Some of Bryan`s Contents

 
some graphics-courtesy of Kim Hall
 
 
Selected Writing
 by
Bryan E. Hall, MPW
 

 

 


 
 
 
 

 

 
 

Live your dreams

Live your dreams,

ecstasy mirage.

Live your dreams, illusive visages.

When you see

cobwebs in your memories,

decorating fallacies,

rippling o'er the clouds of mind.

Live your dreams,

intimate appeals.

Live your dreams, translucent images.

When you see

rainbows in your fantasies,

try to find the gold in these

multicolored friends, desires.

Live your dreams,

fantasies extreme.

Dream.

beh

6.21.91

I don't have dreams anymore

I don't have dreams anymore

They've been stabbed in the back,

Strayed from the path,

Subconsciousness lacks,

The longing and spirit

of future and past.

I'm dreaming of dreaming.

Longing to long.

I've lost the passion of thrill

The songs go unsung,

No valleys and hills,

The seeming and streaming,

Perception is real,

At least let me feel.

I'm dreaming of dreaming.

Longing to long.

Please open my eyes

to closing the gap

between harshness and fantasy

Spiritual lapse,

The floating and lilt

of an astral projection,

or even the love

of some imagined confection.

I'm dreaming of dreaming sweet dreams.

Longing to long for the love

of dreaming.

beh

5.7.95 (The Fourth Sunday of Easter)


The View I thought I'd lost

I found the view I thought I'd lost,

Of spirited Youth and pondering.

As simple as . . . darkness is light,

Disregarding the rules of the night.

Like I did as a boy,

Walking the tracks,

I couldn't see the end of the darkness,

but I knew it was there,

Guided by the shining rails,

Against the now apparent, opposing bright night sky,

to a home that is waiting quietly in the woods.

I found the view I thought I'd lost,

The security of my wandering,

The path unknown,

The seed unsewn,

Some destination would be reached,

without worry or planning relief.

beh

7.15.90


Gentleman


You extol the virtues

of a fine gentleman.

You caress with platitudes

the problems of the day.

A Gentleman expresses his beliefs

in soothing solemnity,

an apparent grave concern.

But, it is a lie,

an illusion of propriety,

Stifling the natural,

unbridled passion of truth.

beh

7.30.90


Mortal Youth Killed in Battle


Mortal Youth surged through my chest,

with every bittersweet breath,

before the Battle.

Knowing not whether good or ill,

only watching life go on,

and taking it for granted.

My sense of immortality

was driven by the heat in my loins,

and other dependable passions,

regularly revived by the rising sun and blowing winds.

Now, I ache and whimper

with the piercing recognition,

of an impending lessening

of my own impervious strength

When I see those who still exercise fiercely,

the peak of their own Mortal Youth.

beh

1.27.94

Is anyone listening?

Is anyone listening?

Is it worth saying, when you must speak so loudly?

Does even a scream ripple the water,

unless you are under it,

drowning in your own blood?

Is anyone listening?

Are the words not the limit about which we complain?

When we speak even the perfect phrase,

do we create the necessity for more,

more meaningless chattering teeth.

Is anyone listening?

And if they are, can they hear the thoughts you intend?

No matter you are twisting the knife in their ribs,

someone thinks you are spreading sweet butter,

into their savage somber souls.

beh

3.3.94


Living in Love

You came to me when I was not expecting you,

at the one time I was so self-absorbed,

content with progress,

had no room or need in my life.

This state was an illusion of satisfaction,

in an otherwise hollow universe.

As much as I did not want you or anyone,

I did not hesitate,

as if drawn by a higher power.

I did not fall,

instead propelled into our love.

These days have been the best and worst of my life.

Facing the inevitable prospect of compromise, mutual immersion,

those tasks foreign for so long by my choice,

I have felt the greatest happiness of my life and the greatest fears,

stimulated by painful reminiscence of lost or impermanent loves,

the first men in my life, my father, both of my brothers,

my lifelong childhood best friend whose life was not long,

the Mentors whose wisdom lasted but their presence in my life did not,

my grandfather, the kindest man I've known,

a wife and son to social and legal demise,

and a host of friends lost to a dreaded, relentless scourge of their health,

and my Captain of Industry shot to death at thirty.

Mother, our enduring love but always kept at a distance after weening.

I think the list is significantly complete.

And now, I face thoughts of losing the most perfect lover I've ever touched,

"It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before," said the sage,

but we grow tired of losing love,

leather necks we grow,

hearts of stone,

beliefs of ill-fate now rescued,

heart now out of my chest, beating desperately.

An independent, self-actualized man I am,

being uncontrollably in love with you,

cuts my parachute and forces me to fall

in oblivious tandem with you as my safety.

Please be patient with my fragile reticence,

my bombastic emotional adjustment and my otherwise cumulative fears.

