Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Not You, Never You!

When I was in my teens I lived in a neighborhood that was predominately black. Naturally I had black friends, black acquaintances and a few black enemies, but no matter their status as concerns me, their blackness wasn't an issue, except to them. Not one day went by that I didn't hear about a white guy who had done a bad thing, a group of honkies that were despised, the white man as enslaver, the entire white culture whose sole purpose in life was to keep the black man down. It was usually pointed out that they weren't referring to me, as I was a good egg, not like those white bread eating white guys.

When I got a little older I traveled in predominately baptist/protestant/fundamentalist circles due to my marriage to someone raised in the Covenant denomination. Each time we'd enter into a discussion about religion either alone or in company, the topic of Catholics came to the fore. It would start with the pope is old and misguided, then celibacy is insane, then Kennedy was shot because he took orders from the Vatican, then, all Catholics worship da debil. But they always made sure to acknowledge that they weren't talking about me, since I was a great guy, not at all like those transubstantiated flesh eating Catholics. 

Later I was a liberal in a management position at a predominately right wing company. But I was a good guy, not like those tree hugging welfare leeching pinko democrats.

And on it went, nary a week in which I didn't get to hear about how some gutless scum or pondfull of scum to whom I was tied in some irreversible way was on the minds and acidic tongues of all who surrounded me. The infamous they were always the cause of the speakers lives being less happy, less secure or less worth living, and so they were deemed the enemy...myself excepted of course as I was a good guy, not like those (name your evildoer by proxy).

Now I'm 61, and through the years I have been spat past nearly as many times as I've taken breaths, almost always given a bye for being the one and only redeemable creature of the demon spawn at whom the spit was aimed.

It's taken this long to get it. People are full of spit, and pointing it out is like pointing out that playing in the dirt will get you dirty. I cared too much too long, but it dawned on my at last that it's not the case that no one knows what they're doing is only sinking to the level of their detractors, trading their arms and armaments for anothers'. On the contrary, those that use the broad brush know full well what they're doing, and are nevertheless thrilled with the act of painting.

Never stand in the way of an artist at work, or be ready to become a canvas in your own right. Those that offered me the song and dance about my not belonging to the groups they despised were dead wrong; they did mean me whether they wanted to believe it or not because I don't accept the idea that of any given group created by prejudice, only those with whom you have a personal relationship are good, caring, compassionate people. There are no exemptions to being white, you iz or you aint. I'd quote Jesus on the subject, but I'm sure someone would rail against Christians if I did, and then remind me that even though I once was one, it wasn't me they mean.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rough Cut

I have at least one serious flaw in my personality which has been my bane since I reached the age of twisted reason. I find it far too easy to lay off who I am onto what others think. It's a logic drummed into me that states my own opinion is only relevant when I am totally alone, devoid of human contact. But that when others are present, who I am to them is all that matters as their view will come into play during every interaction I attempt. If others don't think kindly of me, they will not show kindness. If they believe me a fool, they will treat my words with contempt and my appearance with a lack of respect.

As most strangers first impressions of me are based on how I look, hearing that others consider me "scary" or "intimidating" is not a good thing and over time, leads my confusion to the door of self demoralization which results in either withdrawal or rage.

Obviously I have a handle on this pot of goo, but after near 30 years of understanding the trap, I've yet to close it and pack it away with the rest of my neurotic hubris.

I was 37, a titled, high salaried manager of 22 people and near million dollar budget. With the help of my peers, I'd turned a division of selfish malcontents into a creative team worthy of the adjective. After 7 or 8 months of my tenure, we were rockin' and producing a healthy profit rather than a net loss to the massive corporation that paid our freight.

Admittedly I was an odd choice; a man who showed up late and worked into the wee hours, wore jeans and t-shirts rather than suits, who smoked and sported a pony tail while riding a chopped motorcycle to work, and who had no post high school education beyond a trade school for wanna be disk jockeys. In fact I'd dropped out of 12th grade in my last tri, and only had a GED because it was required of me by dj school.

But as we thrust ourselves into the corporate light, we knew that expansion would be our ticket to permanence. We were the company's last gasp at management change and if we didn't succeed at bringing our group to a stage of competition worthy of its fortune 100 clientele, the 40 of us could pack our bags and go home.

In that light, my boss and I concocted a meeting between ourselves and upper management, to lay out a few monetary requests for necessary equipment that would make us stronger and far more profitable.

