just below you to spoil you and give you the things your parents couldn’t or wouldn’t give you? What kid would want to leave that arrangement? Now we were finally moving out on our own as a family. My father had enrolled in the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee and he was starting in the fall. My dad grew up in this same house and at that time, they called the neighborhood Dog Town because everybody had a dog, some chickens and not much else. The dogs were always running loose around the neighborhood following the kids wherever they went. My dad’s friends were rough and tumble like Spanky’s Gang. There was Red Sullivan, Big Russ Davis (who married my dad’s cousin Elaine), Bill Gross, Glen Pike and Jim Gazely. My mother grew up in Wisconsin Rapids as well, but she was from the “other” side of the Wisconsin River.
Truthfully, I cannot recall how I felt about leaving, but looking back on it now, I must have felt some regret. For those first four years of my life, and, as it turned out, most of my life, my grandfather was like my father. He taught me how to ride a bike, throw a ball and he provided comfort for me when I was afraid or hurt, but most of all, he was always there for me when I needed him and now I would be leaving not only him but my grandmother and their dog Boots, a Collie, who had become our dog too and the only home we had known. Plus my brother and I had friends we would be leaving.
Hank Wakely helped us move. He rode with my father as they pulled a small house trailer behind our car to set everything up in a trailer park just off Highway 100 in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee. Looking back on it now, that entire house trailer wasn’t as big as the kitchen we had on Gaynor Avenue. Hank might have helped because he had experience pulling a trailer as he had horses. Hank and his wife, who all the kids in the area knew only as Mrs. Wakely, were an older couple who also lived on Gaynor Avenue, but across the tracks in the Town of Wisconsin Rapids where the oiled gravel Gaynor Avenue ended and it turned into a dirt road. At that time, it was common to put used motor oil on the gravel to keep the dust down. The Wakely’s didn’t have any children. At least none that we knew of or ever saw. They lived in a small light blue house with a gray six stall barn in the back. Mrs. Wakely had white hair that was always pulled up in a bun at the back of her head. She was a very sweet lady and some summer days after we finished playing ball, if we were lucky, Mrs. Wakely would call us over while she stood on her front porch with a platter of her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies offering each of us one.
I don’t recall seeing Hank Wakely without his gray Stetson hat that sat perched on the side of his head so I don’t know what color his hair was, most likely gray, or whether it was long or short, or what it looked like or whether he had any hair at all. Also, I never saw him in the house. He smoked cigarettes a lot and said very little, at least to us kids. In fact, I don’t think he really liked kids all that much.He seemed to spend all of his time out in the barn with the horses. He was a horse trainer and a rather harsh man.
The little house was trimmed in white and had white lace curtains in the windows. The few times I can recall going inside was with my grandmother and it was always neat and clean and smelled like a grandmother’s house. That is, it had the smell of something that was freshly baked. They had a big clock hanging on the wall and I remember the house being quiet and hearing the clock ticking while I sat in a stuffed chair listening to the drone of Mrs. Wakely’s and my grandmother’s voices as they visited. There was no television.
They had a few acres of land and always had horses, big draft horses. There was something about those big beautiful horses that drew me to them.They fascinated me and I would often go into the barn and look at the magnificent animals as they were resting in their stalls. The draft horses didn’t belong to the Wakely’s. They belonged to the Mead family, the town’s wealthiest family that lived on the “other” side of the Wisconsin River. The Mead’s owned the paper mill in town, Wisconsin Rapid’s largest employer. They hired Hank to train and take care of their horses.
I saw Hank go into his barn one morning,  so I walked up to see the horses, hoping Mr. Wakely might let me ride. I always hoped he would let me ride and I hoped that this would be that day. I could smell the pungent mixture of oats, hay, manure, and horse urine as I walked across the dirt floor. I couldn’t see him as he was on the other side of the horse bent over, trimming its hooves . The barn was open on both ends like most barns are, allowing you to see out the other side. When you entered the barn you would be temporarily blinded by the change from the bright sun to the darkness of the inside until your eyes could adjust. I couldn’t see Mr. Wakely that morning, due to my eyes adjusting to the darkness inside, but I knew he was there. I could hear him working.

