Saturday, February 15, 2014

No. 46: Road Trip

1.
Christine Worley lay on the bed in the hotel room, a bandana tied into her mouth. She was completely naked, had a black eye, a shattered left wrist and a right foot that was twisted almost 180 degrees. She had been crying for hours and her tears and drool were staining the pillow her head was on.

From the bathroom, Hank Garrick came out completely naked which caused Christine to cry a bit harder. “It’s okay. It’s almost over,” he said. He sat down on the bed near her broken ankle causing her to scream from behind her gag. “Sorry…” He began softly rubbing her leg. “You are very beautiful with your long curly hair and freckles. What I really like is how you still have your pubic hair. So many girls your age shave it all off these days that it’s nice to see a young girl with a thick, but well-kept, bush,” Hank started running his fingers through Christine’s pubic hair which caused her to wince and tear up again. Hank climbed on top of her.

She tried to scream ‘No’ through her gag. She used to right arm to try to push Hank off of her. He grabbed her wrist and pushed her arm down with force. A loud crunch echoed through the room and Christine’s eyes widened as she screamed in pain. Now with an arm broken backwards at the elbow, Christine was defenseless against Hank. She lay perfectly still, crying, as Hank raped her for a third time.

When Hank was finished, he went back into the bathroom and came back out after a couple of minutes. “Now comes the hard part,” he sighed. He grabbed a trash can with a bag in it and sat it underneath Christine’s broken arm. “This will sting but not for long. After a while you will just fall asleep and it will all be over.”

Christine continued to cry. Hank took out a knife and gently took Christine’s wrist. He took his knife and sliced it diagonally through her wrist. Christine winced again and blood trickled out and dripped into the trash bag.

After awhile, Christine started to fall asleep. Hank began cleaning up the hotel room. He threw Christine’s clothes into the trash bag and got dressed himself.

He wasn’t sure how much time passes before he noticed that Christine stopped breathing. Hank placed a tarp on the floor and then carried Christine and placed her on it. He carefully rolled her up and made sure to tuck the ends of the tarp in.

Hank took the trash bag and tied it up. He left the hotel room and went out to the parking lot, threw the bag in the dumpster and unlocked his car’s trunk. He went back to the hotel room and picked up Christine and carried her outside and placed her in his trunk and quietly closed it.

Back in the hotel room, he finished cleaning up and then left. He checked out then got in his car and began driving away.




2.
Hank drove for several hours along Interstate 40 until he reached Gallup, New Mexico where he stopped to grab something to eat and gas.

Hank was on his way to Duluth, Minnesota. There were three small ponds on his property that Hank used regularly. He used the most remote pond for his victims. He had lost count of how many bodies were resting at the bottom but he could estimate about two dozen. There may be more or there could be less.

After eating in Gallup, he continued on the road toward Albuquerque. Along the way, his cell phone rang. He looked at the screen and sighed and rolled his eyes. “Hello, Emily,” Hank answered.

“Hi, Hank. How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well. You?”

“Nick finally left me,” Emily replied. Hank rolled his eyes again. “I knew this was coming. I just wish he could’ve stuck around to be a father for our son.”

“You two had been having problems even before you got married. I don’t understand why you had to bring a child into the mix.”

“I thought it would bring us closer,” she replied.

“If you’re not close to begin with why would adding someone else to your relationship change that?”

“Shut up. Are you able to get to get away and come down here?”

“I’m on a business trip right now. I’m near Albuquerque heading back to Minnesota. I guess I can stop by on my way through Kansas City. Why?”

“We haven’t seen each other in almost a year. Also, I was wondering if you could store some stuff for me. I’m moving back to Duluth.”

“I have work stuff in my trunk but I can fit some stuff in my backseat,” Hank sighed.

“Okay, thanks,” Emily said. “I’ll see you in a day or two?”

“Yeah.” And they hung up.

Hank really was on a business trip but Christine was the only thing in his trunk. Emily lived in a suburb of Kansas City in Missouri so visiting her wouldn’t be too far off his route home. He continued driving and soon saw Albuquerque on the horizon.




Hank stopped at a gas station and filled up his gas tank. As he walked from the store back to his car at the pumps, he saw a girl with blue hair standing on the side of the road holding a makeshift cardboard sign.

He walked up to her and spoke “Hitchhiking?”

“Trying,” she responded.

“Where are you going?” he asked. She turned and showed him her sign that read ‘Chicago.’ “I’m heading to Minnesota. I can take you to Kansas City.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. No problem at all.”

