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Doug Hawley
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electricshower.jpg

Shower Of Power

 

Doug Hawley

 

I got a great deal on my house.  I’d been a renter for years and houses had been out of my reach until I saw a listing for this place.  The price was $50,000 under comparables because of its checkered history.  All of the prior owners hadn’t stayed more than two years, and some had lasted less than two months.  On top of all that, the last owner had drowned by accident in his tub and the mortgage banker wanted a quick sale.  It came furnished, because that was easier for the bank than selling off his property.  Because of the turnover, it hadn’t been well maintained, but I like projects like this.

 

A week later I was relaxing on the sofa after I had painted the interior.  The chair seemed lumpy.  Checking revealed the journal of the previous owner, Duke Hanley, under the cushion.  I felt a little guilty about reading the words of the late home owner, but I was curious about how a seemingly pleasant, happy person had, according to my neighbors, become completely mental before his death.

 

After the first page, I read sporadically, ignoring the quotidian, and concentrating on the bizarre.

 

June 13, 20XX – I really like my new home.  It suits my needs completely and is easy to maintain.  The landscaping is natural, no need for fertilizers or continuing pruning.  The yard is small enough to mow in ten minutes with a reel mower.  I may want to paint, but not right away.  Before winter, I might invest in better windows.

 

June 20, 20XX – There is a little leak in the shower.  I’ll get a repair kit from Jergens Hardware.

 

June 21, 20XX – Proud of the fix I did.  Got it done in ten minutes, and even remembered to turn off the water before I started.  Ha-ha.

 

June 30, 20XX – Leaking again.  May be a bad repair kit.

 

July 1,20XX – Repaired again.

 

July 3, 20XX – Dammit, leaking again.  I’ll call a plumber.

 

July 6, 20XX – SOB plumber says it’ll cost thousands and he’ll have to remove drywall to get at the problem.  Screw that.  I can live with a little leak.  It won’t affect my water bill much.

 

July 8, 20XX – The dripping at night is keeping me awake.  That’s OK; I put down a wash cloth over the drain.  That will quiet the sound.

 

July 11, 20XX – Now I’m hearing what sounds like whispers and cries from the shower room when I try to sleep.  When I go to check, all is quiet.  I’ve developed a tic in my left eye, and I can’t seem to concentrate at work or at home whatever I’m doing.  My best friends are avoiding me and strangers are giving me looks.

 

July 18, 20XX – Just when I thought that I had experienced the worst, I woke up this morning with the memory of luminescent, multicolored things growing in my bathroom when I got up to urinate last night.  This morning, nothing.

 

July 20, 20XX – Enough of this shit.  I’m removing the shower head and capping the pipe.  No more drips, no more sounds.  I’ll just take baths.  No shower is going to beat me.

 

That was the last entry.  The late Mr. Hanley apparently had gone batshit crazy for some reason.  I had replaced the shower head the first day that I moved in, and I’ve had no problem at all with the shower.

 

There have been electrical problems.  This is just the project I’m looking for.  I’ll upgrade the wiring while I’m at it.  After all, I’m an electrician.  Piece of cake.



dig.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2017

Dig

 

by Doug Hawley

 

 

I’m a volunteer at Ryon State Park, named after an early settler, Aristotle Ryon.  I’m a two-way guy in that I edit the Ryon Newsletter and do physical work in the park, getting rid of invasive species, improving the trails, and doing some planting.  I’m retired now and love spending time in Ryon’s natural beauty. There’s always a chance that I might see a coyote, an owl, or maybe a salamander. It is no surprise that this place is so popular.

Recently, our executive director asked me to write a column in the newsletter about the most notorious episodes in our history—two brutal murders about a year apart.  Each homicide stayed in the papers for weeks and caused visitors to avoid the park at night and to only visit while accompanied.

After a bit of research through old newspapers, and interviews with police investigators, I came up with this:

******************************************************************

There were a couple of things in common about the murders. Both occurred on an obscure dead end trail, Illana, where hardly anyone goes, and even though it is not polite to speak ill of the dead, neither of them were upstanding citizens.

Victim One was Charlie Talbot. The police concluded that he was on the trail after dark because he had been excluded from the park after repeatedly and illegally bringing his vicious dog, Caesar, off leash to the park. Caesar was known to attack wildlife, people, and other dogs, with impunity. Mr. Talbot was found with his head bashed in, after Caesar showed up the next morning at park headquarters and led a ranger to the body where it had been dragged, twenty feet off trail.

Victim Two was Chris Massey. She, too, had been excluded from the park because she had been caught digging up plants in the park to take home. Her murder was even grislier. She was killed a year after the first, in a similar location to where Mr. Talbot was found, but with her head cut off by some sort of curved blade. She was easy to find because she had told her daughter where she was going.

The park is in an urban area with many entrances and no way to register those that enter the park. Despite a plea to anyone in the metro area who had seen either of the victims in the park on the day that they were killed, or anything suspicious, there were no leads in either case. In both cases, there was no forensic evidence— identifiable footprints or DNA. The two victims had nothing in common except for being excluded from the park, so the police assumed that there was no connection between the two crimes.

Neither murder has been solved.