As I approached I reached out to touch the haunches of the horse he was shoeing, when Mr. Wakely suddenly appeared, rising from the side of the horse like a dark apparition in the morning mist. All I could make out was his silhouette standing next to that huge horse. His gray, sweat stained Stetson hat was pushed back on his head and he held crimpers in his left hand. He stared at me before setting the crimpers down on the ground. He removed  a small white bag from his shirt pocket along with a small piece of paper. He tapped tobacco from the bag into the paper making a cigarette. He pulled the string on the small bag with his teeth, shutting it tight before returning it to his pocket. Then he ran his tongue down the length of the cigarette sealing the tobacco in while twisting both ends shut before sticking it between his lips. I stared transfixed on the small cigarette that he just made while he drew a kitchen match from his shirt pocket and struck it across his leather apron. A flame shot in the air, casting dark shadows across his face as he put the flame to the end of his cigarette. He inhaled the smoke deep into his lungs before blowing it over the head of the match and extinguishing it.

He looked at me before saying, “Don’t you ever walk behind a horse like that or he will kick you so hard you would wish you were dead.”

I was both stunned and scared and all I could do was stare slack-jawed at the cigarette that was jumping up in down in his mouth as he was talking. I swear I thought it was alive.
The sudden appearance of his silhouette from the side of that horse, coupled with the flame of the match eerily casting shadows across his face, left an indelible impression on my young mind and taught me a horse safety lesson that I still remember today. He also didn’t let me ride that day.
I recall him pulling into the driveway on occasion with a trailer full of horses while we were playing ball in the pasture. The horses would be calling out to their new pasture mates and we would stop what we were doing and watch as he methodically unloaded each horse and led them into a separate pasture. He bought and sold horses for a living as well as trained them. A profession that seemed to me to be in its twilight years, along with old Hank. As much as I wanted to ride horses, you just didn’t see many on the roads. It was all automobiles.
On most summer days we would get up and our grandmother would make us a hearty breakfast, usually consisting of a pound of fried bacon and half a loaf of bread toasted, soaked and slathered in 100% pure Wisconsin butter before being lavishly sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. She would cut these in four small squares making it easier for us to eat. This was followed by a bowl of freshly picked strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, floating in 100% real cream that had just been skimmed that morning off the top of the bottle of milk that was delivered fresh to the house by the local milkman. We were allowed to cover the cream and berries with as much sugar as we wanted. We finally washed everything down with 100% whole Wisconsin Dairy milk.
The Wakely’s let us use one of their pastures to play baseball in and that’s where my older brother, Gary, and I headed once we finished our healthy, hearty Wisconsin Breakfast of Champions. We would bike down to the Wakely Field, with our baseball gloves strapped to the handlebars of our bikes, those of us lucky enough to have one (bike and/or glove), with a ball stuffed inside the back of the glove and our favorite bat laid across the top of our handlebars. If you were one of the fortunate ones, you would be wearing a new pair of summer blue jeans that would have to last you until school started, ‘so you better be careful and don’t tear them’. The only thing we had to worry about in those days seemed to be the vicious horse flies the size of chestnuts that constantly attacked us in their attempts to extract all of our blood. Their bites were really painful. Before we left the house we were told what time to be home for lunch. As long as we abide by those rules, everything was okay.
On our way to Wakely’s Field, we would head north and cross the train tracks and our first stop was at Gordy Juranek’s farm to see if Gordy was done milking the cows and finished with his other chores. He usually put a whole day of work in by the time the rest of us were just crawling out of bed. The Juranek’s farm was located on both the east and west side of Gaynor Avenue. Their house and barns were situated on the east side of Gaynor Avenue and in their west pasture they had a cheese plant, a long red brick structure with many windows along both sides. You couldn’t see in or out of these windows even though they were only about a foot off the ground as they were covered with dirt. A few years later Juranek’s would rent this out to a local brewery, called Preway, to warehouse and ship their finished beer.
