Vegas Dreams: The Briefcase.

Gladys Johnson was a prisoner of her own accord. At the moment she was doing her time as cleaning service manager at the Painted Dunes Motor Lodge.

It had taken her 30 years to work her way into management but still, her take-home pay barely paid her bills let alone have any left over for her retirement fund. Fortunately and most convenient for her retirement fund, Gladys had a flexible code of morals.

Gladys was presently holding court in the corner of a dark dingy basement that was her office.

It was the end of shift for the day crew and her charges were filing in for the assessing of the shwag.

Gladys’s definition of shwag was anything valuable left behind by a guest that could be turned into cash. She had a few “no questions asked” arrangements with some of the local pawn shops. They didn’t ask any questions about the items she took in for cash and they received a small percentage of the take. Her nest egg was currently growing at a rate that would ensure she would not have to work into her 80’s. She may even retire before her 70th.

The day’s take was fairly modest and all but one of her employees had checked in. She wasn’t worried. The last to arrive was always Nadine but she more than made up for it in thoroughness in both the cleaning up and cleaning out departments. Gladys was not sure why Nadine’s swag was always the best.

Nadine had assured her that she never stole anything and that for some reason her rooms were always occupied by absent-minded guests. That was enough for Gladys.

At precisely 4:15 the sounds of a woman humming the tune to Chuck Berry’s Nadine strolled around the corner and into Gladys’s office.

“Nice of you to grace us with your presence Nadine,” pronounced Gladys.

“Oh, hush, you know I’m your best worker. Besides I’ve got something special today.” With a flourish, Nadine pulled out a metal briefcase from under her cart and presented it to Gladys. Gladys took one look at it and like the sands of an hourglass the color drained out of her face and settled in her shoes.

“You take that back where you found it Nadine,”

“If you don’t want it then I’ll keep it,” replied Nadine.

In a tone so low that Nadine could barely hear her Gladys whispered, “I have only seen one case like that Nadine. Long ago, one of the other girls, Thelma, found it and decided to keep it to herself.  The next day she didn’t show up to work. People searched for her for over a year. One day some hikers came out of the desert saying that they had found some remains. Along with the remains was a necklace. I had never seen a necklace like that except on Thelma.”

“Nice campfire story Gladys but I’m going to have to call shenanigans on that one.”

“Suit yourself Nadine. Don’t expect me to come looking for you in the desert.”

“Ha, don’t you worry you won’t need to. These are the kind of briefcases that have a ton of money in them so you can come looking for me on a beach somewhere. I just need to crack the lock on this and I’ll show you.”

“You take that home and open it. I want nothin to do with it.”

“Fine with me. If I’m not here tomorrow, I’ll be on a beach somewhere,” replied Nadine.

“If that briefcase is what I think it is you’ll be under the sand not on it.”

Nadine laughed, shook her head and left with the briefcase.

Vegas Dreams In High Def

Street noise permeated his skull and he slowly peeled back his eyelids to reveal a ceiling he recognized. The waters stains and the Pall-Mall potpourri of his cheap Vegas motel were unmistakable.

He cranked up the shower and his shorts hit the bathroom floor before the water had a chance to heat up. Noticing himself in the dingy mirror, he noticed a sea of pink free of black and blue.
He took stock and decided for a middle-aged pink punching bag he didn’t look half bad. He didn’t worry about which half was good.

The perfect, aged adjusted, condition of his body made no sense though after his evening in the pawn shop. He stepped into the shower to let the hot water work its magic on him.

It must have been a dream, he thought. The pawn shop mafia would not be coming for him.

The stress he felt melted away with the steam. What the hell is it with Vegas and dreams. Most dreams got crushed in this town. His seemed to be in high def.

He donned his gambling clothes and checked himself in the mirror before he made for the front door.

It may have been a stretch to call them “gambling” clothes.

His ensemble consisted of just jeans and a black short sleeve shirt but the Panama hat complete with palm trees added a certain Vegas Strip panache to the outfit.

