I take a lot of photos. There’s very rarely a day that goes by a dozen or so shots aren’t taken. Sometimes, there’s many more than that. Why I do this is to better understand the tool with which I work. I learn from shooting, and I try to apply what I have learned to better use the cell phone’s camera.

I do get “lucky” shots, where moments are caught in time, rare photos of nature or the sky, where something unusual happens.

No one, anywhere, at any time in human history, was ever good at anything worth doing because they were lucky, or they had the right equipment.

They’re good because they spend a lot of time doing it and they work at it.

Sometimes, you can spend a lot of time doing something, and work at it, and still not be that good. But if you like what you do it is still worth it.

It’s still not luck.

            When the shelling started every man ran for his life, ran for his foxhole, ran for a bunker if he could make it. Some were caught in the open, torn apart, vaporized if one of the eighteen inch guns hit them, merely shredded if a smaller caliber shell landed close. Some lost legs, arms, and screamed as they lay waiting for the next barrage to finish them. Sometimes help would arrive, a buddy would rush out from safety, and sometimes he was killed, too. But the wounded might get dragged into a hole and bleed out.

            Our ships arrived. The battle raged from noon until past dark, when the flashes of light from the guns, and the orange colored comets passing in the sky passed back and forth, the shells either landing in water, never to be seen, or hitting their target in an awful sound, and fire. More ships joined in, and then suddenly it seemed the burning vessels, flashes of light, the sound of thunder from the guns, was all there was, or would be. Exhaustion took me, after being awake for three days straight, I slept.

            The next morning brought a gray sky, overcast, and dark. Bodies lay where they landed, pieces of men were scattered kindling for the next battle, hatred gripped us all, and the constant fear. The sea spat out survivors in rafts, ours, theirs, burned men who only spoke the language of agony waved blackened limbs at us, and begged for death. Bodies floated in masses, platoons of dead, face down, or staring eyeless at the heavens. Dozens, in pairs, one at a time, but the tide brought them in, and I wondered how many more had gone down inside burning ships, or drifted out into the endless sea.

            The radios were silent. Not our signals, not theirs, not a sound except the sea, and the wounded. We ran out of morphine quickly, and then, there was nothing but pain, and screaming. No planes flew overhead, no silhouettes of fear or hope on the horizon. Nothing but the heat and the gray skies, and the sounds of the men whose bodies demanded some relief.

            We buried men in the sand with the bulldozer until the fuel ran out, and then we buried men with shovels until we were too tired. Then we burned bodies until the smell was too much. Finally, exhausted and hungry, we sat and waited. For what, and how long, we did not know. Nothing was left to do, no one left to kill, and waiting to die seemed to be better than anything else possible.

            We sighted ships a week later. Our ships? Their ships? We could not tell and could not care. As they drew near the earth itself rolled, pitched, and heaved as if trying to vomit the dead from their graves. Bunkers collapsed, trees, what few were left, toppled, and we lay in the sand as if it were a solid sea of waves.

            As the ships drew closer and closer, we saw something else, too. A white line on the horizon behind them, at first small, then larger and larger. The ships turned, tried to outrun the wave, but they saw it too late. One by one we watched them flipped, overturned, or plain submerged outright as the water grew higher and higher and higher. Men ran, screamed, prayed, cried, but I sat on the beach and watched. The water retreated, was sucked away from the island for half a mile. Our antiship defenses lay open to the gray sky, the last time they would be.

            The wave came rushing, one hundred feet high, and I sat, waited, and made no sound.


The Whore and the Snakes

            The last few nights I’ve had dreams populated by people who do not exist in real life, and dreamscapes which are a hybrid of the dreamworld and reality. The setting for one was Quitman, Georgia, the downtown area, but where there is a convenience store, in the dream  was a wooden building, old and sturdily built, which housed a hardware store.

            I didn’t go inside, but outside, a window that had been boarded up, and bars installed, had a live snake visible and its pattern changed so it was either a rat snake or a water snake. A young man was standing there talking to me, and I knew he worked for the store. A woman appeared, she was thirty something and scantily dressed, but neither she nor the boy were afraid of the snake. Suddenly, the window was full of snakes, rat snakes now, and the boy picked one up and offered to sell it to me. The woman also began to pitch her wares, and it took me a minute to realize what she was trying to do.

            The boy began talking to a woman who was slightly afraid of snakes, and the scantily clad woman leaned over with a leer and whispered, “What makes you think I’m not a whore?”

I woke up.

Vernon, Texas

Today is the birthday of Roy Orbison born in Vernon, Texas, back in 1936. Vernon Texas is close to the Oklahoma state line, and in the late 1970’s, one of the electrical companies in Texas executed “The Midnight Connection”. Federal law states if an electrical company has connections from one state to another, the entire state then falls under the federal regulations. Texas electric companies didn’t want this to happen to they all made a deal not to connect to other states.

            All of this was fine until one Texas company who had holdings in Oklahoma and Louisiana decided they would sneak a connection over and bring the state under Federal oversight.

            The rest of Texas was displeased. After many legal battles, Texas courts decided to keep Texas electrical systems isolated from the rest of the country.

            I heard about this yesterday on NPR, and then today is Roy Orbison’s birthday, the only two events where anyone was likely to hear about Vernon, Texas.