Gordy Juranek was a small, thin, perpetually tanned boy with dark hair and a permanent smell of cow manure which is every dairy farmer’s perfume del dia. I remember him giggling a lot. Maybe I did too. We got in trouble with his dad one time when we were caught riding one of the dairy cows. His dad was in the back pasture on the tractor when he saw us and came driving toward us and before we could safely get off the cow and make a run for it, she decided to lower her head and dump us in the urine-filled mud along the creek. When his dad drove up he was fuming. He said we would ruin the milk by riding those cows. We smelled so bad and were such a mess I don’t think he had to worry about us doing anymore rodeoing on his cows after that. We also snuck into his corn field on a few occasions with a corn cob pipe and we would strip the corn tassels from the ears of corn and sit down between the rows and smoke the pipe. One time Gordy’s mother looked out her kitchen window and saw the smoke rising from the corn field and thought the corn field was on fire. Fortunately for us, she decided to check it out herself before getting Gordy’s father. Both of these incidents happened years later when I was a little older, maybe ten or twelve years old. Gordy wasn’t much taller than I was even though he was two years older. It was always a crap shoot whether or not his dad would let him come with us to play ball, so we kept our fingers crossed when we rode up his driveway. I have no recollection of how good a player he was but it didn’t matter we just wanted to have fun.
Next, we would stop at the Davis’ house and pick up Larry and Dennis Davis. Their house was on a hill set back from Gaynor Avenue about a half a mile. The road wasn’t even a dirt road. It was sandy and was on an incline and it was really difficult to ride our bikes in that sand up to their house. They would plant vegetables in their front pasture and at the end of summer they would pay whoever was interested $0.50 for every 50# bag of beans or peas they would pick. I made the mistake of allowing myself to get roped into doing that one morning when I was about nine or ten years old. It was after my grandparents had taken me to get a new pair of light colored blue jeans. It had rained and the ground was muddy and I didn’t want to get the knees of those jeans dirty so I picked beans all morning by just bending over. I never once knelt down on my knees. By the time we broke for lunch, I had picked only one 50# bag. Everyone else had picked about five bags each. When I walked over to get my bike to ride home for lunch, I couldn’t straighten my back. I walked stooped over like an old man. I didn’t go back in the afternoon.
The Davis brothers were good athletes. Larry Davis was the oldest and had dark hair. I remember him having a different way of walking than the rest of us. Sort of a confident bounce in his movement. Later, in the 1960s, when Larry was older, I thought he bore a strong resemblance to John F. Kennedy. Dennis was a year younger than Larry and had blonde hair and freckles. I recall how he would strut around like a Bantam rooster but always with a big smile and an infectious laugh. He had a cocky, confident walk. It was fun to spend time with him. Both Larry and Dennis were always smiling and didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It was a testament to their mother and how she was raising them. She was widowed. Their father was killed in the war when they were both just toddlers.  They were friendly and kind to everyone. They also had the connections to get more players, like  Bill Davis, their cousin. He lived a few blocks away from Gaynor Avenue toward town on Seventeenth Avenue. Then there was Bill, “Willie”, Pavaloski, whose father owned a small grocery and butcher shop in downtown Wisconsin Rapids where my grandparents went to get fresh meat. I remember Willie as being a little different than the rest of the guys. He didn’t live in the “neighborhood” which meant on or near Gaynor Avenue, Dog Town. He had blond hair, that he wore in a buzz cut, crooked teeth, and freckles and batted left-handed, all important statistics for a young baseball player.

