Arrival for Duty

AirForceOne_Trump

The wheels of Air Force One bounced and screeched on the runway awaking the President. He slid up the visor of the window and watched as the plane ran down the runway. He could see the jungle running along the perimeter of the airport. He was landing in a country he never thought he would have to visit, Vietnam. His was the generation that was called to fight that war, but when it came close for him to serve, his father paid a doctor for a medical note saying he couldn’t serve. Serving was for suckers, the stupid, and the poor. None of which he was. America had a long history of the rich paying the poor to serve in their place. Now he was in Vietnam but on much different terms, his terms. He would be feted, shake hands with dignitaries, catered to, visit a few sites of historic importance and act impressed. It didn’t matter, he didn’t have any ghosts here.

The door to the plane opened and he felt the humid air flood into the plane, he put on his suit jacket as he walked toward the open hatch of the plane. He would be hot in a dark suit and tie like he always wore, but appearances are what mattered. If you appear successful, you are. His imported model wife met him at the door. He was rich before he became President, everything was imported. He hadn’t wasted his life as a community organizer, or even strategically position himself as his predecessors had, he’d imposed himself into the process, every process. It was a classic submission technique, punch someone in the nose and most people will reflexively cry. In his case, if they cry you can use them if they don’t cry enlist them if they refuse punish them. He’d punched a lot of people in the nose, figuratively, but if that level of violence was needed there was always someone for such work. They stepped out onto the platform, he looked around his face frozen in a smug pose that made him look important, iconic even. The Marine guard awaited them at the bottom of the stairs. The military, just another kind of servant. His father had unfairly sent him away to a military school for a minor infraction when he was young because he thought he needed discipline. At the school he was singled out, yelled at, made to march to their tune, demerits for insignificant infractions, no misstep unforgiven, even unknowing transgressions resulted in a dressing down by the officers, complete character breakdowns in thirty second tirades, he learned to hate them. Some how he had thrived in that environment. He learned to like wearing the crisp uniforms, the fancy braids and medals. Now, officers, generals, “his generals” snapped to and saluted when he entered a room and feared the storms of his wrath. Beyond the guard the Vietnamese delegation of diplomats and military officials waited to receive him. They all were smaller than he was, little brown men in western suits and military garb, their faces carved by the hand of time. The officials of Vietnam, all children of the war. He grabbed his wife’s hand, not a tender intertwining but control. He bared his teeth, he knew from practice that at a distance it would appear a smile but up close a grimace. “Shall we?” He said, a command, not a gallant request or question, but a brusque order. They started down the stairway.

