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Friday, April 14, 2017

Excerpt from Chapter 12: “Lost In Seattle”







CHAPTER 12–THANKSGIVING

*       *       *
Wednesday morning ‘End The War’ protesters hold up traffic on my way to work, but I was here on time. It’s just a little after ten now and the day is crawling, slowed by eagerness for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I see the Jackal coming toward us. Now what? Has the pisser struck again?

“Tomorrow is a holiday,” he tells us. “We are going to be behind when you come back on Friday.”

“Friday? I thought we had Friday off,” I protest.

“We cannot afford that luxury at Arcot.” Phon continues. “We are still behind our quota. Arcot needs 130 power packs from you today.” He looks at Hēin.

“We can do it,” Hēin answers.

If the Jackal asked for 7,000, he’d agree and do his best to fill the order. Ko gun lin, are the first Vietnamese words that Hēin taught me—Make an effort.

“Good.” The Jackal leaves us and our little group falls silent. Hēin has run out of questions for the moment, so I put my earphones on and tune in the Robert Roberts Show. Another listener has called in.

“What have we here?” asks Roberts.

“A Tibetan Monk,” the show’s phone operator tells him. “It’s from Lompoc, California.”
Silence. . . .

“Are you there?” asks Roberts.

“I am here, at Lompoc, but not born in Lompoc. I am from Shigatze, Tibet.”

“I see,” says Roberts, “but you speak good English, Mr . . .”

“Tahsi Gyaltsan Lama. Thank you.”

“Like the Dalai Lama?” “Hello Dolly” plays as background music.

“Yes, we are both Lamas,” comes the answer, “but he is the greatest teacher, most revered. I am, perhaps, the least significant.”

“I see. So what is it that brought you here?” Bob asks.

“We Lamas like to travel and a few of us are teaching in America.”

“Aha. Well tell me, Tashi, what’s impressed you most about the States? What is it that stands out about our culture?”

“I have noticed there is always talk of fighting: in Iraq, Afghanistan, of course, but also there is war on poverty, fight cancer, war on crime, drug wars—now the war on terror. It seems combat is the first response to solving problems. This is natural, of course, to fight an enemy, but in America—”

“Easy to tell this call’s from California,” Bob advises listeners. “Time to take a station break, but thanks for sharing with us, Tashi.” Robert’s voice drifts off into a long commercial and I take the earphones off to start another batch of castings that’s come down the line.
My fingers ache from threading bolts into their holes.

“How do you say ‘good-bye’ in Vietnam?” I ask.



“Tom bē-ah.” Hēin says it slowly, then again, “tom bēah. Is for every day. Vinh biêt is for a long time, if you are go away forever. I hope you are not plan to leave us.”
Hēin’s smiling, unaware that he has read my mind. “Are you unhappy with your work?”

“Just tired. I thought that we’d be getting Friday off. I need the rest.”
He nods with understanding. “I get up four-thirty every morning, take my wife to work, then sleep in car until the lunchroom opens.”

There’s no sign of anger in his voice . . . complete acceptance of his fate

*       *       *




Friday, April 7, 2017

Published in mgv_88 'Swan Song' today.





mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17
Departure Implicit
by Bruce Dodson


Loretta lives across the street
has cancer
both of us are long of tooth
it happens
but at least I don’t have cancer . . . yet
all of us carry the malicious cells within
waiting for weakness
less immune than yesterday
but she’s a tough old bird
from North Dakota
and offended doctors by refusing treatment costing thousands
hair loss
nausea.
Takes pills for pain
brain tumor headaches
while she waits.
“I’m ready to go,” she says.
Worked thirty years
same job
same place
small office manager/receptionist
eleven months ago she finally gave it up.
Sometimes I think
retirement has killed more of us than cancer.