The biggest thing we needed was a "true" audio studio as I was writing custom music for our media and had no suitable place to record it beyond within overpriced vendor’s soundproof boxes. We knew that the big dogs would never approve the quarter million it would take to build from the ground up, so I had to be creative and develop a scenario that would be fairly inexpensive and still suit my needs.

I found a company that produced modular, soundproof rooms that were primarily used on college campuses as "piano booths"; windowed boxes with air circulation systems, just large enough to hold a piano (or other instrument) and student/instructor. That they were totally modular made it easy to build a room to whatever dimensions were required and while not perfect, would easily suffice as a makeshift studio and control room, and be pretty cheap to boot.

On my off time I drove to the manufacturer, 70 some miles from my home. They'd thought of an application for their product much as I described, but had never pursued the possibility; so they were as excited as I, and offered me a light discount on the package if I were to sign off on photos and interviews for their own future advertising possibilities.

I was well prepared as I shuffled off to my meeting. I had real costs based on a fully researched plan, we'd already purchased or otherwise acquired the audio equipment needed and I was fully capable of the installation with only the assistance of a laborer or two to help lift the ceiling panels in place. I'd already built two studios from the ground up and this one would be a comparative cakewalk. And our potentially being one of the first in the nation to use this technology for this purpose, gave us instant marketing potential beyond the actual discount offered.

I knew the social games...the proper language, the moderately expensive suit, the correct pucker for appropriate ass kissing. I had the plan and all its many pages of bean counter blather three hole punched into a personalized binder, covered by an artist rendering of what the final product would look like.

So as my immediate boss Jim and I entered the office of our "superior", I had no reason to believe that I'd not be taken seriously if not actually win the little battle of bowling for dollars.

I'd never met Mr. whatzizname, (a certain Mr. Ritchie as it turned out, a perfectly ironic name if ever there was one) so after the proper introductions were made we sat and proceeded to tell our tale of big bucks and happy days ahead.

I started with an overview of the product; a personal anecdote about having seen these "booths" in action in a space that held multiple students, each placed in his/her own box, all tied with switchable headphones to the instructor who could, at random, check on the progress of his charges and move to correct them when necessary.

The chump in charge interrupted my ramble in mid-sentence by leaning over his lovely desk, grin beaming across his reddened, chubby face as he said...

"And where was it you saw these things....St. Cloud State Penitentiary?"

I have no idea how long I sat in silence, but I do know what crossed my mind in the next few minutes.

I'd played this game by the rules. I had my 400 dollar suit and custom made Egyptian cotton shirt with gold tie bar and linked cuffs. I'd donned my 2k diamond ring and had swept my locks into the grasp of a fine, leather pony tail wrap. I'd taken a shower only hours earlier and had dutifully brushed my slightly yellowed teeth. I'd not yet uttered Fuck or Shit or any of the descriptive slang that might have crossed my lips on any other day.

Perhaps it was my receding hairline and the wisps of unruly silk that, try as I might, I can never lacquer to the top of my head. Maybe it was the beard and moustache, uncommon in corporate life but certainly not unheard of. It could have been the dark circles around my Scandinavian eyes, the broad width of my shoulders or my eighteen inch neck poking out from my enormous thread count cotton shirt.

Whatever it was, before I'd even spoken a paragraph of what would have been an hour of conversation, he had judged me to likely be a former felon by my appearance alone; and had made it clear that whatever I had to say would be tempered with his obvious, self-created and instantaneous prejudice.

I could have thought to resign on the spot with a hearty "fuck you and your little dog Toto too." Money has never been my primary motivator and the large amount they were paying me was not worth an ounce of my self-respect. But the reality was, this comment only served to add to my lack of self-respect and so quitting for that reason, while noble, would be silly. Also, I had my boss in the room as well, a man that had been more than kind to me over many years and had entrusted me with a position that no other on the planet Earth would have allowed me.

So on his behalf, and his only, I deferred my presentation to Jim; handing him my materials and letting him speak my piece while I tried to act unmoved and not at all enraged by the mindless insult I'd just suffered.

It was a fucking nightmare to sit there for the next 20 minutes as my boss made a case for what obviously wouldn't happen. It was everything I could do to not just excuse myself in some hasty fashion and leave the room to smoke and stew.

But in retrospect, what I walked away with from this "day in the life" was not that some people are assholes and perhaps I'd done the right thing no matter how inconsequential the result.