We will revel in our mutual aspirations forever,

if we can merge our souls.

Never forget,

I will always live in love with you.

And part of me would die without you. With all my heart, I'm yours.

beh

3.5.94


Two Trees Without Roots

Your spring kindness and nourishing dew

Rest on my summer leaves,

in the mouth of madness,

as Winter comes

and the New Year begins.

The leaves will fall,

we only hope to grow again,

When Spring arrives.

Our Love drips like sweet Maple,

but we are trees without roots.

We live on the Rain of laughter and love,

however yearning for deeper feeding.

The wind blows us apart and back again.

Will we ever suckle to the Earth

and watch the same meadow together?

12.5.95

beh


My Heart is in your hand

My Heart is in your hand.

Plucked from my furious chest,

Still beating hot blood.

My Body yearns for it,

Straining to take pleasure from the pain.

My fingertips and feet are growing colder,

And my face pales as my eyes cry.

My craving passion resolves in an uncontrollable dew.

Aching groin, empty soul,

Beating Heart in your hand.

beh

3.21.97

 
 
What Mother Says Now
 
 
Mother always said,
"Children should be seen and not heard."
 
She lost her voice
 On the cloud of time,
 
Sitting with her needle,
Knowing not what to sew,
 
Dreaming of the days
 Of blackberry pies and cliff-diving.  
 
Her mind is a whir of clear past
 And confused present,
 
As her children now feed her
And read her . . .
Stories she read to them as children.
 
7-14-99 


bryanehall@hotmail.com


 
 
 
 
 


Artists, Scientists and Consumers

 

In regard to the physics of the universe, there is only art. In knowledge, there is art and science. And in occupation, there is art, science and consumption.

It is in occupation we begin to seek identity and moral purpose. The creation of art is the highest form of identity and the most capable resource of morality, inasmuch as the act of creation is art, the measurement of art is science, and the least moral is consumption and destruction.

The artist must be a scientist and a consumer. The scientist need not be an artist. And all of us consume, however, many only consume. I am not referring simply to wealth as immoral but to the ultimate overwhelming temptation of wealth is to ignore any responsibility to create or contemplate creation.

Many wealthy people do a measurable share of creation and contemplation, but they are often tempted after brief entrepeneurialism, to consume at an ever increasing pace, beginning to pay others to create and measure. The ultimate pastime of the wealthy is to consume services and property.

The children of the wealthy are often devoid of interest or motivation. They too have a yearning to create but rarely pursue what their moral nature inspires and they fall into a life of obtuse destiny. They begin to feel useless, and indeed they are. They become angry and, having never developed the tools to create they use their only skills to consume and destroy.

The poor, on the other hand, have the greatest desire to create, for they have not the means to consume unless they create or provide service to consumers. Therefore, the greatest number of creative achievements have been from the poor who were driven by desperation and love, pain and pleasure.

We must then, seek to avoid or learn from pain, and realize pleasure in its purest form, art. The rich must divest themselves of the unbearable temptation of wealth, and begin to create while the poor must learn not to create for the sake of consumption but for the sake of their own salvation from a lack of existence.

beh

2.5.94

The Last Patriot

(some time in the future)

It was once a country for which the brave would proudly die and millions did. There was a pervasive blind trust in the nation's leadership and a sense of pride and purpose, to defend liberty, freedom and other lost virtues.

What seems to be the last remaining patriot has died. He had always saluted the flag and respected the president, whether or not he had voted for him. But now, what had once been a minor flaw, has become a festering sore, filled with apathy and despair.

Why had this land, which had once claimed God as an ally, become infected and weak, now missing the respect of previous partner principalities and sovereigns?

Americans had forgotten their roots, had begun only to reap the benefits of the forefathers' toil rather than creating, replanting the seed. America had began to worship status quo. It wasn't, "Full steam ahead", but "Let's fish here for awhile more". Though our origins were revolution and responsive change, it had evolved or degraded into a flat, lifeless society, intent on stifling creativity or dissent. A country born of idealism, individual freedom and thought, had settled instead, for automation, existentialism, restraint and lack of concern.

Though common knowledge, it was accepted, that politicians only sought personal power for ego gratification, and responded to their own needs at the expense, not the defense, of those who elected them. It had once been a country whose work ethic was based on personal pride, and success was defined as inner achievement and happiness.

Now, only status generates activity, and our institutions respond to what other institutions are perceived to expect. Officials are no longer lead by their dreams and altruistic passions, nor by those of the constituents, but by watered-down, sterilized, corrupt committee dictates.

"Don't tell them what you think, tell them what they want to hear".

"Don't seek your own truths, seek only the worn path, a rut".

The advice of the time, the state of the union, the stature of the citizens, all symptoms of what I report. It is a preventable future.