Page 26

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Bitch From Borlänge – Chapter 13



The Bitch From Borlänge – Chapter 13


I’m minding my own business and sipping this god-awful Kat beer when I hear a “Woof!”  It sounds almost familiar. Who? Another hound here at the Fatal Feline? Kats all have their backs up now, expecting trouble—a possible pack attack. Things like that happen in Rosengård—critters get hurt.

A dogwater fog precedes the new arrival. “Ellie, babe—my love. You’re back—my gift from heaven.”

OMG. It’s Pug, the boxer. He was a contender and we used to run around when I was younger. He was semi-famous then, but after loosing a match with Jerry The Pit, he got into the dogwater. I was never really that interested, to tell you the truth, but he was crazy about me. He can be harder to get rid of than a Tasmanian flea, but whatever. Deal with it, I tell myself.

“Hej, Pug. What’s up? Do you hang out here? Want my Kat beer?”

“Nah. I don’t drink Kat. It turns your liver yellow. Ellie, I’m so glad to see you. Saint Bernard has brought us back together, after all this time.”

Pug’s Irish and a Katholic. “Beauty changes. I’m just passing through,” I tell him.
“No you’re not. You’re on somebody’s tail.”

“And how would you know that?”

“I get around.” He jumps up to my table—almost loses balance before sitting down across from me.  “Smooth knows you’re here,” he sez.

“I’m sure he does. We had a brief encounter.”

“He’s been running with Willie The Rat,” Pug snarls. “Police dogs have been after him, but he is hard to find. A master of disguises. and escape. A New York hip hop group, The Lab Rats, wrote a song about him.
Willie the rat
Was a slippery Kat
And escaped from the F.B.I.
With change in his pocket
And a golden locket
And a slice of apple pie.

“Thanks for sharing,” I yawn. “Anything else?”

There’s a big reward out for him. What can you get for catching Smoothy?”

“More than enough.” I turn to look outside, see nothing but a poodle who looks lost.

“Why don’t you let me help you get him, Ellie? There’s a couple things you need to know. Let’s get a real drink while we talk about it. There’s a place I like, ‘Dog Water Hole,’ they call it.” I was on my way there when I saw you in the window.”

“I already knew the things you’ve told me—other than the Lab Rats. And I know Smoothy knows I know he’s here.”

“But he doesn’t know you know what I know. If he knew you knew the things I know it could work against you if you didn’t know—which you don’t. . . .”

Conversations with Pug were always a bit confusing. “So then, tell me.”

“Need a drink first,” Pug says. Dogwater helps my memory.”

“Some other time. I’m waiting for a friend.”

“A lover I suppose. Are you in heat?”

“I am the heat,” I bark at him. “And working on a case—alone, like always.”

“Well, okay then.” Pug flops off the table. “I’ll on my way. But there are things you need to know—important things. I’ve never lied to you.”

That’s true. He isn’t smart enough to lie, or dumb enough. I take a quick glace out the window. Poodle’s gone. A light snow falling. No one to be seen on Pildamsparken where my rat hunt ended— Johanesgatan’s empty. Not a soul in sight, and Chief Johansson gave me Smoothy’s profile. ‘Moves in slow, and gets out fast.’ That’s his M.O. Guess I’ve got time.

“Okay. I’m good for just one drink to get your beer brain working, but it’s going to be a quick one,” I woof.

Okay. Ten minutes . . . all I’m asking.
*               *             *
The Dog Water Hole is crowded. Mutts are yowling at a well trimmed poodle dancing on a table. There’s bloodhound . . . Erickson from the Dalarna Crime Team. What’s he doing here? I’m thinking. He ignores me and I do him the same favor. Probably working on an unrelated case—I hope.

We find a place next to a pair of rough looking Main Coons who seem fascinated by a game of Kateract they’re showing on TV. I never understood the game myself—a lot of snack tossing and balloon popping.

Pug goes for drinks and comes back three times with a plate of ribs first, and then with two large bowls of dogwater. “I can’t drink all of this,” I tell him.

“Never mind. I’ll help you.”

“Great. Now tell me what you know that might be worth my time.”