“Uh, thank you so much. And I can pay for gas or pay you back some other way,” she said. “I’m not a prude or anything.”

Hank chuckled. “I don’t think that will be necessary but we’ll see how the trip goes. Also, I’m not leaving Albuquerque until tomorrow. I hope that’s okay.”

“That’s fine. I’m in no hurry,” the girl said. “I’m Shannon,” she extended her hand.

Hank took it. “Nice to meet you, Shannon. I’m Hank. Feel free to join me for dinner and stay in my hotel room.”

“I don’t want to impose…”

“Nonsense,” Hank said. “Come on, let’s find a place to eat.”




So what are you doing out here?” Hank asked as they sat in a restaurant and ate.

“I went to Los Angeles for a concert with my boyfriend. We had a fight and he abandoned me there. I’ve been hitchhiking since trying to get to Chicago but most people can only take me a few miles before they stop or change directions,” Shannon replied.

“How many dicks have you had to suck?” Hank asked.

Shannon giggled. “Only one and it was the guy who drove me out of L.A.,” she said. “And he left me in the middle of the desert. After I swallowed and everything.”

“What are you going to do with your boyfriend when you get back to Chicago?”

“If I see him, castration. But I’m not going to actively seek him out,” she said. “What are you doing out here?”

“Business. I do a lot of traveling for work. I’ve been in Phoenix the last week or so. I love doing it but it’s also the reason I don’t have a family.”

“What do you do?”

“I help set up new contracts when they start in one of our 15 locations. I also help wind them down when the contract is up so seeing me around can be a good thing or a bad thing. Do you have a job?”

“Of course I have a job. I work in a gas station…” Shannon said.

“At least you’re working. Are you going to school or anything?”

“No. I kind of stopped going after I realized that I had no idea what I wanted to do.”

“What did you want to do? You had to have been going to school for a reason.”

“Oh, I went through periods where I wanted to own my own business, be a journalist, a lawyer but nothing seemed to hold my interest. What about you?”

“I went to school for business but to tell you the truth, I don’t use it. The company I work for will definitely hire you without a degree but likes to hire college graduates so they can boast that x-number of employees have degrees to business magazines. But if you don’t have a degree then you just need to be well-liked and getting promoted is easy.”

“Sounds good. Any locations in Chicago?”

“The closest branches to you would be in Columbia, Missouri and Indianapolis, Indiana. And of course Duluth.”

“If I move to Duluth, could I stay with you for awhile?” she laughed.

“We could probably work something out,” Hank laughed back.




3.
“Your sister has been married how long?” Shannon asked.

“Seven years. And about four years in, she decides to trap themselves with a baby. Not her best idea.”

“So even after knowing that her husband has been cheating on her—three times—she decides to start a family?”

“Yep. She thought it would bring them together but it made him more isolated—which I told her would happen.”

“So she wants to move back to Duluth?”

“Yeah. We’ll see if that actually happens,” Hank rolled his eyes.

“My parents divorced after I graduated from high school. They apparently stayed together just for me and my brother. My mom is remarried now and my dad is enjoying the single life way too much. Why aren’t you married? You seem normal.”

“Like I said, I travel a lot. Plus I just haven’t found the right person and I think I’m too set in my ways at this point to make a commitment like that.”

“I had a friend who wanted to marry young. The guy she was dating all through high school broke up with her senior year. She left for college for a year, came back, literally lost her virginity to the first guy she saw, got married then pregnant. It was so out of character for her.”

“I knew a girl like that only not a virgin. We never thought she’d get married but ten year reunion—BAM!—loving husband and daughter.”

“Are they still together?” Shannon asked.

Hank made a raspberry. “I don’t know. My ten year reunion was the only one I went to,” Hank said. “Of course I’ve only had two.”

“I loved high school. I was probably the only teenager at my school who truly loved it,” Shannon began. “I tried my best to balance studying, sports, friends and relationships. My mom got me on birth control early because, as she liked to tell people, she found me under a pile of boys at age 12.”

“What?”

“It wasn’t a pile of boys. It was one boy and we were just lying on top of each other naked.”

“Oh, yes. That’s so much better,” Hank laughed.

“We dated for awhile in high school. We never slept together though. I could never get past seeing his 12-year-old penis. That was what I wanted and I knew he didn’t have it anymore,” Shannon revealed.

“I’m gonna change the subject now,” Hank said. “After we get a hotel in Oklahoma City, do you want to visit some museums?”

“They have museums in Oklahoma City?”

“Yeah. The cowboy museum, a science museum, I think they have an art museum and natural history museum as well. We can also visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial if you want to feel depressed.”

