Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The Speech Hillary Should Give by Gary Kamiya
The next piece is a pretty disturbing one. It highlights how we’re losing the so-called war on terrorism. How many wars can one president lose at one time? At the moment, we’re at three and counting.
Watching Afghanistan Fall by Matthew Cole
This last piece is the second one I’ve read along these lines this week. Basically what they’re saying is that the “chatter” has risen to pre-9/11 levels again and just like last time the Bush, uh, government is ignoring them. Now, the issue is not flying airplanes into buildings, but setting off a nuke on American soil.
Apocalypse Now by Paul Slansky
Oh, and by the way, if there's anyone out there blind and ignorant enough to still believe anything, anything the Bush, uh, government says, post a comment and include your address. I'll call 911 for you.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Basically, I hid out all weekend. I put down the serious book I was reading, Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke and dived into detective fiction. I like to escape. I read Do Unto Others by Jeff Abbott, the first in the Jordan Poteet series. Then I moved on to The Bite by Michael Crow, the second in the Luther Ewing series. Both great reads when you want to escape. I watched four episodes from the new series of 24, up to where Jack’s sister-in-law and Milo are on the run from Jack’s father’s bad guys. I watched Dreamgirls, which I ended up really liking. Jennifer Hudson deserved that Oscar. I watched several old episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, played on the internet and slept.
Hopefully this week I’ll get those papers out of that Ministry, pay my rent on Thursday and finally get to open that 12-year old bottle of Jameson’s I have in the cabinet which I bought to celebrate signing the new contract. We live in hope.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Another link there is to BitLord. Just click on it and then download the software. One version, the one I use, is free. Just use the search function to find the CD you want, check to make sure the small bar on the right is green all the way across and then download while you go watch TV or cook or whatever. Free music and it's safe. No spyware. They also have movies and TV to download, but I don't have a DVD burner so I haven't bothered. I work with a guy who gets a lot of films from the site.
If you despise President (god how that sounds) Bush as much as I do you should check out this article on Salon.
Is There Life After Bush? By Gary Kamiya
It's an interesting take on hating Bush. Also, if you're at the Salon site you might check out The Blog Report. This gives short shots from lots of political blogs from the right and the left and you can click on the links to read the entire post or visit the blog.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Okay. This is ex-pat life. Sunday starts at 5:30 am with a shower, breakfast, coffee and the first cigarette of the day all while watching CNN International. It’s called multi-tasking. I was running a little late and didn’t get out the door until about 6:40. Had to pick up two teachers over by the French Embassy because the one who drives has his car in the shop. Usually I listen to music very loudly on the hour drive to work, but Sunday I had to make conversation. Work is busy, period, end of story. I’ve been working on hammering out a new attendance and academic policy for our section’s different programs. Spent most of the day on that. Leave work a little before 2 pm and the drive home. Arrive home about 2:30. Try to find a place to park. Eat lunch while reading the paper and watching CNN. It’s called multi-tasking. Then one of my favorite parts of the day. My nap. Wake up about 5:30. Down some iced tea, wash up, get dressed and grab 2 weeks of laundry. Over to the same laundry I’ve been using for like ten years. I don’t own a washer and drier. No way, uh uh. I mean $50 a month does all of my washing and dry cleaning. Then drive over to the Lebanese Roastery for coffee (ground fresh), olives and nuts. Then down to Spinney’s for the weekly shopping. People say Spinney’s is too expensive and it is a little more expensive than say Carrefour or the Co-Op, but it’s damned convenient. There’s a liquor store, a book store, card shop, magazines and pork—all under one roof with easy parking. Pork is only available in a couple of supermarkets and at hotel restaurants. And at Spinney’s you can buy everything from French pate to Iranian caviar to fresh fish, lamb and, of course, hamburger helper. Put it all in the car, drive home and really fight to find a place to park. That was one of the things I liked about this area when I first moved here about 6 years ago. Parking was easy. Now they have several new buildings under construction and that takes up several parking spaces and they’re also doing something with the water lines, so that takes up even more spaces. Get it parked and mule the crap upstairs. It’s just turned 7:30 and on Sundays CNN shows an “International Edition of the Daily Show”. I switch on the TV loud and listen to it while I put the groceries away in the kitchen. A little before 8, I pour myself a Jameson’s and lie down to watch my soap opera, “Coronation Street” and then eat the dinner I picked up at Spinney’s deli about 8:30. I’d taped “Footballers’ Wives” the night before and watched that. Then I did the washing up, shaved, got everything ready for work and poured myself a nightcap and got in bed to drink that and read Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke.
Today, Monday, had to drive the two teachers in again. Picked them up by the French Embassy. It had rained during the night. This has been one of the wettest winters I’ve ever seen here. It’s great. Drive to work. Work in the Major’s office most of the day putting the finishing touches on the attendance/academic policy thing. He’s very particular about the format. He’ll spend hours on font colors and size and layout. Then drove home and did the usual lunch, newspaper, CNN thing. Then my nap. Woke from my nap about 5:30, poured some iced tea and got on the computer. No errands to run this evening. And now it’s almost eight so it’s time to pour a Jameson’s and watch “Coronation Street.” Later.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Mark is an old friend who’s always giving me shit about something. Sometimes I deserve it and sometimes not. We don’t stay in close contact for various reasons, one being that I’m a bit of a slacker. Another being that he was working in
Now, here comes the part where I whine a bit and rationalize why I haven’t been blogging. A little over a year ago I was in a nice quiet little corner of the Institute where I was teaching specialized English for other training courses. While it could get busy, I see now that it was never really that busy. I wasn’t asked, I was told, that I was being moved to the English Language Section of the Institute to become the English Language Coordinator over the several different programs they have there. Life changed then. I had a job with bigger responsibilities. I’ve always tried to avoid those as much as possible. And I had a learning curve to climb. Suddenly I was giving bad news to people and saying “no” to people and managing things, mostly putting out fires. It’s taken me a while to get used to it. Luckily, the head of the Section is an Emariti Major who is one of the best people I’ve ever worked for. I still do the odd bit of teaching when there is a specialized course in my old Section, basically because I’m the only one who knows the technical material well enough to teach it. Other than that I’m in meetings, writing reports, planning courses, placating teachers, etc. It’s been a change.
What have I been up to since April? Work, mostly, is the best answer. On my summer vacation I stopped in
Then we had a family reunion with my Dad’s side of the family before I flew back to
I missed the usual Christmas Eve with Phil and Enma and Christmas Day with Steve and Leah because I was down with the flu. There was a very bad strain of it going around and I caught it twice, the second time I actually missed a day of work, which I never do.
For New Years I flew to the
Since then I’ve been involved in getting onto the new contract system at work. It’s been a bit of a stress but I think I have it all sorted and should be moved onto the new system by end of this month. The Major has been a really big help. Other than that it’s just been work and a few evening out on weekends. Usually about one weekend a month I visit David and Lorin in Sharjah. We always end up drinking in
Most of my earlier postings on my previous blog were related to politics, mostly American. Truthfully, I’ve lost most of my anger about that. The current government has gone beyond humiliating and incompetent and sleazy to the point where it is just a total and sickening disgrace. When will this Bush nightmare ever end?
Okay, that’s enough for this round. I’m going to make an attempt to at least make short postings on a regular basis. We’ll see how that goes. Wish me luck.
I was happy with my decision to come back here, I thought while driving home from work the next night, the windows open and a cool breeze coming down the river valley. I was born and raised about 30 miles from here, out in
When I got to work that afternoon, Jamie called me into her office. Naturally, it was about the Emmons fire and Luke Mason. She wasn’t angry, but I hadn’t thought she would be. She poured us coffee and handed me a cup. She sat down behind her desk and pulled her long, blonde hair behind her shoulders. I was on the chair in front of her.
“All right,” she opened. “Let’s talk about this.”
“Okay,” I sipped the coffee and got out my smokes, “but I’m sure you know more about it than I do.”
“Not unless you’re keeping secrets.” She watched me light one.
“I’m not keeping secrets,” I stated firmly. “You talked to Mr. Bacon, right?” She nodded her answer and I continued. “So you know I had no idea that I bought the house from Mason or that he owned the old Emmons place. Mr. Bacon’s lawyer found the house for me and it was all handled through the agent here. Mason’s name wasn’t even on any of the papers I signed. It belonged to some company. I knew none of the details of any of it. I swear.” And raised both palms in the air.
“Okay, okay,” she smiled. “Mr. Bacon confirmed all that, so it’s true, I know, still. There’s a lot of coincidence here.”
“Yeah, there is,” I shrugged. “Detective Fletcher wasn’t that happy about it either.”
“Mark is a good detective and he’s straight. He’s just doing his job. I haven’t talked to him since you two talked.”
“I’d say he’s still checking out Luke’s apartment.”
“How well did you know Luke?” I couldn’t exactly tell from her voice what she was really asking.
“I met him at the tenants’ party I threw when I moved in and took over the house. Maybe saw him 5 or 6 times on the stairs. There was a girl with him a couple of times.”
“And you don’t know his story?” She asked, sipping her coffee.
Jamie seemed to know just about everyone in
On the 14th of November 1970, an airplane carrying the
Every agency around came swooping down to snoop around. From the city police to the SEC, they all looked and asked questions and read documents and none of them could find the money. What they found was that over the years Luke’s mother had been selling everything off, a little at a time. There were documents with her signatures. The money, if any of it was left, was never found.
One of the company’s accountants committed suicide early on in the investigation. The police never established that his suicide had anything to do with the missing estate money. They checked everything with the accountant’s name on it, everything he’d touched and he didn’t have the money. Suspicion really fell on the uncle, but he let them look at everything he owned and all his account details and he didn’t have the money either.
He and his wife raised Luke as their own son. He gave Luke anything he wanted, best clothes, best car, travel, anything. He was paying for Luke’s university. Luke said he wanted to be a doctor, like his father.
“Damn.” I put out my second cigarette and ran a hand through my dark hair. “Not a very pretty story. And now the kid is dead, too. That family has sure been through it. Did you know them?”
“No, not really. I met the uncle and his wife a few times at parties. They seemed nice enough.” Jamie recalled. “Luke, well, Luke was a good-lookin’ kid, but he always seemed kind of sad and moody—but then, that’s understandable.”
I looked her square in the face, my brown eyes seeking out her blue ones for a few beats. “I have mixed feelings about this, Jamie.”
“Mixed feelings? Why? You didn’t even know him.” She leaned forward against her desk.
“I didn’t have a chance to tell you this part. He came to me for help.” And that landed between us like a lead balloon.
“When? What kind of help? Did you tell Detective Fletcher?” She fired questions at me.
“Just let me finish, okay? I wasn’t home when he came by, I was working. He left a note on my door saying he needed help with something, no details. I went down there as soon as I got home. I was tired and had been up all night and I thought maybe it was a busted water pipe or something. I knocked and knocked—nothing. Went back upstairs, telephoned him. It rang and rang—nothing. I put a message on his machine to come see me anytime. Then I wrote a note and went down and put it on his door. I never got to talk to him. The next night was the fire.” I poured that out quickly.
“What about the detective?”
“I told him what I just told you and gave him the note. He bagged and tagged it.”
“Okay then, you’re clear.”
“I feel a little guilty, Jamie,” I was probably blushing a little when I said that. “The guy came to me for help and I wasn’t there.”
“You, you feel guilty?” She shook her head. “I know your history, Cooper. Mr. Bacon gave me all your details.”
“Just because I was a little wild back in the day doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings and that I can’t feel guilty.” I argued.
“Now is not the time to get a conscience, Coop. There was nothing you could do to help the kid. You’re a security guard, for god’s sake. Your name is already in this too much as it is. Stay out of it. Let the police handle it. Hear me—loud and clear. Stay out of it. I mean that or I’ll make some real problems for you. Understand me.” I understood her.
There were several lights on in the house when I got home. It was a little after eleven. I parked the car, unlocked the front door after checking the mailbox and headed up the stairs, quietly. My apartment is the old attic, now the fourth floor.
As I hit the second floor, the door to five slipped open and Ethan stood there. His sandy brown hair was messed up and he was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, barefoot. He pushed his glasses back up his slender nose with a hand holding a beer bottle. I didn’t need to see that to know he was drunk.
“Ethan?” I started toward him.
“Shithead,” he slurred.
“What?” I couldn’t help but laugh.
“You sent that detective here,” he said.
“Come on, let’s go inside.” I turned him around and led him inside, closing the door behind us. I sat him on the sofa and then reached behind it to open the window. The place was really smoky. I took a chair next to the sofa.
“Ethan, I’m sorry,” I looked him in the eyes. “He would have talked to you anyway, just think about it. His father lives here on this floor and I’m sure he’s seen you with Luke.”
“Luke’s dead,” he said and lowered his head trying hard not to cry. “And I can’t find Molly.”
“His girlfriend,” he answered, sniffing. “I don’t really know Luke all that well. He’s not very friendly, to tell the truth. I know Molly. She was in my freshman English class and we became friends--.”
“Okay, okay, hold no now for just a minute,” I wanted to slow things down. “This Molly was Luke’s girlfriend and you two were friends? I don’t remember seeing her around here with you.”
“She’s a grad ass—like me,” Ethan said. “We’d be on campus all day and her apartment was closer than mine, so usually we’d hang out there. She was here a few times, you just probably weren’t around. She met Luke here about a year ago and they started dating. I was surprised, because they aren’t alike at all.”
“Okay, then, what do you mean you can’t find her?”
“What the hell do you think I mean, Coop,” he snapped. “I’ve looked everywhere, called everyone. No one’s seen her.”
“Maybe she’s somewhere you don’t know about,” I offered. “Her boyfriend just died—maybe she went to her family or to his family.”
“We’re like best friends, Coop.” He finished the beer and set the bottle on the coffee table. He used the back of his hands to push the water away from his blue eyes. “She may not even know he’s dead. If she knew, she’d be here, with me. I’m sure of it.”
“Okay, Ethan, okay.” I light a cigarette.
“I know what’s going on,” he spoke softly in an odd monotone. “Some of it, anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
“And I didn’t tell the cop. I was afraid to.” He turned to me. “I sent Luke to you for help. He came to me first, but I don’t know anything about that kind of crap.”
“Wait, what kind of crap?”
“Protection, security, you know.”
“Luke thought he needed protection?”
“Yeah, and it looks like he was right. Why didn’t you help him?” Ethan’s pain edged into his voice.
“Ethan, I tried to reach him, I swear. I was at work. I got home and found his note and went to his door and pounded on it and pounded on it. I tried to call him on the phone. He didn’t answer. I left messages for him to come to me anytime.”
“You were on night shift?”
“Yes. You know I do three of those one week a month. That was my week. Now, I’m back to three evenings a week,” I explained.
“Yeah, I did know that,” Ethan admitted. “I forgot.”
“Now, what do you know about this and why didn’t you tell the detective?” I demanded.
“It’s about some money, a lot of money, that Luke was supposed to have inherited from his parents. You remember the
“I know all this. My boss filled me in on most of it.” I stopped him. “It’s old news.”
“Something, and I don’t know what, made Luke believe that it was all a lie. He believed that someone--and either he didn’t tell me or he didn’t know for sure yet who it was—had stolen the money. He wanted them to get caught and punished and he wanted his family’s money back.” Ethan seemed to sober up a little as he focused on Luke’s story.
“And that’s why he wanted protection?” I sounded unconvinced.
“No, well, yeah, but something happened last week,” Ethan paused for a second. “I don’t know what. Luke didn’t tell me and Molly wouldn’t either and Molly tells me everything. Whatever it was scared Molly, really scared her, and she doesn’t scare easily.”
“Okay. I still don’t understand why you didn’t tell the detective any of this.”
“I don’t know.” Ethan whined. “For one thing I wanted to talk to Molly first so she could tell me what to say. Besides, that’s the first time in my life I ever talked to a cop. I was nervous. I didn’t really trust him, anyway.”
“All right,” I nodded and put out my cigarette and thought about what to do. Also, Jamie’s words had been clear. “Make some coffee, Ethan. I’m gonna use your phone.”
“Hi, it’s Coop, has Jamie left yet?” I asked the secretary. “Well, see if you can catch her. Tell her I need to talk to her,” I replied to the fact she’d just walked out the door. I could hear Rhonda, the secretary, drop the phone and run out the front door, calling Jamie’s name. Then a few beats later I heard her push back through the door and clomp over to the phone.
“She’ll be here in a minute, Mr. Blevins. She was just pulling out when I caught her.” She sounded breathless.
“Thanks Rhonda, I owe you one.”
“Just doin’ my job. Oh—here.”
“Hello Cooper what’s wrong?” Jamie snapped.
“I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”
“Stop being a smartass. What’s wrong?” She snapped back.
“Oh, you’ve got a rendezvous, at this hour?” I couldn’t help it.
“Cooper.” She warned.
“I think you’d better swing by my place before you go home—and bring Detective Fletcher with you. Ring the bell for apartment number five. It’s on the second floor.” I could hear her pull in her breath, pre-attack.
“Weren’t you listening to me? I told you--,” she started but I interrupted with what I’d learned from Ethan, how I’d learned it and that he hadn’t told it to Fletcher.
“Don’t you think the police should know?” I asked her. “It could be important.”
“No, no could be, it is important—you’re right.” She paused. “You did the right thing in calling me. Thank you. Sorry I jumped on you.”
“No problem, boss.”
“I’ll track Mark down and we’ll be there soon. Mark won’t be happy this guy lied to him.” She stated.
“Well, Jamie,” I got out the knife and butter. “He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell him everything. His friend was dead and he’d never talked to a cop before, he was nervous. Besides, all he knows is second hand stuff—what they told him. He’s not really a witness to anything. Try to get Mark to go easy on him, please, as a favor.”
“I’ll try,” she said and hung up.
Ethan and I sat and talked for about half an hour before they arrived. He told me that he and Molly would finish grad school next summer and neither one had any idea where they’d work. Luke had been pre-med and had two years left before he could start med school. He described Luke as a stuck-up, self-centered jock and he was pretty sure he was cheating on Molly. On the other hand, Molly was really cool and down-to-earth, sweet. I’d always had the feeling that Ethan was gay, but hearing him talk about Molly gave me the impression that he had a crush on her. Ethan was finishing his second cup of coffee when they buzzed. I went down to let them in. It was almost midnight and I was tired. I’d avoided the coffee because I wanted a good night’s sleep.
We exchanged greetings quietly and I shook hands with the detective before they followed me up the stairs. I told them most everyone was already asleep and to walk quietly. The older tenants always complain about the younger ones. We entered Ethan’s apartment and I closed the door behind us. Ethan wasn’t in the living room. I had them sit on the sofa and I went to check the bathroom and then the bedroom. The bedroom window was open, the one that lead to the fire escape. Ethan was gone.