He needed two hundred bucks to break even on this trip and his mindset was a key ingredient for a  successful night at the tables. He wasn’t about to leave anything to chance. Chance was for suckers.

“Lady Luck come my way,” he uttered as he did a little soft shoe and closed the door behind him.

It’s a shame he was feeling too good to notice the steel briefcase under the bed.

Beatdown In Vegas

This is part of a story started here->

After further inspection, he decided the back of his eyelids had not changed since the last time he visited them.

He came to in what he assumed was the back room of his last known location, a Vegas pawn shop. If not, it should be. The essence of nicotine was strong here. So was the pain.

“I told you your lifespan had a limit and there is no aftermarket warranty,” said Ivan.

He didn’t know his name, “Ivan” just fit.

He also had no idea what this man was saying. Oh, he understood the man’s English, it had no problem cutting through the fog that currently enveloped his mind.
He just didn’t know the reason for the beatdown.

“May I trouble you with a question oh kind sir?”

Immediate pain to the back of his head rudely suggested that sarcasm was not the proper tact to take with this individual.”

“I told you to knock it off with the noir crap.”

His original opinion on the man’s English changed. He wanted to give him a dictionary with the word “noir” hi-lighted but two other thoughts convinced him it was not a good idea; 1) He was plumb out of dictionaries, 2) He was averse to continual pain.

“I apologize, I may have misunderstood your use of the word but how did I get here?”

“You walked in here you fool.”

“Yes, but why am I duct-taped to this chair?”

“Really? Is that your only question?”

“Is asking “Who is your decorator?” out of the question?”
Again, pain danced on the back of the head.

“Ok you want to keep the style to yourself I get it.”

“I told you that you had one week to pick up the package and two weeks to turn that into the two hundred big ones for me.”

His first reaction was to come back with a remark about keeping his private life private but decided the ensuing beatdown was not worth it.

“Who am I, David Copperfield?”

Head meet your new friend pain.

“I apologize, I should have gone with someone less dated. Chris Angel perhaps?
Cue the lights….


Vegas, Most Dreams Die Here.

Vegas, most dreams died here. His came alive.

Vegas, he anticipated his return. His last visit tantalized the possibilities. It wasn’t so much what had consciously happened, it was what he couldn’t control.

Gravity boots supported by the broken nose union.                             Blood rushing to his head, vivid dreams indeed.

He awoke to a nightstand holding a pawn ticket for something he never owned. He began to revisit the concept of vivid.

A few years passed. He still had the pawn ticket and he found himself back in Vegas. He checked out the address of the pawnshop. It was not far from the hotel. What harm could it do? Well, to be honest, a few broken bones and multiple contusions but that was an afterthought.

It was dark, it was seedy, it was a pawnshop. It met his expectations for what a pawnshop could and would ever be. From a writers perspective it was perfect.

The moment he entered the establishment he knew he made a grave mistake.

The man behind the counter was the proprietor he assumed because in his limited experiences pawnshop proprietors always looked like they could do with an ironing and extra starch.

He also did not look happy to see him.

“Do you have the ticket,” asked the man in a thick accent. He had seen enough bad television shows to recognize an eastern European accent when he heard one.

“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it.”

“Enough with your noir bullshit,” he said.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Then there was pain and darkness.

Night Of The Pompadour

In a nondescript bar not far from Capitol Hill ceiling fans were blowing away the last few days of August.

The nondescript bartender had been polishing the same glass for 20 minutes.  Convinced he had removed any spots and a few layers of history he placed the glass on a shelf and sighed. He was somewhat depressed that he was wasting  energy displaying his professionalism to an empty bar. He picked up another glass in hopes it would trigger some patronage.

Hell, he’d welcome a stray lobbyist if it broke up the monotony.

What he really could use was a visit from Mr. Panama or The Bearded One but they had not made their shadowy presence known at the bar since “The night of The Pompadour.”

He shivered at the thought.

The front door opened blasting away his chills with warm rays of sunshine.

“Your rang,” asked the silhouette of Mr. Panama in the door frame.

“Not really, but I was wondering what you have been up to.”