“Let’s do that, the cowboy one and either the science or art one. Then food. Chinese,” Shannon proffered.

“Sounds good to me,” Hank agreed.




Hank and Shannon walked into their hotel room around seven each carrying a bag filled with Chinese food. “That was a fun day,” Shannon said.

“It was,” Hank agreed.

“And thanks again for the hat,” Shannon said, pulling a cowboy hat out of a bag and placing it on her head.

“You’re welcome. I’m a big advocate of things that make girls cuter.”

Shannon giggled and blushed. “Come on, divvy out the food. I’m hungry.”

The hotel room was small. The bathroom was immediately to the left of the door, there was a TV on top of the dresser, two beds separated by a night table and a desk against the bathroom wall. Hank sat the Chinese food on the desk and started pulling it out. He handed three of the boxes to Shannon and kept two of them and the crab Rangoon for himself.

Hank turned on the TV and the two of them began eating while sitting on the beds. “There are only ten channels so our options are pretty limited.”

“I’m fine with just background noise. We can talk to each other while we eat,” Shannon said.

“That’s fine with me,” Hank turned it to one of the local network affiliates and turned down the volume so they could easily talk over it.

“So what do you do when you aren’t traveling around the country?” Shannon asked right before she shoved a big fork full of lo mien in her mouth.

“Up until a couple years ago I coached a city youth baseball league. Ages eight to twelve. I did that most weekends in the spring, summer and fall for about nine years.”

“Why did you stop?”

Hank shoved a piece of chicken in his mouth as he thought of that. He thought of 12-year-old player Madeline Gross bent over hi s desk, crying as he held her down by the neck and fucked her from behind. He then pulled her up by the hair and she squealed then went silent as he slit her throat. Killing Madeline was too daring. He was questioned about her disappearance and had his house searched. That’s when he decided no more girls from his hometown.

Hank swallowed his chicken. He had an erection and had been unknowingly staring at Shannon’s breasts. “They wanted me to change my coaching style and I refused so I quit.”

“Good for you, sticking by you principles,” Shannon said then arched her back, showing off her breasts, her nipples also made small bumps on her shirt. “They are pretty nice aren’t they?” she laughed.

“Sorry,” Hank chuckled.

“It’s okay. So what do you do now?”

“I just stay in and read now,” Hank said. “I lead a pretty boring life now. What about now?”

“Same here. A pretty boring life. I spend a lot of my free time listening to music. I love music. It’s the only think I’ve loved that I haven’t stopped loving. I try to go to as many concerts as I can so I literally work twelve to fifteen hours a day so I can.”

“What concert were you seeing in L.A.?”

“Vampire Weekend. They were amazing!” she gasped. “Too bad my boyfriend had to be a dick. But then I wouldn’t have met you so I guess it’s not a bad thing.”

“No, I guess it isn’t.”

Hank and Shannon got into their separate beds. Hank was wearing a plain white T-shirt and boxers while Shannon was wearing a white tank top and panties. As soon as she got under the covers, she began taking off her underwear. When she got them off, she dropped them on the floor. Hank gave her a weird look. “I told you that I can’t wear pants to bed. They end up riding up in all sorts of places.”

“Okay,” Hank smiled. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he reached over and turned off the lamp. He rolled over facing away from Shannon.

“Good night,” she said. They lay in silence for a few minutes until Shannon spoke again. “I’m not ready for bed.”

“You can watch some TV if you want,” Hank suggested.

“You know what always puts me to sleep?” Shannon asked and then got into bed with Hank, under the covers.




4.
Hank and Shannon woke up the next morning in the same bed, facing each other. “Good morning,” she smiled.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Hank said.

“I wanted to.”

“We have four more hours in car together. Won’t sleeping together make the trip kind of awkward?” he asked.

Shannon made a face. “Why would it be awkward? We’ve gotten along very well on this trip and we are both adults and this will be the only time we see each other so a little sex shouldn’t make this awkward.”

“You’re still mad at your boyfriend, aren’t you?”

“I would’ve fucked a homeless man to get even, to be honest,” Shannon said.

Hank laughed loudly then leaned over and kissed her.

“What was that?” she backed away.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I got caught up in the moment.”

Shannon laughed. “It’s okay. I wanted to do that too,” she leaned in and kissed him back. They continued kissing and then Shannon rolled Hank over and got on top of him.

Hank ran his hand from her stomach, over her breasts, flicking her small nipples with his thumb and up to her neck where he wrapped his hand around it. “Hey. You should put on that cowboy hat,” he smiled.




