Apr
0

Easter Haiku

Easter Haiku

A cool April morn
Tomorrow’s blessed Easter
Bow, we sit and pray

Mar
0

The Sky Horse Chapter One

The Sky Horse Chapter One

The Sky Horse
Chapter One
Big Foot, Texas
Kent Straight finally saw the Cadillac, a big car that must have been flashy once but now reminded him of a former socialite refusing to admit her money, looks and sex appeal were long gone, blown away like dust on a hot High Plains wind. The small, wiry man had been waiting outside Tomas Garcia’s El Café de Norte Tejas, a name that had rankled the native gringos since Tomas had changed it from the Alamo Grill, for two hours and five minutes. He knew that because every five minutes, one of the Longs or Ryder had called to ask if the Laws had made it. This had begun to annoy the sixty-eight-year-old. After all, he did not have to do this. But the Longs were in the habit of expecting you to do what they needed. He wondered how a man like Nate Law would get along with them.
Law had been the Chief of Police in Orrin, Jericho County, Kansas. A series of murders there nine years ago had led to the toppling of several prominent Kansas politicians. During the course his investigation, he had formed an odd friendship with an even odder crime boss, Agnes O’Brien. To his surprise, when the old woman had died, Nate Law had got most of her estate, including a big farm. This had raised a lot of eyebrows, so much so Law and his wife, Maggie Order, had co-authored a book, Death in Jericho County, which had been made into a movie. The media had said wealth and fame had not changed Law and Order, now husband and wife. Straight hadn’t believed that until he had seen a Caddy. What a heap!
The driver parked it and got out, a tall man nicely dressed in a tailored suit and tie and wearing a black fedora. He walked around the car to the front side. He opened the front passenger-side door a petite blond woman in white dress emerged. Then the back door opened and out came a boy and a girl somewhere between seven and nine and a tall priest in his twenties. The drive spoke.
“I’m Nate Law and this is my wife, Margaret—“
“Maggie,” she corrected him. He winked at Straight and continued.
“These are our children, Petey and Agnes Mary and Father Joel Law.”
Straight looked at Joel and then at Maggie and asked: “Stepmom?”
“Yeah, stepmother,” Nate said in a friendly enough tone but one that firmly closed the matter. He then gave Father Joel fifty bucks and told him: “Take my tax deductions and get something to eat. We ate a long time ago, forty-five minutes ago.”
“Dad, please,” Father Joel said exasperated. Petey said: “Come on, Joel. It’s not Dad gives us money every day without our asking.”
“That’s only because you ask for it every day,” Nate said.
”I don’t,” the girl said. She looked like her mother.
“I know, angel,” Nate said. Petey rolled his eyes and the priest muttered: “Litter brown nose.” Then he saw the café behind Straight and led the children inside.
“She really has you conned, doesn’t she?” Maggie said to Nate, laughing. Straight almost laughed himself but remembered his manners.
“I’m never introduced myself,” he said. “I’m Kent Straight. Some call me Kentucky.”
“Kentucky” Nate asked, “Kentucky Straight like the whiskey?”
“Yeah,” Straight said. “It was hell growing up. Now, it’s worse. I get called aged Kentucky Straight.”
“You don’t look that old,” Maggie said.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Straight said. “You’re as polite as you are pretty and that’s saying something but I’m sixty-seven and I have mirrors. I know damn well—pardon me, ma’am—how old I look. Anyway, Ab and Abby will be here shortly. Ab asked me meet y’all. They’ll take you to Big Paul’s ranch. He and his Daddy and lord know who else are waiting for y’all.”
“Ab and Abby?” Nate asked.
“Stepmom?” Straight retorted without thinking. He waited to be hit or yelled at, which was what a Long would have done. Instead, Nate Law gave a hearty laugh.
“Touche, Mr. Straight; I earned that. I treated you like a damn New York or L.A. reporter. They want to know everything about you, you know. But I know Maggie and Joel look more like brother and sister instead of stepson and stepmother. It’s a long story and this is not the place for it. I hope you understand.”
“I certainly do, Mr. Law—“
“It’s Nate, please,” Nate interrupted.
“Fine by me, Nate. I didn’t mean to ply. Abigail’s my only child and Abner Davis, her husband, is the son of my best friend, who’s dead. They were born on the same night so we decided to give them their names as a bit of a joke. Through the years we kidded them about getting married. Then Abby waited for him to ask her to their first high school dance. Ab was clueless about it till her mom called his mom and the rest, like they say, is history.”
“You grew up here, I take it?” Nate asked.
“Hell, no, Nate. We’re from east Tennessee, the mountains. Little Tex’s—call him L.T.—daddy quit the Opry and entered the restaurant business, fast food. He dreamed one chain, got rich and began to buy up these regional chains, Cajun, local barbecue joints. Died god-awful rich with a passle of kids. L.T. is the oldest and was a cop, believe it or not. But he got beat up and bought a ranch for Big Paul and moved the clan here. Big Paul hired my girl and Ab as his lawyers. I got drug here by Abby ’cause I’m an old widower, I guess.”
“Can we sit on that bench?” Maggie asked. “It’s in the shade”
“It is hot,” Straight allowed. “I should have thought of that myself. I’m an awful host.”
Maggie shook her head no, “You’re fine one and I find you most charming. Do you like Bigfoot?”
“Thank you, ma’am. And to beg your pardon, Bigfoot’s a shithole.”