The air rippled with heat as they walked down the stairway, suddenly the air felt thicker, it pressed in around him, it was as if he‘d passed from a temperate zone into a tropical zone. His eyes became unfocused for a moment, he slipped a little and let go of his wife’s hand. He grabbed the railing for support and stopped on the stairway while regaining his composure. When his vision cleared his wife was gone, had she gone back to the plane? Did she not feel his moment of weakness? Had she continued on down the stairway? He looked down the stairs, she wasn’t there. The receiving party had seemed to change, the faces of those there to receive had changed and the uniforms were different, they were all American, young men from every branch of the services. When he reached the bottom of stairway he was greeted by a naval officer in dress whites and what seemed prematurely white hair for such a young man. He thought he recognized the officer. The officer saluted,
“Finally, you’re here sir,” the officer said, “we’ve been awaiting your arrival.”
“Good, good,” the President said, “do I know you? Were you assigned to the White House?”
“No, you don’t know me, I wasn’t a hero, I was captured.” Those words rang in the President’s ears. He looked around, the airport looked more primitive, as if it had been run down or neglected. He still didn’t see the Vietnamese delegates. He turned to the officer, looked into his eyes trying to remember where he knew the man from, he knew he didn’t know the young man, but his features were familiar.
“Don’t look to the past to remember me,” the officer said, “try the future, my future, your reality.”
The President’s eyes widened a bit, registering both recognition and shock, he recognized him now, not as a young man but as an older man, a senator. The officer smiled. The President looked down the line of men he recognized them all. They were all the younger selves of men he knew, of men who served in the war.
“Where am I?”
“Where you belong sir, Hanoi, a Hanoi that has long been awaiting you. It’s a Hanoi outside of time where you may have come to a lifetime ago.”
“I’m the President! Take me to the receiving delegation! Where are my secret service agents?”
“We are the receiving committee, the others are back in their own reality living it out.”
“How’re they living it out without me?!”
“They see a facsimile, but you, your true self is here.”
“My true self?”
“This is your essence, the core of what makes you, you.”
“What’s this all about? I’m an important person you can’t just hold me here.”
“We aren’t holding you, you’re free to go when you want.”
“Then let me go. You’re a naval officer, I’m your commander-in-chief.”
“In the world of man, not of here, something more is required.”
“What?” He demanded impatiently.
“We’ve been here a long time standing guard for those who died, for those who lived, but we can’t stand at guard forever. We’ve been told you’re our relief.”
“Stand at guard!” He snorted incredulously, “the war is long over, it wasn‘t my war.”
“It’s not over, it’s not over in our memories, in our dreams, in our bodies, it’s not over in the dreams of generations after. War belongs to all of us, even for the protesters. But what did you do? Nothing.”
“I was for the war.”
“What did you do besides voice support for it? What actions did you take to fight it? To end it? None.” The officer stared into him and the officer seemed to age a moment, to the man he knew, the man he would become, “you gave it lip-service while you sat back and let others fight it for you. While you grew rich.”
“I understand your sacrifice, I was shipped off to military school because my father ….”
“Don’t lie. You may tell yourself that, but we know the truth, a military school for rich kids, crisp uniforms, medals that were as ceremonial and symbolic as the uniform. You loved the pageantry and pomp of parade, carrying swords that were every bit as blunted as you, no rounds in rifles you drilled with. The dirtiest you ever got was working up a sweat. You always knew what was coming, there was no danger except getting VD from a girl on a weekend furlough. Should I take you to where they held me prisoner and beat me?”
“I want to go back now, you served the country, I’ve served the country, we’ve all served as we’ve seen fit.”
“What you fail to understand there is a greater service to life, serving your fellow man. You can do that by serving your country but you’ve failed and avoided serving your fellow man on all counts.”
“I’ve built industries and housing…”
“All for attaining personal wealth and self-glorification.”
“You dare to judge me!” The president bellowed, red-faced and puffed out. He noticed the jungle started to move, but there was no breeze, there weren’t any sound that animals would make, no cackle, caw, or growl that would randomly fill the air, not even the buzz of insects that he imagined should continuously permeate the atmosphere. The trees and vegetation were moving of their own accord, the movement was unnatural.
“We’re not here to judge, just to see you take your place in service.“ The officer morphed into his older self, the white hair thinned, the face puffed out of proportion because of his injuries toll over the years. He hunched slightly the years having pressed down on him. Now dressed in a dark suit much like his own it was the officer, older, he was as the President knew him, a senator. The jungle seemed to be closer, the motion more disconcerting.
“What’s out there?”
“All the men who….”
“Who died?”
“More than the dead, the living, all that served, that continue to serve, their younger selves locked here, only when their replacements arrive will they be released.”
“I will replace only one?”
“No, all these men will be released if you surrender.”
“So, my life, my contribution is greater than theirs.”
“No, do not let your sense of self-importance fool you, it’s only because you’ve valued and placed your life above theirs. In fact, in disregard for their lives. They have served while you ridiculed them and lived your life in spite of them.”
“It was their choice to serve, I chose…”
“Choose,” the officer said, “charges have been drawn in the world of man. Now you must choose how to serve. Here standing at post or back to your reality to face the charges.”
“I’m innocent! The charges are fake!”
“Do you mean the charges of man or the greater responsibility?”
“What will happen if I go back?” The senator smiled enigmatically, “I think you know what will happen.”
“How long would I have to stand at post?”
“Until your replacement arrives.”
“When’s that?”
“There’s no relief in sight….we await your decision?”

 

 

You can find my books and stories at:

The Captured Dead: Amazon Kindle, KOBO

The Last Stage: Amazon

The Doors Examined: Amazon

 

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Raw Draft: Arrival For Duty

Here’s story I started thinking about yesterday and it started writing itself. It’s in a pretty raw state, still needs some transitions ironed out and some continuity things worked out as well, but lemme know what you think!

 

Arrival For Duty

The wheels of Air Force One bounced and screeched on the runway awaking the President, he slid up the visor of the window and watched as the plane ran down the runway, he could see the jungle running along the perimeter of the airport, He was landing in a country he never thought he would have to visit Vietnam. When the call to serve came his father paid a doctor for a medical note saying he couldn’t serve, serving was for suckers, the stupid, and the poor. None of which he was. America had a long history of the rich paying the poor to serve in their place. Now, he would shake hands with dignitaries, be catered to, visit a few sites of historic importance and act impressed. It didn’t matter, he didn’t have any ghosts here.