The phrase that kept rummaging through my weak-kneed brain was a note I learned long ago and have repeated ad nauseum as I've grown older and no wiser... "You can put a monkey in a suit, but it won't hide the fact that it's still a monkey."

This one incident didn't ruin my life, nor even affect me in some meaningful way on its own. But stacked with hundreds of other little sideways pokes it has served to make me more than wary of strangers hidden agendas, and more wary yet of the price I dole out to myself once they've had their fun.

It has more than once brought me to the verge of total withdrawal and has sometimes spurred me to write or speak volumes in my defense well in advance of an attack.

It has a good side I suppose. I have always been virulently opposed to prejudice of all stripes because I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of boorish logic.

But I'm not sure I'll ever conquer the bad side; the tendency to be overly suspicious and wholly self-effacing at the drop of an imaginary hat.

Back when my wife had been employed by a plant nursery which took yearly advantage of exchange student labor, I’d been to Linda's workplace perhaps a dozen times in four years where I’d wandered about in my hulky, short and sleeveless t-shirt way, admiring flowers and choosing shrubs for personal adoption. I'd attended a couple of summer parties with her coworkers, and had invited more than a few into my home for self-prepared ethnic dinners and long conversations regarding their homelands, being as kind as I possibly could to absolute strangers. But still, a number of these people have expressed their unprovoked (so far as I know) "fear" of me and I have to admit feeling entirely helpless to change their, or anyone else’s minds, not that it really matters in the end.

Somehow I need to get beyond my childhood training and let all this bullshit go, or if nothing else, finally discover why it is that I'm seen as an Ogre before I say hello. Nah, even Linda thinks I'm a bad boy and says so almost daily. At least she likes me in spite of my scary appearance.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Trees

Boru’s men had already thinned our ranks, chopping down the tallest of we Clontarf trees, and particularly those closest to the sea; lives lost that the man-king might have a battlefield in which his soldiers had clear view of the enemy’s landing. Though I weep for the loss of my brethren, were it not for the slaughter I’d not have been able to relate this story, as I was an inland oak until this wasteful human strategy unfolded. It was odd at first, the ability to visualize that which I had only smelled for the whole of my first century. Its salty spray would dampen my young leaves each spring, when the winds shifted from westerly to nor’east and the towering waves would fling foam into the boiling skies. The taste was exquisite yet always left me longing to see what it was that had provided a spice to my ordinary atmospheric stew; and now that curiosity had been satisfied by the misguided hand of interspecies bloodlust. I’d rather it had been by natural causes, from dieback or even the fires of lightning, but no matter, it is done.

I understand that Boru seems a danger to those who have come, those who now row their longboats through the churning surf. Having near united the clans of Ireland was a bold move and wise in my opinion, though I admit as a tree I was hardly suited to express an opinion, nor was I asked for my elder counsel in any case. Yet it was obvious, to even those of us considered less than intelligent, that the endless laying to waste of village after Irish village would only be stopped by the unification of the peoples of Eire to the benefit of their own defense; that the constant caterwauling about this neighborhood triviality and that insignificant tribal border needed to cease, lest the Vikings always face splintered opposition when landing upon the green for purposes of rape and pillage.

It would seem silly that we trees would feel a stake in self anointed human miseries, save the fact that each culture has its own view of the spirit of the forest and its ultimate uses. The Irish have learned to accept our gifts wisely to date, they farm little so have cleared few acres, they build homes of sod and berm and use few logs in the making.

The Vikings on the other hand are a greedy lot. I can only imagine their native lands are barren rock or even sage swept desert; those topographic nightmares I’ve heard about from transplant seedlings carried across the sea and planted by the scat of migrating birds. Those barbarians strip the land clean as if gypsy moths; what they don’t cut they burn, what they don’t burn they damage with their crude forestry, and leave to rot in the roiling winter fogs and continuous drizzle.

I pray for an Irish victory for those reasons, but I fear I may be too late with my penance. It appears the Irish have been outnumbered greatly, the Norsemen of Dublin have brought barge loads of mercenary fighters; Danish Vikings and by the looks of it, the hated Angles and Saxons of nearby genocide Isle.