“They know you’re here.”

“I know they know.” God, here we go again.

“Smooth said he’d pay for any information on your whereabouts. He’s keeping tabs on you. Hey, that’s almost a pun or something—get it? Tabs, like tabby.”

“Right. You’re almost half a wit,” I tell him. “So, who’s everybody?”

“I don’t know. I’d had a couple drinks at the Katacombs— a day and night club. It was crowded, lots of kats, a Bulldog they call Snot and, let me think. A couple possums, and some stray kats. Everybody heard the offer.”

“All he has to do to find me is to stand still. Is that it?”

“There’s more,” he sez. The Jackal’s in town.”

“The Jackal? Oj! I thought he was in Gotterdammen.”

“Not this week. He’s after a something. He knows Smooth is loaded—bank account in Kathmandu. Big bucks . . . and the rewards that have been offered by the cops.”

“It could be anything. Whatever. Look, I’ve got to run.

“No. Wait,” Pug whines.

I leap down off of the table with Brazilian grace, and out the door before he has another chance to protest. Spent more time than I had meant to. Maybe worth it. Good to know about the Jackal—bad dawg, bounty hunter. Off his leash in my opinion. What’s he up to?

Best Bitch - Stockholm Show March 2017


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Postcard From Ellie – On the Road Again



  This is me in my Ride-Along cage.

ellie-in-cage 

Stockholm Syndrome:

Just a note to say what’s up. No time to write a chapter of ‘The Bitch,’ though I know it’s my turn. I’m on my way to Stockholm. This will be my first event this year—a beauty contest— an important one. Doing well could bump me up into the higher rankings. I would be what young pups call, a ‘hot dog.’ Hollywood would notice, and I now have a New York agent, Eli Weasel.

He was Lassie’s lawyer—big time with a waiting list of clients back in the day. After Lassie died he started mainlining katnip and lost everything. He’s a bit long of tooth now, but straight, I think, for the last two years. He’s starting over as an agent for actors and models. Eli’s a bit long of tooth, but I figure he might still know a few tricks, and our names kind of match. I decided to throw him a bone—my career. I’m not sure it was a good decision. Seems like it would be better if he had an office in LA., but it could go either way, I guess. Who knows? Same thing with beauty contests—hold your tail the wrong way and you’re out. And this is not to mention judges, some of which are totally nuts.

There are happy winners and bitter whiners— jealousies, and sometimes fights. That’s show biz. A blue ribbon in this contest would put gold in Eli’s hands, a real door opener, and I am attractive. Males never fail to sniff around—not always a good thing as you will see in Chapter 13 when I get time to write it.
This is me getting ready for the show.

ellie-grooming

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Bitch From Boränge – Chapter 12


smooth-printer-face
By Smoothy

The auditorium is huge—hundreds of cages, a commercial prison. Tails of travesty in my opinion, but they seem well cared for, pillows, rugs, and fancy food bowls. Show off stuff. A few felines are getting poked and prodded by the contest judges. There’s a large display of trophies. I pass by to get a closer look. There’s nothing here worth stealing, just a pile of shiny brass cups, a few plaques and . . . Holy cow! Is that a rat I see before me?

rat-good

“Smooth . . .  it’s me. It’s Willie. I’m disguised.”

“You had me fooled. You look completely different.”

“Yeah. I know. The ‘king of coats,’ they call me. So, found anything worth taking? I have. Over there—ten cages down and to the right, Magnolia. But she’s been around the block a few times—won’t be easy.”

“Um . . . I’ll go and check her out,” I wave my tail and move on down the isle a way. Ah, here she is. A Siamese. She’s not bad looking, but a bit too slim in my opinion, nice pelt, light gray with black trim. A sapphire as big as the Ritz is dangling from her neck. Magnolia licks her paws in a disinterested way. Looks bored with her surroundings. I can fix that, but does she speak Swedish?
siam-3-saph-copy

Hey. Vad heter du?” I ask her name. She looks at me with some distain at first, and then with curiosity. She thinks I might be something she can toy with.

