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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.



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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. 


elevatorheader2.jpg
Art by Cindy Rosmus 2017

ELEVATOR


 


Doug Hawley


 


You probably read about it or saw it on television, but let me refresh your memory. I know quite a bit about it because I reported on the incident for Associated Press. The continuing mystery knocked the twentieth anniversary of Kennedy Jr’s supposed tragedy, and the civil war in the reconsolidated Soviet Union, out of the news for awhile. My reporting really made my career.  Fortunately, I had been AP’s obituary guy, with a special interest in suicides. I had done think pieces about causes and frequency and high profile analyses of celebrity cases. I’d like to think that I know more about suicides than the so-called “experts”. My biggest year before the elevator case was the year when both Sean Penn and Penn Jillette did it. I consider that my Penn-ultimate accomplishment, ha-ha. I think that I even got people to cry over Dennis Rodman when he did himself in. I had my own talk show for two years. I didn’t last too long, but my initial ratings were at least enough to get one of the talk show hacks off the air. The country should be grateful to me for that if nothing else. Even now I’ve got several offers for syndicated radio programs and I may make it back to TV.


By the way, thanks for the drink. I’ve got awhile to kill before flying to CBS headquarters.


Five hundred people committed suicide in elevators in 50 countries on 5 continents at 5PM local time. Initially there was no common thread even though most had some sort of statement on his or her person. Some stats:


   283 male / 217 female.


   Of the 156 American suicides there were 106 Caucasians,  21 Hispanics, 18 Blacks, 9 Asian Americans and 2 Native Americans - in other words the demographics roughly match America.


   88 Non-Russian Europeans, 20 Russians, 103 Asians, 25 Australians, 65 Africans and 43 Non-US North or South Americans.


   The age distribution skewed both young and old—182 were under 19 and 153 were over 64. The middle aged only contributed 165, many fewer than would be expected in a random draw.


   As might be expected, the suicides had a high incidence of physical and mental illness.  128 had been diagnosed as mentally ill—schizoid, bipolar or depressed and 165 had less than a year to live.


   As would be unexpected, the economic status of the victims was pretty high. There were no homeless. It is difficult to calculate an average income for those outside America given the different currencies and income reporting, but the overall victim income seems consistent with the American average of $57,562.


The individual cases were all over the place:


The 18-year-old Algerian, Ahmed Ali, who died for a secular government.


The 19-year-old Oregonian, Doug Ivy, with acne.


The 65-year-old Quebecer who urged French to be adopted as the universal language.


A 54-year-old Republican senator from South Carolina, Grant Holmes, who had been married three times, and who didn’t want to be outed.


15-year-old Caucasian Australian, Jimmy Sanders, who died to promote ousting Euro Australians from Australia.


Prominent 75-year-old Chinese Communist, Wen Wang, who admitted to living a lie all his life—he entered politics to get a good car.


33-year-old Frenchwoman, Marie Simone, with ovarian cancer.


Their notes ranged from the short and direct “I hurt” to the rambling “I die for my country, I die for Islam, I die for the future. No one knows the anger I have. No one outside of  Samolar  [an extreme religious group with less than a thousand adherents] knows what I feel. I die that millions should live. I die for the hungry. I die for the oppressed. All should die or no one should die. History will record this day as important as the messenger’s birth. From this date all will change.” 


The methods used for death were diverse. Most used guns, but some took fast-acting poisons such as cyanide. The elevators varied from rickety antiques to glassy wonders outside beautiful resort and hotel buildings. There was no attempt to kill any bystanders. One man in Morocco died of a heart attack during the excitement. Several people were injured in trying to get out of the elevators.


In short, there is no immediate, obvious central theme to the suicides. They were obviously organized, since the common circumstances were beyond coincidence. One may infer that they were willing to kill themselves and wanted publicity. An ordinary solitary suicide gets noticed only locally unless someone famous is involved. These people should have known that 500 people committing suicide under identical circumstances would get world wide press and the individuals involved could all be famous or notorious.


No connection could be made between most of the victims. At most, a connection to one other party could be made in the case of a couple of Right to Life crusaders. No correspondence between suiciders could be found.


I have a theory that I was not allowed to report on. I think that the group was organized by email. My problem is that I could not establish any evidence other than that all of them had access to computers. Without evidence—and I think because of the fear that there would be copycat situations—my editor would not let me put my theory in writing.


