Sneak Peek: Passing the Guard

Another sneak peek is presented this week. From another title I’m working on, Passing the Guard. I admit that this one is far down the priority list of my projects, but this scene was blaring neon light show in my head while I was writing other work, and if I didn’t get it down, I have a feeling it would have burned my eyes and brains out.

This title is about two young teens, one boy and one girl, who’s relationship is formed over their desperate need to flee their respective homes in Copeland, Florida – a small backwoods community surrounded by everglade wetlands, with little opportunity. In this scene, you’re seeing Phillip, the male protagonist, face his dad, Terry, a sadistic alcoholic who’s past time is physically abusing Phillip.

Phillip just needs to survive one more day.

The image I used to backdrop this post is of an old locomotive that was abandoned in the area of Copeland, from the lumber company that once resided there. There will be scenes taking place there, rest assured. Also, another “spoiler” of sorts, Phillip and his love interest use Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to channel their emotions over their living conditions.

Let me know what you think. As always, enjoy.

Phillip was so high at that moment, as he walked toward the place he feared most, that he knew he was ready for this new chapter in life. No more fighting. No more name-calling. No more chores designed to ruin his plans. No more demands on him. He was finally going to own his life. His life, not someone else’s notion of his life.

He was coming closer in the sweltering humidity that surrounds every square inch of the air in Copeland. Approaching the front yard, Phillip’s eyes began to dilate and the lids grew wider as he thought of what awaited him. It was 9:35 p.m., and he had been due home at 6:00 p.m.

The kitchen light on was on. This meant only that Terry had been drinking and the beating would be that much more severe.

“God, if I can just make it through this one night, I promise I won’t ever ask for anything for myself again in my life.”

The screen door betrayed him by creaking as he entered the front door.

“Well, look who finally made it home!” Terry growled loudly.

Phillip flinched when his shrill voice broke the silence, even though he had expected the usual greeting. His eyes darted toward the kitchen, where Terry launched into a rant.

“Mr. Fucking Hollywood, who thinks he can just waltz in at whatever time he likes!” Terry’s thick southern drawl coupled with an overload of alcohol took over more syllables as he shouted.

“You know boy, don’t think I didn’t see you in that newspaper, Mr. Big Shot! You think cause you saved some kids you can just break all my rules? Are you out your damned mind! Get in here!” Terry shouted as he grabbed the back of Phillip’s neck and pushed him into the kitchen.

Terry lunged for the handle on the refrigerator door, swinging the door open he struck Phillip in the forehead, knocking him back. He grabbed Phillip by the shirt collar and pulled him back into the kitchen, and pushed him through the back-screen door, where Phillip fell down the wooden stairs, face planting on the ground.

“You think you’re going to disrespect me? Do you think you’re going to desecrate my house? My rules?” Terry said as he stood menacingly over Phillip.

Phillip looked back over his shoulder, grass, and dirt in his teeth, blood draining out of his nose, as Terry threatened him, and beads of sweat began to collect along a freshly forming furrow over the top of his right eye.

“Come on boy, get up! Stand up like a man, since you want to act like one!” Terry growled as he grabbed Phillip’s pants and hoisted him to his feet.

Phillip squared up to Terry, with the shed doors directly behind him.

“Enjoy this beating Terry, because it’s the last time you’re ever going to touch me,” Phillip said, blood streaming down his face.

Terry was bewildered. Not only did Phillip stand up to him, but he also didn’t call him Dad. Phillip was going to pay for that.

“You worthless son of a whore!” Terry shouted as he lunged to assault Phillip yet again.

Phillip blocked the punch, threw a hammer fist with his right, and struck Terry squarely in the left side of his neck.

Terry felt the surge of pain come on like a burning ember, as did vengeful anger. He stumbled, but stayed on his feet, turned and looked at Phillip as if seeing him for the very first time.

“Well, someone’s been teaching you how to throw down, eh, Mr. Big Shot?  Well good, ’cause you’re going to need to handle your own soon. Real soon, loser.” Terry said as he connected with a right cross to Phillip’s left eye.

Phillip felt consciousness fading, but just before he blacked out, he nailed Terry in the face with a left hook and got off a shin rake on Terry’s left leg, causing Terry to wobble like he had rubber legs.

Phillip crashed to the ground, unconscious and exposed.

Terry looked down at him and spit on Phillip’s face.

“Never mind, you miserable coward, you ain’t even worth another punch. Hope the gators don’t get you.” Terry wobbled back up the steps and into the kitchen. The crack of another beer opening could be heard as he made his way to the couch and turned the television up loud.

Out on the grass, Phillip began softly snoring.

He was going to make it through the night.


Novel Sneak Peek: Escape Tacoma

Here’s a sneak peek of a scene from one of my novels Escape Tacoma.  It’s a title I’ve been piecing along for the past few years, where post-apocalyptic themes are fused with modern emotional outbursts.

This is a scene involving one of the main characters at the height of the on-going action, and shifting into “second gear,” so to speak.  And yes, the setting of the entire is on the real streets of Tacoma, Washington.


“Hello?”  James said in his loud baritone.

The bar was quiet, cobwebs all in the same places, glasses still in the washer.

“Ben, you here?  I see your spare car is here!”  James shouted as he walked down the steps into the seating area, then started making his way towards the jukebox.

Hmm, unplugged.  That’s weird.  James found the plug and put it back in the wall socket.  The jukebox powered on and began playing I’ll Take You There from The Staple Singers.

“Good song!”  Ben exclaimed.

“Ben, if you aren’t going to serve me, I’m going to serve myself, hope it’s ok that I go with a triple today.  I earned it.”  James belted out.

He poured three double shots of Knob Creek, and set up a shaker with ice, adding simple syrup, Ben’s sour mix, and an egg white.  He shook the cocktail vigorously and strained it into a pint glass, adding a mint sprig right after slapping it, just as He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by The Hollies came on.

“Whoa, great choice juke!”  James said, waving a finger at the jukebox and walking out from behind the bar with his whiskey sour.

“Ben, the day I had brother!  It is CRAZY out there today!  I mean, Tacoma is always crazy, but it’s a whole other level out there.  I couldn’t even drive today, I had to walk all the way from Fircrest, no Ubers, Lyfts, none of the taxis are answering their phones, and everyone I know is unreachable.”  James continued, as Aiden crept behind the empty kegs, his heart pounding as he made eye contact with Sheila, laying underneath the booth closest to James.

“There was a wreck right in front me at 12th and Orchard, no police or fire truck, I had to get a woman and her children out of her car, then help the guy who caused it out of his rig. He was high, and ran off into the trees.  Strange.  The lady couldn’t get hold of anyone, so I pulled her stuff out, and walked her and her kids to her sister’s house.  The entire time we saw people running and fighting, house fires, power lines coming down. Dude, this town is off its axis today.  I may have to move to Puyallup after today!”  James said laughingly between sips of his sour.

Realizing no one was around, James began to figure out that something was really off.

Where the hell is Ben anyway?  James thought, scanning to his left, towards the office door.

“Ben are you sleeping in there?”  James asked as he began walking toward the door.

The door was cracked open, and James peered in as he approached.  Jordan could hear James approaching, he slowly crouched down to the opposite side of Ben’s desk, hoping not to make a sound, his pulse intensifying, and sweat starting to bead under his clothes.  Aiden and Sheila eyes’ were widening as they realized they had no other choice.

James opened the door.  There was Ben, splayed back in his chair, head angled, exposing the large open wound to his skull, as syrupy blood dripped down his scalp to the floor.

James’ eyes dilated, as fear and sadness consumed him.

“WHAT HAPPENED, BEN?!?  OH MY GOD, MAN, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!”  James shouted as he began stammering in place.

Jordan’s mind raced as he was gripped with shock and sadness overtook him.  He jumped up, talking to James.

“DON’T FREAK OUT.“  He said, as Aiden ran up behind him, swinging the spiked bat.

The sound was as horrifying as it was the first time Aiden used it.  The fluid sound whipping through the air, ending as quickly as it began, as it made contact with James’ head, the spikes entering at an angle.

James was done on his feet, still he fought, getting the bat out of Aiden’s hand, as Sheila punched him in the ribs.  James buried his elbow into Aiden’s neck, cutting off his air supply, as he planted him into the door frame.

“Let him go!”  Sheila shouted frantically, as she continued to punch James, with no effect.

Aiden began blacking out, as he put his hand on James’ neck.

James, now angry and regaining some motor skills, pulled his knife with his left hand, and quickly jabbed it into Aiden’s neck, as he fell down dead.

Sheila grabbed Aiden as he fell.

“NO! NO! NO! NO!”  She screamed, realizing that he was gone.

The blood  gushed out of Aiden as he slid to the ground.  Sheila cried hysterically, as Jordan stood watching in agony.  The smell of iron was consuming the room by the second.  Jordan was hot, so hot.  He needed out of that room.

He ran past Sheila, heading for the front door.


“What?  Bury him?  Where exactly Sheila?  He did this to himself, and to us.  There’s no time, we need to get out of here!”  Jordan said as he turned back and looked.

“I’M NOT LEAVING HIM!”  Sheila shouted.

“You can do what you want, but I’m out of here, none of this was supposed to happen.  I just want to go home!”  Jordan exclaimed.

Sheila clutched Aiden to her chest, crying uncontrollably as Jordan looked on.  Memories flashed through her mind as panic and loss consumed her.

“Are you coming?”  Jordan yelled.

Sheila took one last look at Aiden, his eyes glazed over . He was indeed gone.