What is the salvation? Those same qualities we once held in esteem, must flourish again. Individualism tempered with social concern, logical skepticism of the establishment, tempered with an open mind. And finally, commitment to change what is wrong and defend what is right no matter how unpopular.

"America, love it or leave it?" No! "America, love it or change it!"

7.31.90

beh
 
 
     

Confessions of a Writer: The People I Have Killed  

by 

Bryan E. Hall

 

What is a critical thinker, now that you have more qualifications to consider the question? Is it the nail biters who can't make up their minds, afraid to make decisions, paralyzed in fear at the prospect of having to come to educated conclusions, so they don't? Is it that person who is sure of himself even when he shouldn't be? Is a critical thinker simply decisive? Is it the one who goes deeply into a subject on the first draft, truly inspired for about an hour, then turns that in as if it is a work of art? Or is it the one who sits, perched behind a desk, gets up, walks a mile ruminating the thought, asks respected friends for their thoughts, researches what great minds have said, and only then considers himself qualified to move forward without fear of tunnel vision or incest from listening to those who only agree with him? If you chose the latter, then consider the task of critical thinking is never done. We make up our minds one step at a time and we take many steps, quietly as not to let others know we are so deep in thought, so hot on the trail of an idea whose greatness may solve a problem worth solving. We bring life with our minds and we also kill.
 
When I was a young student, a freshmen doing news at the college radio station, I got a call about an ambulance wreck, no details. I went to check it out the story in Boone, NC. A young couple had been enthralled in an emotional breakup. They were fighting about who would take their two year old child as they had decided to throw in the hat on their marriage. As is so often the case, they were impassioned beyond reason and the situation grew out of control. The young man had been drinking and they had been fighting all through the night, saying things people can never get over, burning bridges. The child sat in horror watching the fighting.
 
At a moment of irreversible passion the man told his wife he would kill her if she stood in between him and their child. She was rightly afraid and angry at his threat, shouting him down. He reached for a gun in a cabinet of which she did not know. He shot her but not dead, only dying. The child began screaming, horrified. The man shot the child to quiet him. Then he shot himself dead in the head having done something so horrible he could not continue to face life. It was one of those moments that would have ruined his whole life had he lived.
 
Neighbors belatedly called 911 and an ambulance soon arrived. They had heard everything through the paper thin walls of their trailer. The mother miraculously was still breathing though shot in the head and chest. They loaded her up into the ambulance and, sirens screaming, lights flashing, they confronted a drunk driver around a curve and hit him head on. The ambulance driver and his assistant died soon after impact. The drunk driver walked away.
 
As he told the next ambulance to go away as he was fine, the police took him in. This second ambulance took the still barely alive mother the remainder of the route only to lose her seconds before arriving at the hospital. I wrote this story, filed it with the Associated Press and received a check two weeks later for an amount I cannot remember, $50 I think. As a young man faced with the drama of something I could not truly process, I put it out of my mind. I let other more experienced writers follow-up. They didn't. The story died and so did the true drama behind the story.
 
In 1994, I was an associate publisher (training) at a daily paper in the Midwest, Atchison, KS. My instant friend who became my mentor was the publisher. He and I and the Managing Editor got drunk every night talking about, yes, solving the world's problems as we saw them. Larry, publisher was a young brilliant Jewish man (or so he said; he was quite a storyteller) with a wife, three kids at home and others from previous marriages. His marriage was on the rocks and he was having an affair with a woman in the advertising department. He was living in a one bedroom bungalow apartment a block from my house.
 
He was involved in an affair with a woman he intended to marry. Only the day before he told me she was carrying his child. Later that night a man or men came to his front door and put two shot gun blasts into his head and face (or at least that is one theory). His body was found at front door the next morning by his pregnant fiance. I quake to think I should have found him and in my dreams, I have over and over. I always imagine Larry was holding a bat in one hand, one he had kept behind the door for such an occasion. The official story is that he was likely the intruder was waiting in the house when Larry entered the front door, keys in his hand. Apparently, it was a fast ball, as he had never gotten to swing. Larry had previously reported a van fitting the description of one owned by the ex-husband of his pregnant soon to be semi-widow.
 
The ex-husband, Lloyd Heaver was charged with murder though the murder weapon was not found. Records indicated he had a shotgun which he could not produce claiming it was stolen. As I recall, his friend testified in his trial that while drinking, he had attempted to pay him to kill Larry. His friend claimed he refused the offer and went home. In the well covered investigation, I made testimony to the police affirming that Heaver's van was staking out Larry's apartment, all hearsay form a dead man. The testimony of the friend was discounted as he was not of the highest credibility, so said the defense attorney. Of course, priests and nuns are rarely found to testify in murder trials. Heaver was found not guilty when the local district attorney simply requested charges be dropped after he presented his prosecution, a rare action (not to allow a jury to come to its own conclusions).
 