It is a sad day for we trees, the Forests of Emerald on the Island of Snakes. Even now as I witness this tragic rout, Brian Boru himself has been stabbed through the heart from behind, as he knelt outside his tent praying to his God for divine intercession. Methinks even a God of His stature would not have been able to stop this horde, the High King of Ireland would have been better served with his sword swinging, than his hands clasped in an attempt to coax the Christian almighty into protective rage. By the looks, we are conquered and divided once again. I am sure the blessing that has been my unobstructed sightline will now become my curse, as no doubt I am already being eyed by the shipwrights as mast material, or worse, by the pagan priests as funereal pyre fodder. I can only hope the humans find a way to collectively lay down their arms within the next thousand years, that by the miracle of peace my children’s children’s children’s roots are not fed by the same rivers of blood as are mine on this most malicious of days.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Baggage Claims

“That’s mine!” I shouted, “take your grubby hands off it!”

The boy looked at me with sad eyes. “I’m sure it’s mine mister” he said, “my mother died young, my father was bitter, I had no friends in school, girls never liked me…” He pulled the drawstrings tight. “Yea” he repeated, “it’s mine alright.”

I felt badly for him. I knew exactly how he felt, and then some, which was the issue; the “and then some”.

“No wait” I said as gently as I could as I zipped open the bag’s outer compartment, “here, in the pouch; the sight of a naked nun.”

He jumped back a bit. “Holy shit!” he said; “I aint seen nothing like that! You’re right! That can’t be my bag! It’s really yours? What else is in there?”

I grabbed the duffel off the conveyor and swung it onto my back, its weight nearly dropping myself to my knees. “Oh nothin’ kid,” I lied, skipping the asylum and the arrest, the failed marriages and being sterile among other things packed inside; “mine’s pretty much the same as yours, ‘cept for the nun, and that was an accident. I can help you with yours if you want. It wouldn’t be the first time I carried someone else’s along with my own.”

“Nah” he said, “I may as well get used to it, I’ve got a long way to go, but thanks for the offer old man.”

I found a bench and heaved to while I watched the kid grab the correct sack and follow the yellow line marked “Next Foster Parents”. I had some time before the train to “Next Life” arrived. I thought it’d be nice to relax a bit, just an old man and his baggage, pondering the possibilities.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Guy Just Knows

She was mopey, yet angry. Oh it wasn’t exaggerated; she’s as subtle as a panther on a hunt.

“What’s wrong honey” I asked, flinching a bit so as to steel myself for what would surely be a blowout. She just looked at me and remained silent. Yea, you know the look. Only this one said so many things if it were a mood ring it’d have a pot of gold and its leprechaun inside it.

I guess I should have investigated further, but I figured her silence meant I was her focus; it was something I’d done. As we sat there at the kitchen table I racked my brain for answers; something I might apologize for before she’d need to fashion it into a 2 x 4 and whack me upside the head with it.

It could have been something I’d said; hell, how many hours go by without my inadvertently saying something to tick her off. But I was reasonably certain that the past 48 hours had been gaffe free. In fact I’d been particularly nice to her of late. Just yesterday I’d given her a little Hello Kitty lip gloss for giggles, and she did.

There was something between us that I’d always suspected was a point of friction; my being friends with women. Sure, we discussed it before we married. I just happen to like women better than men. Yes, their minds, not their breasts… necessarily. (I mean I sometimes like their breasts too but not in that way, and I always like their minds more) She says she’s fine with that, she doesn’t feel threatened at all, she knows I love her; but I’ve always harbored doubts, even though she has male friends and I’m just fine with that.

So maybe that was it. Maybe the fact that I spent last evening reminiscing about high school glory days with Cindy Statler made her jealous. Maybe she imagined the two of us, you know, intrawebbing body parts. Well, I don’t know what to say about that, it’s not like I’ve never thought about it before. But honestly, I’ve never laid a finger on her, nor would I; probably because I know she’d tell all her friends. No, no, that’s not the reason. Oh that must be it. I supposed I should open a discussion about last night to see if that was the cause of her pout. But before I could say a word, she spoke in a teeny, shuddering voice.

“You know that bible study class I do on Saturdays? You know, with Molly and Silva and Rachel and Steph?”

“I do,” I replied. “Ruth’s circle isn’t it?”

“Yea, well, we don’t really study the bible.”

My heart sank. Maybe she cheated on me once a week. Maybe it was that guy, what’s his name, Gerry?

“If you have something to tell me, please just spit it out” I said forcefully.

“The five of us rob banks” she said.