She ran toward the door, past Jordan.  The rage that had consumed her started to chill. As she reached the door, she could felt more irrational thoughts take over as her breathing calmed.

Jordan followed behind into the night, not knowing where in Tacoma they would go next.

The song continued, “…while we’re on the way there, why not share…”

James continued circling the drain on the floor, keeping his eyes on Ben, ever the protector, keeping his eyes on those who had it worse than he did.


Friday Night Fiction: Google Maps

I like to dream big.

I like to think about places I’d like to visit, and what I would do.

The internet is my best friend, because I can tour all these wonderful places ahead of time.  I can see what the buildings look like, what restaurants seem appealing, what I should avoid.  I’m a strong tourer.  I can’t call myself a tourist, yet.  But I do call myself a tourer, as I tour all these wonderful places from the comfort of my home.  It’s fun, intriguing, and safe.  It must be safe.  Because I’m not always a safe person.  I don’t always make the best decisions.

I sometimes wonder where my money has gone.  I sometimes wonder where I left my car.  I sometimes wonder where I was the night before.

I do make it home, in one piece, albeit sore, or some pain, disheveled, perhaps a bit dirty.  But I do make it home.

Which is a good thing.  Because I can restart my routine and get back to my tours.  Life is good.

Today I’m going to look up Curacao.  I’ve always loved the thought of going to the Dutch Antilles.  The beaches, the culture, less risk of hurricanes, it seems perfect!  Plus, that wonderful liqueur of theirs is sure to be a staple while there!

I think I’ll start around Punda and Pietermaai, a tourist-oriented section of Willemstad.  Because I want to be on the boardwalks and beaches the whole time!

I’ll start on Breedestraat near the water, where all the boutique shops are, that is as good as place as any.

Wow, look at the pretty red brick sidewalks!  And all the shops, this is fantastic!  I definitely want to travel here!

Wait, that person walking near The Athlete’s Foot looks familiar.  I should keep following them.  I wonder where I know them from.

The clocks staged along the brick walk in Willemstad are cute!  So much character in this city!

There’s that person again.  They look like they are following over.  Weird.  I’m going to keep scrolling to see how this ends.

Wow, this huge decorative art piece spelling our Curacao is fantastic!  I wish we did things like that here.

And look at all the Christmas statues and decorations!  This must be what it looks like during Christmas.  How awesome!

That person is up a little further in the parking lot…that’s a weird route to take on foot.  Maybe stick to the sidewalk, and don’t get hit.

Looks like they’re heading to Pietermaai, the next main road along the boardwalk.

There’s a number of houses right here in the heart of everything up for sale.  They must be expensive.  But how cool to be in this weather all year round!

WHOA!  That person just threw up!  That’s awful!  Gotta watch that drinking buddy!  What a clown show!

Oh neat!  There are some open lots between some of these houses!  I suppose they aren’t attractive to build on since you get such a small spot on the water.  And it looks like there’s not much of a beach here.  But still so pretty!

The sidewalk is starting the narrow down, and that person looks so familiar.  They are really struggling; I’m surprised they made it this far.

Look at this cool artwork!  Someone cut out material shaped like large jugs of vases, and painted them, and then placed them in front of this crumbling house.  That’s a great to detract from the decay that surrounds us!

And there’s that person again, seemingly walking with a stiff upper lip after vomiting.

Wait, now the photos have a different date and that person is gone.  I better go back and see if I can’t catch up to them.

Whoa!  I had to go way back to the Café Old Dutch to find them again.  Weird, you would think that I could spot them after viewing these streets, but…..wait, that shirt looks familiar.

Let’s zoom in.  Oh no.  Is that…

How did I get in here?  What the?  I need to check my credit card statement!

How the?  What in the?  Holy $*%R!

That’s ME!  I’m…..a mess!

What the hell was I doing in Curacao by myself!  What the hell is this?!?!

I’m going to call my mother.

“Mother, did I ask you to watch my place recently?”

“I did?  I said what?  I DID WHAT?!”

“Mom.  Mom.  MOM!  I gotta get off the phone now!”

What the hell?  How do I not remember any of this?
My passport!  It’s got the stamps!  How do I not remember ANY OF THIS??!?

What in the world is going on!

This is nuts!

I went to Curacao by myself, and I have no memory of it, and now have to live through the agony of being the drunk girl on Google Maps for all to see.

I need to do something about this!

I’m going to email Google!

“Dear Google, I recently became aware of my presence in some street view imagery in Willemstad, Curacao.  It appears I was a tad sick and was having a bad reaction to food possibly.  I was hoping you could take down these images and get new images of the street, so that I don’t re-live this moment in my life along with the rest of the planet staring at me.”

No, I sound too needy.  F$@!  This sucks!

I had to have talked to someone about this!

I’ll text Kevin, he’ll know.

“Kevin!  We need to talk!”

“I was wondering when you would get around to messaging me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Now that we’re back from Curacao.  You said you would reach out, waiting on you.”

“Wait, we went to Curacao?  Do you know what happened in the shopping district?”

“Yea, you ran ahead of me while we had been day drinking, I’m not sure why.  I think you took those drinks all the way back home with you, because I don’t remember you being sober after that.  It was right before we came back.  You realize that was three weeks ago, right?”


”Yea babe.”

“Don’t call me babe, you know I don’t like that.”

“You told me to call you that from now on.  Now that we’re official.”


“Yea, have you taken your test yet?”


“The one to find out.”

“The one to find out what?”

“If we’re expecting.”

“Ok, I gotta go!”

Where is this test, it must be in my bedroom.  Holy shit!  I can’t believe this.  I can’t believe I went to Curacao, hooked up with Kevin, and now I’m in a full blown relationship, and might be….this is INSANE!

Let’s go do this now.  I can’t even.

Ok so remove cap, point at the stream and go.  Re-cap and place on the counter, on tissue paper!

What does that line mean?  Oh, that’s the control line.  But what is that line for?


Oh no.

Review: Chasing Heroin – Revisited

It’s been two years since I wrote the review of Frontline’s journalistic documentary of Seattle’s drug court.  The piece by them was a glowing review of Seattle’s program, interviewing the key people that brought the court about, after claiming Seattle Police Department’s “aggressive” tactics of arrest provided no options for what were dubbed casual drug users.

While several of my articles and short stories of drawn the ire and praise of people from the world over, none has been more read than this one article; albeit a critical review of multimedia propaganda.

If you read the piece I wrote, you likely understood that I was calling our Frontline for a lack of integrity in it’s reporting; that they put together this piece to celebrate how great the Seattle drug court program was, and that it was a model for all other cities to follow in tackling the heroin epidemic sweeping the country.

Of course, Frontline would tell you that all they did was document the program as seen and explained through the lens.  But there are several key issues with their usual “just the facts” defense that they constantly employ to explain away their propaganda.

First, you’ll remember that in my (poorly edited) article I wrote about Cari Creasia, profiled in the piece.  She was the middle-aged single mother who turned to heroin as she was coming away from legal prescription pain pills relating to an injury she sustained.

She admitted in her interviews that she had dealt drugs for cartel members, and was drug dealing while in drug court.  Then she decided to change her life and did so by following her program to a proverbial “T,” graduated and left the program.  For all accounts and purposes of this writing, she has not returned to drug use or drug dealing, and living life in Kent, Washington.

The other person profiled who dealt drugs was Kristina Block of Seattle.  She was a drug user while in the program, and she was only using the minimum of services, specifically the needle exchange program.  And while Frontline tried to skim past her evolution in their piece, she gradually turned to dealing heroin on the streets of Seattle while in the drug court program.

By their own rules and standards, that should have been an automatic revocation of her status in drug court, with arrest, new charges filed, and initial appearances for both her original and new charges simultaneously.

But instead, Kristina dealt drugs in front of our very eyes, using cell phones to communicate transactions and meeting places, and used people in her circle of drug users to courier her product.  For all intents and purposes, her documented activities in the program are defined under the RICO Act in federal law, which stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.  In other words, Kristina was operating a criminal enterprise in front of your very eyes, the kind that would have necessitated federal agents obtaining a warrant, kicking in doors, and arresting people under Conspiracy-oriented charges.

Instead, Kristina walks freely in Seattle, where she still resides, presumably she’s found a way to kick her habit and find a real job, but by the conclusion of film she had done neither, which according to people like Lisa Daugaard, from the Seattle Public Defender’s Office, is part of the drug court program – getting recovering addicts re-integrated into societal norms.

Analysis of the key examples Frontline provided aside, there lies a bigger problem with Seattle’s drug court – it isn’t working.

Eric Johnson from KOMO 4 News recently made a journalistic documentary called Seattle is Dying, and what it said about Seattle in the short two years since Chasing Heroin is revealing to not only how bad the problem of drug usage has become, but how much of other parts of society it overlaps with, informs, and ultimately pervades with toxicity.

Johnson’s film shows exactly what Seattle looks like as a whole.  This is important because in Frontline’s piece, they focused on a few blocks of Seattle’s Westlake and Belltown neighborhoods, when it came to show the drug problem in Seattle.  For perspective, that’s like showing four blocks of the Lower Eastside of Manhattan and saying that is fully representative of the drug problem in New York City – it doesn’t come close.

Johnson exposes throughout the film numerous locations in Seattle.  It’s fair to say that any film or video with a specific goal, no matter how objective, wouldn’t be able to show every nook and cranny of a large metropolitan city, but it should aim to show more than just a few places are conveniently very safe places to be in Seattle during daylight hours.