The door to the plane opened and he felt the humid air flood into the plane, he would be hot in the dark suit and tie he always wore, his wife met him at the door, they stepped out onto the platform and at the bottom of the stairs awaited the Vietnamese delegation of diplomats and military officials waiting to receive him, he grabbed his wife’s hand and they started down the stairway. At the bottom of the stairs was a Marine guard, beyond them the dignitaries, diplomats, and officials of Vietnam. The military, another servant his father had sent him to a military school when he was young because he thought he needed discipline, he was singled out, yelled at, made to march in step to their tune, demerits for insignificant infractions, and all because his father unfairly through him in the school for a minor transgression. Now, those generals, his generals snapped to and saluted when he entered a room and now they danced to his tune. The air rippled with heat, his eyes became unfocused for a moment, he stopped on the stairway regaining his composure, then he saw clearly again, the air felt thicker pressing in around him, it was as if he‘d passed into a tropical zone. His wife was gone, had she gone back to the plane? Did she not feel his moment of weakness and she had continued on down the stairway? He looked down the stairs she wasn’t there, and the receiving party had seemed to change as well, the faces had changed and the uniforms were different, they were all American, and all young men from every branch of the services. At the bottom of stairway awaited a naval officer in dress whites, and what seemed prematurely white hair for a young man, he thought he recognized the officer. The officer saluted,
“Finally, you’re here,” the officer said, “we’ve been waiting for your arrival.”
“Good, good,” the President said, “do I know you? Are you an attache?”
“No, you don’t know me, I wasn’t a hero, I was captured.” Those words rang in the President’s ears, he looked around, the airport looked more primitive, like it had been run down, he still didn’t see the Vietnamese delegates. He turned to the officer, looked into his eyes trying to remember where he knew the man from, he knew he didn’t know the young man, but his features were familiar.
“Don’t look to the past to remember me,” the officer said, “try the future, my future, your reality.”
The President’s eyes widened a bit, registering both recognition and shock, “McCain is that you?” The officer smiled, “Where am I?”
“Where you belong, Hanoi, but a Hanoi that has long been awaiting you, it’s a Hanoi outside of time where you may have come to a lifetime ago.”
“I’m the President! Take me to the receiving delegation! Where are my secret service agents?”
“We’re the receiving committee, the others are back in their own reality living it out.”
“What’s this all about? I’m an important person you can’t just hold me here, what do you want from me?”
“Nothing really, just that it’s your turn to stand guard, we’ve been here a long time standing guard, for those that died, those who lived, but we can’t stand at guard forever, we’ve been told you’re our relief.”
“Stand at guard!” he snorted incredulously, “the war is long over, it wasn‘t my war.”
“No, it’s not over, it’s not over in our memories, in our dreams, in our bodies, it’s not over in the dreams of generations after. It was all of ours war, even for the protesters, but what did you do? Nothing.”
“I was for the war,”
“What did you do besides voice a support for it, what actions did you take to fight it? To end it? None. You sat back and let others fight it for you while you tried to grow rich.”
“I understand your sacrifice, I was shipped off to military school because my father thought I needed discipline.”
“Don’t lie, you may tell yourself that, but we know the truth, a military school for rich kids, crisp uniforms, medals for having your bed made, loved the pageantry and pomp of parade, carrying swords that were every bit as blunted as you, no rounds in rifles you drilled with, you never had to crawl through mud, the dirtiest you ever got was working up a sweat, you always knew what was coming, there was no danger except getting VD from a girl on a weekend furlough. Should I take you to where they held and beat me?”

“What you don’t understand is life is a service industry, so far you’ve avoided serving your fellow man.”
“I’ve built industries and housing…”
“All for attaining wealth and your glorification.” The officer morphed into his older self, the white hair thinned, the face puffed out of proportion because of the injuries toll over the years, slightly hunched over with the years, now dressed in a dark suit much like his own it was the officer, older, a Senator.
“Charges have been drawn back in your reality. Now you must choose how to serve. Here standing at post or back to your reality to face the charges.”
“How long would I have to stand at post?”
“Until your replacement arrives.”
“When’s that?”
“There’s no relief in sight.”

The Third Day 1st Ten Pages

BosnianWar
Vlad was lying in the rubble of a bombed out building amid the chunks of concrete and twisted steel. The buildings look like tattered paper, their facades ripped off and their interiors exposed, furniture still inside and the rooms look strangely like doll houses, blocks of concrete with steel sticking out of them twisted into abstract sculptures of war. Bricks and concrete pour into the streets like frozen streams. All shades of gray, black and whites, war bleeds the color out of life.

Vlad wasn’t trying to blend into the rubble so much as to become part of the rubble. His rifle jutted out in front of him looking like nothing more than an errant piece of pipe. His face was caked in dust, his lips were parched and cracked “Pfft”. He spat out some concrete dust as soundlessly as he could. He lowered his head back to the sights of his rifle. If someone spotted him up here they’d send a patrol to flush him out. He had a vision of an armed militia bursting through the door to the roof, machine guns blazing as Vlad scrambled across the rubble like a wounded spider trying to get away until his body gave out to the invasion of the bullets, and fall dead. The crimson of his blood pooling on the gray-white powdered plaster before soaking in, and absorbed away until it became nothing more than a dark blotch, part of the lifeless color of war. Even worse, he could imagine all someone on the street below had to do was simply aim and fire a rocket launcher toppling what was left of the ravaged building. These scenes played over and over again in his movie mind.