“Trying to lie low since the night of the Pompadour.”

“I know the feeling. I can’t sleep because of it.”

“Really, That disturbing?”

“I keep having these dreams about that hair coming to life and taking over the country. It’s a bit like that movie The Blob.”

“In a way that kind of came true.”

“Yea, and there’s no Steve McQueen to save the day. That’s why I’m scared to fall asleep. I’m wondering what it’s going to do next.“

“And it has a twitter account. Don’t forget that.”

“Thanks, got any Ambien?”

“None to spare. I need all the help I can get.”

Mr. Panama took a seat at his usual table and ordered a beer.

“Have you seen the Bearded One lately,” asked Mr. Panama.

“No, the both of you pulled a disappearing act.”

The front door opened casting a shadow of the Bearded One across the floor.

“You rang,” he asked.

“How do you guys do that,” asked the bartender.

“Do what,” replied Mr. Panama and the Bearded One in unison.

“Never mind. So where have you two been?

I haven’t seen you around here in months.”

“Lying low trying to disassociate myself from The Pompadour,” replied Mr Panama.

“I followed suit,” said The Bearded One.

“What’s going on with the Penny Cabal,” asked the bartender.

“The what,” replied the Bearded One.

“You know the conspiracy to keep the penny in circulation.”

“Oh, that,” replied Mr. Panama. It no longer amuses me.”

“Amuse you?” exclaimed the bartender.

“It’s not longer fun for me either,” said the Bearded One.

“The Pompadour has turned the conspiracy into something pedestrian,” injected Mr. Panama.

“Yes,the thrill has gone,” added the Bearded One.

“So it was just amusement for you two. There was no real effort to keep the penny in circulation,” asked the bartender.

“Nothing we were involved in,” replied Mr Panama.

“No one cares about the penny,” added The Bearded One.

“You could have told me,” said the Bartender.

“And ruin the fun?” replied The Bearded One.

“So now what I do for amusement” asked The Bartender.

“Get a life,” replied Mr. Panama.
Truer words have not been said, thought the bartender.

Below The Shimmer

Fall leaves captured by a lonesome wind danced  above the ripples of the clear mountain lake.
He had been poised by the edge for some time now.
When it was warmer and he was younger, he could stand here spellbound for hours.
It had been enough to be near the lake’s beauty.
He was always attracted to the sun rays bouncing off the surface.
He was always attracted to the shimmer.
Every so often, he had summoned his courage to wade out and dip below the surface.
The experience always left him wanting. The shimmer never greeted him among the depths.

The edge of an inbound wind bit into his cheeks snapping him out of days gone by, reminding him of past disappointments.                                It would be easy to turn his back and return to his car with the promise of his warm home that lay just around the bend.
Sunset was just hours away.                                                                                   The window to yield to temptation, to take a risk  once again was closing as quickly as the falling temperature.
“I am not old yet he thought.”
He let his cloths drop at the edge of the lake and stepped forward.

An exercise in writing inspired by the Daily Post.

Age Gracefully or You Do What You Want

This particular posting is contrary to my usual style.  I tend to fictionalize most of my rants but in this particular case it was difficult to channel my ranting into a more creative form.

Sometimes the rant must be set free to do what it does.

A headline caught my eye the other day.  It read  “Ten Things Men Over 50 Should Never Do.” I usually skip by such articles.  They seem to be in infinite supply. “ Things Men Shouldn’t own over 40,” “Clothes Women Over 30 Shouldn’t Wear.”

These lists are subjective although I think we can all agree that men over 40 should not own a speedo. Can I get an amen?

Now, given that the article appeared online on a website called ExecutiveStyle, I expected something stodgy and soul crushing and I was not disappointed.

I casually read the list, without pen or notepad , and chuckled my way through it .

You may be surprised to find that I did not take it seriously . If so , you must be new to this site.

I laughed, maybe even giggled , along until I arrived at # 7. “Wear A BaseBall Cap”

Excuse me Joseph Stalin. Does the Department of HomeLand Security know about you?