But even more than that, showing off a wider view of the overall problem is important in this context of drug use and affects.  Johnson’s film also goes to prove that there are connections to drugs that can’t be shaken – mental illness, homelessness, and an overall inability to care for oneself.  Johnson even takes it further, by explaining that the people who are persistent violent criminal violators in the areas of Seattle that also show high rates of drug trafficking are both users of those drugs, and are their prosecutions are being refused by both Municipal and District Court judges.  Why?  In Frontline’s piece, they didn’t mention it specifically, but the rules in Seattle’s drug court do not permit patterns of violent crime by participants.

So, if these people don’t qualify for drug court; and they are violent; why then are they given even less responsibility than drug court participants?

Is it because if they were integrated into drug court those cherry success numbers they report wouldn’t be so great?  If it’s all about getting drug addicts help, why aren’t they getting more of these homeless people with mental health issues in the program?  Aren’t they even more vulnerable than Creasia and Block?

No, instead Seattle’s officials do nothing.  They have an agenda and they are exercising it, and for them a world without involuntary drug rehabilitation is their aim.  So they build this “award winning” program that then turns around and limits who can join, even though the need is vast.  Again, if the program was so great, they’d be offering it to anyone with a drug problem.  That in itself is the only evidence you need of the shine job that Frontline put in front of everyone’s faces, and certain people in Seattle leadership want to propagate.

Frontline conveniently made their piece during a time when Seattle’s drug court was receiving a national award at a member’s only event, where drug treatment and sentencing alternative advocates and practitioners come together to pat themselves on the back.  That fact makes clear that there was timing involved in this project, and that Frontline plays a direct role.  There was nothing objective about Chasing Heroin whatsoever.

The other major thing that Frontline missed was the utter violence that drug addicts in Seattle streets visit upon innocent bystanders.  Sure, there is violence among drug addicts, dealers, and people involved in their crimes.  It shouldn’t be tolerated, but we can expect it, because police can’t be on every street every second of the day to stop everything in an instant.  But one thing citizens shouldn’t expect is to be assaulted by criminals as they carry out their day that has nothing to do with those criminals.

And yet, as Johnson’s film shows, drug addicts who are homeless and mentally ill account for astounding amounts of violence against innocent victims.  Some are people who work in Seattle, others live there, and still others are visiting.  Imagine that, you’re on vacation in Seattle, get assaulted for no other reason than walking down the wrong street in your travels, and you find out the person who assaulted you is not going to be held accountable.  How would you feel?

What Johnson’s film proves is how out of touch propagandists like Frontline are, and how much Seattle leadership chooses to refuse the reality around them.  They are not helping anyone.  This is truly government run amok, and it should be stopped.

It has nothing to do with the Seattle Police Department, though I’m sure there’s an element within the leadership there that should be respectfully asked to leave.  There is also nothing wrong with King County Jail, but rather this falls squarely on the Seattle Public Defender’s Office for playing a much bigger role than they should have in developing this supposed drug court.  It falls on the Seattle Municipal Court Judges and Administrators, who allow this farce to continue.  It falls on the King County Court System, and their apparent role in it, and it falls on the Seattle City Council directly, for not representing their constituents at all, and instead accepting money from very rich people who have priorities that do not align with the actual voters of Seattle.

I strongly suspect that the conversation about this topic will continue for years to come.  I hope the conversation gets larger, I hope more people get away from the propaganda and objectively look at the failure they are being left with, and I certainly hope people wake up to media purveyors like Frontline, who see them as merely another brain to wash.

What I’m Thinking About: All This Turmoil

Writers develop a unique understanding of words, emotions, and ideas.  Everyone learns a wide spattering of words and their meanings.  But writers usually find themselves when they go beyond those meanings, and find the meaningful connections between words.

Some words form greater connections with others.  Some words have limited connections they can make.  But usually it’s the writer’s choice of words that leads to the greatest impact.

From that, writers learn how to describe people’s thoughts, motives, places, actions, and all other forms of interaction to reach a very core system in all humans: emotion.  Writers learn that by finding words that connect to how one may feel about a given scenario will create a lasting impact, which is generally judged as good writing.  And that’s how a writer finds their way to entertain, inform, or otherwise capture attention.

Writers used to rule the day.  Scanning history while I write this, there are so many powerful titles out there, it’s truly hard to describe any one time where writers didn’t capture the biggest thoughts of their time, and were able to find audiences to inform, who went out and did inspired deeds.

Perhaps it’s because I’m living in this moment right now, but I don’t feel that we live in a very inspiring time.

I think we live in time where the idea of a writer scares the hell out of other people who carry influence in other aspects of life.  I think people have seen narrative as something they can control.

This is something that writers all grapple with.  Controlling the narrative.  One would logically think that a writer controls their story, because of course they wrote it.  They sent it to an editor who told them what they needed to correct, and they went back and exercised more control over that story.  Their narrative.

Their are two types of writers: those that think they control narrative, and those who know they don’t.  Writers don’t control the narratives of their story anymore than you control the weather where you live.  You can pick up your things and move, and then you find warmer or colder weather, but you’ll never be able to control it.

True, a writer gets to derive their story idea, but the narrative only goes together a certain way.  Even when writers plan their story, as they progress they usually find ways that the narrative changes.  It can be slight, or it can be huge.  Many writers detail the huge changes their story undertook as they wrote, when compared to their initial research and idea.

I write all of this to make this point: there are too many people in our world trying to control narrative.  They are trying their best to make narrative fit in the specific way they want it to.

Politicians, Technology and Data companies, media corporations, and many others are all trying to control narrative.  It may seem harmless, it’s only words after all.  But it’s truly dangerous to attempt to control narrative.  First, it’s disingenuous and it’s dishonest.  Second, it’s ignorant.  Third, it’s a spectacular exercise in failure, because that is the only way it ends.

Most writers know this all too well.  Those that don’t will soon.  In a book we can get away with controlling some elements, and frankly we can get away with controlling narrative in the technical sense of actually doing it.  However, the books where we do it expose the effort to readers, and that tends to lead to pointed criticism, which shuts down potential audience.  In the grand scheme of life, that’s a really small loss.

But when you apply this concept to bigger, worldly issues, it can lead to disaster.

Historically, we’ve seen this time and again.  The Ming Dynasty, Henry the VIII, Richard Nixon, the 1919 Chicago White Sox, and far more than I can recite here have all taken their shot at trying to control narrative in one way or another, and every single time it has led to death and destruction.

We are experiencing a lot of people trying to control narrative right here at home now.  From the national level, to the street in front of your house, there are more people trying to control the narrative – and in the past month I’ve watched countless people flat out deny the unfiltered truth, especially when it changes the very specific narrative they are imposing.

Life is far too nuanced for this approach to power to keep showing up, but here we go again.  People who are taking over positions that looked up to for the first time, and they are making fools of themselves.

Maybe they haven’t learned this lesson.  Maybe they don’t understand the power they have.  Maybe this is how they’ve conducted themselves all along.

But what writers know is that they are playing a dangerous game.  It will catch up to them.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t catch up to the rest of us too.


Men’s Reading List, Part Two

Continuing where I left, I present the remaining of the Men’s Reading List.

I’ve added 26 books total to this list; the idea being that you read one every two weeks.  Kind of like payday in most jobs.

The list continues along the same theme.  Books about skill development, decision making, and theory that affects men.  Your education is more critical now than ever.

Here is Part Two.


The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

by Peter Drucker and Zachary First

Drucker is an important person in the world of executive management, and his knowledge is a regular influence in the lives of C-level personnel in Fortune 500 companies.

There is no reason that men outside of that exclusive group of professionals can’t obtain crucial knowledge for their own professional lives from Drucker.  Finding the wisdom in Drucker’s business savvy and applying it to your life is important for one crucial reason: it eliminates emotional response.

As a man, you can’t afford to be emotional.  You’re going to be surrounded by people that are emotional.  They are making rash, unconscionable decisions so routinely, that unvarnished analysis would be hard to decipher their decision-making skills at all.

Even more, the challenge of the modern generations of men is to developed businesses.  Because the US business sector is in decline, and the current leading employers are creating toxic cultures that penalize men just for showing up on time and informed.  Drucker gives you a proven plan that can help you become a successful business owner in your own right and make yourself stable.


The Laws of Human Nature, The 48 Laws of Power, Art of Seduction, Mastery, and The 33 Strategies of War

by Robert Greene

Ok, this is actually five titles from Greene.  And I did this to drive the point home: if you’re a man, and you’re not reading the books of Robert Greene, you are falling behind so very badly, and you need to catch up.

Being objective, start with The 48 Laws of Power, and work from there.


The Manipulated Man

by Esther Vilar

Considering all the books I’ve included thus far concerning relationships, this one should come first in your reading.  Vilar was a pioneer on the topic of true equality in relationships.  The lie we’re being told now for over fifty years is that to be equal, feminist imperative must come first.  This is why compromise is such a heavily used tactic by relationship “experts” who promote it.  It’s a tactic women are taught as girls, which means that over time they’ve become experts at using it to manipulate situations to their favor…. not very equal.

Vilar promoted a tried and tested method of coming to grips within a relationship:  openness and honesty.  Imagine that?

What Vilar had to put up with for exposing manipulation and dishonesty that largely fell on women in her research (and might I add proven), is nothing short of spectacularly indecent.  Death threats, harassment, stalking, and everything else that terrible.  All for suggesting openness and honesty.

I can’t be clearer on this: Vilar’s title is going to save you a lot of heartache and misery, and better to spend money on her book, then the house and divorce lawyer later.


Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – And Why it Matters

by Dr. Helen Smith

A true hero among women, Dr. Smith has reading the thesis with proven statistics, and her own experience in both psychology practice, and research.

She lays out why men are increasingly not interested in marriage, family life, and fatherhood.  Pointing directly to the correlations where social welfare, family law, political norms, and societal cultures are placing more arbitrary penalties on men, while disincentivizing men from participating in societal norms.

Young men need to read this book now.  The fact is that current mass thought is targeting men.  As men, you need to be aware of this before heading towards marriage.  You will lose more and gain nothing by participating in the current version of marriage being promoted.

Men who are participating, or have participated, need to read this book before they enter marriage again.  Understanding what you are truly facing is imperative to success.


No More Mr. Nice Guy: A Proven Plan for Getting What You Want in Love, Sex, and Life

by Dr. Robert Glover

I promote this book for on reason:  The guy that Dr. Glover is talking about, shouldn’t be who you were, ever.

There’s no reason to be a “nice” guy, there’s no reason you should subscribe to it, there’s no reason you should aspire to it.  Being a “nice” guy is wildly inappropriate, and there are countless examples out there to discuss.

The main tenet in this title is that men need to stop seeking approval.  They need to go out there and accomplish what they want to.  By waiting for approval, they cause themselves frustration, which they ultimately visit upon others in their life.

Dr. Glover makes great points throughout, and this is definitely a book you need to read.


Men Without Work

by Nicholas Eberstadt

I’ve highlighted this book before, and it’s that important.  Eberstadt, a political economist who has written studies on this topic finally developed a book that is concise enough in size, but bountiful in content.

He shows through publicly available statistics, that the employment of men has been in decline since the World War II era, and the problem this has created is much worse to society.

The issue is presented, and then debate occurs between two political ideologues.  It’s an extremely interesting read in how it is setup and argued.  However, the issue still stares us in the face every morning: men are not valued in the feminist-centric world.  You need to know and accept this now, if you ever plan to help change it.


Secrets to Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks

By Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer

There are certain skills that rise about others as useful from a universal perspective.  Mental math is one of those skills.  When it comes to solving certain everyday problems, be it figuring out square footage in a given room, balancing a checkbook, plotting out utility bills for a twelve-month cycle for average and total, and so on.  It doesn’t how much you try to avoid it, the situations where quick math skills are necessary are vast and endless.

Some people aren’t great at math, let alone mental math.  But while you’re building your mental toughness and building analysis skills from other titles in this list, learning how to build mental math skills fall right into line with a man’s path, are a skill you should possess.

Benjamin and Shermer make it clear how to develop shortcuts to put numbers together quickly, so you can solve daily problems with confidence, and look like you have confidence while doing it.


Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges

by Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney

Southwick and Charney put together an excellent book on the greatest skill you can build; resilience.  As a man you are going to find out rather quickly that no one is going to support you.  No one is going to be there for you when failure and rejection strikes.  No one is going to help you up.  No one is going to care.  Not your parents, not your friends, and certainly not the women in your life.  Instead, everyone will use that moment to evaluate if you can sink or swim, and if you swim, fine, you pass their test.  If not, they’ll leave you behind like high-end sunglasses at a barbecue.


How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle

by Matt Fitzgerald

Expounding on the previous titles concerning mental toughness, Fitzgerald’s expose of endurance athletes makes clear what you must do to win; build your mental capacity.

Fitzgerald finds key lessons to provide through the experience of great endurance athletes who turned in spectacular performances in their own right, and then through his journalist background answers the questions that plague the issue of winners and losers, and how one rises above the others.

A fascinating read in sports psychology that ends up being a lesson plan for behavioral psychology.


Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home

by Ilona Bray, J.D., and Alayna Schroeder, J.D.

While The Idiot’s Guide series was dependent on one or two experts, with rarely any legal backing, Nolo has taken that next step, by providing attorneys that are experts in their field to supply the information for each title.

Why is this important?  When it comes to major financial decisions, a house being one of those, you want to have sound legal advice at your fingertips.  For example, did you sign a contract for a house that within two months has a mold issue?  You may have rights that can hold the seller responsible.

Beyond the usual litigious reasoning, Nolo’s guide helps the first-time home buyer figure out what they can do to protect their first (but hopefully) second investment.  While most people consider a house an asset, it’s a liability until it’s paid off, and earning some form of income.  This guide is filled with plenty of answers that get you through the buying process, so that you can protect your investment.


Zen Jiu-Jitsu – White to Blue

by Oliver Staark

As a man, you should pursue a martial art.  At least one, two if you can.  But whatever you decide to pursue should have practical application.  Many forms of martial arts are nice activities that provide basic forms of discipline and fitness within their teachings.  But some martial arts are more effective than others, and in my opinion, Jiu-Jitsu is far more effective than any other martial art.

Staark’s book is designed for white belt students of Jiu-Jitsu to fully attain the knowledge base needed to move to the next belt, blue belt.  If you are planning to be a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, having an extremely detailed background in the white and blue belt knowledge base is only going to help you ascend further into purple, brown, and black belt levels.  This is also what makes Jiu-Jitsu so democratized.  Getting better and more knowledgeable with the basics is what gets you to ascend.


Time Management

by Brian Tracy

Another author who gets a perennial nod is Brian Tracy.  However, let’s start at the absolute beginning of it all: time management.

You’re a man, and that typically means you have a lot of demands on your time, and a lot of people vying for your attention at varying times.

You need to master your time, or it will master you.  It is the one resource you can’t add to, only take away from.  It is too valuable not to maximize your time.

Tracy made a series of “pocketbooks” designed to address several business topics that translate to skills you need to be successful in.  Certainly, all of them have value, but time management stands out as universal among them all.  Tracy’s book is centered around an office worker, but you’ll find that most of what he has to say is applicable directly, and the rest can be applied to your specific circumstance.

Mastering time is crucial to manhood.


What Everybody is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People

by Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins

We’ve discussed the work of Navarro before, but his writing is that important that you need to read it.  In this book, Navarro teaches how to read people’s nonverbal cues.  From the history of body language and its application, to the positioning of thumbs, Navarro tells you what is when it comes to making decisions about people you are interacting with, and where there tells really are.

Backed by his professional experience as an FBI Profiler, Navarro can teach anyone how to analyze people, and in doing so, set you up to ask better questions that get to the truth at hand.

As a man, this is an invaluable skill that you need to succeed in both your professional and personal life.


Now that you’re motivated to read well, get started today.

Short Story: Time Marches On

The clock slowly reaches 6:30 AM.  And thus, the day’s business is underway.

We start work at 6:00 AM to stage all the trades that came in the night before, and any that came in the early morning.  Today is a big deal.  I need this one stock to reach $27.00 a share.  If it doesn’t, my quarterly analysis is going to be off the mark, and I’ve not been doing so well the last few years.

I’ve been off the mark too many times, and too close too many times, and the boss has noticed.  If I can’t turn the corner this time, I’ll be fired.  I’m 48, I’ve been stuck in these junior trade positions my whole life.  I can’t say that I’ve pursued advancement very hard, but I’ve made my plays.  And you would think after a certain amount of time, someone would realize I know the job well enough to manage those doing it.

But I never get noticed.  Instead, I’m passed down.  And now, with 26 years in the market, I sit too far away from retirement, even though I’ve prepared well, and am getting too old to be picked up for yet another junior position.

“Can I have everybody’s attention please!”  Our trade manager, Wes shouted; everyone became silent.

“Assuming that everyone has their trades in for the day, here’s a quick announcement.  We are coming down to the wire on some small stocks that we hedged on this past cycle.  It’s not looking good.  Today is close of the quarter, and baring a miracle, we’re going to be looking at some losses.  That means some of you are not going to make it to see tomorrow.  However, I’m going to ask that you all push forward like you can make it tomorrow, because if any of you can find a way to shore up the loss, that will ensure you’re staying put.  We all have mortgages and college funds, and the Joneses’ to pay for, so put your foot to the pedal and let’s right this shop.”  Wes shouted all at once, slamming his office door behind him.

Swell, the pep talk ends with the realization that we create lifestyles we can’t afford, ever.  People would be better suited to buy a residence, and sink any money they get into that, never buy a car, maintain a spartan wardrobe, and never splurge beyond that until the home is paid off.

It really says something about consumerism in this country when employment and everyone is still living paycheck to paycheck, and employers know to threaten your home immediately, especially when they’ve done something to cause the problem that is now creating yours.

The clock is already reaching 8:00 AM, and the trades I’ve put in have nearly all executed.  Some are still staged waiting to hit their thresholds.  Some clients have the biggest of pipe dreams, but I guess we’ll take their money either way.  I heard that we may go to a pay-for-phone support system because so many in that crowd make poorly informed decisions for themselves, and then try to blame us in hours-long debates about the market, or why we don’t intervene on their behalf, or how it’s not fair.  Life is not fair, ever.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that.

I start getting notices of new trades that clients want, I’m answering the phone and talking to clients about new stocks hitting our radar.  Time is ticking away on that clock, and I already feel like I’m behind.  It’s exhausting.

“So, if I buy now, you think this stock will achieve a profit in six months, and then increase even more over the next few years?”  Lester asked bluntly.

“I think this stock provides you a great chance at netting a profit by the end of the predicted cycle.  It’s a young startup, they have good books, they are savvy in their industry, offering new tools that will be of great use.  There’s very low visibility on them now, but over the timeline I’m proposing, they’re going to be recognized widely, and thus increased production will lead to share profits.”  I said, almost in rhythm with the anxious feeling boiling in my stomach as I looked at the clock.  Tick-tock, tick-tock.