Later that same night, I, my roommate, a reporter and the Managing Editor, Maggie were getting slosh faced crying and angry.  Others at the Ramada Inn say they saw a shocking event, when in came Heaver arm-in-arm with the dead publisher's wife as if to say, "hey, I got away with it, and now I got his wife." Supposedly they were making out, and got a room. However, in all fairness, the widow denied this saying, she was at the motel with Larry's two sisters and that Lloyd's mother and sister were also staying at that motel and she said had met them before the trial even started.
 
Heaver married her a year later and to this day,  and for all I knew, Larry's three daughters called Heaver, daddy. The fact I have not kept up with the events that followed, is a real sin even for the non-religious.
 
So, how did I kill these people? Well, I chose to fail to follow up in the first case out of insecurity and fear. In the second, I chose to stop digging as I thought I may be next on Heaver's list for shouting too loudly, "I knew he did it!"  I killed them because I stopped thinking. I killed their stories in my mind and thus the minds of interested readers. And with this, I killed a small part of myself. In all fairness, some had terrible things to say about the dead publisher, including that he was a "New York Jew", that he was a child molester, liar, cheat, thief and dead beat daddy. The truth came to be less important than healing with whatever inner dialog I could contrive to feel better.
 
Many stories have come and gone, some well considered, few followed up on as to the human tragedy behind each of them. It is with this I say today, a thinker continues to think and to act on those thoughts to bring about truth, not just the first chapter but the whole. Every time I have failed to think, thus failing to write, thus failing to follow up, thus failing to properly memorialize those who died; I have killed them, their memories that thing that leaves a shadow of their voices on the souls of the living.
 
4-8-2007

Revised 2-16-2010

 


 





 

 
1) Workin'on the Third-Shift Hornytown Blues- directly below

2) Fall of K.D. Divine

Workin' on the Third-Shift Hornytown Blues
Bryan E. Hall, MPW
10-31-96
 
Pull crew's up, machine in the hay,
Workin' all night, sleepin' all day.
When she's runnin' smooth, I'm thinkin' 'bout you.
Workin' on the third-shift Hornytown Blues,
When I get home, I'm gonna get some too.


So hot, there are 5x5 AC rooms, like refrigerators for us living meat. You've gotta take a break every fifteen minutes for five just to keep the blood from busting through your eyes.

The paper pulp spraying onto the rolling form-web makes a mist, which, for only a moment and a short distance, cools the air. The formed, wet paper sheet is pulled off the web, into the low roaring machine dryers with its ten-foot rollers, crushing, stamping, cooking the new, fine, cigarette paper. A wicked heat rises and spreads from the machine, fifty feet long and fifteen feet wide. Ten of these pulp-eating, paper-shitting, loud contraptions digest 600-feet/minute of converted nature, in one cavern of fluorescent light through hazy steam, and wet chemical stink.

Sappy, sweaty old men with union seniority, laugh, grunt and pant, eight hours a day, sixteen for time-and-a-half, if they were lucky, just asking for an early grave. Young, smelly, strong men stand guard, waiting for the next break in the paper, a time when we man-ants scurry to repair the disturbed mound.

Arvil, head man on machine #4, had just taken off his safety shoes to pop his toes, when upon the first crack, the paper broke.

On a bad night, it breaks about once an hour, but each time is frantic. 'Machine's in the hay,' Arvil groaned loudly.

Jeeter was an old black man, skinny, but strong. He was from the back of the machine to the front in no time. He ran past the young men to receive the paper as it pumped out of the machine. They rarely stop the machine, when it breaks. Restart is difficult and expensive. So, Jeeter and barefoot Arvil began pulling the spewing paper, taking up the slack, within seconds, enough to tear it and pass it over an overhead roller to younger men who take up the slack would do the same, passing this time to me and my partner, Winston the college boy, standing on the other side of the ten-foot wide takeup roll, already at a three-feet diameter.

We took the paper as fast as it was handed and maintained the tension on the sheet as we handed it back under the roll to the second pair of men, who instantly tore the sheet's tail and tucked the fresh end into the roll. Winston and I took control of the roll with our hands like brake pads, matching the speed of the takeup roll to the speed of the machine, maintaining proper tension as the process equalized. Perfect, like catching a trout on a fly, timing, intuition.

The second pair of men had jumped over from the machine #3 to help us, and they expected the same from us in their emergencies. We thanked them, high five, and Jeeter went to the AC room while Winston and I cleaned up the pile of paper.

I was cramming the paper into the recycler when, as I lunged for another load of paper, I felt a burning sensation in my right hand. I screamed. I saw blood on my hand, and the end of a pencil sticking through the back of my hand. Knowing the back of my hand well, I knew there was a problem. So, I looked at my palm, a hole, but no pencil. It broke off clean, had gone through the flesh, between bones and out the other side. It hurt, but not as much as the initial penetration.