Hank went out to his car and opened the trunk. The tarp holding Christine was starting to unroll and blood has started to leak out.

“Sorry, Chrissy,” he said as he fixed the tarp and pushed her further back in the trunk. “You’ll be with friends soon.”

He shut the trunk and went back to his hotel room. He sat down on Shannon’s bed and picked up the cowboy hat. “What are you doing?”

Hank turned around and saw Shannon, wrapped in a towel, drying her hair with another towel, coming out of the bathroom.

“Thinking about you in this hat,” he smiled.

She took it from him and put it on and then sat on his lap. “It was kind of hat…” she bit her lip.

“We need to go,” Hank said. “I need to get to Kansas City and then home.”

Shannon pouted. “Okay,” she got off of Hank and continued drying her hair.

Within the hour, Hank and Shannon checked out of the hotel, grabbed a late breakfast and were on the road headed out of Oklahoma City. As they left Wichita, Shannon began looking at herself in the vanity mirror and did that for about fifteen minutes. “I can’t wait to get back to Chicago. My hair needs a trim and a touch up.”

“You look fine. Are you going to stick with blue?” Hank asked.

“Probably. At least for one more round. Blue and purple are the two colors most people comment on. I did this really bright hot pink one time that was very popular,” she explained. “Green and orange seem to be the least popular.”

Shannon flipped up the visor and the two sat in silence for another few miles. When they reached Emporia, Hank exited the Kansas Turnpike to stay on Interstate 35, heading north.

“Don’t we stay on the Turnpike?” Shannon asked as Hank drove through the toll booth.

“No. We stay on I-35 to Kansas City. If we stay on the Turnpike it becomes I-335 and takes us to Topeka and adds a few miles to our journey.”

“But this goes east. The Turnpike continues north…”

“I-35 starts heading northeast toward Kansas City at about Ottawa…”

“I don’t know where that is…”

“Just trust me. I’ve driven these highways numerous times,” Hank said. “Do you want to stop and get something to eat?”

“I wouldn’t mind a snack. Also, I have to pee.”

Hank exited I-35 and pulled into a gas station. He and Shannon went inside with Shannon headed to the restroom. Hank grabbed himself a candy bar and began filling a cup with soda. When he cup was full he went over to put on a lid and grab a straw. A young girl of about 14 or 15 came into the station and walked by toward the restrooms. She was wearing a tight red shirt and her small breasts were very noticeable in it. Hank noticed Shannon next to him. “Here, can you pay and get the car going?” he handed her some cash and the car keys. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Sure. I’ll see you out there.”

Hank went off to the restrooms and looked around before entering the women’s restroom. The girl was standing at the sink washing her hands.

“This is the girl’s bathroom,” she sneered at him.

“I know,” he said and walked in. He grabbed the girl by the throat and pushed her into a stall. Still holding her throat, Hank undid her jeans and pulled them down along with her panties. The girl began crying as Hank undid his pants and turned her around, holding her down toward the toilet. He forced himself inside her and roughly began thrusting, his hands both holding her down and fondling her small chest. It didn’t take long for Hank to orgasm. He kept himself inside her for a few seconds before moving his hands to her chin and the back of her head. With a quick pull and three soft cracks, the girl went silent and limp. Hank gently pulled out and sat her down on the toilet. Hank crawled under the stall door and quickly left the restroom, got in the car and hurriedly left the gas station parking lot.

“Hank, what are you doing?” Shannon asked. “Hank? Hank!”

Hank snapped out of it. “What? I’m sorry,” he was still at the lid and straw counter in the gas station. “Got lost in my own thoughts. Can you pay for these and start the car? I have to pee.”

Shannon took the money and keys. “Sure. See you out there.”

Hank walked away and went into the men’s restroom and into a stall where he pulled out his penis and began masturbating. He came quickly and soon he and Shannon were back on the road.




Hank exited I-35 in Kansas City onto I-70 but continued east further down the interstate before exiting at the Blue Ridge Cutoff near the football and baseball stadiums. “This should be a good area for you to continue your journey,” Hank said, pulling over.

Shannon leaned over and hugged Hank, grabbed her bag from the backseat and got out of the car. “Thank you for driving me this far. Who knows where I would be if you hadn’t come along.”

“No problem. Glad to have you. Without you, it would’ve been a very boring drive. You stay safe and don’t be a stranger. Call or text me when you get back to Chicago.”

“I will. Again, thanks for everything,” and she shut the car door.

