Jim Archives

December 27, 2006

Jim: The Winner

My older brother, so sturdy and proud in youth, now lies small and feeble in the antiseptic hospice bed, an IV relentlessly dripping saline and morphine into his blue, withered veins. I listen to his final battle against the cancer in every ragged breath.

“Andy,” he rasps weakly, beckoning with a bony finger.

I lean close. “I’m here, Simon.”

“One. Last. Thing.” His voice is no more than a quavering whisper.

I hold one gaunt hand while his other reaches toward me. “What is it, Simon?”

A shaking fingertip gently touches my tear-streaked cheek and he painfully gasps, “Tag. You’re…”

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December 28, 2006

Jim: A Capitol Idea

Each decade, for one long night, bronze eyelids blink and reveal a spark of life in shaded metal eyes. Fingers stretch as her hands release their grip on the sheathed sword and shining bronze shield.

Fourteen times she has awakened and marveled at the glowing lights of the bustling city below her. All around, buildings and monuments vie with each other in their majesty and glory.

Like every other time, she longs to walk among the people, to learn what has transpired during her long slumber.

But, as always, there is no way to get down off the goddamned dome!

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December 29, 2006

Jim: While It Lasted

Can you recall bumper-to-bumper traffic? How about cruising up the PCH to Monterey? Remember drive-in movies or driving to the convenience store?

Then you also remember when the bombs fell on the Middle East, locking up the world’s major source of oil under a thousand years half-life of radiation. Now all the domestic petroleum production is used exclusively for government and emergency vehicles for as long as it lasts.

All around there’s only a sea of rusting metal roofs, Fords, Porsches, etc., their owners now walking.

Except for those of us on the cutting-edge who bought a horse early on.

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January 2, 2007

Jim: The Minimum Wage

I met Luis early at Rockefeller Center for our Trabajo Grande. Every December, dozens of festive ricos decorate the massive tree in a glorious celebration. ‘Tra-la-la and Oh Ton And Bomb.’ Pendejos!

But every January, Luis and I have to pack it all up. The jefe loans us a truck and a couple of rickety extension ladders. It’s always colder than una pecha de bruja and we have to take off our gloves to log in each and every crappy metal ball and gaudy stretch of ribbon.

This year I discovered something, though. I discovered I really hate my job!

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January 3, 2007

Jim: A Simple Letter

Dear Cousin Lester:

Things have been pretty busy. Ma lost a leg tripping over that stump between here and the outhouse. So I whittled her a wooden one using that same stump. Finally, a good reason to pull it up!

A skunk sprayed Sissy last week. She smells awful but keeps the skeeters away.

Both cows stopped giving milk so we lost that income. Great steaks, though.

Now it’s been raining and the radio says most of these farms are going to flood.

But that’s okay. I’ve been meaning to learn how to swim anyway.

Take care,

Your Cousin Cletus

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January 4, 2007

Jim: If April Showers Bring Mayflowers...?

She was little more than a canal boat with square-rigged sails and an uncommonly low midship. Nonetheless, her canvas caught the freshening wind and propelled the tiny ship into the open sea.

Tailors Jasper Goodman and Eli Tinker stood on the pier watching the ship pull away.

“There she goes,” Jasper grunted.

Eli nodded. “Off to the New World.”

“All Calvinists, too, I’m told.”

“Too bad there aren’t more pilgrim boats like that one,” Eli mused.

“Hear, hear,” Jasper agreed. “It’d be nice if all of those black-coated bastards left. Then we could start making jackets with colored cloth again.”

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January 5, 2007

Jim: Gypped

The scientists say it was some sort of ‘meteor virus’ that caused the mutations. Anyway, everyone in town who survived the genetic changes woke up the next morning with different super powers. For months afterward, the city resembled nothing more than a really bad X-Men sequel.

Things have quieted down since all the self-styled super-heroes and super-villains pretty much killed each other off. The government even lifted the quarantine after deciding that people like me are harmless – or useless - enough to reintegrate with the general population.

It seems there’s not much point in being able to talk to fish.

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January 8, 2007

Jim: We're Off To Get Refinanced

Dawson fixed the loan officer with a keen stare overflowing with sincerity. “I needed a loan repayment extension because of the drought.”

“The drought…”

“A terrible, awful drought. Half the farms around here foreclosed.”

“Yes, I know. It looks like we gave you three months for that. What about the second extension?”

“Oh. That was for the tornado.”


“A horrible tornado. Wiped out most of the farms remaining after the drought.”

“I see we then gave you another three months. So why do you need a third extension?”

Dawson leaned forward and whispered, “Those damn flying monkeys, of course.”

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January 9, 2007

Jim: The Saltpork Trail

Cotton puffs of lavender clouds hung lazily against the orange sky as the sun dipped below the horizon. In their dens, coyotes stretched while daytime creatures scurried home. All was right with the world.

Unless you were one of the Triple J cowhands sitting down to another evening meal of burnt-crust beans and lukewarm salted pork.

Morris stared at his plate “When we get to Abilene,” he muttered, “I’m getting a thick, juicy steak!”

“How the hell could we lose all five thousand steers?” Jones growled.

“It’s l-like I said,” Jenkins stammered. “There was this girl with a straw…”

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January 10, 2007

Jim: Vengeance

Cellblock 5 was the only home Don really remembered.

He’d never killed anyone but the jury saw it differently. Convicted as an adult at 16, he’d since spent more than two thirds of his life at Ridgegrove Correctional Institute.

Some of the faces changed over the years but his fellow inmates were his mentors, students, friends, and family. Sometimes even lovers.

Now paroled, Don left the concrete walls and iron bars behind. His carefully crafted shiv hidden away, he hopped a bus. A man needed to die for framing him all those years ago.

Then Don could go back home.

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