Arvil had his shoes on now, and he came running to help. He observed my hand quickly, and without saying a word pinched the end of the pencil and pulled it out. I screamed again, trying to pull my hand back, but Arvil had control as he applied some cigarette paper to the bleeding hole.

They took me to the infirmary, sewed me up and told me I would be back to work by lunch time, 4 am. I didn't know whether to thank the Doctor or to stab him with my other pencil.

I took my lunch break alone in my secret place. I didn't eat. There was a 100x100 cage of chicken wire, ten feet high. It was a collection bin for the edge trimmings of the paper, one continuous stream of confetti blowing in from the top. I would find a corner, under the paper and rest on a makeshift mattress and dream as the gentle light infused the cocoon.

I would dream about . . . my wife, I guess, or some fantasy college girl.

Sometimes I would masturbate in that room, but my beating hand was damaged. So, I just thought about my sleeping wife at home.

I thought how normal men get a piss hard about wake up time. I would have an uncontrollable boner about that time too, not from waking up, but from exhaustion and the near hallucination state it created. Something about a shower, hot water hitting the almost numb body of a virile man with his mind shut off. The dick goes on automatic. I knew my wife would wake up right, this morning.

I went back to work after my break. The machine was still running without interruption. Arvil was asleep under the sheet as it came out of the machine. His seat had an AC blower overhead, so he could maintain a constant inspection while sleeping.

Winston and Jeeter were sitting in the AC room, so I joined them. Jeeter blew my cover immediately, 'Well, gonna be a while 'fore you choke yo' chicken with that mess of a hand.'

We laughed and Winston grabbed his crotch, 'Mine's working fine, gonna splash the ceiling when I get home.'

Jeeter began his standard folklore of cow fucking jokes, 'Ya know cow fuckin' caint be beat when you got a stump-broke cow.'

Winston fell into the straight line, 'What's that?'

'That's when old Carmen back up on ya whiles yo sittin' on a pussy-high stump, and she does all the work. You knows what the worst thing 'bout cow fuckin' is?' Winston smiles, invites his answer. 'It's that ya caint kiss'er while you fucks her.'

The machine ran without delay the rest of the night, and eventually, old Jeeter fell asleep. I asked Winston about college girls, and he lied, telling me about fucking a bunch of them. And I just couldn't help thinking about that big old paper machine and me, going on and on, it making paper, and me making hay with my honey when I got home, every morning.

Yeah, when I get home, she'll be sleeping. I really like her when she is just up. We don't talk about the checkbook or her mama. We don't let words come between us.

When I get out of the shower, she'll greet me with a smile, 'Welcome home, honey.' She has just brushed her teeth for me. Without a word, she'll hold my hand and lead me to bed. She'll put my blind-fold on me to keep out the daylight. She'll know what I want from my leg on hers. She'll taste me. I'll quiver. She'll kiss me and we'll roll around in and out, maybe a couple of bouts of ecstasy, then I'm out like a light.

I would dream about . . . making paper, I guess.



Fall of K.D. Divine
by
Bryan E. Hall, MPW

The large, hairy man woke up screaming from a nightmare, "I'm sorry Kasty!" His face sweaty, bloodshot eyes opened like a wild man, panting like a midsummer Mississippi marathon runner, he began to cry from his stomach through his heart and like a river, his face erupted. He grabbed his cheeks with his hands for only a moment when two female orderlies retrieved his arms,flinging them back violently against the corner bedposts, smashing his already bruised, bloody wrists as they reattached his restraints.

His dream had not been the cause of his pain instead the realization it was only a dream, and life was the nightmare. He had found his wife, Kasty only three nights before bludgeoned by repeated pounding to the commode. Clearly not self-inflicted, these fatal wounds led to Walter's arrest. The headlines read, "Mayor Kasty Divine Will Not Run For Re-Election... Murdered By Walter With Commode".

She had been the most popular mayor in Biloxi in its history. Kasty had beaten the incumbent, Walter, in the biggest mudslinging match since Rush Limbaugh had beaten Hillary Clinton for President earlier that same year.

Walter didn't remember what had happened as he had been in an amnastic stupor since the murder. The DA, Leslie Maddox, was claiming he had to be the murderer, motive, opportunity, means . . . and he was found asleep on top of her back, both sets of arms hugging the toilet.

Walter had not the capacities to deny it but his attorney, and mother, Daisy Divine, motioned to the court Walter was mentally incapable of standing trial, and that there may have been an assassin, evidenced by a broken window, glass from which was found in the bathtub, clearly suggesting it had been broken from the outside.