Hank continued on Blue Ridge, made a few more turns and within ten minutes was pulling into his sister’s driveway. He rang the doorbell and Emily answered quickly.

“Hey, Hank. It’s been awhile,” she said and the two awkwardly hugged. “Why did it take you so long to get here? I looked it up and it only takes twenty hours to get here from Phoenix so you should’ve been here in a couple days at most.”

“I took my time. Plus I picked up a hitchhiker so I made quite a few more stops than I normally would.”

“A hitchhiker? And you went all that way with them? That’s dangerous!” Emily exclaimed.

“It was just a college student, Em. And if anything, I was probably more of a threat to her than she was to me.”

“Either way. I’m glad you were able to stop and visit. And thanks for offering to take some of my stuff to Duluth with you.”

“No problem. Are you actually moving up there or am I going to have your crap cluttering my house until my next trip through Kansas City?”

“I plan on moving. Without Nick, I have no reason to stay here,” Emily said. “Although it may still be a year before the move happens.”

“Well, just let me know. Where am I staying? I would like to nap for a couple of hours before dinner.”




5.
At dinner, Hank and Emily talked about the happenings in Duluth and Emily’s disintegrating marriage. “So why did you pick up a hitchhiker?” Emily asked when there was a lull in the conversation.

“I don’t know. Something about her. She seemed harmless enough and I felt kind of sorry for her since she was headed to Chicago and she was stranded in Albuquerque.”

“What was her name?” Emily asked.

“Shannon. We had a very good trip. We stopped in Oklahoma City and visited a couple of museums.”

“Oklahoma City has museums?”

“That’s what we said!” Hank laughed.

“I’m glad you two had a good time. Having someone with you makes long road trips not seem as long and can be a bit more exciting,” Emily said. “What time do you want to leave tomorrow?”

“Whenever we get things loaded up,” Hank replied.

“I just want to work around your schedule. We can load stuff first thing in the morning, I can make you breakfast and then you can be on your way.”

“Okay. That’s fine. Whenever. I’m driving nonstop to Duluth so the earlier the better.”

“Okay, we’ll start loading your car when we both get up. I got everything packed so it’s ready to go.”

“I was hoping you would. I don’t mind helping move but I hate helping with packing.”

“I know, Hank,” Emily rolled her eyes. “You told me that when I moved down here.”




At around 4 a.m., Hank’s phone chimed, waking him up. He grabbed his phone and looked at the screen. It was a text from Shannon reading, Almost to Chicago. I miss you. This guy ain’t as fun. He texted back. I’m sorry. Wish I could’ve taken you the rest of the way. She responded I know. I will call you sometime tomorrow. Be safe. Love, -S.

Hank laid his phone back down and fell back to sleep. He woke back up at nine, the sun shining into the window of the room he was in. He got up, went to the bathroom and heading to his room, passing Emily in the hallway carrying a box.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Taking boxes down to your car,” she responded.

“Where are you putting them?”

“The trunk…”

“There’s no room in the trunk,” he lied, shouting at Emily. “You didn’t open it did you?”

“Not yet. I was just trying to make this easier for you. Why are you getting upset?”

“I have confidential stuff for work in there. Sorry I got upset but I don’t want to chance private information being seen. Just put what you can in the passenger and back seats.”

“Okay, weirdo.”

“I’m going to put regular clothes on and then I’ll help you. Give me a minute.”

Hank and Emily were able to get nine boxes into his car and then had a late breakfast consisting of eggs and pancakes with some toast and then Hank got back on the road at about 10:30.




The house Hank lived in was originally his parents’. They left him the house and property when they died and Hank gladly moved in. The house was a log cabin-style ranch house sitting on 18 acres of land, most if covered in fairly thick woods but there were three ponds on the property—two close to the house and one on the backside of the property, hidden among the trees. Hank arrived home at around 9:30 and followed a dirt trail from his driveway, around the house and into the woods. He drove slowly as he wound his way around the trees. He stopped near the pond where he had built a dock on the shore and kept a small row boat.

He parked and turned off the car but left the lights on. He got out and opened the trunk. He slid Christine toward him and lifted her out. He placed her in the boat then grabbed a nearby cinder block—a pile of which he kept near the dock—and a rope from the trunk. He got in the boat and tied one end of the rope to the block then wrapped and tied the other end around Christine’s waist.

He paddled the boat away from the dock and into the middle of the pond. He placed the block on Christine and then lifted her enough to push her over the side of the boat and into the water. “Sorry this took so long, Chrissy,” he said before pushing.

