This story is begging for a screenplay writer
He’s not part of the herd. That model was never on a collectors list. Never will be. But to him, it was the one that got away- a car that he owned once and sold and had regretted it ever since. Until now.
Why now? Because it took 47 years of fighting, losing, winning, loving, burning bridges and rebuilding them to get to this day in his life when, finally, he found the car online and had the $7,000 cash to pay for it.
Everybody sees the car, but one in a thousand could tell you make, model and year. He likes it that way. The car is an expression of himself- everyone has always looked at him the same way they look at the car, with an expression that says,
“I like it…but it’s unusual. Looks like it’s built for quiet power…not like the others.”
What does it say about a man who has a car like this? He’s a guy you want to get to know. Where does he work? What does he do in his free time? What does he read? What kind of men does he call friends?
What does it say about the guy next to him in the Taurus? Nothing. Nothing at all.
An Excerpt From My Novel, TACONITE
His father had left him a deed to the the homestead and the surrounding 5,000 acres of wooded land in Minnesota which would be leased and the proceeds held at a bank in Duluth, the estate in New Orleans and a substantial amount of gold coins, which along with silver were the most common currency of the time. He packed the hefty sack of gold and other odds and ends into a travel pack, and rode two days to St. Cloud where he deposited the majority of his inheritance and caught a boat to St.louis, the Gateway to the West.
It was an era that required boys to be men, and Lucient was man-strong from years of cutting wood and trapping and hunting along side his father. He was a crack shot with a rifle or bow, and well educated in history, literature, and mathematics by his mother, who was from aristocratic stock back in Scotland before coming to America.
In the years that followed, he punched cows in the Wyoming territory, mined silver in Colorado, hauled freight along the Overland Trail, and rode shotgun on Wells Fargo stages until he landed in New Orleans working as a longshoreman on the Toulouse St. wharf. It was there that he learned to fight with skill. He’d been in more than a few scraps in the rough and tumble saloons of the west, but it was while working on the Mississippi that he befriended a sailor – Antoine Gasparilla from the Barbary Coast, who took a liking to him and trained him to fight with techniques from Ireland, Africa and the Far East. He also learned how to handle knives and could pin a Monarch butterfly to a tree at 20 yards. When it was time for Gasparilla to ship out, he told Lucient, “Never trust anyone, Robinuex. You never know who your enemies may be. Why, there might even come a day when you and I will have to face off!”
–from my memoir Faces, Places and Pain
The Carny life had always been there for me when I needed it and I was counting on it when I walked onto the midway at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, lookin’ for a hole. I had combed my hair for the occasion after I blew in from hitchhiking down the interstate. I was sunburned, dehydrated, moving slow and carrying my life in a Korean War rucksack on my back. I was broke, and smoking a roll-yer-own, and the old school carnie’s that were working the joints, (the Marks called them games) sensed that I was one of them, that I was “with it, and didn’t even try to call me in.
The town help that the joint owners had put in the kiddie games like the Duck Pond and Ring a Bottle tried to call me in, but I wouldn’t give them my eyes. Some veterans would just catch me out of their peripheral vision and call me in out of habit and I would just say, “I’m with it.” and they would nod and call the next one in.
I was looking for any joint that I had worked in before. There were a half-dozen that I knew well and I looked until I spotted one; the Stop Sign Game – bounce a whiffle ball off a slanted stop sign into a basket below.
It was a center joint, (in the middle of the midway), and had two stations on each side. One of the holes was empty. I asked the guy at the other sign if that was an empty hole or was the person working it just on a break. He said it was open and told me where to find his boss.
I found Ray, the joint owner, under the office tent with a couple of other owners and the owner of the show. Ray was a big man, about 400 pounds, and when he spoke it came out like a wheeze.
“What do you feature?”
“I’m no high-powered agent. I do the Milk Cans, Bottle Up, Tubs, but I noticed you had a hole at the Stop Signs. I can fill that for you.”
“I’ll give you 15 points.” (15% of the daily gross in my apron). He grinned almost imperceptibly.
“25?! Fuck off. I don’t know you.”
“Yeah, how good? Who have you travelled with?”
The other guys at the table watched the verbal piing pong match with amusement. They’d seen it before. It never got old.
I named off six concessioners from Florida to Minnesota.
“Gary Thacker, huh. You were one of ‘Thacker’s Wackers’?”
“Yep. Worked his signs for a season. Strictly hanky pank build-up, a few strong moves but mostly finesse. I made 50 G’s that year at 25 points, so he made 150 large just from my apron alone.”
All of the other men’s eyebrows went up at that, but they held their tongue. This was Ray’s game to win or lose.
“Go jump in that hole. I’ll give you 20 points today. Show me something by the end of the night and tomorrow I’ll bump you up to 25…if you’re travelling with us after this spot.”
“I’ll travel. Got nowhere else to go.”
I walked back to the joint and told the ‘Head of the Store’, who was sitting on a gulf cart next to the canvas wall, what Ray and I discussed. The Store Head looked down the midway at Ray and waited for the big man’s nod. He got it.
He handed me an apron and I stepped over the shin rail, stowed my gear behind a bag of Harley Dogs, and tied my apron on. I bummed a store-bought cigarette from the kid working the hole next to me, lit it, turned around and started calling them in.
