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Bardofthewoods.com

BUCK WILD FOR WEB

“I write in the shadow and spirit of Mark Twain and Bill Shakespeare. My greatest dream and aspiration is that they will laugh with me . . . and not laugh me out of the classroom.”

At the age of fifteen, during the process of being given traveling papers by three high schools and attending four – I was sent to live with my grandparents in Rensselaer, Indiana. There I began writing my autobiography, “Diary of A Dumbass”.  Approximately four chapters into it, I came home to find my grandmother standing over my underwear drawer in my bedroom where she had retrieved my work from where it lay hidden under a stack of BVDs. She was gripping it in her hand and shaking it in my face, screaming, “Kenton Henry – this is a disgrace to our family!”

I replied, “But grandma – our family is a disgrace!” At which point, she ripped my entire work to pieces. It was not until I was in a college creative writing class I again began work on my memoirs. This time, I returned home from class to find my wife shaking my grand opus in her hand much as my grandmother had. And the same result followed. It seems some people simply cannot handle the truth.

It would be thirty years before I began anew. In the meantime, I had graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Social Work. My career goal was to take control of America using hostile measures and return it to the Native American. I intended to get a law degree, move to Arizona and become a “Billy Jack” of sorts. A karate kicking, martial artist carrying a brief case serving as a community organizer for the Navajo and other reservations. I became disillusioned when I determined the Indians didn’t want any more white guys coming on their reservations telling them how it should be. With that, I returned to Texas where I had lived as a small boy and later during my tour in search of a high school degree.

Finding it difficult to save myself, much less the rest of the world, during some difficult economic times, I was backed into a career in insurance kicking and screaming. In time I built a successful business in the medical insurance market. For twenty years it sustained me quite well until recent legislative changes forced me, once again, to reinvent myself.

My metamorphosis on this occasion began with taking chemistry classes at my local community college. Because of wisdom and practical experience – garnered from years in the private market – I have fast tracked my new career by developing two revolutionary products. The first is a pest control product. Specifically, it is a “Cat Food Aphrodisiac” which (when mixed with Fancy Feast) makes cats absolutely irresistible to mice. The second is a chemical sanitation product which when added to raw sewage makes it smell like perfectly good tacos. I am currently marketing it in border towns along the Rio Grande and all the way to the west coast. If I land the Tijuana account it will be an economic boon to Tijuana and all of Mexico as tourists will literally run for the border. I will be able to retire in luxury and hereafter be known as the “Ron Popeil of Poo”.

In my spare time, in addition to riding my Harley, I teach Shakespeare to death row inmates at the Huntsville State Prison and judge armadillo beauty contests. When not attending Mensa International conventions, I continue working on my autobiography, “Diary of a Dumbass”.

The events and experiences which led me to become the person I am today are reflected in the stories and poems which follow. They consist mostly of what I describe as autobiographical fiction. I include the qualifier, “fiction” as a disclaimer of sorts to protect the guilty. For the most part, that would be me.

I believe in some of this you will sense an undercurrent of slight regret and remorse but, hopefully, you will find my tales, rhymes and reflections humorous. Any positive insights or lessons you might gain would make me that much happier. In the words of a famous clown I once had the pleasure of knowing, “We are all actors in a grand play. We can choose to be either happy or sad performers. I choose happy!” I made that clown a promise I would do my part to make people smile. Again, I hope BardofTheWoods does that much for you.

Don Kenton Henry

Poet, Road Warrior, Refugee from Convention . . . Ever at your service . . .

http:/bardofthewoods.com

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SNAKE VENOM TRAIL RIDE IV or

“Buck Wild” Gets His Mojo Back Montage

By Don Kenton Henry Donald Kenton Henry

Wanderlust. It is a condition most suffer from on occasion. For others, it is a thirst never quenched. I find myself among the latter.