Walter was still screaming when Dr. Jimmy Ed entered the room with the injectable morphine. Within moments, Walter was back to his normal baby-talk, babbling something like, "Yes, my mommy loves me like the rock of ages," then singing into a lulled daze.

Jimmy had been Walter's friend since they were seven, and had known him all of his life. Before they had become friends, Walter's father, the First Baptist Pastor, had just died. Walter had not been allowed to talk to Jimmy before, he was a Catholic. They said 'hello' the first time in Mrs. Newton's second-grade class the morning after the funeral. He was the first person who had the nerve to say anything to Walter during this period of mourning. All of his friends had become socially paralysed, fearing this poor fat boy would go off any minute, they left him alone.

"Walter," Jimmy getting his attention, " I know you can't think straight now, boy, but I'm a'gonna try to get some info." The doctor had a tape recorder going, and DA Maddox stood over his shoulder listening. "The DA is with me and she is concerned about you."

"Ha," exploded Walter with what little strength he had, going limp after, panting, "She can kiss my ass."

"C'mon buddy, we just wanna find out if you can remember anything."

Dr. Jimmy Ed, "What do you think you're doing to my baby?" Momma Daisy storms in with a briefcase, handing it to Jimmy, as she butts by, caressing Walters cheeks and hugging him.

"Hi, Momma D," said Jimmy as he knew he'd best conclude his attempts.

"Hello, baby Walter. You look like somebody done tied you to the cross'o'Jesus, and pound stakes through ya. I swear, Jimmy Ed, there has got to be a more civilized way to treat crazy folks, in this modern day, Jesus, you can take a picture of his head inside-out and drug him to never-never-land, caintcha find high-tech fuzzy handcuffs?"

"I'll see what I can do Mrs. D."

"It's okay, Jimmy," Walter interrupted. "I caint feel a thing. If I'da known 'bout this stuff I'm on, during the election, Kasty's victory party mighta been Cinderella's ball."

Maddox pushes through, "He seems able to receive questions now, counselor."

"Don't call me counselor, Prince 'o Peace, Oh Mighty One, or anything else high falutin', Leslie, or I'll change your diapers in a minute."

"Well, Mrs. D, I gotta do my job, and I wish you'd show me some respect, I am a professional grownup woman now, and you best know it."

"Kasty, is that you honey?", Walter looked at the ceiling left to right, hearing a familiar complaining voice.

"No honey, it's just yo momma and Kasty's clone, Leslie Jean."

Kasty and Leslie had been practicing law for two years before the election and were beginning to do quite well, taking much of the business law from the growth of Biloxi. The men in the town had stuck to probate and criminal work, and of course, running the town. Who knew such demand would create a power that would ultimately topple the two-hundred year-old gentlemen's club which had run Biloxi in its long hayday.

They had just opened their own office in the most prestigious building in town, put their shingle out and became the first lady attorneys to practice outside of their homes. Nobody had taken them seriously. Both had been housewives, Kasty the first-lady, mint-julep-drinking, sun-dress socials by the pool, all of that. Leslie, the only known lesbian in town, had married Biloxi's richest and oldest man, a cousin of the former Georgia Governor. When Mr. Maddox died, Leslie couldn't wait to offer a full scholarship to Kasty, to go back to school and deliver herself from castigation and second-class citizenship, so off to the Women's College they went.

Walter went three years tolerating the jabs from his fellow country clubbers about his wife and her girlfriend, seeing her only on weekends over the books she would later use as weapons. The day she and Leslie graduated was more like a wedding and a funeral than academic pomp and circumstance. Little did Walter know they would mount a coup in less than a year which would last another, and succeed. In a voting district which had never seen more than ten-percent of the women over eighteen participate, the good ole boys got caught with their pants down, got their suspenders popped, and got their shiny little red asses thrown out of the courthouse.

Kasty was pleasant about it, insisting on a liaison team from the previous administration primarily so she could get a chance to boss them around for a while before cleaning out their offices. They did get the opportunity to save face a little with the local paper and even the Times-Piccayune found it newsworthy. Kasty made it look like she appreciated their outgoing advice.

Meanwhile, Walter had lost the ability to perform his husbandly duties. Kasty did not notice. Neither did Leslie, as they had a town to run. Walter had not practiced law in twenty years and was not about to return to school at fifty. Eventually he began to dress seventies retro and regularly attended the disco dancing lessons at the YMCA. It seemed Kasty and Walter had switched sides in more than one way.

Their house was like Tara and neither saw the other much except formal occasions of government and family. They had no children though they had always said they would for Momma D, however she did not mind as she had duties of her own in the new administration, no time for grammas.

The town was booming and Kasty already had powerbrokers eyeballing her for congress. As time passed, Walter began to teach disco lessons in the home privately for other house-husbands and single men. After all, the women worked during the day, what else did a man have to do but sip mint juleps and dance around the pool with other men in the July heat?