The Davis’ knew a few other potential ballplayers as well, like a Chippewa Indian. No one knew where he lived. Somewhere back “there” I guess. Unfortunately, we all knew where we could find his dad. He would be drunk, leaning against a white clapboard building next to the tracks along Seventeenth Avenue on the way to downtown Wisconsin Rapids. He would be there every day by 2:00 p.m. and we would ride past him on our bikes on the days we rode down to Sweet’s Grocery Store for a soda pop. Our Chippewa friend was never with us, though. He didn’t have a bike. All of us were poor, but not as poor as he was. He was a little overweight and slow and threw a ball like a girl. He was the only one in our group who was darker than Gordy Juranek.
When we arrived at the ball field, we would leave our bikes lying in the ditch alongside the road outside the barbed wire fence. We would throw the bats, balls and gloves over the fence before we climbed between the strands of wire, hoping we would not snag our jeans or shirts; but inevitably, someone would snag something. We would look at the tear for a moment and then forget about it and take off and run to our “ball field”.
Hank Wakely allowed us to put up a backstop which consisted of two old fence posts and some leftover chicken wire. The posts were wobbly and over the course of a summer, the chicken wire would break and the bottom would be bent up from everyone reaching under it trying to retrieve a ball because we were too lazy to walk around to pick it up. But it served its purpose, stopping most of the balls.
Before we started our game, we would walk around the field, making sure the horses hadn’t left anything unpleasant for us to step in. Once we were satisfied that it was safe to run and slide, we made sure our bases, usually the flattest stones we could find, were in the proper place.
Now it was time to choose sides. This was an interesting ritual. I was the youngest and smallest and I threw left handed, none a characteristic that made me a worthy choice for a team captain to pick for his team. I was known as the equalizer, the last one chosen. I equaled out the sides, usually three on three, or four on four, depending whether or not Gordy had finished his chores and whether or not the Indian, our other equalizer, showed up. My brother, Gary, was probably the best player and was usually a captain or one of the first picked. I knew if he was chosen to be a captain that day, it was unlikely that I would end up on his team unless I was chosen as his “equalizer”. In any event, if not last, I was always close to the last one chosen, sometimes even after the Chippewa Indian. That meant I was put in the field, where nobody would hit the ball.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t catch the ball, I could, a little. The problem was I didn’t have a baseball glove of my own. I did have a glove; it was my grandfather’s old catcher’s mitt that he used as a kid growing up in Chicago back in the early 1900s. It was for right-handers and had a pocket, or sweet spot, right smack dab in the middle of the glove with a tremendous amount of padding surrounding that sweet spot. There was so much padding in this glove I could barely hold it up. Sometimes the stitching would pull apart and the cotton stuffing would stick out and we would have to push it back in and sew it up with string or just tape it closed; plus it was a glove for a right-handed adult player, not for a left-handed kid. I had to wear it backward and it was impossible for me to squeeze the glove around the ball once I caught it. No one was able to squeeze that glove around the ball once it hit the pocket no matter how strong their hand was. Not even Gordy Juranek who squeezed a cow’s teats every morning for an hour could do it. I had to knock the ball down instead of catching it.
There were always others playing with us who didn’t have a glove. I know the Chippewa Indian didn’t have a glove. Some of the guys that had a glove were willing to share unless their glove was relatively new, but no one was left handed so I had to make do with what I had.
Most of us had a favorite bat. There were no metal bats. Everything was made of wood and Louisville Sluggers were the best. They were made in different lengths and weight and the handles would be different thicknesses all to replicate the real bats used in the major leagues by the major league baseball star whose signature was on the bat. When you came up to bat the first thing everyone noticed was where the Trademark on the bat was located. When you held the bat, you were supposed to make sure that the Trademark was facing up and if it wasn’t, they would yell and scream at you to let you know about it. The bat was more susceptible to being broken when you hit the ball if that Trademark wasn’t facing up toward heaven. One way to get your friends angry with you was to break a bat, especially a favorite bat.
Sooner or later the handle on a bat would crack. That didn’t mean its life was over, it just meant we went to somebody’s garage and got out a roll of their dad’s adhesive tape, or if we were lucky duct tape. After we wrapped the cracked handle on the bat, we had to cover it with dirt so our hands wouldn’t stick to the handle. This would prolong the life of our favorite bat until it finally just broke in half. Once that happened there was no bringing it back.
As for the ball, sometimes someone got one for a birthday present or for some special occasion or just saved his money until he had enough to buy one. When that happened we couldn’t hit that ball until every last resort to save all of our old balls was tried. This included putting water logged balls in a warm oven to dry out and, once again, using tape to tape the horsehide back on once it started to come off the core of the ball. If we could no longer preserve the horsehide, we would then cover the core of the ball with tape.