The sky was starting to lighten to a robin‘s eggshell blue, he could hear the twitterings of the first birds of morning, the sound of the birds, the last remnant of when life had been normal. Sarajevo is a beautiful ancient city of traditions, culture and history. It looks like any other European city. A Platz at the city’s center, ancient architecture, balconies lined with plants, the streets, empty at this time of day. Along with that history came rivalries that were long submerged and simmered for generations, and when the lid was thrown off, war came. Vlad saw a mangy looking dog sauntering down the street, stopping occasionally to forage in the rubble, suddenly the peaceful morning is shattered by the first gunfire of the day, the dog’s head snaps up looking in the direction of the gunfire, his ears perked up, at the sound of the next volley of gunfire the dog scampers off.
“Even a dog has sense enough to avoid war.” Vlad thought to himself.
No more of the birds would be heard either that day Vlad knew, leaving not silence, but an eerie emptiness.

This was the third morning he was lying in wait. The third morning without sleep. The third morning without eating. The third morning without a cigarette. The third morning without his wife, his daughter. And the third morning of going over the events that brought him here to kill his best friend, his life had become an act of remembering.

The last argument I had with my wife before I left, we were in our kitchen trying to keep our voices down so our daughter wouldn’t hear us fighting. My wife Kaja, the war and its deprivations had scrubbed her face of make-up down to its sheer beauty, her blond hair cut short, her clothes, once fashionable were worn but assembled for as much style as possible, she looked haggard, but her eyes shone with life and love, her smile brightened my world and my life. She was still beautiful the war hadn’t been able to take that away.
“Why does it have to be you Vlad?” She demanded.
“Because no one else can, no one else knows him like I do. Maybe I’ve been stalking Janus all my life, or maybe providence put me here to study him, someone to know his habits, traits, idiosyncrasies, to be the balance to his counter balance.” What I had said was true, and with each passing day it became more and more true, it seemed I was put next to Janus for a reason. Even from the beginning we were destined to be friends or rivals, we were a little bit of both.

I was thirteen when me and the other members of the national shooting team first heard of Janus. It was a time of great hope in our lives we were training for the Yugoslavian national shooting team. I had been recruited because I was thought to have been one of the best shots in Yugoslavia, but so had the other members the team, it was a great honor for us to be chosen. I was elected captain of the team because I was the best shot on the team, maybe in all of Yugoslavia. We had heard rumors of Janus before we ever met him. He was rumored to be the best shot in his province, and that he never missed.

One day shortly after that, we were out in the woods, our training field carved out of the forest, we were surrounded by lush, verdant trees. We were practicing on the firing line with our targets at the end of a rope and pulley system to deploy and retrieve the human shaped targets from the far end. We were all dressed in the team uniform, navy blue sweat pants with a white polo type shirt with the National emblem over our hearts. We were all shooting as one of the coaches walked down the line.
“Krystof!” He barked at one of my teammates, “aim at what you’re shooting at, don’t point the rifle and hope for the best!” We were of course the best shots in Yugoslavia, so we knew enough this was just a coaching tactic to motivate us. The coaches were all of the same mold, barrel-chested bullies, aggressive and belligerent, some ancient idea it would make men out of us. They acted as if they were drill sergeants and we their recruits. They thought they would tear us down and rebuild us in their image, they parsed out their praise for only what they couldn’t refute, excellence. It was our talent that made us rebels, we mocked and mimicked the coaches when none were around.
“Tomko! You’re not holding your breath as you squeeze the trigger, don’t jerk it!” and as he walked farther down the line I could hear him getting closer, “Ranko! Concentrate on what you’re doing! You can’t bully the bullet into the bullseye!” The coach got to the end of the firing line where I was just as I had finished my shooting and had retrieved my target. He grabbed it from me as I took it off the line and held it up as he looked it over. I could see the light shining through the holes, it was almost perfect only one errant hole outside of the bullseye.
“Vlad! Your shooting is exemplary!” I remember the coach in his overblown tones, “the head coach is right, someday you’ll lead this team to Olympic gold medals. Boy’s come look!” My teammates gathered round and all admired my shooting. It was then the head coach brought Janus out to the practice field.
“Boys! Boys! Settle down,” he said, “I want you to meet the newest member of our team, Janus. Janus is a remarkable marksman and I’m sure will be a leader in our goal to win at the ‘76 Olympics. Vlad as team captain you will make sure Janus is welcomed and acclimated to our team.”
“Yes sir.” The coaches stepped back and there was an awkward moment, he was dressed in a black leather jacket and a white button down shirt with far too wide of a collar, the fashion at the time. In the future the brilliant white shirt and black leather jacket would be a trademark of his, he was already developing his style. Janus saw my practice target.
“Not bad,” he said, looking at the target, “I bet I can shoot better than that.” Ranko being a friend and faithful to the team said, “Vlad is the captain of the team, and the best shot.”
“Are you the captain because you’re the best shot?”
“The team voted me captain.”
“Then it is an honorary title?”
“Let’s see what you can do.” I said, handing him my rifle. As I sent the target down to the far end of the firing line he said, “Your sights are a bit off but I think I can compensate for it.” Then Janus shot and when he pulled back his target, the bull’s eye was in shreds, five shots through the bull’s eye, it was clean; NO other holes.
“You always shoot like that?”
“Always.” There was another awkward silence then he said, “Let’s shoot again!” Because we had nothing else in common we shot, that was how it always ended. I shot well, Janus shot better, perfect.
The light was getting brighter in the morning sky, the sky was a now a robin’s eggshell blue. Soon the hunger would return, but he also knew the hunger would go away. Of more concern was the craving for a cigarette. He hadn’t had one in almost three days now. He hoped today would be the day Janus would return to his sniper’s lair. Vlad didn’t know how much longer he could hold out against the cravings, the elements, the boredom.