“How do you figure they’ll be recognized?” Lester asked inquisitively.

“Because as potential clients become more aware of their products, more of those potential clients will prefer their tools and service than that of more established firms in this industry.”  I responded, flatly.

“Yea but, how does that awareness come around?”  Lester asked again, louder.

“Through the reputation of their products being used.”  I stated.

“But how would anyone know to use their products to begin with?  I don’t see a marketing strategy.  If they’re so good, why aren’t they airing commercials?”  Lester annoyingly asked.

“This isn’t that kind of industry Lester.  I am more than happy to send you information about their industry, so you understand better how it operates.”  I responded, hoping that was the end of this interrogation.

“No, I’m going to pass, this doesn’t make sense to me, frankly I don’t understand why you call me anymore.”  Lester said as he hung up.

Lester is a reluctant buyer, and not my first option to call, but it’s been awhile since we spoke, so might as well get that out of the way.

The clock looks bigger.  My eyes feel like they’re throbbing.  I could feel burning in my veins, and the sounds of a kick drum in my heart.

“Message for you Pete.”  Anna said to me with a glance.

If I was ten years younger, I’d probably wine and dine her after this day.  Maybe I will anyway.

[Call Mr. Edmunds, Account 566-787-8989.]  I dialed his number.

“Mr. Edmunds?”  I asked.  I don’t know this client.

“Yes, I’m calling to get an update on my account.  I was told the person I worked with no longer works there.  And that was a surprise to me because I didn’t receive an email.”  Mr. Edmunds was glib.

Great, a “Thomas” customer.  Thomas is played by one of us every month, and we give a new client a “deal.”  We line them up with an investment account for fifty dollars, and we put one-hundred dollars in to put our money where our mouth is.  We trade the money over a choice of several companies we know are going to perform reasonably, and that’s our hook into them.

“I’m sorry Mr. Edmunds, I take it you were working with Thomas?”  I knowingly asked.

“Yes, I was, where did he go?”  Mr. Edmunds demanded.

“I’m Peter, and I’m taking over for Thomas Mr. Edmunds.  Thomas made some mistakes.  He was giving away a hundred dollars on accounts, when it was supposed to be only fifty.  Thomas was a nice guy; wish he was still here.” I said deliberately.

“Well I got an email saying the return is what we expected, but maybe it’s time to invest elsewhere?”  Mr. Edmunds asked.

“Mr. Edmunds, you have impeccable timing.  I have a stock that I’ve been putting my clients into.  It’s going to be a barnstormer.”  I said, readying my pitch.


The clock continues to tick, now just past 2:00 PM.  I felt I accomplished very little.  I’m looked at my numbers.  I’m up twenty percent.  I need to be up forty to make up the difference in my quarterly picks.  I could feel the sweat beading along my hairline, my eyes are pinned as the clock becomes the size of the wall.  The heat I was emanating could power the whole office.

“Pete, can I talk to you a minute?”  Wes asked, walking back to his office.

“I got up from my cubicle, and followed him to his office, where the big boss, Charles, was waiting.

“Pete, we’re glad you’re still putting together trades today, you took my speech to heart.”  Wes said.

“I’m just part of the team Wes.”  I responded.

“Great.  Listen, we’re appreciative of your work.  But frankly, it’s not going to be enough.”  Wes laid the sentence out like it going to kill me.

“Well I still have a mountain to climb, but if you look at- “I said, but was interrupted.

“Pete, look man, you’re a good worker, you don’t cause waves, don’t shit where you eat, don’t trade in rumors.  Seriously, there’s a lot of good qualities.  But your numbers aren’t great.  Occasionally you hit pay dirt, but not enough to make up all your chilly days.”  Wes said, while Charles looked on with beady eyes and a stone face.

“I see.”  I said, resigned to the fact that this was the talk.

“Pete, like I said, you’re a good guy, we’ve never even written you up for so much as a policy violation.  But you’re not making trades at the rate we need.  And your recommendations have been less than desired.”  Wes said on cue.

“I don’t think you need to spell it out any further.”  I said.

“You can pack your things; HR will be contacting you concerning next steps.  We really appreciated your work around here Pete.” Wes said.

“That’s not necessary Wes.”  I said.

He looked at me puzzled, but I know that he knew exactly what I meant.  What a hologram.  Meanwhile Charles continued to look as smug as he ever has, adding nothing but an inflated sense of ego and financial obligation for the company.

“Wes, of course we’re going to pay you severance, you weren’t a shithead bud, just not at our level.  I’ll make sure to put in a good word for you moving forward, I don’t want to hold you back.”  Wes said as I walked out of his office.

He offered his handshake, which I reluctantly accepted.  It took him eight years to figure out I was ‘just not at their level?’ Time to get out of here.

The clock looked smaller now, almost in the background, meaningless.  My, how simple that was.

“Message, Pete.”  Anna said as she placed the paper on my desk.

[Call Mr. Edmunds – URGENT!]

Oh boy, Mr. Edmunds.  Cold feet I presume.  But he’s going to be someone else’s problem now…what the hell, I’ve got nothing to lose.

“Mr. Edmunds, this is Pete calling back.  Everything ok?”

“Pete, I looked into that company, and I think you’re more than right.  I know we set this up for $2,000.00 to start, but I want to put more in.”  Mr. Edmunds said.

“Ok.  How much are we talking?”  I asked, getting ready to hand the call over.

“One million.”  Mr. Edmunds said.

“Ah, what?”  I asked, feeling like I lost my hearing in the second he said it.

“One million.  You’re right Pete, this company is going to be a real dark horse, and over the next few years they’re going to capitalize on it quickly.  I’m in!”  Mr. Edmunds beamed.

I didn’t know what to say.  I had to think of something quickly.

“Mr. Edmunds, give me an hour, I’m going to call you back from a different office.”  I said.

We hung up, and I hurriedly collected the things that mattered.  I waved at Wes and Charles who just watched me as I left towards the lobby.  What sleaze-ball place this was.  A sense of happiness came over me as I realized I was finally out of there.  I passed Anna’s desk, and turned around.

“Anna, I’m taking you to dinner, tonight.”  I said, in a way I had not spoken in years.

“Ok, where?”  She said, sounding in shock.

“I’ll pick you up and go from there.  See you at seven.”  I said as I headed for the elevator.

“How will you know where to pick me up?”  She asked.

“Well, you’re going to text me your address in about five minutes.”  I said while holding up my phone, entering the elevator.


Looking at the clock now is relaxing.  A reminder of where I’m at, and where I’ve come from.  I don’t have a corner office.  In fact, I don’t have an office at all.  I work from my apartment.  It’s good thing I maintained a business license all those years.

“Mr. Edmunds, are you ready for your update?”  I asked.

“Is it what we expected?”  Mr. Edmunds asked excitedly.

“Just about, an eighteen percent return, so not twenty, but not bad for an honest year’s work.”  I said through a grin that took over the bottom half of my face.

“I KNEW IT!  YOU WERE RIGHT!”  Mr. Edmunds said ecstatically.

“I’m pretty excited too Mr. Edmunds, this is a huge day.”  I said still grinning.

“Pete, I’ve got some friends that need to work with you, do you have time to come down and do a presentation in a few weeks?”  He asked.

“I don’t see why not, let me know next week when you want to set it up and I’ll keep my calendar open.”  I said.

“It’s been a pretty good year.  Great talking with you Pete, talk soon!”  He exclaimed as he hung up.

It’s been a pretty good year indeed.  And time keeps marching on.

[Phone rings]

“Hey dear, how’s work?”  I said to Anna.

“Kind of sucky.  We’ve all been laid off, they are going out of business and liquidating everything to make up their debts.”  She said, sounding panicky.

“I’m sorry to hear that honey.  Are you leaving the office early?”  I asked, still grinning.

“Hell, I’m leaving now.  They said I could stay for three months during the transition period, but that they would only be paying severance, so I said forget it, enjoy hiring a temp.  Wes is such a creep, he asked me out at the end of ‘the talk,´ and I was just like, are you serious?”  Anna said in disgust.

“Well Wes has never had good situational awareness.”  I said, grinning even more.

“Now I have to hit the interview circuit.  That ought to be lovely, more ogling from another peanut gallery.  And rent is going to be hard, their severance packages are a joke, five grand.  They said it’s because they in bankruptcy.”  Anna said, still in disgust.

“I’m sure you’ll find something better.  But you know, why don’t you move in here and sublet the place.  You can always move back when you find work again.”  I said.

“You mean it?  That would be so awesome!”  Anna said excitedly.

“Yea, I mean it.  See you soon.  I need to get back to it.”  I said as I hung up.

The clock over my desk caught my eye, full of afternoon sun, lighting up and reflecting into the entire room.  I could feel the cozy warmth of August summer pervade my skin.  What a feeling.

Thinking back to all the worry, and fusing over each decision, what a waste.  The only thing I did was abuse myself for nothing.  For a clock that I could not manipulate any more than I could the stock market.

Time always marches on.  What you do with it at any given second is all that matters.

Men’s Reading List, Part One

As men, we are routinely distracted by the society around us.  Sales, advertisement, work, traffic, weather, home repair, many things get in the way of our world and what we’re trying to accomplish.

Very little of this voluntary information is useful, but it’s heavy in interruption.  What’s more, much of it is designed to not only distract, but to casually inform men that they are doing things wrong, unless they remain ignorant, child-like, weak-minded, and overall subservient to women.