Baseballs start out white with red stitching but most of ours ended up a dark brown. They would roll through dirt, mud and water and not only would they become as heavy as a rock, they looked like a rock. Finally, when that ball was totally destroyed, we could pull out the new one. Anyone that wasn’t playing when this occurred was very disappointed as playing with a new ball was rare for our group. Some of the balls we ended up with were printed with, Made in Japan, and the cover didn’t last long on those. In fact, the balls didn’t last long. After one game, or during that game, they would begin to fall apart. Not only would the stitching start to unravel, but the shape of the ball would change from round to oval. There was no saving these balls with adhesive tape because as soon as the cover started to leave, the inside of the ball started to fly out. They stuffed these balls with a Japanese newspaper that was shredded into small pieces, or old Japanese propaganda leaflets left over from the war. We thought this was exciting because we never saw Japanese writing before and this was only a few years after the war.
In the end, the condition of our equipment didn’t matter all that much, although I always wished I had a glove that was a little lighter so I could hold it up for an entire inning without having to rest it on the ground; but most of all, one that fit on the correct hand. But our main purpose was just to get together and have fun playing.
One warm summer morning we were in the middle of a real close game. The horses had gathered around the outfield fence, their tails swatting flies and heads hanging into right field, watching with interest what the six little boys were doing in their pasture. I was moved to second base because Larry Davis came to bat. He hit left-handed so our team called timeout and made the Larry Davis switch where the left fielder moved to right field and our infielder moved from shortstop to second base. My brother Gary was pitching and he had a wicked fastball for a ten-year-old. Which meant if someone timed it well they could really tag it and make it fly. Gary looked down at Larry and went into his windup to throw his first pitch when we saw our grandma pull up along the fence in her new Chevrolet Coupe. Our grandparents always got a new Chevrolet every two years and this one still sparkled in the bright sun.
We wondered what she was doing there. Unlike today when parents seem to be everywhere when kids play, we rarely saw a parent or an adult, so this was unusual.
Gary stopped his pitch and the game temporarily came to a halt when our grandmother stepped out of the car. She called me over to the fence. I dropped my old catcher’s mitt, it was too heavy for me to run if I was carrying it, and I ran to the fence. When I got there my grandmother handed me a box and said, “Your grandfather and I thought you needed this.”
I opened the box and just stared. It was my very first baseball glove. A left-handed fielder’s mitt. It was signed down the right side of the glove where you insert your baby finger by Ray Boone. He wasn’t even left handed but that didn’t matter. He played third base for the Cleveland Indians and instantly became my favorite player, that is until the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953 with a left-handed pitcher named Warren Spahn. I don’t think I had ever been happier. I was the youngest child. I lived on hand-me-downs. I rarely got anything new, let alone a new baseball glove. I can still smell the leather of that glove to this day.
After giving my grandmother a hug and kiss, I ran out to my second base position ready to play. I tugged on the bill of my cap and bent over, pounding the pocket in my new glove before looking around at all my friends and I couldn’t keep a big smile from creeping over my face. I looked at my horse friends in right-field, still swatting flies with their tails and, I swear, shaking their heads in approval of my new glove. I was ready to make history. Play Ball I yelled!
I would like to say I made the game winning catch with my new glove that day but that wouldn’t be true. I can honestly say that I kept that glove up in my face and close to my nose, smelling that new leather, for the rest of the day. My grandmother made me put it down so I could eat but that night I slept with that glove and probably the next few nights as well.