From time to time, I assuage that smoldering urge (on the verge of bursting flame) with the only thing close to a cure. That is to put shoe leather or tire to the road, airplane wing to the sky, or … relative to my most recent self-prescribed remedy me … two tires on 850 pounds of German metal with me atop flying 3 feet above concrete, asphalt, and gravel for 5,600 miles over the course of 19 days.

Said journey took me through 9 of these States United and several of my mental and physical ones. I was accompanied much of this trip by my friends Kelly Seachord and Mitzi Seachord. At the top of our trail, in the mountains of Montana, we enjoined my acquaintance (who quickly became my newfound friend) Jon Kingsley Jr. Together we toured Flathead Lake where my brothers and I first fished for trout with Zebco poles next to the postal truck my dad converted into an RV. I never forgot the crystal clear blue waters of that lake and I happily say they remain as clear today.

The following day, we rendezvoused, again with Jon, at his campsite in Whitefish, to tour the Grand Teton National Park northeast of Kalispell.

Like all great journeys, it had its up and downs. Along the way, I was led astray by a wayward GPS system which had me traveling on about 10 miles of dirt and gravel road, somewhere in Colorado or both (I’m not sure which anymore than my GPS) heading east when I should have been on blacktop heading west. I endured over 100-degree heat for 8 to 10 hours a day when, eventually, no amount of fluid consumption would quench my thirst. I slept on a picnic table because I could not stay awake traveling 75 mph on a motorcycle. Inhaling the dust of multiple states gave me a mild sinus infection which precipitated a mild case of bronchitis thrown only by two subsequent nights of sweats which soaked the sheets and pillows of my hotel beds in both Deadwood South Dakota and Cody Wyoming. I am confident the maids changed those linens and probably entered the bathroom expecting to find a deceased guest. Thankfully, my strong immune system prevailed and I shook that off long enough to endure a fall (not on the motorcycle) which left me with a sprained (but not torn) left Achilles tendon and calf muscle. I’m still too embarrassed to elaborate on it. Let’s just say, “Once again, The Phoenix rises from the dust.”

I saw big horn sheep, elk, wild turkeys, hares, and antelope. Flatlander that I am, I saw mountains that made me feel set free yet, at the same time . . . infinitesimally small. I saw rivers, creeks, and waterfalls where many a Native American, trapper, frontiersman, pioneer, settler, and homesteader satisfied his thirst and that of his mounts, mules, and oxen as he made his way west or … tapped in his best effort to water the parched ground of the plains he staked. This in a brave, and too often failed, attempt to grow food with which to sustain his family through the harsh and unforgiving winters.

I saw at least one modern-day traveler meet his or her end in what seemed a much less romantic and, at the same time, unnecessary manner.

Headed home, descending from the northernmost region of Montana to the plains below, I ran parallel to a river tumbling through mountain boulders adjacent to a railroad track backed by majestic mountains. These beneath the canopy of a robin’s egg blue sky and white billowy clouds. A BNSF engine pulled freight cars down the decline and, as I imagined pulling all that steel from inside that locomotive, that engineer must have been looking out at me imagining the freedom of breaking free of those tracks and his duty to his employer. I am certain he was wondering what it would be like to go wherever his own wanderlust took him. I spied him spying me, took my hand off the motorcycle throttle, and, while looking straight at his distant eyes, jacked my arm three times with my fist to the sky. I swear I could see him smile from 400 yards and I know he saw me smile back as 3 times he lay a long, not so lonesome, blast on that locomotive’s horn. It was a simple but special moment on the beginning end of an epic and successful trip to get my mojo back.

I leave you with this montage of images I captured along the way accompanied by songs that express my love of this great nation and the ever-recurring drive to see what lies over the next mountain or across the next river, prairie, or plateau. You don’t have to like me and you don’t have to like motorcycles. But if you love this country of ours, as I do, you will, hopefully, appreciate my humble efforts to provide you a glimpse of what life and nature granted me along the path I took to end another summer and wanderlust almost . . . but not quite past.

