Jan 162015
 

Well friends I am back with Fiction Saturday volume 2!!!  This is a noir style piece that I did a while ago.  Looks like 6 episodes of this one!  Thanks for reading!

Most people call me Jack.  Jackson is just too long, unless it’s Jackson Malone.  That rolls off the tongue quite nicely.  That’s me.  Jackson Malone.  Private Eye.  And I am on a case.  The case is simple.  Murder.

The brother of the victim had come to me for justice.  The police wouldn’t help much.  Their case was open and shut.  One homeless derelict beats another to death over a blanket or some other trinket.  Happens all the time in the city.  Case closed.  Until Rob Moran came into my ramshackle office that Thursday.

“Mr. Moran.  It’s nice to meet you. I’m Jackson Malone.  How can I help you today?” I asked this to a short man in a cheap suit as he entered my office for his appointment.  “Fine.  Fine.” He nervously replied.  “I need to, well, kind of, hire a, um, well, a, um, detective.”   “Well you’ve come to the right place.” I assured him.  “Would you like some coffee or something?”  “Than, than, thanks.” He stammered.  “But do you have anything stronger?”

“Sure, “I said “But it’s only 10 in the morning.”  “That’s ok.” He blurted out.  “I just need it.”  I got the bottle of whiskey from my desk drawer, a glass from the shelf behind me, and poured a couple of ounces into it.  He drank greedily.  I tilted the bottle to offer more but he shook his head.  “Thanks.  I needed that.”  “Well Mr. Moran,” I started again, “What can I do for you?”   “Well, I need help.” He said.  “I want you to find out who killed my brother, Nelson Moran.”

“Woah.” I said,  “This case has been all over the news.  The police have already closed it.  I may not find anything.”   “That is alright.” He replied.  “I just want you to look and try.  I need to know what happened.”   “Fine.” I said, “I will do what I can.”  “Great.  I appreciate it.”  He said as he pushed a retainer check for $500 across the battered wood surface of my desk.  That was more money than I had seen for a good 2 or 3 months.  I took the case.

“I’ll start tomorrow.  Where did he live?”  “That’s the thing,” he started.  “He was kind of homeless.  I do know that he had talked about shacking up in a warehouse on 1st and 32nd but I heard that place burned down about a week ago.  I can’t be much more specific than that.  He wouldn’t come live with me.”  “Alright.”  I said.  “Tomorrow, I will go down there and see what I can dig up.”  “Please do I really want to find out what happened.  My psychiatrist says it is “Closure”  I hope it will help.”  “I hope so too.” I said.  We stood, shook hands, and he left me to my thoughts and the $500 retainer on my desk

The next day was almost dismal, the weather trying to decide if it was sunny or going to rain.  I was in good spirits though.  I had some cash and a job to do.  I actually got up early to begin.

Rob had told me that his brother was homeless, which didn’t help hardly at all, but I decided to check out the warehouse down on 32nd street.  I walked the dozen blocks to the place and stood in front, just looking for anything that may be helpful.

The warehouse had been condemned and boarded up after the fire but it looked like a good place to find homeless people who may know something in exchange for five bucks or so.  I threw my half -burned cigarette to the ground and crushed it out with my shoe, preparing myself for anything.  I walked towards the alley that ran beside the building, hoping that a side door had been jimmied open and allowed ingress to the building.  There was.

The smell of smoke and burned paper were still strong as I approached the warehouse even though the fire had been out for over 3 months according to Alan Rich, my editor friend at the Times.  He had told me that the warehouse was a storage facility for sensitive documents that the police were holding.  The theory was that the fire was a cover up.  Of course nothing could be proven so here sat the empty warehouse.

As I got to the entrance to the alleyway and ducked the yellow crime scene tape, the scents of feces and urine joined the smoke.  Rotting garbage made its appearance, further assaulting my nose as I entered.  The sun was high over head, if filtered by high clouds, and it was easy to see the stained concrete and the graffiti on the walls; as well as the door to the warehouse, jimmied open.  It was on my right about thirty yards ahead of me.

Join us next week for part 2 of Fiction Saturday!  Jackson Malone.

Thanks for reading!

-Justin

Jul 092014
 

A while ago I wrote a post about my aunt and going to her house in the desert and what was happening and what would happen when she was gone.  Well, this week she is gone.  She passed away last Saturday morning and I was asked to give a eulogy.  I’ll tell you, this was the hardest thing I have ever written.  I decided to just post the whole thing instead of trying to rehash it.  This is the first post.  Read it here.

 

It seems almost everyone knew her as Aunt Nora. She was a woman hard to define in just a few words, and I don’t know that we will ever know the real extent of her contributions to the world.

We are gathered here today in one of her favorite spots on the planet; this little white church.   I can feel her even now, looking down on us, coaxing each of us to hold to our faith, no matter the denomination. Her faith in the Lord never wavered in all of the years that I have been alive, and I believe it was never stronger than when she had this entire church join in with her praying for a miracle for my daughter. That miracle was realized when Amelia got her kidney transplant. It has shown me the power of applied faith, and group prayers, and leaves no doubt to the mercy of our Heavenly Father.