Well, there was something I hadn’t considered.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Boy Who Thought Too Much

If Boswell hadn’t taken it personally when moments after escaping his mother’s womb a strange man slapped him on the ass, perhaps things might have ended differently. You’d think it’d be impossible to remember that event, but when Boz would occasionally be “in the mood” to tell stories, he would describe that moment in the finest of detail. He would say the doctor’s name was Smirnoff. He’d heard a nurse say it, and “who could forget the name of your first bully.”

There was only one person in the world who’d heard that tale; Heather Marx. She was in fact one of the very few to ever hear the boy’s voice, and the last to hear him speak at all.

Heather and Boswell grew up neighbors in a well to do suburb of Chicago. Boz was not a happy child. He was prone to over reaction, tearing up at any raising of any nearby voice. His parents were kind folk, but exasperated.  By his twelfth birthday, they finally had stopped trying to develop their son into what they believed to be a “normal” child, and simply supported him as he was; “eccentric”, as his mom would explain to the neighbors, “like Vincent Van Gogh.”

Heather on the other hand was nearly always happy, and had skin like a shark’s; virtually impenetrable. By six she’d understood what most never grasp, that happiness is a choice, that it’s not circumstances but reactions that are important in life. She considered Boswell her mission shortly after they’d met, but he too was impenetrable; his shell was more a prison than a shield and try as she might, Heather could never find the key to his release. In her mind, that made her even more responsible for the boy’s wellbeing.

Shortly after Heather turned 13, her father was relocated by his employer to an office in Southern California. She and Boswell nearly had mutual heart attacks, decrying the probability that they would be eternally separated. But in a mighty swirl of serendipity, Heather’s father explained to Boz’s dad that his company was looking for others to work for them in their new office, and that he’d put in a good word for him if he liked the idea. He did, an application was made, a glowing reference was added and Boswell’s dad was awarded a position. For quite some time thereafter, Boswell’s parents were even more patient with him than usual.

Being strangers in a new school drew Heather and Boz closer yet. They spent as much time as possible together, but as the year progressed Heather found additional friends elsewhere while Boswell found himself a target of the school bullies. After his first bout with threatened violence, the boy took to hiding in stairwells and empty rooms until moments before he was expected in class, and then racing to his seat so as to avoid being verbally thrashed by his teachers for tardiness.

Heather understood; she always understood. Even as Boswell grew more and more quiet she made clear that she would always be his friend, that she would always listen if he had anything to say. To prove her empathy she made sure to integrate Boz into her new clique, demanding only that he be treated graciously by any who wanted to call her a friend. The girls she’d met accepted Boz without question. The boys on the other hand did so grudgingly, and that false support became the focus of a serious obsession with self-doubt.

“They don’t care about me” he’d mutter under his breath each time he saw her enjoying someone else’s company; “maybe she doesn’t either. Maybe she never has. Maybe I’m just her little mascot.”

Of course there was a voice of reason as well, as self-pity is best served on a bed of misdirection. “God you moron” a voice in his head would whisper, “you’re pathetic. She’s only been sweet to you and now just because those other creeps fake friendship because they want to be around her so badly they’re willing to let you near them without kicking you, you’re going to blame your lot in life on Heather? Maybe you should just shuttup and let her live her life without an albatross.”

Boswell started seeing Heather less and less as they grew into their new school. She was very unhappy about it, but had decided to allow Boz his space. He didn’t avoid her, always waved hello, nearly always smiled; but then he’d move on as if they were nothing beyond acquaintances and he’d given her just due.

The bullying continued, the mad dashes started further and further from the school campus and Boswell became more and more withdrawn. By the end of their first year the boy had receded to near silence, just as Heather had become a fixture in the most popular circles.

That summer Boz noted that it seemed whenever he had something to say it was judged to be stupid or thoughtless or, well, stupid. Granted, most of the people who accused him of saying stupid things were people Boswell thought to be pretty stupid themselves, but somehow he’d find a way to crown them intelligent, even intellectual, if only in regards to what they thought of him and his obviously stupid prattle. Even his parents, who would never openly call him stupid, would berate him for his imperfect grammar. Boz knew, his parents thought he was an idiot too. So he resolved to never say another word aloud.

It was hard at first. Yet after a few months he found silence to his liking; no expectations, no badgering, no insults save the catcall “weirdo” but even that he grew to like. Weirdo was a badge of honor, it was recognition at least. He preferred “unique”, but he’d not say so aloud. The rest of the school though thought he was far from unique. Nuts, crackers, whacko and “mentally challenged” were the titles bestowed on him.

