Home on the Range(r)

Random Thoughts as Plentiful as Cow Patties




"Listen to this..."

Marvin was a squatter like me and a bunch of other people. Most times, money was out of our reach. But I got on street teams for new artists, and I was a part-time messenger. I think Marvin got a tiny Social Security check but it just barely covered his food and meds. We lived in the abandoned Avalon Heights Resident Hotel. He was on the second floor, I was on the fourth. He was schooling me on old-timey things. Today was music. I told him I knew about music. I listened to it all the time.

"Three Blind Mice? You know them, right? Them and Kill Trash and FilthNamer rule the music scene, man."

There was a re-surgence of grunge ten years earlier, with two new Brexit bands, Kill Trash and FilthNamer cranking that scheisse up to a new mind-splitting level. People started calling it drang. I pointed to my t-shirt. Right below the picture of a crude oil-drowned cat were the words Kill Trash, The Oil Slick Tour

If people didn't listen to drang, they were totally into West African Techno-Freestyle. Cosmic First People was killing that genre.

Marvin snorted. "Noise and clatter. Pots and pans. Buzz-sawing and clanging."

He put a small suitcase on the kitchen table. When he opened it, there was a machine inside. He said it was called a 'phonograph' but, 

"The common name was record player." 

He pointed to different parts and told me what they were, before he slipped a shiny black disk that had a small hole in its middle, from a cardboard cover. He was holding the edges of the disk with his fingertips as if the thing might burn him.

He kept talking to me while getting the 'album' on the 'spindle' of the 'turntable.' I noticed that his voice was different. Not his usual gruff gravel but soft and gentle like there was a baby sleeping in the room. He pointed to his generator on the floor and I plugged the record player in.

"This is a record. An album. That means it is a long musical recording. Sometimes it's one very long song, but most times there are several songs that play in sequence."

I laughed. "Sounds like a guy's name. Al Bum. Anyways, even the quote-unquote latest format...you know...MP3 is on. It's. Way. Out." 

I held out my left arm, my hand palm up. In the middle of my palm, the light of my injected device blinked green. I tapped the spot with my middle finger, and Trash's latest song blasted from the speaker pierced in my left ear lobe. 

I yelled, "I get to keep this for six months and test it out."

He just gave me an odd look, pushed a button to set the 'turntable' spinning. I tapped my palm twice. Trash went silent. He lifted the 'player arm' to let the 'needle' gently drop. And suddenly, something...I don't know what it was called...shock-pated me to the point my lips wouldn't move to let me talk.

I could see his shoulders were bunched up and I thought maybe he was in pain. He pivoted to face me. I looked up at him from my seat on the only kitchen chair, and nearly flinched. I swear, his face was glowing, soft and blue. 

Tears rolled from his eyes, scrubbed clean lines down his dirty cheeks, and mixed with, then disappeared into his beard.

"This..." he whispered, "...is joy. Love. This is life, Nino."

The sound was complex and simple at the same time. A little angry, but not really. Like cayenne pepper. I couldn't help myself and closed my eyes. "What is this?" 

"Jazz Nino. Pure. Simple. But not. A piano, drums and a couple horns. That's it."

The sound was touching my skin and the hair on my arms stood up. "Who is playing the piano?"

"Edward Marvin Santiago."

I opened my eyes and smiled. 

Marvin smiled back at me.




(The following is not necessarily true. But it could be.)

What does a vacation mean to you? Maybe a chance to get away from the tediousness of your everyday life, so you can retool and refresh. The chance to spend a few carefree days with your cool friends in wine country. Or doing your favorite activities like knitting or pickling beets.

But then, it could also mean taking a road trip with the family. 

You (as in *me*) get stuck in a vehicle for several hours with CHILDREN, whose capacity for cruelity and madness knows no bounds.

These are not my children, mind you. These children are a step below mine, which bestows upon them the weird title of 'Grand.' No. They are not grand by any means. They are conniving little ingrates whose only purpose in life is to annoy, anger and torture anyone who is not their first-level parent. (Edit: "...whose purpose in life is to exponentially annoy, anger and torture anyone who is not their first-level parent.")

This being the case, several scenarios are possible. None of which involve happiness or joy. Instead the scenarios result in several "What the hell?" "Are you kidding me?" "Oh hell no!" "Because I said so!" and my very favorite, "SIT THE HELL DOWN!"

Usually, this is followed by several unfinsihed sentences such as: 



"You better..." 

"Where are you go..."

"I said..."

"Don't touch...what did I tell...put it..."

This can be followed by:

"Leave your (insert brother or sister here) alone!"

"Whose pants are those hanging outside the car door?!"

"No...you CAN hold it for five min...oh my good lord. Stop the car."

But seriously, they were wonderful. I was the one who was the annoying little ingrate. Those quotes were from my daughter to me. Heh-heh.



The school bell's high-pitched skirling announced the end of classes. The front doors exploded open, and the kids poured out like the building was vomiting multi-colored beans. In the midst of the noisy stream, the boy rolled down the front steps and onto the sidewalk. 

Waves, hugs, good-byes, punches in the arm, book bags rocketing into the air, were the first true signs that summer was coming. He participated in the end-of-school ritual with more enthusiasm than he felt. 

The boy waved good-bye to his friends. He inhaled deeply, exhaled slowly. As the air escaped his lungs and his exhilaration diminished, the sky seemed to lower until it was pressing down on the top of his head. He would be crushed flat soon.

The two blocks the boy trudged home telescoped. His house was a tiny dot off in the distance that never grew closer. At this rate, he would be on the sidewalk forever. Maybe that was the idea. Trapped in this space between hell and heaven--fearing one, yearning for the other--perpetually striving but going nowhere, was a test of his determination. 
He doggedly continued, finally arriving at the front door where his mother was setting down bags of groceries. She handed him one of the bags and smiled, but the smile slowly faded.

"What's wrong?"

The boy did not know how to answer this question. There was so much wrong. Where would he begin?

He said, "Nothing."

His mother sighed. "I know that look. Tell me."

He had been given a death sentence. How could he stab her in the heart by telling her? But she was not going to move and the bag she gave him had Popscicles in it. She would wait, let the stuff melt. He sighed heavily, put down the grocery bag then reached into an outside pocket of his book bag.

A folded envelope, his name typed on a sticker with 'Give to your mom' written below trembled in his fingers. She frowned, took out the letter, and read it silently. He could not stand the silence. It had to be broken.

"I don't want to die. Please."

The frown remained on his mother's face when she returned her gaze to him.

"Summer school will not kill you."

About the Author
No Really, It's Ranger (fr4)


I am a goddess. 

Perfect is my last name. Pretty is my first, and Damned is my middle.

My brain thinks I'm 25 but my body keeps blowing the whistle on it.

I've never been arrested except in development.

I'm always making jokes with people who don't have a clue (I should have learned by now).

I share (if my half is bigger).

I play well with others.

I don't eat paste. Which these days, is a glue stick.

I don't steal lunches.

My biggest problem is nap time. When I should be asleep I'm not and when I shouldn't be, I am.

I prefer snow over rain, laughter over tears, peace over conflict and eggs over easy.

Since my two children are adults now, I confessed that all these years I hadn't known one thing about being a parent. I had made it all up as I went along. They seemed disappointed by that.

Yeah, like I was supposed to know everything?? Even as a goddess I had some limitations in that arena.

So I bet you're wondering, How does one improve on perfection?

Well...there could be TWO of me!

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