Some men had made nasty remarks around town about the new regime, even posting hate bills on the windows of the pharmacy deli and ice cream bar. One night Walter answered the phone, "Hello, this is Dancin' Wally, what can I do ya for?"

The other end of the line was silent, "Who is this? I told you not to call me here." Still silent, apparently not Walter's expected mystery caller. "Just say somethin', breathe heavy, I'll get some kinda thrill."

Finally, the voice on the other end, "That bitch is dead."

"Which bitch is that, exactly, Leslie or Kasty?"

"That whore wife of yours has reached the end of my worn out rope, she's chafing my ass."

"Is this Kasty's secretary, Benny that you?"

The man just ignored him, "You just tell her to watch that skinny ass of hers or she's filet 'o' feminist."

Walter just looked confused for a second, shrugged, hung up, and took a sip of his mint julep. Kasty just arrived home, 9pm. "Lotta pressure controlling the destiny of womankind, Kasty. Here have a sip, girl."

"You wouldn't believe . . . I guess you would," she said smirking.

He nodded.

"Did I get any calls?"

"Oh nothing important, just a couple of lobbyists, men, I knew you didn't want to talk to them. Then there was the usual couple of threats of assassination, and a few men claiming to be carrying your child, oh, and women wantin' to. Thought that would get your attention."

"I am so sick of the crap in this job."

He helps her take her coat off. "Ready to resign?"

"I finally got a decent chair in your office. The butt was gone and mine doesn't have much padding left."

"Why, I had just recently heard that from one of your supporters, Kasty, right before you made your entrance."

She rolled her eyes and went upstairs directly to bed.

Walter had not taken seriously anything in a year now, the threats too often, and his drinks too strong. But he looked back at the phone as he wandered back into the formal living room.

"You finished playing receptionist and butler, Wally?" The effete young man on the velvet chaisse patted the spot next to him. "Oh what a perfect world this has become. With my trust from my grandmother, and your convenient retirement with a bread winner like that, I believe it is clear men have been delusional forever thinking they were in charge. Nobody is. So, why not enjoy life while you can?"

"Curtis, you are wiser than I, and such a young, cute thing to boot."

Deep down Walter felt his ego finally draw its last breath as he obliged this true cry from the mouth of babes. He knew things would never be the same again, and was thankful for the relief.

Walter awoke the next morning in his bed, down the hall from Kasty. The young man who had slept next to him had retrieved the breakfast from Lilly Mae, the faithful black maid, who had refused to let the times emancipate her. "Walter, this is the freshest orange juice I have ever tasted outside of Florida, and these brown eggs are still hot from the hen's butt."

"Yes, Curtis, but we have Lilly Mae to thank for the hard work, don't we."

"And Ms. Kasty pays the bills, don't you forget."

Walter took issue at this, "I had money before I ever met Kasty. And Lilly Mae breast fed my whole family before Kasty was born."

The young man put in his place, apologized promptly. Then he sat the food across Walter's belly. Intent on reversing the insult, Curtis popped his head under the satin sheets and pecked Walter on the balls to his surprise. The two sat there and ate, yawning and enjoying the summer morn from the open balcony doors of the bedroom.

After they ate and played, Curtis dressed and left Walter napping, resting from the good meal and dessert. Just as he was excusing himself from the room, Walter perched his lips and smiled to himself, content with his life.

* * * * *

Walter, finally up from his nap at noon, took a long shower, called some friends to arrange a hunting and fishing expedition, and hopped into his Mercedes convertible for a ride to the market. He was having such a good time catching some rubber in second gear, honking at the boys riding their bikes racing beside him, waving at the townspeople who still loved him after all. Walter was young again and free, living in a new world. He thought for a moment, there is a war, but recovered his smile, "I'm no longer a soldier", he proclaimed.

Pulling into the market he took the parking place next to the entrance. He had never noticed there was such a convenient space, except for the handicapped. How nice it was to shop in the mid-afternoon, no crowds, only other freebirds like himself.

He had just picked up some wildflowers for Curtis, when a strange man veered into his shoulder. He looked up to see the old sheriff, also defeated by the 'good ole girl network'.

"Howdy, Arvil, still wearing your hat. Don't you know you are inside, boy?"

"Don't you be primping me. I still remember my lessons from the old school, where you didn't sleep with your buddies."

"Well, you just keep that hat on, something's gotta hold in that shit you call brains. How's Wilma doin' anyway, you old horse's ass?"

"She left me yesterday. Said she couldn't stay with a unemployed loser."

"You got money, Arvil, plenty."

"Well, so does she. A woman wants more than that now."

"As I well know."

"So, Walter, how's that skinny ass little bitch of yours?"

Walter noticed a familiar ring to the expression but didn't follow up on it. "She's still skinny, but I'm hers nowadays, technically. She's not my little bitch."

"No, I guess not. Jesus, you look ten years younger though, Walter."

"Well, Arvil, I wish I could say the same, but you do look like hell. You should come over for disco lessons and mint juleps, relax a little."

"I don't think I feel like dancing with the boys quite as yet, but I may come over your place sooner than you think. Right now, I need to get some rhubarbs, something sweet to suck on, make some pies."

"I didn't know you were domestic."

"Watch it now, Miss Wally." He walked away and winked.

Walter was surprised with his own comfort and the very fact Arvil could make light of the new orientation as it were. But, there was still something eating away at Arvil, an evil glint in his eye had him up to something. Walter wouldn't be bothered any longer than it took to drink a Bloody Mary for lunch.

Walter was already looped on the booze when Curtis arrived at five, and the sun had baked in a good tan for this man of leisure. "Curtis, honey," he slurred, "I needed you just two hours ago, I have a dreadful, hard-to-reach spot on the back of my shouders. I guarantee it's burnt without that Ban De Soleil number 10."

And it was a hideous, lobster red, diamond-shaped ten inch classic burn on Walter's back, looked like the marking of a black widow.

"I 'm gonna have to put some Aloe Vera on that Wally. I'll kiss it and make it better. Po' baby."

Curtis had been rubbing Walters back for thirty minutes, and the alcohol from the heavy pace of the afternoon plus two Martinis was just kicking in. Walter was out cold.

"Excuse me, but who are you?" Kasty had just arrived home earlier than usual.

"I am Walters friend."

"That's a terrible sunburn. Looks like a hairy, black widow and lobster had a whale baby. Let me put some Aloe Vera on that."

"I've already taken care of that."

"Oh really," she said with a jealous tone.

"Yes, someone has to take care of him now."

Kasty got a slight flush, readily apparent from her face now regularly lacking makeup. She seemed to still have some feelings left for this man she had so successfully emasculated. "Well, I can take care of it. Besides he has to get ready for a dinner at the Governor's. Walter, wake up."

"He's drunk. Passed out." She shakes him and he finally pulls out of his deep sleep, still glary-eyed. "You have got to wake up and sober up. The limo will be here in one hour. And you must shower and dress." She shakes him again, and helps him up from the deck chair.

Curtis just stands there, clearly ignored, steaming with resentment, watches Kasty drag her husband to the bathroom. He follows them and Walter is getting sick as they enter the john. Walter falls to his knees in front of the toilet and begins to throw up. Kasty gets on her knees next to him and pours cold water over his head. It drips off his ears and neck along with the vomit still oozing at regular intervals.

"Here let me help. You get dressed and ready. I'll shower him."

"Thank you, but no thank you. You have done enough damage. Please don't let the door hit you in the ass as you leave."

Without warning, Curtis flies into a rage and grabs Kasty by the hair and slaps her. Kasty backhands Curtis so hard he falls into the tub. He regains his footing and pursues Kasty's hair again, this time banging her face into the toilet next to Walter. She gasps and struggles, but Curtis continues to pulverize her forehead with the toilet edge. She stops breathing, face down in the bowl. Curtis flushes. Walter belches, still slumped next to Kasty.

Curtis now realizes what he has done and surveys the room. He bends back down and positions Walter's limp body on top of hers.

At this moment the window of the bathroom crashes next to the tub. Glass explodes across the room. Curtis immediately looks and sees Sheriff Arvil, still wearing his hat, eyes popping, gun in hand. "What you doing boy?", screamed the Sheriff.

"Front door's open, Sheriff."

Arvil comes around the back door and enters quickly.

"You kill them both?"

"He's just passed out, drunk."

"The bitch dead?"

"She aint breathing."

Arvil pulls back out of the window and begins to walk around to the front of the house. Moments later he looks over the shoulder of young Curtis, now paralysed with disbelief at his own actions. Arvil grabs his arm.

"Let's go, boy."

"Am I under arrest?"

"Not my job anymore, boy."

They walk slowly out, carefully avoiding stepping in the glass. They walk out the front of the house. Now standing next to Arvil's ex-cruiser.

"You're that Curtis boy, been messing round the ex-mayor."

"Yes sir."

"You saved me some trouble, you know. Looks better than anything I ever set up. You know I was going to kill the bitch myself. Really, I aint no pussy, I'da done it. Shit, you a real man, boy. Light in the loafers, but you got guts. Shame I gotta kill ya." Without hesitation, the Sheriff puts the gun next to the boys head and pulls the trigger. He casually opens his trunk and retrieves a large plastic bag, methodically rolls up Curtis and pops his tight young body into the trunk. He spits and drives away.



 

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