Add in the various social media channels most of us participate in, groups, events, viral video reactions, and soon you can see how anyone’s most precious resource, time, gets devoured in a whirlwind that is ultimately nothing.

As men, we are at our most attractive when we have our mission first and foremost, and we silently achieve that mission, without being distracted.  And the best part about this, you do not have to advertise how not distracted you are.  That will reveal itself through your actions.  Through your persistence.  Through your achievement.

But no man can accomplish his mission without having appropriate distractions.  Tis true, being laser-focused on your mission is a necessity, but in that focus comes time for reflection on achievement, evaluating process, and openness to new ideas are part of the exchange between idea, effort, and actualization.

Distraction does play a role in a man’s ability to get somewhere he wasn’t before.  The key is to find those distractions that are worthy investment of that precious resource.

I’m not the first to say it, and I won’t be the last.  Reading is a worthy distraction.  As a man, you generally won’t find a better pound-for-pound activity that can provide tangible information, facts, and overall knowledge than reading.

There are so many topics that are of importance to men, and surely this is not a comprehensive list of what you should be reading.  Rather, this is a starting point.  This is a curated list that gets you on the path to the right topics, and even introduces topics you probably haven’t thought about, but you really should be.

I will be posting the list in two parts.  Here is Part One.


Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha

There’s a lot to be said about this book.  First, it is the beginning of a debate that hasn’t ever happened when it concerns human evolution as it pertains to sex.  The authors say that monogamous relationships are against human nature, and then outline thousands of years of human behavior that backs up their theory.

This is a great book to read, but not for the reason the authors present.  For one, their research is starting to be taken to task – which perhaps was what they wanted, to get the conversation started in the scientific community.  It has been documented that there is research that makes salient counterpoints to their work.  This is a great book to read for you, a man, for very specific reasons: there are plenty of people, particularly in western societies, who prove the message of the book completely accurate.  And you as a man, need to acutely aware of that, and glean how to identify behaviors and actions of others that lead to dishonesty that may affect your life.  When it comes to sex and relationships, it’s imperative you get wise, before you run into trouble.


Bachelor Pad Economics: The Financial Advice Bible for Men

by Aaron Clarey

Clarey’s “Bible” on thriving as a male in the feminist imperative world is major notch in providing clarity to a host of issues that men face concerning their second most precious resource: money.  From selecting your academic path, to estate planning, Clarey provides concise advice on it all, setting you up for an information download that will separate you from the pack.  Bonus points if you buy a copy for the high school age boy in life; that’s when we all should have read this gem.


Small Engines and Outdoor Power Equipment: A Care & Repair Guide for Lawn Mowers, Snowblowers, Small-Gas Powered Implements

by Peter Hunn

This may seem like a big change in direction, but answer this question: how many times have you been stuck with a lawn mower, weed eater, or a snowblower that wouldn’t work?  Probably at least once.  And that ruined your plans didn’t it?  Men should know how to work on small engines, as a base skill.  The talk of needing to be “mechanically inclined” is useful when we’re talking about cars, HVAC, elevators, and so on.  But working on tools that work around the house ought to be a minimum skill that you can accomplish.  Hunn’s manual takes you through all the steps to care for, diagnosis, and solve the problems that small engines present.


The Total Fishing Manual: 317 Essential Fishing Skills

by Joe Cermele

Fishing is life.  And that’s coming from someone who hasn’t gone fishing in several years.  Clearly, I need to follow my own advice on this topic.  Cermele, the Fishing Editor at Field & Stream, has put together an excellent guide that teaches skills your dad may not have known about to consistent catch worthwhile fish.  From pond to ocean, this manual, where Cermele brings in dozens of other experts to weigh in, you’re all set to conquer the open water.  And while you may not hunt, you should at a minimum be able to fish.


The Way of Men

by Jack Donovan

Donovan’s exploration into manhood as a study, free of the constructs of politics and religion, and removed from moral dilemma.  In this study, he ultimately reaches Nietzschean conclusion, without committing.  This book is important not because of a philosophical rationale you should follow, rather it points out how much civilized society has gotten wrong about men over the thousands of years, and how those errors have become normalized.  It’s important to understand these glitches in the world, and to pursue manhood in its proper form.  It’s even more important to teach this to the boys you’re raising.


Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence

by Esther Perel

The counselor when it comes to marriage and sex, Perel has developed the answer to how to keep marriage as fresh as when you first get married.  The sad part, more men read this book than women.  Why that’s sad?  Nearly seventy percent of divorce is initiated by women.  Most likely, if women were reading Perel, that number would trend downward.  But, the unfortunate truth to her insight, stemming from years of the practice of counseling married couples, is that feminist imperatives do not agree with Perel’s findings.  Instead, they find her take to be the opposite of empowering.  Which is interesting, seeing as guiding and coaching women to find happiness in all aspects of their marriage would seem to be quite empowering.  In the age of misinformation, the vocal negative takes on something tends to be an indicator about the truth that those things speak.  Mating in Captivity is no exception.


Herschel Walker’s Basic Training

by Herschel Walker

Walker’s book, the pinnacle resource on body weight workout ought to be in every man’s library.  I can admit it’s not in mine just yet, but I’ve been lucky enough to read it several times.

Some of you may not be athletic, and that’s ok.  But here’s what not: not being in shape.  As men, we have one very large advantage that only we possess, and that is the ability to become bigger, stronger, faster, versions of what we would be from birth, if living an average lifespan.  You don’t have to aspire to be in the starting lineup of your high school sports teams, nor college, or wherever else.  What you should be aspired to do is become physically capable to pick up your life, wherever you are settled, and in an instant move elsewhere, in a fury.  You should be able to pick up heavy stuff and put it back down with softness.  You should not be winded after three flights of stairs.  Neither in six flights, for that matter.

You owe it to the genetics within you to maximize your potential and be able to dominate the challenges any day can present.  Walker’s book proved that anyone can do this without a top-tier diet, and without a gym membership, or true workout gear for that matter.  His book is not just a plan for getting to the true you, but it’s also a reflective, inspirational story of someone from meager beginnings, who tapped into their potential to become the dominate force of one of the most demanding professions on the planet.

Editorial Note:  Herschel Walker’s Basic Training has been out of print for some time now, and consequently is considered a rare book.  Expect a copy to run well over $100.00!


The Tactical Guide to Women: How Men Can Manage Risk in Dating and Marriage

by Shawn T. Smith

Another book that is not just for you, but for the boys you are raising.  Give it to them in high school and demand a book report.  It’s too crucial that they get this part of their life right, especially if they are going to pursue relationships.

Smith is a clinical psychologist who has spent years researching, exploring, studying, and answering tough questions for patients, and for readers of his blog.  Smith has spent a great deal of time working on intimate relationships and thus he has a large window into what works and doesn’t work.  The Tactical Guide is based on research, and his own experience in his field, and solves much of the mystery that men encounter when it comes to developing intimate relationships.

Primarily, it gives you nuanced views on exactly what to avoid, and what to accept when it comes to the opposite sex.  Quite honestly, if all men read this in high school, what we are experiencing now in the world would have very little space to succeed.

Do yourself a favor, and get every man you know on board.


The Book of Man

by William J. Bennett

Bennett is well known for his books that encapsulate political history of the US, as well as history that shaped the US, that is little celebrated or known.

In The Book of Man, Bennett puts a philosophical layer to the growing of boys into strong men.  He addresses men squarely, have no doubt, but he positions this title to also cause awareness that as men you have another duty: raising strong men.  Your legacy precedes you in death.


Mental Toughness: Baseball’s Winning Edge

by Karl and John Kuehl

The Kuehl’s have a huge pedigree when it comes to evaluating and preparing talented athletes for professional baseball.  And back in 2006 they unleashed Mental Toughness on the sport, a collection of years of knowledge they have used in scouting and developing players for the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians.

You may not be an athlete, but you have a job that isn’t always great.  You have a family that is challenging at times.  You have goals you’re trying to accomplish while balancing some many other things.  This book is geared towards baseball players but getting mentally tough requires thought and purpose to change the habits occupying your mind.  This book goes over that preparation, and if you read it, finding the ways to apply it to your everyday life, your workout routines, your work day, you name it, will make you that better of a person moving forward.


As a Man Thinketh

by James Allen

Allen’s classic is over a century old now, and in countless reprints, is arguably the best read for men trying to find clarity in their life.  Reprogramming thought and habits are difficult.  This book makes it easy, because it doesn’t focus on the task, rather it provides a challenge to the process you may have already employed.  You’ll likely find that much of your thought process is already sound, with Allen’s writings offering tweaks in places not otherwise on your radar.  These small changes make the difference, making this book a huge investment for a very small price.


Dangerous Personalities: An FBI Profiler Shows You How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People

by Joe Navarro and Toni Sciarra Poynter

Navarro has several books on the market that greatly benefit men in general, without being marketed as such.  This title is where a lot of the conversation around the use of his profiling skills could help not just in professional settings, but personal.  Lots of men clued into the depth of knowledge that Navarro provides, with him being credited on social media with helping men identify toxic people in their circle, and that the removal of them led to better results in their path.

I recommend Navarro’s library in whole, but I say start here and explore at your own pace afterwards.


Principles: Life and Work

by Ray Dalio

The founder of Bridgewater has been a sought-after person in the writing market ever since his first title, and Principles was exactly what readers were after.  Dalio maps out the history of building his firm and hedge fund, pointing out company history, the rifts that formed within leadership, and how early conflict shaped the ultimate direction that his business took, and how he had to fight to ensure success.

