Chapter 1 Marathon Maniac

Gregson ran like he was being chased by a Grizzly Bear. He was 50 years old and 50 pounds over-weight, but he kept charging up the trail. His face was red and the sweat poured off his nose and out of his eyes, or maybe those were tears.

Marathon onlookers watched, and they were all thinking the same thing, he had to stop, but Gregson kept going. He had a new heart now and he intended to use it.

Running makes you feel young, until you realize you are old. The old motivations don’t work as well as they used to. During his younger days, Gregson would get behind some young tail and let his sex drive carry him over the finish line. Now he needed grander philosophies to survive the heat and pounding. His mind thought simple thoughts, like how good a hot dog would taste at the finish line or when he would wash it all down with ice-cold lemonade.

Mile 18 was coming up and the pacer group opened their mouths in awe as the man with style past.

Gregson embodied magic because he could not be explained. If doctors ever figured out how to transplant brains, nobody could handle his. The energy and mystery and complexity would terrify them.

Mile 22. Pain was an understatement. Mile 26. There was the finish line. Somehow, being able to finish at his age was a test. It was a test of how much he wanted to do it.

Some blacked out SUVs partitioned the crowd in Chessfield Park where the marathon ended and Gregson instantly knew they were there for him. Agents wearing black shades and suits opened the doors to usher Gregson inside.

“Have a Gatorade,” Murphy said.

“You work for the government now?” Gregson asked.

“Just some consulting work for the Federal BI. I recommended you to the agency, even though they questioned your abilities. I don’t think anyone can doubt you now, especially after today.”

Gregson smiled. “Let’s walk and talk. Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it.”

Murphy laughed. “Same old Gregson, up for a challenge for the sake of a challenge. This one might be the greatest of your career.”

Pulled Apart

So many days are lost

like poems that erase

on an old computer

and we all have different programing

high-speed

low-speed

connections

to things

outside of us

All I want is for my life to matter

to be connected to something

that won’t be severed

There is a computer graveyard

where our faces are unscrewed

our wires are pulled out

and our parts get used

If computers have feelings

and I don’t think they do

I still like to spend time on them

to feed some nostalgic need

that can’t be bought

in a store

The world wants

a fast

tech-savvy

artificial intelligence

manufactured

online

and new

Maybe we are just mounds of plastic

chemically molded

into something obscene

We attach our love to things

and I don’t know why

and in the end,

we’ll understand

or be pulled apart.

In the Imagination of the Story-Tellers

Take comfort

Nobody knows the outcome

You could be lying in your bed today

and dead in your grave tomorrow

We can do things with purpose and passion

and all we’ve done is worked ourselves up

Our visions

may become black holes

And this is the really interesting part

Who we are today,

is never who we are tomorrow

We usually can’t see it

Antique dealers collect dust from the past

and people don’t have time for it

I feel a kinship there

like being reacquainted with an old friend

Modernness is clean and efficient

and the past takes time

to breath

it lives among the centuries

becoming mysterious

lost warriors

are isolated

from the world

unaware of the war that ended

I see them today,

reunited like best friends

even though they tried to kill each other

not so long ago

It takes too much energy

to tell a story

nobody else can hear

Your narrative is challenged,

and if you keep telling it,

to stop would be suicide

You are a story-teller

who everyone laughs at

until the legends become true.

Maybe I long for that

a time that never existed

or perhaps it did

in the imagination

of the storytellers.

My Joyful Bird Inside

It doesn’t help to think about what I don’t love

and most of the time

I am reminded of it

like an alarm clock that goes off

when I want to sleep

or a car that honks

when I was supposed to go

It isn’t distance

from hateful things

that I long for

it is the absence of hate

My mind reacts

when poked

And now it knows

not to poke back

But even still, it tries to sift

through the lingering resentment

like sand that might blow away

into nothing

And there is always someone or something

who sees my happiness

and tries to poke it

to see if it is real

You have to bury it

deep inside

like a cheerful bird

you say to be silent

it sings in the spring

flys in the summer

nests in the fall

and gives you eggs in the winter

Even though you put on a serious face

Some hear your song

inside

and smile

Our birds sing

in unison

a silent chorus of hidden joy

from the empty aviaries of misery

long ago abandoned

just feathers

and droppings

and silent noise

Never lose your bird

feed it wonderful worms of wisdom

and keep listening to your song

inside.

The Storyteller Who Couldn’t Keep His Mouth Shut

It was evening; a darkness that disperses shadows and light, keeping things hidden, but revealing the tip of a nose or a twinkle in the eye when the streetlight is just right.

“Have you wondered how your life might be different?” I asked my friend. He was scrolling through his phone.

“Like, if you made different choices?” I asked. My voice was far away, but it didn’t stop me from talking. Pretty soon, the neighborhood pothead walked by.

Cough. Cough. “It’s just how my mother says, people are so cruel. She’s such a sweet lady, but nobody was nice to her, her entire life.” His 40 year-old-words are lathered with mucous and the drag of habitual addiction. The smell of stinkweed is pungent in the air.

“Take that guy for instance… he still lives with his mom and he’s a grown man. I wonder if he could’ve made different choices?”

“You got to watch this video,” my friend says. “It’s about a guy who did all kinds of drugs, joined a cult, and then found Jesus.”