Don’t Discard The Old

The gray tractor is a Ford 8 N. It is a 1949 model we named Mustang Sally and it runs like new and the engine is so simple even I can understand some of its workings. The other is a 1959 Allis Chalmers D14 named  Mustang Ally with my grandson standing on the bush hog. Ford 8 N Tractor Mustang Sally

We used the Allis Chalmers to cut down briars, bushes and sapplings up to 3″ in diameter going uphill and it didn’t slow down one iota. It has a 4 speed dual axle transmission and the rear wheels expand outward to provide better balance when cutting on steep hills. The Ford was originally a 6 volt system and it had to be converted to a 12 volt system to get it to operate properly. It has only 4 gears forward and it goes faster in first gear than the Allis Chalmers making it a bit scarier when negotiating hills(which we have an abundance of here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains). While plowing through the high weeds you can’t see the ground and that doesn’t give you much time to react and bring the tractor to a stop.Allis Chalmers 1959 D14

We used these two tractors to clean up a guy’s 40 acre family homestead that was left vacant for years and was overgrown with weeds and bamboo. After we finished, the family brought out some old restored equipment and had an ol’ time southern Octoberfest with BBQ, fresh squeezed apple juice and fresh milled grits. I believe the gristing machine was from the 1920’s era. I’m not sure on the hand cranked apple juice machine. We had hay rides with our old 1949 Ford 8N tractor pulling the wagon.

The first picture below is of the corn grist mill  and the second is making apple cider.

Corn Gristing Machine IMG_20131026_130106_994 (2)


Apple Juice IMG_20131026_130021_784 (2)

Piney Woods Mississippi

Fred and Barney Our two cut Jacks
Fred and Barney
Our two cut Jacks

I snapped to when I heard the continual buzzing of the alarm on my phone. It was 3:00 a.m. December 6, 2013, one day after the 80th anniversary of the greatest day in American history, the end of prohibition. When I sat up, I felt like I had been celebrating every day since that glorious occasion. We were going to Piney Woods, Mississippi, just south of Jackson, to pick up a pair of burros; we were getting cut “Jacks”, gelded males. The Mustang and Wild Horse Rescue of Georgia was asked to participate in The Platero Project, a joint venture between the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, and the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM). They would loan out a burro to a non-profit to be tamed and then the non-profit would find it a home. The HSUS would then donate money to the non-profit from money they received from The Platero Project grant. We were told not to get involved with burros because burros were stubborn and mean little buggers. But when we hear something like this, we take it as a challenge, plus we have a ¾ blooded Cherokee and an animal whisperer volunteering his services. He has tamed everything from mustang horses, a mama bear and two of her cubs, a squirrel, a fox and other critters as well as four daughters. The last I know from personal experience is not an easy task.

We took off at 4:00 a.m. with the temperature at 71degrees. At our first gas stop in Alabama, we knew this was going to be a great trip. We walked into the store and asked if they had any Krispy Crème Donuts. They didn’t, so we walked out with a bag of Ding Dongs and two Coca-Colas and a Snickers Peanut Butter candy bar, super-sized. This trip would be filled with junk food.

By the time we reached Birmingham, the temperature had dropped to 55 degrees and as we passed through Tuscaloosa, it was down to 50 degrees. When we entered Mississippi, it was a cold 47 degrees, the wind had started blowing and it was raining hard.

Four hundred and ten miles later we pulled off I 20 in Jackson Mississippi, the temperature was now a balmy 44 degrees with an estimated wind chill in the 30’s, raining with a heavy wind. As we  stopped at the end of the exit ramp, the trusty old Ford F150 pickup truck began to shudder and make a sound which sounded like a blown rod, whatever that is. Once I turn on the ignition, I am beyond my knowledge of the workings of a combustion engine.

We pulled to the side of Hwy 49 and “popped” the hood, and sure enough, we didn’t blow a rod, but we did blow a spark plug. We were lucky it could be fixed. The Cherokee God of Good Luck was with us as a NAPA Auto Parts store miraculously appeared on the horizon only 500 feet in front of us AND it had only one spark plug kit left that would fit the truck. We learned something else from the clerk while spending $70 for a little spark plug and a plastic casing; this is a common occurrence with a Ford F150.

Ten minutes later we closed the hood and we were heading south to Piney Woods. When we arrived the guard waved us through like royalty. Cary Frost, the BLM agent, was eagerly waiting for us and waved us over to the chute and we backed up our trailer. After brief introductions and a chat about mutual acquaintances, we found out Cary is a former rodeo guy from Toole Utah, where I had spent some time back in the early 2000’s. He was transferred from Nevada to Mississippi. The federal government is leasing the land from the Piney Woods School District. Piney Woods is a Charter High School and the BLM’s facility adjoins the school grounds to the north.