 

 

I didn’t mention in the article that no one checked the shovel that I use. It wouldn’t have been a problem, anyway. I got a new shovel.

Nobody messes with my park.

 

 



bikekiller.jpg
Art by Cindy Rosmus 2017

BIKE KILLER

 

                                                       Doug Hawley

 

 

 

I don’t drive.  Everywhere I need to go I can walk, bus or taxi.  I take a bus to my job at Hadleys Department Store in the Consumer Help Department.  You should know that I am a highly valued employee based on my ability to resolve customer problems while still maintaining company policy.  Trying to find a parent for a screaming child or dealing with someone whose credit card bounced without ruffling feathers or giving away the store is like walking a tightrope.  Someone who wasn’t both reasonable and sensitive couldn’t handle it, believe you me!

 

There are a lot of places I can walk to.  The library, post office, my softball field and a lot of shopping is within two miles.  Mostly the weather is nice and walking is easy.  Even when the weather is bad, you can still walk if you dress for it.

 

I don’t fight with anyone.  Everyone who knows me could tell you that.  In my volunteer position as citizen park commissioner, there are lots of controversial issues, but I am always the voice of reason keeping opposing parties civil.  You should have seen the ruckus about a separate dog park!  But I kept everyone cool.

 

I’ve been on jury duty three times and foreman once.

 

I like girls a lot and I think that they like me.  If  I weren’t a little overweight, I’m sure that I’d have a steady girlfriend by now.  But don’t you worry, I’m on a new diet right now and I’ll be OK.  I’ve got my eye on a girl in my Bible study class.  I think that we would be a great couple.  When I lose that weight it will be easier for her to see my inner glow and get over her boyfriend with the looks, money and a Jaguar.  He isn’t even of our religion!

 

There is one thing that really burns me.  There are all of these just beautiful boys and girls in their spandex running over the neighborhood with their expensive bikes.  I don’t think that their clothes or their bikes are made in this country.  They think that they own the place!  Once a couple of years ago, a biker came close to hitting me in the dark.  It might have been partly my fault because I was wearing dark clothes and jaywalking.

 

Those bike riders almost run me over every other day.  Usually I don’t recognize them, but there is one guy who I see every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6PM as I come home from my bus stop.  He has come close to hitting me several times and he cusses me out for being on his streets.  This jerk never stops for a stop sign and I’m not the only pedestrian he has almost hit!  He also swears at drivers.  He thinks that if he spends enough on his tight blue spandex and super bike he just owns the road.

 

Last month he nearly hit me on a sidewalk going the wrong way on an overpass.  “Get out of my way a**h**le”.  There is only so much one can take.  But I got out of his way.  I have to admit to a bit of self loathing.  Why do I let everyone walk over me?  If only I had time for a plan of action, but he didn’t give me time to think.  If I’d had time to think I would have held my ground.  It’s my sidewalk!  Pedestrians have the right of way.

 

Finally, he made a big, fatal mistake.  I was still walking on the long overpass when he came back the other way.  I could see a car far behind him. I acted like I was intimidated from the last time he went past me.  I squeezed up tightly against the rail.  I could see it work out just right.  As he came up right behind me I turned around and faced him, taking up just about all of the sidewalk.  He swerved off the sidewalk and his bicycle fell over on the road just in front of the car that had been overtaking him.  It wasn’t pretty.  The motorist couldn’t stop.  The grille caught a leg and a wheel went over his head.  He ended up in one piece, but extremely, immediately dead.  The poor driver blamed himself.  I tried CPR, but there was no hope.

 

Police took our statements.  I told them that the bicyclist had startled me causing me to turn around suddenly.  Everyone agreed that it was just a horrible accident.

 

About a week later there was an opinion piece in the newspaper written by Fred Janes, a friend of the deceased Sam Wilkins.  The point was that bicyclists are so much superior than drivers and pedestrians and that their superiority made it OK to ignore all rules and etiquette.  He wrote about how Sam Wilkins could have bought an expensive car but chose to do the right thing and bicycle everywhere.  Fortunately, there was a picture of Mr. Janes.

 

As luck would have it, I recognized Janes as somebody who frequently rode the same circuit as Wilkins.  One place was on a sidewalk between bushes and a busy road where they regularly terrified pedestrians and bedeviled drivers.  It took several weeks, but finally I was in the right place to tip him into traffic from my position in the bushes.

 

There may have been some suspicion about the second death of a bicycle advocate in such a short period, but no one saw me and nothing came of it.  I’m happy to report that bicyclists were strangely silent after Wilkins died.  No more moral superiority in the editorial pages.

 

I don’t think that it is prudent for any more bike accidents in the near future.  One doesn’t know what might happen in a year or so.

Don’t you just hate door to door salesmen?  Always so pushy, won’t take no for an answer? 






“Bike Killer” originally appeared in Nugget Tales, in 2015. 


 The hobby writer has around a hundred publications during the 2014-2017 period, in a variety of publications and genres— essay, memoir, crime, horror, drama, and humor https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/.


 Doug lives in Oregon with cat and editor and when not writing, sleeping or vegetating, he hikes, snowshoes (when there be appropriate snow—not this year) and volunteers at a local park and a bookstore. 

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