Heather would still make a point to assure him they were still friends and that she was still ready and willing to listen if ever he had something to say. She seemed to understand even this variation of “Boswellian” behavior, a point that made Boz a tiny bit proud of himself, though upon thinking it he immediately buried the thought under piles of self-aggrandizement.

The high school years passed, as did Boswell, barely. Heather graduated as well, with a 4.0 GPA. She was accepted into Berkeley as an engineering student. She had no idea that Boswell had also been accepted into Berkely, as a custodian.  She saw him on her first class day, and was stunned to think he’d given up on his life.

One afternoon in the cafeteria Heather pulled Boz aside to tell him she was really concerned, that she really wanted to spend some time with him. Her parents were going out of town for the weekend and the house would be hers alone. Would he please come over so they could spend all day together like they used to?

Reluctantly he nodded. It was all he could offer.

That Saturday she was prepared for his silence. She did all the talking; though she gave him plenty of time to respond to each topic, never pressed him but only requested a nod on occasion.

There was though an uncomfortable minute or two, as Heather explained to Boz about a guy who was stalking her. Well no, she wasn’t certain, that’s why she hadn’t reported him to the campus police but it couldn’t be coincidence, could it? Well anyway…

Boswell left Heather’s that night with mixed feelings. He was elated that they’d come together again, thrilled to think that she actually did care after all. He was also overcome with a sense of dread. He decided he would hang out in Heather’s neighborhood the following day, just to be certain, of … something.

That Sunday Boswell was a shadow, skirting Heather’s parents’ home every hour from dawn to dusk seemingly without a soul noticing his vigilance.

It was well after dark when Boswell saw Heather inside the house, turning on a few lights and padding around. She was safe, all was well, his paranoia was just that. He turned to go. And then a noise brought his gaze to the garden bed beneath her parents’ bedroom window. There was a man standing there, peering in.

The realization nearly knocked him to his knees. What would he do now? Shout? He tried, but nothing would come but air. Call the police? No phone! No voice! The police; the police station was only a few blocks away. He darted through the yard and into the street. Suddenly he slowed. What would he do when he got there? If he tried to drag a cop outside he’d surely be arrested, if he wrote a note and waved it around he’d be laughed at for sure. He had to confront the man on his own. But that thought scared him more than any other. It was one thing to suffer the poking and prodding of bullies who would go away once you’d met their demands, but to have an actual fight?

The image of Heather fighting off an attacker gave Boz a burst of adrenaline. He ran back to the window to make his stand, but the man was gone; the screen was on the ground in his place, and the window was wide open. The smashing of glass pushed him to scramble into the window where he tried to shout his friend’s name.

“Heather? Heather?” He screamed; frightened, angry, helpless. Not a sound left his lips but the shoosh of warm air. His silent scream though did seem to have an effect. A door opened and slammed, and then all was quiet.

Boswell moved into the living room. There Heather lay, blood oozing from her throat which had been sliced to the spine by a shard of broken mirror. He warmed, began to sweat. He swore his blood was pooling right alongside hers. He sank to the floor and carefully slipped her nearly severed head into his lap and rocked her softly as in his mind he hummed a lullaby. All he could see was the face of an angel. Hours later when the police arrived to investigate the open window they found Boswell still rocking, still staring into the eyes of his one and only friend. When asked what had happened, Boswell did sincerely try to speak the truth, but couldn’t. He just couldn’t.

The investigation into the murder of Heather Nygard was swiftly completed. The prime suspect, Boswell Valons uttered not a single word throughout the four weeks in progress; but an army of others spoke volumes, beginning with the Nygard’s neighbor who had seen Boz skulking about on the day of the killing. Then there were the old friends of Heather who spoke to Boswell’s having always been someone who’d creeped them all out but of course they’d deferred to Heather’s kind heartedness.

By the time the case came to trial it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that this Boswell boy was deranged and would need to be sentenced to an end by chemical stew.

Boswell’s parents were devastated, and to show it they moved out of town well before the trial had ended, days after Mr. Valons was relieved of his duties at Nestwing Cable Company because his presence had proved too much a distraction to his coworkers.

Boswell accepted his fate without a murmur. He deserved to die after all, were it not for his inaction, or cowardice, or whatever it was, Heather might still be alive. He did think about the fact that a killer would go free because of his allowing the execution of an innocent man, but that voice of reason was drowned out by those in his head that scoffed at the concept that he was “innocent”.

Boswell Valons was executed on his birthday, August fifth. He couldn’t have asked for a better gift