Vlad raised his head just enough to see a larger view of his surroundings. His city used to be so beautiful, the birds landing on the streets to pick at some errant morsel of food, the plants that lined the balconies, the architecture of ancient buildings. Now…all smashed, rubble pouring into the streets like a waterfall. Buildings methodically bombed by artillery, then ransacked by militia and burned, left for ruins and sniper’s nests. He hoped Janus hadn’t detected his stalking and changed positions, or he wasn’t now in Janus’ cross hairs at this moment. Vlad lowered his head back down to the sights.

With Janus on the team we became unbeatable, Janus lead us in victory. As the best marksmen on the team we were destined to either be friends or rivals, maybe we became a little too much of both. The memories were like snapshots in his mind that he liked to take out, look at, and remember those times.

One summer I had broken my leg I was laid up in the hospital my leg up in a sling. One afternoon Janus came in carrying a bunch of magazines.
“What happened there, tiger?” He asked, knowing fully how I’d broken my leg.
“What’re you doing here?”
“Visiting a fallen comrade.”
“What about the others? Are they here?”
“No, the coaches wouldn’t let them come, they’re making them practice.”
“Why aren’t you there?”
“I don’t need the practice as much as they do.” And he smiled slyly, I couldn’t tell if the coaches let him come or if he had snuck away.
“We may go back to find them better shots than us.”
“We won’t be gone that long. So, what’re you doing here?”
“Oh, remember when you’re a kid and some kids come back from vacation with casts on, and everybody gathers around signing the cast, I was always jealous and hoped I’d break something so everybody would gather round me and sign my cast.”
“Yeah,”
“I just thought it was time to join them.”
“Looks like you did it a little too well, it‘s laid you up and I‘m the only one here. Is it everything you thought it would be?”
“No, it hurts, I’d trade places back in a minute.”
“Well, you’re lucky you didn’t break an arm or the coaches would be having fits and you’d be off the team.”
“Then you’d have no competition for the number one position.”
“Ahhh, that’s not much of a worry anyway!”
“It isn’t, is it?” I threw one of my pillows at him, and he grabbed it and tossed it back, just goofing around for a minute before I noticed the magazines he’d brought with him. “Are those my computer magazines?”
“Look in the middle, I smuggled you in a Playboy.”
“How’d you get it?” I asked, amazed at such a prize.
“The old man’s a bureaucrat, they get everything, even decadent capitalist literature, so I liberated it from the state for you. So, where’s that pen? I want to be the first to sign that cast.

Over the years we had become best friends vacationing with each others’ families. One summer I went to Janus’ family cabin in the woods. It was a typical wooden hunting lodge, wicker furniture, rustic furnishings, hunting trophy’s on the walls, a fancy wood cabinet filled with rifles, and stairs that went to the upstairs bedrooms, the railings made of tree branches or made to look like them, a big living room table and big overstuffed leather coaches around a sunken living room near the fireplace. Janus’ parent’s were well off.

Janus’ father was older in his late 50’s or early 60’s with gray hair, a neatly trimmed mustache. It was made clear that dinner would be formal, a jacket and tie. When I came downstairs Janus’ father was sitting stiffly at the head of the table, which was set with a white tablecloth, china, crystal goblets. Janus came downstairs wearing his usual white shirt and leather jacket.
“Janus, go back upstairs and into the proper attire for dinner,” his father said, sternly.
“But this is going to be my trademark, so people will remember me after I’m dead.”
“It’s easy to die when you’re young and immortal,” Janus’ father grumbled, “people will remember you for your deeds not your clothes. And as for dying that’s not going to happen any time soon, is it?”
“Probably not.”
“Very good, since we’re in agreement that when you’re at the dinner table you will wear a proper coat and tie like you’re friend here, Mr. Smirtonev knows how to dress for dinner. Please go change.” Janus went back upstairs to change. Janus’ father smiled weakly at me, he seemed embarrassed, “so, Mr. Smirtonev, how do you like being the captain of the shooting team?”
“It is a great honor the others have bestowed upon me.” Which was the stiff formal answer the coaches demanded if I was ever asked the question.
“Good answer, that attitude will take you far in life.” There was an awkward silence both the old man and me didn’t know what else to say, the shooting team was the extent of what we had in common. Janus came back downstairs dressed as his father had decreed, and took his place at the table.
“There that wasn’t so bad was it? Why do we have to go through this every time Janus?” It was a rhetorical question, Janus sat there glumly, his father raised his glass in a toast, Vlad and Janus followed suit, “To my son, the only pleasure he has brought me in life is when he made the Yugoslavian National shooting team.”