Cary locked down the panels of the chute to the sides of our trailer and brought the Jacks down the chute, closing off a section at a time until they were up next to the opening of the trailer with no place to go but forward. We had Cary cut off the rope holding the Jack’s identification numbers before we loaded them. After the proverbial boot in the “ass”, we had two new members of the Mustang and Wild Horse (and now Burro) Rescue of Georgia, Inc in our trailer. We signed the papers admitting we were in possession of government property and pulled out heading back to the Jack’s new home.

Everything went well until we got into Alabama when we were met with heavy rains and wind. Every time we have gone on a long rescue mission we have encountered miserable weather. Everything from a Tornado when we went to Owensboro KY to get a mustang we named Kentucky Rain, and Kansas and the Missouri Ozarks when we got our mustang, Shawnee, to a near Hurricane when we went to the Gulf Shores area of Alabama to retrieve a mustang mare, Aura, we had adopted out and who we found out had been abandoned in a field.

Due to the terrible driving conditions we had to cut back on our speed and didn’t arrive at the Jack’s new home until after 10:00 p.m. making for a very long day for two old mustangers and two young Jacks, all happy to have made it back safe and sound.


Women Cannot Tell Jokes

Max Fly Private I Artwork canstock0790836 

My wife warned me not to do this but I have to. I was up early, feeling good, no hangover, not angry at a soul, not even those dysfunctional morons in Washing D. C. I was sitting in front of the fireplace all alone enjoying the peace and solitude that comes to you when you have an opportunity to sit by yourself and let your mind go (this can be scary sometimes), when a thought crossed my mind and I just HAD to get it out.

I am currently working on another novel. It is the third in the Max Fly, Private I Series, where I introduce a young female private investigator who muscles in on Max’s territory. Not only is she young, smart, sexy and knock out gorgeous, all attributes that Max looks for in his ladies, but she is deadly as well.

As my mind tries to develop this character, I ask people if they know of any authors who have strong female characters that are not only strong, witty and independent, but still show a vulnerable side. Now, I am not a big fan of female authors who write detective fiction or nonfiction. I am very particular on who I read. I do like Tami Hoag, Patricia Cromwell, Deanne Stillman, and Ann Rule to name a few. In my humble opinion and that’s all that counts in this treatise, my opinion, I don’t think very many women writers can write well from a male’s point of view. The dialog just doesn’t sound right to me and I assume the opposite is true as well, men cannot write well from a female’s point of view. But hell, I am throwing caution to the wind and I am going full steam ahead with my idea anyway.

This female character I want is strong, sarcastic, funny and can banter with a man and come out on top and still be sexy and vulnerable, all necessary traits in a woman that piques Max’s interest. I had suggestions of authors to read from people that run the gamut from J.A. Jance to Nora Roberts. These are bestselling authors but they just don’t get it; especially for Max and I am sure they would have no desire to if asked.

Then while discussing this with my sister-in-law, she suggested  I read Janet Evanovich. She told me she laughs out loud while she reads her stuff. So I decided to try her and voila, I found the author I was looking for; in fact, she stole my character and pulled the rug out from under me. But I have become a big fan of hers and will soon be reading another adventure of her character Stephanie Plum and her African American cohort, Lulu.

So what does all of this have to do with women not being good joke tellers? Not much but the topic brought Evanovich to mind. Now to segway (this term has become more popular than the two-wheeled transportation device it was trademarked for), to my original thought.

Yesterday a friend posted a joke on FB that pokes fun at men being impetuous and reckless when it comes to something they want and how women will wait and ponder something before making a decision. Watch a woman and a man shopping in a mall. Most men will walk in see what they want, purchase it and go home. A woman will walk in spend all day looking around, go home and then decide that they want the first thing they saw and return to the mall only to find it is gone. Then they get angry and wish they had purchased it when they first saw it. So here is the joke that triggered all this gibberish. The second one is similar, but told by a man. After reading each one, you be the judge.

First is the case for women’s humor from.