“I know from shitholes, as they say,” Nate said. “Tell us about yours.”
“Well, sir,” Straight began, “it’s flatter than hell here. I ain’t used to it and don’t like it. I have lived all over Appalachia and I’m used to mountains and trees. They got trees here or what they call trees but not many and they sure as hell ain’t got no forests, Nate and Maggie, but I reckon Kansas is flat.”
“Southern Kansas is,” Nate said. “It gets hillier the more north you go. I see shelter belts here like near Orrin, some fine ones near Lone Tree, west of here.”
“So you like the Plains?” Straight asked, “You grow up here, on ‘em?”
“New York, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan. I played college ball for Wichita State and fell in love with the night sky out in the country so I stayed.”
“Night sky? You’ll love ours,” Straight said with an odd tone. “You from New York, Ma’am.”
She laughed and shook he head. “Born and raised on a farm in Philips County. I’ve seen both coasts and I’ll stay on the Plains. I love them.”
“And the wind?” Straight challenged.
“Nobody loves the wind,” Maggie said, “or the heat in summer or cold in winter or worrying about blizzards or twisters.”
“Then why stay in Kansas or this part of Texas?” Straight asked.
“The ripe wheat in June. Milo, what most call sorghum. In September,” Nate said.
“‘Sunflowers and deer,” Maggie said.
“Calves born in April,” Nate said.
“Driving down quiet streets on Sunday mornings.”
“Being able to let your kids play outside without worrying about your next door neighbor bothering them ‘cause he live two miles up the road.”
“OK,” Straight said. “There’s that. But I don’t like being isolated or the fact your neighbors don’t like you ‘cause your kin ain’t buried here and the know what you do before you do it.”
“Tell us about the neighbors,” Nate said.
“The Longs or the natives?” Straight asked.
“Both,” Maggie said. “Right, Nate.”
“Right,” Nate said.
“OK,” Straight said. “Have you talked to the Longs and know why you’re here”
“We’re here because this L.T and I know the same bull breeder, Ross Fay from Oklahoma. Long read my book—“ Nate said.
“Our book,” Margaret correct. “A squirrel spells better than Nate.”
“Margaret’s a lawyer,” Nate said. ‘I can tell you your dog is dead in four words; if she uses twenty to say the same thing, she feels she’s shortchanging you. She wrote our book; I rewrote it. I can’t spell but I know how to use spell check.”
“And I know how t to file divorce papers,” Maggie said with mock indignation.
“And give up my manly body?” Nate asked.
“Nate, Please. Mr. Straight…” Straight hadn’t seen a couple so obliviously in love in a long time.
“Anyway, your man Long read our book, found out Ross knew me, and asked Ross to get us down here. Long must be damn cheap because I never charge for this kind of work, especially if it gets me from helping castrate calves. Those bastards kick.”
“You’re a funny man,” Straight said. “”Anyway, Bigfoot is named for Henry “Bigfoot” Jones, an old trapper who died here in 1866. When the cattle drives started, Elijah Triplet came here and grew damn rich off longhorns. His son, Todd, almost lost everything but Todd’s got it back. By then, Todd had had to sell most of it. But the Triplets still had two big tracks of land, one due north of town and the other fifteen miles southwest of here. The other main ranchers are the Comstocks, Perrys and McKinnons. They gobbled up land during the eighties. When the farm economy went to hell. It got so bad, Fred Triplet had to sell the north ranch to a man name Schipper, a retired admiral or something. He died and L.T. bought it for Big Paul.”
“If you’re new here and hate the place, how do you know so much?” Nate asked.
“Read some of it. Heard most of it at the weekly dance at Sam Limes’s joint. Everyone goes to it. The young people dance; the old folks talk and I listen.
“Now, what Big Paul should have done was hire local boys but he brought an outfit from Tennessee, fellas he grew up with. Then a black drifted in and he hired him. Fred Triplet had a fit and tried to pressure Nig Paul. His daddy, L.T., moved here with his security team and told his kid to screw Triplet and hire more blacks and Mexicans. Mind you, Bigfoot was lily white till the Longs got here,”
“What’s your take?” Nate asked.
“I’m an old man, son. I used to be a hippy but you can’t change the world. The Longs have a right to hire who they want. But one Mexican and two blacks are dead ‘cause the Longs want to change Bigfoot,. It ain’t worth it.”
“That’s why we’re here,” Maggie said to Nate.
“Well, that and the horse,” Straight said.
“What Horse?” Nate asked.
“Never mind now. Ab’s here and you best not keep the Longs waiting.”
To be continied

Mar
0

Haiku for a new friend

Haiku for a new friend

Dear friend far away
May spring’s flowers bring you joy
And each day much love

Mar
0

So Long the Winter

So Long the Winter

So Long the Winter
So long the winter
So cold the nights
So deep the snow
So dim the lights
But so quiet the time
As it rolls by
That ere long
Spring’s sun brightens the sky

Oct
0

Roberts and Friends

Roberts and Friends

Mitt Romney is coming to Kansas to help Pat Roberts.
Ted Cruz is too.
Sarah Palin and Bob dole already have and Jeb Bush.
The U.S. Chamber is doing its back and the NRA are doing their part to save Roberts’ seat and what he puts into it.
Trouble is, we know Pat and most of us ain’t excited about him. Outsiders changing a lot of minds seem unlikely.
But Kansas is being covered, fussed over and analyzed the way big states like New York are.
Enjoy it while it lasts. If Roberts wins or loses, we won’t see these folks after Election Day, we won’t these big shots for awhile. Win or lose, we might not see much of Pat, either.