Though older, and sometimes clunky, my body still functions the way I want it to, mostly. The stump in the ground is coming out slowly, like a tooth being pulled, yet the main roots have been cut, and now, excavation begins. This is a siege, not a rapid assault, and days will pass, perhaps many of them, before the stump is headed to the compost pile. Then there are three more.

            Heat is settling in, like a watchful demon, whose breath is humidity, and whose purpose is spite. Sweat pours out of a body like blood from an open wound, and the mosquitoes, the imps of the Demon Heat, come to accept unwilling donations.

            Yet I have no intention of using brute force, for levers and strategic pries of wedges will do more good than trying to butt heads with the stump. This is a process, as most things that involve humans will be.

            The sun comes rushing around again, another week is born from the ashes of a weekend, and the stump awaits. What will I learn from it, today, I wonder?

            Good Morning. Let’s go.

The dream began in a forest, tall evergreens, the wind in their crowns sounding like a waterfall, white clouds racing overhead, the blue sky visible in patches not covered by dark green or vivid white. The trees parted to a meadow, with the wind rushing over the ground now, pushing the heather to and fro, forcing bees and butterflies away from their tasks.

            A large gap in the meadow appeared, it hadn’t been there a second ago, like a dry lake. The bottom was white sand, fallen logs rested here and there, and I wondered what this was, and how it came to be. I stepped into the depression and felt an odd sensation and realized the lake was filled, but the water was invisible. Not clear, or pristine looking, no, it was there but not. The sensation of wetness was not cool, or warm, but simply wet, like light sweat unnoticed on your skin. I stepped forward, not feeling anything, yet with a vague feeling of pressure. I cupped my hand, dipped it into where I thought the surface might be, and felt something, a sensation of nothingness, as if I could feel the air in my hand. There was no taste as I put my lips to the liquid, and in my mouth, it felt as if something was there, like the tiniest weight. I swallowed and felt less than nothing.

            I stepped forward, and fell.

            The liquid was thinner than water, lighter than air, so I didn’t float. Nothing filled my lungs. It wasn’t like drowning but more like trying to breathe thin air, yet the sensation was of liquid, too. I flailed, didn’t swim, then turned and walked out of the deep nothingness.

            I could breathe. Air filled my lungs again, and when I coughed hard, something but nothing came out. The sky was still perfectly blue, the clouds were brilliant white, and the wind felt cool against my skin. I felt the liquid leave the surface of my skin as if it were all a connected, single organism returning to its home.

The dream was one of fear and anxiety. I know the road we were using as an escape route but can’t place it yet. Behind us, things. Monsters? Madmen? Zombies? No, not zombies, but something pursues us.

Go into the woods, some in our small party suggested.

No, distance is the key, move fast and far. Perhaps find help. If we hide they can surround is, cut off escape.

You’re not in charge.

Do what you want.

The party gets smaller as a half dozen or so people flee into the woods.

We push hard, walking fast, the road open and clear, straight as a drawn line in front of us. Behind us nothing, nothing to be seen. But I want a curve to hide us. One of the party is man who starts limping. He’s young, strong, but stepped between two rocks and broke his ankle a month ago. Panting, he looks behind us. Nothing. Ahead of us, nothing. He decides to hit the woods. We lose another.

At a bridge a dying stream staggers though weeds and broken concrete under the bridge, and disappears into the trees. We rest, eat snacks, drink bottled water, and take stock. We have little. By the time the sun disappears and darkness hunts us, we will have nothing.

We hear a scream.  We all bolt as one now, people tossing away what little they were carrying. The slowest runner has been given a death sentence, cries for help, but no one stops. I look back. The bridge seems impossibly close for us to have run so fast. The woman who gave out first is looking back, too. She turns and looks at me.

Thanks for coming back, she says, and she crying. We’re dead. Be both know it.

We’ll go into the woods, follow the creek, and hope they go after the group.


The bramble slows us too much. It’s too thick. The woman is exhausted.

“Leave me, I can’t keep up.”

“It’s too late.”

We can see the road, see things passing quickly. None of them stop to look for us.

We hear screams. Then nothing. We sit in terror, neither of us speaking. The woman cries softly.

Darkness comes, and it is complete. Sounds of something crashing through the woods. The woman bolts, screams.

I wake up.

Right now, as I write, I miss her, and I hope she made it.

Gee, Mike, write this out, and save her!

It doesn’t work like that. I write what is, not what I want to be.

That doesn’t make sense, Mike.

Try from inside here.

A while back I had a dream of being an aquatic creature, or at least semiaquatic. The world was one of low light, overcast skies of gray and the liquid of the world was black, but translucent. The beings of the world would swim out to pay homage to a creature who simply floated in the water, and whose very presence radiated malice and harm.

I tried to swim under this creature, and my thought was if I started out long before I got close, it would not notice me. However, as I drew near, it pushed me deeper into the water with some force that was as irresistible as it was slow.

My species could not breathe underwater, yet we had a great capacity, so drowning wasn’t going to be what killed me. As the depth increased so did the pressure. I felt my brain being compressed, my skull being slowly squeezed to the point of structural failure, and dying this way would be infinitely worse. I surrendered completely, stopped fighting, and began to experience the end of my existence.

The thing released me. I drifted up slow, feeling my body from within, trying to access any damage, trying to tamp down the fear it might toy with me, pushing me down, allowing my rise, tormenting me, as it was wont to do.

I rose to the surface, near where I had began.

Since that dream, even when full awake, even at this very moment, like a scar only I know is there, the sensation of pressure on my skull, and brain, is something I can still feel.