When God created Adam and Eve, He said:

I only have two gifts: One is the art of peeing standing …

And then Adam stepped forward and shouted: ME!, ME!, ME!,

I would love it please … Lord, please, please! Look, it will make my life substantially easier.

Eve nodded, and said those things did not matter to her. Then God gave Adam the gift and he began to shout for joy. He ran through the Garden of Eden and used it to wet all the trees and

bushes, ran down the beach making drawings with his pee in the sand …

Well, he would not stop showing off. God and Eve watched the man crazy with happiness and Eve asked God: What is the other gift? ‘

God answered: Eve,….. a brain … and it is for you …!

I admit, that is “cute”. Now, here is a “guy’s” version of a joke.


God was finishing his creation of Adam and looking at him and said; “Adam, I am going to make you the most amazing mate who will clean and press your leaves and cook for you and care for you when you are sick and will be there at your beck and call for your every need and willing to fulfill all of your sexual desires.”

What will you call this mate,” Adam asks.

“We will call her woman,” God replies.

“Well, where is she?”Adam asks excitedly.

“Whoa, wait a minute. Something this great will cost you,” God says.

“What will it cost?”

“An arm and a leg,” God says.

Adam ponders this for a few minutes before asking, “What can I get for a rib?”

If you care to post your choice, I would appreciate it.



Max Fly, Private I and IED’s

Max Fly Private I Artwork canstock0790836

Max Fly, Private I, is currently on assignment at an undisclosed beach in Florida, assisting the Department of Defense in evaluating the mammary glands of female humanoids that are washing ashore on the beaches of the Florida coastline. There is a major concern about the potential of Implanted Explosive Devices, IED’s being placed in the breasts of Yankee women which, upon the slightest touch, will detonate and cause damage that will make the Boston Bombing pale in comparison. As Conway Twitty so aptly put it in his song about Max, he truly does have “the slow hands” and “the easy touch”, which are much needed for this dangerous mission.

Please pray for Max as he unselfishly places his life on the line once again to protect our country. True patriots like him are very hard to find and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to watch Max Fly, Private I, an amazing person and great American, as he battles evil to ensure the safety for women and children throughout the world.


David V. Hesse, ESQ

Author, Professional Equivocator and Fire Painter



Bissell Is More Than A Floor Cleaner



Shawnee and Alexander


Being an unaccomplished horseman of sorts, I have been on what I would call some fairly long horseback rides when I dabbled in endurance riding. In fact, I have heard some of my cohorts and friends complain after being in the saddle for a mere 3 hours. Some of you who have never ridden a horse or who have only been on one a short time, aren’t aware of the stress on a rider’s body and the aches and pains you develop if you are not in good shape when you ride a considerable distance. So, if we complain after only a few hours, I wonder how guys like Frank Hopkins and Israel Bissell felt after their long rides. Some of you may have read my post awhile back on Frank Hopkins, of Hidalgo fame, who called the mustang horse the most significant animal in American History, and who was arguably the greatest horseman ever and winner of over 400 endurance rides ranging from 50 miles to over 3,000 miles, all on mustangs. These men spent a lot of time on the back of a horse. So, who is this Bissell character? Well, his first name is Israel and not much is known about him but he accomplished a truly heroic 345 mile ride when, as a twenty-three-year-old postal rider, he rode over four days and (I wasn’t going to include this because it is so small ) 6 hours, and I am going to say that his horse was a mustang as well since there is nobody around to refute that) This ride was from April 19, 1775, to April 23, 1775, between Boston and Philadelphia, telling people the war had begun. Maybe if he yelled the British are coming he may have gone down in our history books.

But  talk about being under appreciated, many historical documents listed his first name as Trail and a guy by the name of Paul Revere (this was before he met the rest of The Raiders) received all of the press and glory for his ride and yelling “The British are coming, the British are coming.” At least that is what I was told he said but I can’t confirm that.

What must have made  all this stardom Paul received all the more galling to Mr. Bissell, is that Mr. Revere’s ride was only 19 miles but at least Israel got a floor cleaner named after him? Heck, this is my story and I can tell it how I want.