The Secret Of A Man’s Man

Dedicated to my main man: Billy Lee Watson

Uncle Tree's House

Dad in a suit

The day had finally arrived. Two more hours of required community service and I’d be done fulfilling my obligation to God and country. Well, to the county that is. I had chosen to serve my time at the animal shelter, the Capital Humane Society.

Now, people have numerous reasons for giving up their pets. Some reasons are good and justifiable, but a few are merely lame excuses. The answers for “why we wish to adopt” are easy, and usually simple. Most prospective owners have nothing but the best intentions in mind. On a normal day at the shelter, these exchanges are going on simultaneously. A wide variety of domesticated animals come in and they go out. Needless to say, more arrive than go out alive. That’s no secret.

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The Hanging Tree Of Bedlam: Second Coming

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On the southern edge of Bedlam, back in 1869, stood a tall old oak tree. Its fame and glory stemmed from the fact that it had been host to a multitude of hangings. Conveniently located, it lived and grew beside the road that ran to the river. This highly prominent tree was used with regularity by enforcers of the law who wished to see justice carried out to its fullest measure. The town’s large graveyard lay just beyond the tree, which only helped increase the oak’s popularity. Having a cemetery nearby quickened the entire procedure, for little time need be wasted between the drop and the burial.

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A Fairy Tale Day At The Zoo: Starring Joe Petrol and Frank The Gorilla

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Two days after the worst disaster in the history of the offshore drilling industry, a high-ranking executive of the company at fault decided he needed a day off. Like most of his cohorts, Joe Petrol wasn’t about to accept any personal responsibility for the accident. “These things happen,” was the ongoing phrase of the week.

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The Immortal Fairy Tale

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In the beginning — a story was born,

and the child — became — another mouth to feed.

His lot — his place — in life — was set,

whether he consciously made the choice — or not.

As he grew — his physical weight — forever fluctuating,

however slight,

was the Earth’s burden to bear — the burden,

a gravitational equation.

Born with a will — an innate trait — he survived many a power play,

manipulating others with clever maneuvers — win, lose or draw.

His works — not original — but hand-me-downs — reproduced

for the sake of posterity — giving him — a sense of self-worth.

Aware — was he — of a certain personal freedom ,

ambiguously prescribed,

daring him to express it — in action — in thought — in private

conversations with himself — and his God.

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A Giant Fairy Tale

The curtain rises. The year is 1025 B.C. The scene takes place mid-morning in a barren narrow valley. On your right, a dry riverbed runs off to the horizon.

Up on the bank to your left, stands a bearded burly giant. He is 40 years old and 9 feet tall. In his right hand, he holds a 7 ft. long spear upright. Hanging from his belt and in its sheath, is a sword, 5 ft. in length. His shield lies on the ground beside him. He wears no armor. Entering from the right, is a shepherd boy of 15 years. He has a fish net in his right hand, and a smallish knife hangs on his belt. He wears a loose-fitting tunic with a pocket on the side. Hanging out of this pocket, we see part of a leather strap. The boy, eying the giant all the way, walks across the riverbed to the edge of the bank, and there he stops.

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Hanging On: Thirty

According to Matthew, he slept in the chair under the window all night long and, amazingly enough, the rifle hadn’t fallen from his lap. Prior to his sudden awakening, he’d been having a dream in which he was employed by the railroad as a cook on a passenger train. He was only able to recall the very tail end of this dream experience, but since it’s occurrence was so coincidently timed, he thought he ought to add it into the story as a pertinent matter of course. Here then is his dream as it was handed down to me. In Matt’s own words:

I was working alone as a cook in the back of the caboose. The sun was just beginning to rise, and the train seemed to be moving down the tracks at top speed. I was wearing a long white apron over my clothes, and I was standing over a hot stove with a spatula in my hand. I appeared to be making a whole bunch of breakfast. A large skillet of scrambled eggs lay before me, and there was a tall pile of fried bacon off to the side. I remember hearing the muffled scream of a woman, and I raised my head to look towards the front. There was a window in the door, and through it I could see the car ahead of me. It also had a window in the door, and from what I could tell, all the seats were taken. I mean, the car was full. There were even people standing in the aisle.

