Tag Archives: drugs

The Last Battle – by Chris Hedges

Due to WordPress’ ongoing snafu condition, I was unable to access the following in the usual way so I cannot use the “Reblog” button. Instead I’ve copied the article and pasted it here, in its entirety, with proper credits and links, I hope.  And how would I title this article if I had written it? How about the very first line from Canada’s national anthem?

“Oh Canada, our home and native land…”  …and while you are reading I’ll go and throw up.

DEEP GREEN: ‘Recovery of the Sacred’, The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

by The Smoking Man

Source – truthdig.com

“…The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die”

The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada. I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.

“Over there,” he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.

We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.

“That’s the mass grave,” he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.

The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.

The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.

Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned wastelands. This industrial operation, perhaps the largest such project in the world, is rapidly accelerating the release of the carbon emissions that will, if left unchecked, soon render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The oil is transported thousands of miles to refineries as far away as Houston through pipelines and in tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be “game over for the planet.” He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.

It is hard, until you come here, to grasp the scale of the tar sands exploitation. Surrounding Beaver Lake are well over 35,000 oil and natural gas wells and thousands of miles of pipelines, access roads and seismic lines. (The region also contains the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which has appropriated huge tracts of traditional territory from the native inhabitants to test weapons.) Giant processing plants, along with gargantuan extraction machines, including bucket wheelers that are over half a mile long and draglines that are several stories high, ravage hundreds of thousands of acres. These stygian centers of death belch sulfurous fumes, nonstop, and send fiery flares into the murky sky. The air has a metallic taste. Outside the processing centers, there are vast toxic lakes known as tailings ponds, filled with billions of gallons of water and chemicals related to the oil extraction, including mercury and other heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, arsenic and strychnine. The sludge from the tailings ponds is leaching into the Athabasca River, which flows into the Mackenzie, the largest river system in Canada. Nothing here, by the end, will support life. The migrating birds that alight at the tailings ponds die in huge numbers. So many birds have been killed that the Canadian government has ordered extraction companies to use noise cannons at some of the sites to scare away arriving flocks. Around these hellish lakes, there is a steady boom-boom-boom from the explosive devices.

The water in much of northern Alberta is no longer safe for human consumption. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the Beaver Lake reserve.

Streams of buses ferry workers, almost all of them men, up and down the roads, night and day. Tens of thousands from across Canada have come to work in the tar sands operations. Many live in Fort McMurray, about 180 miles from Beaver Lake, and work punishing 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time before having a week off.

The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.

When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed. He says the forced severance from his family and his community, along with the banning of his traditions, was psychologically devastating. He remembers his father and other Cree elders on the reserve performing religious rituals in secret. He would sneak to the woods to watch them as, risking arrest, they clung to their beliefs and spiritual practices.

Lameman defied the efforts to wipe out his identity and his culture, which he nurtured in spite of the attempts to eradicate them. And he says it is only his Cree roots that keep him whole and make it possible for him to endure. He suffered extreme poverty. He also had periods of addiction and even episodes of violence. It is hard to avoid personal disintegration when the dominant culture seeks to eradicate your being. Canada’s indigenous people represent 4 percent of the population, but they make up more than a quarter of the inmates in the nation’s federal prisons. Lameman’s wife left him and their young children. She died from alcoholism on the streets of Calgary. He worked as a heavy machine operator in the tar sands. He quit when he realized the land he was despoiling would never recover and he began to get sick. He survives now on welfare.

We are back in his small house, seated in the tiny kitchen. His daughter Crystal Lameman, an internationally known indigenous rights activist, heats juniper in an iron skillet until fumes of the pungent herb drift upward. We cup our hands and pull the smoke into our nostrils. The Cree and others say “smudging” cleanses negative energy, helps bring clarity and vision, and centers those exposed to the scent. We sit quietly.

The more the Cree recover their traditions to defy the capitalist mantra of hoarding, profit, exploitation, self-promotion and commodification of human beings and the earth, the more their life has an intrinsic value rather than a monetary value. This recovery is the antidote to despair. It grounds the Cree spiritually. It permits transcendence. It at once estranges them from reality and brings them closer to it. Resistance is not only about challenging the extraction companies in court, as the Cree have done in trying to block the tar sands industry and the pipelines from their traditional land; it is about holding fast to another orientation to reality, one that we all must adopt if we are to survive as a species. It is about the recovery of the sacred. The white exploiters seek not only to steal the land and natural resources and commit genocide against indigenous communities but to wipe out this competing ethic.

“I need my people,” Eric Lameman says. “I need the ones that know our history, our language, our spiritual practices and our culture. I rely on them to pass it on to me so I can pass it on.”

The exploiters have sought to corrupt the Cree and bastardize their traditions. Extraction companies have paid off some tribal leaders to support pipelines or surrender tribal territory to oil development. The companies use the quislings to mount propaganda campaigns in favor of extraction, to divide and weaken indigenous communities and to attempt to discredit leaders such as Crystal. The federal government last year staged a Cree religious ceremony, complete with honor songs and drums, to bless the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Canada’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, developments that mean death for the Cree people.

“This is what they call reconciliation,” Eric says bitterly.

“It’s cultural appropriation,” Crystal says. “ ‘Reconciliation’ is a bullshit word. Reconciling with whom? Reconciling what? Reconciling us with the current colonial systems of exploitation? Until they dismantle the structures of exploitation there can be no reconciliation.”
The man camps of tens of thousands of tar sands workers fuel the prostitution industry. Indigenous girls and women, living in squalor and poverty, are lured by the seemingly easy and fast money. Their sexual degradation soon leads to addictions to blunt the pain. This too is a legacy of colonialism. Canada began as a military and commercial outpost of Britain. The Hudson’s Bay Company did not permit European women to immigrate to Canada. Brothels, populated by prostituted indigenous girls and women, were established alongside the military forts and trading posts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a report in 2015 that found that indigenous, or First Nations, women, who constitute 4.3% of Canada’s female population, are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women. They are 16% of female murder victims and are the objects of 11% of missing person’s cases involving women.

“I was on a panel in Vancouver,” Crystal Lameman says. “I used the word ‘prostitution.’ A trans person got up and told me to use the term ‘sex work,’ saying it was a choice. Impoverished and vulnerable indigenous girls and women do not choose to be prostitutes. They are forced into that world. Girls are conditioned for this from familial disintegration and sexual abuse. … Sexual abuse, a common experience for girls in residential schools and the foster care system, is another one of the legacies of colonialism.”
The infusion of workers with disposable incomes has also seen an explosion in drugs in northern Alberta such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, and with the drugs has come a rash of suicides among the native population. Suicide and non-suicidal intentional self-injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations people under the age of 44 in Canada. Young indigenous males are 10 times more likely to kill themselves than other Canadians. Young indigenous females are 21 times more likely to commit suicide. Beaver Lake has not been spared, losing seven people to suicide in a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015. All of them were under the age of 44, and all were drug addicts or alcoholics.

“There are two roads into Fort McMurray,” Crystal says. “There’s Highway 63 and Highway 881, which runs through here. This is one of the stops for the drugs. The traffickers say, ‘Well, there’s a little town, we’ll stop there and drop drugs there too. A lot of the drug runners are from small towns, from these communities. It is a quick way to make money.”

“Our community used to be safe,” she says. “We left the doors unlocked, even when we slept. We would leave our vehicles running. Nobody worried.”

“It’s dangerous now,” she goes on, speaking of the rash of robberies by addicts. She adds, “You can’t get into altercations. It’s the drugs. They affect people’s mental health. People live in fear.”

The resurrection of the old ceremonial practices such as the annual sun dance, along with the traditional medicine camp, harvesting camps and sweat lodges, is about another way of being, one that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings, including the earth on which we depend for life.

“We are seeing the effects,” Crystal says. “Our cultural practices and language embody a belief system that is the opposite of capitalism and globalization, the lust for money and material wealth.”

“I used to think globally,” she says. “I was in D.C. on the front lines. I was in the climate march in New York. I was everywhere. I traveled internationally. I was at every rally. But I wasn’t here, at home, doing the real work. It’s easier being out there, instead of being in our community. Yes, there is this big black cloud, but there is also another, beautiful side. The women in the community are bringing the ceremonies back. The more we return to the land, the closer we are to achieving holistic wellness. My community is not in despair. We are doing our diligence to be well again. I think about my dad. My dad was one of those people he’s talking about [when he says] ‘I had friends that I can’t trust now because they’re not well because of the drugs.’ My dad was one of those in despair. But he has come back to us and to himself.”

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #46

… “Another eternity and the doctor comes over and releases the mechanism that holds my wrists and ankles and keeps me from falling as I try to put my weight on my feet.  I cannot walk at all.  So he throws my limp form over his broad shoulders and carries me out through tunnels that seem to go on forever; that in my mind I want to go on forever. 

It feels so good to be dead; to be in a place where no one can ever hurt you; to be carried to your final rest by someone who cares for you.  Death by torture has a way of changing your perspective on life.  I think it has made me soft.” …
[end blog post # 45]


[begin blog post #46]

Chapter 22 – Conversation with a Cydroid

I am not dead, I’m in a place where death is always the best choice if it is given. 

Bal and a female I recognize as a Cydroid assistant sedate me and proceed to do their difficult and painful work.  They explain what they have found: two crushed wrists and an ankle dislocated that must be re-set.  More pain.  Another deposit in the bank of love.

When I come to I’m bathed in my own sweat and stink. I’ve been bandaged up tight.  I guess dislocated joints are best taken care of by human hands than the auto-medic?  I’m rambling incoherent in my head. 

I had hoped I could go through it again and be rejuvenated, I mean, as long as I’m still alive, why not?  Think of all the fun I can have, with men taking me for their sexual pleasures as they please, beating me to an inch of my life for any reason, trying to kill me in their pleasure arenas while ogling and mocking my nakedness and finally taking me into their dungeons to torture me to death, sharing this fun with hundreds, thousands of spectators. 

We girls do know how to have fun on Malefactus.  Even better than Old Earth at times. 

I don’t do so well under partial sedation or under the influence of any other drug.  The Cydroid assistant has removed the cool sheet that covered me and is washing my body gently and carefully as I lie on that same “gurney” I recognize from before.  I remember Deirdre holding me up and I feel my heart breaking into pieces again.  Deirdre…

Don’t go there stupid.  Let her go.  That was another time, another life.

“Bal?”  I ask weakly from my prostrate state.  I can’t even move my head to look at him.  He comes over and leans over me taking my pulse from inside my thigh.

“Ah, our patient is awake again.”

“Introductions?  I want to thank you,” and turning my eyes to the Cydroid, “and my healers for saving my life…”

I extend my bandaged hands only to have them flop down again.  I have no strength in my arms.

“Don’t be alarmed.  It’s the effect of the drug we gave you.  You’ll be fine, Antierra.  Meet YBA5.”

“Please to meet you, YBA5”  I continue in a hoarse whisper, still not my voice.  “What does that name mean?”

The Cydroid answers this time, with a beautiful lilting voice, singsong in quality, unlike anything I’ve heard.

“It means that I am a legally adopted member of Doctor Balomo’s Cydroid clan.  I’m number five.  The Y indicates female, X male.  I’m the fifth female Cydroid to be added to his family.  It was a proud day for me when I graduated and he accepted  me.  Dr. Balomo is not only a renowned medical healer but famous anthropologist as well.”  I notice she beams at him as she praises him and he turns away. 

She continues, “My particular specialty apart from being a spy (something to entertain you with later) is human anatomy.  I like your body – very well made.  I would like to congratulate the creator of such a wonderful unit.”

“I guess that would be me. Thank you, but I was aiming for an external effect I could project on the people here, not a near-perfect body.  I’ve had quite a bit of practice using different types of human bodies and I can tell when one will suit my needs or fulfill my requirements.  I just wish I’d made it out of whip-steel, not flesh.”

The weak attempt at a joke is not lost on her.  She smiles warmly, her small perfectly shaped mouth opening wide as if to include all of what I wish to convey that has no words.  And she pays me the highest compliment from a Cydroid point of view:

“That body, hah, you should be Cydroid, not human.”

As my head clears and the drug still holds the pain at bay, I realize I have a thousand questions for the Cydroid.  Bal notices I wish to speak with her and excuses himself.

“You have things to discuss.  I have work to do.  I must contact the King and bring myself up to date on developments.  I have to ensure the people I forcefully released from Warmo’s dens have been dutifully returned and that any wound has been properly treated.  Hhhhh.”  He turns to leave with that deep sigh.

“Bal?”

“Yes?”

“I’m scared to tell you this, but I love you.  I don’t know yet what kind of love I have for you, but I know what I feel.”

“We will talk of this later.  You are under the influence of a powerful sedative and if you remember, you yourself told me your body cannot handle drugs.  Do not speak of feelings now.  Wait.  Remember, you just lost your lover, or had you forgotten?”

“No doctor.  Not forgotten – trying to forget.  Deirdre is no longer a part of my life here.  She is gone, forever.  I will never see her again.”

“I’m disappointed in your analysis of the situation, Altarian.  Let’s just say it’s the drug talking.  Enjoy your time with YBA5.  She is a wonder healer and a font of knowledge.  She’ll keep you amazed.  Take care.”

“When will I see you again, Bal, please?”

“When you see me again, Antierra please.  Don’t cling to your temporary good things.  Let others have their space also.  We all need to breathe.”   

That was a warning to get myself together, and quickly.  More effort, when all I want to do is lie here, be taken care of and let the world go on without me.  Oh, to just wallow in self pity and pure wonderful misery.  To be a bitch.  To be dead!

He walks out of his office looking pensive and the automatic door swishes closed.  I got a glimpse of the sky, still cloudy and windy but not raining.  A cold draft finds my back and I shiver.  It’s not just the cold I am reacting to.

[end blog post #46

Encounter at Selda’s – a short story

It’s entertainment time, and if you look in the following for anything deeper  than an indoor-outdoor piece of carpet, I guarantee you, you’re wasting precious minutes of your life.
Do you remember the detective genres of the 40’s and 50’s with the corny dialogue and scenes? Here’s an attempt at mimicking one of those… enjoy…   S’T

ENCOUNTER AT SELDA’S
            by Sha’Tara

I don’t know why I noticed her. You’d think I would have had enough on my mind. But the way she stepped across that street, shaking her head, looking up and down, I knew something was wrong. I thought she looked at me, but why should I care? I told myself it was her miniskirt and halter top, but you really got to want to fool yourself to do so, and I wasn’t trying. I’d been fooled enough. Here I was, everything the same as every other day, except, as of 5:00 P.M., I was out of a job. For twelve years, I’d built my position inside Extel, and just after they promised me a management job: re-structure. Replaced by a bank of robots with flashing lights. My good friend, Carlos Rivaldi gave me the boot, just like that. Not even a sorry, just a cold stare from his piggish little black eyes and an envelope from his fat fingers bulging between an assortment of rings. “See you around, Al.” I was torqued. Yeah, I’d see him around, all right, and when I did, he wouldn’t be the one saying good-bye…

It’s not the end of the world; the weather’s hot and I can still run, though it won’t be to the shop anymore. I can still get my dinner special at Selda’s. I’ve got $3000 dollars saved up and I intend to play that for all it’s worth. I force on my T-shirt and after wiping off some sweat, slip into Selda’s greasy spoon. Place is full now, near six. I don’t worry. They always make room for me at the staff table near the back. There’s Dino coming to usher me away from the rest of the crowd: he doesn’t care for my attire, never has, but my money’s good.

“Hi, Elaine!”

“Hi back!” she says between trays and deftly stashing some tips in her glass. Elaine’s OK. We’ve been out a couple of times, but we don’t quite hit it off. My exercising, especially the water sports, scare her, and I won’t be tied down to the land for any woman, so, it’s a stand-off.

I sit at the table and try to think. Damn that Carlos. I’ll see him in hell. “Regular please, only skip dessert this time, OK?”

“Ain’t we the last of the big spenders tonight!”

“We sure are. We got the boot today.”

“You too? But I thought you were getting a promotion? Susan told me…”

“Susan was right: we both got promoted… to the street. Look, I don’t want to talk about it Jody. Do you know that woman in the black skirt just came in, the one Dino is eating raw?”

“No. Ain’t from around. Why?”

“Don’t get testy. Just asking. She was eyeballing me outside. What the hell? Dino’s pointing her this way…”

“It’s your party, big spender. Gotta look after the rest of my customers before they starve…”

The skirt swivels to my table, stops. I motion to the empty chair. She slides into it in one incredibly fluid motion. I scan the menu: shoulder length dark-blonde hair, green eyes (could have been the lighting), short finger nails, pretty mouth, not too big, long neck, medium breasts, well-exposed by skimpy black halter, backless, tanned. A swimmer. My eyes quit roving and my other senses get their chance. She smells outdoor: sunshine, moonlight, salt water and eucalyptus—definitely exotic if not intoxicating.

Me: “Hi!” How’s that for an original?

She: “I was following you when you came in here…” How’s that for a repartee? We are definitely on to something.

“Oh?” A two year old could have figured my next line: “Why?” and hers: “It’s a long story.” Do tell!

“Really…” I’m pretending no interest but she’s gaining fast. My omelet arrives. She orders soup and salad—I should have known. Oh, well, the food’s as good as usual, or as bad. I play the salt and pepper over my plate. She’s watching me, and I get nervous. She sips some water from my glass and lowers her head.

“Can we talk here?”

I look around, focusing on the din and answer caustically, “If you can make yourself heard!” Why am I being so difficult with the lady? Because I haven’t seen her before and she’s tailing me? Because she’s interrupting my dinner? Because I’m in a bitch of a mood and don’t want to talk to anyone, least of all a total stranger, female, desirable and quite likely dangerous to be seen with? Because… Oh, hell…

She sighs. No, I didn’t hear, I saw, and she opens up.

“Rivaldi dumped you, hey?”

I feel a cold shiver up my spine. Suddenly, I am all ears. “What?”

“Carlos – he gave you the boot this afternoon.”

She says it so damn matter-of-factly I nearly jump up and flip the table. “What the hell are you talking about?” She puts her nicely tanned hand on my arm and grips so hard I wince. “Hey, watch it!”

“Relax. I don’t want a scene. I need to talk.”

I know when I am beat and my curiosity is now well beyond retrieval. “Shoot. Whatever it is, it can’t be worse than what’s already happened” and sardonically: “please DO fill me in on the details!”

She sips my water again, sloshing the ice. “Want a beer or something?” I ask, trying to sound casual about it. Didn’t even fool me.

“Thanks! A Caesar, please!”

Quick at accepting freebies; have to watch that.

“I’m Sylvia Rivaldi. Carlos is my brother-in-law. My husband, Bernardo, was the main power behind Extel. Carlos, the front man. He’s been after his brother to break up the company and sell it for parts for quite some time. Bernardo refused. He said he liked computers. Bernardo, being the eldest, always had the last word, until last week, that is…” She reaches for the drink that has materialized and takes a long swallow. I watch the muscles on her extended throat contract and expand and I hold my breath. Even that part is tanned. I imagine very little of that lithe, healthy-looking body is untouched by the sun… or a man’s hands. “…so that’s when he disappeared…” I crash from my lustful reverie to land in her husky voice and my cold toast and omelet. “Disappeared?”

She looks around apprehensively and I think, “Oh, boy, what a ham. Does she think I just got off the bus?”

“Aren’t you listening to me?”

This time I detect a touch of self-pity, perhaps even fear, in her voice. “It’s been a hell of a day and you’re not helping. Sorry but you’re the only person I can trust and you’ve got a stake in this too.”

“Oh, I do?” I drawl the sarcasm out. “Well, that explains everything, don’t it!” She starts to cry and that’s when I begin to take her as the genuine article. Yeah, I’d thought someone’d put her up to this, but it was getting too good. “OK, I’ll listen, if you let me eat.”

“Thank you.” She dabs her eyes with my paper napkin. “As I said, Bernardo disappeared and I became frantic, all alone in that big house. Carlos tried so many times to get me there alone. He calls me and says, “Hey, kid. Where’s big bro? Gotta talk to him pronto.” I told him he wasn’t home and I hadn’t seen him for two days. “That so? Getting lonely? Want company? I could come over and make you comfy until Bern shows up, whadya say?” Forget it Carlos, I say, and he continues, “Well, maybe I will and again, maybe I won’t. Listen, bitch. Don’t think you can order me around. I’m gonna get what I want and you’re part of the picture, get it? Expect me at eight, and have cocktails ready. You’n me gonna party tonight, baby. We sure are gonna party…” and he hung up, laughing like a hyena.

“I was so scared! Then I realized I didn’t know where he’d called from. Maybe he was waiting down the drive for me to make a dash from the house. He knew exactly where I was and I didn’t know where he was. All I knew for sure was his ‘eight’ could mean any minute now. There was only one way out. The house is on a point across the bay and I keep a kayak down in a shelter by the rocks. I packed a few things, then remembered the safe. I found the combination, opened it and took all the cash and important looking papers; stashed the works in my waterproof belt pack and took off. I paddled across the bay and hid my boat in a place I know. I booked into a small beach-front motel and I’ve been watching developments ever since. I have a contact inside Extel and I learned what Carlos was doing. I knew about the so-called restructuring several days ago. I sent messages to Bernardo, but I knew it was useless…”

I raise my hand to stop the avalanche. “So you figure he’s dead?”

“I’m sure Carlos killed him.”

I brush a finger over my lips. She reads it like a pro and becomes absorbed by her salad. I say zip during Jody’s ritual coffee re-fill. She has big ears and a mouth to match. Once she’s absolutely out of ear-shot, I say: “You positive?”

“Yes, damn it. None of what’s happened would have if Bernardo was alive.”

“Seems like your boys like to play rough. Do they have any connections with…”

“You naive? Of course they got connections: all the way to Sicily. Don’t you know you were on the payroll of the Family, for Chrissakes? That Extel was a front for a drug channel from Columbia via Mexico and here? Bernardo was the kingpin and, get this, Carlos doesn’t know anything about the drugs, that stupid oaf!”

“OK. Let’s fast forward to the present. Why were you following me, and what do you want from me: protection from the goddam mob? Are you crazy?” She laughs. Such a beautiful, if unexpected, sound to emanate from that luscious package! For a mourning widow of a recently murdered husband, she presents a bit of a puzzle. “What the hell’s so funny?”

“You! I don’t remember the last time I met anyone as naive as you. It’s so refreshing!” She lets off another peal of laughter, and worse, some of the male customers are mentally taking out their measuring tapes. Already, I feel defensive and jealous and think, “Here we go. I’ll pop someone and never see her again. Women don’t like jealous males, don’t I know it, but I can’t help myself. “Quit that laughing, will ya?” I’m as tense as a startled rattler.

“Sorry!” She looks anything but. “I don’t need protection; I need a partner…”

“A what???” Now I’m shouting!

“Shhh. Carlos did you in like he’s trying to do me. With Bernardo dead, I own that damn Extel. I’ve got the papers. That’s what the fat slob’s after, not to mention me. I want him dead and that’s where you come in, partner.”

She’s so cool, the ice-cubes in the glass are growing! I splutter: “Are you nuts? I don’t know you. I don’t know if what you’re telling me comes from the back of a three dollar bill. D’you realize what you sound like, for Chrissakes?”

“Sure!” She purses her lips and moves in for the kill, her fingers resting lightly on my thigh. “I’ve got something you’d like, and I think we can work together.”

“What you got, I can get any time. This is LA.! And whatever else you got is trouble. I don’t need either.”

She smiles angelically. “You are naive. I love that! I’m not offering sex…” Smiling: “not yet, and as for trouble, nothing ventured, nothing gained!” She unsnaps her belt pack and slides it over her knees. Such shape, even in dimmed lighting. She unzips, pulls out an envelope, pops the end open and reveals a stack of heavy-duty bills. Must’ve been a hundred thou in there. She puts it back, pulls out a folded paper and opening it, traces some faint lines with her index. “What are those?”

“This is the route. Bernardo kept it in his safe and now I’m the only one who has the picture. We’re talking quick, easy millions, but I need a trusty sailor who knows the channels like the back of his hand to man a boat tonight. Did I make a mistake, Roger?”

Impossible! How could she know my real name? I was snared and shrugged helplessly: “No. I’ll get the boat.” She slips me several bills which add up to five thousands. I stuff them under the insole of my sweaty runners and lace up again.

“You’re fabulous!” With a feline stretch, she plants a full-lipped kiss on my mouth. I grope for more of her kelp and palm oil and whatever else she makes available in such tight if public quarters. Too late now to pause and consider a minor question like: “Who really killed Bernardo?” Good-bye Carlos! And inspector Dinsdale you dirty snake in the grass, am I going to have a nice little surprise for you, and this time won’t be me serving time for Uncle Sam.

 

Why is it so many people don’t like and don’t trust Psychiatrists?

 

Why is it so many people don’t like and don’t trust Psychiatrists?
                [a short story from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

This is so cool, I’ve been wanting to tell this to someone since this morning. Where to start.  Oh, yeah, my psychiatrist has an office just across from the Lilly labs.  It’s convenient, so why not?  His rent, he told me in a rare moment of true confidentiality, as he was ogling my legs and I wasn’t trying to hide them, is very reasonable.  The building belongs to Lilly, and they offered him a great lease.  That’s of course confidential but I know I can trust you not to spread that around, although why the big secret?  What’s wrong with a doctor getting some help from a drug company when he needs the drugs to help his patients?

There’s a spare room behind the examining room in his offices. It’s for special cases, like mine, the really, really difficult ones.  I can’t tell you much of what goes on in that spare room, of course, but it does have something to do with adjusting my underwear so my body will feel relaxed.  The bed is very firm and comfortable.

 I can tell you my doctor’s name, that’s not confidential. He’s a real hunk, with smooth dark skin, short black hair and a great six-pack – I peeked under his shirt when he was massaging me – and his fingers are expert at making you feel good about your whole body.  That’s Juan Lupe Carvello.  But he dropped the Carvello.  He said it didn’t fit his new American image.  Dr. Lupe is from Mexico City.  He told me, also in confidence, that psychiatrists in Mexico have to take a course in chiropractic, hence why he’s certified to work with cases like mine that require a lot of body work, massage and so on.  Makes sense to me; you can’t fix everything with words and drugs after all.

Me? Oh, I’m Doris.  I’m married, no kids.  My husband’s a lawyer so I have a good life, mostly.  He’s hardly ever home, and when he does show up, I don’t think he notices me much.  I try not to get in his way, he’s so fussy and fretful.  Me, I wouldn’t have to work but I got bored one day, so I asked Andy (that’s my husband) if I could get a job at the office.  It was so funny, he looked at me as if he’d never seen me before.  He works with a bunch of lawyers, dozens and dozens of them in this high-rise downtown.  They got so much staff there, I thought they could fit me in, no problem.  How about it, Andy?  He continued to look at me as if I’d just landed on earth from some distant planet, or from, what’s that place called… Afghan something.  That’s funny don’t you see?  I’m a typical, all-American blue-eyed blonde that all the guys went nuts over on account of my tits.  Uncle Jerry paid for the implants, a birthday present, but oh, never mind, that’d be telling. 

 Andy? He shook his head, looked at me some more, told me to get some business suits and to meet him at the office in a couple of days, for lunch.  Then he went to his office and that was that.  I got a job with a junior level lawyer, Dick’s his name.  I like him, he’s so easy to tease.  He’s totally in love with some eastern girl who looks like a real live doll, about half my size.  She’s cute, and Dick’s six foot three, if an inch.  They stick out in a crowd, don’t you know.  I notice things like that,

My job’s easy. A bit of computer search, fielding in-house calls, filing papers, but mostly it’s making sure there’s always coffee on, goodies in the fridge, and hand delivering stuff, office to office.  I get to do a lot of that.  I’m not suspicious by nature but I think the guys are still getting turned on by my tits and they like to see me walking around, my top bouncing, so I make sure there’s a lot of cleavage for them to look at.  Hey, I get paid, what the heck’s wrong with that?

 But I was talking about Juan, my shrink, only he doesn’t like me saying that – he says it’s disrespectful. I dunno, I don’t get it.  So anyway, he says we should be on first name basis, makes it easier to talk.  He likes to talk and his accent is kind of sexy, but me, I don’t have much to talk about.  He says, that’s ok, just say whatever comes to my mind.  So, he’s a shrink, right?  I tell him all about my sexual fantasies, some of them are pretty wild.  He takes notes.  Sometimes he interrupts and asks really dumb questions like, how does that make you feel?  It’s just fantasies, who cares how they make you feel?  So I make stuff up just to keep the talking going. 

So yesterday morning during my session – that’s what they’re called he says – he comes over as I sit in the chair and he puts his hands on my shoulders and feels me a bit. I get a shiver when he moves his hands around my neck and pushes down on my shoulders a bit more then around my throat and down a bit.  You’re tense this morning, Doris.  Maybe you should lie down and let me give you a massage before we talk.  So I say OK, and I feel a bit of a fluttering in my stomach.  And I start having a fantasy about him.  I’m imagining him slowly taking my top off, then my bra, then sliding his hands around my tits… then I get really daring with the fantasy and he’s undoing my skirt, then sliding my panties off until I’m completely naked, facing up, and his face is almost touching mine.  Then impulsively I reach for him and we start kissing.  Well, before I know it, that’s exactly what happens.  So I get up off the bed and I unbutton his shirt and pull it off.  I’d never seen him topless before.  Oh… gorgeous… and now I want to see the rest of him, so I kneel down in front of him and undo his pants, then slide them down.  Then I slip off his briefs.  Now we’re both naked and he’s well, holy shit, like wow! 

 It was a great session. The absolute best.  Then we take turns in the washroom, get dressed, and I’m back in the chair again.  He’s sitting at his desk, sorting his notes.  What he says next kind of baffles me, but he’s the doctor.

Doris, he says, now I know what your problem is. You have a rare affliction which hasn’t made it into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but it will probably be included in the next edition.  Your condition would be labelled CNPS.  It’s quite rare.  So I ask what that means and he says, we call it Completely Normal Person Disorder.  Well, that doesn’t sound so bad to me Juan.  I’m completely normal? 

 It’s not so simple, Doris. What is normal?  The problem is, we don’t know and that’s the frightening part.  You have an undiagnosed and untreated condition and until we start treating it we won’t know how much damage it can do.  In fact we don’t know how much damage it has already done.  You’re not on our medical radar you see?  Any idea how dangerous that is?

 Well, and I thought I was normal all along, with a rather normal life, doing my normal things and now I realize that’s all wrong. I begin to cry, right there in Juan’s office.  He comes over with a box of Kleenex and starts comforting me, explaining that Lilly has some new, experimental drugs he’s going to prescribe for me and not to worry, my normalcy will be taken care of in no time.  Just three or four pills a day Doris, and you’ll be good as new, well better in fact: you won’t have to worry about being normal any longer. 

 Do I have to do anything different, I ask? And he says, oh, don’t worry, you will, and you won’t have to think about it, it’ll be so natural to you.  So, same time Friday then?  I’ll have those pills for you then, I promise.  So I nod and walk out feeling really weird.  Imagine that, me, having this rare condition called normal.  Actually, I’m in shock.  But now, try to imagine where I’d be if it wasn’t for Juan, for psychiatrists, huh? I’d be another untreated normal loony, that’s what I’d be and nobody would be none he wiser, not even me. 

So I ask you, what is it people have against shrinks anyway? They’re here to help, just like Juan is helping me.  I’m so, so thankful, you have no idea.