It can seem a bit high in the clouds for many readers, but the principles of Principles are universal.  Read deep friends.

Part Two of the reading list will post next week.

See you then!

Short Story: Beauty is a Fading Flower

I’m not sure when it begins.  I am certain I know when it ends.

As young ladies we all think we hold our destiny in our hands and control every aspect of our lives.  We think and believe this because it helps us escape.  The fear, the anxiety, the sadness, and constant waves of all three.

We think we control men because we shout for equality and still expect them to hold doors open for us, to pay for everything, to treat us with patriarchal action, but only expect what we’re willing to give, not what they deserve.

And when we’re young we get attention.  And when the one we pick doesn’t gives as much attention, in the simplest way, in the most meaningless situation, we try to ruin his psyche by moving on to the next man we get attention from.  Because somehow, it’s all his fault that we feel the way we do inside.  It’s not possibly our fault.  It’s not our responsibility to take control of our battle inside, it’s his job to magically cure us of what ails us.  Because his love is supposed to fulfill us like a bespoke suit does them.  Tailored reactions and thoughts are their job, not ours.

As we get older, we still think we’re in control.  If we get too angry one day, we can file for divorce and break them mentally, emotionally, and financially.  We can flaunt other men in their face, while we fight over the house, we can continue to emasculate them like we have always done, to fit our comfort.  Because we can never be comfortable with the confident man that found us staying that way.  We need to defeat him so we can continue to avoid what’s truly ailing us.

We may still hold our beauty on the outside, but what we don’t know is that our beauty is being shredded on the inside, which slowly takes it toll until to exposes itself on the outside.  And yet we continue to tell ourselves we’re in control.  That we’re special, and unique, and that it’s our standards the world must achieve, not what we have to do to temper the flames of the internal conflicts with ourselves that rage like a California wildfire.

We are owed. That is all there is too it, and there is no telling us different.  After all, we are special.  We are unique.  That is what our parents told us our whole lives.  That we were owed.  Men owe us.  Society owes us.  Our employers owe us.

We never need to self-reflect because we are perfect.

But as I get older, I realize how silly all of that is.  Divorce rates has long surpassed marriage rates.  Lawsuits in the workplace continue to grow, with the overwhelming majority being settled without reviewing the facts, because employers don’t have time to fool around, and would rather let insurance companies charge them higher premiums than listen to complaints from anyone, including us.

And in the process of all that we get older.  And the pain and anguish still linger inside.  And it grows.  Into skin conditions, and advanced aging, and diminishing mental acuity, until we appear well aged beyond our years.

And meanwhile all those men who we felt mistreated us, or more accurately made us think about what was wrong on the inside, which we reacted to in anger, because how dare they have so much insight into us when we haven’t even shared that with them.  How dare they try and provide insight into us, like a bespoke suit.

And before we know it, we’ve lived a life unfulfilled.  Not because we didn’t have wonderful children.  Not because we had the dream of so many, yet so few get to have.  Not because we we’re secure, comfortable, and taken care of the whole time.  No, in our final moment of truth we realize just how much we avoided ourselves the whole time.  And all we have left is the memories of torment and abuse we visited upon everyone in our circle all because we couldn’t stand the person in the mirror.

Our children are now adults, removed from our hypocrisy and relentless neuroticism.  The men in our lives have long left, at this point with their own problems and goals, lives that are being productive.  The occasional card on birthdays and Christmas come.  But no anniversary dinners, no vacations, no memories that last beyond fleeting seconds.  Not before the grief, and sorrow, and the feeling of being a victim.  And this victimhood runs deep.  Deeper than any of the times you tried to say in court he was abusive.  Deeper than any of the times you said to mutual friends he cheated, or that he hit, or that he stole, or that he abused family members.  All those ridiculous claims are remembered for what they are, the delusions you told yourself to justify the anger you had inside – the anger towards yourself – that you never dealt with.  It was in you, the whole time.  And you let vanity hide it from you.  But they were all smart enough to know what was wrong.  And you abused them because they did their job as husband.  They tried politely, assertively, and with due care, to tell you something was wrong that you needed to conquer.  But inside of being brave, instead of being smart, instead of being a powerful woman, you chose the anger, the loathing, the sadness, over them, the greatest people that were ever in your life.

It’s infuriating now.  What you let control you, instead of what you allowed yourself to control.  You allowed yourself to be at your worst and allowed people to accept that was all you were capable of.  When you are young, it’s embarrassing to have photos that appear like you have an extra chin.  But at this stage of life it’s more embarrassing to realize how much of a jerk you allowed yourself to be in front of everyone.  Oh, what they must think now.  It’s no wonder the children don’t come around.  It’s no wonder you don’t see the grandchildren, save for the rare invite to a holiday gathering.

So many things I wished I did in my youth, would have been a better investment in my life than all the make up I used in my lifetime.  The emptiness I gave everyone in this world and acted like I was being supportive leaves me twisted like I’ve chugged a gallon of rot-gut whiskey.  And forget mentioning the alcoholism that was on full display in this life.  Yet another thing I could have fixed but didn’t.  Because I had my looks, my appearance, my beauty.  And that meant the world owed me.

It truly is a fading flower.

Short Story: In a Flash

I recently wrote a short story in about 24 hours for a short story contest.  However, the contest organizers told me they gave me the wrong prompt.

Such is the life of a writer.  Like life in general, things are not as they seem.  But my hard work goes to your benefit, as I’m posting all that hard work here, so you have something to digest on Thursday, besides the steady diet of social media and politics that crowds our life.  The prompt I was given was “A Paparazzi’s last day on the job.”  I present, In a Flash:



I can never say I didn’t have an exciting life.  But I also can’t say I’ll be remembered for anything.  Sure, in the moment, what I capture is everything.  But it’s also nothing.

It’s tangible, and it’s still nothing.

“Hey Chuck! Last day?  I bet it’s great to be on chill status.”  Aiden exclaimed.

Oh great, my favorite of the millennials.  And vaping no less.

“Yea Aiden, it’s a wrap from here.  Take a few photographs, get them off to the press, and collect my check.”  I say back, hoping it bores him into silence.

“Retirement sounds great! I hope I can retire in five years, can’t imagine doing this for thirty!” Aiden blurted.

It takes time to be great at anything.  Just because you master it in a short time doesn’t mean you should move on to the next thing at that point.”  I responded, as our cameras swapped flashes along the Benedict Canyon Drive.

Yea, I’m going to turn this gig into a reality TV show.  You know, make some real money!”  Aiden said enthusiastically.

Great, I think painfully.

“Maybe you could come on the show in a support role.  You know, be the old wise man that teaches all us young guns how to problem solve our rigs.”  Aiden suggested.

“Rigs?” I asked, not really wanting an answer.

“Yea, you know, our rigs, our cameras.  I’m inventing all new slang to be part of the show, that way it keeps the audience on their toes.”  Aiden said, on cue it seemed.

“That sounds great, but you know I don’t teach.” I said grinning, recalling Aiden’s first day on the job.

“Yea….that’s true.” Aiden said, like he was reliving the trauma.

“That’s ok Aiden, you just keep pushing.  You’ll do something noteworthy with this job.” I said.

Our subject was gone at this point, so packing the bag and heading out was next.  Like it always was.

“Well Chuck, I just wanted to say it was always great working with you the past few years.  I really did learn a lot from you.  Here’s a gift, don’t open it until the end of your day.  It’s worth it.” Aiden said as he handed me a wrapped item the size of several stacked credit cards.

I looked at it in bewilderment, looked up at Aiden and put it in my jacket pocket.

“Thanks Aiden, that’s really nice.  I’ll follow your guidance.” I said politely.

Developing my own photos has come a long way.  I used to have to turn in film to whomever I thought was going to pay top price.  Now I represent myself fully, and send photos to every buyer, electronically.

Of course, the tradeoff is that I must do “little” things like color correction, gray scale, and pixel doctoring to the photos before I send them out, because these bloated celeb mags won’t waste the time of their editing staff on such tasks.

The real reason is that because photography has been democratized, they can’t handle the amount of work that comes into their email system.  There are tens of thousands of us, some are career-driven, some are weekend warriors, and some try to make a living, but only hit pay dirt once a year.  So much competition, and so few buyers with any real money.

It’s a good time to get out.  Celebrity photos are over-saturated, the industry is a joke.  They pay us under the table to take “juicy” gossip shots of them, just as much as we catch them doing something out of bounds.  And here I am, correcting the colors of the moment.

It was great work when readers had a sense of moral superiority, and celebrities were under so much stress that they couldn’t fight their primal instincts.  But all that has changed.  In the age of “Brand,” celebs are considered wrong until they have some political opinion that is as minor as slightly different from the mainstream.  Until then, everything they do is something to inspire to.  Cheat on the only good person that came into your life?  Let’s do that!  Do copious amounts of drugs, crash a car equivalent to a reader’s home value, and then use your status to avoid jail? Me too! Claim everyone is out to get you, and pay a stalker to solidify it? Totally my next move!

It’s tragic.  The depravity which this industry has witnessed and captured through ways only vicarious virtue can.  Instead of celebrities making their own decisions, they have handlers doing it for them, who are trying to put on their own plays, filled with theatrics, and drama, with a third of the voting population watching……and then influencing that aspect of our lives.  Yea, great!

You wonder if it can get any worse.  I am certain it can.

My first vision of that is one I’ll never forget.  The day I faced felony harassment charges.