The Bard

https://bardofthewoods.com

(please click on the youtube link and title below)

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The Loom of Life and Raveled Love

by Don Kenton Henry

The Loom of Life and Raveled Love
 
by Don Kenton Henry                                  

Born into one small seam in the fabric of time and space
With no control over entry and little over exit
We are either weavers or woven
into lives of hapless random chaos . . . or somewhat chosen orchestrated grace

And along the way are the distractions and detractors
Which pull and tear at the occasional thread of frailty we expose
As well as those who guide our needle and lead us forward
Tireless faithful supporters and benefactors who are more poetry than prose

I count you among the two
I count you among the few
Who were there
A face among now faceless names
Forgotten in the wake of another seam you sewed in the
Tapestry of my life of happiness and inevitable graceless pain

But this is about me
Not you
It is my task to keep life’s loom at work
Weaving as though my shuttle were a ship a-sail across a sometimes placid
Sometimes tempestuous unforgiving sea

And in these hours of unavoidable sometimes regrettable reflection
I find the weight of transgressions against me less than my own acts worthy of repentance and confession
I find the price of self-forgiveness
Greater than the cost of forgiving others
And unconditional love is seemingly the blessing of only mothers

All the rest seem mortgagees
Fleeting passing lovers
Contracted for payment owed with interest due
But . . . then again . . . this isn’t about you

So I continue weaving my cloak with which to drape
the shoulders of my life
I still aspire it be a thing of beauty
Made more of give and less of take
One thread for births
Another deaths
One for marriage
Another divorce
One for sickness
Another healing
It will hang upon the wall of my family’s house
A source of pride for grandsons and for daughters
A testimony that unconditional love is also bestowed by fathers

And over that myriad of threads may family run their fingers when I am gone
And feel passion joy mirth and song
May they know among those threads is one or more from each of them
May they know they played a part
Their laughter, tears
Their smiles
Their fears . . . became a thread
And so entwined became my own
Woven into the cloth which made my life
And when they pull it close and touch their cheek against it
May they smell the scent of my sweat and my cologne
May they feel all the memories I have known
And know amongst them you too are sewn

And surely beautiful that garment will be
And not the least thread of which will be the gift of you to me
Raveled in are days of you now gone
That unmistakable seam where love left off and life led on

But oh, yes
Sometimes I forget . . .
This isn’t about you . . .
It’s about what a treasure life’s journey and living can be
 
https://bardofthewoods.com
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Hope

By Don Kenton Henry

Hope is not a thing that begins as I slip from my bed and my feet touch the ground. Neither is it found on my stoop as I exit my front door.

Down my path, a winding one at that, I course . . . sometimes stumbling, sometimes falling in the face of some new challenge each day so unselfishly offers.

Seems no matter my destination, my writing always leads me through the desert to the brink of a cliff.

Hope is not something I pull from the depths of the valley below. It is a glider, dear reader, I ride to the green and verdant valley below.

There, I catch a canoe down a blue river to a new sunrise.

Hope has delivered me another chapter. Another day.

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Plowboy Manifesto

PLOWBOY MANIFESTO
By Don Kenton Henry

I was born on a farm in northern Indiana
I’m a tractor ridin’ white boy way north of Texarkana
Flag and country come first, and this heah dirt
Don’t come and tell me how to vote, don’t tell me how to work
A fighter always fights, and a runner’s gonna run
Don’t come and mess with me, unless you bring your gun

Outta my face you milk toast city slicker
I’ll make you see, I’m a whole quicker
Than your slick talkin’ lawyer with his hand on his subpoena
He’s gonna leave without it when he steps in my arena
Now tell yo momma, that this one is the best one
You didn’t even know that you was messin’ with a vetran

Help those that are weak, keep plantin’ the seed
Of the freedom we know , of the words of our creed
I fight for what’s mine, I give sweat for my toil
Before this is over, I’ll give blood for this soil
Might don’t make right, but truth is never wrong
The facts speak for me, I’m a warrior with a song