Since then, we have been down here, and joined her in this very church, thanking the Lord for his grace and mercy. Nora never wavered in her belief in the Almighty. She knew without question His love and grace. Now that she has returned home to our Father, I know that she is happy. She is where she always knew that she would end up.

They asked me to talk a little about what I remembered of Aunt Nora. Well, she was always there, always so permanent. She was my Dad’s aunt, my great-aunt, and my kids’ great-great-aunt, but she always seemed a bit more like Grandma. She was one of the strongest, most stubborn people that I have ever known. Life never seemed to get her down for long, she always rolled with whatever life gave her, and came out even stronger at the end.

She always had a story about either overcoming adversity, or making the best with what you had. She has told us countless stories of growing up in Indiana, helping to raise her brothers and sister, and having a home filled with love.

She was an inspiration to my family as we began to learn to overcome the obstacles that life throws at us. She always told us that we just had to have faith in the Lord, and he would take care of us. I know that this is true. She has helped to teach us about growing our own garden, and cooking everything from scratch. She was always more than excited to hand off a recipe or a little trick to get vegetables to produce more, or to save the fruit trees from bugs.

Her home is covered with pictures and mementos of her life. It is like a museum dedicated to her family. There are so many people in those pictures that I don’t know, but she knew them all. She could tell a story about every person in every picture. Many times that was all she wanted for Christmas or her birthday, was more pictures of the family.

My kids loved to come down to Aunt Nora’s. She gave them the rock hound bug and now they don’t go anywhere without picking up rocks and hoping for a treasure. I got that bug early as well. I can remember lots of times we would go picnicking in the mountains around here and come home with a bucket of rocks to polish.

She was the last of what I always thought of as the “older generation” on my Dad’s side of the family. Now, all we have left of that generation is memories of those who grew up without television, cell phones or the internet. There is a break in the history now, and I have to remember what Nora taught me of her generation, from their history, to their exploits, to their epic hunting trips, to their working conditions in the mines, and of times when life was much simpler. Times when siting on the patio and talking was prime entertainment.

I feel privileged to have known my Aunt Nora for my nearly 40 years. I am glad that my 4 kids knew her. I am glad that they are old enough to have heard some of those stories as well as learned some of the values and sensibilities of her generation that seem so old fashioned and worn out now. I try really hard to keep some of those values alive and not let my kids become like what much of the world is becoming nowadays.

This world will not be the same without Nora.  I don’t know exactly how many people were blessed by her influence over these past 92 years, but I am sure the list is long. The good that she brought into this community, and to this world will never be forgotten. Years from now Nora will be remembered by the people that she came in contact with, and those who they came in contact with and so on.

I know that she is finally, completely at peace. She has been welcomed to Heaven and has been reunited with her family that has gone before her. I really wish I could have seen her smile when Jesus opened the gates for her and said, “Welcome Home Nora, I am well pleased.”

Farewell to the last

You’ve had more life than most will ever, Your book of deeds is full,

            From rocks to mail, from fish to deer, Your life is now come whole.

            For Jesus welcomed you this week, With his sweet and open arms.

            He has watched you from afar, And knows of all your many charms.

            Much more to us you ever were, Than just a simple Aunt,

A teacher, friend, a grandmother too, who never said “You can’t.”

You’ve told us all the stories, That we did hunger for,

And prayed with us for guidance, Then showed us so much more.

The things you knew that no one else, Remembers now today,

You passed on to us on the porch at night, To ever guide our way.

You kept your head up, Through trials and troubles too,

You kept your faith and remembered well, That Jesus would see you through.

And now this life is over, The next in Heaven starts,

Where you’ll be teaching others, To keep the Lord close in their hearts.

I’d love to’ve seen your face, When Jesus welcomed you home,

And said, “Welcome Nora my dear, dear, one, You’ve nowhere else to roam.”

We will greatly miss you here, Upon this mortal coil,

Yet feel your spirit watching o’er us, As we finish with our toils.

Rest well my dear Aunt Nora, In our hearts you’ll always be,

Rest with those you love in Heaven, We will always remember thee.

We’re going to miss you Aunt Nora, we will never forget you.

 

Jul 092014
 
Graves located on the front of the mound of Go...

Image via Wikipedia

As much as I would like to just repost what I wrote last year about Memorial Day, I can’t do that.  But I will link to it!  CLICK HERE to see that post.

This year I still want to reflect on what Memorial Day should mean to everyone living in this big old country of ours.  Today, Memorial Day is the day where we honor all of those in our lives who have passed on.  We put flowers on the graves of our Grandparents, Great Grandparents, and sometimes Parents who have preceded us into the great beyond.
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Jul 092014
 

**Hey folks this is a reprint of part 4 of The Man With the Hazy Suit that originally ran on June 12, 2010.  I have been few and far between regular posts this summer, and that is the same thing that has killed some of my favorite TV shows, like Alias.  So I am going to rerun the whole story and finish it strong!  Thanks for reading for the first time or rereading if you have been here before.  The Choose your own adventure aspect is not available anymore.**

Hello there! I hope you have had a great week and are ready to dive right in to another episode of The Man in the Hazy Suit.  Thanks for indulging me last week with the poem, it really is one of my favorite things I have ever written.  I will have to post some of the fun exercises we had in some old writing classes where we had to make a sentence with as many words as possible, without being a run on sentence.  I got pretty good at it and held the record in the class that year.