Apparently a Fedora , Panama Hat or in some cases a Top Hat are acceptable but nothing else.

Listen pal, just because your little polo helmet isn’t popular, or comfortable in the heat, doesn’t mean you can throw shade at the chapeau of our national pastime.

Number seven had actually changed my mind as to the flavor of the article. Initially, I was skimming the article with the idea that the author had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

I decided to go back over the previous points with a new belief about what orifice the author had his tongue planted in.

The first item was “Ride a Scooter”, the foot propelled type.  You should’t do it , not because you could fall and brake your hip , but because you would look either poor or silly.

I am not sure for him what would be more embarrassing He also lumps in riding a recumbent bicycle by the same rule.

 Hey I live in Boulder. We all look silly here for many reasons and we like it that way. SometimesI get up in the morning, look in the mirror and ask myself “How can I look silly today?” Not surprisingly, I succeed quite often.

Number two on the list I could not fault him for and it’s the item that convinced me he was absolutely serious.

2. “Take Ecstasy” I am not going to fault him for that. I agree it’s not a good idea. Purely for health reasons. It’s just not good for you. Not much to debate. I would contend no matter what your age you should never do it.  That was the only salient point on his list.

Number three was do not wear shorts in the city. I am assuming that the author believes he looks silly in shorts. Maybe he does. Why he limits his short’s enabled jaunts to non metropolitan areas is beyond me. If it is to limit the amount of citizens exposed to his silly appearance I can understand it but usually embarrassment is caused by being seen by people you know. In that sense I think you would need to be more specific on what you mean by city.

In his case, maybe it should be “do not wear shorts in a section of the city where the ratio of people you know vs those that you don’t are greater than 1 in 100.” One of his alternatives was linen trousers so perhaps the rule should be tweaked to read “in a section of the city where the average dry cleaning bill is less than $1000 per week”
or “The ratio of Miami Vice fans to those who never heard of the show is 1 in 1000.”

Hey I don’t think I look particularly stunning in shorts but when its 95 degrees it’s the best alternative to going naked. Trust me, no one wins in that scenario. If I have to worry about dry cleaning the clothes I am wearing on the weekend then I might as well be working.

Only one other item on his list was worth mentioning. “5. Vote Green.” His reasoning was that everything is hopeless and voting green was for the young and deluded. Spoken like an old fart who’s contributed to the problem and is quite happy with leaving his children and grandchildren with a cesspool to clean up. We’ve all contributed.

When it comes to voting green your either part of the solution or its time to throw yourself into the recycling bin. Cremation is a nice way to return yourself to mother earth.

At some point, the article mentions we should age gracefully. You know what grace is? It’s a girls name popular in 1901.

The hell with grace. Do what you want.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light and then bury me in my Cubs hat. Thank you Dylan Thomas.

Hey, he would have been a Cubs fan if they had cable in Wales, in the early 20th century. His poetry would have still been just as dark. Maybe darker.

Marge 3.0 Has Arrived

The Marge 3.0 Has Arrived. TVParent has announced the latest update to it’s Alexa like product the Marge 2.0.

The new version of the Marge 2.0 cleverly named the Marge 3.0 will have the ability to see and is specifically designed to give fashion advice. I spoke to company president Irwin Mainway about their new product.

“Mr. Mainway, Isn’t your product the same as the new Alexa?”

“Call me Irwin and no. Other than video capability  that’s where the similarity ends.”

“But the new Alexa gives fashion advice and so does the Marge 3.0, does it not ?”

“Yes, but the approach is totally different.”

“How so Mr. , Um , Irwin.”

“The target demographic we have in mind for Margie is totally different “


“Yea, that’s our pet name for her around our office.”

“O-K-A-Y. “

“Anyway the target market we have in mind is skewed more to a male population lacking in significant others with which to guide them concerning fashion advice. “

“And that manifests itself differently how Irwin?”

“Well, for one Margie doesn’t use such big words like manifest. We try to be more direct with the customer. Perhaps an audio demonstration would make it more clear.”