She went overboard and splashed into the water, sinking immediately. Hank stood and sighed as he watched Christine disappear into the water. He then sat back down and paddled back to the dock. As he tied the boat up, his phone rang. He looked at the screen and answered. “Hey, Shannon, what’s up? Made it back safely I assume…”

Friday, February 14, 2014

In Which My Faith In Kansas Plummetts

House Bill 2453 easily passed the Kansas House of Representatives on Wednesday. The bill claims that it protects religious freedoms. Hey, that's a good thing. It's time we get some reassurance that your religion is yours and if you don't bother me with yours, I won't bother you with mine.

But that's not what this bill does. According to the bill as written:
No individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender: Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement
Essentially what the bill does is allow businesses to refuse goods, services, accommodations and amenities to gay people. The bill is even written so that essentially a police officer or fire fighter could refuse to help a gay person based on their religious beliefs. According to the legislators, this bill was written to make sure that if the courts strike down the state's same sex marriage ban, they are still discriminated against and find it difficult to get married in the state of Kansas. So what the legislators admitted was that they are losing this battle but want to continue to try to win the war. Or maybe it's losing the war but wanting to try to win the battle.

Kansans that I follow on Twitter were adamantly against this bill as most people should be because why would you want to discriminate and you would be losing out on money because last I knew, money used by gay people was the same as money used by everybody else. As for our legislators, they know this bill is illegal, unconstitutional and will be challenged in court because they already have a number for how much it will cost to defend it. $250,000. The state refuses to fund education, hasn't created one decent job bill and cuts taxes for the wealthy resulting in an estimated 700 million dollar budget deficit but we have the money to find bills we already know are illegal? I know Governor Brownback said Kansas would become an experiment but an experiment in what? Bad lawmaking? Most court cases lost?

Now I understand that these old white men who run our state may think gay people are icky and that they are just following what the Bible says but our constitution says that there is freedom of religion. And that freedom goes both ways. It keeps your religion away from me and my religion away from you. Imagine if, by law, you had to listen those missionaries who come to your door to bore you about Jesus Christ. It's freedom of religion that allows us to say "Please stop" and close the door. What would happen if the federal government made discrimination of sexual orientation illegal like with race, color, creed, gender? Would Kansas draft a bill saying the federal government has no jurisdiction? Why not? They've done it before.

As of now, Senate president Susan Wagel has said that she believes the bill to be discriminatory and will not pass the senate as is. Whether or not she truly believes this or Governor Brownback told her to squelch this negative press that is going national is unknown but the Kansas legislature has done this before. They draft a terrible, controversial bill, the state and even the country get in an uproar so the bill dies either in the senate or at the governor's desk and, no joke, our politicians raise themselves as heroes for stopping the upopular thing they started in the first place.

The real problem I have with all of this is that I am a huge Kansas booster. I've written about Kansas, researched Kansas, explored Kansas and defended Kansas for most of my life. It's becoming harder and harder to boost and defend my state when it constantly does terrible things like this. When Sam Brownback became governor he made us believe that his administration would make the rest of the country look up and take notice. He was right but they are looking at us for all of the wrong reasons.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cars, Vehicles and Automobiles

One of our cars broke down late last week roughly a week before we had planned on getting a new one. I think it heard us talking bad about it and decided to commit suicide. I'm not a huge car person. I feel they are not worth the problems you could get with them. And there are people out there who will swear that it's all about what kind of car you get but I like to think of it more like getting cable or satellite service. It can work fine all the time for me but someone with the same service down the street could be calling a technician every other day. Despite being made on an assembly line, every car is different.

When I was in high school, and I went to a rural high school, cars were the main thing the kids, boy kids anyway, talked about. Chevy is better than Ford. Foreign cars are the worst. Why don't you have a truck? Kias are made from the recycled metal of Fords. It was all very stupid but now I work at that same high school and things haven't changed. Chevy is still better than Ford but in power, not reliability. Foreign cars are still the worst and don't get me started on trucks. Occasionally I'll get someone asking me what kind of car I drive. I tell them but I also mention that cars, for me, are just a mode to get to point A and point B. For some reason, now that I'm thirty, I don't really care what car I drive because I have more and bigger things to worry about.

I knew several people growing up who would swear by one type of car and they owned that one type of car but even if the car ran, every weekend it would be worked on which led me to wonder was having that car worth it? My first car was a 1987 GMC Jimmy. I loved that car despite it being a piece of crap. Right after I bought it the starter went out so I had to get that fixed then my wipers stopped working so I got that fixed, then something happened to my transmission so that was fixed (luckily it was a just a hose needing repaired) and then the brakes went out. I tried to get those fixed on the cheap but I couldn't. I realized the vehicle was more of a problem than it was worth so I got rid of it.