But that is not today!  Today we are back in the Haze….

Previously in the Man in the Hazy Suit:

Police detective Thompson was wrapping up a crime scene when he found a scrap of paper in the dead man’s posessions. The paper led him to the bus station and a locker that was filled with legal pads, all written by the deceased man.  Sergeant Thompson is currently reading the legal pads which are spelling out a strange narrative and a chronicle of a serial killers murders, that somehow the man writing the story knows before they happen, if only by moments.  So far our writer has witnessed 3 deaths with apparently more to come…

When we left our story last time:

I woke up with a start, sitting in my chair, sweating in my Bagel Hut uniform.  Luckily I had tonight off from the Taco Barn.  I was going to sit here and try to rest up.  These last few nights have been hard.

I got up to change my clothes and take a shower.  I smelled of bagels and fear sweat and slightly of gasoline, but that must have been my imagination.  Cleaned and refreshed I headed to the kitchen to make some dinner.  I flipped on the television as I walked past.  The commercial ended and of course the news came on.

The reporter started, “And in a sad story, local university student…” I dropped the pan I was getting out as Karen’s picture flashed on the screen.  “…was killed last night just off of campus.  She appears to have been beaten and then set on fire.  Police are investigating similarities between this murder and a few others that have been happening lately.  More on this story as we go to…”  I had seen her leave with the man in the hazy suit.  I could have stopped this one as well.  What was going on???

And today we join the story already in progress:

I sat down on the floor, dumbfounded.  My jaw hung limply open.  I had seen this girl before she was killed.  I didn’t know what to do.  Why was I seeing these people before their deaths?  I should be glad I didn’t see the later deaths themselves.

I spent the next few hours with the TV off.  I didn’t want to see any more of my dreams being reported to me.   I did mundane things during that time.  I cleaned up my apartment, I paid some bills, I ate some food and washed the dishes.  All very normal things.

When bedtime rolled around I changed into my most comfortable flannel pants and t-shirt and went to bed having not thought of a killing for at least 3 hours now.  Little did I know, that was about to change.

I was following the Man in the Hazy Suit again.  I felt pulled along behind him, never gaining, never losing his pace.  We were walking down one of the main streets in town again, not far from the place where he had killed the two girls and lit their car on fire.  He held the red plastic gas can in his left hand.  His right hand was concealed in the pocket of his hazy overcoat.

We walked past the police tape that marked where the burning car had been and continued.  We finally slowed in front of Jakes Discount Auto Parts.  There were two girls there, cell phones in hand arguing.  The first one was skinny with limp brown hair and a nose ring.  The second, a classic brunette with the most gorgeous green eyes I had ever seen.  I knew both of these girls.  January Dixon had the nose ring and Faith Harper was one I had asked out at least 20 times.

She was always nice when she turned me down though.  I kept trying even though I knew she would never go out with the tall skinny kid who worked two jobs.  It was nice to hope for something that positive.  I had even given her a Christmas present last year, an old fashioned phone from the 1940’s, one of the units with the earpiece separate from the mouthpiece.

I had spent hours dreaming of her lips talking into that phone, on the line to me and to the matching phone that I had on the counter in the kitchen.  I don’t know if she ever even took it out of the box when she got home.  She had opened the gift and thanked me for it when she could have thrown it in my face.

Now she was here being watched by the man in the Hazy Suit.  January Dixon was talking loudly and very animatedly to Faith.  She didn’t notice the Man or me for that matter.  She was almost yelling, “And I get this text message from Jakes auto parts that my part is in.  I have never ordered a part for my car!”  It was very strange.

The Man in the Hazy Suit watched the two girls with the same detached indifference that he showed on this street before.  He stood stock still, his head slightly cocked to the right, showing me an almost profile of his face.  His old fashioned fedora sat on his head, pulled lower over his eyes, as if he were in a strong wind and didn’t want it to fall off.

He turned a bit more to the right and winked at me.  I had a bad feeling he had chosen someone else that I would see on the news.  He grinned and began to walk down the street, leaving the girls behind.  I woke up in a panic.  I knew these girls and maybe I could stop what was going to happen.

I ran to my kitchen, barely noting the open front door and found the business cards for the two cops that had visited me a few days earlier.  I dialed the number on the card and asked for Patrolman Thompson.  I was going to prevent these murders.

Join us next week for more in the Saga of The Man in the Hazy Suit!

I am sorry to tell you that the choose your own adventure thing didn’t pan out like I was planning on so for now I am just following the story as it comes.  If you have any suggestions or ideas, please leave them in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

-Justin