“One in wins!”
I was home.
By E.A. Cook
Those who understand and appreciate him are as diverse as the population. Penn Jillette, Rabbi Levin, Mike Rowe, John Haggee and Vince Vaughn are among those who are part of the mutual admiration club. Not one of them agrees with everything he says, nor should they. But they respect him as a reasoned man who genuinely cares about our society and the future of our children and our country.
Employees of his company are gay, straight, black, brown, Asian, Jewish, Christian and atheist. He abhors the weasels on both sides of the aisle and is not nor has he ever been a Republican. He is a recovering alcoholic, divorced and remarried, father of a special needs child and sweats compassion for those who are struggling.
Some liberal progressives and most Republicans froth and spit at the very mention of the name Glenn Beck. His detractors in the mainstream public are largely those who have never listened to him for 30 minutes but rather choose to watch craftily edited YouTube clips and run with blurbs from John Stewart. He thinks differently than they do and, after all, all-inclusive tolerance for other’s views only applies to such people as long as the holder of said beliefs believes the way they do ideologically.
His stated view of gay civil unions is,”I don’t care who you sleep with or who you want to spend your life with. If how you live doesn’t break my arm or pick my pocket, then carry-on.” However, from his mostly Libertarian point of view, the government has no business legalizing or being involved in marriage, gay or otherwise. The institution of marriage has always and should always be the purview of the individual’s church, synagogue or mosque.
He is a student of, and has a great appreciation for, the history of the country. Admitting that he is fully aware of the nations sins, he also openly yearns for and believes that if we come together as a nation that an It’s a Wonderfull Life/Norman Rockwell existence is attainable.
An abortion of a fetus, accepting the truth of the fact that said fetus is not a Lego, VW hood ornament nor a Dust Buster but is in fact a human fetus, is, in his opinion, murder. He does hold to the exception of Rape as a valid reason. I did mention that he sweats compassion?
But none of these things explain the brilliance that I refer to in the title of this piece. The brilliance of the man is that he is us. 7 million of us. Black, white, gay straight Independents, Republicans, Libertarians and even a few closet Democrats. He’s an ‘every man’; the son of a baker, a high school dropout, a Top 40’s DJ, former user of recreational drugs and an alcoholic. He’s not pretty, is not a psuedo-intellectual, knows nothing about sports and even less about cars. He believes every word that comes out of his mouth, and the few times in his career when he’s changed his mind about an issue, he has admitted it and moved on. His passion, sincerity, and search for the truth endeared him to people when he was still broke and struggling. That’s his brilliance, and it has brought him wealth and influence that only 13 years ago were not even on his radar. He is exactly who he claims to be.
Troy didn’t like to be rushed. Didn’t like that the paparazzi was all over the place on this one. But he was a free-lancer, so it came with the territory. He prefered close-up work, but his employer wanted a distance shot at a celebrity wedding. So he waited from his balcony.
He’d been enjoying the purrs and moans of a raven-haired, well endowed beauty when the call came in to his Manhattan apartment. They needed the shoot done today. In Malibu. He had three hours to catch a flight, the ticket would be waiting for him. Everything he needed would be waiting for him at the Hilton, across the street from the church where the wedding was taking place.
When he arrived and checked-in, the hotel manager welcomed him to California, and handed him the promised equipment bag. When Troy got to his room, jet lagged and grumpy, he checked to make sure the bag contained the right lens for the job, and took everything to the balcony, found a cushioned wicker chair, and started assembling the tripod. Nothing to do but wait now, and watch below as hundreds of guests crowded around the church, cameras flashing all around them. It was two in the afternoon and Troy coudn’t help but wonder why people were using flashes at all. Amatures.
Looking through his lense, setting the focus on the doors of the chapel, he grumbled inwardly again at the distance.
The groom was the celebrity, the bride was a studio executive who had finally netted her meal ticket. Troy had a chance to catch up on the event from a blurb in a newspaper on the flight over. He didn’t watch T.V., and had never heard of the actor getting married. He was thinking that the bride’s name rang a bell, something from his past, when the doors of the church opened.
It was Mandy on the groom’s arm. Troy had heard she’d been married, and had taken a new last name years ago after she had left him. Mandy was his Red Cross nurse in Kosovo when he’d been shot in the leg doing merc work. They had a two week affair, but in the end she left him saying they had no future because of the way he lived. Troy had never heard from her again.
Setting his cross-hairs on the grooms head, he squeezed off the shot. Blood and gore covered Mandy’s beautifull white dress as she screamed and collapsed unconscious on the church steps.
Packing his equipment, Troy wondered why she was wearing white. Wasn’t there some rule about wearing white if you had been married before?
I was raised in northern Minnesota. Until I was six I was an only child. My mom married a man with four children, and suddenly I was the youngest of five.
They were already a unit. I was an add-on.
I didn’t know much about my father, except that he had abandon us when I was eleven months old, and that he was never heard from again. As I was growing up I wondered from time to time why he left, and what he was like. I got a hint once when I did something wrong and my mother said, ” You’re going to be just like your father.” As I spiraled downward though my teens and twenties my need to know just what stock I came from became more and more urgent.
I married when I was twenty-one. When I was twenty-six we had a son in the midst…
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