The Place Holder

Saturday Stories #5

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The custodian pulled out his keys with a jangle, fiddled for the one, and opened the door.

A man was sitting on the battered leather couch, staring into a smartphone screen.

“Who are you, then?” the custodian said. “You’re not Mr. Comfort.”

“No, no, I’m not,” the man on the couch said. The custodian looked toward the other door. “She’s not here, either.”

“Well, what’s all this, then? And what are you doing in this office?” Continue reading →


Road to dictatorship

I found the book The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant on a list of “7 Books Everyone Should Read” by Jim Rohn, whose insights I have always admired (or at least ever since I first heard of Jim Rohn). Since Will Durant was the only author with more than one book on the list (The other is The Story of Philosophy), I checked him out first.

It’s indeed a book that everyone should read. Written in 1968 and necessarily framed against the backdrop of that tumultuous era, it’s packed full of insights and revelations about the nature of humanity as reflected in the arcs of history.

I listened to the audiobook but have resolved to find me a more permanent copy – and the close of Chapter 10 struck me as so eerily prophetic that I went back and transcribed what I heard: Continue reading →

Almost won’t do

almost won't do

Resolved and resolute, she stood at the dawn of the new day, but felt herself begin to hesitate.

“No,” she insisted. “This day is going to be different. This day I’ll do what I said. I’ll do what I planned. I’ll do everything I can to make life better for everyone I meet.”

And she strode forward.

By day’s end, she had done almost everything she said. She had done almost everything she planned. She had done almost everything she could to make this life better for everyone she met.

But it didn’t feel like enough. Because, well, it wasn’t.

There was that one thing left unsaid. There were those two things left undone. There were those three people for whom she didn’t do quite everything she could to make this life better. All things she could have done but didn’t.

As the sun set, she felt disappointed in herself, even though on balance she had do a great deal for so many people that day – but not for those others.

The unsaid, the undone, and the unserved don’t know that much other stuff that was accomplished; they only know that they were not.

This is not to overburden the reader; it is to burden him or her only enough.

No, you can’t do everything – but you should do everything you can.

Smile more

When The Doctor met Bill and invited her along for the ride:

Bill: Why me?

Doctor: I noticed you.

Bill: Yeah, but why?

Doctor: Well, most people, when they don’t understand something, they frown. You – smile.

The Old Man and the Press

Saturday Stories #4

sunset electronica

The devices had been useless for so long with only error messages to greet every effort to connect, so many days and week and months – was it years already? – that everyone had finally come to the realization that the web wasn’t coming back to life.

Some said it was a conspiracy, that evil men and women had fed our dependency and then cruelly took it away to make us despair. Others said we just ran out of fossil fuel to feed the power plants and we owed it to the Earth to silence the things that drained the power. Others said we didn’t pass on the knowledge of how to fix the machines and thus we lost the ability to make repairs. Continue reading →

2 reflections near water

o-falls west side beach

Home. Around dawn.

The sound of traffic mingled with bird song is familiar and therefore comforting in the morning reverie. It’s fascinating how even the sound of machines rushing along at 70 mph can create a soothing rhythm — a white noise for contemplation.

A wooded bluff overlooks the highway overlooks our home overlooks a woods by the bay — it all comes together to make a place.

A park by the river. Later in the day.

The girls’ screams didn’t even register in my consciousness until the boat roared by, trailing an inner tube on a long rope. Here, farther from the highway, the wind and the birds can rustle and sing with only the occasional boat motor to interrupt. A conversation in shouts continues over the rumble of a passing JetSk — err, that is to say, a passing personal watercraft.

The beach is empty today. There’s just some other guy who also brought his lunch here, somewhere behind me.

I never made it up on water skis, the one time I tried, years ago. Maybe if I’d made more than a half-dozen attempts — but as I recall that day, others were waiting in line. Maybe water skiing is hard on the legs (mine were awfully spindly then), and maybe that’s why the girls chose to ride an inner tube this afternoon. The feeling of bouncing over the waves while sailing on your belly faster than anyone can swim must be fun if not exhilarating.