The video was very entertaining and it got me thinking. “Can people keep things hidden or do they have a compulsive need to share everything?”

“The bible says what’s done in the darkness will eventually be revealed in the light.”

“So, if I decide to murder somebody, like that pothead, could I keep it hidden or would the burden be too heavy and eventually I’d need to share everything?”

“If you murdered him, you couldn’t tell anybody.”

“True, but I’d want to. Maybe I wouldn’t say it outright, but I’d be indirect or hint at the idea that I’d killed him until my best friend would guess. Then I’d have to kill my best friend. What an awful thought.”

“Andy, you’re creeping me out. Maybe you could confess to a priest or even a psychologist or lawyer to relieve the tension.”

“But then I’d get really nervous because I’d told someone and then I’d have to kill them too. Pretty soon I’d be a serial murderer because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.”

“Hey, that would make a great story.”

“You know what, you’re right!”

Supernatural Sowing Season

Ordinary Confidence

is not enough

and when I make things bigger

I can’t ride the wave

Everybody wants some

until the fall

So, we must believe

there is an angel inside

walking through fields

under the weary sun

until the devil comes out at night

blowing our seeds away

Maybe we planted them

like lost dandelions

that are appreciated for half-a-thought

Is it time that counts?

A rise and fall

Still ponds reflect those who look at them

and wild waves crush those with ordinary confidence

So, we hope for something extraordinary

out of the deep

an angel or devil

turning our ground to mud

so our seeds

can take hold.

The Way

The manner in which

you walk through “problems”

categorize the world

see things that exist or don’t

respond to criticisms or complaining

All are tests

of your way

Some are driven mad by the road of visions

that never materialize

just mirages in their rearview

We are all carried by something

or perhaps I just have a government job

but there is a way

that works

If you can find it

all things will help you

it is the wind on a hot day

or giving money to the bum who needs it.

The Fish Nobody Can Catch

I dream lofty dreams

between the fringes of the secret

seldom spoke about

It has always been calling

like an echo that grows feint

and then screams like a megaphone

jolted to attention

with no one but my own company

fitting for me

and frightening for anyone else

It dares to take me

if I let it

and the temptation

has already sunken

too far within

unraveling energy

what I was meant to be

On my death bed

where society says

I shouldn’t be

Drinking disapproval

like a floundering fish

swimming

into a pool of separation

and laughing

at my own name

not hearing

the laughter or silence

of everybody else

I’m the fish

nobody can catch

swimming up stream

jumping into forbidden pools

finding a deeper meaning

there

in the depths

where the darkness

cannot be understood

by the light.

Epilogue

Gregson was thinking about life and death; his own. “Will you take me to the hospital?”

“Are you kiddin? Let’s go!”

With the top down, Gregson sucked in the cool breeze.

At the hospital entrance, a wheelchair was waiting for him. Dr. Graves stood there, tall and dour. “I guess you’re wondering how you made it to the top of the list? There’s been a string of murders in the area and they all have AB- blood. Five people got hearts today and five people died. Somebody’s playing God.”

“How do you know the murders are connected?” Gregson asked.

“Their organs were removed. Earlier, the hospital received five coolers on its doorstep. All of them contained a human heart, AB-.”

“Do you have reservations about performing the surgery Doc?”

“Hell no, a heart is a heart. When you recover, you can catch the murderer.”

“Why don’t we take care of that now.”

“What?”

Gregson slapped the cuffs on Fred’s hands like a magician.

“Hey, what’s going on here?” Fred stammered.

“Your fish bait; I’ve spent enough time around blood to know your chum was human.”

“But I saved your life.”

“No, you didn’t; it was some poor bastard who didn’t mean to.”

“Well, can I at least watch the surgery?” Fred asked.

“You’re not next of kin,” Dr. Graves said.

“But I’m his number one fan.”

THE END

Chapter 7 Catching Some Good Luck

“You know what I do when the answers are absent?” Fred asked.

“What?”

“I go fishing. I think it would do Gregson some good. Murder gets solved in the imagination, after all; and we might be able to catch some answers by not trying to.”

“I’ll join you guys when I get off my shift,” Murphy said.

When Gregson got back to the dock, he noticed his sunken sailboat on stilts by the shore. “I had it salvaged just for you,” Fred said.

“Why?”

“I’m your number one fan and it didn’t cost me a dime; my old man sponsored it. You can fish off your deck. I’ll join you in just a little bit.” Fred walked back to his boat and grabbed a couple coolers. “You wanna beer?”

“Sure,” Gregson said. “This is the life.” He dipped his hands into the harbor compost barrel and pulled out some warm worms; then he cast his line. The sun was beginning to set in the late afternoon.

Gregson and Fred stood there, plopping their bobbers in the water, admiring their rippling reflections.

Suddenly, Fred hooked a fish.

“Is that a shark?” Gregson asked.

“It’s big enough to be.”

“You have all the luck.”

“It comes from years of not trying,” Fred grinned.

“Whatever. Sounds like New Age philosophy to me, but if it helps you catch fish…”

“I’m just foolin. I use the right kind of bate. This is my special blend.”

Gregson peered inside. “Looks like a milkshake that went bad. Smells like it too.”

Then he got a text. “It’s from Dr. Graves. I’ve been moved to the top of the donor list. They want to do the heart transplant in five hours.”

“Looks like you caught some good luck, after all,” Fred smiled.