“It's Magnolia, silly boy. I’m sure you know my name already.”

“I’m new in town,” I tell her. “Do you live around here? Malmo?”

“No. I move around a lot this time of year, summers in Florida, or South of France. I spend my free time at my pad at the Emirates—Dubia,” she adds. “Are you here just here to look at fancy females, or on business of some kind? You don’t look like the average Tom.”

“Name’s Smoothy, but my friends all call me Smooth.” I wink at her.

“Thanks so much for the privilege Smoothy. Tell me, what is it you do?”

“Security.” I glance around as if scanning the area.

“Indeed,” she flips her tail. “Was someone katnapped? Do they worry someone will be?”

“Always possible,” I tell her. There's an imfamous jewel thief in the crowd to night—a French window climber. Pepe, the Parisian Plunderer, they call him. Pepe’s wanted for a string of robberies. He stole the Pope’s ring from the Vatican—it's an alternative fact. Pepe accidently slashed the throat of a victim as he was trying to cut off her diamond collar. My job is to warn affluent kitties like you that he’s around. If you want I can put your necklace in our vault, until its show time, then . . .”

“I can take care of myself,” she says. “Time for my beauty nap.” She lies down gracefully—on top the sapphire, yawns again. “Catch my act later, Smooth. I’m sure to be in the finals.

*             *            *

Now what? I wondering as I glide away. There’s Willie, underneath a snack bar.

“Any luck?”

“Not yet,” I tell him.

“I found out where Lulu is.” He stops to finish off what’s left of a discarded hot dog. “In that fancy cage next to the katwalk. I think she’s best of show as far as we’re concerned. Covered with ice.”

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Bitch From Boränge – Chapter 11


The Bitch From Boränge

ellie-snow-dog 

Chapter 11 – by Ellie                                                                                 18 February 2017


I was dog tired after a hard day, but still kilometres to go, I guessed. No sign of Smoothy, or lucky rat that got away. Seems odd they should be hanging out together—doesn’t smell right. In the mean time, I believe I’ve sniffed out what The Smooth is up to. There’s a kat show up ahead, a big one. World Show. International. I’ve read about it. ‘Kitties Karry Karat Weights of Gemstones’ Aftonbladet’s headlines read. Lulu Rashid is expected to appear this weekend, wearing a diamond collar worth millions. A bejewelled Siamese named Magnolia will also be showing off.  The Diamond Devas, they were called—the main attractions. Very interesting.

There was a Norwegian rat . . . some kind of diamond heist a couple years ago, I’m thinking as I trot up to the entrance. It might cost a bone or two to get inside the show—but I see the signs. “No Dogs!” I can’t believe it—Racist bastards, here, in Sweden. I’m starting to attract attention, so I leave, trot down the steps back onto Johannesgatan. Now What? Smooth is in there . . . and the rat. Is he there too? I decide to catch him and his little friend on their way out, but Smooth is not spontaneous, he plans things—takes his time.

I cross the street and take a snow bath in the park. Feels good to wash the dye off my expensive coat. I shake loose from the snow and see a bar across the street, The Fatal Feline. They might not refuse a drink, if I say who I am—won’t be on friendly crowd, I’m sure.

I stride inside the place like I’m familiar with it. Pussys everywhere, two coons, and a weasel that looks like part of an old coat. Furs stand on end and backs arch as I make an entrance, but whatever. I act nonchalant.

“Dog water, straight up,” I tell an ancient Persian katender.

“We don’t do dog water,” he says. “Kat beer’s is all we got.”

kat-beer-fixed 

I don’t usually drink beer, but when I do, I make sure it’s not Kat beer. The Persian might be jerking my chain, but I throw him a bone and take my beer bowl to a window table. The customers settle down as I nurse my drink. More than a few of them are high on nip, but that’s someone else’s problem. I just need a spot with a view to wait out the next hour or so.