An Artist’s Life and Jim Morrison

Even if Michael Lawrence had never met Jim Morrison a memoir of his would still be interesting. Lawrence’s father was actor Marc Lawrence and Michael met actors such as Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart, both of whom were impressed with the younger Lawrence’s drawings. Lawrence spent his formative years in Rome and at a young age decided to be an artist. He packed up his easel and paints and started his career as an artist. In his travels, he attended UCLA and met Jim Morrison. Later he met writer Paul Bowles, and had romantic adventures in Europe as an artist.

Besides being a gifted artist Lawrence is a good writer. He captures your attention right in the beginning with an encounter with Morrison’s parents, and then entrances you with a seque into the past with Morrison meeting Lawrence’s mother and they talked film and philosophy.

“Tripping with Jim Morrison and Other Friends” isn’t strictly chronological jumping around with the speed of a thought in the stream of consciousness. Lawrence has a subtle, elegant writing style. Lawrence is as comfortable on the page as he is with his easel. The hook in “Tripping with Jim Morrison” is of course Jim Morrison, but if you’re interested in art Michael Lawrence is someone you’d love to sit and talk with, and “Tripping with Jim Morrison and Other Friends” is the closest we can get to that conversation.

Tripping with Jim Morrison and Other Friends” is available now on Amazon.

 

The Doors Examiner – The End

This would have been the 7th anniversary of The Doors Examiner. As most of you may know (or maybe some of you don’t). On July 1 AXS entertainment which owned The Examiner closed columns without notice. AXS did invite some writers to come over to write for AXS including me. Upon sending in my first article AXS edited/censored it because it was “a rant”. I decided since there is a lot of controversial issues within The Doors and I didn’t want to be arguing with their editor/censor I thought it best not to pursue providing any content for AXS. Since that time I have been justified in that assessment since I’ve heard from other writers that AXS has interfered with their articles for what seemed to be trivial matters. Since mid July I’ve been considering whether to carry on writing Doors related material, people have very kindly been messaging and emailing me telling me how much they enjoyed my articles and looked forward to them. Taking all things into consideration over this short sabbatical I’ve decided The Doors Examiner has run its course and to pursue more of my creative writing projects.

I started writing The Doors Examiner because a woman knew I was a writer and she had started writing for The Examiner and thought I could write a Doors Examiner. I was sure that they would have had someone writing about The Doors already but I thought maybe if I sent in a writing sample and they liked it I could at least find another subject to write about. A couple days after sending in the writing sample I got an email from The Examiner saying they liked the writing and that they did need someone to write about The Doors. I took the assignment not knowing how long it would last. As a matter of fact I thought it wouldn’t last very long because The Doors hadn’t been an active band in close to 40 years. I thought that I would write some Doors history articles and it wouldn’t go much further. To my amazement about six months after starting The Doors Examiner The Doors started releasing CD’s and DVD’s on a fairly consistent basis so I had new material to write about. I also ventured into different areas of The Doors experience that I hadn’t seen before offering some of my own ideas on the band.

In the almost seven years of The Doors Examiner’s life the column went from subscriptions of me and my sister to over a couple of thousand, and with about 600 other writers writing on music subjects The Doors Examiner grew to be in the top 10 most widely read music columns and for the last year The Doors Examiner was a top 5 read column.

I want to thank all The Doors’ fans for their support over the years for reading, subscribing and telling your friends about The Doors Examiner. I’ve had a lot of fun writing the articles and learned some things about the band I never knew and probably never would have known if it weren’t for writing the articles.

I’ve been a Doors fan since around 1978 or so and I’m sure I will be the rest of my life and with the 50th anniversary of the release of The Doors first album coming up there are sure to be some cool things coming out (Robby Krieger said so!). I’m sure I’ll have an opinion and I’ll write about those things as they come up. One thing that is coming up is the release of Michael Lawerence’s excellent book “Tripping with Jim Morrison and Other Friends” which will be released September 5, and I’ll write a proper review of it closer to its release date but if you want to preorder it you can at Amazon.

Because I’m no longer writing The Doors Examiner doesn’t mean I’ll no longer be writing. I have a few writing projects I’m working on at the moment that include a memoir on the band Hunger! and a novel I’ve gotten into a rough draft. You’ll be hearing from me again. I’ve been exploring a crowding funding site called Patreon that I’ll be sharing with everyone once that is all set up. If you would like to keep up with my writing you can visit the Jymsbooks page on Facebook, I also have a blog on WordPress Jymwrites that I’ll be improving and adding more content as soon as the electrons line up in the correct order. You can also keep up with blogs and books at my Amazon Authors Page. I hope you will follow me as I delve deeper into the creative works I know I have in me and that you will read and enjoy them as much as you have with my writing The Doors Examiner.

