Riding a Blackwing

Ray’s box of Palomino Blackwing pencils arrived that morning. Sleek with extendable erasers, they were the epitome of sexy. At least for a pencil, he thought. The yellow ones in grade school certainly weren’t. When he thought of those what came to mind were all the teeth marks in the ones he borrowed from his classmates, freshly chewed and still damp.

The internet ad for the Blackwing claimed it was the best pencil ever made, firm & smooth was its tagline, and Ray enjoyed the feel of a good writing instrument. Not all pencils were alike. Some wrote quietly, leaving you happily unaware of them. Others scratched across the page as if they were serenading you with the Sex Pistols. He quickly demoted those to the wood shop to mark boards. Continue reading “Riding a Blackwing”

The Trickster

the tricksterThe Death Valley tour bus parked on a viewpoint off Badwater Road, and about half the members braved the heat to get off the bus and take in the view of the dry lake bed of Badwater Basin.

A little girl in pigtails, pointed at a moving speck far across the distant lake bed. “Daddy, what’s that?”

Her dad squinted against the brightness of the white sand, at first not seeing anything, but after a moment spotted it. “I dunno, honey.” Continue reading “The Trickster”

The Racist Pea

Raud Kennedy - the racist peaSometimes when I’m on my walks with my two-legger and I see a Chihuahua, a little voice in my head will say, “There goes Pedro, stinking of beans.” It’s not my voice. It’s someone else’s because I like beans. Beans don’t stink, they smell good. Beans are food and I love food. All food. Even Costco biscuits. So it’s not even something I would think, let alone say.

Then I’ll see a Rottweiler and the little voice will say, “There goes Tyson, looking for a fight.” I’ve met plenty of friendly Rotties so I know it’s not me saying that, even if I’m the only one who hears it inside my head. Sometimes when I hear these words, I wonder if I’m sharing my head with a little racist dog, like a twin who never completely formed, except as maybe a pea-sized part of my brain. Continue reading “The Racist Pea”


The dog sits in the back of the old dented Jeep, rust showing here and there under the dark green paint. The dog’s owner took off the top the first sunny day of summer and will forget about it until the rain comes in the fall. The dog is big and rangy with long fur in the black-and-tan saddle pattern of a German shepherd, and has upright ears that point in the direction of what he’s listening to.

He pants in the shade under the purple-leafed plum tree where his owner parked the Jeep in the Fred Meyer parking lot. It’s a big lot with plenty of action. People pull into it, park their cars and go into the store while others come out of the store pushing noisy shopping carts across the broken pavement and load up the backs of their SUVs. Continue reading “Patterns”

Bushy Heads of Fur

Henry was a door-to-door salesman with a shock of bushy white hair. He’d grown up in the suburbs, knew suburbanites well and what they wanted. They’d embrace any device that made their lives easier so they could spend more time on the couch living their lives by remote. More and more of them lived by themselves. Chores no longer needed to be shared, they were automated, and what was left, like mowing the lawn, was hired out. With all this independence came loneliness, but like a blank spot in the garden was filled with a gnome, a void in a suburbanites life was filled with a dog, a little furry person to keep them company. Continue reading “Bushy Heads of Fur”

Meat Loaf

When you sit down, I lie down on the floor near you. When you get up to leave, I rise to follow you from room to room. My favorite room is the kitchen. If you stayed in the kitchen all day long it would be fine with me. Even when you’re not cooking I can smell the scent from the previous night’s meal, and the one before that and before that, going back to my favorite—meatloaf.

You know those aging cowboy actors doing television ads praising beef? Saying there’s nothing like a US prime cut of beef, or something like that? Well, I don’t disagree with them, but boy, could I growl some praise about meatloaf. What a perfect food, seasoned with spices, then cooked to bring out the flavor. No annoying bones to chew around and slow you down, or boring vegetables to pick out. Just beef. And ground up like it’s been already chewed for you so all that’s left to do is swallow. It’s immediate gratification taken to its ultimate extreme. Continue reading “Meat Loaf”