“Yes, that is certainly , shall we say, more direct.”

“Oh I can say it. It’s more direct. The other product is going to dance around the issue and say things like “Sir, the color of that shirt is the wrong choice. It does not make your eyes pop.”Margie on the other hand will say “Sir, Are you color blind ? The color of that shirt in no way goes with those pants”

“You do realize many men are color blind. That could turn them off to Marge”.

“First of all, I don’t really want them to be turned on to Margie if you know what I mean. What are you some kind of freak. “

“Second of all, they know they’re color blind. That’s no frickin surprise to them but why should they announce that to the world from ten blocks away.”

“Good point and a good time to wrap up my discussion with Irwin Mainway about the upcoming release of Marge 3.0”

“You forgot to say it’s being released in two weeks at the very competitive price of $250.”

“Ok. Well there…”

“Say it. “

“TVParent will be releasing Marge 3.0 in 2 weeks at the very competitive price of $250”

“Nicely done.”


“You know your company name doesn’t really make sense unless you make TV’s.”

“Yea, we’re working on a name change.”

Thoughts For Today

The pain has interrupted another lucid and perhaps amusing thought. Time to put aside the current work in progress with a promise I will get back to it. I probably should just keep writing and while the cloud parked between my ears reminds me of some times I had in the eighties, the occasional sparks of lightning remind me it is not really a fertile planting ground for creativity.
It may be fortuitous that I find myself writing this on the cusp of Father’s day.  A day that reminds me of a man that was the king of “Bucking Up.”

In the past I have strung together some decent sentences in a form that some may actually have termed prose*. In my current state of mind I will not taint any of those previous efforts. Instead I will leave you with a few thoughts that come to mind when I think of my Father.

Thoughts for today.

Buck up.
Tough As Nails.
Charles Bronson.
Sinusz. (Polish for Sonny).
Da Bears.
English Leather
Hunter Safety Instructor
Midnight Shift
Working Two Jobs
Taking the boys to work.
road flares
Hunting with Dad.
A Toast to Casey on Father’s Day.

Love Dan.

*Click on the Father’s Day Tag of the post to see those.

Marge 2.0 – The Alexa Your Parents Raised

High Tech Company TVParent announces the release of their new Alexa like product. The Marge 2.0.  Its being billed as the Alexa that your parents raised.

The companies makers are hoping to be the television for next millenial+ generation or whatever they’re calling kids these days.

Our interview with a company representative, who declined to be identified, revealed the companies vision.

“We hope to reach that section of parents out there that long for the days when they could set their kids in front of the television and forget them for hours, without the worry of which video games are teaching them to kill , curse or pop a cap in a ho.”

We’ve surveyed many of todays parents and we believe there is a large market for a product to keep their kids occupied without any parent participation. You know kind of like school but like when they get home.”

After being granted a court order, we were able to obtain some of the survey comments which showed that  participants  believe their lives would vastly improve with such a product.

Response #18 replied – “Wow it sounds like that Marge would change my life , my golf game would greatly improve.”

Response #11 – “Sure they have video games but it doesn’t talk long before they reach thermonuclear armageddon or level out or whatever the call it and I have to buy them a new game. This sounds like I could ignore them at least until dinnertime.”

Response #23  -“Oh, sorry we don’t have kids. What was that dear, three of them? Oh, I guess I don’t need this product. ”

#Response #42 – “Wow, this Marge 2.0 sounds like a Godsend. You say It would never get tired of answering the same old questions over and over again, and probably give them the right answer 9 times out of ten. Wow. I just make up shit and they don’t seem to know the difference. Where do I get it?”

The company representative also replied to many critics who say its just an excuse to ignore your children.

“Pish Posh. They have plenty of excuses to ignore their children but to reassure the skeptics we have build in many of the same responses your mother’s used on you to keep you in check.
I couldn’t do them justice here . The audio we sent you is a good example.”

When asked if there was a Marge 1.0  the company representative referred to their legal team. The only available quote from the legal team was “The reports of injuries are greatly exaggerated.”

A Place To Share Some Grins