The Third Day Excerpt: Confronting Janus

An excerpt from my novel in progress The Third Day. This is a tension filled scene in which the two main characters confront each other.

After seeing Janus at Ranko’s funeral I went straight to my workshop in the store, I took off my suit coat, loosened the tie and rolled up the sleeves of the dress shirt. I hooked up the battered hard drive we had found at the house Janus had told Ranko he was living at. The dirty and dented hard drive had been sitting on my workbench for a couple of days, I hooked it up and made some adjustments and suddenly it lit to life spewing out directories onto the monitor the neon green glow illuminating the surrounding darkness. I went through file after file that Janus had thought deleted or destroyed and found lists of safe houses and names of people who supported his effort, payments made to him in large sums. I had everything I needed to find Janus and stop him. Next to the hard drive was the book of matches Ranko and I had found in the ruins of Janus’ house, the Club LAMERIKA, Ranko had said that’s where all the war profiteers hung out. I had to give Janus the same chance he had given me I owed it to my friend.

It was easy to find the Club “LAMERIKA, I walked into the club and the first thing that hit you was a wall of sound, a throbbing emanating from the darkness. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness there were POPS of reds, greens, and blues from Christmas tree lights blinking on and off. I could see people dancing on a cleared section of the club, others standing around a bar and around the walls of the club, booths, and in one sat Janus wearing his white shirt and leather jacket surrounded by beautiful women. I walked over to the booth.
“Vlad! My old friend! you look terrible.” He was obviously drunk.
“It’s raining out.”
“What’re you doing here?”
“Looking for you.”
“How did you know where to find me?”
“I didn’t, I was told that people who profit from the war come here to celebrate.”
“We aren’t celebrating, we’re trying to forget the death of an old friend and the war for a few hours.”
“I know you’re the sniper.” Janus looked at me cooly while he sipped his drink.
“What sniper?”
“The sniper everyone is talking about. The sniper that can shoot great distances. The sniper whose gun has such a unique report that the victim hears the shot that kills him.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“None of that sounds like a champion marksman with a Mauzer awarded to him by Tito himself?”
“I know what you think of me Vlad, as some kind of predator. But it seems like you’re the one stalking me, who’s the predator here? The sniper could be any of us, all of us on the team have those guns.”
“I’ve accounted for all the guns except one, where’s your gun?”
“Where’s yours?”
“At my store.”
“I haven’t seen mine in years, the last time I saw it was at my father’s cabin.”
“It’s not there, I was there with Ranko when he was killed.”
“The cabin has been abandoned for years anyone could have taken it from there. Anyway, you shouldn’t have been there.”
“You suddenly seem to have a lot of money to celebrate while others suffer.”
“It’s what’s left of what little my father left me as an inheritance.”
“I’m just here to warn you, you warned me, I’m returning the favor, to give you a chance to leave.”
“Leave?” He looked around feigning shock.
“Leave the country, I’ll help you, otherwise…”
“Otherwise what?”
“I’ll have to stop you.”
“I doubt it.”
“You’ve courted death your whole life, but you can’t live with that knowledge, you’ve lived your whole life in fear of it, and what has it brought you? Has it made you any wiser than others? It hasn’t brought you any peace, just violence and death, you’ve always been hunted, more haunted than hunted.”
Janus smiled at me, “your arguments have gotten better over time, but then you went to college.”
“You had the same opportunities as me, maybe more, you were the hero of the Olympics.”
“So, you’re going to kill me, is that it?” I stared at him coldly, hoping to see my friend in the eyes of this person I no longer knew. “You told me before this war began that I haven’t learned compassion, if you kill me or try to murder me, where has your compassion gone?”
“It’s still there, it’s there for the innocent people that you gun down in the streets, the people who can’t escape your sights. And it’s there for the boy who was my friend that I’m trying to save.”
“Better to save yourself.”
“When we try to save someone it’s not the body we’re trying to save, it’s the person, the mind, the individual, that unique perspective on the world that makes each of us special, important, and Janus was important, important to me, important to the world.” This enraged him.
“Innocent?! Who is innocent? No one I tell you, and that boy you knew is dead and I killed him.”
“You’re not the boy I knew.”
“Has it occurred to you I could just kill you here?” He pulled out a gun from under the table, pointing it at me. He looked at me, I think he was hoping it would scare me. “You’re right a lot of people here are from a darker side of the war, they’re my friends, I could kill you and they would help me take your body out and throw it in the street, another victim of the war.”
“That’s not part of the game for you, you can’t kill anything or anyone face to face, you like your killing impersonal, abstract, safe, a target down range.”
“I’m not going to kill you,” he said, putting the gun down on the table, “not because you’re right, but because I’m right about you, you’ll never do it, if you could do it, you would have done it already.”