I don’t think this group came together on their own. Someone got them started and told them the rules.


Two things that I wonder about the organizer. Did he / she kill himself / herself? I don’t think so, since none of the dead claimed credit and each one wanted either notoriety or maximum publicity for his or her purpose. Second, what did the organizer have to gain?


Thanks for listening. I’ve never seen someone so interested in my work on this story before.


I guess we’ll never know some of the answers, but I have my suspicions. Thanks for the drinks, I’ve got a plane to catch. 

elevatorfooter.jpg
Art by Cindy Rosmus 2017

marriage.jpg
Art by Bill Zbylut 2018

Marriage

Doug Hawley

Eric was complaining to Jeff at the next cubicle again.  “Look, my wife is such a pain in the butt.  She rags on me if a leave I light on when I leave the room.  I follow too closely when I drive.  If it’s not one thing it’s three things.  I don’t know what to do about her.”

Jeff had the usual advice “When you were a kid, did your parents ever spank you?”

“Sure.”

“And didn’t that turn you into a good citizen?  Did it turn you into some kind of monster?”

“No.”

“Think about it.  Jane just needs some strong-handed discipline.  Maybe you don’t need to get physical with her, maybe you do.  You could start off by just putting her in her place.  Explain the facts of life.  You are the one bringing home the bacon; she just has to keep the house in order, right?”

“I see what you are saying.  Things are going to be different around the house.”

After the weekend, Jeff asks “How did it turn out?”

A stricken Eric says “She’s talking about leaving.”

At lunch in the cafeteria, Lamar sits down beside Eric.  “Hey, I know that you’ve been taking advice from Jeff.  There are a few things that you don’t know.  The ‘expert’ on relationships has been married three times, has restraining orders placed against him and has spent a little time in jail for domestic violence.  I don’t think that you’ll get anything helpful out of him.”

“So you think that you know better?”

“Well, I’ve been happily married for thirty years, and hope for thirty years more.”

“OK, I can’t argue with that.  Shoot.”

“Before I suggest anything, let me ask you a few questions.  Do you kiss your wife before you go to work?  Have you had a ‘date’ with her lately?  Do you thank her for cooking your meals and cleaning the house?”

“Uhhhh, no.”

“Think about it, maybe if shown tenderness and thoughtfulness, she’d return it.”

“Worth a try, Jeff’s advice sucked, and I sure want my marriage to work.”

After a few days, Lamar asked Eric “How’s it going?”

A smiling Eric said “I can’t believe the change; it’s like when we were first married.  She is so loving, the house is immaculate and the sex is like our honeymoon.”

The next month Eric asked Lamar to come over for dinner to see the wonders his advice had wrought.  As they entered the house, Lamar encountered a terrible stench.  Eric didn’t seem to notice.  Lamar then was shocked to see a filthy house with a kitchen filled to the ceiling with dirty dishes.  Eric was oblivious.  A nervous Lamar asked “Where is Jane?”

“She must be taking a nap.”

When they went into the bedroom Lamar saw Jane decomposing in bed.

Eric said “Let’s just let her nap a little longer.”

Lamar started to shake, but did what he could to remain composed “Say Eric, she looks like she needs her rest, why don’t we just postpone dinner for a couple of days.”

Eric, who saw nothing out of the ordinary, said “Sure, but I really want you to have dinner with us soon.”

As soon as Lamar was out the door, he called 911.

The police investigation found some things which were surprising and some that were not.  Jane had been dead for about three weeks.  Eric was a diagnosed schizophrenic who could behave fairly normally when he took his meds.  Like so many others, he did so well on his meds, he recently decided that he didn’t need them.

The surprising part is that he didn’t kill her.  She died of an aneurysm, but he just could not acknowledge it and slipped into a dream world. 

Eric’s detailed description of their fantastic sex life over the last few days troubled his interviewers for weeks.

      There are some things that no marital advice will help, but it didn’t seem that way to Eric.  His life got even better when some nice people found him a new home where he didn’t have to go to work anymore and a lot of friendly people took care of him.  The best part came when Jane told him they would be parents.


“Marriage” originally appeared in Penny Shorts, on June 25, 2015.

 

The author used to make numbers for a living and now he writes stories for fun https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/

Twit handle @dougiamm`

aberrantword - Doug Hawley

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