Our neighbors have a car in their driveway that hasn't run since they towed it onto their property roughly six months ago. Every decent weekend he and a couple other people spend the entire day standing in the driveway attempting to fix it. They haven't succeeded yet. I call these gatherings an "Old Fashioned Redneck Car Fixin'" I'm not making fun. I've been a part of these Fixin's before but in none of them has anything ever been accomplished. I am all for an excuse for friends to get together, imbibe in some alcohol and just shoot the shit but why does it have to be centered around repairing a car that may or may not ever run again? If you spend $1,000 fixing a car but it took you a year and half to do it, wouldn't that be same as taking it to a professional, spending $2,500 and getting it back in one to two days?

But it's not really about fixing the car is it? Maybe but it's a very minute reason. You just want to drink and hang out with friends so whatever. When you finally get that car working, I call shotgun.

My last car, before this one that just died, has been, by far, my favorite but once it started costing too much to keep on the road it was time to get rid of it. While I may really like my car, I know when to let go. I don't know understand why people who let their cars do nothing and drain their money are sometimes the same people who hate when people do nothing and drain their money.

Yeah, maybe that was a bad analogy.

Until,next time, I remain...
~Brian

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sid Caesar, 1922-2014

Sid Caesar, star of the 1950-1954 television series Your Show Of Shows, has passed away at the age 91. From the 1970s and for the rest of his life he made numerous appearances in television shows, movies, nightclubs. Caesar has been credited for making the variety show format what it is today.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shirley Temple, 1928-2014

My favorite Shirley Temple movies is "Bright Eyes", the story of an orphaned girl embroiled in a custody battle between her godfather and the head of the family her mother worked for before being killed in a car accident. I haven't watched it in years but the plot of the movie is seered into my brain.

I don't think there is anyone out there who doesn't like Shirley Temple. Despite what you think about child stars, Shirley Temple became the epitome of child stardom. When a child wants to become a star, they want to become as big as Shirley Temple was. When you look at Temple's movies, she is a natural. She genuinely seems to enjoy performing and entertaining people. When you see her, your face lights up and you just want to be around her. Despite the times her movies appeared in, the Great Depression, Temple's movies were always optimistic, upbeat and hopeful. In 1937, British film critic Graham Greene called Temple a "complete totsy" and said she was too nubile for a 9-year-old. Temple and 20th Century Fox sued for libel and won. The money awarded was left in a trust for Temple and she opened a youth center in England when she turned 21 with it.

In 1940, Temple starred in two consecutive flops, The Blue Bird and Young People. Her parents then bought out her contract and sent her to a school in Los Angeles. At the studio, her bungalow was renovated, every instances of her were removed and it was turned into an office building. But Temple shortly signed with MGM who hoped to cast her alongside Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney but that never came to fruition and in 1941, Temple and MGM parted ways amicably. Temple tried again with United Artists in 1942 but then threw herself into school and other activities until 1944 when she appeared in two movies from David O. Selsnick, who told her she was now typecast and that she should move, gain maturity as an actress and even change her name. In 1950, Temple failed to win the role of Peter Pan on Broadway and officially announced her retirement December 16th.

After films and dipping her toe into television, Shirley Temple, now Shirley Temple Black after marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950, became actively in politics. She ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat in California but when then appointed by Richard Nixon to the UN General Assembly. She then was appointed as an ambassador to Ghana (1974-1976 under President Ford) and Czechoslovakia (1989-1992 under President Bush).

Shirley Temple Black died at her home in Woodside, California. She was 85.




Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Daddy Blogging

My son turned 12 earlier this week and we're having a party for him today because he was with his mom last weekend. I don't talk much about him nor being a parent in general even though I would like to. I've read several blogs devoted to showcasing the dad's perspective and it's really one of the few child-raising genres that isn't completely overgrown and overused. The problem with writing about parenting and raising my son is his mom. We try to be in sync with raising him and punishments and generally everything else but we are completely different otherwise and that tends to get in the way of being in sync with raising him and punishments.