The Third Day Excerpt: The Rabbit

The next morning I came down the stairs, Janus was sitting on the coach in the living room smoking a cigarette, I had one of my computer magazines with me.
“Where’s your father?” I asked.
“He left early this morning, he didn’t even say goodbye.”
“It’s really cool that your parents let us stay at their cabin.”
“Yeah, my father is a very giving man. You really read those magazines?” He asked nodding towards the computer magazine.
“What do you think I do with them?”
“I thought maybe you just used them to make people think you’re smarter than you really are, or to carry around those centerfolds in decadent American magazines.”
“The only decadent American magazine I ever had was the one you gave me when I broke my leg.”
“So, why computers?”
“Computers are machines of the future, we’ll be able to run everything with them, we’ll have access to information and whoever knows how to run them will have the most power.”
“What about shooting?”
“No, guns are machines of the past, gunpowder, gases, grease and bolt action, straight from the 19th century, they’re history. Just like the old men with old ideas you talked about last night.”
“We’ll always need guns, they’ll probably even have them with your computers in them.”
“No, I don‘t think a computer will ever be that small.” Obviously my prescience wasn’t present that day.

Janus put out his cigarette and went over to the gun cabinet, as he fished around on the top of the cabinet looking for the key he said, “I’m going hunting, want to come along?”
“No,” I said, “I’ll stay here and read my magazine, maybe look for that centerfold.” Janus took a rifle out of the cabinet, found some shells for the gun, and in the bottom drawer pulled out a silver flask, shook it to see if anything was in it, opened it and drank what was left in it, and then went over to the bar to fill it.
“You want any?” He asked.
“No thanks.”
“I’ll be back in a few hours, and if you’re really interested in finding that centerfold they’re in the bottom drawer of the gun cabinet.” He said, with that sly smile of his.

Later that afternoon, I was sitting on the front porch of the cabin reading and smoking, enjoying the afternoon. The cabin was really out in the woods, there was no road to speak of just two worn tire tracks in the dirt. It was early fall there was just a little chill in the breeze, the trees were all burnt with gold and red, the grasses brown, and the woods only about a hundred feet from the stone and wood cabin. When Janus came back, walking up the dirt path towards the cabin holding up two pheasants by their limp necks, he smiled and yelled, “dinner!”
“How did you catch so many?” I asked, as he walked up the stone steps of the porch.
“The smart hunter let’s his come to him. You should hunt, you’ll enjoy it walking around in the fresh air.”
“And kill living things.”
“Come on, we have to kill to live, we’re both marksmen, man is a predator, we have the right to hunt, we’re at the top of the food chain.”
“Who say’s we’re at the top of the food chain?”
“No other creatures hunt us.”
“But it’s not on equal terms, you go out into the woods with a rifle and a scope, and your prey doesn’t even see you. Maybe if you approached nature on its own terms. If you went out into the wild with only a knife or a spear, on natures own terms then you’d discover who is at the top of the food chain.”
“You mean like hanging from a tree limb in a loincloth with a knife clenched between my teeth.”
“Come on be serious,” I said.
“You should hunt, you’ll enjoy it.”
“I don’t like to kill.”
“What do you shoot for?”
“For the art of it, the sport, as a challenge.”
“The sport of it is hunting.”
“It’s something I do well, I like being the best.”
“I’m the best.” Janus chided, laughing, “besides, I do not expect the hunted to understand the hunter. Everything kills, it is the natural order of things, there is no innocence.”
“Animals kill for survival, to eat, to protect their young, to live, only man kills for sport, and once you justify the killing of one creature, no matter how small and insignificant, you can justify the killing of any other creature. It‘s an illusion.”
“What’s the illusion?”
“Your imagined power over life and death.”
“What are you a bleeding heart? Janus looked towards the woods and saw a rabbit hoping along the tree line, “here, watch.” He pointed his rifle at the rabbit, he shot in front of the animal. Panicked it turned and ran in the opposite direction. Janus jerked the rifle fast and shot in front of the rabbit again, the bullet kicking up dirt right in front of the rabbit’s nose. The animal froze in fear not knowing where it’s attacker was.
“Jesus, leave the poor creature alone.” I said, Janus tired of playing with the animal, he took his time sighting it, and with one fluid stroke of a finger ended the rabbit’s life.
“I’ll make a hunter of you yet.” He left the rabbit where it died. Thereafter Janus and I agreed to disagree. Although, thinking back maybe it was a trait I shouldn’t have tolerated in a friend. Maybe it would have made a difference, maybe it wouldn’t have. But that’s not the way kids think. I was his friend and that’s all I understood. Over the years Janus and I would debate it many times over, neither of us conceding or conceiving an argument to convert the other.