Next thing I know, here comes some man in a gray business suit pushing his way through the crowd. He seemed to be in a hurry. Once he got to the back door, he opened it towards him, and as soon as he’d made it to the step outside, he quickly shut it behind him. Then he lowered his head a bit to look back through the window. I figured he was being chased. He didn’t look for long, and then he turned around and started to make his way carefully between the cars. About two seconds later, he stepped up to my door and rushed in, but he spun around and slammed the door so fast that I didn’t get a good look at his face. The sharply dressed man bent down again to look through the window before he turned around. I was pleasantly relieved to see that it was only Luke, but I also remember being concerned for he was certainly in a panic. I’d never seen him look so scared. Funny thing was, he didn’t seem at all surprised to find me standing there.

“He’s after me!” he yelled as he continued in haste towards the back door. “Who’s after you?” I asked. “The murderer!” he cried. “Oh, crap!” I remember saying, and then I looked through the windows again, but I didn’t see anyone coming. Luke opened the door to go out, but then then he stopped and hesitated, as if he wasn’t sure about the action he had planned. “Do you have a gun?” he asked. Well, I didn’t know. I checked my side for a pistol. “No, I guess not,” I said as I scanned the room for a rifle. “Where’re you going?” I asked him. He looked at me in all sincerity, and with a very serious tone to his voice, he replied, “I’m jumping off this train, and if you don’t want to be killed you better come with me!” I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Luke wasn’t waiting around for me to make a decisive move. He swung the door open and stepped out onto the platform.

I looked back towards the front and through the windows. The aisle had been cleared, and everyone was sitting quite still in their seats. Not one head was turned, they were all looking forward, and then the door to the passenger car slowly opened all by itself. No one was there, and the door stayed open. Nobody looked, and no one got up to shut it. When my front door began to open, I remember thinking, “Run for it!” but my feet wouldn’t oblige. My attention remained frozen to the scene straight ahead of me. I watched the door swing open, but there still wasn’t a soul to be seen. I tried to move my legs again, but they were unresponsive. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the empty entryway. The next thing that happened was so downright impossible that I’ll never be able to forget it. I still have a hard time explaining it to myself.

As I looked towards the open door, my view through the space inside the frame began to blur. All else in the room remained clear and stayed in focus. It was just the air right there in the doorway that was being distorted. A split second later, that fuzzy bit of space began to swirl within itself. Gradually, but quickly, a form began to take shape. Shortly thereafter, I could see a vague outline of a tall human figure wearing a wide-brimmed hat. It only took another second or so for the figure to finish materializing, and then I was able to tell for sure who it was. It was the murderer alright, and he was dressed all in black, just like I’d seen him the night before.

After the killer had completely appeared out of the thin dreamy air, I was finally able to see his handsomely featured face, which didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of his menacing look. Oddly enough, even though his whole body was standing there in the doorway, he wasn’t all there yet, so to speak. I mean, he didn’t come to life right away. He just stood there stiff as could be, and stared straight ahead without moving a muscle. It was only then that I noticed he was holding something in his hand, but this something didn’t materialize in time with the rest of his figure. It took a little bit longer to put itself together, but soon I could tell exactly what the thing was. It was a knife! But it wasn’t just any old knife, this was a white-handled dagger with a long double-edged blade.

The blade began to glow, and the man opened his eyes. The glow grew hotter and brighter, and as it changed from red to white, the killer stirred to life. He looked at me in jest, and put a mischievous grin on his face. Then he raised his arm and pointed the knife at my head, and blinded my eyes with a bright shaft of light. Instantly, I felt a surge of energy course through my body, and shoot on out from the ends of my fingers and toes. How long he held me there in suspense, I don’t rightly remember, but eventually he removed the light from my eyes, and right away I could see fine again. First, I looked at his sinister smile, and then I looked him straight in the eyes. He tilted back his head and let out a laugh, a terrifying laugh. It was more like a roar actually, a roar so loud that it drowned out the sound of the train as it rolled down the tracks.

To tell you the truth, that scared the crap out of me, and that was all it took to set me free, apparently, for without my command, my hand dropped the spatula. Then all of their own accord, my legs decided to move, and my feet took off for the door. I could hear his steps as he closed in fast behind me. I ran out to the platform, and there was Luke hiding off to the side. “Are you ready now?” he asked me. I quickly nodded my head in agreement. He says, “I’ll go first to show you how this is done. Hit and roll! Do you hear me? Hit and roll! Now, watch.” Luke jumped off and away from the train, and when he hit the ground, he rolled about a dozen times. Then he got up on his feet, and waved for me to come on. I hesitated ever so slightly, and then I felt that hot surge of light piercing into my back. I took the leap right then and there, and when I did, I jumped up and out of my chair. My rifle went flying through the air, but before it had a chance to land, I heard my wife screaming my name at the top of her lungs.