Outta my face you milk toast city slicker
I’ll make you see, I’m a whole quicker
Than your slick talkin’ lawyer with his hand on his subpoena
He’s gonna leave without it when he steps in my arena
Now tell yo momma, that this one is the best one
You didn’t even know that you was messin’ with a vetran

You come on to my land, well you gotta a lot of sand
To talk of stealin’, to talk about takin’
What my family built, a hundred years they been a makin’
You say you represent the Feds, I see you dancin’ with the dead
Preachin’ Eminent Domain, you must be insane
I’ll show you how it’s done, you’ll take a bullet for my pain

Outta my face you milk toast city slicker
I’ll make you see, I’m a whole quicker
Than your slick talkin’ lawyer with his hand on his subpoena
He’s gonna leave without it when he steps in my arena
Now tell yo momma, that this one is the best one
You didn’t even know that you was messin’ with a vetran

Don’t come on my farm, don’t come on my land
You pushed me far enough, this is where I make my stand
First you bled me with your taxes, now come your regulations
You pegged me as a sucker, but I’m the backbone of this nation
You want my twelve year old boy to punch a time clock – and if that don’t beat all
You want him workin’ the fields, a carryin’ a parasol

Bad Dog Bo Duke will have your arm if you step into my barn
Don’t put one foot forward, I’ve sounded the alarm
Now lookie what’s a comin’ up out of the bog
Arnold ain’t just a pig – he’s a genuine attack Hog
I see you shakin’ and I would too
He’s 400 pounds of angry bacon and he’s a comin’ for you
Sooie, Arnold – get the guy in the suit

Now you’ve done it city boy, here come the troops
It seems your chickens have come home to roost
That there is my brothers –
Your kind won’t ever find you, you’ll be lost like all the others
Jeb and Bodine, they ain’t as nice as me
For you know it you’ll be swingin’ from a tree   

But sometimes you be lucky, just be happy Mister You didn’t even get a chance to meet my baby sister Six foot three she’s a barbed wire twister A Roller Derby Queen a down in New Orleans – she’ll pop you like a blister No man has ever whipped her – hell – none’s ever even kissed her

We raise soy beans here, and the pigs are gonna stay
You ain’t puttin in no wind farm with the people’s pay
A government think tank, where once there was a barn
I say that is an ox, and you’re a moron
This here is straw, and that there’s grass
This is my boot, it’s a comin’ for yo ass

Hey there carpetbagger, we’re not takin’ that loss
Now you been around here, you know you’re talkin’ to the boss
So let me give it to you straight, get out through the gate
Leave while you can, this is the end o’ yo plan

Outta my face you milk toast city slicker
I’ll make you see, I’m a whole quicker
Than your slick talkin’ lawyer with his hand on his subpoena
He’s gonna leave without it when he steps in my arena
Now tell your momma, that this one is the best one
You didn’t even know that you was MESSIN’ . . . WITH . . . A . . . VETRAN!
Soooie!!!

                                 

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Jeb

“Waaa waaa wa!”

By Don Kenton Henry

He rode high in the saddle on his seventeen hands tall black stallion, Lincoln, as he came out of the chaparral into the dry gulch. The silver conchos on his hatband bounced the sun’s rays onto the red rock cliffs of the ravine while his eyes remained fixed on the path ahead. His buckskins concealed that every inch of his six-foot-four frame was crisscrossed and wrapped in a barbed-wire taut web of ebony muscle and scars. They hid the tale of the whip and chains from which he’d won his freedom with the end of the war. A Colt Dragoon he had taken from a Confederate soldier was holstered on his side. Now no man was his master. His chiseled face glistened like an onyx statue in the scorching Texas sun.

He noticed a twitch of Lincoln’s ears and saw they turned back toward some sound behind them. He turned in his saddle to see three Comanche braves on his trail. One raised a rifle, and the chase was on. He spurred his horse through the creek bed looking for an exit onto the flats where he thought the half of Lincoln’s blood which was thoroughbred would allow the stallion to outrun the surer-footed Indian ponies. There was a path up through the rocks and he took it at a full gallop when Lincoln stumbled, fell, and rolled back over him into the red silt of the bed. When the horse rose it was on three legs, the other raised in the air. The warriors were bearing down on them. In one swift movement, Jeb pulled his Henry repeating rifle from its scabbard, shot Lincoln in the head, and took cover behind him as the horse landed in the shadow of the two of them. A shot from the Henry hit the first warrior square in the chest blowing him backward off his steed. He jacked the lever of the Henry and put another 45 in the chamber before it took out the second. Before he could sight the third, a war lance whizzed past his ear and penetrated the clay behind him. A moment later the lone brave dove from his pony coming down on Jeb knife in hand. He pulled his Colt from its holster with one hand as his other caught the knife hand of the Indian. One shot against the ribs blew a hole in the red man through which you could see half of Texas.

He reloaded both guns, took the saddle off Lincoln, threw it over his shoulder, and walked up out of the gulch into the flats. It would be a long walk to Abilene if he couldn’t find one of those Indian ponies. That was one damn fine horse he thought as he turned and gazed at the spot below where the buzzards were already circling. “You saved my life one last time, you big black stud,” he said as he gave a nod and a small tug on the brim of his hat before turning back into the setting sun. He shook his head. He couldn’t believe he had shot Lincoln.

Now that you know him – you won’t forget him! He’s black … he’s back … he wears chaps … and he’s badder than ever! He’s one bad Mandingo Cowboy! He’s Shaft. Jeb Shaft … And he’s coming soon to a theater near you!
(Waaa waaa wa!!!!)

https://bardofthewoods.com

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Pride

“I’m a prideful son-of-a-bitch, I’ll admit that. I’ll gladly meet you half way to love you like you’ve never been loved before. . . .  But I’ll be damned if I’ll cross a bridge to kiss your ass.” – The Bard

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Advice From “Uncle Waldo On My Front Porch”

“The most defining moments in one’s life are his birth. And his death. In between, what counts the most are not his wins. Or his losses. But the opportunities he took. And the ones he passed on. The girls he kissed. And the ones he wishes he had. May you live it all and regret the none of it, Junior.” – advice from “Uncle Waldo On My Front Porch”

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COUNT THE BRAVE AND NOBLE KINDRED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Don Kenton Henry

 

It is to the soul as the sun is to light

It is as steel

It is as clay

It is as diamonds

It is hardened by the fire in the furnace of life

As steel, clay, and diamonds are tempered and cured

So too is character

Steel and clay, by fire

Diamonds by pressure from eons of the physical remains of lives past bearing down

Character by choices in one’s own life pressed upon us

Forged by life’s trials not averted but endured

The value of all these things are unknown until tested

Integrity is not haphazard

Under fire and pressure, all hold fast or fracture

And yet―unlike the others―with no existence outside their physical

boundaries . . . your character cannot be touched or held in one’s hand

Rather, it touches all those with whom you are intimately connected

 

Character begins like the virgin diamond

Raw and uncut, encumbered by worthless stone

Then life chisels and hammers and chips away

And either temptations and indiscretions fall aside

Revealing uncompromising clarity

Or the diamond breaks and becomes as worthless as the rock

which held it

So too is character honed to something pure or as worthless as the weakness

from which it cannot break free

Will it be a casualty of truth

Can the Blacksmith separate the metal from the dross; the steel from the slag

Can the Potter separate the clay from the sod

The Miller, the wheat kernel from the chaff

And you, your character from transgressions

 

Under the glass, most have at least a hairline fault

The sword, the vase, the diamond, the soul

Yet, when the blow is struck the best, their integrity remains

When you lie down at night, can you say the same

When you lie down at night what can you say

about the life, you lived this day

 

All lives are filled with decisions large and small

Did your character meet the tests that came its way

Did you stand tall or did you fall

And when knocked down, did you rise and reenter the fray

Or keep your knee

Did your character strive to be pure

Or prove itself flawed

 

Virtuous character is not a mistress

You take a vow to it

You keep it not with flourishing―but soon forgotten―promises and a fleeting kiss

It’s measured day by day but judged in full at the end of a life lived

It does not need to be informed of infidelity

It is the first to know

Character follows life through the exit

It’s the last to go

 

The truest test of character is to do the right thing

Even when bad tidings for oneself are all it can bring

One of good character has no thought of self-preservation

Only preservation of good conscience, unwilling to yield

As belongs to one who enters the battle with no chance of victory, without hesitation

His only hope . . .

the respect of his kindred brave and noble be the shield on which they carry him from his blood stained station

Will you get in the ring with the devil or will you take a dive

When all the cards are dealt, and all the hands are played

What will you say about yourself on the last day you’re alive

 

Material things are subject to the whim of Providence and attachment by others

Virtuous character cannot be garnered by kings or thieves

It matters most to our fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and mothers

It is owned in lesser portions by masters than by slaves

It is irrevocable except by abdication

It is held in sacred trust by knights and coveted by knaves

 

Your character is the tree; the shadow it casts―your reputation

A life well lived―or not―is the sun illuminating the first

Which creates the latter

A subjective manifestation

Sometimes accurate

Oft twisted and distorted by others . . . Sometimes not

Your conscience knows which

 

All sin

All stumble

But the noble steady themselves and seek redemption

 

Your character is the one thing you take to your grave

What will they speak of yours at the dimming of your last day

 

Let them not say, “Et tu, Brute”

Pray not a Judas

Let them say, “I stand with Spartacus”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://bardofthewoods.com

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SECOND KISS (PROSE POETRY)

By Don Kenton Henry

Often I reflect on a memory I count among the better

And feel the fullness of her breasts beneath that cotton sweater

I feel the tenderness of her lips

The warmth of her breath upon my chest

All this

then some to come

under dim gymnasium lights

I recall the sweet taste of her mouth as she kissed me once more

It was the second kiss of my young life

I do not remember at what point it ended

Nothing of what transpired until then fades with time

Not a thing

Not all powers―either earthly or otherworldly―could have transcended us

Beyond innocence lost in what seemed but a dream

Wars were being fought around the world

Flags fell, then raised and unfurled

And there we were

Locked in a moment on that hardwood floor

Babies were born and old people died

In both cases, their loved ones cried

But no thought of things behind the arena’s door

A hallowed coliseum and only two of us inside

Men were in space and the world kept spinning 1,000 miles per hour

In the center of the court; in the paw of our regal school mascot; she opened up for me like a budding spring flower

Oblivious to our inexperience we were losing in the grip of first love’s spell

The tiger held the orchid

And the petals fell

Deep, below my lips

Deep in my genetic material

Herds of wildebeest crossed the Serengeti

The saber-tooth gave chase―deep, deep into her hips

Deep into the fertile jungle where she did lie

Somewhere in time, a wooly mammoth trumpeted

And some prehistoric relative of mine raised his club to the sky

https://bardofthewoods.com

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MY FRONT PORCH WITH UNCLE WALDO

By Don Kenton Henry

 

“Ok, Junior. Take the usual seat here on the porch and let’s parlez about the latest Sabbatical you are about to take.”

That’s how it always began with Uncle Waldo . . . him telling me to take a seat. Always direct (most times painfully so) but on this occasion, he was more somber than usual.

“‘Parlez’ ― what’s that mean, Uncle Waldo?” I asked.

“‘Parlez’, why that’s French for shoot-the-shit. You know I served in France in World War II don’t ya, kid?”

“Yes, sir. Everybody in town knows that. Seeing as you lead the 4th of July parade every year wearing your ribbons and all those medals.”

“Yeah. I suppose. But what with your father gone, I guess the job of trying to figure out what makes you tick and keep you between the railsas much as that is possible― falls to me. And seein’ as I’m your dad’s older brother and me livin’ with you and your mom and siblings, and all . . . I guess it’s only right. But Lawd, son, I don’t seem to be doin’ a very good job, do I?

“It’s not your fault, Uncle Waldo,” I said. I felt genuinely sorry for him. He had problems enough going on in his own head without having to figure out what went on in mine. He had a  metal plate in his that had been placed there to go along with the shrapnel left in his brain. The shrapnel from an exploding shell lodged there when Nazi incoming fire caught him in the ball turret of his B-17 bomber during the latter days of the war. Awakening in a body bag after being taken for dead when his bomber made it back to base was disturbing enough but now he had to contend with the voices and music from the radio waves he claimed his plate and shrapnel picked up from as far away as WLS in Chicago.

“I’ll tell you, if I have to hear that goddamn In-Na-Gadda- Da-Vida hippie piece of crap of a song one more time, I’m gonna drive all the way to WOWO in Fort Wayne and shoot that damn DJ with my M1 carbine!” he’d say. And we were rightly afraid he’d actually do it! The fact that, that song by Iron Butterfly consisted of 17 minutes of incessant pounding bass was bad enough for any person of parental age (or someone not stoned out of their mind) but when you coupled that with the inability to adjust the volume―as was the case with Uncle Waldo―you can understand how maddening it must have been.

“It’s not your fault, Uncle Waldo,” I continued. “There’s just something wrong with me. When I get what seems like a good idea in my head, things just start going bad. I just can’t stop myself. It’s like one part of me says, ‘take it a little further, it’ll be fun!’ . . . Then everything just seems to go wrong.”

“Well, son. Let’s just review your first sixteen years and see if we can put our finger on what causes this sordid history to keep repeating itself. You finished your freshman year in fine fashion, didn’t you? That grave-robbing incident provided enough publicity to satisfy most budding delinquents but you couldn’t stop there, could you? You would think the Finn’s Landing Republican givin’ the play by play on their front page of you and that Bullock boy playing baseball in the mausoleum with Dr. Farrah’s head would be all the notoriety a kid could want! But a summer of working in the cemetery without pay apparently didn’t teach you any more respect for the dead than it did for the rest of us, did it? Cause by the end of the summer you were surgically insertin’ a bomb in a dead cat―frozen in attack modecourtesy of your mother’s deep freezer. Then you put that gift from hell on a Senator’s front porch before setting it off! By God, son―that was one count of grave-robbing and one of terrorism all in a three month period! And you weren’t finished yet!”

“But Uncle Waldo, it wasn’t really a bomb. It was a burglar alarm! They just mistook it for a bomb!”

“Minor fucking detail, Junior. The Senator; Finn’s Landing police department―and the entire neighborhood they evacuated―took it as a bomb! Then how do you start your sophomore year of high school? By inciting a riot between the sophomore speech team and the senior football team! How did ya’ think that was gonna end, tell me!”

“Well, sir . . . ” I tried to explain . . .

“Don’t bother, son! We all know. It ended up with you on the bottom of the pile with the entire football team on top of you leaving you with a busted collar bone, broken nose, and all your teeth knocked loose! And it hurt your poor mother more than it did you, I think!”

“Well, I don’t know about that, Uncle Waldo . . .”

“Hush your mouth, son. Don’t you talk back to me! I’m one elder that won’t tolerate your backtalk. If the damn Nazis couldn’t take me out ― what chance you think you got!”

“Yes, sir,” I said, humbly hanging my head.

“Now let’s pick up your resume where we left off. . . . So you get out of the hospital and, while still wearing a brace for your busted collarbone, you saw a rifle off to hide under your jacket in order to shoot the tires off the opposing team’s school bus at Finn’s Landing football games! But before you can complete that mission, you decide to get in a little target practice by shooting that Shuler kid through the ankle. And where do the police find the illegal weapon? Why under the pile of stolen street signs in the crawl space of your mother’s basement of course!”

“Gee, Uncle Waldo. You make it sound really bad when you run it all together like that. It’s not like it happened all in one day or something!” (I muttered in my hangdog attempt to soften the blow to my already damaged psyche.)

“One day or three months! Why the Finn’s Landing police department saw less action when John Dillinger robbed the station, locked all the officers in their own cells and took every last one of their guns and ammo! Why boy, your reputation eclipses the great John Dillinger in this piss ant farm town!”

“John Dillinger,” I mouthed slowly. “Wow! You suppose they’ll make a movie about me one day too, Uncle Waldo?” I asked with all sincerity.

I reckon I should slap you up the side of the head, squirt―is what I suppose! You expect me or any other sane person to glorify your behavior and we’re half way to figurin’ out what’s wrong with you! Is it any wonder the high school and juvie court tried to get you committed? And you gave them all the help you could, didn’t you? Feigning that schizo-shit like you did! Good lord!”

“Well, I thought as long as I had to go along with six months of counseling, I might as well have fun with it. Besides, I never thought they’d buy that act. Talking to the dead and little people coming out of the walls at night and stealing my homework and stuff! I mean who believes that kind of thing? Somebody would have to be really crazy to believe . . .”

“Why, yes!” interjected Uncle Waldo. And that’s exactly what you―Mr. Captain of the speech and drama club convinced them! That you, ‘Donald K. Henry, Jr.’ were crazy. Certified bat shit crazy! And it got you six weeks of observation at the Logan Mental Hospital where you took over the group therapy sessions and tried to orchestrate a coup! This, before you finally convinced them you were just a dumbass! . . . Well . . . that’s one damn diagnosis they got right!”

“I never meant to hurt anyone, Uncle Waldo. I was just trying have some fun.”

Uncle Waldo and I sat there for what seemed to me an eternity of silence. “Well, the fun’s over now, Junior,” he said. You dodged a lengthy term in the booby-hatch and your mother―God bless her!―took out a second mortgage on this house to give you a second chance by getting you into one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Howe Fucking Military School! Fourteen grand for one semester and a chance for a clean slate and a coveted diploma and what do you do? You beat up a superior officer and steal an eight hundred dollar Bell &Howell projector so you could show stag films to all your new found buddies! More zombie followers they must have been!”

“Well, every officer was superior to me, Uncle Waldo. I was just a plebe!”, I explained.

“There you go―smartin’ off again!” he said, at the same time raising his hand as if to cuff me. I flinched and reflexively raised my arm closest to him, as though to block the blow. But it never came.

His voice took on an even more somber tone. “You haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be knocked around have you, kid? Well, I’ve never hit you and I never will. It never did you any good, anyway, did it? I never believed in that shit. But the same can’t be said for your dad. And now you’re gonna get on a plane and fly fifteen hundred miles to the Rio Grande and live with an alcoholic who’s on the run from the law for castrating a homosexual and makes weekend runs into Mexico for cigarettes, booze, and drugs while engaging in the kind of carryin’ on that would make Pancho Villa blush. Why his resume makes you look like a piker. . . . . . . . . God help ya, son.”

(Uncle Waldo left off the part about my old man throwin’ the forty pound boar raccoon in the back door of my maternal grandmother’s Better Homes & Garden home. Awakening from the collision induced coma it suffered making contact with my dad’s car, it proceeded to trash virtually every inch of my grandparent’s home before being clubbed to death with wrenches and crowbars. Those were shop tools wielded heroically by five or six garage boys my grandfather summoned from his Chevrolet dealership to rescue grandma. In my opinion, the blood stains coordinated surprisingly well with her expensive floral print wallpaper. Also absent was any mention of the year dad ran two thousand pounds of pot bi-monthly from Mexico to Chicago, sliding past Rio Grande Customs and Border Patrol by posing as the “starched shirt and tie traveling salesman” with sales brochures scattered across the front seat of his Buick Electra. He cleaned up really well when the occasion called for it.

I guess Uncle Waldo knew this story was going to be limited to five pages for contest purposes.)

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