I worked for an agency in those days, I was eight years into the life.  Seasoned, professional, I knew my way around.  This was the first time I was approached about a staged job.  The chauffeur of an actress sought me out when I was up to my elbows in carnitas, after a very long day of shooting.  He told me that night that she was willing to pay me $55,000 for a two-man job capturing her and a married actor in the throes of intimacy at a residence he owned.  The trick was that she must have all photos and negatives turned over to her.

Blackmail, how quaint.  In those days, for-hire jobs came around, so that wasn’t unusual.  Celebrities see that you’re good at framing a shot, and they want your work more than they want the work of some studio villain.

Like I said, I wasn’t new to the life, so I sought out my manager and a photographer that I trusted.  We all sat down and mapped out the plan.

On the day of execution, our manager made me the lead guy.  Both of us sat in tree stands and waited for the “couple” to come into frame.  Just as I shifted my weight in the stand. I fell to the ground hard.  My camera was busted, and I came into full view of the two, which frightened them, and they ran away from the window, and presumably called the police.  My manager was gone, so was the other guy, and there I was having to explain why I was on private property.  Of course, the actress denied knowing about my actions, and stated that she had a recent problem with me invading her personal space while trying to photograph her.  My manager and the other photographer wouldn’t corroborate my story, so I was trapped in jail with a high bond amount, because Beverly Hills judges rub elbows with these people every day.  They do what they must do to stay invited to the exclusive clubs.

I had to hire an attorney by deeding my house to him, and then started by showing financial transactions, that were cash, and were well above anything I received normally, but then had to find ways to prove who gave me the money……..good thing I record audio on the public street.  I learned that my first-year working, watching a two-year photographer get accused of assault.  They had audio recording that proved that not so much as loud voices prevailed.  They didn’t stay doing the work.  But I learned.

Once we proved the money came from the chauffeur, and the recordings implicated her, the cat was out of the bag.  It took six months, two of which I was stuck in LA County Jail.  But then the actresses “cooperated” with the Prosecutor’s Office, to avoid jail, and implicated my manager as having full knowledge, and engineering the whole thing, all in an attempt sue my agency into bankruptcy.  It all stemmed from the manager being passed up for a promotion, and the actress allegedly losing a role because of a photo that was published of her appearing to snort lines at the end of a bar in a speak easy.  Nice, right?

I think my old boss is selling insurance now, and the actresses’ career never amounted to anything.  The photographer was the one that setup my tree stand to fail.  I guess he did that out of spite, just to get ahead as they say.

The agency cut me loose at the end of it, and my attorney loved that because he got to rep me on a wrongful termination suit. That netted me a lot of money.  And then I went into business for myself.  Hence why I love cropping photos… middleman, more money for me, and the whole incident made me a sort of legend in the industry where companies don’t even bother trying to shortchange me.  Some of them pay me my fees in full before the work is done, just so they avoid any problems.  Funny how it all works out.

Most agencies gave up photographers as employees because of that.  They didn’t want the liability that comes with the work we do.  You can wind up in jail for no reason other than the vindictive nature of a narcissist.

Ah, photos complete, now to email them.  My method is the shotgun method, because I don’t like wasting time.  I create an email to myself, and then blind carbon copy everyone whose buying.  I usually get a few responses, but after about an hour I transfer the deposits to my main account.  And now this business is done.  Finally.

Heading to my appointment with my financial advisor is the most fantastic feeling I’ve had in thirty years.  I don’t even remember the Uber ride over.  That’ll be nice, not having to take Ubers everywhere in retirement.  I’m heading for better air than this nightmare of a city.

“Mr. Franklin, Peter will be with you in a moment, there’s been a lot of delays this afternoon.  Can I offer you a beverage?”  The receptionist said.

“No, I’m ok.”  I said.  They always look for an excuse to crack open beers in the afternoon.

I wait patiently, looking at my watch, and start checking my investment accounts online.  Something is wrong.

“Chuck, come on in buddy.” Peter says.

“I just looked and…” I said.

“Yea, it’s bad news.  We were hacked.  I’ve been on the phone all day trying to gauge the issue.  This involved a ton of investment firms in Los Angeles, so the FBI is involved.

“What does that mean?”  I said bluntly.

“Chuck, don’t worry, we have insurance on most of your assets…”  Peter said as I interrupted.

“Most?”  I asked sarcastically and offended.

“Chuck, not everything was set in bonds, there’s unfortunately a loss, but it gets minimized because we have insurance that kicks in these situations.”  Peter hurriedly said.

“What’s the damage Pete?”  I said bluntly.

“Without going over every fund, 1.5.”  Peter said, like a dopamine injection took hold.

“Just 1.5, gee Pete, that sounds like OVER HALF!”  I said, now in a fiery rage.

“Chuck, this is worst case.  The insurance will…”  Pete said as I cut him off.

“OH, THE INSURANCE NONSENSE!  THEY’RE GOING TO SETTLE AT 25 PERCENT, AND I’M OUT A MILLION BECAUSE OF WHAT, YOUR SYSTEM WAS HACKED?!”  I exclaimed loud enough to vibrate his 42nd story office windows.

“Chuck, I’m not going to let that happen, and we have a good chance to recover the loss, even if we recover 80 percent, the insurance company will treat it as a full loss.” He pleaded in his response.

“Bullshit.  I worked this long for this nonsense, to get ROOOBBED, at my investment firm?  Ridiculous Pete!”  I said, trying to breathe normal.

“Chuck, I know how you feel.”  Pete patronized.


Pete was quiet, looking down at the floor.

“Wait Pete, did YOU lose any money today?”  I asked, my eyes searing his.

Pete glanced at me and looked at the ground.

“I can’t belie…”  Pete cut me off.

“My investments were sitting in bonds today, I had made some trades and defaulted them to bonds hone..” I cut him off in turn.

“I can’t believe this shit!  Fuck you Pete!” I said as I stormed out.

And just like that, I’m broke.  Well, close to broke.  That’s the thing about this town, it will take and take and take.  And just when you get used to the rhythm, and you etch out your win, it finds a new way to take that away.  Only misery and broken dreams get produced in LA, that’s no lie.

(Phone rings)

“Hello.” I say flatly.

“Dude, you sound as wrinkled as you are pops.  What are you doing?”  Aiden said smugly.

“Don’t call me pops Aiden.  What do you want?”  I said, equally smug.

“Have you opened the gift yet?”  He said enthusiastically.

“Isn’t it a curse to ask someone that?”  I said, trying to end the call.

“I really think you should open the gift Chuck.”  Aiden suspiciously urged.

“And why’s that?”  I asked.

“Because you could use a pick me up.”  He said, returning to his millennial smugness.

“You have GOT to be kidding me!”  I said, knowing who was behind the robbery.

“Look Chuck, you’ll thank me if you’ll just open the gift.”  He said assuredly.

I pulled the gift out and opened it.  It was a stack of gift cards, but in the middle was a lottery scratch off and Power Ball ticket.

“Are you looking at the tickets?”  Aiden asked.

“Yes.”  I stood in bewilderment.

“So, I have a guy who knows how to find the real winners.  And he had a debt and solved all his issues with me.  I needed cash, not something involving a tax attorney.  And I figured your investment account was good enough.  Don’t worry, the FBI is never going to track it back to me, they’ll be following the tracks through the mountains of Pakistan for years before they find a trace that gets them back to this hemisphere.  But as you can see, the scratch off landed you half a million.  The Powerball is the big winner everyone wanted, $640 million.  The way I figured it, that’s like a 2,340 percent ROI for you on your investment.  Try seeing if Pete can land you that return.”  Aiden dictated.

“Why?”  I gasped.

“I already told you, I needed money now, and that’s way too much.  THAT would draw attention to me that I don’t need.  My name’s not even Aiden dude!”  He exclaimed.

“But why me?”  I asked, confused.

“You weren’t a dick to me like everyone else.  You didn’t make things easy, but you let me learn, rather than hand me things.  I was grateful.  Now I have my thing going, and I can breeze out of this weirdo world with hyped up reality TV show that will bank me out, and you can give the State of California half of that whale, and I can stay out of it.  And don’t worry, Pete’s insurance company still must settle with you, but that scratch off will fund the attorney’s you’ll need to reduce your taxes, while also making them give you more than lame ass 25 percent.  Seriously, I laughed so hard when I heard him say that to you.”  Aiden said laughing.

“Ok, so how do I do this?”  I asked.

“Chuck, you go down to the lottery office and show them the tickets.  Don’t worry, they’re legit.  The scratch off came from a store, they don’t care who bought it, they care who turns it in.  The Power Ball came from a different store.  Sure, you’ll be in the newspaper and it’s weird, but I did the math, this abnormality is possible right now.  Oh yea, I probably didn’t tell you before, I’m a genius at math.”  Aiden said, with an ego as big as it sounds.

“Ok, well I’ll just do that.”  I said.

“Yea, so look, I checked out attorneys for your situation, you need to hire Englund & Harris.  Tell them you have two winning lottery tickets, the amounts, and that you need an attorney to meet you at the LA office.  They’ll be there.  They’ll minimize the story so you can get on with retirement dude!”  Aiden said excitedly.

He hung up.  As neat as this all this, I really hope I never hear from that guy again.  But here I am, standing at the corner of 6th and Flower, with far more trouble than anyone person would ever want.  I guess Aiden knew I was retiring to the Caymans and was not going to be on an itinerary after Belize.  No secret is safe in LA.

And everything changes, in a flash.