The major difference is our lives in general. It's been like that since we met back in high school. She tends to lean more on the...redneck side of the line while I am decidedly more upper lower middle class. We never really officially dated and any attempts at being friends and getting along seem to get squashed at some point and we go back to just tolerating each other. That's the main reason I don't write about raising my son because sooner or later it would just turn into a complaint forum where I can vent about his mom. It seems every year there's something that seems to take us back to square one in our, I guess you could call it, relationship. When he was born, she clearly didn't want me around and seemed to prefer that it be one of the other candidates for fatherhood. Shortly after, she moved to Missouri so the next four years was an endless cycle of me driving 90-125 miles every other weekend to pick up and take him back. And then there was something called the Unpleasantness. I'm not going to get into it but let's just say that you wouldn't do what she did to me on your own worst enemy.

I finally obtained custody of our son shortly after he started school mainly because I'm the more stable of the two of us and from there things seemed to get slightly better. But one thing I didn't mention is that she is bipolar. I'm pretty sure she's been diagnosed and that she's not just using "bipolar" to make an excuse for being a crazy person but I'm also not the best person to use labels like that on. I don't like these "umbrella terms" doctors, psychiatrists and people in general throw around these days but that's a whole other post. She also tends to make our son the sickest kid in the world. When we would go pick him up for our weekend or even if he was with her on an extended visit, some malady would come up like asthma or a "cold" which was really just a cough. For some reason, in the 12 years we've been doing this, I don't know why no one on my side of the family ever just said "It's because all nine people you live with smoke!" But without fail, with her he'd have to take a puff on an inhaler (god, I hate that phrase) but here, never. A couple years ago, she even complained to me that he was becoming out of breath in gym class and I said "Oh, you mean like you're supposed to in gym class?" I've had friends with asthma and it can be a heartless bitch that debilitates you for hours if you don't have your inhaler. Getting out of breath after running isn't asthma, it's being human.

Just this past summer, she wanted him to come back down and live with her (despite court papers saying otherwise) and we had to have a nice little discussion about which school setting would be better for him. She made the argument that she was more stable which was partly true but I opted for keeping him in a school with all of his friends and more/better options. Sadly, we're probably going to have to revisit this again the summer before he starts high school but I've resigned myself to having to deal with this crap every eight to twelve months.

But what about the good things? Thankfully, those have outweighed the above bad things. While I didn't have custody of him until he started school, I've got to help him with that stuff and see him grow and change into an actual person and he'll be a teenager next year which means I get to help him with that and hopefully keep him from making the same mistakes I did and maybe be a little less emo. God, I wish I less depressing and creepy back in high school.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has died at his apartment in New York City. Hoffman is best known for his work in The Big Lebowski, Doubt, Moneyball, The Master among other numerous movies and won an Oscar for his role as Truman Capote in Capote.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Abandoned, But Not Forgotten

The Massachusetts Health and Human Services has had to go back on a claim that their now abandoned state mental health facilities were empty of any patient medical records. The retraction comes after a teen doing some urban exploring came upon medical records and admission cards of former patients at the Paul A. Dever State School. From the article I read, it doesn't look like the records are for patients currently at any other state hospital or even living patients but what's interesting is that instead of just admitting that the state should send people to go back through the long-abandoned buildings they blame everything on this one teenager and urban explorers in general.
They're trespassing on state property. They're stealing things or using things that don't belong to them.
Is the answer the deputy commissioner at the Department of Mental Health Clifford Robinson said trying to deflect the matter of his offices negligence onto some kid's hobby. I understand people's problems with urban explorers but true urban explorers never vandalize, never steal and never damage. They only want to go where humans may not have been in a while and get a few pictures. When I was exploring abandoned places, I wish that I would've taken a camera but I didn't so all I have are mind memories.

The Topeka State Hospital Main Building, abandoned since about 1997. I was only able to get this exterior shot as the building was torn down about eight months later.
I don't do any urban exploring anymore mainly because I am older but also because I don't have anyone to do it with. The first I explored that was what I consider true urban exploring was an old house in Baldwin City. It was a wood frame house on the edge of town so much newer than the last couple of houses I had explored but while those houses were truly abandoned and devoid of any human contact for years, this house was still loaded from top to bottom with furniture, dinnerware, curtains and discarded proof of a family recently living there.

I've always wondering, and still do wonder, what happened to that family. I think every town has a house like that. One that is still full of stuff, waiting for the owners to return, but no one knows where the owners went or if they even planned to return. My friends I went exploring with came up with colorful stories about the owners but I figured it was more financial in their decision to leave. They had to be out by a certain time so instead, they just bolted leaving behind beds, clothes, toys and mail. The house is long gone now. All the contents were auctioned off, the house torn down and grass and a small bush now grow where it once stood. I do have a couple of old books that I grabbed from my first time there but a drawing on an old newspaper I found on the floor is probably my favorite reminder of that house.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian