The Judge Says

Sometimes satirical, usually political, always with a progressive bent.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Left Alone

Left Alone
I was sitting in the corner booth of the bar nursing a Johnnie Walker Black. It was 1 in the morning and the bar was filled with a typical late Saturday night crowd.
At the booth next to me three college guys reveled in their invincibility. Beer splashed across their table as they recapped the NBA championship. Loud and boisterous as only someone not yet touched by the tragedy of life can be.
Two couples sat together at a table near the bar. A tall dark haired man in a Hugo Boss suit leaned into a pretty blonde dressed all in black. They exuded an air of comfortable togetherness. The other couple was clearly on a blind date. He was a stocky guy with brown hair cut just a tad too long for his conservative Brooks Brothers outfit. The woman with him had jet black hair and a bored look on her face. Brooks Brothers was trying hard to impress her and failing. He saw me watching and gave me a shrug of a smile: what's a guy to do? I raised my glass to him.
Over at the bar an underage redhead thought her low cut blouse made her look sophisticated. It didn't, but it kept the attention of the guy with her.
A couple of regulars were at the other end of the bar. A bundle of nerves called Ice Pick was talking with Sammy D. Years ago Ice Pick stabbed a guy with -- yeah, an ice pick -- and did some time for assault. Since then everyone called him Ice Pick. Which as prison nicknames go is a pretty good one.
Sammy D was a 40-year-old alcoholic in a 60-year-old body. Sammy was a local sports legend. All State in three sports in high school, he spent a couple of years in the Cubs minor league system before his dreams drowned in a sea of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Now he spent his nights trading stories of going to spring training with the big club for drinks.
I got up and headed to the bathroom. Threw some water in my face and looked in the mirror. Didn't particularly like what I saw, but who the hell does?
On the way back to my booth I passed the redhead. She was holding a phone in one hand and using the other to pull her blouse together. Tears streamed down her face. She was asking someone to come pick her up. I hoped they would.
Back at the booth I noticed that Brooks Brothers seemed to have made a breakthrough. His date had one hand on his arm and was laughing at whatever he was saying. When he looked my way he gave me a little wink.
A blast of cold, wet air filled the room as two people entered. The woman was on the short side and not what you would call pretty, but she exuded sexuality. Every man in the room, and half the women, stopped to look at her. The guy she was with had the casual bearing of an athlete. Soccer player maybe. He put his arm protectively around her as they took two stools at the bar. I watched as he bent over and said something to her, and then kissed her gently on the cheek. It was a kiss that sizzled with eroticism.
She seemed to sense me watching and looked over. Her deep blue eyes took my breath away. They always did. A year ago it would have been my arm around her shoulders. My lips caressing her neck.
I gulped the rest of my scotch down and got up to go. All the different noises in the bar had merged into a single minor chord playing over and over. It was the sound of heartbreak.
I walked through the cold rain to my apartment. Sat heavily down onto my bed, wet coat soaking the sheets. I looked around and found the stereo remote. Flipped through the CDs there and found the perfect one. Mal Waldron's "Left Alone." Set it to continuous play and sank back onto the bed. Feeling sad may not be the best thing in the world, but it beats not feeling anything at all.

Young Love (First Love)

  • Young Love (First Love)
Riding bikes down to the Dairy Queen
Where we share a banana split,
Vanilla for her, chocolate for me
Meeting at the strawberry no-man’s land
With shy smiles and embarrassed gazes.

Running through the corn field
Hopping hand-in-hand over
The fallen husks,
Spinning in circles until dizziness
Drops us laughing to the ground.

Sitting side by side at night
Serenaded by the cricket chorus.
Quickly kissing a sunburned cheek
By the light of the fireflies
Then running laughingly away. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Tale of Lost Love

Still in bed at 10 am after another sleepless night.

I rolled over and touched her pillow. For a moment I thought I could smell the scent of her shampoo lingering in the air. But I knew that was impossible as it had been 4 months since she walked out the door.

Grabbed a cigarette and lit it. Funny – all of the years we were together I nagged her and tried to get her to quit smoking. Then a week after she left I found one of her old packs in the kitchen. Pulled out a cigarette. Just sat and smelled it for several minutes. Then I lit it up. When I lit the match I could see her in the flame, when I put the cigarette in my mouth I could taste her on my lips. I'd been smoking ever since.

I heard through friends that she had finally quit smoking a few weeks after she left. Life is just like that I guess.

I drug myself out of bed and walked over to the bathroom. Saw my reflection in the mirror. The shadows under the eyes. The haunted look of someone who no longer knew how to live. Who was that man?

Ran my hand through my hair and realized I hadn't showered in days. Maybe weeks. What did it matter?

Went to the window and looked out. The sky was the color of dirty cotton candy. Drops of rain ran listlessly down the window pane, disappearing into nothingness.

The phone rang.

I looked at it for a few seconds trying to decide whether to answer it. But I had forgotten how. What would I say if I picked it up?

I let it ring and went back to bed. Tried to will myself to sleep. But every time I closed my eyes I saw her.

Packing her bags. Heading out the door. I remember how she looked up at the window just before she got into Bill's car. The look on her face as our eyes met for the last time. I saw the sorrow there. And the hurt. And the regret. But no love. Not any more.

I lit another cigarette and tried not to think. Tried not to feel.Placed my hands over my eyes and peeked out through my fingers, trying to narrow my field of vision to something manageable. Stared at the peeling paint on the ceiling. If I moved my fingers the cracks took on different shapes, none of them comforting.

Rolled over and stubbed the cigarette out in one of her ashtrays. A souvenir from some trip taken in another lifetime. Reno maybe. Or Tahoe.

Tried to recall the trips, the happy times we must have had. But every image evaporated before I could seize it. Steam clouds dissipating as quickly as the happiness had.

I wanted to smash the ash tray against the wall but I didn't have the energy.

I pulled the sheets up over my head and burrowed into the bed, trying to shut out the unwelcome light.

Maybe tomorrow would be better.

I hoped to god it would be better.

But I doubted it.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Riding the Dog

It was a cold friggin' night. I had been standing on the side of the road heading west outside of Omaha for 2 hours without so much as a glimmer of anyone stopping to give me a ride.

Usually I had pretty good luck hitchhiking. (This was back in 1972 before anyone worried about serial killers or being bored to death by people singing show tunes.)

I had been picked up by some interesting folks during my previous trips.

There was the French couple driving across country who shocked my Midwestern sensibilities by using the same bathroom at truck stops.

The drunk travelling salesman who was so wasted that he didn't notice I had only been in his car 5 minutes when I said "that's my exit."

The grandmother who offered me a joint.

One time a state trooper stopped. I thought I was busted for sure considering I had a bag of marijuana in my coat pocket. But it turned out his legally blind son had just finished a cross country hitchhiking trip and the trooper was doing some karma payback by giving rides to others.

But this night?

No luck.

Maybe it was the shoulder length hair (windblown and dirty from all day on the road), Army surplus jacket with the big peace sign, and bell bottom jeans.

Or maybe it was just Nebraska.

I couldn't stand it anymore and turned around and headed back into Omaha. Managed to get a ride to the Greyhound station. I bought a ticket to Boulder on a bus that left in an hour.

I went into the bathroom and threw some water in my face. It washed away some of the grime but did nothing to improve my spirits.

An elderly black man was cutting a piece of cheese in the corner. His hands shook as he sliced off a small hunk and offered it to me. I thanked him and headed into the waiting area.

Day old newspapers and candy wrappers swirled across the floor in the breeze created by the half-hearted sweeping of a janitor.

When the bus arrived I waited until everyone was almost on and then boarded. There weren't that many people.

An elderly couple who looked like they had given up on life a couple of decades ago.

Two giggling teenage girls with the kind of fresh faces that only girls who spent their whole lives in small towns have.

A hard faced man with hands the size of shovels and a nose that went in two different directions.

A few others.

I made my way to the back of the bus. In the last seat were a couple of guys in ragged clothes who looked more dishevelled than me. They were passing a bottle of Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. Gangly White Haired guy saw the slight smile on my face and raised the bottle to me. His face broke into an almost toothless grin. "Dude back at the station gave it to us man. You know what they say -- never look a gift horse in the mouth." He and his friend laughed hysterically for a few moments and then settled back into drinking.

I sank into the empty seat in front of them and tried to ignore the urine smell.

The bus headed out onto I-80. I gazed out the window a while but there wasn't much to see. Hell it was Nebraska at night so what did I expect?

A few rows ahead of me a Mexican guy was flirting across the aisle with one of the teenage girls. She seemed to like his cowboy boots.

The elderly couple staired straight ahead as if each was in a separate universe. If one of them had spoken the other surely would have shattered into a thousand pieces.

The hard faced man was reading Dante's "Inferno." Go figure.

Across the aisle from me a middle aged man in a black coat noticed the same thing. He looked at me and smiled. "You were expecting something else, weren't you?" he said.

"I suppose I was. I had him figured for more of an Evelyn Waugh type."

The man in the black coat laughed.

"Where you headed?" he asked. I told him I was going to Boulder and asked him where he was going.

"Oh I don't really know," he said. "My bus ticket goes only as far as North Platte."

"What's in North Platte?"

"Well other than the place I get off the bus I don't know. But it was as far as I could get with the money at hand."

I'm sure I had a puzzled look on my face.

"Anyway," he said. "What difference does it make? One place is as good as another."

"I suppose."

He turned and looked out the window, and after a few moments turned back towards me. He suddenly looked very tired. No -- more than just tired. Disspirited. "Ever since my Gloria died 3 years ago I've just been travelling around. Going from one place to another. I pick up odd jobs wherever I land. I'm a pretty fair short order cook and I can also handle a hammer so it isn't hard to find work. And then after awhile I just move on to wherever the bus takes me." He paused and gazed out the window again. "Listen," he said, "I'm going to nap for bit. Would you wake me when we get to North Platte?"

I told him sure and settled back into my seat. After a few minutes he was asleep.

I reached into my bag and pulled out a copy of "Catch-22" and began reading.

We took a rest stop in Kearney and I got out and stretched my legs. The two girls went off with the Mexican and the three of them lit up a joint. Hard faced man was making a call from a pay phone. I couldn't hear his words but I could feel the sadness in them -- like a minor chord played softly on a piano.

After a bit we all got back on the bus.

As I passed the old couple I saw a tear rolling slowly down the woman's cheek.

The two winos were passed out in the back, the empty Boones Farm bottle rolling slowly back and forth between their feet.

The bus started up again.

I gazed for awhile out the bug spattered windshield. Every now and then the dark night was lit by passing headlights. But it didn't last and it always got dark again.

I thought about Boulder and why I was going there. And I realized the only true answer was: "one place is as good as another."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Geirge Bush and the Spin Doctors

George W. Bush is walking down a hallway in the White House. He goes up to an unmarked door, turns the doorknob, walks in and finds . . . THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

(Uh . . . Wait a minute. Hmmm. Sorry -- wrong script. Let's start again shall we?)

George W. Bush is walking down a hallway in the White House. He goes up to an unmarked door, turns the doorknob, walks in and finds a man in a dark blue suit seated behind a desk. The nameplate on the desk reads "Guy Falderal -- Minister of Spin."

Falderal: Yes, can I help you.

Bush: I got myself a little problem and I think I might need some help.

Falderal: I'm sorry sir but I can't bring your poll numbers up.. For that you'll need to go to the Ministry of Miracles. Third door on the left. Good day.

Bush: No, no. You're the right guy. It's definitely a spinology problem.

Falderal: Oh alright then, tell me what you need.

Bush: Well, you mighta heard that I got a little problem over there in Iraq.

Falderal: A "little problem?" More like a complete bollocks wouldn't you say Sir? In fact, more like a complete and royal bollocks of the first order don't you think? A complete, total, royal, first-class, head-of-the-line, make Nixon look good bollocks, wouldn't you say? A complete . . .

Bush: Yeah, yeah . . . I get it. I screwed up, ok?

Falderal: Screwed up? More like . . .

Bush: Are you gonna let me say what I need or what?

Falderal: Oh certainly sir. And what is it that you need Mr. "My poll numbers have gone farther south than a migrating waterfowl?"

Bush: Look, don't forget that I am the President of the US of A mister!

Falderal: Oh yes well, President of the United States. Leader of the Free World. Well la-di-da! And how did you get to be that eh? By exploiting the masses I wager. A little smoke and mirrors here, a Supreme Court judge in the pocket there and anyone can be president.

Bush: Can we just get on with it?

Falderal: Yes, yes, by all means, let's "get on with it." Fascist bastard!

Bush: What did you say?

Falderal: Uh, nothing, nothing at all. Just tell me your problem.

Bush: Ok. See I wanna send in more troops to Iraq and . . .

Falderal: You what?!? Are you stark raving mad?

Bush: Look, Dickie says it's a good idea and that's enough for me! Now the problem is I don't know what to call it. We can't call it an escalation because that will get the liberals' panties all bunched up.

Falderal: How about you call it "the stupidest idea since the original invasion?"

Bush: Are you gonna help me here or not? I mean, I do sign your paychecks right?

Falderal: Oh sure, play the "I'm your boss card!" Very nice. Just another minion for you to trample on. Dirty rotten chimp faced troll.

Bush: What was that?

Falderal: Nothing, didn't say a thing. Alright -- how about this. You call the build-up "a surge."

Bush: Serge? I gotta a blue serge suit but I don't see what that has to do with the price of rice in China.

Falderal: (shaking head) "Surge" with a "u" you poster boy for retroactive abortion.

Bush: 'Scuse me?

Falderal: Nothing, nothing at all. Just pointing out that it is "surge" with a "u." You know: a strong, wavelike, forward movement, rush, or sweep: the onward surge of an angry mob.

Bush: Well, I don't know about that angry mob bit, but I like the strong, forward movement idea. And so does Condi if you get my drift. Anyway surge sounds great. Let me run it by Turd Blossom and see what he says about it, but I think we got ourselves a winner.

Falderal: Oh sure, by all means run it by "Turd Blossom" that neo-Nazi porky pig and sorry excuse for a human being!

Bush: What was that last bit?

Falderal: Nothing, nothing at all sir. Good luck with the surge! (Smiles knowingly.)

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Friday, December 29, 2006

The Bush Who Stole Your Rights - a Seussian fable

This is the latest in my series of Seussian blogs. If you missed the others, they are:

I Am George

Bush In A Hat

The Bush Who Stole Your Rights

Every You down in Youville
Liked their rights a lot...

But the Bush, who lived in dreamland,
He did NOT!

The Bush hated rights, especially numbers 1 and 4,
And no one quite knows the why or what for.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
Or maybe, perhaps, that his tights were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his brain is two sizes too small.

But whatever the reason, his brain or his tights,
He stood there in dreamland, hating your rights,
Plotting to take them, with a sour, Bushy frown
And all the while acting like a bumbling old clown.

He plotted and schemed with his friends on the Hill
To take all your rights with their weasely skill.
With Patriot Acts numbered first one and then two
With MCAs, spying, illegal wiretapping too
Your rights were on the line, yes set up for the kill.

And then Bush and Cheney well what did they do?
Why they looked from their tower at me and at you,
They looked with their faces screwed up in a sneer
Sure that our rights would soon disappear.

But what was it they saw with their small beady eyes,
What was it that caught them, yes quite by surprise?
Senators Talent and Burns, Santorum and Allen
Joined Delay and some others among the crestfallen.

For the people in Youville spoke up loud and clear
They spoke up for the rights that they once held so dear
And Bush and his cronies looked on in dismay
The votes were all counted, what more could they say.

But people of Youville the fight is not done
For Congress might still put your rights on the run.
To Pelosi and Reid every You must write
To let them both know that the Yous have the might.

Yes let Congress know that the Yous have the might,
And if they screw it all up you'll take THEM the fight.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Through use of a top secret new means of time travel, JudgeB News Wire has obtained a copy of the September 5, 2020 "Where Are They Now" edition of People Magazine. We provide some of the highlights for your reading pleasure.

Condoleezza Rice: The 2008 Republican nominee for president, who was forced to drop out of the race after embarrassing photos of a ménage a trois with George & Laura Bush surfaced on the Internet, is now in her fifth year as the Commissioner of the National Football League. Working closely with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is chief legal counsel to the NFL, Rice has had a controversial tenure racked with accusations that she favors the richer, more established teams. Among the more controversial rules drafted by Gonzales and implemented by Rice are the "Pre-emptive strike" where the first team on the field can start its offense even if the referee has not officially started the game, and the "Gatorade Dunk" where the team that is behind at half-time is allowed to hold the opposing quarterback's head in a barrel of Gatorade to try to find out the team's game plan before the start of the second half, as long as the quarterback does not actually drown.

Sylvester Stallone: Now filming Rocky X, in which Rocky and Apollo Creed enter the steel cage for a cribbage Alberto GonzalesAlberdeath match for the championship of the Bel Harbour Retirement Home. ("Adrian! Adrian! Where's the Metamucil?")

Osama bin Laden: Living comfortably on his CIA pension on the French Riviera.

Katherine Harris: After losing badly in the 2006 Congressional race, Harris went on to become an Olympic figure skating judge. She became embroiled in a judging scandal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver when she was accused of manipulating the scoring in favor of the U.S. skaters. She now works as a skating commentator for Fox News, where she is considered fair and unbiased.

The Rolling Stones: Now in the midst of their 25th Annual Farewell Tour, Mick and the boys have re-worked some of their famous songs, including "Walking Jack Flash," "Let's Spend the Nap Together, "Satisfaction Is A Bowel Movement," "My 19th Colonoscopy," "Can't You Hear Me Fallin'," and "Street Shuffling Man."

Karl Rove: Runs a Madison Avenue ad agency famous for a Burger King campaign accusing Ronald McDonald of being a child molester ("the fiend behind the funny nose").

Dick Cheney: The former Vice-President returned to work at Halliburton in 2009. After Halliburton and its pension plan suddenly went bankrupt (see below), Cheney has been forced to live on social security and Medicare. When contacted recently about his plight, Cheney's only comment was "What f**king as**ole designed this @#$!!$# prescription plan?"

George Bush: The former President became CEO of Halliburton in 2009. Within two years the company was bankrupt. Bush then attempted to buy the Dallas Cowboys, but NFL Commissioner Rice blocked the sale saying "I am not letting that idiot near any of my teams!" The ex-President now spends most of his time at his presidential library in Crawford, Texas working on his memoirs. Asked about his post-White House life, Bush said, "It's all good. That Halliburton stuff, that was just one of those things of being in the right place at the right time. . . I mean being in the wrong . . . of being in place. Coulda happened to anybody. Coulda happened to you or me, well it did happen to me but that means it coulda happened to me too, I mean if it did then it coulda and if it coulda then it did you know what I mean?"

Tom Cruise: The former box office star . . . wait . . . who really cares?

Oprah Winfrey: After completing her second term of office, former U.S. President Winfrey and her Secretary of the Interior Martha Stewart opened a bed and breakfast Inn in Cape Cod. Business has been good despite reported tensions between the two about the best way to fold down the sheets

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Captain Kirk Solves The Mideast Crisis

Ever wonder how some of our great fictional leaders and heroes from TV & movies would handle the Middle East crisis? No? Really? I'm the only one? I feel so lonely . . .

Capt. James T. Kirk Relevant quote: "I'm a soldier, not a diplomat."

After seducing the most beautiful woman he can find, he orders Scotty to divert all power to the phasers and fire a warning shot over the Gulf of Oman. Kirk then challenges each of the opposition leaders to a fight, mano a mano, and after beating each of them beams back to the Enterprise and flies off to another part of the galaxy, convinced that fear of his return will keep everyone in line. Everyone agrees to maintain peace as long as they do not have to watch Kirk "emote" any more.

Capt. Jean Luc Picard Relevant quote: "Open your mind to the past, to history, art, philosophy. And then this will mean something."

After Riker seduces the most beautiful woman he can find and Worf knocks some heads together, Picard has Geordi beam all of the leaders to the Enterprise conference room where he gives them Earl Grey tea, hot. No one leaves until theyve agreed to live in peace and harmony and respect each others culture.

Sheriff Andy Taylor (the Andy Griffith Show) Relevant quote: "When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he's getting might really be fear. So I don't carry a gun because I don't want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I'd rather they respect me."

Andy invites everyone to his house for some of Aunt Bea's famous peach pie. After explaining how everything would be better if they all just got along, everyone agrees to sign a peace treaty because, gosh darn it, Andy is just so nice. Then they all go fishing.

Bond, James Bond Relevant quote: "I know the rules, and number one is 'no deals'."

Ordered to go to Lebanon, he flies into Cairo instead in a stealth jet equipped with a wet bar. In Cairo meets up with an American spy and makes love with her on the back of the Sphinx. Drives around the Mideast in an Aston Martin seducing every woman he sees. Ultimately assassinates leaders of all of the factions. It doesn't solve anything but he looks great doing it. (Except for George Lazenby, who merely looked ok.) Has a martini (shaken, not stirred) to toast the British Empire, not realizing it doesn't exist anymore.

Kwai Chang Caine (Kung Fu): Relevant quote: "Master, I am troubled. We learn to make powerful the force of out bodies. Yet we are taught to reverence all against whom we may use such force."

Goes to the Mideast and spends the first 55 minutes preaching peace and non-violence. Then spends 5 minutes kicking butt. In slow motion. Everyone agrees to a peace treaty so they won't have to listen to him say things like "As a wave upon an ocean, a single flower in a field of many, what will the people ask of me?"

Rambo: Relevant quote: "I could have killed 'em all, I could kill you. In town you're the law, out here it's me. Don't push it. Don't push it or I'll give you a war you won't believe."

Starts WW III.

Batman & Robin (60's TV version) Relevant quote:

Robin: "You give yourselves up without a struggle, we'll try and make things easier for you."
Batman: "And if not you may be severely pummelled about the head and shoulders."

After swooping into Lebanon in the Bat Plane, the Dynamic Duo round up all of the leaders by promising them free lemonade and cake. Once the leaders are all assembled, they laugh so hard at Batman & Robin's costumes that they drop all of their weapons. Next thing you know, BAM, POW, SPLAT . . . the Caped Crusaders have tied them all up with bat ropes. Batman and Robin then proceed to torture them with bad puns (an act expressly prohibited by the Geneva Convention) until all the leaders agree to world peace.

Robin: "Boy! That was our closest call ever! I have to admit that I was pretty scared!"
Batman: "I wasn't scared in the least."
Robin: "Not at all?"
Batman: "Haven't you noticed how we always escape the vicious ensnarements of our enemies?"
Robin: "Yeah, because we're smarter than they are!"
Batman: "I like to think it's because our hearts are pure."

Ronald Reagan: Relevant quote: "Well, there you go again."

Reagan . . . uh wait . . . was he a fictional character or a real person? I get so confused.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Relevant quote: "Come on, we fight monsters, this is what we do. They show up, they scare us, I beat them up, and they go away."

Is there anything more to say? Buffy goes to the Mideast, saves her friends who have somehow managed to get captured, kicks butt, and the bad guys on both sides slink back home never to fight again.